What they wore


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Mar 20, 2000
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Kyrila,

Love the picture! The pearls are great. You can't go wrong with pearls. Your hat is very authentic, too. Bonnet-style hats with ribbon trim were the new thing that season and were very Lucile by the way.

Randy
 
Jun 4, 2003
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Hi again! Kyrilla, in the background of your lovely picture I believe there is a scene from A night to remember: I always wondered whether that specific scene was actually correct. I mean, was it possible for ladies to wear such huge hats over lunch aboard a liner? In Cameron's Titanic, similar large hats were worn in the tea scene. Any comments?
P.S. Do you believe that overall the ladies costumes in 1997 Titanic were appropriate? I cannot remember where, but I have read that these costumes were a bit too "good" or perhaps too much for voyages of the era! In any case, thank you very much!
 

Bob Godfrey

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George, stewardess Violet Jesop took exception to that particulat scene on the grounds that ladies did NOT wear 'street hats' on board ship: "Look what met your eyes at the Captain's table! everything except the kitchen stove on their heads!". Kyrila, of course, can be forgiven as she had probably just come up from steerage to beg a few autographs.
 
Mar 20, 2000
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All,

I don't want to quarrel with Miss Jessop but she's quite wrong that ladies didn't wear "street hats" on board ship. They most assuredly did. Perhaps she was referring to wearing them at lunch. Although it seems odd to me that they would not wear them at lunch as women absolutely wore them for lunch or tea in restaurants on land.

Any contemporary shipboard photo will show ladies wearing hats, indoors and out. Hats weren't optional accessories, as they are now. They were essential parts of a woman's daily wardrobe. In those days, to not wear a hat - for anything other than very active sports or for a gala evening - would have been looked on as really sloppy and bad taste.

And there were even "evening hats" (a la "Merry Widow") which were worn with a dinner dress. So I'm perplexed that Jessop, who certainly knew her business when it came to attending ladies on board ship, would claim it was a mistake for them to be portrayed wearing hats.

Where's that quote taken from, Bob? And I've just received your photos by e-mail and will get back with you shortly.

Randy
 

Bob Godfrey

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Hi, Randy. Ms Jessop's comment came from a private letter written in 1958 and refers to the film version of ANTR:

"I begged Miss Coffin (costume director) when she interviewed me and later sent various questionnaires not to put women on board in the very beflowered, beplumed hats of the period as American women, and they were mostly Americans, would never wear street hats on board, and look what met your eyes at the Captain's table! Everything except the kitchen stove on their heads!"

I have no personal view on this, because as you know my own knowledge of fashion can be written on the back of a menu and still leave room for the complete works of Shakespeare!

Regards,
Bob
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Hi, Bob:

You are too funny!

Regarding the letter mentioning Yvonne Caffin, all I can say is poor Miss Caffin! Evidently she was getting grief from all sides. According to Bill MacQuitty, Edith Russell was also giving the costume department a hard time.

Old Edy was of course a consultant but basically wanted to be given carte blanche when it came to the costumes. MacQuitty was at odds trying to get her to be more supportive of the costumer, instead of "picking things to death."

Shelley and I are trying to figure out what Violet may have meant about the hats. I am thinking that she may have meant that very dressy or showy hats were not favored by the American ladies on board and she may be correct about that. But they would not have gone without hats altogether.

Randy
 

Bob Godfrey

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Randy, nobody can be too rich, too thin or too funny, but sadly these days I have to concentrate on being funny!

Violet clearly didn't say the ladies wore no hats - her argument was with the type. She was, of course, thinking back over half a century but I think her recollections of matters of this kind would be clear, even though she also remembered the Titanic going down in moonlight! The specific reference to American fashion is possibly very relevant.

Bob
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Hi Bob!

"...Violet clearly didn't say the ladies wore no hats - her argument was with the type..."

Well, it's pretty odd - her use of the term "street hats." Because that's just what the women WOULD have worn. For those familiar with the photos of Titanic survivors on Carpathia - all the hats you see worn by the women were "street hats," i.e. hats suitable for wear with street suits or dresses. So it's a mystery what other sort of hats she had in mind.

Randy
 
Dec 31, 2003
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Hampstead, London
Hats off to ET members for many fascinating and amusing contributions. A new crewman, I can't resist an opportunity to put my oar into this sea of expert opinion. First, I thought Kyrila looked perfectly stunning at luncheon, tea and dinner. When I last saw her aboard Carpathia, she was - I am pleased to report - wearing a 'street hat'. It quite 'outdid' that worn by most other ladies. Of course, few had laboured on their appearance. But all had chosen a hat suited for out-of-doors. It was, however, quite typical of Kyrila to have chosen, with instinctive 'good taste' and almost quite casually, one that complemented the simple cloth coat (lined with Russian sable, I believe) she wisely chose for an occasion not 'pencilled in'.
 

Kyrila Scully

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Why thank you, dear sir. Actually, I am wearing my peach tea gown, with flocked print and satin cuffs and collar, and crystal bead trim. Alas, I no longer have the lovely hat. I left my sable in my cabin that evening.

Kyrila
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Donald,

I note that you are from Hampstead. I'm curious if you live near Villas-on-the-Heath? That was where Lucile lived the last years of her life - at No. 6. I submitted information on her not long ago to the Hampstead Online site and when I was last in London in April, a friend and I "hiked" (that really is the word for it!) into Hampstead to see her house. My profile picture was taken outside Lucile's house, actually. We (or rather I) wanted to knock on the door and ask for a tour but thought better of it!

The photo of the house on her biography page here on ET was taken by me in 2000.

Welcome aboard!

Randy
 

Chad Goodwin

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Aug 2, 2006
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I have in my collection the JAN-mAY 1912 iSSUES of Ladies Home Journal.........my favorite is the Feb issue showing a beautifully dresssed lady in a huge plumed hat talking on the phone......I also have the Spring issue of The Sears catalog for 1912 and the spring 1912 issue of The American Cloak and Hat company of Ny....they all show huge hats ......there was a law that kept ladies with huge hats out of courtrooms.......there are several cartoons about the size of ladies hats during this time period........and yep...i do have an original from 1910-1913
 
May 27, 2007
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Hi Chad,

Speaking of Ladies Hats there were also Title Cards in the early Moving Pictures asking Ladies to Please remove their hats so folks behind them could see the show.
 

Chad Goodwin

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love the history of fashion......although fashion died in the 70s....polyester has a smell you never forget........i was a chubby kid and my mom made me wear orange and brown stripped pants.......
 

Chad Goodwin

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did i mention the orange and brown flowered shirt and the buster brown shoes that went with said stripped pants......and I had a dorothy hamill haircut....th fact i lived to see my teen years amazes me
 
Aug 29, 2000
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I love the history of costume too, Chad. Yes, those cartwheel hats were the limit. I love that photo of Molly Brown presenting the loving cup to Rostron wearing that colossal hat. I bet getting through doorways was a trick. My mother "dressed me funny" too. I recall 1960 in a peagreen cordoroy "shift" dress with peagreen oxfords and a Tonette perm in my bangs topped off by a poodle velvet hairbow smack in the center. I was so ashamed to go to school- nobody was wearing the loose shift dress at the time. It looked like a maternity dress. We are scarred for life!

133775.jpg
 

Chad Goodwin

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Aug 2, 2006
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its cool how each decade is defined by one style....yet that style usually was only popular for a sort time........mens fashion of course changes very little
 
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