Category Archives: Shoes

Fancy Stockings, Twinkling Toes in 1914

Shoe buckles and fancy stockings featured in this Delineator article; April 1914, page 21.

By 1914, skirts might have very narrow hems of 44 or 45 inches — (Lay that out in a circle with a tape measure and imagine walking with that restriction on your ankles.) Some skirts had slits or a curved hem to permit a natural stride.

A peg-topped pannier skirt pattern from April 1914. Hems were narrow, and feet and stockings peeping out from them could be sexy. Butterick skirt pattern 6736.

Feet — and stockings — could be a focal point. It’s no surprise that stockings and shoes got more attention.

Parisian stockings, April 1914. All three have lace inserts. The lace on the right has a pattern of birds flying. Sold by La Maison Chatelet, Paris.

Swallows fly across the leg on the left. White silk stockings might have black lace inserts, like that on the right. A serpent snakes its way around the leg in the center. Hosiery from La Maison Gastineau, Paris.

Delineator magazine, which had offices in Paris and London as well as New York City, reported on couture designs  every month and aimed at an upper-middle-class reader. But it’s hard to imagine those snake stockings on the wife of a small-town American businessman or politician!

Slightly more conservative — but luxurious — stockings sold by La Maison Meier, Paris.

This was also an era of fabulous shoe buckles. (They clipped on to evening pumps and were purely decorative.) I inherited this pair of shoe clips from my aunt (and sold them!)

A pair of rhinestone or paste shoe buckles, probably World War I era or slightly later. Each was about two inches wide.

A lower-middle-class woman owned these beautiful shoe clips. Did she wear them often? Perhaps she wore them to formal events given by the Masons or the Eastern Star — she and her husband were members.

This photo of the backs shows the sliding fastener that clipped the buckle to the shoe.

A patented sliding device allowed you to use the clips on many different pairs of shoes.

As shown in these photos from Delineator, shoe clips could take many forms, even an owl, or a butterfly.

A shoe clip might be an abstract shape or a bow…

An owl’s face, and a different bow …. The clip at bottom right reminds us that a ribbon bow could match your shoes to your outfit.

These shoe clips show a traditional buckle shape, left, and a jeweled insect.

Evening shoes from Paris, April 1914. Delineator. Two of these shoes are shown with shoe clips. The one at top left is also trimmed with lace. The one at bottom left is “plain satin.”

[An embroidered shoe and an embroidered stocking: overkill?]

The embroidered shoe at the right, with straps that extend up the ankle, is a “cothurne” or “tango slipper.”  The straps keep it from flying off if you kick up your heels during the dance.

Another 1914 cothurne or tango slipper.

A lace-up shoe called the cothurnus was worn by the ancient Greeks and especially by actors performing while wearing masks. The built-up sole of the performers’ cothurni added to the stature of actors, making them appear larger than ordinary humans.

Shoes suitable for day or afternoon wear. April, 1914. (I think the stocking at left has a decorative “clock,” not a run.)

The dance called the tango was just becoming popular, along with the afternoon dance, called the “thé dansant” in French. (I just read an article about them in Delineator, May 1914 — written by Irene Castle.)

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1930 Golf Culotte Dress

Butterick golf culotte dress pattern 3285. Delineator, June 1930.

This one is for The Vintage Traveler, who writes about and collects women’s sportswear. I do wish the original page I photographed had not been so faint; in trying to show details of the dress, I may have “enhanced” the photos a bit too much! (The lady golfer is illustrated with a deep tan, but by trying to show her dress more clearly, I have almost erased her face.)

The page title was Country Clothes Designed for Smart Places.

A selection of clothes for the country; Butterick patterns from June 1930.

That probably explains the model’s trim spectator pumps:

Wait — is this a dress (“frock”) or a skirt and [“tuck-in”] blouse? A skirt would be much more practical  when nature called — no woman I know enjoys disrobing in a public restroom cubicle. The short sleeves are a new feature in 1930.

The “tuck-in blouse” of Butterick “culotte frock” 3285. I like the way the colored band around the neckline becomes binding for the button placket(s).

Notice the belt that accentuates the natural waistline — still new in 1930. And the knees are well covered by the new, longer skirt.

When the model is standing normally, the pleats front and back would conceal the fact that this is a trouser skirt. [In trying to show the “trouser” effect, the illustrator may have exaggerated the shadow. The fabric is not sheer.]

Top stitching controls the pleats for many inches. This enlargement shows the back view — with longer sleeves and the blouse untucked.

I find this outfit quite attractive — almost timeless, but it’s eighty-eight years old. The illustration is by Marian Blynn.

