Although few Americans had the money for fancy European clothes, European countries still heavily influenced American clothing trends from 1750 to 1850. Styles often followed those of traditional beliefs and were somewhat conservative but much more comfortable and tailored. This generation was inspired by neoclassical tastes, defining the natural figure rather then accentuating the bust. During this time period clothing altered a great deal, dresses were much looser, and skirts were fuller and longer, taking attention away from the waist. Clothing was still handmade, and fabrics were expensive so most men and women had very few outfit changes.
The neoclassical influence was reflected in the elegant patterns, soft colors and delicate forms, the dresses would drape gracefully as presented on Greek statues. The photo below reflects the elegance in women’s fashion and the delicate domineer women of the early 1800s possessed. Napoleon was another large influence, for he changed this period’s fashion with the empire waist, which was named after Napoleons Empire. Women often wore light, fine dresses that differed from the previously cumbersome attires, as well as bonnet caps. To complete the fragile image women were trying to fulfill, they wore light accessories such as cashmere shawls and leather gloves. Much of the materials and fabrics were made in the home rather than in mills due to the increase in price of fabrics.
Men also starting dressing down quite a bit, they no longer wore as many thick layers of lace and embroidery but rather more simplistic styles. The cut, fit, and style became more important then the excess amount of fabrics and expensive embroideries. Breeches became longer, and coats were open-faced with longer tails. Men became more clothing- obsessed, wearing refined, hand selected, clothing, and were referred to as dandy’s. Men and woman, both, simplified European fashion to fit their much rougher lifestyles and warmer climates.
The intricate patterns and elegant appearances of these clothes often made isolated wealthy men and woman feel more sophisticated and cultured. Though both genders discontinued the usage of wigs and let their natural hair grow longer, contributing their idealistic simplistic style. Companies around today such as Fruit of the Loom, Levi Strauss, Coco Chanel, Abercrombie & Fitch, Brooks Brothers, Christian Dior, Lacoste, Balmain, Pucci, Gucci, Converse, Valentino, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Versace and Donna Karen were all founded around the world and shipped to America during this time period, starting the demand for overseas designers. Overall, the fashion sense in America heightened immensely with tailored, elegant fabrics and simple form to fit the American lifestyle.