Are you interested in historical fashion, but not really sure which era you should research? Do you just feel lost in all the massive amounts of variety that we’ve seen just in the last five hundred years? If so, then you’re not alone- but don’t be intimidated! I’ve designed a quiz that will ask questions about your actual fashion preferences and aesthetic sensibilities so that you can easily figure out a good place to start in your historical fashion research. I’ll put a poll at the end so you can tell me what results you got! Enjoy!
(Note: The quiz covers fashion eras from the Renaissance to the 1920s. Anything before 1500 and after 1929 won’t be covered. The reason for this is because including more modern eras can distort the results because people are more familiar with 1930s and beyond, and ancient/medieval fashion isn’t all that interesting, lol. This quiz is meant to help you explore time periods that you might not be very familiar with.)
1: Pick how you would describe your figure:
a. Full-figured all around
b. Proportionally very full-chested, and proud of it!
c. Moderately curvy, soft and delicate arms, wide hips
d. Slim hips, tall and column-like, full chest and shoulders
e. Naturally curvy and high-waisted (meaning the slimmest part of your figure is higher up, closer to your chest than your hips)
f. Classic hourglass- slim waist, full hips and chest
g. “Boyish-” petite, long torso, flat chest, not curvy
2: What part of your body would you like to emphasize?
a. Arms- I would enjoy wearing very long, poofy sleeves
b. Bust- I am comfortable in plunging necklines
c. Hips- I love to wear very full skirts
d. Height- I like high-waisted gowns that make me look taller
e. Hips and shoulders- I wouldn’t mind wearing a bustle and puffed sleeves to enhance my curves
f. Everything- I could cinch my waist and add padding to the bust and hips.
g. Legs- my legs are long and shapely and I want to show them off.
3: What is your pet peeve with modern fashion?
a. It is too simple and boring. I don’t like the minimalist trend.
b. People seem to be ashamed of their own bodies; they cover themselves up in unflattering ways.
c. There is no sense of quirkiness in fashion anymore. Everyone just wears the same generic, uncreative things.
d. Everything is designed for people with curvy hips- I can never fill out skinny jeans!
e. People often dress inappropriately and make fools out of themselves!
f. Fashion has lost its femininity. Women ought to be proud to dress like women.
g. Everything is designed for full-chested people. I can’t fill out normal bras, and some tops/dresses look deflated on me.
4: Pick an aesthetic (out of these photos)
5. What kind of skirt would you wear?
a. Simple in design, but has lots of fabric and full volume.
b. Full and drapey, with two layers visible (the fabric parts in the middle to reveal a contrast fabric underneath)
c. One with padded or otherwise- accentuated hips, very wide
d. Long and slim, made out of a thin fabric that clings to the body
e. It would have a hoop to give it width, or a bustle to puff it out in the back, with a couple of petticoats (underskirt)
f. Flowy and drapey, with a long train in the back
g. A slim skirt that goes just past the knees
6. Which sleeves sound the coolest?
a. Long sleeves that have several openings which show a contrast fabric, very poofy and full
b. Frilly, with lots of ruffles and details all over it, off the shoulder
c. Tight around the upper arm with lace flowing delicately around the forearm
d. Really short, puffed sleeves that just cover the shoulder
e. Tight around the wrist and forearm but puffed at the shoulders
f. Flowy and loose sleeves that go down to the elbow
g. No sleeves thank you!
7. Pick a color scheme
a. Deep red, dark purple, gold
b. Emerald green, royal blue, dark pink
c. Cream, pink, beige, pastel green, light blue
d. Powder blue, ivory, gold, pale pink
e. Peacock green, burgundy, light purple
f. White, light pink, beige, silver, bright blue
g. Black, turquoise blue, bright pink
8. Pick a corset out of these pictures:
b. (Note: Ignore the sleeves on this one, they are not a part of the corset, they are a part of a separate undergarment.)
9. Which of these classic works of literature or theater would you want to be in?
a. Any play by Shakespeare
b. Any play by Moliere
c. Marriage of Figaro (opera by Mozart)
d. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
e. Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy)
f. My Fair Lady (Broadway musical)
g. The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
10. What do you value in a culture?
a. Appreciation of the arts, sciences and ancient cultures
b. Dignity and grandeur, feeling like royalty, appreciation of theater and drama
c. Very fine music, emotional balance, everything made with symmetry
d. Emphasis on the family, dreaming of faraway lands, stability and kindness
e. Properness, practicality and elegance combined
f. Politeness and beauty in everything, even the unseen
g. Individuality and uniqueness, exploration of new ideas
11. In your view, fashion should be…
a. Regal and queenly, evoking a sense of power
b. Bold in colors and style, controversial
c. Frivolous and elaborate, a work of art
d. Simple and elegant with long vertical lines, flattering to all
e. Poised and well-put together, everything is neat and tidy
f. Delicate and feminine, ladylike and gentle
g. Sparkly and glamorous, youthful and sassy
I hope you were writing your answers down! Time to add them all up and see what you get:
Mostly A’s: Renaissance/Elizabethan! (1485-1600)
The Renaissance is what I think of as the beginning of Cool Fashion. Now that living conditions had improved a little bit and people weren’t constantly fighting wars every day, people had time to actually put some effort into their clothes! The silhouette aimed to flatten the chest, not reduce the waist, and accentuate the hips with a full skirt, so that the torso looked like a cylinder. Fuller figures often worked well especially in the later end of the era. The Renaissance had all sorts of cool sleeve ideas, as you can see in the example picture. Here’s my Renaissance board on Pinterest if you want to take a look!
Mostly B’s: Baroque! (Roughly the 1600s)
I love Baroque fashion because it looks slouchy but structured at the same time. The sleeves and the neckline hang loosely off the boned bodice, creating a really unique silhouette. The Baroque corset (or stays) was more tubular like the Renaissance silhouette. Some easy ways to remember the Baroque era are by the very revealing necklines we sometimes see, and by the very long bodice that sometimes pointed past the hips, making the skirt seem shorter. If you have a full chest and aren’t afraid to show it off, and you love the artsy nature of this era, you would have fit right in.
Mostly C’s: Rococo/Georgian! (Roughly the 1700s)
The 1700s is the century of Mozart and of the American and French Revolutions. There’s really a lot to love, fashion-wise, about this era because of the really gorgeous bodices and sleeves, and of course, the really wide rectangle shaped skirts. Every little detail was thought out- ruffles here and bows there and all the trim and embellishments, talk about fun! The silhouette is still roughly similar to the Renaissance and Baroque fashions. The ideal body type was somewhat similar to what it is today, but the stays would flatten out a lot of your curves and show some cleavage. I love the quirkiness of this era; it is on my costuming bucket list!
Mostly D’s: Regency! (1800-late 1820s)
Not a fan of the exaggerated-hip fashions of the 1700s? The Regency era peeps weren’t either! For the first time in about 200 years, the 1800s introduced a silhouette that was really different from the Renaissance, Baroque and Georgian fashions. The silhouette lifted up the breasts with its unique corsets and high-waisted dresses, and the ideal hipline would have been slim and column-like because the skirts were slimmer. The fashions of this era were somewhat controversial because they had a lot of sheer, clingy fabrics that clung to the legs. Petticoats were a must! This is the era of Jane Austen’s novels, and many people find the delicate, elegantly simple Regency fashions to be quite charming.
Mostly E’s: Victorian! (1830s-1901)
The Victorian Era was an exciting time in history because of the Industrial Revolution and the invention of photography. And the fashions were no less exciting! There is a wide variety of styles within the Victorian Era, including the balloon-sleeved gowns of the 1830s, the super full hoop skirts of the 1850s and 60s, and the bustle gowns of the 1870s-1890s. (The picture above is from the late 1880s.) Aside from being very poised and elegant, the Victorians were rather practical people. Undergarments, for example, were mostly functional, not there for aesthetic purposes. If you are naturally curvy, lucky you, you will work quite nicely with the spoon-busk corsets of the 1870s and beyond! (I couldn’t pull one of those off to save my life!) A staple in any fashion history buff’s store of knowledge, the Victorian Era is truly worthy of some investigation.
Mostly F’s: Edwardian! (1901-1914)
Oh the Edwardian Era, that magical blink in history that I wish we could go back to! Edwardian fashion is some of the most beautiful clothing you will ever encounter, from the inside out. Unlike the more practical Victorian fashion, Edwardian fashion was more sensual. The S-bend corsets from that time caused people to lean forward and puff out their chests, and the pigeon breast look in many blouses and dresses reinforced this. Other undergarments like the chemise and drawers were lacy and elaborate; they were more decorative than their Victorian counterparts. Here’s my Edwardian board on Pinterest. It has 400+ pins. You will be entertained for quite a while.
Mostly G’s: 1920s! (Flapper era/prohibition era/art deco era)
Yay! The 20s! Who doesn’t love this era of bias-cut, heavily beaded and fringed, sleeveless, knee-length party dresses? It’s the one era in pretty much all of history that doesn’t need a lot of curves to pull off the look. Flat, boxy figures and well-toned arms and legs were IN! The 20s look can be difficult for a lot of people to pull off because of the dropped waist we see a lot- the tightest part of the dress is around the hips, so if you’re not a stick it can be really unflattering to a lot of people. But hey, it’s artsy, it’s different, and it’s very unique. Most of us love researching the 20s fashions even if they’re not easy to wear. Here’s my 20s-50s board on Pinterest– you’ll have to filter through the 30s, 40s and 50s pictures but that’s okay!
Three way tie or even more mixed than that? Congratulations, Honorary Fashion Nerd! You could never pick just one of these fabulous eras, so it is in your destiny to become a historical fashion buff! Chances are, you will probably end up researching all of them at some point or another, just like I have. It can be challenging to take it all on at once though, so if you’re not sure where to start, I would take your answer to the very first question (the body type question) and research the era associated with that first. It’s often easier to learn about the era that idealizes your body type, because it helps you connect to it a little more.
So, which era did you get? I will post a poll right here and you can let me know, or tell me in the comments section! Preferably both!
Oh! And before I forget, I made a Facebook page for Aurora’s Costuming! Check it out, there’s some content on there that doesn’t get posted on here…