Modernism and Nostalgia.
In fashion and design—clothing, architecture, furniture, interior design, and automobiles—the turn of the century witnessed both a heralding of the new and a reluctance to break with the past. In fashion, men and women remained tied to the formalities of Victorianism even as they complained about them: women who patterned themselves after the Gibson Girl, the national icon of modern young womanhood, still changed their dresses for dinner and would not be caught out of the house without girdles and layers of petticoats. Architecture, furniture, and interior design in America also teetered between old and new: historicism, with its emphasis on styles of the past, was giving way to a new aesthetic of business, commerce, and simplicity. The inventors of the automobile modeled their prototypes on the buggy, envisioning cars quite literally as horseless carriages. Old and new forms clashed and blended as the country headed into the new century.
The S-shaped silhouette, formed by a corset, petticoats, and a small, heavy bustle, remained the dominant look for women. At the same time, young women, working women, and those inspired by the Gibson Girl wanted more comfortable and practical clothes. The shirtwaist gradually became acceptable for fashionable women who did not work outside the home. Men's fashions...
(The entire section is 1197 words.)
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