Category Archives: 1920s-1930s

More Ads for Woman’s Institute from 1920’s and 1930’s

1933 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. Big, ruffled “Letty Lynton” sleeves became a huge fashion influence after the release of the movie in 1932.

In a previous post I wrote that Woman’s Institute ads were different every month, and that lining them up gives a mini-tour of fashions for each year. I have no photos from some years and some months, so there are big gaps in this little fashion show. I’ll just put the ones I have in chronological order. I love the captions, which repeat a few Woman’s Institute themes, like “It’s the prettiest dress I’ve ever had” and “I love to wear this dress.”

Woman’s Institute Fashions from the Twenties

February 1924 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. This dress is basically a simple tube with neck and arm openings and a belt.

December 1924 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. Except for the collar, this is a dress based on rectangles.

August 1925 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. 1920’s fashions are getting more complex.

August 1926 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. “Nothing will ever appear ‘home-made.’ “

By December 1926, Twenties’ styles are no longer simple tubes or rectangles.

December 1926 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course.

January 1927 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. Notice how short skirts have become in just 25 months.

Styles had changed a great deal between December 1924 and January 1927 — just two years:

A Woman’s Institute “One Hour Dress” from 1924; two years later, the Woman’s Institute ads showed much more complicated styles.

However, the possibility of making a dress in one hour, thanks to early 1920’s styles, probably inspired many women to try making their own clothing for the first time.

February 1927 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. This dress requires piecing curves; it’s not a project for beginners.

March 1927 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course, “used by over 230,000 women and girls.”

August 1927 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. Now there are 250,000 users.

October 1927 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course.

February 1928 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course.

June 1928 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. This is the most matronly outfit I’ve run across in these ads.

The reason many women sew for themselves is that they have non-standard-sized bodies or hard to fit figures. (Having an exceptionally small waist, broad shoulders, or tall body makes it hard to find store-bought clothes that fit, just as having a smaller or larger than average body does.) Oddly, the Woman’s Institute ads I’ve seen don’t seem to be aimed at hard-to-fit women.

October 1928 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. This dress has a chic, asymmetrical collar and side drape.

Sending in the coupon from October 1928 would get you a 32 page booklet and a 60 page dressmaking lesson “which tells how to take correct measurements, select the right pattern, alter to your own measurements, cut and fit for all types of figures, etc.” Perhaps hard-to-fit women let their dressmakers alter patterns for them.

March 1929 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course.

Woman’s Institute Fashions from the Thirties

I have not collected many ads from 1929 or 1930, so my parade of fashions from Woman’s Institute ads has some big gaps.

February 1931 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. This shows that not all hems dropped precipitately after 1929.

I have no photos from 1932, but the very long hemline on this dress was well established by 1933.

January 1933 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. “The new feminine fashions have created a big demand for dressmakers.”

February 1933 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. 1930’s ads often showed evening gowns.

This marks a change to more evening gowns in the Institute’s advertising; 1933 was one of the worst years of the Great Depression. Ads that said “Earn $20 to $40 a week at home” in 1924 said “Earn $10 to $35” in March of 1933:

March 1933 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. Scottie Dog (and fox fur stole) optional.

The number of women wearing furs during the Depression used to surprise me, but “In 1917, there were only four fur farms in the entire United States; by 1930, there were more than forty-five hundred.” This drove down the price of furs — and millions of animals were raised for slaughter. [See A Perfect Fit by Jenna Weissman Joselit.] Also, cheap furs from domestic animals like rabbits and dogs were sold as coney “seal” and “Manchurian wolf.”

March 1934 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. In 1934, “Letty Lynton” sleeves were still in style, and a dressmaker might earn a more optimistic “$20 to $50 a week.”

September 1934 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course.

Woman’s Institute ads seem to feature more evening dresses in the 1930’s, perhaps because the emphasis is changing to copying fashions, designing your own, and owning your own business or dress shop.

March 1935 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. “You can earn a splendid income in a dressmaking business of your own.”

February 1936 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. “Earn Money in Dressmaking and Designing.”

March 1936 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. [What a lovely train!]

In addition to lessons in making dresses and hats, Woman’s Institute courses on Cookery and, now, Tea Room Management were available.

Traditionally, most 20th century women who had their clothes made by dressmakers started with a commercial pattern or a photograph from a fashion magazine, although they might ask for changes to suit their taste.

September 1936 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. This ad is unusual because it shows a commercial pattern, Vogue 7403.

These 1930’s ads now introduce the idea of copying high fashion, designing dresses, and opening your own dress shop.

October 1936 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course.

