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What is Romantic Fashion?

By Lauren Romano
Updated May 21, 2024
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Romantic fashion is clothing that conjures up thoughts of romance and femininity. In the history of fashion, the Romantic era of fashion was between 1825 and 1845. Among the several different styles, some consisted of a “v” pointed waistline, large elaborate hats and increasingly slimmer sleeves. Today, romantic fashion typically consists of light colors, ruffles, lace and florals. The emphasis of this type of fashion is to show off the female body in a demure way.

The peak of the fashion of the Romantic era was between 1825 and 1835. The waistlines of the dresses were a few inches above the natural waistline. Embellishments and padding were added to the hem of the skirt to give it more bulk, however, by 1835 the skirts were being transitioned into more a more bell shape. The sleeves started out as large and billowy, transformed into a sleeve that was tight on top and flowy from the elbow, then changed to a tight sleeve with extra fabric at the wrist and finally were completely tight.

While bonnets and large hats were popular during that time period, they are very rarely seen worn today. Hats were piled with embellishments such as feathers, bows and ribbons. High-set bonnets allowed for the tall hairstyles of the period.

Today's romantic fashion tends to lean toward more dresses and flowy pants than shorts and tailored pants. The colors are pastels, such as light pink and soft yellow as opposed to blacks or browns. Floral prints are also a big part of this style. Some of the options for type and style of fabric include chiffon, lace, velvet and eyelet. The cut of the clothing is billowy but still tends to accentuate the curves of a woman's body.

Some of the accents that accompany romantic fashion are bows, lace, ruffles and ribbons. Ruffles may be anywhere on a piece of clothing from the entire front of a shirt or what comprises the entire body of the skirt. They may also just accentuate sleeves or emphasize the neckline. Lace may make up the entire article of clothing or act as a highlight in a specific area, such as on the sleeves or on the front of a dress.

Romantic fashion can be worn by itself or paired with more masculine-inspired pieces. For example, a woman may wear a ruffled shirt with a suit jacket. Another option is to pair romantic style clothing with darker pieces, such as a pink floral dress with black heels. With such a wide array of choices of clothing that have a feminine and romantic feel to them, it's possible to put together an outfit that truly brings out an individual's style.

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Discussion Comments
By Lostnfound — On Feb 10, 2015

I'm old enough to remember, and stupid enough to admit that I remember the New Romantic fashion trend in the early 80s. Guys wore pirate shirts with ruffled necklines, and women wore frilly blouses with big sleeves. It was all very frou-frou. You can watch the "Planet Earth" video by Duran Duran for a really good look at New Romantic fashion.

I never really got into that look for myself. I was more into the preppy look, in that I liked more tailored clothes, that looked neat and were suitable for work, church or high school. That's what you do when you're broke.

By Grivusangel — On Feb 09, 2015

Really, tall hairstyles had gone out of fashion by the 1830s. They were more popular in the late 1700s. The bell sleeves were extremely popular in the 1830s, though. They also featured dresses that were cut narrowly at the shoulder to make the neck look much longer and to show off more of the shoulders. Of course, these styles were popular in the spring and summer, while higher necklines were more the norm in the winter months.

Hoops started becoming fashionable in the 1840s, to billow out to the big hoopskirts people associate with Civil-War era dresses. But in the 1830s, skirts were still fairly narrow.

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