Monthly Archives: June 2016

Chin-Chokers, Accessories to Knit or Crochet, 1930s

This peculiar fishnet “scarf” caught my eye. It’s just one of the knitted or crocheted dresses, suits, and accessories so popular in the 1930s.

This "gilet" was made from a Woman's Home Companion knitting pattern, March 1936.

This knotted “gilet” was made from a Woman’s Home Companion pattern, March 1936.

Worn over a blouse, the gilet has a belt or ribbon threaded through the mesh at waist and neckline.

Detail of gilet, Woman's Home Companion, p. 91, March 1936.

Detail of gilet, Woman’s Home Companion, p. 91, March 1936.

500 gilet text WHC 1936 mar p 91 gilet to knit or crochet scarf btm text

If you found this vintage  accessory without its ribbons, you might well think it was a wool anti-macassar or table decoration.

A square scarf and a high necked “tippet” were also described.

Crocheted scarf to make, Woman's Home Companion, March 1936.

Crocheted scarf to make, Woman’s Home Companion, March 1936.

A knitted "tippet" from Woman's Home Companion, March 1936.

A knitted “tippet” from Woman’s Home Companion, March 1936.

This “Swagger Set” could be made from Dennison Crepe:

Ad from Delineator, Feb. 1934. Dennison Crepe.

Ad from Delineator, Feb. 1934. Dennison Crepe for a “Swagger Set” of crocheted collar, cuffs and belt.

As far as I can tell, the Dennison Company made crepe paper, not fabrics, and, in the twenties and thirties, encouraged its use in Halloween and masquerade party costumes. [And, according to this ad, in hats and sweaters!] Dennison published magazines with instructions for making party decorations and other craft projects from Dennison Crepe; a search for “Dennison Crepe 1930s” will lead you to many images like this one.  [Even if the paper was flame resistant, the very idea of combining Halloween pumpkins, candles, and paper costumes is horrifying to me. I once saw an exhibit of theatrical costumes made from black plastic trash bags. As an art concept, interesting; as something for an actor to wear, utterly irresponsible.]

The Bucilla yarn and thread company sold kits like this:

A kit from Bucilla, sold through the Berth Robert catalog, June 1924.

A kit from Bucilla, sold through the Berth Robert catalog, June 1924. Correction: S/B 1934. (Edited 7/25/16)

The interest in collars and cuffs which would transform the look of a simple dress or sweater was part of the Depression Era need to make a varied work wardrobe out of just one or two dresses. I’ve written several posts about this need; click here  (One Good Dress in the 1930s) or here (Button-on Patterns from the Thirties).

This pretty crochet sweater was also a do-it-yourself kit from Bucilla:

A sweater from a kit, Bucilla, sold through the Berth Robert catalog, June 1934.

A sweater from a kit, Bucilla, sold through the Berth Robert catalog, June 1934.

Brief Digression: The Berth Robert Company sold clothing and “semi-finished” clothes for women who were willing to sew dresses, but not to cut them out and do the more difficult sewing tasks like pintucks.

Berth Robert semi-made dress ad, WHC, Sept. 1934.

Berth Robert semi-made dress ad, WHC, Sept. 1934.

Click here to read more about semi-finished dresses.

The Woman’s Home Companion even encouraged its readers to knit a negligee:

Hand Knitted negligee from Woman's Home Companion, Nov. 1937.

Hand knitted negligee pattern from Woman’s Home Companion, Nov. 1937. Scroll down for an image of the full text.

WHC pattern CK-402 for a lacy knit negligee. 1937.

WHC pattern CK-402 for a lacy knit negligee. 1937.

Detail of WHC knit pattern CK-40

Detail of WHC knit pattern CK-402, 1937.

500 text WHC 1937 nov p 86 knit negligee

The petal-shaped ruffles, the sash, and the lining were not knitted; they were made from sheer georgette fabric.

 

 

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Filed under 1930s, Accessory Patterns, Nightclothes and Robes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Vintage Accessories

Fashion Anthropology: Primates of Park Avenue

Two women in evening dress, Nov. 1936. Woman's Home Companion.

Two women in evening dress, Nov. 1936. Woman’s Home Companion.

