Very Thirties: Great Big Bows

Butterick jacket outfit with a big, big, white pique bow. Butterick 5783, July 1934. Delineator.

Sometimes an era has fashion details that just scream the date — Leg o’ Mutton sleeves for the 1890’s, bustles for the 1880’s and 1870’s, etc. One of the things that screams “Nineteen Thirties” is the great big bow. [Some of these are not technically “bows,” because they give the impression of a bow without actually tying the fabric — but it ‘s the impression that counts.]

Outfits with 1930’s bows, Butterick 5138 and 5145, Delineator, June 1933. The one on the left might not look ridiculous, but the one on the right says “comedy” to me.

It may be the stiffness of the bow on the left that makes it extreme; the soft bow on the far right looks less aggressive, but it’s still a big one. Butterick 5856, 5860, and 5866, all in metallic fabrics; Delineator, September 1934.

Of course there are some bows that seem in proportion with the dress — and the human body — but there are also 1930’s bows that now look comic. Good if you’re designing a musical comedy…. Hard to carry off in realistic dramas.

The model in this Midol ad from 1934 wears a big plaid bow. Delineator, December 1934.

Matching plaid hat and stiff taffeta scarf, Butterick 5478, March 1934.

Bows appeared on evening gowns — front or back.

Butterick “robe de style” No. 5989 would discourage dancing cheek to cheek. Delineator, December 1934, p. 17.

Butterick 5780 is an evening grown with matching jacket … and bow. Delineator, July 1934.

“Code for College,” August 1934, included an evening jacket and gown with a big, stiff bow, although the suggested fabric was crepe…. Delineator. Butterick 5840.

The gown on the left (5864) is “after” Lanvin; the gown with the bow (5843) was “adapted from” designer augustabernard. Delineator, September 1934.

Bows on day dresses could range from modest to very large.

Butterick 5069, Delineator, April 1934. It’s really a collar scrunched up to look like a bow.

Butterick 5632, April 1934. White bow and cuffs; square buttons, parallel diagonal seams on bodice and skirt. Interesting!

Butterick 5628, April 1934. A bow edged with crisp, pleated ruffles, shown in detail at top.

Butterick 5848, August 1934. This bi-color bow seems to emerge from the front seam of the dress [but doesn’t.] The seam lines are very creative.

Butterick 5858, featured among “dresses from Paris.” August 1934. A band of trim on the end of the bow is continued down the skirt.

Bows appealed to the mature woman:

Butterick jacket frock, April 1934.

Fashions to flatter the large or short figure, December 1934. Left, 5967, with a pale jabot collar to draw the eye toward the face, was available up to size 52. The ensemble on the right with a soft bow, Butterick 5999, was available through size 48. It’s notable for being illustrated on a figure with realistic  hips.

Butterick 5449 combines two “very Thirties” looks: a big, big, bow and a big, big collar. It is sleeveless, but the model looks mature.

Bows, sometimes made of fur, even appeared on coats (5984). Butterick patterns from December 1934. Left: 5985 has a droopy bow; right: 5975 has a big, perky bow.

Bows were not considered matronly — they appeared on clothes for teens,  junior misses and even younger women.

Butterick 5061 for the Junior Miss. April 1933, Delineator.

Butterick 6071, from February 1935. I can picture this on the smart young office worker in any number of 1930’s movies. For Junior Misses 12 to 20 and women from 30″ up to 38″ bust. [Sizes 12 through 20 were for short and small women and teens.]

Butterick coat 5580, for girls, has a combination collar/bow that buttons into place. March 1934.

Butterick patterns for fur collars (5954) and hats (5933.) November 1934. The ones at top and center give the impression of being tied into a bow.

This one is a grand version of the collar on the girl’s coat:

Fur collar pattern, Butterick 5954, November 1934.

Did women really wear all these big bows?

Butterick 5756, from summer 1934, couples the big bow with unusual shoulders.

Miss Mary Kenny in a similar bow made of necktie silk. Delineator, June 1934. Her top has fashionable open sleeves, too. [In the early days of changing to fashion photographs instead of drawings, Delineator used young socialites and debutantes as models.]

Truth to tell, I really like this 1930’s dress with a bow:

Butterick 5915, from November, 1934.

Although most of these “big bow” images are from 1934, it just reflects that I have a lot of Delineator photos from that year. Butterick’s Delineator magazine ceased publication in 1937, but not before arranging for Butterick patterns to be featured in Woman’s Home Companion:

Variations on Junior Miss pattern 7204, Woman’s Home Companion, February 1937. The bow is still there.

 

 

 

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7 Comments

Filed under 1930s, Accessory Patterns, Children's Vintage styles, Sportswear, Vintage Accessories

7 responses to “Very Thirties: Great Big Bows

  1. Another thing to watch for in photos! I will head to my thirties folder right away.

  2. Irene

    I love bows on dresses, and would totally wear some of these outfits, but it’s definitely not for everyone! I got reminded of the outfit Billie Burke wears in the opening scenes of Dinner at Eight from 1933: a fussy dress and jacket with a pleated collar made of tulle or some sheer material, a bow on top, and more trimming and buttons everywhere (it suits her character so perfectly, though!): http://oi63.tinypic.com/2dke07c.jpg
    Her daughter wears a pretty dark color evening gown with a crisp light bow on the neckline later on: http://oi64.tinypic.com/15z5t02.jpg

  3. Check out the big bow across the bust of my prom dress. Made by my mom, for the May 1983 event:

  4. Pingback: Also Very Thirties: Great Big Collars | witness2fashion

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