Category Archives: Shoes

Men’s Shoes in Color, from Esquire, 1933 and 1934

The very first issue of Esquire magazine, in Fall of 1933, included this full color illustration of a gentleman’s shoe wardrobe — the fall and winter version.

Men's shoe wardrobe, Esquire, Fall of 1933. age 112.

Man’s shoe and glove wardrobe, Esquire, Fall of 1933. Page 112.

For simplicity in identifying them, I have numbered the shoes in this closer view.

Shoes for men, Esquire. Fall, 1933.

Shoes for men, Esquire. Fall, 1933.

  1. “A pair of Norwegian ski boots, of the square toed hooked kind worn by experienced ski jumpers”
  2.  “Patent leather French pumps, designed … for being worn at home with dinner clothes… a lounge suit or dressing gown”
  3.  “Hard soled slippers of python skin”
  4.  “Brown wing tip shoe for informal town wear”
  5.  “Black town shoe with straight perforated tip, for slightly more ‘dressed up’ usage”
  6.  “The properly proportioned patent leather oxfords for evening wear.”
  7.  ” Norwegian calf brogues with blucher front, in the dark shade of briar brown that polishes to a reddish near-black”
  8.  “The correctly proportioned patent leather pumps for formal evening wear — that is, with the tailcoat.”

“The Norwegian calf brogues are really a sports and country item, but you can get by with them in town when your clothes are of the soft rough textured fabrics that have lately come into the town and business wardrobe.”

The brown wing tip and the black town shoe were the usual choices for business wear.

Left, a navy blue business suit, and right, a brown striped business suit. Esquire, March 1934, p. 106. The accompanying text tells us that the brown suit was much more informal than the navy one.

Left, a navy blue business suit, and right, a brown striped business suit. Esquire, March 1934, p. 106. The accompanying text tells us that the brown suit was much more informal than the navy one. Both are being worn with brown shoes.

450-shoes-1934-mar-p-106-color-business-dress-blue-suit-brown-suit-text

Shoes for summer were pictured in July of 1934, but the text was concerned with shoe care, polishes, brushes, etc.

Shoes and shoe care products for men, Esquire, July 1934, page 124.

Shoes and shoe care products for men, Esquire, July 1934, page 124.

Here is a closer view of the shoes. Several pairs are buck or buckskin, including “white bucks.” Shoes with rubber soles can also be seen.

Summer shoes for men, Esquire, July 1934.

Summer shoes for men, Esquire, July 1934.

Most of these “summer” shoes are for wear in the country, at sporting events, or on vacation.

Country clothes with an "old English' flavor. Esquire, Autumn 1933,, p. 100.

Country clothes with an “old English’ flavor. Esquire, Autumn 1933, p. 100.  The shoes look like brown buck with a thick rubber sole.

White buckskin shoes worn with white flannel slacks, resort wear for June 1934, Esquire, p. 121.

White buckskin shoes worn with light gray  flannel slacks, resort wear for June 1934, Esquire, p. 121.

450-shoes-white-buckskin1934-june-p-121-resort-tan-white

"Ahead of the crowd" spectator sport clothes, Esquire, Sept. 1934, p. 116.

“Ahead of the crowd” spectator sport clothes, worn with brown buck shoes. Esquire, Sept. 1934, p. 116.

I was surprised by how similar these “tan waxhide” 2016 shoes from Samuel Hubbard look.

A cotton sport jacket worn for tennis or spectator sports. Rubber soled shoes and white flannel trousers. Esquire, July 1934, p. 111.

A cotton sport jacket worn for tennis or spectator sports. Rubber soled spectator shoes and white flannel trousers. Esquire, July 1934, p. 111.

450-shoes-red-rubber-soles1934-july-p-111-cotton-jacket-sports-tennis-checks-resort-text

Two-toned shoes in black and white or brown and white were considered a bit too flashy in some circles. In England, they were sometimes called “co-respondent shoes;” when adultery was one of the only legal reasons for divorce, the “co-respondent” had to be named in the divorce court. Sometimes a gigolo was hired for this purpose — whether he actually wore two-toned shoes or not. Americans call them “Spectator shoes.” The Duke of Windsor wore them.

It’s a little surprising that Esquire was quite enthusiastic about brown shoes with gray or navy suits. Brown shoes could be polished every other day with a “deep red, like the famous Royal Navy Dressing,” to achieve a very dark red-brown, which was called “Oxblood” in the 1950s. This is an alternative to black with navy slacks.

Here, brown shoes are worn with a gray chalk striped suit, but the man wearing them is on vacation:

"The experienced traveler" is clearing customs in a chalk-striped suit worn with casual brown shoes. Esquire, July 1934.

“The experienced traveler” is clearing customs in a chalk-striped suit worn with casual brown shoes. Esquire, July 1934.

chalk-striped-suit-with-brown-shoes-esquire-july-1934-p-105

These Crosby Square shoes for men cost $6 to $7 dollars in 1934. Esquire, Sept. 1934, p. 162.

These Crosby Square shoes for men cost $6 to $7  in 1934. Esquire, Sept. 1934, p. 162.

This ad does not mention prices, but the Stetson Shoe company sold both formal dress men’s pumps and this brown wing tip brogue — for “college men.”

Ad for Stetson shoes for college men, Esquire, September 1934, p 160.

Ad for Stetson shoes for college men, Esquire, September 1934, p 160. Top, black leather pumps for formal evening wear; bottom, a brown, wing-tip brogue .

A “brogue” usually means that the shoe has decorative perforations. But the “Norwegian calf brogues” pictured at the top of this post seem to have much less perforated trim (if any) than the other “town shoes” in the same illustration. Maybe I will never master men’s shoe terminology….

