Jenolan Caves

In the Words of Coco Chanel - A Girl Should be 2 Things - Classy and Fabulous

February 12, 2021

Jenolan Caves has been a honeymoon destination for more than a century.  Very recently, we ran a competition, where we asked entrants to tell us about their best Jenolan memory, in 25 words or less.  Out of the 600 entrants, almost 10% mentioned weddings or honeymoons.  And because Valentines Day is nearly here, it’s fun to imagine honeymooning couples coming to Jenolan 100 years ago. What did the brides wear when they arrived? Let’s talk about the ‘going-away’ outfit.

The “going-away” outfit is an old tradition. After the reception, the couple would change from their formal bridal attire to another outfit that they would wear as they left their reception for their honeymoon. The ‘going-away’ outfit was important to the bride.  It was a chance to unwind at the end of her wedding and slip into something more comfortable. It also represented the moment when a couple started their new life together. The going-away outfit also needed to be practical and durable – a quality ensemble – because it might be the bride’s best dress for years to come – worn to church and on special occasions. The going-away ensemble usually was a whole outfit, including shoes, bag, hat and other accessories. 

1900 to 1910 - Corsets and Lace

To the right is a typical going-away outfit from 1903 – long sleeves, high collars, tiny corsetted waste, ruffles, buttons, lace and a mini-trail. Colours were in pastels or  white blouse and black skirt. Accessories were matching hats and umbrellas.[i]

Use your imagination to visualise 1902 Sydney bride, Florence Mofflin, in her elaborate going-away outfit, as described by the Critic newspaper, “a most artistic gown of pale pastel-green crepe-de-chine over silk, the Russian bodice being prettily trimmed with cream lace, and a hat of tucked black glacé, the brim lined with white tucked chiffon, while a handsome paste ornament held in place a long black ostrich feather.”[ii] It is worth reading the whole article to really enjoy the detailed descriptions of what everyone wore at this wedding.

Example of 1910s going-away outfit

1910 to 1920 - Bras and Bows

Small, corseted waists continued into the next decade, but not for long.  In France, fashion design superstar, Paul Poiret, was designing dresses with a straighter silhouette and no corset! And the Germans seem to have been the first to develop a bra for mass production in 1913. 

V-necks and collars came into fashion, and skirts became a bit shorter. Lace tended to be replaced by simple bows. Colours were darker. Here is a lovely description of the going-away outfit worn by Sydney bride, Eveline Peach, in 1912, “bride's travelling dress being grey silk voile, trimmed with vieux rose and bead trimming, with hat to match and grey boa.”[iii]

Not quite as elaborate as the going-away outfits of the previous decade, but very elegant none-the-less. The same article said, “Mr. and Mrs. Peach left for the Jenolan Caves by motor car.”

They would have stayed in Jenolan’s new hotel, Caves House, where the first 2 wings had been finished.

1920 to 1930 - Headbands and Glamour

Next came the ‘loose silouette’ in women’s dresses, to de-emphasise the waistline.  Formal dresses, such as going-away dresses, were delicate, romantic and detailed with embellishments, sequins, patterns, fringes and feathers.  The neckline tended to be low, the silhouette was straight. Skirts got shorter and more loose, for dancing. Headbands and gloves were common accessories.[iv]

Here is an interesting description of what newly married, Irene Green, from Wollongong, wore for going-away in September 1926, “Later, the bride and bride groom left for the Mountains and Jenolan Caves, where the honeymoon will be spent. The bride wearing a jumper suit of bois-de-rose, with hat to tone.”[v]

By the time the Greens honeymooned at Jenolan, the 4-storey third and fourth wings of Caves House were built, along with the grand dining room (now Chisolm’s Restaurant). The hotel was so impressive that the following year, the Duke and Duchess of York stayed overnight.

1930 to 1940 - Waistlines and Bright Prints

Fashion was impaced by economic depression and the leadup to WW2. The glamour of the 20s was gone. 30s fashion was practical, cheaper and simpler. The loose silhouette was out, and waistlines were back. There were brightly printed (and cheaper) fabrics, short sleeves, no sleeves, draped skirts, belts, low backs, open backs and suits. High-waisted, wide-legged pants were in. Matching hats, gloves and shoes were still essential.[vi]

Here is a newspaper description of a going away outfit, worn by Almira Coddington, from Young, in July 1936, “This honeymoon is being spent on a car tour which will embrace the Jenolan Caves and Sydney, and for going away the bride wore a burgundy fancy worsted suit and hat, with furs and black accessories.”[vii]

1940 to 1950 - Shoulders and Shortages

The 1940s style can be divided into two categories. The first half was practical, masculine and a rougher version of the 1930s fashion. The latter half was luxurious and elegant.

The length of the skirts and dresses hit right above the knee due to fabric shortages. The shoulders were wide and oversized. The waist was defined with a simple belt. The hat was still important and printed fabrics were popular. Details were simple, with a focus on buttons, pockets, collars and a bow or two – sophisticated elegance.[viii]

When Margorie Hooper married in 1941, the Braidwood Dispatch and Mining Journal wrote, “The bride's going-away frock was of heaven-pink crepe-back satin, with matching hat and black accessories. The honeymoon was spent at the Blue Mountains and Jenolan Caves.”[ix]

When Claire Hill married in 1949, the Canberra Times reported that she “chose for her travelling outfit a navy silk beaded frock with beige trimmings, cream chip straw hat and navy accessories and added a navy taffeta coat. The honeymoon was spent at Jenolan Caves and Forster.”[x]

1950 to 1960 - Girdles and Voluminous Skirts

The hourglass silhouette was back. The bust was pointy, the waist tiny and the hips large, all enhanced by a corset or girdle and voluminous skirts. Skirts were still below the knee. Colours were bright. There were lots of gingham and floral patterns. Accessories featured pearls, gloves, scarves and sunglasses with pointy frames.[xi]

In July 1954, when Audrey Taylor was married, the Don Dorrigo Gazette and Guy Fawkes Advocate reported “For her ‘going away’ ensemble the bride chose a smart emerald green faille suit with matching hat and creamy-beige accessories... The honeymoon was spent at Jenolan Caves and a tour of the Western districts.”[xii]

1960 to 1970 - Knees, Suits and Vivid Colours

Groovy sixties fashion was a reaction against the corsets and structured clothing of the 50s. All conventions were challenged. Skirts were above the knee and straight. The ‘shift dress’ became popular. Colours were vivid. With formal wear, Jacqueline Kennedy (later Onassis) made popular the tweed jacket and matching skirt with a little round ‘pillbox’ hat.[xiii]

South Australian bride, Barbara Farr, in April 1968, was following Jackie’s example when she wore “a classic style suit of royal blue, green-shot Thai silk, with black patent accessories.”, as her going-away outfit.[xiv]

1970 to 1980 - Hot Pants and Platform Shoes

In the 70’s the overall silhouette was like an upside down ‘Y’ - narrow tops and wide bottoms - wide pants, wide maxi skirts and flared jeans. Skirts and dresses went as short as possible, with hotpants and platform boots.

Those who favoured the bohemian ‘hippy’ look wore loose clothing such as tunics, kaftans, maxi dresses, frills, sheer fabrics and unisex fashion.

Those who liked the ‘disco’ style went for sequins, glitter, glamorous jumpsuits, ‘hostess gowns’, wide legged pants, ruffles, flowy shapes and statement boots. They liked to show more skin, with crop tops and dresses/jumpsuits with cut out sections, halter tops and off the shoulder tops, where bras were not possible.[xv]

Some brides were quite unconventional.  In July 1975, the Nota reported that for her going-away dress, Marolyn Lyon wore, “a very striking green and black striped hostess gown.”[xvi] She would have felt totally ‘far out’ in her fashionably bohemian dress.

1980 to Now 

In the 1980s, newspapers seemed to have lost interest in ‘going away’ outfits. Did they go out of fashion? If you know the answer, please enlighten us.

 



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4655 Jenolan Caves Road, Jenolan Caves, Blue Mountains NSW. Ph: 1300 76 33 11 or +61 2 6359 3911
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