Monthly Archives: April 2015

Musings: John Oliver on the Cost of Cheap Fashion, plus Bertrand Bonello’s Movie Saint Laurent, and TuTu Makers

1936 january Delineator stitcher and cat

Sunday afternoon I saw Bertrand Bonello’s movie Saint Laurent at the SF International Film Festival, then came home to John Oliver’s scathingly funny report on multi-million dollar clothing labels (GAP, H&M, Walmart, Forever 21, et al.) and their lack of oversight on the sub-sub-contractors who make it possible to sell a new dress for less than $5, often using child labor. Click here to read an article about the show and to watch the Youtube video.

John Oliver Tackles Child Labor

John Oliver’s report was almost 18 (truth telling) minutes long; if you feel the urge to fast forward, don’t miss minutes 14-till-the-end, when he stages a fashion show — all items priced, as are the cheapest possible foods the models are carrying. If you don’t know how it’s made, and you don’t know who actually made it, whether the kitchen is clean, or what the ingredients are — would you eat it? Knowing it was made as cheaply as possible, with no regulation or supervision, by desperate people? Oliver wants us to think about fashion that way.

Bertrand Bonello’s Film About Saint Laurent

I know relatively little about the life of Yves Saint Laurent, but I enjoyed Bonello’s  two and a half hour biographical film, Saint Laurent.  It is not to be confused with another biographical film, Yves Saint Laurent by Jalil Lespert, released in 2014, or the documentary L’Amour Fou.

You can see the official trailer for Bonello’s Saint Laurentclick here, then click “Watch Trailer.”

The film’s director and co-writer, Bertrand Bonello, was present at the screening, along with actor Gaspard Ulliel, who played Yves Saint Laurent in the movie. Aside from the superb production values, I enjoyed the way the movie avoided moralizing — or underlining ideas — and left me thinking about the main character for hours afterward. It follows YSL chiefly through the period 1967 to 1977, with another actor playing him in old age.

Early in the film, we get a notion of the enormous pressures created by success — the more successful he is, the more work he has to do, to inexorable deadlines, even though he was emotionally very fragile even before his success. But this information is imparted almost in passing, as we get a glimpse of the actual work in a great couture house (and as he tries to sketch a collection while listening to his schedule for months to come.)

At the end, the question is unresolved:  Would his genius have been even greater without the drugs and alcohol? Or did they somehow contribute to his creativity? If he had been happy and healthy, what might YSL have created?

Q and A about Saint Laurent

The question and answer session after the screening was especially interesting, because, although I relished all the YSL designs that appeared in the movie, I was especially in awe of the superbly tailored suits Gaspard Ulliel wore. Costume designer Anais Romand didn’t just have to recreate accurate period clothing, she had to coordinate it with the progress of the character and the moods in each scene. (Ulliel not only resembles YSL, he captures his apparent shyness and charm — and misery.)

According to director Bonello, the current YSL company could not (or did not) give permission to use actual YSL runway garments, so the movie company had to set up a couture workroom and spend four months re-creating all those pieces of couture. (Ulliel said that visiting the workshop helped him understand a great deal.)

More astonishing to me was Ulliel’s explanation that one of the greatest collectors of Yves Saint Laurent memorabilia owns many of his suits, and let them be used for the filming. (After seeing Ulliel completely nude in the movie, it was hard to believe that suits custom made for YSL, who at one point in his youth weighed less than 100 pounds, could fit the actor so perfectly, and I cringed at the thought that they must have been altered, at least slightly!) Ulliel commented on his surprise at how differently suits from the 60’s and 70’s fit, compared to modern men’s suits. He said he loved how easily and freely his arms moved [in a vintage, European-tailored suit. Yes, the higher and tighter the armhole, the better you can move your arms — the opposite of the looser, American, “Brooks Brothers” fit.]

You can read an interview with Costume Designer Anais Romand – discussing House of Tolerance, another Bertrand Bonello film, set in the 1890s. There are many photos — note, nudity is involved. The film Saint Laurent also carries a warning for full frontal male nudity, sex scenes, and drug and alcohol abuse. “Rated R for graphic nudity/strong sexual situations, substance abuse throughout and some language.”

As I mentioned, the Saint Laurent film is two and a half hours long — but I wasn’t bored for single instant:  A rich experience.

Shortage of Skilled TuTu Makers?

Newsweek magazine reported that Ballet and Opera companies are running out of skilled stitchers: click here.  Do read all the comments from skilled costume technicians!

A costumers’ group I belong to exchanged several mails, pointing out that the article exemplifies the confusion most people (including the Newsweek writer) have between the worlds of retail fashion and theatrical costuming — and suggesting that finding skilled costume technicians isn’t difficult — if you pay them according to their specialized skills and training, and don’t expect them to come from a school of retail fashion. You can find university programs in Costume Design and Technology all over the U.S. at the USITT website, Costume Symposium. Click here.

 

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Filed under 1960s-1970s, Menswear, Musings, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing

Fun with Stripes: A Gallery of 1930’s Styles

Fifty years ago, I saw this 1930’s photo of actress Gertrude Lawrence in a striped suit. The creative use of striped fabric struck me and stayed in my memory.  The joy of these nineteen thirties’ dresses is the way that a striped fabric is turned in different directions — horizontally, vertically, on the bias — to create the interest of the design.

Butterick pattern after Jacques Heim, Butterick Fashion News, July 1939.

Butterick pattern after Jacques Heim, Butterick Fashion News, July 1939.

Simple Striped Dresses

Striped dresses in many variations appeared throughout the 1930’s. I’m not talking about dresses that simply use striped material, charming as these are:

Butterick patterns from The Delineator, 1934. Left, June; right, July.

Left:  Stripes cut on the bias.   Butterick patterns from The Delineator, 1934. Left, #5599 from June.  Right, #5767 from July.  This fabric was probably printed with diagonal stripes and used on the straight grain.

I’m trying to imagine jumping over the net in one of those tennis dresses.  Actually, #5599 isn’t so simple; getting stripes to match and form chevrons on the bias takes patience.

Striped dresses were usually summer wear. This one is punningly named after Lucky Strike Cigarettes.

"Lucky Stripe;" Butterick pattern from June, 1932.

“Lucky Stripe;” Butterick pattern #4600 from June, 1932.

The dress below is a three piece set:  blouse (with or without sleeves) plus skirt and shorts.

The stripes are all used simply on straight of grain here, both they would make cutting and assembly more difficult! Butterick pattern #3785 from April, 1931. This is a three piece set:  blouse, skirt, and shorts.

