Category Archives: 1920s

Bib or Plastron Fronts on 1920s’ Dresses

Three dresses with bib or plastron fronts, from Delineator, July 1926.

Costume designers know that for most stage actors it’s a good idea to choose designs that draw attention to the face. (It’s much easier to hear the dialog when you can see the actor’s lips moving….) The contrasting color of bib front dresses is one flattering 1920s’ trick for drawing the eye up from the hip width and toward the face and upper body.

Center, a lavender dress with white bib front. Butterick 6962 from August 1926. (Notice the “tricks” used on the other dresses to lead our eyes up from the hip toward the face.)

The “gilet” or “plastron” or “bosom” front is a style that was shown on Butterick patterns in 1925 and 1926. I call them “bib fronts” because they remind me of the stiff, starched bib front on men’s formal shirts:

This man’s shirt has a starched white plastron front which would be decorated with a row of gold, onyx, mother of pearl, or even diamond studs. The real buttons, where the shirt opened, were in back.

That particular shirt would have been worn with stiff detachable collar and a tuxedo or white tie and tails.

This report of Paris fashions from 1926 calls it a “bosom, gilet, or plastron front.”

A Paris fashion report in Delineator, April 1926, touts the “bosom, gilet or plastron front” for women’s wear. I call it a bib front.

It offers some strong vertical lines to counteract the horizontal line at the hip.

There are plenty of vertical lines on these dresses from June 1925. A plastron front (at left) often had a row of buttons, as well.

In the same Paris fashion report, Delineator showed this dress:

On this dress supposedly from Paris, a row of embroidery follows the same lines as a long necklace, creating a “gilet outline.”

Butterick copied that dress quite literally, if it wasn’t actually invented by Butterick:

Right, Butterick pattern 6737; April 1926.

But the plastron front really was a designer fashion; this design is by Agnes Haver (Mme. Agnes).

A series of curved lines outlines this gilet and evoke the lines of long necklaces. Couture from the house of Mme. Havet.

Another (similar) mid-Twenties’ style was the suspender skirt, which was worn over a separate blouse.

Butterick called these either dresses or suspender skirts, but the pattern numbers make it clear that the blouse was bought separately.

It’s not always easy to decide which: suspender skirt or bosom front dress.

These Butterick patterns from July 1925  look like suspender skirts, but were described as “dresses” without a separate blouse.

They do have a shorter “bib” area.  Some plastrons were rectangular, instead of rounded at the bottom:

A squarish white plastron brightens a house dress (and distracts from its resemblance to a sack-with-a-hip-belt.) July 1925.

This white gilet has a long button placket adding to its vertical look. May 1926.

Other shapes were possible:

The plastron/bib/gilet at right is pointed at the bottom. April 1926.

Teen fashions from July 1926.

One of the reasons the “bib” look ought to be in our 1920’s fashion vocabulary is its versatility. I like the crisp look of a white plastron, but it could be made in a contrasting color, or in a print fabric, or even in stripes, with the dress and plastron stripes going in different directions.

Center, a plastron and collar in a coordinating lighter green color. April 1926.

A striped skirt and matching plastron. June 1926.

Right, fun with stripes, February 1925.

A girl’s bib dress plays with horizontal and vertical stripes. May 1926.

Another use of pleats and stripes on a woman’s bib dress, May 1926.

Left, plaid adds interest to the gilet and the sleeves (and the matching coat lining.)

A colorful plastron on a teen style. October 1925. Many buttons on that sleeve!

More plastron/gilet/bosom variations. April 1926.

A gilet or bosom front could also be quite sophisticated, with the use of a more luxurious fabric:

The bib in a dressy incarnation, from Delineator, November 1926. The rear view at right shows an inventive skirt design whose angles echo the gilet/bib shape.

Or you can enjoy/adapt the basic shirt bib or “bosom” version:

Dresses for girls, August 1926. School and party wear. (Within a year, women would be wearing dresses almost this short!)

 

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Filed under 1920s, Children's Vintage styles, evening and afternoon clothes, Men's Formalwear & Evening, Shirts for men

Maternity Corsets

Detail, ad for an H & W maternity corset, Delineator, March 1912. Are they kidding??? No.

Traditionally, fashion rarely made allowances for pregnancy.

Delineator article, April 1912, p. 341.

“New models … have the effect of the uncorseted figure”? Well, not exactly….

Ad for American Lady Corsets, Delineator, March 1912.

