Category Archives: Hairstyles

A Mother’s Day Meditation on My Mother’s Hair (and Maternity,) 1940s

An evening hairstyle from a Vogue fashion flyer, May, 1939.

My mother’s friends joked about her vanity, calling her “glamourpuss,” but she stayed with this 1939 hairstyle for at least ten years.

My mother’s hair, worn in two rolls over her forehead from the late 1930s until about 1950.

I’ll admit, it suited her. In this picture, she’s dressed for the Fourth of July, always a big occasion in our town, with a parade and rodeo.

Her hair, without a hat.

If you’re interested in World War II era hairstyles, I can tell you  how she did hers:  she parted it down the center from forehead to nape, then sectioned off the front. In back, her very long hair was braided into two braids, each long enough to wrap over the top of her head, or around the base, from ear to ear and back, where the ends were tucked neatly under the wide part of the braid. The braids were kept in place with both bobby pins and hairpins, as needed. The rolls were curled in toward the center and secured with pins.  Oddly, I never saw hairspray until the 1950s. She didn’t use it.

The style worked well with hats, and, until I came along, she worked as a secretary for a tobacco company in San Francisco, so she wore a hat to work every day, commuting by train.

My mother in a wide hat, during World War II

Although she had been one of the first girls in town to bob her hair in the early 1920s, she didn’t adopt a short 1950’s Toni perm until a radical mastectomy made it impossible for her to raise both arms over her head.  She couldn’t manage this braided hairstyle any more. Although she hated to cut her long hair, in fact the perm made her look much more youthful because it wasn’t an outdated style, but the latest thing. But that’s not why I’m writing this for Mother’s Day.

While looking through old photos for examples of this hairstyle — which I was stunned to actually find illustrated in that Vogue fashion flyer…

My mother wore her hair in the style illustrated with this 1930’s evening gown pattern from Vogue.

… I was equally surprised to find this photograph of my mother (and me.) I’ve been writing about maternity fashions of the twenties, thirties, and forties. And here is my mother wearing a smock, a few months before I was born:

Maternity wear, 1945. Before motherhood, her hair was a long pageboy in back. Once she had a baby to take care of, she grew long braids and pinned them up.

The fact that this photo exists surprises me. I remember overhearing her bragging that out-of-town friends who came to visit her when she was six months pregnant didn’t realize that she was expecting a baby. (My cynical adult self wonders if they were too polite to mention her weight gain.) On the other hand, no one expected her to have her first child at the age of forty. Also, this was a period when fashion magazines still advised pregnant women to be “inconspicuous” — it wasn’t until Lucille Ball wore maternity clothes on America’s most popular TV show in 1952 that the media stopped being embarrassed by visible pregnancy. The Post-War baby boom ushered in attractive maternity clothing — clothing that celebrated instead of concealing. But that’s a topic I mentioned in my last post.

Probably because my existence put a new financial strain on the household, I don’t think my mother — now that she didn’t have an office job in The City — allowed herself many fashion extravagances. Nevertheless, here we are around 1946. She still looks good in a hat:

My mother, a proud parent at age 41. Her hat has a veil, her knee-length coordinating dress is decorated with metal studs, her figure is back to normal, and her love of pretty new clothing seems to be directed at her offspring’s outfit. 1946 or 1947.

To everyone who makes those willing sacrifices — Happy Mother’s Day.

 

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Filed under 1930s-1940s, 1940s-1950s, Hairstyles, Hats, Maternity clothes, Musings, vintage photographs

Hairstyles for April 1937

Illustration of “Six New Hairdressings for Gadabout,” Woman’s Home Companion, April 1937. Ben-Hur Baz, illustrator.

The Womans’ Home Companion had hairstyles from leading salons illustrated in April of 1937.

Text for “Six Hairdressings” article, WHC, April 1937. The letters next to each head are the call numbers for radio stations, where readers could listen to fashion reports..

These hairdos look very fussy to me — would a lover would ever dare run fingers through them? –and they were probably full of hidden hairpins.

On the theory that product advertisements use models that women can identify with, I browsed through advertisements from 1936 and 1937 in the same magazine, looking for photographs, rather than drawings. Some hairstyles in ads did have this tightly curled and controlled look.

Tight, sculptured curls in an ad for Ipana toothpaste. WHC, Oct. 1936.

Here, the hair seems to reflect the models’ state of digestion….

Woman to woman advice in a Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia ad, WHC, Dec. 1936.

One of the models in this ad for Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia [a laxative] is definitely curled “up tight” (constipated hair?)

And so is the mother in this article about hairstyles for mother and daughter:

Supposedly, this is how the daughter wished her mother would update her hair style. WHC, May, 1937.

