Before “Twenties’ Fashions” Had That Twenties’ Look

Fashions for women from Butterick patterns, February 1924. Delineator Magazine, page 32.

The iconic look of nineteen twenties’ fashions — dropped waists, short skirts, an emphasis on youth — didn’t really dominate until the latter half of the decade. These styles from 1924 don’t suggest flaming youth.

Butterick coat 5055 with skirt 4743, from 1924.

These outfits from the tubular twenties have very long skirts, just exposing the ankle area. Women’s hemlines are not much changed from 1917. The 1924 Butterick suit coat shown above, from the lower left of the page, not only looks matronly to me, it reminds me of the suits of 1910, although the body ideal is quite different.

More suits from The Gimbel Book, a 1910 catalog in the Metropolitan museum collection.

Another suit, from the Bendel Collection, by French designer Jenny has a vague twenties’ look, hinting at a lowered waist, but it is actually from 1914. Here’s a closer look at that Butterick style for 1924:

The coat is long, the bust is low, and the waist is ignored. 1924. Butterick also sold the hat pattern, a Tam-o Shanter, No. 4886.

An illustration from later in 1924 shows that this shapeless look (with the same hat) was not necessarily for older women:

Butterick hat pattern No. 4886, is worn with a coat (Butterick 5120) and matching skirt (Butterick 4983.) in Delineator, April 1924.

Returning to the top of page 32, a “box coat,” elaborately embroidered using Butterick transfer pattern 10181, is at left. The dress worn under it does have a dropped waist.

At left, Butterick’s box coat pattern 5052 over dress 4721. From 1924. The outfit at right is made from coat pattern 5051 over dress 4789.

Butterick coat pattern 5053 treats the female body as a long cylinder, although this pattern was available up to bust size 46 inches, which assumed a proportionately bigger hip measure.

Left, a “coat dress,” Butterick 5054, with embroidery pattern 10191; right, a mannish suit made from “sack coat” 5040, blouse 4790, and skirt 4753. Delineator, Feb. 1924, page 32.

The sack coat (as in the traditional sack suit worn by men) is shown with a Butterick hat pattern, 4973. From 1924.

Here’s another illustration of hat 4973, worn by a much more girlish model, from April of 1924.

This last coat, from the lower right side of page 32, is rather charming, perhaps because it looks more like the fashions to come:

Butterick coat pattern 5032, Delineator, February 1924.

The model is drawn as a teen; her hem shows just a bit more leg, and the coat’s pin-tucked trim on cuff and collar hints at an Art Deco influence.

Butterick coat 5032 — with a swirling button — and cloche hat pattern 4973 again.

When I look at these styles, I can hardly wait for the “real” twenties to begin. As in the 1960’s, styles favored by young women and teens became dominant as the decade progressed.

4 Comments

Filed under 1920s, Accessory Patterns, bags, Hats, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Butterick Vacation Wardrobe for $25, 1933

You could make a complete summer vacation wardrobe — six outfits — for just $25 from a set of Butterick patterns. Delineator magazine, May 1933, p. 69.

The Butterick company’s target market in the 1920’s was upscale; there were regular reports on French fashions, and even a new column giving women financial advice during the stock market boom of the late twenties. But in this Depression Era article from May, 1933, the emphasis is on economy.

The accessories suggested include some rather elegant shoes, a sweater, and, as explained in the text, only one hat that you couldn’t make for yourself.

I’m not surprised that those shoes were expensive.

A Store-bought black straw hat for summer, 1933. Delineator, May 1933, p 69.

A store-bought sweater and a home-made hat, May 1933; Delineator.

Other gloves and hats could be made from Butterick patterns:

Butterick glove pattern 5135, hat pattern 5126, and clutch purse No. 3131. Delineator, May 1933.

Notice the extended shoulders on most of these clothes.