That American Lady corset ad above (showing the corset which is under her dress) shows the fashionable figure for 1912 — obviously not a good year to be pregnant if you were a slave to fashion.

Ad for an H & W maternity corset, Delineator, March 1912.

“Gives a trim and stylish figure — without the slightest endangerment to the well-being of either the mother or the child…. Particularly desirable in convalescence or after surgery.”– H&W maternity corset ad, 1912.

My grandmother, born in 1875, was still wearing a long corset like that fashionable “American Lady” when I shared her bedroom in 1950. It was true that women who had grown up wearing corsets did not have well-developed “core” strength — and they certainly couldn’t do sit-ups in one of those corsets! So, they did experience backaches if they tried to go without the support they were used to.

Even when pregnant, they thought they needed a corset. And maybe they did…. I’ve never been pregnant, so reader comments are welcome. You can still buy a stretchy support garment — does it help that aching back?

Lane Bryant (actually, the woman behind the stores was Lena Bryant) was an early — but not the only — company catering to pregnant women in the 1910s.

An ad from Berthe May, January 1914. Delineator. “Allows one to dress as usual and preserve a normal appearance.”

Ad from Lane Bryant, Delineator, April 1914. Lane Bryant specialized in clothing that allowed for an expanding waist.

This 1917 Lane Bryant ad from Ladies’ Home Journal emphasizes that the dress could also be worn after pregnancy. It was “so adapted as to successfully conceal condition.”

There was still a suggestion that pregnancy ought to be concealed — imperceptible — as long as possible.

Lane Bryant maternity corset ad, Delineator, February 1917. “Makes the change imperceptible.”

Maternity corset from the Ferris Waist Co., May 1910. Ferris specialized in corsets made without very much boning — they used more flexible cording instead.

Ad from May, 1914, featuring a maternity corset.

Ferris maternity corset from 1920. Delineator March 1920.

This H & W maternity corset from 1920 promised a “stylish appearance” and “safety for the little one.”

This H & W maternity corset from 1920 shows a more realistic image than the H & W corset from 1912:

H & W maternity corset ad, 1912.

In 1924, you could buy a Butterick pattern and make your own maternity belt / abdominal supporter.

Butterick pattern 5342 for a maternity belt. Delineator, July 1924.

In 1927, Vogue magazine was recommending these:

A bust binder brassiere and maternity corsets shown in Vogue, Oct. 1927.

The Sears, Roebuck catalog for 1930 showed several maternity corsets — in keeping with 1920’s styles — and, yes, a supportive “breast binder.”

A maternity corset and a maternity girdle from Sears, Spring 1930.

Elastic maternity/nursing breast binder and “accouchement band” for post-delivery abdominal support. From Sears, Spring 1930.

They were still around in 1938:

Sears, Roebuck catalog, Fall 1938. Cotton knit binders for breasts and abdomen.

Maternity corsets from Sears, Fall 1938.

In a 1935 article called “Heir Apparent,” Vogue explained the choices in maternity undergarments; by then, corsets were only recommended for women who “habitually” wore girdles or who had weak abdominal muscles.

Advice from Vogue magazine, November 1935.

Maternity corsets from Sears, Spring 1940.

Corsets for abdominal support were also sold for women whose jobs required heavy work — “war work” for many women in factories and munitions plants.

In 1945, Sears was still selling posture supports for women working in “house, farm, or factory.” Sears catalog, Spring 1945. But these are not maternity belts.

Support belts for working women. Sears, Spring 1945.

I didn’t find many maternity corsets in Sears catalogs after 1945 — but perhaps I didn’t look hard enough. Or perhaps in the Post-War baby boom, women no longer felt they had to hide their condition from public view.

Simplicity 4979, 1954. No mention of maternity use on this pattern.

Simplicity 2562, maternity tops from 1958.

Simplicity maternity tops from 1958.

McCall’s 4936, maternity tops, skirt, pants and shorts, 1959.

Quite a change from this “maternity skirt” from 1907:

Maternity skirt ad, 1907.

 

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Filed under 1910s and WW I era, 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s-1940s, Corsets, Corsets, Corsets & Corselettes, Foundation Garments, Maternity clothes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Underthings, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc

Part 2: Butterick Fashions in Color, September 1920

Big hats with a varied dress silhouette; Butterick patterns from Delineator, September 1920. These patterns are from page 96.

