Monthly Archives: January 2018

Quick Post: Theda Bara’s Bloomers

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Public domain image of Theda Bara as Cleopatra, 1917. From WikiMedia Commons. She was at ease in very revealing costumes.

Bonus sighting of Cleopatra’s knickers: The 1917 film of Theda Bara’s Cleopatra is lost, but an attempt to reconstruct it from surviving footage and still photos is being made. The lavish and daring costumes make up in craftsmanship what they lack in authenticity. I especially love this sequence, in which Cleopatra rises from her throne to reveal, under her see-through dress, a pair of very un-sexy 1917 knickers. Click here.       (The inter-titles assume you’re a very slow reader; be patient and wait for it….) The elastic seems to have been removed from the legs.

Ladies drawers or bloomers from Sears, Spring 1917.

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“Mother was right: always wear nice underwear in case somebody sees it….” Public domain image of Theda Bara as Cleopatra, 1917.

Since posting about the confusing names for 1920’s undies, I received wonderful comments, including this from The Vintage Traveler:

“Here’s my take, and I could be wrong. I’ve been looking at catalogs from 1918 through 1925, and I’ve found all the terms you’ve mentioned. I have not found anything referred to as a “teddy”. We used that term in the 1980s when the camisole/panty combination had a comeback. I don’t know if it was used in the 1920s.

“From what I can tell using my own sources, an envelope combination is one that has the buttoning crotch flap, sort of in the way an actual envelope has a flap to close it. So the pictured green suit is an envelope combination.

“Step-in combinations are different in that they have to be literally stepped in to. The partition between the legs is sewn rather than buttoned and so the garment cannot be pulled over the head and onto the body. It’s easy to see why the combination was starting to be divided in two pieces. How on earth would one be able to use the toilet without completely undressing?

“For the life of me, I can’t see why Butterick 6194 was called knickers. I’ve read all kinds of explanations about why Americans used bloomers/panties/stepins while the British called the same garment knickers. From what I can see, “knickers” was rarely used in the US to denote an undergarment. But from your example we can see that it was, on occasion, used in that way.

“As for outerwear, bloomers are full, and they close at the bottom with elastic. Knickers are much less full, and close at the knees with a band that buttons.”

And this from Dee, who has a 1931 Home Economics textbook:

“I have a high school home economics book, Fabric and Dress, copyright 1931, which includes a table of materials suitable for underwear. It lists slips, teddies, step-ins, bloomers, shorts, brassieres, shirts, union suits, pajamas and gowns. Shirts and union suits are listed as uses for stockinette, and it is indicated just prior to the table that pajamas and gowns are nightwear. There are also references to previous styles of undergarments: Petticoats, camisoles, and this interesting one “Pettibockers (full bloomers drawn in below the knee) were popular when skirts were long. The style of short skirts changed this undergarment, by shortening it and taking out some of the fullness.”

“I also found it interesting that in the chapter which goes over a bit of fashion history, with an emphasis on the “follies of fashion”, (i.e., 18th century headdress, Elizabethan ruffs, 1860 hoopskirts) there is a reference to “Another more recent fashion, which will probably seem as absurd as many of these when it becomes long out-of-date, is the very short skirt of 1928 and 1929, which was about three inches above the knee.”

Sometimes I love the internet!

 

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Envelope Chemises, Step-ins, and Other Lingerie, 1924-25

An ad for Royal Society embroidery “package outfits;” Delineator, November 1924, p. 78. It seems that these were kits, ready to be embr0idered.

The variety of lingerie — and the names — from Butterick’s 1924 underwear patterns is amazing to me. It’s a specialized area that doesn’t really make me want to hit the reference books. However, for those of you who love or collect vintage undies, here are some images and pattern descriptions from 1924 and 1925.

The two garments on the right are called “combinations;” The one with birds is Butterick 5030; the one on the far right (“drawer skirt combination”) is Butterick 5050. Delineator, February 1924.

