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Monday Morning Mirth January 27, 2014

Monday Morning Mirth

In the late 19th & early 20th Century, thousands of young women moved to urban centers to find careers in business industries.

They wore a uniform of sorts: blouses, skirts & large hats (especially those tremendous straw numbers, the Boater)!

Something else, unexpectedly they had in common?

Reading while walking (and I thought that was a smart phone 21st century phenom)!

…these candid photos are by the chief cartoonist for Punch magazine, Edward Linley Sambourne, circa 1906…


Suffragette City Part 6: Boy Meets Girl February 15, 2013

Now, although it is not a Real Place, it takes place in a Real Time.

It’s a destination in history, now securely planted in popular imagination, happening at a place called Downton Abbey.

Here lives a family whose members, in age and cultural breadth, experience the wildly changing early days of the 1900′s.

Last year, I accidentally re-discovered a treasure trove of pictures and old magazines from this time in my studio and something else totally unexpected popped up.

While exploring the era’s wonderful history, something fashionable became clear: the sweater that started a revolution in knitwear (while starting a revolution in the voting booths around the globe), the first widely-worn sweater of the 20th century!

Chic Knits Suffragette City Part 4

Here you see Sylvia Pankhurst and, I believe, her sister Christabel, being arrested while demonstrating for the Vote, England, circa 1905.

But notice what the ladies are wearing – something that looks really modern, something you can still find in 2013, over a hundred years later, fresh as ever.

A Jersey V-Neck Cardigan.

But look closely.

These suffragette’s are wearing men’s cardigans!

Because, you see, up until this time, women didn’t wear Sweaters.

They wore cloaks, coats, shawls and wraps, looking more like this

Chic Knits Suffragette City 6

than this

Chic Knits Suffragette City 6

But as women ventured into the public realm more and more, the clothes they were wearing became less about silhouettes, embelishments or ornament

they became all about Mobility.

Imagine swinging a racket or club in this:

Chic Knits Suffragette City 6

or would you rather (notice the smile):

Chic Knits Suffragette City 6

wear this…

…to be continued (Suffragette City Part 7: Girl Goes to Town)

…all in the series:
- Suffragette City Part 1
- Suffragette City Part 2
- Suffragette City Part 3
- Suffragette City Part 4
- Suffragette City Part 5
- Suffragette City Part 6


Suffragette City Part Five February 23, 2012

Being ever so misty-eyed that Season 2 of Downton Abbey has wrapped here in the States doesn’t mean the story has ended but just a different king of chapter continues.

The Knitwear.

Knitwear from almost 100 years ago.

Chic Knits Knitting Blog

This collection is amazing for a couple of reasons – yes, the variety and exciting modern-looking constructions but also in the fast-forward way the evolution of the clothing matched the evolution of the culture…

Women were just being more Public.

They were going Outdoors more than ever before. They were playing Sports. The popularity of tennis & golf gave rise to the need for some mobility garments, stat.

And now, sweaters and jackets appeared for women that allowed them the same range of movement that their brother golfers and swingers were enjoying.

No more Mutton Sleeves; begone Bustles, farewell hemlines that dragged in the dirt.

Hello Norfolk-style sweaters and ankles!

Now, if you’ve seen any fox hunts on film, chances are you’ll recognize the Norfolk. “It was originally designed as a shooting coat that did not bind when the elbow was raised to fire.”

Range of Motion. Mobility. Action.

From 1917:

Chic Knits Knitting Blog

And something else happened that was very exciting: fashion equity.

Just like in the culture-at-large, the knitwear the Upstairs was wearing appeared Downstairs as well, almost to a T. You could make it…

 Or, from the Spokesman Review, July 29, 1912 (!), you could buy it (here at the Kemp & Herbert Dept. Store, Spokeane, WA):

Here was the birth of Casual, where formality melded most neatly into Comfort, without losing style…

And this is what I find the very most exciting about clothing from this time: women moved away from being rather strictly ornamental to being At Large.

A small step, but, indeed, the journey begins…

Cheers & see you in Season 3?

…all in the series:
- Suffragette City Part 1
- Suffragette City Part 2
- Suffragette City Part 3
- Suffragette City Part 4
- Suffragette City Part 5
- Suffragette City Part 6

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