The first decade of the twentieth century is often referred to as “La Belle Époque” - French for "the beautiful age." During this time, Paris reigned as the capital of art and fashion, extravagance and opulence was in, and French couture became all the rage. Edward VII became King of England with the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, ushering in the “Edwardian Era.” Art Nouveau influenced fashion and ornamentation with the popularity of curvy shapes, floral prints, and ornament.
The dominant silhouette of the period was the S-bend hourglass shape, which was achieved through the use of long bell or trumpet skirts that swept the ground, and the “monobosom” fullness of the front bodice. Voluminous sleeves were another popular feature of turn-of-the-century fashion.
Women still wore tightly-boned corsets, along with layers of petticoats. Two-piece ensembles were introduced, consisting of a skirt and a shirtwaist blouse. Garments often featured necklines with high standing collars for daytime and exceptionally low décolleté necklines for evening wear. Lingerie dresses — flowing white gowns with lace detailing — were a popular choice for outdoor hot weather. Pale colors and un-patterned fabrics adorned with lace or embroidery were favored in this style.
Shoes and boots exhibited pointed toes, and parasols were a must-have accessory for outdoors. Elaborate, often large hats decorated with bird feathers enjoyed heightened popularity. With the introduction of Henry Ford’s Model-T in 1908, “motoring garments,” such as duster coats and goggles, became essential for automobile riding.