February 1937 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. “Earn a fine income at home.”

The ability to work from home has always been important to women with children and other domestic responsibilities. And, of course, the overhead of a home business is lower than that of a shop.

October 1937 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. You can earn money at home . . . or have a good income in a smart dressmaking shop of your own.”

In 1938, Woman’s Institute placed this ad in a Butterick Fashion News Flyer, encouraging women who use commercial patterns to design and make their own clothes with the dressmaking skills learned from Woman’s Institute.

Woman’s Institute advertisement that appeared in the Butterick Fashion News Flyer for March, 1938.

“Be the smartest dressed woman in your town!” That’s almost what the ads said in 1917!

Testimonials from Woman’s Institute customers. There are now 300,000 of them. March 1938.

Coupon for Woman’s Institute, March 1938.

Mary Brooks Picken also published a quarterly magazine, Fashion Service. If you are researching Woman’s Institute ads, I found 1114 citations with a search on the Cornell University Home Archive.

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, evening and afternoon clothes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Resources for Costumers, Woman's Institute

Advertising Mary Brooks Picken’s Woman’s Institute: Out Stepped Ann!

“Out Stepped Ann!” This full page ad in Delineator magazine looks like a story. It’s really an advertisement for the Woman’s Institute correspondence course in dressmaking. Delineator, May 1924, page 5.

While randomly reading through vintage magazines, I have collected quite a photo gallery of ads for Mary Brooks Picken’s Woman’s Institute, which was a very successful correspondence course in dressmaking from 1916 through the 1930’s. (It has no relationship to the Women’s Institute, an organization for women that’s been doing important work for a long time.)

As sometimes happens with great stuff you find on the internet, I can no longer locate the first helpful site I found about the Woman’s Institute and its founder, Mary Brooks Picken. But I owe it thanks for mentioning the brilliant ad campaign which contributed to the Institute’s success — which is why I photographed this full page ad when I saw it.

(The instruction books and booklets written by Picken were excellent; I used one many years ago, in graduate school. I learned a lot about making twenties’ dresses from her! In other words, the Woman’s Institute delivered what it promised. A page from her twenties’ book about designing by draping fashions could be a “light bulb” moment for you, too. ) But that “lost” site which mentioned the genius of Picken’s second husband, G. Lynn Sumner, “president of the advertising firm of G. Lynn Sumner Co. of New York” which was probably responsible for the Woman’s Institute ads, was the reason I saved this wonderful example of his story-telling technique. It was a full page ad — an expensive venture — that captures the psychological appeal of the Woman’s Institute courses.

Here is Ann at the climax of the story, stepping out from behind a curtain in the new dress she made herself. Woman’s Institute ad, Delineator, May 1924, p. 5.

Ann’s tale is easy to relate to; she’s a popular girl, but she can’t afford to dress as well as her friends. “If I could only look in the mirror just once and be satisfied with what I see!” [Is there a  woman who can’t relate to that?]

Ann is so embarrassed by her shoddy old “good dress” that she deliberately spills a bottle of perfume on it rather than go to the party.

Determined to come up with something to wear to her best friend’s upcoming birthday party,  Ann ransacks her closet for old dresses that might be remade.

She consults the local dressmaker about remaking a dress, but she’s told that every dressmaker in town is already too busy with other orders. Ann goes window shopping, but can’t afford any of the dresses she sees, so she doesn’t even try them on.

At home, Ann leafs through a fashion magazine.

Ann tells her friends that she’s suffering from “nerves” and under doctors’ orders to stay at home and rest for a month. Her other friends don’t visit her, but Elizabeth tells them that Ann seems happy, especially since she is now getting lots of letters and packages in the mail. And Ann promises not to miss Elizabeth’s birthday celebration.

Ann arrives, wearing a coat and with a scarf covering her hair. She dodges into the cloak room, hidden by the curtains. Then …

Here is Ann, stepping out from behind a curtain in the new dress she made herself. Woman’s Institute ad, Delineator, May 1924, p.5.

“Making Beautiful Clothes” booklet, from an ad for Woman’s Institute, Delineator, Feb. 1924, p. 79.

Doesn’t that make you want to send in your coupon?

Coupon for information and free booklet from Woman’s Institute. Feb., 1924.

Good News: Some of Mary Brooks Picken’s books on 1920’s dressmaking are available as paperback reprints.

The famous “one hour dress” book (1924 edition) by Mary Picken is available as a reprint. Since the styles of 1924 are still long, “tubular twenties,” you might prefer the 1925 edition, which is also available.

