A friend linked me to this hilarious article written by W. Cade Gall in The Strand Magazine (Vol. 5, Jan. 1893) called "Future Dictates of Fashion". It's basically the author's prediction of what clothing will look like over the next hundred years. As my friend pointed out, "the images have become my headcanon for Harry Potter wizarding fashion through the ages". She is not wrong.
The article is quite long, so I'm just going to give you the illustrations and a few lines describing each one.
This is what people dressed like in his day. Fair enough. He writes, "The costumes of the lady and gentleman are familiar enough, although we note with surprise that the gentleman's coat-tails seem to have a crinoline cast, and if the turned-up bottoms of his trousers are a little mortifying, it is atoned for by a triumphant attitude which disarms hypercriticism".
I guess that's code for "Stand like a bad-ass and no one will pick on your fugly trouser cuffs."
"we find a subdued form of the article in the female costume for 1905. The ladies may well regard this plate as astounding. There is even a suggestion of "bloomer" about its nether portion".
Actually, this one isn't too far off. If you've seen Anne of Green Gables, or really any sort of "New Woman" costume that would be fairly easy to ride a bicycle in (with its requisite GIGANTIC PUFF SLEEVES), then you'll realize the author actually predicted this trend okay.
"The tailors, fifteen years hence, seem to have borrowed, in the construction of the coat, very liberally from the lady's mantle of 1893."
He didn't really say anything about this outfit, but the lacy breeches are a nice touch.
He didn't say too much about this outfit, either, but can we please discuss the pimp-hat and unfortunately-placed cane/sword? Phallic phallus is phallic.
"In the Ebullient period it [women's fashion] is chiefly distinguished by head-dress and the total abolition of stays. Crinoline, in spite of certain opposition, enjoyed a slight revival in the present day, and in 1897 the divided skirt threatened to spread universally. But it passed off, and nothing of a radical order was attempted in this direction until the revolution which brought in trousers for women in 1942".
That is remarkable–that's pretty much the EXACT date when trousers for women became commonplace, due to WWII and women needing to dress more practically in order to work in factories.
Also, I would love to see the Downton Abbey cast dressing like this in the first episode. You know Edith would be all over that shepherdess crook.
"The plate dated 1920 exhibits a very gorgeous and yet altogether simple set of garments for the male of the period".
He looks like Grizzly Adams going to a Halloween party as Little Lord Fauntleroy.
"The skirt, it is true, is short enough to alarm prim contemporary dames."
Actually, if you take off the hat and the cloak, this is an astoundingly accurate dress for the period.
And then shit goes off the rails again.
"we are favoured with a plate of what is presumably a husband and wife on their way to church [yeah, the church of Dr. Seuss] or perchance upon a shopping excursion. The lady is evidently looking archly back to see if anybody is observing what a consummate guy her spouse is making of himself."
I don't know what a "consummate guy" is, but I don't think he is one.
What's weird is that you saw little girls dressed like this in the early 1900s. He's only off by three decades.
"If we look for the greatest donkey [aka, ass] in the entire collection, it is obvious that we shall find him in the middle-aged party of 1936, who is gadding about in inflated trunks and with a fan in his hand. If it were not for the gloves and polka-dot neckwear we should assume that this costume was a particularly fantastic bathing-suit."
Shaved heads, duck feet, and letting your tackle flap in the breeze was clearly a big trend this year.
"The Oriental influence is easily traced in the fashion from 1938 to 1945, but it cannot but make the judicious grieve to note that trousers seem to have been adopted by women at the same time that they were discarded by the men."
"We hasten to observe that the latter plate — the one for 1948 — is that of a clergyman."
From the Church of Puritan Elves, no doubt.
The Beefeater look NEVER needs to come back into style.
FEAST YOUR EYE-SOCKETS ON THAT HAIR.
"The policeman shown in the drawing for 1960 seems to have a very easy time of it, for no man's person can be considered in danger from the mob who habitually offers so many points a saisir [points to seize] as this policeman's head displays."
Apparently the first of these pictures depicts a military gentleman. Yes, that is precisely what you want to wear into battle: exaggerated Scottish foppery and Poirot shoes.
"many of us would doubtless strenuously object to wearing neckties of the magnitude here portrayed." Yeah, because that's the weirdest thing about this costume.
On another note, I'm sorry, did someone say, "FAAAAAABULOOOOUS!"?
I don't care who you are–this outfit is pure Liberace/Elton John circa 1978, and you know you want it.
So what if it's a totally impractical skirt that doesn't let you walk? So what if it's a frivolous hat that doesn't let you see anything? You deserve it, girl. Treat yo'self!
The Queen of Hearts called. She says, "No, never mind. Keep the outfit."
She looks like a surly lighthouse keeper. I think I saw Rachel wearing something like this on an early episode of Friends.
Now, clearly, all of these drawings are meant to be fantastical and more than a little satirical. He didn't actually think this is what people would be wearing in however many decades, because honestly, who can predict that? That said, I'm not entirely sure what point this article served, except for some mild amusement. I've read it twice now and just keep coming to the conclusion that this guy was really bored.