Monthly Archives: January 2014

Companion-Butterick ‘Triad’ Patterns, 1930s

Woman's Home Companion, January 1937

Woman’s Home Companion, January 1937

Although pattern sales rose during the Great Depression, Butterick’s magazine, Delineator, was struggling by 1936 and abruptly stopped publication after April, 1937. However, Butterick had already formed an alliance with Woman’s Home Companion magazine. Beginning in March, 1936, Woman’s Home Companion began to offer Companion-Butterick patterns instead of its own patterns.

While Butterick’s Delineator had always emphasized the influence of Paris couture and aimed at the upper middle class consumer, Woman’s Home Companion was more budget-conscious. It often emphasized value for money, and ran a series of versatile Companion-Butterick ‘Triad’ patterns. The original idea was to get “three dresses from one pattern,” but in some cases five or six versions of the same pattern were illustrated, in full color.

Three Dresses from One Companion-Butterick PatternWHC jan 1937 p 43 Butt triad pattern 7164 three dresses

These three dresses ‘for the business girl’ promise to take you from 9 am to 9 pm – one is a version is a floor length housecoat. The editor appeals to the efficiency of the businesswoman: “Consider what a good Triad pattern can do for you.” Making three dresses from the same pattern can be done “with a minimum of effort, since cutting three designs from one pattern is so easy.” And “it can stretch your clothes budget to include a new accessory or two.”WHC jan 1937  p 43 7164 descript text rt

Woman's Home Companion, Jan. 1937

Woman’s Home Companion, Jan. 1937

Note that the version which appears have a jacket is actually a dress with a peplum attached its belt.

Six Dresses from One Pattern: Companion-Butterick # 7204

Woman’s Home Companion, February 1937

Woman’s Home Companion, February 1937

“This what I call a personality pattern, because the styles you can make from it are as individual as your moods.”  This pattern is for young women: Junior Misses sizes 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 18, or women’s [bust] sizes 30 to 38 inches. “Make six at a time – it’s so easy.”WHC feb 1937 p 67 central Butterick companion #7204

“A young friend” found that making all six dresses “did not take her very long, because the pattern is so simple and the oftener she used it the easier it became.”

“She began with a dress for her most sophisticated self, her woman-of-the world moods. It was navy blue rough silk crêpe splashed with large white piqué flowers at the base of the V neck and matched by low-heeled bucko shoes – perfect for early spring in town.”  [Bucko was the inside of a heavy calf-skin leather.]

WHC feb 1937  p 67 btm left Butterick companion #7204[Left]  “Next she got the brightest cotton print she could find, cut it out, sewed it up, tied a plain-colored sash at the waist and fastened a string of large beads around her neck. She had a gay time at her next informal party.” [Center]  “For rustic moods – and any possible picnics – she made herself a rough neutral linen banded with rows of red and green rickrack braid, peasant fashion.” [Peasant and ‘Tyrol’ styles were quite popular before WW II.]

WHC feb 1937  p 67 btm right Butterick companion #7204

[Left] In behalf of that occasional urge to look soft and feminine she chose something more fragile – sheer cotton printed with a green and white fern design and tied with a huge white organdie bow.” [Center] “Because a crisp dress is one cure for different moods she decided on wine-colored piqué and finished all the edges with fresh white rickrack braid. This turned out to be one of her favorites for daily use.”  [Right] At the country club she wanted at least to look the part of a smart sportswoman. So she developed a tailored effect with a purple kerchief and belt on pale blue linen.” Quotes are from Ethel Holland Little, an editor at Woman’s Home Companion.

Moveable Decoration; and More Possibilities

Although the article does not mention it, the flower trim and the organdie bow would be removable for washing, and therefore interchangeable. Using the white bow on the green dress, the red dress, or even the pale blue or yellow print dress would increase the ‘looks’ possible. Also, although not illustrated, the pattern can be made with long sleeves. And I can vouch for the fact that, when you make the same pattern repeatedly, the time it take to complete a garment is drastically reduced!



