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A fashion timeline in women's history

Women’s fashion in the United States changes season to season, year to year and decade to decade. Over the centuries, it has transformed along with women's equality.

Centuries ago, fashion limited women's movements through corsets and stiff underclothing. As years passed, women started to gain more rights in American society. Not only did their morals and values change, but their fashion did as well.


Women usually only owned two or three outfits. They wore heavy petticoats and gowns made to cover their knees and elbows for respect and modesty.


Women still wore large dresses, but they made everything by hand. They adopted a draped style from the Europeans and used a bustle to add volume to the back of garments.

Alice Joyce was an American actress during the 1920s and 1930s. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Early 1900s

Women started wearing more tailored, flattering dresses that gave them more sophistication in society and the workplace.


Young women known as "flappers" became the style icon of the decade. Women were now able to dress sexy, confident and powerful. They bobbed their hair and had slits in their skirts.


Women were able to try out lots of different styles and truly find who they wanted to be. After the two world wars, women started wearing lighter fabrics that came up higher on the knee. A common fabric color was Air Force blue.

1950s to '60s

Women wore a more feminine silhouette, including pencil skirts and fitted jackets.

Late 1900s

Women wore colorful, outrageous clothing that included miniskirts, leg warmers and bright colors. They wore floral, lace, denim, high-waisted and low-waisted cuts, and were able to truly discover and express their own identity.


The mixing bowl of fashion. The past 16 years have witnessed people wearing clothing that’s been fashionable in the past or clothing that has never been seen before. Designers have created exquisite gowns and have brought back tailored suits with shoulder pads. Teenagers have dressed with music as the center of their style. All ethnicities, races and genders have had a spot in this time period to be unique and explore their self-style. Women are successful, graceful, wild, sophisticated, free-spirited, and have been able to show this in their fashion.

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