Fashions and the Titanic

  • Thread starter Robert M. Himmelsbach
  • Start date

Status
Not open for further replies.
R

Robert M. Himmelsbach

Guest
OY! I believe that the deoderant/anti-perspirant was a relatively recent invention; that's WHY they had scented soaps and assorted scented pommades, after-shaves, perfumes, etc. Fans were (if my memory of illustrations of the period is correct) still used in formal dress social events. I seem to also recall that the Victorian Mourning jewlery had faded WAY past it's prime by 1912; an older lady of, say Mrs. Strous' era might still wear mourning clothes and jewelry like that, but by 1912 Vicki was long gone (and so was Eddy for that matter) and the freedoms of the "new woman - the Gibson girl" were in vogue or just coming in (depending on class and location!)
 
Mar 20, 2000
3,107
33
323
Dear "une dame d'un certain age",

Interesting about the perfume. Maybe Mike will know.

Don't feel too bad for the "Jersey Lil" - she did lots of newspaper discourses on beauty and health care in her waning years, made a few last stage appearances, and even did a silent movie!

As to old Oscar, I'm afraid I never heard of his love for Mrs. Stoker. I was always under the impression that his love interests were decidedly more masculine. Maybe in reality it was Bram he liked? I'd believe that.

As to deodorants I agree with Robert, they couldn't have been around in any abundance BUT there was something called "Odor-O-No" which was being advertized in the teens. Also there were these little bits of cotton material that used to fit under your arms - dress shields they were called - which absorbed perspiration, preventing sweat stains on your dress. These could be removed and replaced with a new one or a scrubbed-up old one.

I would venture to say here that there must have been greater tolerance then for bodily odors; for instance I have read that a woman's natural smell of "clean sweat" was considered more of a turn-on to men in Edwardian days than the scent of a cologne. I don't dare to imagine what men must have smelled like in the summer in those hot suits! They wore linen of course in summer but the grade of linen favored then was heavier than we would use today. At least women could manage relative freshness in light muslin, gauze, or organdy dresses.

Randy
 
Aug 29, 2000
4,562
28
323
Odor-O-No !!!!Am rolling-positively apoplectic-HYSTERICAL-gasp.Think we could make a buck? Well, alum and rosemary astringent I have heard of and dress shields are still around-even post-Mitchums!But yes-the air must have been positively RIPE in summer. Now I am reading the glove update- remember that scene in Age of Innocence- Daniel Day-Lewis and Michelle Pfeiffer in the carriage- he unbuttoning her glove (sigh, swoon) and kissing her WRIST (Mo has now fallen over in a dead faint)-for my money the MOST erotic 2 minutes on any film. Men of the world-TAKE NOTE. Yes Naughty Boy- The Wilde Oscar was an equal opportunity kind of guy- Bram and he were at Trinity together and also knew Florence (who was a BEAUTY)-she was Wilde's FIRST lady love-and he was desolate. She would have done better to spurn Bram I daresay- it was not an entirely successful union-Flo was a bit "chilly." All this madness I know because I am a card-carrying member of the British Dracula Society. Recently visited Charles Dana Gibson's grave in Mt. Auburn Boston-twined together with ivy next to his favorite model and beloved Miss Langhorne. I thought of you today as I visited the BREAKERS (Vanderbuilt "cottage" in Newport)so many nice Dover Press books on 1912 fashion in their giftshop-one on children's clothes. What do we know there, amis? And what about PLIMSOLES- sports shoes, etc. Surely something for lawn tennis.
 
Mar 20, 2000
3,107
33
323
Dearest of the dears,

I know nothing of children's clothes. I skip right over stuff like that in my research. There's a chapter about that in Frances Kennett's The Collector's Book of Fashion w/ gt pics.

As to sport shoes - yes, there were suitable shoes for golf and tennis. Simple canvas lace-up oxford type things with low or no heels. Most uninspiring and practical (yawn).

Block heels and stubby round toes were sadly the rule for riding boots - this was a thorn in Lucile's chic side. She heartily opposed such sensible shoes, promoting instead lovely pointed toed, slim heeled, cloth-topped boots which she herself wore on hunting jaunts (rare occasions for our L,I have found, and then only as a spectator).

Breakers sounds lovely. Can't wait to see it. Did you hear anything re: Mamaroneck?

