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Autumn Cogitations by Arnold Boecklin, 1886

Normally I look forward to autumn. It ushers in the new fashions for fall. However, the trends for autumn of 2014 are reminiscent of 1990s and this makes me cry. Perhaps, that is a bit over dramatic, but it does make me sad that there will not be many 19th century interpretations for me to play with. Oh, well best of luck for next season. Below are the hottest trends for fall and possible 19th century spins on the current look.

Fall 2014 Trends

Shearling:¬†A different take on fur this season, the more friendly and acceptable “shearling” wool was seen all over the runway. A few were dyed in vibrant hues.

My Perspective: The 19th century considered shearlings to be more pedestrian and/or masculine fabric choice. High class women simply did not sacrifice their luxurious furs for more practical and nubby shearling coats. Unless, they were women above the tree line. Russia, Tibet and northern countries embraced any available warmth, nubby shearling included. It was often used as a trim or lining on garments (which is more or less the case today). This is a Tibetan coat painted with folk designs. It looks equally classy and classic, vintage and timeless. In actuality, this coat is from the 1970s! Yet, I could easily see a 19th century modern throwing this beauty over a solid bustle dress and looking head-to-toe-fabulous!

Vibrant Hues/Pink and Green: Designers loaded the runways with unexpected vibrant hues and combinations, usually reserved for spring. Hot pink and kelly green seem to be the choice color combination of the season.

My Perspective: The 19th century is no stranger to shocking hues and pairings. In fact, almost half the century was packed with retina-burning color vibrancy. This example is a modern costume made for a competition, but it perfectly matches the glaring-garish quality that is now season on the runways and yes, the Victorians were rather similar to this design.

Knitwear: What is winter without wonderfully nubby knitwear? But this season is not your run of the mill sweaters. Designers could be seen trying enormous cowl necks, matching scarves, and ribbed numbers with enormous mink cuffs.

My Perspective: During the Victorian era, knitwear was considered outwear in terms of shawls, gloves/mittens, even stockings and caps. Most of their knitting is more along the terms of crocheting. On the other hand fisherman have been wearing cable knit sweaters for eons, so it had a bit of a masculine connotation. This beauty to the left is yarn and glass beads on the fringe. I would pair this with a solid color ribbed or cashmere turtleneck sweater for a more updated version (and perhaps over a s crisp white shirt with sleeves on warmer days).

Krazy Prints and Patterns: Print isn’t dead yet. Trippy art motifs, graphics, and frenetic patterns showed up on the catwalk for fall.

My Perspective: As mentioned above about Victorians and vibrancy, it also applies here to outlandish prints! 1800s favored both the bold pattern (thick vertical stripes.) to the tiny, quaint floral motif. However, busy patterns were often used as accents on the dress and not one elaborate dress in an eye-crossing print (although those also exist!). To the right is an example of a man’s house coat. A house coat, people! Nothing says rest and relaxation like this nutty print? Plus the owner of this house coat had serious style and flair! I simply cannot envision my great-father lounging is such a design.

Normcore: According to Google’s all-knowing dictionary; normcore is “a unisex fashion trend characterized by unpretentious, average-looking clothes. The term combines the words “normal” and “hardcore.”” This fall season designers are welcoming the concept of standing out by blending in.

My Perspective: I am all for women in menswear. The tailored look is crisp and sleek. However, normcore by definition is a much more relaxed, slouchy version. Not particularly tailored or sleek. Thus, it looses it’s appeal to me. The dominant palette is beige and browns. To change things up, a 19th century modern woman might don a 19th century man’s brown suit and call it a day. A rather fashionable day.


1960s: Style.com refers to this trend as Youthquake 2.0. Essentially, this is a reinterpretation of the 1960s dolly-bird trend.

My Perspective: This is not happening in my vision of 19th century modern world. Also, I am not entirely familiar with the Youthquake movement (is that showing my age?). So, I am reinterpreting this reinterpretation to 1860s wear. In America, this means Civil War era attire; hoop skirts and crinonlines. I chose the image on the right to represent this dream within a dream sequence because it made me chuckle, as the first thought on this dress is “it kinda reminds me of a tea pot.” Then again, I adore the pattern.

Sheer illusion: Spicing up the red carpet fashion are long sheer or “illusion” dress. The idea is to look like tattoos on the body.

My Perspective: Most of the previously mention trends are more masculine in origin or at least more gender-neutral; a very 1990s mentality where women are more aggressive in nonchalant masculine sort of way (but that is another psychology of sociology of American fashion culture for another time). Obviously, the Victorians did not have this fashion trend. However, that is not to say they did not have sheers, often is was used as underpinnings or decolletage coverage during the day. The Regency Era was closer to this scandalous trend with more gauzy fabrics that fitted closer to the body. In fact, it was said some women actually dampened their gowns or “undergown” to give the fabric a more clingy look by hugging all their curves. It also led to a rash of illnesses because of the hypothermia it could induced when tried on a winter’s day. Which brings me to my last point, this is an unpractical trend for cold months!