Some Maternity Clothes of the 1920’s and 1930’s

Ad for Lane Bryant maternity apparel, Vogue, 1920, Feb. 1, pg. 141

Ad for Lane Bryant maternity apparel, Vogue, 1920, Feb. 1, pg. 141

I’ve never been pregnant, so I have no experience with wearing maternity clothes. However, a few weeks ago I was trying to learn to use the ProQuest search engine (courtesy of my public library.) Under “Fashion,” I typed in “maternity.”  I now have quite a collection of articles giving maternity fashion advice from the 1920’s and 1930’s — and haven’t even begun to explore the decades before and after. The emphasis on “concealment” is striking.

Ad for Lane Bryant Maternity catalog, May, 1931.

“Designed to conceal condition and to provide for expansion. “Ad for Lane Bryant Maternity catalog, Good Housekeeping, May, 1931.

“Clothes that are designed solely for maternity wear are apt to look the part, and call attention to a woman’s condition. At this time you do not want to be conspicuous in any way. You want to look as much like other women as possible so there will be nothing to draw notice to you. It is much better to choose current styles that can be adapted to maternity wear and use them in preference to special maternity clothes.” — The New Dressmaker, circa 1921, from Butterick Publishing Company via Hearth.

(Nevertheless, Lane Bryant had been selling maternity clothes since the early 1900s. See the company history at Funding Universe. (Caution from McAfee security about some ads on that site.)

AD for Lane Bryant Maternity catalog, Good Housekeeping, May 1930.

“Dresses and Corsets in latest modes, designed to conceal condition.” Ad for Lane Bryant Maternity catalog, Good Housekeeping, May 1930.

Ad for Lane Bryant maternity catalog, Good Housekeeping, January 1932.

“Maternity apparel with no maternity look… conceals condition.” Ad for Lane Bryant maternity catalog, Good Housekeeping, January 1932.

Of course, clothes that could also be worn after the baby was born were a good thing for the budget.

Confinement: Confined to Home

I’ve read enough Victorian novels to realize that women in the upper levels of society were expected to stop appearing in public once their condition became obvious — perhaps because contemporary fashion simply couldn’t accommodate an eight or nine-month baby bump, but also because this evidence of sexual activity was considered distasteful. (Playwright Louise Lewis discusses the old ceremony of “Churching” women to purify them after childbirth here;  however, the ceremony was not exclusive to  Catholics. A much more detailed examination of the practice can be found here.)

Modern mothers who are expected to leave the hospital the day after birth and resume their normal work routine may feel envious of women who once were expected to rest for a few days — or weeks. Depending on the era and region, a woman might be “confined” to her home for several weeks either before or after giving birth. (A brief article summarizing Victorian pregnancy practices for the upper classes can be found here. Queen Victoria herself gave birth nine times.)

In an era when paying and receiving “calls” occupied a good portion of a lady’s week, receiving callers — in a tasteful tea-gown — meant that the mother-to-be was not completely cut off from social activity; friends came to her. Elegant tea-gowns or dinner-gowns were still prescribed in the 1920’s and 1930s.

Store-bought Dinner-gowns suggested for maternity wear; Vogue magazine, 1924 and 1928

Store-bought dinner-gowns or tea-gowns suggested for maternity wear; Vogue magazine, 1924 and 1928. The surplice line, right, (a diagonal front opening closed at the side) was often recommended for maternity wear. (I can just imagine those sleeves trailing through the soup….)

By sheer serendipity, you can read about tea-gowns from 1915 at American Age Fashion.

But what about daytime maternity dresses in the nineteen twenties? That tubular style, the distinctive low waist-line — often accented by a snug horizontal belt or band — how did that work with a baby aboard?

Three semi-made dresses, Good Housekeeping, March 1927, p. 64. The one on the right is a maternity dress.

Three semi-made dresses, Good Housekeeping, March 1927, p. 64. The one on the right is a maternity dress. Sizes 14 to 44, $12.50. [This is a good example of why I hate microfilmed magazines! They do not digitize well….]

Here are three Vogue patterns from 1927. Find the maternity dress:

Vogue patterns 9462, 9457, and 9463. July, 1928. One is a maternity dress pattern.

Vogue patterns 9462, 9457, and 9463. July, 1928. One is a maternity dress pattern.

Vogue, July 1928, page 75.

Vogue, July 1928, page 75. Frock 9463, on the right, is a maternity pattern for sizes 14 to 46. [Sizes 14, 16, 18 and 20 were for teens and small women. Average sizes were sold by bust measure, e.g., 46 inches.] The dress in the middle is for teens to age/size 17.

At least No. 9463 has a hem that dips in front — which would become level as the abdomen grew. It does not appear to have a pleat or seam in back which could be let out for increasing girth. Perhaps the entire bulge was supposed to go above the low belt. No. 9463 was also recommended for “the large woman,” as if a pregnant woman’s weight gain was distributed equally all over her body.

Earlier in the 1920s, Good Housekeeping offered a pattern for this maternity dress in an article about its construction. Oddly, the pleated panels seem to be decorative, rather than a means of expansion.

A maternity pattern from Good Housekeeping, August 1923.

A maternity pattern from Good Housekeeping, August 1923.

“The pattern for this dress is cut in twelve pieces, as follows: two waist [bodice] sections; two sleeves; two skirt sections; a vest; a girdle [sash]; two strips for plaited panels for waist and skirt (front and back); a plaited [pleated] collar; and band for elastic. The front waist [bodice] section has a dart which takes care of some of the extra fullness thrown in to allow for the development of the figure. The front skirt section is wider than the waist [bodice] section after the dart is taken up, but this extra fullness may be adjusted at the hip and under the pleated panels, to be let out when it becomes necessary to open the dart in the waist. The front skirt section also has an extension at the top, which can be let down as necessary to adjust to the figure.”

Adding about three inches to the top of the center front of the skirt in a curve which tapers to nothing at the sides  is actually a clever idea (if you don’t mind taking the dress apart at the waist seam every few weeks) since it adds length at the waist in front, keeping the hem even and untouched.

The girdle [sash] “should fold over at the hips, not tie. The ends should come well down the length of the skirt.” “Have strips for panels hemstitched and then plaited — fine knife plaiting which can be done by any of the small shops or by a department store. Be sure to caution the worker” that the pleats in the two panels should not all run in the same direction, but folding toward or away from each other. — Laura I. Baldt, “How to Make a Smart Maternity Frock” in Good Housekeeping, August 1923.

In July of 1926 Professor Baldt recommended this maternity pattern, also available from Good Housekeeping.

A Good Housekeeping maternity pattern, July 1926, p. 79.

A Good Housekeeping maternity pattern, July 1926, p. 79. (Sorry for the photo quality.)

“It is a loose-fitting model, easy to put on and take off, and, with a few alterations from time to time, it may be adjusted to the figure quite easily.” “When it is necessary, the darts in the waist [bodice] lining may be let out; the plaits in the vest may be let out and also in the skirt, the last one being laid much deeper than the others for this purpose.The hem on the front of the tunic may be let out also, as it has a generous hem allowance to provide for this.”– p. 164

These made-to-order “Practical maternity clothes” could be ordered from Good Housekeeping Shopping Service in 1925.

Practical maternity dresses from Good Housekeeping, February 1925, p. 62.

Practical maternity dresses from Good Housekeeping, February 1925, p. 62.

“The dress above is a dark blue (also comes in black or brown) crepe de Chine coat effect over a beige under-dress, 36 to 46, $20.50. Gown at right is also of crepe de Chine, all colors, 32 to 42, $49.50. Both models are excellent in line for maternity purposes.”

They would have been worn over a maternity corset — thought necessary for healthy support — like these:

"Maternity girdle with front and back lacings is of pink satin, $10. Back-lace maternity corset of brocade damask, $10. Brassiere $3.50. Good Housekeeping, Feb. 1925, p. 62.

“Maternity girdle with front and back lacings is of pink satin, $10. Back-lace maternity corset of brocade damask, $10. Brassiere $3.50. Good Housekeeping, Feb. 1925, p. 62.

Side views of maternity corset,girdle, an brassiere, Good Housekeeping, Feb. 1925.

Side views of maternity brassiere, girdle, and corset. Good Housekeeping, Feb. 1925.

Lane Bryant maternity corset ad, Vogue, Nov. 15, 1925, p. 159.

Lane Bryant maternity corset ad, Vogue, Nov. 15, 1925, p. 159.

Some fun, huh?

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Bras, Corsets, Corsets, Foundation Garments, Girdles, Hosiery & Stockings, Maternity clothes, Nightclothes and Robes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Underthings, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

A Three-Pattern Wardrobe for Teens and Twenties, March 1936

Companion-Butterick patterns 6629 and 6623, for teens, twenties, and small women. Woman's Home Companion, March 1936/

Companion-Butterick patterns 6629 and 6623, for teens, twenties, and small women. Woman’s Home Companion, March 1936.

These Spring dresses for “Teens and Twenties” are pretty sophisticated. Either would be a good choice for the office, as well as for the campus. Both have yokes that continue into the sleeves, a modest flare near the hem, and flattering vertical lines in their skirts.

Pattern 6629 has an unusual pointy design in the bodice — I think it’s a terrific look, and would also work with the yoke and sleeves in a lighter color than the body of the dress —  a very flattering style if you want your shoulders to look wider and your hips to look narrower.

Companion-Butterick pattern 6629 looks casual with short sleeves in a printed fabric; it looks dressy in a solid material with longer sleeves. WHC, March 1936.

Companion-Butterick pattern 6629 looks more casual with short sleeves, made in a printed cotton fabric; it looks dressy in a solid material (“blue-green silk crepe”) with longer sleeves. WHC, March 1936.

text-6629-whc-1936-mar-p-75-teen-three-pattterns-two-ways-6629-6623-btm

Look at the interesting backs of 6629 and 6623:

Back views of pattrens 6629 and 6623.

Back views of patterns 6629 and 6623. In these alternate views, the sleeves are wrist length. Dresses like these would usually have a concealed side seam closing under the left arm.

 

Companion-Butterick pattern 6623, WHC, March 1936, p. 75

Companion-Butterick pattern 6623, WHC, March 1936, p. 75. another versatile pattern — sporty or business-like. One has a square neckline, the other has a collar and a soft bow.

text-6623-whc-1936-mar-p-75-teen-three-pattterns-two-ways-6629-6623-btm

The “town” version of this pattern is a classic: variations of this dress with a yoke and stitched-down pleats were available in almost every decade that followed. Here’s a 1950’s Vogue pattern with yoke and pleats;  Here‘s a 1970’s Chanel;  a 1980’s Chanel,  a Vogue pattern from the 1980’s,  a YSL from the 1990’s….

