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A fashionable lady

All Things Biltmore • 01/22/15

Written By Jean Sexton

From her debutante days onward, Edith Vanderbilt was a fashionable lady who enjoyed wearing some of the most elegant styles designed by the exclusive fashion houses of the era.

Standing portrait of Edith(Right) Standing portrait

In the late 1800s, standing portraits like this one were popular because a standing pose allowed a lady to display all the details of her beautiful costume to best advantage! Note the extraordinary length of lace falling from the delicate floral trim at Edith's shoulders (the floral design is also echoed in her sweeping skirt) and the height of her feathered hair ornament.

Young Edith

(Left) 1900

As a young mother, Edith Vanderbilt's style of dress reflected a bit more restraint than her glamorous debutante and engagement gowns, but there were still rich layers of details to keep the style engaging. Notice the striking combination of Edith's elegant sleeves layered in stripes and dots, the lavish lace bow at her throat, and the dangling brooch pinned to her bodice.

Edith wearing a locally created suit

(Right) March 1907

On this date, the New York Times featured a front-page story on Edith Vanderbilt wearing a gown of mountain homespun cloth woven by artisans who worked for Biltmore Industries–a business the Vanderbilts developed to provide economic support for local crafters in the community. Edith Vanderbilt always chose examples of current styles to flatter her tall, slim figure, and this sleek suit is no exception. In addition to enjoying the elegant ensemble, Edith used it as an attractive tool to help influence her social connections and push sales of Biltmore Industries merchandise.

Edith in 20s fashion

(Left) A fashionable lady

Throughout her life, Edith Vanderbilt would continue to be celebrateded for her fashion sense and good taste. 

(Top) Featured blog image 

A 1911 portrait of Edith Vanderbilt painted by Italian artist Giovanni Boldini, known for his glamorous renderings of notable members of society. This portrait hangs in the Tapestry Gallery at Biltmore House, just outside the entrance to the Library.

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