Romantic Era 1820s

Amy Dadamo
The Romantic period gets its name from Romanticism- a phrase used to describe a movement in literature, art,
and music which cherished freedom of expression starting in the 1820s. Fashion during the 1820s was
undergoing a transition from the former Empire style to the Romantic style. The waistline of skirts became
lower and the skirts also became fuller. The skirts were generally gored in an A shape, with the narrowest part
at the waist and the fullest part at the bottom. The trims and hems of the dresses were usually decorated with
colored ribbon, ruffles etc. Also past trends were repeating, such as: slashing, neck ruffs, and medieval
sleeves. In the 1830s the gored skirts got much fuller; also they included panels and pleats. The skirts were
hemmed at the ankles or slightly higher. The sleeves of the gowns also got much larger, they were all diverse
but the most popular was the gigot sleeve, (leg-o-mutton) which was puffed off at the shoulders and became
narrower at the wrist. The necklines were usually V-neck and were worn with white collars called pelerines. For
outdoor occasions women would wear a bonnet with a wide brim called a mantle. Evening wear dresses were
very similar to day dresses except the neck lines were lower, even off the shoulders. Also expensive fabrics like
silk were used instead of the cotton used in everyday gowns. In the 1840s women began wearing whalebone
corset so extenuate their waits; the popular waistline was the Basque waist, which was elongated and came to
a point in the front. Also sleeves became much more close-fitting and the shoulders were so low that women
couldn’t lift their arms above their head. The skirts were made with crinoline that was very stiff, along with
layers of petticoats. This created a much fuller skirt. Romanticism played a big role in the designs of women’s
clothing. Romanticism meant expressing one’s emotions and feelings and had a deep connection to the past.
This is why in 1800s fashion we see past trends repeating, for example: the medieval sleeves. Also the
advancements in printing technology allowed Romantic writers such as Emerson and Lord Byron’s work to be
distributed throughout America. This Romantic ideology is the inspiration to the feminine and elegant clothing.
The clothes reflected a loving, innocent and virtuous woman were cared for those around her. This era changed
households dramatically. Before almost all marriages were arraigned but now women felt that she needed to
be in love in order to wed. Before this time wives were looked at as servants but now women spent time
around the house engaging in pleasant activities not just housework. Also women began forming friendships
with other women, and would frequently get together for tea. The women in the Romantic Era were gentle,
wholesome and, the “angles of the household”, which was shown throughout the feminine ladylike clothing.

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