Vacation Needed

Illustration from Delineator, 1925. This rural schoolteacher was tired out.

I’m not quitting — but after more than 500 posts, I do need a vacation!

I started writing witness2fashion in 2013, partly inspired by my discovery of more than 400 bound copies of Butterick’s Delineator magazine in storage at my public library. I was stunned by the color illustrations, and fascinated by the pattern illustrations and the advertisements. Very few of these magazines have been digitized or microfilmed — the latter is a blessing, in a way, because so many color magazines were preserved in black and white and then discarded by libraries during a wave of microfilming that took place just before digitization in full color became possible. That seems incredible, but…. [Recommended reading: Double-Fold: Libraries and the Asssault on Paper, by Nicholson Baker.] 

Hikers. Color illustration from an ad for Ivory Flakes soap, Delineator; October 1928.

Because of my interest in “everyday” fashions and working class clothing, Butterick’s “middle-class,” Paris-oriented Delineator would not have been my first choice — I was hoping to find McCall’s magazines. I used to own a few from the 1930’s, so I know they had color illustrations. But my last inquiries — assisted by a reference librarian — didn’t turn up any actual bound volumes of old McCall’s within 200 miles of me (and I am surrounded by universities!) The Los Angeles public library seems to have some from the 1920’s — but whether they are actual, bound magazines or black and white films, the librarian couldn’t tell me — and I’d have to take a vacation to visit them.

Delineator cover by Dynevor Rhys, 1933. Who knew green and orange could look so sophisticated?

So, it’s time for me to spend a few weeks visiting the bound periodicals I love so much right here in San Francisco — a working vacation, but overdue.  I particularly want to research and document the sudden transition in styles between 1929 and the early thirties — but if you have a favorite year between 1900 and 1920 I could dip into, I do enjoy a bit of variety! Please use the comments section for suggestions (no promises, but….)

Meanwhile, Oldies but (I Hope) Goodies

Five years ago I found those magazines were full of things that really excited me, so I shared them — not just patterns, but articles and ads about everything from breast flattening corsets to family budgets, and new items like Knee-High stockings (1930s) and paper towels (people had to be taught what to do with them!) If you’re curious about a woman’s clothing budget in 1924 and in 1936, click here. For a family budget in 1925, click here. From the Great Depression year of 1936, I found a budget and related items about “Living on $18 per Week.” Click here.

I’m hoping that new followers (bless you, every one!) will enjoy getting links and brief introductions to some of those blog posts from the past — so I will post a group of links regularly instead of writing entire new posts for August. I’ll try to group them by topic.

For a start, here are a few posts that highlighted the unexpected color combinations of the 1920’s:

A Lament for Bound Periodicals  (posted in February, 2015)

A bridal party in shades of orange, 1924. Delineator magazine.

Orange and Blue in the Mid-Twenties  (posted in December 2015)

Blue and orange are complementary colors — they make each other look more intense, as in this illustration. Right, orange and black are combined in a young woman’s dress; Delineator, February, 1925.

1920’s Orange and Black: Not Just for Halloween   (from October 2014)

Colorful Fashions for April, 1926  (from April 2017)

This "Aztec" pattern hand painted shawl was made in the Samuel Russel Studio, New York, and illustrated by Katharine Stinger for an Ivory Soap Flakes ad. Delineator, March 1927.

The Colorful Past  (from February 2014)

And so to bed…. Do you dream in color? I do.

I’ll have many new images to share by September!


Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Musings, Nightclothes and Robes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Sportswear, Vintage Accessories

18 responses to “Vacation Needed

  1. Di waterman

    You do a fascinating and very much needed job. Well done. Love your posts

  2. Chris Aupperle

    Thank you so very much for all your wonderful posts! I am the seminar coordinator for the Model A Restorers Club Fashion Committee and am especially interested in the years 1928-1931 when our antique vehicles were manufactured. Your informative posts have been referenced in our seminars as well as (with your permission) in an upcoming issue of our Club’s magazine, “Model A News”. Many of us eagerly anticipate what nuances of fashion and history you uncover! The rapid fashion changes which took place during 1928-31 seem to reflect the pace of technological advances of the era. And the Great Depression beginning in October, 1929 took it’s toll on many Americans. Some found creative ways to survive and live, just differently. So continue your research so we can better understand the past and have new insights with hope for the future. Thank you!

    • I am curious about how women coped with lower incomes and a drastic change in fashion. It’s possible to make a long dress shorter without being too obvious, but making a short dress longer is extremely difficult. I’m hoping to find suggestions from 1930-33.

  3. So THAT’S how you came to have so many beautiful pictures, things I’ve never seen anywhere else! I found your blog when I was doing research on the clothing styles of the late 1920’s-early 1930’s. That’s a wonderful story and I do appreciate your posts.

  4. Cookie

    Your posts are always a wonderful rabbit hole I love, the one I keep returning to is 1917 skirts. Finding info for the later part that decade is barely there.

    • I’ll take a look at what I didn’t read yet! Incidentally, Ladies’ Home Companion from the WW I era and the late 1920s can be found online, and was always interested in money-saving alterations.

  5. Your blog has really helped me with my book. Was the Delineator magazine available all over country? Even in Cleveland Ohio?
    Hope you have restful time

    • Delineator magazine was published by the Butterick company. It had its main office in New York, but also had offices in England, France, etc. It was also available by subscription — but it was aimed at middle class readers — “just below Vogue,” so to speak, unlike companies who sold patterns through Sears and “dime stores.”

  6. Linda Low

    Thank you for all your hard work. I absolutely love your blog and can happily re-read posts – history doesn’t change!

  7. Linda Low

    Thank you for all your hard work. I love your blog, I know I can entertain myself for hours and find the inspiration I’m looking for – history doesn’t change!

  8. Mary Gibson

    I have enjoyed and saved every post since i signed on. Thank you so much for all your hard work. I volunteer at an historic site that dresses in 20’s costume, so it’s valuable for me.

    Mary Gibson

    Sent from my iPhone


  9. I hope you are enjoying your working vacation. I’m always interested in reading about women in pants, especially my newest interest, pajamas outside the home.

    Have fun!

  10. P. Halsey Varady

    You’ve given me such joy with your frequent posts on topics dear to my heart. Enjoy your well earned rest.

  11. Dee

    Your blog is wonderful, thank you for sharing so many beautiful images and such excellent information with all of us. I hope you enjoy your vacation and I look forward to seeing what you find.

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