suit of the day

This Poiret suit is from 1914. I love its lines so much. I know I would be rubbish at actually walking in that skirt, though. Bring on the 1920s, and the knee.

28 thoughts on “suit of the day

  1. What is the significance of the “Wanamaker” notation……do you know?

    Can you imagine having to walk around with your skirts dragging everywhere? How did they keep it clean?The detail is wonderful though…look at those cuffs, and the hem……wow….

  2. This looks so modern and lovely. At least it’s not hobbled at the bottom of the skirt! To think of all the things women managed to do in long skirts – I couldn’t get through the day.

  3. Wanamaker’s was a dept. store in the states. Evidently they must have sold this suit. I love the jacket too, especially with the vest underneath peeking out.

  4. I agree, lines are lovely. However…….having to wear starched uniforms as a pupil nurse then pupil midwife i ‘chafe’ at the thought of those cuffs and the collar! Fun to look at though.

  5. I have a skirt roughly that length – it didn’t overly bother me except for the day I had to walk uphill to a job interview. I hitched it up to knee level and hoped nobody important saw me!

  6. I love Poiret! I visited this exhibition on Poiret years ago in Paris, it was during my fashion design studies and it was very inspiring. It was also one of the reasons for me to get more interested in the history of fashion than actually designing myself. Hmmm, maybe that’s why i became a costume designer…

  7. Like wearabledesign I’m a costume designer too. Poiret is so interesting for costumes… his sense of drama in clothing was so strong even everyday dress looks like a costume.
    Quite a confident man; he claimed to have defeated the corset and freed modern woman (htough you wouldn’t say so looking at the skirt width). Sadly for him he died a pauper… his aesthetic just couldn’t keep up with the times.
    And for MaryKate… her hair is long under that hat. Bobbed hairdos were a few years still in the future.

  8. My grandmother was married in 1914,and I remember seeing some photos of her on her honeymoon and being so in awe of her clothes, although not as stunning as that suit! She lived so many generations of fashion, being born in 1894 and living until 1994~

  9. I love this outfit, too! In fact, except for the hobble skirt, I’ve always liked this period’s fashions. I think my first experience with them might have been on Upstairs, Downstairs, on the beautiful Hazel, (Meg Wynn-Owen) during the post Lady Marjorie, WWI years of that series.

  10. Fun to see the Wanamaker name on your photo, Kate – I remember shopping with my grandmother at a branch of the old John Wanamaker store, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Never got to the one in Philadelphia – the organ there is the largest functional pipe organ in the world. My family wasn’t so fashionable as this picture… most of my female relative are wearing the typical puffy white blouse and crinoline skirt!

  11. Love the suit, even with the length (maybe because of it). Really, I think this period produced some of the most attractive silhouettes in women’s clothing–just think of the movie “Out of Africa”. I remember coming across the name Poiret while reading an Elizabeth Peters mystery set around the time of the Great War, and now you’ve satisfied my curiosity. Is it my imagination, or does the model look slightly pregnant?

  12. The jacket is gorgeous!! I think I have a “similar” style jacket hiding in a closet somewhere! Thank you once again for sharing.
    When is your book going to be available??

  13. Anne, Wanamaker’s was a famous Philadelphia dept. store. It went out of business in the last 10 or so years, and became a Macy’s. It was a Philly icon and has been preserved with one of the largest organs around, and the famous meet me at the eagle statue. No doubt Poiret along with other designers did designs for a specific store and market.

  14. I too love Poiret designs, and I think this one could easily be adapted for today. The collar and cuffs don’t need to be starched and the skirt could easily be shortened, especially as the focus of the design is the jacket cutaway to reveal the double breasted vest.

    The model doesn’t look pregnant to me, the pose is meant to reinforce the idea that the body is uncorseted (?) I think. Photos from this time are often similar to this.

    I am old enough to have worn longer skirts in the 70’s too, and I did – ankle length, in fact. They were so much better than mini skirts when dealing with babies and getting them in and out of their various car restraints.

  15. Long skirts are elegant. The skirts designed in the 20’s were wider at the bottom and helped with a pleat or two. I wear modern versions all summer. Mine have slits on both sides making strides easy and letting in cool breezes.

  16. Such radical changes in style from 1907 to 1914 to 1921. Kind of like 1957 to 1964 to 1971. Where have we gone wrong? Seven years ago – 2005 – looked pretty much like 1998 and 2012. I’m ready for something new!

    1. Well, I’m in favor of some of the radical world events that took place in the years 1907-1921, like flight, and women’s suffrage, which I think fashion reflected. However if it means the modern day equivalent of multinational trench warfare to initiate “something new in style,” then…no.

  17. These were called hobble skirts. If they were really tight they actually had a contraption that was a cuff connected by chain you attached at knee level to keep you from taking a step so big that you’d tear the skirt. If you want the look, make a slash or kick pleat so you can walk freely but still get the silhouette.

  18. Interesting photograph. Much of what we see of this era is couture and therefore unavailable to the masses: fashion for the very well off in a world where every detail of your life marked your social class. This is department store, off-the-peg and stylish. An inspiration and a breakthrough. Thanks for posting it – I’ve had really good think!!

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About Kate Davies

writer, designer and creator of Buachaille (100% Scottish wool)