Slenderizing Fashions from 1931

Butterick 4064 from September 1931, Delineator.

“These Slanting Lines Are for Slenderness.” Seven styles meant to flatter large or mature figures were featured on the same page.

Slenderizing Butterick patterns from Delineator, September 1931. Top of page 91.

Two of these designs were available up to bust size 48 inches. The rest came in the normal size range, up to 44 inches. Two “slenderizing” ideas were 1) diagonal lines and 2) lighter or brighter colors near the face, to draw the eye upward and away from the not-so-slender figure. I have my doubts about No. 4064:

Butterick 4064 from September 1931, Delineator.

It’s hard to tell whether the back view succeeds because of the diagonal line or the elongated fashion figure. Notice the tiny tucks fanning out like rays from the back neck. The six gored skirt has a side closing in front.

Butterick 4064.

Butterick 4054 has an ingenious skirt, with “arrows” pointing to the center of the body.

Butterick 4054, from 1931.

Those little frills look skimpy to me, but the princess seams are very clever, making the shoulders lok wider and the hip, look narrower.

The sheer frills  –“lingerie touches” — contrast with the wool dress fabric.

The lighter top and darker skirt (Butterick  4075 and 4052 ) is a classic combination, but may not be slenderizing when the dividing line is at the hip….

Butterick top 4075 with skirt 4052. 1931. Orange is suggested for the top,with a brown skirt.

Nevertheless, that diagonal line and side opening skirt are interesting.

Also diagonal is this wrap dress:

Butterick 4049 is a wrap dress. 1931,

In addition to its diagonal closing and front hip seam, a pale colored under layer draws attention to the face. The bodice, with its “soft revers,” has enough drape to camouflage a thick waist.Dress 4051 has an unusual collar which folds under, and a skirt whose yoke has sharp diagonal lines that add interest.

Butterick 4051, 1931. Available in bust sizes 34 to 48 inches.

Velvet is the recommended fabric, not necessarily in black. Midnight blue, burgundy, dark brown, forest green –any dark color might be used.

Butterick 4044 also uses a jabot effect with diagonal lines in the skirt’s double yoke.

Butterick 4044 has a softly falling collar and strong V-shapes in the skirt.

The yoke creates a focus of interest at the center of the body. It echoes the V of the bodice. Satin is suggested for both the light and dark areas.

There is a hint of the Twenties in this dress for older (or larger) women.

Buttrick 4070 is illustrated as a two-color dress with a low waistline in front. 1931. Available in sizes 34″ to 48″ bust..

For larger sizes, a one color dress, rather than this two-tone version, is recommended. The “new unbelted waistline” is hardly new — they were still in style just two years earlier, in 1929.

1920s Butterick 2799 from October 1929.

[Fashion writing…. Feh!] Nevertheless, diagonal lines and lighter, brighter colors near the face are not just a Delineator fashion writer’s idea:

Lane Bryant catalog for stout women, ad from October 1931.

 

4 Comments

Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

4 responses to “Slenderizing Fashions from 1931

  1. Thank you for these pictures! I hear people say quite often, twenties’ fashions could only be worn to their advantage by very slim women, but I find the dresses from the thirties actually much more revealing with their slim, often belted waists and tucked in blouses. The fashion ideal might have changed in respect to bust and hips, but with a wider waist you are not at all being served better! That’s why I turned to the 1920s after having my second child. 😉

  2. Well, one thing in favor of Lane Bryant ads is at least their models look vaguely stout! A few Delineator drawings make the women appear old, but all are slim.

    • One thing has improved in the past few years — the use of Plus Size models who are not merely very tall models who wear size 16! The healthy female body was designed to store fat because, until relatively recently, humans went through feast and famine cycles. Early spring must have been especially cruel: after the nuts and dried foods were used up and before the new growth produced fruits and grains, nursing mothers especially needed stored fat to draw on. But, after a career which included seeing literally hundreds of people in their underwear, I can say that some women store their fat in the torso, arms, & midriff while others store their fat mostly below the waist– So not all Plus Sizes have the same needs when it comes to clothing. Realistic models with a variety of body shapes is a great improvement over the clothing advertisements of previous decades.

      • I am astonished every summer, holidaying at the beach: What an absurd idea, that all these different bodies could fit into the same grid of ready to wear clothing! And how very wrong, that so many do feel it is their own fault, if they don’t.

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