1850s fashion in European and European-influenced clothing is characterized by an increase in the width of women's skirts supported by crinolines or hoops, and the beginnings of dress reform. For men, the introduction of the sack coat as informal daywear and of outfits with matching coat, waistcoat and trousers marked the beginnings of the modern business suit.
1860s fashion in European and European-influenced clothing is characterized by extremely full-skirted women's fashions relying on crinolines and hoops and the emergence of "alternative fashions" under the influence of the Artistic Dress movement. In men's fashion, the three-piece ditto suit of sack coat, waistcoat, and trousers in the same fabric emerged as a novelty.
1870s fashion in European and European-influenced clothing is characterized by a gradual return to a narrow silhouette after the full-skirted fashions of the 1850s and 1860s. For women's fashion, fullness in the skirt had moved to the rear, where elaborate draping was held in place by tapes and supported by a bustle. This fashion required an underskirt, which was heavily trimmed with pleats, ruching, and frills. This fashion was short-lived (though the bustle would return again in the mid-1880s), and was succeeded by a tight-fitting silhouette with fullness as low as the knees: the cuirass bodice, a form-fitting, long-waisted, boned bodice that reached below the hips, and the princess sheath dress. Evening dresses had low necklines and very short, off-the-shoulder sleeves, and were worn with short (later mid-length) gloves. Other characteristic fashions included a velvet ribbon tied high around the neck and trailing behind for evening (the origin of the modern choker necklace). Innovations in men's fashion of the 1870s included the acceptance of patterned or figured fabrics for shirts and the general replacement of neckties tied in bow knots with the four-in-hand and later the Ascot tie.
Fashion in the 1880s in European and European-influenced countries is characterized by the return of the bustle. The long, lean line of the 1870s was replaced by a full, curvy silhouette with gradually widening shoulders. Fashionable waists were low and tiny below a full,low bust supported by a corset. The Rational Dress Society was founded in 1881 in reaction to the extremes of fashionable corsetry. For men, three piece suits consisting of a sack coat with matching waistcoat (U.S. vest) and trousers (called in the UK a "lounge suit") continued as an informal alternative to the contrasting frock coat, waistcoat and trousers. In mid-decade, a more relaxed formal coat appeared: the dinner jacket or tuxedo, which featured a shawl collar with silk or satin facings, and one or two buttons. Dinner jackets were appropriate when "dressing for dinner" at home or at a men's club. Shoes of the 1880s had higher heels and a narrow toe.