Category Archives: Musings

Curling Iron Memories

A curling iron like this one was not heated with electricity. Illustration from Delineator, February 1934.

A curled hair style with ringlets over the ears, from 1838. From La Mode, in the Casey Collection.

Novelist and fashion historian Mimi Mathews has written another wonderful post about Victorian women’s hairstyles and beauty products. Click here for her latest, and then follow the links at the bottom of that post for the answer to many other “how did they do that?” questions about beauty and hair styling products from the 1800s.

In 1920, Silmerine hair curling liquid, applied with a toothbrush, was used to set curls in women’s hair.

Ad for Liquid Silmerine hair setting lotion, 1920. It could probably be used to set hair in rag curls.**  The chemicals it contained varied, but some would have been cousins to the Victorian hair preparations Mimi Matthews researched.

The Silmerine ad says that “You’ll never again use the hair destroying heated iron.”

I have personal knowledge of the heated curling irons — sometimes called curling tongs — like the ones below, because my mother used them on me almost daily until I was about eight years old.

An old fashioned curling iron (in three sizes) from  An Illustrated History of Hairstyles, by Marian I. Doyle.

Ad for the Lorain gas stove, 1926. The stove we had in the 1940s was similar.

This kind of curling iron didn’t plug into an electric outlet; my mother turned up the flames on one burner of the gas stove in our kitchen and stuck the metal part of the tongs into the fire for a while.  (Our curling iron had wooden handles.)  I was sent to the bathroom to bring her several sheets of toilet paper. I sat on a stool in the middle of the kitchen. If the curling iron curled the paper, but did not burn it, it was ready for my hair. (Our toilet paper was not soft and quilted.)

I hated the ordeal of the curling iron, and I hated having to wear a bow in my hair to school every day, too. This picture is probably 1952 or 1953 — and these curls were not in style!

Girls in the combined 2nd & 3rd grade class, Redwood City, CA, 1952-53. Only one (me) with long sausage curls. My best friend, Arleen, wasn’t fussed over; her Mom had 5 daughters to get off to school.

Once I started school and discovered that other girls — like my friend Arleen — did not have long ringlets, this daily ordeal became an ongoing battle. I hated it. But my mother’s idea of how her perfect child should look was unshakeable. We fought, I cried, I begged, but I was only allowed to leave for school once — that I remember — without being curled with that hated hot iron. (I remember skipping with joy, and then feeling the ringlets bounce into their usual shape before I had gone half a block.)

My mother frequently told me, “You have to suffer to be beautiful.”  I doubt that the saying originally referred to curling irons.

[I should make it clear that I wasn’t especially afraid of getting burned, although my squirming must have made it more likely. Getting snarls combed out of my hair was worse, as my mother got increasingly exasperated with me. It was the whole, time-consuming, pointless (to me) process that I hated.  At least I often got out of the house with just a brushing and a barette on the weekends.]

Once, I was allowed to stay overnight with my Uncle Mel and his beautiful wife, Irene. Aunt Irene had naturally bright red hair that fell in waves to below her waist. She coiled her thick braids on top of her head for the office, but one night Uncle Mel brought me to her house just after she had washed her hair. She was sitting on the sofa in a pale blue satin robe, brushing her red hair as it dried. It was so long she could sit on it. She told me about having her hair set with rags when she was a girl my age, and that night she offered to give me rag curl.** In the morning, when she brushed my hair, I was amazed and happy to have curls without any pain! I told my mother about this wonderful way we could stop using the curling iron. She wasn’t impressed — and I was never allowed to stay overnight with Aunt Irene again.

My mother as a teenager, with her own Mary Pickford curls.

Maybe Mary Pickford was to blame for our battles about the curling iron.  And Shirley Temple.

I was an only child, born after twelve years of marriage to parents who were forty years old. My mother had had a long time to dream about the child she hoped for. I honestly don’t think it ever occurred to her that her child, and especially her daughter, would not be exactly like her — a perfectible extension of herself. She was always surprised — and saddened or angered — by every sign that I was my father’s daughter, too. I remember her disappointment when she discovered that my skin, even where the sun never touched it, was not as milky white as hers, but halfway between the whiteness of hers and the cream-white of his.  And the lunch when she suddenly exclaimed, “Dammit, Charles! She’s got your mouth!” (instead of her shapely one.)  My mother was so worried that I would take after his family and be taller than the boys in my class, that she lied about my age and enrolled me in first grade instead of kindergarten. I heard her tell a friend that she had decided to do it after driving past a school and seeing my older cousin in the playground with other children: “She looked like a G**-dammed giraffe!”  So instead of being the youngest child in kindergarten, I was (secretly) the youngest child in first grade and in every grade until high school.  It was lucky that reading came easily to me, and I had plenty of experience in being quiet and obedient, so my first teachers never realized that I was so young in other ways.

