London Fashions August 1903

The Fashions of London: The Indispensable Blouse by Mrs. Aria, July 1903The delights of the country are ours, so my title should read, rather, "The Fashions of Londoners,” for somehow, they take them with them wherever they go.

The most popular of the tweed dresses, although, happily, it is a little early to consider the urgent need for these, is our old friend the black and white check; and remarkably well do a coat and skirt of this look.

The skirt in a kilted style with a short saddle-piece at the back lengthening toward the front, where there is a plain gore; the short sac coat, which reaches to the waist, bearing a narrow collar of embroidered linen.

A wide, large collar is not permitted on the tailor-made dresses, although during the Summer it has decorated every foulard and muslin dress of noteworthy detail.

However, to return to the black and white tweed with its embroidered linen collar. It also had an embroidered linen waistcoat, the embroidery taking the form of satin-stitch in green in a design of shamrocks.

This was worn over a shirt of fine crepe de Chine in white, a mass of the tiniest tucks, the collar-band being finished with a white glacé necktie hemmed with bright green. The small green toque completing the costume had a large fan-shaped black and white quill.

Another good tweed dress takes a light shade of biscuit and is made with the seven-gored skirt gathered in the center of the back at the waist.

On the hem is a flat stitched band of biscuit colored face cloth, the face cloth reappearing in a high turnover Napoleonic collar to the reefer coat, the fronts of which are ornamented with silk embroidered buttons, a silk cord, and a silk tassel; the gauntlet cuffs of plain cloth are decorated with silken embroidered buttons and cords.

To be worn with this was a shirt of the same color as the dress, bearing bands of Oriental embroidery on a background of ivory canvas, and little gold buttons added to the general effect, while the waist was encircled with one of the new belts made of a five-inch strap of unlined tan-colored suede, buckled in the front with suede.

By the way, these belts are extremely becoming and a great improvement on the stiff leather belt of other days, although they need a careful adjustment to suit the individual figure.

They are the very trimmest finish to the short skirt—which, except for practical purposes, I continue to oppose from all points of elegance.

The box-pleated skirt is very much in vogue just now; it is usually set from a graduated yoke, the pleats themselves rather small at the top and fanning out at the base; they have somewhat of a doll-pen wiper suggestiveness but look well above well-shod feet—Russian leather boots or Russian leather shoes with stockings to match.

The authorities have been paying much attention to our shoes, and most of the Summer frocks have been accompanied by light kid shoes with stockings to match, usually white, biscuit, grey or tan.

Perhaps this is not a bad moment, while a great many of us are in the enjoyment of the house party, to consider the decorative charms of the tea-gown.

A simple and also an economical gown might be made of soft Orient satin in pale grey, in the Empire style, with a short-waisted bodice sewn on to a narrow skirt, revealing a front of accordion-pleated grey chiffon, which is cut square at the neck and should bear a hand straight across the center with a clasp of silver inset with gems.

Round the neck of the soft grey satin should fall a deep collar with stole ends, with angel sleeves of grey chiffon to complete the effect. The same style looks very well in white Orient satin, but it cannot be relied upon to remain clean for so long.

More luxurious tea-gowns are made entirely of accordion-pleated chiffon. One of these in the palest shade of pink had a deep cape of lace at the back, graduating to disappear just over the shoulders in the front and held with ribbon tassels.

The bishop sleeves were very full below the elbow and gathered tightly into lace cuffs at the wrist. Pretty tea-gowns may be made in the Watteau style of china silk, looped over a lace petticoat in front, tassels of ribbon holding the bertha above the bust.

Besides tea gowns, the most urgently needed garment at the moment, perhaps, is the blouse for wear on a cold afternoon.  For this, foulard remains the best material, and it should be trimmed with the new filet grounded and embroidered lace, alternate bands of stitched foulard uniting these.

For the very chilly person, Viyella remained a comfortable fabric and made in a pale shade of blue, trimmed with guipure lace embroidered in blue, a most decorative effect may be arrived at.

A very pretty trimming too, for a pale blue Viyella blouse, is blue and white spotted embroidery on a white linen foundation; then again, we have for this purpose the Oriental galons which have offered themselves so persuasively during the season.

The variety of small hats is necessarily limited; one must either wear a toque or a turban or a combination of both. These of soft felt, untrimmed save for a scarf of foulard, are the most sought after by the traveler, being a variation of the familiar Monte Carlo hat and usually found in some nondescript tint.

Aria, Eliza Davis (Mrs. Aria), "The Fashions of London" in The Delineator: An Illustrated Magazine of Literature and Fashion, Paris-London-New York-Toronto: The Butterick Publishing Co., Ltd., Vol. LXII, No. 2, August 1903, p. 198.


Viyella is a blend of wool and cotton first woven in 1893 in England, and soon to be the "first branded fabric in the world." It was made of 55 percent merino wool and 45 percent cotton in a twill weave, developed by James and Robert Sissons of William Hollins & Co, spinners and hosiers. The brand name, first registered as a trademark in 1894, and registered in the United States in 1907, soon covered not only the original fabric, to be sold by the yard (piece goods), but also clothing. (Wikipedia)

Note: We have edited this text to correct grammatical errors and improve word choice to clarify the article for today’s readers. Changes made are typically minor, and we often left passive text “as is.” Those who need to quote the article directly should verify any changes by reviewing the original material.


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