Category Archives: Nightclothes and Robes

Pajamas and Sleepwear from 1917

Pajamas for girls and women, Butterick pattern 9433, Delineator, October 1917, p. 89.

Pajamas for girls and teen women, Butterick pattern 9433, Delineator, October 1917, p. 89.

Some pajamas from 1917 were really “onesies,” since the part below the waist was attached to the top. I inherited a pair of these-all-in one pajamas, made of peach-pink cotton and embroidered with a few little flowers, but donated them to a university collection without taking a photo.  As I remember, the crotch from waist in front to back was open, and closed with little snaps.

Pattern description of Butterick 9433, Oct. 1917.

Pattern description of Butterick 9433, Oct. 1917. Made in sizes from 4 to 18 years.

How you get into and out of these pjs, Butterick 9433, is hard to say; the girls’ version obviously unbuttons down the front, but whether the “bloomers” are attached at the waist isn’t clear. I think they were attached, just like pajama pattern number 9400, which is pictured and described next.

In fact, pattern 9433, for girls and teens,  looks identical to 9400, except that 9400 came in women’s sizes. Butterick pajama pattern 9400 is explained more thoroughly:

Butterick negligee 9279, boudoir cap 9523, and pajama 9400. September, 1917. Delineator.

Left, Butterick negligee 9279, boudoir cap 9523; Right, Pajamas or Lounging-robe 9400. September, 1917. Delineator.

Pattern description, Butterick 9400, from 1917.

Pattern description, Butterick 9400, from 1917. The bloomers are “sewed to the belt.” Recommended for lounging or sleeping.

The word “houri” is used here in the sense of  “beautiful woman” in vaguely Arabic dress.

Baby, It’s Cold Inside….

One reason for wearing a sleeping cap — or boudoir cap — was added warmth. These advertisements for Brighton Carlsbad Sleepingwear are from winter months.

Ad for Brighton Carlsbad Sleepingwear, Ladies' Home Journal, October, 1917, p. 141.

Ad for Brighton Carlsbad Sleepingwear, Ladies’ Home Journal, October, 1917, p. 141.

These pajamas for both women and men are called “pajunions” — a combination of “pajama” and “union suit.” (“Union suit” was the proper name for long, neck-to-ankle undergarments, familiarly called “long johns.” They were worn by both  men and women.)

A teen-aged daughter wears warm flannel "pajunions.' YOu can see the stitching at the waist which attaches the bottoms to the top. LHJ, Oct. 1917.

“When the dance-card is read/ then to Brightons and bed.” The teen-aged daughter wears warm flannel “pajunions.’ You can see the stitching at the waist which attaches the bottoms to the top. LHJ, Oct. 1917.

Buttoned ankles of Brighton Carlsbad Pajunions. 1917 ad.

Buttoned ankles of Brighton Carlsbad Pajunions. 1917 ad.

Ad for Brighton Carlsbad Sleepingwear, Ladies' Home Journal, Nov. 1917.

Ad for Brighton Carlsbad Sleepingwear, Ladies’ Home Journal, Nov. 1917.

Text of Brighton Carlsbad ad, October 1917.

Text of Brighton Carlsbad ad, October 1917. The pajunion, “a pajama in one piece,” had “no binding draw-string” because the trousers hung from the shoulders.

The child’s sleepers show the “trap door” in back which was necessary for using a chamber pot, or visits to the outhouse.

The posterior could be unbuttoned.

The posterior could be unbuttoned.

This child’s sleeping garment is not unlike Butterick’s pattern 1330, here called a “nightgown.”

Butterick child's "nightgown-with feet" number 1300, from December 1918.

Right, a Butterick child’s “nightgown” with feet, number 1330, from December 1918. Delineator.

The footed sleeping suit includes a hood. So did the Sleepers from Brighton Carlsbad — they had a “detachable helmet.”

From A Brighton Carlsbad ad, Ladies' Home Journal, October 1917.

