Category Archives: evening and afternoon clothes

Mistletoe and Hemlines, 1920s

Butterick patterns for girls. December 1924, Delineator.

An entire page of patterns for girls and young teens had a Christmas theme in 1924. Above, left, a very young girl holds mistletoe over her own head. Right, a little girl is ready for snow in her red hat, coat and leggings. (Imagine buttoning those leggings onto a squirming 3 year old!)

Holiday dresses for girls, December 1924. The older girl’s hem is just below her knees, while the younger girl’s hem is mid-knee.

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Dresses for Girls 8 to 15, 1924; Woman’s dress, 1928

I’m always struck by how “right” the proportions on early Twenties’ dresses for girls look, while the length of dresses for women and older teens was still quite long:

Patterns for grown women (“Ladies,” bust size 32 to 44 inches.) September 1924. Delineator.

Dresses for misses aged 15 to 20, November 1924. Not a rouged knee in sight — yet.

Patterns for girls under 15, October 1924. Knee-length!

Before the late nineteen twenties, as girls got older they dressed more like grown women, exchanging short skirts for longer hems.

The younger the girl, the shorter the dress in 1924.

Those hems make even these 1924 party dresses for older teens look long and dowdy.

These teens are wearing quite long hems, compared to their younger sisters. December, 1924.

But, by 1927, adult women were wearing dresses as short as the pre-teens of 1924! Women aspired to look younger, and youth set the fashions.

Left a teen under 15, 1924. Right, a grown woman from 1927. Both are Butterick patterns illustrated in Delineator.

In 1927, these sophisticated women are wearing hems that only schoolgirls would have worn just three years earlier.

Ladies’ fashions from November 1927 are as short as this girl’s dress from 1924.

This is just a sample of the “youth” trend of the late Twenties. Of course, by 1927, young teens were showing the entire knee….

Coat and dress for 15-and-unders. November 1927.

For girls 12 to 16 years of age. November 1927.

As one (hair dye) advertisement put it, “You Cannot Afford to be Gray because … this is the Age of Youth.” (1925.) Happy 2020!

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Troubadour Sleeves, 1926-1927

Butterick patterns from Delineator, December 1926.

The illustration on the left is from an article on dress alterations. Click here to see it. These sleeves were a Butterick fashion in late 1926 and early 1927. (I haven’t found any sold by Sears….) Sometimes called “troubadour” sleeves, they were known by other names — “dolman” or bat-wing or “deep armhole” sleeves, too.

Troubadour sleeves. Butterick blouse pattern 1174, from December 1926.

Left, “deep sleeve” Butterick 1154; Right, “deep armhole” Butterick 1167. Both from December 1926 Delineator.

“Fashion Outlines of 1927:” left is dolman-sleeved Butterick 1216. January 1927.

Butterick 1121, a youthful fashion, was described as having “bat-wing” sleeves. November 1926, Delineator.

Butterick 1124, “bat-wing” deep sleeves. November 1926.

Whatever it was called, Butterick was definitely pushing this fashion in 1926-27, although I’m not sure how successful the push was.

The heroine in this story illustration by John F. Crosman wears a dolman/troubadour/deep-armhole dress. December 1926, Delineator.

Butterick 1120 has troubadour sleeves; this dress uses contrast sleeves of metallic fabric.

Butterick 1110 illustrated in November 1926. Satin crepe dress with red and silver metallic sleeves.

French couture: a coat of “medieval cut” by Lucien Lelong. Sketched for Delineator, December 1926.

Butterick’s version of a dolman sleeved  evening coat: pattern 1086 from November 1926.

I wonder if this dress style didn’t really catch on because you would need a new coat like this one if you made dresses with the new “troubadour/dolman/bat-wing” sleeves, which wouldn’t fit under a normal coat sleeve.

“Deep armhole coat” Butterick 1158; Delineator , November 1926. Not all troubadour sleeves would fit under a coat like this, much less a normal coat.

The slim lines of the late twenties included close-fitting sleeves in both 1926 and 1927.

Butterick deep armhole coat 1158, January 1927. [It’s not very deep!] The blouse at right has very close, long sleeves which would fit under any coat.

More typical Butterick dress and coat patterns, from December 1927, have close fitting sleeves and high armholes, even the raglan sleeve at right.

Delineator suggested that Vionnet solved the sleeve problem with this evening wrap:

Worth evening dress and Vionnet evening cape. Delineator, April 1927. A cape would accommodate any sleeve — or no sleeves.

A not-very-thorough search hasn’t found Troubadour sleeves elsewhere, in spite of all these examples from Butterick’s Delineator magazine. Sears did carry a lot of “Troubadour red” items in 1926. I found only one dolman sleeved dress pattern for 1926 at the Commercial Pattern Archive. It was a Butterick pattern.

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Filed under 1920s, Children's Vintage styles, evening and afternoon clothes, Not Quite Designer Patterns, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Age and Hem Length, September 1925

Hem variations on young women, teens to twenty. Delineator, September 1925.