I’m not absolutely sure what “size 20” translates to in 1936 — probably a 38 inch bust, since many patterns say “sizes 12 to 20; ladies 38 to 44.” Ladies’ sizes were sold by bust measurement and were for women over 5′ 4″ or so — as if women were never both short and in need of a 42″ bust measure….

In 1936, the Butterick sizes that I checked on the CoPA site were:

Size 14: Bust 32″, Waist 27, Hip 35

Size 16: Bust 34″, Waist 28, Hip 37

Size 18: Bust 36″, Waist 30, Hip 39

In addition to these dresses, WHC recommended this town or country suit as the third pattern for a six part wardrobe:

Companion-Butterick pattern 6648, March 1936, was for young women sized 12 to 20. Woman’s Home Companion.

Companion-Butterick pattern 6648, March 1936, was for young women sized 12 to 20. There are town and country versions. Woman’s Home Companion. The suit is navy blue wool with a “yellow chamois” blouse.

text-6648-whc-1936-mar-p-74-town-country-three-patterns-2-ways-6648-text-btm

The idea behind all three patterns was that, by making two versions of each, you would have a complete wardrobe of casual and dressy outfits. You could even combine the suit jacket with the dresses. And it’s true that making two dresses from the same pattern is a real time-saver. Once you have finished one dress from a pattern, the second version, in different fabric, goes together very quickly.

article-text-left-whc-1936-mar-p-74-town-country-three-patterns-2-ways-6648-text-btmarticle-text-right-whc-1936-mar-p-74-town-country-three-patterns-2-ways-6648-text-btm

 

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Filed under 1930s, Companion-Butterick Patterns, Sportswear, Vintage patterns

Victorian Era Maternity Clothing

A friend collected these vintage garments many years ago. She always had an interest in maternity fashions and other women’s issues, like active sports’ wear. I regret that I do not have better photos, but I suspect that these garments are not the kind that usually turn up in museums, so I’ll share what I have.

The one that I find most interesting is, sadly, the one with the worst photos.

Changeable taffeta basque bodice with fitted back and unfitted front, pagoda sleeves, Mid-Victorian. Private collection.

Changeable taffeta basque bodice with fitted back and unfitted front, pagoda sleeves, Mid-Victorian. Private collection. It this a maternity basque?

The changeable taffeta has tiny stripes, and photographs as brownish or bluish, depending on the angle.

For comparison, here is another Mid-Victorian basque from the same collection, also made of striped taffeta — but this one is definitely not suitable for maternity wear:

Mid-Victorian basque or bodice. The front closes in a V shape; the three-scalloped back is visible behind the V front as it lies on a table. Private collection.

Mid-Victorian basque or bodice. The front waist closes in a V shape decorated with ribbon; the three-scalloped back “tail” lined with self-fabric is visible behind the V front as it lies on a table. Private collection.

My friend believed the one with a very full front was a maternity basque, probably because there are two lines of hand stitching across its full front — once used to gather it in. You can see from the wrinkles in the taffeta that at one time it was gathered to a smaller size than it is now.

The "Maternity basque" has two lines of gathering threads, and the wrinkles show that it was gathered tightly at some point.

The “Maternity basque” has two lines of gathering threads across the front, and the wrinkles show that it was gathered tightly at some time.

Inside waist stitching of "maternity basque" -- it went through all layers. Here, the changeable taffeta on the outside appears blue.

Inside waist stitching of “maternity basque” — two lines of gathering went through all layers. Here, the changeable taffeta on the outside appears blue. The inside is cotton sateen, I think.

The hand-stitching it so tiny that only the occasional knot at the end of a thread betrays it.

The hand-stitching is so tiny that only the occasional knot at the end of a thread betrays it. This is quite different from the running-stitched gathers across the front.

The back lining, showing its tapered-to-the-waist fitted shape.

The back lining, showing its tapered-to-the-waist fitted shape.

Wrappers and Dressing Sacks, Late Victorian

Another option for the pregnant woman in a corseted, tight-waisted era was the wrapper. We would call it a robe, and the fancy versions for receiving callers were called “tea-gowns,” but they were made of many fabrics, from simple cotton prints to wool or luxurious silks. The cotton ones were often worn as house-dresses.

My friend probably bought this one because it might have been used by a pregnant woman. It is in the style of the 1890’s, with a black velvet yoke trimmed with black lace, a bow behind the high neck, and very full upper sleeves.

A lady's wrapper or house gown, late 1900's. This could be worn for breakfast, or for receiving visitors if necessary.

A lady’s wrapper or house gown, late 1800’s. This could be worn for breakfast, or for receiving visitors if necessary. It was so small it could not be buttoned on a size 2 mannequin.

I think the fabric is either wool challis or a wool-cotton blend. The back bodice is very fitted, the front very full.  Was it a maternity gown? I can’t be sure.

This is the way the garment would look on a tiny woman.

This is the way the garment would look when buttoned; it would only fit a tiny woman or adolescent girl.

Like many wrappers, it has a loose outer layer and a fitted inner bodice:

Under the loose, full front, there is a tightly fitted inner bodice.

Under the loose, full front, there is a tightly fitted inner bodice. The outer layer closes with hooks and eyes. The inner bodice held the back close to the body.

Wrappers from Sears (1900) were illustrated to show a similar inner lining — intended to take the place of a corset when breakfasting — or when you couldn’t wear a tight-waisted corset any more.

Wrappers from the Sears catalog, Spring 1900, show an inner bodice lining for support while not wearing a corset.

