Category Archives: Old Advertisements & Popular Culture

From Cold Cream to Colds — Ads for Kleenex and Pond’s Tissues

Cold and flu season seems an appropriate time for this bit of time travel.

Kleenex ad from Delineator, April 1925. “Kleenex — The Sanitary Cold Cream Remover.” Cellucotton Products Co.

Kleenex really was a new product, first appearing in 1924: “Kleenex — The Sanitary Cold Cream Remover.”

Among the things I took for granted was that a product whose name is now synonymous with “paper handkerchiefs” was invented for that purpose. Browsing through old magazines taught me that my assumption was wrong!

Online, Mary Bellis wrote about the surprising story of Kleenex tissues here.

Top of a Kleenex tissue ad, Delineator, August 1926.

According to Mimi Matthews’ book  A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty, cold cream was applied to the face in the late 19th century as a moisturizer after washing with soap and water. However, since my background is the theatre, I know that after the 1860s, actors and actresses wore oil-based “greasepaint” and needed an oil-based remover: cold cream.

Broadway singing star Helen Morgan was one of the celebrities Kleenex used in their ad campaigns. Delineator, September 1930.

Helen Morgan endorsed Kleenex tissues for removing cold cream and makeup. Detail, ad in Delineator, September 1930.

By the 1920s, many ordinary women who wore powder, rouge, and lipstick had been convinced to clean their faces with “cold cream” instead of soap and water. However, washing a used facecloth with an oily product on it wasn’t convenient. And re-using it day after day without washing it was not very hygienic.

In 1924, cellulose-based Kleenex tissues were introduced as a more sanitary way to wipe off cold cream and makeup:  soft, disposable tissues.

“Two Beauty Crimes” could be avoided by using Kleenex tissues for cold cream removal. Detail of ad in Delineator, August 1926.

Bottom of Kleenex ad, Delineator, August 1926. “One of the most sensational beauty successes in years….”

By using disposable Kleenex tissues, women  avoided the beauty crimes of 1) re-using soiled towels and rubbing” the germs back into the skin,” and 2) using harsh cloth, which “injures delicate skin fabric — causes enlarged pores, skin roughness, etc.”

(I doubt the claims that using Kleenex tissues “lightens a darkish skin several shades or more….[Or] curbs oily skin and nose conditions amazingly.”)

Like any new product, “What it is” and how to use Kleenex tissues had to be explained. Free samples were distributed.

You could still order a free seven-day sample of Kleenex tissues in January, 1927. “Kleenex ‘Kerchiefs mark the only product made solely for the removal of cold cream.”

In 1927, one of those cold cream manufacturers began selling tissues, too.

Pond’s Cold Cream and Vanishing Cream. ad from Delineator, July 1927. Vanishing cream, much lighter than cold cream,  was used as a moisturizer and base for face powder.

Ads for Pond’s cold cream began to include Pond’s Cleansing Tissues — disposable paper for removing the make-up dissolving cold cream.

Pond’s products and tissues in an ad from Delineator, August 1928.

Ads for Pond’s products often showed step by step illustrations. This one is from Delineator, November 1929.

For an excellent history of the Pond’s company, click here.

The battle of the tissues:

From an ad featuring Pond’s Cleansing Tissues, Delineator, May 1930.

Kleenex fought to keep its market by creating colored tissues:

Kleenex Tissues ad, detail; Delineator, June 1930.

Pastel tinted Kleenex tissues came in three colors, plus white:

Kleenex ad, detail; October 1929. This ad introduces the pop-up tissue box, as well as pastel colored tissues.

The tissue colors were “Sea Green,” “Canary Yellow,” and “Flesh Pink.” [This last was probably a pastel tint of orange,  rather than the color of freshly butchered beef….]

Applying tissues to a runny nose was apparently an afterthought — one discovered by users of Kleenex and suggested to the manufacturer. After taking a survey of Kleenex users in 1927, the company began mentioning this alternative use in Kleenex ads.

June 1927: Kleenex used as disposable handkerchief in ad.

According to Mary Bellis, consumers had been writing to the company which made Kleenex Tissues to say they had discovered another use for the Kleenex ‘Kerchief:  they were using them to blow their noses!

