Tag Archives: 1910s

My Ladies Fashions 1914 – 1915

I bought this little catalog recently because it has a sort of local connection.  It is imprinted with the name of the Hobbs-Henderson Company in Greenville, South Carolina.  Hobbs-Henderson was owned by WT Henderson and CO Hobbs, and the business was both retail and wholesale dry goods and clothing.  In 1904 Henderson retired and sold his part in the company to Hobbs.  The last reference I could find to the company was from 1920.

I’ve got to wonder about what happened to the apostrophe in the title on the cover.  Actually, I was thinking it should read “My Lady’s Fashions” but perhaps the writer had more than one lady.

Even though the catalog was distributed at Hobbs-Henderson, the clothing seems to have been made by a company called Peck’s Garments.  It will take a better web searcher than me to come up with information on Peck’s Garments.  All I could find was information on the clothing of Gregory Peck!  I’m assuming there is no connection with Peck & Peck, a New York department store, but I could be wrong.

I’m also posting an enlargement of the artist’s signature in the hopes that one of you can identify it.

But what about the clothes?  You can see quite a bit of the influence of Paul Poiret’s hobble skirt, which had been introduced a few years earlier.  And skirts were still long, but no longer brushing the floor so the shoes and stockings were easily seen.

Click to enlarge

There was also a big trend of tunics over the skirts.  Within a few years skirts would be as short as the tunics seen in these drawings.  Maybe it was a way of getting women used to skirts that were obviously rising.


The hair styles also foreshadow styles to come.  As you might remember from Downton Abbey, for several years before most women were brave enough to bob their hair, they were wearing it in styles that gave the appearance of short hair, at least from the front.


As hair got closer to the head, hats soared.  These models are classified as afternoon frocks, and are considerably more fussy than the tailored suits seen above.

Is it just me, or are these clothes a bit hard to warm to?  I love the shorter dresses and suits that came along just a couple of years later as the world stumbled toward WWI.  But these just have an awkwardness, maybe due to the very narrow skirt hems.  Women must have been quite relieved to be rid of them as skirts shortened and widened.


Filed under Collecting, Proper Clothing

The Designer, September, 1918

As this September, 1918 The Designer magazine was going to press, World War I was winding down in Europe.  The Allies had begun the Hundred Days Offensive, and the Germans were looking for a way out without total surrender.  At home, though, women continued to harvest the crops and to do other important jobs that were left vacant as male workers joined the armed forces.  Many women wore pants, in the form of farm overalls or certain uniforms, for the very first time.

I’m presently reading an advance copy of a book about the clothing of WWI, Dressed for War: Uniform, Civilian Clothing & Trappings, 1914 to 1918, written by Nina Edwards.  Much of the information in the book is about dress in Britain, though Ms. Edwards includes information about clothing in Germany and the US and in the other participating countries.  It’s about so much more than clothing, and it paints a vivid picture of the hardships both at home and in the trenches.

WWI is now 100 years in the past, and that is a very long time. People who can actually remember the conflict are pretty much gone, and as for my own experience, the shared memories of my father and his contemporaries of WWII (which had ended only ten years before I was born) greatly overshadowed any tales I might have heard from a WWI soldier.  My grandfather and great uncles were of that magic age where they were too young for WWI, but too old for WWII.

So while WWII seems so real to a Baby Boomer like me, WWI seems so very long ago.  It is important to read books like Dressed for War, because the author drew heavily from the diaries and written records of people who experienced life during that horrible conflict.  We need to remember that wars are not just dates to memorize in history class.  It is from the stories of history that we can truly learn.

Dressed for War: Uniform, Civilian Clothing & Trappings, 1914 to 1918 is being published by  I. B. Tauris, and is now available for pre-order on Amazon.  Release date is December 31, 2014.


Filed under Fashion Magazines, Viewpoint

Ad Campaign – Baker Shoes for Women, 1918


FOR MANY SEASONS, Baker Styles have played a dominant part in establishing footwear fashion.  Invariably becoming and in perfect taste, they are notable also for an initiative in style that wins the approval of women who dress smartly.

This ad may be for shoes, but all I can see is that fantastic cape.  I’ve never really been a lover of capes, but then I’ve never seen one with such a luxurious looking lining before.  In my imagination, that fabric is an incredibly soft printed cashmere.  Yes, I know it reads as silk, but I want cashmere.

One thing I learned from making that Chanel-ish jacket is that a top quality lining is so important in the way it makes the wearer feel.  One way that clothing manufacturers scrimp is on cheap fabrics for linings.  After having an exceptional silk lining, I’m sure I never want something called acetate next to my skin ever again.


Filed under Advertisements

The Eveready Sportsman’s Hand Book, Circa 1914

Never judge a booklet by its cover, I say.  Attracted by the woman in her middy dress, I opened this up to find some great illustrations of sportswomen, not men.

Eveready traces their roots to 1896, but the company was not called Eveready until 1914.  They had obtained the patent for the flashlight which they produced along with the batteries to power them.

Click to enlarge

This little promotional booklet really does have hints for the sportsperson, but the best parts are the illustrations along with poems that describe each scenario.  The “girl” in each is holding and using her Eveready to help her in her quest for sport and health.  Note that the Sight-Seeing Girl seems to be in charge of the tour of the ancient ruins.


The Motor Boat Girl needs no headlamp as long as she has her Eveready handy.

The Hunting Girl is not afraid because she is fully equipped with her flashlight. Of course toting a firearm might add to the secure feeling as well.

Night fishing, anyone?

And of course The Camping Girl is in charge of the cooking pot.

