Paris Dress Fashions and Gossip – October 1903
For early Autumn everyday dresses, light canvas will be very much worn, as well as étamines, veilings and thin cloths; and for more formal occasions flowered silks are quite the vogue.
A dress which has created some notice at afternoon teas is made of blue chiffon, pale in tint; the form of the gown is princess, and the trimming is in large motifs of black Chantilly lace which simulate ostrich feathers.
The hat worn with this costume is of black panne velvet turned up and caught on the left side by a big jet buckle over which hangs a cluster of feathers.
A smart gown for all sorts of uses in the early Winter is made in two pieces. The material is canvas; the skirt is round, with two rows of bias bands, and the jacket, contrary to the Summer styles, is very tight fitting; it has long coat tails which are finished off longer in the back than in the front. The collar and cuffs, like the bias bands, are of velvet contrasting in color with the canvas.
The tailor-made gowns that for a time had disappeared from the wardrobe of the fashionable woman are slowly making their way back again.
Though the rigid masculine garments of old will probably never be much worn in Paris, all the new coats for everyday wear in the Winter costumes are tight fitting. For more dressy occasions the loose wraps, capes, and sleeveless jackets are still de rigueur.
It is possible to wear ample sleeves, yet many of the newest dresses are made with tight-fitting sleeves.
Before the December snows have fallen, it is difficult to say what will be the favorite fashion among the variety launched by the great couturières, but as a general rule, this year, one may say that for house dresses the skirts are very long with little fullness around the hips, and a finish of flounces on the floor; the belts are narrow, and the sleeves tight from shoulder to wrist or elbow, as the case may be.
For reception gowns, for carriage dresses and the like, the skirts are made even with the ground, very full, with godets innumerable. The belts of the corsages are high, and the sleeves are full with the fullness creeping ever nearer to the shoulder.
Some of the new colors are "overcast sky," "Queen Amelie," "ardoise" (slate), "bishop" (purple).
A pretty dress for dining out at a restaurant is made of white mousseline de soie embroidered in black silk flowers, which are dotted over with jet. The chic of the skirt is that it is in alternate bands of plain and pleated mousseline.
The blouse is very simple, with a high sash of white Liberty satin and a trimming of the embroidery. The hat is a large plateau of white tulle trimmed with balls of black chenille and jet.
A charming and useful grey dress is made in the new canvas. It has a trimming of white embroidered dots in varying sizes on the skirt, waist, and sleeves.
Another gown for similar occasions is of a plum-colored cloth, extremely thin and gathered about the hips in full pleats. The blouse has the form of a bolero and is trimmed with a heavy braid in plum and gold, which is stitched with black chenille threads, and the belt is of black suede leather.
The hat is of black smooth felt with a cluster of purple roses in the middle of the crown and bands of braided chenille, which passes over the brim on to the hair.
An exceedingly pretty evening dress is made with an underskirt of black chiffon, in pleats; there are three flounces, and at the edge of each flounce there are three stripes of satin woven with the chiffon.
Over this skirt falls a cuirass of black paillettes or spangles which run close around the waist and end as at the hem of the skirt, in points. The low-necked bodice is finished with a collar of chiffon embroidered in paillettes, and the sleeves are dotted with jets and edged with a tiny insertion of Chantilly lace.
The hair, which is generally worn high, and for evening dress very high indeed, is ornamented with wreaths of green leaves, garlands of roses, sprays of golden wheat, feathers which cling to the side of the head and any fancy coiffure which lies flat.
A black silk dress which is one of the new models might have come out of some forgotten trunk in the attic. It is made with a series of pipings on the full skirt. The blouse has a drooping bertha over the sloping shoulders, the sleeves are flaring, and at the top finished with silk pipings.
Satin will be much worn this year, as well as the heavy silk stuffs which are adaptable to the godet-skirt. For the house, for tea gowns and informal dinner dresses, diaphanous materials will still be used, but, in general, there will be a leaning toward heavy satins, silks, cloths, canvases, and, instead of depending upon flounces and ruffles and tucks for the charm of the dress, one must now consider the "line."
The new fashions will be trying for those who are not slender and graceful in silhouette. On the other hand, those whose lines have been hidden by an abundance of fluffy trimmings will be glad to return to the more severe modes.
On the Autumn creations heavy trimmings, jets, passementeries, braids, and bead embroidery will be more used than lace. Velvet promises to become a favorite trimming, and both cloth and satin will be garnished with garlands and borders embroidered in jet.
Handkerchiefs grow smaller every year. The tiny squares for ordinary use are surrounded with frills of Valenciennes, or embroidered with an initial in the corners, but the more festive creations are entirely of lace.
As pockets have been entirely abolished it is necessary to have the handkerchief ornamental as well as useful, but nothing shows such good taste as the plain fine linen batiste, with a monogram. If the material is fine enough, the handkerchief may be carried in the cuff of the sleeve.
The recent discovery of radium, an element which promises to revolutionize the material and medical worlds, was made by a woman, in Paris: Madame Curie, a Pole, and the wife of Professor Curie, of the College of France.
Van Vorst, Mrs. John, “Dress and Gossip of Paris” in The Delineator: An Illustrated Magazine of Literature and Fashion, Paris-London-New York-Toronto: The Butterick Publishing Co., Ltd., Vol. LXII, No. 4, October 1903, p. 501.
Editor's Note: Some terminology used in the description of women's clothing during the 1800s and early 1900s has been changed to reflect more modern terms. For example, a women's "Toilette" -- a form of costume or outfit has an entirely different common meaning in the 21st century. Typical terms applied to "toilette" include outfit, ensemble, or costume, depending on context.