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Fashion

Corsets, petticoats, trousers galore! Peel aside the layers that separate us from our Edwardian counterparts.

English Court Dress

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I wrote about Court Presentations nearly five years ago, and back then there were plenty of pictures and illustrations of women in their court dress, but it was difficult to find any of men in their court dress. Fast-foward to today and more libraries are adding to the digital archive.

Gentlemen who have no Special Uniform may wear either of the following dresses at Courts, Levies, and Evening State Parties:—

Velvet Court Dress (New Style)

Velvet Court Dress (New Style)
Coat.—Black Silk Velvet, stand collar, single-breasted. The fronts are cut small and cannot be buttoned: to be worn open. Plain gauntlet cuffs. Pocket flaps, with three points on the waist seam. Six buttons are placed on the Right forepart, and a similar number of notched holes on the Left. Two buttons at the waist behind, and two at the bottom of the back skirts. Pockets in the breast and in the tails. Body of the coat should be lined with White Silk and the skirts with Black.
Buttons.—Cut Steel.
Waistcoat.-—White Satin or Black Silk Velvet (not White Corded silk or White Marcella). No collar. Four buttons of small size, to match the coat.
Breeches.—Black Silk Velvet, with three small steel buttons, and steel buckles at the knees.
Hose.—Black Silk.
Shoes.—Black Patent Leather, with steel buckles.
Hat.—Black Beaver or Silk Cocked Hat, with a steel loop on a black silk cockade or rosette.
Sword.—Steel hilt, with black scabbard and steel mountings.
Sword Belt.—Black Silk Web Waistbelt worn under the waistcoat, with Black Velvet frog for the Sword.
White Bow Necktie and White Gloves.
At Levees.—Trousers of Black Silk Velvet may be worn with this Style of Court Dress. Plain Military Patent Leather Boots should be worn.

Velvet Court Dress (Old Style)

Velvet Court Dress (Old Style)

Coat.—Black Silk Velvet, stand collar, single-breasted. Seven buttons on Right front and seven notched holes on the Left. The fronts meet edge to edge at a point on the breast, where they are secured with a hook and eye. Plain round gauntlet cuffs, with three notched holes and buttons. Pointed flaps on waist seam, with three buttons, one under each point. Six buttons behind, that is, two at the waist, two at centre of skirts, and two at the bottom of the back skirts. Body of the coat should be lined with White Silk and the skirts with Black. Pockets in the breast and in the tails.
Buttons.—Cut Steel.
Black Silk “wig-bag” Or “Flash” is attached to the coat at the back of the neck, hanging over the collar.
Waistcoat.—White Satin or Black Silk Velvet (not White Corded Silk or White Marcella). No collar. Four buttons. Skirted fronts, pointed flaps to the pockets, with three buttons under each flap.
Breeches.—Black Silk Velvet, with three small steel buttons, and steel buckles at the knees.
Hose.—Black Silk.
Shoes.—Black Patent Leather, with steel buckles.
Hat.—Black Beaver or Silk Cocked Hat, with a steel loop on a black silk cockade or rosette.
Sword.—Sling Sword, with steel hilt and black scabbard with steel mountings.
Sword Belt.—Black Silk Web Waistbelt with slings.
Gloves.—White.
Lace Frill And Ruffles.

Read more about court dress in Dress Worn at His Majesty’s Court, issued with the authority of the Lord Chamberlain (1908)

Flapper Lingerie!

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One thing I anticipate about Downton Abbey’s third series? The lovely 1920s lingerie.

Corsets haven’t been entirely banished, but gone are the layers of Edwardian undergarments and in with the step-in, or envelope chemise, the brassiere and bralette, tap pants, knickers, teddies, and camisoles.

1920s lingerie

In response, I’ve put together an Etsy treasury of 1920s lingerie that will inspire and delight!

Further Reading:
Hidden from View – 1920s Lingerie
The 1920’s Silhouette
1920s lingerie: the step-in
1914-1920, Towards Dress Reform

Women in Trousers

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INDUSTRY DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR: WOOLWICH ARSENAL
INDUSTRY DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR: WOOLWICH ARSENAL © IWM (Q 27839)

A female worker operates a naval gun rifling machine in the Royal Gun Factory at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, London, in May 1918.

WOMEN IN THE FIRST WORLD WAR
WOMEN IN THE FIRST WORLD WAR© IWM (Q 30678)

Three members of the Women’s Land Army employed on an English farm during the First World War.

WOMEN AT WORK DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR
WOMEN AT WORK DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR© IWM (Q 30804)

A female driver lies on the ground as she works on a wheel with a spanner.

WOMEN AT WORK DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR
WOMEN AT WORK DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR© IWM (Q 30695)

A member of the Women’s Forestry Corps uses an axe to mark felled tree trunks for sawing during the First World War.

THE WOMEN'S ROYAL AIR FORCE (WRAF) DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR
THE WOMEN’S ROYAL AIR FORCE (WRAF) DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR© IWM (Q 12291)

A motorcyclist with the Women’s Royal Air Force (WRAF) on a Clyno motorcycle combination.

WOMEN RAILWAY WORKERS DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR
WOMEN RAILWAY WORKERS DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR© IWM (Q 109866)

A female gas lamp cleaner of the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway at work outside Victoria station, Manchester.

“[A] newspaper article appeared objecting to women in trousers then worn by those who were undertaking duties which it would have been difficult or dangerous to perform in skirts. The mentality of persons who would prefer a woman to wear a skirt rather than trousers or breeches and a tunic when hoeing turnips, loading hay, clearing out a pig-sty, cleaning windows, or working in a munitions factory is difficult to understand. So comfortable did women find their two-legged dress that some land girls preferred to wear their breeches when off duty and were reported to their superior officers for so doing. These ladies refused to interfere, their opinion being that the dress was a decent and honourable uniform which the public should respect as it respected the uniform of the soldier.”

~ How We Lived Then, Mrs. C. S. Peel