I get the impression that tightly controlled hair styles were aimed at the sophisticated or “mature” reader.  But not necessarily; there’s not a sculptured curl to be seen on these women who are pictured in an ad for Brownatone Hair Dye.

Women in an ad for hair dye show a range of styles, from a late 1920’s Marcel with tiny bun (lower left), to loose, almost collar- length waves. February 1937.

This chic sophisticate has far-from-casual hair…

Ad for Dorothy Gray cosmetics, March 1937. WHC.

… compared to this model in the same issue:

Soft, loosely waved hair on a model in an ad for Colgate toothpaste, March 1937.WHC.

Another off-the-face style from later in 1937:

Natural looking off-the-face waves in an ad for Doggett and Ramsdell cleansing cream. WHC, Dec. 1937. The asymmetrical hairstyle leaves room for an off-center hat.

Below, on the right, a group of models as “career girls.”

Top left, thick, loose curls from an ad for Dodge cars; right, shorter hair for “career girls;” and bottom left, a mother in an ad for Lux laundry soap. 1936-1937, WHC.

The Ponds face cream ads showed a series of lovely women; both the debutante and the duchess have loose, fluffy hairstyles:

Miss Phyllis Konta, New York debutante, in an ad for Ponds cold cream, WHC, March 1937.

The Duchess of Leinster’s hair had to accommodate a tiara. June, 1937, WHC. Ad for Ponds cold cream.

Colgate ran a series of toothpaste ads featuring women who looked lovely until they smiled.

Toothpaste ad, May 1937.

Toothpaste ad, September 1937.

This Bayer Aspirin ad shows two views of the same headache-sufferer. Did taking an aspirin relax her hair?

Before and after in an ad for Bayer Aspirin. WHC, Dec. 1936.

As in the ad for Milk of Magnesia, relief and comfort are symbolized by a more natural hairstyle.

Of course, in 1937, a woman’s hairstyle was dictated by the need to wear a hat while shopping or dining in restaurants, so a curl-free area was usual in daytime hairdos.

Women in a color ad for Dodge, Dec. 1937

Women in an ad for Ponds cold cream, Oct. 1937. The hostess is the only one without a hat, and the crown of her head is smooth — and hat-ready..

Two women wearing hats; Kotex ad, Nov. 1937.

With the exception of motion picture actresses, the hair is usually worn rather close to the head.

Movie starlets in an ad for Richard Hudnut makeup, April 1937.

Actress Merle Oberon in an ad for Richard Hudnut makeup, December 1937. Her hair softly frames her face. Her plucked and penciled eyebrows look more 1920’s than 1930’s. (Compare them with the other models from 1937.)

The brushed-back hair of this model could almost pass for a 1950’s style — but it’s from February, 1937, before the “Six Hairdressings” article was written.

A brushed, almost casual hairstyle from an ad for Dorothy Gray cosmetics, February, 1937. Cartier supplied the jewels.

The model is far from girlish (and the jewels are from Cartier), but she seems much more “timeless” than Merle Oberon, and miles away from this:

Suggested “Hairdressings” from April, 1937. Woman’s Home Companion.

Maybe the ad agencies were more in touch with popular fashion than the editors of Woman’s Home Companion?

Added consideration: One disadvantage of close-to-the-head hairstyles is that, without a hat or fuller hair to balance the width of shoulders and hips, a normal woman can’t come close to the long, lean 1930’s fashion silhouette; this fashion photo from Woman’s Home Companion shows how small the head can look in relation to the figure. [Hair — and shoulders — got much bigger by the forties!]

A photo of “styles in stores;” WHC, March 1936.

In the mid-thirties, as photography replaced fashion illustrations in the “women’s magazines,” women had a more realistic image of what was possible.

Instead of adjusting our idea of beauty, the magazines and designers eventually adjusted the height and weight of the models they used.

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Filed under 1930s, Cosmetics, Beauty Products, Hairstyles, Makeup & Lipstick, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture

Hairstyles and Hats for the Mid-Nineteen Thirties

The hairstyle is designed to be worn with a hat. Delineator cover, March 1935. Dynevor Rhys illustration.

The hairstyle is designed to be worn with a hat. Delineator cover, March 1935. Dynevor Rhys illustration.

In February of 1936, Butterick’s Delineator magazine showed six fashionable hairstyles by some top New York salons — but they were photographed on mannequin heads, rather than real women. (Stylists still practice on such uncomplaining heads while training.) I have added a few photographs and drawings from advertisements to supplement Delineator’s 1936 color images. (Because Delineator was a large format magazine, a full page photo doesn’t translate well into a 500 dpi image. This is just the top half of page 16:

"Tip-Top Hair Styles" article by in Delineator, February 1936, page 16.

