Fashion Timeline

Two centuries of fashion featuring the collection of the Kent State University Museum.

1754-01-01 04:54:22

Chippendale designs

Thomas Chippendale publishes 'The gentleman and cabinet-maker's director,' which includes this page featuring designs for a dresser and bookcase.

1760-01-01 10:02:49

Robe à la française

Developed in the French court, the robe à la française was the most formal clothing for women during the 18th century.

1760-05-01 01:35:57

Toile de Jouy

Oberkampf establishes factory for copperplate printing in Jouy-en-Josas near Paris.

1764-01-01 01:47:19

Spinning Jenny

James Hargreaves invented the spinning jenny, which mechanized the production of yarn.

1783-11-21 00:00:00

First Hot Air Balloon flight

The first untethered, manned flight in a hot air balloon took place in Paris in 1783.

1793-09-18 16:57:02

Building of the US Capitol in Washington, DC

Washington laid the cornerstone for the Capitol building in 1793. The neoclassical architecture has come to define the style of government buildings in the United States.

1798-05-19 16:57:02

Napoleon's Egyptian Campaign

The French military exploits in Egypt lead to a vogue for Egyptian motifs and oriental designs. This exoticism includes turbans and paisley shawls.

1800-01-01 16:57:02

Fashions 1800-1819

Following the excesses of 18th century fashion and the tumultuous French and American revolutions, fashions of the early nineteenth century were exceptionally spare. The vogue for neoclassicism led women to look to Greek and Roman art for inspiration.

1804-01-01 13:42:09

Jacquard Loom

Joseph-Marie Jacquard develops a mechanical loom that creates elaborate woven designs using punched cards.

1804-01-01 16:57:02

First journey by rail

One of the most transformative innovations of the early nineteenth century was the train. By enabling the rapid transportation of people and goods, railroads

1807-01-01 12:50:58


Robert Fulton was the first man to operate steamboats commercially. This technology became one of the foremost form of transportation in early America and led to the development of a system of canals.

1813-01-01 16:57:02

Machine lace

The development of machines to make lace occurred in many stages. By 1813, John Leavers had adapted technology for making mesh net to simulate hand-made lace. The mechanization of the otherwise highly laborious lace-making process was an important step towards the reduction of the cost of clothing.

1818-01-01 12:29:53

Brooks Brothers Founded

Brooks Brothers was founded in 1818 making it the oldest clothing retailer in the United States.

1820-01-01 16:57:02

Gothic Revival

In reaction against the rationalism of the Enlightenment, Romanticism emerged by the end of the eighteenth century and brought with it an interest in the Gothic.

1820-01-01 16:57:02

Fashions 1820-1829

During the 1820s, women's fashions became more ornamented as the waistline dropped and hemline widened. The hairstyles reached extreme proportions with full side curls and high looping buns.

1830-01-01 14:46:52

Fashions 1830-39

The 1830s saw women's sleeves reach their greatest size. The sleeves were sometimes given shape with sleeve supports made of whalebone. By the end of the decade the sleeves lost volume.

1839-01-01 07:42:39


The daguerreotype was the first commercially successful photographic technique. The image was made on a silvered copper plate.

1840-01-01 02:30:12

Fashions 1840-49

During the 1840s, women's fashion seemed to deflate. The waistline dropped, the sleeves lost their fullness and skirts became dome-shaped. In place of the elaborate loops and curls of 1830s hairstyles, the hair became closer to the head.

1845-01-01 16:26:53

Irish Potato famine

A period of mass starvation in Ireland followed the blight that destroyed the potato crop. Waves of Irish immigrants came to the United States during this period.

1845-01-01 16:57:02

Sewing machine

Elias Howe developed the first viable sewing machine in the United States by 1845. The secret to the successful machine was two thread sources - from above and below the fabric. Isaac Singer was the first to successfully market and sell sewing machines. The enormous increase in productivity that derived from this invention paved the way for the industrialization of clothing production.

1848-01-01 12:29:53

Seneca Falls Convention

In 1848, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton organized a pioneering conference that brought national prominence to the question of women's rights.

1848-01-24 04:01:23

Gold Rush

In 1848, James W. Marshall discovered gold at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California

1851-01-01 01:06:22

Crystal Palace Exhibition

The first world's fair was held in London at the Crystal Palace.

1851-01-01 22:09:47

Fashions 1850-59

Following the introduction of the sewing machine and synthetic dye, fashions of the 1850s were both large in scale and bright in color. The skirts, supported by hooped crinolines reached outrageous proportions.

1852-01-01 01:36:06

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Harriet Beecher Stowe published Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1852 with the aim of exposing the evils of slavery. Legend has it that when she travelled to the White House to meet Abraham Lincoln, he said to her: "so you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war."

1853-01-01 08:16:59

Opening of Japan to the West

Following Commodore Perry's expedition to Japan, the west was able to open trade with Japanese ports. This increased contact with the East paved the way for Japonism in art and design.