Generally, grown women (“Ladies’ sizes”) were illustrated with slightly longer hems in 1925, but the rules were not absolute.

Dresses for adult women/Ladies’ bust size 33 to 44 inches. Delineator, September 1925.

A row of Ladies’ dresses. (The women are chatting with men, one of whom wears a golf suit with knickers.)

Some hem variations are visible in that line-up.

Dresses for Ladies in larger sizes. Delineator, Sept. 1925.

No. 6268 & 6286 was available up to hip size 49.5 inches.

Not much larger than the usual Ladies’ sizes, but perhaps bigger than one would expect.

When it comes to unrealistic illustrations of large sizes, this is a star: would you believe size 52?

Well, it was also available in size 33. Nevertheless….

This color page featured Butterick dresses for teens and small women:

On a page of dresses for women age 15 to 20, hems vary. Some of these patterns were also available for small women. Delineator, Sept. 1925.

Notice the hem length difference between 6245 and the others. Although younger women (20 and under) might wear shorter skirts, there was some flexibility. (Besides, shorter women would need shorter skirts to remain in proportion.)

For schoolgirls (and younger girls,) the younger the girl, the shorter the skirt, with very young girls wearing dresses so short that they needed matching bloomers.

Left, an outfit suitable for schoolgirls aged 8 to 15. Right, this dress pattern for schoolgirls aged  6 to 10 came with bloomers for the youngest wearers.

Left, really young girls through age 6 might wear very short smocks with matching bloomers. Right, clothes for schoolgirls aged 8 to 15 are similar to women’s styles — but shorter. Delineator, Sept. 1925.

Styles for women; Delineator, Sept. 1925.

Some of those dresses came in larger sizes, often associated with older women. So when choosing a hem length in 1925, individual preferences might outweigh the dictates of fashion.

For a spectrum of styles:

Dress lengths for Teens (usually 15 to 20.) At or slightly below the knee.

Dress lengths for Ladies (usually bust 33 to 44 inches.) Definitely longer than the Teens’ dresses.

Dresses for women in large sizes. [‘Larger’ and ‘older’ were often equated.] Left, No. 6285 for women 36 to 52 inch bust; right, No. 6221 for women 36 to 48 bust. [Obviously illustrated as they might look on the smallest sizes given….]

Except for schoolgirls, women really did have a choice of lengths.

[Sorry about the picture quality — I took these many years ago.]

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Filed under 1920s, Children's Vintage styles, evening and afternoon clothes, Sportswear, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

College Wardrobe for Women, 1929

Essentials of a perfect College Wardrobe; Delineator, September 1929.

It’s a bit late in the year to be planning an “off to college” wardrobe, but Delineator devoted several pages to this question in September, 1929.

Administrators at Vassar, Wellesley, and Smith colleges shared their observations on what college girls were wearing in 1929. Delineator, Sept 1929, pp. 29 & 104.

Administrators at three prestigious East Coast women’s colleges contributed their observations in an accompanying article, which was later quoted in the Butterick pattern descriptions.

In addition to Butterick patterns, several “college clothing” illustrations were sketched from clothes being sold at Lord & Taylor.

These “College Requirements” could be purchased at Lord & Taylor. Delineator, Sept. 1929, page 28.

At all three colleges, sportswear — rather than “city” clothing — was said to dominate.  (Vassar was literally “in the country.” In the case of Wellesley, Freshmen lived in the nearby town, so clothes suitable for walking and bicycling to campus were necessary.) Dressing for dinner usually required a change, but not into evening dress.  However, dances and Proms called for at least one formal evening gown.  [I attended a women’s college in California in the 1960s, and we often loaned or borrowed evening gowns for off campus dances, so having only one wasn’t a real problem. Our dates saw us in a different dress each time.] I also appreciated reading about a dorm at Smith where the girls grouped together to rent a sewing machine! All three writers agreed that sporty, casual clothing — home made or purchased — dominated the college wardrobe and to some extent erased class distinctions. (In the late Twenties, Vassar had 1150 undergraduate students, Wellesley 1500, and Smith 2000.)

Laura W. L. Scales, Smith College. Delineator,  Sept. 1929, page 29.

I’ll start with college clothes available from Lord & Taylor in 1929:

(A) A fur coat was practical on campus in snowy winters, but wool coats were equally acceptable.

(B) is an afternoon dress, suitable for formal daytime events (teas, concerts) or as a dinner dress at college.

Wool knits, jersey, and tweeds were practical and traditional “country” looks; most of these colleges were then in the country a few miles from big cities, although urban sprawl has changed that.

“Simulated suede raincoat”? Interesting.  Augusta “Bernard” and “Louiseboulanger” were top Paris designers,

A warm robe, pajamas for sleep and dorm lounging, plus “sports” underwear (J): the top and bottom are buttoned together. 1929.

Formal evening wrap and dress from Lord & Taylor. September 1929. The coat is short; the gown has a long dipping hem.

Note those stretchy bias diamond pieces at the hip of the gown. Pearl-covered handbag.

