The Elegance and of The Edwardian Era: A Brief Fashion History 1900's - 1910's

The 1900-1910s witnessed the transition from the Victorian era to the Edwardian era and was characterised by shifts in societal values, advancements in technology, and changing women's roles. In this blog post, we delve into the fashion trends of this era, with a particular focus on the iconic accessory that defined the period: hats.

The hallmark of an early 1900's Edwardian women figure was the iconic "pouter-pigeon" figure, characterised by a thrusting the hips back and the chest forward. To achieve this desired shape, women relied on the S-bend corset, which accentuated the curves of the body.

To further enhance the hourglass figure, women embraced floor-length flutter skirts that gracefully flowed around the body. These skirts, often made from lightweight fabrics, featured layers of ruffles or flounces that added movement and softness to their appearance. Complementing the flutter skirts were puffed and frilly blouses, which added a touch of whimsy and femininity to the overall ensemble. These blouses boasted intricate lace detailing, delicate embroidery, and ruffles, emphasizing the delicate and dainty nature of Edwardian fashion. Lace collars and ribbon ties served as additional embellishments, elevating the style and showcasing attention to detail. 

Edwardian Women Fashion Silhouette Original Image Charlotte Cobby for Isabella Josie Millinery
The 'Pouter-Pigeon' Silhouette: Embracing Feminine Curves

During the Edwardian era, the hat was the single most important accessory and considered an essential accessory for both daywear and formal occasions.The prevailing hat style of the time featured broad brims and low crowns. These hats exuded elegance and sophistication while providing ample shade. The wide brims shielded the face and neck from the sun, reflecting the growing awareness of the importance of sun protection in maintaining a fair complexion. The board brim hats were adorned with flowers, lace, ribbons and feathers. Feathered bird wings, and even whole birds were highly fashionable and used as hat trimmings. This era witnessed an unregulated use of feathers and caused great controversy with cries from the press of 'murderous millinery' due to its impact on bird populations.

In response to this crisis, Emily Williamson co-founded the Plumage League, which eventually merged with the Fin, Fur, and Feather Folk group to become the Society for the Protection of Birds. This organisation, now known as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), gained its royal charter in 1904, played a crucial role in raising awareness about the need for conservation and ethical fashion choices. 

Although the broad-brimmed hat was the most iconic silhouette of the era, a variety of hat styles emerged to cater to different occasions and personal preferences. For formal occasions and eveningwear, delicate and smaller hats, often perched atop the head, were popular. These smaller hats allowed women to showcase their coiffed hairstyles while adding a touch of elegance to their attire.

The Edwardian era witnessed the rise of the middle class, resulting in an expanding consumer base with increased disposable income. As a result, fashion became more accessible to a wider range of people, and trends filtered down from the upper classes to the masses. The desire to emulate the upper class and maintain a certain social status fuelled the demand for fashionable attire.

During this era the women's liberation and suffragette movements, began to gain momentum as they challenged traditional gender roles and sparked a desire for greater freedom and self-expression among women. As a reflection of this changing landscape, fashion evolved with restrictive and elaborate fashion giving way to more liberated and fluid styles.

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