Traditional perforated "town" or business shoes, and Norwegian brogues. Esquire, Autumn 1933.

Traditional perforated “town” or business shoes, and “Norwegian calf brogues with blucher front.” Esquire, Autumn 1933.

If you want an explanation of what “blucher” means, the Gentleman’s Gazette explains in a video. Click here. (Hint: it does not mean that straight line across the toe cap! Look at the laces.)

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Filed under 1930s, Men's Sportswear, Menswear, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Shoes, Shoes for Men

Photos of Summer Dresses, circa 1919

Graduation photo, 8th grade class, May 1919.

Graduation photo, 8th grade class, May 1919.

I can date this photo, because my mother is second from the right in the back row. Her family took another photo of her holding her diploma, and wrote on the back, “May 1919.”

Eighth grade graduation day, 1919. I "pushed" the photo to clarify the ruffles on her dress. which arn't visible in the official photographs.

Eighth grade graduation day, 1919. I “pushed” the photo to clarify the ruffles on her dress, which aren’t all visible in the overexposed  photograph.

14 year old girl, graduation dress, 1919.

14 year old girl in her graduation dress, 1919. She has a ruffled “Bertha” collar, and the fabric is very sheer, probably netting. I’ll discuss the hairdo in a later post.

All these dresses are so lovely that I wanted to share them. I even know some of the students’ names.

Front row, left. is Frances Ryan. 1919.

Front row, left, is Frances Ryan. 1919.

I don’t know the girl who is second in the row, but the sheer fabric of her dress, with an opaque pattern woven in, is my favorite. [I once had an extravagantly expensive Swiss cotton nightgown from similar fabric.] Note how many of these girls have big bows in their hair — they are still children.

From Left, Angelina Piana, Alice Perry, and Frances Flynn. Seated is Albert Genoce. 1919.

From Left, Angelina Piano, Alice Perry, and Frances Flynn. Seated is Albert Genoce. 1919.

Almost every dress is trimmed with horizontal tucks, which create the effect of opaque stripes across the sheer cotton fabrics. Notice their crossed ankles. This was how a lady sat. I believe these girls were graduating from a Catholic school run by nuns, so lady-like posture was enforced.

Alice Perry, Francies Flynn, and Eleanore Larrouy. 8th grade graduation, 1919.

Alice Perry, Frances Flynn, and Eleanore Larrouy. 8th grade graduation, 1919.

Most of the dresses have a rounded, scooped neckline, but Frances, like some of the girls in the top row, has a high, square-ish, lace-trimmed neckline.

Top row, left, is Eleanor Hahir. 1919.

Top row, left, is Eleanor Hahir, next girl unknown. 1919. Bottom row: Frances Ryan, unknown, Angelina Piano.

Left, my mother; the girl on the right is unknown (and slightly out of focus, too. In Front row are Frances Flynn and "Elinore" Larrouy. 1919,

Left, my mother; the girl on the right is unnamed (and slightly out of focus, too.) In front row are Frances Flynn and “Elinore” Larrouy. 1919.

I was delighted to find that someone had written the names of several of these students on the back of the picture, because my parents remained in the same town, and I knew many of their friends, including some of the girls in this picture. Sadly, I have no idea who the lovely young woman at the center of the back row is.

Unknown girl in 8th grade graduation photo, 1919.

Center, an unknown girl in 8th grade graduation photo, 1919. Left, “Angie” Piano; right, Alice Perry.

The girl in the center looks older than the others, or perhaps just more poised, in her beautifully embroidered dress and string of pearls.

Angie Piano remained a friend to my father and me in the years after my mother’s death, as did Frances Flynn, who wore tailored, non-fussy clothing, often dressed in slacks, was great fun to be with, and took us huckleberry picking at her family cabin in the Coastal hills. (Stepping into a packrat’s nest was always a bit of a shock, but the contents were fascinating!) The cabin was a bit of a time machine in the 1950’s, with a sleeping porch, an ice box, and a water tank that collected cold spring water;  we depended on oil lamps when we couldn’t get the electricity generator started.

Angela , or Angelina, Piano, called "Angie." Note her hairstyle, which is long in back, but has chic puffs over her ears. about 1919.

Angela (or Angelina) Piano, called “Angie.” Note her hairstyle, which is long in back, but has chic puffs of shorter hair over her ears. About 1919-20.

Angelina Piano in a velvet dress and long "crystal" necklace. On the back of the picture is her address in San Francisco and her age, 15. Dated "April 4, 1920."

Angelina Piano in a velvet dress and long “crystal” necklace. On the back of the picture is her address in San Francisco and her age, 15. Dated “April 4, 1920.”

Elegant “Angie” Piano was still chic and charming in her fifties — in fact, I hoped my widowed father would marry her.  She did take me to the ballet in the 1950’s, when I was about ten years old, and she fixed us a memorable dinner of crab and spaghetti! Between Angie and Frances I had two good but very different role models.

Edith Nicholls, Ruth Cross, my Aunt Dorothy, and my mother, dated 1918.

Edith Nicholls, Ruth Cross, my Aunt Dorothy, and my mother, dated 1918.

I like two things about about this photo. The first is that it shows a range of clothing — Edith is wearing taffeta and wonderful high boots, Aunt Dorothy is in her school uniform, and my mother is wearing a casual sleeveless pullover sweater. The second thing I like is that it shows how far from high society these girls were. They are standing on a dirt path in somebody’s back yard. Behind them is a fruit tree in a small vegetable patch, and on the left, a clothesline.