My mother had been pretty and popular; she loved to dance; so she never noticed that I was bookish and uncoordinated. I certainly never asked to be entered in a Beautiful Baby contest!

“Crowned Supreme Royal Princess Better Baby Show, Dec. 7, 1947.” I hope I didn’t wear the cape and tinsel crown to the contest! (She was sure I’d win.)

I came in second, but she made this outfit and put this picture on her Christmas cards. (The trophy said that I was “99 1/2 % perfect….)

She was certainly proud of me — or, proud of herself for having me. Relatives have told me that she treated me like a doll. She kept me dressed in frilly dresses that she washed and ironed and starched, and changed twice a day. (I got my first pair of jeans when I stayed with her mother, because Uncle Mel said Grandma was too old to cook and clean and look after a child AND do all that extra laundry.) I was completely happy at Grandma’s house. And Grandma didn’t try to turn me into Shirley Temple or Mary Pickford.

Mary Pickford shows her famous long curls in this ad for Pompeiian face cream. Delineator, November 1917.

In the 1920s, movie star Mary Pickford played little girls with long curls well into her thirties. Here she is in “Little Annie Rooney” in 1925. Pickford was born in 1892, and was only five feet tall. (She was also a formidable movie producer.) It was big news when she finally bobbed her hair in 1928, partly because she wanted to play an adult role for a change.

She would have been a megastar when my mother was a teenager.  (Pickford made 51 silent movies in 1910 alone!) These pictures of hairstyles for girls from 1917 show the kind of ringlets Pickford wore, probably achieved with a curling iron. Did my mother always dream of having a child who looked like these girls?

Hair styles for girls, Ladies’ Home Journal, November 1917.

Hair in ringlets; Ladies Home Journal, November 1917.

Girl with ringlets, Ladies’ Home Journal, November 1917.

The disadvantage of curling irons was that you couldn’t curl the hair closest to your scalp — the hot iron would burn you.

My 1920s’ curling iron ringlets, done in the late 1940s.

Ringlets from 1924. Delineator, May 1924.

The Pickford influence can be seen in these fashion illustrations from 1924, when my mother was twenty.

Fashion illustrations of girls, Delineator, February 1924.

Perhaps my mother formed her idea of the perfect little girl back then, although she was forty when she finally had a baby. That’s a long time, but she still had her curling iron and knew how to use it….

My curling iron curls, late 1940s.

By 1933, when my parents were married, there was a new super-star named Shirley Temple, age 5. Shirley was famous for her curls, although hers were shorter than Mary Pickford’s.

Shirley Temple in Rags to Riches, 1933. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Shirley Temple could sing. I could sing.   Shirley Temple could tap dance. I suffered through lessons in “Tap, Ballet, and Acrobatics.” Shirley Temple had a full head of curls. Click here for a picture of Shirley Temple in Curly Top (1935.) And I was given a permanent wave as soon as the beautician said I was old enough ….

These curls were the result of a permanent wave, although they needed to be kept in shape with a curling iron.

What I remember about this trip to the beauty parlor was how incredibly heavy the rollers were.

This is what getting a permanent looked like in 1932. The process was similar when I was a child in the late 1940s.

This Nestle home permanent machine had only one curling device. It took “a few” hours!

But the professional Nestle machine could curl a whole head in an hour … or three….

Professional Nestle permanent waving machine, from  An Illustrated History of Hairstyles, by Marian I. Doyle.

I was fortunate that the home permanent arrived around 1950. The smell was so terrible that my mother once took me to the Saturday matinee show at the movies just to get that smell out of the house! Ah, Peter Pan in 1953! My one happy memory associated with those hated curls.

There were other, much more serious problems poisoning our relationship,  but I sometimes wonder: if my mother had known that she would die when I was nine, would we still have spent morning after morning after morning fighting about my hair?

[Sorry to write such a personal post, but I mention this as something for other mothers to think about….]