The Motoring Girl is most useful when holding the Eveready for the man who can fix her motorcar. And note the hint of Motoring Girl’s reckless driving!



Filed under Collecting, Curiosities, Sportswear

A Young Man’s Fancy by Coles Phillips, 1912

Last summer I posted two photos of art by Coles Phillips that I discovered at an antiques show.  And while I loved the prints, there were a bit pricey, so I promptly forgot about Mr. Phillips and his pretty girl art.

Yesterday I decided to visit one of my (formerly) favorite places to find vintage treasures.  What was five years ago a thriving and exciting antiques market is now pretty much not worth the two hour drive.  In a town that once had six great antique stores and malls, one has closed, two are selling a great deal of reproductions, and one is barely clinging to life.

After four hours of “shopping” I’d found nothing to buy and little to even photograph to share here.  I was about to skip the barely clinging to life mall, then thought I’d might as well waste another twenty minutes.  This is a place that once had antiques and vintage items over three floors of an old department store, and now there are just a few booths left.

I spotted a rack of books, and an old, beat up, plain volume caught my eye,  A Young Man’s Fancy by Coles Phillips.  I couldn’t place the name, but I knew I’d encountered it somewhere, so I picked up the book and opened it.  The first print reminded me of the ones I’ve loved so much last summer.  And the price was more than reasonable.  Suddenly the trip didn’t seem wasted any longer.

The book is a series of sappy poems, or maybe it is just one long poem, but that is not what is important.  The prints are incredible, and there is a brief biographical sketch in the book that explains Phillips’s technique, which he called the Fadeaway Girl.  He usually used his wife as his model and the book is dedicated to her.

Phillips developed this technique after observing how the figure of a musician friend, dressed in black in a darkened room, seemed to be just suggested by his face, hands, and white shirt while his body faded into the room.  He worked on the concept in black and white, and then in 1908  did his first fadeaway in color for a magazine cover.  It was a huge success, and Phillips became a highly sought after commercial artist.  He did numerous magazine covers and he also designed ads for magazines.  You can read more about Coles Phillips and see more of his work at American Art Archives.

Many of the illustrations in my book appeared first in ads or on magazine covers. Not all use the fadeaway technique, but the fadeaways are my favorites.

The book sells online for $70 up, but my copy is in terrible shape, so the real value is in the prints.  I will most likely have my favorites framed.

The small pictures on the screen in this print are tiny reproductions of the other prints in the book.

Proof that you really cannot judge a book by its cover.


Filed under Collecting, Curiosities

McCall’s, October, 1917

In 1917 there were more women than ever working outside the home.  Many who were doing the jobs of farm and factory laborers had begun to wear pants or overalls on the job.  Suits were fashionable for the office set, and they often had an air of the military about them.

But tea and evening dresses remained very feminine in the traditional sense of the word.  Frocks were shorter, but no less frilly.  The skirts were quite full, and fell from a waistline that was above the natural waist, but was not quite an Empire waist.   In just a few years the waist would disappear and the skirt would become very narrow.   To learn more about the tubular styles of the early 1920s, you need to read Witness2Fashion’s analysis of them here and here.

I love this cover from 1917.  I wonder if she really did pair the yellow beads with her pretty blue dress.



Filed under Fashion Magazines

1910s Yale Knitting Mills Bathing Dress

I’m in the process of photographing some of my swimwear for another project, and I found something interesting about this swim dress from the 1910s.  The dress would have been worn with bloomers, which you can barely detect in my photo.  The white trim at the hem is appliqued silk, as is the collar and the white  piping.  Even though this was made by the Yale Knitting Mills, the fabric is actually a fine woven wool.

What makes this interesting is that the seams were finished by an overlock stitch, a technique that is more associated with clothing made in the 1970s and later.

The overlock machine, or serger, was invented by Joseph Merrow in the 1880s, and it was manufactured by his company,  the Merrow Machine Company.  They have been making overlock machines ever since.

Even though the overlock machine has been around a long time, it was not until the 1970s that the use of it to finish seams became prevalent in the sewing industry.  Before the 1970s seams were often pinked, or they might have been turned under and stitched like a little hem.  Shirts and blouses often had flat-fell seams, and lingerie and blouses often had French seams.

Because overlocked seams are so seldom seen in older clothing, it can be confusing when you do see it.  Years ago, when I was pretty new to buying old clothes, I found a really great sarong style Hawaiian print dress at a thrift store.  It looked so much like a 1950s dress, but there was some serging in the construction and because I could remember when serged seams started appearing in clothes in the 1970s, I was really confused.  But fortunately I did buy the dress and then did a little research and determined that the dress was from the 50s.

Since then I’ve seen lots of examples from the 1960s and earlier, but this 1910s swimdress is the earliest example I’ve ever seen.  What is interesting is that swimwear seems to be one of the industries where the overlock was more commonly used.  I’ve seen quite a few older swimsuits that have overlocked seams.

The Yale Knitting Mills were owned by brothers Isidore, Henry and Joseph Hirschmann, and was located at 512 Broadway in New York.  They made wool bathing suits, sweaters and golf vests.

A sad note: Brother Joseph died at the age of 38 in 1916, as a result of “a complication of diseases.”  Brother Henry evidently drowned himself a year later, leaving a wife and eight children.  According to brother Isidore he had been suffering from melancholia for several months.  The last mention I can find of the company is in 1922.

The bathing dress has buttons on the side front to make it easier to slip over the head.

Great detailing on the sleeves.


Filed under Collecting, Sportswear, Summer Sports, Vintage Clothing