I’m not sure of the name on this picture — but I do like her dress ( with another Bertha-type collar) and her face. I wish I’d known her, too.

Another "Redwood City girl" circa 1918.

Another “Redwood City girl” circa 1918.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Dresses, Hairstyles, Shoes, Uniforms and Work Clothes, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing, vintage photographs, World War I

A Gentleman’s Morning Coat, 1930’s Weddings

Groom, bride, guest (in checked trousers) Best man (?) and usher. I think the father of the bride is the beaming man with white hair; the man with the blazer and red carnation is presumable a guest. Esquire, June 1934. Pg. 139.

Formal Wedding Party, Daytime Wedding, Esquire, June 1934. Pg. 139.

The "morning coat", or "cutaway" is the most formal daytime outfit for men. "Morning coat" refers to the entire outfit, which includes striped trousers and a vest, etc. Esquire magazine, April, 1934, p. 126.

The “morning coat”, or “cutaway” is the most formal daytime outfit for men. “Morning coat” refers to the entire outfit, which includes striped trousers and a vest, etc. Esquire magazine, April, 1934, p. 126.

In the Spring and Summer of 1934, Esquire magazine ran several articles about wearing the morning coat. The morning coat, or “cutaway” had long been a correct choice for formal daytime events, but in 1936, by royal decree, it officially replaced the “frock coat” as formal daytime clothing in the English court. (I found this date  in Diana de Marly’s book, Fashion for Men. )

In the early 20th century, in spite of the acceptance of sack suits for most business purposes. . .

What the sack suits looked like by 1934. Double breasted or single breasted, they were standard business clothing. Esquire, Feb. 1934.

What sack suits looked like by 1934. Double breasted or single breasted, they were standard business clothing. Esquire, Feb. 1934.

. . . the frock coat was still correct formal daytime wear for diplomats and other men for whom a casual appearance was not acceptable.

A little background on the frock coat:

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, 1861. He wears a frock coat, vest and trousers. Photo by Mayall, courtesy of V and A museum.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, 1861. He wears a frock coat, vest and trousers. Photo by Mayall, courtesy of V and A Museum.

The frock coat — and the man’s three piece suit — can be said to have originated with Charles II of England, who abolished the clothing worn at the French court . . .

A french courtier, 1660, from costumer Nicole Kipar's archives.

A French courtier, 1660, from costumer Nicole Kipar’s archives.

and commanded, in 1666, that the more manly “Persian” suit of clothes be worn in his presence. Eventually, the combination of knee length coat, breeches, and vest evolved into normal business wear for men. The 19th century frock coat really did resemble the full-skirted dresses of the 1820’s and 30s….

Frock coat in French Fashion Plate, 1829. Courtesy of V and A Museum/

Frock coat in French Fashion Plate, 1829. Courtesy of V and A Museum

Frock coats, 1828, Journal des Dames. Thanks to TwoNerdyHistoryGirls for finding this plate.

Frock coats, 1828, Journal des Dames. Thanks to TwoNerdyHistoryGirls for finding this plate.

Young lady with gentleman in Frock coat, London, 1861. Courtesy V & A Museum.

Young lady with gentleman in Frock coat, London, 1861. Courtesy V & A Museum.

The photo below, from the early 20th century, shows the King of England, George V (at left), wearing a frock coat, which he favored for official daytime menswear. It was worn by lawyers, bankers, and other successful men, not just at court. He is with his son, Prince Edward (b. 1894, later the Duke of Windsor), who is wearing a formal black or dark gray cutaway.

Left, King George V in Frock coat; right, Edward Prince of Wales, wearing a cutaway or morning coat. Photo: Flash and Footle .

Left, King George V in frock coat; right, Edward, Prince of Wales, wearing a cutaway or morning coat. Photo: Flash and Footl

During the few months when he was king — before abdicating — Edward, who really preferred to wear a sack suit, abolished the frock coat at court in favor of the cutaway, or morning coat. By the 1930s, the bands of braid on the cutaway had disappeared. (Around the turn of the century a cutaway could be part of a casual three piece suit.)

During the early 1930’s, Esquire treated its readers to at least two articles about the morning coat — timed for the Summer wedding season. (On June 3, 1937, Edward, now the Duke of Windsor, was married — appropriately, in a morning suit.)

This ad from men’s clothier Rogers Peet shows attire for a wedding:

Rogers Peet ad for menswear. Esquire, April 1934.

Rogers Peet ad for menswear. Esquire, April 1934. (The curvature of the page distorts it.)

Esquire, April 1934, p. 126.

Esquire, April 1934, p. 126.

The Floorwalker at a posh department store. He says, --and think of us when you think of panties," while handing an elderly lady her package. Esquire, April 1934, p. 32.

The Floorwalker at a posh department store. While handing an elderly lady her package, he says, “–and think of us when you think of panties.”  Esquire, April 1934, p. 32.

Esquire felt obliged to explain that — even though classy store employees wore them — there really was justification for a gentleman to buy a set of morning clothes.

Reasons to won a morning suit, Esquire, April 1934.

Reasons to own a morning suit, Esquire, April 1934.

The "morning coat", or "cutaway" is the most formal daytime outfit for men. "Morning coat" refers to the entire outfit, which includes striped trousers and a vest, etc. Esquire magazine, April, 1934, p. 126.

“Morning coat” refers to the entire outfit, which includes striped trousers and a vest, etc. Esquire magazine, April, 1934, p. 126. Illustration by Fellows.

Article from Esquire, April 1934. p. 126. It refers to the image at top of this post.

Esquire morning coat article, April 1934.

