Edwardian Era Fashion Chit Chat - September 1902 The Delineator
Dress and Gossip of Paris by Mrs. John Van Vorst
As yet there is no change in the general form and outline of the dresses to which we have become accustomed during the Summer months. A continued narrowness at the hips, a fulness in the skirts at the hem, a sleeve wide and ample at the wrist and tight-fitting at the shoulder are still the points to be observed in planning a demi-saison costume. Details vary from one week to another, and if the dressmaker sighs because everything is being worn, she has reason to be satisfied at the luxury and extravagance which women agree are necessary to fashionable dressing nowadays.
Two colors, long disused, have become suddenly a fad; they are not becoming and have nothing but novelty to recommend them; they are yellow in all shades from the brightest to dark orange, and blue of the intense brilliant tone which is ever trying to most complexions.
Hats, which have been amazingly flat for some time, now turn boldly up at one side, leaving a wide brim-space upon which is bestowed a plume, a succession of wings, a small garden of fruit: peaches, apples, raspberries, strawberries, currants or cherries. The ostrich feathers used for this sort of trimming are of several shades, deepening from the palest to the deepest at the tip which falls over the hair, on to the shoulder, and sometimes even as far as the waist. Certain hats have a drapery of white lace in the back which looks like a wedding veil, and is mal porte except for those who do not leave their carriages in an afternoon promenade.
Since nothing is new under the sun, it is some former annals of fashion we must consult for the origin of a present whim among the elegantes. They have taken to wearing lace mitts with their elbow sleeve dresses, and for those who have pretty hands the effect is quaint and charming.
No woman can look well-dressed unless she be properly corseted, and quite as important as the corset itself, its shape and fit, is the way in which it is put on. It should be unlaced as far as possible, fastened, pulled well down, the garters should be clasped, and then the lacings should be drawn in beginning with the lowest eyelet, lacing to the waist and tying; then beginning again at the top and tying a second time at the waist. Nothing ruins the figure more rapidly than to imprison onself by a corset already laced up.
Serge and the rough materials of the same family are being replaced for late Summer and early Autumn wear by light cloths, cashmeres in plaids and checks. A most useful dress is of navy blue material trimmed with very narrow bands of embroidery in Persian colors. These embroidered bands are set on between bias strips of taffetas, the whole not more than an inch wide. They follow the line of a flounce en forme, and encircle the collar and sleeves, bordering the revers and edge of the jacket. Nothing is more popular for dark dresses than this Persian embroidery. Etamine, fine and coarse, is very much worn. It is trimmed with taffetas of the same color, or sometimes has a series of bias bands on each flounce in black and white striped or chine silk, which is very effective. Scarlet etamine dresses, gray, blue and brown, are also popular with guimpes of ecru linen and guipure.
With the autumn skirt-and-coat suits it is to be the fashion to wear tight-fitting vests of linen or of guipure over a color. The collar accompanying is in white linen, the cravat of black satin.
But of all things to which the mutability of fashion seems to have directed itself this season, the first in importance are the coats, cloaks or manteaux as they are called. If it be true, as we hear it affirmed, that no woman is properly equipped without a manteau, it is equally true that a manteau serves for a great variety of purposes. It is suitable for coahing, for driving, for the theatre, for a short journey to some out-of-town or in-town lunch party, for an informal dinner, etc., etc. They are made in all colors, scarlet, mignonette, green, champagne, putty, brown bread which is one of the favorite tints, not Boston brown bread but the more delicate Graham. They are also made in white and in black. Cloth is the only material used for these enveloping garments. They fall below the knees, are collarless, have immense sleeves caught in at the wrists, and are held together in front by long twisted silk cords, which tie and have tasseled ends. In these respects they are uniform. In the matter of trimming they vary from the simplest, which are the most attractive, having only a broad band of fine guipure about the neck, to the most elaborate, which are encrusted in strips of real Irish lace. They have a white satin lining, and sometimes they are made with a cape which falls over the arms and dispenses with the necessity for sleeves.
There never was a greater display than at present of white lace dresses of every description for afternoon and evening wear. Irish lace, English embroidery, Chantilly mixed with Cluny are worn in abundance and in a profusion which sends us to hunt through the forgotten heirlooms lest there be a dozen odd bits of as many sorts with which we can make at least a bodice!
Golf has at last become the fashion in France among French people as well as Americans. A club has been opened in the charming neighborhood of Versailles. And if, as it is often said to-day, we resemble the women of long ago in our voluminous modern costumes it is safe to say that could the ladies of Louis XIV's court stroll by chance over the enchanting hillsides of the Seine et Oise, they would see nothing of themsleves in the sisters who swing their golf sticks, free, unhampered in short skirts and cotton blouses, over the links at La Boulie. Golf costumes of a single color are the favorites, trimmed with bands of cloth in a lighter or darker tone of the same color. Unobtrusive as well as gay effects are in evidence, red predominating.