The Middy blouse – a long-lived fashion

6 Aug

The Middy blouse – a long-lived fashion.

I have been looking at Elsie’s Arizona pictures to choose the ones for the book. I love the Middy blouse she frequently wore.  It seems it was her outdoor exercise wear. Horse back riding fashion included a divided skirt that Elsie said weighed close to thirty pounds, and a middy blouse. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to wash a 30 pound skirt in the creek.  I can hardly imagine slender Elsie who only weighed about 100 pounds having the strength to wring out by hand such a heavy skirt. But they often rode bareback and in the heat, so I’m sure the skirts would need washing quite often.  I can’t imagine anyone today choosing to wear a 30-pound divided skirt!

The middy blouse she frequently wore is still in fashion. In Japan and in Antigua it is often a school uniform.  The middy blouse was actually introduced about 1910 as exercise wear, so I imagine Elsie was in the popular fashion of the day when she went riding in her middy. One photograph shows 5 girls looking like carbon copies – all astride horses wearing a middy top. Previously the sailor-top look was popular with children. Pictures of girls in summer camp “wear” show the girls all dressed in similar sailor-collar tops. It was probably called a “middy” after midshipmen. In one mail order catalog for 1916 the middy cost $1.00 and was very stylish. It seems they were traditionally white with blue scarf trim. One advertisement stated that the middy was originally designed after the blouses worn by “Uncle Sam’s sailor boys.”  The dropped waist middy dress was brought back by Laura Ashley in the 1980s. I remember wearing one of those. Wish I had one of Elsie’s Middies!

No comments yet

Leave a Reply