“Tip-Top Hair Styles” for evening; article by Josephine Felts in Delineator, February 1936, page 16. These brilliant heads flash across the evening mode. Follow their lead in smart new ways to fix your hair.”

Evening hairstyle for 1936.

Evening hairstyle for 1936 by Charles of the Ritz. Most of us wouldn’t describe this as a “wide halo” of curls.

"The top of the head is entirely without waves."

“The top of the head is entirely without waves.”

Hairstyle to be worn with a cocktail hat, by Michael of the Waldorf. 1936.

Hairstyle to be worn with a cocktail hat, by Michael of the Waldorf. 1936.

"Have your bob three-quarter length, curled from the part on each side all around. You can't see it, for its under her hat, but the top of the head is smooth." 1936.

“Have your bob three-quarter length, curled from the part on each side all around. You can’t see it, for it’s under her hat, but the top of the head is smooth.” 1936.

Evening hairstyle for silver hair, by Emile at Rockefeller Center. 1936.

Evening hairstyle for white hair, by Emile at Rockefeller Center. 1936.

A "distinguished" style for white hair. "Have your mother try it." 1936.

A “distinguished” style for white hair. “Suggest that your mother” try it. 1936.

[This one is for Lynn at American Age Fashion. I’m pleased to see that the one featured 1936 hairstyle that could be worn today without looking bizarre is the one suggested for white hair! The side part would allow for a close-fitting 1930’s hat to be worn on one side of the head, as was the fashion.]

1936 hairstyles werer usually flat at the crown to allow for a small hat pulled down on one side of the head. Delineator fashion illustrations from January 1936.

1936 hairstyles were usually flat at the crown to allow for a small hat pulled down on one side of the head. A lady always wore a hat in public in the daytime – even if it was just a tam pulled down over one eyebrow. Delineator fashion illustrations from January 1936.

Here are images from the bottom of the page of “Tip-Top Hair Styles.”

"The unusual side treatment comes from a rolling braid begun at the part and simulating a halo." Delineator, February 1936, p. 16.

Hairstyle by Michael of the Wardorf, 1936. “The unusual side treatment comes from a rolling braid begun at the part and simulating a halo.” Delineator, February 1936, p. 16. The wide braid begins over her left eye and continues around the back of her head to the left side.

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An artificial braid sometimes formed a halo or tiara effect for evening. Here is a such a braid on Ginger Rogers.

1936 evening hairstyle by Emile at Rockefeller Center.

1936 evening hairstyle by Emile at Rockefeller Center.  “This style is best worn by the very sophisticated.”

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Hairstyle by Charles of the Ritz, 1936. A "tailored" style for evening.

Hairstyle by Charles of the Ritz, 1936. A “tailored” style for evening. The “flat curls above the forehead” are barely visible bangs rolled under at the hairline.

The final hairstyle in the article by Josephine Felts, Delineator, February 1936. You could write to her for more information.

The final hairstyle in the article by Josephine Felts, Delineator, February 1936. You could write to her for more information.

This was certainly a time for “small heads” and tightly curled hair. However, I browsed for a few photos of real women and real hair in the same issue:

Delineator showed these young models in an article about the polite way to chew gum. 1936.

Delineator showed these young models in an article about the polite way to chew gum. February, 1936. The one on the left has the flat crown which suited 1936 hats.

In September of 1936 Delineator showed this model in an evening gown designed by Ruzzie Green.

In September of 1936 Delineator showed this model in an evening gown designed by Ruzzie Green.

Miss Vivian Dixon, a debutante, wears a much more natural looking hairstyle in an ad for Camel Cigarettes.

Debutante Vivian Dixon has long-ish, softly flowing hair in the Came Cigarette ad form Delineator, February 1936.

Debutante Vivian Dixon has long-ish, softly flowing hair in the Camel Cigarette ad from Delineator, February 1936.

I believe a lot of young women who did their own hair must have looked like this model in Delineator’s “How to Sew” feature article:

A model in an article about home sewing, February 1936, Delineator.

A model in an article about home sewing, February 1936, Delineator.

Illustrator Dynevor Rhys made tight curls and close-to-the head hair look pretty:

Advertising illustration by Dynevor Rhys, February 1936. Delineator.

Advertising illustration by Dynevor Rhys, February 1936. Delineator.

But illustrator Hans Flato showed a softer, looser hairdo in a series of ads for sanitary products:

Hans Flato illustration for an ad, Delineator, March 1936.

Hans Flato illustration for an ad, Delineator, March 1936.

