Fashion trends come and go, but there were some pretty historic ones during the Edwardian era. This was during the reign of King Edward VII in the early 20th century when women were starting to earn a higher status in society. Higher waistlines, tight corsets, and the V-shaped neckline became synonymous with this period in history. Read on to see some vintage photos of Edwardian women's fashion.
Style Preferences For Women
Hair color was a big deal during the early 20th century. It was actually preferred for women to have chestnut-brown colored hair. Being blonde was actually a negative physical trait.
Also, scents such as violet, lavender, and rose were among some of the most popular scents. However, it was considered attractive for women to faintly smell like sweat because of all their clothing layers.
Why World War I Was Unexpected
World War I was one of the most catastrophic events in world history and many people never thought something like it could happen during that time.
This is because the Edwardian period was idealized as a "romantic golden age of long summer afternoons and garden parties." Typically, people were content and looked forward to new artistic and technological advancements.
Women Were Breaking Out Of Societal Norms
A huge part of why the Edwardian era remains important in history is because women were finding their place in the world. They were creating a separate life from their parents, entering the workforce, and getting higher education.
Even women from well-to-do families were trying to gain their independence. This shifted the notion that only married women mattered in society.
The Wright Brothers Revolutionized Air Travel
One of the biggest technological achievements during the Edwardian period was the invention of air travel. The Wright Brothers were able to make the first powered flight in 1903.
Their plane only flew 10 feet above ground, but by the time of the first World War these vehicles were already being used in combat.
Summing Up The Edwardian Era
After the passing of Queen Victoria, the Victorian era came to a close. When King Edward VII assumed the crown from 1901 to 1910, it brought on a new period in history.
The Edwardian era symbolized prosperity and allowed new changes in art, technology, and fashion. The era came crashing down at the start of the first World War.
The Emergence Of Art Nouveau
The most prominent art form to emerge during the Edwardian era was Art Nouveau. It was directly inspired by 19th-century architecture and design.
Art Nouveau is best described as a natural form of art that would use asymmetrical curves inspired by things in nature such as vines and flowers. It can be seen on railings, floors, lampshades, and more.
There Was A High Demand For Jewelry
The Edwardian era brought new technological advances thanks to the second half of the Industrial Revolution. People were able to get more products thanks to mass production.
One of the items that increased in demand was jewelry because more people were going to high society events. Then, the beginning of World War I caused a huge halt in manufacturing.
The Beginning Of Women's Suffrage
Middle-class women started demanding more of a voice during the early 20th century. This started the women's suffrage movement where they sought the chance to vote and gain equal rights.
The women of the era wanted their voices to be heard and refused to wait any longer for the right to vote.
There Was A Class Divide In Sports
Sports were quite popular during the Edwardian period, but the type of sport someone played usually depended on their social class.
The upper class could usually be found playing tennis, hunting, or spending time on their yacht. The working class mostly played soccer. Even if a women was doing physical activity, she would still wear a tight corset under her long dress or skirt.
Striving To Be A Gibson Girl
The ideal woman during the Edwardian era was considered to be fun-loving, sophisticated, strong, and youthful. This was known as the "Gibson Girl."
A Gibson Girl should have "an amble bosom and hips, a small waist, and hair piled high on her head." Clothing was altered to fit this description with higher waistlines, gowns with ruffles and lace, and wide-brimmed hats.
Why People Were Living Longer
People were finally living longer as the Edwardian period progressed. However, this was mostly based on location.
Families in bustling cities were earning higher incomes and more people were employed, which made things such as nutritious food, nicer housing, and good quality medical care more accessible. Rural areas didn't have as much access to these things.
Manners Were A Priority
Knowing the proper etiquette was crucial during the Edwardian period. Edwardians were never allowed to shake hands and women couldn't remove their gloves in public.
The hostess of a dinner party not only had to prepare the food, but she had to make the seating arrangements and come up with all topics of conversation.
The Old Traditions Of Marriage
Marriage was considered a practical arrangement during the Edwardian period. Instead of marrying for love, people often did so to acquire land.
Having a lot of land meant that someone was seen as aristocratic and had a high place in society. Wealthy families were usually encouraged to have marriages as well.
Riding A Bicycle Was Empowering
Those who couldn't afford a new motorcar could still get a bicycle. These meant a lot during the early 20th century, especially for women.
Bicycles gave people more mobility and freedom, but women's clothing made it a bit tricky. This led to new trends in fashion with shortened skirts, trousers, and more.
Making Time For Leisure
During the Edwardian era, it was important for people to have at least one day a week dedicated to leisure. This would usually be reserved for Sundays.
People would dress in their nicest clothing and go out to museums, art galleries, sporting events, or enjoy a day of listening to music in the park.
The Age Of Optimism
Within just about a decade there were so many new inventions that made modern life a lot more convenient. Things such as telephones, typewriters, and sewing machines became a part of normal daily life.
The woman in the photo is doing a demonstration with one of the world's first vacuum cleaners.
Coming Out In Edwardian Society
There were little signs a woman would exhibit if she was ready for marriage. A woman would put up her hair and lengthen her skirt to show maturity. The period where a girl was ready to become a woman in society was called a coming out.
At about 18-years-old, girls from aristocratic families would do things such as play the piano, dance, speak another language, or show off their table manners.
Children Became A Focus In The Arts
Before the Edwardian era, children were taught to be extremely obedient to their parents and were often pushed to the background.
This started to shift and they became a focus in art, literature, plays, and more. However, children would often be separated from adults, which is seen in works such as Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan.
People Hit The Roads
Motorcars were one of the most prolific inventions to come out of the Edwardian era. During that time, the speed limit was only 12 mph.
A woman named Miss Dorothy Levitt set a world record in 1902 for driving 91 mph. While she did get fined, she encouraged more women to start driving.
Women Furthered Their Education
One of the biggest changes during the Edwardian period was women gaining status. Many more were able to get educated. This would usually happen at home with a governess and many women were able to continue their education at a university.
The outfit this woman is wearing is a perfect example of Edwardian fashion with a high lace collar and a long sleeve dress with embellishments.