Follow the Thread

a textile & costume history blog from the Design Center at Thomas Jefferson University

Student Project: A 1902 Wedding, by Carly Vlachos

05.20.2021

Student Projects 2020-2021
This summer on the blog we’ll be highlighting some of the hard work our students did over the course of the year while enrolled in Jade’s History of Costumes and Textiles and Twentieth Century Fashion Designers classes. These students used objects from the Textile & Costume Collection as a jumping off point for the work you’ll see featured over the next few months. Below is an abbreviated version of the student’s analysis.

Student bio: Hello, my name is Carly Vlachos and I am a sophomore Fashion Design Major at Thomas Jefferson University. I am from Buffalo, NY where this summer I will be teaching a fashion design and sewing summer camp for kids ages 8-13 at Fashion Lab NY.  I’ll also be working as a floral designer at Wegmans and have an internship at a locally owned bridal boutique. Bridal and evening wear have always been my favorite garments to design and I’m looking forward to hopefully working at Oscar De La Renta or Elie Sabb in the future.  

Analysis and Object Re-Design: 1902 wedding ensemble,
T&CC 1984.67.1a-j

Silky, smooth, ivory spool heels were the style of shoe chosen for a woman’s wedding day in the early 1900’s.  The wedding shoes below were donated in 1984 by Morris Lloyd who belonged to a well-known Philadelphia family. They were worn by his mother Eleanore Burroughs Lloyd and she married Stacy B. Lloyd on October 25th, 1902. The shoes are made of satin, silk chiffon, leather, and possibly a wood heel. They have rounded toes, a spool heel, and are embellished with chiffon rosettes on the vamps. Along with the shoes, the rest of her wedding ensemble was also donated. Focusing on the wedding shoes, layers of women’s dress, and wedding traditions, this paper will look into the symbolism of weddings in the early 1900’s.

T&CC 1984.67.1h,i, wedding shoes worn by Eleanore Burroughs Lloyd, 1902. Donated by Mr. Morris Lloyd (Philadelphia).

Weddings are sentimental, special days that only last a few hours…so you better wear something to remember! Layers of women’s dress in the early 1900’s consisted of about six layers, just like Eleanore Lloyd’s wedding ensemble. Her attire on her wedding day included drawers, stockings, a waist cincher, a camisole top or corset cover, a chemise, her dress, and her shoes.

Starting with her undergarments, the drawers are open at the crotch seam, her hand embroidered stockings are made of an ivory colored silk, and lastly her chemise is made of silk and embellished with handmade lace that include her initials embroidered in white.

The next few layers in her ensemble shows how she got the desired shape for the time.  What gave women their artificial shapes are garments like a waist cincher or corset. The waist cincher is pale blue and the waist measures 22”.  This would cinch in her waist to create the hourglass figure that she was looking for.

At the time of the wedding, purity for marriage was a concern.  Even though it isn’t today, white is still considered the color to represent it.  Another color with symbolism for weddings is light blue.  Although not visible on the exterior, the color can be found on her waist cincher. A wedding tradition that started many decades ago is something old, new, borrowed, and blue. Women were seen wearing blue jewelry, their mother’s veils, and other accessories that went along with this tradition. Thinking about this, Eleanore’s something blue may have been her waist cincher. Looking into the future will we see light blue wedding dresses?

Original designs by Carly Vlachos, inspired by Eleanore Burroughs Lloyd wedding ensemble

Rosettes and handmade lace are two key elements seen on Eleanore Lloyd’s shoes and garments. These details give femininity and grace to her look due to the symbol of a flower being fragile yet elegant. Another tradition for weddings is the use of orange blossoms being worn in a bride’s hair. Orange blossoms are a symbol of innocence, eternal love, and faithfulness similar to how the color white that represents purity. Queen Victoria wore orange blossoms to her wedding in 1840. The orange blossom tradition could have inspired the designer of Eleanore’s shoes to create a big rosette, letting people know that she stood for the symbol of innocence, eternal love, beauty and faithfulness on her wedding day. Tying these into the handmade lace, there are a variety of small flowers on her gown and undergarments that look similar to an orange blossom. The designer also could have been inspired for the lace and wanted to portray the symbolism throughout her garments.

Searching through the Textile and Costume collection at Thomas Jefferson University brought to light new inspiration for future designs and other creative work. The Lloyd family was kind enough to donate a variety of items to the collection, specifically Eleanore Lloyd’s wedding shoes. The artifact 1984.67.1h,i and information the donor and his family provided, gives an insight for future students and the Philadelphia community when looking back into history and observing and analyzing textiles and garments. The wedding shoes, layers of women’s dress, and wedding traditions, portray different symbolisms of weddings in the early 1900’s, whether this being color, material, or style, they all tell their own story.

Bibliography:

Gdofm, Frederick. “Victorian Royal Wedding Flowers: Orange, Myrtle, and the Apotheosis of White Heather.” Heather Society.org, www.heatherworld.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/EC-Nelson-Vic-myrtle.pdf.

Zoi, Arvanitidou, and Gasouka Maria. “The Traditional Evolution of Style and Especially of Color of Bridal Dresses in Different Cultures during the Centuries.” Journal of Educational and Social Research, MCSER, 2014, www.mcser.org/journal/index.php/jesr/article/view/3503/3444.


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