Hans Flato illustration for an ad, March 1935. Delineator.

Hans Flato illustration for an ad, March 1935. Delineator.

But one thing all these styles have in common, regardless of the age of the model, is the need to accommodate a 1930’s hat.

WOmen's hats in Delineator fashion illustrations, January 1936.

Women’s hats in Delineator fashion illustrations, January 1936.

Elsa Schiaparelli’s hat designs were very influential in the 1930’s. Click here for a post about them, with many more pictures.

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Filed under 1930s, Hairstyles, Hats, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Vintage Accessories, vintage photographs

Fringe Fashions, December 1918

Old copies of Delineator magazine always have surprises that catch my eye.

December fashions, Delineator, 1918, top of p. 64

December fashions, Delineator magazine, 1918, top of p. 64. Butterick patterns 1276, 1260, 1255, and 1243.

Parts of the December 1918 issue were probably ready to print before the Armistice was announced on November 11, and the magazine contains many references to World War I.

Butterick doll clothing for a soldier, 402, and a sailor, 403. Delineator, December 1918.

Butterick doll clothing: “boy doll’s military suit,” pattern 402, and “boy doll’s sailor suit,” 403. Delineator, December 1918. This woman’s “one-piece dress” pattern was available up to size 44.

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But the “theme” of the month seems to be fringe. Here is the bottom of the same page:

Butterick patterns for women, December 1918. Two are fringed, and the gold dress is trimmed with black monkey fur. Delineator, p. 64.

Butterick patterns for women, 1283, 1294, and 1305. December 1918. Two are fringed, and the gold dress is trimmed with black monkey fur. Delineator, p. 64.

Pattern descriptions for Butterick 1283, 1294 and 1305, December 1918. Delineator.

Pattern descriptions for Butterick 1283, 1294 and 1305, December 1918. Delineator.

Fringe could be light-weight, like chenille, or made from heavier silk or cotton. I have encountered monkey fur coats in costume storage. [Eeeeeek. Just as unpleasant as having the paw fall off a vintage fox fur stole.]

More fashions with fringe appeared on page 63:

The blue dress is fringed; the other is trimmed with fur. Delineator, Dec. 1918,. p 63

The blue dress (1278) is trimmed with fringe; the other outfit (blouse 1259 and skirt 1105) is trimmed with fur and decorative buttons. Delineator, Dec. 1918, p 63. Two different muff patterns were illustrated, 1190 and 9517.

In addition to keeping your hands warm, a muff often had an interior pocket that functioned as a purse.

Two more fringed day dresses, Dec. 1918. Delineator, p 63.

Two more fringed day dresses, Dec. 1918. Delineator, p 63. Butterick 1253 and waist/blouse 1263 with skirt 9865. No. 1253 is illustrated in satin; waist 1263 is in velvet, worn over a satin skirt.

More fringe from December 1918:

Butterick patterns illustrated in Delineator. Dec. 1918, page 65.

Butterick patterns illustrated in Delineator. Dec. 1918, page 65. Fringe trims the center two.

Butterick patterns in Delineator, page 71, December 1918.

Fur or fringe trims these Butterick patterns in Delineator, page 71, December 1918.  Women’s dresses No. 1294, 1309, and 1285.

Butterick patterns, Delineator, Dec. 1918, p. 68.

Butterick patterns, Delineator, Dec. 1918, p. 68. The shape of the skirt is determined by the high-waisted, curve-flattening corset of the era.

Fringe hangs from the pockets of a skirt, Delineator, Dec. 1918, p. 68.

Fringe hangs from the pockets of a skirt, Delineator, Dec. 1918, p. 68. Butterick blouse 1306 with skirt 1226. Shirt-waist pattern 1279 with skirt of suit 1101.

In October, Butterick suggested a fringed wedding gown, pattern 1169, shown again in November in a dark, velvet version:

Left, wedding gown 1169, Butterick pattern from October 1918; right, the same pattern in velvet, worn for a formal occasion. (November, 1918.)

Left, wedding gown 1169, Butterick pattern from October 1918; right, the same pattern in velvet, worn for a formal daytime occasion. (November, 1918.)

If you weren’t ready to go wild with fringe, you could carry a subtle fringed handbag instead of a muff.

Winter coats from Butterick December 1918. The woman in the center carries a matching striped muff; the woman on the right carries a fringed handbag. Delineator, December 1918, p. 66.

Winter coats from Butterick December 1918. The woman in the center carries a striped muff (Butterick 1266) to match her coat; the woman on the right carries a fringed handbag (Butterick pattern 10720.) Delineator, December 1918, p. 66.

The coat on the right is a reminder that the “Barrel skirt” or “tonneau” was [to me, inexplicably] in fashion for a while.

 

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Accessory Patterns, bags, Hairstyles, handbags, Hats, Hosiery, Purses, Vintage patterns, Wedding Clothes, World War I

Formal Frocks for the Holidays, December 1928

Two Formal Frocks from Delineator, December 1928. Butterick patterns 2379 and 2287.

Two “Formal Frocks” from Delineator, December 1928. Butterick patterns 2379 and 2287.

If you love a challenge in sewing chiffon, Butterick 2287 looks like a great opportunity. (I believe those flounces were were curved, which means they’d start stretching the minute you removed them from the pattern paper.) Hems were still short in 1928, but some formal evening gowns were long — in places:

Butterick evening patterns 2347 and 2367, Delineator, December 1928

Butterick evening patterns 2347 and 2367, Delineator, December 1928.

Many late twenties’ hemlines combined long and short looks. (Click here for more examples.) For young women, a fuller skirt was also an option.

Butterick 2366, evening or bridesmaid's gown for young women. Dec. 1928.

Butterick 2366, evening or bridesmaid’s gown for young women. Dec. 1928.

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The shorter, close-to-the-body under layer is visible through the sheer tulle top layer. This dress is also notable for the bareness of its shoulders.

2366 has "lingerie straps;" usually these slip straps were only visible when veiled by a more substantial chiffon or lace dress shoulder, as in Butterick 2287.

Butterick 2366 has “lingerie straps;” usually such thin straps were only visible when veiled by a more substantial chiffon or lace dress shoulder, as in Butterick 2287. December, 1928.

Such thin straps were previously seen on slips and chemises, so using them to hold up a dress was provocative. The girl who wore No. 2366 as shown was presumably not wearing any underwear above the waist, although she could opt for the more conservative, sleeveless version of the dress as shown in the back view. A metallic tulle (see-through) skirt with a metallic tissue lame bodice would have made a less demure gown than the model’s expression suggests. Another lingerie strap evening dress was illustrated in February of 1929.

Butterick 2387 is meant to flutter. Dark fabrics are suggested, which does not rule out red....

Butterick 2387 is meant to flutter. Dark fabrics are suggested, which does not rule out shades of red…. December 1928.

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The ripple of such flounces is achieved by cutting them on a curve.

Butterick 2379 , with a long “bustle” drape in back, supposedly shows the influence of Chanel.

Butterick formal evening gown pattern 2379; Dec. 1928.

Butterick formal evening gown pattern 2379; Dec. 1928. Note the very low back.

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The long end of the bow “gives the one-piece frock an uneven hem and a down-in-back movement…. The low flare of the tiers [is] in the Chanel manner.” Such bustle bows were seen in 1928 and into the early thirties; The Vintage Traveler recently shared a photo of one originally made in 1932.

Also influenced by Chanel was this “minaret” gown (which looks more like a pagoda to me):

Starched lace stands away from the body in Butterick formal evening dress No. 2347. December 1928.

Starched lace stands away from the body in Butterick formal evening dress No. 2347. December 1928.

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Delineator had illustrated a similar tiered lace dress by Chanel in November:

Lace dress by Chanel, illustrated in Delineator, Nov. 1928, p. 114.

Lace dress by Chanel, “stiffened at the edges,” illustrated in Delineator, Nov. 1928, p. 114.

It’s interesting to think that some (now) droopy, vintage lace gowns might once have been stiffened like these.

Butterick 2367 is asymmetrical, long in places, shown in a metallic brocade fabric, and graced with two enormous, back-to-back fabric flowers at the hip. (Note the very short, close-to-the-head hairstyles in some of these illustrations.)

Butterick evening gown 2367 from December 1928. Delineator.

Butterick evening gown 2367 from December 1928. Delineator.

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This dress seems to be gathered — or more probably ruched, like its flowers — at the side seam under the bow. (Perhaps an underslip supported the weight of this trim?)

The same December issue of Delineator magazine illustrated many beautiful evening shoes to wear with these gowns. Click here for “Dancing Shoes, December 1928.”  And I never get tired of Designer watches from the late twenties. Click here for diamond evening watches, and here for sporty Art Deco Designer watches in color.

Best wishes to everyone who plans to party like it’s 1928! (Oh, wait…. 1929 wasn’t such a good year…. Let’s just set the time machine to 1928.)

Note: I have shown some of these dresses before, but without the details or accompanying descriptions.

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Hairstyles, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage patterns

Simple, Glitzy Tops from the 1940s

A variety of McCall patterns from the 1940's showed glittering trim on simple tops.

A variety of McCall patterns from the 1940’s showed glittering trim on simple tops.