A closer look at combination 5030 and drawer skirt combination  5050. No. 5030 seems to form into legs, but in fact the front and back hems are connected with a strip of fabric.

The back view implies that 5050 has a crotch strap running from front to back [and closed with buttons]. The text doesn’t really explain how number 5050 is constructed. “Tub” means “washable.” 5030 is a “dainty step-in combination chemise and drawers.”

These two patterns were illustrated repeatedly, but not together, with varied descriptions. I arbitrarily referred to this pale green one-piece as a “teddie” in a previous post, but I’m no longer sure that’s the correct term. It might be  “combinations” or a “step-in” chemise. [See comments.]

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/vl037-teddie-72.jpg?w=500&h=477

This pale green, tucked teddy [or step-ins? or combinations? ] has a crotch strap, barely visible. It stops at the edge of the netting lace. You can see a straight line of stitching where it attaches to the garment, about an inch or so above the lace trim.

Edit 1/17/18: thevintagetraveler says this green envelope chemise is not a step-in, because step-ins don’t have a button crotch. See her very helpful comment for more clarifications. That makes this a step-in:

Vintage step-ins; the crotch has no buttons, the sides are open below the waist, and they would not be easy to step into, because your hips would have to fit through the waist — or, rather, the waist has to be as big as your hips.

Detail of leg on vintage combination step-ins. It would not be easy to answer the call of nature while wearing these.

[End of edited section….]

Butterick “Step-in” 4112 and “Envelope Chemise” 5059, pictured in Delineator, June 1924. You can see the button crotch in both of these. But how does a “combination” differ from a “step-in?” Or a “step-in combination” as it says here?

The very low crotch looks uncomfortable to a woman who grew up wearing knitted briefs, but there was probably a notion that “the parts need airing,” as was sometimes claimed by wearers of kilts.

Butterick “cami-knickers” 5124 with “envelope chemise” 5059. Delineator, April 1924.

Munsingwear offered this unfussy, step-in version of a “woven union suit with closed gore, step-in style.”

Ad for Munsingwear knitted underwear for women; Delineator, June 1924. If the crotch strap was close to the hem, that “wide opening at the side” [see below] would be needed.

And the Munsingwear ad mentions bloomers among its underwear selections.

Below, a pair of “knickers” held by a young woman wearing an “envelope chemise.”

The model wearing “envelope chemise” 4137 is holding a pair of “knickers,” pattern 3197. In the U.S., “Knickers” sometimes referred to undergarments in January 1924, and still does in England. Delineator, January 1924. [And Delineator was published in England as well as in the U.S.]

Knickers? Bloomers? Confused? That’s OK. “Don’t get your knickers in a twist….” Incidentally, the pattern numbers give you an idea which were slightly earlier styles that were being continued (3000’s and 4000’s) and newer styles (5000’s and 6000’s.) This knickers pattern (6194) — clearly an undergarment — was new in 1925:

Butterick knickers pattern 6194 was brand new in August of 1925 — and these knickers are definitely underwear.

But, to add to my confusion, Butterick offered knicker pattern 3496 as outdoor wear, also in the summer of 1925.

Woman golfer wearing knicker pattern 3496, from Delineator, July 1925, p. 35.

The number series suggests knicker pattern 3496 was issued back in 1922 or 1923 and still popular in 1925.

Butterick pattern 3496, knickers to wear for sports. Delineator, January 1925, p. 34.

Knickers? Bloomers? Drawers?

Butterick pattern 4974, for step-in “Drawers” was probably issued in 1923 or early 1924. These have elastic in the waist, making them easy to step into and draw up.

Butterick “step-in drawers” pattern 5564, from October 1924. “Under the new narrow dresses you should wear lingerie cut on correspondingly narrow lines.”

This set (“chemise and drawers”) was featured in June, 1924.

A “French chemise” and one-piece step-in drawers, Butterick 3826, illustrated in June 1924. I’m guessing that the pattern contained  a camisole-and-drawers version and an all-in-one version as shown at right. “Width at bottom of each leg 30 inches.”

This vintage step-in [1/17/18 edit: Combination] chemise would look different on a human body. This silky beauty has no waist seam. It does have a button crotch.

“Drawer-skirt combination” (5050, at left,) camisole 4957, and envelope chemise 5059. Delineator, May 1924.

This lovely vintage set of camisole and drawers shows its button crotch clearly:

This vintage set — I love the contrasting lace and embroidery color — has a separate camisole and [not step-in] drawers. Since the waist is not elastic, the “drawers” need to have a button crotch.

A camisole, which covers only the upper body, could be worn with drawers, like the camisole and drawers (or step-ins?)  shown in this Royal Society ad:

Detail from Royal Society ad, November 1924. The camisole costs $1.25 and the drawers [?] cost $1.50.

Different patterns for drawers were issued:

Butterick 4974 was called ” step-in drawers” in January 1924. They have an elastic waist, so they might not need a button-crotch. For hips 35″ to 52.”

A new set of step-in drawers “in a skirt effect” is illustrated in October, 1924: Butterick pattern 5565. These would need a strap-type crotch of some kind. [They don’t have separate legs, so why are they called “drawers?”]

Drawers and knickers were different from bloomers, which tended to be fuller:

 

Bloomers, Butterick 5705; Delineator, March 1925. To read about boneless corselettes, click here.

But bloomers, like knickers, could also be outerwear:

Butterick “combination” 5030 (again) and bloomers for a little girl [or girls 2 to 16 years!] Butterick 5065. Delineator, March 1924. These bloomers are attached to an underbodice, very practical for the years when little girls have tummies bigger than their hips. [I remember needing suspenders on my skirts in first grade….]

Often, “bloomers” were intended to be seen, and were worn by almost all girls as part of their gym suits, or for any active pursuits. The middy blouse would cover the underbodice:

Middy blouse 3849 was a classic. I have photos of my aunt and friends graduating from high school wearing a middy-blouse-plus-white-skirt uniform in 1917. Gym bloomers (“for girls or misses 2 to 18”) were very full, often pleated. Delineator, February 1924. The Vintage Traveler shared a whole middy catalog from the 1920’s here.

Did I learn anything from this adventure in undergarment nomenclature?  Only to avoid making absolute pronouncements about bloomers, knickers, drawers, teddies, chemises, camisoles, combinations, and step-ins! [Please see helpful comment from thevintagetraveler!]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, Children's Vintage styles, Combinations step-ins chemises teddies, lingerie, lingerie and underwear, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Panties knickers bloomers drawers step-ins, Slips and Petticoats, Underthings, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Underwear and lingerie, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Ninety Years Ago: Fashions from January 1928

Butterick coat pattern 1836 and dress pattern 1798, January 1928, Delineator magazine. (Probably not for the novice dressmaker….)

I have written about Butterick patterns from Delineator, January 1928, before — this group is from pages that have smaller illustrations, so the photo quality is not as good. Nevertheless, there are some amazing styles, like this Art Deco influenced coat and dress. For other wonderful fashions from Delineator‘s January 1928 issue, see “Forecast Wardrobe” and “Summer in January.”

Here are a dozen dressy patterns for women and teens. First, “afternoon” dresses, for formal events, dinners, and tea dances.

Butterick afternoon dress 1796, Delineator, January 1928, page 34. She holds her clutch bag under her arm while adjusting her gloves.

The flounces do not go all around the dress:

Left, an alternate view of dress 1796, with coat 1836, center, and a dressy combination: Blouse 1782 with skirt 1808.

Butterick coat 1835. The points of the diamond on the back of the coat meet in center front (shown in alternate view, above.)

Another great Art Deco coat with geometric applied trim was shown in the book, Classic French Fashions, which I reviewed here:

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/plate-47-deco-brown-coaored308.jpg?w=500

This afternoon dress is really a practical skirt and blouse combination, Butterick blouse 1782 and skirt 1808. Delineator, p. 34. January, 1928. The top and skirt could be paired with others, in different colors, like the afternoon skirt and blouse combination shown below.

