University of Otagoheader image header image



Clothing: 1910 - 1920

By 1910 trams and public toilets had increased women's access to Dunedin's public spaces. There was a quicker transmission of European fashions through improved communications. The large hats of Edwardian England, for example, were soon copied in Dunedin after examples arrived by steam ship. Most children's clothes were still home-made. There was a slow evolution towards informality.  The long dark dresses gave way to separates of bodice or blouse and skirts (ankle-length still), often in lighter colours. Long trousers were a sign of adulthood for boys, coinciding with the move from school to  work at the end of Standard Six.  The lounge suit had become a practical multi-purpose work wardrobe for men.  They wore it everywhere, in the garden and at leisure, as well as to work. Hats acted as a marker of class status for men.  The 'bowler' or 'bun' hat was for those with some pretensions, while the peaked cap generally indicated a 'working man'.

This silk dress, circa 1911, with silver couched embroidery and crocheted baubles has elements of the oriental style, which became popular from about 1908. The dress was made by dressmakers at "The Polytechnic" in Oamaru. (Otago Settlers Museum Collection)

This is a World War One era lightweight, almost hobble-skirted evening dress, with machine embroidered net bodice, bead and sequin trim, and self fabric rosettes.  It belonged to May Andrew who died in 1917, aged 18, of a 'broken heart' according to family stories, after her fiancé was killed at the war. (Otago Settlers Museum Collection)

A silk and lace petticoat for the straighter dress styles that became fashionable from 1911 onwards. (Otago Settlers Museum Collection)


These cotton bloomers, with closed crotch seam and buttoned flap at the back were an everyday item of women's clothing about 1910. Front view. (Otago Settlers Museum Collection)

A back view of the cotton bloomers. (Otago Settlers Museum Collection)


[Next: 1920 to 1930]

Site last updated 25/07/03
Best viewed in Internet Explorer