THE Thread on Threads1912 Fashions


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Inger Sheil

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Indeed, yes, Randy - he doesn't seem to be overly enthralled with women's fashions, although in spite of digs at the 'smart hat shop' he knew enough about millinery practices to give his sister the following specific instructions:
I would have sent a better but this I happened to have with me and as luck would have it I couldn't get another when North this time. You must take it to a hatters to be bleached, a ribbon put on and a band inside, besides getting it stiffened into any shape you care for. I dare say there is a "hatter" in your village capable of doing it. I'm afraid it will cost you 3 or 4 bob...
No doubt she knew all that!

He also grumbles at having to spend a bit over four pounds (a pretty fair slab of his monthly wages at that time) on a blue shoregoing suit in South America, when he could have one for rather less and better quality in England. It's amusing to see him so very well turned out even in casual photos, when he says in private correspondence that he was wearing his 'windjammer rags' on first going into steam and had no intention of buying any better.

Lowe came up with some fairly interesting headgear during his life, and always seemed to manage to be photographed in it. From simple cloth caps as an AB to the flatcaps he wore when ashore later in his career, and the range of RNR headwear - the cap and tallyband of a rating, the officer's peak cap and finally the Lieutenant's dress bicorn. During his war service there were also pith helmets (useful gear while camel driving in the summer whites, apparently) and a spectacular furred Russian hat. During the Titanic era he donned the bowler hat (a very nice example of which can be seen in the press photographs where the media snapped his new clothes, including the hat he holds in one hand). One of the last photographs taken of him, after he was wheelchair-bound, shows a fedora on his head.
 

Kyrila Scully

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Inger wrote: "Lowe came up with some fairly interesting headgear during his life, and always seemed to manage to be photographed in it."

I knew there was a perfect part in Titanic for Johnny Depp!

Kyrila
(who can hear Bob's groan clear across the Atlantic)
 
Dec 31, 2003
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Randy wrote: "let the men have their day in the fashion sun"
I think it shone brightly on John Jacob Astor. As we see in contemporary photographs, he wore - always in an appropriate context - every one of the fashionable 1912 hats enumerated by Randy in a thread exactly one year ago: bowler; homberg; fedora and Eton 'boater'. Just briefly, I'd like to draw attention to his attire as he assisted ladies entering lifeboats, which I believe is both 'original' and 'smart'. Essentially, it consisted of two colours, alternating from head to foot; the colours being 'brown' and 'blue'. This was conventionally considered a colour combination to avoid, a grandmother told me. However, I find his choice interesting, and think it may have 'worked' for him tastefully. The shoes (with "red" - possibly 'oxblood' - "rubber soles" - and heels), belt (with gold buckle) and shirt (with gold cuff-links initialled and set with a diamond) were brown. The serge suit (possibly a 'walking' or 'hunting' one) was blue. When his body was retrieved by the Minia, there was a "handkerchief" in his (breast) pocket. It bore the intriguing initials "A.V.". Somewhere I read that it was a ladies 'hankie' and was blue. The mystery of its original owner puzzled me for some time. Just the other evening it came to me that Mrs Ryerson's French maid was 'Victorine' and that her fuller name - if typical with Victorine - would have been: 'Antoinette Victorine Chaudanson'. What a charming, touching gesture her presenting it to Mr Astor would have been: summing all her thoughts of "Thank You", "Farewell", "Hope to see again".
 
Jun 11, 2000
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Gotta say, I doubt it, Donald. Speaking as someone who can just about remember when people carried handkerchiefs, monogrammed too, I think they either had their entire initials - such as AVC - in Victorine's case, or their best-known ones, in her case VC. The intitials 'AV' suggest something altogether far more interesting, not that I want to get the conspiracy-theorists going....
 

Bob Godfrey

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I see where you're going on this, Monica. Augusta Vanderplancke down in 3rd Class was just JJ's type (18 years old). But I think we can rule out the fish cook Alphonse Vicat and greaser Arthur Veal. Seriously, the handkerchief could possibly have been a keepsake with the initials of Astor's son and daughter, Ava and Victor. But I bet there's someone out there with a better story!
 
Dec 31, 2003
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Monica wrote: "I doubt it, Donald" and Bob wrote: "I bet there's someone out there with a better story!". Well, the thread continues and has immediately met with responses from two of the best! I, too - for a moment - considered the 'A[va](-) V[ictor]/[-incent]' doting-dad possibility. However, as Victorine entered the same lifeboat as Madeleine; because she was an unmarried woman at the time (later having as her full initials 'VCP'); because the name 'Victorine' - as a French one c1875 - would be almost always only the favoured second name of a girl who had actually been christened 'Antoinette Victorine', I came to the conclusion I did. Until a better one comes in from out there - in the cold - I'll continue to be moved by it.
 