You can also download and print your own copy of her 1925 book The Mary Brooks Picken Method of Modern Dressmaking thanks to ///Columbia/// CORRECTION: Cornell University: click here. This is an illustrated sewing basics book which gives an indication of how thorough Picken was.  It is not a “one-hour dress” book. Picken also wrote the Singer Sewing Book in the 1950’s.

The Woman’s Institute had already been around for several years in the Twenties; its ads always emphasized both personal and professional dress making and millinery opportunities for women.

Many of the points made in “Out Stepped Ann!” were repeated in smaller monthly advertisements. Even early ads emphasized financial savings, a chance to learn a skill that could produce income, and a sense of accomplishment. The women in these ads were proud that they had made their own clothes.

“Yes, I Made It All Myself!” students of the Woman’s Institute proudly proclaimed in the ads. Delineator, July 1917.

These ads battled the stigma of wearing clothes that looked “home-made;” and, if a woman followed the instructions carefully, her clothes would in fact look well-made.

“She’s the Best Dressed Woman in Town” because she learned to make clothes and hats by taking a home study course from Woman’s Institute. Other women envy her. Ad from Ladies’ Home Journal, September 1917.

“I’m Making My Own Dresses This Summer,” and clothes for the children, too, brags this satisfied customer. Detail, Woman’s Institute ad from Ladies’ Home Journal, July 1917.

“I Make My Own Hats” says another proud Woman’s Institute student in this ad from Ladies’ Home Journal, November 1917. “I have four becoming, stylish hats where I used to have only one…. You can earn money making hats for your friends in spare time or open a millinery shop of your own. Pictures make everything clear….”

“It’s the prettiest dress I ever had…. And Just Think, Mother, How Much We Saved.” Ad for Woman’s Institute, Delineator, March 1927. [That hat really was chic in 1917.] In addition to saving half the cost of purchased clothing, “You can have clothes that are more becoming and better fitting, because they will be made of the materials and in the styles that you select, and to your own measurements.”

Making your own clothing and turning last year’s dresses into new styles was patriotic, too, during World War I. Click here.

“Now I Save Half on All My Clothes.” From an Ad for Woman’s Institute, Ladies’ Home Journal, December 1917. “You know the patriotic slogan among women this year is ‘Make Your Own Clothes!’

Making “New Clothes From Old” was a patriotic duty during World War I. “This year women are urged to economize, but economy need not mean fewer clothes.” Woman’s Institute ad, Ladies’ Home Journal, Nov. 1917.

“This Year I Had Six Dresses Instead of Two.” Woman’s Institute ad from Delineator, February 1917. “Besides, I’ve made three skirts and half a dozen blouses and practically everything that the children are wearing. And a year ago I couldn’t make a buttonhole.

Aside from the occasional full page ad, Woman’s Institute inserted small advertisements into most women’s magazines every month — sometimes two ads in one issue. What is remarkable to me is that there was a new, different ad every month.

Collecting Woman’s Institute advertisements from the 1920’s and 1930’s will give you a mini-history of the fashions for each year.  I’m saving those for another post — but here’s a preview: (one from 1927, one from 1933)

Detail, Woman’s Institute ad, Delineator, January 1927.

Detail, Woman’s Institute ad, Delineator, March 1933.

Fashions changed a lot in those six years.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, 1920s-1930s, A Costumers' Bookshelf, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Resources for Costumers, Woman's Institute, World War I

Lux for Laundry Ads 1930s

A little social history: A relatively new idea appears in this ad, which I showed last week.

The young woman who says she hates men just needed some advice on how to attract them. Lux laundry soap ad, August 1934.

Here, a friend advises her to wash her underwear after each wearing.

Lux laundry soap advised women to wash their underwear after each wearing. This implies a generally higher standard of living — and assumes more than one set of underclothes, since drying time was unpredictable.

In Victorian England, poor women had to put their children to bed for a day in order to wash their clothes. The family huddled under a blanket while the only clothing they possessed was washed and dried. My uncle Bert, born around 1899, behaved like Garrison Keillor’s “Norwegian bachelor farmers;” believing that a bath “opened the pores” to harmful germs, he would have remained unwashed, wearing the same set of long underwear from fall until spring, if my parents had not required regular bathing and fresh clothes as a condition of his living with us in the 1960’s.

Our twentieth century American sensitivity to personal odors was developed by ad campaigns like this one.

Ad for Lux laundry soap. March 1933. In this case, “It” is not sex appeal but the smell of unwashed underwear.

Ad for Lux laundry soap, March 1933. “Perhaps she thinks she doesn’t perspire. But we all do, even though we don’t feel sticky. Frequently over a quart a day, doctors say…. Second day underthings are never safe.”