1920 was a year when fashions were in transition from the wide hipped “tonneau” skirts of the late teens to the narrow silhouette of the later 1920s.

Left, a “tonneau” or barrel skirt (Butterick skirt 9064.)

Traces of this 1917 silhouette could still be seen in 1920:

Left, Butterick 2572 has a slenderizing opening down the front, revealing a colorful panel; right, Butterick 2560 has a side closing and a hipline that foreshadows the later 1920s.

A hat trimmed with monkey fur; fitted sleeves that cover part of the hand. Looking wider at the hip than the shoulder was not unusual. Butterick 2572.

“The broad sash widens the waistline….” The “vestee” revealed in down the middle is as long as the rest of the garment.

This dress would not make a woman’s hips look slender…. Butterick 2560.

(And the fashion for low busts — even on very young women — always makes me ask, “How is that possible?” Bust flatteners were available in 1920. )

Butterick 2582 is another surplice (or side) closing dress. Another “waist widening” sash effect.

Butterick 2580 from September, 1920.

This over dress ends several inches above the underskirt/satin slip.

Like many other dresses in the September issue, a muted coral or spice-brown red is used.

Left, Butterick 2602 is an embroidered dress with an oriental hem.

For autumn, an enormous brown hat is worn with this gold-ish dress.

The “oriental hem” is gathered to an inner lining.

If the bodice was made of a sheer material, the lining might have a “camisole top” with narrow straps instead of a full lining.

Perhaps it’s a good thing to be reminded that there have been eras when no woman ever asked, “Does this dress make my butt look big?”

 

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Filed under 1920s, bags, Hats, Hats and Millinery, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Butterick Fashions in Color, September 1920 (Part 1)

An unusual style from September 1920. Unfortunately printed off-register, but still interesting.

I feel the need for some color today, so I’m visiting Delineator magazine from September, 1920. As often happens, I’m struck by the 1920s’ color combinations. Not to mention the hats!

Butterick 2584 from September 1920, Delineator, page 96.

I may have shared some of these before — especially the “Oriental Hem” patterns.

Embroidery and fur add to the appeal of these costumes. Delineator, September 1920, page 95. Left, dress 2557 has a blouse effect. The waist is pulled in by elastic.

Right, 2577 has shorter panels over its long skirt. Long necklaces were worn.

A gray hat accents this embroidered dress in an autumnal muted red.

The draped side panels are inserted into the side seam. Butterick 2600 from September 1920.

There were many ways to make these side draperies, called “cascades.”

This long, slim, pleated dress appeals to me. Butterick 2571. The “non button” buttonholes are an odd touch. With the hem raised to just below the knee, this one could still have been worn in the later 1920s.

The same couldn’t be said for the wide-hipped dresses on the same page:

Butterick 2597 was not a style that lasted much longer. September 1920.

These deep pockets were not new in 1920.

Pockets were used to exaggerate the width of women's hips, in French designer fashions and in home sewing patterns. Bothe from Delineator, 1917.

Left, couture; right, home sewing pattern. Both illustrations from Delineator, 1917.

Sheer sleeves and overskirt combine in this afternoon dress.

Butterick 2573 is an afternoon dress. Click here for more Oriental effect [aka “harem”] skirts.

If you want to read entire Delineator magazines from 1920, you’ll find them, digitized by Google, at HathiTrust.org. Click here for volumes 96 and 97.

In Part 2, I’ll show color illustrations from September, 1920, page 96.

More 1920 fashions in color to come! (Yes, I’m afraid that really looks like a monkey fur hat on the left….)

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Filed under 1920s, Gloves, Hats, Hats and Millinery

Pleated Hats, 1920

Fashion illustration from Delineator, Sepember 1920.

I was browsing through my 1920 images, trying to find something bright and colorful — but, as often happens, I got sidetracked.

Apparently, the studio where Butterick pattern illustrations were done had a supply of pleated hats in 1920. Here are a few:

A hat with large pleats, Delineator, February 1920.

A hat gloriously pleated and adorned with roses. March, 1920.

Here’s the blouse worn with the first hat I featured. (This hat also had a flower on the pleats.)

Pleated hat with Butterick blouse 2619. September 1920.

Just to prove these hats existed…

Movie star Bebe Daniels looks world-weary in her pleated hat. February 1920, Delineator.

This one looks like a pleated tam-o-shanter:

Delineator, December 1920.

Big pleats, high fashion expression. Delineator, February 1920. (Look at that hand, too.)