"Fond love" (L's affected way of signing her letters)

Couture King
 
J

John Morris

Guest
Curious to know Randy, (or Edwardian fashion horse) how accurate was the costuming that Deborah L. Scott did for Titanic?

Thanks,
John Morris
 
Mar 20, 2000
3,107
33
323
Hello, John,

I think Deborah Scott did an admirable job and certainly deserved the Oscar. There are always things that other costumers and so-called critics like me would have done differently but they are minor in the case of Titanic. For instance, I'd have had Rose's Mum a bit more chic - the high collars and slightly flared skirts were passe for anyone except a matron by 1912. I realize they were portraying her as austere but she could have managed that and still have looked less frumpy. But apart from small details, there's nothing to criticize. The overall effect of the costuming was authentic and cohesive.

All my best,

Randy

(BTW, you're right more than you know that my fashion horsiness does absolutely have to do ONLY with Edwardian dress - just ask Phillip Gowan who met me recently on home turf. He was nicely dressed in pinstriped shirt and khakis and I turned up in sweats, an old sweater and a plaid flannel jacket!!! So if I ever try to lecture on contemporary men's wear, consider the horse's mouth!)
 

Tracy Smith

Member
Nov 5, 2000
1,646
11
313
South Carolina USA
If you liked the Breakers, then you ought to see The Biltmore House in Asheville, NC, which was built in 1895 and owned by the same Vanderbilt. It is advertised as the largest privately owned home in the US. It is available to tour and there is a small winery attached to it as well
 
Aug 29, 2000
4,562
28
323
Tracy- went to see the Breakers decorated for the holiday last week- fabulous! I really enjoyed the bedroom of Gertrude Vanderbuilt Whitney who designed the Titanic memorial in Washington DC-there were pictures of it displayed there in her room as well as sculpture and other monuments used as her inspiration. The face of the figure in the memorial is her brother Alfred -lost on Lusitania. We will go to see it on our upcoming Gilded Age Tour this Spring.
 
Dec 13, 1999
1,458
11
313
Hi Shelley, I was at "The Breakers" last year, it is truly magnificent.......only problem was a really scary tour guide! I think she aspired to live there but hadn't married well enough!!
Geoff
 
J

John Morris

Guest
Thanks Randy for your comments above. You're right Deborah Scott did a great job, I have lots of fun re-watching the movie just to look at the costumes.

John Morris
 
Aug 29, 2000
4,562
28
323
Geoff- old darling- you in my back yard and did not give me a holler? Ah- we could have painted the town red- er... well at least pink (am not as spry as when we first met!)
 
Jun 4, 2003
332
1
183
Hi all! I would like to ask what was the norm for women's clothing on board the Titanic? Did the women dress formally, more casual, or did they dress only according to their taste and/or money? I guess first class women, especially the most notable ones, would have only the finest clothing and jewels in the evenings! What about the rest of the day? Are there any accounts on this subject? I have also heard of Lucile's account that the Sunday dinner was grand but how about any others? Thank you!!!
 
Mar 20, 2000
3,107
33
323
George,

This subject has been covered I think at some point under the Gilded Age topic in a thread called "THE Thread on threads." But as it might be hard finding it, let me offer a few thoughts for you here:

By day, women in first and second class would most definitely have been in fashionable seasonal street wear - suits in woolens and velvet, furs and hats. Sports clothes (i.e., blouse, skirt, sweater, low shoes, etc) may well have been worn as well but likely only in the mornings, women changing into more elegant dresses in the afternoon.

In first class, there "could" have been a number of wardrobe changes in keeping with the Edwardian practice of dressing for specific occasions - lunch, tea, a stroll, concert, etc. However, many (if not most) ladies would not necessarily have changed clothes for each event as they would have done on land. Shipboard life offered a departure from strict formalities and many women took advantage of the more relaxed mood by not observing to the letter those customs they'd normally have felt obliged to respect.

As an example, a lady might wear the same suit until time to dress for dinner, exchanging a simple hat in the morning for a more elaborate one in the afternoon. A lady might also change her coat or fur from morning to afternoon. Tea-time on Titanic would naturally have found women in their loveliest frocks and hats.

As far as accounts of the dress of women during the day on Titanic, I think May Futelle's unpublished memoir (to be used in George Behe's forthcoming book) touches on this and in fact provides some fascinating glimpses into the clothes worn by Madeleine Astor on the day of the disaster.