From a Brighton Carlsbad ad, Ladies’ Home Journal, October 1917.

So did this sleeping suit for adults:

Brighton Carlsbad Union Sleepers for an adult. 1917.

Brighton Carlsbad Union Sleepers for an adult. “If preferred, without cap or feet.” 1917. “Cold cannot creep in. Just the garment for healthful out-door or open window sleeping.”

Think about living in a house without modern insulation, or heating. I remember Laura and Mary Ingalls, in one of the Little House books, waking up in a bed which was strangely warm for once — because there were several inches of snow on top of their blankets.

A nightgown with "foot pockets" for winter warmth. Brighton Carlsbad ad, October 1917.

A nightgown (Night Robe) with “foot pockets” for winter warmth. “For men, women and children…. With or without hood.” Brighton Carlsbad ad, LHJ, October 1917.

At least you would be able to shuffle around the bedroom with two separate “Foot pockets.” If they weren’t separate, walking would be more like a sack race.

Many men still wore night shirts in 1917:

Man's nightshirt, Brighton Carlsbad ad, Ladies' Home Journal, October 1917, p. 141.

Man’s nightshirt, Brighton Carlsbad ad, Ladies’ Home Journal, October 1917, p. 141. Fabric “Also [in] summer weights.”

I have a Silent Film Festival memory — both my husband and I noticed the same thing. In a short comedy, a pair of  newlyweds take a room in a boarding house. To our surprise, the woman is wearing mannish striped pajamas when other boarders invade their room. She grabs a rug from the floor and wraps it around her waist and hips — clearly more concerned about strange men seeing her lower body in pants than she is about them possibly seeing her breasts through her top.

New Search Category:  “Women in Trousers”

As a young adult in the 1960’s, I have clear memories about when and where women were not allowed to wear trousers. I find that I write about this topic fairly often, so I decided to add a “Women in Trousers” category to this blog — and updated three years worth of blog posts to include it whenever applicable to images or text. (Since “pants” can refer to underpants or panties in British English, I chose “trousers” to refer to slacks, culottes, pajamas, shorts, overalls, gym bloomers, golf knickers, and all other bifurcated outer garments for women.) This should make it a little easier to find relevant posts without “getting your knickers in a twist.” (Another British phrase which evokes a different garment on each side of the Atlantic 🙂 )

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, Children's Vintage styles, Menswear, Nightclothes and Robes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Vintage patterns, Women in Trousers

Striped Underwear for Women, 1930’s

Van Raalte Stryps underwear in an ad from Woman's Home Companion, Nov. 1936.

Van Raalte Stryps underwear in an ad from Woman’s Home Companion, Nov. 1936.

Knit underwear for women was nothing new in the thirties, but it lost its strictly utilitarian appearance by featuring stripes and plaids, as shown by these lingerie ads. Van Raalte, a major manufacturer of rayon/silk knits, was even featured by Ivory Soap Flakes in this color ad:

This ad for Ivory laundry soap featured a striped knit undergarment from Van Raalte. Ladies'Home Journal, Jan. 1936.

This ad for Ivory laundry soap featured a striped knit undergarment from Van Raalte. Ladies’ Home Journal, Jan. 1936.

The model is swearing a “Singlette,” which, according to another ad, “rounds the bust and smooths the waistline.” The Singlette was recommended for wear under evening clothes, since it gave a smooth line from bust to hip. It cost $2 in 1937.

Under the bias satin evening gowns of the thirties, a perfectly smooth undergarment would be preferable to the lavish lace-trimmed underwear of the twenties, but plain knit undies looked stodgy and utilitarian. Striped fabric (which Van Raalte called “Stryps”) may have been an attempt to be both decorative and sleek.

Van Rallte ad from Woman's Home Companion, November 1936.

Van Raalte STRYPS ad from Woman’s Home Companion, November 1936.

Rayon & silk knit bra and panties set from Van Raalte, WHC, Nov. 1936.

