Indoor and outdoor ice skating was a popular pastime in the Edwardian era. Edwardian women wore specially made skating costumes. Edwardian skating costumes were made out of wool or velvet with short skirts and matching jackets. ‘The correct skating costume is of a rough material, with skirt shorter than the ordinary and a half fitted jacket of three-quarter length, while the hat should be small and should fit snugly on the head.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 3 January 1909)
‘The Winter Girl is seen at her best muffled in her velvets and furs, gliding like a true queen over the ice.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 1907)
‘With laughter and delighted greetings and in the highest of high spirits San Francisco’s young people met on Monday night for the first of the season’s skating parties. They were unfeignedly glad to be together again […] From 8:30 o’clock until nearly midnight the enthusiasm lasted without an instant’s break, and perfect music and a perfect floor did their share to make the evening pleasant. It was a large meeting, more than 200 persons were there’ (San Francisco Call, 1907).
Edwardian Skating Costumes
‘Of all sports that of skating is surely the most delightful; unquestionably it is the most invigorating and most health giving, and the girl who can not skate forfeits half of the pleasures of winter. For the city girl a few lessons taken in a rink will give her sufficient idea of balance and of the rudiments of the sport to make it possible to soon become a proficient skater on real ice.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 3 January 1909)
Becoming Skating Costumes
‘It’s every bit as essential to have a skating costume perfect in its way as it is to possess the correct style of reception gown or ball dress, and it is the greatest mistake to think that any old dress will pass muster simply because it is to be put to hard usage.’ (Marin Journal, 1907)
‘In order to be a true sport it is not necessary for a girl to array herself like a tomboy in unbecoming, ungainly garments simply because these chance to be particularly practical […] It is quite as possible for a skating or toboggan costume to be at one time becoming and in keeping with the sport as it is for a party frock to be both pretty and suitable for the occasion, and the […] clever skater will elicit double the admiration if she herself looks charming and smartly gowned. On the other hand, there is the reverse extreme to be avoided. Nothing is in worse taste than any elabration or costliness in a gown for country or out of door wear.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 3 January 1909)
Short Skating Skirts
‘To be correct a skating skirt should be unusually short – if becoming it need come but an inch or so below the high boot – for if too long it will be continually catching in the skate and, besides, will quickly become damp from the ice.’ (Marin Journal, 1907)
‘The length of the skirts is […] short enough to avoid every danger of the skates catching and yet not so exaggeratedly short as to look awkward and conspicuous […] while the cut and hang of the skirt makes it seem entirely different from the short skirt worn for any other purpose..’ (Los Angeles Herald, 31 January 1909)
‘For outdoor skating a good length of skirt is one which reaches just to the top of the laced boots, but for the girl whose skirt is still short this one may be of the same length as the rest of her gowns.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 3 January 1909)
Skating Skirts – Close At The Hip & Wide At The Hem
‘The new skirts are charming. They fit closely the figure, but are given sufficient flare below the hips to allow of plenty of fulness and swing – a too scant skirt is ugliest of all for skating, then just around the hem there is considerable width’ (Los Angeles Herald, 31 January 1909).
‘Plaited skirt are not worn this year, but a skirt to be comfortable to skate in should have greater width and flare than is given in the regular fashionable model this season. An excellent style of skirt is one that closely resembles the old golf skirt of heavy tweed, made circular, with a deep double stitched hem at the feet to keep the material from blowing about in the wind. A plain gored skirt is also good for the purpose, but no matter what the design the material should be of fairly heavy quality.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 3 January 1909)
The skirt ‘should be full, but have as few points as possible, for it is a nuisance to have this style of skirt constantly pressed off, and yet plaits that have “come out” are exceedingly ugly.’ (Marin Journal, 1907)
Hip Length Skating Coats
‘A plain three-quarter or hip length coat with fitted or semi-fitted back and box front is altogether the smartest model. The so called three-quarter jackets are some inches shorter than those of last year, and save in the elaborate coats for afternoon there are few of the long models. Long sleeves with turned back cloth or fur cuffs are alone sensible.’ (Marin Journal, 1907)
‘All in one piece, or so fashioned as to appear as though cut in one, are many of the smartest gowns, for the length of the coat is a serious matter when every additional inch is dreaded, and yet short jackets are not fashionable. The long coat is not extremely practical, for it gives additional weight that is not to be desired, the knickerbockers and the skirt being all that is necessary in the way of warmth, while the short jacket or waist protects the upper part of the body.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 31 January 1909)
‘Strange to say, the Directoire coat, with its loose back and trimmings of straps and buttons, does not look too exaggerated for a skating costume’ (Los Angeles Herald, 3 January 1909).
