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,