126 – Historical Fashion in Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables was published in 1908, but it’s actually a work of historical fiction, very carefully recreating the 1880s through accurate depictions of music, teen trends, politics, and even fashion. In this episode, we take a look at the Anne-girl’s sense of style, and how it relates to real artistic and philosophical movements in the 19th century.

Activity: Teen Fashion Then and Now

Anne of Green Gables is set in the 1880s. One of the fashion trends at the time was called Artistic Dress or Aesthetic Dress. In contrast to tight-fitting, highly tailored styles that were considered mainstream, Aesthetic Dress featured soft, natural fabrics sewn in medieval-inspired fashions. Aesthetic clothing was designed to be beautiful, comfortable, and pleasant to wear.

Ask students to compare current teen fashions with the style Anne loved. Ask them to think about what artistic, political, musical, or social movements inspire the modern fashions they follow. Research the Pre-Raphaelite movement and the Aesthetic Movement, with emphasis on the philosophy behind artists’ fashion choices. Do any of these older ideas feel compatible with modern fashions? Is there anything about the older styles that appeals to any of the students?

After researching the fashion styles that inspired Anne Shirley’s romantic sense of beauty, students could try to re-create looks that she would have loved using clothing they have already or by making new items in an Aesthetic style.