Edith Rosenbaum also describes women's clothes during the trip in several of her articles and interviews. Apparently Edith was one of the best dressed - this verdict from Lucile herself.

In Futrelle's published account (in the Boston Globe?), there are great references to the evening toilettes of the ladies on April 14. But, as you say, there are plenty of descriptions of the festive attire of women that last night.

I hope these bits help.

All my Best,
Randy
 
Oct 14, 2003
129
2
183
Okay, I've just discovered this thread and am thrilled about it because there's something that's been bugging me for A LONG time now! But be warned that it's not 'proper' conversation - although the suggestion of JJ Astor in silk boxers made me laugh!

Anyway, my question is this:

In the move Titanic Rose's corset goes over her hips and butt - what would she do when she went to the dunny? Would she have to remove it?

Also, the ladies who didn't have their own bathrooms and used the ones up the hall - wouldn't they have had to get someone to assist them? I can just see them dashing up the hall to their bedrooms with nothing but a bathrobe and an anxious look on their faces, fearful that they might get seen!

Christa.
 
Jun 11, 2000
2,524
26
313
Hi Christa,
my granny (who has featured before here and who would be 120-odd now were she alive - the women in my family put off having children until the last possible minute!). Anyway, she told me when I was a child and nadgering to go to the loo, that women of her generation were brought up to go only twice a day. Once in the morning, and once when dressing for dinner. She told me I should learn to hang on. Might explain the corset problem, though I can't think it was very good for you.
cheers
Mon
 
Jun 11, 2000
2,524
26
313
I remember Odor-o-No! In my father's chemist shop as a child. It was a sort of paste, and not fashionable. Around 1960 there were a lot of brands which would have been familiar on the Titanic. Doan's Backache Tablets, Collis Brown's Chlorodyne, Carter's Little Liver Pills, Gees Linctus Cough Medicine, Zambuk - they probably worked, as they contained substances banned over-the-counter today. Re the smells then - well, I remember life being very much more odiferous when small. Tobacco everywhere, wet macs, body odour, coal fires - the cinemas, tube trains and buses were the worst. Modern life is much sweeter!
Mon
 
Oct 14, 2003
129
2
183
Thanks Mon,

It never occurred to me that they'd just have to wait!

I wonder if Odor-o-No! was fashionable in 1912? I'd hate to put on a paste every day - thank god for modern day deodorants!

Speaking of products which contained substances banned today - would pain relieving remedies come in the form of nostrums or pills? And what exactly was a nostrum? (Having got the word on one of the message boards
happy.gif
)
 
Mar 20, 2000
3,107
33
323
Hi Christa,

I don't think women had to remove their corsets to use the toilet. And they would not necessarily have required the assistance of a maid or stewardess. The opening years of the 20th century was a time of great social change, especially in the status of women who were far more independent than they had been. Clothing was slowly enabling them to be even more active and self-sufficient.

Underwear was not nearly so cumbersome as in earlier days and women were actually able to dress themselves. Pantalets and a petticoat was about all there was to undergarments after 1910 and the petticoat was even being discarded by many women or at least being reduced to a very skimpy slip, in keeping with the narrower skirts. And corsets for slim young women were not as heavily boned or reinforced with as many steel stays as for older or more stout ladies.

By the way, the lacing of Rose's corset in the film was for effect I believe - to symbolize her feeling "caged." In actuality she would not have been very tightly laced and would have been able to put her corset on without being "cinched in."

Dressing for women in 1912 was not the ordeal people often think of it as being. Victorian prim-and-proper notions were already out of date and young women were very aware of being relatively "free." The fashions were beginning to express this new-found autonomy - such as open necklines, short sleeves and slit skirts, style features which were all the rage at the time of Titanic.

Randy
 
Oct 14, 2003
129
2
183
Heya Randy, thanks for replying, I hear you're the guy to see about 1912 fashion.

So, are you saying that a 1912 lady could do up her own corset? I thought they were done up from behind (like in Rose's dressing scene). Or were they able to do it like women put on bras today?

Did they wear camisole over the corset? Also, were dresses generally one piece or were their sometimes many (some of the dresses that I have observed look like there are a few pieces to it).

Do you know of a good website where I can investigate 1912 fashion further - and not just for women?

Christa.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Similar threads

Similar threads