Ad for Lux laundry soap, March 1932. “Underthings absorb perspiration. Avoid offending….”

Text from Lux ad, March 1932. “I don’t see how she can be so careless about her underthings … wear them so long without a change.”

“She bathes every day, but she wears her girdle a whole week” without washing it. Lux ad, Nov. 1936, Woman’s Home Companion.

Lux ad, WHC, Nov. 1936. She is wearing the relatively new two-way stretch girdle, made possible by Lastex. “Cake-soap rubbing” is a reference to traditional laundry products like Naptha soap, which came in bar form.

Making women feel insecure about their breath worked wonders for Listerine….

Halitosis ruined her entire evening; she has tears in her eyes. Ad for Listerine, Feb. 1924.

That ad campaign was still going strong ten years later:

Listerine “halitosis” ad, February 1934. “Mostly boys in this picture, but the moral is for girls…. Get rid of halitosis with Listerine.” (The man at right is offering money to any fellow willing to cut in and release him from this dancing partner.)

Why shouldn’t a similar ad campaign work for laundry soap?

Ad for Lux laundry soap, McCall’s magazine, July 1938. The story in comic book format: It’s really unpleasant to be near her, so her friends want the window open; her husband isn’t glad to see her….

“I’m so unhappy. Harry doesn’t love me as he used to….” He wonders, “Why isn’t she the dainty girl she used to be?”Lux ad, McCall’s, July 1938. Having taught women to wash their undies, including girdles, it’s time for them to wash their dresses more often, too. “If she’d LUX her dress the way she does her undies, she wouldn’t offend.”

Progress.

(Incidentally, someone could make a study of the use of the word “dainty” in such ads.)

 

 

 

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Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Girdles, lingerie, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Underthings

Fingernail Polish Ads from 1917 to 1937

Fingernail polish in an illustration from 1931.  The tips and “half moons” remain white. This was the fashion during the 1920’s and the 1930’s. Delineator, November 1931. The artist was Dhynevor Rhys.

By 1931, the liquid product we call “nail polish” was widely available, but there was an earlier way to shine your fingernails: nail polish powder. It persisted into the 1920’s.

From an ad for Cutex nail powder and polishes, Delineator, November 1924.

Back in the 1940s, my mother still had her old celluloid dresser set, (not as nice as that one!) which included — in addition to a hair brush and a mirror — a button hook, a hair receiver, a container for collar studs, a file, and a nail buffer. She showed me, once, how to put the polish, which came in a small jar, on my bare fingernails and then buff them to a soft shine with a chamois nail buffer.

Using a nail buffer; illustration from an article on nail care, Delineator, July 1924, p. 37.

Buffing your nails was supposed to improve circulation; it gave them a temporary rosy glow. (Pink fingertips go back a long way; Homer describes the dawn as “rosy fingered.”)

“Now when the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, Nestor left his couch and took his seat on the benches of white and polished marble that stood in front of his house. [Odyssey]”  Thanks to Gary Corby.

In 1917, this is what nail polish could look like:

From an ad for Cutex nail polish, Ladies’ Home Journal, October 1917.

Cutex Nail Polish ad, 1917. Ladies’ Home Journal, October 1917.

The range of Cutex products in a sampler set from 1917 included “the ideal cuticle remover,” an emery board for shaping the nails, an orange stick for cleaning under nails and pushing back the cuticle, a ball of cotton, nail white, “polishing paste pink” and a bar [or is it a box?] of polish.

Cutex manicure products, 1917. This sampler kit “sent for 14 cents” includes two forms of polish, nail white, cuticle remover, “Cuticle Comfort” moisturizer, and basic tools.  Ad from LHJ, October 1917.

There is an excellent history of the Cutex company, which was founded by Northam Warren, complete with product descriptions and early advertising: click here.

This Cutex cuticle remover ad from October 1917 explains how to use it by soaking cotton in the Cutex and applying it to the cuticle with an orange stick. (The thimble-like object is the cork bottle stopper.)

The Cutex company’s initial product was a liquid for softening and minimizing cuticles without cutting them:  Cuticle-“X,”  became the “Cutex” brand.

Cutex Cuticle Remover ad, October 1917; Ladies’ Home Journal. “Discard forever your manicure scissors!”

After removing the cuticle and buffing your nails to a rosy shine, you could finish by whitening the tips of your nails:

Applying Cutex nail white, from a 1917 advertisement. “A touch of Cutex Nail White underneath the nails leaves them immaculate — snowy white.” Later,  Nail White came in a tube, making it easier to apply. This is an ancestor of the “French Manicure” popular at the end of the 2oth century.

