Lily Elsie, Fashion c. 1913: Make this look

This gorgeous photo dates from about 1913. It is a portrait of the English actress, Lily Elsie, who would have been about 27 years old at the time.

Miss Elsie wears an evening ensemble that is typical of the period: Grecian inspired hairstyle with waves and curls, head band and feather (this look is often mistaken as a 'flapper' style), high waistline (also Grecian) with floating tunic panels over the skirt.  Her arm is also tied with a draped scarf or lace panel.  She holds a fan and wears both long and short necklaces. To get this look, she would have worn a long corset that probably reached to her lowest hip level, creating the rigid pose.

For us, this fashion ensemble can inspire wedding and evening styles with softer elegance, drapery and a Grecian  silhouette. 

This authentic photo is from the Library of Congress archives, and may be found online, in the Bain Collection.

Want to make this look?  Creating a similar gown today starts with a simple high waist gown pattern. This version of the classic "Empire" style is a good start. McCall's 6030 has a look that can be used as a basic gown and it even has a floating overskirt. During the 1910's, this overskirt would be cut at mid-length or even shorter to achieve a tunic effect. The sleeves can be modified to become draped or tied.

One of the key elements was the use of ultra soft textiles: charmeuse, chiffon, net lace and gauze.  These soft fabrics were often layered to create the romantic, floating silhouettes from that era we love so much today.

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