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 http://www.costumegallery.com/virgini3.htm
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!