20th Century

What your well dressed domestic staff should wear, 1906

I recently acquired a large collection of loose sheets from the Girl’s Own Paper from 1906 and 1907 (Pre-Flora Klickmann era).  I think I actually have full issues – I just need to sort them.  In the meantime I’ve been having fun with the fashion drawings.

This illustration on what your household staff should wear is particularly timely for this fortnight’s HSF Peasants and Pioneers challenge.

Girl's Own Magazine, 1906, thedreamstress.com

Here is a closer look:

Girl's Own Paper, 1906, thedreamstress.com

I love the cook’s linen dress, and the parlourmaid’s white batiste apron (very doable, and both aprons are relatively usable in a modern sense).

I also love the idea of a magazine giving fashion advice for the what the well dressed maid should wear!


  1. Claire Payne says

    Oh how the other half lived! Can you imagine doing the cleaning in such attire? They must have got hot very quickly. The aprons are marvellous though I must agree.

    • Actually, I feel far more sorry for modern maids in big hotels – at least these ladies got to wear linen, their 21st century counterparts are usually stuck in horrible polyester.

      A fashion plate like this is such a fascinating glimpse into the expectations both on the upper and lower classes.

  2. They’re lovely! I would wear any one of those dresses.
    I’m not sure how well I could do chores in a corset that tight though, their waists look quite small.

    • Well, it’s a fashion plate – we can assume a massive amount of exaggeration! Though I have done chores in a corset, and it can be quite comfortable (and good support for some jobs).

  3. It’s not too uncommon in 19th century-early 20th century and even some later magazines with articles like his.

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