Monthly Archives: December 2014

Gowns for New Year’s Eve, 1937

Butterick pattern 7650, December 1937. Cover, Butterick Fashion News flyer.

Butterick pattern 7650, December 1937. Cover, Butterick Fashion News flyer.

You may not have time to make one of these gowns for New Year’s Eve 2014, but Butterick offered a variety of choices for 1937. Long gowns could be revealing dance dresses, like this one, or covered-up dinner dresses, in fabrics ranging from metallic brocades and lamés to velvet or satin.

Butterick 7650

Butterick pattern 7650, left, and a store-bought dress featured in Woman's Home Companion, both from December, 1937.

Butterick pattern 7650, left, and a store-bought dress with similar top featured in Woman’s Home Companion, both from December, 1937.

Butterick 7650 is described as a “Junior Miss evening dress” to be made “in metal threaded crepe.” Pattern for sizes 12 to 20, 30 to 38 inch bust. The dress on the right was featured in the Styles in Stores column of Woman’s Home Companion:

“The evening dress would make a shining success at a gala New Year’s party —  and for various excellent reasons. The first has to do with the sparkle (it is really glamorous) of the rhinestone trimming, applied in a new scroll effect. The second concerns the rustle of the material,  a white, black or sapphire taffeta which is sure to be heard on the smartest dance floors this winter. The third springs from the graceful swing of the full skirt and the fourth, from the novel cut of the halter neckline. Famous Barr Company, St. Louis.”

Butterick 7644 and 7646

"Glamour at Night" evening gowns, Butterick Fashion News flyer, Dec. 1927. The gown on the left is pattern #7644; the one on the right is #7646.

“Glamour at Night” evening gowns, Butterick Fashion News flyer, Dec. 1937. The gown on the left is pattern #7644; the one on the right is #7646.

Pattern descriptions and back views, Butterick 7644 and 7646.

Pattern descriptions and back views, Butterick 7644 and 7646. Dec. 1937.

Both evening gowns are the “new slit-up-in-front” style. The one shown in black is made of taffeta and has “the new corseted silhouette:”  “Dramatized last summer by the Duchess of Windsor the long molded line from diaphragm to hip top is now the most important point in the new silhouette.” — Woman’s Home Companion, December 1937.  The fabric suggested for the gown illustrated in white is satin. The backs are low-cut and bare. Pattern 7646 was also featured in an ad for Butterick Winter Fashion Magazine, which cost 25 cents, unlike the free Butterick Fashion News flyer. (The ad, on newsprint, is very grainy.  The dress may or may not be velvet.)

Another view of Butterick 7646, Dec. 1937.

Another view of Butterick 7646, Dec. 1937.

Dinner Dresses

This was also an era when women wore long gowns to dinner at restaurants and private homes, to night clubs, and to the theatre. “Dinner dresses” tended to be more covered up than evening gowns — often, they were made from the same pattern as a shorter day dress, as the following examples show.

"That Corseted Look:" Companion-Butterick patterns from Woman's Home Companion, Nov. 1937.

“That Corseted Look:” Companion-Butterick patterns from Woman’s Home Companion, Nov. 1937. Left, #7624; right and seated, #7626.

Butterick stopped publishing its fashion and news magazine, The Delineator,  abruptly in April 1937. However, the Butterick pattern empire, with offices in Paris and other European cities, continued. An agreement with its (former) rival magazine, Woman’s Home Companion, was in place, and the WHC began featuring “Companion-Butterick” patterns in 1937.  Consequently, patterns illustrated in the Butterick Fashion News store flyers might also be illustrated, in full color, in Woman’s Home Companion. 

Companion-Butterick 7626

Companion-Butterick pattern 7626, from Butterick Fashion News flyer, Dec. 1937.

Companion-Butterick pattern 7626, from Butterick Fashion News flyer, Dec. 1937.

Here, pattern 7626 is “A dress as new as the minute and elegant in black velvet.” For sizes 12 to 20, or 30 to 40 inch bust. [12 to 20 were sizes for young or small women.] It is “corseted” because of the snug, ruched waist, which fitted tightly because of side seam zippers on both sides. The day version could be made with a print bodice.

