In the early part of the decade, fashion was fairly calm and collected, but this all changed in 1914 when World War I broke out. The war changed the world and fashion forever. WWI was the most dramatic event of the decade and even past decades, but a number of other important events also happened. Events like the women's suffrage movement, the roots of Prohibition, and the Great Influenza epidemic of 1918 fundamentally changed American society. The RMS Titanic sank on her maiden voyage in 1912. Frank Lloyd Wright's Arts & Crafts movement began to take hold, and silent films featuring stars such as Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford were adored.
Dresses took on a whole new look. Gone was the corseted waist and in its place was the hobble skirt taken from the Middle East where it was known as the “harem”. Paul Poiret who as the time was a well-known designer was credited for his work in fashion as he was heavily influenced by the eastern design and colours. Some of his skirts were so narrow that it was nearly impossible to move in them. Shoes and hosiery also became more exotic and colourful, most notably when Poiret commissioned the Perugia shoemakers to create a line of Eastern-style jewelled slippers.
The Great War (1914 to 1918) had changed people's lives in every aspect. Family men and everyday men went off to fight in Europe and the women were left at home to work in the local factories and look after their homes and family. As the women's independence increased, so too did their levels of activity and their desire for practical shoes. Shoes and clothing were collected as part of the war effort and people were encouraged to be less delicate. Clothing became more practical, taking on a tailored, mannish appearance. Hemlines began to inch up as wartime shortages made fabric hard to come across. Fashion again took a dramatic turn when the war ended. As interests changed, so did clothing. Sportswear was increasing in popularity and such fashions were soon incorporated into everyday dress. U.S. Rubber developed the first sneaker, called Keds, in 1917.