Mannequins as we know and love them are a more recent invention of the mid 19th century. their birth follow the birth of department stores and ready made garments that started the big shopping craze that has been obsessing women all around the world ever since!
to be able to date a mannequins, we just need to look at their body shapes, which mirrors the evolution of ladies shape through the different eras. Due to the long worn and then rejected corsets, the Female body changed quite drastically every decades which helps us easily date every mannequins for each of those eras…
( I need to specify that I am no way a specialist or an historian, I myself was interested in trying to date mannequins I was coming across as a reseller. Finding it hard to find one clear source of information, and after a lot of hours of internet and book searching I decide to compile all the info that I found relevant to the subject matter.
I believe these information to be pretty clear and accurate give or take a few years on the dates…)
circa 1860/1870: clearly a wasp waist but it still has the breasts clearly separated. also the hourglass shape is very clear, with the little belly sticking out a little, we do not have quite yet de S shape that will be the favored shape of the 1890.
circa 1880/1890: very drastic wasp waist, but the breasts are reunited into one chest, the front is completely straight and the back is raised up in an exaggerated way. the corsets of that era had a very “straight busc” which raised the chest, minimised the waist, and also forced the body in such a way that the women’s butt were raised (also they used extra padding there to exaggerate that shape)
circa 1900/1910 : still a wasp waist, still a straight front with one chest , but the waist, back and hips are noticeably less exaggerated. the corsets were getting longer in order to soften the hips… also society was starting to pay attention to how unhealthy those corsets were and fashion was following the trend.
Circa 1920: drastic change of shape..the corsets are dumped to make room to the girdle and we get into the flapper dress era were the androgynous look was all the rage! it meant being as flat of chest and bottom as possible…some ladies even taped their breasts in order to look slimmer (i guess women always went to extremes to follow fashion trends, no matter how uncomfortable…)
Here is the extend of my mannequin history knowledge…i hope these informations were useful and will help you next time you come across a mannequin and maybe decide to bring it home!
Thank you for your read and until the next time!