My husband and I like to read at the table, sharing paragraphs and tidbits of information. He surprised me last week by reading selections from Primates of Park Avenue: A Memoir, by Wednesday Martin. (Simon & Schuster, 2015.) He found it engrossing, and so did I.

This report from an anthropologist who studied the women of New York’s Upper East Side as if they were members of an obscure tribe in the Amazon — or Jane Goodall’s chimpanzees — is quite a fascinating read.

(At my house, we debated for months about buying a new car before the 2001 Toyota stops running, so the existence of sane human beings willing to spend $141,000 dollars on a handbag was a little surprising!)

My husband and I do not live in the world of high status handbags, cripplingly high heels, Botoxed faces, or people who summer in the Hamptons and winter in Aspen.

If you don’t, either, this report from an anthropologist who studied the women of New York’s Upper East Side, taking field notes as if they were members of a tribe of hunter-gatherers, or a troop of chimpanzees, is quite a fascinating read.

Cover of Ladies' Home Journal, December 1936.

Cover of Ladies’ Home Journal, December 1936.

Dr. Martin (Ph. D. from Yale, degree in Anthropology from University of Michigan) was a young working mother (and a successful writer) with a husband whose income allowed them to move to New York’s Upper East Side with the intention of getting their children into a good public school.

Once there, as an outsider in a complex and apparently ruthless culture of tribal status, exchanged favors, and hostile Alpha Moms, Dr. Martin realized she had found her “field work.”

And, like many a reputable anthropologist before her, she eventually “went native.”

The chapter in which she recounts her quest for an Hermes Birkin bag, 35 centimeters — comparing herself to a chimpanzee named Mike who took over his troop in Gombe by choosing the right accessory (two kerosene canisters that he banged together to make noise) is both funny and — for us outsiders — horrifying.

So is a shoe-shopping expedition when the clerk says she shouldn’t worry about the pain of standing in the shoes, because she can do as many other members of her tribe do: “get one of those injections” — from a podiatrist who is willing to anesthetize her feet for the evening.

Society woman in rubies and diamonds, from an ad for silverplated tableware. December 1936, Ladies' Home Journal.

Society woman in rubies and diamonds, from an ad for silver-plated tableware. December 1936, Ladies’ Home Journal.

The tribe’s competitiveness — fueled by a fear of loss — is fascinating, as is Martin’s gradual acceptance and adoption of “the rules” in an effort to help her young achieve a secure place in the hierarchy. And, once she experiences a personal tragedy, she discovers yet another — surprising — aspect of tribal behavior.

You can read NPR’s interview with Wednesday Martin here.

I confess that Marvin Harris‘s book Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches got me hooked on anthropology for the common reader many decades ago. It was the controversial Harris who introduced me to the Yanomamo (thought to be the world’s most violent culture) and to Kwakiutl potlatch ceremonies (which can be compared to our own irrational expenditures on funerals and weddings.) The questions “Why do people wear clothes?” and “Why do people wear the clothes they choose to wear?” are essential to costume designers, so Primates of Park Avenue is well worth reading.

Martin’s Primates of Park Avenue: A Memoir is a highly enjoyable contribution to the psychology of fashion and to the anthropology of  our own bizarre culture.

Note: I thought illustrations of wealth and leisure from 1936 — a time of high unemployment — would be appropriate for a book about wealthy New Yorkers today.

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Filed under A Costumers' Bookshelf, Maternity clothes, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe for Spring, 1928

Butterick issued eight more “Forecast” patterns, at $1.00 each, in March of 1928. Although the illustrations were large, the accompanying text was quite brief.

The two-page spread was titled “The Forecast Wardrobe Lays Complete Plans for Spring.” Butterick pattern numbers 11 A through 11 H cost $1.00 each, twice as much as normal, four-digit Butterick patterns cost in 1928. L. Frerrier did the illustrations again, but there was no lavish background scenery. In fact, I find this set of patterns rather unexciting.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe patterns 11 from Delineator, March 1928, p. 30.

Daytime fashions: Butterick Forecast Wardrobe patterns 11C, 11D, 11B and 11A from Delineator, March 1928, p. 30.

Evening fashions: Butterick Forecast Wardrobe patterns from Delineator, March 1928, pg. 31.