“A test was conducted in the Peoria, Illinois newspaper. Ads were run depicting the two main uses of Kleenex: either as a means to remove cold cream or as a disposable handkerchief for blowing noses. The readers were asked to respond. Results showed that 60 percent used Kleenex tissue for blowing their noses. By 1930, Kimberly-Clark had changed the way they advertised Kleenex and sales doubled proving that the customer is always right.” — Mary Bellis

This Kleenex ad from Delineator, August 1928, mentions many new uses for the product.

Kleenex for Handkerchiefs ad, November 1930. “Rapidly replacing handkerchiefs among progressive people….”

Kleenex ad, detail, Delineator, November 1930.

Disposable Kleenex handkerchiefs were advertised for use in schools and offices, to stop the spread of germs. Ad, September 1931.

Pond’s cleansing tissues may have been used the same way, but their ads emphasized cosmetic use — with endorsements from prominent society ladies, not doctors and teachers.

Pond’s Cleansing Tissues in an ad from October 1930.

Kleenex ad from November 1931. Delineator.

I’m not sure what happened to Pond’s tissues. Many other manufacturers sell tissues today. I personally prefer the Safeway brand, but when I feel a sneeze coming, I still say, “I need a Kleenex!”

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Cosmetics, Beauty Products, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture

Sanforized Ad, 1933

Ad for Sanforized, pre-shrunk fabrics, Delineator, June 1933.

Shrinkage used to be a big problem with new clothing — especially if a cotton garment puckered and got tighter after washing, and kept shrinking with subsequent washes.

Text of Sanforized ad, Delineator, June 1933. “Sanforized process of controlled shrinkage, Cluett Peabody & Co.

“…New Sanforized-shrunk process by which chic new cottons and linens are completely shrunk so that they absolutely cannot shrink no matter how often you tub them.”

In 1930, Sanford Cluett devised a method for pre-shrinking fabrics without giving them that “limp washrag” look.

“Basically, he designed a machine on which cloth passed over a contracting elastic felt blanket where the pulling action during manufacturing was adjusted by a pushing action…. This process was named Sanforized in his honor [the d was dropped], registered in 1930 and ultimately became a worldwide famous trademark.” — Pamela Snevily Johnston Keating, quoted by info.fabrics.net

Many textile manufacturers were already using the Sanforizing process by 1933:

Textiles listed in the Sanforized ad, 1933. The letters A – G refer to fabrics shown in the Butterick dress patterns illustrated on the same page.

The cooperation of advertisers and editors in fashion magazines is nothing new. Delineator magazine was published by the Butterick Publishing Company, and all the fashions sketched for this ad were made from Butterick patterns.

Top of Sanforized ad illustrated with Butterick patterns. 1933. It looks as though the actual fabrics were photographed and the photos incorporated into the illustrations.

Not all these patterns were also featured in fashion illustrations in Delineator, but I did find some:

Right, Butterick 5104, called “White Frosting.”  Delineator, June 1933.

It looks so different that I wondered if the pattern number was printed correctly, but in this enlargement I see the same three-button closures at shoulder and hip:

Two versions of Butterick 5104. 1933. The white frill could be purchased by the yard and basted into place.

Two illustrations of Butterick 5140. June 1933.

Girls’ dresses 5159 and 5153, Butterick patterns from June 1933, featured in ad for Sanforized fabrics.

Obviously, washable, shrink-proof clothing for children was a great improvement! Butterick illustrated number 5153 on a slightly older girl. It’s still very appealing:

Left, Butterick dress 5153, for girls 8 to 15.

“It’s a dress you 12-year-olds can make yourself!”

Pattern 5159 was for younger girls:

Butterick 5159 for girls 2 to 7. The shoulders are “ringed” with tiny sleeves, extending the shoulder. “Nice in white with tomato red buttons and piping” or in gingham.

A Swatch of Sanforized Fabric and a  Doll Clothes Pattern

Not forgetting that most girls like dolls, and finding a very clever way to encourage women to order a sample of Sanforized fabric, the ad offered a pattern for doll clothes:

For a dime, you could order a doll clothes pattern including enough Sanforized fabric to make doll pajamas,  a dress, and a beret.

