Historically Fort Bend:
by Chris Godbold
Clothing styles in the Edwardian era (circa 1901-14) continued trends prevalent in the 1890s but also began a simplifying trend that would accelerate during and after World War I. The era was dominated by the safety corset, which was straighter and looser at the waist than earlier corsets that put too much stress on the abdomen, waist and diaphragm and caused medical problems. The safety corset preserved something of the popular hourglass shape and also created the odd effect of an s-curve in the figure as viewed from the side. Around 1906-07, the ladies’ silhouette straightened as corsets lengthened and fitted down the thighs.
Two-piece dresses of a bodice and a skirt were still popular and included lots of lace, a low bust line, and bloused and gathered sleeves. Daytime dresses had high lace collars and at night had lower sweetheart square and round décolleté necklines. Skirts tapered out and rose to ankle length. Lavish hats had wide brims and feather decorations. Hair was always kept in very full up-dos. Kid gloves, parasols and small decorative bags, if any, accessorized the outfit. Shoes were narrower with pointed toes and medium heels; they had buttons, laces and sometimes patent leather. Upper-class women had shoes for every occasion: oxfords, slippers, pumps and boots.
The Edwardian lady was personified at the time by the Gibson Girl, a cartoon character created by Charles Dana Gibson. She was always depicted in the latest fashions that included blouses or starched shirtwaists (especially for informal daywear and working women) with tucks, embroidery and lace insertions worn with a darker colored skirt. Unfussy, tailored clothing was worn for outdoor activities and traveling. Ladies also wore wool or tweed suits.
Three-piece suits were popular for men. Coats were usually single-breasted, and vests were fastened high on the chest. Blazers were worn for sports, sailing and other casual activities. Tweed Norfolk jackets were popular for shooting, hunting, golf and similar activities; they were often worn with knickers.
Trousers were shorter than before and had cuffs and creases in front and back. Collars were tall and stiff. Formal collars had tips pressed into wings, and dress shirts had stiff fronts. Striped shirts were popular for informal wear. Neckwear included 4-inch hand neckties, ascots for formal daytime use and white bow ties for formal evening events. Top hats were still worn for formal occasions. Homburgs and bowlers were more popular, less formal options. Straw boaters were worn for summer outdoor events. Shoes went over the ankle with toe caps. Lace-up boots were made in black, gray or brown. Formal boots were worn with white uppers (spats) and buttons on the side. Basic lace-up oxford shoes were introduced during this period.
Historical facts and photos courtesy of the Fort Bend County
Museum Association, Richmond, TX