Rayon & silk knit Stryps bra and pantie set from Van Raalte, ad in WHC, Nov. 1936.

In 1937, a new style of  Stryps panties is shown, with a snug band around the upper thigh instead of the loosely fitting tap pants style. These are more like briefs.

Van Raalte Stryps "Jigger pantie" with a Stryps bra and a long nightgown. Ad from WHC, Nov. 1937.

Van Raalte Stryps “Jigger pantie” with a Stryps bra and a long nightgown. Ad from WHC, Nov. 1937.

You could get Stryps pajamas, too.

Van Raalte Stryps ad from WHC, 1937. Bra, panties, nightgown, and pajamas.

Van Raalte Stryps ad from WHC, 1937. Bra, pantie, nightgown, and pajamas.

Prices for Van Ralte Stryps lingerie, from an ad in Woman's Home Companion, Nov. 1937.

Prices for Van Raalte Stryps lingerie, from an ad in Woman’s Home Companion, Nov. 1937. “For long wear and successful tubbing.” [i.e., washing.]

This ad reminds us that Stryps lingerie was available in many colors…

Prices and colors for Van Raalte Stryps lingerie, May, 1937.

Prices and colors for Van Raalte Stryps lingerie, May, 1937.

… “Petal Pink, Azure, Maize, Nile, Sun Orange, Coral, French Blue, Flame, White and Black.” The slip was available in two lengths. At a time when many families were living on $18 per week, Van Raalte underwear was moderately luxurious. A suggested budget for a college girl (1936) allowed 35 cents for a brassiere and 60 cents for a nightgown or slip — far less than the 75 cents or two dollars Stryps garments cost.

However, they must have been popular, because Munsingwear, a rival in the field of knit underwear, offered its own striped lingerie:

Ad for a striped slip from Munsingwear, WHC, April 1937.

Ad for a striped slip from Munsingwear, WHC, April 1937. [When an ad mentions youth, it’s usually aimed at older readers….]

In addition to striped undies and nighties, Van Raalte offered a line of plaid lingerie called “Kiltees.”

A Kiltees nightgown from Van Raalte, April 1937. Ad in Woman's Home Companion.

Kiltees lingerie from Van Raalte, April 1937. Ad in Woman’s Home Companion.

The “smooth, figure-moulding” singlette appears to act as a panties and bra combination, replacing the “envelope chemise,” the teddy, the “combination,” or “step-ins.” Click here for a gorgeous teddy.

A rayon and silk knit Kiltees nightgown from Van Raalte. Ad in WHC, April 1937.

A rayon and silk knit Kiltees strap-back nightgown from Van Raalte. Ad in WHC, April 1937. It cost $3.00.

Plaid knit undies from Van Raalte ad, WHC, December 1936.

Plaid knit undies in a Van Raalte ad, WHC, December 1936. “Run proof” knits were important to women who had been plagued by runs in their stockings.

The wide selection of colors, stripes, and plaids in these 1930’s undies surprised me. When Formfit Rogers collaborated with Emilio Pucci to create wildly patterned and colorful slips in the 1960’s, I felt quite daring! (I couldn’t afford the Pucci, but of course, there were copies.)

Incidentally, I have been searching for a photo of vintage Van Raalte Stryps or Kiltees garments — without success. I didn’t even find these ads online under “Van Raalte ad 1930s.” If you have encountered one of these garments, I hope these pictures help identify it. [Maybe they did not survive. Lastex is not mentioned in the ads, but there is s suggestion of “figure-moulding.”  Perhaps some Stryps fabric had a rubber content that did not age well?] Comments welcomed!

 

 

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Filed under 1930s, Bras, lingerie, Nightclothes and Robes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Slips and Petticoats, Underthings

Chic Undergarments for Ladies, 1917

Butterick patterns for ladies' underwear, Delineator, August 1917.

Butterick patterns for ladies’ underwear, Delineator, August 1917.

