With 2012 marking the 100th anniversary of the voyage of the Titanic, several cruise lines have scheduled memorial voyages to commemorate this event. Other venues are also planning special activities as well. For example, the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island will be having a “Titanic at the Grand” event, May 4th -6th. Events will include Titanic historians, a showing of the 1953 Titanic movie (in which several passengers were bound for Mackinac). For more information, please see the response to Recollections Blog article “100 Years after the Sinking of the Titanic”.
Whether you will be participating in a cruise or attending an event on shore, we thought you would like to know how to dress for each occasion. Recollections has assembled quite an extensive collection of Edwardian clothing that will see you dressed perfectly from boarding until you retire each night. So let’s peek into Recollections’ closet, and see what to pack…
First, we’ll talk about the gents. For boarding, we like the Wool Frock Coat . During the day, most gents would have worn a “Sack Suit”. This is very similar to today’s suits, but the lapels were a bit higher. The suit should include a vest – which might be the same fabric or different from the material of the pants and jacket. Gentleman would always have worn a long-sleeved shirt like Ailstair, and it would always have been buttoned to the neck. An ascot or puff tie would be worn at the neck, and a fancy stick pin would secure the tie. During the day, a bowler or top hat would have been worn outdoors. For evening wear, a cutaway tuxedo will do nicely. The shirt and vest would always be white, and worn with a bow tie at the neck.
A lady’s attire is a bit more complex. We’ll start with the Boarding Dress. This dress would usually be skirt and jacket made up a matte fabric like wool or linen, and would be fairly tailored. My personal favorite would be the “Mademoiselle Janette” which has the fabulous cape attached to the jacket, but several others are also appropriate. “ Honora ” is a good choice, and includes a chemisette, as does the Wool Suit. Other good choices might be the Lady Audra and the Edwardian Dress. As you can see, all of these dresses are perfect for looking well-dressed while traveling. The skirts would have been just an inch or so shorter than normal, to make them easier to walk in. The final touch to your ensemble would be a carpet bag, and Recollections will have new carpet bags available soon. Lucky you!
Your first full day on board would begin with breakfast, and you would wear a Morning Dress. Early in the day, dresses were permitted be a bit less fitted and more flowing. You might like to don the Edwardian Ensemble with the fabulous lace shawl collar, or the enchanting Chiffon Edwardian Gown in soft pastels for your early-day attire.
After breakfast you might want to have a promenade on the deck (or along the boardwalk if you are on shore.) Two excellent Promenade Dresses would be Cecilia in shimmering satin, and Willow in dramatic black and ivory. Either gown is sure to turn heads! Remember whenever you are outside, you will want to be wearing gloves and a fabulous Edwardian hat! Since you are an upper-class lady on a cruise, choose a hat with a very wide brim and lots of feathers. Recollections offers a large collection of Edwardian hats to choose from. Don’t forget to carry a parasol! Upper-class ladies always carried this practical accessory to keep the sun away from their fashionably pale complexions, and middle class ladies would rent one when they took a stroll out-of-doors.
In the afternoon, of course you will want to have tea! This lovely tradition also demands a particular style of dress. For your Tea Dress, we like Augusta made up in pintucks and lace, Fern made up in ecru lace, and the dramatic black-on-black Olivia. Depending on the event, you may also wear a hat to tea, and gloves as well. Gloves should be removed when eating, and then put on again before leaving the meal.
Perhaps the most elegant dress, unless the evening includes a ball, will be your Dinner Gown. For dinner, you will not wear a hat, but should always have some type of ornament or feather in your hair. Your hair should be styled in an “updo”. Evening wear may be a bit more revealing than daywear so your gown may have shorter sleeves and the neckline may be lower – the better to show off a lovely necklace.
Perfect dinner gowns would include Violet with those fabulous sleeves and short train, the glamorous Iona in gold and silver, the beautifully beaded Edwardian Taffeta Gown, and the stunning Monaco in red and black.
After all those changes of clothing, you will be more than ready to take down your hair, unlace that corset, and slip into something comfortable for bed time. If the weather is warm, you might select the Cotton Chemise. For cooler nights, we love the snuggly long Flannel Nightgown for sweet dreams.