Titanic Era Research: Part 2

Since it took up a lot of space to post some of my research in the last post, I’ll be continuing it here! Right now I’ll be talking about all the different layers of an early 1910s era dress, and I’ll give you all my sources that I have used thus far.

So, most people know that an Edwardian dress is, well, a dress and a corset. Right? Right- but there’s more. First, you are going to wear a chemise and drawers or bloomers. A chemise is basically a very sheer under dress, and it would protect your body from the corset and protect the corset from your body. (You don’t want oil and sweat from your body getting all over your corset, nor do you want to feel that tough boning too closely.) In the Edwardian era, they had “combination” chemises which were basically dresses with loose pant legs- the idea is that it combines the dress and the bloomers. It might look something like this.

Underwear back then was much prettier than it is today, gotta admit.

Then, you would wear your corset. I already talked a little bit about 1912 corsets in the last post. Now, most corsets of this period were underbust, meaning they did not really support your bust, so most people would also wear a brassiere (which is actually an early form of the bra). I believe the brassiere started to be mass produced in 1912, so it’s okay for me to use one. They might have looked something like this.

Heck, when I make something like this, I could just wear it on an every day basis with my blouses and stuff!

Next, you would have your corset cover and/or petticoats. Now, I’m not exactly TOO sure how they used petticoats in 1912, if they were still used widely or if they were going out of style. (A petticoat is basically what we would call a slip today. It’s not see through and is full length.) I’m going to do a little more research and figure out if they used petticoats then or not. This is an example of a petticoat.

But one thing I will definitely need is a corset cover. This would protect the outer dress from the rigid structure of the corset- and, for me, add fullness to the bustline because I’m going to add ruffles to it, like in this corset cover here.

And, finally, we have ourselves the outer dress! The outer dress could definitely be sheer, which is one reason why we have all these layers of under garments. However, even the outer dress had one last layer, usually- a layer of lace or embroidered sheer stuff which is there just for decoration.

So, there you have it- all the layers of a 1910s era dress! My family is obsessed with the Shrek movies, so I’m going to quote Shrek here. Edwardian dresses are like onions. Onions have layers. Edwardian dresses have layers. I can imagine it would get very hot, but then again, most of these layers are pretty sheer so it shouldn’t be too bad. (I didn’t realize how hot the Padmé dress actually was until I was standing around in it under bright lights as my mom was taking pictures, and I got so hot I almost fainted. She thought it was because the corset was too tight, but it was actually just because that modal did not let very much heat escape.)

What material should I be using, if I want to be as historically accurate as possible? Basically, I should only be using natural fibers. Wool, linen, silk and/or cotton. I probably won’t use wool at all because it’s coarse and heavy and probably wouldn’t be used anywhere in an evening dress. I would probably be using linen for things like the corset cover and any other opaque under garments. Cotton would probably be okay too. And obviously, for the outer dress I’ll definitely use silk. That’s what they would have used back then, and it’s definitely my favorite type of material… who doesn’t love silk? Well, you don’t love it when you have to wash it, I guess. Because it shrinks and is fussy.

Anyway, stay on target! Now I’ll discuss all the resources I’ve been using. I’ve been using a combination of costumer blogs, historical blogs and museum websites. I won’t post ALL my resources here but I’ll mention a few.

This site was very helpful in explaining all the layers of my onion- er, Edwardian dress.

This site has detailed fashion timelines, so the 1910-1920 one was very helpful.

There are tons of other blogs I looked at- probably close to 10, so if you would like links to those please comment.

For my Pinterest board, I had to get reliable pix from somewhere! Okay, I admit, for most of them I just typed in 1912 dresses or chemise or corset or overdress or whatever else I wanted to find, and trusted that the results were accurate. And I understand that some of them probably aren’t, but most of them, I made sure came from a good source, such as the Metropolitan Museum’s website. (If they can’t date a dress accurately, who can?) There are other museums with Titanic era dresses on display too. Some others came from this site. These people sell real antique dresses from 1800 to modern day! I can’t be certain that the place is legit but it looks reasonably legit to me.

Also, I rely on actual photos as much as I can. One way I do this is by searching for fashion magazines of the era- my favorite is Les Modes, a magazine from Paris. (And Paris was the fashion epicenter.) Here is a photo from Les Modes.

I’ve posted a few other Les Modes photos too. And it feels weird for me to type Les Modes instead of Les Mis, a musical which I am slightly obsessed with!

There’s one last thing I wanted to mention in my resources section. On one of the blogs I found, I saw that the author had some very smart articles and she provided her email, so I emailed her and asked if she would recommend any resources. As it turned out, she has these online magazines called Your Wardrobe Unlock’d and Foundations Revealed. They’re paid subscription sites, and I think I’m going to get a subscription. Both sites have extremely professional articles about historical clothing, and they have patterns that you can download! I’m going to do the free month trial and definitely get my corset pattern from there. They do lots of historical eras, so it’s a great resource for anyone who is interested in historical costuming. They also have tips on doing a sewing business- for example, they explain how to properly price a corset.

Right now, I’m working on some sketches for ideas for the costume, so next post, I’ll show those! Thanks for reading!

One thought on “Titanic Era Research: Part 2

  1. Pingback: Making Edwardian Bust Improvers | aurorascostuming

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