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Tailoring And Clothing After The Civil War

682 words - 3 pages

Before the American Civil War, ready-made apparel existed but its variety was limited. Coats, jackets and undergarments were only available in predetermined sizes. Most clothing was made by tailors, by individuals, or by their family members at home. The Civil War was a pivotal event in the historical development of men’s ready-made clothing. At the outset of the Civil War, most uniforms were custom-made in workers’ homes under government contract. As the war continued, however, manufacturers started to build factories that could quickly and efficiently meet the growing demands of the military. These factories were able to make uniforms for a fraction of the cost of home sewers. ...view middle of the document...

They no longer shopped at the town’s general store for bolts of calico fabric. Chain stores and mail order catalogs offered multiple ways to access the new clothes. Ready-made articles of clothing were portrayed as modern and fashionable, if not sturdy. The new consumer industries were rapidly redefining the way Americans viewed mass-manufactured goods. The purchase of mass-produced clothing was sometimes seen as a loss of individuality. However, American women began to accept ready-made merchandise as convenient and affordable. They were up-to-date fashion items that could be easily replaced as styles changed. Making clothes more quickly meant styles did change more frequently as well. It took far less time for a designer to sketch a pattern and have an item made than ever before.
However, the new ready-made clothing often fit poorly. A tailor might take two dozen measurements when making a men’s suit. For example, determining the distance from the base of the neck to the middle of the shoulders is critical for an exact fit. Women’s clothes are...

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