Monthly Archives: April 2016

“Uplift” Changes Brassieres: 1917 to 1929 (Part 1)

Ad for Maidenform's "Over-ture" brassiere "for firmer uplift." Womans' Home Companion, Feb. 1936.

Ad for Maidenform’s “Over-ture” brassiere “for firmer uplift.” Woman’s Home Companion, Feb. 1936.

I’ve often mentioned the book Uplift: The Bra in America, by Jane Farrell-Beck and Colleen Gau. It’s scholarly but also very readable, and packed with related information on women’s lives. It feeds my interest in old advertisements, too — I’ll be sharing a small selection of underwear ads and patterns from the 1920’s and 1930’s in several posts.

Note: This post is not an authoritative history of the brassiere; for that, please consult both Uplift and Fashion in Underwear by Elizabeth Ewing. The topic is so complicated that the Wikipedia entry warns of contradictions.

I’m indebted to the authors of Uplift for this concept:

For hundreds of years, women’s breasts were supported by corsets, which pushed them up from below. The innovation of the twentieth century was “uplift” — shoulder straps which supported the weight of the breasts from the shoulder instead of pushing them up from beneath.

First, a brief visual tour of early 20th century brassieres:

Two ads for "model" brassieres, Woman's Home Companion, 1917.

Two ads for “Model” brassieres, Woman’s Home Companion, 1917.

At the beginning of the 20th century, fashion was still in the “monobosom” or “unibosom” era.

Brassieres with rust-proof boning from the Sears Spring catalog, 1917.

Brassieres with rust-proof boning from the Sears Spring catalog, 1917.

Corset boning probably ran up the center of these brassieres and also over the breasts to create a smooth bulge without any breast separation. “By 1917 brassieres [like those above] had moved from a minority fashion to the mainstream of womenswear.” Uplift, p. 33.

The tubular, boyish ideal of the early 1920’s led to a brief fashion for flattening the breasts. See Underpinning the 1920s: Brassieres, Bandeaux, and Bust Flatteners. There was even a brassiere company called “Boyshform,” (boyish form) and another called “Flatter-U.”

New corsets and brassieres, Delineator, February 1924, p. 23.

New corsets and brassieres, Delineator, February 1924, p. 23. On the right, a very long flattening brassiere.

When young women stopped wearing restrictive underwear in the 1920’s and allowed two separate breasts to be discerned, those with youthful figures might wear an unstructured brassiere primarily to prevent their nipples from showing through the lightweight dress fabrics that were popular.

September, 1924: a brassiere and step-in pattern, Butterick No. 7080.

1924: a brassiere and step-in pattern, Butterick No. 7080. Delineator, September issue.

Butterick pattern 6472 for a bandeau bra and step-in panties. Delineator, Dec 1925, p. 37.

1925:  Butterick pattern 6472 for a bandeau bra and step-in panties. Delineator, Dec 1925, p. 37.

Butterick pattern 1534 for a bra and matching step-in panties. July 1927, Delineator, 1927.

1927: (right) Butterick pattern 1534 for a bra and matching step-in panties. July 1927, Delineator, 1927.

Butterick pattern 6961 for a bandeau brassiere and frilled bloomers; Delineator, 1926

1926: Butterick pattern 6961 for a bandeau brassiere and frilled bloomers; Delineator, July 1926, p. 38.

For me, there are two interesting things about this pattern. 1) This 1926 brassiere is definitely divided into two separate pockets (The phrase “bra cup” had not yet been invented.) It is not meant to flatten the bust. 2) It appeared on the same page as this pattern — No. 6964 — for two bust-flattening brassieres:

July 1926 brassiere patterns from Butterick. At top, two bust flatteners, pattern . At bottom right a pattern for a brassiere that divides the breasts. Delineator, July 1926, p. 38.

1926 brassiere patterns from Butterick. At top, two bust flatteners, pattern 6964. At bottom right, pattern 6961 for a brassiere that separates and does not flatten the breasts. Delineator, July 1926, p. 38.

Obviously, 1926 was a year of transition. Next, Part 2: The Uplift Idea in 1920’s Brassieres.

 

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Bras, Corselettes, Corsets, Corsets, Corsets & Corselettes, Foundation Garments, Girdles, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Underthings, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Vintage patterns

NYPL Digital Collection: An Open Book

This collection is so vast that it took me two hours to find again what I found by accident the day before! Bookmark any site you might want to return to,  to save your sanity. (For example, knowing that I wanted to re-visit “Costumes — 1930s” did not take me to “evening wear” from the 1930s. That has its own navigation listing. And, since the Mid-Manhattan Collection runs to 34,746  images, and is “navigated” by alphabetical order, I had to scroll down through a lot of “Birds” before getting to “Costumes” in the alphabetical listing! )

I hope this post will give you a better way…. The “Book” method. (I feel pretty silly for not realizing that I would find this feature just by scrolling down past the bottom of the page that filled my screen!)

It’s worth trying, because there are treasures there.

A sample of what you can find at NYPL Digital collections. This is from the Mid-Manhattan collection. Couture by Ardanse, Louiseboulanger, and Bernard et Cie. 1932.

A sample of what you can find at NYPL Digital collections. This is from the Mid-Manhattan collection. Couture by Ardanse, Louiseboulanger, and Bernard et Cie. 1932. The graded red gown is by Louiseboulanger.

I found it most enjoyable to view this fashion collection as if I were turning pages in a book. To try it, Click Here, and immediately Scroll Down until you see a series of gray descending boxes (collection, sub-collection, etc.) Then, from that drop-down on the left, choose View as Book.

If you want to see two pages at a time, click the double rectangle.

If you want to be able to read the information about an item, click the single image rectangle, and then magnify the image as many times as needed, and push the image up so you can read its bottom text. At the bottom of this sketch, there is an exact year written in pencil: 1937.

I love this particular 1930’s “book” because it also shows men’s evening clothes illustrations from the 1930s. This one, for example, reminds us that tuxedos and “white tie” cutaways could be purchased in either black or navy.

Check out other decades, like “men’s clothing 1920s” …

Men's clothing, 1920s, from the NYPL Digital collection.

Costumes — Men’s clothing 1920s, from the NYPL Digital collection.

If you’d like to browse men’s fashions for the 1920s, click here , then click on any image that interests you; scroll down below the image, look at the left of the screen and, again, choose View as Book.

Digression:  As the pendulum of fashion in the 1920s swung away from those skinny-legged, “pegged” and cuffed, “high water” trousers from men, “Oxford bags” appeared as the equal and opposite reaction:

Cartoon from March, 1925, printed in The Way to Wear'em.

Punch cartoon from March, 1925, printed in The Way to Wear’em.

Maybe the the equal and opposite reaction to “jeggings” will be a fad for palazzo pants and 1930’s beach pajamas ….

About that 1920 illustration of two men in suits and a woman in a bathing costume: it would be tempting to write a whole story about it —  the Ferris wheel in the background (Coney Island?), the reason the men are fully dressed while on the beach, their relationship to the girl, and to the airplane or balloon they are all watching so intently….

The Open Book Approach, or Getting What I Needed Without Using the Alphabetical Navigation List:

The trick I finally figured out when using the Mid-Manhattan Collection is that you can do a search — say, for “Molyneux” — then click on any one of the images that shows up, Scroll Down, and that will lead you to a sub-collection “book” of related images, at a convenient scale for viewing. You don’t have to click on individual images and enlarge them, one by one. I love the “book” option.

I was especially happy to find designs by two lesser-known couturiers from the 1920s, Louiseboulanger and Jane Regny. (I’ve been saving other images of their work, but haven’t written posts about them yet.) Louise Boulanger was very influential in the late 1920s.

Other good news: 180,000 public domain images can be found through  the New York Public Library online. Click here.

 

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Bathing Suits, Menswear, Musings, Resources for Costumers, Vintage Couture Designs

Church Wedding, September 1933

The wedding dress designed for a movie by Travis Banton as part of Butterick’s Starred Patterns series (August 1933) appeared in The Delineator again the very next month, with no mention of Travis Banton as its designer. This time, it was the centerpiece in a “Church Wedding” feature.

The Church Wedding, Delineator, September 1933, p. 64. From left, patterns 5269, 5299, 5183. Myrtle Lages illustration.

“Church Wedding,” Delineator, September 1933, p. 64. From left, patterns 5269, 5299, 5183. Myrtle Lages illustration.

Helen Twelvetrees in Travis Banton's wedding dress design, from the movie Disgraced. August, 1933.

Helen Twelvetrees in Travis Banton’s wedding dress design, from the movie Disgraced. Delineator, August, 1933.

Detail, Butterick wedding dress pattern 5299, Delineator, Sep. 1933.

Detail, Butterick wedding dress pattern 5299, Delineator, Sep. 1933.

The pin-tucked yoke and the sleeves are the same sheer fabric as the veil; the dress is satin.

Butterick wedding gown 5299, described in Delineator, Sept. 1933 issue.

Butterick wedding gown 5299, described in Delineator, Sept. 1933 issue.

The Maid of Honor, Butterick 5269, as shown in September, 1933. Delineator.

The Maid of Honor, Butterick 5269, as shown in September, 1933. Delineator. “Pansy blue” taffeta with “out-standing shoulders.”

The Maid of Honor’s dress, No. 5269, was illustrated before, in August, and given the name “Wings.” Like many dresses for a wedding party, it was also a normal party dress — and shown on a much younger model.

5269: This "Maid of Honor" dress in September was a Party dress in August. Delineator. 1933.

5269: This “Maid of Honor” dress from September was a party dress for the bride’s trousseau in August. Delineator. 1933.

“From the [bride’s] trousseau comes ‘Wings,’ a charming, creamy white taffeta dress with wings over the shoulders and flaring godets around the bottom that give a quaint, petticoated look. Don’t miss the garnet belt and the circlet of garnets in the hair. Glittering stars and circlets reflect the light on many smooth heads in Paris these days.” — R. S. in Delineator, August 1933.

Bridesmaid dress, Butterick 5183, as shown in September, 1933 Delineator.

Bridesmaid dress, Butterick 5183, as shown in September, 1933 Delineator. “The fichu comes off, leaving a dinner-y dress beneath.” “Have the hats in velvet.”

The Bridesmaid’s dress,  Butterick pattern 5183, also had an independent life:

Butterick 5183 was first illustrated in June, with the name "Late Date."

Butterick 5183 was first illustrated in June, with the name “Late Date.”

Apparently, if you tired of the Letty Lynton ruffles, you could wear the dress without its “fichu.” I wasn’t able to find a picture of it without the fichu, unfortunately, although this illustration from the 1933 catalog shows the fichu/capelet and sleeves made of a different fabric than the dress.

Of course, hats were needed for a church ceremony, but the velvet hats illustrated here look like streetwear in surprisingly dark shades. Perhaps they’re a penny-pinching nod to Depression Era budgets.

Hats for the Bridal party in a Church Wedding, 1933. Very odd.

Hats for the Bridal party in a Church Wedding; Delineator, 1933. Very odd.

 

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Filed under 1930s, Vintage patterns, Vintage patterns from the movies

Smart Dresses for Summer, 1928

This is a full page article from Delineator, June 1928. Seven Butterick patterns are illustrated in full color, as if the seven models were on a rather formal family outing to a park.

"New Smartness," Delineator, June 1928, page 32. These are Butterick patterns for women and girls.

“New Smartness,” Delineator, June 1928, page 32. These are Butterick patterns for women and girls.

The blouson effect, with a wide, tight hip band — called a girdle — was chic in 1928.  If you want to make a dress like this, attaching it to an underbodice will suspend the weight of the skirt from your shoulders, keeping the blouson in place.

Closer views, followed by their pattern descriptions:

Butterick patterns 2074, 2078, 2026 and 2071. June, 1928.

Butterick patterns 2074, 2078, and 2026. June, 1928.

Butterick patterns 2071, 2065. 2024, and 2068. June, 1928; Delineator magazine.

Butterick patterns 2071, 2065. 2024, and 2068. June, 1928; Delineator magazine.

Pattern descriptions and alternate views:

Closer views of Butterick dresses 2074, 2087, and 2026. June, 1928.

Closer views of Butterick dresses 2074, 2078, and 2026. June, 1928.

The printed chiffon dress is an afternoon dress, worn for dressier occasions than shopping. This pattern could be purchased for bust measurements up to 46 inches. The corresponding hip measurement would be about 49″.

2074 text

The pink dress could have long or short sleeves, and be gathered or pleated.

2078 text

The print dress at far right is surprisingly “an afternoon frock of the more formal type” made in silk crepe, satin or rayon. More formal than chiffon?

2026 text

These two dresses are for girls. The smocked dress on the left could also be made in a long sleeved version. Since smocking requires time-consuming hand sewing, machine shirring was also a possibility.

Closer views of girls' dresses 2071 and 2065. Butterick patterns for June 1928.

Closer views of girls’ dresses 2071 and 2065. Butterick patterns for June 1928.

2071 2065 text

Butterick 2024 and 2068. June, 1928.

Butterick dresses 2024 and 2068. June, 1928.

I suspect that many women made this print dress without the cape in back. Border print fabrics gave 1920’s dresses like this one their impact, although solids and small prints could also be used.

2024 text

No. 2068 was a pattern that could be used for day (with long or short sleeves) or modified for evening wear by making it sleeveless, with a deeper cut neckline and armholes.

2068 text

Bodice tucks on No. 2068 would allow for feminine curves. 1928.

Bodice tucks on No. 2068 would allow for (modest) feminine curves. 1928.

The lines of tucks on the bodice front (right) remind us that by 1928 breasts were no longer being flattened by young women, although older women might continue to wear a foundation like this “Bien Jolie corsette.”

Ad for a "Bien Jolie" ["Very Pretty"] foundation garment. Delineator, February 1926.

Ad for an “exquisite” “Bien Jolie” [“Very Pretty”] foundation garment. Delineator, February 1926. A garment like this shapes the body like casing shapes a sausage.

 You can read more about corsets and corsolettes by clicking here. For bust flatteners and bandeaux, click here.

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Children's Vintage styles, Hats, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Uncategorized, Vintage Accessories, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Cloche Hats from Paris Illustrated by Dynevor Rhys, April 1928

Dynevor Rhys illustration of two women's hats, Delineator, April, 1928.

Dynevor Rhys illustration of two women’s hats from Paris; Delineator, April, 1928.

I’ve shown this 1931 illustration by Dhynevor Rhys in an earlier post:

Illustration by Dynevor Rhys, Delineator, November 1931.

Rhys did lovely color illustrations, but even in black and white, his views of five Paris hats for April, 1928, capture the stillness and tranquility of his women. The two hats at the top of the page, and one at the bottom, were illustrated as if they were portraits in nineteen twenties’ photo frames.

Dynevor Rhys illustration of two women's hats, Delineator, April, 1928.

Dynevor Rhys illustration of two women’s hats, Delineator, April, 1928. His signature is visible at the far right.

Starting with the top left hat, by Reboux, here are larger images. The text of the accompanying article is at the bottom of this post. The hat descriptions in gray boxes are their original captions.

An asymmetrical straw hat by Reboux, illustrated in Delineator, April 1928. Dynevor Rhys, Illustration.

An asymmetrical straw hat by Reboux, illustrated in Delineator, April 1928. Dynevor Rhys’ illustration.

“This Reboux hat of natural straw has a one-sided brim — a strong characteristic of spring millinery. The brim hides the face completely on the right side while the other side is prolonged  [into a rolled strip] to run around the crown holding in place at the right the very large flat flower of flat red feathers.”

The Metropolitan Museum has many hats from the house of Reboux; here is one trimmed with a cascade of feathers.

Three of these spring hats are trimmed with red.

One sided blue straw hat by Agnes, in Delineator, April 1928. Dynevor Rhys illustration.

One sided mauve blue straw hat by Agnes, in Delineator, April 1928. Dynevor Rhys illustration.

Agnes, too, is making one-sided straw hats for spring. For this one she used a supple, exotic straw which she calls parasisol. The color is mauve blue and the trimming is her new crepe de Chine ribbon in pale rose color. Agnes is using many of these pastel combinations in her new hats.”

The flower/pompom of ribbon loops on the coat lapel was a popular ornament for coats and dresses, including evening gowns.

Butterick’s cloche hat pattern 5218 from 1925 shows ribbons woven together, but Madame Agnes seems to have formed parallel ribbons into a series of loops — definitely an easy trim to copy! Click here for an extraordinary 1920s’ hat by Agnes, at the blog  From the Bygone.

A "close cap" by Reboux, Delineator illustration by Dynevor Rhys, April 1928.

A “close cap” by Reboux, Delineator illustration by Dynevor Rhys, April 1928.

“There are still a great many close caps. Reboux’ spring version is a little bowl of burnt picot straw fitting the head. The satin ribbon that crosses the back and is made into rosettes with one tab sticking up and the other down over the ears, is exactly the transparent amber color of butterscotch.”

Does this mean the hat has a rosette over each ear, like Princess Leia? I wish we could see what that wide satin ribbon does on the other side of the hat.

A grosgrain hat fitted to the head in turban fashion, by Reboux. Delineator, April 1928.

A grosgrain hat fitted to the head in turban fashion, with red poppy trim. By Reboux. Delineator, April 1928. (This image was slightly distorted by the curvature of the bound magazine.)

“A grosgrain cap by Reboux in leaf green is crossed on the head in turban fashion. Poppy red grosgrain ribbon is fashioned into three flat poppies with black centers. The turban crossing is smart, the trimming is very original. These grosgrain caps are fitted to the head in sections.” [Grosgrain does not stretch.]

 "lopsided" starw hat by Lewis, trimmed with beige and green velvet ribbons. Delineator, April 1928. Illustration by Dhynevor Rhys.

A “lopsided” straw hat by Lewis, trimmed with beige and green velvet ribbons. Delineator, April 1928. Illustration by Dhynevor Rhys.

“This lop-sided effect of brim is very general. A third designer, Lewis, uses it here in a hat of ramailee — another supple, exotic straw — in beige trimmed with narrow velvet ribbons — one beige and the other red. Lewis’ favorite millinery colors in his spring collection are red and green.” The Metropolitan Museum has three nineteen twenties’ hats from Maison Lewis. Click here.

I suppose that the trim colors on a neutral straw hat like this one could be substituted with colors to match your dress. Spring colors of “red and green” reminds us that the color combinations we now associate with Christmas or Halloween did not have those connotations in the twenties.

About Dynevor Rhys:  Although many internet sources will sell you copies of his work, I couldn’t find much biographical information. A search at Ancestry.com turned up records for Burton Rice,  who also worked under the name Dynevor Rhys. (Was he proud of Welsh ancestry? I don’t know.) Artist Burton Rice has a WW I poster in a museum collection (1918); records show that he returned from France in 1917, when he was 23 years old, and again in 1924, aged 30. In 1943 his draft registration card showed him living in New York city, and self-employed. Perhaps he used a pseudonym for commercial art and reserved his birth name for his “fine art,” just as writers often use a pseudonym for their popular fiction (mysteries, romances) and their given name for “serious” or scholarly works. He was still alive in 1959, when he traveled to Chicago. He was born in Illinois, and by happy coincidence, tomorrow is his birthday: he came into the world on April 15, 1894. Happy birthday, Dynevor Rhys/Burton Rice,  and thanks for all those beautiful cover illustrations!

The topic of “blue haired old ladies”  comes up in the text of the article that accompanied these illustrations.  The hat by Agnes is described as a blue mauve, like that sometimes used to color white hair.” (See American Age Fashion’s discussion of blue hair — deliberate or hairdressing disaster? —  here .)

500 left half of text 1928 April p 38 hats reboux agnes Lewis dynevor rhys illus

500 rt side text1928 April p 38 hats reboux agnes Lewis dynevor rhys illus

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Hats, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Couture Designs

Paris Designer Gowns Illustrated by J. Desvignes, 1926

Gowns by Chanel and Patou. Delineator magazine, November 1926.

Gowns by Chanel and Patou. Delineator magazine, November 1926.

There’s nothing about these four Paris evening gowns from 1926 that could be called “everyday fashion.” These are couture, with all the detailing we expect at top prices. The designers are Chanel, Patou, and Doeuillet.

Embroidered "Chinoiserie" gown by Doueillet, and a beaded gown by Patou. Delineator, November 1926.

Embroidered “Chinoiserie” gown by Doeuillet, and a beaded gown by Patou. Delineator, November 1926.

The illustrations are signed “J. Desvignes.” They were originally printed at large scale, longer than most horizontal computer screens, so I’ll be breaking the illustrations down to show the details. They were featured in Delineator magazine in November, 1926, and were available in New York from Frances Clyne — just in time for the holiday season.

A Chanel Evening Gown, November 1926

Left, an evening gown by Chanel, illustrated in November 1926 by J. Desvignes. Delineator, Nov. 1926, page 40.

Left, a red chiffon evening gown by Chanel, illustrated in November 1926 by J. Desvignes. Delineator, Nov. 1926, page 40.

1926 nov p 40 designer Chanel text fond of redt

“Chanel uses red chiffon for this delightful dress which promises to be the frock of the season. It is simple in effect but attains interest by means of its drooping blouse, an intricate girdle, outlined by beads and floating draperies. Chanel’s skirts are longer — in spots — but in general short. Chanel is fond of red for evening.”

Details of Chanel's beaded red chiffon evening dress, 1926. Delineator.

Details of Chanel’s beaded red chiffon evening dress, 1926. Delineator.

It mixes fluid chiffon panels with geometric beading in an Art Deco rhythm. Even the narrow straps are beaded.

A Beaded Evening Gown by Patou, 1926

Beaded evening gown by Patou, illulstated by J. Desvignes, Delineator, Nov. 1926, p 40.

Beaded white evening gown by Patou, illustrated by J. Desvignes, Delineator, Nov. 1926, p 40. “All frost and fire.” I have darkened it to show the beading.

1926 nov p 40 designerPatou right U bodice is new Frances clyne text

“This slender frock of white crepe Roma, all frost and fire with its rhinestones and pearls, was designed by Patou. A faint suggestion of the bolero is cleverly introduced at the waistline. The beaded frock remains faithful to the sheath, giving it a fresh look with tiers and scallops. The U outline of the decolletage is new.”

A “bolero” was any over layer that floated free above the dropped waist. This whole description is interesting to me because it mentions the “sheath,” and because this deep, filled-in U-shape on the bodice is described as “new” in 1926. With hindsight, it’s one of the archetypal 1920s’ evening looks.

A tiered, beaded, rhinestone trimmed evening gown by Patou; Delineator, Nov. 1926.

A white, tiered, beaded, rhinestone-trimmed evening gown by Patou; Delineator, Nov. 1926. The deep U shape on the bodice is “new.” What looks like a long necklace is part of the dress.

Later, Paquin did a series of “necklace dresses,” with beading eliminating the need for jewelry.

A Black Satin Doeuillet Evening Dress, Beaded and Embroidered, from 1926

Left, a black satin gown by Doeuillet; right, a black and white beaded Patou. Ilustrated for Delineator by Desvignes, Nov. 1926, p. 41.

Left, a black satin gown by Doeuillet; right, a black and white beaded Patou. Illustrated for Delineator by Desvignes, Nov. 1926, p. 41.

500 doeuillet text1926 nov p 41 designer Doeuillet left text beaded chinese

“The Chinese influence is apparent in this Doeuillet frock of black satin. It is called “Pagoda,” a name suggested by the pointed hemline, flaring tiers and amusing Chinese motifs in red, blue, and silver beads. Much embroidery worked in silk and metal threads mixed with beads is used for evening.”

Black satin gown with red, blue, and silver embroidery by Doeuillet. Delineator, Nov. 1926.

Details of black satin gown with red, blue, and silver embroidery by Doeuillet. Delineator, Nov. 1926.

Doeuillet was an established couture house in Paris, founded in 1900 and successful in the 1910’s as well as the 1920’s.

A Patou Evening Gown in Black and White, 1926

Black and White evening gown by Jean Patou, illustrated by Desvignes for Delineator, Nov. 1926.

Black and White evening gown by Jean Patou, illustrated by Desvignes for Delineator, Nov. 1926.

500 patou black white text 1926 nov p 41 designer Patou rt evening beaded black and white

“Patou’s frock “Half-and-Half” of black and white Elizabeth crepe relieves its stark simplicity by rhinestones and pearl embroidery. A jabot drapery at the front and a floating panel from the left shoulder add distinction to the silhouette and convey a sense of motion. Models on these two pages imported by Frances Clyne.”

The filled-in neckline of this Patou dress is V shaped, rather than U shaped.

Detail of Black and white, pearl and rhinestone Patou evening dress. Delineator, Nov. 1926.

Detail of Black and white, pearl and rhinestone Patou evening dress. Delineator, Nov. 1926. I have darkened the photo to show the beading pattern.

The name of Patou has long been associated with his sportswear, but the two gowns illustrated here show that he knew how to produce luxe in a context of simplicity. These gowns look un-fussy but still very expensive — they possess a tailored version of glamour and sophistication, as sleek as the models’ hair.

Both Chanel and Patou remained well-known names in the twentieth century because of their best-selling fragrances:  “Chanel No. 5” and “Joy,” respectively.

Frances Clyne, like Hattie Carnegie and some high end department stores, worked with French designers to sell exact copies of their clothes in the United States. They cost twice as much as they did in Paris, but there were no import duties to pay, no wait to clear customs, and clients didn’t have to take a ship to Paris and remain there for fittings, a process which, including travel time, took several weeks.

 

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Hem Length: Girls to Women

Even these children’s pattern illustrations from 1926 are a delight.

A large color illustration of Butterick patterns for children and young teens. Delineator, January 1926, page 30.

A large color illustration of Butterick patterns for children and young teens. Delineator, January 1926, page 30. This was only part of the page.

Delineator was a large format magazine (about 11 inches wide by 14 high), so I often have to show parts of the illustrations; a whole page would not fit easily on most computer screens (and would be slow to load!)

Girls' dresses, Butterick patterns in Delineator, January 1926.

Girls’ dresses, Butterick patterns in Delineator, January 1926.

These two dresses are “for juniors and girls 8 to 15.” Notice the hemlines — just covering the bottom of the kneecap.

Two girls 15 or under. Butterick pattern illustrations from January 1926.

Two girls 15 or under. Butterick pattern illustrations from January 1926. Patterns 6516, far left, and 6478, in blue.

Within a year or 18 months, patterns for grown women show this length.

Butterick patterns for women, No. 1906 and 1928. Delineator, March, 1928, page 35.

Butterick patterns for women, Nos. 1906 and 1928. Delineator, March, 1928, page 35.

These adult patterns were available in two size ranges. Sizes “15 to 18 years” were for teens and small women, bust measures 32 to 35 inches. They were proportioned for women 5’4″ and under. The normal range of women’s sizes was sold by bust measure:  36 to 44 inches in this case. Short women with a 36 to 44 inch bust would have to alter their patterns. Here is Butterick’s advice for making a pattern fit a short woman, from 1926. Notice how important it is to alter the pattern in the torso, not just the hem. This would also apply to lengthening a 1920s’ pattern, so that the hip belt fell in the correct place. Perhaps this is why so many late 1920s’ photos show older women in long-ish dresses — rather than a sign of “the persistence of fashion,” as I often assume, it could be a sign of not knowing how to alter a dress pattern to fit a short, large body.

Lynn at AmericanAgeFashion (where that photo link leads) often explores the problems of fit on an aging body. Click here for her article about store-bought sizing in the twenties. [Edited 4/10/16 to add link to “Stylish Stout in the 1920s” at American Age Fashion.]

 

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Filed under 1920s, Children's Vintage styles, Vintage patterns