Campus Life: 1870-World War II
People dressed much more formally in the nineteenth century than they do today. The demands of Victorian society dictated different styles of clothing for different times of day and occasions. Daytime clothing for women always consisted of modest high necklines and long sleeves, and of course, a lady never exposed her ankles. In 1870, bustles were in fashion, so any fashionably dressed female college student would have worn a bustle dress along with several layers of petticoats under her skirt. Male students were also bound by social norms of Victorian dressing. No well-dressed man would be seen outside the home or in the presence of ladies without wearing a jacket. For daywear, this could have been either a cutaway style morning coat, or what was known as a sack coat, what we think of as a normal suit coat today. Both, however, would have required the wearing of a high collar that was separate from the shirt and attached with collar buttons, and some form of necktie.
Fashions loosened up some in the twentieth century but many Victorian ideas carried over into the early decades. Dressing for formal dances on campus required the appropriate evening attire of tuxedos or full dress tailcoats for men, depending on the occasion, and floor length evening dresses for women. Of course, with shorter knee-length fashions overall in the 1920s, ladies evening dresses were as short as their daytime attire.