Dressing My Characters Edwardian Style

Edwardian hat #1Hi Friends,

One of the most interesting aspects of my research for my English historical novels has been learning about Edwardian fashions. I fell in love with the beautiful gowns and elaborate hats worn by the women during that era!

Pinterest is a great sources for Edwardian fashion photos. And I enjoyed creating boards for Edwardian clothing, hats, and jewelry for my own reference and to share with readers. Those photos are very helpful when I want to describe what my characters are wearing. I just clicked over to Pinterest and looked through the images until I find the right outfit. Here are some of the fashion trends during the Edwardian Era.

Edwardian Hat #21900-1909: Women’s fashions had the same long elegant lines as those of the 1890s. Tall, stiff collars were popular, as were women’s broad hats and full ‘Gibson Girl’ hairstyles. A new, columnar silhouette was introduced by the designers of Paris late in the decade, and this signaled women would soon abandon the use of corsets, which had been an indispensable undergarment worn by women for many years.

1910-1919: During the early years of the 1910s the fashion silhouette became more fluid and soft than in the previous decade. Designs by Parisian designers came in a variety of shapes, but the most popular silhouette throughout the decade was the tunic over a long underskirt. Early in the period, waistlines were high, just below the bust, echoing the styles of the early 19th century. Full, hip length tunics were worn over narrow, draped skirts. When the Russian Ballet performed Scheherazade in Paris in 1910, exotic, Oriental designs with bold colors became the fashion rage.

Hobble SkirtBy 1914, just prior to WW1, skirts were widest at the hips and very narrow at the ankle. These hobble skirts made long strides impossible. Waistlines were loose and softly defined. They gradually dropped to near the natural waist by mid-decade, and they remained that way through the war years. Tunics became longer and underskirts fuller and shorter. By 1916 women were wearing a calf-length dress over an ankle-length underskirt. Styles became simpler during the war years.

Large hats with feathers, flowers, and wide brims; and broad hats with face-shadowing brims were popular in the early years of the decade, gradually shrinking to smaller hats with flat brims. Bobbed or short hair was introduced in Paris fashions in 1909 and spread to England during the war.

Edwardian gownIn my first English historical novel, The Governess of Highland Hall, the heroine, Julia Foster, has just returned from India where she was a missionary. She must support her parents and has limited funds, so most of Julia’s clothing is simple and a bit outdated. But as the story progresses there are times she dresses up for dinner, and I enjoyed choosing her outfit and jewelry. Julia’s two teenage charges are wealthy and dress in very fashionable clothing throughout the story, so describing those outfits was fun.

My study of Edwardian fashions was also helpful when it was time to give input on the cover design. I was able to describe what the heroine might be wearing and how she would wear her hat and hair. The photographer and designer did a great job giving the cover the Edwardian look I had hoped for.

Edwardian red shoesLearning about the fashions of the era helped me understand my characters and feel as though I was stepping into their world. I hope it will help you do the same when you read my books!

Would you like to see more Edwardian Fashions? Come on over to my Pinterest boards and take a look.

Do you think you’d like to dress as they did in Edwardian England? Why or why not?

Until next time – Happy Reading,

Carrie

13 thoughts on “Dressing My Characters Edwardian Style

    • Hi Winnie, I’m grateful for the wonderful cover designers at WaterBrook! They have been great to work with and so kind to allow me to give some input!

  1. I liked the large-brimmed hats with huge feathers, and the soft, flowing gowns and puffy sleeves. The Edwardian Era had a lot of different styles, but I like the lampshade style dress, it would fit my physique and lifestyle better. No hobble skirts, and no corsets, PLEASE. (Remember Scarlett O Hara trying to get her waistline back to pre-baby size?) They still have some of those narrow at the hem skirts at my granddaughter’s private school, but not many young ladies seem to prefer them.

  2. Very interesting post Carrie.
    Beautiful clothes…well, wouldn’t want to wear that hobble-dress! 😉
    I imagine the women were happy giving up wearing that constricting corset & finally able to “breathe”….guess there was less need for smelling salts.
    Blessings, Tina

  3. I love your descriptions and photos. I think I would like to wear some of the hats. Corsets and hobble skirts, absolutely not. Some of the looser and flowing dresses, maybe.

  4. The red and black dress is beautiful. I would definitely want to wear it. But the black and white striped outfit with the long tunic-no way! The corset would have been the end of me; I get sick on my stomach if my clothes are too tight.

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