Saturday, January 2, 2010

100 years ago in fashion

2010. Just think about it for a second: 100 years ago, it was 1910. The world had not yet lived through two World Wars, or the Titanic, and the most popular car was the Ford Model T! King Edward VII died in may of that year, ending the Edwardian Era as we now call it.

Let's reminisce a little about that period, which most of our great-grandparents probably knew.

Les Dessous Elegants, Mars 1910, page27 (From Wikipedia Commons)

In 1910, women still wore corsets. This piece of underwear would soon disappear from the fashionable lady's drawer, thanks to designers such as Paul Poiret and world changing events such as the Great War, but for now it was still present. It was known as the Long-Line Corset as it covered the hips and thighs to agree with the new style of dress in which the width of the skirt had moved from the waist down to the ankles. And F.Y.I., this corset used strips of elastic fabric in it's construction.

1910 Fashion Plate (From Wikipedia Commons)

Around that time, there was a Classical revival in fashion. Inspired by the early 18th century style of dresses, themselves inspired by Ancient Rome and Athens, the waistline moved up (but not as high as in Regency Fashion) and the skirts became straighter. It is to achieve this look that the Long-Line Corset was developed.

Hat, 1911-1913, 20th century, 14.3 cm, Gift of Mrs. Ward Pitfield. M970.29.9 © McCord Museum

In Edwardian times, women wore huge hats, with wide brims, and heavily decorated with feathers and flowers; the bigger the head wear was, the better.

In 1910, the woman who wore all these would have been a very fashionable lady. Nothing to do with throwing on jeans and a t-shirt to run to the grocery store! (I agree the latter is much faster to put on and much more comfortable.)

And what did the men wear?

Executive, McGill Union, Montreal, QC, 1910, Wm. Notman & Son, 1910, 20th century, Photograph, Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process, 20 x 25 cm, Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd. II-178206 © McCord Museum

A three-piece suit over a shirt an tie. As you can see from the picture, it hasn't evolved all that much in a century. The biggest change in men's wear (and this is also true for women) is the loss of the hat. Until the 60's, no well dressed person would leave their home without a hat, where as today, hats are either fashion statements or worn for practical reasons (for instance, here in the winter it is highly recommended you wear a tuque to keep warm). In 1910, men would mostly wear either Derby or Bowler hats.

Are you feeling a little nostalgic? I mean, none of us were actually alive back then (unless I have 100 year old readers), but still, people looked good. But I do love my jeans.

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