Butterick pattern #3785 from April, 1931.

The stripes are all cut simply on straight of grain here, but pattern matching would make cutting and assembly more difficult! Matching stripes is a challenge for the dressmaker.

Stripes in Different Directions

The dresses that delight me turn the stripes in different directions.

Butterick patterns, The Delneator, April 1931.

Butterick pattern #3769, The Delineator, April 1931.  [Two of these early 30’s dresses have both a low hip and a natural waist.]

Pattern with a slenderizing center front panel, Butterick Fashion News, September 1939. It came in sizes 34 to

Pattern #8583 has a slenderizing center front panel, Butterick Fashion News, September 1939. It came in sizes 34 to 52.

A simple dress with bias skirt and playful pocket:

Butterick Fashion News, September 1939. Butterick pattern #

Butterick Fashion News, September 1939. Butterick pattern #8566

Sometimes the interest comes just from the flattering contrast between a horizontally striped yoke and a vertically striped dress.

Far right, Butterick pattern # in The Delineator, February 1936.

Far right, Butterick pattern #6622 in The Delineator, February 1936.

Butterick pattern #5201 makes a striped cruise dress, January 1934, The Delineator.

Butterick pattern #5201 makes a striped cruise dress, January 1934, The Delineator. The horizontally striped pocket flaps carry the yoke design to the skirt.

Here, the yoke is on the bias, and echoes the diagonal lines of the pockets:

Bias cut yoke on #7743, Butterick Fashion News flyer, March 1938.

Bias cut yoke on #7743, Butterick Fashion News flyer, March 1938.

When the yoke continues into sleeves, there is added interest:

Horizontal stripes on yoke and pockets, vertical stripes on the body of the dress. Butterick Fashion News flyer, March 1938.

Horizontal stripes on yoke, pockets, and belt; vertical stripes on the body of the dress. Butterick Fashion News flyer, March 1938. By 1938, the center front zipper was no longer news.

This yoked dress and jacket combination (at right) has an interesting dress, too.

Jacket dresses from February, 1935. The bias stripes change direction on the sleeves. Butterick pattern 6074.

Jacket dresses from February, 1935. The bias stripes appear to change direction as they follow the sleeves. Butterick pattern #6074.

This dress with chevron striping goes under coat # . Butterick pattern from February 1935. The Delineator.

This dress with chevroned stripes goes under coat # 6074 . It also has “yoke and sleeves in one.” Butterick pattern from February 1935. The Delineator.

The ensemble below is pretty straight forward, but the lapels, bow, and belt turn the stripes in a different direction:

Striped jacket dress from May, 1934. Butterick #5634.

Striped jacket dress from May, 1934. Butterick #5634.

The play of stripes also appeared in thirties’ evening wear:

Striped evening dress, Butterick, February 1934; striped gown and matching jacket, Butterick, July 1934.

Striped evening dress, Butterick, February 1934; striped gown and matching jacket, Butterick, July 1934. #5780 has beautiful, complex striped sleeves.

Advanced Play with Stripes

But the play of stripes gets really interesting when used as the focus of the design.

Berth Roberts Semi-Made dress, Spring, 1934.

Berth Robert Semi-Made dress, Spring, 1934.

 

Butterick pattern 5678, May, 1934. The Delineator.

Butterick pattern #5678, May, 1934. The Delineator.

The more complex, the more fun -- or at least, the more challenging for the dressmaker. Butterick #4089, October, 1931.

The more complex, the more fun — or at least, the more challenging for the dressmaker. Butterick #4089, October, 1931.

Illustration from Ladies' Home Journal, Sept. 1936.

Illustration from Ladies’ Home Journal, Sept. 1936.

“The zigzag dress to the left is made of muffler woolen, soft to touch, and in wonderful two-tone colorings. Leather belt and buttons, and a scarf barely peeking out above the collar.” — Ladies’ Home Journal, September, 1936.

This one has contrasting shapes inserted in the sleeves, a tucked bib, and buttons in graduated sizes.

Wearfast sports dress, Berth Roberts Semi-Made dress catalog, Spring, 1934.

Wearfast sports dress, Berth Robert Semi-Made dress catalog, Spring, 1934.

Stripes were often used on “bib” dresses:

Butterick pattern 5760, May 1934, and Butterick 5822, August 1934.

Butterick pattern #5760, May 1934, and Butterick #5822, August 1934.

"Housedresses" from December, 1931. Butterick patterns.

“Housedresses” from December, 1931. Butterick patterns. The one on the right was actually a “pull on” dress with mostly decorative buttons.

Ribbed wool or corduroy was also used for a more subtle play of stripes:

Butterick Pattern for a dress with silk crepe bodice and skirt of ribbed wool, with matching coat. February 1932. Delineator.

Butterick Pattern #4316 for a dress with silk crepe bodice and skirt of ribbed wool, with matching coat. Contrast yoke, bow, cuff trim, and belt. The Delineator. February, 1932.

1932 feb p 87 text 4316 doat and dress vionnet coat

Corduroy was also suggested for this lightweight coat:

Corduroy coat, Butterick pattern, January 1932.

Corduroy coat, Butterick pattern #4290, January 1932.

Bold stripes give lots of “Bang for the buck.”

Butterick pattern, May 1932.

Butterick pattern #4530, May 1932.

Berth Robert Semi-made dress #932, Spring 1934 catalog.

Berth Robert Semi-made dress #932, Spring 1934 catalog.

McCall's pattern 9815, July 1938.

McCall’s pattern 9815, July 1938.

Floral stripes were popular in 1938.

Resort dress, Butterick Fashion News flyer, July 1939. Butterick

Resort dress, Butterick Fashion News flyer, July 1939. Butterick #8473.

What a difference the stripes make:  Two versions of Butterick #8557, Butterick Fashion News, September 1939.

What a difference the stripes make:  Two versions of Butterick #8557, Butterick Fashion News, September 1939.

Does anyone feel inspired to rework a basic pattern — by playing with contrasting stripes? Maybe a sewing group would like to have a “stripe challenge.”

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Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s, 1930s-1940s, Sportswear, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes, Zippers

Kedettes Shoe Ad, July 1938

Full page advertisement for Kedettes shoes for women and girls. McCall's Magazine, July 1938.

Full page advertisement for Kedettes shoes for women and girls. McCall’s Magazine, July, 1938.