Daytime version of Companion Butterick 7626. WHC, Nov. 1937.

Daytime version of Companion-Butterick 7626. WHC, Nov. 1937.

Companion-Butterick 7624

Companion-Butterick pattern 7624, "That Corseted Look," WHC Nov. 1937.

Companion-Butterick pattern 7624, “That Corseted Look,” WHC Nov. 1937.

“Soft gathers in the bodice and the new slim corseted waist…. Bias cut skirt.” The Butterick Fashion flyer suggested that the dress on the left be made from satin crepe. Sizes 12 to 20, 3o to 40.  Its shaped midriff is accented [and slenderized] by a row of tiny buttons down the front. [See below.]

No. 7624 (left) and 7628 (right) were "Glamour for Night." Butterick Fashion flyer Dec. 1937.

No. 7624 (left) and 7628 (right) were “Glamour for Night.” Butterick Fashion News flyer Dec. 1937.

Companion Butterick 7628

Companion Butterick 7628,  pictured on the right, above, has “The high draped surplice line in a lovely lamé dinner dress.” The magazine reminded readers that they could use the same pattern for “a formal day dress or a simple dinner dress, or both.” Both versions were accented by a colorful “high placed handkerchief” to match your shoes, bag, or hat.

A long dinner-dress version of Companion-Butterick 7628. WHC Nov. 1937.

A  long dinner-dress version of Companion-Butterick 7628. WHC Nov. 1937.

A formal day dress version of Companion-Butterick pattern 7628, Nov. 1937.

A formal day dress version of Companion-Butterick pattern 7628, Nov. 1937.

The hostess of a dinner party could also wear a long “hostess” gown or a “housecoat.” See Companion-Butterick Triad Patterns for an example.

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

Christmas Fashions, 1928

Detail, cover of The Delineator magazine, December 1928.

Detail, cover of The Delineator magazine, December 1928.

Of course it’s not about the baubles, the gifts, the ornaments, the clothes, or the parties, but the holiday season of 1928 did produce some treats for the eyes.

Paris frocks, December 1928. Illustration from The Delineator.

Paris frocks, December 1928. Illustration from The Delineator.

Paris evening gowns, illustrated in The Delineator, December 1928.

Paris evening gowns, illustrated in The Delineator, December 1928.

Luxury goods can’t make us happy, but beauty and creativity do brighten up our lives. Cheers!

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Filed under 1920s, Musings

Christmas Activity: Go Through Your Old Photos with Your Old Relatives

Laura and Alice, Early 1900s

My Great Aunts Laura and Alice, Early 1900s

Every year I intend to remind people that the lulls during the holidays — after a big meal, while dinner is cooking, any time there are several generations gathered together at someone’s home — are the perfect times to bring out that big box of photographs you haven’t looked at in ages, and to go through them with the elders in your family. If you can get a pre-teen or teenager to join the conversation, all the better. It’s their history you’ll be talking about. It’s not just about writing names on the backs of photographs, it’s about the stories you might not otherwise hear.

Alice, left, and Laura, early 1900s.

Alice, left, and Laura, early 1900s.

I was lucky enough to know my Great Aunt Alice when she was in her seventies. I never met her sisters Cora and Laura. All I know of them are these photographs, which are interesting as a record of what some working women wore from the late 1800s to about 1950. But they are also interesting because I can see family features in their faces. And I keep trying to read their characters from these tiny glimpses of the past.

Cora, baby photo, no date.

Cora, baby photo, no date. Her heavily embroidered costume is Victorian.

Cora was the eldest. She looks solemn in most photos.

Cora, the town librarian. Early 1900s.

Cora, the town librarian. Early 1900s.

Her father’s obituary says she was the town librarian until she married and moved to a different part of the state.

Cora and Laura with a friend, before 1900.

Cora and Laura with a friend, probably about 1888 – 1894.

Laura, the middle child, was considered “the pretty one,” I suspect; she usually has a hint of a smile and sometimes, a dimple.

Laura, early 1900s.

Laura, early 1900s.

Alice, the youngest sister, was a single working woman, a legal secretary with a shrewd mind and a great sense of humor, who usually clowned for the cameras.

Laura, a friend, Cora and Alice dressed as hobos. Early 1900s.