Butterick Skirt 4908, worn with a sweater and coat 5043; next, dress 5019  in a fine print; “tennis dress” 5104 made in white; and afternoon dress 5095 in a floral print voile fabric. May, 1933. Delineator magazine.

In addition, a print suit (a dress plus jacket) and a “Letty Lynton” – influenced evening gown were part of the twenty-five dollar wardrobe.

Butterick evening gown pattern 5069 from May, 1933.

The stiff, sheer layered sleeves show the influence of Adrian’s design for Joan Crawford in the film Letty Lynton.

Butterick jacket dress 5107, 1933.

The $25 budget didn’t include accessories, not even the ones made from Butterick patterns.  However, there is an emphasis on the need for wardrobe planning:  coordinating your pieces so that they can all be worn with either black or white accessories. (And, if you could afford a vacation in 1933, setting some limits would definitely make packing easier.)

The cost per outfit of making the $25 wardrobe. Delineator, May 1933. Page 69.

The cost of the Butterick patterns themselves ranged from fifty cents (the jacket dress or the evening gown) to thirty-five or forty-five cents for the other dresses, and twenty-five cents for the hat pattern, which included three styles. I wonder if the big, stylish buttons were included in the price estimates.

In 1936, a woman fresh out of college could expect to earn about $80 per month. According to one article, on this salary, she could even afford to take a vacation…. https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/1936-oct-working-college-grad-woman-budget-end.jpg?w=500

She can “join a savings club and see the world. Happy landing, we say.” — Woman’s Home Companion, October 1936.

3 Comments

Filed under 1930s, Accessory Patterns, bags, Gloves, handbags, Hats, Purses, Shoes, Sportswear, Vintage Accessories

Butterick Hats and Dresses for May, 1933

Butterick hat pattern 5126, Delineator May 1933, page 70. The version at the bottom has complex self trim passing through two rings or buckles.  The others have rows of decorative top-stitching.

Description of Butterick hat pattern 5126, from 1933.

Although pattern companies still sell hat patterns, it’s always a pleasant surprise to find traces of a vintage hat pattern. Butterick hat pattern 5126 was featured on the same page as five outfits for May of 1933. The fashion for matching your jacket lining to your hat would be easy if you made your hat yourself — or had your dressmaker do it.

Butterick patterns from Delineator, May 1933. Page 70. Butterick 5105, 5108, 5109, 5107.

Butterick 5105 is shown with a contrasting top; Butterick 5108 has a wide-shouldered weskit. 1933.

Butterick 5105 and 5108 have the very long skirts of 1933.

The coat of Butterick 5109 is shown in three-quarters length; Butterick 5107 uses the same fabric for the blouse, belt and hat.

Butterick coat 5109 over a skirt and blouse ensemble; right, Butterick dress and jacket ensemble 5107. Delineator May 1933, p. 70.

An alternate view shows coat 5109 at full length; the full-sleeved matching underdress is shown with a light bodice and dark skirt to match the coat.

Butterick coat and dress ensemble 5109; Butterick suit 5107. Delineator May 1933, p. 70. No. 5107 is cut with very wide shoulders, and the jacket is lined with a plaid fabric that shows when the scarf-neck is tied. The fullness of the sleeves taken in with tucks and top-stitching. The hat matches the jacket lining.

The fashion editors of 1933 noted the emphasis on wider shoulders, which was attributed to Schiaparelli’s influence. As the year progressed, shoulders became wider and sleeve caps became puffier in an attempt to make hips look narrow by contrast. (The shoulder pads and long skirts of the 1980’s had the same purpose.)

Butterick pattern 5088, from May, 1933. Delineator magazine, p. 70.

The “lingerie boa” and sleeves with a full cap, credited to Schiaparelli. Delineator, May 1933, p. 70. Her pointy hat also shows Schiaparelli influence.

Although patterns for bust sizes 33 through 44 inches were standard for Butterick in the 1920’s, these five patterns go no bigger than a 40 inch bust.

