Category Archives: Maternity clothes

Becoming Dresses and Maternity Gowns, 1930

"Smart Patterns and Becoming Maternity Gowns," Good Housekeeping, February 1930, p. 74.

“Smart Patterns and Becoming Maternity Gowns,” from Good Housekeeping, February 1930, p. 74.

You’d expect fashion coverage from 1930 to be interesting, as women were trying to adjust to natural waistlines and descending hemlines. Caroline Gray, writing in Good Housekeeping, combined her suggestions for the mature figure with suggestions for maternity fashions. (Can you guess which are which?)

“The new silhouette is definitely here! Waists are higher and skirts are longer, and whether we like it or not, if we wish to look smart we must try to adapt it to ourselves and make it becoming…. Find the exact place where a higher belt is most becoming to you and put it there, regardless of whether it is quite as high as the dresses you see…. Nothing will look truly smart on you unless it suits your figure…. When you are determining the length of your skirt, experiment until you find the exact spot where it will add the most to your height and slenderness, for that is what we all want to achieve this season.”

Good Housekeeping pattern F-7 was recommended in February 1930. Sizes up to 42.

Good Housekeeping pattern F-7 was recommended in February 1930. Sizes 34 to 42. Not a maternity fashion.

“A small bolero is always becoming and makes the higher waistline more bearable.” The band at the hips echoes the familiar line of the twenties, but it follows the line of the bolero instead of  running horizontally.

Pattern F-6 is also suggested as a transitional style for “mature” women:

Good Housekeeping pattern F-6 from February 1930, p. 74. The natural waist is there, but not accented.

Good Housekeeping pattern F-6 from February 1930, p. 74. The natural waist is fitted, but not accented. For sizes 36 to 42. The tunic gives both a short and a longer hemline.

Of course, looking tall and thin is a challenge for most women even when they are not pregnant. Many writers in the 1920’s assumed that a woman’s goal was to conceal her pregnancy as long as possible.

“Maternity clothes have two objects: One is to make your condition unnoticeable, the other is to give you every physical advantage possible…. At this time you do not want to be conspicuous in any way.” — From The New Dressmaker, a Butterick book, c1921, p, 72.

To this end, Vogue suggested, in June of 1930, that pregnant women simply buy chic dresses in a larger-than-usual size, and have the neck and shoulders altered to fit.

“At first, concealment is easily effected by any woman with an eye for dress, but, after the figure is obviously changed, it is still possible to achieve, sometimes to the very end, the effect of a normal figure…. One should try to create the illusion of the naturally heavy figure, rather than be conspicuous for a disproportionate one.” — (Vogue, June 1930, pp 83, continued on p 102.) [This is 1930’s “pregnancy shaming:” it was better to be thought “heavy” than pregnant.]

Vogue suggested these fashionable gowns, among others, for the expectant mother in 1930:

Suggested maternity fashions, Vogue, June 1930. The one on the right is a Vionnet tea-gown.

Suggested maternity fashions, Vogue, June 1930. The one on the left was from Bonwit-Teller; the one on the right is a Vionnet tea-gown available from Jay Thorpe.

I’ll devote a later post to Vogue‘s other “just buy a bigger size” 1930 maternity suggestions.

Here are the maternity styles suggested by Good Housekeeping in 1930:

Maternity gown suggestions, Good Housekeeping, Feb. 1930, p. 74.

Maternity gown suggestions, Good Housekeeping, Feb. 1930, p. 74.

The article did not offer a pattern, or say that this suit and rather formal surplice dress could be purchased ready-made.

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It’s hard to imagine how these dresses could be expanded enough, although the assumption was often made that you would constantly open seams, as your shape changed,  and remake the dress as needed from wide seam allowances.

“It is much better to choose current styles that can be adapted to maternity wear and use them in preference to the special maternity clothes…. The slight alterations [!] that you make for maternity use can be changed back to normal lines after the baby is born.” (The New Dressmaker, circa 1921. Page 72.)

There Were Clothes Specifically for Pregnancy

Dressmaker Lena Bryant had found a market niche back in 1905, when her private clients began asking for maternity fashions (She used elastic in the waistbands, among other  devices for making them expandable.)

Lane Bryant ad for maternity corset, Ladies Home Journal, December 1917, p. 112.

Lane Bryant ad for maternity corset, Ladies’ Home Journal, December 1917, p. 112.

“By 1904, [Lena] Bryant was successful enough to open her own shop on Fifth Avenue at 120th Street. In the process of obtaining a loan from Oriental Bank, her first name was misspelled, giving birth to “Lane Bryant.”

“Bryant soon turned to producing dresses as well as undergarments for pregnant women, who had a difficult time finding stylish clothes that fit well. Bryant designed a maternity tea dress, called “Number 5” after its place on the order form. According to Figure, no newspaper would run advertisements for her maternity dresses–it was against the mores of the day for “ladies in waiting” to appear in public. When Bryant finally managed to have a small ad run in the New York Herald, she sold out of maternity dresses the day it appeared.” — from Funding Universe  (My McAfee security says it blocked ads from this site.)

Ad for the Lane Bryant maternity catalog, Delineator, March 1917. p. 43.

Ad for the Lane Bryant maternity catalog, Delineator, March 1917. p. 43. “Portraying the prevailing New York fashions, but so adapted as to successfully conceal condition….Fit when figure is again normal.”

The Lane Bryant mail-order catalog passed $1 million in sales in 1917. (Oddly, that was an era that favored thick waists, very full skirts, and smock-type overblouses — one of the rare times when mainstream fashion was perfectly suited to accommodate pregnancy.) Lane Bryant promised that their dresses would “automatically adjust” to fit after the baby was born — making them a good investment.

Chanel styles 1916 from Fashion through Fashion Plates by Doris Langley Moore.

Chanel styles, 1916, from Fashion Through Fashion Plates by Doris Langley Moore.

Teen-aged girls, circa 1918. Waists were thick and skirts were full.

Teen-aged girls in California, circa 1918. Waists were thick (and high) and skirts were full.

However, of the many decades when fashion was cruel to the chic pregnant woman, the early nineteen-thirties may hold the crown. These are maternity dresses. (Seriously.) The mores of the publishing industry meant that they could not be illustrated on a visibly pregnant body.

Woman's Home Companion, August 1936

The illustration shows three versions of Companion-Butterick maternity dress pattern 6948, from Woman’s Home Companion, August, 1936.  To read more about it, see Who Would Ever Guess?

A long, slender ideal silhouette plus soft, clinging fabrics, narrow hips, flat tummies, and (often) a decorative belt at the natural waist — combined with the idea that pregnancy was shameful and had to be concealed — must have made pregnant women feel frustrated in the thirties. Talk about an impossible ideal!

 

 

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Companion-Butterick Patterns, Corsets, Corsets, Foundation Garments, Girdles, Maternity clothes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Vintage patterns, vintage photographs, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Some Maternity Clothes of the 1920’s and 1930’s

Ad for Lane Bryant maternity apparel, Vogue, 1920, Feb. 1, pg. 141

Ad for Lane Bryant maternity apparel, Vogue, 1920, Feb. 1, pg. 141

I’ve never been pregnant, so I have no experience with wearing maternity clothes. However, a few weeks ago I was trying to learn to use the ProQuest search engine (courtesy of my public library.) Under “Fashion,” I typed in “maternity.”  I now have quite a collection of articles giving maternity fashion advice from the 1920’s and 1930’s — and haven’t even begun to explore the decades before and after. The emphasis on “concealment” is striking.

Ad for Lane Bryant Maternity catalog, May, 1931.

“Designed to conceal condition and to provide for expansion. “Ad for Lane Bryant Maternity catalog, Good Housekeeping, May, 1931.

“Clothes that are designed solely for maternity wear are apt to look the part, and call attention to a woman’s condition. At this time you do not want to be conspicuous in any way. You want to look as much like other women as possible so there will be nothing to draw notice to you. It is much better to choose current styles that can be adapted to maternity wear and use them in preference to special maternity clothes.” — The New Dressmaker, circa 1921, from Butterick Publishing Company via Hearth.

(Nevertheless, Lane Bryant had been selling maternity clothes since the early 1900s. See the company history at Funding Universe. (Caution from McAfee security about some ads on that site.)

AD for Lane Bryant Maternity catalog, Good Housekeeping, May 1930.

“Dresses and Corsets in latest modes, designed to conceal condition.” Ad for Lane Bryant Maternity catalog, Good Housekeeping, May 1930.

Ad for Lane Bryant maternity catalog, Good Housekeeping, January 1932.

“Maternity apparel with no maternity look… conceals condition.” Ad for Lane Bryant maternity catalog, Good Housekeeping, January 1932.

Of course, clothes that could also be worn after the baby was born were a good thing for the budget.

Confinement: Confined to Home

I’ve read enough Victorian novels to realize that women in the upper levels of society were expected to stop appearing in public once their condition became obvious — perhaps because contemporary fashion simply couldn’t accommodate an eight or nine-month baby bump, but also because this evidence of sexual activity was considered distasteful. (Playwright Louise Lewis discusses the old ceremony of “Churching” women to purify them after childbirth here;  however, the ceremony was not exclusive to  Catholics. A much more detailed examination of the practice can be found here.)

Modern mothers who are expected to leave the hospital the day after birth and resume their normal work routine may feel envious of women who once were expected to rest for a few days — or weeks. Depending on the era and region, a woman might be “confined” to her home for several weeks either before or after giving birth. (A brief article summarizing Victorian pregnancy practices for the upper classes can be found here. Queen Victoria herself gave birth nine times.)

In an era when paying and receiving “calls” occupied a good portion of a lady’s week, receiving callers — in a tasteful tea-gown — meant that the mother-to-be was not completely cut off from social activity; friends came to her. Elegant tea-gowns or dinner-gowns were still prescribed in the 1920’s and 1930s.

Store-bought Dinner-gowns suggested for maternity wear; Vogue magazine, 1924 and 1928

Store-bought dinner-gowns or tea-gowns suggested for maternity wear; Vogue magazine, 1924 and 1928. The surplice line, right, (a diagonal front opening closed at the side) was often recommended for maternity wear. (I can just imagine those sleeves trailing through the soup….)

By sheer serendipity, you can read about tea-gowns from 1915 at American Age Fashion.

But what about daytime maternity dresses in the nineteen twenties? That tubular style, the distinctive low waist-line — often accented by a snug horizontal belt or band — how did that work with a baby aboard?

Three semi-made dresses, Good Housekeeping, March 1927, p. 64. The one on the right is a maternity dress.

Three semi-made dresses, Good Housekeeping, March 1927, p. 64. The one on the right is a maternity dress. Sizes 14 to 44, $12.50. [This is a good example of why I hate microfilmed magazines! They do not digitize well….]

Here are three Vogue patterns from 1927. Find the maternity dress:

Vogue patterns 9462, 9457, and 9463. July, 1928. One is a maternity dress pattern.

Vogue patterns 9462, 9457, and 9463. July, 1928. One is a maternity dress pattern.

Vogue, July 1928, page 75.

Vogue, July 1928, page 75. Frock 9463, on the right, is a maternity pattern for sizes 14 to 46. [Sizes 14, 16, 18 and 20 were for teens and small women. Average sizes were sold by bust measure, e.g., 46 inches.] The dress in the middle is for teens to age/size 17.