Laura, a friend, Cora and Alice dressed as hobos. Early 1900s.

You can see why I’d like to have known them all!

Here they are in the early 1920s.  Alice is seated, holding the baby. Laura (left) now wears glasses, and Cora looks serious. They would be at least in in their forties, but all have adopted 1920s hair styles. In the following photos, you can see that Alice’s curly gray hair is bobbed.

Laura (in glasses), Cora (standing in top row), and Alice seated, holding her infant nephew. About 1922.

Laura (in glasses), Cora (standing in top row), and Alice seated, holding her infant nephew. About 1922.

Later in the 1920s, Alice and Laura went on vacation with my mother and my grandmother (their sister-in-law).  They have all adopted short 1920s skirts and fashions. My grandmother, center, is showing off the legs that would have been hidden when she married, in 1893. This generation of women had to adapt to the most drastic changes in western fashion ever to take place over a thirty year period.

Alice, her sister-in-law, and Laura, about 1929.

Alice, her sister-in-law, and Laura, about 1929.

On this trip, they stopped at a roadside stand for watermelon, mugged for the camera, and two of my favorite photos were made:

Laura in cloche hat, seated on the front bumper of their car. About 1929.

Laura in cloche hat, seated on the front bumper of their car, and looking flirtacious. About 1929.

 

Alice mugging for the camera. She looks like no one is going take that watermelon away from her.

Alice mugging for the camera. She looks like no one is going take that watermelon away from her!

They kept up with the styles in the thirties and forties, too.  Their hair is gray, but their dresses are sleeveless — quite a change from the high-collared, long-sleeved styles they wore as young women at the turn of the 19th century.

Laura, their brother John, and Alice. Probably mid-1930s, since the skirts are not very long.

Laura, their brother John, and Alice. Probably mid-to-late 1930s, since the skirts are not very long.

Thanks to my mother’s sister, who went through all these photos with me one Christmas afternoon, I can name my Great Aunts, and see a little bit of their personalities. But we didn’t get around to this picture, so I will never know if it’s Aunt Laura (who looked so full of life in the 1920s,) or Aunt Cora, who, unlike her sisters, married and raised a family.

I'll never know if this is Laura or Cora, because there is nothing written on the back of the photo.

I’ll never know if this is Laura or Cora, because there is nothing written on the back of the photo.

I loved to visit Alice when I was a little girl. This is Alice about 1947, in a rare contemplative mood.

Alice in 1947. For once, she isn't making faces for the camera.

Alice in 1947. For once, she isn’t making faces for the camera.

Remember, this is a woman born in the 1870s, a classic “skinny old maid” to quote the movie The African Queen. But she was the first woman — probably the first person — I knew who had a tattoo! (She regretted it, and usually covered it by wearing several rings over her tattooed finger.) Once, while we were visiting, she explained that she always made a tour of her house around twilight, checking the locks and looking under the bed for hidden intruders. “Aunt Alice,” my mother asked, “what would you do if you found a man under the bed?”

“I’d keep him!” Alice replied.

Remember to share those memories and label those photographs while there are still people who can tell you stories about them! Happy Holidays to all.

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Filed under 1870s to 1900s fashions, 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, 1930s-1940s, 1940s-1950s, Hairstyles, Musings, vintage photographs

A Memorable Bustle Dress

A bustle dress (bodice and skirt) from the 1880s. Private collection.

A bustle dress (bodice and skirt) circa 1880s. Private collection.

I am not a vintage collector, but sometimes a vintage garment I’ve encountered lingers in my mind.  I photographed this bustle dress,  probably from the 1880s, purely for the purpose of inventorying a large collection, but it’s one of those outfits I continue to puzzle over. The big question for me is:  why does it still exist in such “barely-worn” condition?

After 140 years, it had no shattered silk, not even in the folds of the bustle. It did not show signs of alteration, or fading, or cannibalization — and there was a lot of good fabric in its skirt. It would have been easy to update this bodice with 1890s sleeves and a shorter waistline.  Or to make a child’s dress from the fabric. So . . .

Why Didn’t Its Original Owner Wear It Out?

Front of bodice, 1880s bustle dress.

