Monthly Archives: February 2015

Butterick Pleated Dresses with Hats from 1926

Four Butterick designs from December 1926. Delineator, page. 43.

Four Butterick designs from December 1926. Delineator, page. 43.

I love the art deco “arrow” trim on the dress at center left, and the asymmetry on the dress at center right (it’s not a suit). Both are chic and probably influenced by Gabrielle Chanel, whose jersey tweed outfits were making news. She was also using pleats in 1925 – 1926.

"Sports Frock" by Chanel, illustrated by Soulie in Delineator, January 1925.

“Sports Frock” by Chanel, illustrated by Soulie in Delineator, January 1925.

“Chanel makes her famous sports frock of mixed beige and tobacco wool with a sweater blouse and an inverted plait at the front and back of the skirt which is not excessively narrow.”

In a later outfit, from July, 1926, the same year as the Butterick dress patterns, Chanel uses many pleats:

On the right, a Chanel ensemble from July 1926, drawn by Soulie for Delinator magazine. The ensemble on the left is by Premet.

On the right, a Chanel ensemble from July 1926, drawn by Soulie for Delinator magazine. The ensemble on the left is by Premet.

Text describing the ensembles by Premet and Chanel. Delineator, July 1926.

Text describing the ensembles by Premet and Chanel. Delineator, July 1926.

Butterick’s pattern illustrators also put their models in hats that resemble the ones shown with the Paris fashions.

Hats shown with Premet and Chanel fashions in July, 1926. Delineator.

Hats shown with Premet and Chanel fashions in July, 1926. Delineator.

Their dented and fold-over crowns seem to be inspired by the Phrygian cap which was a symbol of the French revolution. (Liberty, leading the people, wears a Phrygian cap in statues, paintings, and on these French stamps.)

Phrygian caps influence cloche hats; Delineator, 1926/

Phrygian caps influence cloche hats; Delineator, 1926. The color image is from Etsy. The top of the hat can be flipped to any side.

Butterick 1163

Butterick pattern 1163, Delineator, 1926.

Butterick pattern 1163, Delineator, December 1926.

Butterick 1163:  “. . . Square neck in front and a tab yoke in back are Paris signing off  [on this] frock. The arrangement of plaits in front of the straight skirt, the wide belt . . . and neck-band give the frock an air of individuality. Size 36 requires 2 1/4 yards of wool jersey 54 inches wide. Lower edge, plaits drawn out, 1 3/4 yard. For women sizes 32 to 44 inches bust.” [There are no pleats on the back of the dress. The front pleats seem to be stitched down.]

Butterick 1176

Butterick pattern 1176, delineator, December 1926.

Butterick pattern 1176, Delineator, December 1926.

Butterick 1176:  “The smart woman spends most of her life in sports clothes and evening clothes. A frock with the two-piece look in front and a flat, one-piece back, an unusual collar and a tab closing is an excellent style for worsted, wool crepe, or flat crepe. The lower edge is straight. Size 36 requires 2 yards of 54 inch tweed. The frock is suited to women 32 to 44 bust.”

Back when I had a sewing machine that didn’t do buttonholes (it was straight stitch only!) I would have been attracted to this dress because all the closures could be done with snaps.

Adjusting the Fashion Ideal to Reality

I’ve written before about how deceptive fashion illustrations can be (For “Fashion Illustration versus Fashion Reality, 1934” click here.) Just for fun, I drew Butterick 1176 on a more “normal” eight head figure by Jack Hamm:

An eight head figure, and Butterick 1176 as it might look on a living person.

An eight head figure, and Butterick 1176 as it might look on a living person.

In the illustration from Jack Hamm’s book Drawing the Head and Figure, which I have modified to show the “heads” as a unit of measurement, there are four “heads” from crown to bottom of the torso and four “heads” from there to the ground. The heel — supporting weight — is at 7 1/2 heads.

A cutter/draper working from the original fashion illustration would have to work from a few fixed points, as I did: the longer lapel comes to about the bust point (scroll down to see); the bottom of the “jacket” probably stops at the top of the thigh, or it will crease when she sits. (The button tabs ought to have been scaled down on my sketch.)   I personally believe that costume sketches should be drawn on an eight head figure, so the director and actors — and the costume shop — will have a more truthful idea of what the design will look like on a normal human being. It’s cheaper to solve problems on paper than in fabric.

Without computer generated imagery, an actress will never look like this:

An impossible ideal.

An impossible ideal.

If she’s never seen the impossible ideal, an actress may be willing to look like this:

Butterick 1176 as it might look on a normal body.

Butterick 1176 as it might look on a normal body.

In fact, since this dress has a long front opening, the sides can be tapered to look less bulky and more flattering. The sleeves can be tighter. A costume shop would probably build this dress with an inner lining that enables the skirt to hang from the shoulders, keeping the blouson in place, rather than depending on the belt to do it. [Tricks of the trade!]

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, bags, handbags, Hats, Purses, Sportswear, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage patterns

A Lament for Bound Periodicals

Cover of Delineator magazine, April 1917. Color illustration by Maud Humphrey.

Cover of Delineator magazine, April 1917. Color illustration by Maud Humphrey.