Filed under 1930s, Vintage patterns

Two Whiting and Davis Mesh Bags, 1924

Whiting and Davis Gift Bags (Purses) 

Whiting & Davis Christmas Ad, December 1924

Whiting & Davis Christmas Ad, December 1924

The number of surviving enameled mesh bags by Whiting and Davis amazes me, as does the variety of designs and vivid colors. No wonder they are collectors’ items! Two ads from The Delineator magazine, 1924, one a Christmas ad, and one from May, suggest giving Whiting and Davis bags as presents. Those were the only months when Whiting and Davis ran ads in the magazine.

That made me realize that most of these beautiful bags that have survived in perfect condition were probably gift items.  And, at original prices from five to five hundred dollars, they were very nice gifts, indeed. 1924 dec p 90 whiting davis mesh bag adAccording to Farrell-Beck and Gau’s Uplift,  p. 39, “Among women in clerical and business jobs, the annual median wage in the late 1920s was $1,548  [i.e., less than $30 per week.] Weekly paychecks ranged from $6 for an office girl to $40 for a skilled bookkeeper.”  Even a $5 evening bag was a luxury item for most women. And, like many gifts, I suspect that a lot of the most spectacular enameled purses were rarely, if ever, used. It’s hard to coordinate a dazzling bag in elaborate patterns and colors with anything but a solid-colored dress, lovely as the bag may look in its gift box.

Christmas Gift, 1924: A Whiting and Davis Vanity or Utility Mesh Bag

Whiting & Davis Christmas Ad, December 1924

Whiting & Davis Christmas Ad, December 1924

This advertisement, from The Delineator, December 1924, gives prices and describes two different bags: The tiny ‘Delysis’ Vanity Mesh Bag, hanging from the arm of the woman in the illustration, has “two mirrors and separate compartments for rouge, powder, and handkerchief.” 1924 dec whiting davis bag ad xmas delysis1924 dec p 90 big whiting davis mesh bag ad

The ‘Utility’ Mesh bag [left] is “silk lined, with Vanity Mirror.”  Available from “leading jewelers and jewelry departments; $5 to $500.”

Bridal Gift, 1924: A Whiting and Davis Bag in Gold or Silver Soldered Mesh

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

In the May issue of the same magazine, the Whiting and Davis advertisement suggested that their Renaissance Design bag [right] “in shimmering silver or mellow gold” would be an ideal gift for the bride, or as a gift from the bride to her bridesmaids. “Doubly dear to feminine hearts for its smart correctness, as well as its daily usefulness.”

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The Renaissance bag, of “Soldered Mesh” is the ‘chain mail’ type, not the flat, very shiny linked bags which are still made today.

[Note the size in relation to a woman’s hand. Apparently, the woman of 1924 did not have to carry as many objects in her daytime handbag as we do now!]


Filed under 1920s, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Uncategorized, Vintage Accessories

Underpinning Twenties Fashions: Girdles and Corsets

Frances Clyne dress, Gossard elastic Step-in girdle, original photo by Steichen

Frances Clyne dress, Gossard elastic Step-in girdle, original photo by Steichen

Flat in Front, Flat in Back

Bien Jolie Flexible Corsette ad, July 1924

Bien Jolie Flexible Corsette ad, July 1924

In our breast-obsessed culture — the culture of push-up bras, cleavage, silicone, and breast augmentation surgery – we are bewildered by the early 1920s fashion ideal, which emphasized a curve-free, flat-chested silhouette.

Most people have heard that women “bound their breasts” to achieve a boyish figure.  (I always pictured Ace bandages used like mummy wrappings, but I now know better. I’ll be showing some 1920s brassieres in a later post.)

This ad for a corsette or corselet, as they were sometimes called, shows a lightly boned combination brassiere and girdle creating the ideal silhouette of the early 20s.

What we forget is that the ideal twenties figure was as flat in back as it was in front.

Warner's Wrap-Around Corset Ad, 1925

Warner’s Wrap-Around Corset Ad, 1925

Even slender women required some help in achieving an unnaturally flattened bottom.

500 1925 april p 69 bon ton corset photo

Illustration of a woman having a dress fitted, from an ad for Bon Ton Corsets, April 1925.

500 bonton corset ad april 1925 wide

Two corsets from the same ad for Bon Ton Corsets, Delineator, April 1925.

Sports Girdle, 1924

Warren's Featherbone Girdle for Sports, 1924

Warren’s Featherbone Girdle for Sports, 1924

This Warren’s “Featherbone” sports girdle was for active women, but its “flat back is a noteworthy feature.”

Treo Girdle Ad, May 1925 (Click to Enlarge)

Treo Girdle Ad, May 1925 (Click to Enlarge)

You can compare it with this 1925 Treo girdle for average figures.

The Warren’s Featherbone allows the legs to move more easily, but does not allow for any development of the gluteal muscles.

Back Flattening Corsets for Larger Women

Larger women needed more help.1924 dec p 68 flattening corset top

1924 dec p 81 just bon ton corset flat“The full-figured woman may easily attain the stylish flat back and slender, youthful lines with …specially designed Bon Ton Round-U corsets…. Model 886 is a special design for excessive hips and lower back … [with] wide sections of substantial elastic beneath the corset which checks, controls, and reduces superfluous flesh and creates much desired lines of fashion.”1924 april short photo H W flattening corset p 111

An H & W girdle from 1924 “gives a perfect contour by holding down the hip and holding in the abdomen.” At $10.00, it is also expensive. The average working woman earned less than $30 a week in the 1920s. (Source: Uplift, by Beck and Gau,  p. 39)

Average Measurements, 1925

The 1925 Gossard girdle advertisement, with its embroidered dress from Frances Clyne, which appears at the top of this post contained this description of “average measurements” for an American Girl, 5′ 4″: chest 34″, waist 26″, hips 35″. Presumably, she was wearing a girdle. flat with measurement text


Filed under 1920s, Corselettes, Corsets, Corsets & Corselettes, Girdles, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Koret Purses, Aris Gloves, 1934

The Clutch Bag, 1930s

A zippered clutch bag with a Schiaparelli-inspired coat, 1934

A zippered clutch bag with a Schiaparelli-inspired coat, 1934

In his book Zipper,  Robert Friedel explained that in 1923, handbag framers went on strike. With normal handbag production stopped, the manufacturers realized that a purse that closed with a zipper could be made by a seamstress, and would not need a frame.  Men’s tobacco pouches already used zippers; a flat or fold-over purse was a logical development.  Indirectly, the 1923 framers’ strike led to the fashion for clutch purses in the 1930s.

'Envelop' purses, Butterick transfer pattern # 16147, 1931

‘Envelop’ purses, Butterick transfer pattern # 16147, 1931

You could make your own quilted “Envelop” purses from a Butterick craft /embroidery transfer pattern, dated 1931. The fabrics recommended for these Art Deco bags are satin, flat crêpe, taffeta, or, for evening use, velvet. The pattern description doesn’t call for a zipper, but by 1931, according to Friedel, manufactured purses were using 35% of the nation’s zipper supply (p. 174).

Koret Bags for Spring, 1934

The Vintage Traveler has written on the Koret Company’s history  and one of its later designers, Magda Makkay[Koret of California, a sportswear manufacturer, was not connected to the Koret purse company.]  In a 1934 Delineator  article about accessories for Spring, several Koret purses were featured. 1934 march p 17 top rt koret bags - Copy

Above:  “Accessories to wear to a chic luncheon include a string-leather belt with a metal buckle, Stern; a monogrammed [zippered] bag, Koret; and beige suede stitched gloves, Aris.” 1934 march top left delman shoes koret bags p 17Above:  “Town accessories for a tailored suit: a sharply striped silk scarf, Stern Brothers  ; very flat envelop bag of fabric, Koret; perforated suede oxfords, Delman; clip watch.”1934 march p 17 btm rt koret bags btm rt - Copy

Above:  “Vary a tailored suit with this fabric bag, Koret; suede gloves, Aris; and a spotted linen handkerchief and a black enameled cigaret case, both from Stern.”1934 march p 17 btm leftdelman shoes koret bags btm left - Copy

Above:  “For a legal cocktail before dinner wear, with a black town suit, patent pumps with a strip trimming, Delman; and a bag to match, Koret; black suede gloves, Aris; and enameled cigaret case, Stern.” Prohibition had recently ended, in December, 1933, so it was possible to have a ‘legal cocktail’ for the first time in 13 years. The Delman shoe company and Aris gloves are still in business. 1934 april p 70 easterwomen with clutch pursesBoth women are carrying clutch, or ‘envelop’ purses with their Easter outfits, April 1934.  [Butterick pattern illustration from Delineator magazine.]