Wrappers from the Sears catalog, Spring 1900, show an inner bodice lining for support while not wearing a corset. Without the belt, the front would be loose and full.

The inner bodice seems to have adjustable lacing at the sides.

The inner bodice has lacing at the sides, for expansion as needed.

The inner bodice has lacing at the sides, for expansion as needed. The yoke probably fastens with hooks and eyes at one shoulder and armscye.

Of course, just because the hidden underbodice can be buttoned, that does not mean the wearer would have to button it completely. A woman could button just the outer yoke, or just the top buttons.

The tiny wrapper on a size 2 mannequin -- it won't close completely.

The tiny wrapper on a size 2 mannequin — it won’t close completely. When the yoke is closed, there is a great deal of fullness at center front.

A flannelette wrapper from Sears, 1896. This one has a Watteau back, a yoke, and characteristically huge 1895-6 sleeves.

A flannelette wrapper from Sears, 1896. This one has a full, Watteau back, a yoke, and huge Bishop sleeves. The waist [bodice] “is lined artistically.” The front yoke appears uninterrupted by an opening, so perhaps it lapped across and fastened at the shoulder like the one below.

This vintage wrapper is so worn that the velveteen yoke and collar are almost completely bald.

Late Victorian or ToC Wrapper, very worn.

Late Victorian Wrapper, very worn.

The fabric is heavy, and once went well with its rust red velveteen yoke, collar, and cuffs. This garment closes with hooks and eyes; possibly at the neck and shoulder under the yoke, and definitely under the back yoke. (I’m sorry I didn’t photograph it open; I have forgotten exactly how it worked.)

The yoke and collar wrap around to the back shoulder and close with hooks and eyes -- you would probably need help.

The yoke and collar wrap around to the back shoulder on one side and close with hooks and eyes — you would probably need help. The arrows point to bare patches on the fabric. There’s a narrow strip of rust-red plush neat the center arrow.

I love the fact that this shabby garment was collected, not for its beauty or condition, but because it is a record of an ordinary woman’s life.

Another possible maternity garment, in the days when middle-class women in an advanced stage of pregnancy remained at home, was the smock-like semi-robe known as a “dressing sack.” A descendant of the combing sacque, which was supposed to be worn while brushing or styling your hair, the one on the left is described as “made very loose at the waist. It is very comfortable and cooling.”

Two dressing sacks from Sears, Spring, 1900. The woman in the middle is showing the tight underbodice of her wrapper.

Two dressing sacks from Sears, Spring, 1900. The woman in the middle is showing the tight underbodice of her wrapper. “This wrapper is made with the celebrated corset waist [i.e., underbodice] as well as drawstrings around the waist. It s adjustable and can be fitted to any figure.” You can barely see the adjustable lacings.

Since, even in the 1930’s, maternity dresses were illustrated as if the women wearing them had no need for them, there is a lot of coded language in early descriptions. Perhaps the “celebrated corset waist” was merely a comfortable way to have breakfast before dressing for the day. But what about those expandable lacings, and that adjustable drawstring waist?

A wrapper style housedress with an internal corset and adjustable drawstring waist. Sears no. 63397, Spring 1900.

A wrapper style house dress with an internal corset and adjustable drawstring waist on the skirt lining. Sears No. 63397, Spring 1900.

 

 

 

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Filed under 1830s -1860s fashions, 1860s -1870s fashions, 1870s to 1900s fashions, Costumes for the 19th century, Late Victorian fashions, Maternity clothes, Mid-Victorian fashions, Nightclothes and Robes, Uncategorized, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing

Men’s Shoes in Color, from Esquire, 1933 and 1934

The very first issue of Esquire magazine, in Fall of 1933, included this full color illustration of a gentleman’s shoe wardrobe — the fall and winter version.

Men's shoe wardrobe, Esquire, Fall of 1933. age 112.

Man’s shoe and glove wardrobe, Esquire, Fall of 1933. Page 112.

For simplicity in identifying them, I have numbered the shoes in this closer view.

Shoes for men, Esquire. Fall, 1933.

Shoes for men, Esquire. Fall, 1933.

  1. “A pair of Norwegian ski boots, of the square toed hooked kind worn by experienced ski jumpers”
  2.  “Patent leather French pumps, designed … for being worn at home with dinner clothes… a lounge suit or dressing gown”
  3.  “Hard soled slippers of python skin”
  4.  “Brown wing tip shoe for informal town wear”
  5.  “Black town shoe with straight perforated tip, for slightly more ‘dressed up’ usage”
  6.  “The properly proportioned patent leather oxfords for evening wear.”
  7.  ” Norwegian calf brogues with blucher front, in the dark shade of briar brown that polishes to a reddish near-black”
  8.  “The correctly proportioned patent leather pumps for formal evening wear — that is, with the tailcoat.”

“The Norwegian calf brogues are really a sports and country item, but you can get by with them in town when your clothes are of the soft rough textured fabrics that have lately come into the town and business wardrobe.”

The brown wing tip and the black town shoe were the usual choices for business wear.

Left, a navy blue business suit, and right, a brown striped business suit. Esquire, March 1934, p. 106. The accompanying text tells us that the brown suit was much more informal than the navy one.

Left, a navy blue business suit, and right, a brown striped business suit. Esquire, March 1934, p. 106. The accompanying text tells us that the brown suit was much more informal than the navy one. Both are being worn with brown shoes.

