Edwardian Era, Okie Style

All this Downton Abbey talk has got me thinking about the fashions of the day, and how it was interpreted all over the world, not just upper class England. In the nineteen teens, my great-great grandmother seems to have been quite the little clothes horse herself, although she had never seen a grand manor house. She was the daughter of a glass factory worker, the oldest of several children in a small rural town in a land that was just freshly minted with statehood. She was also quite the striking beauty and had a love for clothes. Meet Lula Mae!

She’s pictured above with her first husband, Jim, who was my great-great grandfather. This will be about 1910, their wedding photo. I have this photo blown up huge and displayed in my living room. I think they are so just beautiful. I love her elaborate hat and beautiful white dress. She’s got a nice parasol and he’s wearing his best suit, which he seems to wear in most of the photos he gets his picture taken in. They met in Caney, Kansas before settling in my home town in northeastern Oklahoma, probably around the time of the notorious Titanic.
I love the full length portraits like these, you can see everything from the flowers on the hat to the types of shoes they wore. This year high waisted skirts seem to be in fashion, and Lula is pictured here with her younger sister Grace and an ‘unidentified gentleman.’ Lula’s familiar stance with him seems a little risque since I know this wasn’t her husband. I do know she had a twin brother. Could it be him? Or was she a brash flirt? Her lips are sealed on this…
Another photo of Lula Mae, her sister Grace, and a small child that may have been a younger sibling or perhaps Lula Mae’s son, Jesse, who would be my great-grandfather. I love their dresses and the neat silhouette they form. I think what I like best about this era just before the flapper age erupted so much because the silhouettes are so simple and mostly natural. No elaborate bustles or crinolines or mounds of wasted fabric. Everything was much more tailored and it was the little things that captured the eye— pretty tucks or lace edges or embroidery. I love the little details of her gloves with the watch over it, and Grace’s ring. Even the little boy’s shoes are finely detailed and adorable. Oh, to have such toddler clothes today! I can’t even imagine a toddler in pantaloons now 🙂
This is Lula and her little family with Jim. I know very little about him, although I’m in the midst of some family research. Evidently he had a long illness that Lula Mae nursed him through and died when their son was about 6 years old. At that time Lula was only in her mid-twenties, and already a widow with a young child. She had a second chance at luck in love, however, when she remarried a local businessman who owned a mattress factory in town and was widowed with his own young son, exactly the same age as her Jesse. They were an early blended family that evidently worked well, since Jesse would grow up and give his first son his step-father’s name as a middle name.

And here is Lula Mae, in the mid 1920s, with her son Jesse. Don’t their outfits just smack of refined taste? I’m always in awe of the beautifully detailed clothes, they seem to be of such fine quality. They were never more than normal middle class folks, but Lula seemed bent on having a few fine things and loved showing them off for the camera. She was a youth of her time, no doubt. Moving pictures were invented, the telephone came to be in homes and businesses, oil was booming in Oklahoma and people who had never had fine things were suddenly finding themselves able to dream of bigger and better lives. And I have a feeling she was probably a little mischevious and lots of fun. She knew how to dress, no doubt about that!

Hope you’ve enjoyed this little peek at some long-past fashion~!
Til next time,

12 thoughts on “Edwardian Era, Okie Style

  1. My great-grandmother has her parents' wedding photo framed at her house. They were married in Hobart, OK in the late nineteen-teens. Your family seems quite a bit more genteel than mine. I don't think southern Oklahoma was ever a lucrative place to farm!You're so lucky to have such a nice selection of family photos. I'm glad you're giving them a good home! I feel sad to see all those unclaimed photos at antique stores.


  2. Thank you for posting your family photos! I love all the little details – Lula's hat in the fourth photo is fabulous, as is the tucking around the waist of her dress. So elegant!


  3. Thank you for sharing these precious, beautiful, and amazing photographs Heather. The change in style between the first and the last leaps out at you! I have a few photographs of my grandmother Eva from a similar era (she was born in 1903) but she sadly burnt most of them after her husband died. She was another beauty.


  4. These are wonderful!! It's great you have all these beautiful photographs, and the stories to go along with them. Lula Mae is such a lovely name, too. My mother's side of the family were old Mississippi plantation owners, and I really wish we had more photographs of them.And as much as I adore the refined high society aesthetics like Downton Abbey, I must confess, it's the everyday folks of rural America that I find most inspiring and enchanting. Thank you for sharing!


  5. Great photos Heather, I really love to see what folks were wearing back in the good old days! I have a box of family photos from back then as well and I take them out and look at them often and wonder what they were thinking or planning and did their lives work out the way they thought they would.Really lovely post!Tina xo


  6. These photos are simply amazing. Thank you for sharing a piece of your family history, Heather. Lula Mae was so beautiful and definitely had amazing clothing. I adore looking at old family photos – there are none from my father's side, but I always enjoy looking through my grandmother's old photo albums.


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