2 Comments

Filed under 1930s, Accessory Patterns, Hats, Vintage Accessories

A Mother’s Day Meditation on My Mother’s Hair (and Maternity,) 1940s

An evening hairstyle from a Vogue fashion flyer, May, 1939.

My mother’s friends joked about her vanity, calling her “glamourpuss,” but she stayed with this 1939 hairstyle for at least ten years.

My mother’s hair, worn in two rolls over her forehead from the late 1930s until about 1950.

I’ll admit, it suited her. In this picture, she’s dressed for the Fourth of July, always a big occasion in our town, with a parade and rodeo.

Her hair, without a hat.

If you’re interested in World War II era hairstyles, I can tell you  how she did hers:  she parted it down the center from forehead to nape, then sectioned off the front. In back, her very long hair was braided into two braids, each long enough to wrap over the top of her head, or around the base, from ear to ear and back, where the ends were tucked neatly under the wide part of the braid. The braids were kept in place with both bobby pins and hairpins, as needed. The rolls were curled in toward the center and secured with pins.  Oddly, I never saw hairspray until the 1950s. She didn’t use it.

The style worked well with hats, and, until I came along, she worked as a secretary for a tobacco company in San Francisco, so she wore a hat to work every day, commuting by train.

My mother in a wide hat, during World War II

Although she had been one of the first girls in town to bob her hair in the early 1920s, she didn’t adopt a short 1950’s Toni perm until a radical mastectomy made it impossible for her to raise both arms over her head.  She couldn’t manage this braided hairstyle any more. Although she hated to cut her long hair, in fact the perm made her look much more youthful because it wasn’t an outdated style, but the latest thing. But that’s not why I’m writing this for Mother’s Day.

While looking through old photos for examples of this hairstyle — which I was stunned to actually find illustrated in that Vogue fashion flyer…

My mother wore her hair in the style illustrated with this 1930’s evening gown pattern from Vogue.

… I was equally surprised to find this photograph of my mother (and me.) I’ve been writing about maternity fashions of the twenties, thirties, and forties. And here is my mother wearing a smock, a few months before I was born:

Maternity wear, 1945. Before motherhood, her hair was a long pageboy in back. Once she had a baby to take care of, she grew long braids and pinned them up.

The fact that this photo exists surprises me. I remember overhearing her bragging that out-of-town friends who came to visit her when she was six months pregnant didn’t realize that she was expecting a baby. (My cynical adult self wonders if they were too polite to mention her weight gain.) On the other hand, no one expected her to have her first child at the age of forty. Also, this was a period when fashion magazines still advised pregnant women to be “inconspicuous” — it wasn’t until Lucille Ball wore maternity clothes on America’s most popular TV show in 1952 that the media stopped being embarrassed by visible pregnancy. The Post-War baby boom ushered in attractive maternity clothing — clothing that celebrated instead of concealing. But that’s a topic I mentioned in my last post.

Probably because my existence put a new financial strain on the household, I don’t think my mother — now that she didn’t have an office job in The City — allowed herself many fashion extravagances. Nevertheless, here we are around 1946. She still looks good in a hat:

My mother, a proud parent at age 41. Her hat has a veil, her knee-length coordinating dress is decorated with metal studs, her figure is back to normal, and her love of pretty new clothing seems to be directed at her offspring’s outfit. 1946 or 1947.

To everyone who makes those willing sacrifices — Happy Mother’s Day.

 

4 Comments

Filed under 1930s-1940s, 1940s-1950s, Hairstyles, Hats, Maternity clothes, Musings, vintage photographs

Asian-Influenced Maternity Pattern, 1956

This chic maternity pattern appeared in the Butterick Fashion News store flyer in June, 1956.

Butterick 7795, a maternity pattern from June, 1956. Available in three versions.

[I apologize for the poor quality photos — my new computer won’t run my old photo program!]

Pattern description for Butterick 7795, from 1956.

The sleeveless version of Butterick 7795 was illustrated in pale green. The dress at left was for “Expecting company.”

