I am happy to see the Edwardian era seeing a revival in both vintage events and trendy inspired outfits (such as #cottagecore). Turn of the century fashion, weather it be the Gibson Girl look, farmhouse fashion, a white tea gown, an elegant ballgown, or Edwardian sportswear, has many great outfits to wear for a 1900s Edwardian era event or everyday style.
These 10 + Edwardian outfit ideas take the essence of the era (roughly late 1890 to 1910) and offer you choices — whether you want to purchase an outfit ready made, sew your own, or creatively DIY an affordable costume (my favorite option). Follow the links to fashion history articles and shopping choices, and ask me if you need additional help.
This article is for the ladies. For Edwardian 1900s menswear, start here.
Gibson Girl Outfit
The most iconic outfit of the decade was the Gibson Girl. She wore a modest blouse, long flared skirt, lace up boots, a necktie, and had her hair piled high — very high. A large hat perched on top. She was equally at home in a lovely gown or on the seat of a bicycle.
The Gibson Girl outfit is the easiest to recreate. These clothing pieces create the foundation for most other styles in this article as well:
- Skirt – A long full skirt is essential. Plain colors pair best with any blouse. Add a petticoat or another skirt underneath for fullness. Edwardian women wore skirts to their ankles, but many modern inspired skirts are much shorter (the teen or young women’s length). Shop skirts here. OR –
Pants? – Women wore bloomer type pants, and later split skirts, for sportswear: riding, cycling, hiking, golf, and tennis.
- Petticoat – An A-line petticoat with full hemline gave a woman’s skirt the swish and sway necessary for the authentic look. In more practical sense, it kept the skirt from flying between the legs. Other lingerie can be found here.
- Blouse – A high neck, long puffed sleeve (could be elbow length), trimmed in pintucks, ruffles, and lace that buttoned in the back (front buttons ok too). White or ivory is the most popular color, but you can also choose colors and patterns of plaid, checks, and narrow stripes. Shop blouses here.
- Coat – A long linen duster coat, wool winter coat, fur pieces, cape, or shawl adds to an outfit marvelously.
- Belt – An optional belt helped define a lady’s waist. They could be wide or very narrow, often in black or a matching skirt color.
- Boots – Lace up “granny boots” or short Oxford ankle shoes were very common in this time period. Shop boots and shoes.
- Tights – Stockings rolled up above the knee, but for modern convenience, a pair of tights will do. A tall pair of socks will work as well. Black is best. Wear white if your skirt is light colored.
- Hat – A large wide brim hat piled high with flowers, feathers, or birds is an Edwardian classic. So are simple straw sailor hats. Learn more about Edwardian hats. Shop ready made hats here.
- Jewelry was rare for daytime. If you wish, you can pin a gold or rhinestone brooch to one shoulder. A long necklace with a pendant was trendy too.
- Accessories – Gloves, handbag, makeup, necktie, and a parasol are other things to consider.
- Hairstyles – Article coming soon.
These outfits are available to buy now:
I made these next two outfits from second hand thrift store purchase (including that Hat!). Blouses + belt+ long skirt + hat. If you don’t have good thrift stores nearby, you can try almost any clothing store, because this look is trending now.
1900s Motoring Outfit
The Gibson Girl inspired a wave of independent women who went beyond riding in cars to driving them. These women Motorists wore their everyday clothing (dresses or skirt/blouse sets) with a long duster cost, hats wrapped in a motoring scarf/veil, gauntlet gloves, and goggles. Learn more about Edwardian women motoring outfits here.
For my motoring outfit below, I paired a wool skirt, pintucked blouse, wide belt fastened at the back, motoring coat (antique), large beret cap, goggles, gauntlet gloves, and long lace scarf. The duster coat is the most difficult to find new or thrifted, but you could leave it out and still have a fabulous outfit.
