A Timeline of Clothes

By Tim Lambert

20,000 BC In Europe people make warm clothes such as trousers, coats, and boots from animal skins using bone needles

1200 BC Men in Egypt wear loincloths and a kind of kilt. Women wear dresses with shoulder straps. Both sexes wear jewelry.

400 BC Women in Greece wear long dresses that cover most of their bodies. Men wear tunics and cloaks.

100 AD Roman men wear tunics. Roman citizens wear togas. Women wear long dresses. Roman men and women wear shorts called subligaculum. Women wear a band around their chest called a strophium or a mamilare.

1000 AD Saxon men wear shirts and tunics. They also wear breeches. Women wear long linen garments with a long tunic over them.

1300 Men wear tunics. Some men wear linen shorts called braies. They also wear hose (tights or stockings). Women wear a nightie-like garment called a shift underneath. Over it, they wear a long tunic and over that a gown.

1590 Men wear breeches and a jacket called a doublet. Women wear a linen garment called a shift under a long dress. Women wear a frame called a farthingale under their dress. Both sexes wear hats.

1680 Men wear breeches, stockings, and boots. They wear a waistcoat and a frock coat on top of it. Women still wear shifts and long dresses

1797 The top hat is introduced in Britain

Modern Clothes

c. 1800 Women start wearing underwear

c. 1807 Thomas Winter invents the gloving donkey

1820 Thomas Hancock invents elastic

1822 Albert Thurston invents suspenders (called braces in Britain)

1849 The safety pin is invented by Walter Hunt

1851 Isaac Singer patents the first practical sewing machine

1870 Men now wear trousers, waistcoats and coats. Women wear bustles to cause their dresses to bulge at the back.

1877 Chester Greenwood patents earmuffs

1893 The zip fastener is invented by Whitcomb L. Judson. Louise Austin patents pinking shears.

1903 Albert Parkhouse invents the coat hanger

1910 Women wear hobble skirts, so narrow women can only ‘hobble’ along while wearing them

1910 Stockings and knickers are made from rayon for the first time

1913 The bra is invented by Mary Phelps Jacob

1917 Gideon Sundback patents an improved version of the zipper fastener

1926 The first steam iron is introduced

1920s Knickers become shorter. Men’s clothes become less formal. Men wear pullovers instead of waistcoats.

1925 Women wear knee-length skirts

1935 Nylon is invented by Wallace Carothers

1941 In Britain clothes rationing begins. Polyester is invented.

1946 The bikini is invented

1947 Christian Dior introduces the New Look

1949 Clothes rationing ends in Britain

1959 Tights (pantyhose) are invented

1965 Mary Quant invents the mini skirt

1990s Thongs become popular