About the Decade: 1910-1919
Social change was brewing in the teens as our nation became increasingly industrialized. In the past clothes had been mostly hand sewn, but during the turn of the century the sewing machine was introduced, which made the mass production of clothing possible and the latest fashions affordable to the middle and lower classes. The styles worn during the teens reflected the beginning of the American woman’s changing role in society. It was becoming increasingly acceptable for women to work outside the home. If a woman did not have to work for a living, she was expected to lead an active and useful life (an attitude due in large part to World War I and the need for more charities and hospital aid). To accommodate this active role, women wore clothes that were more practical. The hemlines were raised from the floor a couple of inches, skirts were full for ease of walking, petticoats lighter than in the past. They wore blouses with skirts instead of dresses. The hobble skirt which was popular in the teens often had a button down vent in the back which could be left open when walking. Women still wore corsets, but they became less restrictive than in the past. Not every woman cared whether or not she had the right to vote, and indeed there were women who thought the idea of women voting was unseemly, but nevertheless the Suffragette Movement was in full swing.