Wednesday, June 17, 2009

From Gibson Girls to Flappers: Coming of Age During the Jazz Era

To celebrate her birthday this year, sweet Sares, over at Loveleigh Treasures is hosting a blog costume party. Attendees are to post a picture of a costume that represents their favorite movie, historical figure, era, etc. Don't forget to visit Loveleigh Treasures to see what other fanciful costumes are at the party!

With so many splendid historical time periods to chooose from, it was difficult to focus on just one. So, I decided to dedicate this post to the loving memory, and early years, of my grandmother, Mary Geraldine Rosplochowski (1905-1993).

My Grandma Ross, as we referred to her, was born into the Edwardian period (1901-1919). The Edwardian period (named so, because after Queen Victoria's passing her son Edward VII assumed the throne) signaled a shift in women's and children's clothing. At this time, children were still seen and not heard. Here is an example of what a child of the Edwardian period might have worn for a formal portrait:

Image from

Beginning in the 1890s (the late Victorian/early Edwardian period often overlaps) women began participating in more sports including tennis, croquet, golf, fencing, riding and cycling. This "New Woman" of the 1890s would go on to experience the sport of motoring in the 1900s. Although still restrictive, dresses began to allow for more flexibility and easier movement.

Referred to as Gibson Girls, the ladies of this era were "the personification of a feminine ideal as portrayed in the satirical pen and ink illustrated stories created by illustrator Charles Dana Gibson during a twenty year period spanning the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in the United States." (Wikipedia) The Gibson Girls' appeal began to fade with the advent of World War I.

As the Roaring 20s approached, my grandmother reached her teenage years. At the tender age of 16, she married my grandfather on New Year's Eve 1921. The one and only picture that I have ever seen of my grandmother's wedding shows her sporting a chic bobbed haircut complete with finger waves and "flapper" dress. I read that the flapper dress did not technically appear on scene until 1926, but apparently in New York hemlines had already risen dramatically along with bobbed hair, and rouge! Though technically not a flapper (most American women were not), I imagine that the Roaring 20s was an exciting time for my grandmother to come of age.

As I searched the internet for images of 1920s style dresses, I came across this beauty offered at Dorothea's Closet Vintage. Fortunately, this classic 20's style flapper dress has found a home in some lucky gal's closet. The bead work and Art Deco style is divine! (Now all I'm missing are some vintage 1920s shoes, a Cloche hat, and an Art Deco beaded purse!)

(Description of dress from Dorothea's Closet Vintage: Sheer pale apricot silk chiffon flapper dress with rhinestone and silver bead design and gorgeous staggered loop fringe hemline. Note dramatic deco cutout detail in back. No label.)

During her 88-years on this Earth, my grandmother would live through two World Wars, the Korean War, The Vietnam Conflict and the Gulf War. She would be granted the right to vote by the ratification of the 19th Amendment, survive the Stock Market Crash and Great Depression of the 1930s, get her driver's license and fly on jet liners to visit her 19 grandchildren scattered throughout the country. She was a sweet and loving soul who I was honored to name my precious daughter after.

Mary Catherine, was born just shy of my Grandmother's 100th birthday. Mary never got to meet her great-grandmother, but she carries on her legacy by bearing her sweet, yet strong, first name. I can only speculate as to what technological advances, sweeping political reforms, and fashion noteworthy eras will come about during her lifetime in the 21st century!


  1. Valerie, what a beautiful dress! What a beautiful post! I loved reading about the era your Grandmother grew up in. It put such a personal touch to the dress and what life would have been like at that time. Thank you for all the effort and love that you put into your party post, for me and especially for your Grandmother. Grandma's are something special and to be treasured!

  2. Woooooooowwww...history lesson much! Have some champagne, dearie! Some cake, too! Mmmmmmmwah! ;-)

  3. Oh, wow!!! Just wow!! That is a gorgeous dress!! With a great history too. Perfect!!! Have fun visiting with the partygoers, isn't this fun?
    ♥ Teresa

  4. SUPER dress!! I love these styles too they look comfortable!! Good job! Enjoyed seeing you at the party!
    Hugs, Lisa

  5. I love the flapper mom was a flapper and a cute one, at that.
    Love you choice...

  6. The period really is fascinating - and the fact that fashion actually had much to do with women taking a more active role in public life, as their clothing did not restrict them as much.

    The beaded dress is really find one in such good condition in this day and age is rare - most of those beauties were dug out of attics and sold during the antique clothing fad of the 1970's. This one looks in mint condition - and so often the silk chiffon gets dry rot. It must have been well taken care of by whoever owned it.

    Wonderful post today!

  7. Great history lesson about womens cloths during the Edwardian time!
    Have a great day now!

  8. What a beautiful post about Grandma Ross. I loved it! The whole post was wonderful. You are just a little researcher aren't you??? Maybe you should be in journalilsm!

  9. really great post, she sounds wonderful. so nice to see you at the party. Heidi

  10. Valerie,
    It was so nice to meet you at the party. I loved your dress. Wasn't the music and the refreshments awesome? I blew my diet, that's for sure. Nikki would love for you to visit her blog. Her link is The post that I was talking about is dated April 27. My daughter use to collect 'Wizard of Oz' also. I wonder if she still has any of it? Come back and visit anytime.
    Lee Laurie

  11. Hi there Valerie! Just popping over from Lee Laurie's, as I saw you were interested in my Wiz stuff! Now you can just click on my name, :P~

    What an INCREDIBLE flapper dress! I love how the beading drapes around the hem instead of just hanging there, wow. Wonderful post, I just love period clothing!

    Nice to *meet* you~ I'll be posting more on our Wiz trip in a few weeks. You'll hafta come back to see the quilt, you'll just die!

  12. Awesome post!

    My mom is Mary Catherine too :)

    My grandmother was a young woman in the same era. I love to look at her photos. Amazing.

  13. Nice tribute to your grandmother :)

  14. What a lovely tribute to your grandmother. You must have loved her very much.

    I adore that dress - what amazing beadwork. I love seeing things from that era.

    Have a great Pink Saturday.

  15. That is a spectacular dress. Thanks for sharing your photos of it with us. Have a wonderful weekend. Blessings...Mary


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