Island History

The end of the Victorian Era was marked by the death of Queen Victoria in 1901. The succession of her son Edward VII began the Edwardian Era and a time of great elegance and beauty in fashion. The French called this period (1890 - 1914) La Belle Epoche or "Beautiful Age".


1897The ladies' bustle, which was so popular towards the later half of the Victorian Era, began to soften and eventually disappeared in 1890. The woman's skirt became smoother over the hips and fuller at the hemline. The massive "leg o mutton" sleeves that were introduced in the mid 1890's eventually faded and were replaced by a tighter fitting sleve by the end of the 19th century.


CorsetThe Edwardian woman's fashionable hourglass shape was created by the S-bend corset. By lacing the corset too tightly at the waist, the hips were forced back and the full, monobosom was thrust forward, thus giving a "pouter pigeon" effect. However by 1908, corsets began to decline as the waistline became higher and a more natural look gained favour. Corsets were later replaced by brasieres and girdles.


Volumes of lace and fabric decorated the front of women's shirts and enhanced the monobosom effect. Lovely lace collars which went right up under the chin helped to elongate the woman's silouhette. The "Tailor Made" suit which consisted of a matching tailored jacket and skirt, was worn over a high-necked blouse and became popular as an all purpose outfit.


1905The Gibson Girl, who was a cartoon drawn by Charles Dana Gibson from 1890-1910, set the fashion standard by portraying a confident, beautiful and independant woman. She was often drawn wearing a beautifully embroidered blouse or "shirtwaist" with a narrow-waisted, gored skirt and her voluminous hair piled high on her head. Women of all social statuses strived to achieve this look.


Washable kid gloves were always worn with outdoor garments both in the winter and the summer. Day shoes were usually mid-calf, lace up boots and sometimes worn a size too small to emphasize small feet which was preferred at the time.


Young children and especially girls wore carbon copies of the adult clothing, except for length which was shorter. Sailor type waists were in vogue for girls up to 14 years but the wide collar over the shoulder was most prevalent.