I love crazy 1900s-1910s high fashion styles, and none are more fun than what you’d see “At the Races.” We think of Ascot, and My Fair Lady, but the French version of this was Longchamp and the ladies there set the fashion bar high with ostentatious, and sometimes extreme or shocking fashions.
This article is just one page long and comes from the August 1913 issue of McCall’s Magazine. Some of the terms in the period article may be considered non-P.C. today.
Paris, France- Although the great races will be over long before you can possibly receive this letter, the ideas I picked up there for your benefit will be just as fresh and good as if I had imbibed them only yesterday. The weather was so cold and rainy- ugh, how cold it was! It is a wonder my brain was not too stiff to take in an idea.
These gowns were among the chic toilettes we all went to the races to see- oh, of course, the racing was good, too, but that goes without saying. The frist dress, with the hooped tunic, is too charming for words. The skirt is midnight blue satin, and is open a little in front. Would you have thought to use a cherry-red figured silk for the overdress? Well, that is what makes this so Frenchy and so smart. A wide girdle of the blue satin is worn with it.
The bodice is the characteristic feature of that second gown. Opening in front over a bloused best of Brussels net, it has the jacket effect so popular over here. The old-blue taffeta collar is matched by the ribbons crossed over the breast, and carried on about the waist to form the girdle. A brownish tan is the color of the brocade so cleverly trimmed with this old blue.
Taffeta has come into its own again, and both in plain colors and in tartan plaids, as seen in my third dress, is all the rage. The drapery gives you a good idea of the present style of skirt. Nearly all the skirts are draped now, many of them in Oriental fashion, open in center-front and showing sash ends or under-drapery of some gauzy material of the same shade as the dress.
Notice, too, the chiffon waist on this gown. So many of the dresses this season have these thin blouses, untrimmed, but of a vivid color in starling contrast to the rest of the costume. Tomato red with night blue, I have told of in previous letters; orange with silver gray is another favorite combination, and purple with cherry red. There is a real psychology at the base of this new use of colors. We know now that we show our personality by our favorite color, but that is a subject for further study.
If you want to see more of what was worn at the races, you can see a few images I pinned on this Pinterest board and this Pinterest board.
I love that you can see the “lampshade dress” that Paul Poiret made so famous. You can see more real photos of real “lampshade dresses” on my Pinterest board. If you remember, I cobbled together a version of the lampshade dress a few years ago. My full post on that is here.
What do you think of these 1913 French fashions? Would you make and wear them?
ElaineAugust 15, 2016 at 9:29 am (7 years ago)
Lovely post- I’d wear most of these, but draw the line at the rather odd lampshade look. I think it’s lovely on a slim figure, not so good on a more er..matronly shape!