Category Archives: 1920s

A Subtle Change in Fashion, 1920s to 1930s

Short sleeves on a very dressy dress; Delineator, February 1930. Butterick pattern 3032, for [Misses age] 14 to 20.

I’m not claiming that short sleeves were never seen in 1920’s clothing, but the short set-in sleeve — mid-bicep length — was usually associated with house dresses and work uniforms in the Twenties.

A short sleeved-house dress worn while washing dishes in February 1930. Super Suds soap advertisement.

The woman on the left in this picture wears a work uniform with short, set-in sleeves.

Left. a servant or waitress uniform, June 1929. Ad from Delineator.

The short-sleeved work dress below probably has kimono sleeves — cut in one with the top of the dress and finished with bias tape, like the neckline. This was a fast, cheap way to make a dress by eliminating facings and separate sleeves.

Woman ironing with a mangle while wearing a short-sleeved house dress. Ad, June 1929. Delineator.

Short kimono sleeves — that is, sleeeves not cut separately from the dress bodice — were very common, and contributed to the ease of making the typical twenties’ dress.

Two casual dresses from April, 1929. Butterick 2573, left, and 2541, right.

The alternate views are interesting: even in its long-sleeved version, 2573 has kimono sleeves at the shoulder. 2541, on the other hand, has short, set-in sleeves.

Alternate views of 2573 and 2541. April 1929. Waists are still low, and lengths are still short.

Full length views of Butterick 2573 and 2541. Delineator, April 1929.

2573 is for wear in the “country,” for sports like tennis [!], or “at home in the morning.” [The phrase “porch dress” was sometimes used instead of “house dress.” Either way, the dress stayed at home.]

Perhaps 2541 has set-in sleeves because it was available in very large sizes — up to 52 inch bust.

However, older and larger women were also offered these kimono sleeved dresses in early 1930:

Both Butterick 3028 and 3067 from February 1930 have kimono sleeves, but they reflect the rising waistlines of 1929-1930. 32″ to 44″ bust was the normal Butterick size range, but these models are not youthful.

[Period detail: Both of those dresses have bias tape bindings or accents. The scallop button closing was very popular.]

These dresses from June 1929, illustrated side by side, show a long (or short) close-fitting sleeve (left, No. 2648) or a kimono sleeve (right, No.  2668. )

Two typical dresses from the first half of 1929. Butterick 2648 (in sizes up to 48) has set-in sleeves. 2668 has kimono sleeves “for sun-browned arms”. Delineator, June 1929. These short dresses with low waistlines were on the verge of extinction in summer, 1929.

Close-fitting wrist-length sleeves, cut and sewn separately from the bodice, were usual for street clothes in the Twenties.
But I notice that the short sleeve, as we know it, was increasingly used on “dressy” dresses in 1929 and 1930.

The caption for this page was “Mature Grace.” The sheer dress on the left  (Butterick 3168) has the new, short sleeves — and it is suggested for older women in the normal size range. April, 1930. The name “one-quarter sleeve” is useful.

Two Butterick dresses from February 1930. I showed a detail of the one on the left at the top of this post — but I think it deserves a full-length view, too. [The Twenties are over.]

Many of the new, shorter sleeves were decorated with a non-functional tie or bow.

Butterick 3058 from February 1930 has short sleeves trimmed with decorative bows.

Right, another bow-trimmed short sleeve, from March 1930. This is definitely not a house dress. Butterick patterns from Delineator.

Left, a dress from Saks; right, Butterick blouse pattern 3282. Delineator, June 1930. Notice how long the dress is; both dress and blouse have natural waistlines. Bows on short sleeves were not just a Butterick pattern idea.

However, not all short sleeves from 1930 are set-in; the easier-to-sew kimono sleeve sometimes got longer:

All four of these dresses from June 1930 have the new short sleeve look, but, incredibly, they all have kimono sleeves — described as the key to an “easy to make” dress.