Jun 11, 2000
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Zut alors, Bob! Mais, mon vieux, utlisez les little grey cells... "AV", en francais, c'est "Ah -Vay" - Ave...Farewell! You see, Kato?
yours,
Clouseau
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Don, thanks for sharing your hunch about the Astor hankie. And it sounds as good a possibility to me as the others. I don't think any of these guesses can be shot down - after all they are only theories. And you're right there's a great romantic pull to the mystery. Personally, though, I think the "scoopiest" story would be that it WAS Alphonse's or Arthur's pretty little hanky.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Don, in its original context my reference to a need for a better story was hopefully seen as intended - a comment on my own tongue-in-cheek suggestions! The Victorine theory is certainly a possibility and I like your line of reasoning, though I've yet to see her referred to as anything other than just Victorine. Worth digging deeper.

Monica - moins de 'vieux', s'il vous plait!
 
Dec 31, 2003
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Randy wrote: "the 'scoopiest' story would be that it WAS Alphonse's or Arthur's". It certainly would be! Especially if it were Arthur's! But, fortunately! - the site of SS "Romantica" will never - never - be found.
 

Inger Sheil

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Scoopiest story it would be - and far more plausible than one writer who, on the basis of the hankerchief, suggested that it might not be JJA's body at all! Instead, they proposed, it could be a looter who had grabbed miscellaneous personal belongings and presumably dolled himself up in an ecclectic rig of other people's clothes for the occasion.

Got to love a conspiracy theory. When faced with a small anomolous factor, go for the most elaborate explanation.
 
Dec 31, 2003
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Bob - Certainly "seen as intended"! I think it's the 'pinch of salt', the dash of 'pepper', the occasional 'stirring' and the judicious amount of 'sauce' that marks the quality of our 'dinners' aboard "Titanica"!
 
Jun 4, 2003
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Hi all! In the 1997 movie and all others women are seen in gloves and purses in the dinner scenes. Was that true and what would be the purpose of such accessories aboard a ship? (my mother asked me) Thanks ...
 
Mar 20, 2000
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George:

First of all, gloves were not really "accessories," at least not in the way we would regard them today (i.e., expendable aspects of clothing). Instead they were fairly important parts of a woman's wardrobe then. Even until the 1950s and 60s, fashionable women wore gloves for most occasions excepting sports. For evening wear, particularly for a formal dinner or banquet, they would have been essential. Gloves were just an ingredient that went into the overall formality of fashion in those days. Also there was a stigma of indecency attached to a lady's not wearing gloves - the shock of bare flesh in public, etc. Remember this was the era when a man might get "hot" (excuse the expression) over spotting a woman's ankle when she lifted her skirt to climb steps or when she crossed her legs at the knees.

So, you see, it was not that gloves had a "purpose" other than being considered a part of being "proper" and "dressed up," things that aren't much on people's minds these days.

As far as purses - few women I know are without them today, so it's no surprise that they had them then. For evening, these bags or purses would have been dainty little things of silk, velvet or mesh (which was especially chic)and almost always beaded or embroidered in some pretty pattern. These would not have accommodated much more than a handkerchief and a powder puff although, if silent screen movies are to be believed, a lady could get away with packing a tiny silver revolver in her bag!

Lastly, being aboard ship was not a time to throw off the customs of society. True, some aspects of dressing were relaxed but for the most part, men and women would have dressed for onboard functions as they would have for occasions ashore.

Randy
 
Jun 11, 2000
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"Remember this was the era when a man might get "hot" (excuse the expression) over spotting a woman's ankle when she lifted her skirt to climb steps or when she crossed her legs at the knees."
Life must have been so much more exciting for men then. Windy streets, climbing aboard tram cars, playing tennis etc. The possibilities for the glimpse of an ankle were endless. I saw a what-the-butler-saw machine in a museum some years ago - my small boys were not impressed. "Don't know what all the fuss was about," they grumbled after expending an old British penny (which cost me 5 times the exchange rate) on the experience. Still, there was always that dependable hussy Miss Pirelli March 1912...
84934.jpg
 

Tracy Smith

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I was born in 1958 and I remember when I was a little girl that my mother, aunt, and other adult women I knew pretty much had dispensed with the hat-and-glove routine by the mid 1960s, except for going to church and for formal occasions, such as attending a wedding. I can remember having a hat and gloves to wear to church on Easter Sunday, along with the obligatory itchy lacy dress.

By the end of the 1960s, beginning of the 1970s, all this was pretty much gone and was essentially like it is today. At least this was my experience growing up in the northeastern part of the USA.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Monica, the '1912' lady's name is Karen Elson and would you believe it, she's still very much alive and looking younger every day! Here's a more recent pic.

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Bob Godfrey

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But as you know I'm into nostalgia so here also is a real oldie from the Grande Revue des Femme et Sport - intellectual forerunner of that tasteful UK tabloid the Daily Sport (which I buy, of course, only for the crossword).

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