Tubular Twenties: Some Early 1920s Fashions

It’s easy to forget that the decade known as The Twenties saw considerable changes in fashion. The period of ‘bound breasts’ and cylindrical figures was ending by 1925. I think of the early 1920s as the ‘tubular twenties.’ The long, tubular dress pattern on the left, illustrated in Delineator in December, 1924 is closely related to this actual beaded dress from a private collection.

A Butterick dress pattern from December 1924, and a vintage beaded dress from the same period.

A Butterick dress pattern from December 1924, and a vintage beaded dress from the same period.

Both dresses are very long, and hang straight from the shoulders; the concentration of beading near the hem weights the dress.

Details of the beading on the front of the dress.

Details of the beading on the front of the dress.

This beading was probably done in China, for export.

This beading was probably done in China, for export.

The back of the chiffon dress was also beaded, so it was relatively heavy and fell without curves.

Cylinder Dresses and Flattened Curves, Early 1920s

Other designs from 1924 show the same long, cylindrical shape, with style variations.

Butterick patterns for January, 1924 from Delineator magazine, p. 38.

Butterick patterns for January, 1924, from Delineator magazine, p. 38.

More Butterick patterns for women, January 1924; Delineator, p.38.

More Butterick patterns for women, January 1924; Delineator, p.38.

Many fashion trends associated with the later 1920s are visible:  embroidery, a cloche hat, some dropped waists, side panels, etc. But these dresses are actually longer than the dresses of the World War I era, and they share the peculiarly low bust of that period.

Dresses for Young Women, January 1924

The styles above are for adult women. Patterns for teens, then called  ‘misses’ and sold by age (“size 15 to 20 years, or small ladies”) show the same tubular shape and low bust, but are slightly shorter.

Butterick patterns for misses, Delineator, January 1924, p. 37.

Butterick patterns for misses, Delineator, January 1924, p. 37.

The blue checked dress shows some indecision about the dropped waistline, and opts for two, a belt at the high hip and a band much lower. The dress on the far right has front panels and ends in a sash, like blouses of the early 1920s. It’s hard to imagine how a slim teen-aged girl could have the bust shown in the tan pleated dress, unless she was wearing a bust-flattening brassiere or bandeau, or a tube-like corselette (more about these in a later post.)

Evening dresses for misses and small ladies, January 1924, Delineator.

Evening dresses for misses and small ladies, January 1924, Delineator, p. 37.

Styles from Delineator, February 1924, p. 30.

Styles from Delineator, February 1924, p. 30.

The surplice line dresses on the left remained popular throughout the twenties, as did cloches and tam-o’shanter hats. The blue dress on the right — shortened and with a slight change in proportions — became a classic style for the rest of the decade. Below:  This is how Chanel interpreted it in January, 1925. Note the change in length, the bust dart, and the natural bustline. The flattened chest was going out of fashion.

Chanel design, January 1925, as sketched by Soulie in Delineator.

Chanel design, January 1925, as sketched by Soulie in Delineator.

 

 

 

 

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10 Comments

Filed under 1920s, Bras, Hats, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing, Vintage patterns

10 responses to “Tubular Twenties: Some Early 1920s Fashions

  1. I think that the fashions of the 1920s have fallen victim to the stereotyped flapper, with everyone shortening their skirts to the knee and binding their breasts on January 1, 1920, and then reversing the situation on Dec. 31, 1929. Thanks for the reminder that it is not true!

  2. Pingback: McCall’s, October, 1917 | The Vintage Traveler

  3. I love the fashions of the 1920’s….. I never realized that the women had no obvious bust lines showing. ??? I did not know they wore breast binders. Do you have Breast Binders in your collection of vintage clothing? If you do….I would appreciate seeing one. Thanks for an interesting article, Liz.
    I learn something new with every blog entry you submit.

    • This comment reached me, witness2fashion, instead of Lizzie at thevintagetraveler. I’m working on some posts about 1920s breast binding brassieres and bandeaux. If you have a copy of Stella Blum’s Everyday Fashions of the Twenties as Pictured in Sears and Other Catalogs, see page 95. The brassieres of the 1910s & 20s do not look anything like a modern brassiere — no cups!

  4. Pingback: Underpinning the 1920s: Brassieres, Bandeaux, and Bust Flatteners | witness2fashion

  5. Pingback: Fall Fashions for Young Women, 1925 | witness2fashion

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  7. Pingback: Summer Dresses from Butterick, July 1918, Part 1 | witness2fashion

  8. Pingback: Some Maternity Clothes of the 1920’s and 1930’s | witness2fashion

  9. Pingback: Modart Corset Ad, March 1928 | witness2fashion

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