Looking Ahead: 1870 Imagines the Fashions of the Future

I’ve not done much this past year, or at least it feels that way. I am looking forward to the New Year, making plans and imagining where life will take me.

I was going through old digitized Harper Bazaar magazines from 1870 when I found this gem in the March 19th issue:

harpers-1870s-does-1890

Text:
A LOOK AHEAD
Scene – A Costumer’s   Time – 1890
LADY. “I want a Costume for a Private Fancy Dress Party I am to attend. Something Absurd or Ridiculous.”
COSTUMER. “How do you like That One?”
LADY. “That will do. But is it possible that People ever made such Frights of Themselves!”

There’s nothing like poking fun at the now through the eyes of tomorrow! For the curious, here’s two decadent, fluffy, fashionable dresses and hairstyles…published by the very same magazine only a few days before and after the cartoon lampooning them:

harpers-bazaar-1870

Ball Gown, March 12th, 1870

april-2-1870-harpers-bazaar-house-dress

House Dress, April 2nd, 1870

Oh, the delicious, delicious irony! We still do it today (just look for “Trends we need to ditch in 2017” videos on YouTube posted by beauty gurus who were touting the same things only a few weeks ago to see what I mean). What’s really wonderful about this cartoon, though, isn’t the Punch-style biting commentary or even hypocrisy of it, but how close they got the fashion forecast! They were just a little early in their predictions, though. Here’s a dress from Harper’s Bazar/Bazaar in 1890:

harpers-1890-2

Harper’s Bazar, October 18th 1890harpers-october-1890

Harper’s Bazar, October 18th 1890

There’s a hint of a similarity, but these don’t really look much like the cartoon’s facetious forecast, does it?

But skip forward a bit into the 20th century and…

1903-harpers harpers-1903 harpers-1904Select plates from 1903 issues of Harper’s Bazar

Just to refresh our memory:

harpers-1870s-does-1890

Let’s break it down, shall we?

Tightly fitted, flared-bottom skirts?
Check!

Fashion Plate, 1902

How about some more exciting hemlines?
As you wish…

Fashion Plate, 1903

Fashion Plate, 1901

But those big, puffy cuffs? Surely nobody would…
Like meringues for your wrists!

Fashion Plate, 1902

Fashion Plate, 1903

Paired with cape-like Sailor collars?!
Mmmmmhmmmmm! Classic.

Fashion Plate 1902

Fashion Plate, 1903

Cute little empire waist jackets with asymmetrical detailing?
You know I could never deny you!

Fashion Plate, 1902

Mounds of hair topped with hats?
Oh, honey, that hat is FAR too tiny, but if you insist….

Fashion Plate, 1903

Fashion Plate, 1903

Fashion Plate, 1905

But what about the raised waist, short skirt, fluffy hemline, and cute little hats?
Well, I suppose you could wait another decade…

Fashion Plate, 1915

…of course, you’ll sacrifice the fantastic pastry puff sleeves, but, hey, we can’t all be as fabulous as an Edwardian lady fancy dress shopping for vintage 1870s clothes in 1890!

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYBODY!

Find amazing FREE digitized copies of 19th and early 20th century Harper’s Bazar/Bazaar magazines here: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000641436/Home

Hat Trick: Instant Edwardian Glamour Using a Wreath and Wide Straw Hat

The title of this post says it all! This is the easiest way to decorate a hat ever—it’s so simple I’m a little embarrassed I didn’t think of it sooner!

I love hats, but for whatever reason, I struggle to decorate them. I can never seem to get the feathers to fluff, flowers to sit just so, or bows to stand properly. However, I was wandering the cavernous aisle of the the local “At Home” (“The-Home-Store-Formerly-Known-as-Garden-Ridge”) looking at Christmas ornaments…in August…during a 105°F heat wave…

hobbylobbychristmas_tribune

Like Hobby Lobby, At Home always goes Christmas Crazy early. This photo is from an article written in August of last year.

I was looking at the Christmas ornaments and vulturing around the Halloween merch hoping to catch an earlybird sale of some type. Alas, no sales on clip-on Christmas birds yet! I got a whole flock a few years ago and now I always keep my eye out for them. They are perfect for perching on late Victorian hats:

101_6950

101_8280

Deprived of a deep discount on feathery friends, I was about to leave the store when I saw two giant displays of faux flowers. At Home is full of fake greenery, so I had ignored these displays on my way in. However, planted beside the plastic potted petunias was the most glorious seasonal bloom in the whole of the store: the RED LINE CLEARANCE SIGN!

A photo of a treasured red blossom of the 50% off variety.

Redline Clearance in At Home usually means either 20% or 50% off the tag price, but thanks to the brazen commercial exploitation of one of the most beloved holidays of the year and the need to fill the shelves with glitter-crusted burlap Santas before school’s even started, all summer floral was a whopping 75% off! And while I was high on the rush of sudden sales and the heady smell of ten-thousand different air freshener packets from the next display over, I was suddenly struck by the need to buy wreaths wreaths wreaths because FLOWER CROWNS:

I probably could have bought all the wreaths in the world— heaven knows my heart was screaming YAAAS GURL! YAAAS! as I thrust my arms elbow-deep into a glorious pile of polyester roses—but I am strapped for cash and really don’t have any more room to store stuff. So, I settled on a few choice pieces:

IMG_0260

I spent less than $20! It’s a miracle!

I found two wreaths in light, more spring-like colors, and while I was loading them into the cart, I was struck by another sudden epiphany: IF A WREATH FITS ON MY HEAD, IT WILL FIT ON A HAT!

Edwardian hats are huge, drowning in waterfalls of curled ostrich plumes, cascades of silk ribbon, and sprays of flowers. They are opulent to the maximum and, up until my fateful faux flower find, they were well beyond my hat-decorating comfort zone.

hat

My style is usually a bit more restrained, but looking at the piles of bargain wreaths mounded up like a magical hillside from a fairytale, I knew what needed to be done!

You see, I have this wonderfully wild 1980s straw hat:

IMG_0266a

It’s perfectly shaped for 1900-1910, but that zebra crown isn’t the most period-looking finish. So I took one of the wreaths I’d bought on clearance…

IMG_0254b

When choosing a wreath, it’s wise to pick one on the fuller side. The more dense/bigger the blooms, the more lush your hat will look (and the better it will hide any *ahem* idiosyncrasies).

…plopped it over the brim to hide the the crown…

IMG_0268a

Sushi-roll hat!

…and voilà! An instant Edwardian hat, no millinery skill required!

 IMG_0242bresize

There was no agonizing over color scheme, no tedious arranging and rearranging of every single flower, and no waiting! It’s like the Jiffy mix of hats!

IMG_0232aresize

My attempt at an autochrome-esque photo.

Another bonus? Instant restyling options! If you have only one hat, you can just switch the wreath instead of having to get a new hat base. The original full price of the wreath was $15, which is still a bargain if you consider the number of flowers you get for one price and the fact that it came pre-color coordinated!
If you are dedicated to decorating a particular hat, I recommend taking it with you so you can fit the wreath over the crown before buying it. The wreath I fell in love with as a tad too small, but by clipping the wire holding it together, I was able to resize it to fit.

IMG_0256

I used nail clippers and re-tied the ends in place with a stripped twist tie.

If you need to spread the wreath more than an inch or two, you can fill in the gap with a big ribbon bow or a matching bloom. My wreath fits snugly enough that it stays on securely, but if you are happy with your hat and want to keep it just as it is, hot gluing or sewing the wreath in place will keep it from falling off in the wind or when you bend over.

IMG_0231aresize

Edwardian Hat Trick Cost Breakdown:

Wide brimmed straw hat – $4.99, Thrift Town
Floral Wreath – $3.75, At Home (Huzzah for clearance sales!)

Total – $8.74

—– Other Hat Posts ——

101_6327

Hat Trick: Turn a Placemat into an 18th Century Hat in Three Steps

Darn string!

Flower Pots and Romanticism: The 10 Second Poke Bonnet

_______

Update!

Look what I found!

picture-hat-b

Her hat looks just like mine!

Lifting Skirts and Loosening Ties: What goes under an Edwardian Dress?

It takes lots of work (and layers) to look this fabulous!

Lovely Lady wearing the latest French fashions, circa 1905-1906

I am undeniably addicted to eBay, especially when it comes to antique garment shopping! Well, recently, due to temperatures in southern New Mexico hovering around 85°F, I’ve been admiring the lighter side of fashion: Edwardian summer dresses. We’ve all seen those lovely white Edwardian gowns covered in tiny pin-tucks or frilled with lace. Many of them are quite sheer and would be quite scandalous without something underneath! Of course, all the young ladies weren’t running around in see-through gowns. No matter how sheer an extant dress may seem, showing this much skin in public was out of the question:

(image originally from Vintage Textile, but the listing has since been removed)

So, if Edwardian didn’t “flaunt what their mamas gave ’em”  in these unlined sheer dresses, what did they wear?

Layers.

Lots of pretty, frilly, fluffy, fabulous layers!

H&W Co. Wedding Ensemble Corset, Chemise, and Drawers, circa 1903

Firstly, an Edwardian lady would have donned a camisole or chemise to line her corset (ladies didn’t wear their corsets against bare skin) and a pair of drawers. Edwardians adored lace and pin-tucks and already you can see that obsession begins the moment a lady puts on her underthings! Along with her camisole and drawers (or equally gorgeous slip) comes the classic, long-line Edwardian corset. Since this corset is earlier in the period, it is not tubular like later designs. Instead of trying to mold the body into a stream-lined column, this type of corset–an S-bend or straight front–emphasizes the curve of the back and the bosom, though not as wildly as fashion illustrations may have you believe. Here’s another S-bend corset, an excellent example of how it shapes the body differently than older corsets:

Bon Marché S-Bend Corset, circa 1904

The bend in the back pushes out the rump, which is why Edwardian ladies have little “bustle bottoms” without having to wear an actual bustle. Many Edwardian dresses have extra gathers in the back for this reason. However, if a lady stopped at her corset, it would still show through her dress in a rather unflattering manner. Over the first layers of camisole, drawers, and corset, a well-dressed lady needs even more layers!

H&W Co. Wedding Ensemble Camisole and Petticoat, circa 1903

 Look at all that sumptuous lace! If you ever need an excuse to be frilly, dressing up in a sheer Edwardian gown is the perfect ploy.

To get the right look, another camisole, corset cover, or even a bust improver if she was a little “less than plush” up top added to the popular full, loose-front look, called a pouter pigeon. To fill out the bottom and flare out the skirt, at least one frilly petticoat is necessary, but two or more add extra “rustle.” Yet even with all these pretty pieces, we’re still not done getting dressed!

What’s missing? Why the sheer overdress, of course!

(and all the accessories, but seriously, that’s a whole other post!)

H&W Company Wedding Ensemble, circa 1903

“Large ensembles of bridal attire rarely survive intact, a fact that makes this group of eighteen pieces unusual and special. This set shows what a bride of 1903 considered to be essential garments for her wedding day and night. The set was made and worn by donor’s mother, Iza Bernice Shelton. Miss Shelton married Dr. Abel Wilson Atwood on July 7, 1903 at the home of her parents in Brooklyn.” – The Metropolitan Museum of Art

This is the epitome of the sheer white dress. In this case, it is a wedding dress, but many turn-of-the-century white gowns you see probably weren’t wedding dresses. White was an exceptionally fashionable choice for daywear in the 1900s, especially in summer. All those layers might seem rather excessive in the heat, but bear in mind that many of these fabrics are very light, especially compared to the very heavy fashions of twenty years before in the 1880s. However, to top off your warm-weather Edwardian look, I highly recommend a stylish fan!

113

Costuming on a Budget: Edwardian Edition

Edwardian made Easier

Even if you don’t think pouter pigeon dresses flatter your figure, you can flatter your budget by using a few tricks to save on your Edwardian costumes. The 100th anniversary of the Titanic is on April 14th-15th and if you are going to an event but haven’t made or bought an outfit yet, there’s still time! I haven’t done a vintage-meet-seamstress article in a while and since I myself have procrastinated on my Edwardian costuming efforts, this article is just a tad self-remedial. :)

If you are costuming for a Titanic event, your costume inspiration will come from the very end of the Belle Epoque era. The Belle Epoque era, from 1895 to 1914, emphasized the rich and privileged life, focusing on the very upper cusp of society. Ornamentation literally dripped from every surface of ball gowns: beads, pearls, glass gems, gold bullion, silk tassels, velvet drapes…the list goes on and on! If it was beautiful and expensive, it could be added to a dress. Compared to late Victorian fashions that focused on flared skirts and structured bodices, fashionable ladies in the early 20th century turned to a languid tube shape, reminiscent of Regency fashions from 100 years earlier, but with a major change. Instead of placing the bust as high as possible on the chest and placing the waist line just below it, Edwardian fashion in the 1910s placed the waistband around the ribs or waist. Bodices and blouses weren’t fitted tightly in front. They often puffed around the waistband or featured swaths of gauze that rounded out the breast. From 1900-1910, this style puffed out larger and larger, making for a rather heavy, matronly silhouette by today’s standards, but it was meant to emphasize the smallness of the waist (sometimes as small as 14 inches around!).

By 1912, the puff had shrunk down to a less structured looseness and was more naturally fitted to the body. Asymmetry was all the rage, with a dash of Oriental influence and Art Nouveau thrown into the mix! While day gowns became much more business like, evening gowns were often made of more beads and sequins than fabric. If you love My Fair Lady, this is the era for you! You could truly wear a neat little shirtwaist and skirt by day:

And be a sparkling princess by night!

Of course, that’s two entirely separate class levels and lifestyles, but the beauty of costuming is that, with the right amount of work, treasure hunting, and styling skills, you can wear anything you desire regardless of assumed social station– you can be who you want to be!

___

The Simple Edwardian Lady

You will need:

A shirtwaist or blouse in a light color
An undershirt or slip (because you don’t want to show off too much!)
A long, fitted skirt
Boot and stockings
Optional: Belt, tie, scarf, hat, etc.

It really is that simple! Just tuck a frilly white blouse into a fitted skirt, making sure to give it that trendy little poof around the waist. You can still find period shirtwaists in wearable condition on ebay or antique stores, but vintage blouses from the 1970s are your best friends! Most of the blouses are pretty sheer, so a slip or a tank top with a little lace on the edges is invaluable. If you have trouble finding a long, high-waisted skirt, a wide belt is an stylish fix.

Shirtwaist/Blouse

Antique Shirtwaist by FancyLuckyVintage

*

Antique Blouse by MsTips

*

Vintage Blouse by heightofvintage

*

Long Skirt

Vintage by GORvintage 

Vintage Skirt by moonandsoda

*

Boots

Antique Boots by ArtifactVintage

*

New Boots by Funtasma at Sears (also in a classy leather-brown)

*

Accessories

Vintage Hat by snapitupvintage

*

Vintage Necktie by pineapplemint

*

Vintage Belt by ccdoodle

*

______

Of course, if you’re going to an Edwardian dinner or tea as a wealthy heiress, you are going to need a fancier dress. If you aren’t handy with a needle to sew yourself one, there are plenty of seamstresses who can craft an exceptional custom gown exactly as you please!

Custom Gown by MattiOnline

*

If you aren’t just playing the part of a wealthy heiress and actually are one, you (lucky ducky) can probably find an original dress from the period, like this:

Antique by AntiqueDress

*

Wearing antique garments is a tricky business, but there are plenty of Edwardian-era patterns available that mimic the look.

I haven’t got oodles of spare cash to spend on an authentic gown (some day!), but I’ve got a trick up my sleeve. Well, maybe not so much a trick– more like a method. Fashion works in circles, so what goes out of fashion eventually comes back into fashion, just slightly modified. Edwardian fashions themselves refashioned Regency style to match a more modern aesthetic which in turn was revived by one of the greatest eras for vintage clothing junkies like me: Hello 1960s and 70s!

This photo was taken in 1971. Pretty darn similar to the Edwardian dresses, right? Not exact, but amazingly similar (there was even a brand called “Young Edwardian” that competed with Gunne Sax). The only thing missing is some fuss and fluff around the shoulders, like some lace or netting. If you learn to spot the Edwardian sillohuette and characteristics, you can find a plethora of vintage pieces that will blend fairly well with your friends’ costumes. For example, here’s an original Edwardian gown from the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

And here’s a vintage 1970s/1980s dress that bears a surprising resemblence:

Vintage Dress by KarlaBVintage

It’s not a perfect match, but if you’re in a bind time and budget-wise, these kind of match-ups are a godsend! Vintage pieces are still easier to find than period pieces, can stand more wear, and are available in more realistic sizes for those of us who have not benefited from years of corset training.

The Original:

The Vintage:

Vintage Dress by bohemiennes

*

The Original:

*

The Vintage:

 Vintage by myliltreasureboxx

*

The Original:

*

The Vintage:

Vintage by LoveCharles

*

And you can’t forget shoes!

The Original:

*

The New

Astoria Shoes by American Duchess 

Tips and Tricks:

One of the keys to the basic 1912 gown is a squared neckline with lacy sleeves. If you find a strapless gown with the right waist height and fit, you can take two swathes of lace (curtains and old scarves work wonderfully) and attach them over the shoulders.

Find a dress with a great top, but it’s too short? Underskirts to the rescue!

Late Edwardian ball gowns were all about vertical beading, texture, and drapes. To glam up a dress with a plain skirt, tie a shimmery shawl around your waist and let the wide ends trail to the floor. You can also fold a light shawl, scarf, or fabric yardage in half over a piece of satin rope and tie the rope around your waist in a long bow so the fabric trails gracefully off to your side.

Hats! Think big, feathery, and flowery! Sometimes all a gown needs to go from 1970 to 1907 is a Gibson girl pouf and an outrageously fancy hat.

_________

UPDATE!

See this tutorial in action:

IMG_0815

Easy Edwardian: Thrifted Turn of the 20th Century Outfit for Under $10
Using Vintage Blouses and Formal Skirts

IMG_0104

A Brief Trip to 1914: More Easy {Late} Edwardian Costuming on a Budget
Using Vintage Elastic-waist Dresses