(Sewing tip: In my experience, a close-fitting, longish kimono sleeve is very likely to tear under the arm unless you add a gusset; if you don’t, it’s a good idea to use a stretchable stitch — like a narrow zig-zag — on the curved part of the underarm seam. Fabric cut in a curve will stretch — but only if the seam can stretch, too. An oval gusset is safer.)

All these 1930 dresses have set-in sleeves:

Dresses with short, set-in sleeves. Butterick patterns in Delineator, July 1930.

Bows on the sleeves were not obligatory.

Butterick patterns for young women, July 1930. Delineator.

But they are very “summer of 1930”!

A princess line dress with short sleeves trimmed with decorative bows. Butterick 3349 from August 1930.

All Butterick patterns pictured are from Delineator magazines.

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Uniforms and Work Clothes, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Ladies’ Pajamas from 1920

These pajamas were featured in an ad for Rit Dyes. Delineator, April 1920.

I found several images of women’s pajamas (or pyjamas) in this April issue of Delineator. Only one was a Butterick pattern; the others appeared in advertisements. They all had this in common:

These pajamas from 1920 are gathered at the ankle.

Constriction at the ankle must have been a “thing” that year. (It wasn’t new….)

Butterick patterns for April 1920 include the “pajamas or lounging robe,” center, No. 2055.

This pajama pattern was sized for misses and for women up to 44 inch bust measure — so it was not aimed at teens and college girls only.

One-piece pajamas, also sleeveless, were shown in an ad for Dove Undergarments and Lingerie.

An empire waist nightgown or pajama could be purchased from the Dove lingerie company. Delineator, April 1920.

A one-piece pajama, April 1920. Dove ad.

Another stylish pajama can be seen in the upper right corner of this fabric ad:

These college girls are wearing print kimonos and lounging pajamas in an ad for Serpentine Crepe. Delineator, April 1920. The wall is decorated with pennants from East Coast universities, including Smith, Wellesley, and Radclifffe — women’s colleges.

Serpentine Crepe was made by Pacific Mills, in Lawrence, Massachusetts. That’s their circular logo on the wall, below.

Pajamas, detail of ad for Serpentine Crepe, 1920. I do like the pattern of flying birds.

Gathering around the ankles was not new; I’ve seen it in 1917…

Butterick pajamas from 1917. No. 9433 for girls or women.

… and in new patterns issued as late as 1925 and 1926.

Lingerie for Christmas, Delineator magazine, December 1925. Pajama pattern 6031 is lacy and ruffled, and gathered at the ankle.

Butterick pajama 6947 is scalloped, with gathered ankles trimmed in Valenciennes lace. Delineator, July 1926.

The sleeveless, V-necked 1926 top is similar to the 1920 pajama pattern No. 2055.

In 1920, there was considerable variety in the pajama tops.

The high-waisted top of this one-piece pajama has a square neckline and short kimono sleeves.

The long top of these lounging pajamas is rather like the tunic dresses of the nineteen-teens. The bands of trim look like fagoting or insertion lace.

This sleeveless pajama top, Butterick 2055, looks cool and summer-y. [Notice the very different hairstyles on these women!]

But the alternate view of 2055 shows a version with sleeves and collar variations — and pajama bottoms that hang straight and loose at the ankle.

Alternate views of Butterick “pajama or lounging robe” No. 2055. Delineator, April, 1920.

It’s possible to imagine this sailor-collared pajama venturing out onto the beach — eventually.

Butterick 5948, pajamas from April of 1925, can be worn as beach pajamas. Delineator.

When did women start wearing pajamas? The Vintage Traveler wrote about that question here. Sweet dreams, everyone!

 

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Filed under 1910s and WW I era, 1920s, Hairstyles, Nightclothes and Robes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Women in Trousers

Steps on the Way: 1914 to 1924

How did fashion get from here …

Fashion image from Delineator, March 1910.

… to here …

Fashion illustrations from Delineator, August 1920.

… in just ten years?

This is not a definitive answer — just a large collection of intriguing and sometimes contradictory tidbits I collected last month.

