The S Shape 1899-1910
Around 1897, the silhouette began to slowly shift with the introduction of the straight-front corset. Supposedly designed as a healthier alternative, these new corsets forced a woman’s chest forward and hips backward into a curvilinear “S” shape (often called the S-bend or Serpentine). Skirts flared out from the knee and stiff cottons were used to create false hems. Airy fabrics such as chiffon and crepe-de-chine were often employed.
Although a simplified silhouette was present throughout the day, there was a clear delineation between morning, afternoon and evening wear. In the mornings, women wore high necklines and long sleeves. Shorter sleeves and an opened neck were worn in the afternoons. Evening wear, however, had a lower neckline and arms were often bare.
Hair was often worn in swept up coiffures worn high on the head and topped by voluminous hats. This looked was popularized by Charles Dana Gibsons's illustrations and was coined the “Gibson girl”.