Butterick culotte frock 3285, June 1930. Delineator magazine.

 

 

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Patterns of Fashion Book Series Continues!

Cover image from Barnes & Noble website.

Very welcome news to costumers is that the great Patterns of Fashion book series begun by Janet Arnold, who died in 1998,  is being continued. Arnold wrote three gridded pattern books, (Patterns of Fashion 1660 to 1860, Patterns of Fashion 1860 to 1940, and Patterns of Fashion 1560 to 1620, and I just received information from the Costumers’ Alliance about a British source that is continuing her work.

Jenny Tiramani, principal of the School of Historical Dress in London said:

“Please tell people that we have decided not to use a distributor or to put the book for sale on Amazon. They take too much money and we need the funds to keep the school going and to publish Patterns of Fashion 6 & 7 which are both already in the pipeline!

We will be selling the book ourselves from our School of Historical Dress webshop and will try to give a good price for those people buying the book in countries far flung from the UK.

[Patterns of Fashion] 5 is in China being printed next week and published 31st October. …We need all the publicity we can get as the publisher of all future volumes of the series!”
Please support this incredibly rare and precious resource, the School of Historical Dress!! Here is where you can find their web site.

Click here to find out about current and upcoming volumes of Patterns of Fashion, plus other relevant publications.

Mantua, Late 17th century, Collection of the Metropolitan Museum.

Other books include Seventeenth Century Women’s Dress Patterns (Vols. 1 & 2), and Waistcoats from the Hopkins Collection c. 1720-1950 “The waistcoats are shown with close-up details of its shape, construction and decoration, alongside images of people wearing similar styles from the same time period.” Janet Arnold’s other books are also available.

(One virtue of the Patterns of Fashion Series — aside from the meticulous research — is their large format: printed on extra wide paper, the scaled patterns are easy to refer to while you are working.)

Patterns of Fashion 4 covers body linens 1540 to 1660 — “the linen clothes that covered the body from the skin outwards. It contains 420 full colour portraits and photographs of details of garments in the explanatory section as well as scale patterns for linen clothing ranging from men’s shirts and women’s smocks, ruffs and bands to boot-hose and children’s stomachers.

 

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A Look Back at Stockings, Mostly 1920’s

[While I’m on vacation, I’m running a series of images with links to many old witness2fashion posts. Here’s a selection of articles sharing what I learned about stockings.]

Colored and textured tights were popular in the 1960’s, but brightly colored stockings and textured stockings were also worn in the 1920’s. [For further readings about stockings, rolled stockings, etc., links to earlier posts are provided throughout this one.]

Orange silk stockings match the orange skirt in this ad for Holeproof Hosiery. Delineator, October 1925.

Textured stockings were also worn  with Twenties’ sportswear:

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/textured-hose-from-an-article-about-rainwear-delineator-april-1929.jpg?w=502&h=473

Textured hose from an article about rainwear; Delineator, April, 1929.

For a longer post showing 1920’s textured stockings from Sears, colored stockings, and other stocking fashions like the ones below, click here.

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/1928-nov-p-3-stockings-gordons-ad-heels.jpg?w=500&h=362

Gordon’s stockings ad, 1928.

Many manufacturers offered styles intended to make ankles look slim, or just to attract attention to the leg.

A chartreuse dress gets stockings to match in this ad for Arch Preserver Shoes. Delineator, June 1929.

Artist McClelland Barclay did a series of color illustrations for Holeproof Hosiery. Delineator; May, 1925.  Notice how opaque these silk stockings for daytime are.

In the 1920’s, highly colored stockings could be almost opaque, as in these ads, but eventually sheer stockings became preferred for evening:

Models wear a range of sheer stocking shades in this 1929 ad for Realsilk Hosiery. Delineator, October 1929.

“They’re newer than sunburn. They’re newer than skin-tints. Yet they borrow from both. Overtones — the new hosiery shades — are a subtle blend of skin and costume colors…. Twenty-two of the most flattering hosiery colors ever launched.” — text of Realsilk ad, Oct. 1929.

Of course, the more sheer the stockings were, the less likely they were to survive several wearings, making them a luxury item.

A run in a sheer stocking ruins it; Lux soap ad, WHC, Feb. 1936. (Lux claimed to prevent stocking runs.)

For a much more complete  article about women’s stockings in the 1920’s, click here.

By 1929, suntanned skin was coming into fashion, along with the sheer look.

From an ad for Realsilk Hosiery, April 1929. Delineator.

These shades are not very different from the stocking hues illustrated in 1936, when stockings could coordinate with either the costume or the shoe:

From a fashion advice article in Ladies’ Home Journal, October 1936. [Click here for more….]

