A few Saturdays from now, our Ladies' Historical Tea Society will gather at White Hall, home of Cassius Clay, for an Edwardian-inspired picnic. It's for this event that I've been laboring over the lingerie dress, for which I made two skirts for other tea members, and helped a third with hers.
To put us all in the mood for the picnic, I thought to gather a series of photos of people of the day lolling, or sitting politely, as the occasion demanded, at picnics and outdoor events of their own. The pictures are such fun to look at; I hope they draw you in as much as they did me!
Many of these images are from a series of mostly outdoor photographs, taken in England, and collected by someone with the online name of Lovedaylemon and posted on Flickr.
Here is an informal picnic of 1910 or after, as judged by the women's straight-silhouetted dresses and lower necklines. As described by Lovedaylemon on Flickr, this was "a relaxed picnic with cups of tea, sandwiches, fairy cakes and a substantal fruit cake. " You can see a bridge in the background. Larger version
Here is a garden party of around the same period. It's a more formal occasion and may be cooler out...hence the women are wearing suits and hats. From Lovedaylemon on Flickr. Larger version
These folks are having tea out in a fenced field. Lovedaylemon doesn't know if the tent is for sleeping or just shelter, but I would vote for the latter. The ladies hats are quite nice, and it seems a bit nippy out, as some women are in jacketed suits. Larger version
Lovedaylemon titled this photo "Having tea by the sea". Our sitters must have been at a nice spot indeed, for they are very fashionably dressed, their hats ostrich-plumed, the lady on the right in a suit with lovely necklace, the lady on the left in an Empire-styled, high-waisted and very form-fitting dress. This photo would have been 1909-1912 or so judging by the styling. Larger version
By contrast, these young people, who had their photo taken and turned into a postcard on August 3, 1906, were of a less fashionable bent. Do read the postcard on Flickr; it's really neat. In 1906, women's dress was still pigeon-breasted and pouchy in the bodice, and separate lingerie blouse and skirt combinations were very popular. Only one lady here wears a matched bodice and skirt. Hats are smaller, and here, at this seaside resort and worn by less fashionable people, are less bedecked. However, the ladies wear their white gloves (note the three lines of stitching atop the gloves of the lady on the left). Larger version
Young people picnic in a rocky field, their table a big boulder. What a nice spread they have: a layered spongecake, something in a bowl, tea in pretty cups. This is probably before 1910, as some of the girls wear jumpers over their blouses, and the blouses are quite blousy and high-necked; some wear menswear-inspired shirtwaist blouses. Larger version
This photo was in an album marked 1905 and was taken in South Africa. How dry the woods seem, but how comfortable the company. The pancake-like, tipped-up-high hats are neat, and all the women wear white blouses. By ookami-dou, on Flickr. Larger version
This is a favorite photo. I would guess the family is washing their picnic dishes at a large lake or very rapid stream, judging from the little waves lapping the shingled shoreline. Whoever took the picture must have been on a dock or in a boat, or perhaps wading! It is such a happy scene, and the relaxed attitudes of those in the picture radiate peace. I'd date the photo after 1897 and before 1908, based on the pompadour hairstyles, the narrow-hipped, many-paneled and wide sweeping skirts, and the high necklines. Fullish sleeves were popular on and off through the first decade. Original posted by Otisourcat on Flickr.
I have many more photos to point you to, from more picnics to French garden parties, and hope to post them when I can.