Front of bodice, 1880s bustle dress.

There were slight perspiration stains in the armpits, so we know she wore it at least once.  One logical explanation for its fine state of preservation could be that it went out of fashion soon after she had it made. It’s possible; I didn’t have a proper bustle support, so I had to stuff the back of the skirt with as much crumpled paper and batting as I could get my hands on. I’m pretty sure the jut of the bustle should be more nearly horizontal, like this 1885 dress by Worth, in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum.

Side view of a similar gown in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum. Worth, 1885.

Side view of a similar gown in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum. Designed by Worth, 1885.

“My” dress isn’t nearly as elaborate. This Worth design is encrusted with applied trim and has an even longer front bodice, almost to the pelvic bone:

Front view of Worth dress, 1885, in Metropolitan Museum.

Front view of Worth dress, 1885, in Metropolitan Museum.

This evening costume by Worth has a buttoned basque rather like “my” dress, but it dates from 1880; its bustle is not yet extreme, at least not at the waist.

1880 gown by Worth, Collection of the Metropolitan Museum.

1880 gown by Worth, Collection of the Metropolitan Museum.

And for an example of a really outrageous profile, the Metropolitan Museum has this side view of an unlabeled evening gown from 1885:

1885 extreme bustle dress, Metropolitan Museum Collection.

1885 extreme bustle dress, Metropolitan Museum Collection. Lovely as it is, it reminds me of a pantomime horse costume, with the actor playing the rear of the hose bent over and hugging the waist of the actor in front!

It’s easy to understand how that dress, which is so “of its moment,” would not get many wearings before it fell out of favor; for one thing, it’s too memorable to appear repeatedly at the level of society that wears such expensive clothes.

A Middle Class Woman’s Bustle Dress

But this outfit which I wonder about is middle class; of good quality, but not so memorable that a woman would abandon it because all her friends had seen it. Incidentally, it is possible to get into it without the aid of a maid.

A dress meant to be worn more than once.

A dress meant to be worn more than once.

Of its many beautiful metal buttons, only one is missing, the one at the top of the throat. When being worn, this area would have been covered by a lace jabot, often secured by a large brooch, so it’s even possible that the owner removed that button on purpose to allow a frill on her blouse to fall through. You can see a mark left by a brooch pin on the velvet collar, too.

Collar and missing button. A mark left by a brooch pin is visible in the velvet.

Collar and missing button. A mark left by a brooch pin is visible in the velvet collar, at right.

The velvet is not worn; it just photographs a different color depending on the direction of the pile.

Here is a slightly better view (sorry about the hasty photos) of the beautiful buttons, which have paste gems in their centers . . .

Buttons on center front of bodice.

Buttons on center front of bodice. There is a  glittering stone in the center of each.

. . . and which also trimmed the flaps at the back of the bodice:

Back peplum and button trim.

Back peplum and button trim.

Even if the dress went out of fashion, why did no one harvest these 27 buttons for re-use?

The back view, on a very lopsided mannequin.

The back view, on a very lopsided mannequin.

Overall, there is a slightly military flavor to the metal buttons, the back peplum detail,  and the suggestion of a man’s lapels created by the velvet front trim. I can picture Ibsen’s character Hedda Gabler  (spoiler alert if you click!) being attracted to such military details.

The wine-brown silk and burgundy velvet fabrics would have been ready for re-use, too.  This dress was not petite; it had a center back-to-waist measurement of 16″,  a 34″ bust, and a 26″ (made for a corseted) waist.

There was plenty of excellent silk taffeta in the skirt:

Skirt bustle, back view.

Skirt bustle, back view. Note the deliberate asymmetry.

Side view. The bustle seems to be too low, and there is extra fabric near the hem, too.

Side view. The bustle seems to be too low, and it hangs a little longer than the rest of the skirt hem. I think it needs a period cage bustle support under it.

Look at the lovely workmanship on the seam finishes, etc.

The edge binding in red stitches is a little surprise.

Inside the bodice. The edge binding in reddish stitches matching the  burgundy velvet is a nice surprise. They secure tiny rolled hems. The boning channels are feather-stitched, which was usual.