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Filed under 1930s, A Costumers' Bookshelf, Shoes, Vintage Accessories

Perfolastic Reducing Girdle, 1934

Perforated Rubber Girdle, 19341934 feb perfolastic girdle ad p 76It’s not surprising that women who hadn’t paid much attention their waist measurements in the 1920s found themselves desperately trying to reduce their waists and hips when the clinging fashions of the 1930s appeared.

Butterick dress patterns, January 1934

Butterick dress patterns, January 1934  (Click to Enlarge)

The early thirties fashion silhouette was long and lean, and bias cut gowns clung to every figure flaw.

Halter evening gown, 1932

Halter evening gown, 1932

Madame X Reducing Corset, 1924

“A wrap-around all rubber corset, made of sheet rubber and called Madame X, appeared in the U.S.A. in 1923 but was short-lived. Similar garments were launched more successfully in the ‘thirties,… made with perforations and therefore more healthy and comfortable.” — Elizabeth Ewing, Fashion in Underwear.

The dropped-waist fashions of the 1920s exaggerated the width of a woman’s hips, so the Madame X “reducing corset” should have appealed to many women. [1920s dress patterns often ran to size 44, with a hip measurement of 47 1/2 inches, which would look very wide indeed with a horizontal belt running around the hip.]

Front & Back Viewes, Madame X Reducing Girdle, November 1924

Front & Back Views, Madame X Reducing Girdle, November 1924

Ads for Madame X emphasized the reducing properties of “live rubber,” [like a portable sweat-box?] but this 1920s back-lacing reducing corset was intended to be worn over a chemise and bloomers, or a ‘combination” step-in undergarment, which would have absorbed some perspiration.

The Perfolastic Reducing Girdleperfolastic girdle 1934

The Perfolastic Girdle of the 1930s was worn next to the skin, so it was perforated, theoretically allowing some perspiration to escape.  Imagine what your skin would have looked like when you took it off!


Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, A Costumers' Bookshelf, Corsets & Corselettes, Girdles, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture

Chew Gum for Beauty, Part 2: Wrigley Ad, 1932

Wrigley Chewing Gum Ad, Delineator, March 1932 (Click to Enlarge)

Wrigley Chewing Gum Ad, Delineator, March 1932 (Click to Enlarge)

“It’s a SCIENTIFIC FACT — if beautiful American women are to preserve their teeth, which have so much to do with their GOOD LOOKS, they will have to give their teeth more chewing.”

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Starting in 1930, the Wrigley Company began a series of advertisements claiming that gum chewing was a beauty aid.  (The first ad I wrote about explained that gum was an ancient Aztec beauty secret, which kept lips shapely and prevented wrinkles.)  It’s good to see that some humor was allowed in their later 1930s ads, although more often the idea was to sell chewing gum as a beauty treatment:

Wrigley's Ad, Delineator, November 1931 (Click to Enlarge)

Wrigley’s Ad, Delineator, November 1931 (Click to Enlarge)

“The chewing brings charm to the face by overcoming that set look about the mouth and lips which excitement and nervousness reflect.  Furthermore, Scientists tell us chewing stimulates natural, freer circulation which brings sparkles to the eyes and a higher color to the cheeks…. As a new Beauty Aid, enjoy a fresh stick ten minutes twice daily.”


Filed under 1920s-1930s, Cosmetics, Beauty Products, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture

Shoes from Paris, 1928, Part 2: Netch et Bernard (and Vionnet)

Shoes from Paris to Wear with the New Winter Frocks, Delineator, Oct. 1928

Shoes from Paris to Wear with the New Winter Frocks, Delineator, Oct. 1928

Netch and Bernard (and Madeleine Vionnet) Part 2:  

In a previous post about Shoes from Paris to Wear with the New Winter Frocks, from Delineator magazine,  October, 1928, I described the shoes by Ducerf Scavini pictured on the left hand page.  This post is about the right hand page, with shoes by Netch et Bernard.  [Vionnet married Netch (Captain Dimitri Netchvolodoff) in 1923.]  Netch et Frater shoes can be seen in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum, but I haven’t found any references online to Netch et Bernard.  The Delineator article was written by Marie Beynon Ray.  Her chief point was that “Many American manufacturers still continue to copy the most bizarre and striking of the French designs, and to cheapen and debase the finer ones,” resulting in a “popular misconception of French chic.”

The French Revolution in Shoes

“Ten – a dozen years ago – a shoe was merely a utility, a high boot, buttoned and laced, in brown or black leather, sturdily made to do the heaviest service of any article in the entire wardrobe…. Then came the French revolution in shoes – daytime shoes cut like evening slippers, made of the lightest and most perishable of leathers, and frankly proclaiming themelves articles of luxury…. American manufacturers, missing the spirit of French innovation, seized upon its most superficial characteristics, and produced abortions and eccentricities. The most startling and bizarre styles of the third-rate Parisian bottiers who cater to American gullibility were generally selected as models by manufacturers instead of the restrained and elegant but far less noticeable designs of the master craftsmen; and America was swept by a tidal wave of bad taste in footwear. These snub-nosed, be-ribboned, and be-jazzed atrocities were made and sold by the millions in America….”

The Truly Smart Frenchwoman’s Shoes

The truly smart Frenchwoman’s shoes are designed “to finish the foot inconspicuously and in perfect harmony with the costume…. Her preferred footgear for evening is a plain beige satin slipper or one matching the color of her gown or her other accessories….1928 oct paris shoes article p 118 rt big Netch et Bernard Netch et Bernard’s model, labeled Q on these pages, may appear a bit unusual, … as far as any really smart Frenchwoman will ever go on the road to eccentricity; and when you consider that this evening slipper can be made inconspicuously in flesh colored crêpe de Chine, piped with flesh colored kid, to be worn with matching stockings… you will admit that there is nothing bizarre about it.”

Ten Netch et Bernard Shoes, Fall of 1928

There are several pairs of shoes in the Metropolitan Museum’s collection signed Netch and Frater, and dated to the 1930s,  but I haven’t found any references to Netch et Bernard. Perhaps the company reorganized between 1928 and 1930, or perhaps Delineator Magazine was in error.  Shoes Q and S, which the article decribes as “a bit unusual,” must have been influential, since they appear to be the ancestors of many shoes familiar to vintage dealers.  The Met’s collection reminds us of the glorious colors possible.Netch et Bernard K to N

K. Saddle strap shoe. This is dark brown with darker saddle of unborn calf.

L. One-strap shoe for daytime. Beige and brown kid with woven beading.

M. High-cut pump, brilliant and dull in black patent kid and antelope.

N. Evening pump. Rose-beige satin and gold kid – cut out in ladder design.Netch et Bernard O  to P

O. High-cut slipper of two smart leathers, black patent kid and black lizard.

P. Pump with triangles of gold and silver kid on black patent leather.Netch et Bernard Q to T

Q. Sandal of vermillion crêpe de Chine with bands of silver kid for trimming.

R. Mule of gilded wood. The straps are silver kid encrusted with gold triangles.

S. Evening sandal. A simplified model in flesh crêpe and colored kid.

T. Laughing mask mule. Soft bright blue kid with gold piping and lining. [Viewed from the front, this mule would bear the mask of comedy! In profile, it shows one eye and half of the smiling mouth.]

Netch et Bernard: The Vionnet Connection

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

“One model, lettered Q and S…may appear… not ornate, but a bit unusual…. Doubtless the design was inspired by the beautiful triangular and V shaped motifs which Madame Vionnet uses so ubiquitously, for the Netch of Netch et Bernard is Madame Vionnet’s husband, and his shoes, shown in conjunction with Vionnet’s dresses, are frequently inspired by her designs…. In many of the models, a touch that is purely classical or geometrical indicates the intention of this bottier to harmonize his shoes with the costumes designed by Vionnet, a feature of which the chic woman may well take advantage.” Although Netch is not often mentioned in connection with Vionnet, Betty Kirke’s Madeleine Vionnet, an extraordinary book, confirms that Netch and Vionnet were married in 1923, and that, “after they married, he supplied the shoes for her salon.” (p. 135)  They separated in the 1930s and were divorced in 1943.  Monsieur Bernard remains a mystery to me.  Here is the relevant text, from Delineator Magazine, October, 1928, page 129:1928 oct paris shoes contd small


Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Shoes, Vintage Accessories