I haven’t found a specific Butterick pattern with those three ingredients — perhaps it was exclusive to this offer — but there were plenty of Butterick doll patterns available:

A doll wardrobe which included beach pajamas. Butterick 436 from December, 1930. (The little girl at left wears lounging/beach pajamas, too.)

Butterick doll wardrobe 443, from October 1933. Dresses, pajamas, and a beret-like hat.

A doll college girls used to decorate their bedrooms…. Butterick 438, from December 1930. “A very rakish beret” was included.

Those may not be “real sailor trou[sers]” as known in the navy, but they are definitely 1930 chic!

Let’s “give three cheers and one cheer more” for Mr. Sanford L. Cluett and his Sanforized fabrics!

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Filed under 1930s, Children's Vintage styles, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Sportswear, Women in Trousers

Winter Underwear, 1880s to 1920s

Detail from and ad for Munsingwear knit undergarments, Delineator,  September, 1927.

Frau Buttonbox asked what women wore under those 1920’s dresses in the winter — and how they protected their dresses from sweat and body oils. I have some ads to share!

Just for vocabulary, in the U.S., a one piece knit suit like this was called a “union suit” (proper name) or “long johns” (common name.)

This wool union suit was recommended by dress-reformer Annie Jenness-Miller in 1888.

In 1880’s England, Dr. Jaeger’s theory that wearing wool next to the skin (instead of plant fibers like linen or cotton) was good for health was championed by dress reformers and George Bernard Shaw.

My uncle Bert (like Garrison Keillor’s “Norwegian Bachelor Farmers”) came from a generation (b. 1899) that believed that a hot bath would “open your pores” to admit disease, so he wore long johns from September to March. My stepmother insisted that he wash them (and himself) from time to time if he wanted to eat dinner with us. Whew!

Women’s union suit from Sears catalog, Fall 1918.
By 1916, skirts were getting shorter, but lace-up boots would have hidden the legs of this underwear. Notice the short sleeves.

Ladies’ shoes from Sears catalog, 1918.

Wool, needed for army uniforms, was hard to get in the U.S. in 1917-1918. Note the overlapping “open” back.

The problem with fashionable clothing is that it is usually the opposite of practical clothing — so women who want to be fashionable usually have to sacrifice some comfort — and common sense.

By the mid-1920s, skirts were reaching the knee, and bare arms were expected with evening dresses and dinner dresses. Nevertheless, many dining rooms (even in mansions) were unheated.

Ad for Forest Mills long underwear, Delineator, November 1925. The union suit on the left could be worn under day dresses. These models look like teens.

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/1925-oct-p-27-500-dpi-whole-color-page.jpg?w=398&h=500

Winter clothes for teens and small women, October 1925. Delineator.

Under evening dress, your torso could be warm, but your arms had to be bare.

Combed cotton knit underwear from Sears, 1927 catalog. You could wear a silk or rayon slip over these, under your dress.

Butterick 5755, 5714, 5713, Delineator, January 1925, page 29.

Evening dresses for teens, January 1925.

“It s no longer necessary to shiver through the long winter months in order to be stylishly dressed.”

“Keep your body warm.” Ad for Forest Mills knit underwear, Delineator, November 1925. The ad doesn’t state fiber content, but knits made for a smooth, “no bumps” fit.

“Underwear that will not only absorb perspiration, but will keep your body from being chilled.”

The Forest Mills underwear shown in the photograph is not much different in style from silk underwear (slips, camisole and bloomers) sold by Sears, but knit underwear fit more smoothly.

Silk underwear from Sears catalog, Fall 1927. Silk or rayon bloomers came to just above the knee.

Carter’s, a company that made rayon knit underwear, ran a whole series of ads that showed couture fashions next to pictures of models (in the same poses) wearing Carter’s underwear. I don’t now how warm it was, but it did fit very closely.

Detail of an ad for Carter’s rayon knit underwear, Delineator, November 1926. Premet and Poiret were famous Paris Couturiers. That’s a Poiret model above.

Detail of 1927 ad for Carter’s underwear. The model wears Poiret; at right she poses in her Carter’s underwear.

“Poiret’s black and gold gown” and silk cape, pictured in an ad for Carter’s underwear, November 1927. Poiret was very influential in the 1910’s, but falling out of favor by the late 1920’s.

