“The New Amphora Skirts Introduced by Paquin” were fashion news in the summer of 1914. I didn’t understand, at first, because when I saw the word “amphora,” I first thought of the plain wine or oil jars that had pointed bottoms; many, many simple amphorae like these have been recovered by archeologists, especially from wrecked ships.
However, a Greek amphora (“jar”) can be highly decorated and have a base that flares out at the bottom:
The “peg-top” skirts of 1914 — which get tighter at the bottom — accidentally resemble the plain, everyday jar, but were not called “Amphora skirts.”
But the “Greek-vase” amphora skirt style “introduced by Paquin” resembles the more elaborate Greek wine vessel.
“Summer evening gowns will be the first to feel the influence of the new amphora or Greek-vase skirt. The softer versions of the amphora skirt, trimmed with ruffles of silk or lace are particularly pretty and they are delightful things to dance in. In fact, Madame Paquin had the new dances in mind when she designed her new skirt, a fact which accounts to a great extent for the width she has introduced in it below the knee.” — The Delineator, June 1914, page 19.
“Most tub suits [i.e., made of washable fabrics] are made with straight gored skirts, the simpler peg-top models, or the new amphora skirt with a circular flounce at the sides. The latter skirt will be very popular for summer suits, for it is very easy to make and to launder, and is most comfortable for walking.” — Delineator, June 1914.
To give you an idea of why the “amphora skirt” was a change in direction, here are some images of the narrow-bottomed peg-top skirts that dominated early 1914 fashions:
Look at these restrictive, narrow-bottom hems:
How did they walk in these? Nos. 6818 and 6770 had slight openings. A back view of No. 6736 shows a slight opening in front and fullness in the rear:
These peg-top skirts are not the “hobble skirt” which cartoonists lampooned earlier in the century, but they are descended from it.
You didn’t have to be young to appreciate the greater movement possible with the amphora skirt:
It’s always nice to have a choice!
“While Paquin has been introducing the amphora skirt with its widened base, Cheruit and Premet have been experimenting with pantalets….” The Delineator, June 1914, page 19.
If you want to read more fashion predictions for 1914, click here.