** Putting your hair up in rags required some strips of clean cloth four or five inches long. You wrapped your moistened hair around a finger, slid the finger out, put the rag strip through the center of the coil, and tied it. No hairpins were needed. And you didn’t have to sleep on wire rollers, as we did in the 1960s. Sleeping on rollers should have proved that suffering doesn’t guarantee beauty!)

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Filed under 1830s -1860s fashions, 1860s -1870s fashions, 1870s to 1900s fashions, 1900s to 1920s, 1910s and WW I era, 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1940s-1950s, Children's Vintage styles, Hairstyles, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, vintage photographs

Pyorrhea and Toothpaste Ads

From an ad for Forhan’s toothpaste, September 1931.

Afraid to smile because of Pyorrhea!

“Four out of five” would be victims of Pyorrhea, warned Forhan’s toothpaste ads. This one is from 1925.

I’m still reading magazines from the 1920s and 1930s. Every time I see a toothpaste ad about Pyorrhea, I think of a story  Ruth Gordon told. She attended a charity gala where the Great Houdini was entertaining the guests. Houdini used to do a magic act where he would “catch a bullet in his teeth.” Before performing the stunt, he would always ask for a volunteer from the audience to come up and look in his mouth, to prove the bullet wasn’t concealed there.
Performing at the charity ball,  Houdini called for a volunteer. A man came up from the audience. When Houdini opened his mouth and asked, “What do you see?” the man said:
“Py-o-rrhea!”
Poor Houdini: With a hundred celebrity guests to choose from, Houdini had selected Groucho Marx to inspect his teeth!

Forham’s ad, warning about pyorrhea. April 1927.

Forhan’s’s toothpaste ad, May 1928.

Just as Listerine ads frightened women into using mouthwash, …

An example of the famous Listerine ad campaign blaming”Halitosis” for unpopularity. This one is from June 1930.

… the discovery that tooth loss was often caused by gum disease, rather than cavities, led to advertisements warning about “pink toothbrush” and pyorrhea.

Forhan’s ad, May 1928.

Top of Forhan’s’s ad, March 1935.

“Pyorrhea is a relentless foe. It destroys clean, healthy-looking teeth. It undermines the gums. It is responsible for more than half the losses of adult teeth in this country.”

Two women wait to see the dentist. 1928 ad.

The good news was that pyorrhea need not cause tooth loss.

Tooth powder ad, April 1925. (My uncle Mel still preferred tooth powder in a can to toothpaste in a tube in the 1950s.)

Forhan’s toothpaste in a tube, May 1928.

A woman in a striking cloche hat gets dental advice in this Forhan’s ad, December 1926.

Forhan’s toothpaste ad, March 1927.

Brush, floss, see your dentist twice a year, and keep smiling!

P.S. I once accidentally ruined a dinner party game: The hostess asked each guest to choose a time period when they would have liked to live, and to say why. I was No. 3, and blurted out the truth: “I’m 65 years old and I still have all my own teeth; I really love hot running water and flush toilets, so I am happy to be alive now!” Loving to read Jane Austen doesn’t mean I want to live like her. (Yes, I do have personal experience with outhouses and no electricity….) And there’s a good reason (in addition to the length of exposure time) why women are usually not smiling in 19th century photos.

 

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Filed under 1920s-1930s, Hairstyles, Hats and Millinery, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture

Cross-Over Dresses, 1930s

Two Butterick styles from November 1930: 3525 and 3535.

As I browse through images from Delineator magazine, I notice odd trends, like these cross-over button plackets from 1930 to 1933. They seem rather complicated, and I’m glad I don’t have to figure out their construction.

The tricky bit on some, like the two pictured above, is that the part of the dress with the buttonholes on top is different on the bodice and the skirt. If the bodice buttons left over right, the skirt buttons right over left, and vice versa.

Full views of Butterick 3523 and 3535 from 1930.

Butterick blouse 3502,also from November 1930.

The dress with a sort of zig-zag front closing is also seen with the bodice and skirt overlaps going in the same direction:

Butterick 3070 from Delineator, February 1930, page 35.

This variation was suggested as flattering to older women.

The idea seems to be inspired by a couture dress from Patou, which was sketched for Delineator in May of 1930.

A dress by Jean Patou, sketched for Delineator readers among other Paris fashions in May, 1930.