These heavy duty silk stockings were to be worn while gardening. Ad for McCallum “service hose.” Delineator, April 1927. [For more about “Hosiery Ads with a Bit of Wit,” by the same artist, click here.]

In the early Twenties, stockings were also worn while swimming:

“Mid-way of a dive . . two flawless legs, one flawless pair of hose are all that’s left to see….” From an 1927 ad for McCullum Hosiery. Delineator, August 1927.

(Swimming champion Annette Kellerman was arrested for swimming without covering her legs in 1907.)

Stockings were worn with bathing suits in the Nineteen-teens, but women started to bare their legs — or part of their legs — in the Twenties. Often, with bathing suits, they wore their stockings rolled:

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/1925-july-5204-swim-july-1925.jpg?w=151&h=500

Bathing suit, July 1925. Delineator magazine.

To read “Garters, Flappers, Rolled Stockings and Other Stocking Stories,” click here.

Lavender stockings match the lavender underwear in this 1927 ad for Ivory Flakes laundry soap. Delineator, May 1927.

Stockings in the 1920’s could also be embroidered, or otherwise decorated:

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/brinkey-500-prudence-prim-emb-stockings-dec-6-1925.jpg?w=441&h=500

“A rose upon her shoulder, and a corresponding rose / Embroidered on the — well, the shin — of both her silken hose!” Nell Brinkley and Carolyn Wells. Dec. 1925.

To see more illustrations by Nell Brinkley, a woman cartoonist of the ‘Teens and Twenties, click here.

Young woman showing her undies and rolled stockings; photo dated 1918.

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/rolled-sox-cropped-500-1921-rio-vista.jpg?w=500&h=308

Four young women showing their bare knees and rolled stockings. That’s my mother wearing dark stockings with a light garter on the far right. Photo dated 1921.

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Whoopee Booties, 1929

Whoopee Booties, Sears catalog, Fall 1929, p. 63. They came in red with gray or black with red trim.

Last week The Vintage Traveler reminded me that shoe illustrations, being fashion illustrations, are not always truthful. As a vintage buyer and dealer, she observed that real 1920’s shoes generally do not have super-high heels. That sent me to the ever-useful Sears Roebuck catalogs at Ancestry.com. And that is where I was distracted by these “Whoopee Booties” from 1929.

Sears Whoopee Booties, 1929. “Modern as youth itself!” Do they lace all the way up, or do they “flap?” Rain boots from 1928 looked like this.

And before discussing heel height, I want to recommend one of the best articles on “Flappers” that I’ve ever seen; the Silent Film site Silent-ology devoted the month of March 2018 to Flappers and wrote this brilliant essay to set the theme. Click here for The History (and Mythology) of 1920s Flapper Culture.

And Now, Back to Heel Heights from 1929

Sears did offer one pair of 4 inch heels:

Four inch heels from Sears’ Fall catalog 1929, page 66. “Patent leather d’Orsay pump, made on the Follies last, featuring the new 4-inch covered spike heel and short vamp which make the foot look smaller.”

Women from the twenties (like my mother and my aunt) were proud of having small feet (or, more precisely, of wearing small shoe sizes, which is not quite the same thing….) It’s interesting that in 1929  “smaller feet,” not “longer legs,” was the selling point for higher heels.

But, as The Vintage Traveler predicted, in most of these ads showing high heels, the heel height — even when described as “spike heels” — is two and a half inches.

Two and a half inch “spike heels.” Sears catalog, Fall 1929, page 67.

Purple heels from Sears, Fall catalog , 1929, page 63. Available in Antique Purple kid or black patent leather; as illustrated, the heels look  high, but they are “2 1/2 inch covered spike heels.”

These pumps were available in black satin (for evening) or black patent leather. They have 2 1/2 inch “spike heels.” Notice the range of sizes.

The Savoy style was “an actual copy of a high priced model” — and these heels were only 2 inches high.

Ditto for The Parisian:

The Parisian shoe from Sears. Fall of 1929, p, 66.  These are actually 2 inch heels.

The heels of these green shoes are just 1 3/4 inches high, but they don’t aspire to be “spike” heels. Sears, Fall of 1929, p. 64.

These surprisingly asymmetrical shoes have a delicate braided T strap which seems to un-braid on to the toe of the shoe. The 1928 article in Delineator remarked on the unusual asymmetrical style of a shoe by Perugia.  These chic shoes also have a modest 2 1/2 inch spike heel.

And, to return to those youthful Whoopee Booties, they have a 1 and 3/4 inch “military” heel.

