When picturing ‘Edwardian’ there must be a image coming into your mind, something like this:

(some random stock photo found on the internet)

It’s a picture of a costume, but you get the gist. A ‘Gibson girl hairstyle’ a ‘Gibson blouse’ and an ‘Edwardian walking skirt’ and maybe some random wide hat. Hmmm well yeah, and no, that’s not all about Edwardian fashion.

The Edwardian Era

Let’s first start with defining what is the “Edwardian” period. It’s…kind of tricky.

“The Edwardian era or Edwardian period of British history spanned the reign of King Edward VII, 1901 to 1910, and is sometimes extended to the start of the First World War. ”  —- Wikipedia

Some called the year 1910 to 1912 Titanic period (aka what we saw Rose was wearing in the movie ‘Titanic’).  And there is also La Belle Epoque, defined by the greatest source for lazy people (like me), Wikipedia as from 1880 to WWI (1914). Some bonus information: This also overlaps with the First Wave Feminism movement, when Suffrages and Suffragettes were fighting their way to get their rights to vote, something that should have been obvious but surprisingly ignored by at least half of the population; and alas the prohibition movement in the US which eventually lead to, well, the prohibition (and decades of poisoning by contaminated alcohol and street crime).

 I prefer to call the era of 1900-1914 Edwardian Era.

The Gibson Girl

Secondly, who are the ‘Gibson girl’? The Gibson girl came from a series of female images created by an American artist Charles Dana Gibson.  Generally speaking, this Gibson girl is different from the former kinds of ladies, she is a ‘new woman’, slender, more athletic-shaped, fashionable, witty but surely not as confrontational as the (admirable) suffragettes. I always found it amusing how a type of girls created by an American artist symbolizes the Edwardian Era, named from a British monarch.

“The Crush” by Charles Dana Gibson, you can see the difference in the clothing style between the old lady and the ‘Gibson girl’

After reading thought the Wikipedia description of Gibson Girl, and watching dozens of YouTube videos about Edwardian Fashion, I’m still confused about what IS Gibson girl as a fashion. The description is relatively clear about how a Gibson girl behaves, yet there ISN’T a fashion plate for Gibson girl, you can’t say Gibson girl how Edwardian fashion look like, you can’t even say Gibson girl represents Edwardian ladies. Because Edwardian women chose what they wear, not by referring a certain male artist.

But the stock photo shown above does represent how women create their looks back then. And interestingly, I don’t think it looks quite the same as the Gibson illustration. Here is a film recorded in 1904 . The blouse/shirt-skirt combination became popular in the Edwardian era, from upper-class to working-class, everyone enjoyed wearing this succinct look during the day.

working-class women 1904

O wait, you forgot how fussy the Edwardians can be, those people don’t mess around all day with only one set of outfit…How about morning gown, tea gown, evening gown, ball gown and court dress and…

Margaine Lacroix-1907-‘robe sylphide’

And that will be the topic of another article…eventually.