“Facts and Figures;” about the new corsets, from Delineator, April 1914. The author is Eleanor Chalmers. Page 38.

I was reading this article on corsets (1914) when I saw a sentence that leapt out:

That’s what it says: “Among smart women the size of the waistline has increased three inches in the past two or three years.”

I’ve been going through magazines from 1910, 1914, and 1920, and there is no doubt that a big change in the ideal figure happened between 1910 and 1914. This 1914 corset article will make more sense if we first look at some images from 1910.

Cover illustration, Delineator magazine, March 1910.

Full  breasts, narrow waist, wide hips: a classic hourglass figure. This is a voluptuous, grown woman in the prime of life.

Two curvaceous women wearing Butterick patterns from May 1910.

The 1910 beauty ideal is a mature woman, not a teen-aged girl. Of course, not all women looked this way without help.

Two 1910 corsets in a “Nuform”/ “Reduso” corset ad. Delineator, March 1910.

Even slender women were expected to be curvy:

The Sahlin Perfect Form and Corset Combined was lightly structured, but promised the small-waisted, big-busted look of 1910.

“For the Slender Woman… The only garment that, without padding or interlining, produces the stylish high bust, straight waist, and long hip…. Braces the shoulders, expands the chest naturally.”

If pulling your shoulders back didn’t do the trick, you could resort to a different sort of help:

Nature’s Rival promised a Perfect Bust: “the full rounded bust form of a finely built woman” — very large in relation to the tiny waist. Ad from Delineator, June 1910.

A slender but curvy woman (with an ideal figure for 1910) models a lingerie frock. Fashion illustration, Delineator, April 1910.

Shapely — but not necessarily girlish — women, March 1910; Delineator. Even the older woman has a tiny waist.

The woman at left is curvy; the woman in the suit at right has the hips of a corset ad.

Ad for American Lady corsets, April 1910.

The corset Chalmers recommended in 1914 created a very different shape: it doesn’t support the bust at all; it has — preferably — a stretchy rubberized waist, and its stated goal is to make the hips look narrower while making the waist look larger. (“Unless your waist is large, your hips will not be small….”)

Front and back views of a recommended corset, April 1914.

“The waistline no longer exists… You obviously can’t have the new straight lines with a curve at the waist and hips.” I was surprised to read this in an article from 1914. It seems to prefigure (no pun intended) the fashion ideal of the nineteen twenties.

“The silhouette that the corset makers and manufacturers are working on for 1914, and which is the basis for all the present styles, is the straight figure, with small hips, large waist, and no bust. ” [This is 1914, but it could be 1920-something!]

First paragraph of Eleanor Chalmer’s corset advice.”The face alone, no matter how pretty, counts for nothing unless the body is as straight and yielding as a very young girl.” Delineator, April 1914.

“If a woman clings affectionately to the high bust, the small drawn-in waist and the big hips of a few years ago, she is going to look not only old-fashioned, but old. The corset of former years gave a woman a mature, well-developed, matronly figure. The corset of to-day makes her look like a very young girl.”

American Lady Corset ad from April 1914. It seems to meet the large waist requirement, but young?

Compare two corsets from the same manufacturer, 1910 and 1914. Ads from Delineator.

“If necessary, you can wear a brassiere with it.”

Since the ideal was now a small, low bust, this brassiere for a full-breasted woman confined her breasts rather than supporting them.

Ad for a De Bevoise brassiere, June 1914.

Of course, what fashion writers tell readers they are looking at, and what we actually see, are not always the same thing.

Thomson’s corset ad, February 1914. Her hips are bizarrely long and thin.

Ms. Chalmers and the corset makers are selling the idea of a slender, girlish hip. But for other fashion writers in the same year, this was the headline :

“New Skirt Models That Widen the Figure at the Hip.” Delineator, March 1914.

These skirt patterns were shown in the same issue as the corset advice article which emphasized the importance of slender hips. Delineator, April 1914, p 26.

