The period between 1901-1910 is often called the Edwardian Era, also known as La Belle Epoque which means ‘the beautiful era.’ This was a time when woman’s fashions took on a new opulence and extravagance, inspired by the decadent lifestyle of Britain's King Edward VII. It proved to be an era consisting of beautiful clothes and the peak of luxury living.
As the century changed so changed clothing design trends. Gone was the bustle (a pad at the rear end) and heavy fabrics of the previous century. A new, lighthearted concept overtook women's fashions along with a sentiment of eternal summer with dresses made of light weight fabrics for a more active lifestyle. This came hand-in-hand with the women entering a changing, more commercial workplace and wanting more independence in the future.
Traveling suits were also necessary since motor cars had come into vogue and those who could afford them purchased them and spent many a weekend day traveling. Since these cars were usually open, they created dusty and dirty atmospheres as country roads were often unpaved. Along with the ladies' traveling suits, loose topcoats in leather were worn, or special motoring coats from Burberry or Aquascutum. These also acted as protection from the weather and cold. Oil blasts could be a problem so women also wore thick face veils with their hats and even goggles. Very deep high lace fabric collars that reached right under the chin elongated the neck. High necks were usual by day, but by night exceptionally low sweetheart, square and round low-cut necklines allowed women to wear quantities of fine jewellery and no cleavage was visible as the bust was suppressed into a tight monobosom.
Early in the decade, with all the fussing about with the top portion of the female body people developed a preference for narrow feet, which was believed to be a sign of breeding and gentility. Both men and women regularly wore shoes that were a full size too small. Some women even opted to have their little toes removed to achieve narrower feet.
The years from 1900 to the outbreak of World War I were a time of extravagance and ostentation. The function of clothing was becoming more practical especially with the motorcar coming into vogue. The late years of the decade were geared towards making the 'world safe for democracy'. WWI changed not only fashion, it changed the entire world forever.