Bodice detail of Patou dress. [Unfortunately, it was one of many sketched on the same page, so the image is small.]

Butterick’s interpretation, featured in September 1930. Pattern 3417.

This approach, with one side of the dress clearly overlapping the other on both bodice and skirt, is easy to understand.

This two-button version of the zig-zag front closing looks simple. Butterick 3462 from October 1930.

It was recommended for older and larger women:

“Youthful” Butterick 3462 was available in large sizes, bust 34 to 48 inches.

This sleeveless dress from August 1930 has a lot going on…. Butterick 3359. It’s not a two-piece, however.

The dress below really has a lot happening — the multi-closing, overlapping front pushed to extremes: **

Three buttons, in three places, on narrow strips of fabric: I can’t help thinking of mummies…. Butterick 3343 from August 1930.

But Butterick had not given up on the really difficult “right over left/ left over right” look. In 1933 two versions of this blouse were featured:

Butterick blouse pattern 4882, from January 1933. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that closure. **

A second version of blouse 4882. Delineator, January 1933.

Below, center, is another 1933 cross-over dress, with the top and skirt appearing to button in different directions:

Vacation fashions from Delineator, May 1933. Butterick 5104 (center)** carries on the cross-over style, but with bigger buttons.

** One possibility is that many 1930s’ garments had a side seam closing, which was almost never shown on the pattern illustrations. That would allow some of these button closings to be purely decorative. Till I actually see one of these “left over right, right over left” garments, I can only speculate.

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Filed under 1930s, Musings, Not Quite Designer Patterns, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

A Visit to January 1920, from Delineator Magazine

Ice skaters in an ad for Ivory Flakes laundry soap. Delineator, January 1920, page 4.

One hundred years ago, the January Delineator offered Butterick patterns, advice for the working girl (and her mother), sketches of Paris couture, and all kinds of advertisements. Enter the time capsule:

French couture from Doucet and Paquin. January 1920.

Butterick sewing patterns inspired by French designer styles.

Butterick sewing patterns, January 1920.

These are not what we usually think of when we hear “Twenties’ style,” but the decade was just getting started. Page three began an essay on the dangers awaiting naive young women who went out to work in offices….

“A Warning for Business Women…”

The “young, ignorant girl” applies for a job….

Her boss tells her that “he would go mad unless he could find a young girl who could understand him and care for him….”

Here, he offers her alcohol….****

And then, he escorts her home….

Her mother needs to warn her…. (Author: Josephine Stricker)

It was 100 years ago, but all of this sounds painfully familiar in the 21st century. At least we now acknowledge that saying ‘no” isn’t always enough.

If you had to work as a housemaid, the difficulties might be considerable. This little article about the life of a housemaid in England shows that even Delineator was shocked by their working conditions:

Delineator was aimed at middle and (aspiring) upper class women, but the plight of British housemaids was shocking.

Back to fashion: These Butterick patterns for misses (age 14 to 19, in most cases) show a hint of what women wore in the later 1920s:

A selection of Butterick patterns for misses in their teens. The schoolgirl’s outfit at right shows the straight, low-waisted trend of the future.

Dresses for grown women also offered some styles without exaggerated hips:

Daytime styles for women from Butterick, January 1920.

The bare arms of evening dresses, even for girls in their teens, surprised me. For more “very bare” gowns from 1920, click here.

For young men returning from WW I, these uncorseted young women in bare-armed dresses must have been a pleasant surprise.

What did women do about underarm hair?

Ad for DeMiracle hair remover, January 1920.

A prized gift in 1920 was a “Spanish comb,” often made from celluloid, “the first synthetic plastic material.  In this ad, a celebrity endorsing fingernail powder (yes, nails were buffed to a shine by most women) wears a Spanish comb:

Actress Kitty Gordon wears a Spanish comb in her hair while endorsing Graff’s Hyglo powder nail polish.

More Spanish combs. These are from 1922.

You could order your camisoles, nightgowns, bloomers, and combinations from Dove and other companies.

Ad for Dove Undergarments, January 1920.

WW I had made knitting more popular than ever; this is an ad for Fleischer yarns:

Knit yourself this aqua sweater with Fleischer Yarns.

The obsession with boyish figures has not yet appeared.

You could wash your woolens and fine lingerie with Ivory Soap Flakes.

Well into the Twenties, women shaved their own soap flakes from bar soap, so this was a modern convenience product.

Also convenient: Rubber shoe covers.

Rubber shoe covers slipped on over your shoes in 1920. The shoes might be worn with gaiters that laced up the front. Some shoes had built-in gaiters.

Later in the 1920s, the B.F.Goodrich rubber company introduced a winter shoe cover with a slide fastener closing, giving us the word “Zipper.”

Mothers could find ads for maternity corsets in 1920:

The H & W maternity corset ad, January 1920.

And safety pins had been around for over a century:

Changing diapers was easier after the rust-proof safety pin became widely available. January 1920 ad.

It was appropriate that a magazine designed to sell sewing patterns should have ads for sewing machines.

The Davis sewing machine was portable and electric.

The Davis portable electric sewing machine was operated by a foot pedal. [I made clothes on a (non-electric) treadle sewing machine in the 1960s. Wish I still had one, even though it took up a lot of room.]

This ad should hold a special interest for all us who love Daphne DuMaurier’s novel Rebecca. In a scene often described as the most un-romantic marriage proposal ever, Maxim de Winter includes the information that “I prefer Eno’s.”

Ad for Eno’s Fruit Salts, a laxative. January 1920.

(Let’s hope it wasn’t the Washington Monument in this ad that attracted his attention.)

Eno’s Fruit Salts ad, January 1920.

To see the marriage proposal scene from the excellent (and faithful) 1979 TV adaptation of Rebecca, starring Joanna David and Jeremy Brett, click here.

**** I am irresistibly reminded of the limerick about “the young lady of Kent/ who said that she knew what it meant/ when men asked her to dine/ over cocktails and wine….” Perhaps her mother had explained it to her after reading the article in Delineator.

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Filed under 1920s, Combinations step-ins chemises teddies, Maternity clothes, Menswear, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Shoes, Underthings, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Couture Designs

More Christmas Doll Patterns from the 1920s

A Butterick pattern for little boys, plus two Butterick doll patterns. Delineator, December 1924. His shorts are attached to his shirt with buttons.

I haven’t figured out why this is a “Deli-bear.”

Deli-bear pattern 10271 looks like a sailor bear to me.

The same doll pattern was featured again in 1926:

Deli Bear pattern 10271 from Delineator, May 1926.

To my eyes, this Puss in Boots doll from December 1924 isn’t nearly as appealing as the Deli-bear. (I had a real black cat, who was very handsome, unlike this doll.)

I’m deducing that this is Puss in Boots. Butterick Toy animal pattern 10200, from December 1924.

This toy animal dolls pattern was shown in two places in the same issue.

Butterick doll pattern 10302, in a color illustration from Delineator, page 28, December 1924.

On another page, the toys seem to be photographed, rather than drawn, so we can see the nice effect of using a textured fabric on the rabbit:

Animal dolls pattern 10302 from page 40 of the December 1924  Delineator.

Patterns for “baby dolls” (some almost as big as real children) were also on offer.

Whole wardrobes for purchased dolls were available to make for Christmas. Left, Butterick 424.

[More than twenty years later, clothes for dolls and little girls didn’t look much different from these 1924 illustrations as far as dress styles and doll sizes went:]

Toddler and very big baby doll, circa 1947. The shapeless dress (with room to grow) was still around.

A little girl with a doll dressed in Butterick 425.

The doll’s clothes are as detailed as a real girl’s. Butterick 425.

As a child, I appreciated doll clothes that were like mine — including underwear and pajamas or sleeping suits. (If I had to wear itchy, frilly undies, so did my dolls.)

Little girls sometimes wore “Romper” suits, and so does this doll from 1926:

Butterick doll’s romper and sunbonnet pattern 426.

This doll wears Butterick 427. Delineator, May 1926.

Butterick doll 10192 has yarn braids and does not look like a baby (more like an older sister.) I love those tiny appliqued birds! Fast, easy blanket stitch trims the girl’s collar and cuffs.

DIGRESSION: Since the holidays are approaching, I’ll slip in my yearly reminder to get out those old photos now, and get some names and stories penciled on the back when relatives gather. Suggested questions: What was the best toy you ever got? What were your favorite books (or games) when you were a child?

Witness2fashion with home-made Raggedy Ann and her store-bought “brother,” Raggedy Andy. Raggedy Ann (made by a friend of my Grandmother) had real, black shoe-button eyes, and I almost dug a hole in her chest by trying to feel her candy heart with “I Love You” printed on it.