I paid $2.99 for a battered copy of McCall’s magazine, July, 1938 issue, and definitely got my money’s worth just from this full color Kedettes advertisement on the inside back cover.  “25 styles (6 for children) 22 color combinations. At the better stores — $1.65 to $2.50. Children’s lower.”

prices 500 dpi

I’ll break the ad up into many smaller images with legible text size. In the background, there are black & white sketches of women boating, holding a tennis racquet, and walking a dog.

Top of Page, Kedettes shoe ad, McCall's, July 1938.

Top of Page, Kedettes shoe ad, McCall’s, July, 1938.

Bottom of page, Kedettes shoe ad, McCall's, July 1938.

Bottom of page, Kedettes shoe ad, McCall’s, July, 1938.

The first thing that caught my eye was the floral print open-toed shoe in the center, but then I became fascinated by the colorful striped soles on five of the shoes:  so much more fun than many shoes I see today! Starting at top left of the page:

"Girls' Kedettes moccasin oxfords -- they're just like mother's and the soles are striped like stick candy." 1938 ad.

“Girls’ Kedettes moccasin oxfords — they’re just like mother’s and the soles are striped like stick candy.” 1938 ad.

“Of course little girls adore their Kedettes moccasin oxfords — they’re just like mother’s and the soles are striped like stick candy. Made of whipcord twill and peachskin, they come all white; white with blue; and red, blue, or brown with white. They’re washable.”

The green shoes below are described as “subject to change” — they have removable flaps:

Kedettes Swiss oxfords with removable flaps. Ad, 1938

Kedettes Swiss oxfords with removable flaps. Ad, 1938

“Subject to change are Kedettes peachskin Swiss oxfords [above right].  Minus their removable flaps, they become trimly tailored bluchers and show off their perforated vamps. All white; white with blue, red, or green; and blue or brown with white. Thick, square-edged soles and wedge heels.”

Kedettes ghillies with a choice of heels and candy striped soles. Ad, 1938.

Kedettes ghillies with a choice of college or wedge heels and candy striped soles. Ad, 1938.

This ghillie style was available in a wide range of colors and with a choice of heel heights: wedge (low) or college (this mid-heel). Several of the shoes pictured come in a range of color combinations and also with either low or mid-heels, which accounts for there being just eight illustrations for twenty-five styles. This ghillie was also available in white with blue or green trim; or brown, blue, or red with white trim, like the blue version pictured.

Near the top center of the ad was this simple white shoe:

All white "comfortable, conservative, and charming" blucher oxford  cloth shoe from Kedettes, 1938.

All white, “comfortable, conservative, and charming” blucher oxford whipcord cloth shoe from Kedettes, 1938. Cuban heel only.

In the middle of the page was this eye-catching summer shoe:

Flowered open-toe oxford washable cloth shoe with Cuban heel, from Kedettes ad, 1938.

Flowered, open-toe, oxford style washable cloth shoe with Cuban heel, from Kedettes ad, 1938.

“Flowers on the feet for astonishing color accent, thanks to Kedettes printed open-toe oxfords, designed to dramatize the demure and dainty summer costume. Made of a fine mercerized broadcloth that’s easy to wash, they come with white, blue, or red binding. Cuban heels.” What fun! and you could coordinate the binding to a solid colored red, white, or blue dress.

A dashing shoe available in two different heel heights was this oxford for “spectator sports.”

Perforated oxfords for spectator sports, made in a wide range of colors and with low or mid-heels. Kedettes ad, 1938.

Perforated oxfords for spectator sports, made in a wide range of colors and with low or mid-heels. Kedettes ad, 1938.

Peachskin must have been a specific cloth used by Kedettes, since it appears often in shoes described as washable. “Perforations, stripes, and pipings join in triple accent on Kedettes peachskin oxfords for spectator sports. And being Kedettes, they wash beautifully. All white; white with blue or red; and blue or brown with white [like the illustration] in college and wedge heel models. White with green, wedge heels only.”

In other words, white with green had “wedge heels only” because it was this shoe, without the removable flap! (With the flap, it reminds me of a golf shoe, without spikes.)

green swiss oxfords alone

These two shoes were shown at the lower left of the ad:

The blue and white shoe is a "moccasin oxford" and the red and white shoe is called a "peasant tongue oxford." Kedettes ad, 1938.

The blue and white shoe (right) is a “moccasin oxford” and the red and white shoe is called a “peasant tongue oxford.” Kedettes ad, 1938.

“Some wear them dark, some wear them light — Kedettes moccasin oxfords [above right] are summer favorites. All white; white with blue, green or red; and blue, brown or red with white in both college and wedge heel models. Green with white; brown with yellow; and red, white and blue — college heels only. Wedge heel models have candy striped soles. [At lower left:] Peachskin flaps, stitched to reflect candy striped soles, supply the big interest in Kedettes peasant tongue oxfords of whipcord twill…. Wedge heels. White with red or blue trim; blue with white trim. Washable.”

Kedettes shoes were made by the United States Rubber Company, as far back as 1916, according to The Vintage Traveler. (Lizzie, this post’s for you — I hope you find some of these for your collection!)

I wrote about a 1917  Keds ad — for a surprisingly modern looking flat with a bow on the toe — here.

You can see more vintage Kedettes ads at the Vintage Inn blog. Click here.

Shoe Prices 1938

Note:  These attractive Kedettes were very reasonably priced, and I suspect that, being cloth shoes, most of them were worn out by their owners. (I.e., they’re they kind of everyday fashions not likely to show up in museums.)  In 1936, several sources agreed that a young woman college graduate could expect to earn about $18 to $20 per week. The same 1938 McCall’s magazine that ran this Kedettes ad ran another, for Royal Baking Soda, that said, “You can’t afford baking failures when you’re raising a family on $25 a week.” (McCall’s, July 1938, page 54. )

Rivals to Kedettes

Summer sports shoes from the Sears catalog were even cheaper, and, in some cases, very similar — except that they were not described as washable, and styles and colors were far more limited:

Summer shoes from Sears catalog, Spring 1938, catalog p. 292.

Summer shoes from Sears catalog, Spring 1938, catalog p. 292.

The Sears descriptions for those shoes — half the price of Kedettes — usually say “crepe-like soles,” but this pair — very like Kedettes and priced comparably — have “crepe rubber soles and heel:”

Sears' Convertible Oxford, very like Kedettes, but these only come in white, brown, and gray.

Sears’ Convertible Oxford, very like Kedettes, but these only come in white, brown, and gray.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1930s, 1930s-1940s, Children's Vintage styles, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Shoes, Sportswear

Marcels in the Family, 1920s to 1930s

Marcels in the Family, late 1920s to Mid-1930s

Two women with waved hair, Ad for Odorono deodorant, The Delineator, June 1932.

Two women with waved hair.  Ad for Odo-ro-no deodorant, The Delineator, June 1932. My mother had a long Marcel wave like the brunette’s.

These three photographs of my mother, with and without a rather unbecoming — but tight-fitting — cloche, show why the cloche hat influenced so many women to adopt the close-to-the head Marcel hair style in the late 1920s. [Unless your hair was naturally curly, you needed a permanent wave to preserve the Marcel style under your hat. The women in my family spoke of the Marcel wave and the permanent wave interchangeably.]

This 1920s Marcel hair style fit under a cloche hat, and didn't look too bad when the hat was removed.

This 1920s Marcel hair style fit under a cloche hat, and didn’t look too badly flattened when the hat was removed.

A secretary like my mother (above) would have worn a hat while commuting to and from work, but not indoors on the job, so she probably wore an invisible hair net under the hat to protect her style when the hat was put on and removed. A good quality hat would have been fully lined, but this unflattering cloche looks like a cheap hat. Although my mother had bobbed her hair by 1922, . . .

Bobbed hair, circa 1922. On the right, this young woman is wearing fancy dress with her usual hairstyle.

Bobbed and permed hair, circa 1922. On the right, this young woman is wearing fancy dress with her usual hairstyle.

. . . she grew it out by the end of the decade, like a lot of other young women.

A Marcel wave later in the 1920s. Her skirt is very short.

The same young woman with a long Marcel wave later in the 1920’s. Her summer dress is very short.

Her Marcel ended in a small bun at the back.  Her older sister had a Marcel wave, too:

Side view of Marcel hairdo, late 1920s. Note the small bun at the back.

Side view of Marcel hairdo, late 1920’s. Note the tightly twisted bun at the back. Her hair must have been quite long.

My aunt liked her Marcel so much that she wore it all through the nineteen thirties:

Woman with Marcel waved hair, early 1930s and late 1930s.

Woman with Marcel waved hair, early 1930s and late 1930s.

(And she was still wearing it in the 1950s!)

My mother was also photographed at intervals, now wearing her 1930’s Marcel with a side part:

Woman with Marcel hairdo and tilted hat, early 1930s.

Woman with Marcel hairdo and tilted hat, early 1930s.

Woman in classic mid-1930s hat.

Woman wearing a classic mid-1930s hat over her Marcelled hair.

In this 1930’s family photo of three generations, both younger and older women have Marcelled hair.

Family group, early 1930s. Most of the women have Marcelled hair.

Family group, early to mid 1930s. Note the proud grandmother on the left. Most of the women have Marcelled hair, regardless of age.

My grandmother, center, always had her hair permed, but I can’t tell from this picture whether she wore it long like her daughters, or kept the bob she had in the 1920’s. Perhaps she was one of the older women who decided they would never go back to heavy hair and hairpins.

Digression: I have a special fondness for Odo-ro-no deodorant, because it is one of the many products and advertising slogans mentioned by e.e. cummings in his satirical “Poem, or Beauty Hurts Mr. Vinal.”

Odo-ro-no Ad, Delineator, June 1932.

Odo-ro-no Ad, Delineator, June 1932.

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Hairstyles, Hats, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Vintage Accessories, vintage photographs

Permanents and Marcels Bridge the Twenties to Thirties

An advertisement for permanent waves, Delineator, April 1932.

An advertisement for permanent waves, The Delineator, April 1932.

"She raved about her experience in Paris." Illustration from The Delineator, August 1931.

“She raved about her experience in Paris.” Illustration from The Delineator, August 1931.

These women are enduring a hair-raising experience in the hope of looking like this:

Cover illustration, The Delineator, August 1931. The artist is probably Dynevor Evans.

Cover illustration, The Delineator, August 1931. A softly waved “Marcel” hairdo with a low bun in back.  The artist is probably Dynevor Evans.

The hairstyle known as a “Marcel” — and the permanent waving process named after its inventor — had been around long before the 1920’s, (click here for more about Monsieur Marcel Grateau’s 1872 innovation) but the combination of changing styles in hats and a switch from the “boyish” ideal to a softer, more feminine appearance as “the twenties” became “the thirties” made the deeply waved “Marcel” especially appealing to women.

Cloche hats could leave your coiffure seriously squashed when the hat was removed.

Gage hats, 1925. Ads from Delineator.

Gage hats, 1925. Ads from Delineator.

Many women who had bobbed hair in the twenties also had permanents. If they didn’t have perms or naturally curly hair, perspiring in a cloche could ruin a hairstyle. For more about early (and curly) 1920s hair styles, click here.

Permanent Waves, 1920’s

The C. Nestle Company sold electric permanent waving equipment like this to hair salons .

C. Nestle Permanent Hair Waving Machine, illustrated in

C. Nestle Permanent Hair Waving Machine, illustration from An Illustrated History of Hairstyles, by Marian I. Doyle.

Nestle also sold home permanent machines, which heated just one roller and plugged into an electric light socket, since most homes did not have wall-sockets in every room.

From Nestle Lanoil Home Permantne ad, Delineator, Dec. 1924.

From Nestle Lanoil Home Permanent ad, Delineator, Dec. 1924. “A whole head can be comfortably waved in just a few hours.”

Nestle Home Permanent ad, Delineator, July 1924.

Nestle Home Permanent ad, Delineator, July 1924. Marcelled hair style at top. Early 1920’s bobbed hair on the right.

The satisfied customer on the lower left is only five and a half years old.

"If You Are Going to HAve a Permanent." Article from The Delineator, May, 1932

“If You Are Going to Have a Permanent.” Article from The Delineator, May, 1932

Many women now in their eighties must remember these machines, because they were still in use in the 1940s. In fact, I was even younger than the little girl in the Nestle ad when my mother took me to a “beauty parlor” to have my hair permanently curled.

Child after a permanent, about 1948.

Child after a permanent, about 1948.

What I remember is how very heavy the porcelain insulators — like those in this picture — were.

1932 april hours 500 permanent ad

Other Ways to Marcel Your Hair

Ad for the Marcelwaver, Delineator, July 1928.

Ad for the Marcelwaver Company, Delineator, July 1928.

"A Perfect Marcel Wave in 15 Minutes" for only two cents. Ad, July 1928.

“A Perfect Marcel Wave in 15 Minutes” for only two cents. Ad, July 1928.

"American women can know the secret of the French woman's always perfectly marcelled hair.... Marcelwaver -- as it is now known -- can be used by any woman in the privacy of her own home."

“American women can know the secret of the French woman’s always perfectly marcelled hair…. Marcelwaver — as it is now known — can be used by any woman in the privacy of her own home.”

The Marcelwaver seems to be a clamp that crimps waves into your hair, but the ad does not say it is heated by electricity. However, the photo at bottom seems to show a twisted electric cord leading to the appliance.

Marcelwaver in use, 1928.

Marcelwaver in use, 1928.

Very Short Hair in the Mid-1920’s

Women wear shingled hair at a fashionable dance. Illustration from The Delineator, July 1928.

All the women wear shingled hair at this fashionable dance. Illustration from The Delineator, July 1928. (Typo edited 4/17/15]

Hair worn very short, and “shingled” to taper close to the head in back, was part of the “boyish” look that was adopted even by chic older women in the mid to late 1920’s. (For more about bobbed and shingled hair in the mid-twenties, click here.) It was not bulky, so it “worked” under a cloche hat, leaving small amounts of hair visible on the cheek.

Four Hats for Spring, April 1925. Delineator.

Four Hats for Spring, April 1925. Delineator.

Women who wanted to wear tight-fitting cloche hats in the 1920’s, but did not want to cut off their long hair, could twist it into a chignon worn very low on the neck in back.

From an article on hair styles, The Delineator, May, 1926.

From an article on hair styles, The Delineator, May, 1926. The waves on the far right are Marcelled.

Not all Marcelled hair was worn long.

Marcel waved hair styles from a Mulsified Cocoanut Oil Shampoo ad, The Delineator, February, 1929.

Marcel waved hair styles from a Mulsified Cocoanut Oil Shampoo ad, The Delineator, February, 1929. A longish bob is worn by the model on the left; the two on the right have long hair.

Longer Hair Returns with the 1930’s

As early as September of 1928, The Delineator’s beauty editor, Celia Caroline Cole, was writing about the return of longer hair — and the confusion it was causing.

"The men who create the styles of today and tomorrow give theri verdict on the return of long hair." Delineator, September, 1928.

“The men who create the styles of today and tomorrow give their verdict on the return of long hair.”  Delineator, September, 1928.

“One of the most chic hairdressers in the world told me . . . that the bob is surely passing. Then two blocks down that same broad street, another hairdresser, equally swanky, assured me that  . . . the bob will never go — it is here to stay.”

The first hairdresser reminded her that “Styles are a part of life. And youth catches on to them first.  Youth makes us do what it wants. The young girls now are letting their hair grow — they don’t want to look like women of forty — and soon women of forty will let their hair grow because they don’t want to look like women of forty either. They will do what youth does.”

” ‘Have you seen women of forty with that little knot at the back of their heads?’ I demanded.

” ‘I know,’ he agreed, ‘they look their years, but they will adapt to their needs this new style as they did the bob. And they will dislike the hairpins, but they will let it grow, just the same — not right away, but gradually, like the skirts — you say that you will never give up short skirts, but here they are, an inch or two longer this autumn, still a little longer next spring, and so on. One is helpless before this evolution, this ‘style’ — Youth sees it coming, and catches it, and we follow. The bob is going. “

Celia Cole noted, “The general trend is much more hair about the face, framing it softly.” That is what the waves of the Marcel did for women in the late nineteen twenties and early thirties.

Waved hair softly framing the face. Butterick illustration, April 1921.

Waved hair softly framing the face. Butterick illustration, April 1931.

However, in 1928, the other “swanky” hairdresser Celia Cole consulted said, ‘The bob going? Not for years and years, maybe never. Women seek more and more freedom — and they will go on seeking it. . . . Oh, no, women like you will not go back to hairpins and something dragging at their heads. Young girls must try out the unknown — they have never had long hair dragging at their heads, hairpins jabbing in, but last spring all my young clients came in and had the hair they had been growing all winter cut off again.”

Cole concludes that “We can do as we like. . . . What is style for you? The thing that exactly suits your type.”

However, by 1931 she was writing aboutThe Return of the Long Lost Locks — Hair styles have completely changed.”

Longer hair returns, August 1931 article from The Delineator.

Longer hair returns, August 1931 article from The Delineator. The model is actress Tallulah Bankhead.

By 1931, fashions had changed, and hairstyles with them. Hemlines had plummeted. Young women were wearing “uplift” brassieres that separated the breasts instead of flattening them. The waistline had returned to its natural location.

“Nothing sleek and hard is left in the feminine world today.” “The masculine neckline has vanished as completely as the dinosaur.” “Weary of realism and boyish, frankly displayed bodies, we’re going to play at romanticism.” — Celia Caroline Cole, The Delineator, August 1931.

“There was a moment, in this evolution of hair out of restrained boyishness into feminine curls, when the fashionists and coiffeurists came to blows. ‘We’ll keep the bob!’ the coiffeurists cried…. ‘Let it grow!’ the fashionists shouted back, their minds on ruffles and bows and little tip-tilted hats.”

Tilted hats from Sears Catalog, Spring 1933. Both young and older women wore their hats tilted to one side of the head, revealing a good deal of hair.

Tilted hats from Sears Catalog, Spring 1933. Both young and older women wore their hats tilted to one side of the head.

In fact, the change in hat styles took place very gradually, but as the cloche hat receded, more hair became visible, especially as the “tip-tilted” hats of the 1930’s began to be worn on the side of the head and tilted down over one eye.

In the late twenties, “the human parade that wanders up and down the streets saw only hats, close little hats that hugged every woman’s head and revealed only a wisp or two of hair making arabesques on her cheeks. Then all of a sudden [last March] forth they came — all those long lost locks! . . . In joyous abandon, they waved and curled and pushed hats ‘way over on one ear.” — Celia Cole, August 1931.

In May of 1932, The Delineator ran this article, “If You Are Going to Have a Permanent,” reassuring women that the process was safe — even for dyed or gray hair. Although they had been available for years, permanents still needed to be explained.

"If You Are Going to HAve a Permanent." Article from The Delineator, May, 1932

“If You Are Going to Have a Permanent.” Article from The Delineator, May, 1932

Top of Article, "So You Are Going to Have a Permanent," May, 1932.

Top of Article, “If You Are Going to Have a Permanent,” May, 1932.

Bottom of Article "So You Are Going to Have a Permanent," May, 1932

Bottom of Article “If You Are Going to Have a Permanent,” May, 1932 This hairstyle has a little roll of curls at the neck, just like the model wearing the $1.69 hat below.

The article concludes, “Most permanents have to be set after each shampoo unless you are very clever and use your combs or fingers skillfully. It depends on the setting, whether you look like a Fiji Islander [or a 1925 movie star] or a sculptured lady.”

The “long bob permanent” pictured above looks very much like the hair on this hat model:

Hats from Sears Roebuck Spring 1933 catalog.

Hats from Sears Roebuck catalog, Spring 1933.  Hats show more hair, and the “long bob permanent” Marcel wave ends in a soft roll of curls at the back.

Changes in hat styles and hair styles happen in reaction to each other.

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, 1940s-1950s, Hairstyles, Hats, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Vintage Accessories, vintage photographs

Ensembles for April, 1929

Spring jacket and coat ensembles; Butterick patterns from The Delineator magazine, April 1929.

Spring jacket and coat ensembles; Butterick patterns from The Delineator magazine, p. 35, April 1929.

There is a time machine in San Francisco. Every year, thanks to the SF Silent Film Festival, I enter the Castro Theatre, a 1400 seat “movie palace” built in 1922,  and spend several days watching movies from the 1920’s, (and earlier) in the building where they originally played. Unlike so many of its peers, the Castro has not been divided into tiny screening rooms with the seats not-quite-facing the screen. Here, silent movies are shown on a full-sized, correctly proportioned screen, not chopped and cropped, letterboxed, or panned-and-scanned to fit a TV screen or modern movie proportions. They are accompanied by live music, just as they were in the 1920s. I enjoy my time travel with thousands of like-minded people, a number of whom dress in vintage or replica 1920’s clothes. In honor of The SF Silent Film Society, (you can scroll through their archives here) I’m sharing some suit, coat, dress and jacket ensembles ideal for an afternoon matinee in 1929.

Ensembles for Spring, 1929. The Delineator, page 34.

Ensembles for Spring, 1929. The Delineator, page 34.

Delineator, April 1929, p. 34.

The Delineator, April 1929, p. 34.

Left, blouse #2568, skirt # 2208, jacket # 2546. Center,  blouse #2565 with suit #2536. Right, frock and jacket ensemble # 2539. Butterick patterns, April 1929.

Left, blouse #2568, skirt # 2208, jacket # 2546. Center, blouse #2565 with suit #2536. Right, frock and jacket ensemble # 2539. Butterick patterns, April 1929.

The skirt on the left is worn over its blouse; in the center, a blouse is worn over a skirt. The bands of trim on #2539’s dress form a triangular shape. This sleeveless dress has the new, square armholes.

Alternate views of blouse 2568 & skirt 2208, blouse 2565 & suit 2536, and dress 2539.

Alternate views of blouse #2568 & skirt #2208, blouse #2565 & suit #2536, and dress  #2539. Butterick patterns from 1929.

Left, frock #2535 with coat #2545. Center, frock #2271 with coat #2495. Right, coat # 2545 again with frock #2539. Butterick patterns from 1929.

Left, frock #2535 with coat #2545. Center, frock #2271 with coat #2495. Right, coat # 2545 again with frock #2539. Butterick patterns from 1929.

“A high color with a white or off-white blouse, or a light suit with a dark blouse — this is the new mode for ensembles.”

Coat # 2545 is shown at left in seven-eighths length over a two-piece dress which uses a border print for its very long top. At right, the same coat (#2545) is shown in jacket length. Both have standing collars. The coat in the middle, with “a youthfully wide collar,” reminds me of one I owned in the 1980’s, made of reversible material.

Back views coat 2545, coat 2493, and frock 2529 with coat 2545 as jacket.

Alternate views of coat #2545, coat #2495, and dress #2529 with coat #2545 as its jacket.

 

Ensemble frocks, page 35, The Delineator, April 1929.

Ensemble frocks, page 35, The Delineator, April 1929. “The . . . blouse is often sleeveless.”

Jacket #2546 and frock #2553. Butterick, April 1929.

Jacket #2546 and frock (dress)  #2553. Butterick, April 1929.

This jacket is made of light-weight [“sheer”] checked wool, with a scarf collar; it is trimmed with bias-cut bands of the same checked wool, which is also used as a trim on the wool jersey bodice of the dress (#2553). More challenging is the use of the bias check on the pleated skirt. It is drawn as if panels cut on the bias were inserted between the straight-grain pleats of the skirt. (I’d be more inclined to cut the skirt entirely on straight grain and apply the bias bands to the stitched-in pleats — I think.)

Back views of jacket #2546 and dress #2553. Butterick, 1929.

Back views of jacket #2546 and dress #2553. Butterick, 1929.

On the jacket “the bands and the scarf collar may be omitted.” In fact, this is the same jacket shown earlier, when it was made from printed fabric and worn with a matching print skirt and a ruffled blouse.

Two versions of Jacket pattern #2546

Two versions of Jacket pattern #2546

This high-contrast dress and jacket ensemble looks great in black (or navy?) and white, but Butterick suggested a different color combination.

Jacket #2530 worn with Frock #2551. Butterick, 1929.

Jacket #2530 worn with Frock #2551. Butterick, 1929.

“This cardigan (#2530) is of a new length, it has the new raglan sleeve, and it is linked to its frock (#2551) by bands of the crepe that makes the blouse. The cuffs and pocket are finished with the same bands. It would be smart in a bordered material, jersey, or printed or plain crepe de Chine.” The chic dress “for the first outdoor sports events of spring” is trimmed with the same material used for its skirt and jacket. According to Butterick’s Delineator magazine,  “Chartreuse with blue or brown is very smart for this frock.” [For more 1920’s color combinations, see “A Lament for Bound Periodicals” or “1920’s Orange and Black: Not Just for Halloween.”]

Alternate views of #2530 and #2551.

Alternate views of #2530 and #2551. This jacket is longer than the others.

I confess, I’m very impressed with Frock #2559 and its geometric but asymmetrical design:

Butterick dress pattern #2559 and coat pattern #2547. 1929.

Butterick dress pattern #2559 and coat pattern #2547. 1929.

I almost think you could wear this frock  today (adjusted to normal body proportions) without  people realizing it was a vintage dress. It has square armholes, as well as square pockets. 1929 april p 35 square armhole dress reefer coat

Alternate views, dress #2559 and reefer coat #2547. Butterick, 1929.

Alternate views, dress #2559 and reefer coat #2547, shown full length. Butterick, 1929.

The “Reefer Top-Coat,” #2547, “is a fashion classic — double-breasted with a belt and vent in the back — but it is in the new seven-eighths length. In navy or white cheviot with brass buttons, it becomes the nautical reefer that is worn aboard ship by the smart yachtswoman. At Palm Beach it was worn for sports.” — The Delineator.

Speaking of normal proportions:  on all the dresses that are not covered by jackets, there are two shallow bust darts on each side.

Bust darts, April 1929.

Bust darts, April 1929.

Their location is rather low by modern standards, perhaps because the torso is very elongated in these illustrations.

All of these 1929 Butterick patterns were available in bust sizes from 32″ to 44″ (with a maximum 47 1/2″ hip measurement.)

Also worth noting:  most of these cloche hats for Spring of 1929 have very little brim in front — if any.

Cloche hats for April, 1929. The Delineator, pp. 34-35.

Cloche hats for April, 1929. The Delineator, pp. 34-35.

More about the Time Machine (May-June 2015)

This year, the Silent Film Festival in San Francisco runs from Friday, May 28, through Monday, June 1. Buying tickets in advance is a very good idea — for many movies, all 1400 seats sell out. It’s possible to see four or five different films in a day. This year, the time machine will go back 99 years to 1916, showing William Gillette as Sherlock Holmes, plus the silent “Ben-Hur”(1925)  and “All Quiet on the Western Front” (1930), Greta Garbo (1926), Harold Lloyd (1928),  Colleen Moore (1929), and silent films from Germany, France, Norway, China, the U.K., and of course, the U.S.

Also, the “High Style” exhibition from the Brooklyn Museum Collection at the Metropolitan Museum will be in San Francisco until mid-July. What a great summer!

 

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Exhibitions & Museums, Hats, Musings, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Berth Robert Catalog for Summer, 1934

Berth Robert Catalog for April, May, June 1934. Front cover.

Berth Robert Catalog for April, May, June 1934. Front cover.

While searching for more information on the Berth Robert company, which sold “Semi-Made” dresses,  I found this polka-dotted 1934 catalog on Ebay. The ad I wrote about recently was also from 1934:

Berth Robert Semi-Made Dress Catalog, advertised in The Delineator, February 1934.

Berth Robert Semi-Made Dress Catalog, advertised in The Delineator, February 1934. “You simply sew up the seams. Complete accessories with each dress.”

The woman who responded to this magazine ad in February might well have received exactly that polka-dotted April-June catalog, especially if she remained on the mailing list. I was thrilled when it arrived, because it has 24 pages of lovely 1930’s fashions, often three or more per page, printed on good quality semi-glossy paper which has not yellowed at all. (But which my scanner sees as gray.)

Wearfast Sports Dresses, Berth Robert catalog, page 6. Spring 1934.

Wearfast Semi-Made Sports Dresses, Berth Robert catalog, page 6. Summer 1934.

Why Would You Buy a Semi-Made Dress?

The catalog answers some of my questions about how “semi-made” dresses worked, and raises others. Speaking as a person who has made a lot of dresses, “the Berth Robert Plan” of leaving the side and underarm seams open, and the other finishing undone,  didn’t seem to me to save enough labor to account for a large reduction in price. I wondered how Berth Robert’s prices compared to normal mail-order clothing. And what about the promise that Berth Robert’s tailors “cut your dresses, suits, coats to your exact measurements?” Did they? And would these semi-made dresses appeal especially to hard-to-fit women?

“All you do is sew a few simple seams, adjusting the dress to your figure perfectly as you sew. . . and as you sew you save.” — Berth Robert Ad, 1936

When I showed the ad to my husband, he suggested, “Open side seams would make them easy to alter,” but the ease of “adjusting the dress to fit your figure” was not stressed in my catalog. The width of the seam allowances was not given, so it would be possible to take them in, but not necessarily possible to let them out. Besides, the catalog says, “Berth Robert’s tailors cut your dresses, suits, coats to your exact measurements, so that they fit you perfectly.” [My italics. Why would you need to alter them?]

“Made to Your Exact Measurements?”

The order form which came with my catalog made a good impression, because, unlike Sears,  it asked for more than just size and basic “Bust-waist-hip” measurements.

berth robert order blank 500

In addition to bust, waist and hip, the Berth Robert order form asks for a nape to back waist measurement (D-H), a back waist to finished hem length (H-E) and an underarm sleeve measurement “from underarm seam to wrist ((F-G).” A nape to hem measurement (D-E) was also important, as it affected price (see below.)

The Berth Robert order form asks for many measurements, not just bust, waist and hip.

The Berth Robert order form asks for vertical measurements, not just bust, waist and hip. Height and weight are also asked for.

The cynic in me suspects that garments were not actually made to measure, but the optimist hopes that the semi-made parts were carefully selected to accommodate wide hips or a short figure.

Semi-Made Explained

The catalog shows a full-page illustration of a completed dress, plus the various parts as they would be sent to the purchaser:

Berth Robert catalog p. 3, for Summer 1934.

Berth Robert catalog p. 3, for Summer 1934. “Model 900.” Price: $5.95.

p 3 parts 500

“The sketches at the sides show you just how a Berth Robert semi-made dress comes to you. It is cut to your measure as you know, then see how all the pleating and tucking is entirely finished for you? The shoulders are joined, the embroidered organdy bow is finished, buttons, buckle included, and even matching thread is sent you!”

Notice the paper of snaps and “Directions” at lower right. In 1934, zippers were not routinely used in women’s dresses. One side seam would be left open for a few inches from bust to high hip and closed, when worn, with a series of snaps, plus, usually, a hook and bar at the waist. A buckle for the bow is pictured next to the snaps. This particular dress has a very low back, held at the top with a narrow strap, which must also snap into place on one side.

Model 900, 1934.

Model 900,  Berth Robert catalog, 1934.

Model 900 — A splendid example of what the smart young woman will wear this summer is this All Silk Washable Crepe frock, created for activity and sunshine. Cool, comfortable and practical, from its smart sunback to the low placed pleats on the skirt, this frock will prove a joy all summer.  Sizes 14 to 40.  Washable All Silk Crepe — White, Blue, Maize or Green . . . . . . $5.95. For dresses longer than 47 inches add 75 cents extra.

Frustratingly, like so many other catalogs and pattern magazines of the early 20th century, this catalog gives a range of sizes, but there is but no explanation of what those sizes mean in terms of the wearer’s measurements. (I wrote about this at length in “Size 16 Years.” What Does That Mean? Click here to read the post.)

Throughout the catalog, the range of sizes for each “model” are given as “Sizes 14 to 20,” “Sizes 14 to 40,” or, rarely, “Sizes 14 to 42.” Sometimes a dress is available in both “Sizes 14 to 40” and “Sizes 42 and 44” — at a higher price for the larger sizes.

It doesn’t seem likely that a very short woman who wore size 44 would find what she needed here. [In general, only Sizes 14 through 20 were for young or petite women; size 20 usually had a maximum 38 inch bust measurement. ]

Did Semi-Made Dresses Really Offer Higher Quality for Less Money?

The costume shop at San Francisco Opera used to hire a team of “finishers” to come in at the end of a build and do a huge amount of skilled hand sewing:  buttons, snaps, hooks and eyes, and buttonhole stitching to reinforce all the grommets. The expert “finishers,” who did nothing else, could perform these repetitive hand-sewing tasks much faster than stitchers who usually operated sewing machines.

Except for “simple” seams at the sides, Berth Robert passed all the hand stitching on to the buyer:  hems, buttons, snaps, etc. Again, my skeptical side says, “Surely a New York clothing factory had ‘finishers,’ too.”

Here is the explanation given for bargain prices — three ways semi-made dresses save the manufacturer money — from my Berth Robert catalog:

contents money saving 500

The third reason is a bit like the argument that buying online is cheaper because the company has no expenses for “brick and mortar” retail stores.

The second reason raises the question:  Don’t all manufacturers buy their cloth wholesale? Of course they get it for less per yard than it would cost in a retail fabric store.

“Berth Robert’s Semi-Made Plan . . . enables you to have several dresses for less than the material alone would ordinarily cost you!”

But one thing I do notice is this catalog’s emphasis on quality fabrics:  real silk, wool, angora, pure Irish linen, and Permanent Finish Organdy, etc.

Afternoon dresses from Berth Robert catalog, 1934.

Afternoon dresses from Berth Robert catalog, 1934.

p 7 btm 500 afternoon

All three dresses are “All Silk,” not rayon. The box at the lower right says, “We will be glad to send you samples of the materials used in our semi-made clothes.” That suggests to me that the quality of the fabrics was good — a selling point.

These three semi-made afternoon dresses were available in sizes 14 to 40. Prices were $7.95, $8.95, and $6.75. In other words, they were for middle class women.  A suggested clothing budget for a young female college graduate in 1936 allowed her to buy four dresses per year, at an average price of $5.00, from her weekly salary of $20.00.

I think Dinah was on the right track with her comment on Semi-Made Dresses, 1930’s. She wrote:

“This is an old marketing trick. In buying the kit of parts the woman avoids the difficulties of cutting out and sizing. However, she can claim that she made the dress because she put it together and added her own buttons and other notions.

“Years ago a UK packet food did the same thing for a custard tart or similar. The publicity said ” you add the egg”. There is no need as many packet foods use egg powder. But by adding the egg herself the woman could proudly say that “she” cooked it, it was not bought in a packet.

“We should not under estimate the importance of this, particularly in the past where women were *automatically* expected to make dresses, cook using basic ingredients.”

Many mothers feel guilty about spending money on themselves, and make little economies (like wearing worn-out underwear) to be sure their children are well dressed for school.  A “semi-made” dress might assuage some of that guilt.

Also, as Dinah suggests, a housewife could justify her Berth Robert expenditure by showing her husband that she was working — sewing her own clothes — to save him money.

Price Comparisons

This semi-made Washable All Silk Crepe sports dress from Berth Robert cost $5.50:

Berth Roberts Model 909, 1934.

Berth Roberts Semi-Made Model 909, 1934. Sizes 14 to 20 only. (Probably because it is cut high in front but very low in back.) $5.50

To compare prices, I checked the Sears Catalog for Spring 1934; these simple “Washable All Silk Flat Crepe” sport dresses cost $3.98. However, in the fine print you can see “Washable All Silk Flat Crepe, weighted.” Weighted silk was lower in quality — much cheaper by the yard — and vintage collectors know that the metallic salts which gave it more body also caused deterioration.

Washable silk dresses from Sears, Spring 1934.

Washable “weighted” silk dresses from Sears, Spring 1934. Price: $3.98 each.

The two piece, semi-made dresses from Berth Robert , below, cost $8.95 ($9.75 for sizes 42 and 44.) The one on the right is silk crepe.

Berth Robert Semi-made. 1934.

Berth Robert Semi-made. 1934. Priced $8.95 to $9.75.

p 12 jacket dress 923 924 text 500

This comparable, but ready-to-wear, two-piece outfit from Sears cost $7.98 in sizes 36 through 44. However, like Sears’ sport dresses, it is made of lower-quality weighted silk.

Sears catalog, Spring 1934.

Sears catalog, Spring 1934. Price: $7.98.

Berth Roberts Completely Made Dresses

A big surprise in my catalog was that there were several pages of completely finished, ready-to-wear garments: sweaters, skirts, blouses, dresses, work uniforms, bathing suits, slips, nightgowns, etc.

Berth Robert Completely Made garments. 1934 catalog.

Berth Robert Completely Made tops and skirts. 1934 catalog. Priced from $1.09 to $2.95.

Berth Robert Completely Made garments, 1934 catalog.

Berth Robert Completely Made garments, 1934 catalog. Priced from $1.95 to $3.95.

The two most expensive items on these three pages cost $3.95 each:

J20: Lisle shirt with zipper front and corded jersey trousers; J23" "All wool Zephyr in the New Mexicana colorings fashions this Bathing suit." Berth Robert ready to wear. 1934.

J20:  Two piece outfit:  Lisle shirt with zipper front and corded jersey trousers. $3.95.  J23:  “All wool Zephyr in the New Mexicana colorings fashions this Bathing suit.” $3.95. Berth Robert completed ready-to-wear. 1934.

The three completely finished dresses below (left to right) cost $1.95 (“corded plaid cotton,”) $2.95 (“eyelet embroidered batiste,”) and $1.95 (cross striped broadcloth and waffle pique.”)

Berth Robert ready-to-wear dresses, priced $1.95 to $2.95.

Berth Robert ready-to-wear dresses, priced $1.95 to $2.95. “All garments on this page are completely made and guaranteed washable.”

Unless there was a huge difference in fabric quality, it’s hard to understand why these completely finished, ready-to-wear, Berth Robert mail order clothes cost a lot less than Berth Robert’s “semi-made” ones. Go figure!

[I’ll be sharing more fashions from this catalog later.]

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Filed under 1930s, Bathing Suits, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Sportswear, Swimsuits, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes, Women in Trousers