Tag Archive: off the shoulder tops

Off The Shoulder Style: Then and Now

One of the things I love about fashion is how styles come in, go out, and come back again.  As a historian I love looking for elements of historical style- or details that were stylish in the past now becoming en vogue.   So, when I saw that off the shoulder tops were the it item for the summer I immediately connected this style trend with a popular look in the 19th century.

In the mid 19th century off the shoulder gowns were the dominate style for ladies evening gowns and/or ball gowns.  The off shoulder look was not wore during the day, as it was not conservative enough.  When wearing an off the shoulder gown a woman’s bodice or corset would push her bosom up giving her lots of cleavage!  I know- it seems a little scandalous for that time period- but it was accepted and widely worn.  In addition to being very low cut, the dresses were also very tight and low across the shoulders.  They were so tight in fact that when wearing one a woman couldn’t lift her arms above shoulder height.  From the should down the gown would taper down to the waist tightly, and then balloon out over ample petticoats and a wooden frame hoop skirt.  Can you image wearing a dress like that in August?!?

read more