Clothing that can be mixed and matched are termed separates. The concept first appeared during the Italian Renaissance, when women would interchange their skirts on certain occasions. However, fashionable dress through the ages consisted mainly of dresses and ensemble dressing until the Industrial Revolution, when the introduction of separate blouses and skirts made it easier to manufacture such items en masse. It also brought the advent of the bloomer and dress reform. With the invention of the sewing machine in 1846, mass production made it possible for working and middle-class women to afford clothing. Purchasing a ready-made blouse was less expensive than buying a dress. Additionally, the practicality of separates allowed for the mixing of sizes for better fit, which is not the case with dresses, which have to sometimes struggle with potential differences between bust and hip measurements.
   In 1890, Charles Dana Gibson illustrated the new functional style of separates in his famous "Gibson Girl" drawings. He depicted women in puffed-sleeved blouses paired with long simple skirts, the basis for the casual American style of dressing called sportswear. In the 1920s, the American Berthe Holley came up with the concept of interchangeable coordinated separates to expand the wardrobe. In France, designers Jeanne Paquin (1869-1936), Paul Poiret (1879-1944), and Coco Chanel (1883-1971) each promoted separates in their collections in the early and mid-1930s. Arguably the biggest influence came after World War II when the trend exploded with American designers Claire McCardell (1906-1958), Bonnie Cashin (1908-2000), Tina Leser (1910-1986), Clare Potter (1925-), and Anne Klein (1923-1974). Today, the wearing of separates has become a universally accepted way to dress, in just about every culture throughout the world.

Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry. .

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  • separates — index distinct (distinguished from others), particular (specific), separate Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • separates — articles of (women s) clothing that may be worn in various combinations, 1945, from SEPARATE (Cf. separate) …   Etymology dictionary

  • separates — sep|a|rates [ˈsepərıts] n [plural] women s clothing, such as skirts, shirts, and trousers, that can be worn in different combinations …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • separates — sep|a|rates [ sep(ə)rəts ] noun plural pieces of clothing such as skirts, pants, and shirts that you can wear together in different combinations …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • separates — n. pieces of garments that are purchased separately and not as part of a suit sep·a·rate || sepÉ™reɪt v. segregate, set apart; split, divide; disconnect, detach; distinguish; partition; be taken apart, be set apart; be divided; withdraw adj.… …   English contemporary dictionary

  • separates — sɛp(ə)rəts things forming units by themselves, in particular individual items of clothing suitable for wearing in different combinations. → separate …   English new terms dictionary

  • separates — noun (plural) women s clothing, such as skirts, shirts, and trousers, that can be worn in different combinations …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • separates — UK [ˈsep(ə)rəts] / US noun [plural] pieces of clothing such as skirts, trousers, and shirts that you can wear together in different combinations …   English dictionary

  • separates — present third singular of separate plural of separate …   Useful english dictionary

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