Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Edwardian Era: The Walking Dress

The fashions of Edwardian Era is defined by the moneyed classes. Ladies could get into many outfits during the day! Shopping was a typical morning activity during which the lady would buy linens for the house or see her dressmaker or milliner. For the activity a "town dress" was worn. For just staying home she got dressed in her "morning dress"! During the afternoon social calls took place for which the "tea gown" was ideal. Another day activity which took place before dinners, balls and opera, was the strolling through parks or gardens, hence the "walking dress"!

Here are some more of the typical traits in Edwardian fashion. I bet you never suspected that I would take you through so many lectures, just on one particular era!

  • No more would the crinolenes and hoops, the bustles and the multi-layered petticoats be seen. From now on the skirts of dresses became narrower, going down straight down in front, a little fullness over the behind, inwards towards the knees and again outwards at the hem. This hem could extend to suggest a train. After I painted my lady I just loved the dainty line of her skirt over narrow hips. This is so different from the old full-skirted styles of previous centuries.
  • My cherry red outfit also has a frilled jacket which like a bolero makes the top appear very full and the waist petite.
  • A white beaded and embroidered shirt with high boned collar gives a lovely accent to the outfit! Blouses began to become more important after 1910 as a garment which did not always need a jacket.
  • Edwardian hats came in many styles, but this they had in common: they had to take the hair into account. This hat has a tiny pillbox with wide rim so designed that the upswept hairstyle is visible.
  • The ostrich feather ornament must have "cost a pretty penny" as only the white ones could be dyed to match an outfit. During the ostrich feather boom in Europe some ostrich farmers in South Africa became exceptionally wealthy and the "ostrich palaces" they built for themselves can still be seen around Outshoorn. Sad to say, World War I put and end to this trade.
  • The matching parasol for each outfit was not exceptional, but rather the rule in Edwardian times. The parasol was always long and elegant and the lady could rest on hers like on a walking stick when she got tired trying to maintain her tilted figure. Queen Alexandra often carried a long closed umbrella.
  • Ladies were never without gloves, and this white pair matches the blouse and hat!
In my next post I paint another walking dress and pay tribute to the most favoured flower of Edwardian times....want to guess in the meantime what it was? (Today I suppose that means guess or Google)

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