McCall pattern from the 1950 needlework catalog. My Raggedy Ann looked exactly like this one, with a dotted Swiss apron and bloomers. Raggedy Ann and Andy stuffed doll pattern, McCall 820.

As the only child of parents in their forties, I didn’t have much contact with other children until I started school. Aunts and uncles deluged me with baby dolls, but I never wanted to be a mother. Dressing and undressing dolls was not my idea of fun. My favorite dolls were Raggedy Ann and Andy (I begged for Andy, and finally got a store-bought Raggedy Andy to go with my beloved, home-made Raggedy Ann.)

A book that survived my growing up, many moves, and growing old.

There was a series of books about Raggedy Ann and Andy. They had adventures. ***  Those dolls were not my “babies,” they were my friends.

Too much of a good thing,

I actually didn’t know enough names to name all the baby dolls I was given, so I took to naming them after the person who gave them to me. I am probably the only child ever to have a baby doll (in a lacy bonnet and a long white christening dress) who was named “Uncle Ole.” (I just recognized “Uncle Ole” as the doll in a frilled bonnet at top left! At least “Uncle Ole” wasn’t too big to carry!)

*** All too often, their adventures involved cookies and candy….

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1940s-1950s, Boys' Clothing, Children's Vintage styles, Dresses, Musings, Nightclothes and Robes, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing, vintage photographs

Christmas Dolls, 1924

A young teen with a boudoir doll, December 1924. You could buy a pattern for the girl’s dress or a pattern for her “French doll’s” dress from Butterick.

Thanksgiving signals the last chance to start making Christmas presents.

Half of page 28, from Delineator magazine, December 1924.

Butterick offered plenty of patterns for making dolls and doll clothes in Delineator magazine’s November and December issues.

Butterick French Doll pattern 10296 on a page of dresses for misses aged 15 to 20. December 1924.

It may seem odd that doll patterns were so prominent with illustrations of patterns for girls 8 to 15 and “misses 15 to 20,” but Boudoir dolls were popular with grown women, too — my Aunt Dot still had one decorating her bedroom in the 1980s.

My Aunt Dot with a friend, about 1919.

You could buy the heads for home-made boudoir dolls separately, and just make the doll’s body and clothing. I was surprised to see that the “French doll” pattern also included a Pierrot costume:

Butterick pattern 1026 in the Pierrot variation. 1924.

This exact pattern showed up for sale, so we know that it could be made with four different looks:

Doll pattern 10296, one version.

Doll pattern 10296 in a version with long, sheer sleeves.

Butterick

Butterick French Doll pattern 10296 in a third “French” costume.

Pierrot is also a French character…. Doll pattern 1026 in its fourth view.

So many doll patterns were illustrated on one page of the December issue that I have to divide them into more than one blog post. I couldn’t find the pattern description for doll 10296, but I did find one for this set of stuffed animal dolls:

Butterick doll pattern 10302, Delineator, December 1924.

The faces are embroidered onto the fabric of your choice.

Butterick 10302; Delineator, December 1924.

“Old Dog Tray” was the “ever-faithful” hero of a song by Stephen Foster; Peter Rabbit was the star of many Beatrix Potter stories. [Her Peter Rabbit wore a blue coat, so I guess the red vest on No. 10302 was easier to make and an attempt to avoid copyright infringement…. I was the kind of child who would have been silently disappointed that he didn’t look right.] It’s also confusing to me that the “Ugly Duckling” is a full grown duck, not a swan, while the fuzzy yellow chick gives new meaning to “Chicken Little.” (In my little 1940-ish book, Henny Penny was illustrated as an adult hen wearing a bonnet and shawl, but this earlier illustration sides with Butterick.)

Oh, Dear:  time for me to think about the dreaded Christmas shopping….

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, Accessory Patterns, Children's Vintage styles, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Vintage patterns, vintage photographs

The “Gibson” Shirt-Waist, 1910

Shirt-waist “in Gibson style.” Delineator, June 1910.

“In number 3929 we have a very chic tailored shirt-waist or shirt-blouse in Gibson style, suitable for sporting and all other general use. The three narrow tucks in each front mark this waist with a distinctiveness of its own as well as giving a pleasing amount of fullness across the bust. Both the one-seam leg-o’-mutton and regulation shirt-waist sleeves are suitable for a model on this order, and these may be made in the full or three-quarter length.”