Detail from an ad for Carter’s knit underwear, November 1927. Smooth, one-piece fit.

Right, back view of a one-piece union suit; left, a camisole “vest” and bloomers. Carter’s rayon knit undergarments, ad from 1926.

Premet’s “Vampire” dress, with Carter’s combination underwear to go under it. April, 1928. That dress would have permitted a much warmer undergarment.

The gold and white brocade hostess gown is by Drecoll; the underwear is Carter’s “vest and bloomer” of rayon knit. Ad from May 1927. The House of Worth also participated in this ad campaign.

As to keeping clothes free of perspiration stains and odor, deodorants were available (and ruined the armpits of many a vintage garment….) A solution still used in theatrical costumes, and by those allergic to certain chemicals, is the dress shield.

1910 ad for Kleinert’s dress shields. Delineator.

Ad for OMO dress shields, a rival to Kleinert’s. March 1910, Delineator.

Dress shields were usually safety pinned or basted into place in the armholes of a dress or jacket.

1920 Kleinert’s dress shield ad. You can see that this shield is curved at the top to follow the shape of the bottom of the armhole; it folds over the underarm seam, extending into the dress and into the sleeve.

Costumers sew in snaps so the shields can be changed and washed.  Some women preferred to wear a bra or guimpe-like washable garment which included the shields.

Top of a Kleinert’s dress shield ad, Woman’s Home Companion, March 1937.

The Kleinert’s website (the company is still in business) explains:

“Before The Advent Of Deodorants & Antiperspirants The Dress Shield Was The Way To Protect Your Garments From Sweat & Odor. In 1869 Kleinert’s Invented the Dress & Garment Shield Category Which Is Still In Use Today Protecting Our Clothes & Saving Us From Embarrassing Situations Due To Sweat Stains & Odors. Trust Kleinert’s Quality & History To Keep You Dry Throughout The Day. Choose Below From Our Selection Of Fine Dress Shields.” Kleinerts.com

The shields come in different shapes for differently cut armholes. Now you can get disposable ones — and in a costume emergency I have cut self-adhesive pantiliners to stick in the underarms of a costume.

Bottom of Kleinert’s dress shield ad from March 1937, WHC.

I’ve mentioned this before: actors sweat, and stage actors have to wear their costume(s) for eight performances per week. It’s not good for a wool suit to be dry-cleaned every week; underwear protects the costume, but a changeable shield under each arm keeps the suit from getting wet at all. Undershirts and shirts, etc., are laundered daily — in fact, Equity actors have duplicates supplied so they don’t ever have to put on a shirt that is still damp from the matinee performance. (Ditto for all other items that touch the skin.)

Full page, full-color Kleinert’s ad, March 1924. Delineator.

Unsexy as a dress shield may be, it’s preferable to ruining a $2000 dress or destroying it by too-frequent dry cleaning. Bonus: you can raise your arms and never show a sweat ring.

Camisole and bloomers from Munsingwear ad, September 1927, Delineator.

P.S. [Edited 1/6/2019] Liza D at BVD sent a photo of the Kleinert’s dress shields she found in a vintage garment (Thanks, Liza!) :

Liza D found these used dress shields in a vintage garment. Those ugly stains would have been on the blouse if the woman who wore it hadn’t used these in the underarms. Click here for Liza’s post about it.

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Filed under 1870s to 1900s fashions, 1900s to 1920s, 1910s and WW I era, 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Combinations step-ins chemises teddies, Late Victorian fashions, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Panties knickers bloomers drawers step-ins, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Underthings, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc

How to Make Gray Hair Look Its Best, 1910

This post is for Lynn, who writes American Age Fashion, a blog dedicated to a usually neglected topic: “what older American women wore, 1900 to now.” (Lynn does not have white hair, but I do.)

Side and back views of a hair style for older women; Delineator, January 1910. The ornament implies that this is a style for evening, although the model is not wearing an evening dress.

Bottom of a full page of hair styles for gray-haired women. From the article, “How to Make Gray Hair Look Its Best,” Delineator, January 1910.

Here is the accompanying text:

“If there is any poetry in hair, it exists quite as truly in the silver tresses of our mothers as in the much-lauded golden and Titian tints.

