The dress on the right, Companion-Butterick pattern 7733, is both a floral print and a stripe. What’s more, it’s a horizontal stripe. Not just the fabric, but the high waist and the draped V top reminded me of something familiar:
Of course, it’s not exactly the same dress, but it’s very similar. The photograph is dated 1938, and I happen to have several Butterick Fashion News flyers from 1938. Large scale prints were becoming popular in women’s dresses, under the influence of Elsa Schiaparelli. This Schiaparelli blouse, in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum, has a floral/horizontal striped print, too.
It has some elements in common with the dark fabric on the dress shown by Butterick, #7733.
Companion-Butterick pattern 7733 (right): “A soft, simple dress just right for the new striped prints. Junior Miss sizes 12 to 20; [women’s sizes] 30 to 38 [inches bust measurement.]”
Companion-Butterick pattern 7734 (left): “A tiny lace frill on a new scalloped neckline. Junior Miss sizes 12 to 20; [women’s sizes] 30 to 38 [inches bust measurement.]”
Another horizontally striped floral print is used for Companion-Butterick 7745, below. “Peasant influence, laced bodice, puffed sleeves, square neck. Sizes 12 to 20; [women’s sizes] 30 to 40 [inches bust measurement.]”
“Tyrolean” fashions were popular until World War II broke out. Lantz of Salzburg dresses — very popular with young women in the 1950s — were known for these floral stripes. (Now, those floral stripes — used lengthwise — are associated with flannel nightgowns.)
The dress on the left looks youthful, but the pattern goes to size 42″.
Companion-Butterick No. 7781 (left): “The neckline outlined with flowers is fresh. Size 36 takes 3 1/2 yards rayon crepe 39. Sizes 12 to 20; [women’s sizes] 30 to 42 [inches bust measurement.]”
Companion-Butterick No. 7791 (right): “A peasant dress in bayadere print. Junior Miss sizes 12 to 20; [women’s sizes] 30 to 38 [inches bust measurement.]” The Design Fabric Glossary defines “bayadere” as “brightly coloured stripes in a horizontal format characterized by strong effects of colour. A Bayadere is an Indian dancing girl, trained from birth.”
Although this dress does not technically have striped print fabric, the floral pattern is distributed in chevrons, rather than randomly:
Butterick 7757: “One of the new prints in a dress with softly shirred bodice. Sizes 12 to 20; [women’s sizes] 30 to 42 [inches bust measurement.]“
This dress, whose top is made of striped print fabric, appeared in Woman’s Home Companion in November of 1937:
Strong colors and stripes were certainly used by Schiaparelli in this blouse from 1936:
(It could have been worn in the 1980s — or now — but it dates to 1936.)
The woman who couldn’t afford to make a new, print dress could add a print halter top over a solid dress, as in this Butterick accessory pattern (No. 7792), which included “collars and cuffs, gilets and sashes to make a small wardrobe seem extensive:”
Taking a closer look at my mother’s dress from 1938, I can see that the pattern in the fabric is not actually floral; it is more like a negative pattern made by using lace to bleach out a solid color.
I can also see that there is a little white chemisette filling in the neckline.
Note: Pictures from the Metropolitan Museum should not be copied from a blog and posted elsewhere — The Met graciously allows their use for writing about fashion history. If you want to use them, please get them from the Met’s Online Collection site, and credit the Museum.
10 responses to “Striped Prints, Spring 1938”
Textile history! I love it even more than dress history. Thanks for the wonderful insights into Schiaparelli’s influence on everyday fashion.
Fascinating! The pattern sketches are amazing and I love the blouses. It is amazing how one photo can lead to so much info! Thanks for sharing!
This is so interesting… thank you so much for sharing all these informations!
1938??? No sorry, more like 1957!
I remember as a young girl my paternal grandmother wearing dresses exactly like those in your wonderful photos. She was born in 188? something, and was more of a walking fashion museum than “fashionable”. As a 12 year old I loved the colours and patterns, but my mother confided to me that gmother was a a bit old fashioned. Not the first generation clash?
If I can find the 1950- 1960 photos I’ll send them to you. Gmother died in 1960?
I think she was a fashionable dresser before WW2 and when it finished in 1945 she felt herself too old to buy new, so she carried on wearing her large wardrobe of pre-war dresses.
My own grandmother’s dresses probably lasted a long time because she did her housework wearing a housedress or “wash dress;” she went out to play whist a couple of afternoons each week, but otherwise, her good dresses didn’t get a chance to wear out. She was still wearing 1930’s style, perforated, white lace-up mid-heeled shoes in the 1950s, too. People who lived through the Great Depression learned to be careful with their clothes (and their pennies), I guess. There’s a term, “the persistence of fashion,” used to describe the phenomenon of older people clinging to the styles of their youth. Let’s hope it never applies to us!
I love how Schiaparelli turned the front panel to the bias.
In one of the few photos I have of my paternal grandmother, she is wearing a dress similar to the ones you have shown us. The year is 1952. I imagine that it was her “good dress” and had been for years.
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