Evening fashions: Butterick Forecast Wardrobe patterns 11 F, 11 G, 11 H, and 11 E, from Delineator, March 1928, pg. 31. Illustrations by L. Frerrier.

A “Wardrobe” pattern from the 1960’s or 1970’s usually included tops, skirts, trousers or shorts, and a jacket or coat, so that the buyer could plan a large, color-coordinated wardrobe. The daytime coat 11 B was intended to be worn with the blouse/skirt/vest pattern 11 A, but not necessarily with any other patterns in this series.

Butterick Forecast Pattern 11 A. March 1928.

Butterick Forecast Pattern 11 A. March 1928. The wrap skirt does not have a waistband; instead it hangs from the shoulders on a slip- or chemise- like “underbody.” The “scarf” is part of the back yoke and collar.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 11 B, March 1928.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 11 B, March 1928. Perhaps because it’s intended for spring, the coat cannot be fastened.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 11 C, March 1928.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 11 C, March 1928. This “formal sport frock” is really a tunic and a separate skirt.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 11 D, March 1928.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 11 D, March 1928. In the twenties, a “bolero” was often hip length, and, like this one, part of the dress, not a separate jacket. This would definitely look better with a fox fur “scarf,” since the neckline is very plain.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 11 E, March 1928.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 11 E, March 1928. The diagonal “surplice” closing was often recommended as “slimming” to the woman who wore larger sizes. This pattern was available up to size 44 inch bust, with a 47.5 inch hip.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 11 F is a moire taffeta evening dress, March 1928.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 11 F is a moire taffeta evening dress, March 1928. By 1928, snug hip bands like this, with a blouson effect above them, were quite chic.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 11 G, a lace evening gown, from March 1928.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 11 G, a lace evening gown, from March 1928. High-in-front-low-in-back hems hint that a change in length is coming. This dress would look very different with pleats (“plaits”) rather than ruffles. Note the tight hip.

BUtterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 11 H, an evening coat with raglan sleeves. March 1928.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 11 H, an evening coat with raglan sleeves. March 1928. You can see a line of gathers (shirring) on the sleeves. 7/8 length coats were another sign that hem length was in transition in 1928.

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, Dating Butterick Patterns, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Butterick Waist No. 9415, from 1917

Butterick "waist" pattern 9415 was shown with added embroidery in this October, 1917, article. Delineator, p. 100.

Butterick “waist” pattern 9415 was shown with added embroidery in this October, 1917, article. Delineator, p. 100.

I’m charmed by this asymmetrical blouse (called a “waist’) from 1917; Butterick must have had faith in the design, too, because this pattern was featured several times between October and December in Butterick’s Delineator magazine.

It was illustrated in full color in October, made of velveteen and “chiffon cloth,” and trimmed with fur, right:

Right, "waist" [blouse] pattern 9415, Delineator, Oct. 1917. Page 76.

Right, “waist” [blouse] pattern 9415, Delineator, Oct. 1917. Page 76.

Many other fabric combinations were suggested.

It was featured in an article about making new clothes from old, this time in black velvet and black satin.

"Remake last year's dress," using waist pattern 9415. Delineator, Oct. 1917, p. 93. 1917 oct p 93

“Remake last year’s dress,” using waist pattern 9415. Delineator, Oct. 1917, p. 93.

In December, waist pattern 9415 was shown in sheer, royal blue Georgette and matching satin, trimmed with self-colored bands of sequin trim:

Butterick waist [blouse] pattern 9415 made of sheer, royal blue Georgette and satin, with matching sequin trim at neck and sleeve. Delineator, Dec. 1917, p. 69.

Butterick waist [blouse] pattern 9415 made of sheer, royal blue Georgette and satin, with matching sequin trim at neck and sleeve. Delineator, Dec. 1917, p. 69.

“Paris has made a compromise and adopted the semi-evening gown (designs 9415 — 9536) which, most of the time, is a bit of transparency trying to disguise itself as a high neck and demure long sleeve.” The sheer sleeves could also end in gathers at the wrist.

Depending on fabric choice, Pattern 9415 could be part of a dressy day outfit, an elegant afternoon dress, or a “semi-formal” evening gown. And, as was customary in 1917, the bodice could be combined with different skirts.

Note: In Victorian times, when skirts used a great deal of costly fabric, smart women had two bodices made to coordinate with one skirt. Usually there was a daytime bodice with long sleeves and a high neck, and an evening bodice, which bared the arms, the shoulders, and a good deal of the bust. At a time when wearing evening dress for dinner was expected, this must have simplified travel and country house visits.

Each time Pattern 9415 was illustrated, it was shown with a different skirt pattern.

Here is its first appearance, in October 1917: (No. 9415 is at right.)

Right, waist pattern No. 9415 with skirt pattern 1918. October, 1917, Delineator, p. 76.

Right, waist pattern No. 9415 with skirt pattern 9418. October, 1917, Delineator, p. 76.

Although it looks olive green to me, Delineator described it as battleship-gray.

 

“Fur, machine-hem-stitching and a soft girdle [sash] do their bit to trim a smart frock for Autumn affairs, illustrated here in battleship-gray chiffon cloth and velveteen (designs 9415 — 9418.) …The draped girdle is velveteen to match the lower part of the skirt and forms a sash which can be made in two different lengths. The French lining is essential. Machine-hemstitching in self-color outlines the straight upper part of the skirt.  It is made in two pieces, while the two-pieced lower portion is cut in slightly circular shape. Satin, charmeuse, crepe de Chine, crepe meteor or velveteen combines beautifully with silk crepe, chiffon or silk voile; or serge, broadcloth or gabardine is pretty with satin.”

Serge or gabardine are definitely day-time fabrics, and satin was often worn in the daytime during World War I because of fabric shortages. (Wool was needed for uniforms, and linen was needed for covering airplanes!)

“French lining” means a closely fitted bodice inside the garment; it would support and stabilize the fashion fabrics, especially when they were draped, as in No. 9415.

1917 dec p 69 ctr 9415 waist 9536 skt 9578 evening wrap coat

This is the back view of waist 9415 and skirt 9418; the absence of a visible waistband on the skirt is surprising to me:

Waist 9415 with skirt 9418, October, and and skirtt 9418 from November, 1917

Waist 9415 with skirt 9418, October, and and skirt 9418 illustrated in November, 1917.

Obviously, you could trim the blouse’s collar with embroidery and a tassel, in this variation.

Butterick "waist" pattern 9415 was shown with added embroidery in this October, 1917, article. Delineator, p. 100.

Butterick “waist” pattern 9415 with added embroidery.

When No. 9415 was suggested as a way to recycle old dress fabric, skirt No. 9408 was suggested; perhaps you could salvage a strip of velvet for skirt front and back and enough to cover the bottom of the skirt; the fabric under the satin sides of the skirt would not be visible.

Bodice 9415 with skirt 9408, October, 1917 Delineator.

Bodice 9415 with another skirt, No. 9408; October, 1917, Delineator.

1917 oct p 93 remake last years dress ctr 9415 9408 text

The “semi-evening” combination of waist pattern 9415 and skirt pattern 9536 used chiffon in the bodice and overskirt.

Left, Waist 9415 with skirt 9536; right, evening wrap pattern 9578. Delineator, Dec. 1917, p. 69.

Left, Waist 9415 with skirt 9536; right, evening wrap pattern 9578. Delineator, Dec. 1917, p. 69.

“The foundation skirt is in two pieces and the transparent one-piece handkerchief overskirt is very graceful and falls in softly with the season’s narrow lines. A straight gathered flounce could be used. Silk crepe, chiffon, tulle, net, and silk marquisette are lovely used with satin, crepe meteor, silver cloth or taffeta in orchid with silver banding, rose and coral color, sapphire blue or turquoise blue…. Bottom of foundation skirt measures 1 3/4 yard.”

Waist 9415 with skirt 9536, Butterick, Delineator, December 1917.

Butterick Waist 9415 with skirt 9536,  Delineator, December 1917.

In the theatre, a bodice and skirt like this would be attached by hooks and bars at side front, sides, and side backs — hooks on the inside of the bodice, bars on the skirt, hidden by their overlap.