The charm of 100 years ago…. For a refreshing visit to 1920, see Mary Grace McGeehan’s terrific blog, My Life 100 Years Ago.

 

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Filed under 1920s, Hats, Hats and Millinery, Vintage Accessories

Another Look at April 1926

Delineator, page 27, April 1926. Butterick patterns for women.

I was getting ready to revisit some Delineator pattern illustrations from April 1926 when I decided that, because that was a time of glorious full-color illustrations, perhaps I should show some images from a three-year-old post again. Plus a few more….

At left, Butterick dress pattern 6686; at right, Butterick dress pattern 6737, shown decorated with Butterick embroidery transfer 10430. Delineator, April 1926, page 27.

The red dress is more complicated than it looks, with that curving torso recalling medieval sideless gowns and a section of pleats at each side of the overskirt.

Butterick patterns for women, Delineator, April 1926, top of page 27. Butterick 6692, 6704, and 6739.

I can’t help noticing that “spring colors” (or summer colors) were different in 1926.

Butterick fashions for April 1926.

Navy and white (or pale gray) is still a spring combination, but that two-tone green seems more autumnal to me.

A slightly spicy tan or gold makes this Spring box-jacket and skirt ensemble. Delineator, April 1926.

Clothes for children are colorful, too:

This print dress for young teens catches my eye. The tweedy outfit doesn’t shout “Spring! or Summer” to me.

Older teens might wear a print with black ground:

Butterick pattern 6650, shown in a black print fabric; Butterick cape coat 6769 over dress 6719; and another border print, Butterick 6683, in light and dark muted green. April 1926.

Butterick dress patterns for young women, April 1926; Delineator page 29. Butterick 6711 and 6728. Notice the bust dart at right.

A wide band with a tight fit around the low hip is seen in the print dress above and in the greenish dress below:

Left, Butterick dress pattern 6716 is embroidered with Butterick transfer pattern 10378. It could be worked in beads or in shiny thread. Right, Butterick 6715. Im trying to picture that dress on a normally proportioned body….Hmmmm.

The shawl worn with the white evening dress is not the usual, embroidered “Spanish shawl” but a very colorful hand-painted one. A similar shawl appeared in this 1927 advertisement for Ivory soap flakes.

This "Aztec" pattern hand painted shawl was made in the Samuel Russel Studio, New York, and illustrated by Katharine Stinger for an Ivory Soap Flakes ad. Delineator, March 1927.

This “Aztec” pattern painted shawl was made in the Samuel Russel Studio, New York, and illustrated by Katharine Stinger for an Ivory Soap Flakes ad. Delineator, March 1927.

April 1926 was a time for low, snug hip bands, often tied with a huge bow.

Butterick pattern 6743 is very snug around the hips. Delineator, April 1926, p. 27.

A bride tied up in a big, big bow. Butterick 6711, April 1926.

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s

Book Recommendation: Three Books by Ruth Gordon, plus Vanity Fair

I am indulging an old addiction by re-reading all of Ruth Gordon’s non-fiction books. Most people know her from the movie Harold and Maude, (in which she is perfectly cast!) but she was already a well-known stage actress. (She started in 1915, flunked out of drama school, wouldn’t give up; by the 1930s she was a huge hit in London and on Broadway; she gave 1,078 performances as Dolly Gallagher Levi in The Matchmaker, and was nominated for a Tony award in 1956.)
She was a playwright (selling an autobiographical play to MGM for $100,000 in 1952 — it’s called The Actress, and Spencer Tracy plays her father;) a screenwriter (5 Oscar nominations with her husband Garson Kanin, including the Tracy/Hepburn comedies like Adam’s Rib.)
And she won her first Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress in Rosemary’s Baby in 1968-69. (She was 72 years old; she’d been acting since 1915.)  Accepting it, she said, “I can’t tell ya how encouragin’ a thing like this is….) See her acceptance speech here:
She published three books in her 70s and 80s; won an Emmy when she was 83 ….  In other words, a good role model for all of us!
I want some of her zest for life to rub off on me. (And her memory for funny stories. Among her many, many friends: Harpo Marx, Thornton Wilder, Charles Laughton, Helen Hayes, Lillian Gish, Dorothy Parker, Walter Matthau …. A lot of laughter!)

