1913 China-Inspired Dresses

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, February 6, 1913: About the same as yesterday.

Source: Ladies Home Journal (May, 1913)

Source: Ladies Home Journal (June, 1913)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today, I’m going to go off on another tangent.

Today our world is so global—and we think that people lived very geographically isolated lives a hundred years ago.  Well, not exactly—

People considered themselves to be very cosmopolitan. As I mentioned several days ago, students studied current events in China in school—and according to the June, 1913 issue of Ladies Home Journal:

Interest in the political and civic activities of the new China, which is more or less world-wide at this time, let the designers of the garments on this page to look at that country for inspirations for clothes that would be unique and new and yet fit in with present-day modes and the needs and environments of American women.

China has always been known as possessing a wonderful color sense, and the exquisite beauty of its hand embroidery is the marvel of every needlewoman.

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These facts are well known, but one might readily question the possibility of finding in the apparel of the Chinese lines that could be successfully modernized, yet that this has been done is charmingly and most convincingly shown by these attractive and absolutely wearable garments.

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1913 Dresses

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Saturday, January 18, 1913:  Fixed some of my clothes today. Didn’t do much work because I didn’t feel very energetic.

Source: Ladies Home Journal (March, 1913)

Source: Ladies Home Journal (March, 1913)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

I bet Grandma wasn’t very energetic fixing her clothes because she wished that she had new clothes.  Did Grandma dream of having the outfits featured in Ladies Home Journal?

For more hundred-year-old fashions, see Fashion a Hundred Years Ago.

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1913 Hair Styles

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Sunday, January 5, 1913:  Went to Sunday School this morning. Would like to go every Sunday of this year. Was over to see Carrie this afternoon. Went along with her to church this evening.

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Source; Ladies Home Journal (November, 1913)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Carrie Stout was a friend of Grandma’s who lived on a nearby farm. What did the two teens talk about? . . . do?

When I was young my friends and I enjoyed fixing each other’s hair. Maybe Grandma and Carrie also enjoyed fixing each other’s hair.

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There’s a fun YouTube video that shows how to do an early 1900s updo.

Beauty Through the Decades, 1900-1910 Hairstyle

1912 Aprons

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, December 19, 1912:  Ma went to town this afternoon to do her Xmas shopping. Wonder what she got me for a present. Perhaps nothing much.

1912 aprons

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Grandma’s mother got her some wonderful gifts.

A hundred years ago people often made homemade gifts. Aprons were a really popular handmade gift back then. Did Grandma’s mother purchase fabric to make one?

1912 apron

1912Picture Source: Ladies Home Journal (December, 1912)

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy the post that I did on aprons last year.

 

 

Women’s Shoes a Hundred Years Ago

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Saturday, November 9, 1912:  Was real busy today. Got a new pair of shoes, but I wasn’t away to get them. As I said before that I was busy today.

Source of pictures: Ladies Home Journal (1912)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Hmm . . . How did Grandma get shoes without going anywhere?  Did her mother or sister buy them for her?

I’ve posted lots of pictures of 1912 fashions from Ladies Home Journal—and many of the pictures showed shoes peeking out beneath the dresses.  Today, I cropped a few of the pictures to just show the shoes.

 

You can get a sense of what stylish shoes looked like a hundred years ago—though many of the shoes were drawn in a soft, slightly blurry way since they weren’t the focus of pictures.

Tore Good White Dress

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Sunday, October 6, 1912:  Was rather woe-begone this afternoon. Guess the start of it all was that I tore my good white dress. Just sat down in a chair and there was a nail or some other rough surface.

I picture Grandma’s dress being solid white–rather than a print–and really pretty, but this is the best illustration that I could find. (Source: Ladies Home Journal, July, 1912)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

What a downer! Did Grandma tear the dress at Sunday School or at home? I hope it was at home—it would be especially traumatic to tear a dress in front of others.

I’m surprised that Grandma was wearing a white dress. It seems like it would have been difficult to keep clean. And, white seems more like a summer color than a fall one.

Fun Fact from a Hundred Years Ago: Short Skirts Are Healthier

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, September 27, 1912:  Nothing to write.

1912 dress

“Short” skirt for walking (Ladies Home Journal, July 1912)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today, I’ll share some fun information I found in a hundred-year-old book about how short skirts—that is skirts which were five inches from the ground—were healthier. Who would have guessed?

The present vogue of having the walking skirt five inches from the ground is an excellent one, as it not only considerably diminishes the weight of the skirt, but it interferes much less with the forward swing of the leg in walking.

The chief exertion in walking is caused by the raising of the foot and lifting it to the point at which it goes forward and downward. By any artificial shortening of the step, such as is caused, for instance, by long skirts, it requires much more muscular effort to walk the same distance. Besides which, there is the additional friction of the skirts, which is increased by the slightest wind.

Another most important reason for not wearing long dresses on the street is that they stir up the dust and collect microbes, and thus contribute materially to the dissemination of the germs of disease and subject the wearer and her family to the risk of infection.

Personal Hygiene and Physical Training for Women (1911) by Anna M. Galbraith

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