What’s Going on Here? Tops and Skirts from 1914

Almost the full page image of four outfits from Delineator, April 1914. Four outfits: eight patterns.

This is a follow-up to a post that showed this image without any explanation. In 1914, Delineator was a large format magazine, much bigger than the average computer screen (or modern magazine) so I will have to chop up that image to show details of these outfits. The opposite page gave more information about each one, so I also have line drawings and alternate views to share.

Important fact: Not one of these outfits is a dress. They are all separate tops and skirts.

Butterick pattern numbers for the brown and blue-gray outfits at the top right of the page.

It’s not always easy to figure out whether you’re looking at a dress, a skirt and “waist” [i.e., blouse,] or a “coat” and skirt in these fashions from 1914. Luckily, the old Delineator supplied plenty of alternate views.

Sometimes an alternate view  looks so different from the major illustration that only the pattern number shows that they are variations of the same garment. I’ll start by dissecting the gold-colored suit at top left.

Butterick coat 6790 with skirt 6806. Delineator, April 1914.

Coat 6790 and skirt 6806 look like a suit with a long jacket — that’s an illusion.

First surprise: the jacket only reaches the waist.

Coat 6790 with an alternate view, the lapel buttoned.

Front and back views of coat/jacket 6790.

The skirt includes a long tunic top.

Skirt 6808 with two alternate views.  The skirt, drawn in plaid with a bias cut top and two rows of buttons, looks very different.

Butterick waist 6791 with skirt 6792. April 1914, Delineator.

The height of these hats makes it hard to do justice to the entire outfit at once.

Back and front views of waist 6791. In the color version, the waist is two-toned and has a blue and white collar and “vest.”

Alternate views of waist 6791. This view, made in sheer or print fabric, has a high neckline instead of the V-neck shown in the color illustration.

Skirt 6792 has two tiers over the skirt itself.

Skirt 6792 could also be made in a sporty plaid, with more buttons, too. I wonder: were the tunics always cut on the bias, being based on a circle segment? Was the back always placed on the straight grain?

These skirts must have been very warm, if every layer was lined. The drawing of the waistline on all these skirts shows how the corset of 1914 distorted a woman’s body; the boned front of the corset forced her abdominal area into a straight line, pushing the hips and pelvis back — which caused a sway-backed effect. The waistline of the skirt is therefore higher in the back than in the front — one reason why vintage blouses from the WW I era don’t stay tucked into your skirt in back if you aren’t wearing a 1914 corset!

Ad for the Nu-Bone corset, Delineator, March 1914. You can see how the straight-front corset forces the hips and pelvis back.

This Nu-Life corset is higher in back than in front — just like the skirts’ waistbands.

Waist 6799 with skirt 6800.

Incidentally, George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion — which is the basis for My Fair Lady — opened in London in  1914. For the benefit of costumers, I’m sharing a lot of construction information.

A closer view of waist 6799. It looks very short-waisted.

Like the skirts, the waistline of the “waist” is higher in back than in front.

This skirt is elaborately draped.

Front and back views of skirt 6800.

Skirt 6800 later appeared in a feature about bridal costumes. It is very formal.  [Here, it looks like a cape, but it is a skirt.] The view on the left is the back view; on the right is the front view.

Waist 6823 with skirt 6824. Wide hips were obviously very much in style in 1914 — in spite of those corsets.

Three views of waist 6823. Again, the plaid version looks much less formal. It could be worn with a plain skirt.

Skirt 6824 is elaborately draped in a “pannier effect.” The color image gives the back view.

A skirt like this required a shorter interior lining made of sturdy fabric, which supported the weight of the “bustle.”

Description of the blue-gray waist 6823 and skirt 6824. Delineator, April 1914. A “short four-piece foundation skirt” eliminated the need for a waistband.

The surplice-style waist/blouse was also made with a “French lining” to support and control the fullness. I’ll write about French linings some other day.

Here are written descriptions of the other three outfits (I’ll refer to them by color.)

Gold-colored Butterick coat 6790 with skirt 6806. Delineator, April 1914.

Description for the gold-colored “suit” made by combining coat 6790 with skirt 6806.

This skirt also had a “short four piece foundation skirt.”

In addition to the color illustration, skirt 6806 was shown in a plaid version with a different coat on page 24.

Butterick wine-colored waist 6791 with skirt 6792. April 1914, Delineator.

Description of the wine-colored outfit made from waist 6791 and skirt 6792. “The double tunic and one-piece lower part area attached to a short three-piece foundation skirt in regulation waistline.” [As you can see, these skirts have no obvious waistband.]

Waist 6799 with skirt 6800 apparently in brown silk or taffeta.

Description of brown waist 6799 with skirt 6800. Delineator, April 1914. “A short three-piece foundation skirt is given in regulation waistline.”

I don’t think “regulation” had any legal status — it was just the usual no-visible-waistband technique for making skirts.

I can’t resist ending with closer views of the hats:

She’s wearing a wristwatch.

Whew! long post….

 

 

 

Advertisements

15 Comments

Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Corsets, Corsets, Corsets & Corselettes, Foundation Garments, Hats, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Vintage Accessories, World War I

15 responses to “What’s Going on Here? Tops and Skirts from 1914

  1. Oh, thank you for posting this! I was wracking my brains trying to figure out how to drape an overskirt for my Steampunk outfit. This gave me ideas! 😀 I think I might even get so bold and make one of those outfits later in the year… Of course we are Victorian, but may be peeking ahead just a little? 🙂

  2. I noticed that most skirts are attached to a 4-piece skirt with regulation waistline, but the wine-coloured one uses a short 3-piece under-skirts. Which makes me wonder: what are these under-skirts? What do they look like?

    • When I find a picture of one, I’ll share it. I do have illustrations of French lining patterns (for bodices,) which were bought separately, but haven’t found the skirt foundation — I imagine a tightly fitted basic above-the-knee skirt that, like a French lining, does not necessarily have the same seam lines as the fashion fabric. Marilyn Hamill suggested that they were boned, which would help them support the weight of the skirt. And she shared a photo of a “regulation” waistband at her blog SewingVingage.blogspot.com

      • So they would wear several boned garments over each other? A corset, a regulation waistband and then a boned sash, too? 😮 It’s almost bullet proof!

  3. When they talk about waistbands, they mean the boned foundation waistbands upon which the skirt is built, and the blouse, also, when it is a dress. It was essential that this fit well because everything was attached to it. “Regulation” meant a round waistband as opposed to these higher-in-the-back waistbands. Here’s an example: https://sewingvintage.blogspot.com/2012/07/a-1913-lace-party-dress.html

  4. Today when we think of separates we think of mix and match. You have only shown one example of wearing a different top with a different skirt. Was it rare to break up the illusion of a dress with these separates?

    • I think these options gave women a sense of choice — a possibility of creating something unique. Here’s a picture of the same skirt with two different waists. Delineator often showed different combinations of waists and skirts — just not on the same page. Sometimes a skirt that had been in the catalog for years would be featured with a new blouse, too. I have to finish labeling my photo files before I can show all the times a certain 1920s wrap skirt appeared.

  5. Well, I think “the invention of separates” deserves a post of its own! You so often read that mix and match separates were invented in the forties and fifties–but they are so much older. What sharp eyes you have, Susan!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.