450-shoes-1934-mar-p-106-color-business-dress-blue-suit-brown-suit-text

Shoes for summer were pictured in July of 1934, but the text was concerned with shoe care, polishes, brushes, etc.

Shoes and shoe care products for men, Esquire, July 1934, page 124.

Shoes and shoe care products for men, Esquire, July 1934, page 124.

Here is a closer view of the shoes. Several pairs are buck or buckskin, including “white bucks.” Shoes with rubber soles can also be seen.

Summer shoes for men, Esquire, July 1934.

Summer shoes for men, Esquire, July 1934.

Most of these “summer” shoes are for wear in the country, at sporting events, or on vacation.

Country clothes with an "old English' flavor. Esquire, Autumn 1933,, p. 100.

Country clothes with an “old English’ flavor. Esquire, Autumn 1933, p. 100.  The shoes look like brown buck with a thick rubber sole.

White buckskin shoes worn with white flannel slacks, resort wear for June 1934, Esquire, p. 121.

White buckskin shoes worn with light gray  flannel slacks, resort wear for June 1934, Esquire, p. 121.

450-shoes-white-buckskin1934-june-p-121-resort-tan-white

"Ahead of the crowd" spectator sport clothes, Esquire, Sept. 1934, p. 116.

“Ahead of the crowd” spectator sport clothes, worn with brown buck shoes. Esquire, Sept. 1934, p. 116.

I was surprised by how similar these “tan waxhide” 2016 shoes from Samuel Hubbard look.

A cotton sport jacket worn for tennis or spectator sports. Rubber soled shoes and white flannel trousers. Esquire, July 1934, p. 111.

A cotton sport jacket worn for tennis or spectator sports. Rubber soled spectator shoes and white flannel trousers. Esquire, July 1934, p. 111.

450-shoes-red-rubber-soles1934-july-p-111-cotton-jacket-sports-tennis-checks-resort-text

Two-toned shoes in black and white or brown and white were considered a bit too flashy in some circles. In England, they were sometimes called “co-respondent shoes;” when adultery was one of the only legal reasons for divorce, the “co-respondent” had to be named in the divorce court. Sometimes a gigolo was hired for this purpose — whether he actually wore two-toned shoes or not. Americans call them “Spectator shoes.” The Duke of Windsor wore them.

It’s a little surprising that Esquire was quite enthusiastic about brown shoes with gray or navy suits. Brown shoes could be polished every other day with a “deep red, like the famous Royal Navy Dressing,” to achieve a very dark red-brown, which was called “Oxblood” in the 1950s. This is an alternative to black with navy slacks.

Here, brown shoes are worn with a gray chalk striped suit, but the man wearing them is on vacation:

"The experienced traveler" is clearing customs in a chalk-striped suit worn with casual brown shoes. Esquire, July 1934.

“The experienced traveler” is clearing customs in a chalk-striped suit worn with casual brown shoes. Esquire, July 1934.

chalk-striped-suit-with-brown-shoes-esquire-july-1934-p-105

These Crosby Square shoes for men cost $6 to $7 dollars in 1934. Esquire, Sept. 1934, p. 162.

These Crosby Square shoes for men cost $6 to $7  in 1934. Esquire, Sept. 1934, p. 162.

This ad does not mention prices, but the Stetson Shoe company sold both formal dress men’s pumps and this brown wing tip brogue — for “college men.”

Ad for Stetson shoes for college men, Esquire, September 1934, p 160.

Ad for Stetson shoes for college men, Esquire, September 1934, p 160. Top, black leather pumps for formal evening wear; bottom, a brown, wing-tip brogue .

A “brogue” usually means that the shoe has decorative perforations. But the “Norwegian calf brogues” pictured at the top of this post seem to have much less perforated trim (if any) than the other “town shoes” in the same illustration. Maybe I will never master men’s shoe terminology….

Traditional perforated "town" or business shoes, and Norwegian brogues. Esquire, Autumn 1933.

Traditional perforated “town” or business shoes, and “Norwegian calf brogues with blucher front.” Esquire, Autumn 1933.

If you want an explanation of what “blucher” means, the Gentleman’s Gazette explains in a video. Click here. (Hint: it does not mean that straight line across the toe cap! Look at the laces.)

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Filed under 1930s, Men's Sportswear, Menswear, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Shoes, Shoes for Men

Blouses for Evening, November 1936

Butterick patterns chosen for the Woman’s Home Companion were almost always cost-conscious. These “Gay Blouses” featured in November of 1936 are illustrated in evening materials, to be worn with a long velveteen skirt. They require very little material — as little as one yard and a quarter.

Make a Gay Blouse from a Little Material," Woman's Home Companion, November 1936, p. 80

Make a Gay Blouse From a Little Material,” Woman’s Home Companion, November 1936, p. 80. Illustration signed McCuskin.

“How would you like to wear something glamorous and different to your next theater party or concert? If so, here is a practical suggestion. Make one of these formal blouses. You can do it in short order for the patterns are easy. And what is more, they require very little material. A remnant as short as one and one quarter or no longer than two yards is all you need for any one of them in size thirty-six.

“Here is a chance to indulge your taste for the most luxurious metal cloth, the softest satin, the richest velvet or the newest cloque. Any material shows to advantage in these simple designs.”

Companion-Butterick pattern 7074, dated 1936.

Companion-Butterick pattern 7074, dated 1936.

500 text 7074 whc 1936 nov p 80 gay blouse 7082 7078 7074

The Commercial Pattern Archive has Butterick pattern 7074, so you can see other views by clicking here.

