Semi-Empire Dresses and Eton Jackets For Spring - 1911

Semi-Empire Dress and Eton Jacket Ensemble. The Delineator Magazine, April 1911.

Semi-Empire Dress and Eton Jacket Ensemble. The Delineator Magazine, April 1911. GGA Image ID # 164acd1357

There is an old French saying to the effect that le Bon Dieu made Spring, Summer and Autumn, and then got tired and the year was finished out elsewhere.

It is a  naughty saying, but then you must admit that Winter—especially late Winter, that lingers on while we are looking for Spring and disgusts us with its violent tempers and boisterous moods—is clearly a nasty season.

I do not wonder that as many people as can go South and watch “die Citronen blühen" and see the mimosa and orange-blossoms push their way up the bare hills back of Nice and Menton until the whole countryside becomes a blaze of color.

There are plenty of things to furnish the idle ones with excuses for going South in April—the sea-bathing at Biarritz, the aviation meet at Nice, the polo matches at Cannes and the motor races between Monte Carlo and Cap Martin.

In spite of the many shocking accidents that have befallen the bird-men during the past year, the meeting at Nice promises to have a brilliant following. The Paris dressmakers have been hard pushed ever since their openings with orders for suits and gowns for the South, many of which undoubtedly will be seen at the Aerodrome at Californie during Aviation Week.

A smart suit ordered by the wife of one of the most  enthusiastic of the younger flying men is copied from a model shown by a house in the Rue de la Paix a few weeks ago. It is made of black satin with a smart little waist of satin and chiffon that goes with it.

The jacket of the suit is one of the new boleros or Etons. It just reaches to the raised waistline and is made with a small, close sleeve that looks a little wider at the bottom than at the top, probably owing to the deep cuff that finishes it where it stops halfway between the wrist and elbow.

The cuffs and the square sailor collar are made of white satin covered with black chiffon; the latter are brought down to the single button that fastens the jacket almost at the bottom.

The skirt has the raised waistline of course, for the suit was made for a French woman, and the Parisienne will wear nothing else.

Etons worn with normal waistline skirts, and they did not look at all badly. In this skirt the waistline was raised for a double purpose—first, because it is smart, and, second, because the woman who is to wear it is a little large – for a French woman, the semi-Empire fitting of the skirt will make her hips look smaller.

The skirt is cut with a single wide panel at both the front and back, set into the skirt with slot seams that end in inverted plaits near the bottom.

The sides of the skirt are trimmed with a curved band that reaches up to where the slot seams stop at the front and back and drops down in a half circle at the sides.

The waist that goes with the suit I like very much. The upper part is of black chiffon over a very soft white satin.

At the bottom, it is drawn into a sort of trimming section made of black satin and running up into a deep half circle under the arms to match the trimming band on the skirt.

The front of the satin under the blouse and the lower part of the kimono sleeves are embroidered with wide bands of Oriental embroidery worked in bright, hard colors which are very much subdued by the chiffon overblouse.

A delightful dress made for a well-known mondaine who is booked for Cannes for the middle of the month rings in a new variation on the semi-Empire styles.

The waistline of the skirt is raised an inch or two in a deep yoke that reaches well below the hip and is rather suggestive of the Moyen âge styles of a year or two ago.

The dress is made of satin cashmere in the bright king's blue that has been so popular lately. The waist at first glance looks not unlike one of the new Etons, for the skirt cuts it off at the high waistline, and its chief trimming is an arrangement of revers and sailor collar that one is quite as apt to associate with a coat as with a dress. 

The revers, which are very large and cross low on the chest and run down to the waistline, are faced with black satin, as are the collar and the deep cuffs on the peasant sleeves.

The chemisette is of fine white net and is collarless. The sleeve of the waist does not reach to the wrist. The skirt, except for its yoke which buttons on the left side of the front on a line with the revers, is perfectly plain. It is narrow, of course, but not absurdly so.

It is a good dress for the early Spring in the South or for the late Spring in Paris, for it is the sort of frock that one can wear on the street very nicely without a wrap.

There will be any number of them this season made in serge and cashmere and satin, not only after this model, but after others that make use of the bolero empiècement.

Women have so accustomed themselves to coats that they hate to go on the street without one, even in warm weather, and these little coat-like dresses are going to prove a boon because they give a semblance of a wrap without burdening one with a jacket.

One of the smartest of the new coatless dresses shown at the recent openings was made of black satin, though I have seen it since copied in other materials. It is made with a big square collar and deep cuffs faced with Mechlin lace with a chemisette and undersleeves of a fine-meshed net.

The collar is brought down to the raised waistline in front and meets the closing of the tunic of the skirt. The right side of the overskirt is considerably shorter than the left side, and the irregular line at the bottom that is the result of this arrangement is rather nice and unusual.

Monte Carlo is as amusing as usual this Spring, and among the women who stroll along the promenade by the sea, lunch or dine at Ciro's or attend the concerts at the Salle Garnier one finds some of the most famous beauties of Europe.

A number of English sportsmen are sending their motor-boats over for the Championnat de la Mer, and their wives are now closeted with their dressmakers in Paris.

Afternoon gown made for one of these English women, who is of a particularly attractive brunette type, is in the new shade lobster red chiffon voile—a color that is really much more possible than it sounds—half cerise-half carmine.

The waist of the dress is made with wide plaited sections set on either side of a front and back panel embroidered in black and silver. The same embroidery is repeated on the short oversleeves which stop above the elbow over undersleeves of silver lace that just cover the bend of the arm.

The collarless chemisette is also made of the silver lace finished at the neck edge with a rather heavy silver cord. The skirt has the raised waistline, and is made with a long tunic weighted at its lower edge with black and silver embroidery.

The underskirt is of black satin, and the dress is to be worn with a big hat of black crin trimmed with a single ostrich feather of vivid carmine. With a long black satin coat, the dress will be extremely useful for teas and concerts. In fact, a black wrap is almost indispensable for a woman who goes around a great deal, especially if her wardrobe is somewhat limited.

A satin coat is a very nice accessory to an afternoon costume and is quite good enough to be used as an evening wrap for everything except the most elegant functions.

The newest coat of this kind that has been shown this Spring is cut on straight, narrow lines, and covers the dress entirely, and is just short enough to clear the ground in walking.

It is made with enormous shawl-like revers that cover the shoulders and the upper part of the arm and drop into a deep Capuchin hood at the back. The point of the hood reaches almost to the waistline and is weighted with a heavy black silk tassel.

The sleeves are cut in one with the body of the coat, but the shoulders are fitted a little more closely than in most peasant-sleeve wraps, for there is a seam that runs from the neck along the shoulder and down the outside of the arm.

The sleeves are straight, after the religieuse fashion, and end in a deep cuff. I have seen the coat any number of times. The cut does not vary, but no two of them look quite alike, for every woman carries out her own color scheme in the lining of the coat and hood.

White is the most popular lining, but I have also seen emerald green, the new l'évêque violet, old blue, canary color, and pelican red.

Edouard La Fontaine, "Letters of Credit: High Praise for the Semi-Empire Dresses and Eton Jackets for the Spring," in The Delineator, New York: The Butterick Publishing Company, Vol. LXXVII, No. 4, April 1911, p. 279.

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