Esquire morning coat article, April 1934.

vest 1934 april p 126 wedding morning coat clothes formalwear color image fellows illus

In June, Esquire spelled out the groom’s obligations regarding gifts to the ushers, flowers, and how to avoid blunders when dressing for a formal daytime wedding — with many choices of gray, white, or natural linen waistcoat, and a variety of collars and ties.

Wedding Etiquette and Dress Article by Sturart Howe, Esquire, June 1934.

Wedding Etiquette and Dress Article by Stuart Howe, Esquire, June 1934.

Illustration accompanying Esquire's June article on clothes for a formal wedding, p. 139.

Illustration accompanying Esquire’s June article on clothes for a formal wedding, p. 139.

Which man wears wears what at a formal daytim wedding. Article from Esquire, June 1934.

Which man wears wears what at a formal daytime wedding. Article from Esquire, June 1934. Pg. 138.

I believe that the man with a mustache, standing left of the bride, and wearing a white vest and stiff wing-collar shirt, is the groom, partly because his boutonniere is lily of the valley, rather than a white carnation or gardenia.

The groom is responsible for flowers worn by the usher, et al. Esquire, June 1934, pg. 138.

The groom is responsible for flowers worn by the ushers, et al. Esquire, June 1934, pg. 138.

Gifts from the groom to the ushers, et al. Esquire, June 1934, pg. 138.

Gifts from the groom to the ushers, et al. Esquire, June 1934, pg. 138.

Waistcoats/vests to wear to a wedding with your cutaway or morning coat. Esquire, June 1934. p. 138.

Waistcoats/vests to wear to a wedding with your cutaway or morning coat. Esquire, June 1934. p. 138.

Wedding guest in cutway coat and spats. Ad for Talon zippers, Esquire, April, 1934.

Wedding guest in cutway coat,with spats over his shoes. Ad for Talon zippers, Esquire, April, 1934.

The wedding party wears spats, too:

Groom, bride, guest (in checked trousers) Best man (?) and usher. I think the father of the bride is the beaming man with white hair; the man with the blazer and red carnation is presumable a guest. Esquire, June 1934. Pg. 139.

Groom, bride, guest (in checked trousers & shoes with light colored tops). An usher in white-striped trousers. Is that the best man wearing herringbone trousers and a wing-collared shirt? Esquire doesn’t mention him. I think the father of the bride is the beaming man with white hair and two-button cutaway; the man in the blazer, solid gray trousers, and red carnation is presumably a guest, not part of the wedding party. Esquire, June 1934. Pg. 139.

For the man whose social schedule did not include participating in the Easter Parade, attending Royal Ascot or signing treaties, there was another occasion, besides weddings, when a morning coat could be worn:

Cartoon by Hoff, Esquire, June 1924.

Cartoon by Hoff, Esquire, June 1924.

There is an excellent history of the morning coat at the Morning Dress Guide blog, with the added advantage of a European point of view (and photo collection) from its author, Sven Raphael Schneider.

Even in the thirties, when many men owned a tuxedo to wear to dances, nightclubs, dinners, concerts, and the theatre, morning dress was more  likely to be rented than purchased, in spite of Esquire‘s advice.

P.S. What would costumers do without Stacy Adams shoes? This company still sells black shoes with white tops, although they have snaps, rather than buttons…. The Gentleman’s Emporium has a surprisingly wide selection of spats.

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Filed under 1930s, A Costumers' Bookshelf, Costumes for the 17th Century, Costumes for the 19th century, Men's Formalwear & Evening, Men's Haberdashery & Accessories, Menswear, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Resources for Costumers, Shirts for men, Shoes, Shoes for Men, Suits for Men, Uniforms and Work Clothes

Dressed for the Snow, circa 1930

Ollie in the snow, February, 1931. Notice her mannish tie and jodhpurs, and that great knit scarf.

Ollie in the snow, February, 1931. Notice her mannish tie and jodhpurs, and that great knit scarf and patterned socks.

I’m combining these nineteen thirties’ vintage photos of friends enjoying the snow with my annual reminder that the holiday season, with gatherings of far-flung friends and relations, is the perfect time to spend an hour going through old photos with your oldest (and young) friends and relatives. It’s a time to remember those who are gone, celebrate their good times, laugh over the fashions we wore, and — while you’re at it — to put dates and names and comments on the backs of the photos with a pencil or acid-free pen!

My mother in Yosemite, 1930. "Finally enticed the big fellow with sugar lump -- got my fingers nipped."

My mother in Yosemite, 1930. “Finally enticed the big fellow with sugar lump — got my fingers nipped.”

This picture was taken before my parents were married, and long before I was born. My mother died when I was eight, but I get to know her a little better when she ‘speaks’ through old photographs.

And, of course, I love looking at the clothes!

Sisters, about 1930. Both have dressed for the snow in wool jodhpurs, boots, shirts, neckties, wool caps, and matching, brushed wool sweaters in different colors.

Sisters, about 1930. Both have dressed for the snow in wool jodhpurs, wool socks, boots, shirts, neckties, knit wool caps, and matching, brushed wool sweaters in different colors.

I know that those jodhpurs were made of heavy, tightly woven wool twill, with many hard-to-fasten buttons down the leg, because my mother still had hers in the 1950s, and I wore them. The twill was so tight that they were almost waterproof.

Weekends in the Snow

In the nineteen twenties and thirties, the automobile — and the train — made it possible for office workers like my aunt and my mother to take weekend trips to “the snow.” Snow almost never falls near San Francisco [just three times in the last century,] but the Sierra mountains were only a few hours away. These photos show groups of friends and co-workers, on trips to Truckee, Tahoe and Yosemite between 1929 and 1931. (If the picture had a processing date on the back, that is the date given, although photos were not always developed the month they were taken! You waited until the whole roll of film was used, which could be weeks later.)

"This sled meets train and takes you to [Tahoe] Tavern. Horses have bells on them, and everybody sings Jingle Bells." 1930.

“This sled meets train and takes you to [Tahoe] Tavern. Horses have bells on them, and everybody sings Jingle Bells.” Written on back of photo. 1930.

[You can still take Amtrak from the San Francisco Bay Area through Truckee and the Lake Tahoe Area, to Reno and points East. It’s a great alternative to driving in the snow, and you can fully enjoy the scenery — and spare a thought for the thousands of Chinese immigrants who built that awe-inspiring railroad through the Sierra Mountains.]

This postcard shows the Tahoe Tavern in 1930; my mother wrote “our room” pointing to a window fringed with icicles at lower right.

Postcard of Tahoe Tavern mailed in 1930.

Postcard of Tahoe Tavern mailed in 1930.

Tourists watching a dogsled race in Tahoe, dated February 1931.

Tourists watching a dogsled race in Tahoe, dated February 1931.

Most of the spectators are dressed for the city, not for skiing.  Tahoe was an easy weekend getaway by train in the nineteen twenties and thirties. You could make a few snowballs, have dinner and drinks with friends, and be home the next day.

These photos of my family and their friends show that some people “went to the snow” often enough to justify buying an appropriate outfit, but others just wore what they already had, like “Dip,” in his office slacks and hat (and round tortoise shell frames, like Harold Lloyd.)

"Dip" and Ollie, Feb. 1931.

“Dip” and Ollie, Feb. 1931.

In this photo. . .

Jonnie and Ollie, February 1931. Ollie looks warm. Jonnie looks cold.

Jonnie and Ollie, February 1931. Ollie looks warm. Jonnie looks cold.

. . .we can see that Ollie is wearing a late 1920’s suit jacket — with nifty double patch pockets — over a sweater and shirt, with tweedy golf knickers, and a different wool scarf. It’s possible that the knickers and jacket were a set; you could buy three matching pieces — jacket, skirt, and knickers — in the 1920’s. Jonnie, on the other hand, looks like he’s wearing his normal, mild-climate work clothes. Brrrr.

My Uncle Holt sometimes dressed for a weekend in the snow as if he were heading for the the golf course:

Is he dressed for snow or golf? 1929 to 1931.

Is he dressed for snow or golf? 1929 to 1931.

He was a bit of a dandy — a soldier who had his uniforms tailored for him — and here he looks like a silent-film movie director:

Holt in a suede jacket, March 1931.

Holt in a suede jacket, March 1931.

Here, Holt is sandwiched between his wife and sister-in-law; you can see that the two women have matching striped sweaters. My aunt had several 1930’s pieces in her cedar chest — including wool socks –with a color scheme of cream, burnt orange, and dark olive green; I wouldn’t be surprised if those were the colors on her sweater.

Dot, Holt, and Toots. Circa 1930.

Dot, Holt, and Toots. Circa 1930.

I love Dot’s three-color checkerboard socks. In this photo, we can really see how shaggy those brushed wool sweaters were:

A shaggy brushed wool knit sweater; photo from 1929 to 1931.

A shaggy brushed wool knit sweater; photo from 1929 to 1931.

Notice that ties were de rigueur.

Jonnie and Ollie, Feb. 1931. Neckties required.

Jonnie and Ollie, Feb. 1931. Neckties required.

Len, Ollie, Holt, Toots, Charles, and Jonnie. March 1931.

Len, Ollie, Holt, Toots, Charles, and Jonnie. March 1931.

In our T-shirt world, the idea of skiing or sledding in a necktie is bizarre. But it wasn’t always so.

"Dot" at Tahoe, around 1930. Starting in the early 20th century, American women wore jodhpurs and neckties to celebrate freedom that was previously only for males.

“Dot” at Tahoe, around 1930. Starting in the early 20th century, American women wore jodhpurs and neckties to celebrate freedom of movement that was previously only for males.

Charles, Dot, Toots, Ollie, and Holt. Circa 1930.

Charles, Dot, Toots, Ollie, and Holt. Circa 1930 – 1931.

Now, dig out some of your “Mystery photos” to share with your family and friends before the new year gets busy.

(P.S. That tiny “Oliver Hardy” moustache was always ill-advised on my tall, thin father (at left); he told me he shaved it off in a hurry once he saw “that Hitler fellow” wearing one. Whew.)

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Hosiery & Stockings, Menswear, Shoes, Sportswear, Vintage Accessories, vintage photographs, Women in Trousers

Museum Online: The Costume Collection at Colonial Williamsburg

Found via Two Nerdy History Girls:  The Online Costume Collection at Colonial Williamsburg.

18th c. dress in the Costume Collection at Colonial Williamsburg. Please do not copy.

18th c. dress #1975-340 in the Costume Collection at Colonial Williamsburg. Please do not copy.

Williamsburg, Virginia, may be strongly associated with the American colonial era, but the museum has clothing from the 1600’s through the Victorian Era. Now, a sizeable portion of its collections has been photographed and put online.

The Online Collection gives us a chance to sample the Museum’s holdings without buying a plane ticket. The online collection is searchable: Click here:  http://emuseum.history.org/  You’ll find clothing and accessories, including shoes, fans, and children’s clothes; paintings, ceramics, silver and pewter; there are also quilts, furniture, “household necessaries,” etc.  — quite a treasure trove.

The online Costume Collection contains photos of 385 items — with excellent enlargements and alternate views in the Costume Collection, and the Costume Accessories Collection online shows 444 items: hats, shoes, gloves, buttons…. When you visit the site, you can enlarge the images to see details more clearly.

This man’s three piece suit from the colonial period has a vest with attached linen sleeves:

Man's suit, 18th c. from the Costume collection at Colonial Williamsburg, online. Please do not copy.

Man’s suit, 18th c. from the online Costume Collection at Colonial Williamsburg. Search for # 1994-1862. Please do not copy. The breeches lace up the back, so their size is adjustable.

This child’s plaid Victorian dress can be seen more closely; search for # 1997-158.

Child's plaid Victorian dress, #1997-158 at Colonial Williamsburg. Please do not copy this image.

Child’s plaid Victorian dress, #1997-158 at Colonial Williamsburg. Please do not copy this image.

The Museum also has stays (a corset) for a child, circa 1740-1760. Search for #1964-405.

This roller printed dress is from the 1830’s:

Roller printed dress circa 1830s. Online Costume Collection at Colonial Williamsburg. Please do not copy this image.

Roller printed dress circa 1830s. # 1972-126. Online Costume Collection at Colonial Williamsburg. Please do not copy this image.

And this 1880’s bustle dress is # 1998-240.

1880's bustle dress, #1998-240, Colonial Williamsburg Costume Collection online. Please do not copy this image

1880’s bustle dress, #1998-240, Colonial Williamsburg Costume Collection online. Please do not copy this image

To see the collection, or any of these items in more detail, go to Costume Collection and search by the number.

Don’t forget to visit the Costume Accessories, like this pair of embroidered gloves dated 1630-1650.

Mid 17th c. gloves, # 1974-1101, in the Costume Accessories Collection at Colonial Williamsburg, online. Please do not copy this image.

Mid-17th c. gloves, # 1974-1101, in the Costume Accessories Collection at Colonial Williamsburg, online. Please do not copy this image.

 

 

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A Woman’s Clothing Budget for 1924 versus 1936

It’s always hard to look at a vintage ad or catalog, see a pair of shoes for $6.50, and figure out whether they were expensive or affordable or really cheap at the time. A while ago, I found several articles about living on $18 per week in the 1930’s. Click here to read more about them. I’ll be citing some of the same charts here.

Gowns from B. Altman catalog, 1924-25. Prices, left to right, $55, $78, $65

Gowns from B. Altman catalog, 1924-25. Prices, left to right, $55, $78, $65.

I’ve been looking through JoAnne Olian’s book on the B. Altman catalogs from the 1920’s. I was surprised by how high Altman’s clothing prices seemed, especially early in the decade. Then I remembered that I have some articles about clothing budgets in the 1920’s, which might give me a better idea of nineteen twenties’ clothing prices.

I decided to compare the nineteen twenties’ and thirties’ budget advice, and see if I could follow it by “shopping” at Sears.

I was struck by one similarity:  In both 1924 and 1936, a college educated office worker — female — could expect to be paid “$18 per week.” So she probably wouldn’t be shopping from the B. Altman catalog; nevertheless, trying to look nicely dressed for work was a real concern.

This woman earned $18 per week in 1924:

Budget for living on $18 per week. Delineator, Aug. 1924, p. 21.

Earning $18 per week in 1924. Delineator, Aug. 1924, p. 21.

“…It is necessary that I at all times look well. My wages are figured at the rate of forty cents an hour, which usually averages up to eighteen dollars a week.”

This woman earned $18 per week in 1937:

 Earning $18 a week in 1937. Woman's Home Companion ad, Sept. 1937.

Earning $18 a week in 1937. Woman’s Home Companion ad, Sept. 1937.

“… For several years I could not expect to earn more than $18 a week, even though … I was a bit above the average beginner. Therefore my small salary would just about pay my board and keep me in lunches and carfare with nothing left. I needed new clothes [for] the office … because my dress was so shabby.”

Woman’s Clothing Budget in the 1930’s

In 1936, this article asked “Can a college girl dress on a dollar and a half a week?”

"What Can A Girl Live On?" Woman's Home Companion, Oct. 1936

“What Can A Girl Live On?” Woman’s Home Companion, Oct. 1936. Total clothing budget for the year:  $76.55, about one month’s salary.

It concluded that . . .

Budget for living on $20 per week. From Woman's Home Companion, Oct. 1934.

Budget for living on $20 per week. From Woman’s Home Companion, Oct. 1936.

. . . A college graduate making $20 a week in 1936 could afford to spend just $78 a year — $1.50 per week — on clothes. “By being economical she can live decently and comfortably on seven hundred and fifty dollars.” (In theory, she would also be able to save over $100 per year, and/or take a vacation! Or so they said.)

Woman’s Clothing Budget in the 1920’s

The stenographer who wrote to Delineator magazine in August, 1924, asked how a woman with an office job could live — and dress well enough to satisfy her employers — on $18 a week.

That’s right:  The salary of a female office worker was exactly the same — $18 per week — in 1924 and 1936. But in 1924, The Delineator’s experts reached a somewhat different conclusion about her necessary expenditures on clothing.

Living on $18 in 1924. Delineator, Aug. 1924, p. 19.

How a woman can live on $18 a week in 1924. Delineator, Aug. 1924, p. 19.

In 1924, $3.00 per week was allowed for clothing purchases — twice as much as in 1936. But in 1924, she needed much less for food and lodging (50% of her income) than in the thirties (62.5%.)

Comparing a Working Girl’s Budget, 1924 and 1936

I’m not enthusiastic about the way Woman’s Home Companion rounded $18 per week up to “$80 per month or $960 per year,” so I’ve compared percentages of  income as stated, and lightened my derived figures on this chart.) I multiplied $18 by 52 weeks; WHC multiplied $20 x 4 x 12 months.)

Percent of income spent on Food, Lodging, and Clothes as budgeted in Woman's Home Companion (1936) and Delineator (1924).

Percent of income spent on Food, Lodging, and Clothes as budgeted in Woman’s Home Companion (1936) and Delineator (1924). Click to enlarge. It assumes living in a rented room, probably without a kitchen, and eating many meals out.

Perhaps, during the Depression, food cost more, leaving less money for clothing? Or had mass produced fashions become much more affordable?

Just for fun, I tried to find comparable items in the Sears Roebuck catalogs for 1924 and 1936, always choosing the cheapest similar items I could find to build a stenographer’s wardrobe.

Comparing a Working Girl’s Clothing Prices, 1924 and 1936

After browsing through Sears Roebuck Catalogs for 1924 and 1936, I’m struck by the decrease in some clothes prices. (In both cases, I looked for the very cheapest, not the mid-priced, garments.)

Skirts and Blouses

Wool skirts, Sears catalog, Fall 1924.

Wool skirts, Sears catalog, Fall 1924. The cheapest costs $3.48.

Wool blend skirts from Sears catalog, Fall, 1936.

Wool & wool blend skirts from Sears catalog, Fall, 1936. About $2.00 each. The cheapest costs $1.00.

Inexpensive blouses were easier to find in the thirties, too.

Inexpensive blouses from the Sears catalog, Fall, 1924.

Inexpensive blouses from the Sears catalog, Fall, 1924. Three of these cost less than a dollar each, but the most expensive is $3.48 — or more, in stout sizes.

Blouses from Sears catalog, Fall 1936.

Blouses from Sears catalog, Fall 1936. Six cost $1 each, and the others are less than $2. Could any woman make her own blouse for $1 (pattern 15 cents, thread, material @ 14 to 69 cents per yard, and buttons)? Maybe.

A typist could buy a skirt and blouse for less than $3.00 in the thirties, or about $4.50 in the twenties. But she’d have to settle for the cheapest clothes available from stores like Sears, not from upscale department stores.

Dresses suitable for the office:

The cheapest Sears dresses (excluding cotton housedresses) cost about $5.00 in 1924:

Wool dresses suitable for for the office, Sears catalog, Fall 1924.

Wool dresses suitable for for the office, Sears catalog, Fall 1924. These three were among the very cheapest in the catalog, with many more dresses in the $8 to $16 range. The average price of the 11 dresses described on this page is $7.39.

In 1936, most Sears business dresses were made of Celanese, rather than wool, so they are not strictly comparable.

Dresses from Sears catalog, Fall 1936.

Dresses from Sears catalog, Fall 1936. The $5 dress on the right can be transformed with different necklines.

Sears dresses for $3.98 in 1936. Fall 1936 catalog.

Sears dresses for $3.98 in 1936. Fall 1936 catalog. “Every one a $5.00 value.”

The cheapest nineteen thirties’ office dresses from Sears are about $4; and the variety in this lowest price range is much bigger than in the twenties. Office workers with only one or two dresses could make it seem like they had more by wearing different collars. (See One Good Dress in the 1930’s. ) Patterns for “change-about” dresses were also available. In 1936, the Woman’s Home Companion budget allowed a stenographer just four dresses per year, at $5 each.

Coats

You could find a winter coat for about $9 at Sears in the twenties or the thirties. Of course, a coat was expected to last at least two years.

Inexpensive coats from Sears catalog, Fall 1924.

Inexpensive coats from Sears catalog, Fall 1924. Pure Wool cost more than ” wool velour” or duvetyn.

Better Sears coats cost two to four times as much as these. In 1924-25, a fur-trimmed wool coat from the B. Altman catalog cost $110 to $115:

The coat on the left cost $110, the one on the right $115. B. Altman catalog, 1924 1925.

The coat on the left cost $110, the one on the right $115. B. Altman catalog, 1924 1925.

Better quality fur-trimmed coats from Sears could cost $49 in 1924. And our “stenographer” had only $156 to spend on an entire, year-round wardrobe — coats, shoes, dresses, hats, stockings at about $1 per pair (a big ongoing expense), underwear, etc.

"Economy" coats from Sears Catalog, Fall 1936.

“Economy” coats from Sears Catalog, Fall 1936.

In 1936, The Woman’s Home Companion budgeted $12.50 for a winter coat, every other year. These coats from Sears are a real bargain — assuming that they actually kept you warm and dry.

Shoes:

Inexpensive shoes from Sears cost much less in the 1930’s than in the 1920’s:

Sears shoes, Fall 1924. Stylish, but about $4 per pair.

Sears shoes, Fall 1924. Stylish, but most cost about $4 to $5 per pair.

Shoes from Sears, fall 1936. In all the current styles, and only $2 per pair.

Shoes from Sears, fall 1936. In up-to-date styles, and less than $2 per pair.

In 1936, The Woman’s Home Companion allowed a young woman four pairs of shoes per year — at $3 per pair.

Conclusion:  A careful shopper, fresh out of college and earning $18 per week, could definitely make her clothing budget go farther in 1936 than in 1924 — but she would not be buying $6.50 shoes, and no one with an eye for quality would consider her well-dressed.

Skirtsa dna bloused from the B. Altman catalog, 1925. THe ensemble on the left cost $18.50; the one in the middle was $24.25, and the one on the right cost $24.50.

Skirts and blouses from the B. Altman catalog, 1925. The ensemble on the left cost $18.50, a whole week’s salary; the one in the middle was $24.25, and the one on the right cost $24.50.

No wonder there was a boom in clothing patterns and home sewing in the 1920’s — largely because early twenties’ dress styles were easier to make than ever before. Isaac Singer is credited with the invention of the installment plan, but you’d have to make a lot of clothes to amortize the cost of a sewing machine….

Sears' Portable electric Franklin sewing machine, Spring 1925.

Sears’ portable electric Franklin sewing machine, Spring 1925.

Sewing Machine Prices, 1925 and 1936

In 1925, you could get a treadle sewing machine from Sears for $33, or a portable electric for $43. By 1936, you could get an electric portable or table model from Sears for less than $30 — but inexpensive machines with the new, round shuttle cost more — about $38. In either year, we’re talking about two weeks’ wages for a working woman.

CAUTION:  I did this study for fun, and tried to be accurate. But these samples are much too small for real scholarship. Since not all issues of Delineator and Woman’s Home Companion are widely available — or indexed — I wanted to let serious students of economics know that this material exists — and deserves a more thorough evaluation than I am capable of doing.

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1936 Dress Pattern for Grandmother, Mother, and Daughter

Companion Butterick pattern 7079, a "triad" pattern in three versions for three different ages. Woman's Home Companion, November 1936, p. 82.

Companion Butterick pattern 7079, a pattern with three versions for three different ages. Woman’s Home Companion, November 1936, p. 82.

In the depths of the Great Depression, The Woman’s Home Companion offered Companion-Butterick patterns. Sometimes they were called “Triad” patterns, and were selected for their economy and efficiency: “Buy one pattern, make three dresses” was the theme. This makes sense, if all three are the same size. But in 1936 and 1937, the magazine suggested one pattern which offered options to suit women of three different ages. It’s an odd idea, but tells us a little bit about how older women were expected to dress differently from their daughters.

Grandmother and Mother in versions of Companion Butterick pattern 7079. Nov. 1936.

Grandmother and Mother in versions of Companion Butterick pattern 7079. Nov. 1936.

“This pattern is designed for any age — from sixteen to sixty — on the distaff side of the family. For grandmother, who may have the flattery of V lines at the neck, we suggest grape colored [double sided] crepe, set off with a matching velvet beret [described elsewhere as “dignified”] and wide-strap shoes in black kid and gabardine.

“For mother, who can go in for sleeves slightly full at top, sheer brown wool touched with dull gold plus a toque made of the dress material [she seems to be wearing the pillbox, instead] and high-built shoes in brown suede with calf.” [A pattern for their hats was also featured in this issue.]

Pattern 7079 for women of sixty, forty, and sixteen. 1936.

Pattern 7079 for women from sixty to sixteen. 1936.

“For daughter, who will like those pocket flaps, very dull black for everything except the lacquer red quill on the toque, the lacquer red belt and the shiny patent trimming on the calf shoes. (Note the hat patterns on another page.)”

"7079 Dress. Sizes 12 to 20; 30 to 44 [inch] bust measure." Companion Butterick, Nov. 1936.

“7079 Dress. Sizes 12 to 20; 30 to 44 [inch] bust measure.” Companion Butterick, Nov. 1936. Those two little bust darts are interesting.

Daughter (age sixteen) wearing #7079, with pockets, big buttons, and a shiny red belt.

Daughter (age sixteen) wearing #7079, with pockets, big buttons, and a shiny red belt. 1936.

Presumably, only the young and slender will want horizontal pockets making their hips look wider (are they practical– i.e., real– pockets? The article doesn’t say.) The bright, contrasting belt is also only flattering to a slender waist and hips, although all three dresses have belts; grandma’s is the least conspicuous:

whc 1936 nov p 82 page 500 triad 7079 belts three generations

Sleeves that create the broad-shouldered look — popular since the Joan Crawford movie Letty Lynton, in 1932 — are for the mother and daughter, but not for conservative grandma, aged “sixty.” Surprisingly, black is suggested for the young woman, but is perhaps too severe — or too much like mourning attire — to be advised for the older ladies. And all three are wearing fashionable, sturdy, mid-thirties shoes, guaranteed to make legs look shorter and ankles — except very thin ones, as drawn by Ernst — look thicker.

Shoes, 1936. Illustration by Ernst.

Shoes, 1936. Illustration by Ernst.

But I do love those big, triangular 1930’s buttons!

Back views 7079; big 1930's buttons. 1936

Back views of pattern #7079; big 1930’s buttons. 1936. There is no center back opening; side openings under the left arm were commonly used.

All three hats — a pillbox, a beret, and a toque — could be made from pattern 7080. Making hats for “sixty to sixteen” from one pattern makes more sense than buying one pattern to make dresses for three different women, when you think about it.

Companion Butterick hat pattern 7080. WHC, Nov. 1936.

Companion Butterick hat pattern No. 7080. WHC, Nov. 1936.

whc 1936 nov p 81 hats 7080 descript

A new hat gives a lift to the spirits…. If you have never tried [to make a hat] here is a good pattern to begin on.”

Companion Butterick hat pattern 7080, 1936.

Companion Butterick hat pattern 7080, 1936.

The toque really is about as simple as a hat can be: a truncated cone with just one seam. The pillbox is made from strips of 2 1/2 inch wide velvet ribbon. (Linings and hat bands are not mentioned in the description, but could be expected on the pattern envelope.)

To read more about Companion-Butterick “Triad patterns,” click here.

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