It hardly seems worth the trouble of wearing a corset under those skirts. “Saddlebag thighs?” Very chic!

However, the waist was definitely getting thicker — and higher. Hard to believe, but the following six outfits are all for girls 14 to 19 years old.

Patterns for teens 14 to 19. Delineator, April 1914, p. 37. [These skirts are wide at the hip and very narrow at the ankle.]

The 1914 ideal of a slender, girlish figure does not look as we might expect.

More patterns for teens 14 to 19 years old. April 1914. Tiny waists are out of style. Wide hips seem to be in… regardless of that corset article in the same magazine.

Even though I’ve written about the Tubular Twenties, I was looking for the arrival of the dropped waist; I missed the arrival of the thick waist. Maybe I should have been asking, “When did the waist disappear?” It looks like the answer is earlier than I realized. In 1914, the new style was usually high-waisted, but look at the girl at far left, above. Her waist is almost Twenties….

Skirts began to rise during World War I, but the wide hips and thick waists of the pre-war era continued into 1920:

Butterick fashions for May, 1920. Delineator, p. 151. The wide, loose sash actually adds bulk to the waist.

Maybe the thickening waist is how we got from this …

Butterick patterns 3828 and 3789, May 1910

… to this …

Butterick patterns for March 1914 show a thick-waisted, wide-hipped silhouette.

… to this:

Butterick patterns for January 1924. The line is long and narrow; there is no hint that women have waists.

In 1925, another Delineator writer suggested that women had let their figures go during these years of bulky fashions. “A Few Years Ago Women Took Off Corsets . . . and Let Their Figures Go.” — Evelyn Dodge, Delineator, July 1925.

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Off to College, September 1930

A hat pattern for the well-dressed college girl; Delineator, Sept. 1930, p. 32. The hat, shown in three versions, is Butterick 3434.

What really caught my eye was the absolutely terrific blouse on the right.

This blouse was part of Butterick suit pattern 3415.

Except for its belt, this 1930 blouse looks very Nineteen Twenties. No wonder, because it is part of the transition to Nineteen Thirties’ styles; the cardigan sport suit that goes with it also looks like a Twenties’ outfit …

Butterick’s cardigan sport suit 3415, Sept. 1930. Delineator.

… until you see the length of the skirt:

A year after Patou introduced the longer skirt length and the natural waist, they were taken for granted in these styles for college-aged women. Delineator, Sept. 1930.

The dark leather belt is also worn at the natural waist.

Butterick 3415 and 3421, September 1930.

The frock beside the suit, Butterick 3421, simply bypasses the “low waist/natural waist” question by having a waistless princess line cut, seen often in 1930.

Back and alternate views of suit 3415 and frock 3421. The back of the jacket is shaped with tucks.

Additional fashion advice:

Seamless stockings that fit well were an innovation in 1930. Delineator, Sept. 1930, page 32.

This paragraph about hats appeared on the same page as Butterick hat pattern 3434. Sept. 1930.

Two versions of Butterick hat 3434. The turban at right was knitted.

Butterick 3434 is the “off the forehead” type of hat recommended in the article. These are made of fabric; thrifty women could use scraps from other sewing projects.

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Hats, Hosiery, Hosiery, Vintage Accessories

Evening Gowns, October 1930

Delineator cover illustration by Helen Dryden, January 1930.

I’m back! Although my “vacation” at the library was interrupted by some family illness, I did manage to photograph the 18 months of Delineator magazines from July 1929 through December of 1930 — and that was a time of sudden and drastic fashion change. I learned a lot — and will be sharing….

Paris fashions illustrated in August 1929 are recognizably from the Twenties.  Top left, coat by Lanvin; top right, dress by Chanel; bottom left, coat by Lelong; bottom right, autumn frock by Vionnet. Waists are low; hems barely cover the knee.

Three months later a new style was introduced:

Paris fashions illustrated in November 1929. Patou, second from left, took credit for the new silhouette, with longer skirts and belts at the natural waist. The designers are: 10) Molyneux, 11) Patou; 12) Cheruit; and 13) Mary Nowitsky. Delineator, November 1929. Nowitsky also shows a natural waist and a knee-covering hem, but Patou’s is noticeably longer.

Patou’s new silhouette was influencing patterns within a few months:

Two Butterick patterns from April 1930 show the new silhouette: dresses with a natural waist and much longer skirts than in the late 1920s.

Sadly, Butterick’s Delineator magazine was affected by the October 1929 economic crisis, with a decrease of advertisers and the near elimination of color fashion illustrations. However, these 1930 evening gowns were given the full treatment: ours to enjoy.

Evening patterns from Butterick: Left, 2978 has a deep back opening; Center, 2972 has diagonal flounces,; and right, 2976 uses several layers of net, growing gradually more transparent toward the hem. Delineator, January 1930, page 24. All are belted near the natural waist.

Butterick 2978 is a “princess” frock — i.e., it has no waist seam. January 1930. Dresses with these very narrow straps were said to have “camisole” necklines.

Butterick 2972, with a cape over one shoulder, also has a “princess corsage.” January 1930.

Butterick 2976, shown in pastel net instead of black. In this front view of the “princess body,” you can see that there is no waist seam. There are three layers of net, with an opaque layer closest to the body.

The top of the net dress has a very modern “deconstructed” look, as though the net covering the upper chest had been cut from top to bottom and is left hanging free, front and back.

A closer look at the tops of dresses 2978, 2972, and 2976 (black net), which is asymmetrical. (So is the blue one.)

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, evening and afternoon clothes, Vintage Couture Designs

Patterns of Fashion Book Series Continues!

Cover image from Barnes & Noble website.

Very welcome news to costumers is that the great Patterns of Fashion book series begun by Janet Arnold, who died in 1998,  is being continued. Arnold wrote three gridded pattern books, (Patterns of Fashion 1660 to 1860, Patterns of Fashion 1860 to 1940, and Patterns of Fashion 1560 to 1620, and I just received information from the Costumers’ Alliance about a British source that is continuing her work.

Jenny Tiramani, principal of the School of Historical Dress in London said:

“Please tell people that we have decided not to use a distributor or to put the book for sale on Amazon. They take too much money and we need the funds to keep the school going and to publish Patterns of Fashion 6 & 7 which are both already in the pipeline!

We will be selling the book ourselves from our School of Historical Dress webshop and will try to give a good price for those people buying the book in countries far flung from the UK.

[Patterns of Fashion] 5 is in China being printed next week and published 31st October. …We need all the publicity we can get as the publisher of all future volumes of the series!”
Please support this incredibly rare and precious resource, the School of Historical Dress!! Here is where you can find their web site.

Click here to find out about current and upcoming volumes of Patterns of Fashion, plus other relevant publications.

Mantua, Late 17th century, Collection of the Metropolitan Museum.

Other books include Seventeenth Century Women’s Dress Patterns (Vols. 1 & 2), and Waistcoats from the Hopkins Collection c. 1720-1950 “The waistcoats are shown with close-up details of its shape, construction and decoration, alongside images of people wearing similar styles from the same time period.” Janet Arnold’s other books are also available.

(One virtue of the Patterns of Fashion Series — aside from the meticulous research — is their large format: printed on extra wide paper, the scaled patterns are easy to refer to while you are working.)

Patterns of Fashion 4 covers body linens 1540 to 1660 — “the linen clothes that covered the body from the skin outwards. It contains 420 full colour portraits and photographs of details of garments in the explanatory section as well as scale patterns for linen clothing ranging from men’s shirts and women’s smocks, ruffs and bands to boot-hose and children’s stomachers.

 

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A Look Back at Stockings, Mostly 1920’s

[While I’m on vacation, I’m running a series of images with links to many old witness2fashion posts. Here’s a selection of articles sharing what I learned about stockings.]

Colored and textured tights were popular in the 1960’s, but brightly colored stockings and textured stockings were also worn in the 1920’s. [For further readings about stockings, rolled stockings, etc., links to earlier posts are provided throughout this one.]

Orange silk stockings match the orange skirt in this ad for Holeproof Hosiery. Delineator, October 1925.

Textured stockings were also worn  with Twenties’ sportswear:

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/textured-hose-from-an-article-about-rainwear-delineator-april-1929.jpg?w=502&h=473

Textured hose from an article about rainwear; Delineator, April, 1929.

For a longer post showing 1920’s textured stockings from Sears, colored stockings, and other stocking fashions like the ones below, click here.

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/1928-nov-p-3-stockings-gordons-ad-heels.jpg?w=500&h=362

Gordon’s stockings ad, 1928.

Many manufacturers offered styles intended to make ankles look slim, or just to attract attention to the leg.

A chartreuse dress gets stockings to match in this ad for Arch Preserver Shoes. Delineator, June 1929.

Artist McClelland Barclay did a series of color illustrations for Holeproof Hosiery. Delineator; May, 1925.  Notice how opaque these silk stockings for daytime are.

In the 1920’s, highly colored stockings could be almost opaque, as in these ads, but eventually sheer stockings became preferred for evening:

Models wear a range of sheer stocking shades in this 1929 ad for Realsilk Hosiery. Delineator, October 1929.

“They’re newer than sunburn. They’re newer than skin-tints. Yet they borrow from both. Overtones — the new hosiery shades — are a subtle blend of skin and costume colors…. Twenty-two of the most flattering hosiery colors ever launched.” — text of Realsilk ad, Oct. 1929.

Of course, the more sheer the stockings were, the less likely they were to survive several wearings, making them a luxury item.

A run in a sheer stocking ruins it; Lux soap ad, WHC, Feb. 1936. (Lux claimed to prevent stocking runs.)

For a much more complete  article about women’s stockings in the 1920’s, click here.

By 1929, suntanned skin was coming into fashion, along with the sheer look.

From an ad for Realsilk Hosiery, April 1929. Delineator.

These shades are not very different from the stocking hues illustrated in 1936, when stockings could coordinate with either the costume or the shoe:

From a fashion advice article in Ladies’ Home Journal, October 1936. [Click here for more….]

These heavy duty silk stockings were to be worn while gardening. Ad for McCallum “service hose.” Delineator, April 1927. [For more about “Hosiery Ads with a Bit of Wit,” by the same artist, click here.]

In the early Twenties, stockings were also worn while swimming:

“Mid-way of a dive . . two flawless legs, one flawless pair of hose are all that’s left to see….” From an 1927 ad for McCullum Hosiery. Delineator, August 1927.

(Swimming champion Annette Kellerman was arrested for swimming without covering her legs in 1907.)

Stockings were worn with bathing suits in the Nineteen-teens, but women started to bare their legs — or part of their legs — in the Twenties. Often, with bathing suits, they wore their stockings rolled:

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/1925-july-5204-swim-july-1925.jpg?w=151&h=500

Bathing suit, July 1925. Delineator magazine.

To read “Garters, Flappers, Rolled Stockings and Other Stocking Stories,” click here.

Lavender stockings match the lavender underwear in this 1927 ad for Ivory Flakes laundry soap. Delineator, May 1927.

Stockings in the 1920’s could also be embroidered, or otherwise decorated:

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/brinkey-500-prudence-prim-emb-stockings-dec-6-1925.jpg?w=441&h=500

“A rose upon her shoulder, and a corresponding rose / Embroidered on the — well, the shin — of both her silken hose!” Nell Brinkley and Carolyn Wells. Dec. 1925.

To see more illustrations by Nell Brinkley, a woman cartoonist of the ‘Teens and Twenties, click here.

Young woman showing her undies and rolled stockings; photo dated 1918.

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/rolled-sox-cropped-500-1921-rio-vista.jpg?w=500&h=308

Four young women showing their bare knees and rolled stockings. That’s my mother wearing dark stockings with a light garter on the far right. Photo dated 1921.

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