Kateri Schneider, Historical Context


  •  1895 falls at the very end of the Victorian Era.  Prince Albert died in 1894, & Victoria’s reign was nearing its end
  • Technically, the year marks the beginning of the Edwardian era with subcategories of La Belle Epoque, Art Nouveau, & the Gibson Girl
  • It was a time of mourning for Victoria, when she established black for mourning, & further entrenched the need for appropriate ensembles to be worn for each event for those who could afford it
  • It was also a time of new world liasons, as this next generation of English & French royal families were intermarrying
  • Most countries, like France, had established Republics, & while the monarchies were not dispersed, they had much less power & influence
  • The rich & powerful still played
  • Under Edward, the strict rules of Victorian society took another twist which would be very expensive
  • The Edwardian “Grand Dame” ruled society & set the standards for fashion & lifestyle


The Edwardian Hostess of 1899 would be a force to be reckoned with


  • Racing, riding, sports, & women in the workforce were becoming common
  • The Edwardian concept kept those of high society intentionally away from work, as it was a deliberate attempt to live in a world of only leisure
  • Edwardians had high tea, croquet on the lawn, parties to introduce their daughters to society, & excursions to the sea
  • Counter-movements of the Aesthetics, & practicality for those not of the middle or high class who could afford to not work introduced a whole new world of apparel & attitude
  • It was a time of the rise of the active woman, the suit, & Bloomers
  • Sports such as cycling, skating, tennis, golf, bowling & calisthenics were now common for all women
  • Upper class women went yachting, shooting, & riding
  • Clothing was modified to accommodate the new activities
  • Split skirts, short skirts, bloomers, & (some) less restrictive corsets became acceptable in those venues, although the most restrictive, the “S” corset of high fashion would parallel that freedom
  • Industry meant mass production of textiles & garments, which meant fashion was available to those in all walks of life
  • There was class distinction, so the higher society bought from custom designers in Paris, while the lower could mimic the appearances with ready-made or catalog goods
  • New technologies in fabrics, materials, & notions meant laces, trims, & accessories were readily & easily available for all
  • Bright synthetic dyes made the deep purples, blues, & reds available that had been previously reserved only for the elite
  • Early versions of plastics & rayons were evolving for jewelry, buttons, & everything having to do with daily life such as the new “Bakelite” telephone
  • Because everything was so new, for the first time in history men & women had something equal – everyone had to figure out how to use the new-fangled gadgets
  • Automobiles had been invented, trains crossed the continent, & people had expendable income to travel, communicate, & see what others were doing
  • With fast transit across mountains & oceans, ideas were moving as quickly as people
  • Women would soon have the right to vote, & many of all classes fought for that and other causes
  • At this time “old met new” as the old ways gave way to a much faster paced, more technological, & open-minded world emerged for women

Click here to go to Kateri’s Fashion History page (next)

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Click here to go to Kateri’s Main Page with the finished project

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