"What Would You Wear on the Titanic?"
When I went to school for three years to study fashion and costume design, I learned much about each decade and what it brought with it. I had to sketch the costumes and dress starting at 1830 to the present. The history of costume is so fascinating and very involved.
Fashion of the Titanic Era
The Edwardian era is named for King Edward VII, whose short-lived reign (1901-1910) preceded the modern House of Windsor in England. The "Edwardian" style broadly encompasses those years from the turn of the century to the end of World War I.
It was an era of tremendous technological and social change; the Industrial Age of the 1880s and 1890's brought the first rewards of mass-produced abundance. Americans during the Edwardian age experienced new-found wealth and indulged in food, fashion, entertainment and travel as never before.
Perhaps the Edwardian era is best epitomized in the RMS Titanic, the grand ocean liner which embodied the human progress, opulence, and excesses of the time.
At the advent of the Edwardian era, the shape of women's fashions transitioned from the popular "hourglass" figure to dresses designed with an "S" curve. The new style allowed women to cast away the confining corsets of the Victorian age and embrace the new "health corsets" that supported the spine and abdomen. Women modeled their behavior and appearance upon the "Gibson Girl", the popular image of the "New Woman". Designers soon borrowed from men's clothing styles such as the suit, shirt, hard collar and tie, to create fashions appropriate for women entering professions formerly occupied by men.
In addition, ladies' hats became larger, a trend that continued steadily until 1911. The Art Nouveau style also invaded women's jewelry styles, as peacocks, dragonflies and moths created out of dazzling enamels and gold filigree became standard adornments for ladies' combs and brooches. Silk and chiffon were used in many of the gorgeous ball gowns, which were adorned with many beads and bugles. It was an age of "elegance."