In 1925, Delineator fashion writer Evelyn Dodge recommended three ways to look thinner in nineteen twenties’ clothes. Her first suggestion was to wear a corset or lightly boned corselette. (Click here to read about 1920s corselettes.)
Her second recommendation was to stop wearing the bulky underwear of the previous decade.

Evelyn Dodge, writing in Delineator magazine, July 1925.

Evelyn Dodge, writing in Delineator magazine, July 1925.

The styles of the World War I era were not worn close to the body, so underwear did not have to be sleek or tight.

Some typical, military-influenced women's fashions from August 1917. Delineator, p. 50.

Some typical, military-influenced women’s fashions from August 1917. Delineator, p. 50.

The following images show Paris couture underwear from August 1917, followed by Butterick lingerie patterns from the same issue of Delineator magazine.

Underpinnings of Paris included lingerie by designers Premet, Doucet, and Jenny. Delineator, August 1917, p. 60.

“Underpinnings of Paris” included lingerie by designers Doucet, Premet, and Jenny. Delineator, August 1917, p. 60.

Paris lingerie by Premet, August 1917.

Paris lingerie by Premet, August 1917. This bridal set included “Pale pink voile, pale silver-blue ribbons, and pointed net embroidered with bouquets and baskets.”

Couture undergarments by French designers Doucet and Jenny. Aug. 1917.

Couture undergarments by French designers Doucet and Jenny; Aug. 1917. Left, pink voile combination trimmed with lace; right, cream yellow lace on pink satin knickers, outlined with “cocardes” of satin ribbon. The crotch of the combination is very low.

The simple ribbon straps (“braces”) seem to be a new idea on lingerie. (And they were already falling off women’s shoulders, as shown.) The Butterick corset covers shown later in this post, some of which covered the underarm area, were beginning to look old-fashioned [and they were.]

Couture undergarments by Premet, August 1917. Delineator.

Couture undergarments and nightgown by Premet, August 1917. Delineator.

Lingerie from Paris, by designers Doucet and Jenny. August 1917.

Lingerie from Paris, by designer Jenny. August 1917. Left, a petticoat made of sulphur-yellow “gaze” trimmed with lace; right, a box-pleated chemise of flowered muslin.

It’s impossible to imagine these garments under a narrow 1920’s dress.

A petticoat from Paris by Premet. August 1917.

A petticoat from Paris by Premet. August 1917. “The kilted skirt is …held in by a blue ribbon” at the hem. Pretty, but bulky….

A corded slip by Doucet, designed to be worn under the wide-hipped styles of 1917.

A slip by Doucet, designed to be worn under the wide-hipped styles of 1917. The ribbon-bound ruffles would keep a woman’s skirt far from her body. “Shoulder ribbons for both day and evening wear.”

Nightgowns, negligees, peignoirs, etc., were also shown:

Paris designer Doucet created this pleated nightgown and a peignoir with a classical Greek inspiration. August 1917. Delineator.

Paris designer Doucet created this pleated nightgown and a peignoir with a classical Greek inspiration. August 1917. Delineator.

To modern eyes, the models’ nightcaps (boudoir caps) are not very sexy. More about boudoir caps later….

The August issue of Delineator also showed a selection of Butterick lingerie patterns. The combination on the left has tiny underarm sleeves to protect clothing from perspiration.

Butterick combination 9347 and Butterick chemise 9353. Delineator, Aug. 1917, p. 49.

Butterick combination 9347 and Butterick chemise 9353. Delineator, Aug. 1917, p. 49.

Although called a chemise, Number 9353 has a very low crotch, probably closed with buttons between the knees. Number 9347 has an open crotch, like Victorian drawers. The top of No. 9347 is described as a “corset cover.”

9347-9353

Butterick nightgown pattern 9345 and combination 9343. August 1917.

Butterick nightgown pattern 9345 and combination 9343. August 1917. No. 9343 has a corset cover on top of open drawers.

