Category Archives: Hosiery

A Wedding Party in the 1920s

The bride and groom sit informally on the grass in front of a home, surrounded by a group of young men and women in late-1920’s clothing. (It does look like the bride was trying to avoid grass stains on her light dress.)

While sorting my Aunt Dorothy’s huge collection of photos, I found these charming pictures of an informal wedding in the nineteen twenties. The skirt lengths suggest 1927-28 to me.

Happy faces (for the most part) and real-people hairstyles and clothing from the late 1920s. Left side of group photo. The men’s hair looks natural, not slick or oily.

More wedding guests, this time from the right side of the photo.

Although my aunt knew a great many women called “Dot,” — and she herself was called Dot — I haven’t been able to match “Dot the Bride” to any other photos, so I can’t find her last name, or date her wedding exactly.

Dot Richardson and Dot Robinson, on an office outing to Monte Rio, California, circa 1921.

Dot was the usual nickname for women called Dorothy.

There’s a good chance that like my aunt, the bride or her groom and most of the wedding guests worked at the Southern Pacific Railroad Headquarters in San Francisco. They all seem to be in their twenties or thirties.

Dot and her husband. I love his pocket square. Like the bride, many of the female guests are wearing their Marcelle-waved hair loose, longish, and full. Dot wears dark lipstick, too.

The bride and groom have a sense of humor, judging by the toy bulldog on a leash in the foreground.

Her pale, short dress, worn with almost opaque white silk stockings, has a lace “bolero” jacket and lace flounces. Her feet are swollen; brides don’t get to sit down much at weddings. [When their feet hurt, people used to say, “My dogs are barking.”]

Here the newlyweds pose with the honeymoon car, decorated with a “Just Married” sign and several big, tin cans to make noise as they drive away.

Their friends have tied several cans tied to the bumper to ensure that everyone notices the “Just Married” sign on newlyweds car as it clatters down the road.

Her huge corsage must mean “Maid of Honor.” She wears a light coat over a knee-baring print silk dress; big bows trim her shoes. As sometimes happens with informal weddings, not everyone got the “not too casual” message. (Yes, I mean you, Mister Sweater and No Necktie.) His boutonniere says he’s part of the wedding party.

Even this guest caught in the background wears a dress with a graceful, curving pleated flounce:

I wish we could see more of this dress on a Bette Midler look-alike….

Whether she’s gaining a son or a daughter, this mother looks happy.

The mother of the bride (or groom) looks very up-to-date in her short dress, worn with dark stockings and low shoes. The bride’s dress appears to be waistless, possibly a princess style with a bow and drape at her left side.

The white-haired lady’s dress has a V-shaped lace insert in the bodice, and a two-tiered skirt that just covers her knees. She hasn’t bobbed her hair, however.

I hope this bunch of pleasant-looking young people had very happy lives, and many equally pleasant celebrations.

It’s easy to imagine enjoying their company.

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Coats, Dresses, evening and afternoon clothes, Hairstyles, Hosiery, Hosiery, Makeup & Lipstick, Menswear, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing, vintage photographs, Wedding Clothes

Hair Styles from the World War I Era — and Later (Part 2)

Fashion illustration, Delineator, December 1917. That little puff of hair near the cheek was very important. It looked so charming peeking out from under a hat. She still has long hair, piled on her head.

Hats and hair, Delineator illustration, September 1917.

This front and back view shows that the bun on top of her head is supported by a tall comb, and the wispy hair brushed over her ears, like her bangs, has been cut. Delineator, March 1917.

I ended Part 1 of this post with a studio photograph of my mother, taken about 1919, when she was 14 or 15 years old.

My mother’s eighth grade graduation picture, circa 1919. To see the rest of her class, click here. Many of them have long, girlish curls, but she was trying to look grown-up.

She has tried to match the high hairstyles — and those very important puffs of hair over the cheeks — that she saw in fashion images.