At least No. 9463 has a hem that dips in front — which would become level as the abdomen grew. It does not appear to have a pleat or seam in back which could be let out for increasing girth. Perhaps the entire bulge was supposed to go above the low belt. No. 9463 was also recommended for “the large woman,” as if a pregnant woman’s weight gain was distributed equally all over her body.

Earlier in the 1920s, Good Housekeeping offered a pattern for this maternity dress in an article about its construction. Oddly, the pleated panels seem to be decorative, rather than a means of expansion.

A maternity pattern from Good Housekeeping, August 1923.

A maternity pattern from Good Housekeeping, August 1923.

“The pattern for this dress is cut in twelve pieces, as follows: two waist [bodice] sections; two sleeves; two skirt sections; a vest; a girdle [sash]; two strips for plaited panels for waist and skirt (front and back); a plaited [pleated] collar; and band for elastic. The front waist [bodice] section has a dart which takes care of some of the extra fullness thrown in to allow for the development of the figure. The front skirt section is wider than the waist [bodice] section after the dart is taken up, but this extra fullness may be adjusted at the hip and under the pleated panels, to be let out when it becomes necessary to open the dart in the waist. The front skirt section also has an extension at the top, which can be let down as necessary to adjust to the figure.”

Adding about three inches to the top of the center front of the skirt in a curve which tapers to nothing at the sides  is actually a clever idea (if you don’t mind taking the dress apart at the waist seam every few weeks) since it adds length at the waist in front, keeping the hem even and untouched.

The girdle [sash] “should fold over at the hips, not tie. The ends should come well down the length of the skirt.” “Have strips for panels hemstitched and then plaited — fine knife plaiting which can be done by any of the small shops or by a department store. Be sure to caution the worker” that the pleats in the two panels should not all run in the same direction, but folding toward or away from each other. — Laura I. Baldt, “How to Make a Smart Maternity Frock” in Good Housekeeping, August 1923.

In July of 1926 Professor Baldt recommended this maternity pattern, also available from Good Housekeeping.

A Good Housekeeping maternity pattern, July 1926, p. 79.

A Good Housekeeping maternity pattern, July 1926, p. 79. (Sorry for the photo quality.)

“It is a loose-fitting model, easy to put on and take off, and, with a few alterations from time to time, it may be adjusted to the figure quite easily.” “When it is necessary, the darts in the waist [bodice] lining may be let out; the plaits in the vest may be let out and also in the skirt, the last one being laid much deeper than the others for this purpose.The hem on the front of the tunic may be let out also, as it has a generous hem allowance to provide for this.”– p. 164

These made-to-order “Practical maternity clothes” could be ordered from Good Housekeeping Shopping Service in 1925.

Practical maternity dresses from Good Housekeeping, February 1925, p. 62.

Practical maternity dresses from Good Housekeeping, February 1925, p. 62.

“The dress above is a dark blue (also comes in black or brown) crepe de Chine coat effect over a beige under-dress, 36 to 46, $20.50. Gown at right is also of crepe de Chine, all colors, 32 to 42, $49.50. Both models are excellent in line for maternity purposes.”

They would have been worn over a maternity corset — thought necessary for healthy support — like these:

"Maternity girdle with front and back lacings is of pink satin, $10. Back-lace maternity corset of brocade damask, $10. Brassiere $3.50. Good Housekeeping, Feb. 1925, p. 62.

“Maternity girdle with front and back lacings is of pink satin, $10. Back-lace maternity corset of brocade damask, $10. Brassiere $3.50. Good Housekeeping, Feb. 1925, p. 62.

Side views of maternity corset,girdle, an brassiere, Good Housekeeping, Feb. 1925.

Side views of maternity brassiere, girdle, and corset. Good Housekeeping, Feb. 1925.

Lane Bryant maternity corset ad, Vogue, Nov. 15, 1925, p. 159.

Lane Bryant maternity corset ad, Vogue, Nov. 15, 1925, p. 159.

Some fun, huh?

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Bras, Corsets, Corsets, Foundation Garments, Girdles, Hosiery & Stockings, Maternity clothes, Nightclothes and Robes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Underthings, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Victorian Era Maternity Clothing

A friend collected these vintage garments many years ago. She always had an interest in maternity fashions and other women’s issues, like active sports’ wear. I regret that I do not have better photos, but I suspect that these garments are not the kind that usually turn up in museums, so I’ll share what I have.

The one that I find most interesting is, sadly, the one with the worst photos.

Changeable taffeta basque bodice with fitted back and unfitted front, pagoda sleeves, Mid-Victorian. Private collection.

Changeable taffeta basque bodice with fitted back and unfitted front, pagoda sleeves, Mid-Victorian. Private collection. It this a maternity basque?

The changeable taffeta has tiny stripes, and photographs as brownish or bluish, depending on the angle.

For comparison, here is another Mid-Victorian basque from the same collection, also made of striped taffeta — but this one is definitely not suitable for maternity wear:

Mid-Victorian basque or bodice. The front closes in a V shape; the three-scalloped back is visible behind the V front as it lies on a table. Private collection.

Mid-Victorian basque or bodice. The front waist closes in a V shape decorated with ribbon; the three-scalloped back “tail” lined with self-fabric is visible behind the V front as it lies on a table. Private collection.

My friend believed the one with a very full front was a maternity basque, probably because there are two lines of hand stitching across its full front — once used to gather it in. You can see from the wrinkles in the taffeta that at one time it was gathered to a smaller size than it is now.

The "Maternity basque" has two lines of gathering threads, and the wrinkles show that it was gathered tightly at some point.

The “Maternity basque” has two lines of gathering threads across the front, and the wrinkles show that it was gathered tightly at some time.

Inside waist stitching of "maternity basque" -- it went through all layers. Here, the changeable taffeta on the outside appears blue.

Inside waist stitching of “maternity basque” — two lines of gathering went through all layers. Here, the changeable taffeta on the outside appears blue. The inside is cotton sateen, I think.

The hand-stitching it so tiny that only the occasional knot at the end of a thread betrays it.

The hand-stitching is so tiny that only the occasional knot at the end of a thread betrays it. This is quite different from the running-stitched gathers across the front.

The back lining, showing its tapered-to-the-waist fitted shape.

The back lining, showing its tapered-to-the-waist fitted shape.

Wrappers and Dressing Sacks, Late Victorian

Another option for the pregnant woman in a corseted, tight-waisted era was the wrapper. We would call it a robe, and the fancy versions for receiving callers were called “tea-gowns,” but they were made of many fabrics, from simple cotton prints to wool or luxurious silks. The cotton ones were often worn as house-dresses.

My friend probably bought this one because it might have been used by a pregnant woman. It is in the style of the 1890’s, with a black velvet yoke trimmed with black lace, a bow behind the high neck, and very full upper sleeves.

A lady's wrapper or house gown, late 1900's. This could be worn for breakfast, or for receiving visitors if necessary.

A lady’s wrapper or house gown, late 1800’s. This could be worn for breakfast, or for receiving visitors if necessary. It was so small it could not be buttoned on a size 2 mannequin.

I think the fabric is either wool challis or a wool-cotton blend. The back bodice is very fitted, the front very full.  Was it a maternity gown? I can’t be sure.

This is the way the garment would look on a tiny woman.

This is the way the garment would look when buttoned; it would only fit a tiny woman or adolescent girl.

Like many wrappers, it has a loose outer layer and a fitted inner bodice:

Under the loose, full front, there is a tightly fitted inner bodice.

Under the loose, full front, there is a tightly fitted inner bodice. The outer layer closes with hooks and eyes. The inner bodice held the back close to the body.

Wrappers from Sears (1900) were illustrated to show a similar inner lining — intended to take the place of a corset when breakfasting — or when you couldn’t wear a tight-waisted corset any more.

Wrappers from the Sears catalog, Spring 1900, show an inner bodice lining for support while not wearing a corset.

Wrappers from the Sears catalog, Spring 1900, show an inner bodice lining for support while not wearing a corset. Without the belt, the front would be loose and full.

The inner bodice seems to have adjustable lacing at the sides.

The inner bodice has lacing at the sides, for expansion as needed.

The inner bodice has lacing at the sides, for expansion as needed. The yoke probably fastens with hooks and eyes at one shoulder and armscye.

Of course, just because the hidden underbodice can be buttoned, that does not mean the wearer would have to button it completely. A woman could button just the outer yoke, or just the top buttons.

The tiny wrapper on a size 2 mannequin -- it won't close completely.

The tiny wrapper on a size 2 mannequin — it won’t close completely. When the yoke is closed, there is a great deal of fullness at center front.

A flannelette wrapper from Sears, 1896. This one has a Watteau back, a yoke, and characteristically huge 1895-6 sleeves.

A flannelette wrapper from Sears, 1896. This one has a full, Watteau back, a yoke, and huge Bishop sleeves. The waist [bodice] “is lined artistically.” The front yoke appears uninterrupted by an opening, so perhaps it lapped across and fastened at the shoulder like the one below.

This vintage wrapper is so worn that the velveteen yoke and collar are almost completely bald.

Late Victorian or ToC Wrapper, very worn.

Late Victorian Wrapper, very worn.

The fabric is heavy, and once went well with its rust red velveteen yoke, collar, and cuffs. This garment closes with hooks and eyes; possibly at the neck and shoulder under the yoke, and definitely under the back yoke. (I’m sorry I didn’t photograph it open; I have forgotten exactly how it worked.)

The yoke and collar wrap around to the back shoulder and close with hooks and eyes -- you would probably need help.

The yoke and collar wrap around to the back shoulder on one side and close with hooks and eyes — you would probably need help. The arrows point to bare patches on the fabric. There’s a narrow strip of rust-red plush neat the center arrow.

I love the fact that this shabby garment was collected, not for its beauty or condition, but because it is a record of an ordinary woman’s life.

Another possible maternity garment, in the days when middle-class women in an advanced stage of pregnancy remained at home, was the smock-like semi-robe known as a “dressing sack.” A descendant of the combing sacque, which was supposed to be worn while brushing or styling your hair, the one on the left is described as “made very loose at the waist. It is very comfortable and cooling.”

Two dressing sacks from Sears, Spring, 1900. The woman in the middle is showing the tight underbodice of her wrapper.

Two dressing sacks from Sears, Spring, 1900. The woman in the middle is showing the tight underbodice of her wrapper. “This wrapper is made with the celebrated corset waist [i.e., underbodice] as well as drawstrings around the waist. It s adjustable and can be fitted to any figure.” You can barely see the adjustable lacings.

Since, even in the 1930’s, maternity dresses were illustrated as if the women wearing them had no need for them, there is a lot of coded language in early descriptions. Perhaps the “celebrated corset waist” was merely a comfortable way to have breakfast before dressing for the day. But what about those expandable lacings, and that adjustable drawstring waist?

A wrapper style housedress with an internal corset and adjustable drawstring waist. Sears no. 63397, Spring 1900.

A wrapper style house dress with an internal corset and adjustable drawstring waist on the skirt lining. Sears No. 63397, Spring 1900.

 

 

 

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Filed under 1830s -1860s fashions, 1860s -1870s fashions, 1870s to 1900s fashions, Costumes for the 19th century, Late Victorian fashions, Maternity clothes, Mid-Victorian fashions, Nightclothes and Robes, Uncategorized, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing

Summer Dresses from Butterick, July 1918, Part 2

Summer fashions from Butterick, Delineator, July 1918, page 51.

Summer fashions from Butterick, Delineator, July 1918, page 51.

These summer outfits — with one exception — are really blouse and skirt combinations. The blouses deserve a close-up look:

Butterick blouse patterns 9999 and 9997, Delineator, July 1918, p 51.

Butterick blouse patterns 9999 and 9997, Delineator, July 1918, p 51.

9995 and 1011, with skirts 1028 and 1001. The bag, with tassel trim, is Transfer pattern 10370. Delineator, July 1918, p. 51.

Butterick blouses 9995 and 1011, with skirts 1028 and 1001. The bag, with tassel trim, is Transfer pattern 10670. Delineator, July 1918, p. 51.

These sheer overblouses are smocked to provide a little fullness over the bust. "Smock or Blouse 9994 and Blouse 1012. Delineator, July 1918, p. 51.

These sheer overblouses are smocked to provide a little fullness over the bust. “Smock or Blouse” 9994 and “Smock or Blouse” 1012. Delineator, July 1918, p. 51.

Dress 1007 is bluish, with a slight teal or gray tint. Its pockets and hem area are either embroidered or use soutache braid as a trim. Butterick sold the transfer pattern for such embellishments: No. 10692.

Butterick dress pattern 1007, from July 1918, Delineator.

Butterick dress pattern 1007, from July 1918, Delineator.

Page 50, which had all the pattern descriptions, also showed three additional outfits in black and white illustrations:

Butterick patterns from Delineator, July 1918, p. 50. From left, Blouse 1025 with skirt 1020; dress 9934, and dress 1019.

Butterick patterns from Delineator, July 1918, p. 50. From left, Blouse 1025 with skirt 1020; dress 9934, and dress 1019.

Here are all ten outfits, with their original descriptions and alternate views — which are often quite different from their color illustrations.

Butterick blouse 9999 and skirt 9991, July 1918.

Butterick blouse 9999 and skirt 9991, July 1918.

The alternate view shows a very different, high necked version of the blouse; the U-shaped neckline was a fairly recent fashion, so the high-necked version was aimed at older or more conservative dressers.

Butterick blouse 9997 and skirt 1013, July 1918.

Butterick blouse 9997 and skirt 1013, July 1918.

The skirt pattern was available in waist sizes 24 to 38 inches. The alternate view has a “Peter Pan collar.” The actress Maude Adams toured extensively in the play Peter Pan, setting a fashion. Click here to see her Peter Pan collar. Click here to see more about this Turn-of-the Century beauty with a brain.

Butterick Smock or Butterick dress pattern 1007. Delineator, July 1918.

Butterick dress pattern 1007, July 1918. The illustration of the alternate view shows a high collared insert — perhaps a dickey or vestee?

Dress pattern 1007 came in a larger than usual size — 46″ bust — and has a surplice closing “becoming to every woman, whatever her age,”  so it was expected to appeal to older women, too. During World War I, Delineator fashion writing often used military phrases, such as “maintains the morale,” “obeys all orders,” and “dangerous to mankind.” (See Up Like Little Soldiers for more examples of jingoistic fashion writing.)

Butterick Smock or Blouse 1012 with skirt 9723. Delineator, July 1918.

Butterick Smock or Blouse 1012 with skirt 9723. Delineator, July 1918.

Notice that the fancy, smocked pocket is shown as part of the skirt pattern, although it is on the smock in the color illustration. This skirt is gathered in back, and forms a header/ruffle above the waistband. This smock is also shown with a Peter Pan Collar (or it may be a long Buster Brown…. see below.) If not made in sheer fabric, would it be a maternity top?

Another Smock or Blouse pattern from Butterick, No. 9994. This sheer blouse is shown over a "Foundation" -- a slip like underdress, meant to show. July 1918.

Another Smock or Blouse pattern from Butterick, No. 9994.  Foundation 9842. July 1918.

This sheer blouse is shown over a “Foundation” — a slip-like underdress, meant to show; the foundation looks more like a lingerie slip in the alternate view.

Butterick blouse 9995 with skirt 1028. Delineator, July 1918.

Butterick blouse 9995 with skirt 1028. Delineator, July 1918. The skirt was available in waist measurements 24 to 38 inches.

Butterick blouse 1011 and skirt 1001, July1918.

Butterick blouse 1011 and skirt 1001, July, 1918. More smocking gathers the bodice. This alternate view shows a “Buster Brown collar.

Buster Brown shoe ad, Nov. 1917. Delineator.

Buster Brown shoe ad, Nov. 1917. Delineator.

Butterick blouse 1025 with skirt 1020. July, 1918.

Butterick blouse 1025 with skirt 1020. July, 1918.

Butterick dress pattern 9934, from July 1918.

Butterick dress pattern 9934, from July 1918. The bodice can be made with either front or back closures, and “all of the most popular necklines.” The unusual sleeves were a popular style.

Her flower-covered hat has a sheer brim. (For others, click here or here or here.)

Butterick dress pattern 1019, July 1918.

Butterick dress pattern 1019, July 1918.

The hat shown in the middle of the page deserves a closer look. How did the wearer get through doorways, or into a car?

The hat is adorned with two feathers which appear to be ten or twelve inches taller than the hat.

The hat is adorned with two feathers which appear to be ten or twelve inches taller than the hat.

Perhaps the hatless lady in the foreground is making a comment?

Part 1 of Summer Dresses from Butterick, July 1918, is here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

page 51

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Accessory Patterns, bags, handbags, Hats, lingerie, Maternity clothes, Purses, Slips and Petticoats, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Vintage Accessories, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes, World War I

Fashion Anthropology: Primates of Park Avenue

Two women in evening dress, Nov. 1936. Woman's Home Companion.