I am still amazed to the discover full color fashion illustrations in magazines that are 98 years old, or even older.

Look at the unexpected notes of muted red in the embroidery on this blue dress:

Detail, Delineator cover, April 1917.

Detail, Delineator cover, April 1917.

Hem embroidery, April 1917.

Hem embroidery, April 1917.

The Past Was Not Dressed in Black and White

Most of the movies and photographs that we have for the early 20th century are in black and white. It’s hard not to think of the nineteen twenties and early thirties in shades of gray, because, in the photos we have, we can’t see that a “black” dress is actually red, or burgundy, or blue, or green; or that a pale dress is not white but peach, yellow, or aqua, etc.

This is how a page from a 1925 copy of Delineator magazine would look on black and white film or microfiche:

Delineator, April 1925, photographed in gray scale.

A page from Delineator, April 1925, photographed in gray scale.

But this is what those old Delineators really looked like;  there were several pages of full-color fashion illustrations in every issue:

A color page from Delineator, April 1925.

The same page as it actually appeared in Delineator, April 1925.

When you see it in black and white, the suit on the lower right seems to actually be black and white — but the blouse is vivid yellow. The hem of the red dress “reads” as black when you can’t see the color. The beading on the black dress is reddish, too.

Bound Periodicals Replaced with Black and White Film

There is a wealth of costume history and color information in old periodicals, but sadly, many libraries got rid of their bound periodical sections and replaced them with microfilm and microfiche about ten years before the digital revolution. Today, it’s possible to make full-color scans of old magazines (if you still have any), but the big, old, heavy, bound volumes of magazines are long gone; often black and white photos of their pages are all that libraries have.

When you can get your hands on a vintage fashion magazine, many of the illustrations look like this:

Delineator, June 1926, p. 29, photographed from a bound periodical in the library.

Delineator, June 1926, p. 29, photographed from a bound periodical in the library.

But this is what they look like when you read them on microfilm:

The way it would look on microfilm.

The same illustration converted to black and white. Would you guess that one dress has green roses on it? That the dress in the lower left is not black?

Why I Became Witness2Fashion

Originally, I thought I would write mostly about the 1950s and 1960s — because I was a “witness” to the fashions of those years. I was just becoming aware of clothing and its social impact then; I can remember exactly when I wore certain outfits, because I was young and had many milestones — first dance, first capri pants, first grown-up suit, first jobs, important interviews, etc. I can also remember which styles from the period looked stodgy and middle-aged to me at twenty, and what occasions called for hats and gloves.

McCall's pattern 7981, 1965.

McCall’s pattern 7981, 1965. Classy, but by 1965 a little “mature” for a college senior like me. The models are young, but chic women in their fifties also wore suits like this.

I handle a lot of clothing patterns, not always dated, and I expected to verify the memories they evoked by going to the library and looking through magazines from my youth: Seventeen, Glamour, Mademoiselle, Vogue, etc. I have access to both a major urban library system and a large university library. But . . . .

Information Was Lost in Translation to Black and White

. . . most of those magazines are now only available as microfilm or microfiche! They’re preserved in black and white — color fashion magazines, stripped of their colors. Knowing that half the information that used to be there is missing really takes the pleasure out of a library visit. (Neither library subscribes to Vogue online.) And black and white versions of color fashion photos do lose much of their information. If you need proof that red and green look the same when reduced to black and white :

Cover of Maureen Valdes Marsh's book 70s Fashion Fiascos. Converted to black and white, the lettering is all the same gray.

Cover of Maureen Valdes Marsh’s book 70s Fashion Fiascos. Converted to black and white, the lettering is all the same gray, and the caftan loses most of its impact.

Also, for the benefit of anyone under forty, I’ll explain that it is very uncomfortable for those of us who wear glasses with bi-focal or graded lenses to read a vertical microfilm screen. With all graded lenses, you’re expected to look down to read and straight ahead to focus on things that are far away. This works for driving — but not for reading a vertical screen one foot away! I physically can’t spend hours reading that way.

So I switched my focus — in both senses — to the remaining vintage fashion periodicals that I could find.

Butterick’s Delineator Magazine, 1900 to 1937

Delineator cover, February 1933.

Delineator cover, February 1933. The illustrator is probably Dynevor Rhys. Vintage color combinations are sometimes unexpected, like this hat. Makeup styles are also documented in color.

At the main library I discovered a huge treasure trove of really old Delineator magazines still in the form of full-size bound periodicals that had not been converted to microfilm. My library has a complete set of Butterick’s Delineator magazines from 1900 to 1937. They were not converted to microfilm, possibly because The Delineator stopped publication in 1937. The library stores them in a basement off-site, but will bring volumes to the reserve desk with one day’s notice.

I also discovered that, from the early 1920’s to 1937, Butterick put a list of each month’s new pattern numbers at the back of Delineator magazine,  which meant that those “undated” Butterick patterns could be dated — something not possible before. I made it my project to collect the numbers and publish my research online. (See Dating Butterick Patterns 1920s to 1937 by clicking here.)  The results can be found at witness2fashion.com.

Of course, I couldn’t help reading some of the magazines! At first I intended to photograph a few of the the color pages;  then I became fascinated by the ads, and the black and white pattern illustrations; I started taking photos of some of the longer articles to read later . . . .

My project kept growing. Trained to do academic research,  I wanted to compare the Butterick patterns illustrated in Delineator with contemporary patterns pictured in other available bound periodicals, like Ladies’ Home Journal and Woman’s Home Companion. My computer is getting very full of images!  I’ll share as many as I can.

“Got Anything Valuable?”  in Vintage Advertisements

I was taught to regard advertisements as a valuable source of primary research, because they often show occupational dress and stereotypical clothing far removed from high fashion. Here are a few informative ads in color:

"Customs Inspector: 'Got anything very valuable in this trunk?' The Traveler: 'I should say so . . . . A whole carton of Chesterfields." Cigarette ad, July 1928. The Delineator.

“Customs Inspector: ‘Got anything very valuable in this trunk?’ The Traveler: ‘I should say so . . . . A whole carton of Chesterfields.’ ” Cigarette ad, July 1928. The Delineator.

Her big, orange scarf with green accents transforms a quiet camel suit and matching shoes. I expect The Vintage Traveler to covet that travel blanket. Could it be a Pendleton?

Camel Cigarette Ad, July 1928.

Camel Cigarette Ad, July 1928. This ad offers a fantasy of country club life. Ads are aspirational, always implying that using the product will improve your life and possibly raise your social status.

A costumer will note the different shades of blue (not gray or black) on the gentlemen’s jackets, worn with light tan or gray slacks, and a pink pocket square.

Ford was later than other manufacturers to introduce closed cars. This is one of a series of Ford advertisements aimed at women:

April 1924 Ford Ad for Closed Car.  Delineator. A "Woman in Business."

April 1924. Ford Ad for a Closed Car. A “Woman in Business,” but not a secretary; this is her office. From Delineator.

“Her habit of measuring time in terms of dollars gives the woman in business keen insight into the true value of a Ford closed car for her personal use. . . . inexpensive operation and upkeep convince her that it is a sound investment value. And it is such a pleasant car to drive. . . .”

Ad for Elgin watches, December 1928.

Full color ad for Elgin watches, December 1928. Costumers need to know about period accessories.

If you’ve just started reading witness2fashion, it may seem like I hop around from era to era.

I do, on purpose, following whatever trail catches my eye — zippers, corsets, makeup, accessories . . . . I like them all!

I Love the Colors of the Past

There are fashions in color, as well as in styles. Some color combinations or seasonal colors may surprise us.

To end where I started, here are several color illustrations from Delineator, 1917 —  almost a century old.  Images like these are a reason I treasure (and want to share bits of) those bound periodicals that escaped conversion to microfilm.

February 1917, Delineator, page 51.

February 1917, Delineator, page 51. The dress on the right looks like blue-violet changeable taffeta.

Up close, you can see the pastel print on the black dress, and the pink tassels on the blue one. Orange chiffon dresses with black and white trim are not a common sight nowadays:

Details, February 1917, Delineator, page 51.

Details, February 1917, Delineator, page 51.

The ladies below wear cocoa, tan, brilliant blue-green or reddish brown, no longer “Spring” colors to us,  with some rather remarkable hats:

Feb. 1917, Delineator, p. 52.

Feb. 1917, Delineator, p. 52.

Up close, you can see the colors in the prints lining the white stole and used in the rust-red dress and hat:

Detail of color illustration, Feb. 1917.

Detail of color illustration, Feb. 1917. Is that a Valkyrie on the right?

These are fashions for January, 1917. It’s nice to know that the blue hat and bag are blue,  not black.

January 1917, Delineator, page 40.

January 1917, Delineator, page 40. The vivid red and blue contrast would be lost in a black and white photo.

Detail, Jan. 1917, Ddelineator. The red and blue dress has embroidered pockets.

Detail, Jan. 1917, Delineator. The red and blue outfit has embroidered pockets; so does the pumpkin-brown dress.

“Here’s Looking at You, Kid”

Delineator, Feb. 1917.

Hats from Delineator, Feb. 1917.

 

 

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s, bags, Dating Butterick Patterns, handbags, Hats, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Purses, Vintage Accessories

Handbags and Gloves, October 1936

"Let's Concentrate on Your Bags and Gloves," Ladies' Home Journal, October 1936, page 32.

“Let’s Concentrate on Your Bags and Gloves,” Ladies’ Home Journal, October 1936, page 32.

Let’s Concentrate on Your Bag and Gloves

In October of 1936, the Ladies’ Home Journal devoted an issue to articles about coordinating your wardrobe, including brief articles like this one about handbags and gloves. Similar attention was paid to coordinating your stockings to your shoes, and both with your dress, and to hats. A longer article suggested a coordinated wardrobe of dresses, coats, etc. By 1936, The Ladies’ Home Journal featured Vogue patterns instead of its own brand. These accessories look upscale to me, but the magazine had a Depression-era emphasis on planning a coordinated wardrobe. These bags can go with more than one outfit.

Now You Can Swing Your Bag By Its Handle

Bags and Gloves, Ladies' Home Journal, Oct. 1936.

Bags and Gloves, Ladies’ Home Journal, Oct. 1936.

These small, neat bags, many with top-stitching, also have something the editors thought worth mentioning: “Now You Can Swing Your Bag by Its Handle.” Only three, as far as I can tell, are “envelope” or clutch bags.

lhj 1936 oct p 32 500 handbags and gloves top left blk tan

“Two shades of black, calf and patent in the bag, kid and patent in the gloves, make a nice contrast to a gray tweed in the upper left corner. They would also be nice with green or any strong shade. The most exciting thing about this season is the tan shades, [right] and the way they combine with black as well as brown. The diamond-shaped bag, hand-stitched, and its matching gloves are in a pinkish-tan doeskin, for contrast with the tan-flecked black tweed. This shade is also delightful with navy, green or all-black.”

Bags and gloves, Oct. 1936, Ladies Home Journal.

Bags and gloves, Oct. 1936, Ladies’ Home Journal.

“The gray buckled envelope bag is conservative in its size, but its matching gloves have exaggerated cuffs. Worn here with a gray herringbone tweed. With the brown tweed mixture [right] is carried an oversize brown calf bag with white stitching and short brown capeskin gloves with leather knob buttons closing the slit of the wrist.”

Tucking and Stitching Make Gloves Look New

Handbags and Gloves, Ladies' Home Journal, October 1936.

Handbags and Gloves, Ladies’ Home Journal, October 1936.

“We might as well get used to it — suede is practically the only bag material for your more formal town clothes, and for afternoon. With it, suede or doeskin gloves. But handbag and gloves do not necessarily match each other.”

lhj 1936 oct p 32 500 handbags and gloves left btm

“The gold-buckled very deep bag to the left above takes red-brown gloves with an S-shaped stitching, against a black costume. White doeskin gloves [right], corded on the back, lend further formality to the black suede bag with gold bar and slide fastener.”

Bags and gloves, Oct. 1936.

Bags and gloves, Oct. 1936.

“The shell-topped bag [probably real or imitation tortoise shell] of brown suede has matching gloves, longish, the cuffs buttoned and nicely tucked. Notice how well this brown goes with a brighter brown costume. But black may also be worn with this shade, as you see in the suede bag with the ruffled edge, on the right, the gloves piped at the top with the red-brown of the dress.”

Oddly, the articles on bags, gloves, shoes, etc.,  did not name the manufacturers. Perhaps that information — for all the articles –was located on a page I didn’t photograph at the library.

These illustrations make wearing brown accessories with black clothing seem like a fresh, sophisticated idea.

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Filed under 1930s, bags, Gloves, handbags, Purses, Vintage Accessories

To Bob or Not to Bob Your Hair: 1925 (Part 2)

Getting a pointed shingle haircut, Delineator Nov. 1926. Illustration by Leslie Saalsburg.

Getting a pointed shingle haircut, Delineator, November 1926. Illustration by Leslie Saalsburg.

“If your hair grows so that a point can be made in the center of the back, have your barber cut it in a point.” — Celia Caroline Cole, in her article “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker,”  Delineator magazine, January 1924.

I exerpted the first part of “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker” in Part 1 of this post. (Click here to read it.) (And thank you to Dinah and Cristina , et al, for their really informative comments!) If you watch Downton Abbey, you have probably seen the episode where Lady Mary gets her hair cut into a sleek bob with a point in the back. [After looking at many images from 1924 through 1925, I realized that the thick point above her nape was not what was bothering me; it was the length of her hair in front.]

Louise Brooks probably had the most iconic sleek bobbed hair in the movies (click here), but she didn’t have the pointed back shown in the illustration above, which, as Celia Cole says, was only possible for about one in fifty women. The really “slicker ‘n’ slicker” hair that “looks like paint” probably belonged to elegant Josephine Baker, the American girl who became a legendary star in France. (Click here.) She even marketed a hair preparation called “Bakerfix.”

More from “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker,” January 1925

"The friendliest shingle is to have it cut long on the sides so as to cover the ears. . . . A lovely little sloping curve from behind the ear down to the sharp little point." Two pattern illustration modesl from May, 1925. Butterick's Delineator magazine.

“The friendliest shingle is to have it cut long on the sides so as to cover the ears. . . . A lovely little sloping curve from behind the ear down to the sharp little point.” Two pattern illustration models from May, 1925. Butterick’s Delineator magazine.

from the friendliest shingle to head of young boy

“And long or short, the hair must be very neat — no more tousled heads — brushed until it shines, and for most faces waved in large, loose undulations.”

A Gallery of Mid-Twenties Hair Styles from Delineator Illustrations

April 1924, Paris fashion sketches by Soulie.

April 1924, Paris fashion sketches by Soulie.

March 1924, Delineator. Butterick pattern illustrations.

March 1924, Delineator. Butterick pattern illustrations.

A few months later, in  January, 1925, the girl above left would have been among those who were advised to have the hair in back tapered or thinned “with a razor so that it does not stand out.”

October 1924. Delineator.

October 1924. Delineator.

March, 1925. Delineator.

March, 1925. Delineator. Paris models.

The blonde on the right has her hair cut almost like a man’s, long in front and tapered in back. She has tendrils falling on her cheek, like these other Paris models:

Very short hair on Paris models. The two on the left are from January 1925; the one on the right is from April, 1924.

Very short hair on Paris models. The two on the left are from January 1925; the one on the right is from April, 1924.

A haircut like this gave you the option of pulling a lock from the front down to curl on your cheek on each side, or you could brush it straight back, like singer Dora Stroeva, pictured in Delineator, March, 1924.

Singer Dora  Stroeva wears a severly mannish "Eton crop" in the "New in New York" column; Delineator, March 1924.

Singer Dora Stroeva wears a severely mannish “Eton crop” in the “New in New York” column; Delineator, March 1924.

The “Eton crop,” named after the prestigious English boys’ school Eton College, was the subject of cartoons like this one:

The woman on the right, admiring a photograph of the man the woman on the left is engaged to, says, "Well, God bless you, my dear, congratulations and all that. He certainly looks twice the man that you are." March, 1928, Punch magazine.

The woman on the right is admiring a photograph of the man the woman on the left is engaged to marry.  March, 1928, Punch magazine, reprinted in The Way to Wear’em by Christina Walkley.

The caption says, “Young woman (looking at a photograph of friend’s fiance).  ‘Well, God bless you, my dear, congratulations and all that. He certainly looks twice the man you are.’ ” (For more “fashion” cartoons from The Way to Wear’em and other books, click here.)

However, most women felt the need for some hair near the face to “save it from that utterly revealed look.”

1925, Delineator.

1925, Delineator. The woman in the center has had her hair thinned a little at the bottom, as advised in “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker.”

October 1924, Delineator.

October 1924, Delineator.

December 1924, Delineator.

December 1924, Delineator. Styles for wavy hair.

Having some hair around the face looked better with a hat.

Hair Styles That Are “Nice to Buy Hats For”

“Any one who has had short hair knows the joy of it — cool and free, easy to care for and nice to buy hats for.”

March, left, and January, right, 1925. Hair styles meant to look good under a cloche hat.

March, left, and January, right, 1925. Hair styles meant to look good under a cloche hat.

Hats, story illustration, September 1924. Delineator.

Hats and hair, story illustration, September 1924. Delineator.

It’s hard now to remember that women once wore hats whenever they went out in public, but through the 1920’s and 1930’s photographs of crowds rarely show a person without a head covering of some kind. The tight-fitting, head-hugging hats of the 1920’s required hairstyles that could survive being compressed, and still look presentable when a woman took her hat off at work or at home. No wonder hairstyles got “slicker ‘n’  slicker.”

from gray bobbed to arrange for herself

It didn’t matter whether the hat was a turban, or a cloche, or a hat with a brim; part of the twenties look is those little poufs or curls or “guiches” that fill in the hollow of the cheek. Without them, a cloche hides all your hair, and the look is austere and rather grim. As Celia Cole put it, ” The dressing of the hair means to the face and head what shrubbery and trees mean to a brand-new house: they save it from that utterly revealed look.”

Four Hats for Spring, April 1925. Delineator.

Four Hats for Spring, April 1925. Delineator.

Hats illustrated with dress patterns, February 1925. Delineator.

Hats illustrated with dress patterns, February 1925. Delineator. Imagine how different they would look with no hair visible.

Even a tiny wisp of hair on the cheek softens the hat and sculpts the face.

Hair cut to a point in back, February 1925. Delineator.

Sleek, shiny hair cut to a point in back, February 1925. Delineator.

Which brings me back to Lady Mary’s haircut. Because the front was longer than any of the styles shown in these 1924-1925 illustrations, her haircut didn’t work very well with the hat of her riding habit.  Her hair didn’t fit neatly into the hollow of her cheek. It got messy. That bothered me, like getting a piece of popcorn stuck to a back tooth.

Two hats -- with wisps of hair showing at the cheeks. February 1924, Delineator.

Two hats — with wisps of hair showing at the cheeks. February 1924, Delineator.

Of course, when it comes to dressing actors, the rule is , “The physical attractiveness of the actor to the audience outweighs all other considerations.” It doesn’t apply to all characters — and not to extras — but it does apply to leading actors playing physically attractive characters. Sometimes we search through incredible amounts of research, until we find one example that justifies the style that best becomes the actor. Molly Ivins said that there is nothing so dangerous as a man who has only read one book.”  I probably haven’t found the right book — and “I’m always hungry for more.”

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To Bob or Not to Bob Your Hair: 1925 (Part 1)

Dinner Party from a Toothpaste Ad, Delineator magazine, January, 1924.

Dinner Party from a Toothpaste Ad, Delineator magazine, January, 1924. These full hairdos were about to be replaced by “slicker” head-hugging styles.

I’m not a big fan of Downton Abbey, but I watch it anyway. In the last episode I saw, in season 5, Lady Mary got a new haircut, which is certainly something lots of women do when they feel the need for a change. But there was something about her bob that bothered me, so I poked around in my files, trying to figure out what it was.

Instead, I found a lengthy article about bobbed hair, “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker,” from January 1925, plus many hair-related images.  The article is long, so I’ll break the text up into readable sections (over two posts) and include period images of the styles it refers to. The author, Celia Caroline Cole, was a regular beauty columnist for Delineator magazine, and most of my images are from mid-twenties issues of Delineator.

Here is the illustration and caption that accompanied “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker”:

 One's crowniing glory is such a problem, what is a body to do? To bob or not to bob -- and how?" Delineator, Jan. 1925, p. 22.


“One’s crowning glory is such a problem, what is a body to do? To bob or not to bob — and how?” Delineator, Jan. 1925, p. 22.

“ONE-FOURTH of the women of Paris are bobbed. And there is about that same proportion in London and New York.” —  Celia Caroline Cole, Delineator, January 1925.

Paris fashions from Lucien Lelong, left, and Jean Patou, center and right. Sketched by Soulie for Delineator, 1925.

Paris fashions from Lucien Lelong, left, and Jean Patou, center and right. The models have bobbed and shingled hair. Sketched by Soulie for Delineator, late 1925.

Women Whose Hair Was Not Yet Bobbed

What about the other seventy-five percent of women, the ones who had not yet succumbed to the fashion for very short, “slick” hair?

Bobbed hair had first been popularized during World War I; dancer and fashion icon Irene (Mrs. Vernon) Castle was influential in setting the style.

Irene Castle, with bobbed hair, endorsing Corticelli  Silk in this advertisement from Ladies' Home Journal, October 1917.

Irene Castle, with bobbed hair, endorsing Corticelli Silk in this advertisement from Ladies’ Home Journal, October 1917.

However, after the war ended, long hair became fashionable again. The Marcel Wave — and later, a permanent curl — made it possible for women born with straight hair to have very wavy locks. You could even get a  home permanent “outfit” (using one roller, which screwed into your lamp, like a lightbulb, since there was usually no other electrical supply in the room.) “A whole head can be waved comfortably in just a few hours.”

A Nestle Home Permanent Machine, "Price only $15" in December, 1924. Delineator.

A Nestle Home Permanent Outfit, “Price only $15” in December, 1924. Delineator. It’s going to take more than a few hours to wave that head of hair.

My mother, like many other women, was still wearing her “marcelled” hair in the late 1920s:

A marcel wave, worn close to the head to fit under a cloche hat in the 1920's. Most women did not have a curl right in the middle of their foreheads, but the center part was very typical.

A marcel wave, worn close to the head to fit under a cloche hat in the 1920’s. Most women did not wear a curl right in the middle of their foreheads, but her center part was very typical. “A part in the middle is as smart for bobs as for long hair.”

Three models from one page of Delineator magazine, November 1924:  the woman on the left has a marcel wave and long hair gathered into a chignon low on her neck. The woman on the right has a sleek bob with a “shingle” cut in back. Either style would fit under a cloche hat.

November 1924: Three hair styles seen together in one  Butterick pattern illustration. Delineator,  p. 27.

November 1924: Three hair styles seen together in one Butterick pattern illustration. Delineator, p. 27.

Return of the Bob

The fashion for bobbed hair returned in the early 1920’s. Daring young women went to the local (male) barber shop to have their “crowning glory” chopped off — sometimes to the horror of their parents.

Display poster sold to barber shops in 1924. From

Barber’s Display card sold to barber shops in 1924. From An Illustrated History of Hairstyles, by Marian I. Doyle, page 82.

However, in January of 1925, most women had not yet bobbed their hair. Those who had, usually wore it very full (one might say, “bushy”);  the author of “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker” refers to their “large, gnomelike heads.”  Ads for shampoos and other hair products emphasized a thick, wavy head of hair:

An ad for Danderine hair product, January 1925. Delineator.

An ad for Danderine hair product, January 1925. Delineator.  In the same issue, the beauty editor called these bobbed hairdos “very demodee.”

Even these styles, from the Barber Shop display card shown above,  are full, rather than sleek.

Straight bobs from barber shop display card, 1924. An Illustrated History of Hair

Straight bobs from barber shop display card, 1924. From An Illustrated History of Hairstyles, M. Doyle.

That is why the beauty editor of Delineator had to tell women, in January of 1925, that “the old straight bob is very demodee.” [Démodée means “out of style, unfashionable.”] “To be modee and exciting and to look like an illustration in a novel, the hair should be either shingled or dressed so close to the head that it looks like paint.” — C. C. Cole

The Shingle Explained

A Shingle Hair Cut, April 1924. Delineator.

A Shingle Hair Cut, April 1924. Delineator.

“If a woman has a well-shaped head . . . , the hair is cut close to the head in the back and about a third of the way up from the nape of the neck and from there on it is longer. The whole aim is to have a beautiful line for the back of the head — that loveliness one finds in the head of a young boy.

“If the hair is thin . . . , the smart hairdresser does not cut the hair close at the nape of the neck, but cuts it in one length from the crown to the nape, thinning the ends with a razor so that it will not stand out.” — Celia Cole in her article “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker.”

More Exerpts from “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker,” Published in January 1925

to be modee para

"A dashing little head on the stop of a slender supple body not at all concealed by its extremely simple frock." Pattern illustrations from Delineator, Feb. 1924.

“A dashing little head on the top of a slender supple body not at all concealed by its extremely simple frock.” Pattern illustrations from Delineator, Feb. 1924.

Four Paris models sketched by Soulie, Delineator, January 1925.

