Month: October 2016

1920s – a Head for Fashion

Wedding gowns often reflect the fashions of their era and so photos from the 1920s can be dated by various clues such as sleeve style, neck line and dress length. Some brides did choose to wear their mother’s or grandmother’s wedding gown which can be misleading. However if the bride wore an older style dress she often updated her hair style and veil. In group wedding photos the attire of the bridesmaids and wedding guests can also provide useful information as to the date.

1920s Bridal Head-dress

1920s veil

Bridal Headgear

At the beginning of the Twentieth century Bridal Head-gear was worn much higher than later the in the 1920s.

1900 Rosina Nelson
1907 Rose Merry
1910 Bridal Veil
1918 Dorothy Carter


In the 1920s Mob caps were  fashionable as bridal headdresses. A mob cap was a large cap or bonnet covering much of the hair, typically of light cotton with a frilled edge. Sometimes it was tied under the chin with ribbon and was worn indoors by women in the 18th and early 19th centuries. In the Victorian period, mob caps had become the head covering of servants and nurses. However the 1920s saw a resurgence of the mob cap in bridal wear.




 1921 Dorothy Greaves – Mob Cap style headdress and veil

Later in the 1920s brides favoured lace cloche headdresses, some of which would be encircled with flowers. Veils were usually made of silk materials and decorated with flowers and leaves. Orange Blossom was often used to decorate the head-dress.

Tiaras, veils and headbands were all worn low over the forehead in the 1920s.


1922 Double Wedding with veils worn low over the forehead.

A Juliet cap was a small open-work crocheted or mesh cap, often decorated with pearls or beads and worn with evening gowns and bridal wear. The cap was named after the heroine of  Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and was often worn with a long cathedral-length veil in the 1920’s. 

1929 People's Home Journal

1929 People’s Home Journal


Western Morning NewsMonday 10 December 1928

1928 Juliet Cap of lace and pearls



In the 1920s White Russian emigres fleeing revolution and civil war influenced the fashion scene. Thousands of Russians fled to escape the Bolshevik revolution and many immigrant women found work in French couture houses using their skills in embroidery and knowledge of traditional Russian patterns. Designs influenced by Russian peasant costumes became popular. One fashionable design was based on a Russian girl’s headdress called a kokoshnik.


In 1922 the heiress Edwina Ashley married Lord Louis Mountbatten  and wore a Russian inspired pointed coronet.


Miss Irene Hill was noted as having a `fashionable wedding’ in India and wore a Russian coronet of orange-blossom.


Exeter and Plymouth GazetteTuesday 25 August 1925

I am fascinated by this wonderful photo taken of Helen Fry Kingston wearing a most impressive Russian kokoshnik style headdress at her wedding in Queensland, Australia in 1929.

1929 Perrett Kingston Wedding

1929 Helen Fry Kingston and Francis J Perrett

At another 1929 wedding Minnie East has a much simpler headdress. However it is still worn low down 1920s style.


1929 Minnie East


Western Morning NewsFriday 01 April 1927

1921 Bridal Veil
1922 Bridal veil
1922 Edwina Ashley
1923 Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
1925 Bridal Veil and Orange Blossom
1927 Louisa George Bridal Veil
1929 Minnie East Wedding Veil
1929 Perrett Kingston Wedding Head-dress


Picture Hats


Alternatively a hat was worn by the bride and or bridesmaids. We often see wide-brimmed picture hats until mid decade when the neat cloche became the most fashionable style.

Larger picture-hats were often called vagabond style.


Dundee Evening TelegraphWednesday 12 October 1927


Chelmsford ChronicleFriday 20 August 1920 



1922 Wedding party with wide-brimmed Picture hats


1923 Picture hats


At this wedding reported in 1929 the bride wore a black velvet picture hat and the bridesmaid wore the newer style cloche hat.


Cloche hats


The cloche hat or simply cloche was a fitted, bell-shaped hat for women that was invented in 1908 by milliner Caroline Reboux. They became popular from about 1922 to 1933. The name is derived from cloche, the French word for “bell”. A Cloche hat had a basic bell contour with a bulbous crown which if correctly designed could add inches to the height of the wearer. The hat had to be all but pulled over the eyes, making the wearer have to lift up the head, whilst peering snootily down the nose. Brims became smaller as the decade progressed.

1926 Cloche Hats
1927 Cloche Hats

I have found references to not only ivory and black coloured cloche hats worn by brides and bridesmaids, but also a lot of colour.


