Category Archives: 1930s

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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Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s, evening and afternoon clothes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Shoes, Vintage Couture Designs

Wrap-look Dresses from June, 1931

Butterick dress 3989, a pattern from July 1931.

Considering how popular and enduring a fashion Diane Von Furstenberg’s wrap dresses have been, this looks-like-a-wrap dress from 1931 got my attention. 1931 was the year when hems kept falling, so its proportions look odd, but the general impression is very much the same.

Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress, Vogue pattern 1548, from 1976. Courtesy of the Commercial Pattern Archive.

Marie Claire ran a tribute to the DVF wrap dress (click here to read it) which includes a photo of the designer modeling her own dress. 1970s: DVF in this exact wrap dress . 2010: Michelle Obama in a classic wrap dress.  2014: The Duchess of Cambridge in her wrap dress . I think the wrap dress counts as a “classic,” especially since this look has been around since 1931!

The simple V neckline, the long sleeves, the slightly flared skirt — all those style elements were worn in 1931:

This 1931 dress was described as having a “surplice” closing at the side, often recommended in the 1920s as flattering to the figure.

It’s hard to tell without seeing the actual pattern, but this may be a long, asymmetrical wrapped bodice over a skirt.

Back view of Butterick 3989.

Fifty Dresses recently made Vogue 1610 (a DVF design circa 1977); the Fifty Dresses blogger uses vintage patterns to make 21st century clothing, and you can see that the classic DVF wrap dress still works. Click here.

Vogue 1610 (circa 1977) and 1548 (1977) by DVF are for stretchable knits only, while the 1931 wrap dresses probably depend on bias stretch for their fluid fit. In 1931 McCall offered No. 6681, which looks like a wrap but does not seem to open all the way down the side seam:

McCall wrap dress 6681 is in the collection of the Commercial Pattern Archive. It also dates to 1931.

Note the classic V neckline. Its skirt is suspended from a diagonal seam — in this case, straight rather than curved. Without being able to see the pattern pieces, it’s hard to tell how far the surplice opening continued into the skirt, but Butteick 3989, which was illustrated on the same page as 3960, below, does close with a tie at the side.

Also from 1931:

Butterick 3960 from July of 1931. The bodice doesn’t resemble a wrap but there’s definitely a tie at the side seam.

Note: wrap skirts were around in the 1920s:

Butterick wrap skirt 1480, from Delineator, June 1927. This suit was copied from Vionnet.

Click here for more 1920’s wrap skirts. Wrap dresses were also worn during World War I:

Back to 1931:

The plaid scarf doesn’t have much to do with the structure of this Butterick wrap dress from Delineator, February 1931.

It appears that the bodice wraps and ties at the side; the pleated section seems to be attached to the bodice and tied over a simple inner skirt. Is it a true wrap dress? The one below is.

Wrap/surplice dresses were often recommended for older figures:

Butterick “slenderizing” dress 4049, from Delineator, September 1931. Here, the front wrap clearly ties over an under layer, as in a classic DVF wrap dress.

For glamour — 1931 or now — it’s hard to improve on the long, wrap negligee:

Butterick’s wrap negligee No. 4224,from Delineator, December 1931.

Wow. And available for bust sizes 32 to 52! Gleaming, “icy pastel” satin for the shapely; deep burgundy velvet for more mature figures? Perfect for the Jean Harlow in every woman.

Jean Harlow in a wrap negligee, 1935. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

 

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, 1960s-1970s, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Butterick Patterns for Children, 1930

Each of these schoolgirls wears an outfit with matching jacket. Butterick patterns in Delineator, April 1930.

I’m struck by how grown up these schoolgirls would look in their suits. (Farther down,  I’ll show school clothes for girls that really echoed the clothes women would have worn to the office.)

The alternate view, left, shows a miniature 1920’s cardigan suit. Butterick 3169 for girls 4 to 10.

The details of the sleeveless blouse are rather sophisticated. [I remember having to wear a skirt like this, held up by matching suspenders, in first grade…. It’s incredible that I once had no hips!]

Butterick 6135 is very like an adult’s dress, with a deep back tied with a bow. For ages 8 to 15. Delineator, April 1930.

If the little girl’s suit (3169 looked) “1920s,” clothes for her older sister (above) show the higher waist of the Thirties.

This little boy is too young to object to ruffles, according to the description, and the girl wears a 1920s’ style that still looks charming to me; it also suggests an outfit for the office, with its bib front and prim little bow!

Butterick patterns for children: 3150 and 3364 from August 1930, Delineator.

Some clothes really were child-sized copies of adult clothing:

The sleeveless dress with cape-collared jacket (3226) isn’t an exact copy of an adult style, but the jumper outfit (3234) is very similar to an adult version. Delineator, May 1930.

Butterick 3234 is for girls 8 to 15; Butterick 3239 is for women in a full range of sizes up to 44″ bust.

I wish this explained how you got into this top; the fitted waist, front and back, implies an opening somewhere. (Probably a side seam opening closed with snap fasteners.)

The coat shown below must have been out of the budget for most children’s wardrobes.

Butterick 3448 has a flared skirt; girls’ coat 3467 has a capelet and fur trim — very grown-up. October 1930.

Proportioned for girls 8 to 15, coat 3467 mimics the woman’s coat at right (Butterick 3491.) Both from autumn, 1930. Delineator.

From a page of fashions for working women [!] Delineator, October 1930. Right, women’s coat 3491.

Left, for girls 8 to 15, Butterick coat 3422 and dress 3414, from September 1930. Delineator. Even the little girl’s caped coat (3434) has a fur collar and capelet like 3491, above.

The dress above (3414) has a false bolero, just like the adult dress (3529) below:

Left, for girls 8 to 15; right, for women. Fall 1930, Delineator.

Left, a bolero jacket over a dress with a light-colored top. July 1930. Women wore them , too.

This bolero suit came in versions for very little girls and their bigger sisters. Delineator, August 1930.

(The girl’s skirt stays up because it is buttoned to the blouse, like the little boy’s outfit, below.)

Right, another bolero suit. The girl’s dress in the middle is quite a departure from the usual 1930’s styles for women, however. It pre-dates the Letty Lynton fad.

The image above is from a page of party fashions for girls; frilly dresses for little girls allowed for departures from the “miniature woman” look.

These party dresses for little girls (age 4 to 10) are nothing like the body-hugging adult fashions of the 1930s. Delineator, November, 1930.

For very young girls, a shapeless dress with fantasy trim (right, Butterick 3529.) Girls in their teens, however, might prefer to wear a dress with a waist — like 3532, in the middle. November 1930.

These dresses for girls from 8 to 15 look like 1920s’ styles, except that they are belted at the waist instead of the hip. Delineator, August 1930.

It’s almost a relief to see that girls were not necessarily expected to grow up overnight in 1930, although many must have joined the workforce in their early teens. [Depression Era film recommendation: Wild Boys of the Road, 1933 . Click here for Plot summary. A teen-aged girl is among the desperate children riding the rails. Louise Brooks made a similar picture in 1928, before the stock market crash: Beggars of Life.]

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Boys' Clothing, Capes, Children's Vintage styles, Coats, Uniforms and Work Clothes

Costume Communicates

College students, Woman’s Home Companion, October 1936.

Many years ago, I finally had time to take a life drawing class. During a break, the woman next to me introduced herself. She was a psychologist. When I told her I was a costume designer, she shared this story — one that taught her the importance of dress, and how much it communicates.

When she was completing her post-graduate degree, starting to look for jobs, she was also asked to do group counseling with high school students who were having behavior problems.

As it happened, on the day of her first group session with the students she also had a very important job interview. She dressed in her best (and only) suit, with high heels she would never have worn on campus for a usual day; she got up early to do makeup and style her hair (instead of pulling it back into her usual “no-time-to-do-my hair” ponytail,) and she carried a briefcase instead of her backpack. She wanted to look as grown-up and professional as possible for the job interview.

Two dressy suits made from Butterick 7928, October 1956, Butterick Fashion News.

She went straight from the interview to her first session with the high school students. It went really well. She felt that they were glad to participate and have a chance to get help with their problems.

A week later, she went straight from attending her own university classes to the high school. That session did not go so well. The students didn’t volunteer or participate as they had. They became quiet, sullen, obviously bored. Every week, every session felt worse. The students who had been so eager were almost hostile now. The young psychologist stayed up nights trying to figure out how to get the group sessions back to that promising first day.

Finally she realized she had to deal with the problem openly; she asked, “What changed?” One girl was willing to answer:

“That first day you came, you seemed to really be interested in us; you listened to us, and we thought maybe you could help make things better. You were all dressed up, and we thought ‘Somebody important cares about us!‘ But then you saw that we was just poor kids, and the next time you came here looking just any-old-way because we didn’t matter.”

“Oh, dear god,” thought the young psychologist. It hadn’t occurred to her that dressing as what she really was — a graduate student in college — would send that signal to them. She realized that being dressed formally had given her extra authority, and built confidence that she was really a doctor. But she hadn’t considered the reverse. She had never thought to carefully explain her real status:  she was a student, like them; poor, like them.  And being honest months later — “I really needed that job, so I tried to look professional and grown-up for the interview” — didn’t help, because it still meant she hadn’t thought it was equally important to dress professionally for them — clients who didn’t pay.

It’s a sad story that has stuck with me all these years. The shaman’s feathers and paint, the doctor’s white coat, the banker’s suit: clothes establish our identity. Whatever we wear tells other people something about who we are, what they can expect from us, and how we expect to be treated. Like it or not, costume communicates.

Doctor, nurse, and baby in an ad from 1937. Delineator.

We know at a glance that this is not a family; and we know these people are trying to help the baby — because we can “read” their clothes, without any conscious thought about what is going on here. We read each other all the time.

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Filed under 1930s, 1950s-1960s, Musings, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Uncategorized

Beach Overalls: Butterick 3184

Left, overalls to wear on the beach — Butterick 3184, Delineator, June 1930.

These beach overalls deserve a blog post of their own.

Butterick 3184, June 1930.

“Sunburn” was the old way of describing “a tan.”

This editorial illustration from March 1932 shows a similar but not identical beach outfit. (These have a hip yoke.) Delineator. Illustrated by Leslie Saalburg.

The front view is shown at left. Butterick 3184, 1930. Note the three [?] bust darts.

The back is low to match the evening clothes of the 1930s — but that big “X” where you weren’t tanned would not be lovely.

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Ladies’ Home Journal cover, February 1936.

Wide legged overalls seen in an ad, Delineator, June, 1932.

You can find a picture of the pattern pieces for Butterick 3184 on pinterest. The pattern did include the “bodice like a working man’s shirt.”

Very wide-legged pajamas were also popular in 1931. See The Fascinating Pajama 1931.

 

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Filed under 1930s, Sportswear, Uncategorized, Uniforms and Work Clothes, Women in Trousers

Berthas and Capelet Sleeves: 1930

In the 1970s, we called these “flutter sleeves.” When they first appeared in the early Thirties, they were often called “capelet” sleeves. (And their construction was different.)

These flutter sleeves — loose-fitting and cool — were popular in the 1970s. Butterick pattern 3578, dated to 1974.

They are reminiscent of a Nineteen Thirties’ style. A variation on the cape, the bertha collar, and the sleeve, a pair of “capelets” covering an otherwise sleeveless dress became a fashion in 1930. But the “bertha” came first.

Berthas, 1920s and 1930s

This sheer frock with scalloped bertha collar (sometimes called a cape or capelet) was suitable for teens and  for women up to size 44 bust. Delineator, Jan. 1930.

This very similar dress calls its scalloped bertha collar a “capelet.” Butterick 3054; Delineator, February 1930.

Butterick blouse 3758 has a bertha; Delineator, April 1931.

Butterick 3231 has a bertha collar. Delineator, May 1930.

The bertha was one way to cover the upper arm; another 1930 approach was a pair of “capelets instead of sleeves.”

Butterick 3587 (left ) and 3566 (right.) In both [otherwise sleeveless] dresses, the upper arm is covered by a “capelet.” Left: this “capelet” is a bertha collar. Right: Two separate capelets are the new style.

The broad, sheer collar on the left is a bertha collar described as a capelet; the sleeves on the right, which suggest the “flutter sleeves” of the 1970s, are actually two little capes (or “capelets,”) one to cover each arm. See the back view. They don’t meet in the back, as a cape would.

On Butterick 3252, right, the capelets are outlined in rickrack trim. Delineator, June 1930.

The “bertha” collar (which had been popular in the late 1830s to 1840s) was familiar again in the 1920s, often appearing on evening dresses for girls in their teens.