1900s Daywear- Jumper Dress
A trending Edwardian outfit is the jumper dress worn over a modest blouse. Edwardian jumper dresses / pinafore dresses / suspender dresses came in many different shapes and styles. The one commonality was the sleeveless top and deep neckline exposing a blouse underneath. They were consider casual, sporty, or house dresses.
I have a difficult time finding long jumper dresses. Occasionally I find 1980s jumper dresses in thrift stores or Etsy. That is what I used for my outfit below. It paired well with a white blouse, thrifted velvet hat, and embroidered purse. If you can’t find a long jumper, you could wear a shorter one over a skirt and blouse for a girl’s pinafore-apron effect.
1900s Daywear – Suit
A three piece suit was another excellent option for the busy Edwardian woman. Often called Walking Suits, they were what women wore to run errands, perform volunteer work (suffragette!), travel, and play sports (riding, hiking, golf, etc).
The ladies’ suit consisted of a long full skirt and matching button down jacket, worn over a blouse. A large hat, gloves, jewelry (brooch and necklace), boots, and sturdy leather handbag or small beaded purse completed her outfit.
Some ladies walked with a long rolled umbrella or thin walking stick/cane. In winter, she may have carried a fur muff to keep her hands warm, as well as a fur stole draped off one shoulder or around the neck.
Recollections and Premier Victorian have excellent Edwardian suits. See more suits here. I have not had the luck of finding a good suit in thrift stores. Sewing a suit from a pattern is usually the best option.
Some Edwardian outfits will forgo the suit jacket and wear a matching or contrasting button down vest (waistcoat) instead. This look is part of the 1890s and very early 1900s. A knitted pullover vest would be an alternative layering piece for winter in the 1900s, although it was never worn exposed in public.
For the Edwardian suffragette, a good suit or skirt+blouse set is what most suffragettes would wear to a meeting or rally. I happened to find a vintage Jessica McClintock linen suit (1980s does Edwardian) at an antique shop. The silhouette is better suited for the 1910s because of its linear shape, but the overall style is still Edwardian in nature. Be sure to add a “Votes for Women” sash or brooch.
1900s White Tea Dresses
Besides the skirt and blouse set, the 1900s lady in a white tea dress is the epitome of the Edwardian era. These are popular costumes for turn of the century summer picnics and tea parties.
White dresses and “tea dresses” were not the same thing. Learn more about the real history of tea dresses.
Long, lacy, white dresses (or skirt and blouse sets) can be found in the summer, in 1980s does Edwardian vintage shops, 1970s style boho dresses, wedding dresses and sometimes mixed in with Victorian nightgowns. Shop dresses here.
Good accessories for a white dresses are white mesh gloves, a large straw hat or straw sailor/boater hat, a parasol, and a picnic basket. The etiquette of glove wearing says they are to be removed for eating, drinking, smoking, or using the restroom. The film industry always gets this wrong – showing women sipping tea with gloves on!
1900s Sailor Dresses
Yet another popular Edwardian summer outfit is the sailor dress or nautical dress. White or blue dresses with contrasting white or blue trim, a sailor collar, and necktie were frequently worn to seaside destinations. Yachting caps, boater hats, or white straw hats were the pairing headwear.
I like using 1980s sailor themed dresses or separates to make an Edwardian sailor outfit. My outfit here is an ’80s top (part of a set with a pencil skirt) paired with a white circle skirt (may have been a ’50s costume). I added a white sash and red bow along with a straw hat and my vintage handbag. This look is roughly 1914.
Everyone commented I looked like Princess Diana. She was fond of the nautical look in the 1980s.
1900s Evening Gowns
The Edwardian ball is an elegant evening affair. Most ladies will sew an evening gown, since ready-made formal dresses are few and far between. Some modern dresses can work for the earlier 1900s, however dresses that work for 1910s with its slimmer silhouette are more plentiful. Another thrifty source is old wedding dresses. You can dye them (depends on material) and add ribbon and bows to decorate them. Shop evening dresses here and find click here for sewing patterns.