Typical story: In the 1910s, Ruth was still a nobody, but she was friends with a Broadway star who asked her to keep her company on the way to a movie audition. The would-be movie actress was asked to improvise a scene. She was shown a movie set which contained a table with a vase of flowers, a letter, and a pistol. As Ruth described the try-out, (I’m paraphrasing:) The actress enters the room. She goes to the table. She sees the letter. She opens the letter. It’s bad news. It’s terrible news! She sees the gun. She picks up the gun. She shoots the letter.

And she didn’t get the part! I guess the studio already had a comedienne.

Another story: When Gordon was a Broadway star herself and a member of the Algonquin Round Table (along with writers and wits  Robert Benchley, Alexander Woolcott, Dorothy Parker…,) she was also a friend of silent movie and stage star Lillian Gish and her sister, Dorothy. The Gish sisters were living in an apartment in New York. The apartment was on an upper floor, and the Gish sisters had a pet parrot. Its wings were clipped, so it was free to wander around indoors. One summer day, they forgot that the window was open and let the parrot out of his cage. It hopped on to a chair, then on to the table, and then, to their horror, it hopped up on the windowsill and flew out the window — and immediately realized that it couldn’t fly.

“Oh, dear!” it cried, flapping its wings,
                                                                      “OH dear!,”
                                                                                                 “OOOOH DEAR!” all the way down.

Luckily it landed on a canvas-covered truck, rode to New Jersey, and was returned to the Gish sisters, a sadder but wiser bird.

Top left, Ruth Gordon, with Raymond Massie and Pauline Lord on Broadway in Ethan Frome, 1936. Photo by Steichen from Vanity Fair.

But I don’t read Gordon’s autobiographical books just for the laughs. She writes as if the reader is an old friend, so reading her is like chatting over lunch with a fabulous friend who is wise and shrewd and full of stories, with 80 years of life experience and still interested in everything.
She’s very honest about her life — triumphs and failures, happy memories and regrets. Her first husband died when he was only 36; (she was several years younger.) Later, after an affair with a married man,  she chose to raise her illegitimate son, rather than pretend he was adopted, as other stars did in the same situation. She was often broke, embarrassed by owing money to her more successful friends. When she was successful — as an actor and a writer — she wore couture and loved it. (Of course she wrote about the experience of shopping couture; the pink satin gown she wore while accepting her Oscar was a Givenchy.)
She has total recall of every dress her mother made for her or that she wore early in her career. (And I wonder, exactly what was “tango-colored” in 1913?)
But she also writes about poverty in her teens, when she and her factory-worker father sold everything — including her few childhood books — to pay for her mother’s care after a stroke. Struggling to get a start in her acting career, she was hungry enough to consider the “casting couch” route. If you want to know what it was like to tour with a play that opened in a different city every day, Ruth can tell you. (Some hotels didn’t accept actors, so she claimed to be a traveling saleswoman for Onyx Hosiery.)

Onyx Hosiery ad, 1910.

She made headlines during World War II:
“‘Actress forty-six marries film director thirty.” Her husband said he liked the headline. “If it said ‘Actress forty-five’ a lot of people would say ‘She’s fifty if she’s a day,’ but when an actress says she’s forty-six, you have to believe her.” It was a long, happy, successful marriage and writing collaboration. And the snappy exchange of dialogue in those Spencer Tracy/Kathrine Hepburn movies was the work of Ruth Gordon and her husband, Garson Kanin. (Adam’s Rib, Pat and Mike, etc.)
Incidentally, the only award she usually mentions was that Oscar in 1969.  In 1915, The American Academy of Dramatic Arts told her “Don’t come back. You don’t show any promise.” In 1968, they asked her to come back to give her an Award for Achievement and to make a speech to the students. Boy, did she!
Here’s Ruth:
“I think what it takes is don’t give up! DON’T GIVE UP! Just don’t give up and that sounds like a put-down, but it isn’t. And it sounds as though it’s easy and it isn’t. DON’T GIVE UP! I learned that at the Academy and it was all I did learn. It wasn’t what my father paid four hundred dollars [tuition] for, but it may be the best lesson I was ever taught. DON’T GIVE UP! …. At the end of the year [Mr. Sargent] said, “Don’t come back. You don’t show any promise….”
I was scared. I was scared I wouldn’t find out how to be an actress because in that year the school hadn’t taught me. I’m smart and I can learn, but the school hadn’t given me a clue. Four hundred dollars and all I got for it was fright, because even to myself I didn’t show any promise….  ‘Don’t come back,’ he said. That’s a terrible thing, you could drop dead…. You could kill yourself…. You could give up….
Or you could learn something. Isn’t that what we came to the Academy for? So I learned something and what I learned here was and is DON’T GIVE UP…. When somebody says to you,”You’re not pretty enough,” “You’re too tall,” You’re too short,” “Your personality’s not what we’re looking for,” DON’T GIVE UP!’ “
I bet she enjoyed saying every word of that! And she said a lot more, too…
“Most every moment along the way takes courage. Courage is like a strain of yoghurt culture, if you have some you can have some more.” (From An Open Book.)
Start by reading My Side, her autobiography. Published in 1976, available in paperback or hardback. Her style is conversational; she skips from topic to topic and memory to memory as if she was chatting with you, but once I decided to go with her flow, it was wonderful! And, if you want to know more about shooting movies, Ruth tells you the details of filming Harold and Maude.
Next, An Open Book,  published in 1980. (It includes that lecture at The Academy.}