In 1917  — and into the 1920’s — the ideal was an almond-shaped nail with a distinct half-moon at the base and white tips:

The twenties’ ideal was almond nails with white half moons and tips; from an ad for Cutex, November 1927; Delineator. Colored polish was not applied to the tip or the base of the nail.

Half moons and lovely oval fingernails. Cutex ad, April 1928. Delineator. The “ideal nail shape” changed to sharply pointed nails in the nineteen thirties, but the half moons and tips remained white.

According to several sources, clear liquid nail polish was available in 1916, and Cutex sold a clear liquid polish, tinted “natural” pink, after 1920, but in this Cutex ad from 1924, Cutex Liquid Polish which “lasts a whole week” is just one option among the older buffing products like powder polish, cake polish, and paste polish.

An introductory set:  Cutex powder polish and liquid polish plus cuticle remover and cuticle cream. Ad in Delineator, October 1924. Full sizes cost 35 cents each.

Throughout the nineteen twenties, liquid polish gained popularity.

The “sophisticated Parisienne” applies Cutex Liquid Nail Polish in this ad from November, 1926. Delineator. The brush is now part of the bottle cap.

Cutex packaging was changing, too.

A sample of Cutex liquid nail polish in a bottle with separate brush. Ad from November 1926. “In two shades, “Natural or the New Deep Rose.” A bottle of nail polish remover was included.

By 1928, Cutex ad campaigns featured celebrities like Anita Loos.

Anita Loos appeared in an ad for Cutex liquid nail polish in 1928.

Illustrator and industrial designer Helen Dryden praised liquid Cutex nail polish.

Fashion Illustrator Helen Dryden illustrated many magazine covers for Delineator. Cutex ad, 1928.

So did this “lady explorer” (Osa Johnson) on a zebra….

Cutex ad, January 1929, Delineator. Cutex liquid nail polish was advertised as nail protection in the late 1920’s.

Also in the late twenties, Cutex packaging took on an Art Deco look:

Cutex Liquid Nail Polish and Nail Polish Remover. January 1929 advertisement. This introductory offer included both for 6 cents, but normal sized bottles cost 35 cents each.

Incredibly, it seems that liquid nail polish was sold in the 1910’s before nail polish remover appeared, but in this 1929 introductory package, they are offered together.

The ideal fingernail was not overly long in the 1920s — and nail polish did not cover the “half-moon” or the tips of the nails. Cutex ad, Delineator, June 1928.

Elegant hands wear colored nail polish on a Delineator cover, February 1932. Dynevor Rhys illustration.

As liquid nail polish became available in a range of bright colors, Cutex had to convince women to wear them. There was an ad campaign stressing that respectable socialites and debutantes wore colored nail polish. Presumably, conservative women thought red nails were the sign of a scarlet woman, and had to be persuaded otherwise.

Do 1932 debutantes choose tinted nails or natural? Cutex ad, Delineator, February 1932. “The popular girl of 1932 is way past losing sleep over whether to wear her nails bright or pale.”

Debutantes were encouraged to wear colored nail polish — and sharply pointed nails. Cutex ad, Delineator, February 1932. Applying polish to just part of the nail is definitely more difficult than painting the entire nail, but fashion is rarely practical….

Pointed nails shaped like claws appeared in the early 1930’s.

The picture of innocence? Strawberry soda and very sharp fingernails painted to match. Delineator cover, July 1933. Dynevor Rhys illustration.

If respectable women were going to have bright red fingernails, they needed to be taught how to coordinate their nail polish with their clothing.

Three highly respectable socialites wear brightly colored nail polish. From left, ruby red nails with a black outfit, rose nails with a green dress and silver fox fur, and coral nails with a beige dress. Cutex ad, February 1933, Delineator.

Tinted or natural colored nail polish? It depended on what you were wearing. Cutex ad, February 1932. “Wear Cardinal with black velvet — Natural with brocaded [metallic] lame — and Coral to accent white satin.”

A larger range of colors was available:

Cutex advertised six nail polish colors in February 1933. Delineator. A woman had to have several choices so she wouldn’t “commit Atrocities” with clashing colors. “If there’s any dress in your closet that hasn’t its special shade of polish to snap it up, go get it!” That should increase sales….

There was also price competition:

Ad for Glazo liquid nail polish, Delineator, February 1934. At 25 cents, Glazo was much cheaper than 35 cent Cutex, which made it easier to own several colors.

From an ad for Glazo nail polish, Delineator, February 1934. “Six authentic shades. Natural, Shell, Flame, Geranium, Crimson, Mandarin Red, Colorless.”