This looks like professional construction to me; I think a dressmaker, not the wearer, made this dress. The lining is brown cotton sateen. The front of the skirt has a panel of velvet emerging from under the draped “apron,” and a pleated ruffle inside the hem to protect it from wear. V027 hem detail pleats

And I mustn’t forget this pretty velvet watch pocket on the right side of the basque: V027 watch pocket

Which brings me back to the reason this outfit lingers in my mind. Why didn’t the woman who owned this dress go on wearing it until it began to look soiled or worn out? And why was it stored so perfectly for over a century, instead of being plundered for buttons, fabric and trims to make newer clothing in the 1890s?

One happy possibility is that the owner became pregnant and couldn’t wear it for a while; perhaps, by the time her figure returned to normal, the fashion was outmoded. Perhaps there was a death in the immediate family, and, again, by the time she was out of mourning clothes a year later, the fashion for bustles had passed. But there is something about the careful preservation of this garment that makes me wonder if it was the wearer who died, so that her grieving family packed it and saved it, as my father once saved my mother’s clothes.

“The Bustle in a House

The Morning after Death,

Is solemnest of industries

Enacted upon Earth.

The Sweeping up the Heart,

The putting Love away

We shall not want to use again

Until Eternity–”  –Emily Dickinson

Of course, Dickinson was not punning upon the word “Bustle” as she was upon “Morning, ”  but that word may be a subconscious reason why this outfit made me think of this poem.

P.S. I have written as if this outfit was from the 1880s; if you have more expertise and can date it to the 1870s, please comment.

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Filed under 1870s to 1900s fashions, Costumes for the 19th century, Dresses, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing

What I Don’t Want for Christmas, Part 2: A Vacuum Cleaner

"Don't disappoint her again this Christmas." Give her a Hoover Vacuum Cleaner. Hoover Ad, December 1924. Delineator magazine.

“Don’t disappoint her again this Christmas.” “Give her a Hoover.” Vacuum Cleaner Ad, December 1924. Delineator magazine.

 

December 1924 Hoover Advertisement. Delineator magazine.

December 1924 Hoover Advertisement. Delineator magazine.

OK, I realize that before vacuum cleaners became available, carrying the heavy rugs outside, hanging them on a washline, and beating them with tools until all the dirt and dust that had become embedded in the rugs transferred itself to your eyes, face, hair, sinus, clothes, etc., was a miserable experience.  But — if a woman really needs a vacuum cleaner, why should it be her Christmas present?

Surely it’s a necessary household expense, to be discussed and paid for from the family budget? This ad even spells it out — the “little woman” needs this tool: 1924 dec hoover ad TEXT brave little woman

Text of Dec. 1924 Hoover advertisement.

Text of Dec. 1924 Hoover advertisement.

The couple pictured in the ad is quite young; if they are newlyweds, I can imagine what happens not long after this embrace. She locks herself in the bedroom or bathroom for a good cry. A vacuum cleaner — reminder of drudgery — is not what you’d call a personal gift.

And, regardless of ads like this, vacuuming is not so effortless that the average woman would do it in a satin dress:

Hoveer Vacuum ad, November 1924. Delineator.

Hoover Vacuum ad, November 1924. Delineator.

I can see why men would think of the Hoover as a “big, important” gift:  A Hoover vacuum cleaner was an expensive purchase. The ads I’ve seen from 1924 never give the total purchase price, just the information that a Hoover can be “delivered to any home upon payment of only $6.25 down! Your Authorized Hoover Dealer will explain our easy purchase plan.” [In 1924 the average monthly income was less than $185.] 

I don’t have much doubt that the “Hoover for Christmas” ads were written by a man. (In Mad Women, Jane Maas, one of the first female advertising executives of the 1960s, reported that even ads for women’s products like sanitary napkins were always written by men.)

The Hoover company was still using the old “Give her a vacuum for Christmas” ad campaign in 1937:

"Hoover for Christmas" Ad, Woman's Home Companion, Dec. 1937.

“Give her a Hoover and you give her the best.” Christmas Ad, Woman’s Home Companion, Dec. 1937.

 

Hoover prices, 1937.

Hoover prices, 1937. Cleaning tools, not included, would add appreciably to the cost.

