misslizzers (misslizzers) wrote,

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My unsinkable birthday party

So I'm going with a Titanic theme for my party this year, and the lethal combination of my natural curiousity, enormous amount of free time and poor impulse control led me to compile extensive notes on the fashion and celebrities of the day. So for the handful of people who care, I will simplify your lives by delivering my findings.

First, famous people. Girls are limited - most of the famous women in the Edwardian period were famous for dying spectacularly. But you do have Mata Hari, Marie Curie, Sophie Tucker, Mary Pickford, Czarina Alexandra, Georgia O'Keefe, Emily Dickinson, Willa Cather, and the unsinkable Molly Brown. Of course, there were also Ziegfield girls, WWI nurses, suffragettes, and damn! if they didn't wear the most hilarious bathing costumes.

Men have plenty of options: drowning ship captains, Spanish Flu war veterans, shamed White Sox, Pullman train operators, Wilson, Taft, Henry Ford, Albert Einstein, Lawrence of Arabia, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Fatty Arbuckle, Al Jolson, Rasputin, Pancho Villa, Mahatma Ghandi, Marcel Duchamp, Leon Trotsky, Vladimir Lenin, Sigmund Freud, Kaiser Wilhelm, John Jacob Astor and the Red Baron.

Of course, you always have the option of simply dressing to impress and adding a sly nod or two to 19teens fashion. And I'm here to help.

These are costume movies of the era, in case you'd like to jog your memory:
Anne of Green Gables/Dr. Zhivago/Finding Neverland/Lawrence of Arabia/Mata Hari/and of course, Titanic.

So here's what your well-dressed man was wearing in 1915: According to my research, you had a pretty limited dress code. Here's what you'd wear to an *IN*formal occasion: Overcoat: Covert of fly front. Evening jacket: tuxedo or oxford. Waistcoat: to match the coat or a "delicate shade of silk or linen." Trousers: to match the jacket. Shirt & cuffs: white. Collar: Wing or fold. Cravat: broad end black, grey, or black & white. Gloves: grey or tan. Jewelry: gold studs & cuff links. Hat: black derby or straw. Boots: calfskin or patent leather button tops OR gun metal pumps if you were going out dancing. Trust me, you do not want me to get into what you'd wear to a FORMAL occasion. Dapper young gents were also sporting silk scarves, canes, pocketwatches, tophats, and everyone's favorite, the monocle.

Ok, ladies. We had adopted the tubercular chic look of a pale, corpse-like complexion. Fashion-forward girls were wearing tea gowns, sack dresses, sheath dresses, oriental costumes, harem trousers, and even Hellenic tunics. (We were all about exploiting the exotic at this point.) The early part of the decade is considered part of the Bell Epoque, and most people were wearing high collars and tiny waists. A few years later, empire waists were hot, as were hobble skirts. By the end of the Teens, we started showing some ankle, and we wore full skirts with natural waists, large collars and cuffs.

Hair was usually swept up with lots of accessories - feathers, beads, ribbons, flowers, bands, and apparently even turbans. Hats were enormous, though they got simpler by the end of the decade. Mary Pickford popularized long, insipid ringlets, and some girls had the nerve to bob their hair in anticipation of the roaring twenties.

Finally, here are accessories you can incorporate if you happen to have any lying around - or you've been looking for an excuse to buy a smokin' corset: wool or cotton stockings/corsets/dolly-heeled lace- or button-up boots/elbow-length gloves/fans/brooches/cameos/cascading jewelry/silk scarves/shawls/ parasols.

And now I will leave you with "A Young Man's New Year's Resolutions" which ran in a 1917 newspaper. So much has changed, and yet so little:

1. Cut down cigar bill one-half
2. Spend less on clothes from the tailor
3. Cultivate friends who pay their own way
4. Woo and wed a good, noble woman
5. Take water instead of wine
6. Shake dimes in my pocket instead of dice
7. Write at least once a week to Mother
8. Cut out costly dinners at restaurants
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