Four Paris models sketched by Soulie, Delineator, January 1925 — The same issue carried “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker.”

two things must be considered

"The short, stout woman can very rarely wear a shingle; she needs a "thatch." Corset ad, Dec 1924. Delineator.

“The short, stout woman can very rarely wear a shingle; she needs a ‘thatch.’ ” Round-U Corset ad, Dec 1924. Delineator.

French Models sketched by Soulie, March 1924. Delineator.

French Models sketched by Soulie, March 1924. Delineator. “The bob has no age limit.”

from the bob, lik to the flatness

 

"Wave it" or "Dress it low" if a shingle doesn't suit your hair or head shape; two styles from 1924. Delineator.

“Wave it” or “Dress it low” if a shingle doesn’t suit your hair or head shape; two styles from 1924. Delineator.

However, if a woman’s hair is thick, she should “go to a good barber — and by “barber” we mean a woman’s barber, a hairdresser — and have him thin it out evenly, so that it can be dressed smartly close.”

To be continued . . . .

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, Hairstyles, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Vintage patterns, vintage photographs

Print Dresses for Spring, 1934

Print dresses for Spring, 1934. Butterick patterns  5494, 5527, 5507 from The Delineator, Feb. 1934.

Print dresses for Spring, 1934. Butterick patterns 5494, 5527, 5507 from The Delineator, Feb. 1934.

Eighty-one years ago, these print dresses were illustrated in The Delineator magazine, a Butterick Company publication. Print fabrics were suggested for both day and evening wear. I’ll show some close-ups of each dress, because the details are so lovely.

Butterick 5494

Butterick pattern 5494, Feb. 1934.

Butterick pattern 5494, Feb. 1934.

“The fruit prints are very charming, especially the berry, apple and pear ones.  A raspberry print is used for dress 5494, a frock distinguished also for its new type of high cowl neckline, buttoned to one shoulder and its sleeves that go just beyond the crook of the elbow.” — The Delineator, February 1934, p. 72.

What I really like about this dress is the unusual cut of the bodice and sleeves, and the way the diagonal seam is carried down into the skirt.

1934 feb p 72 dresses top 5494 500Butterick patterns 5527 and 5507

Butterick patterns 5527 and 5507, February 1934, The Delineator.

Butterick patterns 5527 and 5507, February 1934, The Delineator.

The large, swirling, abstract print on number 5527 is quite a contrast to “fruit prints.”

Dress details, Butterick 5527 and 5507, Feb. 1934.

Dress details, Butterick 5527 and 5507, Feb. 1934.

Butterick 5527:  “Light rust is the newest color for prints, and best-looking when the design is in white, as in the hood frock 5527. In front the dress has a high neck, but it is its back that is the important thing.” [That’s right: A hood!]

Butterick 5507:  “Neat little unimportant designs, spaced apart, make the smartest looking dresses after all, as 5507 with its entrancing laced and buttoned scarf, proves. This is the kind of print that is definitely high fashion for spring.”

Top details of Butterick 5527 and 5507, Feb. 1934.

Top details of Butterick 5527 and 5507, Feb. 1934.

Big bow/collars like No. 5507 were also popular in white. Notice the way the sleeves echo the curve of the bodice.

This print dress with a contrast collar/bow is Butterick 5609, from April 1934:

Butterick dress pattern 5609, April 1934, The Delineator.

Butterick dress pattern 5609, April 1934, The Delineator.

It also has fullness gathered into curves on the sleeves, like No. 5507.

A print fabric was also featured in this dress from a Lane Bryant  catalog advertisement in February:

Lane Bryant catalog for stout women ad from The Delineator, Feb. 1934.

Lane Bryant catalog for stout women ad from The Delineator, Feb. 1934.

Print for a Spring Evening Dress

Butterick evening gown patterns 5534 and 5526, Feb. 1934. The Delineator.

Butterick evening gown patterns 5534 and 5526, Feb. 1934. The Delineator.

 Butterick 5534:  This jacket dress would be hard to beat — for being terribly good-looking and practical, too. It’s suitable for Mama and Daughter alike.  Wear it informally with the jacket.  Take the jacket off and you have a covered-shoulder, low-backed frock …. Designed for sizes 12 to 20; 30 to 40.”

Butterick 5526:  The skirt of this dress is all one unbroken sweep of the satin, with a single seam down the back — no side seams! For this, you have to use 54 inch satin. There’s a built-in brassiere, so all one needs to wear underneath is a girdle and step-ins …. Designed for sizes 12 to 20; 30 to 40.”

Details of Butterick patterns 5534 and 5526, from Feb. 1934, The Delineator.

Details of Butterick patterns 5534 and 5526, from Feb. 1934, The Delineator.

Number 5526 doesn’t use print fabric, but that description — a single seam bias skirt and a built-in bra — is pretty interesting!

A Vintage Print Evening Dress, circa 1929

While reading about these prints for spring — one of them in  rust, which is not a “springtime” color anymore — I remembered this vintage dress which I photographed — badly — several years ago:

Vintage print chiffon evening dress, circa 1929.

Vintage print evening dress, circa 1929.

It is several years earlier than the patterns from 1934; it has a handkerchief hem which is much shorter in front than in back. V139 dress  front 500

These transitional gowns were popular around 1929 — this example is from Paris, by Lucien Lelong.