1925 Edith Punchard wore an ivory lace cloche with clusters of pale yellow flowers


Exeter and Plymouth GazetteThursday 21 May 1925

1925 Bride Hilda Webber wore a blue & silver shot cloche hat trimmed with forget-me-nots.


Exeter and Plymouth GazetteTuesday 28 April 1925

1924 small blue cloche hat trimmed with tuft of paradise feathers.


North Devon JournalThursday 12 June 1924


Blue seemed to be a popular colour choice influenced by the royal weddings in the early 1920s. Princess Mary chose blue as the colour for her bridesmaid dresses and the colour became known as Princess Mary blue.


Grantham JournalSaturday 25 February 1922

Many brides wore a veil for the marriage ceremony, but chose to wear a cloche hat to go on honeymoon.

Bridesmaids veils

Another interesting feature of 1920s weddings is that bridesmaids sometimes wore veils! This can make it difficult to distinguish the bride in photos.



1922 Princess Mary’s bridesmaid veils

Nancy Davidson chose veils of primrose-coloured net for her bridesmaids to tone with their primrose coloured chiffon dresses fastened with blue sashes. They carried bouquets of blue delphiniums. I was delighted to have found these descriptions. Black and White photos look so drab and give no impression of the colours.


Sheffield IndependentThursday 20 June 1929

Winifred Griffiths also favoured blue as a colour. Her bridesmaids wore blue  satin dresses with head dresses of blue net fastened with wreaths of forget me nots.


Buckingham Advertiser and Free PressSaturday 25 May 1929


In the 1920s bridesmaids did sometimes wear white veils which were very similar to the bride. While in modern times a bridesmaid is expected to assist the bride, her duties were regarded as of a more serious nature in earlier days. A custom once existed where maidens dressed similarly to the bride would accompany her as her protectors on her way to the groom’s village. This would deflect spurned suitors from kidnapping the bride or from stealing her dowry. Roman law once required witnesses to come to weddings in order to confuse evil spirits as to the identity of the bride and groom. This meant that female wedding attendants came to a marriage ceremony in garments very similar to the bride’s, This supposedly threw off bad luck that could be directed towards an easily identifiable bride and groom. In the 1920s it seems to be more of a case of fashion being influenced by the past than superstition influencing fashion.

Bandeau Headpieces


During the first half of the 1920s women wore decorative bands across the forehead with evening and party dresses and this head decoration was reflected in bridal headpieces. Bridal Fashion introduced Bandeau headdresses in the later 1920s.



Derby Daily TelegraphFriday 07 December 1928 

However clearly this Derbyshire vicar had strong views on `Modern Wedding Attire’. I’m therefore sure that Lady Edith would have kept her veil on for her wedding and not just worn a bandeau.



Flower girls – mob caps and dutch caps

There was also a fashion to have young flower girls in addition to bridesmaids. Little girls carrying flower baskets might wear puff-sleeved dresses and mob caps, emulating  the historical Kate Greenaway style.


Western Daily PressMonday 24 June 1929





1927 Wedding Louisa George

Not only the small flower girls, but also the chief bridesmaid is wearing a simple mob cap at this wedding. I must admit they look like  shower caps to me!


Western Morning NewsWednesday 11 June 1924


1926 Edith Amelia Polglass Wedding


1925  I much prefer the flower girls bonnets chosen by Dorothy Jones

Dutch Caps

Another distinctive bridesmaids head wear was the wired cap with horizontal wings that resembled a Dutch head-dress. This style looks like a fashion faux pas to me. However Edwina Ashley chose Dutch caps for her bridesmaids dresses when she married Louis Mountbatten so maybe I’m missing something!


Western Morning NewsTuesday 18 July 1922







Western Morning NewsTuesday 13 December 1927 

Hopefully I have given a few clues to identifying 1920s wedding photos from the headgear worn.  Next time I will be looking at the dresses themselves.


1922 Double wedding of siblings William and Jane Pomfret




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Mallorcan Flowers

Plumnbago Watercolour
Bougainvillea watercolour
Lantana camera sketch

Last month I had a wonderful relaxing holiday staying at the Monnaber Nou Hotel in the middle of the Mallorcan countryside. The name Monnaber means ‘Hill of Flowers’ and the hotel is surrounded by a beautiful landscape of fruit trees typical of Mallorca including almonds, figs, pomegranate, carobs and olives.

monnaber nou sketch

Monnaber Nou itself had an abundance of flowers for me to enjoy. I had a wonderful time pottering with my sketchbook, wildflower books and my camera.