Then, if you’re hungry for more,   Myself Among Others , published in 1971. You probably haven’t heard of many of the early 20th century celebrities Gordon knew well and writes about. Luckily for me, I bought an anthology of articles and celebrity photos from Vanity Fair magazine in the 1920s when I was a teenager in 1960 and didn’t own many other books. This photo of Leslie Howard permanently warped my idea of “an attractive man.”

How to wear a top hat, white tie, and tails: Leslie Howard photographed by Steichen for Vanity Fair, 1934.

Not only did this book prepare me for many of the plays I have designed costumes for, it acted as my first door into a different era, with jokes and essays by many writers and critics who were household names in the 1920s and 1930s.  If you love those decades, it’s full of photos and articles — not about the 1920s and 1930s but from the 1920s and 1930s. Many copies are available online, from under $4.

So, in addition to Ruth Gordon’s various memoirs,  I also recommend Vanity Fair: A Cavalcade of the 1920s and 1930s, edited by Cleveland Amory and Frederic Bradlee.

Clara Bow, photographed by Dyer for Vanity Fair in 1928.

And if you haven’t seen Ruth Gordon at work as an actress, forgive Harold and Maude for being so “Seventies” and just watch a genius at work. (It’s on YouTube and on Prime.) A big part of acting is listening — I just watched a brief clip and now I want to watch the whole movie again. Gordon also gave a Golden Globe-winning (and Oscar nominated) performance as Daisy Clover’s mentally ill mother in Inside Daisy Clover. (1966) It is not a good movie, but Gordon is truthful and real in every scene she has.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, 1930s, A Costumers' Bookshelf, Men's Formalwear & Evening, Musings

Two Butterick Hat Patterns from 1926

Butterick hat pattern 6810, May 1926, Delineator.

Butterick turban pattern 6634 from Delineator, February 1926.

Usually, Butterick would feature its hat patterns repeatedly, showing the Butterick hats in Delineator pattern illustrations over several months, worn with a variety of other Butterick patterns.  I was surprised by how often this turban (6634) appeared, and how few times the six gored cloche (6810) was shown.

Hat 6810 was shown with a coat and dress ensemble in May, 1926.

Here, it seems to be made of one dark material and one lighter material, or one shiny and one matte. The band-like brim turns up and is tied at the side back.

Butterick hat pattern 6810, May 1926, Delineator.

The two tone effect could be subtle, the result of using a ribbed fabric like faille with the grain running either up and down or crosswise, as in another cloche hat from Butterick:

Butterick cloche hat pattern 5952 from 1925.

(I am surprised how many cloche hat patterns for home stitchers were available.  Click here to see two from 1925. Here’s one, with trim variations, from 1924. Butterick 5128 was shown with many trim variations — which could be adapted for any simple cloche hat you buy, if you’d rather not make a gored hat pattern.

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/three-woven-ribbon-trims.jpg

This trim is just strips of grosgrain ribbon woven together. Circa 1924.

Back to hat 6810 from 1926:

Left: here Butterick hat 6810 was made in one shiny, solid-colored fabric to match a sheer green georgette dress. 1926.

Turban pattern 6634, on the other hand, was illustrated many times.

Butterick turban pattern 6634, from Delineator, February 1926.

The turban is worn by two models in this illustration.

Left and right, Turban 6634. The hat in the middle is not 6810.

What to wear with your turban. These clothing patterns are in the normal ladies’ size range: bust 32 to 44 inches.

Left, turban 6634 on a page of “Paris Patterns.” March 1926. The commercially made cloche on the right is nearly brimless.

Not all fashion drawing is perfect…. but this shows turban 6634 with a matching gray ensemble of cape and dress.

Turban 6634 with cape 6618  and dress 6642.

The same dress (6642) was featured on another page, without the cape or turban. The turban (right) topped a different dress.

Right, turban 6634. Delineator, March 1926. (“Jewel” placement could vary to taste.)

Butterick patterns, Delineator, March 1926, page 34. Left is dress 6642 again. The other dresses use border prints.

I think of turbans as aging, rather than youthful, since they can cover the hair completely. But these 1926 fashions are not necessarily for older or stouter women; they are in the normal size range, and the turban pattern itself was “for ladies and misses [ages 14 to 20.]” And there is usually a glimpse of hair at the cheek.

A glimpse of hair softened the turban look.

Those two dresses on the right above make clever use of border prints:

Left, a dress with its own light coat, worn open. This used to be called a “redingote” style, and it’s flattering to women who feel they aren’t thin enough to wear authentic 1920s’ styles.

But turban 6634 was also shown on patterns for the stout: Dress sizes up to 52 inch bust.

Turban 6635 was shown on this page of fashions for large or stout women, Delineator, March 1926, page 36. Left: Note the clever tucks giving fullness over the bust.

Again, turban 6634 worn with a large size dress pattern. May, 1926.

Butterick turban pattern 6634 from Delineator, February 1926.

The turban is always shown with some kind of pins or buttons as decoration; they could be placed to suit the wearer.

Tying the turban. Right: Dead fox optional.

witness2fashion: One of the disadvantages of attending church in the 1950s was the possibility of sitting behind a woman wearing a fox stole, with its literally beady eyes — made of glass — reproaching you throughout the service.

 

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Filed under 1920s, Accessory Patterns, Hairstyles, Hats, Hats and Millinery, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Loungewear, Hostess Gowns and Negligees, 1926

Left, “Hostess gown or Negligee” 6627; Right, negligee 6568. Butterick patterns in Delineator, May 1926.

What could a woman wear at home during her moments of leisure in the 1920s? AllWays in Fashion recently offered very good advice (for these weeks when we are “socially isolating” ourselves): Even if you don’t leave the house, get dressed. I’m a retiree whose arthritic knees have been complaining a lot recently, and it’s much too easy for me to stay in pajamas all day. (I do put on my medical compression hose, but loose, casual trousers and pajamas feel better over them than the static-prone, dressier fabrics I’d wear to a lunch date.) But I really ought to make more of an effort to dress nicely for my spouse!

Butterick negligee / robe 6568, from January 1926.

Negligees from Butterick patterns, May 1926. Left 6197, right, 6828.

Hostess gown (or negligee) 6393 from May 1926.

These 1926 robes or negligees  and “hostess gowns” are a little surprising. Some are descendants of the “tea gown,” but a little too much like sleepwear for me to wear while greeting invited guests! Let’s just consider them as robes or pajamas (but I’ll include their original pattern descriptions….)

These pajamas are rather fun, with their bias bound, pointy hems:

Pajama 6031 is easy to imagine on a beach….

The bottoms of the pants don’t have to be gathered — they have a pointed hem like the pj top.A bit like a masquerade costume is this Asian-influenced pajama set:

Embroidered “French pajama-negligee;” Butterick 6093 pictured in May 1926.

This “hostess gown” was featured repeatedly. It is actually a robe with a side-closing (“surplice” style.) I imagine a few concealed snaps down the front would be necessary!

No. 6627 from Delineator, March 1926.

No. 6627 illustrated in March 1926.

Left, No. 6627 illustrated in May 1926. Right, Negligee 6568, in sizes up to 52 inches!

Text for 6627, from April 1926.

One of my stranger 1926 discoveries, also featured in more than one month, was this “dressing sacque,” Butterick 6558.

Dressing sacque from Delineator, May 1926.

Dressing sacque 6558 from Delineator, April 1926.

Description of No. 6558 from May 1926.

The illustration below gives a good idea of when you’d wear a dressing sacque:  you’re dressed except for your dress and shoes; now’s the time to put your sacque on over your underwear and slip, and do your hair, powder your face, and apply mascara, eyebrow pencil, lipstick, and rouge, keeping your dress free of powder spills and stray hairs. Click here for an 18th century painting of two ladies, one dressing and one dressed.

