A lot has changed for women over the past 100 years. Women’s rights have thankfully come a long way – as has fashion! Here at Hemingway Tailors we craft bespoke suits, shirts and coats for women and men – ensuring a flattering fit whatever your body shape may be. Our handcrafted suits are available in thousands of different fabrics and patterns, so there will always be something that’s bang on trend. Fashion changes quickly, but naturally. Plenty of our favourite looks from the past re-emerge as current trends, but with modern twists. There are, however, numerous trends that have fallen by the wayside as fashion has marched onwards. In almost all cases, they’ve been abandoned for very good reason. There are few areas of fashion that have changed in the past century as much as women’s formalwear. We take a look at some of the frightful fashions that thankfully never made it to the 21st century…


From the late 15th century to the early 20th century, crinolines featured heavily in women’s formalwear. These terrifying-looking garments were more like frames or cages, designed to hold the ladies’ skirts in place. Queen Elizabeth I wore a great farthingale, an early type of crinoline which gave the dramatic silhouettes that we see in many of her portraits. Crinolines were made of steel or horsehair, so they were hardly the height of comfort. Furthermore, even such simple tasks as sitting down and walking through doors became treacherous while wearing a crinoline. These days, crinolines have fallen out of use for the vast majority of us, but occasionally they’ll be used in grandiose wedding attire.

Frills, frills and more frills

The ‘70s and ‘80s saw formalwear become frilly. Sure, the Victorians had liked the odd frill, but in the ‘70s and ‘80s, we were overcome by frills, ruches and twists – particularly on wedding dresses. The results were almost invariably unflattering, with figures drowned in seemingly endless clumps of embellished material. Since then, fashion has taken on a more tasteful, simple approach, focused on great tailoring and lines.

Hobble skirts

Even the name sounds awful. These long skirts were the height of fashion at the beginning of the 20th century. Characterised by a tight hemline, these skirts heavily restricted a woman’s movement. They were often worn with a braided fetter just under the knees, to prevent the wearer from taking lengthy strides and tearing the fabric. Despite their impracticality, hobble skirts were amazingly popular. We’re thankful we don’t have to put up with them now.

Shoulder pads

This is a tricky one to add on to the list, because despite their undeniable fall from their peak in popularity in the ‘80s, shoulder pads are worryingly persistent. They’ve made brief comebacks several times in the past decade, but have thankfully been restricted to the catwalks and the occasional formal dress.

Hemingway Tailors excel in creating timeless formalwear for both women and men – and without a crinoline in sight! Book an appointment with us now.

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