Monthly Archives: August 2014

Winter Fashions for Women, 1926

Paquin model imported by Hattie Carnegie; Delineator, Dec. 1926.

Paquin model imported by Hattie Carnegie; Delineator, Dec. 1926.

The lavish use of fur in the twenties and thirties may be repellent to us now, but these fashions for December, 1926, are undeniably glamorous. They are all from Delineator magazine. Two images illustrate clothes in the stores — very exclusive stores — and the rest illustrate Butterick patterns (Delineator was a Butterick publication.) The suit pictured above  is a Hattie Carnegie copy of a wine red velvet suit trimmed with beige fox, from the house of Paquin (French designer Jeanne Paquin had retired in 1920.)

Original model by Frances Clyne, in green and gray. Delineator, Dec. 1926.

Original model by Frances Clyne, in green and gray. Delineator, Dec. 1926.

Titled “Green and Gray,” the caption says “The New York version of the Paris ensemble is made by Frances Clyne in sea green bordered with dyed gray fox. The coat of green French wool swings slightly from the shoulder and is made with the new double animal collar. The frock is of green satin opening over lighter green crepe Elizabeth.” Frances Clyne operated an exclusive New York dress shop; in the 1930s, it was on Fifth Avenue.

This Butterick advertisement showed women how similar styles could be made at home, or by your own professional dressmaker.

Ad for Butterick patterns from Delineator, Dec. 1926.

Ad for Butterick patterns from Delineator, Dec. 1926.

“She has Paris taste and knowledge of clothes, and her Frock is Butterick Design 1155 and her Coat is Butterick Design 1105 made with the aid of the Deltor — a dressmaking chart in pictures for cutting, putting together, and finishing.” [punctuation added.]

Butterick was one of the first companies to offer a separate sheet of written instructions with its patterns. At the start of the twentieth century, patterns came with only the minimal instructions that would fit on the outside of the (usually quite small) pattern envelope.  “By 1920, Butterick referred to the [illustrated] instruction sheet as the ‘Deltor,’ short for Delineator.” [Joy Spanbel Emery in A History of the Paper Pattern Industry.]

I love the bold Art Deco fabric on this sporty coat:

Butterick patterns, Dec. 1926; A Chanel suit, January 1925. Both  illustrations are from Delineator.

Butterick coat and dress patterns, Dec. 1926; A Chanel suit, January 1925. Both illustrations are from Delineator.

The dress shown with the coat (left) shows the lasting influence of Gabrielle Chanel’s outfit from January 1925. The proportions of the tops are slightly different to balance the skirt length, which has risen drastically in just two years.

Here are four more styles from Butterick, featured in the same December 1926 issue.

Butterick coat and dress patterns, Delineator, Dec. 1926.

Butterick coat and dress patterns, Delineator, Dec. 1926.

Back views and description of Butterick 1174 and 1157, Dec. 1926.

Back views and description of Butterick 1174 and 1157, Dec. 1926.

The deep armholes of the dress at left required a similarly constructed coat:

Back views and description of Butterick patterns 1185 and 1158. Dec. 1926.

Back views and description of Butterick patterns 1185 and 1158. Dec. 1926.

[Fine ‘Plaits’ means fine pleats, not braids.] The backs of many 1920s dresses and coats were straight and plain, but this coat is snugged to the hip with tucks in front and back.

So far, I have not seen any mention in Delineator magazine of how women obtained the furs which were so often an important design element in Butterick coats. (Working with real furs is not the same as sewing with fabrics, and where would a small-town dressmaker find whole skins?)

Also, notice how similar many of these 1926 cloche hats are, with pinched or dented crowns.

Four cloche hats from Dec. 1926 Delineator.

Four cloche hats from Dec. 1926 Delineator.

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, Hats, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage patterns

Back to School Gym Suit, August 1931

Back-to-School Clothes, Delineator, August 1931.

Back-to-School Clothes, The Delineator, August 1931.

August meant back-to-school clothes, even in 1931. I was especially taken by this sleeveless gym suit:

Gym Suit, 1931. Butterick pattern #4029. From The Delineator, August 1931.

‘Modern Gym Suit,’ 1931. Butterick pattern #4029. From The Delineator, August 1931.