Dressing sacque 6558 from Delineator, January 1926.

In previous centuries, women might own a “combing jacket”  or “peignoir,” [from “peigne,” the French for “comb”] worn while putting up their hair (or having their hair powdered in the 1700s.) Sew Historically posted about a lovely Edwardian combing jacket. Click here for an 1887 dressing sacque. “Negligee” is another word borrowed from the French; it’s come to suggest a fragile or see-through boudoir garment, but originally a lady might receive guests while “en negligee,” meaning she was dressed informally, rather than dressed to go out. In this painting by Hogarth, the lady of the house is having her hair styled, en negligee,  while entertaining a room full of visitors:

https://janeaustensworld.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/marriage-c3a0-la-mode-the-countesss-morning-levee1.jpg

“The Toilette,” by William Hogarth, from Marriage a la Mode, circa 1743. National Gallery, Via Wiki Media.

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, lingerie, Nightclothes and Robes, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Nose Shapers, 1920s

Detail of ad from Motion Picture Magazine, Dec 1921.

My local newspaper regularly runs large ads from a plastic surgery clinic, showing before and after photos. The ads that annoy me the most are ones suggesting that a tiny, turned-up nose on women is preferable to an “ethnic” nose — regardless of how it would relate to her other features.

This focus on the “perfect” nose isn’t new. I found ads for two competing “nose shapers” in the same issue of this Motion Picture Magazine from December, 1921.

Which is the “Before” and which is the “After?” Trilety ad from Motion Picture Magazine, Dec. 1921.

Other ads for the Trilety Nose Shaper clarify the problem: Pug noses were not in fashion with M. Trilety.

Ad from Motion Pictures Magazine, 1923. (To be fair, actor Michael Caine*** has also advised that no one wants to see inside your nostrils in a close-up on the giant screen.)

Trilety nose shaper ad, Motion Picture Magazine, 1923.

The Anita Nose Adjuster was not specifically concerned with pug noses:

Anita Nose Adjuster ad, December 1921. Motion Pictures Magazine.

“Refined features attract; misshapen features repel. Such is nature’s law. If your nose is ill-shaped, you can make it perfect with ANITA NOSE ADJUSTER. In a few weeks in the privacy of your own home and without interfering with your daily occupation, ANITA NOSE ADJUSTER shapes while you sleep — quickly, painlessly, permanently and inexpensively. There are many inferior imitations, but the ANITA NOSE ADJUSTER is the ORIGINAL and ONLY comfortable adjuster highly recommended by physicians for fractured or mis-shaped noses. Write to-day for free booklet, “Happy Days Ahead.” No obligations.

“SPECIAL SIZES FOR CHILDREN.”

Another Trilety ad from Motion Picture Magazine, 1923.

More from the “How the Shape of My Nose Delayed My Success” Trilety Nose Shaper ad, 1923.

Model 25 “has six adjustable pressure regulators, is made of light polished metal, is firm and fits every nose comfortably. The inside is upholstered with a fine chamois skin and no metal parts come in contact with the skin. Thousands of unsolicited Testimonials ….”

It’s incredible how long this company lasted, considering its offer of “your money refunded if you are not satisfied.”

One of the concepts that got me through my teen years was the realization that there is a difference between being pretty and being beautiful. The bust of Nefertiti in the Egyptian Museum of Berlin shows a woman who is beautiful by the standards of almost any nation and era.  Many girls are pretty, at least for a brief time when they have youth and health working for them. But mere prettiness is much more common than beauty, which may require a certain amount of maturity and experience of life. Sophia Loren and Audrey Hepburn were inspiring to me in the 1960s, because they were beautiful, rather than pretty. They didn’t have blonde hair or tiny, turned-up noses, or perfectly regular features. They were not “cute.” Neither was Greta Garbo. Maybe confidence, and feeling comfortable being who you are, is more important than trying to conform to “the norm.” Josephine Baker from St. Louis, MO, made herself the most glamourous woman in Paris — couturiers sent her free dresses and begged her to wear them.  Would Frida Kahlo have been more beautiful with a tiny nose and plucked eyebrows?

*** Sir Michael Caine has written more than one book about acting on film, as well as making an entertaining Video in which he explains why a simple thing like smoking a cigarette while delivering lines in a movie is much harder than you’d think.

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Filed under 1920s, Cosmetics, Beauty Products, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture