The sinking of the Titanic was one of the most devastating peacetime maritime disasters and perhaps the most popular in history. It happened in 1912 when the ship hit an iceberg that killed over 1,500 people.
The sinking of the Titanic has also exposed the massive wealth inequality in the society. Those who were seated first class mostly survived while those who were left in the second and third classes mostly died.
Being one of the largest ships at that time, being in the Titanic’s first class was more of a status symbol. People were inside luxurious cabins. There were endless parties. The dishes served were amazing. Only the wealthiest elites in the society could get inside this part of the ship.
It would also be easy to spot if you really belong to the first class based on what you wear. These wealthy people only had the best clothing as they stepped inside the ship. During formal events, they would even try to up their game. In short, at that time, being inside the Titanic was like being at the New York Fashion Week.
Formal events inside Titanic
During formal dinner and other special events, women would usually wear an evening gown, long white gloves and satin shoes matching the gown. Some of them would bring a bag, fan or scarf. Men on the other hand would wear white tie or bowtie and a tailcoat.
It was also during the 1910’s when women started adapting a more voluptuous silhouette. Women with small waists, large breasts and curves were popular at that time. Hence, they would wear gowns that would highlight these assets. Rich and vibrant fabrics were also used in creating the dresses. Creations of designers like Paquin, Doucet, Fortuny and Lanvin were such a huge hit during this period.
Evening dresses were mostly made from delicate fabrics. Sheer fabrics (that are now making a comeback) have also become very popular during that time. The dresses were filled with embellishments like laces, beads and trimmings. Silk under layer was also used to blow the dress up.
For the bodice, short sleeves with V necklines were popular. Round and square necklines were also alternative options. Cross-over bodices were used almost all the time. High waistline was also famous and the placement was between the bust line and the natural waist for a better slimming effect. The waistline on its own was designed loose. However, it usually comes with a sash or belt to easily tighten it depending on the preference of the wearer.
As for the lower part, the dresses usually have two skirts – the tunic skirt and an underskirt. The underskirt was slimmer in general while the overskirt was designed to be fuller.
Even the men had to put a lot of efforts on what they wore. Barrel-chested designs were extremely popular as they had to display athleticism. The fabric used was also thick to create an illusion of strength and bravery. There was also a time when shoulder pads were popular for men. During this era, the pads were decreased and the waistline was narrowed. More fitted pants have become a trend.
For formal events, men wore tailcoats made from silk, linen or pique. The formal colour was white, but black was also used although it was not deemed totally appropriate for formal events.
If you were entering the ship as a part of the first class, it was extremely important to focus on what you wore. Perhaps, people had nothing else better to do at that time other than to talk about what others wore or whom they were with. This was in fact the reason why Rose and Jack’s relationship was forbidden as Jack was not necessarily deemed equal with Rose. If you also notice the outfits worn by the second and third class passengers, there were stark differences.
Even the way men and women on the first class designed their hair had to be perfect. Aside from the actual hairstyle, there should also be accessories like wide bands covered with beads and embroidery.
Other popular trends at that time included corsets, which were designed to make women look slimmer and wider down the waist. Underskirts with contrasting fabrics were also used. Due to the thickness of the dresses, they were deemed uncomfortable. Hence, fabrics of different length and weight were used.
You might take inspiration from the dresses used in this era if you are a fashion designer. After all, fashion designs don’t die. They simply come back in different forms and shapes. To help you in this career, you might want to check out LoveMeSew for a new sewing machine.