For accessories, consider:
- Shoes – Low heel simple pumps or slippers. Boots are not ideal for dancing.
- A ribbon headband, string of pearls, silk flowers, hair comb to ornament evening hair. Wigs are better for short hair.
- Gloves – Long over the elbow length gloves. The dress sleeve should overlap the gloves, leaving no skin showing.
- Handfan – A beautiful and functional accessory.
- Purse – Evening purses were small beaded or silk pouchette bags.
- Edwardian Costume Jewelry – Chokers, long pearls, filigree necklaces, drop pearl earrings.
The Edwardian maid, nurse, housekeeper, housewife, or nanny is a popular costume for theatre shows and reenactments. As a mom of young kids, I thought it would be appropriate to wear a “nanny costume” to a tea party (I need to find that photo). Why not! It is a comfortable, easy, no-fuss costume.
You can wear any simple dress or skirt + blouse and add a long bib apron over it. Servants would often be assigned a black or blue colored uniform dress while housewives and country servants would wear a cotton print housedress. A mop cap or large hair bow kept hair up and off the face. Shop Edwardian aprons, costumes and patterns.
The Gibson Girl was fond of all leisurely activities, sports, and adventuring. She could wear her normal daywear clothing (hemmed skirts shorter for easier movement) or sew specialty outfits suitable for the activity. Here are a few options:
Bicycle / Tweed Ride
Bicycle riding was the Gibson Girl’s newest activity. The bicycle gave her freedom to travel, exercise, and be outside of the home. The Edwardian bicycle suit had shorter skirt with a front flap covering the split leg bloomers underneath. A matching jacket was left unbuttoned exposing the blouse, a necktie/bow tie, and belt. Click here for some examples of Edwardian era bicycle outfits.
Turn of the century bike riding outfits are very popular now, especially with those participating in a tweed ride. My friend Carolyn made this authentic purple biking suit here. It is fabulous!
My tweed ride outfit wasn’t intended to be authentic or Edwardian. I pretty much grabbed anything tweed-like and threw it on. By removing some pieces I could easily make this outfit work for an Edwardian bicycle riding costume. I would keep the skirt and jacket, blouse and tights and maybe the bag. I would choose no hat or a small hat instead.
1900s Hiking Outfits
For women who despise wearing a dress, the Edwardian era has limited choices. Long pants were not in vogue yet, but that didn’t mean they didn’t exist.
Hiking, camping, outdoor adventuring clothes for women were, like the bicycle suit and rational dress, a hybrid between bloomer pants and skirt suits.
Some of the best patterns for sportswear are swimsuits! Victorian and Edwardian swimsuits were short dresses worn over bloomer suits – perfect for rational dress, sportswear, hiking and biking outfits. You may need to adjust the patterns to fit an ideal outfit, but at least it is a good start.
In the 1910s, the bloomer pant slimmed down into the men’s style breeches (knickerbockers / short pants / breeks). Find those here.
More Edwardian Costumes and Fashion History
- Edwardian Outfit Inspiration & Ideas– Even more outfits to inspire (many are for sale)
- Cheap Edwardian Costumes for Party or Halloween
- Easy DIY Edwardian Titanic Costumes 1910-1915
- 1914-1918 Costume Ideas- Civilian Dresses WWI
- Edwardian Evening Dress History | Ballgowns, Dinner Dress and 1910s Evening Gowns and Dress History
- Victorian Nightgowns, Nightdress, Pajamas, Robes
- Edwardian Lingerie 1900-1910s Underwear
- 1900-1910 Edwardian Makeup and Beauty Products
Debbie Sessions has been teaching fashion history and helping people dress for vintage themed events since 2009. She has turned a hobby into VintageDancer.com with hundreds of well researched articles and hand picked links to vintage inspired clothing online. She aims to make dressing accurately (or not) an affordable option for all. Oh, and she dances too.