A Brief Lesson on Edwardian Era Clothing

Often our vintage shop descriptions will include the description of Edwardian Era, 1910s Edwardian, 1900s Edwardian… so I wanted to do a mini lesson about Edwardian era clothing.

side note to self: always strive to learn something new every day in your chosen trade.

Firstly let’s talk about actual dates. The Edwardian Era covers King Edward’s reign in England from 1901-1910 but some extend it up to 1914, just before the first World War.

Now, MOST vintage sellers (at least that I know of) tout clothing from 1901 to about 1919 as Edwardian. Myself included.

I mean technically 1914-1919 is World War I Era clothing, but hardly anyone writes that as a description and just lumps those years together with the Edwardian years.

Secondly, let’s talk a bit about styles associated with the Edwardian Era. There’s the Gibson Girl (high neck lace tops, lots of hair piled on top of your head, big hats…) in the earlier part of the Edwardian Era and then there’s the Titanic/Poiret look in the later years.

Gibson Girl Illustration

The Edwardian period is also known as The Bell Epoque (France) and the Gilded Age. (Again, most vintage sellers describe this years as Edwardian era clothing, more simple that way, no?)

Corsetry Through The Years

The early Edwardian years are not my favorite for silhouettes. We have a lot of odd corseting going on that just make me gasp for breath looking at them. There’s the “S” shape silhouette which I  associate with the Gibson Girl look. (1903-1908)

Then in the late 1900s (1906-1910) the silhouette started to change and this silhouette, in my opinion, is the one most associated with the Edwardian era (even though half of the Edwardian era has already passed!)

Think of Titanic and Rose’s outfits. That’s what we think of as Edwardian. Or think of Season 1 Downton Abbey when Lady Sybil is like “TA-DAH! Look how bomb I look in my Paul Poiret!

So let’s recap…

Early Edwardian is associated with: The Gibson Girl, S Curve Corsetry, big ole hats, and droopy boob look (monobosum…corsetry did not separate the breasts)

earlyedwardiansshape

Later Edwardian is associated with: Columnar silhouettes, waistlines rose, Titanic, Downton Abbey…

mid1910sedwardianeraclothing

Now, what makes it tricky in dating vintage tops is we no longer have the corsetry available to us! So sometimes the shop will have antique Edwardian tops that appear to be quite blouson in the front. Well, that’s because these are early Edwardian era tops and if one had the correct corset to wear underneath, then the blouse would fit as it should have in the early 1900s.

// SOURCES

Images: Gibson Girl by Harrison FisherCorset Timeline 1900-1910, McCalls Magazine Early Edwardian, March 1914 Gowns By McCall

Articles: History of Fashion 1900-1910, Edwardian Fashion Design of 1890s-1914,

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Feminine, romantic, and super fancy: The Edwardian Era

Edwardian Fashion Inspiration

I adore the Edwardian era. Absolutely ADORE it. BTW, for definition sake, the Edwardian era was the period between 1901-1910 when King Edward VII of England ruled. But a lot of historians and vintage sellers extend the Edwardian era into the 1910s. So for this blog post, I’m considering into the teens still Edwardian.

Moving on…

I see images of women from the 1900s-1910s and just find them all to be so beautiful, ethereal, and idyllic. While I sometimes wish we could go back to wearing such beautiful romantic styles, it’s not very realistic. I imagine when you’re dressed as dreamily as this the only thing you can do is needlework, drink copious amounts of tea, write letters using quill and ink, and sit around trying not to damage your delicate frock.

It sure is lovely to look at though.

Edwardian Fashion Inspiration

This is what I would wear if I was a gentlewoman of considerable means and it’s Saturday.

Edwardian Fashion Inspiration

 Oh goodness, look at this gown! This gown of silk and lace dates to  early 1900s. The color is so stunning, like a sage gold! And the lace work with the pink on the roses. And don’t get me started on those sheer scalloped sleeves with the bead trim! I just imagine how one would have to walk in this dress. I suppose you would just have to slowly glide about imagining you’re a fairy of some sort. I know I would.

Edwardian Fashion Inspiration

Oh God! Look at that LACE! Do you SEE that LACE?! I don’t even know what kind of lace that is. Battenburg? Who knows. Who really cares. It’s stunnnnnnning. (source)

Edwardian Fashion Inspiration

Halloween costumes of the Edwardian era? Or just your typical weekend garb to a themed dinner party? Doesn’t matter. I want to wear it. (source)

Edwardian Fashion Inspiration

Silk satin gown in one of my favorite colors ever. And look at the fur trim. It’s basically your winter dress. You will freeze to death. BUT you will look splendid. (source)

Edwardian shoes

Even the shoes were super fancy and girly. Gold metallic thread on silk with gold ribbon laces. OBVIOUSLY. (source)

Edwardian Fashion Inspiration

We so fancy! (source)

Edwardian Fashion Inspiration

The BOWLING PIN skirt. Hehe! Now I know what this is called! And checkout that embroidery. Also, did you realize this is for a dress PATTERN. That means gals sewed these for themselves. I can’t even… (source)

Edwardian Fashion Inspiration

Oh jeez. Oh man. Where do I even begin on how much I adore this dress. Lace, roses, sequins, silk, my favorite skirt silhouette ever… this is what I imagine the Queen Fairy of some magical mythical garden in Britain wears. And she has a euphonious name that rolls off your tongue like honey. (source)

Edwardian Fashion Inspiration

This is the detail of her other dress. (source)

 Lily Elsie

I’m wrapping up this Edwardian fashion inspiration post with a colorized photo of the beautiful Lily Elsie. She’s my Edwardian girl crush. Lily Elsie was an English singer and actress during the Edwardian era. She wore a Lucile gown on her wedding day (which she actually hated, LOL). I’ll do a more in depth blog post on Lily Elsie some other time. She’s pretty wonderful. (source)

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