‘The jacket for a skating costume should be made full large, to allow of a sweater being worn underneath, as there will be few days so mild as to make this added protection unnecessary. The old Norfolk jacket is an excellent model for this dress. A medium three-quarter length is best for a skating jacket, as, unless it is extremely cold, too long a coat is a great inconvenience. Straps of the same material or of leather may be used on this coat, and leather collar, revers and cuffs are always smart on the Norfolk jackets.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 3 January 1909)
Fur Lined Wraps
‘Save in the most bitterly cold weather a fur coat is too warm for skating, and it will be but seldom that an ordinary well interlined coat, with sweater underneath and perhaps a wide fur collar or stole, will not be sufficiently warm. An extra wrap will be necessary, however, to slip on whenever an occasional rest is indulged in, and for this a medium length fur lined cloth coat is most useful. This wrap will be especially attractive if made of the same color as the rest of the costume.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 3 January 1909)
Accessories For The Edwardian Skating Costume
‘The accessories […] should be most carefully worked out if the skating costume is to be really smart. Upon the veil, gloves and boots much of the effect of the whole will depend.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 3 January 1909)
‘The Winter Girl of today does not look very unlike her grandmother, inasmuch as the revival of long-ago styles has brought them back in a slightly modified form. We have the huge, flat granny muffs, the large roll style […] the broad scarfs reaching to the shoulder, the quaint boas with ends tossing back to float in the wind, and the little fur toques with breasts of flowers clustered at the sides.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 1907)
Small Skating Hats
‘Smalls hats and turbans are best for skating, as the wind cannot so readily find its way under the brim; besides, veils are more easily adjusted’ (Los Angeles Herald, 1907). ‘There is nothing prettier or more suitable for skating than the small hat, and if it seems too flat or dull, then the high, narrow feathers (not ostrich tips) and stiff aigrettes can be relied upon to give the smarter appearance that is considered so desirable.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 31 January 1909)
Fur Toques & Turbans
‘A small hat is essential for skating, as any width of brim will make out of door life in windy weather a misery instead of a pleasure. The little fur turbans that can be bought so reasonably at this time of year make about the best skating hat procurable. Black fur is, perhaps, the most useful, as it can be worn with any gown, but the brown mink or fox and the gray squirrel will prove intensely becoming, besides being more youthful for young girls. The white toques are exceedingly becoming also, and these are undoubtedly the most effective of all.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 3 January 1909)
‘For the moment the toques and the turbans are receiving most unanimous approval and certainly they are becoming and smart. […]The long haired furs are the more popular this season in hats, but there are a few of the broadtail and caracul still to be noticed; sealskin has never been classed with the long haired furs, but the imitation sealskin is, generally speaking, longer than the real, and it is probably for that reason this year that the fashionable fur toques and turbans include sealskin.
There are many distinct varieties in these hats, the round, large shapes having been until now the smartest, but just within a short time have appeared larger, more irregular shapes in fur that have met with instant approval. They also are enlivened by the big curled feathers, the well known Mephistopheles feathers, the height of which reaches beyond the bounds of reason in many instances.
Swansdown, white and dyed, and mar about toques are charmingly becoming and are worn, as are the fur turbans, with skating and walking costumes, but they are really not so suitable.
Soft Cloth & Velvet Hats
Then there are the fascinatingly becoming soft shaped hats in these same shapes but made of cloth or velvet or a combination of both these materials. Embroidered velvet combined with plain velvet or with cloth is extremely effective, while for evening the velvet toques and turbans with bands of jet are more and more in favor.
There is no style of that so generally becoming as the turban nor one capable of so many different effects. In its harsh, uncompromising outline it is, however, to be avoided, for the same lines that are becombing and soft when shaped artistically with material of becoming color and texture are most trying and hard if left to themselves in a too distinct outline. A stiff brim covered with velvet is, for instance, too hard and unbecoming, while the same brim covered with velvet put on in soft effect is invariably becoming. For this reason the feather and fur toques are always popular, as of necessity they give the soft outline.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 31 January 1909)
‘A chiffon veil is the best, as it will not let the biting winds chap the face so readily as an open mesh, which is no protection at all, save that it acts in the capacity of net in keeping stray hairs in their place.
To those women who suffer from headache or neuralgia when facing the wind, be sure to wear a veil and see that the nape of the neck is well protected. Also wear the hair low on the forehead. While these may seem trifling considerations they really offer more protection than the uninitiated would suspect.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 1907)
‘The girl with straight hair will do well to wear a fine thread veil with her little fur toque. The veil will not show, but her short ends of hair will be kept from blowing in her eyes and the veil will also help somewhat to keep her hat in place. Veils are not generally considered in good taste for a girl whose hair is not yet up on her head, and she should centainly not wear a dotted veil or one of a conspicuous pattern, but if her hair is not still worn hanging loose or in a braid, this fine veil is quite permissible.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 3 January 1909)
Skating Gloves & Boots
‘In gloves, heavy pigskin or gray castor are both smart, while for the country fur lined leather or white woolen gloves are equally popular, the woollen being of course the more thoroughly comfortable as well as the more durable.