9345-nightgown-and-9343-combination-500-1917-aug-butterick-p-49

The fact that not all women adopted new fashions immediately is shown by the inclusion of “corset covers;” the corset of 1917 did not cover the bust area, although it was often worn with a “brassiere.”

Bon ton corset ad, Delineator, May 1917. P. 71.

Bon Ton corset ad, Delineator, May 1917, p. 71.

BUtterick corset cover pattern #8478, drawers #9341, and princess slip #8973. Delineator, Aug. 1917.

Butterick corset cover pattern #8478, open drawers #9341, and princess slip #8973. Delineator, Aug. 1917.

corset-cover-8478-drawers-9341-princess-slip-8973-1917-aug-butterick-p-49

About those boudoir caps….

boudoir-caps-1917-delineator

They could be quite elaborate; probably the most lavishly decorated and well-preserved ones were from bridal trousseaux.

This vintage boudoir cap was embroidered with silver thread, which has tarnished to dark gray.

This vintage boudoir cap was embroidered with silver thread, which has tarnished to dark gray. Pomegranates are associated with fertility.

BUtterick boudoir cap pattern 9253, Delineator, August 1917, p. 52.

Butterick boudoir cap pattern 9253, Delineator, August 1917, p. 52. The “Castle cap” is a reference to dancer Irene Castle, a fashion trend-setter in the nineteen tens and twenties.

Vintage boudoir cap, 20th century.

Vintage boudoir cap, 20th century.

This vintage silk boudoir cap is trimmed with "wings" of crochet.

This vintage silk boudoir cap is trimmed with “wings” of orange crochet lace.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, Accessory Patterns, Corsets, Corsets, Foundation Garments, Hats, lingerie, lingerie and underwear, Nightclothes and Robes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Slips and Petticoats, Uncategorized, Underthings, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Underwear and lingerie, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing, Wedding Clothes, World War I

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

Chin-Chokers, Accessories to Knit or Crochet, 1930s

This peculiar fishnet “scarf” caught my eye. It’s just one of the knitted or crocheted dresses, suits, and accessories so popular in the 1930s.

This "gilet" was made from a Woman's Home Companion knitting pattern, March 1936.

This knotted “gilet” was made from a Woman’s Home Companion pattern, March 1936.

Worn over a blouse, the gilet has a belt or ribbon threaded through the mesh at waist and neckline.

Detail of gilet, Woman's Home Companion, p. 91, March 1936.

Detail of gilet, Woman’s Home Companion, p. 91, March 1936.

500 gilet text WHC 1936 mar p 91 gilet to knit or crochet scarf btm text

If you found this vintage  accessory without its ribbons, you might well think it was a wool anti-macassar or table decoration.

A square scarf and a high necked “tippet” were also described.

Crocheted scarf to make, Woman's Home Companion, March 1936.

Crocheted scarf to make, Woman’s Home Companion, March 1936.

A knitted "tippet" from Woman's Home Companion, March 1936.

A knitted “tippet” from Woman’s Home Companion, March 1936.

This “Swagger Set” could be made from Dennison Crepe:

Ad from Delineator, Feb. 1934. Dennison Crepe.

Ad from Delineator, Feb. 1934. Dennison Crepe for a “Swagger Set” of crocheted collar, cuffs and belt.

As far as I can tell, the Dennison Company made crepe paper, not fabrics, and, in the twenties and thirties, encouraged its use in Halloween and masquerade party costumes. [And, according to this ad, in hats and sweaters!] Dennison published magazines with instructions for making party decorations and other craft projects from Dennison Crepe; a search for “Dennison Crepe 1930s” will lead you to many images like this one.  [Even if the paper was flame resistant, the very idea of combining Halloween pumpkins, candles, and paper costumes is horrifying to me. I once saw an exhibit of theatrical costumes made from black plastic trash bags. As an art concept, interesting; as something for an actor to wear, utterly irresponsible.]