Two women in evening dress, Nov. 1936. Woman’s Home Companion.

My husband and I like to read at the table, sharing paragraphs and tidbits of information. He surprised me last week by reading selections from Primates of Park Avenue: A Memoir, by Wednesday Martin. (Simon & Schuster, 2015.) He found it engrossing, and so did I.

This report from an anthropologist who studied the women of New York’s Upper East Side as if they were members of an obscure tribe in the Amazon — or Jane Goodall’s chimpanzees — is quite a fascinating read.

(At my house, we debated for months about buying a new car before the 2001 Toyota stops running, so the existence of sane human beings willing to spend $141,000 dollars on a handbag was a little surprising!)

My husband and I do not live in the world of high status handbags, cripplingly high heels, Botoxed faces, or people who summer in the Hamptons and winter in Aspen.

If you don’t, either, this report from an anthropologist who studied the women of New York’s Upper East Side, taking field notes as if they were members of a tribe of hunter-gatherers, or a troop of chimpanzees, is quite a fascinating read.

Cover of Ladies' Home Journal, December 1936.

Cover of Ladies’ Home Journal, December 1936.

Dr. Martin (Ph. D. from Yale, degree in Anthropology from University of Michigan) was a young working mother (and a successful writer) with a husband whose income allowed them to move to New York’s Upper East Side with the intention of getting their children into a good public school.

Once there, as an outsider in a complex and apparently ruthless culture of tribal status, exchanged favors, and hostile Alpha Moms, Dr. Martin realized she had found her “field work.”

And, like many a reputable anthropologist before her, she eventually “went native.”

The chapter in which she recounts her quest for an Hermes Birkin bag, 35 centimeters — comparing herself to a chimpanzee named Mike who took over his troop in Gombe by choosing the right accessory (two kerosene canisters that he banged together to make noise) is both funny and — for us outsiders — horrifying.

So is a shoe-shopping expedition when the clerk says she shouldn’t worry about the pain of standing in the shoes, because she can do as many other members of her tribe do: “get one of those injections” — from a podiatrist who is willing to anesthetize her feet for the evening.

Society woman in rubies and diamonds, from an ad for silverplated tableware. December 1936, Ladies' Home Journal.

Society woman in rubies and diamonds, from an ad for silver-plated tableware. December 1936, Ladies’ Home Journal.

The tribe’s competitiveness — fueled by a fear of loss — is fascinating, as is Martin’s gradual acceptance and adoption of “the rules” in an effort to help her young achieve a secure place in the hierarchy. And, once she experiences a personal tragedy, she discovers yet another — surprising — aspect of tribal behavior.

You can read NPR’s interview with Wednesday Martin here.

I confess that Marvin Harris‘s book Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches got me hooked on anthropology for the common reader many decades ago. It was the controversial Harris who introduced me to the Yanomamo (thought to be the world’s most violent culture) and to Kwakiutl potlatch ceremonies (which can be compared to our own irrational expenditures on funerals and weddings.) The questions “Why do people wear clothes?” and “Why do people wear the clothes they choose to wear?” are essential to costume designers, so Primates of Park Avenue is well worth reading.

Martin’s Primates of Park Avenue: A Memoir is a highly enjoyable contribution to the psychology of fashion and to the anthropology of  our own bizarre culture.

Note: I thought illustrations of wealth and leisure from 1936 — a time of high unemployment — would be appropriate for a book about wealthy New Yorkers today.

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Filed under A Costumers' Bookshelf, Maternity clothes, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture

Butterick Fashion News: A Few Patterns from August, 1938.

Thanks to Monica Shaffer and her colleagues at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, Texas, I can share some images from Butterick Fashion News, August 1938. It features this shirt and slacks combination on its cover:

Butterick pattern 7988, August 1938. Cover of Butterick Fashion News flyer.

Butterick pattern 7988, August 1938. A “bush jacket” on the cover of Butterick Fashion News flyer.

Back view of Butterick pattern 7988, dated August 1938. "Bush jacket."

Back view of Butterick pattern 7988, dated August 1938. “The Bush jacket is a new companion for slacks.” The back shows a pleat and gathers for ease of movement.

This “bush jacket” pre-dates the 1967 YSL safari collection — a lasting fashion influence — by nearly thirty years.

The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum is “located just a few miles from Amarillo as well as Palo Duro Canyon,” which could be a pleasant side trip if you are headed toward North Texas. I’d be a happy traveler in that pants outfit.

This pleated bolero jacket looks fresh, seven decades later…. Here’s a link to a more recent one by Alaia, on sale for $3,000.

Butterick bolero and dress No. 8005 and a dress with waist-length jacket, No. 8017. 1938.

Butterick bolero and dress No. 8005 and a dress with waist-length jacket, No. 8017. 1938.

I also like the way the open fronted, waist-tied jacket on the right allows a row of buttons to peek through.

Butterick patterns 8005 and 8017, from summer, 1938.

Butterick patterns 8005 and 8017, from summer, 1938.

I had never heard of “the Doll Silhouette,” which makes the skirt ripple by stiffening the hem.

The Doll Silhouette; Butterick patterns 8023 and 8016. August, 1938.

The Doll Silhouette; Butterick patterns 8023 and 8016. August, 1938. Lots of top-stitching. “By stiffening the hemline, even the limpest fabrics flute out like the dress of a doll.” [Or an Art Nouveau illustration.]

