Photo Gallery: The Price of Fashion (1910)

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Ladies' fashions in the early 1900s mixed opulence with practicality, as evidenced in the popularity of the shirtwaist, worn by increasing numbers of women entering the American workforce. In this gallery, pricey fabrics and large hats juxtapose with the harsh conditions of the factories in which the garments were made. Immigrant laborers often worked 14-hour days for less than $2 a day.

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For a fashionable stroll through the country, a woman wears an ornate blue walking suit, here accessorized with an oversized fur muff and a tall embroidered hat. The illustration, by Helen Dryden, appeared on the October 1, 1910, cover of Vogue.

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A fashion illustration of women with feathered hats and long gloves standing in bright purple, blue, and black gowns. Large hats with wide brims, such as the one in the middle, were all the fashion in the early years of the century, while evening turbans such as the one on the right came into style in 1910.

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The cover of the Ladies' Home Journal for October 15, 1910 depicts a woman in a white shirtwaist and an ornate hat. For many working girls, the ownership of a fashionable hat was their only luxury.

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The cover of Scribner's Magazine portrays a woman in a popular shirtwaist riding a bicycle. Although they were still fitted through the waistline, shirtwaists allowed more freedom than the previous style of the high-collared bodice.

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A style book by the James Edgar Company, depicting "Six Wonderful Waists," roomier shirts often worn by working women.

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Although this advertisement is for the Stearns bicycle, the woman riding represents the standard working woman's costume of a shirtwaist paired with an A-line skirt.

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In this 1911 Vogue cover, a woman in an embellished white gown and orange scarf holds a generous bouquet of poppies.

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A drawing of a woman wearing a blue day-dress. She wears a large hat and pearls, and holds a closed parasol behind her back.

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This cover of the Ladies Home Journal in September 1910 illustrates a girl in a white and light blue evening gown and gloves. Her look is complemented by a headband, which was becoming popular in 1910 when worn with pinned-up hair.

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The Ferris Brothers specialized in underwaists and corsets, and their advertisements featured prominently throughout the 1900s and 1910s.

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Workers crammed into a small room sew clothing by hand. The room's two windows provide most of the lighting and ventilation.

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Dark, cramped shops made exhausting work still more difficult and dangerous. Scraps of garments that littered the floor were easy kindling for a potential flame.

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Women sit in rows of tables in a Broadway artificial flower factory.

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An Italian clothing worker in a Rochester, New York factory. Many factory workers were Italian and Jewish immigrants. On average, weekly wages started at $3.62.

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Employees use sewing machines in the Rosenthal Brothers' Waist and Dress Factory. Workers typically had the cost of the thread they used deducted from their salaries.

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A 12-year-old boy works as a thread puller in a New York clothing factory. It wasn't until 1904 that the National Child Labor Committee was formed with the intention of passing laws to protect child laborers.

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Not limited to New York, labor conditions were poor across the U.S. Here, three girl operatives pose in an Indianapolis Cotton Mill during the noon hour.

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Even working 14-hour days, six days a week, many workers' salaries afforded them meager accommodations. Here, men sleep on the floor of a shared lodging room.

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Potential fire hazards in a garment factory: note the sign in the back that says "Fire Escape" with a hand pointing to the window, and a few buckets hang on the walls.

|Brown Brothers

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