Women also needed more nail polish in the nineteen thirties, because they were encouraged to paint their toenails, too.

A “manicure” included matching polished toenails in this beauty advice article from July 1934. Delineator, p. 37. The new, open-toed sandals for day or evening showed off twinkling toes.

In the thirties, open-toed shoes came out of the bedroom and on to the dance floor. These high-heeled evening sandals , trimmed with gold, were featured in 1934:

Right, evening sandals, June 1934, Delineator.

The sandals pictured below are for daytime wear, but not necessarily on the beach.

Fashion article in Delineator, June 1934. Sandals to show “your tanned feet and tinted toe-nails.”

Daytime sandals described in Delineator fashion article, June 1934.

EXTRAS:  You can still buy a nail buffer and polishing cream at Vermont Country Store.

There is a History of Cutex with color ads at the Chronically Vintage blog, and an authoritative history of Cutex with color ads and images of products 1920, etc. at the Northam Warren (Cutex) site.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Cosmetics, Beauty Products, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, World War I

Formal Styles for October, 1926

Afternoon dresses for formal day-time occasions; Butterick 1016 (for “the social butterfly”) came in very large sizes;  7079 is for formal afternoon events, dinners, theater, etc. From Delineator, October 1926.

“1016 — Paris meets the formal demands of Autumn and Winter with frocks suitable for weddings and receptions, for luncheons, tea and bridge. The cut rather than the fabric makes the difference in this mode, for satin crepe, crepe de Chine and crepe meteor are used for simple dresses as well as for the social butterfly shown at the left.  Satin crepe is used for the body and straight skirt and its reverse side for the collar and one-piece slip. The other materials area smart in two shades of the same color or in two harmonizing colors. Georgette and silk voile make charming frocks over matching slips of taffeta or satin…. The collar makes it becoming for women from 36 to 52 bust.” — Delineator, Oct. 1926,  p. 43.

The matte side of the double-sided crepe satin is shown as a lighter color; the shiny side on the lapel, slip and sleeves is shown as a darker color.

Butterick 1016, on the left, was available for women in sizes up to 52 inch bust measure. Pattern no. 7079 came in the standard range of sizes:  32 to 44 inch bust measure. Hems — even for older women — are at the bottom of the knee.

“7079 — One for every wardrobe should be the ruling for the type of one-piece frock illustrated at the right. Its circular frills and smart sleeve make it what the French dressmaker calls a dinner frock. It leads a double life of great usefulness, for it takes care of all afternoon engagements and answers for small, informal dinners, the theater, and nightlife on an ocean  liner. Chanel red — a dark peony color — in Georgette with the flower of ribbon in the same color, silk voile in string beige with the flowers of lemon and silver ribbon, fern-green moire, black Georgette with jade, with almond, with royal blue or flesh are excellent day and night colors. The lower edge measures about 44 inches…. The style is extremely becoming to women from 32 to 44 bust.” — Delineator, Oct. 1926,  p. 43.

This dress is for “informal dinners” or afternoon wear because it has sleeves. Evening gowns had deeper necklines, no sleeves, and deeper-cut armholes than formal day dresses. The ribbon pom-pom at the shoulder is apparently an important part of the dress. A very long necklace creates a flattering vertical line, although this dress does not have a hip band.

Beaded evening gowns were appropriate for very formal wear, and a truly determined woman could make her own:

Butterick frock pattern 1048 could be made to resemble this illustration if you also used Butterick embroidery and beading transfer 10481. Delineator, Oct. 1926. An alternate view shows it with sleeves and a higher neckline.

There is a copy of this pattern in the Commercial Pattern Archive, which shows the neck and sleeve differences. Some readers have commented that Butterick patterns from the 1920’s and 1930’s often seem much too difficult for a woman to make herself. In fact, since they were aimed at upper-middle-class women, many Butterick patterns must have been made by a professional seamstress, “the little dressmaker” who existed in almost every town. In the case of Butterick 1048, with all that hand beading, the customer was asking a lot!

This lace frock, Butterick 1043, is less formal than a beaded frock, but still very elegant, and more versatile. Delineator, Oct. 1926. It has a trailing “wing cascade” and is ornamented with a fake-flower pom-pom, probably of feathers, velvet, or silk chenille. Notice the bangle worn on her upper arm.

Butterick’s dolman evening coat 7084, in metallic brocade, is shown with Butterick evening dress 1041. Delineator, October 1926. In the twenties, bits of dress were often seen peeking out from the coat’s hem.