The Bucilla yarn and thread company sold kits like this:

A kit from Bucilla, sold through the Berth Robert catalog, June 1924.

A kit from Bucilla, sold through the Berth Robert catalog, June 1924. Correction: S/B 1934. (Edited 7/25/16)

The interest in collars and cuffs which would transform the look of a simple dress or sweater was part of the Depression Era need to make a varied work wardrobe out of just one or two dresses. I’ve written several posts about this need; click here  (One Good Dress in the 1930s) or here (Button-on Patterns from the Thirties).

This pretty crochet sweater was also a do-it-yourself kit from Bucilla:

A sweater from a kit, Bucilla, sold through the Berth Robert catalog, June 1934.

A sweater from a kit, Bucilla, sold through the Berth Robert catalog, June 1934.

Brief Digression: The Berth Robert Company sold clothing and “semi-finished” clothes for women who were willing to sew dresses, but not to cut them out and do the more difficult sewing tasks like pintucks.

Berth Robert semi-made dress ad, WHC, Sept. 1934.

Berth Robert semi-made dress ad, WHC, Sept. 1934.

Click here to read more about semi-finished dresses.

The Woman’s Home Companion even encouraged its readers to knit a negligee:

Hand Knitted negligee from Woman's Home Companion, Nov. 1937.

Hand knitted negligee pattern from Woman’s Home Companion, Nov. 1937. Scroll down for an image of the full text.

WHC pattern CK-402 for a lacy knit negligee. 1937.

WHC pattern CK-402 for a lacy knit negligee. 1937.

Detail of WHC knit pattern CK-40

Detail of WHC knit pattern CK-402, 1937.

500 text WHC 1937 nov p 86 knit negligee

The petal-shaped ruffles, the sash, and the lining were not knitted; they were made from sheer georgette fabric.

 

 

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Filed under 1930s, Accessory Patterns, Nightclothes and Robes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Vintage Accessories

Robes from the Thirties

Housecoats, Ladies Home Journal, Jan. 1936.

Housecoats, Robes, and Negligees. Ladies’ Home Journal, Jan. 1936.

In January of 1936, The Ladies Home Journal suggested that its readers lounge about during their leisure hours in lavish house-coats, and showed these in full color photographs — just then coming into use in women’s magazines.

Two "House Coats" for loungewear, Jadies' Home Journal, Jan. 1936.

Two “House Coats” for lounging at home, Ladies’ Home Journal, Jan. 1936.

LHJ text jan 1934

" A lovely wine-red stain thing which she wears for dinner, and the evening, if she's not going out." Ladies' Home Journal, Jan. 1936.

” A lovely wine-red satin thing which she wears for dinner, and the evening, if she’s not going out.” Ladies’ Home Journal, Jan. 1936.

"When she has a dinner party she steals the show ...." Ladies' Home Companion, Jan. 1936.

“When she has a dinner party she steals the show ….” Ladies’ Home Companion, Jan. 1936.

Butterick No. 5921, Two-Colored Robe

Those house-coats are all very well for fantasy (and for those with large dry-cleaning budgets,) but I’d rather recover from the holiday rush in a warm and flattering robe like this one:

Robe in two tones. Butterick pattern 5921; Woman's Home Companion, December 1934.

Robe in two tones. Butterick pattern 5921; Woman’s Home Companion, December 1934.

Butterick pattern #5921 was featured as a Christmas gift suggestion in December, 1934. The light colored sleeves and dark center panel — broadening the shoulders, narrowing the hips — are flattering to most figures,  and I don’t know why someone doesn’t copy this idea today. You can see the original pattern, with a monochromatic option, at  the Vintage Pattern Wikia: Click here.

After the shopping and the cooking and the cleaning and the parties and the caroling and the freezing outdoors — I hope you get a chance to put your feet up, and contemplate a new year. Happy Holidays.

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Filed under 1930s, Nightclothes and Robes, Vintage patterns