Category Archives: 1930s

Directoire Sleeves, 1929 and 1930

Butterick dress pattern 3196 from May, 1930; Delineator. The sleeves were a new style.

I was so fixated on waistlines rising and hemlines falling in the short time period 1929-1930 that I was overlooking other fashion changes. One is the short (i.e., mid-bicep length) or “one-quarter” sleeve (click here); another is the introduction of a short, puffy sleeve on dresses for adult women.

The dress on the right, Butterick 3141, has sheer sleeves which are smooth at the shoulder and puffed at the cuff. Delineator, April 1930.

These sleeves were sometimes described as “Directoire.”

Butterick 3227, from May, 1930. Delineator, p. 32. It was available in sizes for both teens and women.

“Directoire” refers to the period of French history called the Directory, which was brief: 1795 to 1799. It ended with the rise of Napoleon to political power. However, fashion vocabulary is often used very loosely. For many writers, “directoire” and “empire” are used interchangeably.

Portrait of Empress Josephine Bonaparte by Massot, 1812, courtesy of The Hermitage. To see the full painting, click here.

The gigantic painting of the Coronation of Napoleon, by Jacques-Louis David, shows Josephine and other ladies of the Imperial court wearing sleeves that are puffed at the shoulder as well as the cuff, but this may reflect an attempt to evoke earlier royal outfits, or as a result of the painting being completed in 1807, three years after the coronation took place (and seven years after the Directory ended.) By 1807, the trend for puffy gathered sleeves was in progress.

I recommend tiffanyslittleblog for excellent close-up views and identification of the characters in the painting. She shows a preliminary sketch of Josephine wearing sleeves that are puffed at the bottom, but not at the top, as well as a close-up of her coronation dress, for comparison. Napoleon’s sisters also wear puffed sleeves.

Which brings me back to the description of this image:

Butterick dress pattern 3196 from May, 1930; Delineator. The sleeve is “the Directoire pouf.”

American women were already wearing these sleeves, as seen in this advertisement which ran in April, 1930:

“Women of America” in an ad for Air-Way, April 1930.

It appears that the sleeve which is not noticeably gathered at the shoulder is closer to the original “directoire sleeve.”

English fashion plate dated 1796, courtesy of the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum.

Another directoire sleeve from May 1930. Butterick 3231, for sizes 32 to 44. Delineator.

“The position of the high waistline depends on how you wear your belt.” For women who were reluctant to abandon the low waistline of the 1920s, some dresses were made without a waist seam.

This blouse, which could be made with long sleeves, still has a 1920’s silhouette — except for its sleeves. Butterick 3185 from April, 1930.

Because I grew up in the 1950s, I associate the puffy sleeve with dresses for little girls. This is how I was dressed for elementary school:

Dresses for little girls, Butterick Fashion News flyer, January 1951.

Older girls also wore puffy sleeves to school in the Fifties. BFN flyer, 1951. I remember a wearing a plaid dress with puffy sleeves in 1954.

However, except for “peasant” influenced smocked dresses, little girls didn’t usually wear puffed sleeves in the Nineteen Twenties.

1926 fashions for very young children. Delineator, September 1926.

Dresses for schoolgirls, May, 1926. Delineator. They do not have puffy sleeves.

I did find a few examples of puffed sleeves on girls’ dresses from the late 1920’s:

Puffed sleeves on a party dress for girls 8 to 15, from January 1928.

A 1920’s dress with puffed sleeves for a girl 6 to 10. January 1929, Delineator.

Nevertheless, the reintroduction of the puffed sleeve for women, teens, and little girls was called “new” in 1930.

The girl on the left has “quaint” “old-new” sleeves. Delineator, June 1930.

Even in 1930, puffed sleeves could be associated with youth.

The puff sleeved dress on the left is recommended for a sixteen year old. Butterick 3254, June 1930.

Another dress with directoire sleeves for young women. Butterick 3298, from July 1930.

The dress on the left is definitely for a teen rather than a sophisticated adult. Butterick 3202, May 1930.

This dress, Butterick 3120 from March 1930, is for teens 14 to 20. Delineator.

Right, Butterick 3572 from December 1930. “A frock from Kate Greenaway’s Almanac.” Kate Greenaway wrote picture books for children, often dressing them in  empire styles.

The alternate view shows dress 3572 made sleeveless.

This little flower girl definitely shows the Kate Greenaway influence:

An Empire dress for the flower girl at a wedding in September 1930 “makes her look like a miniature nineteenth century belle.” It wouldn’t look out of place at a wedding today.

But these sleeves were also worn by older members of the wedding:

From blouses to evening gowns, the “quaint” directoire sleeve made a modest appearance around 1930.

Blouse 3111, from March 1930, has short puffed sleeves –“very new and … having a tremendous vogue.” In sizes 32 to 44.

Butterick 3988 from September, 1931.

Puffed sleeves on a “simple frock” at a picnic; advertisement, July 1930.

Sleeve heads became enormous later in the thirties — especially after the 1932 movie Letty Lynton. Did their inflation start with these “quaint” styles from 1930?

Butterick Fashion News flyer, cover, May 1938.

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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

1930 Golf Culotte Dress

Butterick golf culotte dress pattern 3285. Delineator, June 1930.

This one is for The Vintage Traveler, who writes about and collects women’s sportswear. I do wish the original page I photographed had not been so faint; in trying to show details of the dress, I may have “enhanced” the photos a bit too much! (The lady golfer is illustrated with a deep tan, but by trying to show her dress more clearly, I have almost erased her face.)

The page title was Country Clothes Designed for Smart Places.

A selection of clothes for the country; Butterick patterns from June 1930.

That probably explains the model’s trim spectator pumps:

Wait — is this a dress (“frock”) or a skirt and [“tuck-in”] blouse? A skirt would be much more practical  when nature called — no woman I know enjoys disrobing in a public restroom cubicle. The short sleeves are a new feature in 1930.

The “tuck-in blouse” of Butterick “culotte frock” 3285. I like the way the colored band around the neckline becomes binding for the button placket(s).

Notice the belt that accentuates the natural waistline — still new in 1930. And the knees are well covered by the new, longer skirt.

When the model is standing normally, the pleats front and back would conceal the fact that this is a trouser skirt. [In trying to show the “trouser” effect, the illustrator may have exaggerated the shadow. The fabric is not sheer.]

Top stitching controls the pleats for many inches. This enlargement shows the back view — with longer sleeves and the blouse untucked.

I find this outfit quite attractive — almost timeless, but it’s eighty-eight years old. The illustration is by Marian Blynn.

Butterick culotte frock 3285, June 1930. Delineator magazine.

 

 

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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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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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Postcard #2 from My Vacation at the Library

Three fashions for daytime, Delineator magazine, March 1929, page 29. They have characteristic dropped waists, a horizontal line across the hip, and hems that barely cover the knee.

Less than a year later:

Fashions for daytime, Delineator magazine, January 1930. Butterick 3007 and 2984, on sale in January 1930, demonstrate the transition from 1920s to 1930s.

It’s obvious that by January 1930, the change from the low-waisted, short-skirted 1920’s silhouette was already well under way.
At a first glance, these suits do have a 1920’s look, but the return to the natural waistline and the move toward longer hems which they demonstrate is also illustrated on this catalog cover.

Ad for Butterick Quarterly from Delineator, January 1930, p 76.

It’s remarkable, when you consider the lead time for creating sewing patterns and for magazine publication: The design has to be approved, made into a prototype (muslin) and patterned,  made up in fabric, modeled for the illustrators, “graded” up and down to a full range of sizes, and set into mass production before being issued and publicized in magazines, etc. This suit was not designed in January 1930, but several months earlier.

Butterick 2984 took months to develop and have ready for sale in January of 1930.

It looks very much like the popular cardigan-jacketed suit of the Twenties, complete with a long neck tie, but the skirt has a natural waist and a seam line at the familiar 1920’s hipline. The jacket is long, falling well past that old hip-level design line, and the skirt falls three or four inches below the knee.

Butterick Quarterly cover, January 1930. Suit 2984 is on the right, and is shown in a different illustration below..

Butterick 3007 (L) and 2984 (R) from January 1930. No. 3007 has a low hip seam and unstructured bodice that allows the wearer to put the belt where she likes.

Two other observations: The three-quarter length coat was a popular 1930 option, and in 1930, a “sleeveless” dress really was sleeveless.

I’ve been curious about the transition from 1920s to 1930s; apparently it happened very fast!

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