“Because hair is gray does not mean that it has lost its beauty. On the contrary, many a woman finds white hair her crowning glory, while the possibilities for becoming arrangement provided by present styles allow her to appear quite as well coiffured as any younger woman. A variety of ways in which she may arrange her hair is shown.

A coil at the back of the head….” This one is kept in place by a large, curved comb.

“Where the hair is worn parted….”

“A coil at the back or top of the head, where [when] the hair is worn parted, has all of the charm of such simple arrangement, while the braid-coil is equally pleasing.

“…The braid coil is equally pleasing ….” This is a pompadour style, with softly curled bangs.

“Many find the pompadour becoming, and the short bangs curled across the forehead are not only fashionable but very softening in effect.

A smaller pompadour, also with bangs.

“A few puffs may be prettily arranged at the top or back of the head.

“A few puffs may be arranged at the top or back of the head….”

The sides are not enormous, but the “puffs” give height. I can imagine this hairstyle being possible without the use of purchased hair.

“Thin hair may be matched and supplemented with a braid, some curls, or bangs.

Thin hair may be supplemented….” [You think?] “Big Hair” like this required some invisible padding and/or purchased hair pieces.

“As to adornments which the elderly woman may use, gray combs, a simple knot of ribbon, or small jetted ornaments are always in good taste.”

Parted hair, wide at the sides; a comb, rather than hair, adds height.

This hair ornament is not quite a “simple knot of ribbon….” Since many older women wore mourning, black jet hair ornaments were often worn, but these appear more glittery.

The back view of this hair-do with ornament shows a cluster of curls — and a surprising amount of hair!

Women needed a huge mass of hair to fill in under — and sometimes to support — the gigantic hats of 1910.

Big hair at the back under a big hat. 1910.

Styles which had a huge mass of hair low at the back were worn by young and old. 1910.

Although it is very full and thick everywhere, this young woman’s hair extends quite far in back.

A coil or braid worn low on the neck worked with big hats….

Hair fills in the space under a big turban hat. Delineator cover, detail, March 1910.

A young model wears most of her hair at the back of the head, with a ribbon securing it. This was a style copied from classical statues.

Photograph of Mrs. Clara E. Simcox, Paris fashion columnist for Delineator magazine, 1910.

Although my hair is both white and long, I have never had that much hair!

Neither did they.

Hair Goods for Big Hairstyles

Women could buy a “turban braid” of real hair from Mrs. Negrescou. Ad, 1910. “Very fashionable and largely worn with the new turban hats…. Can be braided, puffed, or curled.”

A hair braid could be ordered by mail — on approval.  Ad for Anna Ayers hair goods, “high grade switches, pompadours, wigs, puffs, etc.” Delineator ad, Jan 1910.

Hair switch from a Paris Fashions hair goods ad, Delineator, February 1910. On offer: “Chignon Coiffure, full back piece, curly hair, dresses in 14 puffs” and “Pompadour, Natural Curly.”

Buying a switch on approval guaranteed you could return it if the color didn’t match.

Ad for Burnham’s 30 to 36 inch long hair switches, turban frame,  pads, etc. Delineator, June 1910. “We can match your hair exactly.”

Ad for the Austin-Walker patented Hairlight Turbanette, May 1910.

By brushing your own hair over a frame like the Hairlight Turbanette, or a “rat” or pad made by stuffing your own hair combings into a hairnet, a huge pompadour could be created.

Ad for E. Burnham hair goods, January 1910.

“The ‘fullness’ of this headdress is produced by the “Puffer-Fluffer,’ $10.”  Also available: Billie Burke curls, Pompon curls, Daphne Puffs, the new Turban Braid… “Gray and extra shades cost 50% more.” [edited 12/16/18 — I should have put that in boldface, because several ads had the same “gray hair costs more” message in the fine print.]

Hair Styles for Young and Old

I wondered whether the hair styles for gray haired women were different from those for younger women and girls. Of course, only young girls and early teens wore their hair down:

Schoolgirls often wore huge ribbons (top center), increasing the size of the head area. Usually girls didn’t put their hair up (off the neck) until they were 16 or older. The hair style at lower left would be easy to transform into a style with the braid coiled at the back.

