1915 Navy Wool Walking Suit


The jacket is closed with four covered buttons with Bakelite backs down the center front. There is a short flat "collar" stitched in a continuous rectangle above the top button about two inches wide. Jacket is shaped with princess seams, both front and back. At upper hip level the princess seams curve into a point, much like a fancy parenthesis, and curves back up into the side seam. The princess seams are decorated with flat piping in the same navy wool. The side seams are left open in a slit from the hem up about 7 to 7.5 inches. There are large round weights sewn between the lining and the wool at the corners of the side seam slit and at the center front hem. The back of the jacket tapers beautifully to the small of the back and then opens in an inverted box pleat at high hip to the hem, about 9 inches long, for ease of movement. Hem is top stitched ¼ inch from edge. The sailor collar is alternately navy wool and navy velvet embroidered with blue thread. The two piece sleeve is set in, curved at the elbow, and is decorated at the cuff with three covered buttons.
The skirt is made in the same navy wool as the jacket with a twill or grosgrain ribbon waistband ½ inch wide. The skirt is made up of 8 panels - center front, center back and two side seam panels (very narrow), 2 side front panels and 2 side back panels. The side front and side back panels stop at the knee in the same curved points that decorate the jacket. Beneath these are two panels pleated five times toward the center under the point. These pleated panels allow for more ease of movement in a fitted skirt. The hem is 2 inches and is simply turned up and top stitched. The skirt was cut with pinking shears and is unlined. The skirt closes on the left side of the center back panel with 6 hook and eye fasteners in a placket 9.5 to 10 inches long.
The shirtwaist is made up of three layers, an under layer, an ivory lace layer and a blue chiffon layer. The under layer is made of an off white silk with an organza yoke. It closes as center front with hooks and eyes and has faggoted detailing around the center front opening and between the organza and the silk. The Ivory lace is the main body of the shirt and has dolman sleeves and a batwing collar that is raised at the center back held up with three covered wires. Shirtwaist closes at center front with hooks and eyes and faux pearl buttons. The blue chiffon layer is an overlay on the ivory lace. It is cut in one piece from a halter like back, down and under the arms and back up the side front where it is sewn into the shoulder seams. It is tacked along the front, once under the arms and from the shoulder blades to the neckline. The rest of the chiffon layer is left free and adds a movement to the shirtwaist when worn. There is draped bow on the back of the high collar, the top and bottom are tacked to the ivory collar while the rest is left loose, like on the body, to create movement and a feeling of lightness in the shirtwaist. Pink silk flowers and leaves decorate the shoulder seams and either side front where the lace and chiffon meet.






This tailor made walking suit more than likely belonged to either Lucy Sitterle or her sister, Mary Ellen Dowd. Lucy Faye Asher was born in 1887 to Jeptha and Josephine Asher. She married Fenne Sitterle in 1907. They had four children. Frank was born 1908, Josephine in 1911, Harriet in 1913 and J. Carleton in 1915. This suit most likely dates from 1915 so it is possible that it was worn by Lucy after J. Carleton was born in March. The other possible owner is Mary Ellen Dowd. Mary was born in 1896 and married Verne Lucas Dowd in 1914. Given her year of marriage, it is possible that this ensemble was part of her trousseau. An important event such as a wedding would justify the travel to Cincinnati, Ohio (where this garment was made) from Liberty, Ohio.This ensemble has a label from the Roth Brothers Tailors, Cincinnati, Ohio. Roth Bros Tailors was owned and operated by Ozlas, Samuel and Jacob Roth. They likely learned their trade from their father, Mendel Roth, who was a cloakmaker in Cincinnati after emigrating the U.S. from Austria. Ozlas was born in 1865, Samuel in 1869 and Jacob in 1870. Samuel and Jacob began Roth S&J in 1900 with Ozlas joining them to form Roth Bros Tailors in 1902. An advertisement in the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1912 read as follows, "Quality, style, fit, finish and price distinguish Roth Bros. Ladies Tailor-made Suits; that's why our customers never have to apologize for their appearance. Our suits give an individuality of their own as no other made-to-order suits can." They were successful merchants making custom ladies wear in a market that was increasingly facing pressure from ready-to-wear manufacturers.

Design Elements

Rolled Collar, Suit: A-line skirt, Tailored Jacket, Hourglass Silhouette

Fiber/Fabric Information

fiber content=Wool






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“1915 Navy Wool Walking Suit,” Fashion2Fiber, accessed April 13, 2024,

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