In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Historic Clothing Collection

1900-1910

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Of early 1900s contrasting fashions, one was defined by soft pastel colored, lacy, bloused or pouched bodices, with smooth firmly corseted back thrust hips ("S" bend style), and trained skirts with a flare around the hemline. The alternate fashion, compatible with women's increasing participation in the workforce and outdoor activities, favored a more naturally curved silhouette with plain, sensible skirts (still worn with corsets) and shirt blouses, often with stiff collars and soft floppy bows at the neck.

This second alternate mode is familiar from the "Gibson Girl" images created by artist Charles Dana Gibson (who worked and spent time in Maine), and illustrator Joseph Lyendecker's famous "The Arrow Shirt Man" advertisements, as well as the Saturday Evening Post covers, featuring sporty young women and men wearing shirts. As yet, examples of practical, back pleat, "Gibson Girl" skirts and little in the way of smart shirt blouses are found in the MHS collection. Nor are the dainty blouses (called waists) with standing collars, pin tucking, and lace insert detailing well represented.

Perhaps the "Gibson Girl" look influenced Ella May (Morrill) Clark’s 1901 choice of wedding outfit. Made of camel colored wool, the bodice is constructed with a neat waist-level faux jacket, cream silk front insert, brown velvet standing collar, cuffs, and belt. The long, smooth hipped skirt with two knee level deep box pleats at front and back evoke the style. The most robust Gibson Girl could stride out in this skirt.