Alternate views of Butterick 3929, including a tiny “sailor collar” with bare neck. 1910.

Butterick 3607 is another “Gibson effect” shirt-waist. Delineator, February 1910. Here it has a masculine detachable collar. In back, the shoulder tucks create a slenderizing V shape.

“Probably there is no style of shirt-waist which women like better and find more becoming than the ones in Gibson effect, these making the wearer look broader, besides having a chic style of their own. An especially good shirt-waist, on this order, is shown in No 3607, a model having a very smart front closing. The more elaborate waist would be embroidered in some such manner as shown here, the Dutch collar and French cuffs both offering a splendid opportunity for this handwork, while the plainer model would be finished with the neck-band for wear with separate collars, and the regulation shirt-waist sleeve.”

“Gibson effect” shirt-waist No 3607 illustrated with “Dutch collar,” side front closing, and embroidery.

Charles Dana Gibson drew marvelous pen and ink sketches and cartoons of the American girl, a tall, regal presence who excelled at sports and sometimes dwarfed the men around her. As the term was used in Delineator in 1910, the “Gibson” shirt-waist seems to be one with wide tucks extending over the sleeve cap, like those above.

This Gibson shirt-waist fastens down the back, but has shoulder-widening tucks. Butterick 3624, Feb. 1910.

“A rather plainer model on the shirt-waist order is shown  in No. 3624, and this is a design which offers a splendid opportunity for some very effective embroidery. The tucks, arranged in Gibson style, extend slightly over the sleeves and give that broad effect which every American women desires.”

Variation on Butterick “Gibson” shirt-waist 3624. Delineator, Feb. 1910.

The bare, square “Dutch” neckline was a daring change from the previously high collars. “This is a waist which may be finished with the high neck and standing collar, the neck-band for wear with other separate collars, or the Dutch square neck. With the square neck and short sleeves, the model would be appropriate for home wear….”

This lacy, embroidered vintage blouse has wide “Gibson” tucks at the shoulders.

The very long front allows for the “Pouter pigeon” look when it’s tucked into a skirt.

Butterick 3432 is another “Gibson effect” shirt-waist from 1910.

“Wide tucks on the shoulders give the Gibson effect of waist No. 3532, and the cluster of three narrow tucks on each side make the only trimming that is necessary….”

The tucks are very wide on this vintage blouse, and the back view shows the optical illusion created when they converge in a V shape:

This “Gibson effect” waist would have been worn with a stiff, detachable collar.

Another illustration of Butterick’s “Gibson” waist 3607.

Although shirt-waist 3595 (below) is equally businesslike and tucked, the tucks do not extend over the sleeve head. No. 3595 was not described as a “Gibson” shirt-waist.

Butterick 3595, Delineator, February 1910, pages 102 and 97.

Both men and women wore detachable collars, sometimes made of paper or celluloid.

There is a surprising and well-illustrated article about celluloid collars at the National Museum of American History.  (click here.)

I just discovered the very good National Museum of American History website, which has a section on clothing and American history. As usual, the story of everyday clothing can be a doorway into history — as in this article about hats and shoes in Greensboro: Freedom’s Tally: an African American business in the Jim Crow South.

Digression: while I’m thinking about tiny, everyday objects that bring the past to life…. Some time ago I mentioned mudlarking in Victorian England. (Mudlarks eked out a living by searching for saleable trash in the Thames river.)

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/mudlark-sketched-by-munby-1855-coalheaver-gives-her-remains-of-his-dinner.jpg

“Mudlark girl. Coalheaver gives her remains of his dinner. From life. 1855.” Sketch by Arthur Munby from Victorian Working Women. (All the raw sewage of London flowed into the Thames. Even bits of coal were saleable.)

I often watch videos by Nicola White, a modern day mudlarker and artist. This one brought the past to life for me…. (There may be lots of commercials, but White always researches her finds — like this “forget me not” token inscribed by a 10 year old girl convicted of felony and sentenced to 7 years in prison in 1844.)

As a girl, I hated history classes. I wish I had been shown a doorway into the lives of ordinary people — like the ones available now.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1910s and WW I era, Edwardian fashions, Musings, Resources for Costumers, Shirts and Blouses, Uniforms and Work Clothes, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing