Dress Like a Suffragist

Dress Like a Suffragist! 1918-1920

Things were changing for ladies in 1918 in more ways than one. Fashion was becoming more modern and less cumbersome as women worked to support the war. These looks can be easy to reproduce by adjusting modern clothing. In this guide you’ll find basic clothing guidelines, fashion illustrations, photographs and a list of local shops and resources to help you get started.

Hats! - Ladies wore a variety of hat styles in this era. Simple round brimmed straw hats were popular as well as tricorn shaped hats and close fitting styles very close to the cloches of the 1920’s. Hats were trimmed simply with ribbon, feathers or a veil. Wool felt, velvet or even fur hats were worn during cold weather.


Blouses, Skirts and Dresses - Monochromatic blouse and skirt pairings were common. Shirtwaists were loose fitting button down tops with either long or 3/4 sleeves. Shawl and sailor collars were very popular. Embroidered silk yoke blouses with simple rounded collars were also coming into style.

Skirts were ankle length or slightly higher with a natural waist and a wide waistband. They featured large pockets and big buttons. Solid colors, vertical stripes and checkered patterns were common. Dresses were styled with a natural or slightly lowered undefined waistline with necklines similar to the blouse styles of the era.


Support Garments - Corsets were underbust styles that smoothed the waist and hips leaving a less defined waist than earlier versions. By this time we are getting very close to what would be considered more of a girdle style that would remain in use until the 1960s. In this regard please wear whatever makes you most comfortable.

Shoes - When walking outdoors a lady would wear lace up or buttoned walking boots. For our purposes a pair of plain comfortable flats will do. Shorter skirts means stocking are a must.


Coats and Outerwear - Coats were cocoon or kimono shaped: wide through the shoulders and narrower at the hem in wool or velvet. Fur coats and stoles were popular. A suit style jacket with a matching skirt was often worn for traveling. Belted cardigans with shawl collars were also popular.


Jewelry and Accessories - Ladies wore very little jewelry due to funds being put toward the war effort. Simple brooches and costume jewelry became fashionable.

Gloves were worn by ladies while outdoors although I see a bit of a break in this tradition in the photographs. It may have been a personal preference by this time. If you would like to wear gloves kidskin, silk or cotton would be appropriate.


Handbags - Ladies carried small silk, velvet or leather handbags in a variety of styles pictured below. Tote bags were used to carry leaflets.


Late Edwardian Hairstyle Tutorials


Vintage Clothing Shops are a great place to look for hats, gloves and handbags

Retro 101 - 2303 Cherokee St - St Louis, MO 63118

Ace of Hearts Vintage Clothing - 2001 Cherokee St - St Louis, MO 63118

Parsimonia Vintage Store - 3194 Grand Ave - St Louis, MO 63118 https://www.shopparsimonia.com/

Vintage Haberdashery - 3181 Morganford - St Louis, MO 63116 http://www.vintagehab.com/


Thrift Stores carry a ton of skirts, sweaters, blouses and other items.

Goodwill University City - 7531 Olive Blvd - St. Louis, MO 63130

Goodwill St. Louis-  10570 Baptist Church Rd, St. Louis, MO 63128

Savers Thrift Store - 9618 Watson Rd - Crestwood, MO 63126

St Vincent DePaul Thrift Store - 3924 Lemay Ferry Rd, St. Louis, MO 63125


Online Resources

Scroop Patterns (https://www.scrooppatterns.com/collections/all) carries a few era appropriate patterns

Wearing History (http://wearinghistory.clothing/sewing-patterns/) also has quite a few Edwardian era clothing patterns

Hint of History (http://www.hintofhistory.com/) has a few dress patterns in a wide size range 6-24

There are a ton of great vintage and reproduction items for sale on etsy and ebay.

GlennasVintageShop on etsy has a great selection of hats and accessories.

Frontier Millinery makes amazing reproduction hats

If you have a resource suggestion to add to this list please reach out to me - kat@mourningsociety.com.