Historic Edwardian Gowns

Examples of historic Edwardian gowns to adapt with tartans and motifs for your ideal Scottish wedding dress.

The Edwardian Era was short lived, from 1901 when Edward was crowned king. Some end the era with Edward’s reign in 1910, others until 1918 as World War I ended.

King Edward was very fond of traveling. Traveling abroad to continental Europe became the rage for the upper classes of America. With the travel, came a robust enthusiasm for the art and fashions of Europe.

This era is best identified with the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, though other important events were the second Boer War in 1902, London Olympics in 1908, World War I in 1914, and the Influenza Epidemic of 1918 all shaped the era and how the people thought.

Also called Belle Époque which means beautiful era, Art Nouveau was a strong influence creating the flowing silhouette in this ‘Last Age of Elegance’. This flowing feminine style was possible due to a new corset design, called a swan bill corset.

Lucy Christiana, the Lady Duff Gordon

As owner and designer of ‘Lucile’, her London couture house, Lucy was a leading fashion designer of historic Edwardian gowns. This was the first times in years that anyone outside of Paris influenced fashion and haute couture.



Image courtesy
Wikipedia.com


She designed romantic tea-gowns and eveningwear, characterized by pastel, sheer fabrics and embellishments. She used sprays of silk flowers frequently. Her designs blended girlish innocence with sexy sophistication.

She based her reputation on slinky lingerie and clinging tea-gowns, a style that lasted into the Roaring ‘20’s.

Her street wear was practical with simple, smart tailoring in both suits and dresses.

Lucy also impacted fashion by writing columns for Hearst newspapers, Harper’s Bazaar and Good Housekeeping through 1922. She also laid the foundations for our modern athlete endorsements. Lucy increased her tremendous wealth by commercial endorsements for shoes, brassieres, perfume, beauty products, and other luxury items.

She issued a line of sewing patterns and produced a line of lower-priced fashions for Sears, which they produced in a deluxe catalog in 1916 and 1917.

In 1896 Lucy trained the first professional models and staged the fir runway style fashion show in 1904. Her shows were high-priced, theatrical, teatime events with spotlights, music, souvenir gifts, and programs. The dresses were listed in the programs using poetic and risqué names.

Despite all her contributions to the fashion world, Lucy, Lady Duff Gordon, is most remembered as a survivor of the Titanic.

Fashion Traits of Historic Edwardian Gowns

A standing collar was popular for daywear, but soon shortened due to practicality.

Evening dresses were low-cut and sleeveless, then the neckline rose and sleeves became fuller. The sleeve went from a tight top and fuller bottom gathered into a wide cuff to the double-puff that ‘Anne of Green Gables’ dreamed of. By 1910 kimono sleeves were popular.

The mermaid skirt was popular in 1901. It was gored, clung above the knees, then flared out to the hem. Some skirts were trained while the hems were decorated with lace and fabric ruffles.

Though pastels were very popular for historic Edwardian gowns, vibrant jewel tones were also worn.

Tailored suits were also worn, especially in winter. They were favored by the New Woman of the middle classes.

The Gibson Girl

The upper classes were personified by Charles Dana Gibson’s Gibson Girls.

A preoccupation with youthful figures and beauty created the Gibson Girls. The swan bill corset allowed the ladies to obtain their famous “S” curved body. The head was held high for a longer, thinner neck. The hair was piled high atop the head, in a bouffant, pompadour, or chignon style.

Image courtesy wikipedia.com


Camille Clifford, model and actress, was the most famous Gibson Girl.

Image courtesy
Wikipedia.com


One of the Gibson Girl illustrators, Harry G. Peter, went on to draw the Wonder Woman comics. Now I understand why Wonder Woman looks like she does…she’s wearing a Swan Bill corset under her costume!
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The whole Edwardian style of dress became too elitist and too expensive, thus too soon it disappeared. The tea gown is an example of femininity that was a short lived as the era.

