The period between 1901-1910 is often called the Edwardian Era after Queen Victoria's successor, King Edward VII. Sophisticates and the French also refer to this time as La Belle
Epoque, or "Beautiful Age," as there was a definite leaning toward classical aesthetics. It was an era of beautiful clothes
and the peak of luxury living for a select few: the very rich and the very privileged through birth.
In retrospect we can see it is an era very separate
from the 20th century despite belonging at its start. The attitudes and lifestyles of two decades were swept away by war and
because the war was so huge in its impact, a new socialism and sense of personal identity was born. The masses started to
reject the concept of privilege as the reason for a better life. Clothes worn after 1915 could probably be worn today in certain
circumstances, but clothes before then are more in tune with the elaborate clothes of 1770 and would only be seen today at
a costumed event or as bridal wear.
During this time it was still the norm to make
dresses in two pieces. The bodice was heavily boned and was almost like a mini corset itself worn over the mandatory S-bend
corset. A top bodice was usually mounted onto a lightly boned under bodice lining which fastened up with hooks and eyes very
snugly. It acted as a stay garment giving extra stability, contour and directional shape beneath the delicate top fabric.
By 1905 press fasteners were used in Britain to hold the bodice or blouse to a skirt, but America had dress fasteners as early as
1901. Very deep high lace fabric collars that reached right under the chin elongated the neck. They were often kept in place
with wire covered in silk that was twisted into a series of hooks and eyes from one piece of wire. Little wire or boning supports
covered with buttonhole silk were sometimes dispersed every few inches of the collar to maintain the rigid effect. High necks
were usual by day, but by night exceptionally low sweetheart, square and round décolleté necklines allowed women to wear quantities
of fine jewelry. No cleavage was visible as the bust was suppressed into a tight monobosom. Washable kid gloves were always
worn with outdoor garments both in the winter and the summer. Fancy gloves were also made in suede and silk and covered with
Early in the decade, with all the fussing about
with the top portion of the female body people developed a preference for narrow feet, which was believed to be a sign of
breeding and gentility. Both men and women regularly wore shoes that were a full size too small. Some women even opted to
have their little toes removed to achieve narrower feet! Day shoes were typically boots. Evening shoes were more diverse,
with the popular style for women a court shoe with a small, Louis heel. These were often embellished with embroidery or metallic
thread and glass or jet beading on the toes, often the only part peeking out from a voluminous skirt. Evening boots were often
made from soft kid or satin, with rows of beaded straps embellishing the shin.
the decade, with all the fussing about with the top portion of the female body people developed