Whoopee Booties from Sears, 1929. They have 1 3/4 inch heels.

If you have any doubt what “whoopee” is …. There was a hit song about it in 1928:
“Another bride,
Another groom,
Another sunny honeymoon,
Another season,
Another reason
For making whoopee.”
“The chorus sings, “Here comes the bride.”
Another victim is by her side.
He’s lost his reason cause it’s the season
For making whoopee.”
“Another year or maybe less
What’s this I hear?
Well, can’t you guess?
She feels neglected so he’s suspected
Of making whoopee.”

Detail: ad from Delineator, May 1929.

“She sits alone most every night.
He doesn’t phone or even write.
He says he’s busy.
But she says, “Is he?”
He’s making whoopee.”

The song ends in the divorce court, where the judge says,

“You better keep her.
You’ll find it’s cheaper
Than making whoopee.”

You can see Eddie Cantor perform his 1928 stage hit song, “Makin’ Whoopee” in this movie clip from the 1930 color (!) film musical Whoopee!

Co-produced by Florenz Ziegfeld (Jr.) and Samuel Goldwyn, this film is as close as I’ll ever get to seeing a Ziegfeld show — with musical numbers staged by Busby Berkeley. Set “out west,” the film quality is poor, the plot is silly, but the costumes are fabulous — if you can stand dozens of half-dressed women of European ancestry wearing enormous feather headdresses, and Eddie Cantor wearing blackface….(truly nauseating.) If you’re designing a revival of Will Rogers Follies, it’s a must-watch bit of research. Besides, tap-dancing cowboys!

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Paris Shoes for April, 1928

All shoe illustrations are by Dynevor Rhys, from Delineator magazine, April 1928. Black patent leather high heel with gold piping, by Ducerf-Scavini.

All these shoes have rather high heels, but similar shoe styles are shown in the Butterick pattern illustrations in Delineator for April 1928, too.

High heels resembling the Paris shoe designs are shown with these Butterick pattern illustrations, also from the April, 1928 Delineator magazine.

Another high heel for afternoon. In smoke gray trimmed with narrow bands of black kid. By Ducerf-Scavini.

The extremely delicate trim and piping on these shoes signal designer craftsmanship, and couture prices.

This “street shoe” has a silver buckle to accent its silvery gray goat skin. By Ducerf-Scavini.

A putty gray-beige high heel with two straps for “a foot with a very high instep.”

You can see the whimsical signature by artist Dynevor Rhys just below the heel.

Black patent leather accents this black antelope shoe, a play on texture by Ducerf-Scavini.

The very high instep in this shoe reminds me of some “gladiator” variations from the 2010s. I have no idea how anyone got a foot into this shoe, but it’s stylish…. And it must have been gorgeous in rose and silvered gray. By Perugia.

This shoe has a leather tab instead of a buckle. In silvered leather, by Perugia.

An evening shoe with two bands of rhinestones over the instep, by Hellstern.

The accompanying article mentioned that actresses in Paris were wearing shoes with rhinestoned heels, off stage as well as on.

High style for evening, in these shoes with “diamond” on heels and straps. By Perugia.

A less dramatic look from Perugia, with a tiny open triangle where the T-strap meets the band. In “Opalescent pink kid” they would have complemented a pink chiffon frock,

Here is the text that accompanied the two-page shoe article.

A colorful pair of shoes by Ducerf-Scavini is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum, and the Met has many examples of shoes by Perugia. This gold and silver pair –with quite unusual heels — dates to 1928-29.

 

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Hair Styles from the World War I Era — and Later (Part 2)

Fashion illustration, Delineator, December 1917. That little puff of hair near the cheek was very important. It looked so charming peeking out from under a hat. She still has long hair, piled on her head.

Hats and hair, Delineator illustration, September 1917.

This front and back view shows that the bun on top of her head is supported by a tall comb, and the wispy hair brushed over her ears, like her bangs, has been cut. Delineator, March 1917.

I ended Part 1 of this post with a studio photograph of my mother, taken about 1919, when she was 14 or 15 years old.

My mother’s eighth grade graduation picture, circa 1919. To see the rest of her class, click here. Many of them have long, girlish curls, but she was trying to look grown-up.

She has tried to match the high hairstyles — and those very important puffs of hair over the cheeks — that she saw in fashion images.

But, as this later photo shows,  she actually had long, “Mary Pickford” curls.

Photo of my mother about 1920. Her hair is very long, but now she has cut bangs — with or without her parents’ permission.

Silent star Mary Pickford’s long curls were famous. Here she is in an ad for Pompeiian night cream, 1917.

