Friday, July 27, 2018

Ladies at the Oceanside

Today I have two paintings by Alan Maley depicting Victorians by the Sea.  He made a good portrayal of the way things were. The above picture makes me feel cool. It is rarely too hot at the beaches around here, and in fact more likely to be cold and windy.
To us, it may look as though they are over-dressed in the middle of summer, and that they must have felt overly-warm, but we do not know the whole of it. Their woven fabrics in summer were very thin fabrics, as can be observed in the museums. Victorians knew how to dress to keep cool and although they were covered, they wore fabrics that did not collect the heat in summer...their cottons and linens were very lightweight. Some of the dresses were gossamer thin while looking voluminous!  Just like the way they put breezeways in their houses for coolness, they used the skirts and dresses for coolness.

We have not been to the coast yet this year, but I am eagerly planning a seaside dress and some good food for that day.

One of my readers sent this lovely photo of her grandmother with her on the beach in 1946.

And, here are some more vintage photographs of people at the beach in the early 1900's or late 1800's.






There are contemporary artists (those living today) who paint very beautiful pictures of people at the ocean dressed in lovely clothing. I will try to show these in a future post.

11 comments:

Janet Westrup said...

You are so right about fabrics and dress back then Lydia. I once took a textiles class for dating fabric prints. Also a friend of ours was a costumer who replicated and restored clothing from the early. Napoleonic era through the 1960's. I learned much from her and her daughter. She tells me that early on women wore fine thin linen that is made from flax. Also fine cotton fabrics and unlike today's fabrics back then fabrics were very thin but sturdy and very tightly wooven. They even had a summer weight wool that was so fine thin and soft, it was used on babies. All these natural fabrics "breath" so no matter how many layers you wore, you could be quite comfortable. Considering a lady of the Victorian era wore first stockings, hightop button down shoes, camisole, drawers, a heavily boned corset, over that a corset cover, then at least two petticoats, an overdress or shirtwaist and skirt, then top that off with a hat and parasol, she would not be considered over dressed. This was considered proper and modest dress for the day. That woman would be completely comfortable because the fabrics were not plastic. Modern fabric blends with any polyester in them can make a woman perspir terribly.
Back then people did not use heavy perfumes or antipersirants like they do Today. They didn't need to because they were comfortable.
Janet Westrup

Dianne Plourde said...

It is so sad that today our beaches are full of bikini-clad women, It makes it difficult for Christian families to enjoy the shore without needing to constantly avert their eyes! :( What lovely paintings and how beautiful the women looked while remaining modest. It is so sweet that you are wearing a dress to the oceanside, Lydia. Please post pics! :)

Vintage Ellen said...

We took a day trip to the beach this week. It was 88 degrees at home and 63 degrees on the coast. It felt wonderful! This little break will help us get through another week of temperatures in the upper 80s and low 90s. I love your pictures but can't imagine wearing so many layers of clothing. The heat zaps all my energy but I'm trying to remember I will miss the warmth and sunshine when winter comes. Blessings to you!

Lynn Maust said...

How I wish for those delicate fabrics of old....I think some are still made, but are very expensive. Is one of those called 'lawn'?

Southern Ladye said...

How ironic that you posted these paintings today! We are purchasing a new home, and my living room decor will include ships, maps, and pictures like the ones you have shown in your post today. I have very eccentric taste when it comes to decor, I don't usually like what is "trending" and I like the unusual. I love old sailing ships and maps, but I don't want my living room to have the feeling of a stiff and stodgy library, so I wanted to incorporate some of these types of paintings and pictures that depicts the soft and feminine as well. We are not really "beach" people for the reason of scantily clad women. Our church teaches modesty and that it is so very important to guard your eyes because what you see is forever stored in your mind. We have found one beach area that is about an hour and a half away from our home that isn't heavily populated and if you go early in the morning or during the week, there isn't usually anyone out there. A woman clad in a long white dress walking along the sand with a white parasol makes for the loveliest picture, doesn't it? Have a wonderful day!

Lynn Maust said...

I really appreciate Janet's history lesson on fabrics and attire ladies used to wear...

Lydia said...

Dianne, Southern Layde, The sewists, fabric women I know Love to make a dress to wear to a go with a particular area, such as a waterfall, a picnic scene, a beach, a mountain trail. I currently have a dress on my machine that is for the beach, and I have some already cut out and ready to sew that would go with the other scenic areas. I have discovered the enjoyment of dressing for the area you will be visiting, and it is all wrapped up in the fabric and the print and the style. Speaking of Style, I used to love that pattern company in the 1990's. I think this is what the Victorians did. They had beach wear ---note the sailor collars on their beach clothes, and they had strolling dresses--look at the umbrellas to keep out the sun, and they had day wear and evening wear. I know someone who sews and then models her dresses next to whatever they go with, such as a historical building, a beach, a river, etc. One of the appeals of the early Victoria magazines was the women modeling in nature, such beautiful clothes that seemed to match.

Lydia said...

Janet, you are quite right about the fabrics and the layers and why they didnt seem to be too heavy or too warm in hot weather. It takes a serious study of the era and the textiles. The blouses were as thin as tissue but they looked bulky and big. And I once wore a Victorian outfit and discovered it to be very cool on a hot day, particularly the skirt area that was so big it was like standing in the shade. I think it creates a lot more understanding of the era if we can experience walking around in the costume and get a first hand impression.

Dianne Plourde said...

I think that sewing and wearing these kinds of outfits must be so much fun and bring such an appreciation for other eras! (I do not sew, ashamed to admit!) I wonder, was much of this only for the wealthy? Was there a middle class that might enjoy these things (various materials, trips to the shore, etc.). I think all women looked more feminine and beautiful back then simply because they wore flowing skirts and dresses, even the plain women. For the past few years I have changed my attire to dresses and skirts only and have slowly came to love it! For me, it was for reasons of faith, but I think there is a new trend growing to return to femininity and more modest dresses, which is so nice!

Janet Westrup said...

In California years ago, I was a member of a group women interested in the Victorian era. Many of them were part of the Costume College and made their costumes. At the monthly meetings and teas we would learn of the fabrics of different eras and the way the clothing was made, also customs of the day.
Sometimes we were invited to go model the costumes at lady's luncheons or fashion shows. I remember one time I'd made a white summer dress similar to the one in your photo. However not having the true batiste cotton fabric I trusted the modern fabric store's version to make the dress. I nearly passed out from the heat it generated. Every item I was wearing had some amount of polyester in it. After one hour I felt wiped out just standing around.
Thank you so much for bringing up this subject.

Lynn Maust said...

Oh yes....the fabric can have NO polyester in it! Polyester = HEAT!!! The mention of batiste is one of the other fabrics that you can still buy, but it's costly.

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