1902 Austin Coom & Rosina Nelson-1

1900 Wedding of Austin Coom and Rosina Nelson

The Edwardian era is the period covering the reign of King Edward VII 1901 to 1910, and is frequently extended beyond Edward’s death to include the four years leading up to World War I. I have chosen two photos to look at which represent the very beginning and end of this period in history.

1914 Wedding

1914 Wedding of Albert Arnold and Florence Birch

 Dress Fashion

1903 Silhouette

The sleeves of the early 1900s wedding dress are much fuller as are the skirts. The older members of the 1900 photo are wearing tailor-made suits typically late Victorian/Early Edwardian. The sleeve caps are less puffy than the earlier leg of mutton. After 1898 sleeves reverted to a more modest proportion for tailor-made suits. Interesting that for bridal fashion sleeves were fuller.

1902 Wedding


The later Edwardian wedding dress has closer fitting sleeves at the forearm. The sleeves have lost the bloused fullness of the early 1900s. Late decade styles simplified dresses and brought about a slimmer silhouette, with less fabric in the skirts, foreshadowing the changes yet to be seen in the 1920s. It’s not possible to see the waistline. However waistlines tended to rise in the period 1908 – 1913, reaching Empire line by 1913.

1910 Wedding   

Edwardian Hats

The first decade of 1900 saw a variety of hat shapes. In my 1900 photo the mother of the bride is wearing a toque – a brimless hat which is worn high.

Edwardian Toque Hat

1900 Wedding Toque Hat

Dundee CourierTuesday 14 October 1902

1902 Wedding toque

In the Edwardian period it was quite common for bridesmaids to wear hats as shown by our two photos.

1900 Bridesmaid Hat

The bridesmaids hats are very different to the toque worn by the bride’s mother. They appear to have a shallow, wide crown reminiscent in shape to this Platter hat from the Early Edwardian period. The hats have been draped in ivory material and are sporting feathers and a brooch. It is difficult to date hats because women often remodelled hats with new trimming.

Edwardian Platter Hat 

A very useful book on fashion is Out of Style by Betty Kreisel Shubert. These illustrations are taken from her book. This is a valuable guide to vintage style and very helpful when trying to date family photos.

The hairstyle can also be important when dating pictures.  The pompadour was typical of the early Edwardian era. The style was revived as part of the Gibson Girl look in the 1890s and continued to be in vogue until World War I. Hair was swept upwards from the face and worn high over the forehead.

Ethel Spice

Early Edwardian Hairstyle

Our two photos don’t show examples of Edwardian Picture Hats. A Picture Hat was a woman’s highly decorated hat with a wider brim. and was a fashion continued from the Victorian Age. Picture Hats were worn high on the head and held in place by a hatpin. They were elaborately decorated with fabric, feathers and flowers. Our 1900 wedding hats don’t have the typical high crowns. The high pompodour hairstyles worked well with the style of these high-crowned hats.

Edwardian Hats

Edwardian Hat 3
Edwardian Hats 2
Early 1900

1900 Black Wedding Dress

1913 hats aigrettes

Framlingham Weekly NewsSaturday 04 January 1913

Aigrettes were used in the Edwardian period. An Aigrette is the tufted crest of the egret used to adorn hats and head-dresses. During the late 19th and early 20th century a fad for wearing fanciful aigrettes resulted in large numbers of egrets and other birds being slaughtered by plume hunters for the milinery industry. Ostrich feathers were also popular.

Edwardian Wedding Group 4


1910 Edwardian Hats

Later Edwardian hats became wider. As the Edwardian Era progressed the trim on hats decreased as the brim size increased. A Cart wheel hat was a wide brimmed circular or saucer-shaped design. It was made in a variety of materials, including straw or felt and usually had a low crown unlike the earlier picture hats.  Typically it was worn at an angle to show off the curve of the brim, rather than being worn at the back of the head. The cartwheel hat became popular in the years leading up to World War I. They could be covered in velvet, taffeta or silk and had more modest decoration than previously.

