“All Aboard for School or College: Butterick patterns for young women, Delineator, August 1927, top of page 28.
“The Smart Mode on Campus:” Butterick patterns for young women and girls, Delineator, August 1928, top of page 29.
“For the Young and Younger Student:” Butterick patterns for girls, teens, and women. Delineator, August 1927, top of page 32.
“Semi-Formal Frocks for College:” Butterick patterns from Delineator, August 1927, top of page 33.
There’s a lot to like about these outfits; for one thing, they have the proportions I think of as “Twenties’ Style.” I was pleased — and surprised — to find that many of these patterns were also sized for mature women. In fact, it’s very hard to distinguish between 1927 styles for girls and styles for adults on these pages. For those who are deeply interested in the 1920’s, the descriptions of the dresses remind us of a more formal and structured society — the wildness of the “Roaring Twenties” notwithstanding. I’ll include closer views, alternate and back views, and the full text that appeared on these four pages.
Book recommendation: British author Elspeth Huxley attended Cornell University in the U.S. in 1927. Her memoir Love Among the Daughters: Memories of the Twenties in England and America is an insider’s/outsider’s view of American college life.
Butterick 1526, is a “frock for the classroom” for ages 8 to 15 years; 1544, is also for 8 to 15 years; and 1589, for 15 to 18 years and adults to bust 44″. August 1927. The young girls’ dresses are as stylish and complex as those for adults.
Butterick 1569, for women aged 15 to 20 and in sizes 38 and 40. For football games “this is the frock to wear beneath your fur coat.” Butterick 1566, for girls 8 to 15, has a square neckline attributed to Vionnet. The blouse has a chic monogram. August 1927.
Butterick pattern 1562 is for young girls 8 to 15; 1556 is a coat for young girls and women 15 to 18 years and women with bust 36 to 44 inches. No. 1519 is for teens 15 to 18 and women all the way up to size 48! August 1927.
Butterick coat 1550 has a “mushroom shawl collar” and was available in sizes 15 to 18 years and sizes 36 to 44. For an explanation of “Size 16 Years,” click here. “School costume” 1583 is a two-piece outfit in sizes 15 to 18 years and women’s sizes 38 and 40.
The second dress, No. 1563, is very similar to 1569, for smaller women. The fourth outfit, No. 1532, is a girl’s variation on 1589.
Similar fashions from August 1927. There is no indication of anything “childish” in No. 1532; were children dressing like women in the twenties, or was it the other way around?
Butterick 1554 is “for the boarding-school girl” aged 8 to 15 years. Butterick 1563 was available from size 15 years to women’s size 44, and 1553 was also sized for 15 year-olds to women with a 44 inch bust. Its belt glides in and out of the skirt.
Butterick 1532 is “correct for school wear” for girls 8 to 15, and “school coat” 1586 is also for girls 8 to 15 years. August 1927.
“Semi-formal” dresses for college women. 1927.
Butterick 1575 “for the formal occasions of school or college” has a “straight Vionnet neckline” and opens under the left arm, so the bodice can fit closely. For 15 to 18 years and in sizes 38 and 40. No. 1565, seems much more sophisticated (or is that because of her severely cropped hair?) It was intended for teens and for adult women up to size 44. Butterick 1581 is also suitable for teens or adults. “Concerts and that important institution, the ‘Sunday-night supper’ of schools and colleges, require a formal frock on this order.” From 1927. (Even in the 1960’s, at my women’s college we were required to “dress” for dinner, and to be back on campus by Sunday evening. Luckily, “dressing” in 1965 just meant wearing high heels and stockings with our normal school clothes.)
Butterick dress 1541, for teens and small women, is a versatile pattern; depending on the fabric used, it could be a day dress or a semi-formal one. Butterick 1577 could be made “without sleeves and with an evening neckline” to be worn to proms. As shown, it’s an afternoon dress. For teens and small women. 1927.
Did women really dress this formally for school or college? Didn’t most female students usually wear a skirt and blouse or sweater for attending classes? Well, Delineator aimed at a middle-class readership, and it should be noted that all these dresses are for women going away to school, to boarding schools or colleges, and not to a public institution close to home.
I also wonder if this way of showing Butterick’s new dresses was really a good idea; did all readers realize, by reading the descriptions, that many of these styles were suitable for mature women, and came in sizes equal to a modern size 22, or bigger? (See dress 1589, coat 1556, coat 1550, dress 1519, dress 1563, dress 1565, and dress 1581.)
That many styles were considered suitable for mature women and college girls does emphasize the importance of a youthful look in 1927.