Women’s Workwear Through The Decades

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The history of women working has something unequivocally charming and should be always kept in mind by all the working girls of today. While fashion is also synonymous with evolution, the transformation of women’s workwear is something full of significance – a journey from crinoline to tailleurs, from Victorian updos to messy buns.

1911 – 1917


At the beginning of the 20th century, women wore outfits which remind us more of the Victorian era than our times. Big, full skirts, high buns and puffed blouses seem to be the rule, especially in the first picture. While the second photo has been taken just a few years later, we can already see a slight change in the hairstyle – more relaxed – and the simpler shirts. These were, in fact, times of war, and many women had to take their husband’s place at work, therefore blurring gender roles’ lines.

1932 – 1942


After the war, dressing and hairstyling codes started to change more noticeably. In the first photo, dated 1932, just a few older women seem to stick to their buns, while younger employees sport short, wavy haircuts and perms. The second picture, taken in 1942, shows longer hair lengths and a variety of dresses and blouses, often with patterns and fancier details. A more working-related attire seems to emerge.

1956 – 1960s


These women having a break on a sunny day enjoy their lunches and wear formal dresses. Same goes for the woman in the second picture, taken in the 60s, whose outfit shows a choice of more conservative colors and simple patterns. Her haircut, though, seems to embrace a more typical style of the decade.



Skirts go shorter and trousers become part of the female outfit in these shots from the 70’s. Also, perms rule; not just shorter, but puffier.

1982 – 1987


In the first photo, a woman with shoulder-length haircut works on one of the first personal computers; excluded the look of the PC, we can surely see how her looks and outfit get closer to workwear of today. In the second picture, fashion designer Diane von Fustenberg sports a black dress and a bunch of statement jewelry.



While in the first picture we can see lace and a floral pattern, there is not much left of the old fashioned gowns and blouses. In the second picture, we can see the first t-shirt of the whole series. Shirts, of course, won’t be forgotten in most workplaces where a formal attire is required, but it seems like a more casual style is beginning to be allowed.

 Thanks to Mashable for the great pictures.

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