The women’s clothes at the beginning of the 20th century were pretty and comfy at the same time. All those large and bulky crinolines and bustles are abandoned. And less stiff corsets, light semi-transparent fabrics, and delicately embellished upper garments make a woman’s life much easier. Let us see how that teens’ silhouette is achieved underneath all the lace and cotton and which accessories complement the sophisticated 1914 attire the best.
Chemise and split drawers are, as always, the first layer. Both garments are made in fine cotton and decorated with lace.
Stockings next. These are knitted cotton, but silk and wool were used too, depending on the season.
In the teens era, the drawers and chemise are getting shorter, and stockings longer, so that it is easier to clip them onto the corset. The drawers are split for convenience, but in this decade, underwear starts to undergo some dramatic changes.
Shoes next – though this step can be left until the very end too, if you are flexible.
The corset is the next thing on. A very different affair than Victorian corsetry indeed. It is much longer for a start and does not emphasize waist as much as past models.
Its function was to smooth the silhouette for a fashionable lean shape – as well as to provide a base for the suspenders. It still supports the bust (just about!) but this is changing, too. The corset is slowly migrating down and becoming an underbust affair.
The busk and the boning did not extend all the way down for comfort’s sake – and the corset was often laced at the front bottom, too. The back still laces as before, with “bunny ears”. The back and abdominal support are also still present, though the waist is less cinched in.
And it is easy to lace yourself in, though the length of the corset makes the task slightly longer than for a Victorian one.
Over the next few years, the corsets will become underbust – mostly serving as structured suspender belts. The rising popularity of elastic tapes and fabrics will be reflected in corset design, too. It is used for “hose supporters” (suspenders), and in the latter part of the era, elastic is starting to appear as a part of the construction, providing more movement.
The corset still features a little hook just below the waist – the laces hook under it, without adding bulk to the waist.
And now, for the fun of clipping on the stockings. Another reason why underwear was becoming shorter – it was easier to use suspenders with less voluminous drawers. The elastic helps, but it still is a bit awkward.
The suspenders could either be plain or decorated, and the clip was usually a metal one.
Although the long line restricted the hips more than Victorian corsetry, you could still have some mobility – bend to lace your shoes or sit comfortably in a chair.
Lower bust corsets became possible partly thanks to another important invention… the Brassiere. Most likely evolved from bust improvers, they were a separate garment with both horizontal and vertical boning.
Quite a novelty at that point, they truly did come into their own in the ‘20s, but even the late teens saw quite a variety of designs.
They were a rather comfortable garment, too, providing some support when needed. Still, with this corset doing its boob-support job, and with summer temperatures outside, sometimes you could do without the brassiere.
Corset cover goes next. It will hide the outline of the corset and lacing, but will also protect outer garments from the metal components of the corset.
Petticoat time. Since the summer attire is made with semi-transparent fabric, modesty is preserved by wearing a nice light petti. It still has a flounce at the hem, but as the decade progressed, flounces were diminishing and sleeker styles were preferred.
The petticoat closes at the side with buttons, but the waist can also be regulated with a tie at the back.
And finally, the last layer. The skirt in very light cotton, with cutwork lace embroidery. The skirt closes at the side with buttons and snaps (invented in 1885).
And the jacket in the same light cotton, with an underbodice of lace in front. The bodice closes with snaps, too. Easier than the buttons, though perhaps not as safe for some… Don’t try it on a very fitted garment.
The jacket front can either overlap or fall vertically. Both styles were fashionable.
To keep it secured, a belt is used. This one is of silk taffeta and closes at the side with hooks and bars.
Bling next. Necklaces and bracelets were usually worn. Garnets, or amber, or pearls…
Hat next – a light affair in straw and silk, keeping my head protected from the sun.
And light crocheted gloves.
As an accessory, a parasol could be used, too.
And a shawl, just in case it got cold.
All the fabrics are natural fibers and breathe very well. Also, the layers keep the core body temperature stable, making the heat bearable. Even the shoes are light. The hat, gloves, and parasol provide additional sun protection.