I was surprised the first time I saw a wrap skirt pattern from the twenties. Click here for a 1927 wrap skirt copied from Vionnet. An second “afternoon” skirt and blouse outfit also appeared on page 34:

A simple twenties’ blouse is combined with a top-stitched skirt and a fox stole. Butterick 1778 with skirt 1839, from January 1928. There is a chenille pom-pom/flower on her shoulder.

Hips measuring 47.5 inches were part of the normal size range of Butterick pattterns in 1928, whatever we may hear about the important “boyish look.”

Butterick afternoon dress 1823, Delineator, January 1928, p. 34.

Butterick afternoon dress pattern 1802, Delineator, January 1928, p. 34. Although the fabric is a print, the long side drape on this surplice dress makes it too formal for casual or office wear.

It was common for nineteen twenties dresses to have elaborate fronts and simple backs:

Alternate views of afternoon dresses from Butterick, January 1928. These views show less formal hemlines without dipping draperies, and long or short sleeve options.

The facing page, page 35, showed Butterick patterns for evening:

Butterick evening dress 1801 has long fringe on the skirt and on the shawl. Delineator, January 1928, page 35. The complex bodice would be interesting enough without the shawl, which seems to have had two pattern options, as a scarf or a shawl.

Butterick evening gown 1806 has fluttering draperies and a deep V in front, revealing a contrasting “vestee” (under bodice.) January, 1928. This pattern could be purchased up to size 46!

Butterick 1807 has surplice lines and a side drape that flows from pleats [or gathering] below the knot. 1928. Delineator recommended this style for “women with small hips….” It wasn’t available in large sizes.

Butterick evening dress 1838, another surplice style from 1928.

It’s hard to distinguish a picot edge from a line of beads in drawings this small. The neckline is bordered with rhinestones, but the flying panels may have a picot edge or they may be illustrated as having self-colored beads spaced about a quarter of an inch apart along the hemmed edges.

Alternate views of Butterick 1806, showing the back tie drapery; dress 1838 with a flowing panel that is either beaded or picot hemmed; and coat 1804, which has an interesting yoke and pleated (?) back, much more interesting than its front view.

Dress 1838 is shown under coat 1804; the fact that the uneven hems and long panels on dresses hung out below the bottom of women’s coats apparently didn’t look sloppy to 1920’s eyes. (Just as a later generation came to accept visible bras and bra straps….)

Butterick evening wrap 1804 is a very typical Twenties’ style. [I guess women learned how to juggle both a clutch purse and a coat that had to be held closed with one hand, even while getting out of a car. It’s not easy to do with one arm clamped against your body and the other controlling your coat! Evening purses could have slender straps, of course.]

Butterick evening dress 1841, from 1928. Scalloped hems that dipped low in back were frequently featured on Butterick patterns in the Twenties. They were often recommended for younger women. This pattern was only available for “14 to 20 years” and maximum bust size 38″.

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/1926-sept-p-27-7065-7024-7059-7047-7063-7057-7003-7053-top1.jpg?w=290&h=500

Butterick patterns for young women, Sept. 1926. Number 7047, left, and 7063, right. In this case, the skirt was lined with a different color, which matched the stockings.

However, some dresses for teens (and small women) were more sophisticated.

Two evening dresses for “15 to 20 years,” Delineator, January 1928; Butterick 1791 and 1795. The one on the left is beaded. The other is made of “transparent velvet.” Dresses for teens and small women were usually shorter than other dress patterns.

Crepe satin is matte on one side and shiny on the other. Using the two textures in the same color was very popular in Deco-influenced Twenties’ dresses.

And there’s nothing babyish about this sleek dress:

A dress for teens and small women; Butterick pattern 1798. From Delineator, January 1928, page 36. Those parallel curves and points remind me of the Chrysler Building turned upside down.

I began this post with this dress, so this image seems like a good place to end. As we used to say back in the fifties, when movies played continuously and movie-goers came and went throughout the screening: “This is where I came in!”

 

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