Holiday Sketchbook

Latana camera is widely cultivated and naturalised in Mallorca. The shrub can grow up to 1.5m. The flowers are usually yellow or orange, changing to red, or all yellow or all red. I spotted some very pretty pink and mauve flowers too. The fruit is a small black berry.

Lantana camera sketch

Lantana camera sketch






Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is an impressive exotic looking deciduous shrub growing up to 3m. The leaves are deep green and shiny. The flowers are  bright rose-red with prominent protruding red staminal column and stigmas. The shrub is widely planted in parks and gardens or along roadsides. Other colours include apricot, white, cream, pink and yellow.



Hibiscus watercolour

Hibiscus watercolour

Hibiscus pen and wash

hibiscusMallorcan Posy

It’s always a very pleasant challenge sketching by the pool whilst drinking a cocktail or two on holiday!

monnaber nou campanet

monnaber nou campanet


I am particularly fond of the beautiful magenta climber Bougainvillea. It’s one of those plants which symbolises sunny, Mediterranean holidays to me. The flowers themselves are actually insignificant whitish blooms, but surrounded by large leaf-like purple bracts.


Bougainvillea watercolour



Bougainvillea Posy


In the grounds of Monnaber Nou I spotted the aptly named Four O’Clock Plant, Mirabilis jalapa. It is so named because its flowers usually open in the afternoon. The one I spotted liked to open an hour later at Five O’Clock!

Four-o clock-plant

Another flowering shrub frequently planted in gardens and on roadsides is Oleander. The flowers can be pink, red or white and grow in dense clusters. The Oleander flowers through the height of Summer when many other Mediterranean plants are past their best.






The other Mallorcan flowering shrub I am particularly fond of is Cape Leadwort or Plumbago auriculata. This scrambling shrub has beautiful sky-blue flowers. I remember picking a few snippets of Plumbago and Jasmine to decorate my favourite sunhat last year.

Mallocan Hat

plumbagoplumbagoPlumnbago Watercolourplumbago

I spotted quite a few vibrant blue Mallorcan flowers this year. At home I valiantly battle to try to eradicate the bindweed in our garden. However Morning Glory, Ipomoea purpurea is in the same family and really is very attractive with it’s bright blue flowers.  It has naturalised in hedges and roadsides in Mallorca and is also grown in gardens




Another tiny blue flower that caught my eye was the Blue Pimpernel. It was poking through the wooden slats near the pool and I almost missed it. It was close to a Scarlet Pimpernel, Anagallis arvensis which got me quite excited!


Mallorcan countrytside

Mallorcan sketch


The hills behind Monnaber Nou are very rugged and the ground was completely parched in September. I enjoyed a few early morning runs amongst the olive and carob trees. There wasn’t much to be seen in flower except the very brown looking Carlina thistle, Carlina corymbosa. I didn’t think this thistle was very attractive until I looked more closely. Then I saw the beauty of the fluffy, yellow flowers. This thistle likes dry, stony places.


Carlina corymbosa


Mallorcan countryside


On a couple of afternoons I had a stroll with my camera and saw Sea Squill, Urginea maritima. Sea Squill is one of the Mediterranean’s characteristic plants. It flowers in late Summer after the glossy leaves have died away. It grows from a huge bulb, up to 15 cm across, which is often half buried in the ground. The flowering stem gradually develops after the leaves have withered and can be up to 150 cm high. This bears several hundred star like flowers.




Sea Squill SketchSea Squill Sketch

Another plant adapted to the climate and steep rocky ground is the Century Plant, Agave americana. This is a very robust perennial, up to 7 m tall in flower. The bluish grey-green leaves are very large, spear shaped and form basal rosettes close to the ground.





Many species of Cactus are cultivated including the Prickly Pears, Opuntia ficus-indica. Found on rocky hillslopes, cliffs and roadsides. It was introduced from the Americas by Christopher Columbus. The fruits are often seen for sale in markets.


Prickly Pears

In the grounds at Monnaber I also spotted a Squirting Cucumber, Ecballium elaterium. The small green fruit, like a small cucumber explodes suddenly when ripe, squirting the seeds out in a pulpy liquid.


This is just a taste of the flowers I saw on my holidays this year. I hope you enjoyed my Mallorcan  Floral snippets as much as I did!

Flower Sketch




Mallorcan Posy

monnaber nou campanet


Monnaber Nou Hotel, Campanet, Mallorca



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