High brown laced boots are now the accepted skating shoes. A laced boot is practically obligatory for skating and the higher this shoe the more comfortable it will be. These boots can be lined with a soft fleece for the girl who suffers in cold weather, but as a rule heavy brown stockings will be sufficient.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 3 January 1909)
‘Laced boots have quite gone out of fashion. They may be worn for skating or for golf, but with a street costume they are very inappropriate.‘ (The Delineator, 1904)
Edwardian Skating Costumes For Skating Rinks
‘For indoor skating a rather more elaborate style of dress is worn than is considered appropriate for the country. A simple but pretty gown throughout of smooth cloth or serge will be warm enough for active exercise, with a fur or fur lined coat to put on the moment that one leaves the ice.
It is essential that the wrap be very warm and the dress itself not too heavy, as in a rink the damp air is peculiarly penetrating, although the cold is scarcely noticeable while one is actually skating. If proper precautions are taken that the coat be put on immeadiately one sits down and that too heavy garments are not worn while on the ice there is little or no danger of taking cold in a rink, but so soon as the skater becomes overheated and then rests in the damp, unnatural atmosphere a risk is incurred.
An ordinary walking suit with a silk or wash waist can be worn in a rink provided there is an extra wrap also at hand. The skirt is of course longer for indoors, and as the skates lift one some two inches from the ice the regular school dress will serve perfectly. Light colors are also often seen in a rink, the pastel blues and soft raspberry pinks and old rose being especially pretty. A gown throughout of deep pink cloth with a long fur lined cloak of the same shade, trimmed with mink or white fox and a hat of the same fur, makes an extremely attractive skating costume.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 3 January 1909)
‘The general tendency last year was to wear tailored suits to the rink with small hats and occasional furs […] But […] it was noticeable that in several cases the severe street dress had given place to a more elaborate costume, and more than one girl was bareheaded, which certainly makes for a far prettier effect.’ (San Francisco Call, 1907)
‘There is little of the practical but much of the picturesque in some of the gowns to be seen at any of the indoor rinks in Europe or America, but there is an immense amount of charm about them […] A skirt of cloth or a plain velvet with a fancy coat of brocaded velvet trimmed with fur and worn with a fur toque to correspond won admiration last season and has been copied again this winter with just a few small modifications to make it up to date.
The original model was in a brilliant shade of blue; this year it has appeared in gray and green, but with the same lines and general smart effect. A black velvet costume trimmed with black fox fur and worn with a black velvet toque with soft but high crown of red velvet has been also popular and has been copied in velveteen and corduroy at much less expense.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 31 January 1909)
Colors Of Edwardian Skating Costumes
Skating Costumes In All Colors
‘Brown, green and dark blue are all serviceable colors, while the lighter shades are sure to be attractive if not quite so useful.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 3 January 1909)
‘All colors have been worn, wine-reds, brown, blue and myrtle greens, but gray has possibly been favored more than other shades, owing to its extensive vogue. Black, also, is distinctive, and especially attractive with ermine or white fox, though the velvet rubs off on these perishable, immaculate furs in a most undesirable fashion.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 1907)
‘Corduroy makes a most attractive skating costume. A color that is pecularly becoming should be selected, for the dress must be most simply made, relieved only by the fur collar at the throat and possibly by some bright shade in the hat. Red is most effective and is always charming for winter. White corduroy is scarcely practical, but, trimmed with mink or sable, it would be difficult to conceive of a more charming costume. Any rough cloth is better than one with a smooth finish, and the bright shades of blue, red, green or brown are all attractive against the dark fur.’ (Marin Journal, 1907)
Red & White Is Fashionable
‘The best color for a skating dress depends, of course, wholly upon the wearer, but red, if it is at all becoming, is sure to look charming, and all reds, from the deepest in tone to the most brilliant, have ever been the favorites for this style of dress. […] Corduroy is an excellent material for hard wear, and even in the light shades is frequently made use of for the skating costumes. Even white corduroy will not prove such a bad investment, as the material can be either washed or cleaned, and for the girl who spends all or a great part of her winter out of town a white corduroy costume will give an attractive change from the darker shades that have such constant wear.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 3 January 1909)
Blue Cloth Skating Costume Trimmed With Mink
A smart skating costume may be made of pastel blue cloth, with a simple cloth waist, short full skirt and plain three-quarter jacket. To be slipped on after skating in this suit, a long loose fur lined coat of the same shade of cloth, trimmed with wide mink collar, revers and cuffs, is a charming combination. A little blue velvet toque trimmed only with mink head and tails sets off this skating suit to advantage.’ (Marin Journal, 1907)
