If you’re a long-time blog reader, or a personal friend, it may come as no surprise that 1908 is one of my favorite years in all of fashion history.
The Edwardian era is what originally drew me into historical fashion. Since I was a teen I have been studying Edwardian fashion through primary resources.
Our wedding took inspiration from 1908, which was perfect for when we got married in 2008, as it was exactly a hundred years ago. At that time I started diving deeply into *why* this is one of my favorite years of fashion history. What I started learning was fascinating. It was during that year that I studied in-depth what went into a wedding trousseau. At that time, the trousseau included any undergarments a new bride might need. Since fashion changed drastically during this year, there was every type of undergarment you could think of to go under the different types of dresses, and studying that continues to be a passion. I plan to share more articles and images that outline the changes and options and why they were available.
In 1908 fashion took a really sharp right turn and, to me, it’s the perfect blend of Edwardian froth and what came to be associated with the modern woman. It’s when we started getting the “directoire” revival, with the high waist, sleek skirts that shaped fashion for the next five or more years. In fact, even though hemlines changed and skirts flared again, the raised waist stayed around until the very early 1920s.
We also see the use of bias in clothing, something erroneously attributed to the 1930s. Using the bias to advantage is not at all a modern concept, as we do see it in previous time periods to the advantage of clothing’s cut and fit, but in the Edwardian period we do start to see it used for its figure-hugging qualities in a way that was different to how it was previously used.
And so it came to me, as I have long been interested in this particular year and how it pivoted fashion forever, that I’d assign it a name and call it “The 1908 Project”
The 1908 Project doesn’t have a set time span for the beginning and end of the study, as I plan to continually add to my research from primary resources from this year. I will very likely investigate sewing from primary source sewing patterns, or adapt others to be inspired by the fashion of 1908. To help you follow along with my projects and research, it now has a catchy name. I hope to post here, on Instagram, and on YouTube. Make sure you’re following me on those platforms to keep up with future posts.
I’m keeping the project open-ended to allow me freedom to explore other time periods, and because I know, as primary sources become more and more available, or as my personal archives grow, that research can be ongoing.
It is so ironic that I can specifically study a particular year in time for many many years, while it really is that- just a year. I picture those who lived through it looking at me with eyebrows raised. It was just “life” to them, just another 365 days, but to me it’s the epitome of elegance, and what drew me to what became a life-long passion. I hope you will enjoy learning more about fashions of this year with me as I share what I’ve learned over the last fifteen or so years, and what I continue to learn.
1908 was not just interesting from a fashion history perspective. In many ways the world seemed like it was bridging between the past and the future.
- The first publication of Anne of Green Gables (which shaped my childhood)
- A Room with a View is published (E.M. Forster)
- Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz is published (L. Frank Baum)
- The Wind and the Willows is published
- The first around-the-world car race happened from New York to Paris, with the winner spending 88 days behind the wheel.
- Hoover acquired the rights to the upright vacuum cleaner
- The Launch of the Model T
- The first airplane flight with a passenger
- The Singer Building in New York, home of the Singer Sewing Machine Co, was the highest inhabited building in the world.
- A long-distance telegram is sent for the first time from the Eiffel Tower
- The first African American sorority was created by 16 female students at Howard University in Washington DC
- The first US postage stamps in rolls were issued
- The first railway tunnel under the Hudson River was opened
- The first couple traveled across the USA by car. It took 32 days.
- The song “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” is registered for copyright
- “SOS” became the worldwide standard for help
And so, I hope you’ll check back with me and see what good things I find. And in the meantime, feel free to look through past blog archives for the year 1908 by clicking on the tag included with this post.