1931 aug gym suit text p 70The gym suit pattern is for ages 6 to 18, or for bust measurements 24″ to 44.”  It buttons on the shoulders. I confess I can’t understand how you could step into it from the top, since the waist seems snugly fitted. The back view doesn’t seem to show an elastic casing. Those two front buttons must have had some function.

Back views, including 1931 gym suit.

Back views, including 1931 gym suit.

A gym suit like this also required shorter underwear than the just-above-the-knee bloomers worn in the 1920s.

Ladies' yoked bloomers, 1931. From The Delineator, August 1931. Butterick pattern #4021.

Ladies’ yoked bloomers, 1931. From The Delineator, August 1931. Butterick pattern #4021.

Another pair of bloomers, pattern No. 4012,  is even shorter, and has an elasticized waist. They are bloomers, rather than panties, because they are still gathered around each leg. The yoke in front keeps your tummy as flat as possible under 1930s yoked dresses, although I would not recommend wearing bloomers under a bias-cut satin dress!

Short bloomers for August, 1931. Butterick pattern #4012, pictureed in The Delineator.

Short bloomers for August, 1931. Butterick pattern #4012, pictured in The Delineator.

The shoes illustrated with the gym suit and rolled socks are also interesting, since they appear to have a zipper closing.

ZIppered gym shoes worn with rolled socks, Aug. 1931. The Delineator.

Zippered gym shoes worn with rolled socks, Aug. 1931. The Delineator.

In the 1920s, B.F. Goodrich made rubber overshoes which zipped up the front and gave us the word “zipper.” Perhaps Goodrich made rubber-soled gym shoes from a similar design? Keds have also been around since the 1910s.

The other back-to-school clothes pictured in the photo at the top of this post are for girls and teens:

Back-to-School Clothes, Delineator, August 1931.

Back-to-School Clothes, The Delineator, August 1931.

On the left, Butterick pattern #4007: “White collar, white cuffs, a white leather or string belt, and a touch of white on the pockets will double the chic of a school-girl frock of simple lines. There is an inverted pleat at each side. Designed for sizes 14 to 20 [years]  and 32 to 38 [inch bust.]”

Center, Butterick pattern #4023:  “This Looks Two-Piece. It is the box pleated peplum that gives it that appearance. Frocks that button up close to the neck are very smart and detachable collars and cuffs are very practical for the school girl…. Frock designed for 26 to 33 (sizes 8 to 15.)

The box-pleated dress illustrated at top right, Butterick #4025, is made of navy blue wool, with a red patent leather belt keeping the pleats in place. It is worn with matching bloomers, so it has a close relationship to the uniforms worn by English schoolgirls. Designed for bust 24″ to 38″ (ages 6 to 20.)

The double-breasted coat at far right, Butterick pattern #4018, is also for girls 8 to 15, 26 to 33 [inches bust.] “A bright scarf is gay contrast.”

The lowered hem of the 1930s applied to adult women and teens, but not to little girls, who, from the 1800s onward, have worn shorter skirts until they were 16 or so.

The Vintage Traveler has written many interesting posts about vintage gym clothes, including the Evolution of the Gymsuit.

 

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Filed under 1930s, Children's Vintage styles, Shoes, Sportswear, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Uniforms and Work Clothes, Zippers

Costume Book Review: The Tudor Tailor

Cover: The Tudor Tailor, by Ninya Mikhaila and Jane Malcolm-Davies. Paperback.

Cover: The Tudor Tailor, by Ninya Mikhaila and Jane Malcolm-Davies. Paperback. Image for review purpose only. Do Not Copy.

The Tudor Tailor: Techniques and patterns for making historically accurate period clothing, by Ninya Mikhaila and Jane Malcolm-Davies with additional research by Caroline Johnson and illustrations by Michael Perry. First published 2006, reprinted 2008. From Quite Specific Media Group. Ltd.  9 by 11 inches, 160 pages.

It includes Tudor clothing for all social classes, from the reigns of Henry VIII through Elizabeth I.

Photos of Elizabethan Man's clothing, from The Tudor Tailor. Image for revies purposes only; please do not copy.

Photos of Elizabethan Man’s clothing, from The Tudor Tailor. Image for revies purposes only; please do not copy.

