Butterick 5437, December 1933. Delineator.
Back in the nineteen nineties Donna Karan realized that, as women age, some become reluctant to bare their necks, or their upper arms, or their chests. Yet, for women, formal evening dress usually requires some bare skin. Karan cleverly exposed the shoulders! Shoulders rarely get wrinkled or flabby, and their skin never sags.
Click here for the “cold shoulders” dress as worn by then First Lady Hillary Clinton in 1993. Versions were also worn by Barbra Streisand and Liza Minelli.
Those Karan bare shoulders are back now: click here. In 2017 they have worked their way into Bloomingdales, Macy’s, and even children’s clothing. But Donna Karan wasn’t the first to show bare shoulders, by sixty — or ninety — years.
Butterick 5415, a “cold shoulders” nightgown from December 1933. Delineator, p. 60. [“Cold shoulders” is not the 1930’s description.]
Film designer Howard Greer created a bare-shouldered dress for Katherine Hepburn in Christopher Strong
Butterick 5156 was a faithful copy of this 1933 movie costume.
In the 1930’s, patterns that had bare shoulders — or slit sleeves that revealed bare upper arms — were available. Butterick 5437 and Butterick 4944.
Right, Butterick evening dress pattern 5530. On the left, Butterick 5518. From 1934; Delineator.
From 1935, this gown for a young woman echoes the evening gowns of an earlier era.
Butterick 6061 from February 1935. The text says,”Borrowed from another century, the robe de style is today’s evening news.”
However, the bodice evokes this Edwardian evening style:
Evening gown from the House of Worth, 1906-1908. Metropolitan Museum Collection.
The fitted hips of the 1935 version bears no resemblance to the “robe de style” popularized by Jeanne Lanvin in the 1920’s.) [Fashion writing…. as imprecise in 1935 as it is today.]
Robe de Style, Jeanne Lanvin, 1926. Collection of the Metropolitan Museum. It’s hard to see any resemblance between this gown and Butterick 6061.
The bare shoulders of Butterick 6061 can be seen in 2017: click here.
More about this 1933 nightie:
Butterick 5415, a “cold shoulders” nightgown from December 1933. Delineator, p. 60.
The same article, about lingerie, showed a rather extreme velvet negligee:
Butterick negligee pattern 5413, December 1933. Delineator. [The play, which opened in 1932, as described in The Harvard Crimson as “one long bedroom scene.”]
It’s more fun than getting pajamas for Christmas.
Although I wouldn’t say no to these:
Lounging pajamas from 1933. Butterick 5410. [And, yes, in the 1960’s my college dorm still turned off the heat late at night.]