In the early 1900's clothes were a status symbol. Fashion was more important than comfort.
Fashionable ladies enjoyed the grand occasions surrounding the federation of Australian colonies, and later the openings of new federal parliament, in Melbourne where royalty was going to be in attendance. Society matrons were lucky that the extravagant magnificent dresses of the Edwardian era coincided with Australians own premier events. Women liked to have a pinched waist, a big bust with no cleavage showing (as this was considered vulgar) and a big rear end. This S. shaped silhouette was extremely uncomfortable. The skirt fitted tightly over the waist and down to the knees, and then in a wave like line showing the petticoat. The only problem with these skirts was that when walking down the street the bottom of the dress would pick up rubbish as it dragged along the ground.
Ladies added volume to their hair by wearing pads called "rats" to attract even more attention.
If that failed, fake hair was added. The most important accessory of all was the hat which was decorated with feathers, ribbons and sometimes even stuffed birds of small animals and all this was topped with a large hat pin.
Ladies wore high-heeled shoes which were pointed and peeped out from beneath the skirt.
Fashion colours were moving from the bright, strong Victorian colours into much more pale colours such as whites, mauves, and light blues. Also the fabrics changed to delicate, filmy silks, cashmeres, tussore and faille. Nellie Stewart, an Australian actress was reported to be wearing these new fabrics and colours to the Melbourne races. Elaborate jewels provided additional glamour.
The tea gown; a loose trailing garment of chiffon or lace was slipped on around 5:00 p.m. and the woman could finally enjoy the relief of loosening...