I found this book at the library and took it home on impulse. I haven’t used it to make garments, but I would have been happy to have it when I was making 16th century costumes twenty years ago! I am very impressed with its organization, its content, and the authors’ generosity. Mikhaila and Malcolm-Davies  (JMD&Co.) are in the business of supplying historically accurate clothing and docent training to places like Hampton Court Palace, the National Trust, and other Historic Royal Palaces.

The fact that they are eager to share their research, their suppliers, their patterns, and their construction techniques with the rest of us makes this book extraordinary. (They also realize that not everyone can — or would want to — work to the standards demanded of them; their instructions will make sense to home stitchers.)  The book has patterns for men and women, including undergarments and headdresses: ruffs, a supportasse, French and Spanish farthingales, “bodies” (corsets), hose, trunkhose and Venetians, kirtles, partlets, jerkins, doublets, gowns, shirts and smocks.

Part of a typical pattern illustration. Image fore review purpose only; do not copy.

Part of a typical pattern illustration from The Tudor Tailor. Image for review purpose only; do not copy.

The patterns are gridded, so you can enlarge them. (Add your own seam allowances….) The women’s patterns are sized for bust 36, waist 28, and hip 38″ — “a modern size 12-14.” The men’s patterns are sized for chest 38″, waist 34″, height 5′ 7″ to 5′ 10″. The chapter on Using the Patterns includes photos & instructions how to make them larger or smaller.

The pattern instructions are detailed and step-by-step. They are illustrated with clear drawings and photos, including interiors. This book also shows how to put the clothes on, layer-by-layer and step-by-step:

Typical page on dressing in period clothing, form The Tudor Tailor. Please do not copy this image.

Typical page about dressing in period clothing, from The Tudor Tailor. Please do not copy this image.

On the page above, you see the steps for putting on this many-layered Elizabethan outfit; on the left, below the photos, are numbered construction directions continued from the previous page. On the right is this explanation of the steps photographed above: [“Effigy bodies” is the name of a specific corset pattern.]eliz woman stages text

The first section of the book, Making a Start, reminds readers that Tudor society included workers as well as aristocrats. Chapter 2, Clothing the People, and Chapter 3, Looking the Part, share a great deal of period research and photos of primary sources. Chapter 4, Choosing the Materials, includes a chart that defines Tudor fabrics, dyes, colors, and where they usually fit on the social scale. In case your local fabric store doesn’t carry stammel, lockram, or frizado,  Chapter 5, Constructing the Garments,  suggests appropriate modern fabrics. The next 99 pages are patterns.

Part of back cover, The Tudor Tailor.

Part of back cover, The Tudor Tailor.

This book is really very well done. The authors have made every effort to share their knowledge and experience. Available from Quite Specific Media for $35.

This publisher also lists several other widely used “costume shop” books, plus fashion histories. I have already recommended Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 3: The Cut and Construction of Clothes for Men and Women c. 1560-1620, which has gridded patterns taken from historic garments in museum collections. It also contains a great deal of research, black & white photos, etc. It is also published by the same company: Quite Specific Media, which includes Drama Publishers and Costume & Fashion Press.

Note: News about the conflict between Amazon and Hachette made me realize that I should diversify my book links instead of taking the easy route by usually linking to Amazon. I’m trying to direct readers to a variety of online sources for new and used books, including their publishers. I’m an Amazon seller myself, so I hope it’s settled fairly and soon. (I’ve tried to give both sides in these links.) Personally, I think if Hachette wants to take the chance of losing sales by holding to higher prices, that’s Hachette’s business. Literally.

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Filed under A Costumers' Bookshelf, Accessory Patterns, Costumes for the 16th century, Hats, Menswear, Resources for Costumers, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing

Waitress Uniforms, 1930s

Two waitress uniforms from the 1930s.

Two waitress uniforms from the 1930s.

In the Depression-era movie of my imagination, the waitress is always Joan Blondell, cynical, wise-cracking, but good-hearted, slipping an extra piece of pie to a guy who’s down on his luck. Since all the 1930s movie waitresses I’ve seen were in black and white films, it’s exciting to find some period research in color.

Pic-Wic Frocks Uniform:  Green Dress with Detachable Apron

Uniform from Pic-Wic Frocks Direct.

Uniform from Pic-Wic Frocks Direct.

This image on card stock was cut from a salesman’s (or saleswoman’s) catalog for showing Pic-Wic fashions to potential customers. It is undated, but the skirt length, style, and close-to-the head hairdos place it in the early thirties. In a black and white film, this green dress would photograph as gray. What a loss!

