Maybe it’s padding? Maybe it’s posture? Maybe it’s both! Bianca Lyons 1902

Fashion in the early Edwardian period from 1900-1907ish was very focused on the hips. Corsets, supplemental padding, and fashion worked together to emphasize that area. Often in photographs women would stand in a way that would show off their figure in the most fashionable way, not unlike what we do in selfies today. However we rarely get to see this, because it is not often that two photos from the same studio portrait session are preserved together. However the Library of Congress has two photos of Bianca Lyons from 1902 in two poses, in the same dress, from the same session.

Bianca Lyons standing, 1902 Library of Congress
Bianca Lyons, leaning against a pillar 1902 Library of Congress

In both poses, you can see that she is probably wearing a hip pad such as the one Scott filed for a patent in 1901, which was approved in 1902. (I say probably because some women have this natural shape, and don’t need extra padding.)

Scott’s Hip pad patent, filed 1901, granted 1902

The second studio photo is a bit more suggestive, but also shows beautifully the hip shape and cut of her skirt. The skirt itself looks to be very straight, with either a gore inserted into the center back, or a sudden angle off the back seam.  In 1902 Redfern was also showing very tight, fitted evening dresses with long trains

Robe de bal, by Redfern 1902

Her corset was especially designed to accentuate the hips, probably similar in shape to style #2127. This style would become tremendously popular in 1905-06, and be known by several different names, “Hip Dip”, and “Princess Hip” were two of the most common.

Chas A Stevens, Fall Winter 1902-3 Catalog

So the next time you look at an Edwardian studio photo, remember that it’s padding and posture, combined with cut of the clothes, to get the right shape.

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