100 Years of Fashion: The Century's Style File

It isn't easy to sum up 100 years of fashion, but if we dared to, we might say that 20th century women's wear amounted to a war over the waist. It was constrained in the late 19th century, but designers loosened it in the teens and '20s; cinched it again in the '30s, '40s and '50s; and symbolically set it free once more in the '60s. From that point on, formality disappeared from daily dress. In the end, freedom conquered constriction.

--By Ginia Bellafante

PAUL POIRET Just before World War I, Frenchman Poiret set about revolutionizing fashion with his introduction of...

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