The Edwardian era or Edwardian period is the period covering the reign of King Edward VII, 1901 to 1910. Fashion in European and European-influenced countries continued the long elegant lines of the 1890s. A new, columnar silhouette signaled the approaching abandonment of the corset as an indispensable garment of fashionable women.
During the Edwardian period, many women had firmly established themselves in the workplace, and tailor-made suits were an all-purpose outfit that women found functional and comfortable. These suits were often called "tailor-mades" and consisted of a narrow skirt, a simple jacket, and a basic blouse, which was called a shirtwaist. Tailor-mades were worn as an everyday outfit, for traveling, and by working women.
During the later half of the Edwardian era, fashions once again transitioned from the "S" curve dresses to the pre-flapper, straight-line clothing of the late 1910s. As women began participating in athletics, casual and comfortable "sport clothing" also became popular. Women's fashions also generally became lighter in construction and materials, as epitomized by the "lingerie dress", a feather-light white cotton dress inset with strips of open-work lace and net. In sum, women's fashions became progressively more comfortable, practical and aesthetically pleasing during this era, such that the period from 1890 to 1914 is remembered as "la Belle Epoque" ("The Beautiful Epoch").
Long dresses were the order of the day, every day, but that started to change towards 1910. Ladies still wore their trusted corsets and boots, it was easy enough to determine the ladies’ in mourning from those on their way to afternoon tea. Ladies of the Edwardian period made restricted clothing that consisted of layers upon layers of petticoats, puffy sleeved and high-collared clothing look extremely comfortable.
The defining Edwardian hairstyle for women was the pompadour – named after the Marquise de Pompadour, Louis XV’s chief mistress in the mid-1700s, though the more modern versions are much fuller and more exaggerated than the Madame’s was. The pompadour of the front hair, either waved or straight, swept up and out from the forehead forming a high, rounded peak.
[The Gibson Girl] was a cartoon character drawn by the American artist Charles Dana Gibson. For twenty years between 1890 and 1910 he satirised society with his image of 'The New Woman' who was competitive, sporty and emancipated as well as beautiful. Her clothes were fashionable in both America and Britain and set a fashion for skirts worn with embroidered blouses. Another Gibson look was a shirt collar worn with either a tie, floppy artist bow, tie neck cravat with stick pin bar brooch or crosscut ruffle jabot.
Even though Edwardian fashion for women was cumbersome and restrictive, there can be no doubt that Edwardian women's clothing spawned some of the most elegant fashion in the history of female attire. However, in the advent of women's rights and the plights of the poor, it begs the question as to whether or not one should see Edwardian fashion for its beauty and grandeur while seeing women's fashion of this period as a simple veneer of beauty while remembering the fact that women's fashion of this period was very uncomfortable and were set according to male standards and ideals.
Corsets went under a major redesign during the beginning of the Edwardian era and the period saw a change in the ideal shape of a woman. Although a small waist remained popular into the early 1900’s, the fashionable silhouette had changed. [...] Although popular in the Victorian era, the curved busk began to be thought of as unhealthy. It was thought to press down and harm the internal organs, so a perfectly straight busk came into use during the end of the 1890’s. The new straight busk did not to press against the internal organs and gave a more upright posture which opened up the diaphragm, thereby improving respiration.
As with the turn of the nineteenth century, late Edwardian fashions were heavily influenced by idealized Greek imagery. The soft drape of fabric, the clinging silhouette, and the high waistline mirrored the gracefulness of Greek tunics; however, unlike the Regency fashions, the Edwardians retained the Victorian love of embellishments, and both clothing and hair accessories were weighted with beading, ribbons, lace, passmenterie, jet, and gemstones.
While men’s fashion did not undergo significant change during this period, women’s fashion saw the gradual disappearance of the bustle, replaced by a new, slimmer silhouette featuring enormous leg of mutton sleeves and tapered waists framed by sashes or belts flowing into trumpet-bell shaped skirts. This slender profile was offset by huge, ostentatious hats named “Merry Widows” after the popular operetta of the time. These accessories featured feathers and lavish trims (including stuffed hummingbirds for those who could afford them).
This is the new century and this time period covers the fifteen years before the war. Up until about 1910 women pretty much stayed the same-- women were wearing corsets that were making the hips. But between 1910-1914 radical changes occurred in the styles. Hats, hair, sleeves, waists, skirts and postures were changed. The decade of could be said that the difference of men and women of then and now is the grooming. Men’s hair was rougher, not so close clipped nor so sleekly brushed. Theatrical pictures of the time show that even on stage, a woman could appear in a wrinkled dress without criticism.