Navy Taffeta Gown by Lucien Lelong, pictured in The Delineator, August 1929.

Navy Taffeta Gown by Lucien Lelong, pictured in The Delineator, August 1929.

A closer view of the front of the vintage dress shows a dropped waistline, too. It is made of print chiffon over a silk lining. Like many gowns of the 1930s, it depends on a bias cut for its effectiveness.

V139 detail 500

The use of bold, printed fabrics spanned several decades.

 

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Dresses, Girdles, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing

Scarves Past (1932) and Future (2015)

This Scarf Fashion, from The Delineator, May 1932.

This Scarf Fashion, from The Delineator, May 1932.

Scarves of the Future

Scarves are on my mind this week. Yesterday I read a brief article in New Scientist magazine about “smart scarves” — scarves that heat up, vibrate or play music; some can inform you that you’re getting a phone call.

“. . . A prototype called SWARM, designed by Microsoft researchers, can  heat up, vibrate or play music and is controlled by a smartphone app. It can also link to a heart monitor sensor to react to changes in your mood.  Another smart scarf, Scarfy, triggers different apps on your phone depending on the way you tie it and can scrunch up by itself to signify an incoming phone notification.” — New Scientist, 31 January 2015, p. 20.

“The world is so full of a number of things. . . .” many of which didn’t really need to be invented! My nightmare version of the scarf that “scrunches up” when my phone rings:  My scarf is getting tighter, and I can’t find my phone. I empty my purse: the phone’s not there! I check the pockets of the jacket I was wearing:  it’s not there either! I stagger upstairs to my office, to see if my phone is still plugged into the charger . . . . but  — Aaaaargh! too late! I’m as dead as Isadora Duncan! Well, OK, I’m sure the Scarfy does not contract like a boa constrictor, but I think I can get along without one.

Scarves of the Past (1932)

On the bright side, yesterday I also came across a page of lovely 1930’s dresses accented with scarves or scarf effects. The format of the original page in The Delineator did not reproduce large enough to show details, so I have moved the elements around to make the dresses more visible online.

"This Scarf Fashion;" illustration from The Delineator, May 1923, p. 82.

“This Scarf Fashion;” illustration from The Delineator, May 1923, p. 82.

From left, Butterick suit pattern #4496, showing the “over-the shoulder” scarf; pattern#4488, accented with a striped scarf; center, pattern #4508, which has a “twisted scarf;” dress pattern #4530, with a scarf drawn through the collar and tied in a bow; and coat pattern #4481, with an attached “ascot scarf.”

Butterick 4496

Butterick 4496 for a dress and jacket; the scarf is actually part of the dress. May, 1932, Delineator magazine.

Butterick 4496 (left) for a dress and jacket; the scarf is actually part of the dress. May, 1932, Delineator magazine.

1932 may p 82 scarf 4496 text

“This scarf is part of the dress, but it is worn flung back over the jacket. The square dot print . . . is important news.” I think the tabs at the sides of the waist are charming, too.

Butterick patterns 4496 (left) and 4488 (right) from May, 1932.

Butterick patterns 4496 (left) and 4488 (right) from May, 1932.

Both the white area at the top of the bodice and the bold striped scarf near the face attract the eye upward; both dresses also have strong vertical lines for a slenderizing effect.

Butterick 4488, Butterick 4508

Butterick patterns 4488 (left) and 4508 (right.) May 1932.

Butterick patterns 4488 (left) and 4508 (right.) May 1932. Delineator magazine.

1932 may p 82 scarf 4488 striped

1932 may p 82 scarf 4508 twisted

Butterick patterns 4508 (left), 4530 (center), and 4481,(right). May 1932.

Butterick patterns 4508 (left), 4530 (center), and 4481,(right). May 1932.

Butterick 4530, Butterick 4481

Butterick patterns 4530 (left) and 4481 (right. May, 1932. Delineator magazine.

Butterick patterns 4530 (left) and 4481 (right.) May, 1932. Delineator magazine.

1932 may p 82 scarf 4530 bow scarf

1932 may p 82 scarf 4481 ascot

The “ascot scarf” is apparently attached to the coat at the back neckline. The tiny back/other views seem to show different, shorter sleeves for both 4530 and 4481.

I love the clever play with intersecting stripes that was popular in the 1930s, and which makes #4350 so interesting although its cut is quite simple. The white dress, #4508, seems wonderfully soft and feminine, and takes its interest from the complexity of the cut and delicate touches like the pintucks which control the sleeves in front. The waist reminds me of an obi. The ideal thirties’ figure is long and slender, but most of these scarf-dress patterns were available up to a 44 inch bust and 47.5 inch hip measurement. It’s also notable how different these mid-calf dresses from 1932 are from the knee-length, youthful styles of the late 1920s:

Styles from July 1928, Delineator magazine.

Styles from July 1928, Delineator magazine.

By 1932, the world was a serious place, and fashions were womanly, not girlish.

"This Scarf Fashion;" illustration from The Delineator, May 1923, p. 82.

“This Scarf Fashion;” illustration from The Delineator, May 1923, p. 82.

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Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes