Caught in the Twenties

Cover of Delineator magazine, September 1928. Illustration by Helen Dryden.

Cover of Delineator magazine, September 1928. Illustration by Helen Dryden.

Caught isn’t the right word; “enraptured” might be more accurate. I finally have a chance to visit bound volumes from the mid-nineteen twenties and photograph them, and I wish I could post everything I find. By 1928, Delineator magazine is filled with the styles we think of as “the twenties.”

Butterick patterns for January 1928. Delineator, p. 33.

Butterick patterns for January 1928. Delineator, p. 33. Composite from original illustration. I’ll return to these patterns in a later post. Love that coat!

There’s a strong Art Deco influence in the geometry of day dresses, and there’s drama, beading, and a flutter of chiffon in the evening.

A beaded gown from Paquin, Frbruary 1928, and a jewel studded gown from Lanvin, March 1928. Delineator magazine.

A gown from Paquin, February 1928, and a jewel-studded evening gown from Lanvin, March 1928. Delineator magazine.

For a knock-out evening coat by Lanvin, circa 1927, click here.

Perhaps it’s because I’m a sixties’ girl that the proportions of 1928 look “right” to me.  Not that I would ever want to wear a straight-torso-with-hip-belt dress, but the knee-length skirt balances them better than the skirt lengths of 1925 or 1926.

Print fabrics, Butterick patterns; Delineator, August 1928.

Print fabrics, Butterick patterns; Delineator, August 1928.

With my library time machine, I’m currently “visiting” 1926, 1927 and 1928.  I try to bounce around from decade to decade in this blog, but getting out of the late Twenties is going to be hard.

Joyful geometry: Butterick patterns in Delineator, February 1928.

Joyful geometry: Butterick patterns in Delineator, February 1928. I love the way the angle of the trim on the bodice is echoed by the angle of the pleated skirt panel. Interesting that the button is located at the natural waist….

I’ve already written about the fashion shift of the mid-twenties (click here.) Just to review, fashions for young women (15 to 20) were slightly shorter than those for mature women in 1925 and 1926.

Patterns for adult women, Delineator, December 1925.

Patterns for adult women, Delineator, December 1925.

Patterns for girls 15 to 20, and small women. Delineator, December 1925.

Patterns for girls 15 to 20, and small women. Delineator, December 1925.

Left, teens 15 to 20; right, adult women. composite based on Delineator, December 1925.

Left, teens 15 to 20; right, adult women. Composite based on Delineator ilustrations, December 1925.

Because teens and adults were drawn differently, it’s hard to get an exact comparison, but the hems on the adult women seem to be a couple of inches farther below the knee. When I compare the two dresses in the center, the orange one on the right looks dowdy to my modern eyes. All four figures are drawn with impossibly long torsos.

Here are some Butterick fashions from 1926:

Pictured are two little girls, and four girls aged "8 to 15 years." Their dresses are quite short, but look like young adult fashions of a couple years later. Delineator, February 1926.

Pictured are two little girls, and four girls aged “8 to 15 years.” Their dresses are quite short, but look like young adult fashions of a year later. Delineator, February 1926.

The proportions on these knee length skirts look “right” to me, but they are not dresses for young women; they are for girls under 15. I especially like that plum colored outfit on the far left.

Two adult women and two girls 8 to 16 years. Delineator, February 1926.

Two adult women flanked by two girls aged 8 to 16 years. Delineator, February 1926.

These are Butterick patterns from 1927:

Women's fashions with straight silhouettes. Butterick 1329 and 1317, Delineator, March 1927.

Women’s fashions with straight silhouettes. Butterick Nos. 1329 and 1317, Delineator, March 1927. I love the use of graded values of the same color, and those repeated geometric, Art Deco jogs on the dress at left — with matching cuffs. Skirts end just below the kneecap.

These couture designs for evening, 1927, use metallic fabrics and beading, and look quintessentially “Twenties.” It would be hard to mistake the dress on the left for any other era.

Left, a fringed and beaded evening gown by Paquin; right a straight metallic dress with ruffles, by Jeanne Carette. Delineator, January 1927, p. 16.

Left, a salmon pink-and-silver fringed and beaded evening gown by Paquin; right, a straight gold metallic cloth dress with finely pleated ruffles, by Yvonne Carette. Delineator, January 1927, p. 16.

Two evening dresses by Chanel. Left, a metallic brocade; right, a dress completely covered with black beads. Delineator, January 1927.

Two evening dresses by Chanel. Left, “deep orange” lace; right, a dress completely covered with black beads. Delineator, January 1927.

1927 jan p 16 designer Chane ltext black beaded J Desvignes illus

Detail of paillette beading on black Chanel dress; Delineator, January 1927.

Detail of paillette beading on black Chanel dress; Delineator, January 1927.  Apparently the beads change direction, giving a checkerboard effect.

If you love the Twenties, it’s hard not to think, “Now, we’re getting somewhere!”

The Metropolitan Museum has a beaded dress from 1926 attributed to Chanel; click here — and don’t forget to click on “Additional Images” for a a close-up of the beading and spangles.

A few images from 1928:

Two women's dresses from October 1928. Butterick 2243 and 2267.

Two women’s dresses from October 1928. Butterick patterns 2243 and 2267. Note the zigzag formed by the skirt panels at right. It’s hard to see, but the band on the left dress is two colors, or two shades of the same color.

This young lady appeared in an ad for Fleischmann’s yeast, which, she said, restored her health. The fabric of her glittering dress is quite striking:

Fleischmann's Yeast ad, Delineator, May 1928.

Fleischmann’s Yeast ad, Delineator, May 1928.

Butterick patterns for women from teens to bust 44". The coat came in sizes 46 and 48, too. Delineator, November 1928. Hems area already on their way down.

Butterick patterns for misses and women (from teens to bust 44″.) The coat came in sizes 46 and 48, too. Delineator, November 1928. Hems are already on their way down.

For more about 1928 “Hems Going Down,” click here. This cartoon dates from 1929.

 

 

 

 

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9 Comments

Filed under 1920s, Children's Vintage styles, Hosiery, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage patterns, vintage photographs, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

9 responses to “Caught in the Twenties

  1. Trish

    Thanks for posting these. I am fascinated by the Delineator’s artwork. They are pure joy to look at.

    • I’m noticing that they often used one artist to illustrate a whole section in the twenties. I’ll try to give credit when I can find a signature. I think Helen Dryden did most their covers for a year. The Fashion illustrator Soulie did sketches from the Paris shows and even designed his own clothing. One of my favorites is Dhynevor Rhys.

  2. Nancy Nichols

    You’re so right, a treasure trove indeed! As to dowdy, anything that cuts you off at the fullest part of the calf isn’t gonna be flattering and I’m amazed it was such a popular look for most of a decade! As to the dimensions of the models who look long torsoed, I did (admittedly creaky skilled) math using my own short-torsoed proportions, and found that if they were blown up to my stats, they’d be .4 inches shorter in the torso than I. I’m rather short-waisted myself. I think what makes them look off is how stick-figure thin they are. I grew up in the 60s and those shift dresses were just fashion poison to me! But you can’t superimpose a rectangle onto a pear and expect good results…;0…
    Thanks again for these meticulous postings. Really fine!

    • I was trying to find a way to phrase that comment about unflattering skirt lengths. I noticed that the skirts that look good to me let us see the curve in toward the knee at the top of the calf.

  3. I love the drawings of clothes from the twenties, too! However, I don’t think the clothes ever looked as good on grown up women as they do on paper.

    • And photos from the era would support you on that! They hadn’t yet discovered the 5’11,” 115 lb. model. I also notice more and more that movie stars’ costumes were more fitted than the illustrated fashions.

  4. I love the 20s, don’t stop! That cover with the geometric designs and great color, and a “new Edith Wharton novel” — whoa! I have a gorgeous silk charmeuse (?) dress with allover beaded “egyptian” style decoration, bought about 10 years ago at the Goodwill for $5. On the rare occasions I wear it everyone comments on it and covets it. And the opposite of the 20s might be Magnolia Pearl ……

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