Butterick patterns for the young college woman, September 1929:

Butterick patterns for college women, Sept. 1929, p. 30.

This dress really is easier to make than it looks. The full, scalloped skirt is cut on the straight grain, lined with “skin” colored taffeta, and has a dipping hem because it is attached to a dipping bodice.

Intimate apparel for college girls:

The slip at right has built in panties, to save time while dressing ….

“No brassiere is necessary,” but some girls do “make this set with a bandeau brassiere instead of a vest.”

Fall and winter weather was another good reason for wearing sporty wool clothing with low heeled shoes and wool, instead of silk, stockings on campus.

Wool fabrics were suitable for campus or weekends in town:

More sporty patterns for college women, 1929. Butterick patterns, Delineator, page 31.

A tweed suit suitable for city or country, a chic two-toned jersey dress, and a princess line wool or jersey dress with flared panels. Butterick patterns from Delineator, September 1929, p. 31

A sporty tweed dress with laced trim (very popular in the 30s), a pleated wool dress with Deco lines (“staircase pleats,”) and a fur-trimmed tweed coat. Butterick patterns for college women, Delineator, Sept. 1929, p. 31.

It’s sad to realize that these attractive 1929 styles would be out of fashion just a year later — although many women would have no choice but to continue wearing them as the economy crumbled in the early nineteen thirties.

 

 

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Costume Jewelry from Paris, 1927-1928

Vanilla lace Chanel gown worn with a bow pin at the shoulder. Delineator, May 1927. The illustrator is probably Desvignes.

In 1928, writer Marie Beynon Ray devoted an article to the appearance of designer jewelry sold by the top couture houses.

Title of article in Delineator, April 1928, page 35.

“Pin of cloudy crystal set off by the somber black of onyx in rectangles binding the farther sides. The pin is worn at the shoulder, on the hat, or to hold the frock’s drapery.” Delineator, April 1928, page 35.

A set of cut crystal necklaces in several lengths and a matching group of bracelets. Delineator, April 1928.

The change was not only that couturiers were branching out into a new field (they had already discovered how lucrative their own perfume labels could be) but also that non-precious jewelry was suddenly chic: “a yard of so of ’emeralds’ of a size they never could be, or a half yard of ‘diamond’ bracelets up the arm….”

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Illustrations by J. Desvignes for Delineator, November 1926.

“A Jewel for Every Occasion,”  Delineator, April 1928.

“Once — not so long ago —  no lady worthy of the name would have been caught, dead or alive, wearing imitation jewelry…. jewelry so Gargantuan and blatant that there is not the smallest pretense that it is genuine…. And all this the dressmakers of Paris have brought about.” [Semi-precious stones like rock crystal were replacing diamonds and real pearls, as rhinestones, “paste” or “Strass” jewels, glass pearls, and cut glass jewels became chic instead of shameful.] Big artificial pearls were replacing “the string of pearls so tiny and so meticulously perfect that they might be real.” “No jeweler in the world, not all the Cartiers and Tiffanys combined, could turn out jewelry of the stupendous proportions that ladies demand today.” [That image of Chanel wearing lots of fake pearls is not from the Twenties, but the same site says she “opened her own jewelry workshop” in 1924 and introduced diamond paste jewelry — i.e., fake diamonds — in 1928.]

Long diamond [?] “leaf” earrings with a bangle bracelet; Delineator, April 1928.

The shoulder pin is rock crystal with a “star” design shining up through it. The bracelet is made of rectangular crystals (not diamonds.)

It looks to be “expansible.” ( JewelryPatents.com is a very helpful site!)

Art Moderne geometry in a rhinestone buckle and an oblong crystal pin. [Crystal may mean “glass,” as in “Swarovski crystal” or “Czech crystal.”]

Square-cut rhinestones on the links and the pendant of a necklace. Delineator, April 1928. (That’s a chenille pom-pom on her shoulder.)

“But what have the dressmakers to do with jewelry?… they have found that everything that a woman puts on her body, while she is wearing one of their gowns, enormously affects the chic of the gown…. And now, when she buys her dress, she buys, at the same time and place, the jewels that complete it.”

“A Jewel for Every Occasion,”  Delineator, April 1928.

“Since the dressmakers have thus summarily taken the designing of jewelry into their own hands, two expected developments have taken place: first, the jewels bear a much closer relation to the gown than formerly; and second, they are not genuine.”

This shoulder pin in the shape of a bow was a featured accessory in March 1927. Delineator, p. 16.

Very similar dark stones outlined in rhinestones form a bow on this Chanel evening dress. May 1927, Delineator.

This “bow” necklace and bracelet in gold were designed by Premet.

“Metal jewelry may be worn with sport clothes.”

Costume jewelry — not from couture designers — was affordable. My mother (b. 1904) worked as a secretary, but she was able to afford a set of three, large  graduated crystal necklaces like these:She also owned some pins like this Art Deco clip (which I wear, sometimes:)

Large Art Deco clip, costume jewelry, circa 1930.

It has a patent number, but I haven’t been able to identify or date it. It’s a rather impressive size — over two inches long:My mother and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on many things, but in this case… Thanks!

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Evening Gowns Held up with Straps, 1920

Butterick pattern 2690, evening gown with camisole top, Delineator, December 1920. This pattern was featured two months in a row.

Evening gowns for misses aged 14 to 19; Butterick patterns from February 1920. Delineator.

The 1920 name for these gowns, bare-shouldered and supported only by straps, was “camisole top.”

Paris fashion by Georgette, illustrated for Delineator in February 1920.

Actresses and couturiers introduced these very bare evening looks before 1920, but I am surprised by how many 1920 examples I found when I started looking — and in just one source, Butterick’s Delineator magazine. [I did find a Standard pattern from 1919 with a straight top, simple straps, and optional sheer, cape-like sleeves at the Commercial Pattern Archive: Standard 391, archive No. 1919.65 BWS]

There aren’t even visible straps holding this bodice up, just the beaded hem of the sheer drape:

Butterick evening waist pattern 2083, Delineator, January 1920.

Digression: Serendipity — here is a surprising discovery I made while reading the text of a 1924 corset ad:

Unfortunately, this corset ad mentioned a strapless brassiere but did not illustrate it. Bien Jolie ad, Delineator, September 1924.

The earliest strapless brassiere I found in the Sears catalog was Fall, 1939.

Only slim strands of beads are supporting this gown from 1920.  Delineator, March 1920, p. 128.

The text for this photo concerned the “coils over the ears hairstyle,” and didn’t even mention that very revealing dress. Nor did this photo of a messy “houpette” hairdo have much to say about the beaded straps of this young woman’s gown:

This photo caption did mention “braces over the shoulders,” but was really focused on the “houpette” hairstyle.

“We only meant to show her ‘houpette’ coiffure, but from the braces over her shoulders to the ribbons on her feet she is so utterly engaging that we could find no place to draw the line.”Delineator, March 1920.

While I recover from that admiring description, perhaps I should mention that the 1920s’ “camisole” was sometimes an undergarment for the top of the body, but also referred to the simple bodice that many 1920s’ skirts hung from.

Later 1920s’ skirts didn’t necessarily hang from the waist; a simple bodice (“camisole”) could be basted to skirts so they hung from the shoulder.  Butterick skirt patterns 6601 and 6588, 1926; Warren’s camisole skirt foundation ad, 1924.

One thing “camisole” seems to mean is “a bodice/undergarment suspended from [narrow] straps.” (In 1920, the word “chemise” might also describe an undergarment with narrow straps.)

The narrow straps of these French couture gowns are really minimal: just a strand or two of beads:

Don’t be distracted by her necklace; her dress is ends just above the bust and is suspended from strands of beads. By Drecoll, sketched for Delineator, May 1920.

Evening gown by Beer. Sketched for Delineator, October 1920.

Butterick patterns followed suit:

Butterick 2690, illustrated in November of 1920.

This camisole topped dress came in sizes 32 to 46 bust, and the skirt, embroidered with a spiderweb pattern, seems “vamp”-ish to me.

Butterick embroidery design 10741 is a pattern of spiderwebs.

[Lanvin showed a lacy spiderweb design like this in 1922 (French Vogue, January 1.) ]

The same 1920 issue of Delineator showed a more modest alternate version: sleeveless, with V-neck.

Butterick evening dress 2690, in a more covered-up version; illustrated in Delineator, November 1920.

Yes, this is the same dress as the black, very bare version at the top of this post; that illustration was from December 1920.

Butterick 2690 with the camisole top and the “pleated panels” skirt. December 1920. It seems to be black, but might be any dark color.

Delineator showed women how to make “Paris” trims for evening dresses:

“Making Paris Trims” article from Delineator, March 1920, p. 147. [Several of the dresses for misses have this high waist and a strap top.]

These very bare dresses for misses have beaded straps:

Butterick 2067 for young women aged 14 to 19, February 1920.

Butterick dress 2702-B is a camisole top dress. For misses 16 to 20.  Delineator, November 1920, p. 127.

Butterick 2702-B next to a V-necked dress more usual in the evening wear of the mid-1920s. Actually, they’re the same pattern…!

The “conservative” dress pattern (2702-A) also included a camisole top version (B); what’s more, No. 2702 is the “size 16 to 20 years” version of Butterick 2690! Butterick was really committed to these styles.

Butterick 2702 is a teens’ 16 to 20 version of 2690, illustrated in two camisole versions and a pale blue  sleeveless one earlier in this post! 2702-A is like the sleeveless version of 2690, but with an optional sheer sleeve.

Straps didn’t have to be beaded:

Butterick 2181; February 1920. Two different straps.

Party looks for “debs and sub-debs,” Delineator, Feb. 1920.

The contrast between the covered-up and very bare dress is striking, and reminds me that young men returning from war were more accustomed to the #2151 kind of party dress (above left) than the “nothing under this dress but me!” #2181 (center.)

Two dresses with strap tops, and a slightly more conservative one, right. #2130 is actually pretty revealing, too, since it has a very sheer layer over a camisole top.

The sheer-over-camisole-top versions were probably chosen by girls (or their mothers) who were not ready to show off so much bare skin. All these alternate views include a sheer sleeve.

Paris designer Elise Poret showed a sheer layer over her bare, camisole-strapped bodice in February 1920.

Party dresses for 14 to 19 year-old women. Butterick 2107 and 2238, March 1920.

The dress at left has a gathered sheer layer over a camisole top. Most 1920 evening dresses were not bare, camisole topped fashions. This pattern is another from February 1920.

Butterick evening waist pattern 2172 with skirt 2166. February 1920. The horizontal line of the camisole layer is partially covered by the V-shaped top layer.

This dress, Butterick 2682, does not have the dropped waist of the later nineteen-twenties, but the V-neck and sleeveless bodice are very typical of those years.

However, the popularity of camisole-topped dresses —  bare, revealing dresses — is shown by their appearance in these ads:

Ad for Woodbury soap, for “the skin you love to touch.” Delineator, March 1920.

From an ad for Cuticura soap, November 1920.

From an ad for Cutex nail polish. September, 1920. Two different straps.

From an ad for DeMiracle hair remover, “every woman’s depilatory.” Delineator, January 1920.

Detail, cover of Delineator Magazine, October 1920.

The initial shock of dancing with young women in scanty, revealing clothing didn’t happen in the “Roaring Twenties.” It began with the “lost generation” right after World War I. ” …Members of The Lost Generation had survived World War I but had lost their brothers, their youth, and their idealism.”  They didn’t “discover” sex, but they certainly discussed it more frankly than their grandparents had.

 

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1910s and WW I era, 1920s, evening and afternoon clothes, Hairstyles, lingerie, Underthings, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Beautiful Shoes from 1930

These I. Miller shoes could be dyed to match your dress. Featured in Delineator, June 1930, p. 28.

1930 was a good year for shoes, especially if you like high heels. Most of these are afternoon or evening shoes, but it’s a pleasure to see the quality of delicate scrolls of piping, or combinations of fabrics and kid….

These high heels are piped with silver kid. From J. & P. Cousins, in Delineator, June 1930.

These high heels from 1930 could be dyed to match your dress.

Pale blue suede & kid afternoon pumps from Laird Schober. Delineator, June 1930, p. 28.

White kid pumps with a flash of colored trim and colored heel. For a color image of gold kid and brocade Laird Schober shoes, click here.

Queen Quality shoes were advertised in Delineator; they are not extravagantly expensive, but not cheap, either.

[In my experience, pumps with that high cut are pretty much guaranteed to make women’s feet bulge over the top after they stand for a few hours….]

Queen Quality shoe prices, May 1928. They range from $7.50 to $12.50., “some as low as $6.” [In 1936, a college girl was expected to spend $12 per year on shoes, @ $3 per pair.]

For more causal occasions, heel heights are varied.

Brown and white spectator pumps from Stetson, featured in Delineator, June 1930, p. 28.

This white linen and white kid sport shoe from Adapto came with piping in various colors.

There’s a lot going on in this perforated tan and white sandal from Walkover. June 1930; Delineator, p. 28.

Delineator may have occasionally featured brands that advertised in the magazine, like Queen Quality, but most of the shoes mentioned in the June, 1930, issue were not made by advertisers.

These are couture-level shoes by famous French designers:

Designer shoes from Paris; Delineator, June 1930, p. 29. Made by Costa. The Met Museum has three pairs of Costa shoes.

The complex heel — are those bands of gold or silver leather, or jewels? — and the graceful curves are a sign of quality.

Ducerf-Scavini was very high-end. For 1928 shoe designs by Ducerf-Scavini, click here.

Even mass-market shoes from 1930 could be elegantly trimmed; in fact, Foot Saver shoes were aimed (as you might expect) at w omen who wanted comfort as well as style.

This ad for Foot Saver shoes appeared in the same June 1930 issue of Delineator as the high fashion shoes. The shoe on the right looks like it’s made to be comfortable, but the style at left is not noticeably dowdy….

Nor is this one:

Foot Saver evening shoe, November 1930.

Foot Saver shoe ad, November 1930.

The 1930 shoe illustrations from Delineator, June 1930, pp. 28 & 29, were by Leslie Saalberg. For more gorgeous shoes see Paris Shoes for April, 1928.

 

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From Curved to Straight and Back Again: Corsets 1917 to 1929

Ad for Bien Jolie Corsette, an all-in-one bust flattener and corset. Delineator, March 1926.

Corsets, 1907 and 1926. The garment on the right is a “corsette,” very lightly boned — if boned at all.

I took a detour from corsets to brassieres before writing this post, because brassieres became necessary when corsets became so low that they couldn’t offer bust support.

The female shape as seen in corsets advertised in Delineator: 1907, 1917, and 1924.

American Lady corset ad, April 1917.

In 1918, this Kabo corset and brassiere ad pairs a corset with a brassiere. The two were often worn together. Kabo made both.

Most brassieres of this era did not have two “pockets,” or “cups” as they were later called; they did not lift the breasts, but “confined” them. Click here for bust confiners.

Ad for the Kabo “Flatter-U” brassiere and bust flattener. Delineator, November 1920. “It makes a flatter you.”

DeBevoise brassiere ad, June 1920. Delineator. This mesh brassiere (some would call it a bandeau) produces a low bust with a very gentle curve.

Warner’s Rust Proof Corset ad, February 1922. These corsets are being worn without a brassiere.

These dresses from 1922 are nearly unstructured, like a tube with a belt and sleeves. Butterick patterns. Low busts, slouching posture.

[How were those busts possible? Read on.] The smooth, tubular lines of the Twenties demanded a smooth, all-in-one garment, brassiere plus girdle, and the corsette or corselette was born.

Article in Delineator, February 1924.

This Treo “brassiere girdle” — “a combination garment” appeared in May, 1925.

Bien Jolie corsette ad, October 1924, Delineator.

Some women (especially young or slender ones) wore a girdle without a brassiere. Below, left: a “hip-confiner” of glove silk.

Left, a glove-silk hip-confiner was almost not there. Right, a corset for those who needed more control. Delineator, February 1924.

Some wore neither.

Some slim women wore a girdle or corset with a brassiere…

Brassiere patterns from Butterick’s Delineator, July 1926.

…  or a bandeau.

Bust-flattening bandeaux from Sears catalog, 1928.

However, for those larger women who wore a bust-flattening brassiere with a corset, the brassiere needed to come down over the corset to prevent an ugly bulge between them:

Long Brassiere. From fashion advice article in Delineator, February 1924.

Ad for the H & W brassiere with diaphragm control. March 1924. It won’t “Push up” the “flesh.”

Dress patterns from Butterick, April 1924; Delineator.

Those who wanted a completely smooth, no curves, flexible shape under their dresses could wear a corselette.

This corsette gives a perfectly flat silhouette in front. 1924.

(There were many spelling variations: Corsette, Corselet, Corselette, Corsolette….) Most corselettes did not use metal bones, but depended on seams and elastic to shape the body into something resembling an oblong test tube — the “boyish” shape suited to Twenties’ fashions.

Left, a corset; right, a bust flattening bandeau over a waist-high corset. April 1925. DeBevoise ad.

Article in Delineator, February 1926, p. 24.

This corsette is trying to turn a mature figure into a boyish one…. Bien Jolie ad, February 1926.

Corselette for large figures, “boned in the modern manner.” The bottom may be boned, but the top is soft silk jersey! Warner’s ad, April 1925.

A very flat posterior was as important as a flat bosom:

Back view, Bon Ton Corset ad, April 1925.

More corsettes/corselettes from 1925:

Bien Jolie Corsette ad, April 1925.

Bien Jolie corsette ad, June 1925.

Casual dresses from Butterick patterns, June 1925; Delineator, p. 29.

Although you might not see it in these ads, (perhaps because corsette ads were probably aimed at women old enough to have “figure problems”) by 1926 a change was taking place.

Article in Delineator, February 1926. p. 24.

“The younger woman who can keep slim and firm… either wears no corset at all or a tiny girdle of satin or glove silk with an equally ephemeral bust-supporter of lace or net.” Interesting that in 1926 1) the bust is supported, not flattened; and 2) the girdle supports a curve under the bottom. (The illustration does not quite match this description.)

Illustration for article in Delineator, February 1926, p. 24.

Research by the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in 1924 and 1925 discovered that younger patrons, dubbed “flappers” by buyers and the JWT staff, “were looking for uplift styles of brassiere, in contrast to older women who wanted the flattening styles.” (Uplift, p. 40.)

Curves gradually returned. For me the interesting thing about these Butterick brassiere patterns from 1926 is that both the flatteners and the brassiere with breast separation are on the same page:

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/1926-july-p-38-500-undies-top-left-bras-flattener.jpg

At top, two bust flatteners, pattern 6964. At bottom right, pattern 6961 for a brassiere that separates and does not flatten the breasts. Delineator, July 1926, p. 38. [It does not offer any support, just coverage.]

Bien Jolie corset ad, July 1926, p. 80. Delineator.

Bien Jolie corsette ad, September 1926. (Quite interesting fabric!)

Gossard corset ad, February 1927.** Note the curvy hips and the division between the breasts.

The bust was being worn in a more natural position:

Couture evening dresses by Boulanger and Paquin, illlustrated for Delineator, February 1927. p. 18. Note the high bust.

Modart’s combination, March 1928. Notice her curved bust silhouette. (Not helped by that garment!)

Modart ad, March 1928. Bandeau and girdle, bottom of same ad as above.

This brassiere isn’t even mentioned, but it has separation and a supportive band. Modart ad, March 1928.

Transition: two “foundation garments” featured in the same corset advice article; Delineator, March 1929.

The return of the curve, 1929:

Fashions that show off the female shape: (Butterick patterns) September, 1929. Delineator.

Light, non-restrictive foundation garments, October, 1929. Delineator.

Soft, flexible undergarments from Nemo-flex. Illustration from Delineator, October 1929.

Improvements in elastic, made possible by new Lastex fabrics, came just in time for the change to 1930s fashion.

** Gossard corsets had an ad campaign praising the curve (Hogarth’s “line of beauty”) as early as 1924.

Ad for Gossard “Line of Beauty” corsets, praising the curved figure, Delineator, February 1924.

If you’ve read all the way to here:  sorry this post was so long, but there was a lot I needed to get off my chest…!

 

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Jumbled Musings and Fashion Surprises

When I named this blog “witness2fashion,” it didn’t occur to me that its initials were WTF. However, that abbreviation does occur to me occasionally when I’m wandering through the pages of a 100 year old magazine.

Caution: this ad uses a word that is offensive when applied to a human being, but the ad uses it to describe a sock supporter….

Ad for “Velvet-Grip Baby Midget Hose Supporters,” Delineator, February 1920.

What the hey? “Baby Midgets” are tiny garters or stocking suspenders which are attached to this baby’s diaper with safety pins!

Seriously: How is a garter supposed to hold up your stockings when you can’t even stand up and walk yet?

I remember reading a book (The Egg and I?) in which the grandmother, hearing that the children were either making too much noise or were suspiciously silent, would shout, “You! Pull up your socks!” This was a fairly effective all-purpose command, since children couldn’t pull up their socks without removing a hand from the cookie jar, or putting down that air rifle…. Just today, reading The Library Book, by Susan Orlean, I found that the Oklahoma Public library sent a condolence message to the Los Angeles Library after a terrible fire. It included the encouraging (?) phrase, “Keep your socks up!”

Incidentally, I also found this ad for Baby Dimples Safety Pins. Awwwww….

Ad for Baby Dimples Safety Pins, Delineator, January 1920.

Here’s another old expression:  “Keep it under your hat.”

Paris hat designed by Virot, Delineator, March 1912.

Don’t wear it while driving. Or while crossing a busy street.

Speaking of hats….

Hat featured in an ad for Cheney “Shower-Proof” silks. Delineator, March 1912.

Ad for Cheney “Shower-Proof” Silks, March 1912.

I don’t know why she would need an umbrella when she’s wearing that hat! In fact,  I’m not sure the umbrella would be big enough to cover that hat. (And what about the umbrella handle…? She couldn’t get it close to her head… or even close to her shoulder! Which is why the umbrella is down on the ground catching water, I guess.)

I started with the intention of writing about this:

When is this? (No, not 2012….)

It surprised me. It’s got bare shoulders. It’s got breast exposure. It’s got a good chance of a “wardrobe malfunction” if you lean sideways. I could imagine this on the red carpet of some awards show, probably in red satin, and probably held in place with toupee tape.

(“Toupee tape” was for many years as common in a wardrobe person’s tool kit as safety pins. It was a double-sided tape intended to secure a toupee to a bald head, but was quickly adapted to keeping low-cut dresses from gaping too far for television. Its great virtue was that the adhesive didn’t give out when exposed to sweat or body oils. Now there’s a similar product manufactured and sold — in larger quantities — specifically for use with clothing.) The video ad amusingly says it prevents “peekaboob.”)

I found this sketch charming. Clue to the date: the artist is fashion illustrator Soulié. [The model was not a young Nicole Kidman….]

And this bodice is part of a couture dress designed by Jeanne Lanvin and shown in Paris in 1920.

Couture gown by Jeanne Lanvin, Paris, 1920. The net skirt is embroidered and beaded. Sketched for Delineator, March 1920.

A deep V neckline in 1920? Breasts as an erogenous zone in 1920? Yes, to my surprise…

Couture gown by Martial et Armand, Paris, 1920.

When I showed these images to a non-fashion-historian friend, she couldn’t get over the “make-your-hips-look-at-least twice-as-wide” skirts.

Couture evening gown by Martial et Armand, sketched for Delineator, January 1920.

The bottom of the hip yoke is wired to make the skirt stand away from the body. Of course, the coat to wear over a dress like this will not produce a slender silhouette, either:

An “evening cloak” and gown designed by Bulloz, Paris, 1920.

My friend was also horrified by the long, dragging panels on these dresses. (Fashion historians accept that wasteful, extravagant, impractical “conspicuous consumption” is a hallmark of high fashion.) “How could you dance in a dress like this?” we wondered. “Everybody would step on it! It would get so dirty!”

The editors of Delineator had a suggestion:

So that’s what you do with it…. Or them….  This gown has two dragging “French panels,” one of fragile lace and one of silk:

Couture gown by designer Elise Poret [not Poiret] from the February, 1920 Delineator.

(That dress also has an “oriental hem.”) There have been many decades when skirts were widened to make waists look smaller by comparison. But that’s not what’s happening here.

We are so conditioned to the fashion ideal of slenderness (or at least, a tall, lean look on fashion models) that, while I was thinking,”Wow! a bodice held up by straps in 1920!” my friend was asking “Why would you wear that? It makes her look fat!”

I look at this hip-widening gown by Berthe and notice that its couture workmanship is outstanding, and … pretty:

Couture gown by Berthe-Hermance illustrated in May, 1920; Delineator.

Couture details on a 1920 gown. Undeniably luxurious.

(Also undeniable is its potential for a wardrobe malfunction if one shoulder relaxes….)

But it is difficult for me to look at coats like these and yearn to wear them:

Evening coats from Butterick patterns, November 1920.

Couture “cloak” by Renee, covered with red, yellow, and green “balls.” January 1920.

“What The F[ashion]?” Are those mules on her feet? With a coat? Seriously? And, what did it feel like to sit on those balls?

The historic House of Worth contributed this (shall we say transitional?) suit which gets its stiffness from pony skin. [Perfect if your name is “Whinnie.”]

From the House of Worth, Paris. Illustrated in Delineator, January 1920.

In other words, after five years of war and its aftermath, Paris went mad for luxury. “Suits no longer content themselves with fur collar and cuffs but are made entirely of mole, caracul, etc.” A lot of horses died in WW I, so I guess pony was a luxury item, too.

To end on a more cheerful note, we know about harem skirts and orientalism and the influence of the Ballet Russe. But this is the first photo of a model wearing harem pants that I’ve encountered:

Orientalism in high fashion: a harem hem for an evening in Paris. Delineator, May 1920.

Glamourdaze paid tribute to the Poiret-influenced harem hem outfit worn on Downton Abbey. But these are later, and not by Poiret.

Information about “Deddy” is hard to find, but the designer Deddy did appear in Delineator fashion coverage more than once.

The harem pants worn on Downton Abbey by Lady Sybil were definitely not as revealing as this outfit!

Very Bare in 1920: The top of Deddy’s harem outfit.

That’s all my “WTFashion?” images for now.  More to come.

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A Bride’s Trousseau by Top Designers, April 1928

A wedding gown designed by Lucien Lelong and illustrated for Delineator magazine, April 1928. Delineator maintained an office in Paris to get the latest fashions for the Butterick pattern company.

In April 1928, Delineator magazine selected a hypothetical trousseau purchased  from the top Paris designers. The wedding gown and several other items were from the house of Lelong. Other designers’ names, like O’Rossen and Jane Regny, may be less familiar. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting time capsule of what a very rich society bride might choose for her first season as a married woman.

To make these images legible, I’ve straightened them out and adjusted them for exposure and clarity.

The illustrations were splayed around the wedding gown in the center, so I have made individual images of each garment to show the details.

The wedding gown displays an extreme version of the uneven hems that were chic in the late Twenties. The front of the gown is at knee length, but the train is extravagantly long.

A dipping train in the back of the wedding dress.

The dress is shaped close to the hips with a series of godets [inserts] which flare in front.

Superb construction was a mark of the House of Lelong.

The simple veil springs lavishly from a close-fitting cap. Large earrings dangle below the severe headdress.

The rest of the bride’s trousseau/wardrobe includes evening gowns, suits, and a coat (which was also by Lelong.)

First, a not-so-simple evening dress from Champcommunal. It is sleeveless, with a long chiffon scarf on one side.

Next, a sporty summer suit which combines fabrics in a very sophisticated way:

The cardigan jacket is casual and striped. The [wonderful] skirt is a floral print, and the same fabric lines the open jacket and trims the pockets. The design house is London Trades.

Dresses with gradations of color [“composé” ] were very stylish.

This dress in graded colors has a coordinating jacket. The designer is Jane Regny.

A real classic is this overcoat by Lelong. The waistline may move up or down, but the basic tailored overcoat appears in some version decade after decade. There is a classic belt in back, too.

The coat, by Lelong, is double-breasted and almost severe.

A wool traveling suit by O’Rossen is worn with a necktie (or scarf tied like a necktie) and a large fur stole. O’Rossen specialized in “tailleurs” — tailored clothing.

Women wore less sporty outfits to afternoon events. This print “dress” and jacket is by Lelong. The big floral decoration on one shoulder may be stiffened self-fabric. Oddly (to my eyes) both this accent and the flare of the asymmetrical skirt are on the left side of her body, rather than the accent being worn on the opposite side to “balance” the skirt. I see this “same side” accent on many 1920s’ illustrations.

A slightly more dressy ensemble by Lelong. The skirt is asymmetrical.

At this level of society, a woman would need more than one evening dress. The one below is extravagantly ruffled, but it’s not girlish.

I can’t get over how modern the model’s hair looks!

A breezy, casual, and chic 1928 hairstyle.

Another evening gown from Lelong, this one has yards and yards of lightweight ruffled net creating a full skirt which dips in the back.

That net dress is for parties and balls, while the “simple” chiffon evening dress would be appropriate for more intimate dinners and dancing.

“Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

For one thing, they can buy couture.

 

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