Last time, we talked about the concept of the original capsule wardrobe. You can find that post here. If you love the time of the Titanic through the First World War, you can create a stunning 1910s capsule wardrobe. Your collection can be as authentic or as inauthentic as you like.
Fashion changed quite a bit in the middle of the Teens. Before 1915 your 1910s capsule wardrobe will look like the fashions of the Titanic or Downton Abbey. After 1915, however, your wardrobe will look more like a World War I recruitment poster. Make a skirt and blouse from white, with simple lines, and you have a Suffragette costume using either half of the decade.
Suppose you want a wardrobe that emphasizes the first half of the decade. All the photos in this post come from 1912 and 1913 Good Housekeeping fashion pages. Unless you have access to a fashion historian on a regular basis, anything you create in the 1912-13 two-year span will work well together.
First The Foundation
For these outfits you will probably need a foundation garment like a 1910s corset. If you don’t, your shape is amazing and I wish I was still built like that. I need a corset.
You can find illustrations of corset patterns and draft them up to your size. I don’t have that kind of patience for fitting a corset, so I bought the 1913-1921 corset from Scroop Patterns. It’s close enough to 1912 for what I need, and it goes through 1920, which is one of my greatest loves in fashion history. So it matches almost everything I’d need in a corset.
Creating Your Capsule
Let’s start with a suit. That was a very 1912 thing to wear, and it provides a great foundation for the rest of your wardrobe. So you select one of the two suits in the top illustration. They are both attractive, flattering, and they have great skirts with them.
Now you have your suit. Skirt and Jacket. Choose a color. Let’s say dark blue. You, of course, can choose any color you like. Depending on the season, black, green, brown, maroon, unbleached linen, and yellow were all popular colors. But we are going to start with a dark conservative blue. For one reason, it’s easy to find fabrics to match or blend with it. We have one jacket, and one skirt.
Next we need to add another skirt to add some variety. It should be in a color to harmonize with the jacket, either another shade of blue or the same shade as before. It can be the same or a different fabric.
The dark skirt pictured here would be perfect. It has an easy construction but looks very different from either of the suit skirts above.
Now that we have two bottoms we need some tops. Any of the blouses pictured in the illustration above would work, but the two white blouses offer more versatility. Both of them would fit under one of the suit jackets. Let’s keep looking.
This illustration offers five different blouses, and four of them would work. You could include the embroidery, or not. The needlework does finish the blouses nicely, but it might make them a bit too memorable for a classic interchangeable wardrobe. The fifth blouse, with the apron held in place by the belt, won’t work with the suit unless the apron detaches from the shoulders somehow. Then you would get two blouses for the work of making one.
Choose three of the six possible tops. Now you have two bottoms, three tops, and a jacket.
With the skirts and blouses alone you have six possible outfits. Add the jacket to each one and that makes twelve. You will have a very respectable Titanic-era wardrobe with just a few pieces.
Finding Your Look
Paging through magazines like Good Housekeeping, Ladies’ Home Journal, Woman’s Home Companion, the Delineator and the like can lead you to all kinds of design ideas for your chosen era. Examples of these magazines live on Google Books and the Internet Archive.
Once you have an idea what you like, put it together with a six piece wardrobe like the one discussed above. You can always add to it later. In fact, that’s the subject of the next post. Stay tuned for 1910s Wardrobe Accessories.