Lace was lovely, as seen in this example

Image courtesy
Costumers Manifesto


This is a lacy example of historic Edwardian gowns…such elegance.

Scottish Wedding Dreams


Just as it is, with a wrap of tartan, would make a fine wedding dress. Depending on your tartan, it could also be the fringe at the hemline.
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An Edwardian bridal gown, this is so elegant. Note the high standing collar, the lace overlay on the bodice, the flounces of the overskirt, and the train of the underskirt.Nothing more need be suggested.

Scottish Wedding Dreams


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This Princess style is another example of historic Edwardian gowns

Patterns of Time
1910 Princess Gown


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The darker trimmed areas could be tartan trim, embroidered Celtic knots, or lace.
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Separate bodices and skirts were also popular, as seen in these historic Edwardian gowns illustrations.

The first one appears to be an embroidered Paisley design.

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Just as is, with the paisley embellishment would add a Scottish touch. Designing the same area of the bodice of tartan would be another idea.
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This second bodice is of a batiste-type fabric, with lots of shearing and gathering. On the sleeves, look at the turned back cuff held in place by silk flowers. The ribbon bow on the neckline is a subtle, feminine touch.

Scottish Wedding Dreams


The flowers could be thistles or roses, with tartan ribbon intertwined. Also the bow at the neckline could be of tartan.
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The third bodice just screams for tartan. This appears to be more of a daytime bodice, but it could still work as the bodice of a Scottish wedding dress

Scottish Wedding Dreams


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Another bodice, of yoked lace, is also very feminine. The sleeve caps, raised collar, wide cuffed sleeves, and draped waist all show characteristics of historic Edwardian gowns.



Image courtesy of
Patterns of Time
Pattern 1902 Ladies
Yoked Blouse


Adding a tartan skirt, or a white skirt and a tartan sash would proclaim your Scottish heritage.
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A nine-gore skirt, to wear with any of the above bodices, would also portray historic Edwardian gowns.

Image courtesy of
Patterns of Time
Pattern 1900
9 Gore Skirt


Large Celtic knots, placed evenly around the hemline, would work well on this skirt. The whole skirt could be of tartan, with or without the Celtic knotwork.
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This 1912 Skirt pattern, from Patterns of Time, also shows the style and detailing of historic Edwardian gowns.

Image courtesy of
Patterns of Time
Pattern 1912
3 Piece Skirt


The skirt on the left could have a tartan bias trim along the front opening, with tartan covered buttons as an accent.The skirt on the far right, could have a tartan fabric as the center inset and the buttons. Or the buttons could be covered to look like Celtic knots. These techniques are covered on the Embellishment page.
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Some of the historic Edwardian gowns were overstated, some were understated, as in this example.

Scottish Wedding Dreams


As a Scottish wedding dress, using tartan to replace the purple insets would add a nice touch. Seeing this illustration has purple shoes to match the insets, perhaps a pair of tartan shoes would be appropriate.
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At the other extreme are the overstated historic Edwardian gowns.

Scottish Wedding Dreams


Embroidering elaborate Celtic knots to replace the gold trim, tartan as the blue underskirt, and lace for the final underskirt would make quite a wedding gown. The blue sleeve detailing could be replaced with tartan ruching.
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Another elaborate example of historic Edwardian gowns is this vision in blue.

Scottish Wedding Dreams


Embroidering Celtic knotwork where the embellished designs are located along the hem, 2 colors of heavier lace from your tartan colors as the bodice accent, and a white lace for the bodice inset, edging and sleeves would make an impact.
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Designed as an afternoon tea-gown, this would make a nice wedding gown.

Image courtesy
Long Ago
1905 Summer Gown


Using a lace for the stand-up collar that can have a tartan ribbon interwoven, and tartan ribbons at the waist and cuffs would be nice embellishments.
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The styling and details mark this as another of the historic Edwardian gowns. The ribbons, laces, flowers, and flounces all show the influences of this romantic, feminine era.

Scottish Wedding Dreams


The ribbons and flowers could be tartan ribbon. The lace collar could be of a lace that interweaves a tartan ribbon. Eliminating the flowers at the hemline and substituting the main dress fabric for some of the lace would greatly simplify the dress.
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Lace, ruffles, and contrasting trim mark this as another example of historic Edwardian gowns.

Scottish Wedding Dreams


One idea is to use a tartan for the bodice, with solid color ruffles and trim, the lace overskirt, and the skirt matching the trim color. Looking at the hat, this costume could even use a Glengarry bonnet, with your tartan in a rosette and an appropriate feather.
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The design on this example of historic Edwardian gowns offers some good ideas for a Scottish wedding gown.

Scottish Wedding Dreams


The over-bodice and cuffs could be of lace, with the under-bodice and cuff ruffles could be a sheer to match your tartan. The skirt and the flounce on the right side could be of tartan or a finer lace.
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Here are two fine examples of historic Edwardian gowns.

Scottish Wedding Dreams


On the left, a silk gown, with an overlay of blonde lace, embroidered in a Celtic knotwork design would be stunning. To have the gown of tartan with the blond lace tunic would be more than stunning.

The yellow gown on the right could have large, individual Celtic knots where the starts are embroidered, with a touch of lace across the bodice at the neckline, and a narrow tartan trim around the neckline, over-bodice, and over-skirt.

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Another unique example of historic Edwardian gowns, there’s some nice detailing here that could make a vintage wedding gown. The bodice appears to be of a sheer fabric, with a decorative edge. Note the rosette on the bodice.

Scottish Wedding Dreams


To add Scottish influences, the design on the sheer bodice could be block-printed Celtic motifs in colors drawn from your tartan skirt. Another possibility is thistles and greenery. The edging could be serged with a co-ordinating, contrasting, or metallic thread. The skirt and the brown detailing on the bodice could be of tartan. The rosette could also match a color of the tartan.
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Another example of historic Edwardian gowns that just seems made for tartan. Notice the trim along the right hem and left bodice.
Scottish Wedding Dreams


The trim on the bodice and overskirt could be your tartan, with narrower trimming over the right shoulder. The over-bodice could be of lace with a solid color bodice and skirt. The tiers on the skirt could also be trimmed with tartan bias binding. As a finishing touch, the inside edge of the train could have the same binding.
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This pastel yellow dress is another great example of historic Edwardian gowns. The flounces, the ruffled cuffs and neckline all contribute to the soft, feminine appeal of this as a vintage wedding dress.

Scottish Wedding Dreams


The belt, the flower, and the narrow accent binding at the top of each flounce could all be of tartan for a light Scottish touch.
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As one final example of historic Edwardian gowns, the hobble skirt deserves a place of honor.

On story places the design in 1908 and a famous plane ride with Wilbur Wright. Mrs. Hart Berg was the first woman to ride in a plane. Supposedly the designer Paul Poiret saw Mrs. Hart Berg walking away from her plane ride. To keep her skirts from flapping on the flight, she had tied a rope at her knees. When she descended from the plane, Poiret saw her mincing away from the plane with the rope still tied. Another story credits Poiret’s interest in Geisha costumes.

Either way the fad only lasted during 1910, but modified versions continued to be popular until 1915, with side slits, hidden pleats, and drapes. Lady Duff Gordon and her house, Lucile, had a strong influence in making the hobble skirt less restrictive.

Street cars lowered their steps to aid the ladies wearing the hobble skirt, trains added special steps, and some cities considered lowering their sidewalk curbs due to the number of accidents involving the restrictive skirt.

The hobble skirt is even credited with the 1915 Coca-Cola bottle design. If you’re a big Coke fan, or a resident of Atlanta, you could wear a hobble skirt as a secret tribute to your favorite soft drink!

Image courtesy
wikipedia.com


What more could I say?
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