What is not illustrated is the closures — how do you get in and out of these clothes? Dresses of this period often have a closing in a different place in each layer — such as at the center front of the French lining, and at the side of the fashion fabric, which in turn would be hidden by the wrapped sash and more snaps or hooks to hold that in place and conceal the opening. Click here for another set of 1917 waist and skirt combinations.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Vintage patterns, World War I

Men Bare Their Chests at the Beach, 1933

One man has a bare chest and one wears a swimsuit with a top in this 1937 illustratioin from Woman's Home Companion. July 1937, p. 74.

One man has a bare chest and one man wears a swimsuit with a top in this 1937 illustration from Woman’s Home Companion. July 1937, p. 74.

Nude bathing for men was an accepted tradition in Victorian times. (A stretch of river called Parson’s Pleasure was reserved for this purpose at Oxford University until 1991.) But as “mixed” bathing became popular near the end of the 19th century, both men and women were expected to cover up from breastbone to knee.

Man's bathing suit from Sears catalog, Spring 1910.

Man’s bathing suit from Sears catalog, Spring 1910. Sleeveless swimming suits for men were also for sale.

1920’s bathing suits were clinging, but very similar for both sexes.

Bathing suits from the Sears catalog, Spring 1925.

Bathing suits from the Sears catalog, Spring 1925. The swim suit worn by the seated man is not very different from the woman’s suit.

Practices varied from place to place but, at public beaches and pools in the U.S., men were usually required to wear suits that covered their nipples until the mid-nineteen thirties.

Men's swim suits from Sears, Spring 1935.

Men’s swimming suits from Sears, Spring 1935. Left, an elasticized “Speed Suit” suspended from the shoulders. Center, trunks with a separate tuck-in shirt. Right, a “two-purpose suit” whose top attaches with a zipper.

The “Speed Suit” (left) has attached trunks and “elastic-ribbed fabric.” The “High Waisted Trunks” at center are shown with a separate all-wool shirt which tucks into the suit at front and back. The “two-purpose” Zip Top Suit” at right has a zipper in front that allows you to remove the “shirt” part.

By 1934, it was becoming acceptable for men to swim bare-chested, but rules for public and private beaches and pools differed, so bringing an optional top would save embarrassment. (Speaking of embarrassment, I wonder: when the trunks were not suspended from the shoulders, was a belt necessary to support the weight of water-logged wool knit trunks?)

This vintage suit, from Macy’s, has a similar zipper front and a rather bare X back:

Man's swim suit from Macy's, circa 1930s, with slide closing detachable top.

Man’s swim suit from Macy’s, circa 1930s; the detachable top connects to the trunks with a large metal zipper.

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/whc-april-1937-p-3-nmen-bathing-suits-tans-illus-cordrey-500.jpg?w=500

This illustration from Womans’ Home Companion, 1937, shows that some men — in this case, two out of three — continued to wear the top even when not required to do so.

Men's bathing suits with tops, WHC February 1936 illustration.

Men’s bathing suits with tops, WHC, February 1936 illustration.

The older man is wearing a more conservative, covered-up swimsuit.

According to Esquire magazine in 1934,

Esquire, July 1934, page 118.

Esquire, July 1934, page 118.

This implies that shirtless swimming was permitted on some public beaches in 1933, and earlier [1932] at some private beaches and pools.

Esquire, July 1934, p. 118. Men's swimming trunks without chest coverage.

Esquire, July 1934, p. 118. Men’s swimming trunks without chest coverage. The punning caption read: “Even the Public Beaches Embrace the Nude Deal.”

The man at left is wearing a shirt tucked into his trunks.

Esquire, July 1934, p. 118.

Esquire, July 1934, p. 118.

In the same July 1934 issue, this ad for Mansco Sportswear shows several conservative looks:

Ad for Manhattan Mansco sportswear and swiming trunks. Esquire, July 1934.

Ad for Manhattan Mansco sportswear and swimming trunks. Esquire, July 1934.

However, this ad from Gantner and Mattern Co. shows much tighter-fitting trunks — and no top.

Ad for Gantner "Wikies" swim trunks, esquire, July 1934.

Ad for Gantner “Wikies” swim trunks, Esquire, July 1934.

Gantner Wikies man's swim trunks. Ad, Esquire, July 1934.

Gantner “Wikies” man’s swim trunks. Ad, Esquire, July 1934. A “Snapper Shirt” top for Wikies was available separately, presumably to snap on at beaches where swimming with a bare chest was still not permitted.

The Wikies’ high waist reflects the high-waisted men’s trousers then in fashion. Wikies’ snug fit was probably possible because of the recent [1931] invention of Lastex yarn, which even appeared in men’s suit fabric in 1934 ads.

Lastex ad, Esquire, March 1934, p. 8.

From a Lastex ad, Esquire, March 1934, p. 8. “Lastex, the spun elastic yarn, is now weaving comfort into everything a man wears — into his business suit, Tuxedo, sportswear, bathing suit, riding clothes, shirt, …underwear, pyjamas….”

The Lastex company ran a series of advertisements in Esquire magazine showing men’s suits, tuxedos, etc. which were made with stretch fabrics — in 1934!

Beach and resort wear, including "pretty snug" men's swimming trunks, worn bare-chested. Esquire, August, 1934, p. 133.

Beach and resort wear, including “pretty snug” men’s swimming trunks, worn bare-chested. Esquire, August, 1934, p. 133. L. Fellows, illustrator.

1934 aug p 133 beach and resort wear swim text swim

This editorial illustration appeared in a women’s magazine in 1935:

Illustration by Warren Baumgartner, May, 1935.

Illustration by Warren Baumgartner, Woman’s Home Companion, May, 1935.

Perhaps the acceptance of bare chests had something to do with Hawaii:

A surfer in a Dole Pineapple ad, May 1934. Delineator.

A Hawaiian surfer in a Dole Pineapple ad, May 1934. Delineator.

I can’t help noticing that Esquire chose to use men “of a certain age” to model swimsuits in its editorial fashion articles. The women’s magazines, however, pictured younger, athletic-looking men wearing swimsuits in their illustrations, just as Esquire favored voluptuous women in its cartoons….

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Bathing Suits, Men's Formalwear & Evening, Men's Sportswear, Menswear, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Sportswear, Swimsuits, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing, Zippers

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe for January 1928

Butterick’s Delineator magazine featured an eight pattern “Forecast” wardrobe (at $1.00 per pattern) in January of 1928. (However, unless you needed two evening dresses and two evening wraps, you would only need 6 patterns for the “wardrobe.”) The illustrations, by L. Frerrier, used the SS Ile de France for background. Although Frerrier illustrated all the sets of Forecast Wardrobe patterns for Delineator, this two page layout was the most elaborate.

Daytime Fashions of the Forecast Wardrobe

"Daytime Patterns of the Forecast Wardrobe," Butterick 10B, 10F, 10A and 10 C, Delineator, Jan. 1928

“Daytime Patterns of the Forecast Wardrobe,” Butterick 10B, 10F, 10A and 10 C, Delineator, Jan. 1928, page 30.

Forecast Wardrobe pattern 10 B, January 1928.

Forecast Wardrobe pattern 10 B, Butterick, January 1928.

451 1928 jan forecast 10B coat text

Incrustations” seems to mean applied trim.

Forecast Wardrobe pattern 10 F, Butterick, 1928.

Forecast Wardrobe pattern 10 F, Butterick, 1928.

451 1928 jan p 30 special forecast patterns 10F text

Forecast Wardrobe pattren 10 A, Butterick, Jan. 1928.

Forecast Wardrobe pattern 10 A, Butterick, Jan. 1928.

451 1928 jan forecast 10A text sports frock

Forecast Wardrobe pattern 10 C, Butterick, Jan. 1928.

Forecast Wardrobe pattern 10 C, Butterick, Jan. 1928.

451 1928 jan forecast 10C frock text

The vestee can be seen in the opening between the lapels of the tunic. It is “on the bodice which holds the skirt.” The skirt is suspended from the shoulders, and does not have a waistband. Again, a cluster of artificial flowers trims the shoulder.

Evening Patterns of the Forecast Wardrobe

"Evening Forecast Wardrobe Patterns 10 D, 10H, 10E, and 10G, Butterick. Delineator magazine, January 1928, page 31.

“Evening Patterns of the Forecast Wardrobe,” Butterick 10 D, 10H, 10E, and 10G;  Delineator magazine, January 1928, page 31.

Forecast Warddrobe pattern 10 D, Butterick, January 1928.

Forecast Wardrobe pattern 10 D, Butterick, January 1928.

451 1928 jan p 31 special forecast patterns 10D text evening

Forecast Wardrobe pattern 10 E. Butterick, Jan. 1928.

Forecast Wardrobe pattern 10 E. Butterick, Jan. 1928.

451 1928 jan forecast 10 E wrap text

Forecast Wardrobe pattern 10 G, Butterick, Jan. 1928.

Forecast Wardrobe pattern 10 G, Butterick, Jan. 1928.

Forecast Wardrobe pattern 10 H, Butterick, Jan 1928.

Forecast Wardrobe pattern 10 H, Butterick, Jan 1928.

451 1928 jan forecast 10 G gown and 10 H wrap text

Usually, the uneven hemlines of the nineteen twenties were allowed to hang below the hem of the coat, but in this case, the dipping hem of the coat is designed to match and cover the “high in front, low in back” hem of the “robe de style” evening gown. The “robe de style,” with its relatively snug bodice and full skirt, is usually associated with designer Jeanne Lanvin. In lightweight taffeta it was often suggested for bridesmaids and young women, but in velvet or dramatic colors  it was a “grand entrance” gown for sophisticated women.

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Filed under 1920s, Dating Butterick Patterns, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Vintage patterns

1920’s Accessories: What’s Missing?

Two pattern illustrations showing two-piece border print dresses, June 1926.

Modified pattern illustrations showing two-piece border print dresses, Delineator, May 1926.

Do they look a little unfinished? Like something is missing? Do you have an urge to add a long necklace — or something — to these dresses? Here are the original illustrations:

Two border-print two piece dresses as they were meant to look. Illustration from Delineator, May 1926.

Two-piece border-print dresses as they were meant to look. Illustration from Delineator, May 1926.

Writing about the ways that 1920’s designers tried to add vertical lines to their designs (click here and scroll down) made me realize how much may have been lost from vintage clothing that appears to be complete.

A dress from July, 1928, with and without its matching scarf. Butterick pattern

A dress from July, 1928, looks complete (left), but very different with its matching scarf (right.) Butterick pattern 2147.

I would be happy to find that 1928 dress with its belt still attached; would I realize that something else might be missing?

Anyone who works with vintage clothing knows how often the matching, self-fabric belt gets lost, leaving just the belt loops as a clue. Without a buckle, however subtle, in the middle of the waist, the design is incomplete. In fact, any items that had to be removed before dry-cleaning — from belts to rhinestone or glass buttons, or bows, scarves, artificial flowers, even jeweled dress clips that were sold with the dress — are liable to have  disappeared over time.

Vintage twenties dress with clever vertical designs. Private collection.

Vintage twenties’ dress with clever vertical designs. Private collection.

The vertical pattern in the black chiffon velvet, the deep V, the row of decorative buttons, and the rhinestone buckle all attract the eye to the center of the body, instead of to the width at the hip.

The decorative buttons and buckle are essential to the design. Vintage twenties' dress.

The decorative buttons and buckle are essential to the design of this vintage twenties’ dress.

I wonder how often I’ve seen a dress that looks complete but slightly boring, and assumed that it needs jewelry. Until I started playing with my photo program, modifying illustrations from 1926, it never occurred to me that what was missing might be two yards of contrasting ribbon!

With and without ribbon or silk ties. Patterns from June, 1926. Delineator.

Left, original pattern illustration; right, as they would look without ribbon or silk ties,  and belt. Patterns from May  1926. Delineator.

Since there is no black on the original dresses, there is no clue that a black accessory is missing. Imagine how easily the black ties (or a belt) would become separated from their garments!

Two dresses from 1926 with their long, vertical ties removed.

Two dresses from 1926, left, and with their long, vertical ties removed, right.

The dress on the left had long ties as part of the collar, so they would probably be intact. But the figured ribbon tie on the gold dress is not part of the dress itself, or even the same fabric. Would I think of adding such a simple accessory instead of jewelry?

Do these 1926 dresses look rather sack-like? Bland?

Do these 1926 dresses look rather like bags? Bland? The illustrations have been altered.

I removed their vertical trims. This is how they ought to look:

All three original dresses had long ties, which create vertical accents.

All three dresses were intended to have long ties, which create vertical accents.

The struggle to draw eyes away from the horizontal hip band of the twenties took many forms, including vivid neck scarves which direct attention to the face.

Scarf from Callot Soeurs, Delineator, April 1927.

Scarf from Callot Soeurs, Delineator, April 1927. No solid-color dress could compete with that high-contrast scarf.

Many women used lively scarves to draw attention up, toward their faces in the 1920s.

Many women used a neck scarf to draw attention up toward their faces in the 1920s. Both illustrations from Delineator, 1928 and 1927. (Even with a scarf, it’s hard to focus on the face above that striped and dotted golf sweater!) The round belt buckle (at natural waist!) is also important.

Chanel Uses Scarves and Flowers, 1927

Chanel uses scarves and masses of fabric flowers; Delineator, Oct. 1927, p. 21.

Chanel uses scarves and masses of fabric flowers; Delineator, Oct. 1927, p. 21.

Fabric flowers, or abstract pompoms at the shoulder, were another device for drawing attention toward the face and away from the hips.

Left, a dress worn with a lively scarf; right a floral pom-pom made of ribbon, to be worn at the shoulder. Delineator, Oct. 1927.

Left, a dress worn with a high-contrast bordered scarf; right, a floral pompom made of organdy, to be worn at the shoulder. Delineator, Oct. 1927. You can see it on an evening dress, below.

Twenties dresses with floral pom-poms at the shoulder, both 1927. Delineator.

Twenties’ dresses with floral pom-poms at the shoulder, both 1927. Delineator.

Even in a very poor photo, this tomato red vintage dress is completed by a “pompom” of self-fabric leaf or petal shapes on the shoulder.

A cluster of red georgette petals is original to this vintage twenties' dress.

A cluster of red georgette petals is original to this vintage “bolero” dress.

This vintage dress from the late twenties retained both its belt with rhinestone buckle and the flowers that can be attached to its shoulder. (Removed before dry-cleaning, they were luckily stored with the dress.)

A vintage dress, late 1920s or early 1930s, which still has its belt and floral trim at that shoulder.

A vintage dress, late 1920s or early 1930s, which still has its original belt and its floral trim at the shoulder.

Vintage late 1920s dress, with original fabric flowers.

Vintage late 1920s dress, with original fabric flowers. You can see wisps of shredded organdy among the artificial flowers.

Of course, sometimes the “missing” touch is a very long necklace:

Evening dresses worn with very long necklaces, 1926; a necklace from 1927. Delineator.

Evening dresses worn with very long crystal necklaces, 1926; right, a gold necklace from 1927. Delineator.

A gown by Carette is worn with lots of crystal beads. Delineator, Sept. 1927, p. 25.

This Paris gown by Carette is worn with waist-length beads, probably cut crystal. Delineator, Sept. 1927, p. 25.

[I just saw Pola Negri in A Woman of the World, made in 1925. Click here. She was glamorous, charming, and tremendously likeable, but not as slender as usual when it was filmed. Those long pearl necklaces hung all the way to her — um — “pelvic area!”]

But a necklace would not necessarily have been the best vertical accent for these dresses:

Dresses that would not be complete without long, narrow ties. Delineator, 1927.

Dresses that would not be complete without their long, narrow ties. Delineator, 1927. Center, a dress with its final touch removed — and as it looked originally, right.

The dress in the center may look wider, but that is an optical illusion. Center, without its narrow self-tie, the three lines of horizontal trim dominate, drawing our eyes to the sides of the dress. Right, the tie draws our eyes to the middle of the body, and reinforces the vertical lines of the bodice trim and the hip bow.

What a difference two yards of ribbon can make.

P.S. There was a twenties’ fashion for very long necklaces — sautoirs — which had fringe or tassels at each end. They could be wrapped once around the neck — or not — and loosely tied wherever the wearer thought most becoming. Usually, this was very low, at the midriff or close to the natural waist. Such a necklace would look very much like the dark ribbon worn in the illustration at left. There is a good slideshow of a beaded, tie-able sautoir at 1stdibs. 

At Antique Gown you can get a better idea of their length.

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, Dresses, Musings, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing, Vintage patterns