Pic-Wic logo

Pic-Wic logo: Pic-Wic Dainty U[niform]. The bottom should say “Pic-Wic Frocks Direct to the Home.”

There’s very little information about Pic-Wic online, except newspaper ads (“wanted women everywhere to sell Pic-Wic frocks direct to wearer“) and a 1930s sales receipt book on Etsy (sold) that says Pic-Wic was located in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In this closer view (below), you can see how much detail went into this uniform, with its paneled apron, applied trim, pointed waist, pretty cuffs, and its little necktie tied with a bow. Oddly, the dress has pockets, but the detachable apron doesn’t. (Where would a waitress put her order pad and tips?) Perhaps this is a uniform for a manicurist, but I can also imagine it worn by the waitress in a tea-room.

Top of Pic-Wic waitress uniform.

Top of Pic-Wic uniform.

This view (below) of the dress without the apron shows more, expensive-to-manufacture, styling details in the bodice, which has points like a weskit. This much-nicer-than-it-needs-to-be work uniform wasn’t custom designed for a prestigious restaurant chain or hotel; Pic-Wic sold door-to-door to individuals and small businesses. A similar card showing nurses’ uniforms from Pic-Wic gives prices between $2.95 and $3.45 (less if you bought three at a time), including free shipping.

Pic-Wic dress without apron.

Pic-Wic dress without apron.

Perhaps Pic-Wic uniforms were just too well-designed to be profitable in the mass-produced clothing business. However, the vintage waitress outfit below is also graced with unexpected details.

Vintage 1930s Cranberry Red and White Dix-Make Waitress Uniform

Vintage 1930s waitress uniform. From a private collection.

Vintage 1930s waitress uniform. From a private collection.

I admit that I fell in love with this outfit the minute I saw it. It may look red on your screen, but it is the color of a ripe cranberry. Like the Pic-Wic uniform, this one has peaked cuffs on the sleeves, and styling details that go beyond the basic needs of a washable uniform. Although this apron is pretty basic, it is bordered all around with white rickrack, creating a delicate scalloped edge to match the collar and cuffs of the dress.

Dress details, white rickrack trim.

Dress details, white rickrack trim.

The rickrack on collar, cuffs, and pockets is inserted between two layers of fabric to create a subtly softened edge. The low pocket on the skirt of the dress gets a similar treatment.

Detail of dress front and pocket.

Detail of dress front and pocket.

The center front closing on the bodice becomes a side front closing on the skirt, a detail that would add to manufacturing cost.  It does make room for the nice, big pocket. This uniform was heavily starched, presumably by a commercial laundry.

Dix-Make waitress uniform.

Dix-Make waitress uniform. The skirt is slightly flaired, but not pleated; it’s just wrinkled from storage.

The Dix-Make company is also hard to trace, but The Vintage Traveler says she found a Dix-Make advertisement in a Vogue magazine from 1925. The uniform she was trying to identify was white, and trimmed with white lace.

Dix-Make label.

Dix-Make label from waitress uniform.

This cranberry red uniform is probably from later in the thirties than the green Pic-Wic uniform, because it is somewhat shorter — but still far below knee length. It has slightly puffed, set-in sleeves, but not the exaggerated puffed sleeves or the broader shoulders and snugly fitted waist of the later 1930s and 40s. So:  mid-1930s is an educated guess — corrections are welcome!

In a black and white movie, this deep cranberry red dress would definitely photograph as black. Try to keep that in mind the next time you watch a black and white movie; the past was much more colorful than we might think!

 

 

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Filed under 1930s, Dresses, Uniforms and Work Clothes, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing

Glamorous Turbans in the 1920s

Silver lame turban, 1920s. Labeled Miss Dolores, Paris London. Made in England.

Silver lame turban. Labeled “Miss Dolores, London, Paris. Made in England.”

[8/24/14 Correction:  Thanks to Christina — see comments —  for pointing out that, based on interior construction and the label,  this is probably not an authentic 1920s turban, but a 1970s version.]

Turban worn with velvet cape, Delineator, March 1924.

Turban worn with velvet cape, Delineator, March 1924.

