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Fashion in 1910s Greenwich Village

Fashion in 1910s Greenwich Village


In the 1910s, a period known as the Greenwich Village Renaissance, when a great flowering of a radical political, cultural and artistic ferment emerged took root in this neighborhood. A new fashion trend also emerged from the bohemian subculture of Greenwich Village. Women began cutting their hair, removing their corsets, and wearing loose clothing like tunics, blouses, and caftans. This new type of dress was cultivated in the vibrant progressive spaces of Greenwich Village where feminist thought and feminist thinkers could come together to connect, learn, and advocate for change.

Groups like the Heterodoxy Club, a forum for women to discuss and develop progressive feminism tactics, held meetings in the neighborhood. In fact, many members of Heterodoxy have become fashion icons, known for their unconventional dressing and rejection of gender norms.

Henriette Rodman, c. 1914.

Henrietta Rodman, a prominent member of Heterodoxy, was an early feminist or reform fashion icon, known for her bouffant dresses and short haircut. She founded the Feminist Alliance in 1914, becoming a leader both for her intellectual ideas and her fashion sense.

While Rodman and his followers preferred austere dress composed of gray or brown tunics, embroidery and prints became common embellishments, sparking an increase in batik printing and an interest in European craft arts. As this bohemian fashion grew in popularity, embroidered blouses and Russian blouses became the dominant style of Greenwich Village.

In “Dress and culture in Greenwich VillageDeborah Saville states that the blouse was the item of clothing most associated with [the neighborhood]. A garment of protest, the comfortable and inexpensive blouse signified ideological arguments around sexuality and social norms oriented toward capitalism, particularly for radical women in the early part of the 1910s.

Jessie Tarbox Beal, photographer and gallery owner, c. 1917

Dress was seen as a way to express progressive and feminist ideals. Saville explains how these fashions were not just fleeting trends but spread to mainstream culture. The loose tunics of the 1910s would later evolve into the short-skirted, flapper dresses of the 1920s, which had a similar feminist meaning.




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