Companion-Butterick pattern 7082, from Nov. 1936.

Companion-Butterick pattern 7082, from Nov. 1936.

500 text 7082 whc 1936 nov p 80 gay blouse 7082 7078 7074

“Smart women are wearing them with short sleeves to afternoon parties and even to dinner dances with their long-skirted suits. However, long sleeves are also included in the patterns.”

Companion-Butterick pattern 7078 from 1936.

Companion-Butterick pattern 7078 from 1936. I’m assuming that the large clip/brooch at the neck is optional jewelry.

500 text 7078 whc 1936 nov p 80 gay blouse 7082 7078 7074

Katharine Hepburn wore an outfit  with open sleeves (rather like pattern 7078) in the movie Christopher Strong, in 1933. It was issued as Butterick Pattern 5156.

Companion-Butterick pattern 7076 from November 1936, WHC.

Companion-Butterick pattern 7076 from November 1936, WHC. The squares at the neckline are probably not decorative buttons, but a pair of dress clips, a jewelry style popular in the nineteen thirties and forties.

500 7076 text whc 1936 nov p 80 gay blouse 7076

“There may be an extra skirt already hanging in your closet. If not, plain black, brown, or wine-colored velveteen would complete a rich-looking costume, deceptively rich-looking when you consider the small quantity of fabric and the simplicity.” — Woman’s H0me Companion, November 1936, p. 80.

Alternate views of patterns 7072. 7074, 7076, and 7082. 1936.

Alternate views of patterns  7078, 7082, 7074, and 7076.  WHC, Nov. 1936.

Elsa Schiaparelli had begun experimenting with textured fabrics in 1933, like this “boldly crinkled rayon crepe fabric called ‘treebark.’ ” (From Shocking: The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli, by Dilys Blum.)

Elsa Schiaparelli began using matelasse and other textured crepe fabrics in the early 1930s.

Elsa Schiaparelli began using matelasse and other textured crepe fabrics in the early 1930s.

An evening blouse made of a textured fabric — especially if it had metallic threads — would be quite chic.

The models’ close-to-the-head hairstyles are also interesting. Two of them appear to have long hair that has been rolled up at sides and back.

Rolled hair styles, Woman's Home Companion, Nov. 1936.

Rolled hair styles, Woman’s Home Companion, Nov. 1936.

Their flat crowns would be compatible with the brimless hats of 1936.

 

 

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Filed under 1930s, Companion-Butterick Patterns, Hairstyles, Uncategorized, Vintage patterns

Sanitary Protection: Tampax Introduced 80 Years Ago

Detail, Ad for Tampax tampons, Woman's Home Companion, March 1937, p. 124.

Detail, Ad for Tampax tampons, Woman’s Home Companion, March 1937, p. 124.

When I saw this ad — “A few short months ago many women heard about Tampax for the first time….” — in Woman’s Home Companion, March, 1937, I was surprised. It was like running into an old friend, and finding that she’s a lot older than you thought.

Text of ad for Tampax, March 1937. WHC, page 124.

Text of ad for Tampax, March 1937. WHC, page 124.

“The first ad [for Tampax] appeared on Sunday, July 26, 1936, in the American Weekly. A Sunday supplement that was inserted in many major newspapers, it claimed the greatest circulation in the world, some 11 million buyers.”– Tampax history

I realize that discussing women’s sanitary needs is still not comfortable for many of us. However, now that the discussion of sales taxes on sanitary products is in the news, we are going to have to get comfortable discussing a normal function which about 51% of the world’s population experiences at regular intervals for approximately half of their lives.

"The proof is in the Wearing," said this Kotex ad in WHC, Nov. 1937. Pg. 119

“The Proof Is in the Wearing,” said this Kotex ad in WHC, Nov. 1937. Pg. 119. Women only discussed it in whispers….

I’m not sure which college dormitory friend coached me through my first use of a tampon from an adjoining bathroom stall — but I owe her a big “thank you!” In the sixties, if you found yourself in need of sanitary protection while visiting a friend’s house, and you asked her “if she had something,” she would usually ask your preference: “Mattress or plug?” — our way of classifying pads and tampons. But, until 1936, there was no choice.

Even before Tampax, vintage ads for Kotex and Modess pads were very discrete, lest young minds learn too soon about “feminine secrets.”

From an ad for Modess. Illustration by Dynevor Rhys. Delineator, April 1931.

From an ad for Modess. Illustration by Dynevor Rhys. Delineator, April 1931. It could be an ad for chic accessories.

The ads often featured women in slinky white dresses — or engaging in active sports while wearing white sportswear.

A 1933 ad for the Kotex Equalizer, with "Phantomized ends." Delineator, Sept. 1933. p. 77.

A 1933 ad for the Kotex Equalizer, with “Phantomized ends.” Delineator, Sept. 1933. p. 77.

Detail, Kotex ad, Delineator, August 1933.

Detail, Kotex ad, Delineator, August 1933. Sailing in white clothes.

When I learned about menstruation in the Girl Scouts, and again in the classroom (“girls only” for that “special” movie or filmstrip,) only external pads were mentioned. Until then (roughly 1954) my friends and I had been so puzzled by what came out of the dispenser in the ladies’ room at the VFW post that we once used some of our candy money to find out what came out of the dispenser. (Our parents were playing Bingo.) What we got was a box. We opened the box. It seemed to be full of white packing material, so we pulled it apart, and found nothing inside. (No Cracker Jack toy!) At this point, a grown up lady whom we did not know found us, accused us of being “filthy” little girls, and reported to our folks that we had been caught doing something nasty in the restroom. We remained bewildered. Why would you pay money for a box with nothing in it? The stuff in the box was clean and white, if not very interesting. So why was it “dirty” and “disgusting?”

In western society, women were (and as far as I know, still are) not eager to broadcast the fact that they are menstruating. And we still worry about “leaks”  — nobody wants to leave a bloodstain on the upholstery. So, many ads emphasized “safety.”

This 1937 ad for Kotex pads emphasized comfort --"can't chafe" even during active sports -- and safety -- "Can't fail" even on a long airplane trip. top of ad, Delineator, August 1937.

This 1937 ad for Kotex pads emphasized comfort — “Can’t Chafe” even during active sports — and safety — “Can’t Fail” even on a long airplane trip. Top of ad, Delineator, August 1937.

Bottom of Kotex ad, Aug. 1937. "Kotex can't fail" and "Kotex can't show."

Bottom of Kotex ad, Aug. 1937. “Kotex can’t fail” and “Kotex can’t show.”

Young women who have never known a sanitary pad that didn’t adhere to the crotch of a normal pair of panties may not understand the constant emphasis on “absolute invisibility.” “Even the sheerest dress, the closest-fitting gown, reveals no tell-tale lines or wrinkles.” “The rounded ends of Kotex are flattened and tapered to provide absolute invisibility.” And let’s not forget those “Phantomized ends.”

Consider the text of that early Tampax ad:

Detail of ad for Tampax, 1937.

Detail of early ad for Tampax, 1937.

That’s right — in the 20th century, before Tampax, a bulky pad had to be safety-pinned to an elastic belt. At each end of the pad was several inches of the wrapping material, without padding. This was pinned to the belt (in the 1920’s) or pulled through the celluloid or plastic device on the belt (in the 1930’s and for decades after), then folded back on itself, which made a lump fore and aft.

Sanitary belts and supplies from Sears catalog, 1924

Sanitary belts and supplies from Sears catalog, 1924. Notice the safety pins.

Ads for Beltx personal belt, with celluloid tabs for holding the ends of the napkin. Delineator, July and June 1929.

Ads for Beltx personal belt, with celluloid tabs for holding the ends of the napkin. An apparatus like this eliminated the need for safety pins. Delineator, July and June 1929.

Sanitary belts and a sanitary pad from Sears Catalog, 1937.

Sanitary belts and a sanitary pad from Sears Catalog, 1937. The safety pins are attached to prevent dropping them and losing them — a disaster if you weren’t at home and didn’t have another safety pin.

Sanitary belts from Sears catalog, 1937. You can see a pad with its end pulled through the clasp at top left.

Sanitary belts from Sears catalog, 1937. You can see a pad with its end being pulled through the clasp/tab1920s 1930s at top left. This is the kind of sanitary protection we girls were taught to use in the 1950’s.

Obviously, clinging silk dresses or knits would reveal bulges. ” ‘I warn women when they have gowns fitted,’ says a famous Modiste:’ ”

Text of a Kotex ad, Delineator, March 1929, p. 107.

Text of a Kotex ad, Delineator, March 1929, p. 107.

Image from Kotex ad, Delineator, March 1929, p. 107.

Image from the same Kotex ad, Delineator, March 1929, p. 107.

Modess Vacation ad, Delineator, July 1931.

Modess Vacation Special ad, Delineator, July 1931.

“Why worry about summertime protection? You can wear Modess under your sheerest dresses with an easy feeling of perfect safety — perfect comfort. The softly fluffed filler is cool and evenly absorbent. Modess will never be conspicuous, because the edges and corners are carefully rounded and it smoothly fits to the figure. It is deodorant — easily disposable.”

It can’t have been easy writing ad copy for a product that couldn’t be pictured, and whose purpose could only be hinted at. Here, a woman sits nervously while people in the background seem to be making fun of her.

Top of Modess ad, Ladies' Home Journal, 1936, p. 77.

Top of Modess ad, Ladies’ Home Journal, probably 1936, p. 77.

“What is this woman afraid of? Often a haunting fear spoils good times. But now — women can say goodbye to all that!”

In the second picture, thanks to Modess, she is playing golf in a white dress — with no fear of embarrassment.

Bottom of Modess ad, 1936.

Bottom of Modess ad, 1936.

In another ad, women ride bicycles while wearing pale-colored (probably white) dresses. White emphasized the “safety” from leaks and the sanitary”/”hospital cleanliness” of disposable pads. (And disposable pads were a a lot more pleasant than earlier home-made pads of folded fabric which had to be boiled clean after every use….)

Modess ad, September 1936. Woman's Home Companion.

Modess ad, September 1936. Woman’s Home Companion.

Nurses often appeared in ads for sanitary products, although images of the finished product itself were hard to find in popular magazines. (Images from the factory production line were acceptable.)

Kotex ad, Feb. 1932. Delineator.

Kotex ad, Feb. 1932. Delineator. “The known immaculacy of genuine Kotex.”

Nurses in Kotex ads. 1924 and 1932.

Nurses in Kotex ads, 1924 and 1932. They are not holding the product itself.