I associate turbans with Paul Poiret, cocoon coats, and evening wear, but they remained fashionable throughout the 1920s, and were worn with day dresses, as well as with evening clothes. This turban is being worn with a bathing costume in 1924:

Turban with bathing costume, Delineator, June 1924.

Turban with bathing costume, Delineator, June 1924.

Butterick sold the pattern for this turban, #4748, in 1924 [the number dates it to late 1923,] and illustrated it being worn with simple day dresses and more formal outfits:

Butterick #4748 with a satin dress; this may be an afternoon dress, but it is not an evening dress; satin was often worn in the daytime.

Butterick #4748 with a satin blouse; this is office or afternoon wear, but it is not an evening dress; satin was often worn in the daytime.

Butterick pattern 4748, Delineator, March 1924.

Butterick pattern 4748, Delineator, March 1924.

Turban pattern #4748, from Delineator. Left, April 1924; right, March 1924.

Turban pattern #4748, from Delineator. Left, April 1924; right, March 1924.

Turbans were worn earlier in the 1920s, too. Remembered Summers shared this photo of her mother, dated 1921. This turban is being worn with a summery white dress, by a 17 year-old girl.

Turban worn by 17 year old woman, 1921. Phot courtesy of RememberedSummers.wordpress.com

Turban worn by 17 year old woman, dated 1921. Photo courtesy of RememberedSummers.wordpress.com

(These young people eloped at about the time of the photo.) Her turban doesn’t have a feather — they are posed in front of a palm tree, and those are palm fronds.

This “turban hat of twisted ribbon” by Paris milliner Marcelle Roze was featured in Delineator magazine in May, 1924. It’s definitely more structured and hat-like than the turbans made from pattern #4748.

Turban Hat by Marcelle Roze, Delineator, May 1924.

Turban Hat by Marcelle Roze, Delineator, May 1924.

This turban was shown with a day dress in the summer of 1925:

Turban worn in pattern illustration, Delineator, June 1925.

Turban worn in pattern illustration, Delineator, June 1925.

A new turban pattern, Butterick #6634, was shown with a dress suitable for stout women; Summer, 1926.

Butterick pattern #6634 for a turban, Delineator, May 1926.

Butterick pattern #6634 for a turban, Delineator, May 1926.

That doesn’t mean the turban was going out of style. This gold lamé turban by French designer Agnès was illustrated in 1929. The jewelry is by Patou. The illustrator’s initials are D.R.

Snug-fitting gold lame turban by Agnes, January 1924. The Delineator.

Snug-fitting gold lame turban by Agnes, January 1929. The Delineator.

Which brings me back to this beautiful silver lamé turban from the collection of a friend.

Silver lame turban, jeweled, with feather. Miss Dolores label.

Silver lame turban, jeweled, with feather. Miss Dolores label.

Styr0foam wig heads are smaller than human heads, so this turban would fit a person snugly and smoothly. The jewel was enormous, sparkly, possibly paste, and hard to photograph — it was not dulled or darkened. The silver fabric was not noticeably tarnished. The feathers were soiled and worn; I think they were white, rather than gray, originally. They may have stuck up more when new.

Silver lame turban by Miss Dolores. Back view.

Silver lame turban by Miss Dolores. Top and Back view.

You can see the small piece of cloth at center back that comes from inside the hat to cover the fabric joins.

Inside of silver lame hat, showing label.

Inside of silver lame hat, showing label.

The brand name, Miss Dolores, of London and Paris, was apparently still appearing in felt hats in the 1980s, judging by the few photos I have found online, but this turban seems to be a 1920s style. I couldn’t find out much about the Miss Dolores label, but everything about this hat — with the exception of the “Miss Dolores” script — suggested the twenties to me. I could be wrong. Comments? [Corrected 8/24/14: I was wrong. Thanks for your expertise, Christina! See Comments.]

P.S. In the theatre, we usually build turbans on a close-fitting felt base. That makes them easy to put on, and the folds can be stabilized with stitching inside the creases  — I mention this just in case you’re inspired to make a turban to go with your 1920s outfits.

 

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Filed under 1920s, Accessory Patterns, Bathing Suits, Hats, Hats, Sportswear, Swimsuits, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

My Costumer’s Library: Getting Started

A page from 20,000 Years of Fashion: Packed with primary sources, photos, information.

A page from 20,000 Years of Fashion: Packed with primary sources, photos, information — in color and black & white.

I’ve been seeing some comments, on The Vintage Traveler and other blogs, from people asking for costume research book recommendations, and I couldn’t resist offering some suggestions.

Of course, a library is a very personal thing, and depends on its owner’s personal interests and goals. I helped a good friend list her library on Amazon when it came time for her to move to assisted living. She was a vintage clothing collector, a docent, and a lover of ethnic textiles.  I was a theatrical costume designer. I’ve taught costume design, construction, and costume history classes; I’ve worked as a designer, a cutter/draper (i.e., a pattern maker), and a costume technician. Together, we had between five and six hundred books in our personal / professional libraries, but we had very few books in common!

I, too, sold most of my professional library when I thought I had retired. Ironically, helping to inventory my friend’s clothing collection for sale made me realize that this is the field I know best, and I still have a lot information and experience to share, so here I am . . . .

There are a few books I couldn’t bear to part with (20,000 Years of Fashion, The Costume Technician’s Handbook) — and many I wish I’d kept, like Everyday Fashions of… since I keep checking them out of the library now.

For an Overview of Fashion in the Western World: 20,000 Years of Fashion

For a quick overview / refresher of periods, (American and European) loaded with primary source illustrations — one of the first costume books I bought and one I still have on my shelf 40 years later:  20,000 Years of Fashion: The History of Costume and Personal Adornment, by Francois Boucher. I have the 1973 edition — available online in used condition for under $20. A 1987 edition is also available. A big, heavy, wonderful, information-packed book, densely illustrated in color and black & white.

For Clothing Worn by Ordinary People: the Everyday Fashions series.

For twentieth century American fashions that were worn by ordinary people (not high fashion): Dover’s series of books that began with Stella Blum’s Everyday Fashions of the Twenties (and Everyday Fashions of the Thirties) from the pages of Sears and other catalogs. The series — trustworthy, dated, primary source material — is being continued by JoAnne Olian, with Everyday Fashions 1909-1920, Everyday Fashions of the Forties, Everyday Fashions of the Fifties, Sixties, etc.) These books are packed with period illustrations and photos of women’s clothing, some children’s clothing, menswear, undergarments, hats, shoes, and other accessories, with prices. Every professional costume designer I know refers to these books constantly. Used, less than $10 each.

For Constructing Historic Clothing: Books by Norah Waugh or  Janet Arnold

For an understanding of how period garments were made, as well as some interesting costume history: Norah Waugh’s classic books The Cut of Women’s Clothes 1600-1930, & The Cut of Men’s Clothes 1600-1900. For a long time, The Cut of Men’s Clothes was the reference for patterning period menswear. If you want to study the construction of authentic historical garments, these books are a good place to start. The pages are not gridded, however, so the pattern layouts are most helpful when you’re draping on a mannequin. There is a measurement scale on each page — I ended up copying the scale and pasting it to a stiff card / bookmark so I could move it around on the drawings and then pencil in measurements all over the pages. Also, these books are not cheap, even in used condition. I’d say, borrow Waugh’s books from a library and buy Janet Arnold’s books:

If you want to study vintage clothing and/or recreate authentic period garments: Janet Arnold wrote three superb books, all in paperback and relatively inexpensive: the series is  Patterns of Fashion, by Janet ArnoldPatterns of Fashion is available in three volumes. Patterns of Fashion 1: 1660 to 1860 (women’s clothing), Patterns of Fashion 2: 1860 to 1940 (women’s clothing), and Patterns of Fashion 3: The Cut and Construction of Clothes for Men and Women c. 1560-1620. A fourth volume on shirts, smocks, ruffs, hats, etc., is available, but I haven’t seen it. Arnold has produced detailed patterns, on scaled grids, with copious notes on the construction and trims, taken from actual garments in museum collections. Another virtue: these books are ringbound, so they lie flat when open! I was able to produce some terrific 1890s costumes (with the help of my high school students) using just this book (P of F 2) plus my own home sewing experience (which included volunteering as a stitcher for a very good costume designer — so I knew about flat lining!) You can find used copies of Patterns of Fashion 1 & 2 online at $20 to $30 each; the later books cost a bit more. If you’re dealing in vintage clothing, understanding period construction — knowing what the insides should look like — is very important.

Primary and Secondary Sources

You’ll notice I keep using the words “Primary Sources.” A primary source is a text or illustration (or garment or photograph) made at the time the fashion was current.

Clothing from Schiaparelli, Vionnet, and Schiaparelli, drawn and published in November, 1928. Delineator Magazine.

Clothing from Schiaparelli, Vionnet, and Schiaparelli, drawn and published in November, 1928. The Delineator magazine.

A secondary source is usually a drawing of an authentic garment, painting, statue, or photo, made at a later date. An example would be John Peacock’s Fashion Sketchbook: 1920-1960 , first published in 1970. Drawings like this can give details not visible in photographs, and are very useful when combined with primary sources. However, not only our ideals of beauty, but our styles of fashion illustration can affect the accuracy of secondary sources in subtle ways. For example, many fashion fabrics in the 1960s and early 70s were stiffer than fabrics from the 1920s. Photos of 1920s dresses show them looking a little droopy, like that Vionnet jacket above, rather than crisp like these.

Suits for 1927-29, drawing by John Peacock. From his Fashion Sketchbook 1920-1960, pb. 1977. Image for review purpose only. Do not copy this image.

Suits for 1927-29, drawing by John Peacock. From his Fashion Sketchbook 1920-1960, pb. 1977. Image for review purpose only. Do not copy this image.

Also, illustrators will tend to select the clothing that is most attractive according their own era’s fashion ideal.

Beware of Using Only Secondary Sources! Anne Hollander has written a big, fascinating book about the difficulty of putting aside our own, modern ideas of beauty and drawing exactly what we see.  Even very scholarly fashion histories that are illustrated with secondary sources can be affected by this unconscious bias. The Mode in Costume, by Ruth Turner Wilcox, is carefully researched, but the illustrations, drawn in the 1940s, sometimes seem to show an uncorseted 1940s figure. The drawings of corsets from Elizabeth Ewing’s Fashion in Underwear are also secondary sources, but they are technical drawings, not noticeably distorted to a 1970s figure ideal.

1940s Drawing of 1879 dress (The Mode in Fashion), and technical drawing of 1879 corset by Elizabeth Ewing, 1971

1940s Drawing of 1879 dress (The Mode in Costume), and technical drawing of an 1879 corset by Elizabeth Ewing, 1971.  Notice the natural bust curve on the dress drawing, impossible in this corset. The bulging “spoon” belly of the period is also minimized.

Straight fronted 18th c. corset (Ewing) and 1940s drawing of 18th c. gown (The Mode in Fashion.)

Straight-fronted 18th c. corset (Ewing) and 1940s drawing of 18th c. gown (The Mode in Costume.) I have made versions of similar 18th century corsets from Diderot’s Encyclopedia, published in the mid-to-late 18th c. They flatten the bust and push it quite high. See below.

Secondary sources can be helpful, but only when used in addition to plenty of primary sources.

An 18th century fashion plate, from Encyclopedie Illustree du Costume et de la Mode

An 18th century fashion plate, from Encyclopedie Illustree du Costume et de la Mode. To be fair, this is later than the black gown above.

We’ve all seen western movies from the 60s and 70s in which the women wear thick, black false eyelashes and have bodices with plenty of breast separation, cut to cling to a modern merry widow or “torpedo” bra. Of course, both the makeup and the clothing looked attractive when the movies were made, but now look obviously “wrong” to anyone who has studied photos of the Old West.

Bette Davis wore lavish costumes both times she played Elizabeth I, but Hollywood just couldn’t commit to authentic, flat-fronted underwear.

Bette Davis in Elizabeth and Essex, 1939; Queen Elizabeth I

Bette Davis in Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, 1939; Queen Elizabeth I

Once I was visiting a “Great House” in England. The tour guide was proud of all the portraits of the owner’s Elizabethan ancestors displayed in the front hall. I thoughtlessly blurted, “Aren’t these Victorian paintings of people in Elizabethan dress?” “How did you know that?” the guide said, shocked that the secret was out. Well, they were wearing Elizabethan clothes, but their faces and hair(and corsets) were Victorian.  Those pictures were not primary sources for Elizabethan dress.

One More Book I Couldn’t Part With:  The Costume Technician’s Handbook
I wore out my copy of The Costumer’s Handbook. The Costume Technician’s Handbook, by Rosemary Ingham and Liz Covey, is a revised edition of that book. When you’re exhausted and you need to put in hook and eye tape including a casing for the bone, or a side seam zipper, or you need to cartridge pleat a skirt (or ruff), or want to show someone the right way to sew on a snap, this book’s clear and easy-to-follow diagrams are life –or at least, sanity– savers. There are lots of procedures that costumers need to know, but sometimes many months go by before the next time you need to put in a corset busk, or draft some gussets, etc. The Costume Technician’s Handbook covers everything from flat pattern drafting and fitting problems and alterations, to dying and fabric painting, making hats and shoes and sword carriers, how to tie neckties, health and safety issues, etc. There’s a big bibliography and a list of suppliers. There’s even a website that updates all these sources and includes a shopping guide, links to costume societies, etc. The book is available in paperback. You can find an older edition, used, for under $10. A gem. (Caution: It is not about re-creating historically accurate clothing. It’s about creating well-made costumes for the theatre using sewing machines and modern supplies. Actors generally appreciate zippers.)

These are some old favorites — basics — the books I would pack if I could just carry a few for working out-of-town for the summer. I’ll be thinking of more really useful books for another post.

 

 

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Filed under 1860s -1870s fashions, 1870s to 1900s fashions, 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, 1930s-1940s, A Costumers' Bookshelf, Corsets, Costumes for the 16th century, Costumes for the 17th Century, Costumes for the 18th Century, Costumes for the 19th century, Menswear, Resources for Costumers

Men’s Necktie Patterns, 1941 to 1950

Necktie Patterns, December 1946. McCall #907 (left) and #1220 (center & right). Store catalog.

Necktie Patterns, December 1946. McCall #907 (left) and #1220 (center & right). Store catalog.

These tie patterns were still in the catalogs four years later,  although the illlustrations changed. Presumably, some of these fabric suggestions went out of style.

McCall Necktie Pattern #907,  from 1941

McCall # 907 as shown in December, 1946, catalog.

McCall # 907 as shown in December, 1946, catalog.

Pattern #907 was not new in 1946; by then the catalog’s number sequence had reached the 1300s. The Commercial Pattern Archive dates it to 1941. In 1941, the illustration included two more ties on the left. (click here.) [Edited to correct link 8/13/14] By the end of 1950, the small foulard pattern on the left (above) had also disappeared.

"You can make his ties," McCall #907 in November 1950 catalog.

“You can make his ties,” McCall #907 in November 1950 catalog.

Note that there are two lengths available, “Regulation” 47 inches and a shorter tie, 45 inches long. Men’s waistbands rose and fell during the 1930s and 1940s, and tie lengths changed with them.

Trousers, 1930, from a menswear catalog. Courtesy of Remembered Summers.

Trousers, 1939, from a menswear catalog. Courtesy of Remembered Summers.

Extremely high waists and exaggerated shoulder padding, 1939.

Extremely high waists and exaggerated shoulder padding, 1939. Image courtesy Remembered Summers.

McCall Necktie Pattern #1220, from 1945

McCall's #1220, December 1946 store catalog.

McCall’s #1220, December 1946 store catalog. CoPA dates this tie to 1945.

“Notice the nice wide ends on the long tie!”  The illustration for McCall #1220 also changed between 1946 and 1950; these “loud” ties on the left disappeared . . .

dec 1946 1220 top of pg022. . . leaving these more conservative styles in 1950.

McCall #1220, as illustrated in November 1950 store catalog.

McCall #1220, as illustrated in November 1950 store catalog.

“Choose prints he likes. Dress fabrics, suitably designed, are good. ” This tie is 48 inches long.

McCall Necktie pattern #1517, from 1950

McCall #1517, May 1950 store catalog.

McCall #1517, May 1950 store catalog.

may 1950 1517 text025

This 1950 tie is 50 to 51 inches long (as compared to # 907, 45 or 47 inches long in 1941) and is designed for either a specially printed quarter block panel of tie material or “printed or plain silk dress material.”  The vogue for “illustrated” ties has arrived:

Necktie pattern #1517, November 1950.

Necktie pattern #1517, November 1950.

Compared to some ties from 1950, the one with the birch trees (right) is almost tasteful!

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Filed under 1940s-1950s, Accessory Patterns, Menswear