20th Century

Sensible frocks for daily wear, 1911

The title of this section of the Girl’s Own Paper charms me so much.

Why don’t fashion magazines today show you sensible garments for daily wear?!?  I wonder if women who looked at these actually thought they were sensible?  Or did they look almost as ridiculous as fashion photoshoots ideas of sensible work wear look today?

A selection of sensible, and oh-so-charming, frocks

A lovely tailored suit with clever trim

I love how specific this is 'indoor morning wear' indeed!

Is this next one a chesterfield?  Could be!

A long coat for winter wear

And a close-up of her rather fantastic hat

A dress of dark serge relieved by bands of lighter material

I do love that they show clothes for the new career girl:

A serviceable cloth dress for the business girl

And the backs of the two dresses and the long coat. Apparently the square collar was new.


  1. They certainly look sensible to me! I wonder, though, what exactly this serviceable cloth might be. Do you have any guesses as to the material these dresses were made from?

    • fidelio says

      Probably made from a wool fabric; older writing about clothes on the UK/Austrailia/New Zealand axis tends to mean “(x) type of wool fabric” when it says “cloth”; a dress made from linen and (especially) cotton is often referred to as “wash” or “washing” somewhere in the description.

      As it’s a dress rather than a coat or jacket, I would assume what we often call suiting or suit-weight fabrics these days would be a viable choice.

      • Exactly. Perfectly put. You can still buy dress weight wool too, though it’s a bit trickier to find (and far too often mixed with a synthetic).

  2. I love the way that illustrations of that period routinely show the back of a garment as well as the front. So handy if you’re trying to work out the construction details.

    • Isn’t it fantastic? I think that most of these illustrations are actually for patterns that you could order from the Girl’s Own, so they needed to show you front and back so that you knew what you were getting! And even if they weren’t, they were definitely geared at the home seamstress, or the woman who took them to a seamstress and said “make me that”.

  3. Well the illustrations are certainly more credible than the fashion plate ones from the time. However we so rarely see women over a size 2 and under 6 foor tall modelling clothes, I think we definitely get the bums rush, so to speak!

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