Category Archives: 1900s

On the Street in Chinatown, ca. 1900

When did women in the United States start wearing pants on the street?  It depends on where you look.  This picture from San Francisco’s Chinatown shows that pants were common attire for women of Chinese descent at the turn of … Continue reading

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The Gibson Girl’s Mother, 1900

The Gibson Girl is an American archetype–a tall, slim young woman with a big head of hair and an athletic disposition.  She was artist Charles Dana Gibson’s most famous creation.  However, he also drew other social types. In a collection … Continue reading

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What to Wear in Utopia, 1915

Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a noted writer, feminist, and sociologist at the turn of the twentieth century.  She was also an advocate of dress reform, that movement which struggled against corsets, uncomfortable clothing, and unnecessary finery.  Her views on what … Continue reading

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The Language of Flowers for Older Women

For those of you who chafe against fashion rules and continue to wear white shoes after Labor Day, consider how lucky we are that so few rules remain.  Poking around in early twentieth century millinery books on wonderful Cornell University … Continue reading

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The Old Maids’ Tea Party, 1901

The term “old maid” has happily gone out of fashion. It would not have much meaning these days anyway, since most people no longer automatically assume that unmarried women are without sexual experience. But in the past, unattached women attracted … Continue reading

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Exploring Harvard’s “Women Working, 1800-1930” Collection

I never had to walk five miles in the snow to get to school, but I used to travel long distances to libraries and archives in order to do my research. These days you can sit at home and discover … Continue reading

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A Thanksgiving Menu, 1905

Not an older woman, but too wonderful not to share. This is from the Buttolph menu collection at the New York Public Library, found via the Digital Public Library website. The menu comes from the Planter’s Hotel in St. Louis, … Continue reading

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Annie Peck in Knickerbockers

When did older women give up their skirts? The oldest photo I have in my collection is from the 1940s. However, fashion historian Lizzie Bramlett recently wrote about an older woman who made history by hiking in knickerbockers in the … Continue reading

Posted in 1900s, Pre 1900 | Tagged | 1 Comment

Motor Veils

The first cars were open and created special problems for women with big hats and big hair. For those who didn’t want to change their style and don boyish caps, the solution was to wear a veil. I no longer … Continue reading

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A Photo Postcard Pair, 1900s

This studio portrait was printed on postcard stock, a popular method in the early 1900s. The clothes are from that era as well. The mother/aunt/grandmother here wears what we might call the uniform of adult American women at the turn … Continue reading

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