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1893’s Predictions of Contemporary Fashion

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Fashion in 1960's as imagined in 1893 (Strand Magazine via Internet Archive)
Fashion in 1960s as imagined in 1893 (Strand Magazine via Internet Archive)

Fiction can often be more telling about a given time and place than non-fiction. The medium allows for the writer’s imagination to run wild, yet is still limited by his or her understanding of reality’s constraints. In particular, predictions of the future can give insight into how society at a given time was progressing. Sometimes these predictions can be apocalyptic, or scarily accurate. In this case of a short story written in 1893, W. Cade Gall’s vision of the future was bizarre.

Fashion in 1940's as imagined in 1893 (Strand Magazine via Internet Archive)
Fashion in 1940s as imagined in 1893 (Strand Magazine via Internet Archive)

 

Published in the popular British journal Strand Magazine, “Future Dictates of Fashion” is a short story that imagines how people would dress through a variety of decades. While largely a failure as a legitimate attempt to predict the future, it’s fun to see how far off the mark he truly was. Gall’s predictions echo the wardrobes of The Wizard of Oz and Dr. Seuss books, though less so fashion shows or what people actually wear on a daily basis. The article can be viewed in its entirety here, but we’ve provided a sample of the outfits below.

Fashion in 1900's as imagined in 1893 (Strand Magazine via Internet Archive)
Fashion in 1900s as imagined in 1893 (Strand Magazine via Internet Archive)
Fashion in 1920's as imagined in 1893 (Strand Magazine via Internet Archive)
Fashion in 192os as imagined in 1893 (Strand Magazine via Internet Archive)
Fashion in 1930's as imagined in 1893 (Strand Magazine via Internet Archive)
Fashion in 1930s as imagined in 1893 (Strand Magazine via Internet Archive)
Fashion in 1950's as imagined in 1893 (Strand Magazine via Internet Archive)
Fashion in 1950s as imagined in 1893 (Strand Magazine via Internet Archive)
Fashion in 1970's as imagined in 1893 (Strand Magazine via Internet Archive)
Fashion in 1970s as imagined in 1893 (Strand Magazine via Internet Archive)