Cartwheel Hat

Downton Abbey Hat 1

Cartwheel hats required a different hairstyle. The hair was drawn more to the side with less height. This style was secured with long hat pins up to 12 inches long.

Late Edwardian Hairstyle
Edwardian Wedding Group 4
1909 Hat


The movement toward smaller hats began around 1913 where hats still had high crowns but smaller brims. Straw boaters, small top hats and mini versions of picture hats were very common. High crown hats were worn often sporting a bow and with more modest hairstyles. Our 1914 bridesmaids are wearing more modest hats of the Era.

1914 Wedding Hat
1913 Smaller Hats

Edwardian Accessories

A typically Edwardian accessory is a bar brooch or locket brooch worn at a high neckline. Both our 1900 and 1914 weddings show typical brooches of the Era.

1900 Bridesmaid Hat

1914 Wedding Choker



Edwardian Gold Bar Brooch

I found these examples of inexpensive gold brooches from the turn of the century in the book Understanding Jewellery by David Bennett and Daniela Mascetti.

It seems very likely that the brooches I inherited are of this Era as they are very similar in design.

Bar Brooch
Bar Brooch
Bar Brooch

In our 1900 photo the necklines are very high with no neck exposed. At the end of the Edwardian Era necklines were slightly lower. One of the ladies in the 1914 photo looks  like she is wearing a velvet choker. As high necked blouses gave way to a new fashion for slightly lower necklines the velvet choker appeared.

1914 Wedding Choker

1914 Wedding Corsage

The 1914 bridesmaids are modelling typical large Edwardian corsages instead of bouquets. A corsage originally referred to the bodice of a woman’s dress. Since a bouquet of flowers was often worn in the center of the bodice, the flowers took on the name “corsage.” Our modern sense of the corsage comes from the French “bouquet de corsage,” meaning “a bouquet of the bodice.” Corsages are made from a small bunch of flowers or a single bloom. The corsage was originally worn at the waist or the bodice of a dress.

I have written a more detailed blog post about Edwardian Bridal Bouquets. The Edwardian Era brought about a complete change of bouquet style from the neat Victorian Posy. In the above 1900 wedding the bouquets are still fairly round and neat in shape. Flowers with long stems and trailing plants became available at the flower market and the Edwardian Shower Bouquet became popular. This was characterized by long showers or trails of fern. Our 1914 bouquet is a neat wired shower bouquet by comparison and included a large statement Calla lily and Asparagus densiflorus and Asparagus setaceus ferns. The wedding was an early Spring wedding and the corsages seem to include Spring narcissi. The bride is wearing a traditional veil and wreath of orange blossoms in her hair.

1914 wedding

Edwardian Wedding Group

Some of the 1914 ladies are wearing shirt collars with either a tie, floppy artist bow or tie neck cravat with stick pin bar brooch. This was a typical later Edwardian look and was much more functional for all types of occupations.

1914 Wedding Choker

1905 School teacher

At the beginning of the century women wore the S-Bend corset, which was much more restrictive. The corset pushed the bosom forwards and the bottom backwards and constricted the waist to make it as small as possible.

S Bend Corset

Another clue in the 1914 photo is the boys wearing Edwardian Eton collars. I found a really useful site called the Photo Detective by Geoff Caulton and some of my information has been sourced from there.

Eton Collar
Eton Collars

1914 Wedding

I hope you’ve enjoyed my research. If you have any Edwardian  family photos I’d love to see them and maybe even replicate another Edwardian Bouquet!

Edwardian Style Bouquet









2 Comments on Dating Edwardian Photos

  1. Alexandra Higgins
    8th June 2016 at 8:57 am (5 years ago)

    Wow I came across you after someone mentioned you on a facebook post. What an interesting read. I think you should make this into a book . x

    • Patsy Smiles
      11th June 2016 at 9:59 pm (5 years ago)

      Really pleased you found my Blog and enjoyed reading about the history behind vintage photos. If I had the time I would write a book. In the mean time I enjoy sharing my knowledge for pleasure.


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