In the forties, McCall offered several patterns for simple tops which could be raised to evening wear status with sequins or beading. “Afternoon-evening” style implied a fashion that could be worn for dates when combined with your daytime business suit; a simple change of blouse and the working woman or traveler was ready for cocktails, dinner, and dancing.

McCall 1192 had an attractive back, too. The cap shoulders are a style that returns periodically.

McCall 1192 had a decorated back, too. The cap shoulders are a style that returns periodically. “Just two pieces to this blouse.”

No. 1192, from 1945, was still featured in the needlework catalog for May, 1950. It included an embroidery transfer and  instructions for applying the sequins one at a time, although you could also purchase strands of sequins by the yard.

How to stitch sequins or do a decorative embroidery stitch. McCall 1192.

How to stitch sequins or do a decorative embroidery stitch. McCall 1192.

You could also work it in bugle beads, or in six-strand cotton embroidery thread “for a  more restrained effect.” A simple chainstitch was also recommended. Most of the ornamentation would be done before before sewing the side seams.

Description of McCall 1192.

Description of McCall 1192. Embroidery transfers came in blue, for visibility on most light colors, or yellow, for use on dark colors.

McCall pattern 1283, from a 1946 catalog. The blouse is simple, but the sequin trim is glamorous.

McCall pattern 1283, from 1946. The blouse is simple, but the sequin trim is glamorous. Making a long skirt in matching fabric would give you an “evening gown” that could be varied with other tops.

The rows of sequins suggest necklaces. The sash seems to be attached in the back, and brought around to tie in front. [If I were making this blouse, I’d add more fabric to keep it tucked in at the waist.]

McCall 1283, circa 1946. A handbag pattern was included.

McCall 1283, circa 1946. A handbag pattern was included. “For daytime wear, trim with fine rickrack and wear under suit jackets. One of the ‘musts’ for that special weekend or vacation and so easy to pack.”

There was a time when a lady did not wear sequins in the daytime. However, late afternoon and the cocktail hour permitted a bit of sparkle.

Witness to Fashion note:  The wearing of metallic fabrics, rhinestone-studded clothing, and sequins during daylight hours was only beginning to be acceptable in the early 1970’s. I remember walking to breakfast with my husband in Hollywood one morning about nine; a woman passed us wearing tight jeans, high wooden platform heels, and a strapless sequinned stretch top, called a tube top. “Was she — or wasn’t she — a prostitute?” I asked to my spouse, figuring a man might pick up signals I was missing.  He looked utterly bewildered when he admitted, “I don’t know!” A few years earlier, we would have had no doubts.

Many forties’ dresses for late afternoon and evening have subtle sequin trim; some are not so subtle.

Vintage black dress with black sequin trim, 1940s. (It photographed navy, but it was black.)

Vintage black dress with black sequin trim, 1940s. (It photographed navy.)

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A short forties’ party dress trimmed with green sequins and cream-colored seed beads. [A black petticoat visible near the hem is not part of the dress.]

Detail: a spray of flowers made from sequins on a vintage dress.

Detail: a spray of flowers made from sequins and beads on a vintage dress.

Black vintage dress with a sunburst of beads.

Black vintage dress with a “necklace” and sunburst of sequins.

Another late forties detail:  This blouse has beading around the neckline, suggesting a necklace.

McCall transfer No. 1408 used beading to transform a very simple blouse into a sparkling one. You wouldn't need to carry jewelry if you packed a blouse like this.

McCall transfer No. 1408 used beading to transform a very simple blouse into a sparkling one. You wouldn’t need to carry  jewelry on vacation if you packed a blouse like this.

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Using an embroidery hoop,  organza, tissue, (or modern tear-away stabilizer) to keep the fabric from stretching makes applying these trims easier.

In 1950 you could choose among several neckline beading designs:  a bow, a pendant, etc.

More neckline beading designs from McCall. Pattern 1491.

More neckline beading designs from McCall. Pattern 1491.

A bow on your shoulder of a "brooch" could also trim your dress or suit jacket. McCall 1491.

A bow on your shoulder or a beaded “brooch” could also trim your dress or suit jacket. McCall 1491.

More beading patterns for blouses, dresses and suits. McCall pattern 1314.

More beading patterns for blouses, dresses and suits. McCall pattern 1314. (From 1947.)

Gold or iridescent beads were available, but many of these patterns were used very subtly, in black on black, bronze on brown, blue on blue, etc. The square pattern below would turn a simple wool crepe suit into an elegant one, if you worked it in beads or shiny thread on the pockets.

A square beading pattern like this would be subtle in black beads on a black suit jacket. Variations could be used on the neckline of a wool dress or the collar of a suit jacket. McCall 1314.

A square beading pattern like this would be subtle in black beads on a black suit jacket. Variations could be used on the neckline of a wool dress or the collar of a suit jacket. McCall 1314.

If you’re tempted to make a dressy forties’ blouse, remember how often sparkle was added to day-into-night clothing. Pick a simple style, and let the ornamentation supply the sophistication.

McCall 1404: simple linger sleeved blouses embellished with rays of sequins at the neck.

McCall 1404: simple longer-sleeved blouses embellished with glittering rays at the neck. Late forties.

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McCall 1293 for a vestee, a timeless halter top, a hat and a bag.

McCall 1293 included a vestee, a timeless halter top, a hat and a bag. Dated 1946.

Picture that 1940’s halter with evening trousers or a short lace skirt; if you found it in a thrift store, would it scream “1946” to you?

McCall 1293.

McCall 1293 included this Juliet cap and evening bag. This cap would not work over high forties’ hairstyles, but was perfect over a close-to-the-head fifties’ cut.

A sequinned monogram on a blouse or dress was also worn by many — although I wonder whether monogrammed gifts are always appreciated by the recipient….

McCall transfer pattern 1339 supplied 5 inch high initials to work in sequins or embroidery thread.

McCall transfer pattern 1339 supplied 5 inch high initials to work in sequins or embroidery thread. (1947) Swing, anyone?

If you like the idea of adding sparkle, but not too much, consider an applique. I used to own several forties’ dresses which had bodice (and sometimes skirt) appliques of flowers — cut from printed material — and outlined or delicately accented with sequins. This dress does not have sequins, but a few on the appliqued tulip — clear or matching the colors — wouldn’t be out of period.

This vintage dress has a solid rayon crepe bodice, a floral printed crepe skirt, and one motif -- a tulip -- from the skirt fabric appliqued to the bodice. A few sequins on that tulip would be fine.

This vintage dress has a solid rayon crepe bodice, a floral printed crepe skirt, and one motif — a tulip — from the skirt fabric appliqued to the bodice. A few sequins on that tulip would be fine.

Obviously, this mannequin was too small for the dress; the flared, bias-cut skirt should hang from the natural waistline. A narrow self-belt probably accompanied this dress, but has been lost.

It’s not too late to make your forties’ style  holiday party blouse or dress!

 

 

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Filed under 1940s-1950s, bags, Dresses, Hairstyles, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Purses, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing, Vintage patterns

Fashions for November, 1917

November fashions from Butterick, Delineator magazine, Nov. 1917, p. 84.

November fashions from Butterick, Delineator magazine, Nov. 1917, p. 84.

November fashions from Butterick, Delineator, Nov. 1917, p. 83.

November fashions from Butterick, Delineator, Nov. 1917, p. 83.

As usual, I’ll show individual pattern illustrations, then give full descriptions at the end of the post. I’ll give details of the coats in a later post.

And, before I forget, these illustrations are always interesting for their hats and hairstyles:

Women's hats with feathers, Delineator, Nov. 1917.

Women’s hats with feathers, Delineator, Nov. 1917.

Women's hats and hairstyles from Delineator, Nov. 1917.

Women’s hats and hairstyles from Delineator, Nov. 1917. These hats also have feather trim.

By 1917, many women were cutting their hair shorter in front, leaving the back long; bangs and poufs of short curls over the ears softened their look and framed the face under closely fitting hats, which foreshadow the cloche hats of the 1920’s.

Butterick patterns from the top of page 84, Nov. 1917.

Butterick patterns from the top of page 84, Delineator, Nov. 1917. Top row: left, 9422; center, waist 9435 with skirt 9468; right, blouse 9472 with skirt 9444.

Butterick dress pattern 9422. Delineator, Nov. 1917 .

Butterick dress pattern 9422. Delineator, Nov. 1917 .

No. 9422 is described as a serge frock with a surplice closing, a slightly raised waist, and chamois colored satin shawl collar and trim. The belt is separate, and a sash could be used instead. Other recommended dress colors were navy blue, tobacco brown, mustard, sand, dark red, plum, etc.

Butterick 9435 with skirt 9468. Delineator, Nov. 1917.

Butterick 9435 with skirt 9468. Delineator, Nov. 1917.

Butterick No. 9435 is a pleated tunic style trimmed with “self-colored beading at the throat, sleeves and sash.” It is shown in “cadet blue” with self-covered ball button trim. Various silk fabrics are suggested, and  “black is very smart for the silk dress and makes a very useful dress for many different occasions.”

Butterick bodice (waist) 9472 comes to below the hip and is trimmed with embroidery; skirt pattern 9444 was shown with many tops. Nov. 1917.

Butterick blouse 9472 comes to below the hip and is trimmed with embroidery; skirt pattern 9444 was shown with many tops. Nov. 1917.

Here are two views of the blouse:

Blouse pattern 9472 could have a high collar; either a straight or pointed hemline, and three different belts.

Blouse pattern 9472 could have a high collar; long or  3/4 sleeves, either a straight or pointed hemline, and three different belts. The version on the left appears to be trimmed with many ball buttons.

More Butterick patterns from page 84, Nov. 1917. Delineator.

More Butterick patterns from page 84, Nov. 1917. Delineator. From left, 9470, 9476, and 9479.

Butterick dress pattern 9470 from Nov. 1917.

Butterick dress pattern 9470 from Nov. 1917.

No. 9470 has dozens of satin-bound buttonholes and covered buttons. It is shown with a brown velvet collar and brown braid (applied at hem and neckline.)

Butterick pattern 9476, Nov. 1917. Delineator.

Butterick pattern 9476, Nov. 1917. Delineator. It has a dropped waist, which dominated in the 1920’s.

Novelty silk voile was used for the sleeves and collar; the dress was made of brown velvet, or velveteen. Wool serge was also recommended for this dress; “made in satin or velvet it is suitable for any afternoon occasion.” “For the woolen materials like chiffon broadcloth, serge, gabardine, checks, stripes and plaids could have the sleeves of satin, taffeta, charmeuse, silk crepe or chiffon.”

Butterick patterns 9479 and 9509, Nov. 1917.

Butterick patterns 9479 and 9509, Nov. 1917.

“Sand color-gabardine for the smart little jumper and new tunic skirt makes a delightful combination with blue satin for the side body and full-length sleeves. (Designs 9479 and 9509.)” Although called a jumper, the bodice (including the sleeves and collar) is separate from the skirt. [In American usage, a “jumper” is usually a sleeveless bodice attached to a skirt and worn over a separate blouse.]

Butterick patterns from Delineator, November 1917, page 83.

Butterick patterns from Delineator, November 1917, page 83. Patterns 9480 (tan), 9517 (navy), waist 9477 with skirt 9502 (gray), and a red suit which uses coat pattern 9490 with skirt 9444.

Butterick dress pattern 9480 with muff pattern 9511, Nov. 1917. Delineator.

Butterick dress pattern 9480 with muff pattern 9511, Nov. 1917. Delineator.

Frock 9480 was illustrated in gold colored velvet, but could also be made in serge or silk for an autumn wardrobe. A higher necked “chemisette” was recommended for wear under a winter coat. “The draped front extends down to form a wide panel, and there are sash ends that tie loosely in the back.” “The dress could be trimmed with beading or embroidery.” However, “This Autumn the embroidery is smartest worked in soft colors that harmonize with the dress itself; the sharper contrasting and striking effects of the past season are not being used for the new dresses.”

Butterick dress pattern 9489, Nov. 1917.

Butterick dress pattern 9489, Nov. 1917.

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Butterick pattern 9477 wit skirt 9502 and stole pattern 9517. Nov. 1917.

Butterick blouse-waist pattern 9477 with skirt 9502 and stole pattern 9517. Nov. 1917.

This “blouse-waist,” No. 9477, was also described as a jumper, with a tunic skirt.

9477-blouse-9502-skirt-9517-stole-1917-nov-p-82-text-p-83

Butterick coat pattern 9490 with skirt 9444, Nov. 1917.

Butterick coat pattern 9490 with skirt 9444, Nov. 1917. The trim, including the belt buckle, is gray squirrel fur.

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Skirt No. 9444, shown with several different tops,  has an optional belt with pockets attached:

Butterick skirt pattern 9444 was shown with many tops; the belt with attached pockets could be omitted.

Butterick skirt pattern 9444 was shown with many tops; the belt with attached pockets could be omitted to make a simple under skirt. 1917.

The corsets of this period created a very high waist in the back, as shown in this skirt illustration.

Other views and details of patterns shown at the top of the post:

500-comp-9422

Details, Butterick blouse 9435 and skirt 9468. 1917.

Details, Butterick blouse 9435 and skirt 9468. 1917.

Butterick 9470, from 1917.

Details of Butterick 9470, from 1917.

Details, Butterick 9476, from 1917.

Details, Butterick 9476, from 1917.

Details of Butterick 9479 and 9509, November 1917.

Details of Butterick 9479 and 9509, November 1917.

Details of Butterick dress 9480. From 1917.

Details of Butterick dress 9480. From 1917.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Hairstyles, Hats, Vintage Accessories, Vintage patterns, World War I