Monday, August 13, 2012

Fashion – Titanic Style!

Since I’m currently at work on a novel set in 1912, I thought I’d give a brief overview of the ending years of Edwardian ladies couture, which are some of the most gorgeous ever in the history of fashion, at least in my opinion. The styles took on an almost Regency feel, with high waistlines, narrow skirts, and Grecian hairstyles. This compiled with the amazing picture hats, makes this era a fashion lover’s dream.

1910-1913 was an era of transition between the heavier lacier look of the early 1900’s to the boyish attire of the 1920’s. Beginning in 1908, Paul Poiret constructed a new design, which consisted of narrow bodices, slim skirts, and raised waistlines. Other designers soon followed suit, including Paquin, Lucile, Doucet, Fortuny, Lanvin, and Callot Soers. One of these designers, Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon was actually on the Titanic on her way to present her spring collection of gowns in New York. She survived and still presented her spring collection.

Dressing to dine at a fashionable restaurant, or on the Titanic, an Edwardian lady would begin with her undergarments, which although not as elaborate as they had been fifty years before, were still quite ornate. They consisted of a chemise, corset, corset cover, drawers, and petticoat. Sometimes combinations were worn, such as a combination chemise and drawers. The Edwardian era was the first where a high emphasis was put on undergarments. Silks and hand embroidered lace were all used in greater quantities than in eras past.

After donning all those layers (assisted, of course by her lady’s maid), it was time for her gown. The fabrics of the era were very filmy and almost cloudlike, unlike the heavy velvets and satins of the 1870’s and 1880’s. Organdy, chiffon, crepe, tulle, silk, crepe de chine, and lightweight versions of velvet, satin, and brocade, were all popular and sometimes several could be used on one gown, a crepe overskirt and a silk underskirt. The colors favored were pastel, pale blue, lemon yellow, cream, pink, white. Stronger colors were worn by the more daring, such as black, royal blue, and emerald green. Necklines were open and often V necked, with large V’s in the back. Often a filmy shorter layer was worn over a more substantial underlayer.

Long white kid gloves were a must for every evening as were fans. Jewels were plentiful, diamond tiaras, teardrop necklaces, long strings of pearls, and bracelets were common. Feathers and elaborate headpieces were favored as well as bandeaus, which were headbands worn across the forehead and decorated with rhinestones, spangles, and feathers.

Although hats were not a part of evening dress, one cannot mention the Edwardian era without making note of the hats, huge feather and ribbon bedecked creations. The Merry Widow hat was so large it became difficult to pass through doorways wearing it, and picture hats were only slightly smaller.

Nothing can describe fashion, like fashion itself, so below are some of my favorite fashion images from the Titanic era. I’d love to see some of these in person!

Hope you’ve enjoyed this trip down Fashion Avenue! As always if there are any topics you’d like me to cover on either writing or history, post a comment and I’ll do my best!

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