Girls Have Fun, 1890s-1910s

Girls fashioned identities and claimed freedom by adopting new styles such as fanciful hats and shirtwaists.

Hats said who could buy the latest styles. Working-class girls copied popular looks for less by doing the work themselves.

Shirtwaists were easy to remix. Unlike dresses, a girl could mix and match with different skirts, and wear them without corsets.

Girls Posing for Silly Photo, around 1900

Summer Hat with Homemade Hatpins, around 1910

Gift of Mrs. James Doubleday

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Many girls rejected pinchy corsets like this one in favor of cooler, less restrictive shirtwaists.

Woman in Corset, around 1880

Woman in Corset, around 1880

Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Shirtwaist, around 1910

Gift of Dr. Richard H. Howland

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See Girlhood in 3D! Explore a model of a shirtwaist.

 

The shirtwaist will be with us more than ever this summer. Women are wearing shirtwaists because they are comfortable, because they can be made to fit any form, and because they are mannish.

Indianapolis Journal, 1900

 

The most stylish girl of the period—the Gibson Girl—was created by Charles Gibson. She was adventurous.

The Gibson Girl, about 1890–1910

The Gibson Girl, about 1890–1910

Courtesy of Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-34349

Hatpins, around 1900

Young women used hatpins to keep their large fashion statements attached to their heads and add another decorative element to the hat.

While one end was decorative, the other could be a deadly weapon. Americans worried about young, single women alone in cities, and journalists seized on the hatpin as a form of self-defense against sexual assault.

Hatpins, around 1900

Gift of B. B. Dumville

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Around 1904

Around 1904

From the Library of Congress, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers site

https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85066387/1904-08-21/ed-1/seq-11/

Courtesy of Shades of LA Photo Collection/Los Angeles Public Library