The “Party time” version was a skirt and blouse with three-quarter sleeves and side slits; brocade material was recommended.

A glamorous Asian-influenced brocade maternity outfit for parties. 1956.

These 1950’s outfits — which assume that the mother-to-be will lead a normal life, entertaining, shopping, attending parties — are a refreshing contrast to the attitude of previous decades, which suggested that pregnancy should be concealed as long as possible, and that a pregnant woman should try not to attract attention in public. (See Who Would Ever Guess? (1930’s), Some Maternity Clothes of the 1920’s and 1930’s, and Maternity Fashions for December 1942, etc.)

1934 march p 80 lane bryant maternity catalog

“Designed to conceal condition,” 1934.

I remember the maternity fashions of my own childhood, the fifties, as being pretty — and making the wearer look pretty, too — distinct from the tight-waisted dresses of those days, but available in many versions, from “suitable for church” to “picnic in the back yard,” which included trousers instead of the narrow pencil skirts worn in public. (Trousers were strictly casual — not for school or PTA meetings.) This McCall pattern is from 1959.

McCall maternity pattern 4936, dated 1959. A pencil skirt, tapered “Capri” pants, and Bermuda shorts were included.

Back of pattern envelope, McCall 4936. From 1959. The “kangaroo” front of the pencil skirt and the waist of the trousers are adjustable.

There is no nonsense about concealing pregnancy in these fifties’ outfits. Hooray!

1 Comment

Filed under 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, Maternity clothes, Sportswear, Vintage patterns, Women in Trousers

Maternity Patterns from 1907

Top of a full page article about Maternity styles from Ladies’ Home Journal, Jan. 1907, top of page 60.

Since Mother’s Day is approaching, this 1907 article about maternity fashions from the Ladies’ Home Journal seems appropriate. I accessed this article through ProQuest. The images were very faint and the text hard to read, so I have enhanced them.

A surprise on the same page was this 1907 advertisement for a “book” of maternity skirts, from Beyer and Williams Co., which could be purchased “made to order.” Lane Bryant is usually thought of as creating this niche market.

Ad for Fine-Form Maternity Skirt catalog, Ladies’ Home Journal, Jan. 1907, p. 60. “If not in need of a maternity skirt, remember our famous B & W dress and walking skirts….”

Back to the maternity patterns and advice available from Ladies’ Home Journal:

Since pregnancy was not mentioned in polite society, and was usually concealed as long as possible, 1907 maternity clothes looked as much as possible like current fashions. Ladies’ Home Journal patterns 2914 (bodice) and 2915 (skirt.)

The bodice was “designed by R.C. Pond,” the skirt by E. L. Phelps, and the drawings were by Anna W. Speakman. [Sometimes the ProQuest search terms are yellow-highlighted so thoroughly that the word is obscured.]

 

Back view of 1907 maternity bodice and skirt; LHJ patterns 2914 & 2915. [Here, “girdle” means belt or sash.]

Maternity clothing should be “inconspicuous in color, dark blue and black being preferable.” “Albatross” fabric could be worsted or cotton.

The bodice was adjustable:

The drawing shows the laced-up under-bodice and the hook and eye, side front  closings of the fashion fabric. [“Waist” is another word for “bodice.”]

The inner lining or foundation was tightly fitted, but laced up on each side of the front, so it could expand as needed. The fashion fabric was pleated and it also expanded. How it was possible to maintain the fashionable S-curve silhouette is not discussed.

“Maternity waist [i. e., bodice]” LHJ pattern No. 2914.

At left, an illustration of the expandable waist of the ten-gored skirt, LHJ pattern 2915.

Although the pattern was sold in waist sizes from 24 to 30 inches, the skirt could expand as much as fourteen inches at the waist and more at the hip.

Undergarments were also important; there is an emphasis on light-weight fabrics, since the usual layers of ruffled petticoats of 1907 could be heavy enough to cause a backache, even if the wearer was not pregnant.

Maternity undergarments, Ladies’ Home Journal, January 1907, bottom of p. 60. Tucks running around the petticoat and drawers could be let out as the front hem was pulled up by the baby bump.

Petticoat pattern 2913 description, LHJ, January 1907.

LHJ pattern 2913 for maternity undergarments, designed by H. C. Routery. 1907.

As an expanding abdomen lifted the skirt in front, the entire flounce could be lowered. From what I have seen, this problem was completely ignored by maternity dresses in the 1930’s.

Description of maternity corset cover pattern, LHJ 2911.

A maternity corset cover and maternity drawers (underpants), LHJ patterns 2911 and 2912 from 1907.

Description of maternity drawers pattern 2912, LHJ, Jan. 1907, p. 60.

There is the expectation that, after the baby is born, its mother will want to continue wearing these garments — they can be returned to her pre-baby size. Of course, most women probably did resort to wearing a “wrapper” housedress during the later months.

 

2 Comments

Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Accessory Patterns, Maternity clothes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Slips and Petticoats, Underthings, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Vintage patterns

Spring Prints, 1938

Maybe it was the result of seeing flowers in bloom that made women dress in print fabrics every Spring. In 1938, the flowers on the dresses were often big ones:

Two dresses for May, 1938. Butterick Fashion News flyer. Butterick 7847 and 7839.

Pattern descriptions and back views for Butterick 7847 and 7839, May 1938.

These (mostly floral) print dresses appeared in the Butterick Fashion News flyer in April and May of 1938.

Print dresses for Spring, 1938. Butterick store flyer, April 1938. Butterick 7813, left, and 7801, right.

 

Butterick dress pattern 7809 illustrated in a large-scale print fabric. Butterick store flyer, April 1938. Available up to bust size 44 inches.

Butterick patterns 7786, 7784, 7817, and 7795. Store flyer for April 1938.

Patterns for older and larger women were also illustrated in print fabrics. Butterick patterns 7802, 7799, and 7815; store flyer, April 1938. These were available up to size 50 or size 52.

Smaller and younger women could also find patterns — and print fabrics — to meet their needs.

Butterick 7862 was for women 5′ 4″ and under. Store flyer, May 1938.

7830, 7836, and 7828.

The “jacket frock” in the center is for Junior Miss figures up to bust size 38. Companion-Butterick patterns 7830, 7836, and 7828, from May 1938. The one on the right has print lapels and sash.

The dress on the cover for May 1938 was polka-dotted. Butterick 7857.

Left, a big floral print on Companion-Butterick 7829. Next, No. 7823 has a floral print sash. Its neckline is attributed to Vionnet’s influence. The dress with bows, No. 7827, is shown in a smaller, widely spaced white floral print. Right, No. 7825. All were available in a wide range of sizes, to fit either  young and small women (Sizes 12 to 20) or women up to bust 44″. Butterick store flyer, May 1938.

Bold border print fabrics were suggested for these “Beginners'” sewing patterns.

These patterns for inexperienced dressmakers use 52″ border prints. One has a zipper front, and neither has set-in sleeves. Butterick 7838 and 7864. May 1938.

Print fabrics were also suggested for Spring of 1939 — but there was a more youthful silhouette:

Butterick dresses for Spring, 1939. Patterns 8366, 8387, and 8372. Butterick Fashion News flyer, May 1939.

These sleeves and shoulders resemble those of the previous year, but in 1939, skirts were being worn much shorter — just at the bottom of the kneecap:

Butterick dress patterns from May 1938 (left) and May 1939 (right.) Butterick store flyers.

For May, 1939, a suit jacket and bodice are piped with the same polka-dotted fabric that makes the “pancake” hat, worn very far forward on the head. The hat is Butterick pattern 8359. The suit, with knee length skirt, is Butterick 8351.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under 1930s, 1930s-1940s, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes, Zippers