Right,Butterick evening frock 1041, October 1926, Delineator. The dress seems to be made of metallic moire, with sheer chiffon panels which have picot edges.

Alternate views of coat 7084 and frocks 1041, 1048, and 1043. Butterick patterns from October 1926. Here, 1041 is shown in an afternoon version, with sleeves and higher neckline.

A picot hem can be faked with a ziz-zag stitch. Sew Historically wrote about how picot hems were done in the 1920’s and also provides a tutorial on faking them with a modern sewing machine. [Note: Always allow your reproduction chiffon dress to hang for several days before finalizing its hem. Chiffon on the bias will stretch … a lot! Gee, I wonder if all those irregular, drooping-hem fashions of the twenties were making a virtue out of necessity….]

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, evening and afternoon clothes, Uncategorized, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Beauty Advice from the Nineteen Twenties: Keep Your Chin(s) Up

Ad for Catherine McCunes’s Silk Muscle Lifting Mask, January 1928, Delineator magazine. “Note How Mask Lifts and Supports Sagging Facial Muscles.”

Title of a page of beauty advice by Celia Caroline Cole, Delineator, May 1927, p. 35.

The cherubs turn away in distress from the sight of a double chin.

Cherubs avert their eyes from a double chin in this illustration by L. Fevrier. 1927.

In this 1918 ad for rubber reducing garments, a chin strap could be bought for seventy-five cents.

In 1918, the Bailey Rubber Company sold reducing garments, including a “chin band for reducing double chin.” The rubber garment idea was to dissolve body fat by sweating — like rendering lard from a side of beef. Fat and water, however, are not the same thing.

Catherine McCune promised that wearing her Muscle Lifting Mask would wipe out wrinkles, too. Ad from Delineator, Oct. 1927.

Elizabeth Arden ran a series of ads with this disturbing image; this woman is not recovering from surgery, but receiving a beauty treatment:

The Elizabeth Arden salons sold cold cream, skin tonic, astringents,  and other beauty preparations. This image comes from an ad in Delineator, April 1925. “Tones, firms, whitens and refines the skin.” “Use a Patter for brisk resilient strokes.”

This ad is selling Elizabeth Arden’s Amiral “reducing soap” “for a double chin:”

Ad for Elizabeth Arden’s Amiral Soap, November 1924. “Absorbed by the skin, it breaks down fat by a natural harmless process, stimulates circulation to remove fatty waste.” [If only spot reduction were that easy….]

It’s probably not a coincidence that Delineator’s beauty writer, Celia Cole,  vouched for the efficacy of astringent soap, “skin food,” and even salon reducing treatments that used electricity. She doesn’t name the salon, but those monthly ads paid for by Elizabeth Arden may have had some influence on the editorial choices of Delineator magazine.

From “Chins in the Air”, by Celia Cole. Delineator, May 1927, p. 35.

Those Elizabeth Arden ads offer the “Arden Patter” (for spanking your double chin) for five dollars. Five dollars! In 1925 !

“Perfectly scientific” beauty treatments as described in Delineator, May 1927. To be fair, Celia Caroline Cole also recommended exercise.

Illustration by Brunner for an article on weight loss, Delineator, September 1928. “Floors trembled and ceilings fell from woman’s effort to get thin. Somebody wrote a book about calories…. The lettuce business increased six-fold in ten years.”

Compared to chin “patters,” pseudo-scientific ointments, and electric shocks, maybe the Silk Muscle Lifting masks weren’t the craziest way to spend money in a attempt to preserve your youth.

Complete ad for Silk Muscle Lifting Mask, Delineator, January 1928.

Complete ad for Muscle Lifting Mask, Delineator, October 1927. It was worn while sleeping, or for a few minutes every day. “Much less expensive than plastic surgery or deep peel.” [Did you realize those treatments were available in the 1920’s?]

A no-longer youthful woman ponders her reflection, May 1927. Delineator.

If you are interested in the history of fashion for the mature woman, you might enjoy a visit to AmericanAgeFashion.

Wrigley's gum Curve of Beauty ad 1934 july

Another, [perfectly unscientific] series of ads recommended chewing Wrigley’s gum as a beauty treatment for the facial muscles. I took me three blog posts to share all the ads I found: Chew Gum for Beauty (Part 1), Part 2, and Part 3. The ad above is from 1934. “Keep [your cheek line] from looking old and saggy; chew Double Mint gum. This gentle exercise 5 to 10 minutes daily aids in toning up unused and lazy facial muscles. Try this new Beauty Treatment.”

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Back to School Clothes, Fall 1927

“All Aboard for School or College: Butterick patterns for young women, Delineator, August 1927,  top of page 28.

“The Smart Mode on Campus:” Butterick patterns for young women and girls, Delineator, August 1928, top of page 29.

“For the Young and Younger Student:” Butterick patterns for girls, teens, and women. Delineator, August 1927, top of page 32.

“Semi-Formal Frocks for College:” Butterick patterns from Delineator, August 1927, top of page 33.

There’s a lot to like about these outfits; for one thing, they have the proportions I think of as “Twenties’ Style.” I was pleased — and surprised — to find that many of these patterns were also sized for mature women. In fact, it’s very hard to distinguish between 1927 styles for girls and styles for adults on these pages. For those who are deeply interested in the 1920’s, the descriptions of the dresses remind us of a more formal and structured society — the wildness of the “Roaring Twenties” notwithstanding. I’ll include closer views, alternate and back views, and the full text that appeared on these four pages.

Book recommendation: British author Elspeth Huxley attended Cornell University in the U.S. in 1927. Her memoir Love Among the Daughters: Memories of the Twenties in England and America is an insider’s/outsider’s view of American college life.

Butterick 1526, is a “frock for the classroom” for ages 8 to 15 years;  1544, is also for 8 to 15 years;  and 1589, for 15 to 18 years and adults to bust 44″. August 1927. The young girls’ dresses are as stylish and complex as those for adults.

Butterick 1569, for women aged 15 to 20 and in sizes 38 and 40. For football games “this is the frock to wear beneath your fur coat.” Butterick 1566, for girls 8 to 15, has a square neckline attributed to Vionnet. The blouse has a chic monogram. August 1927.

Butterick pattern 1562 is for young girls 8 to 15; 1556 is a coat for young girls and women 15 to 18 years and women with bust 36 to 44 inches. No. 1519 is for teens 15 to 18 and women all the way up to size 48! August 1927.

Butterick coat 1550 has a “mushroom shawl collar” and was available in sizes 15 to 18 years and sizes 36 to 44. For an explanation of “Size 16 Years,” click here. “School costume” 1583 is a two-piece outfit in sizes 15 to 18 years and women’s sizes 38 and 40.

The second dress, No. 1563, is very similar to 1569, for smaller women. The fourth outfit, No. 1532, is a girl’s variation on 1589.

Similar fashions from August 1927. There is no indication of anything “childish” in No. 1532; were children dressing like women in the twenties, or was it the other way around?

Butterick 1554 is “for the boarding-school girl” aged 8 to 15 years. Butterick 1563 was available from size 15 years to women’s size 44, and 1553 was also sized for 15 year-olds to women with a 44 inch bust. Its belt glides in and out of the skirt.

Butterick 1532 is “correct for school wear” for girls 8 to 15,  and “school coat” 1586 is also for girls 8 to 15 years. August 1927.

“Semi-formal” dresses for college women. 1927.

Butterick 1575 “for the formal occasions of school or college” has a “straight Vionnet neckline” and opens under the left arm, so the bodice can fit closely. For 15 to 18 years and in sizes 38 and 40. No. 1565, seems much more sophisticated (or is that because of her severely cropped hair?) It was intended for teens and for adult women up to size 44. Butterick 1581 is also suitable for teens or adults. “Concerts and that important institution, the ‘Sunday-night supper’ of schools and colleges, require a formal frock on this order.” From 1927. (Even in the 1960’s, at my women’s college we were required to “dress” for dinner, and to be back on campus by Sunday evening. Luckily, “dressing” in 1965 just meant wearing high heels and stockings with our normal school clothes.)

Butterick dress 1541, for teens and small women, is a versatile pattern; depending on the fabric used, it could be a day dress or a semi-formal one. Butterick 1577 could be made “without sleeves and with an evening neckline” to be worn to proms. As shown, it’s an afternoon dress.  For teens and small women. 1927.

Did women really dress this formally for school or college? Didn’t most female students usually wear a skirt and blouse or sweater for attending classes? Well, Delineator aimed at a middle-class readership, and it should be noted that all these dresses are for women going away to school, to boarding schools or colleges, and not to a public institution close to home.

I also wonder if this way of showing Butterick’s new dresses was really a good idea; did all readers realize, by reading the descriptions, that many of these styles were suitable for mature women, and came in sizes equal to a modern size 22, or bigger? (See dress 1589, coat 1556, coat 1550, dress 1519, dress 1563, dress 1565, and dress 1581.)

That many styles were considered suitable for mature women and college girls does emphasize the importance of a youthful look in 1927.

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Children's Vintage styles, Sportswear, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes