1910 Costume Ideas

The 1910s Costume Ideas

When it comes to costumes, the second decade of the 1900s is currently probably one of the least requested decades of the twentieth century here at Props & Frocks. However, with the TV series Downton Abbey and the number of 100th anniversaries of events and locations due to take place in the next few years, this particular period is likely to become more fashionable when it comes to fancy dress.

When requesting costumes from this era, most people will tend to ask us for Edwardian Costumes, although King Edward VII actually died in Spring 1910 (May 6). Technically, 1910 saw the start of the reign of King George V and his wife Queen Mary (Queen Elizabeth IIs grandparents), but the Edwardian influence of the previous decade was still very much in evidence.

For females, whilst the hour glass figure had been popular in the previous decade, the start of the 1910s saw increased popularity of the hobble skirt (so-named as it only allowed wearers to take very small steps, due to the width of the hemline). Hats were also extremely popular, and the continued use of fur and feathers were very much in evidence. For upper-class males, it was still a case of dressing for dinner, with the informal lounge suits, being replaced by three piece tail-suits.

Despite the changes in the Victorian and Edwardian periods, the 1910s still saw inequality between the various social classes, and it was also the heyday of the womens suffrage movement. Costume requests from this period may involve people wanting some form of domestic service uniform. Servants often came from the lower classes, but there was a recognized social structure, even amongst the working classes, with scullery maids at the bottom and the housekeeper and butler at the top. Typical uniform requests from this period are for nurses, maidservants, nannies, chauffeurs, butlers and cooks.

The other type of uniform request received here at Props & Frocks – particularly pertinent to this decade – is the military option, where First World War uniforms are required. Military uniforms can be difficult to obtain at the best of times, and this period saw a change in the colour and style of outfits. Up until August 1914, colourful uniforms such as the red of the Infantry and the dark blue of the Royal Horse Guards and Royal Artillery had been much in evidence. However, the outbreak of a war primarily fought entrenched on battlefields, required a more practical and sensible approach, and these coloured uniforms were superseded by the khaki look, as the latter made soldiers a less easy target.

The advent of the Great War meant a gradual change in clothing of the period, which by the end of the decade resulted in a much more relaxed attitude to fashion styles. With so many men-folk being called-up and, sadly, not returning, women began to take a more proactive role and required greater freedom of movement, than the narrow skirts and corsets at the start of the century allowed. The more radical even began to adopt the androgynous styles which would become a feature of the next decade. The war also meant a change from the opulence of the early part of the decade to a more practical type of dress, which, by the end of the decade, also saw the hemlines rise in preparation for the start of the 1920s.

If you are dressing up as a character from this decade, perhaps for a Murder Mystery or an anniversary event, here are a few things you might like to know:-

  • Corsets and stays were used to create the hour glass figure at the start of the 1910s.
  • The hobble skirt was a popular fashion look between 1910 & 1913.
  • Gloves were very important for both men and women (and were worn when out and about during the day. The ladies would wear long gloves, with their evening meals).
  • Hats would have been worn by both males and females.
  • It would not be until the 1920s that ready-to-wear mass market clothing could be seen.

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