“The cleaner that nearly 700,000 husbands have given for Christmas.” And they don’t even have to gift wrap it — it’s “Wrapped in Cellophane”: WHC 1937 dec p 85 Hoover xmas ad cellophane text 500

“Gift Hoovers are delivered in gay Christmas wrappings to save your time. The Hoover man from your local store will call on you to help you choose the right model, explain the easy terms, and save you a shopping trip.  All you have to do is telephone the Hoover dealer in your town.”

This husband’s a hero! He didn’t ask his wife’s opinion — “The Hoover man” told him what “the brave little woman” would want in the way of brand and model, cleaning attachments, etc. How could she possibly have an opinion about the tool she was going to use? This was just between the guys, and the husband didn’t even have to visit a store! No shopping! Plus, the Hoover came wrapped in cellophane “to save [his] time.” And bingo, there’s the wife, on her knees, looking adoringly up at her hubby —  “Really, darling, you shouldn’t have.” No, really. He shouldn’t have.

I suppose there are many spousal gifts that could be more depressing (like an un-asked-for girdle, size XXXL) or more impersonal (like windshield wipers,) but if there is any spouse out there preparing to give his/her beloved a vacuum cleaner for Christmas, I suggest that it be accompanied by a gift that makes the recipient feel a little less like a worker bee and a little more like a queen.

In the twenties, a wife might appreciate a pretty robe, or some perfume, or some scented products for  a long, luxurious bath:

Ad for Fairy Soap, Delineator, November 1924.

Ad for Fairy Soap, Delineator, November 1924. [When I’m in England I can’t resist washing my dishes in “Fairy Liquid,” which I’ve never seen in the U.S.]

Getting lacy lingerie was always nice:

French chemise and drawers, (Butterick # 5567) and a Combination (Butterick # 4112), April 1924 delineator.

French chemise and drawers, (Butterick # 5567) and a Combination (Butterick # 4112), April 1925, Delineator.  [You can tell from the pattern numbers that the French Chemise was more up-to-date.]

[Shopping Tip:  If you don’t know whether the lady is a size Medium or a size Large, buy the Medium and keep the receipt.]

This stylish, animal print vanity case from Dorothy Gray was available for Christmas, 1928:

Dorothy Gray Vanity Case, December 1928. Ad from Delineator.

Dorothy Gray Vanity Case, December 1928. Ad from Delineator. Note the tube lipstick (rather than old-fashioned lip rouge) and the compartments for rouge, powder, mascara brush, etc.

I prefer to choose my own hats, but this one, made by Gage Brothers & Co. and featured in their 1925 catalog ad, is a real doozy!

Hat from Gage Brothers & Co. catalog; ad in Delineator. April 1925.

Hat from Gage Brothers & Co. catalog; ad from Delineator, April 1925.

And, if we’re talking hypothetical, only-possible-via-time-travel Christmas gifts, I would gladly receive any one of these Art Deco wrist watches from 1928.

Elgin Designer watches, December 1928. Delineator ad.

Elgin Designer watches, December 1928. Delineator ad.

But if I’m the one using the vacuum, I want to choose it myself.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, 1930s, Musings, Nightclothes and Robes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Vintage Accessories

Dress Code for Montana House of Representatives: Dress Boots Are OK

Jeanette Rankin, first Woman Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives

Jeanette Rankin of Montana, First Woman Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives

After reading a short article in The Week about the new dress code for the Montana House of Representatives, I looked it up in the Bozeman Chronicle. You can download the pdf of the official government publication. Click here.

The Week summarized it (12/19/14, p. 6) by saying it “warns women legislators to have modest skirt lengths and necklines, and bans leggings and open-toe sandals. Women legislators say the dress code, drawn up by Republican males without their input, is patriarchal and insulting. ‘The code crosses a line,’ said Rep. Jenny Eck.”

1. “Business formal” for men is defined as “a suit, or dress slacks, jacket, tie, dress shirt, and dress shoes or dress boots.” [What, no cowboy hats?]

2. “Business formal” for women is defined as “a suit or dress slacks, skirt, jacket and dress blouse or suit-like dress and appropriate shoes (flip-flops, tennis shoes, and open-toe sandals are not considered appropriate.) Leggings are not considered dress pants. [Are women allowed to wear dress boots? It does snow in Montana.]