1856-01-01 14:46:52

Synthetic dye

In 1856 the 18-year old William Perkin discovered the first synthetic dye: mauveine. Purple had previously been a very difficult and expensive color to achieve. Suddenly bright colors became extremely fashionable.

1858-01-01 15:12:54

Haute Couture

Charles Frederick Worth launched the first Haute Couture house, Worth and Bobergh. Worth, originally from England, was one of the first designers to attach labels bearing his name to the waistbands of his dresses.

1860-01-01 07:49:37

Fashions 1860-69

Despite the deprivations caused by the Civil War, fashions continued to change. During the 1860s the fullness in the skirt shifted towards the back as the dome-like silhouette became increasingly cone-like. Solid fabrics became favored over patterns.

1865-01-01 15:12:54

Slavery abolished

Slavery was finally abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution.

1865-01-01 15:12:54

The Grammar of Ornament

Owen Jones publishes "The Grammar of Ornament." in 1856. The book was a reaction against what he perceived as poor design. His efforts at design reform were later taken up by the Arts and Crafts Movement.

1870-01-01 07:49:37

Fashions 1870-75

During the first half of the 1870s, the skirt became increasingly full at the back with the introduction of the bustle. The trimmings were increasingly created with self-fabric (the same fabric as the dress) rather than coordinating ribbons.

1872-01-01 04:54:22

First Mail order catalogue

Aaron Montgomery Ward issued the first mail order catalogue in the United States in 1872. The distribution of these catalogues granted rural residents access to a range of dry goods unavailable locally.

1876-01-01 07:49:37

Fashions 1876-79

The silhouette of the late 1870s became much narrower than the earlier part of the decade. The designs were often asymmetrical. Skirts often ended in trains.

1876-01-01 14:22:15

Battle of Little Bighorn

In 1876, Lt. Col. George Custer led his forces against the Lakota and Cheyenne in the valley of the Little Bighorn River in Montana.

1879-01-01 04:54:22


Thomas Edison received a patent in 1879 for a long lasting incandescent lightbulb. Although his innovations were just one of many steps in the process of developing the modern lightbulb, he is widely credited as its inventor.

1880-01-01 07:49:37

Fashions 1880-89

During the 1880s, bustles made a return. Whereas the bustles of the early 1870s were round and billowing, those in the 1880s were more square. Heavy fabrics and dark rich colors were fashionable. Velvets particularly those with patterning were widely used.

1883-01-01 03:24:58

Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show

The Iowa-born showman, William Cody aka "Buffalo Bill" formed a Wild West theme show that toured not only the United States but also Europe.

1885-01-01 11:04:27

Safety Bicycle

While the development of the bicycle began in the early nineteenth century, one of the most important steps was the introduction of the safety bicycle which had two wheels of equal size. These safer and less expensive bicycles led to a craze for cycling in the 1890s.

1886-01-01 19:55:20


In 1885, Karl Benz created the the first commercial automobile powered by a gasoline engine known as the Motorwagen.

1889-01-01 14:51:55

Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower was completed in 1889 for the Paris World's Fair.

1890-01-01 16:22:56

Fashions 1890-99

During the 1890s the emphasis shifted to the sleeves, which became very large. With the tight waist and conical skirts, fashions achieved an exaggerated hourglass shape. Fabrics that shimmered or changed colors became popular.

1892-01-01 06:53:24

Ellis Island

Ellis Island was the chief immigration station in the United States between 1892 and 1925, during which time the station processed over 12 million immigrants.

1895-01-01 03:24:58

Art Nouveau

Siegfried Bing opened a store in Paris which he called L'Art Nouveau. Bing started off his career as a dealer of Japanese art and with his Paris store, he became one of the most influential proponents of modern art at the turn of the century.

1896-01-01 16:46:19

First Motion Picture

First public exhibition of a motion picture in the United States occurred in April 1896 at Koster and Bial's Music Hall.

1900-01-01 16:22:56

Fashions 1900-09

At the turn-of-the-century, women's silhouettes adopted a "pouter pigeon" shape in which the chest was pushed forward and the shoulders and hips were held back. This effect was achieved in part with the corset and partly through the cut of the clothing. The preferred colors were off-white and pastels in light fabrics and lace.

1901-01-01 14:22:15

Craftsman style

The American designer and furniture maker, Gustav Stickley favored the ideals of the British Arts and Crafts movement which he transformed into an American style. He articulated his ideas in the magazine "The Craftsman."

1903-01-01 03:24:58

Wright Brothers flight

The Wright brothers make the first airplane flight in Kitty Hawk, NC in 1903.

1907-01-01 08:55:27


The first synthetic plastic was developed in 1907 by Leo Baekeland. He made a heat setting resin of phenol and formaldehyde to mimic the properties of shellac, a plastic made from the excretion of lac beetles.

1910-01-01 16:22:56

Fashions 1910-14

In the 1910s, waistlines rose and skirts narrowed. While the most avant-garde leaders of fashion began to abandon their corsets, the narrow skirt began to hobble them. Dresses often combine a variety of textures and weights: sheer fabrics will be adorned with heavy beading or ribbons.

Fashion Timeline

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