Hundred-Year-Old Women’s Suits

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

Thursday, September 17, 1914: After a lapse of nine days I decided that it is time to write in my diary.

Went to town this afternoon to oblige Ruthie dear. Her suit need pressing (souvenir of our trip) so I walked it in.

Source: Ladies Home Journal (June, 1912)

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

Grandma– I’m confused. There been a sentence or two written most of the past nine days. Do you mean that you went back and wrote entries for all of those days at one time? . . .Your memory must be pretty good.

And, this thing about wearing suits on the trip to Niagara Falls. . .  It’s nice that you took your sister Ruth’s suit into the town to get pressed (at the dry cleaners?); but it seems ridiculous that you wore suits while on vacation.

Source: Ladies Home Journal (March, 1913)

Source: Ladies Home Journal (September, 1912)
Source: Ladies Home Journal (September, 1912)
Source: Ladies Home Journal (September, 1912)
Source: Ladies Home Journal (September, 1912)

30 thoughts on “Hundred-Year-Old Women’s Suits

        1. I agree–cleaning costs can quickly add up. 🙂 Since Ruth was a teacher she may have had more need to have a nicely pressed suit. At a minimum she probably had more money available to pay for pressing.

  1. I’ve been watching The Roosevelts series on PBS this week. It is another excellent Ken Burns program. The images and early film footage show a lot of women well dressed and in suits for most events.

    1. Suits definitely were in style back then. It was so much more difficult to do laundry and care for clothes back then–so in some ways it’s surprising how much people dressed up.

  2. I took my first trip by plane in 1964. Then, and for several years after, we dressed for travel. You wouldn’t have thought of appearing at the airport in anything but a suit or pretty dress and sweater, and heels.

    Of course, through the 50’s and into the beginning of the sixties, we didn’t “go to town,” including the grocery store, in work clothes. We wouldn’t dress up, exactly, but we changed clothes to go pick up a pound of hamburger and some chips. And real shopping? You bet we dressed up. And every one of us girls had a glove wardrobe! White and black, wrist length for church and elbow length for formal occasions.

    Would I go back to that? Eliminate the high heels and the gloves, and I just might.

    1. I can also remember dressing up to go to town.

      Hmm. . .I’d have to think about whether I would go back to that, but there definitely were some things that I liked about it.

  3. Was the souvenir the wrinkles, or did she find the suit while she was on vacation? I had to chuckle at “oblige Ruthie dear.”

    1. She sounds annoyed with her sister. 🙂 You may be right that Ruth bought the suit while on vacation. That would explain why Grandma didn’t also have a suit that needed to be pressed.

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