Cross-Over Dresses, 1930s

Two Butterick styles from November 1930: 3525 and 3535.

As I browse through images from Delineator magazine, I notice odd trends, like these cross-over button plackets from 1930 to 1933. They seem rather complicated, and I’m glad I don’t have to figure out their construction.

The tricky bit on some, like the two pictured above, is that the part of the dress with the buttonholes on top is different on the bodice and the skirt. If the bodice buttons left over right, the skirt buttons right over left, and vice versa.

Full views of Butterick 3523 and 3535 from 1930.

Butterick blouse 3502,also from November 1930.

The dress with a sort of zig-zag front closing is also seen with the bodice and skirt overlaps going in the same direction:

Butterick 3070 from Delineator, February 1930, page 35.

This variation was suggested as flattering to older women.

The idea seems to be inspired by a couture dress from Patou, which was sketched for Delineator in May of 1930.

A dress by Jean Patou, sketched for Delineator readers among other Paris fashions in May, 1930.

Bodice detail of Patou dress. [Unfortunately, it was one of many sketched on the same page, so the image is small.]

Butterick’s interpretation, featured in September 1930. Pattern 3417.

This approach, with one side of the dress clearly overlapping the other on both bodice and skirt, is easy to understand.

This two-button version of the zig-zag front closing looks simple. Butterick 3462 from October 1930.

It was recommended for older and larger women:

“Youthful” Butterick 3462 was available in large sizes, bust 34 to 48 inches.

This sleeveless dress from August 1930 has a lot going on…. Butterick 3359. It’s not a two-piece, however.

The dress below really has a lot happening — the multi-closing, overlapping front pushed to extremes: **

Three buttons, in three places, on narrow strips of fabric: I can’t help thinking of mummies…. Butterick 3343 from August 1930.

But Butterick had not given up on the really difficult “right over left/ left over right” look. In 1933 two versions of this blouse were featured:

Butterick blouse pattern 4882, from January 1933. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that closure. **

A second version of blouse 4882. Delineator, January 1933.

Below, center, is another 1933 cross-over dress, with the top and skirt appearing to button in different directions:

Vacation fashions from Delineator, May 1933. Butterick 5104 (center)** carries on the cross-over style, but with bigger buttons.

** One possibility is that many 1930s’ garments had a side seam closing, which was almost never shown on the pattern illustrations. That would allow some of these button closings to be purely decorative. Till I actually see one of these “left over right, right over left” garments, I can only speculate.


Filed under 1930s, Musings, Not Quite Designer Patterns, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

9 responses to “Cross-Over Dresses, 1930s

  1. Love these designs, but agree with you about having to figure out how to do it with fabric. 🙄

    Hope you had a lovely holiday and Happy New Year❣️

  2. Fascinating…and a lot of work! The design for older women made me think of the basic surplice style, a staple for older women. I think the idea is that the diagonal line made the figure look slimmer. This is a surplice times two! Maybe it was supposed to make both the bust and the hips slimmer.

  3. Joyce

    Love this post…and these styles. Thank you for bringing these to my attention.I’d like to think I’ll play with styles like this but I’m not sure if my skills are there yet

    • The more I look at them and think about it, the more convinced I am that many of the “reverse” button plackets were purely decorative. On 3417, the skirt fastens in the same direction as the bodice, but there is no reason for the skirt to have an opening that low. Stage costumes almost always zip up the back, for speed in changing costumes, even when they look perfectly authentic from the front. So, if I were still sewing, I’d talk myself into an invisible zipper in back and make a false closing from the underbust down! Of course, I’m not a historic re-creator!

  4. splendidcakes

    I’ll say there’s a lot going on!

  5. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen this type of closure on real clothes, but I’ve seen and tried on 30s clothing with complicated button closures before; as far as I can remember always to one side at the top of the bodice, and none but maybe the farthest buttons ever opened. The dresses always closed with a side zipper or press buttons. It is frustrating because I have a very big bust/waist difference and am always on the look out for buttoned bodices for easier dressing and better fit.

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