I was adding pictures to the Vintage Patterns Wiki this morning. I got them from an April, 1911 McCall Magazine. I added this one and then realized — this is the same month that the Titanic went down. These are the subtle kinds of connections that fashion has with history, when we look at a garment and think “wow, someone who died in the Titanic may have been wearing this,” or when we see a pink suit and think of Jacqueline Kennedy on that fateful day in November, or a 1940’s nurse’s uniform and think of Times Square at the end of the war. This is why fashion is so important. It’s an entire sector of understanding culture.
We shall not talk about that celebrity wearing Marilyn’s dress on the red carpet though. That was a desecration beyond desecrations, IF indeed she wore the real thing, which many people are questions.
I leave you with Miranda Priestley’s take on the connections fashion has with our culture.
I came across this ad for Ferris Corsets in a 1913 newspaper, and it stopped me in my tracks. It reminds me of this scene in Titanic, where Rose realizes how trapped she is in a proper life (the sound is terrible, but it’s the visual that matters).
I’ve never forgotten that scene, in part because the costumes are so beautiful, and also because you don’t generally see children’s costumes in period dramas like you do adults. The biggest reason it stuck with me, however, is because it shows just how young girls were when this staunch, rigid training started. And yes, training corsets were a part of it. Women didn’t just start wearing corsets one day — they wore training ones to get them used to them as children.
I can imagine it would’ve helped me tremendously to wear a corset as a child, because my posture is absolutely abysmal — likely the worst you might ever encounter. I slouch like no other. But I can’t imagine playing as a child while wearing a corset. Granted, these are training corsets, so they aren’t tight laced, but still. And boys had no equivalent. They likely didn’t have the same level of training either, for what is proper, because girls had to learn stitchery and the like from an early age as well. Look at this beautiful sampler in redwork, done by a child at an “orphan house” in 1886. It’s lovely, but the fact that she was an orphan makes me so sad. What did her future become?
It’s simply lovely. Girls learned such intricate skills at such an early age. I hope that we never lose these artists, but I fear that we are, especially since Home Ec doesn’t really exist much anymore. That’s why I love sewing patterns so much. I love being a part of keeping the needle arts alive.
I’m rambling, I know, but we’re having a huge snowstorm and perhaps it is making me think harder — I love winter so much. The snow makes me feel alive in a way nothing else does. But I’ll say this: I won’t be shovelling snow in a corset!
I came across this whilst trying to date another pattern for collar, cuffs and vests from the same time period. I find it fascinating.
I thought at first that the “vest” is a different garment, but it’s not. It’s attached, and only gives a vest effect. A faux-vest, if you will. I like it in theory, and it’s interesting to look at, especially with the contrasting fabrics, but I think in reality it wouldn’t lay right when you sit, and would probably bunch up at the waist. What do you think?
Description in the ad: “Here is a blouse which shows distinctly new features. It is quite simple and severe enough to be made of linen or pique and is well adapted to the various tub silks and to combinations of materials. Since the washable silks launder quite as well as cotton and linen, it is easy to combine them and the combination is extremely handsome. In the illustration, striped tub silk is made with vest, collar and cuffs of pique but in the back view, white linen is combined with colored. The long plain sleeves are exceedingly fashionable but, in spite of that fact, many women prefer the shorter length and these can be cut off as shown in the back view. There is just fullness enough in the blouse to be becoming while the plain stitched vest gives a tailored finish.”
I have so many questions. First, combining linen and silk when laundering would be a nightmare, yes? Add colors and whites together and how in the world did they make this happen? What kind of laundry wizardry was involved here?