A Historical Shirt from the Early 20th Century in Detail

Front of shirt with ruffle and glass buttons.
Details of the front, showing the ruffle with glass buttons.

A Walk in History

I have a huge fondness for historical clothing, as a result I’ve started a small collection of clothes to study and hopefully reproduce someday.  This lovely shirt dates sometime from the early 20th century.  Most noteworthy is a lovely ruffle around its collar that comes down the front and is adorned with clear glass buttons.  The ruffle has beautiful floral embroidery and is also edged in delicate lace.  It was found at a flea market in Connecticut and there was no known story attached to it.  A shame, really, but we have our imaginations to help us out!  I wonder who made it & wore it.  Where were they living and what did they look like? Oh if it could talk, I’m sure it’d have a lot to say!

Close up of the embroidery details and the delicate lace.


Front of the shirt.
The front of the shirt. Note the front comes down further than the back.

The Shirt Details

A very plain, but lovely piece, it appears to be either made out of a thin linen or muslin. Its condition is pretty great considering its how old it is, but there is some minor water staining.  Due to its age, I haven’t tried to wash it.  In addition, one of the armpits has darning and was repaired. There are two small darts in the front and in the back.  The measurements are as follows:

  • The waist is 21″ across for a total of 42 ” around.
  • The front is 25″ top to bottom.
  • The back is 21.5″ top to bottom.
  • From armpit to armpit it is 22″ for a total of 44″ around.
  • Straight across from one arm cuff to the other is 27″.

The back of the shirt
The back view.


A repair under the armpit.
Details of the darning repair on the armpit.
The hem around the waist.
Close up of the hem around the waist.
  • The arm cuff.
    Details of the cuff around the arm.
    Darts along the collar.
    The collar hem that shows the darts in the ruffle.

    Other Observations

The stitching appears to be done by machine, in addition to some hand finishing.  It seems like the embroidery might also have been done by machine as it it really perfect, but I’m not 100% sure.  I assume it was meant to be worn underneath a jacket or other article of clothing. 

What I love about this shirt is that it seems so simple and yet when you really observe the details there is quite a bit of complexity to be found.  It is a very well made garment with much attention paid to the details.  I think it will be a great first piece for me to try to reproduce, so look for a future blog post on that!

I have much to learn on the subject of historical clothes, but I’m always eager to learn new things!   Therefore, if any of you might know more about a specific year/era this shirt was created or other historical detail, please feel free to share in the comments!

Thanks so much for stopping by today! 

Between the Blossoms