My mother did other things without her parents’ permission, too.

Girls, boys, cars — Uh-oh! At least we get another view of her long, long  hair….

Here we see that she has cut bangs since her graduation photo, but those long curls are rolled up at the side again. Circa 1920. She is smirking because she was posing in her underwear:

This photo from 1920 says “age 16.” Helen’s friend Irene took this picture; then my mother took one of Irene, similarly undressed.

Irene has also cut bangs, and rolled her long hair up to look short at the sides. This photo was dated on the back: April 18, 1920.

Irene models another type of one-piece underwear:

Teenaged girl practicing naughtiness…. 1920. At least this “combination” has thin ribbon straps…. According to census records, Irene was about 15 in 1920.

Some readers have questioned whether my mother really was a “flapper” in the twenties, with the hint of wild behavior that implies. Ummmm….

Other girls in town also tried to achieve fashionable hairdos, and especially those little puffs that caress the cheeks. (During my youth in the 60’s, a curl on the cheek was called a Guiche; it usually curved forward.)

The woman on the right has cut the front part of her hair short, but probably still has long hair in back, like the woman on the left. Sears catalog, Fall 1917.

Left, short hair in front, with a hint of a bun at the back; right, a tall hairdo supported by a fancy comb. Delineator, April 1917.

The “puffs” or guiches on her cheek are clearly cut shorter than the rest of her hair. Delineator, November 1917.

These girls have also cut some of their front hair — although it could be hard to control the results.

Two California girls, circa 1918. It’s not easy to look like a fashion plate, even in these very stylish sweaters.

Below left, my mother’s friend Ollie had a bad hair day, but later managed an up-do:

Ollie with her hair cut short at the sides; in the second photo we can see that the rest of her her hair is still long enough to pile on top of her head. Circa 1918-1920’s.

From Long Hair to Bobbed Hair

It was my aunt Dorothy who told me that my mother and her friend Irene were the first girls in town to have their hair bobbed — a story she only told decades after my mother’s death. [I suspect that Dorothy, a keen photographer,  developed and printed those naughty photos.]

According to my aunt, their mother was in the hospital, recovering from surgery. With less supervision than usual, younger sister Helen and her friend Irene “snuck off” and had their hair bobbed.  When my grandfather saw his daughter with short hair, he he told her she was forbidden to visit her mother in the hospital. He said (and believed,) “The shock would kill her!”

My mother with bobbed (and permanently-waved) hair, probably 1921 or 1922. I think this picture was taken to show her new look, fresh from the hairdresser.

I can date this picture because she is with her little nephew Gerald, born in 1921:

Helen with bobbed hair and her brother’s baby son, probably in 1922. She was 18 or so.

Here she is wearing a Chinese tunic, and extraordinarily pointy shoes:

Bobbed hair, a Chinese costume, and no-those-are-not-clown-shoes. (She wore shoe size 5 1/2.) Early 1920’s.

Obviously, she got a Marcel wave as well as a hair cut:

My mother with her shockingly short (and suddenly curly) hair, about 1922.

Many people thought bobbed hair was a sign that a girl was “fast.”

Training to be a flapper: my mother is showing bobbed hair, rolled stockings, and bare knees. She was about 18 years old, and wearing an “armistice blouse” that was about to go out of style.

I have two other photos of her friend Irene:

Irene has cut bangs, but only pulled one strand down into a curl on her forehead. It’s hard to be sure, but I don’t think her hair has been bobbed yet. About 1921-22.

Here, Irene, aged 18 — with “her first husband” — has a Marcel wave, and a hairstyle more associated with the 1920’s. “There was a little girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead….”

Irene with chin length hair, a Marcel wave, and a husband; early 1920’s. I suspect that she’s wearing an invisible hair net for a perfectly smooth finish. Irene was probably born in 1905, making this circa 1923.

Third from left, Irene — now married — and wearing a terrific 1920’s skirt. My aunt said, “She was 18 and he was 25.”

While long hair required the kind of hairpins that mountain roads are named after [“hairpin curves,”] bobbed hair needed a different kind of hairpin — the bobbie pin. What a pity for the wonderfully named Hump Hair Pin Company.

An ad for Hump Hairpins, Delineator, March 1917. These pins for long hair were not shaped like traditional hairpins.

Nothing works for long hair like traditional hairpins — although, if you haven’t used them, you may wonder how they could hold anything in place. Humblebee & Me (dot com) has a good demonstration. Click here.

For more about Mary Pickford, and the headlines she made by finally bobbing her hair, click here. Silentology is a delightful film history site.

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