In Blue Velveteen
A stunning model in sapphire blue velveteen […] The skirt is perfectly plain, circular, and tight-fitting, having circular cut fronts. The new shaped collar and muff are of ermine.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 1907)
Materials & Trimmings Of Edwardian Skating Costumes
Sturdy Wool Fabrics
Rough tweed, homespun, heavy ribbed serge, cheviot and camel’s hair cloth all are excellent for a skating costume, while for a rather smarter style of costume corduroy is exceptionally pretty. The coarse ribbed serges are perhaps newer than any other of these textures, and in the bright reds and warm taupes and browns are most attractive. […] many of the rough serges are made in a much modified Directoire design that is extremely smart.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 3 January 1909)
‘Cloth costumes this winter are most attractive, and there are many women who contend that cloth is far better than velvet or corduroy for skating costumes, the cloth possessing so much more warmth in itself, while the other fabrics have to be made warm by so much lining and interlining, all efforts being in the direction of as much warmth with as little weight as can be obtained without flying in the face of fashion’s dictates.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 31 January 1909)
Velvet & Corduroy For Elegant Skating Costumes
‘Skating costumes are essential in every thorough winter outfit […] Velvet, velveteen and corduroy have always been popular materials for the picturesque style of skating costume and are acknowledged by every one to be the most becoming of all fabrics.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 31 January 1909)
‘No material is quite so wintry and elegant in combination with furs as velvet […] Corduroy and velveteen are more often employed than silk velvet. They are less expensive, and when a good quality is purchased, quite as durable as the finer grade of velvet.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 1907)
‘It is better to have the collar and sleeves directly lined, or, rather, faced, with fur or to have a double fur collar attached to the coat than to wear a separate stole or boa, which is sure to be continually slipping off and so be a constant form of annoyance. A brilliant red cheviot trimmed with mink or brown marten worn with a hat of the same kind of fur does not make such an expensive costume, and nothing could be more effective.’ (Marin Journal, 1907)
Fur Trimmed Cloth Skirts
The ‘width [of the skirt] is emphasized by the trimming, which now consists of fur, as for the moment fur trimmed skirts are considered extremely smart. There is one style with two bands about a foot apart, another with just one band and two or three other designs, one of which consists of the two bands with the addition of cross pieces of fur. […]
Red cloth trimmed with the skunk fur so very popular this winter makes up most effectively, but, there are shades of blue and green that are in constant demand. These are trimmed with the same fur or with bands of mink. The most costly of all the fur trimmed gowns are made of velvet and trimmed with chinchilla. A gray velvet with this fur is exquisite in coloring and, almost without exception, is becoming.
Inexpensive Faux Fur
All fur skating costumes are to be ranked with the most costly, for as a rule the unborn Persian lamb, the finest of baby caracul or sealskin is chosen. This year there are so many imitations of sealskin, real fur dyed and dressed to look like seals, but quite inexpensive in comparison. The one piece gown is the best in this style of costume, or the long fitted coat that entirely covers any gown worn beneath it. […]
After all, although it may be an age of luxury, at the same time never was it so possible for the woman of moderate meas to look well dressed at comparatively small cost. There are good colors to be found in fabrics that will wear quite long enough to be desirable. There are so many different styles of trimming, even in fur, that a careful search will discover so many models displayed in shops and fashion publications.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 31 January 1909)
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10 thoughts on “Edwardian Skating Costumes”
This is an amazing post! Thanks for sharing it. My daughter does costume design and sells on Etsy. She is currently working on a project for a music video set in Edwardian time and is sketching out her design ideas. Your post will be such a blessing to her! If you want to look her up, she’s at bellamaesdesigns.com and at the same name on Instagram.
Thanks for stopping by, Terry!
What an amazing post—-I really loved the old articles and the films are amazing. Thanks you so much for putting this together!
Thanks, Sandi! 🙂
So interesting, thanks for sharing! I especially love the usage of the word “toque” because that is what we call a winter hat here in Canada.
ps: I found your post through thr link up on The Modest Mom ☺️
Very informative post. I never knew there were specific clothing for skating for women and that the skirts were shorter. Where did you get all the videos? Nice addition!
Thanks, Alice! 🙂 In the Edwardian era, there were specific clothes for everything: for walking, for business, for the seaside, for morning, for dinner parties … 😉 And the videos are on youtube, published by British Pathe and Eye, both have many old videos if you’re interested.
How interesting and informative! I really liked the imagery included in the post. I usually wear jeans and a sweater to the skating rink. I need to step up my wardrobe game 🙂 Thanks for sharing. Dropping by from the Traffic Jam Weekend #173 Link Up.
Thanks for stopping by! 🙂