But, as this later photo shows,  she actually had long, “Mary Pickford” curls.

Photo of my mother about 1920. Her hair is very long, but now she has cut bangs — with or without her parents’ permission.

Silent star Mary Pickford’s long curls were famous. Here she is in an ad for Pompeiian night cream, 1917.

My mother did other things without her parents’ permission, too.

Girls, boys, cars — Uh-oh! At least we get another view of her long, long  hair….

Here we see that she has cut bangs since her graduation photo, but those long curls are rolled up at the side again. Circa 1920. She is smirking because she was posing in her underwear:

This photo from 1920 says “age 16.” Helen’s friend Irene took this picture; then my mother took one of Irene, similarly undressed.

Irene has also cut bangs, and rolled her long hair up to look short at the sides. This photo was dated on the back: April 18, 1920.

Irene models another type of one-piece underwear:

Teenaged girl practicing naughtiness…. 1920. At least this “combination” has thin ribbon straps…. According to census records, Irene was about 15 in 1920.

Some readers have questioned whether my mother really was a “flapper” in the twenties, with the hint of wild behavior that implies. Ummmm….

Other girls in town also tried to achieve fashionable hairdos, and especially those little puffs that caress the cheeks. (During my youth in the 60’s, a curl on the cheek was called a Guiche; it usually curved forward.)

The woman on the right has cut the front part of her hair short, but probably still has long hair in back, like the woman on the left. Sears catalog, Fall 1917.

Left, short hair in front, with a hint of a bun at the back; right, a tall hairdo supported by a fancy comb. Delineator, April 1917.

The “puffs” or guiches on her cheek are clearly cut shorter than the rest of her hair. Delineator, November 1917.

These girls have also cut some of their front hair — although it could be hard to control the results.

Two California girls, circa 1918. It’s not easy to look like a fashion plate, even in these very stylish sweaters.

Below left, my mother’s friend Ollie had a bad hair day, but later managed an up-do:

Ollie with her hair cut short at the sides; in the second photo we can see that the rest of her her hair is still long enough to pile on top of her head. Circa 1918-1920’s.

From Long Hair to Bobbed Hair

It was my aunt Dorothy who told me that my mother and her friend Irene were the first girls in town to have their hair bobbed — a story she only told decades after my mother’s death. [I suspect that Dorothy, a keen photographer,  developed and printed those naughty photos.]

According to my aunt, their mother was in the hospital, recovering from surgery. With less supervision than usual, younger sister Helen and her friend Irene “snuck off” and had their hair bobbed.  When my grandfather saw his daughter with short hair, he he told her she was forbidden to visit her mother in the hospital. He said (and believed,) “The shock would kill her!”

My mother with bobbed (and permanently-waved) hair, probably 1921 or 1922. I think this picture was taken to show her new look, fresh from the hairdresser.

I can date this picture because she is with her little nephew Gerald, born in 1921:

Helen with bobbed hair and her brother’s baby son, probably in 1922. She was 18 or so.

Here she is wearing a Chinese tunic, and extraordinarily pointy shoes:

Bobbed hair, a Chinese costume, and no-those-are-not-clown-shoes. (She wore shoe size 5 1/2.) Early 1920’s.

Obviously, she got a Marcel wave as well as a hair cut:

My mother with her shockingly short (and suddenly curly) hair, about 1922.

Many people thought bobbed hair was a sign that a girl was “fast.”

Training to be a flapper: my mother is showing bobbed hair, rolled stockings, and bare knees. She was about 18 years old, and wearing an “armistice blouse” that was about to go out of style.

I have two other photos of her friend Irene:

Irene has cut bangs, but only pulled one strand down into a curl on her forehead. It’s hard to be sure, but I don’t think her hair has been bobbed yet. About 1921-22.

Here, Irene, aged 18 — with “her first husband” — has a Marcel wave, and a hairstyle more associated with the 1920’s. “There was a little girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead….”

Irene with chin length hair, a Marcel wave, and a husband; early 1920’s. I suspect that she’s wearing an invisible hair net for a perfectly smooth finish. Irene was probably born in 1905, making this circa 1923.

Third from left, Irene — now married — and wearing a terrific 1920’s skirt. My aunt said, “She was 18 and he was 25.”

While long hair required the kind of hairpins that mountain roads are named after [“hairpin curves,”] bobbed hair needed a different kind of hairpin — the bobbie pin. What a pity for the wonderfully named Hump Hair Pin Company.

An ad for Hump Hairpins, Delineator, March 1917. These pins for long hair were not shaped like traditional hairpins.

Nothing works for long hair like traditional hairpins — although, if you haven’t used them, you may wonder how they could hold anything in place. Humblebee & Me (dot com) has a good demonstration. Click here.

For more about Mary Pickford, and the headlines she made by finally bobbing her hair, click here. Silentology is a delightful film history site.

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Women’s Fashions for February, 1927

Butterick patterns from Delineator, February 1927, page 22. Illustrations by M. Lages.

Butterick patterns from Delineator, February 1927, page 25.

These patterns for spring of 1927 show quite a variety of looks, from a graded-color “compose” dress to peasant-look embroidery. There is a bolero dress, plus two shirred dresses, and a really striking coat — simple in style, but dramatic when made in a jazzy fabric.

Butterick’s “informal” coat 1254 looks fabulous in this material. Note the tie belt, which seems to run under the pocket.

The dresses on these pages are very different, but all twelve illustrations show variations on one (rather sloppy) hat style.

Butterick 1300, 1264, and 1270, Delineator, February 1927, p. 22. 1264 has the bolero look — but the bolero only hangs loose in back.

The sheer Georgette vestee — or dickey– is detachable. The bodice tabs extend into belt carriers in back.

Butterick 1270 is a “frock that looks like a coat.” I could use a bit more construction information on that one….

Pages 23 and 24 showed four more outfits, including this graded dress and a dress-and-jacket combination.

Butterick graded-color dress 1282 is monogrammed, a style attributed to Patou, and suggests a jacket — an illusion. Dress 1298 combines with a real jacket, Butterick 1229, to create a suit. Delineator, Feb. 1927, page 23

As is often the case, the back of the outfit is much plainer than the front.

Butterick dresses 1278 and 1253, Delineator, Feb. 1927, p. 24. No. 1278 has a dark band on the skirt and at the bottom of the sleeves. (The dress at the right seems to me to be a bit of a hodge-podge….)

The following fashions are from page 25:

A woman in a shirred dress (Butterick 1238) leads a woman in a tiered, graded-color dress (Butterick 1280.) Delineator, February 1927, page 25. No. 1238 could be made sleeveless for evening, and was available in large sizes.

Details of Butterick 1238 and 1280. No. 1238 is shirred in a semicircular pattern at the closure. The sleeves and belt of No. 1280 repeat the color progression of the skirt tiers.

Butterick 1268 has a lighter yoke and sleeves, and darker banding. Butterick 1276 has sheer, embroidered “peasant” sleeves. Delineator, Feb. 1927, p. 25.

What to wear under these clothes? A light, boneless corselet like this one minimized the wearer’s curves:

A light foundation garment made by Gossard. Ad from Delineator, Feb. 1927.

And don’t forget to dye your stockings to match your dress….

Ad for Putnam Dyes, Delineator, February 1927, p. 121.

 

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Women’s Shoes: 1929 versus 1936

These are Foot Saver Shoes from a February 1929 ad in Delineator. Foot Saver Shoes emphasized comfort over high fashion, but these shoes are also chic; the dressy shoe on the bottom has a delicate strap and gracefully curved heel.

Nineteen thirties’ shoes from the same company look “clunky” to me. Their thick heels drop straight from the arch to the ground, and the shoe covers much more of the foot.

These dressy shoes (one of them trimmed with sequins) are also Foot Saver Shoes, from an ad in Woman’s Home Companion, October 1936. To me, they look thick and chunky, with high vamps guaranteed to make a woman’s legs look shorter and thick ankles look thicker.

I see a big difference between the fashionable shoes of 1929 — most of which seem graceful and beautiful to me — and the chunkier, more covered-up shoes of 1936.

Styles from an ad for Dorothy Dodd Shoes, Delineator, March 1929. How delicate they seem.

In March 1929, Delineator ran a fashion article (by Lucile Babcock) on Spring shoes, which featured these six shoes, from different manufacturers. The following quotations come from Babcock’s article.

Black patent leather pump from Laird-Schober. Delineator editorial on Spring Shoes, March 1929. For clocked stockings, click here.

“Patent leather is most successful when combined with lizard or kid in a monotone.”

Foot Saver walking pump in brown lizard and calfskin. Delineator, March 1929.

A Queen Quality pump decorated with  “sunburn beige” lizard. Delineator, March 1929.

“Water-snake and lizard are carried over for the spring session, and those lovely gray-beige tones which blend so well with frocks of beige, gray, blue or green are witnessed everywhere…. Kid-skin colors hold a brief for the sunburn vogue, and all tones of beige are important.” (Suntanned skin was just becoming chic in the late twenties.)

This natural linen [spectator] sport shoe has an embroidered toe and delicate leather trim. Delineator, March 1929.

“The fabric shoe, essentially a sports style, is very definitely on trial for its acceptance by smart women…. In its best aspects, the fabric shoe is the prefect final note of gaiety for the white costume.”

A slate blue kid afternoon pump by J. & T. Cousins. Delineator, March 1929.

“Two blues demand attention, a slate blue and a deep bright blue called “commander.’ ”

This “Frosted calf” pump by Garside is silvery gray, with an enameled [Art Deco] buckle. Delineator, March 1929.

“A new leather called “frosted calf,” with a lustrous surface, is seen in gray (a deeply beautiful gun-metal hue) in beige, brown and black.”

Coordinating stocking colors were recommended for each featured shoe. “So specialized is the hosiery situation with its complexion tints and sunburn hues that the wise woman saves time and effort by selecting her hose wardrobe at the same time that she makes her shoe decisions.” [1929]

Shoes and stockings are coordinated to the clothing in this Arch Preserver shoe ad, June 1929.

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/1929-oct-hosiery-ad-photo2.jpg?w=500&h=423

Stocking colors in this ad from October 1929 could match your gown, your shoes, or your skin tone.

By 1936, stocking colors were more natural, but still coordinated with shoes and/or clothes.

Arch Preserver shoes from April 1929. Delineator.

Foot Preserver shoe ad, March 1929. Delineator. The lace-up shoe on the bottom is similar to the “old lady shoes” of the 1930’s, shoes my grandmother still wore in the 1950’s.

The Foot Saver shoe at the top of the ad has a thick strap, but it’s trimmed with a fancy buckle and has a graceful curve on both sides of the heel. March 1929.

Arch Preserver shoe ad, Delineator, March 1929. Notice the high-vamped, Thirties-ish shoes worn by the model at left.

These shoes foreshadow the higher, chunkier shoes of the 1930’s, but the 1929 sport shoe (below at top left) still has thin, graceful trim.

Arch Preserver shoes ad, March 1929.

Speaking of sport shoes, this nineteen twenties’ ad for ZIP depilatory shows them worn with socks.

Sporty spectator shoes worn with diamond-patterned socks in a Zip depilatory ad, 1929.

In 1934 you could still buy Sandals (a Walk-Over brand) with straps almost as thin as 1920’s shoes:

Ad for Walk-Over Sandals shoes, December 1934. Delineator.

This ad for Rhythm Step shoes shows a delicate strapped shoe (top left) in 1936. Woman’s Home Companion.

But the lace-up shoe in the same ad was more in line with mainstream fashion by then, with a high heel and high vamp  covering most of the foot.

I love the Twenties’-look shoes used in this 1936 Lux soap ad:

Thin-strapped shoes in a Lux soap ad, WHC, Feb. 1936. (Lux claimed to prevent stocking runs.)

But fashion is a tyrant. Did they look old-fashioned to the eyes of 1936?

Queen Quality Shoes from April 1936, WHC.

One more look at 1928:

Queen Quality shoe ad from 1928. There was a big difference between sport shoes and dress shoes, but there’s also a big difference between these 1920’s shoes and 1930’s shoes from the same company.

Here are oxfords from 1936 versus 1928:

Different heel, different vamp on two lace-up shoes from Queen Quality, 1936.

Three generations, 1937. Can you tell which are the young woman’s shoes and which are her grandmother’s? Pattern illustration, WHC.

 

Three generations of fashionable women, 1937. Were you able to match the shoes to their ages?

Mother, daughter, grandmother.

 

 

 

 

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Hosiery Ads with a Bit of Wit

My favorite series of ads for stockings came from the McCullum Company in 1927.

A wonderfully stylized illustration of short skirts and stockings under the bridge table. Ad for McCallum silk stockings, Delineator, March 1927. (Shades of John Held, Jr….)

Illustration for McCullum silk stockings for everyday wear, Delineator, April 1927.

Text of McCullum Hosiery ad, April 1927.

Extra-long silk stockings to wear with a bathing suit, August 1927. Ad for McCullum’s hosiery, Delineator magazine. Note her bathing shoes and the seams up the back of the stockings.

About stockings with bathing suits:

Text of McCullum ad for hosiery to wear while swimming. August 1927.

“In the water, or just out, silk hose have the smooth gloss of a wet seal.” Stockings were usually worn with bathing suits in the nineteen teens and early twenties.

This 1917 ad for Luxite soap shows long stockings worn with a bathing suit.

A bathing suit illustration from 1924 shows both swimmers wearing rolled stockings. Delineator, July 1917, p. 34.

However, in this photo from the late twenties, you can clearly see the marks left by my mother’s rolled stockings.

Late 1920’s swim suit; you can see the marks left on her legs by rolled stockings, which she had removed.

She took them off when she put on her bathing suit. That McCullum “opera length” ad from 1927 seems to be trying to revive a disappearing custom.

Back to more wonderful McCallum illustrations:

Playing footsie? A couple dressed for a big date plays footsie in this McCallum hosiery ad. Notice how tense the man is, balancing a corsage box on his knees, and how relaxed the woman is as she stretches out her long legs to brush his ankle. December 1927.

Each ad had a border to match — waves for swimming, music for dancing….

“Sheer audacit” describes the short-skirted woman blowing smoke rings in this ad for McCallum hosiery, Dec. 1927. “The beauty of silken sheerness on slender, shapely legs . . is it this that gives the owner such assurance, such audacity . . is it this that fills even the timid man with admiration . .”

I do not know the illustrator — only that these eye-catching drawings are signed H on their left side and M on the right side.

The Onyx Hosiery company also used humor to sell stockings, but the illustrations in this series which referred to classical statues lacked the Art Deco dash of the McCallum ads.

The stature of the goddess Diana is implied to have thick ankles in this ad for Onyx Hosiery.  Onyx ad, November 1926, Delineator.

Onyx Pointex stockings had a pointed heel which, their ads claimed, made ankles look slender.

Venus had thick ankles compared to women who wore Onyx stockings. Onyx ad, March 1927. That dark triangle at the heel was advertised as slenderizing.

Onyx stockings, with their pointed heel, were supposed to make wearers’ ankles look thinner. (The darker heel area showed above the shoe.) Onyx ad, December 1926.

Other stocking ads illustrated the product itself — with elegance, but not many laughs.

The heels of Gordon stockings came in many shapes; left, a V-shape; right, a rectangle. Gordon Hosiery ad, Dec. 1928. Delineator.

As skirts got shorter, stockings got sheerer and more elaborate.

Ad for Gordon Hosiery to wear to the racetrack, September 1928. Delineator. The stockings at left have clocks (a vertical design,) which remained a feature of dressy men’s hose for decades.

Gordon Hosiery ad, May, 1928. Delineator. A different clock pattern.

Gordon hosiery with V-shaped or rectangular heels. Gordon ad, Delineator, October 1928. In the background, a stylized airplane takes off.

Anther stocking company just used celebrity endorsements. The extraordinary dress in this ad is worn by Mary Astor, best known nowadays for her role in The Maltese Falcon. In the 1920’s, she made five or six films a year.

Actress Mary Astor in an ad for Allen-A hosiery. April 1928, Delineator.

For me, none of those ads has the 1920’s zest of this one:

A wonderfully stylized illustration of short skirts and stockings under the bridge table. Ad for McCallum silk stockings, Delineator, March 1927.

“A length of flawless silk stockings to above the knee . . meets the brevity in skirts.” McCallum hosiery ad, March 1927.

“Full-fashioned” means the stockings were shaped like a leg, instead of like a tube. Full-fashioned stockings cost more, but before stretch knit fabrics, stockings that were not full-fashioned tended to wrinkle at the ankles. Like McCallum stockings, the other silk stockings in these ads cost two dollars a pair, more or less, a luxury item for the twenties’  working woman.

Prices from an ad for Onyx Pointex stockings, Dec. 1926.

Cotton lisle was longer wearing than silk, so it was often used at toes and heels and the band where the garter attached to the stocking. Less practical and more fragile, all-silk stockings cost more.

Prices from ad for Allen-A hosiery, April 1928.

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House Dresses from Ads, 1930s

Housewife in an ad for Cocomalt, Woman’s Home Companion, September 1936.

Possibly the best costume research advice I ever got was to read old magazines and pay attention to the ads. Fashion coverage rarely goes into the kitchen, but ads for soap, appliances, foods and other homely products will show you images that were credible to their readers. They’re not any more realistic than our TV ads with perfectly maintained kitchens and gardens, but they presented an ideal of normal life.

Did most housewives dress like this in the evening? I doubt it. Koehler furniture ad, WHC, Oct. 1936.

Ads are aspirational. They hold out the dream that, if you buy this product, your life will be transformed. So, for a view of everyday clothing, they aren’t perfect; they show the way people wanted to look. But they’ll help you to get into the mindset of the period.

Most women wore an apron while washing dishes. However, this wrap dress with its two sizes of polka dots and sheer ruffles might give you some good design ideas. S.O.S. Ad, March 1935. Delineator.

O.K., that’s more realistic. Under that clean apron, she’s wearing a dress with sheer ruffles on the sleeves. S.O.S. ad, Feb. 1935. Delineator.

Using an electric floor polisher. Appliance ad, Oct. 1934. Delineator.

Hmmm. White collars and cuffs seem to be a theme.

The next three housewives come from a series of Depression Era ads for Royal Baking Powder, in which their tight family budgets are given; the women may be wearing their best house dresses, freshly washed and ironed for the photographer, but the ads had to be believable to readers on tight budgets themselves:

This young housewife is living on $900 a year (about $17 per week.) Royal Baking Powder ad, March 1934. Delineator.

The housewife at right prides herself on spending just a dollar a day for her family’s food, but she manages to look neat and clean. Royal Baking Powder ad, January 1935.

She married on $20 per week. Interesting dress, with sheer white ruffles. It looks like her coordinating apron is pinned to her dress. Royal Baking Powder ad, February 1934. Delineator.

I was interested to see that some women sensibly adopted the sleeveless dress for housework:

Doing housework in a chic sleeveless dress. S.O.S. ad, May 1934. Delineator.

Sleeveless dress in an ad for Gerber’s baby food. August 1937. Delineator.

Mother in sleeveless dress with her children. Illustration for an article on child rearing, 1935. Delineator.

Ads for Scot paper towels show many pretty but credible house dresses. [It’s hard to imagine a time when we had to be taught what to do with a paper towel, but that is the purpose of this thirties’ ad campaign.]

Ad for Scot paper towels, March 1935. House dresses were often made of lively, small-scale, floral print fabrics.

Ad for Scot paper towels, July 1937. White collar and cuffs on a plaid dress.

Ad for Scot paper towels, March 1936. Woman’s Home Companion. White collar and cuffs again.

A loose-sleeved plaid house dress. Ad for Scot paper towels, February 1936. WHC.

Wrap dress, in small floral print with sheer ruffled accents. Ad for Scot [bathroom] tissue, Nov. 1936.

After teaching women to use Scot paper towels for drying hands, draining bacon, wiping greasy pans, cleaning glass, et cetera

Scot Paper towel ad, December 1936. New customers, unfamiliar with paper towels, would also need a holder.

… the ad campaign finally got around to a use that didn’t require a verbal description:

Ad for Scot paper towels, December 1936.

Oops! No house dress in that one. (I do get distracted by these little glimpses into the past….)

This woman’s clothing probably emphasizes the ease [no sweat, ladies!] of using this vacuum, rather than her normal working clothes.

A housewife and her Hoover. Nov. 1937, WHC. Women who wear high heels all the time find flat shoes uncomfortable, (my stepmother wore sturdy 2″ heels while cooking and cleaning) but these heels are rather high and thin for doing housework.

Whether women really vacuumed the house dressed like this is questionable. But I think that the dress worn by this woman demonstrating a washing machine is probably very close to realistic.

It was hard to use a mangle machine like this without getting wet. From an article about laundry, WHC, March 1936. That’s what I call a “wash dress.”

This isn’t.

From an ad for laundry soap — Fels Naptha. WHC, Sept. 1936. This woman’s dress says her laundry is done. It’s not the “wash day” dress she wears in the drawing.

This ad reminds us that work dresses were still very long in 1936. Large-scale plaid dress in an ad for Sun-Maid Raisins. WHC, March 1936.

Print dresses featured in many ads between 1934 and 1937:

An ad for Lux laundry soap shows a flowered print dress with sheer collar. August 1934, Delineator.

Lux laundry soap claimed to be easy on stockings. Lux ad, Oct. 1937. I can imagine this dress, with its cool neckline, becoming a house dress as it aged.

A crisp floral print dress in an ad for S.O.S. pads. December 1936. This dress could certainly leave the house.

That print dress resembles a “sport dress” available from Tom Boys:

This sport dress could be ordered for $3.95 in February 1937. Ad for Tom Boys; WHC. Hemlines are rising.

Life experience leads me to think that many comfortable, washable sports dresses began as “good” casual clothes but eventually became only “good enough for housework” when they were damaged or out of style.

Perhaps the most truthful ad showing what many women wore during the Depression is this one:

Photo of a healthy farm family, thanks to Nujol laxative. From a Nujol ad, April 1934, Delineator.

 

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Twenties’ Fashions for Larger Women, September 1928

One of these dresses was available in size 52. Butterick patterns in Delineator, September 1928, p. 36.

The fashion editors at Delineator magazine often grouped patterns for larger or more “mature” women together in a one-page article, but in the September 1928 issue, large-sized dresses were shown beside patterns for college girls and women of standard sizes. I’ve long been surprised than in the mid-twenties, when the “Boyish” figure was extolled, the standard Butterick pattern sizes — based on bust measurement — were 33 to 44 inches. But some patterns were issued up to “bust measure 52 inches.”

Left, pattern 2226 for college and career girls; right, pattern 2211, for women with bust sizes up to 52 inches. From 1928.

Details of Butterick 2226, for 15 to 20 years and bust 32 to 40;  and Butterick 2211,  an “all day frock” for sizes 34 to 52. Delineator, Sept. 1928, pg. 35. Are those herringbone stripes in this wool dress?

Top of page 35, which featured wool frocks and coats in sizes from 15 years (bust 32″) to size 52.

Butterick frock 2233 and coat 2230. The coat was sized from bust 32″ to 48″. Delineator, Sept. 1928, p. 35. Note the coat’s triangular pockets, which “merge” into a belt. And what was going on with that dress front? Over? Under?

Butterick 2209 and 2217. To me, the dress on the right, with its little “lingerie finish” ruffles and conservatively feminine qualities, looks like something aimed at mature women, but it is only offered in smaller sizes: age 15 to 20 years and 38, 40 [bust].

The unusual front tabs and sleeves on Butterick 2209 are worth a closer look:

Detail of Butterick 2209 and 2217, Sept. 1928. No. 2209 (left) was available for bust sizes 32 to 44.

“Sport Clothes” to wear to the “big games.” Delineator, Sept. 1928, top of pg. 34.

The second dress from the left looks rather fancy for watching football; the dress on the top left was suggested for larger-than-average women.

Butterick 2231 and 2221, from 1928. No. 2231 was available up to bust size 52 inches.

A vestee is a kind of dickey — a partial blouse.

Some of these dresses have skirts that are plain in the back, with all the fullness, pleats, etc., in the front. This was common in early twenties’ dresses, and still seen here, on some dresses, in 1928. (Patterns 2226 and 2211 show pleats in back, too.)

The back views of Nos. 2226 and 2211 show pleats in the skirt back, too.

Nos. 2193 and 2180 (plaid) have plain skirts in back, with pleats only in the front.

Butterick wool sports frock 2193 and coat pattern 2151. September 1928. Only the front of 2193 is pleated. Both dress and coat are in the average pattern size range. For a dressier version of the same coat, click here. 

This jaunty plaid coat and dress were not limited to slender women:

Butterick two-piece dress 2180 coordinated with coat 2222. September 1928. This “youthful and becoming dress was for bust 32 to [a bigger than average] 46. The coat pattern came in a standard range of sizes, 32 to 44 (with a 47.5″ hip.) I love the diamond shaped “belt encrustation.”

As for evening gowns, the pattern on the left was available up to size 52.

Butterick evening dresses from 1928. Left, no. 2131, with a long side drape, for sizes from 34 to 52; right, Butterick 2125 in sizes from 32 to 44 bust.

Here are some advertisements from the same issue of the magazine. For “the larger woman,” hosiery manufacturers offered slenderizing styles like this one:

From an ad for Allen-A hosiery, Delineator, Sept. 1928. “Note the slenderizing effect this new, longer point Allen-A Heel gives to the ankle.”

Shoe advertisements show that even brands which promised comfort to mature women offered some very high, narrow heels.

Top of Dorothy Dodd shoe ad, Delineator, Sept. 1928.  “Dorothy Dodd shoes are designed to make the foot look youthful.”

Ad for Dorothy Dodd shoes (this image is slightly skewed at the bottom.) Delineator, Sept. 1928.

Queen Quality shoe ad, Delineator, September 1928. The “Sherwood” and “Tiffany” models look like somewhat practical walking shoes, but the “Trickie” (lower left) seems aptly named.

“And Queen Quality keeps the cost of all four pairs less than the cost of a single frock.” They total $37.00 — not an inexpensive frock! (They are not cheap shoes.)

This jersey dress could be ordered for $8:

Ad for a Hubrite wool jersey dress, Delineator, September 1928, p. 101.

Hubrite dress in sizes 16-20 — 36-46. Ad in Delineator, Sept. 1928.

 

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Hosiery, Hosiery, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Shoes, Sportswear, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes