Summer Dresses, 1948

“Sunback” dresses and jackets, Butterick Fashion News, July 1948.

Are you ready for summer?
Summer dresses from 1948 often included a matching jacket or bolero cover-up.

Simplicity 2401 has an interesting lowered waistline; both dresses have jackets with flared peplums. Simplicity store flyer, April 1948.

Summer dresses from Simplicity, April 1948 are versatile because of their jackets. Left, strapless 2345; right, 2397, with appliqued flowers, is ready for picnics or shopping.

In 1948, strapless dresses were not suitable for church, but you could wear the little jacket to services and then head for an afternoon picnic or barbecue party without changing. Simplicity 2397 had a matching girl’s pattern, for mother-daughter dressing.

Right, Simplicity 2415 for girls. The jacket made this sundress more formal and also might limit sunburn.

The 1947 Dior influence is strong in many of these summer styles:  long skirts, nipped waists, wide hips, and flared jackets.

Butterick 4564 was illustrated with a photo in the August 1948 store flyer.

Butterick 4564 as illustrated in the BFN flyer, July 1948. Without the jacket, it’s ready for dancing. (I wonder if it was ever used for the bridesmaids at informal weddings?)

Butterick 4493 is strapless, like Simplicity 2345, but the fitted Butterick jacket is more labor intensive.

“Wear it with the bolero for traveling to town.”

Another strapless dress, Butterick 4527. Butterick Fashion News, July 1948.

Notice the subtle advice: “with a jacket [4527] can gad about the city;” in daytime,  a strapless or very bare look was for private events, not public transportation or city streets.

Butterick 4611, for teens, has straps attached at center front and a jacket with flared peplum. BFN, August 1948. Note the gloves.

Butterick 4569, from July 1948, was still in style in the 1950s. I remember sundresses like this one, with a “cuff” over the breasts.

It “travels from country to town” because of the cover-up jacket. Here is is again (at right, below):

Left, coat dress 4574, July 1948. The jacket of the very severe suit on the right, Butterick 4569 (here in a different illustration) covers the sundress.  Both of these styles were available in petite sized patterns.

Butterick 4574 was also illustrated twice in the July flyer:

Butterick 4574, a “bare-back camisole” dress, has narrow straps. Even in the late 1950s, dresses with very thin “spaghetti straps” were not allowed at my high school dances. However, the redingote makes it look “middle-aged” to me.

A bolero jacket with all-in-one sleeves was faster and easier to make, and worn by adults as well as children:

Butterick offered this ruffled sundress, No. 4497, with a cover-up bolero for girls; August 1948; BFN flyer.

A simple bolero for women from Simplicity, April 1948.

A jacket with sleeves is also nice at a backyard party when the sun goes down and the mosquitoes are biting…. Ah, those summer nights.


Filed under 1940s-1950s, Children's Vintage styles, Sportswear, Vintage patterns

17 responses to “Summer Dresses, 1948

  1. That one photo seems to show a very thin model, but then again the War had only been over a year or so at that point.

    The ‘country to town’ style amuses me. The complete change of accessories would indeed make most of these two outfits for the cost and effort of one, plus different shoes, hats, gloves, etc. Thank you for posting this material.

    • We really did have fewer clothes; they cost a bigger percentage of our income, so planning a coordinated wardrobe was often the topic of magazine articles. On the other hand, it was normal to spend just 25-30% of income on housing!

      • I recall even in the last ten years or so reading that 30% of income for housing was the maximum to aim for, while at the same time it wasn’t realistic for most of us.

      • Food got cheaper, clothes got cheaper, TVs got cheaper…. but I live in a city where a one bedroom apartment costs over $3000 per month! Seriously.

      • Wow! Even my spouse’s office in New York City is less than that, on Central Park in a nice area–that is a very high price.

      • It’s ridiculous. Of course, this city only measures 7 miles on each side, and population increased by about 10% since 2010….

      • Too many people everywhere, and I don’t see a lot of common sense prevailing about it, sad to say–a place called Dogpatch like in Lil Abner is amusing though. There must be a story there.

  2. jacqueline cranston

    Nice to hear from you again. Welcome back and thanks for all your hard work.

    • How nice of you. I haven’t really gone anywhere, but I have been posting once a week instead of twice — those old family photos have turned out to lead to many mysteries and buried stories. Engrossing, but time-consuming, research.

      • I have not seen any posts from witness2fashion for months. I wondered why, and now, I still don’t have a clue. Maybe WordPress?

      • Maybe you were accidentally unsubscribed? It’s a mystery to me. I’m glad you wrote — Sometimes when I’m typing I accidentally hit ctrl instead of shift and have no idea what I’ve done — except that I need to undo it fast!

  3. Wow, the impact of Dior’s “New Look” is clearly in evidence. Longer hemlines, hourglass enhancing bodices and full skirts rule! It may have just been 1948 but here we clearly see the essence of various 1950s looks starting. Great collection of illustrations selected for this posting.

    • Thanks — I’m glad you enjoyed them. You’re right about “the essence of 1950s looks.” I was only in elementary school in the early fifties, but I do remember many of those dresses being worn by grownups and teenaged girls.

  4. Love this post! I have often been amazed at the amount of spaghetti straps or just plain strapless dresses there were in the early Dior period immediately after WWII, but I must say the little jackets to go over them are so cute. I have also always wondered about such long-waisted fashions…surely they would need boning to keep them so smooth and perfectly shaped because I know on me they would only wrinkle up the moment I moved!

    I wanted to let you know, as well, that I have nominated your blog for a blogging award –

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