The pace of change accelerated considerably in the following century, and women and men's fashion, especially in the dressing and adorning of the hair, became equally complex. Art historians are therefore able to use fashion with confidence and precision to date images, often to within five years, particularly in the case of images from the 15th century. Initially, changes in fashion led to a fragmentation across the upper classes of Europe of what had previously been a very similar style of dressing and the subsequent development of distinctive national styles. These national styles remained very different until a counter-movement in the 17th to 18th centuries imposed similar styles once again, mostly originating from Ancien Régime France. Though the rich usually led fashion, the increasing affluence of early modern Europe led to the bourgeoisie and even peasants following trends at a distance, but still uncomfortably close for the elites – a factor that Fernand Braudel regards as one of the main motors of changing fashion.
I am Angie Cox and I started YLF after 15 years in the fashion industry as a designer, retail buyer and consultant. These days I'm a fashion stylist to individual clients and I write daily about personal style. You can become a YLF member to join us in the forum or to collect finds, but you're equally welcome as an anonymous reader. Everyone, members and non-members alike, can subscribe to email updates and our monthly newsletter.