What really amazed me as I collected these images was the difference between close-fitting “sanitary protection” underwear and normal ladies’ underpants. Whether you call them “knickers,” or “bloomers,” or “combinations” these variations on women’s underpants from 1924-1925 are long and bulky:

Women's underwear, 1924: knickers, a "combination," and and "envelope chemise" which buttons at the very low crotch. Butterick patterns

Women’s underwear, 1924: knickers, a “combination,” and an “envelope chemise” which buttons at the very low crotch. Butterick patterns 3197, 4112, and 5059. The number sequence implies that the combination first appeared in the catalog in 1924.

Knickers or bloomers from women, 1925. Butterick patterns

Knickers or bloomers for women, 1925. Butterick patterns 6194 and 5705. These were worn by young women as well as by their mothers, and can sometimes be glimpsed in silent movies. (Note the use of elastic.) Delineator.

And yet, this is a pair of 1924 sanitary bloomers made by Kleinert’s (a company that also made underarm shields and baby pants — all products which used rubber as well as cloth.)

Kleinert's Blue-Line Santalettes, sanitary protection underpants, in an ad from September. Delineator. 1924.

Kleinert’s Blue-Line Santalettes, sanitary protection underpants, in an ad from Delineator, September, 1924.

By 1936, close-fitting women’s briefs as we now know them were finally appearing:

Panties and combination garments from 1936, Ladies Home Journal, August.

Panties and combination garments from 1936, Ladies Home Journal, August.

Ad for Spun Lo rayon knit panties, WHC, Dec. 1936, p. 89.

Ad for Spun-Lo rayon knit panties, WHC, Dec. 1936, p. 89. They appear to be very sheer — and ample….

But by then, Kleinert’s was selling what we would call a “French cut brief” for sanitary protection :

Ad for Kleinert's Sani-Scant, Delineator, April 1937.

Ad for Kleinert’s Sani-Scant, Delineator, April 1937. A traditional (but improved?) sanitary belt was also offered. Doesn’t that Sani-Scant look modern?

Kleinert’s knew how to make a pair of briefs that fit close to the body in 1924. But women didn’t get used to wearing sleek, close-fitting undies — except for long johns — for quite a while.

In 1931, the term "panties" was replacing "knickers" or "bloomers" in the U.S. Delineator, Sept. 1931.

In 1931, the term “panties” was replacing “knickers” or “bloomers” in the U.S. Delineator, Sept. 1931. Butterick patterns 4012 and 3798.

Apparently air circulation around “the privates” was preferred — at least, for most days of the month.

And the acceptance of internally worn sanitary products “even for unmarried girls” also had to overcome considerable prejudice in the thirties and later. (So did the use of anesthetics during childbirth, but we got over that, too….)

Sadly, some of the “ingredients” put into tampons — fragrances, synthetic materials, etc. — during the 1970’s and 1980’s caused fatal infections in some women. (Back in the 1930’s cellulosic materials –i.e., rayon, or plant based–  were used in external pads, but they turned out to be a bad idea in tampons.) It turns out that 75% of cases of Toxic Shock Syndrome were related to one specific brand of tampon: Rely.  It was withdrawn from the market.

There is an excellent history of the tampon in the Atlantic magazine which discusses toxic shock syndrome [TSS], ingredients that caused it, and legislation concerning tampons.  In 2015, Representative Carolyn Maloney introduced a bill regarding independent testing of the safety and ingredients of tampons, with oversight by the FDA. The Atlantic gave it just a 2% chance of passing in Congress.  In May of 2016, 40 states still charged sales tax on tampons, as if they were a not a necessity for women, but something we could easily do without. (Unlike candy, or potato chips….)

Here’s a possibly relevant fact: “When Sally Ride became the first American woman in space, NASA engineers asked her whether 100 tampons would be enough for her weeklong journey on the space shuttle Challenger—arguably helping cement the tampon’s reputation as both a fixture of modern womanhood and a complete mystery to men.” [My italics] — Ashley Fetters, writing  in The Atlantic. (A magazine which, as it happens, used to be called The Atlantic Monthly.)

Anyway, “Happy Belated 80th Birthday” to Tampax — a product that made my life a lot more pleasant.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, 1950s-1960s, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Underthings, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc

Make Your Own German Silver Jewelry: November 1936

Hand-Wrought Jewelry in designs from the sea" which could be made with instructions from Woman's Home Companion. November, 1936.

“Hand-Wrought Jewelry in designs from the sea” which could be made with instructions from Woman’s Home Companion. November, 1936.

I’m used to seeing knitting patterns and dress patterns in women’s magazines, but this little article from November, 1936, surprises me. “These pieces are far more easily made than you may think to look at the illustrations. The tools are few and simple and the materials inexpensive.” Were “German silver and pewter” really inexpensive? Surely you’d need to use the tools on more than one project to justify the cost of buying them. I wonder if there were more patterns like this one.

text WHC 1936 nov p 133 hand made silver jewelry to make from pattern H 694 top

German Silver nadn Pewter jewelry to make from a pattern and instructions sold be Woman's Home Companion. Nov. 1936, page 133.

German Silver and Pewter jewelry to make from a pattern and instructions sold by Woman’s Home Companion. Nov. 1936, page 133.

The sea horses are dress clips; the seagull and angelfish are brooches, and the bracelet has links featuring stylized skate, crab, octopus, and John Dory fish images.

How to order WHC pattern H-694 for make-your-own sliver jewelry. 1936.

How to order WHC pattern H-694 for make-your-own silver jewelry. 1936.

I wonder if anyone has seen these vintage costume jewelry pieces? And wondered why they were not signed or stamped….

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