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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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Rubber Fashions at the Sea-side: 1914-1919

Rubber swimming ensemble, 1914

Each succeeding summer brings with it new styles in bathing caps, which as a rule follow as closely as possible the prevailing modes in millinery, but the array of styles and colorings available to the bathers of this particular season is even larger than usual, and includes bonnets, caps and hats in endless variety and in all the most desired shades, made of rubber, as well as of rubberized satin, etc., and adorned with berries, fruit, leaves, flowers and ribbon—all of rubber or rubberized to stand any amount of wetting in either salt or fresh water. Four especially attractive models are here illustrated.

Rubber bathing caps, 1914

Rubber bathing hats, 1914

The first is an all-rubber cap, which can be obtained in blue, cerise or emerald green, with the rubber rose at the side in contrasting color. The second model, with rosette trimming, is of the “Castle” type and comes in black and navy blue. The third model is a rubberized silk turban and is made in black, navy blue and purple, with the wired donkey ears of the same material as the cap. The last of the four is an all-rubber cap, decorated with velvety rubber flowers and obtainable in blue, cerise, coral, and purple.

But the manufacturers of rubber goods have not been content this season to supply a variety of new and pleasing models of bathing caps. They have extended their line of accessories for the bathing costume to include numerous other articles, several of which are also shown. The first of these cuts shows an all-rubber sailor collar, the edge of which is decorated with tiny rubber roses—something that is bound to add an air of up-to-dateness to any bathing suit. This cut also shows a pair of rubber buckles, a decoration that can be appropriately applied not only to the belt or girdle, but with perhaps even greater effectiveness to the bathing slippers, which have heretofore presented rather a bare appearance because of the lack of a buckle that would withstand the effects of frequent immersion in salt water. The next figure [at the head of this post] shows a bather to whose costume has been added a rubber sash or girdle, which close under a bunch of rubber flowers, the ends of the sash being in Roman stripes in colors to match the plaid cap. As will be noted, this bather is also equipped with a cape of rubber, an accessory which has become very popular this season for wear over the bathing suit. Wreaths of rubber roses are also obtainable for use in trimming the extremely popular beach hat—and they are very genuine appearing and highly decorative. In fact, the line of rubber accessories for the present season has reached a degree of elaborateness never before attained, and would seem to be complete. India Rubber World 1 July 1914: p 547

Very simple, but hygienic, are the lines of a bathing corset made of rubber sheeting. This material is not stiff but sheds water like a duck, and proved itself a comfort last season to many a plump mermaid who “did not feel comfortable without a corset.”… Oregonian [Portland, OR] 18 June 1916: p. 6

Neckwear, sashes, garters, flowers, beach balls of inflated rubber, and long fringe-edged scarfs, are also made of the rubber sheetings in gay colors and of gum rubber. A beach scarf of white rubber is a very handy thing to wrap oneself up in when coming in out of the sea. These scarfs are quite wide and long and have striking designs in contrasting rubber at the ends above a deep row of rubber fringe. Oregonian [Portland, OR] 18 June 1916: p. 6

Smart one-piece bathing suit of navy blue taffeta with rubber parasol and hat, 1919

Rubber Hats and Parasols

In many instances the new rubber bathing hats are fashioned with quite a wide brim and a crushed close-fitting crown, held with a rubber band, so that the hat is adjustable to any size head. One of the precautionary measures to be taken before putting one of these rubber hats on is the removing of every hairpin, as even one hairpin forgotten will often puncture the hat and render it useless. These wide-brimmed rubber hats are trimmed with rosettes and flowers of rubber, and when properly adjusted the effect is as modish and smart as though the hat were a typical sports hat or picture hat. These hats are developed in various gay colors or in soft shades of red, green or gold, and while they are rather expensive they are nevertheless in great demand.

The rubber parasols fashioned with four sections are very unusual in style and shape and are considered one of the exclusive novelties of the season. The great advantage of having the bathing suit parasol of rubber is that it is in no danger of being harmed when it is picked up by a bather who has just come out of the water and whose hands are still dripping with the salt brine. Everything worn by a bather or carried by a bather to the beach is not only apt to get wet, but almost sure to get wet before the day is over, so that the idea of the rubber parasol is a very practical one. American Cloak and Suit Review, Volume 17, 1919

 

An attractive example of the abbreviated type of bathing suit now worn by the smartest American women, 1919

Freakish and Startling Costumes Worn by Ladies at Beach.

The newest fashion for lady bathers is to wear artificial flowers made of India rubber. This certainly sounds a very extravagant fad, but seeing that these adornments are said to be wonderfully effective in beautifying the bathing costume and cap, there is every reason to expect this craze to be extremely popular all along the coasts. The art of making India rubber flowers has been brought to a state of perfection for this purpose, and instead of being merely clumsy sprays of colored rubber, as one might at first imagine, the buttonholes and wreaths thus manufactured are wonderfully artistic creations, varying from rich, massive peonies to dainty buttercups and lilies of the valley.

This novel fashion should prove a really pretty one, provided it is not carried too far and indulged in by the well-known type of “non-get-wet” bather, who may possibly welcome a bouquet of artificial flowers as an additional charm whilst “sun-bathing” in a pretty costume by the “briny.” Grand Forks [ND] Daily Herald 25 June 1914: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  The rubber bathing costumes were not without their critics. They were banned from several beaches as indecently form-fitting. All-rubber suits also were clammy and easily torn. It was not until “Lastex”—rubber enveloped in other fibres—was introduced that their utility ultimately triumphed over wool swimming costumes. As Harper’s Bazaar wrote in 1934:

“There’s no wrinkle, no bag, no sag, even under the most ruthless sun! No other human device can even approximate that utter freedom, that perfection of fit, at rest or in motion, that airy but strictly legal sense of wearing nothing at all. There is no substitute for this elastic yarn, which imparts lasting elasticity to any fabric.” Harper’s Bazaar June 1934: p. 9

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.