1910-1920: Transitioning Styles

Hosting and attending an afternoon tea or garden party was an important part of maintaining social status. Those who could afford to do so, changed outfits several times a day depending on the activity in which they were expected to participate, and having a specific dress for an afternoon gathering was no exception. This tradition continued throughout the decade and well into the 1920s and 1930s.

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This white organdy dress, featuring a skirt of tiered ruffles, lace detailing, and sash with large bow would have been worn for such an occasion. Originally, it would have been worn with several undergarments, including a slip or petticoat and probably a corset. 

While seemingly restrictive by today’s standards, this dress would have allowed the wearer to easily participate in lawn games, such as croquet, archery, or lawn tennis, all popular forms of entertainment at a garden party.

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The beauty of this next evening gown is in the detailed embroidery and stark contrasting colors of black and white. The design has elements of both the 1910s and 1920s fashion trends.

It features an empire waistline and embroidered front panel. It is composed of two layers of different fabrics – chiffon and silk satin – which add dimension to the piece. The dress is asymmetrical, a design choice which began growing in popularity following World War I and would last throughout the 1920s. 

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The draped skirt is gathered in a flounce and is a deep black, a color usually reserved for fall or winter fashion. The back of the dress features a deep “V” opening with a horizontal inset. A velvet ribbon and rosette complete the look for this elegant eveningwear.

1910-1920: Transitioning Styles