The Girl and the Motor Boat: 1904

white rubber motor boating costumes 1904

These motor-boat costumes of white-rubber sheeting are the latest fad

THE GIRL AND THE MOTOR BOAT

Grace Margaret Gould

Truly the whole world of outdoor sports these modern days is possessed by charming femininity. The pleasure-loving American girl of the summer of 1904 has again emphasized this fact by adopting for her very own motor boating, the newest sport of the moment.

Motor boating is the poetry of motoring.

Perhaps that is one reason why the summer girl is showing such a keen interest in the sport.

Then, there are other reasons, and good reasons, too, why motor boating especially appeals to the witching summer girl. To look attractive first and forever is one of the axioms of her life, and motor boating affords her an opportunity not only to enjoy herself, but, what is far more important, look well at the same time.

Motoring ashore invariably means dusty roads, and dusty roads demand disfiguring face masks and hats and coats purposely designed to protect the hair and the gown from dirt.

In motor boating the absence of all dust and dirt make it possible for the motor girl to throw aside her ugly looking face mask and to wear clothes which are not solely designed as dust protectors.

motor boat cap with curtain 1904

Of course, this does not mean that the motor girl arrays herself, when off for an afternoon jaunt on the water, as if she were dressing for a garden party fete. Laces and chiffons are not adapted for motor boat wear. But, in a neat little motor boat protected by canvas awning, she can wear jaunty looking caps and smart looking coats and skirts. If her boat has an uncommon rate of speed, and she goes in for racing more than for pleasure, then, of course, she must dress to protect herself from the wind, and, oftentimes, the water. However, the waterproof and the windproof caps purposely designed for the motor boat girl are actually things of artistic beauty in comparison with the head paraphernalia which this same girl has been accustomed to wear to protect her face and head from dust and dirt when speeding along the road in her motor car.

Then incidentally, here is a reason which may have something to do with endearing the sport of motor boating to the summer girl. Anyone who has tried knows that courtship in a motor car is difficult—but courtship in a motor boat is positively inevitable, especially when the neat little craft has been made with just room enough for two

In motor boating one is relieved of the ever present fear of collision, and the man who steers the wheel is not compelled to give his undivided attention to the task. He can guide the motor boat and entertain the girl at the same time.

Now, of course, the motor boat girl appreciates after her first outing on the water that she received just twice as much attention as if she had been motoring ashore. Hence she determined that her motor boat costumes shall do their part, and a big part at that, in making her attractive.

The summer girl is pretty apt to look her loveliest, to say nothing of the most youthful, dressed in white. The motor boat girl, knowing this, conceived the idea at once of having a white costume. It took considerable thinking to decide what material to have it made of, for it couldn’t be filmy nor of such a fabric that the splashing of the water would ruin it, but at last she decided upon white rubber sheeting, which in every way proved satisfactory. She had it made in skirt and coat style, and it proved the jauntiest sort of a costume imaginable, to say nothing of its being appropriate in every way for the sport for which it was designed. The skirt was plain and made instep length, and the coat was a little box garment hanging full and straight back and front. Scarlet corduroy was used to trim the cuffs and collar. To wear with this suit she had made purposely a white rubber sheeting cap. French garments of rubber sheeting in this coat and skirt style in many different colors are among the recent Saks importations from Paris.

Coat and skirt costumes of rubberized taffeta are also the very smart thing for motor boating. The skirts are short, and many of them trimmed with stitched silk bands, while the coats are either in Norfolk or box shape. The sleeves are cut rather full, but are provided with an inside windcuff, which is worn under the regular sleeve and gathered close to the wrist with a narrow elastic These rubberized taffeta costumes come in many dashing, as well as sedate, colors. They are made up in scarlet silk with just a touch of soft black kid in the way of a trimming accessory. And they also come in the champagne shade, in oyster white, and in a faint pink coral tint.

A pink rubberized taffeta costume for motor boating sounds somewhat audacious, does it not? But combined with brown kid it was less daring than one would suppose. The kid in this specially imported French model was of a dark shade of brown, and was used for the big buttons, the cuffs, and collar, and as a piping for both the skirt and the coat. With the silk rubber costume come very smart-looking toques, made of the same material. The silk for the hat is laid in folds and is then shaped so that it is becoming to the individual wearer. Generally, a shirred rosette or a plain rosette with an odd button in the center acts as the only trimming.

motor boating windy day hat 1904

Long coats of rough woven pongee are also used by the motor boat girl. And many of them are made in the quaintest of styles, with full skirts and long drooping shoulders. With these coats the headgear worn is always suited to the special occasion. And right here let me mention the adjustable hoods of pongee which are the most convenient things to have on hand when the weather suddenly changes. They are made very full and can be buttoned on to a hat or cap. They protect the entire back of the head, and then tie in front in an effective bow. These hoods which come in a variety of colors are another French idea which Saks seized upon.

Many times the summer girl will use the motor boat purely as a vehicle of conveyance, and on these occasions she frequently wears a very much befrilled frock. To protect her evening gown aboard a motor boat, many lightweight rubber coats have been designed, made with generously full skirts and sleeves. There are also silk rubber capes to wear if it happens that it is the waist only that needs special protection. These capes are made three-quarter length and in military style, with just a touch of gold about them. After the hop is over, and when the trip home to one’s hotel or cottage is to be taken in a motor boat, the auto lady’s rubber shirt is a convenient wrap to slip on over the gown. This garment, which is nowhere near as negligee in appearance as its name implies, is sometimes made of rubberized taffeta or of raw pongee. It has a standing collar and yoke of elastic, and its only opening is at the neck. To wear over décolleté gowns this auto shirt is quite the best thing in the way of a wrap.

motor boating pongee hoot 1904

If the home trip is a long one, a rubber tissue veil is also very convenient to own. It takes the place with the modern belle of the lace scarf, which the more lackadaisical society girl of thirty years or more ago wore over her hair. This rubber tissue veil is as light as a feather and is plaited on to a ribbon band. The ribbon is tied about the head, fastened under the coiffure in the back. Many of these rubber tissue veils are made so long that they form a shoulder cape buttoning at the throat in front. It is only when the dance is over that these rubber tissue veils are at all practical to wear, as of course they are apt to disarrange an elaborately dressed coiffure. On the other hand, they are an invaluable preventive to neuralgia when worn on the homeward trip if that trip happens to be across the water in a motor boat.

Motor July 1904: pp. 28, 56

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil, who has summered on various bodies of water, would disagree that “Motor boating is the poetry of motoring.”  The roar of the engines, the shrieks of boaters in an intoxicated state either water-ski-ing or falling overboard, and the wasp-like hum of the so-called “Jet-skis” all contrive to make a day on the water a perfect hell for man and beast.

And Mrs Daffodil shudders at the insouciance of believing that no one collides in a motor-boat and that the man who steers the wheel can both guide the motor boat and “entertain the girl” at the same time. It is true that one has more hands free when not engaged with a sailing boat’s rigging, but it is not pleasant to shout endearments over the engine’s noise and if one is enjoying a day on the water with a lady who is not one’s spouse, running out of gas may result in a bad sun-burn and a date in the divorce courts. On the whole, the old-fashioned sailing boat is much safer option.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

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