3. “Women should be sensitive to skirt lengths and necklines.”

[Gosh, those poor men must be easily distracted — victims of their raging hormones. It sounds like some male legislators  are already “sensitive” to skirt length and necklines.]

Prohibition (No. 4) against wearing jeans, denim, fleece or sweatshirts presumably applies to both genders, but follows the caution about skirt length and necklines,  as if women were more likely to offend in this way. [Oh-oh. Here’s a photo of Representative Jenny Eck — is she wearing a denim dress?]

Of course, all this does make me curious about what a gathering of the Montana House of Representatives normally looks like. (click here.)

Jeanette Rankin of Montana was the first woman ever elected to the United States House of Representatives, in 1916. That was only 98 years ago. . . .

 

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Filed under Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Shoes, Uniforms and Work Clothes, Women in Trousers

1917 Fashions Revisited

Delineator, September 1917 editorial image.

Delineator, September 1917 editorial image.

My local Public Broadcasting Station has shown Downton Abbey Revisited so many times in the past few weeks that I suspect a new season is about to begin. I realize they’re somewhere in the 1920s by now — I lost interest many episodes ago — but I still have some lovely color images of 1917 fashions from the American fashion magazine Delineator to share. [Back and alternate views — sometimes surprising — may be found at the bottom of the post.]

Butterick patterns for September 1917. Delineator magazine, page 51.

Butterick patterns for September 1917. Delineator magazine, page 51.

Starting at the top of the page:

1917 sept p 51 color top 500

 Butterick patterns 9375, 9363, 9326

A “waist” is what we call a blouse. Waist and skirt patterns were commonly sold separately, but often made up of matching fabrics and called a “frock.” Butterick suggested that either of the outfits below could also be made in navy or dark blue serge; the dress on the right was suitable for “serge, gabardine, checks and stripes” and would also be “pretty in marine blue, smoke gray, beige, soft green or claret color.” Note the red pocket lining and stitching.  Parallel rows of decorative topstitching made a popular trim in 1917. (Click here and scroll to the bottom of that post for a photo.) That’s quite a lovely jeweled belt — very Arts & Crafts, like this set of hairpins.

Butterick waist 9375, skirt 9363, and dress 9326, Sept. 1917.

Butterick waist 9375, skirt 9363, and dress 9326, Sept. 1917.

 Butterick 9369, 9316, 9384

The French blue Georgette top (below, no. 9369) with matching midnight blue satin skirt (9316) is worn for afternoon or tea — tea dances were popular — but for “general wear fine serge or gabardine with a satin; [sic] silk crepe or chiffon cloth body and sleeve would be good-looking and useful.” Pullover dress 9384 is shown made of “mustard color broadcloth. The soft sleeve shown here is cut with a pointed outline that ends with a fascinating bell tassel of dark blue to match the deep indigo satin of the collar and cord sash. . . . One piece frocks are worn in navy, beige, Burgundy, dust color, prune or brown.”

Butterick patterns 9369. 9316, and dress 9364; Delineator, Sept. 1917.

Butterick patterns 9369. 9316, and dress 9364; Delineator, Sept. 1917.

Skirt 9316 is illustrated in two versions, with the “tonneau” skirt [below left] arranged “in four soft loops that are especially effective in the satin surfaced silk;” it can also be made as the “envelope” skirt [right] with the folds overlapped and apparently stitched or buttoned together — and trimmed with a tassel.

Two versions of the same skirt: a

Two versions of the same skirt: a “tonneau” [barrel skirt] on the left and an “envelope” skirt on the right. Butterick 9316, from 1917.

The Tonneau Skirt, 1917

It must have taken a merchandising genius to persuade women that they wanted their hips to look like a “tonneau,” the French word for  “barrel.”  Nevertheless, they did; here is a photo of a California girl proudly showing off her new dress:

“Ethol” wearing a taffeta tonneau-skirted dress, circa 1918.

Ethol and Bretta, San Mateo Co., California, about 1918.

Ethol and Bretta, San Mateo Co., California, about 1918.

The “envelope” version of pattern 9316 (in light blue ) appeared at the bottom of the page, with this wine colored dress, No. 9381:

1917 sept p 51 waist 9337 skirt 9316 dress 9381 500
1917 was a good year for interesting hats, upswept hairstyles . . .

Finely pleated hat, 1917. Delineator.

Finely pleated hat, 1917. Delineator.

. . .  novelty sleeves, plenty of buttons, tassels galore, and beautifully embroidered dresses. Butterick sold embroidery transfers and also the pattern for the handbag, at left, No. 10625.

Novelty sleeves, plenty of self-covered buttons, tassels everywhere, and embroidered dresses and suits. Delineator, Sept. 1917.

Novelty sleeves, plenty of self-covered buttons, tassels everywhere, and embroidered dresses and suits. Delineator, Sept. 1917.

Butterick patterns 9373, 9073, 9340, 9360

The salmon-colored top and skirt outfit below has a white satin collar, and the buttons are also satin-covered. “Deep patch pockets are embroidered in red and stitched in black.” [!] The blouse can be cut in a shorter length. For afternoon wear, the outfit should be made in satin; “serge, gabardine, wool jersey, stripes or checks make a useful morning and street costume during early Autumn.” [The alternate view of the Russian blouse — at the botttom of this post — looks very different.]

Russian blouse 9373 with skirt 9073; waist 9340 with skirt 9360. Butterick patterns, Delineator. Sept. 1917.

Russian blouse 9373 with skirt 9073; waist 9340 with skirt 9360. Butterick patterns, Delineator. Sept. 1917.

Above right: “Russian green and beige are the colors, soft silk and Georgette crepe the materials that make a frock of distinction for afternoon wear, teas and luncheons. . . . The two-piece skirt can be made with trimming pieces on the hips that give a graceful draped effect. [See the back view, further down.] It has a very soft, pretty silhouette and is made with a moderate amount of fullness.”

Butterick patterns 9350 and 9251

Butterick waist patern 9350 with skirt 9251. Delineatro, Sept. 1917.

Butterick waist pattern 9350 with skirt 9251. Delineator, Sept. 1917.

“In this frock of blue a draped front in bodice effect has a pointed closing fastened by a single big button. . . . The front of the waist forms a sash at the sides and ties over the back giving an attractive peplum impression. [Scroll down for a back view.] The two-piece skirt is arranged with drapery at the sides and gives the popular narrow lower edge and yet is not at all extreme. For evening wear there is a separate train that is very smart and graceful…. For general wear the serge frock is effective in dark blue, mastic, gray, dull red, brown, or prune color.” It could also be made as an afternoon frock in satin, charmeuse, crepe de Chine or crepe meteor “for receptions, tea, or matinee wear.” It’s not hard to imagine an evening version of this skirt, with a long train trailing after those tasseled side-poufs.

Back versions of three of these outfits were also fully illustrated:

Back (or alternate) views of Dress 9384 , waist 9340 with skirt 9360, and 9381. Butterick patterns for September 1917. Delineator.

Back (or alternate) views of Dress 9384 , waist 9340 with skirt 9360, and 9381. Butterick patterns for September 1917. Delineator.

Back (or alternate) views of Dress 9384 (the mustard one), waist 9340 with skirt 9360 (the green striped one), and 9381 (the Burgundy dress with sleeve tassels and front emboidery.) Apparently the woman on the left is not looking over her shoulder to ask, “Does this dress make my butt look big?” That was a “given” in most 1917 fashions. The alternate version of 9340 – 9360 [center] is very different from the “Russian green” striped version we saw before.

Other alternate and back views for the dresses in this post:

Other views of Butterick patterns 9363, 9316, 9350, 9251, Sept. 1917.

Other views of Butterick patterns 9363, 9316, 9350, 9251, Sept. 1917. Note the sleeve variations, right.

Other views of Butterick 9337, 9316, 9326, Sept. 1917.

Other views of Butterick 9337, 9316, 9326, Sept. 1917. Waist 9337 is almost unrecognizable.

Othre views of Butterick skirt 9073 and Russian blouse 9373, Sept. 1917.

Other views of Butterick skirt 9073 and Russian blouse 9373, Sept. 1917.

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