The older teens at right and left have put their hair up in adult hair styles. The schoolgirl wears a really wide bow.

But women in the prime of life certainly did wear huge pompadours, sometimes with bangs, braids, puffs, etc.

Pompadour hair styles illustrated in Delineator, early 1910.

Young and old wore styles that massed their hair low in back. 1910 illustrations, Delineator.

Very wide hairstyles, and styles with a center or side part were worn.

Often the hair style was necessary to the hat styles:

Photos of fashionable hates, complimented by big hair-dos. 1910, Delineator.

In this advertisement, left, a woman is working in her kitchen, in a hair style that is in fashion, but of a believable size. I suspect that the woman on the right is also wearing a practical, everyday style — which may be all her own hair.

Left, illustration from an Ivory Soap ad; right, hairstyle for gray hair, both 1910.

Speaking of working women — these nurses show that big hair was also worn with tiny nurses caps!

Three nurses in an ad for the Chautauqua School of Nursing. April, 1910.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Hairstyles, Hats, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture

A Dead End in Fashion, 1920

Butterick dress patterns for June, 1920. Delineator magazine.

In fashion, trial balloons are sent up all the time. Some take off into the stratosphere, and some quietly deflate and are forgotten. As far as I can tell, it’s all about timing.
This dress pattern from 1920 got it half right:

Butterick dress pattern 2417, Delineator, June 1920.

Bodice of Butterick 2417 from 1920. Another “Chinese” influenced top from 1920 can be seen here.

The sleeveless look, the sheer embroidered Georgette, and the horizontal line at the hip became standard for evening wear a few years later.

Sleeveless, embroidered evening dress; Butterick 1090, December 1926.

The loose, unfitted, hip-length top turned out to be the look of the future.

Butterick blouse pattern 5172, April 1924. Delineator.

The bottom part of dress 2417, however, was another story,

The skirt of dress 2417 from 1920 didn’t become mainstream fashion. [I heave a sigh of relief….]

“The drawn-in effect achieved by the plaits at the lower part is new…. ” I think those may be tassels on the front pleats. The other pleats (tucks, really) are stitched down. “Lower edge when falling free [is] 1  3/4 yard.”  With 6 or eight stitched-down pleats on each side, it would be considerably less.

Alternate view of Butterick 2417.

Hobble skirts which made wearers take tiny steps were a hit in earlier in the century — this image is from 1911 — but our 1920 version didn’t suit the increasing freedom of women, who were used to plenty of leg-room by 1916.

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/chanel-1916-bell-plate-39-from-fashion-through-fashion-plates-doris-langley-moore.jpg?w=500

Designs by Gabrielle Chanel, dated 1916 [from Doris Langley Moore’s Fashion through Fashion Plates via Quentin Bell.] No need to take mincing little steps in these skirts!

The mid-Twenties’ shape was narrow and unfitted…

These dresses from July 1925 have shapeless, hip-length tops like No. 2417, but are at least as wide at the hem as at the hip, with room for walking.

Butterick dresses for young women; Delineator, September 1925.

… but Mid-Twenties’ skirts didn’t start out wide and then get tighter near the hem, like No. 2417.

Butterick dress pattern 2417, Delineator, June 1920.

Just another fashion dead end!

Advertisement for satin, April 1920. A large end, and a dead end, too.

 

 

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture

Not What We Think of When We Say “Twenties’ Fashions:” 1920

A couture evening dress by Parisian designer Georgette, illustrated in Delineator, February 1920, p. 111.

It would be convenient if fashions changed only when a new decade began — boring, but convenient when assigning dates to fashion history. But that’s not how it worked.
When invited to a “twenties’ ” costume party, not many women would show up dressed like this:

Left, Butterick waist 2056 with skirt 2046; right, dress 2100. Delineator, January 1920, p. 76.

Butterick 2419 and 2366, June 1920. Front views, Delineator, p. 113.

Butterick dresses 2419 and 2366, June 1920. Alternate views. From the rear, 2366 really exaggerates hip width.

Of course, twentieth century fashion was always in transition; these dresses from 1920 are still showing the influence of the big-hipped styles of the 1914-1918 war era.

Two outfits from April 1917. Left, a “tonneau” or barrel skirt (Butterick skirt 9064); right, a skirt with protruding pockets rather like 1920 dress No. 2336, above.

The odd skirt on this 1920 dress echoes a style detail carried over from 1917. Butterick 2272, April 1920.

Butterick 8929, from February 1917. The skirt hangs from widely spaced cartridge pleats, also called “French gathering.”

A dress on the cover of Delineator magazine, April, 1920. Cartridge pleats again — but these are near the natural waist. They seem to be secured with buttons.

This rear view, from an advertisement for satin, is jaw-dropping:

Illustration from an ad for satin fabrics; Delineator, April 1920. It suggests the (attempted) return of the bustle.

Well… that is not the direction that 1920’s fashion eventually took!

To be honest,  I’ve been deliberately showing dresses that don’t fit our preconception of “the Twenties.” In fact, we can see the seeds of later nineteen twenties’ style in both of these dresses:

Gradual change in fashion: the waist is getting lower in 1920; the bodice extends to the hip; and the familiar late Twenties’ dropped waist is seen in the low attachment of both skirts.

This is transitional fashion: there is a dropped waist (where the skirts are attached) and a more or less natural waist, where the dress is belted in.

Often, fashions leaning toward the past and fashions prefiguring the future were shown side by side.

Two patterns illustrated on page 152, Delineator, April 1920. Left, Butterick 2278 has a long bodice and looks more “twenties”; right, 2239 has the wide-hipped, peg top look of the previous decade.

[Thanks to Sophia for explaining that “pegged-top” “refers to the child’s spinning toy ‘pegtop’ which is narrower at the bottom than the top like the skirts.”]

Butterick patterns 2060 and 2097, Delineator, January 1920.

If a woman got rid of the belt and shortened No. 2060, she could have worn it for several years in the Twenties:

These dresses from 1925 are not too different from 1920’s No. 2060. One has a similar bodice; one has a similar skirt.

The truth is that twentieth century fashion usually changed incrementally [which is why the rapid change from 1929 to 1930 is so extraordinary.]

Three Butterick patterns from February 1920. One of them looks more “Twenties” than the others.

All the following dresses are from early 1920:

Two patterns from Spring of 1920.

Butterick patterns from June, 1920. Waist 2383, skirt 2336, and dress 2371.

The long, lean look was also worn:

Butterick 2351 from May 1920. Delineator, p. 152.

But it’s probably the sporty, youthful quality of this summer dress that gives me that “Twenties'” feeling.

Butterick dress 2410 from Delineator, June 1920.

I have to remind myself that all these 1920 dresses would have been seen at the same time — and probably for several years.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1910s and WW I era, 1920s, evening and afternoon clothes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Sportswear, Vintage Couture Designs, World War I

Poiret and Tunic Dresses, 1914

Paul Poiret’s “Sorbet” gown. Illustrated by Georges Lepape, September 1913. Image from Irene Lewisohn Collection, Metropolitan Museum.

I saw Poiret’s famous “Sorbet” gown at the V & A years ago.  It’s sometimes referred to as “the lampshade dress,” because of the rigid bottom of the tunic.

I expected to laugh; instead, I haven’t found a picture that does it justice. It’s ridiculous. It’s impractical. And it’s couture: what doesn’t show in the photos I’ve found is that the stylized roses are made from thousands of subtly glittering beads. The silk has the soft gleam of quality. It is lovely.

Perhaps because this is clearly a “wear it once” dress (except for the version without a boned tunic,) it has survived in at least three public collections (V & A, Chicago History Museum,  & FIT. ) And, being couture — custom made for every client —  each rendition is slightly different. Sometimes only the skirt is different (one version has harem pants;) in one, the tunic falls softly instead of being rigid; in the collection at the Fashion Institute of Technology, the dark parts are not black, but mauve (or raspberry sorbet?)

Randy Bigham has written a fascinating essay comparing the three versions.

I called “Sorbet” a “wear it once” dress because it would make a grand entrance, be highly memorable, and also be highly impractical. How would the wearer sit at a dinner table, or travel to a party in a carriage or car? How would she dance in it, since the hoop would pop up in the back as soon as her partner embraced her? [Imagine it flipping around during a tango!]

Butterick pattern 6639 seems to be influenced by Poiret’s “Sorbet” gown, which has black fur at the rigid hem of the tunic in the V&A version. Delineator, January 1914.

The New Flaring Tunics, Delineator, March 1914. In 1914, a “tunic” was an overskirt.

But …. Poiret caught the spirit of the times, even if he didn’t create the tunic fad; by 1914 his dress was influencing Butterick patterns and being imitated elsewhere. I found it in advertisements, too — usually a sign that a style has penetrated the common culture.

Ad for McCallum Hosiery, Delineator, March 1914.

A suit with a flaring tunic and wide sash is seen in an ad for American Woolen, March 1914, Delineator.

This ad for Suesine silk fabric uses Butterick 6639, with the hoop-like tunic.

A flaring tunic dress goes dancing in this ad for Kleinert’s Dress Shields. April 1914; Delineator.

Tunic Dress Patterns from 1914

An outfit with the tunic look might be a dress, or a skirt and “waist” combination.  [A “waist” was a blouse or separate bodice.] The flared part of the tunic might be part of the blouse/waist) …

Waist 6639. Butterick pattern from January 1914. Delineator.

… Or it might be part of the skirt:

Butterick skirt pattern 6719, March 1914. Delineator.

Butterick waist 6718 with skirt 6719. The flared tunic is part of the skirt. Note the fur or velvet border at right, which makes the hem stand out more.

Wearing the tunic over an elaborately draped skirt increased bulk over the hips — and narrowing at the ankles exaggerated it.

Tunic dress; Butterick pattern 6779 from April 1914 has optional ruffles to help the tunic’s hem stand out a bit. Delineator.

Alternate and back views of Butterick tunic dress 6779; 1914.

These are many one-piece tunic dresses, rather than waist and skirt combinations:

Tunic dresses for women to size 44 bust; Delineator, April 1914.

Alternate views of tunic dress 6820, April 1914.

Alternate views of tunic dress 6832, April 1914. Seeing it without the tunic tells us more about how it was made.

A group of hip-widening fashions from April, 1914. Delineator. The one in color is a waist & skirt combination. [Fun hat!]

Butterick waist 6791 with skirt 6733. The tunic is part of the skirt; waist 6791 is not long at all.

Other views of Butterick waist 6791. From 1914.

However, tunic outfit 6797 is a dress:

Butterick dress 6797, April 1914. In the illustration at left, the diagonal closing is barely noticeable.

To my eyes, accustomed to slender, athletic bodies, the fashions of the World War I period are hard to understand, since they add the appearance of many pounds around the hips. [Poiret also took credit for the 1908 “hobble skirt,” still affecting fashion in 1914.]

“What Your Girl Will Want for Easter” 1914: Wide hips and narrow hems. These are styles for teens age 14 to 19. Did teen girls really want to look like they had big, low-slung bottoms? Well…”fashion.”

With dresses like those, you’d hardly need this corset….

Nubone corset ad, March 1914, Delineator.

The tunic styles were for recommended for women (including larger sizes) and for teens:

Butterick 6684 was for teens aged 14 to 19. February, 1914.

Butterick 6651 for teens 14 to 19 and small women. This one has fur trim.

That headdress deserves a closer look:

Lace, fur, chiffon, flowers, and a rather exotic jeweled headdress. January 1914.

For large women, this modified tunic with more vertical lines was recommended.

Left, Butterick 6809 “For Matronly Figures; New styles that are becoming to them.” Delineator, June 1914.

Buttrick 6809 was not a true tunic; this back view is much more slenderizing. “Matronly figures” went up to size 46 bust. Note the ( ) shaped silhouette.

The tunics and draped skirts that increased hip width were apparently popular, but women did have other choices:

Left, a tunic-style outfit made from waist 6627 and skirt 6613; right, distinctly un-fussy shirtwaist 6619 with slim, tailored skirt 6620. Both of these skirts were described as “peg-top.” January 1914.

(I’m still not clear on what “peg-top” actually meant — but now I know where to look….)

If you made it this far, thanks for sticking with this long post!

The tunic look from Delineator, May 1914.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1910s and WW I era, Corsets, Foundation Garments, Girdles, Hats, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes, World War I