A Norwegian bride

1890, English, Photography

A Fusion of Heritage and Innovation: Women’s Fashion in Norway from the 1880s to 1900s

During the 1880s to 1900s, women’s fashion in Norway was influenced by numerous factors, including politics, economy, and culture. This period marked Norway’s transition into modernity, with many changes in society and economy. These changes had a direct impact on the prevailing women’s fashion of the era.

A Norwegian bride
A Norwegian bride

For instance, as Norway industrialized and grew as a nation, women increasingly began to work outside their homes. This necessitated clothing that was more practical and comfortable for everyday tasks. At the same time, European and American fashion trends influenced the styles and designs worn in Norway.

In this context of change and transformation, women’s fashion in Norway from the 1880s to 1900s was a blend of tradition and modernity. Traditional Norwegian dresses were still commonly worn, but European and American fashion influences were also evident in women’s attire.

Moreover, women’s fashion in Norway reflected their social standing in society. For example, upper-class women could afford more elaborate dresses and accessories, while working-class women often dressed more simply. Among the many examples and anecdotes, we could highlight the following:

  • During the 1880s-1900s, “princess” style dresses were popular in Norway. These dresses, which fitted the body and fell straight from the shoulders to the feet, were often adorned with lace and ribbons. This dress style was said to be inspired by French fashion at the time.
  • Norwegian artist Marie Høeg, who lived between 1866 and 1949, was known for her unconventional dressing style. Høeg often wore trousers, men’s hats, and jackets, which was considered scandalous in her time. Høeg and her partner Bolette Berg founded a photographic studio where they experimented with gender photography and often dressed ambiguously.
  • Norwegian women also wore elaborate underwear during the 1880s-1900s. The brudestakk, a type of undergarment worn beneath wedding dresses, was often handmade and adorned with lace and embroidery. Some women were said to have spent years making their own brudestakk, as a display of skill and dedication.
  • The headscarf was a popular accessory for Norwegian women during the 1880s-1900s. It was often used to cover the head and keep hair in place, and frequently featured bright patterns and colors. In some parts of Norway, women wore different types of headscarves to indicate their social status and wealth.
Woman in Hardangerbunad

The Charm of Traditional Norwegian Attire

Traditional Norwegian clothing was highly distinctive and had a unique aesthetic. Traditional dresses were long and wide, with spacious sleeves and decorations featuring embroidery and lace. The most common materials for traditional dresses were wool and linen, and the colors varied according to the region.

In addition to dresses, traditional hats and scarves were also an essential part of Norwegian traditional attire. The hats boasted distinctive shapes and designs, while scarves were used to cover the head or neck.

Despite the influence of European and American fashion on women’s fashion in Norway during the 1880s-1900s, traditional Norwegian clothing was still frequently worn. Women donned these dresses for special occasions such as weddings and parties and often passed them down through generations.

Norwegian bride, 1880s

An intriguing anecdote about traditional Norwegian clothing is that in some regions, women wore decorative belts to display their wealth and social standing. These belts were made of silver and adorned with elaborate designs and precious stones.

Another interesting example is the bunad, a modern version of traditional Norwegian clothing. These outfits gained popularity in the 1930s and are still worn in Norway on special occasions. Each region has its own bunad design, reflecting the rich diversity of traditional Norwegian attire.

people of norway portraits by Macus Selmer 19th century

The Dresses

Dresses were an integral part of women’s fashion in Norway during the 1880s-1900s. A variety of dress styles were fashionable at the time, and materials and embellishments varied according to the situation and occasion.

One of the most popular dress styles in Norway during this era was the Victorian-style dress. These dresses were long and wide, with puffed sleeves and high collars. Common materials for these dresses included cotton and silk, and decorations could feature lace and embroidery.

Besides Victorian dresses, there was also a trend towards simpler and more practical dresses, particularly for women who worked outside the home. These dresses were often made of sturdier materials, such as wool, and did not have as many embellishments.

Edwardian Fashion – 1907

An interesting aspect of women’s fashion in Norway during the 1880s-1900s was the use of specific colors in dresses. Red was a very popular color, especially in wedding dresses, as it was considered a lucky color. Green was also a popular color, as it was associated with the Norwegian nature and landscape.

Additionally, some Norwegian women wore a type of undergarment called kofte, which was a long woolen shirt worn beneath the dress. This provided an extra layer of warmth in the cold Norwegian climate.

In summary, dresses were a significant part of women’s fashion in Norway during the 1880s-1900s, reflecting both European fashion influences and Norwegian tradition.

The Accessories

Accessories played a crucial role in women’s fashion in Norway during the 1880s-1900s. A variety of accessories were used with dresses, and these could change depending on the occasion and situation.

One of the most common accessories was the scarf, which was used to cover the head or neck. These scarves could be made of silk, cotton, or linen, and were often decorated with embroidery or lace. The use of a scarf was a practical and stylish way to stay warm in the Norwegian climate.

Hats were also a popular accessory in Norway at that time. There was a range of hat styles, from simpler hats to more elaborate and decorated ones. Hats could be made of wool, felt, or silk, and were often worn with the hair gathered into a bun.

In addition to scarves and hats, jewelry also played an important role in women’s fashion in Norway. Norwegian women wore traditional jewelry, such as brooches and necklaces, which were often passed down through generations. These pieces of jewelry could be made of silver or gold, and were frequently adorned with intricate designs and precious stones.

Norwegian bride, 1905

An interesting aspect of women’s fashion in Norway during the 1880s-1900s was the use of jewelry to display social status. In some regions, women wore silver brooches and necklaces to showcase their wealth and social standing. These pieces of jewelry were often decorated with intricate designs and precious stones, and could be quite expensive.

In summary, accessories were a significant part of women’s fashion in Norway during the 1880s-1900s, reflecting both European fashion influences and Norwegian tradition. Scarves, hats, and jewelry were elegant ways to complement dresses and demonstrate social status.

The Weddings

during the 1880s-1900s, and women’s fashion played a crucial role in these ceremonies. Women wore special wedding dresses, often in bright colors such as red or green, and with elaborate decorations.

In addition to the dresses, women also wore special accessories for weddings, including hats and jewelry. Wedding hats were often more ornate and decorated than everyday hats, and were frequently worn with veils or hairnets.

In some parts of Norway, special silver belts were also used for weddings as a symbol of the bride’s family’s wealth and social status.

Stunning Photos from Fjord Norway Weddings in 1900

Norwegian weddings typically included a procession, during which the guests walked together to the church or ceremony location. During this procession, women wore special scarves and often covered their heads with them.

An interesting anecdote about Norwegian weddings is that they were often held during the summer months, when the weather was warmer and travel conditions were more favorable. Furthermore, they were frequently celebrated in the countryside, surrounded by the natural beauty of Norway, making the occasion even more special.

In summary, weddings were an important part of Norwegian society during the 1880s-1900s, and women’s fashion played a key role in these ceremonies. Women wore special dresses and accessories, and weddings were often held in a beautiful, natural setting.

The Working Women

During the 1880s-1900s, an increasing number of women in Norway began working outside the home. This directly impacted women’s fashion, as women needed clothing that was more practical and comfortable for daily work.

Working women often dressed more simply than upper-class women, with dresses made of sturdier materials such as wool and with fewer decorations. Additionally, they often wore a headscarf to keep their hair out of their faces while working.

An interesting example of women’s fashion for working women in Norway is the use of a type of underwear called kofte. This long woolen shirt was worn under the dress and provided an additional layer of warmth in the cold Norwegian climate.

Moreover, the use of certain clothing items and accessories could also indicate the type of work a woman performed. For example, women working in the fishing industry often wore rubber boots to keep their feet dry, while women working in the textile industry often wore aprons to protect their clothing.

People of norway portraits by Macus Selmer 19th century

Although the fashion for working women was simpler and more practical than the fashion for upper-class women, this doesn’t mean it was any less stylish. Working women still took care of their personal appearance and ensured their clothing was clean and in good condition.

In summary, working women had a significant impact on women’s fashion in Norway during the 1880s-1900s, with clothing needing to be more practical and comfortable for daily work. Working women dressed simply but took care of their personal appearance and made sure their clothing was clean and in good condition.

Changes and Evolution

During the 1880s-1900s, women’s fashion in Norway underwent significant changes and evolved in response to the trends and styles of the time.

One of the biggest influences on Norwegian fashion at the time was European and American fashion. Norwegian women began incorporating fashion styles and trends from other parts of the world into their own dresses and accessories.

Additionally, technology and mass production also had an impact on Norwegian fashion. New production methods made clothing more affordable and accessible to a wider range of people, allowing fashion to evolve even further.

As Norway industrialized and modernized, women’s fashion became more modern and practical as well. Dresses became simpler and more comfortable, with fewer decorations and elaborate details.

Bunad

An interesting example of the evolution of fashion in Norway during the 1880s-1900s is the introduction of the bunad costume in the 1930s. This costume, which is a modern version of traditional Norwegian clothing, became popular and is still worn in Norway on special occasions. Each region has its own bunad costume design, reflecting the rich diversity of traditional Norwegian fashion.

Another example is the change in popular colors for dresses. As Norway industrialized and modernized, bright and eye-catching colors like red and green began to be replaced by more neutral and muted colors.

In summary, women’s fashion in Norway during the 1880s-1900s underwent significant changes and evolved in response to the trends and styles of the time. The influence of European and American fashion, technology and mass production, and the modernization of Norwegian society all had a significant impact on fashion.

Conclusion

In conclusion, women’s fashion in Norway during the 1880s-1900s reflected both the influence of European fashion and Norwegian tradition. Dresses and accessories were an important part of women’s fashion, and Norwegian women used a variety of styles and materials to reflect their social status and situation.

The changes and evolution in women’s fashion in Norway during this time were influenced by trends and styles from other parts of the world, as well as by the modernization and industrialization of Norwegian society. As Norway modernized, fashion also became more modern and practical.

It is interesting to see how women’s fashion in Norway has evolved over time, from traditional Norwegian clothing to modern and contemporary styles. Fashion remains an important part of Norwegian culture, and women’s fashion in Norway during the 1880s-1900s is a testament to the rich history and traditions of Norwegian fashion.

In summary, women’s fashion in Norway during the 1880s-1900s was a mix of tradition and modernity, influenced by European and American fashion, as well as by the modernization of Norwegian society. Dresses and accessories were an important part of women’s fashion, and reflected both the social status and the situation of women in society. Fashion continues to be an important part of Norwegian culture, and women’s fashion in Norway during the 1880s-1900s showcases the rich history and traditions of Norwegian fashion.

Caramel