American women’s fashion, sometimes called menswear, originally originated in the United States in the late 19th century. The opening of the Panama Canal significantly increased the rate of importation from Europe, particularly during the period of reconstruction after World War II. By the mid-19th century, women’s clothing had begun to serve as a significant source of revenue for American industrial manufacturers. A majority of women’s fashions were influenced by those of European designers; the styles they introduced often established the boundaries of women’s fashion in the US. Fashionable garments designed by such international fashion designers as Mandy de Waal, Louis Vuitton, Ed Hardy, and Anne Hathaway all became mainstays in department stores throughout the US.
Women’s fashion of the time was defined by a confluence of factors: the increasing number of women working in industrial settings (especially manufacturing, farming, and shipping); the ever-increasing demand for inexpensive clothing; and the adoption of a more practical approach to women’s clothing. For example, dresses developed for practical everyday use, rather than “girly” designs aimed primarily at women who wore their most expensive clothing. By emphasizing practicality in women’s fashions, American designers laid the groundwork for the later development of casual women’s fashions by designers such as Donatella Versace. Although the style of dress tended to be more demure than earlier American fashion styles, it did provide an outlet for women who otherwise might not have had the opportunity to wear dresses.
Dress for the day, suited for work, dress for evening, or dress to impress. The world of clothing had undergone a tremendous evolution, and this was most clearly reflected in women’s fashions. For example, because of the popularity of corsets during the period of the Great War, women’s clothing underwent a variety of stylistic transformations. Corsets represented a stylistic innovation that served to differentiate women’s fashions during the Great War from those that were worn after the war.