Butterick 8023:  “Grosgrain ribbon swirls out the hemline, ties the neck.” Sizes 12 to 20; 30 to 44 [bust measures.] Butterick 8016:  “Organdy is stitched inside skirt and shoulders, waist is pulled in.” Sizes 12 to 20; 30 to 40 [bust measures.] All those lines of parallel stitching remind me of the same ornamentation in 1917-1918.

Sheer dresses, like these, featured in 1938…

Sheer dresses: Butterick 8011 and Companion-Butterick pattern 7989. August, 1938.

Sheer dresses: Butterick 8011 and Companion-Butterick pattern 7989. August, 1938.

… and were also on the cover of the Butterick Fashion News –and in many other pattern catalogs — in 1939.

The Doll Silhouette was also mentioned with Butterick 8020.

Butterick 8020 and 7993, August 1938.

Butterick patterns 8020 and 7993, August 1938.

Here is the whole page:

A page from Butterick Fashion News, August. 1938.

“Swing Your Skirt Wide.” A page from Butterick Fashion News, August. 1938.

Hemlines are rising, but, even on younger women, they are still well below the knee. Here is a closer view of the two outfits on the right:

Dresses for younger women, Butterick, 1938. Patterns no. 7999, a two piece, and 8022.

Dresses for younger women, Butterick, 1938. Patterns no. 7999, a two-piece, and 8022. I love the sporty vest or “weskit” illusion.

Butterick 7999:  “Two-piece, two-tone dress.” Sizes Junior Miss 12 to 20, bust measurement 30 to 38 inches. You can see a less casual version on the pattern envelope at the Vintage Pattern Wikia.

Butterick 8022:  “A gored skirted dress designed to make you look taller.” “For Misses of 5 ft. 4 or under in sizes 12 to 20; 30 to 40” [bust measure.] Is “taller” a euphemism for “thinner?” If so, the center back seam on the skirt is a good idea.

Butterick Fashion News, page 5, August 1938. Companion-Butterick patterns 7991 and 7987; Butterick patterns 8007 and 7995.

Butterick Fashion News, page 5, August 1938. Companion-Butterick patterns 7991 and 7987; Butterick patterns 8007 and 7995.

Another sheer dress, and some lively prints. I’ve written about the popularity of large-scale prints in 1938 before. Companion-Butterick patterns were featured in Woman’s Home Companion magazine.

unspecified 1938 aug p 4 text CB7991 CB7987 Butterick 8007 7993

Additional lively prints were shown on the back cover:

Print dresses from Butterick patterns 8003 and 8009, Aug. 1938.

Print dresses from Butterick patterns 8003 and 8009, Aug. 1938.

Butterick 8003:  “In the manner of Vionnet, with draped shoulders, wide short sleeves.” Sizes 12 to 20, 30 to 40 [bust.]

Butterick 8009:  “A sheer printed cotton looks very youthful gathered at the neck and sleeves.” Sizes 12 to 20, 30 to 40 [bust.]

When a style is described as “youthful,” I always suspect that it’s aimed at older wearers — although this pattern isn’t available in larger sizes.

Here are styles for “figure problems.”

Figures are no problem to us." The problems range from wide hips to pregnancy.

“Figures are no problem to us.” The problems range from wide hips to pregnancy.

The suit dress on the left is a maternity outfit:

Butterick 8012, August 1938. A wide bow at the neck distracts from a pregnant body.

Butterick 8012, (top left) August 1938. A wide bow at the neck is meant to distract from a pregnant body. (Not that this model is “showing.”)

Butterick 8012:  “A big bow focuses the interest in this maternity dress with jacket and adjustable waist.” Sizes 12 to 20, 30 to 40 [bust measurement.] See the dress on its envelope here. The “wrap” maternity dress has a deep pleat at its left side for expansion.

Butterick 8014 for "shorter women of larger hip," and Butterick 8021

Butterick 8014 (left) for “shorter women of larger hip,” and Butterick 8021 “for the mature figure.” 1938.

Butterick 8014:  “Deep neckline, slim skirt and narrow sleeves make this ideal for shorter women of larger hip.” Sizes 34 to 52 [inches bust.]

Butterick 8021:  “For the mature figure, a softly molded bodice and waistline are gracious and becoming.” Sizes 34 to 52 [inches bust.]

Butterick 7998 is a simple lace evening dress  that “you can wear anywhere with dignity and chic;” its bolero jacket covers  the upper arms. This gown was  available in bust sizes 34 to 52 inches. [And illustrated on a size 34, of course.]

Butterick 7998 evening dress with jacket for mature women. Aug. 1938.

Butterick 7998 evening dress with jacket for mature women. Aug. 1938. Available in large sizes.

I’ll try to share more of these great thirties’ clothes in another post. Thanks again to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum.

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Filed under 1930s, 1930s-1940s, bags, Companion-Butterick Patterns, Gloves, handbags, Hats, Maternity clothes, Purses, Sportswear, Vintage Accessories, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes, Women in Trousers

Up Like Little Soldiers: Wilson Garter for Children, 1917

Ad for Wilson Garter, Ladies' Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

Ad for Wilson Garter, Ladies’ Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

I want to share this advertisement for a couple of reasons. First, there may be a collector of vintage underthings who has one of these contraptions and will appreciate the identification.

The Wilson Garter for children and pregnant women. It supports the stockings from the shoulders instead of from the waist. LHJ ad, Sept. 1917.

The Wilson Garter for children and pregnant women. It supports the stockings from the shoulders instead of from the waist. LHJ ad, Sept. 1917.

Second, it is just one more example of the way America’s entrance into World War I, in April of 1917, permeated American popular culture.

Wilson Cord and Slide Garters

“Up Like Little Soldiers — That’s how the Cord & Slide Wilson Garter allows children to grow — trim, graceful — all ginger. No more little rounded, stooping shoulders, and no more torn hose tops.

“For Boys and Girls, 1 to 16 years. Shoulder style like picture, slips on over head, white or black, 25 cents. Give Age.

“For Women, same style. Fine for home, athletic or Maternity wear, 50 cents. Bust sizes.”

Digression:  I feel I should explain a bit;  we live in an era when many people have never worn stockings. (Pantyhose are more popular, if less erotic, than individual thigh-high stockings worn with garter belts.)

When I wore my first garter belt in eighth grade, I was puzzled by ads — like this page from a 1958 Sears catalog — that showed the garters [suspenders] being worn over full petticoats — which would have flattened the petticoat absurdly. I had no mother to ask about this; finally an older girl explained that you actually wore the petticoat on top of the garter belt, but advertisers couldn’t show a garter belt attached to stocking tops over a bare thigh in family magazines.

Garter belts from Sears catalog, Fall 1958.

Garter belts from Sears catalog, Fall 1958. My first garter belt looked like K (bottom center), not P (the black one.) Back then, normal 12 year old girls did not wear black lace undies. However, if you wore stockings when dressed up, you needed a garter belt.

“Pull Up Your Socks!”

It’s hard to conceive of a time when active little children wore stockings instead of socks.

Fashions for boys, Ladies' Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

Fashions for boys, Ladies’ Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

Nevertheless, these little boys are wearing boots with spat-like contrast uppers (or possibly spats! see far right), over stockings probably made of cotton lisle, although wool was a possibility.

Ad for Buster Brown Shoes for Boys or Girls, Delineator, October 1917.

Ad for Buster Brown Shoes “For Boys — for Girls,” Delineator, Oct. 1917.

A poor boy receives a basket of food from a boy who is better off. Both wear stockings. Robert A. Graef illustration, Delineator, Nov. 1924.

A poor boy receives a basket of food from a boy who is better off. Both wear long stockings. Robert A. Graef illustration, Delineator, Nov. 1924.

Because putting on his first pair of “long pants” was once a rite of passage for an adolescent boy, pre-adolescent boys wore knickers or short pants; these left their lower legs exposed all year round — so they sometimes wore long stockings.

Since neither little boys nor little girls have a waist significantly smaller than their hips, keeping trousers, shorts, and stockings from falling down was a problem.

Pictorial Review pattern 3386, for boys shorts that button on to the shirt.

Pictorial Review pattern 3386, for boys’ shorts that button on to the shirt. Note the sagging sock.

A solution popular in the 1920’s was to button the pants to the shirt, or to a sleeveless underbodice, in front and in back. This made it very difficult for small boys to go to the bathroom without help. (To read “Zippers Are Good for Your Children,” click here. )

Boys didn’t always wear stockings; some wore sensible socks, sometimes rolled over elastic garters, and little boys and girls kept warm by wearing stockings under leggings in the winter. [Like much fashion vocabulary which changes over time,  “leggings” now describes a completely different garment, i.e.,  women’s knit tights that stop at the ankle.]  Formerly, stiff (lined) wool or corduroy leggings were buttoned from below the anklebone to above the knee (you needed to use a buttonhook) and must have been a nightmare to put on squirming children.

Clothes for boys, Delineator, Nov. 1917. The smallest boys wear buttoned leggings.

Clothes for boys, Delineator, Nov. 1917. The smallest boys wear buttoned leggings. Butterick patterns.

Grown men wore long trousers which covered their garters:

Boston Garter ad for man's stocking garter; Delineator, Jan. 1917.

Boston Garter ad for man’s stocking suspender with “Velvet Grip;” Delineator, Jan. 1917.

Grown women suspended their stockings from their corsets:

La Camille Corset advertisement, April, 1917.

La Camille International Corset advertisement, Delineator, April, 1917. Look at those lovely clocked/embroidered stockings! For modesty’s sake, the model is drawn wearing frilly bloomers, which would have made it difficult to attach the suspender to the stocking! Here it is left dangling.

Corsets and stocking suspenders were also worn by some unlucky little girls:

Ad for girls' corsets; April 1917.

Ad for girls’ corsets; April 1917. Ferris Good Sense “Waist” for Girls and Misses.

The younger girl’s figure is still unformed, so her corset has shoulder straps to prevent the tension on her stockings from pulling it down. If it only attached to her stocking tops in front, this might produce the “stooped” look mentioned in the Wilson Garter ad.

Like Little Soldiers

Boy's patterns, Delineator, July 1917. Two of these children have sagging socks.

Children’s patterns, Butterick’s Delineator, July 1917. The long stockings of the boy on the left are falling down. Note the military insignias on their tunics.

There was a time when a parent, seeking to divert children from mischief, would simply yell, “Pull up your socks!”

However, the pugnacity of these two boys was part of a general trend to illustrate children as little warriors during World War  I.

Boy's pattern illustration, Delineator, Sept. 1917.

Boy’s Butterick pattern illustration, Delineator, Sept. 1917.  A few months earlier, boys were shown flying a kite, not leading a charge “over the top.”

Butterick pattern for a girl's military uniform, Sept. 1917. Delineator.

Butterick pattern for a girl’s military style “Service” uniform, Sept. 1917. Delineator.

Butterick pattern for boy's military uniform, Delineator, Sept. 1917.

Butterick pattern for boy’s military style outfit, complete with putteesDelineator, Sept. 1917.

Which brings us back to the Wilson Garter, which “allows children to grow . . . up like little soldiers.” By Jingo.

Ad for Wilson Garter, Ladies' Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

Ad for Wilson Garter  for children, Ladies’ Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, Children's Vintage styles, Corsets, Hosiery, Hosiery & Stockings, Maternity clothes, Menswear, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Shoes, Underthings, Uniforms and Work Clothes, Vintage patterns, World War I, Zippers