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Left, an evening dress with a cape-like bertha collar. Fashions for teens, September 1926. Delineator. The arm baring dress on the right is more adult.

Dressy dresses for girls in the Twenties often had a bertha collar, which covered the upper arm.

Bertha collars covered the shoulders on these dresses for girls under 17;
Delineator, April 1930. The bertha on the right is split in the back.

Berthas were also seen on grown women, but covering the upper arms made a woman’s dress suitable for “afternoon” or dinner dates instead of “evening.”

Butterick 2070 from June, 1928. Delineator. The attached bertha collar ties like a cape.

(Truly sleeveless dresses were worn as formal evening dress during most of the Twenties.)

Of the six 1930 dresses that were originally featured on this page, four of them have some kind of cape-like sleeve or bertha.

Four (and a half) dresses from page 34, Delineator, April 1930.

The bertha resembles a cape when viewed from the back of the dress. This sheer, attached collar covers bare arms. Butterick 3168; Delineator, April 1930, p. 34.

It’s an afternoon dress. Older women probably appreciated the upper arm coverage, but were used to going bare-armed in very formal evening gowns.

This very-wide collar extends past the shoulders, but it’s not long enough to be described as a bertha. Butterick 3140; Delineator, April 1930, p. 34.

There are optional 3/4 sleeves under this extended, ruffled bertha collar/capelet. Butterick 3138; Delineator, April 1930, p. 34.

Where does the cape begin? Where does the collar end? Butterick wrap dress 3145, Delineator, April 1930, p. 34. Click here to see a fichu.

 

Two Capelets Instead of Sleeves: Very 1930

“The Cape Idea:” three variations from Delineator, May, 1930, p. 32. Right, 3221 has double-layered capelet sleeves — a little two-tiered cape over each arm.

Butterick blouse 3274, from June 1930, shows its capelets — probably each is a half-section of a circle. They are not sleeves, because they do not have an underarm seam.

A pair of capelets had to be stitched to the dress, but bertha-like capes/capelets could also be removable — some patterns gave the option of making a separate cape or one that was attached like a bertha.

The cape at left is part of the dress (and is actually two pieces in back;) the cape at right could be made separately. Butterick 3190 and 3237. Delineator, May 1930, p. 108.

Below: “Many sleeveless frocks have their own little tied-on matching shoulder capes. Of course the cape can be attached if you prefer that. The dress itself has a lingerie collar and a square neckline.”

Left: Butterick 3277 could be made as a sleeveless dress with separate tie-on cape, or as a dress with a bertha/capelet attached under its little white collar. Delineator, June 1930.  Right:  Oh, no — another 1930’s bolero!

Below, a little  “capelet” is sewn to the dress over each armhole.

Butterick dress 3293, Delineator, June 1930. The Commercial Pattern Archive has this pattern. The pattern layout shows that each capelet is about 1/3 of a circle, curved at the top.

The back view of Butterick 3334 clearly shows long capelets rather than closed sleeves. The front also shows a glimpse of arm between the capelet and the dress.

The “little cape sleeves” of  Butterick 3291 look very much like those 1970s’ flutter sleeves. [Yes, it’s hard to ignore those beach pajama/overalls!]

The sleeves on the right do look like sleeves, rather than capelets, but they are described as “shoulder capelets.” Butterick 3486, October 1930.

Below: This is a true sleeve –what we later called a “flutter sleeve.”

Pretty sleeves — not capelets — from May 1930. Butterick 3202.

I believe that actual capelet non-sleeves went out of fashion as 1930’s sleeves grew puffier and shoulders grew wider.

This 1939 dress has padded shoulders; instead of a flared, semi-circular capelet or sleeve,  this sleeve has a pleat for fullness.  Butterick 8583 Butterick Fashion News, Sept. 1939.

A lovely style while it lasted….

Two 1930 dresses with capelet sleeves (left) or a bertha (right) to cover the upper arm. Butterick afternoon dresses 3247 and 2988.

The dress at left, above, had three capelets: one over each arm and a third covering the gap between them in back.

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Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Capes, Children's Vintage styles, Dating Butterick Patterns, Sportswear, Women in Trousers

Boleros Through the 1930s (Boleros Part 4)

Butterick bolero pattern 7459, from July 1937. Woman’s Home Companion.

When I went looking for 1930’s boleros, I found that I had many more images of them than I realized! (Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 3) What started as one post turned into four — so far. And I am limited to the images I happen to have photographed from Delineator Magazine, Ladies’ Home Journal, Woman’s Home Companion and various store flyers from a few pattern companies.

To backtrack a bit, with the low waist of the 1920s, boleros might be quite long:

A “youthful” bolero from Butterick, Delineator, April 1929.

A Butterick bolero outfit from August 1929. Butterick 2749, from Delineator magazine.

As waists rose, boleros began to get shorter.

Bolero outfit from October, 1931. Butterick 4122. Illustrated in Delineator magazine.

The width of the bolero was thought to minimize the waist — recommended for women whose waists had expanded during the 1920s. I’ve shown many boleros from the early 1930s (click here or here.) This one, from 1936, is trimmed with pleated ruffles:

It’s similar to a store-bought outfit from 1937:

This bolero covers a sheer, lace bodice. WHC, March 1937.

As a way to stretch your wardrobe with very little money, boleros in different colors could be worn over most dresses. This set of inexpensive additions is Vogue pattern 7250, from Ladies’ Home Journal, February 1936.

Simplicity offered this bolero pattern,  (along with other accessories) in a store flyer, August 1939. Simplicity accessory pattern 3155.

This bolero covers a low-backed sundress; Companion-Butterick pattern 7296, WHC , April 1937.

The bows are part of the dress, not the jacket.

Companion-Butterick pattern No. 7296 shows a low-backed summer dress with matching bolero jacket. Woman's Home Companion, April 1937.

Butterick pattern 7303 from WHC, April 1937.

Companion-Butterick jacket dress pattern 7359; Woman’s Home Companion, May 1937.

This illustration of 7359 shows how many outfits you could get from one pattern in the price-conscious 1930s. [E.g., wearing the white jacket with the brown dress would change it from “fall” to summer….]

In that pattern, the bolero tied in a bow at the high waist. The traditional bolero jacket stopped inches above the waist:

Companion-Butterick pattern 7459 would make three different jackets — or the same jacket in several colors. July 1937.

Economy wardrobe: A jacket took less fabric than a dress, and jackets could be worn with several dresses, if you coordinated carefully.

“…Sure to give you a reputation for having lots of evening clothes….”

Elsa Schiaparelli was credited with popularizing the bolero in the 1930s. She was still using them in fabulous ways in 1940.

Butterick 7804 from a Butterick Fashion News flyer, April 1938. “The bolero (in printed silk) says Schiaparelli is top news….”

And “The beer jacket in denim is still headline material [!]”  Beer jacket? Apparently a “college craze” ( click here ) which, in this case, extended to women students.

You could make four different jackets from Butterick 7804 — including a “beer jacket” and the fitted, zipper-front jacket at bottom right. Zippers were already common in sportswear, but 1937-38 was the year they began to be featured in dressier clothing for women.

Butterick 7803, from a BFN flyer, April 1938. Boleros were definitely getting shorter.

Butterick 7788 has a very brief bolero. BFN flyer, April 1938. Triangular pockets are a couture touch.

A very high-style bolero, Butterick 8805 from August, 1938. Butterick Fashion News. Next to it is a variation of the tied bolero, here called a bloused jacket — the line between “bolero” and “jacket”becomes blurred.

You may have noticed that sleeve heads got puffier, and then shoulders got wider, as the Thirties progressed.

Three jackets from Butterick pattern 8367; BFN, May 1939. These jackets require shoulder pads.

Butterick bolero outfits 8391 and 8355, BFN, May 1939. These are not just for teens. [There is no “apron” explanation.]

Shoulders were getting wider as skirts got shorter:

In May, 1939, we probably can’t attribute the shorter skirts to wartime regulations.

Right, a wide-shouldered, rather matronly bolero outfit. Butterick 8472 from BFN flyer, July 1939.

This wide-shouldered, cropped jacket with frog closings is Simplicity 3203, from October 1939. Only its length says “bolero” to me. Those horizontal darts (or tucks) in the sleeve head exaggerate shoulder width even more. A very “late Thirties” detail.

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Filed under 1930s, Accessory Patterns, Coats, Companion-Butterick Patterns, Sportswear, Vintage Accessories