Category Archives: Sportswear

Charm After Fifty, July 1937

Charm after Fifty is illustrated in these three dresses made from one pattern: Companion-Butterick 7458. Woman’s Home Companion, July 1937.

This Companion-Butterick triad dress pattern from the summer of 1937 is illustrated on three mature women, none of whom has a conspicuously middle-aged figure.

This illustration by Ernst shows pattern 7458 as it might look on three tall, slim-hipped women. None of them seems to have a single gray hair, never mind a sagging chin or a “menopot.”

However, the size range went all the way to bust size 52.

The three dresses have similar skirts, but bodice and sleeve variations range from casual to dressy. [I imagine that the floral print version was made more often in navy or brown rayon than in yellow chiffon, but it’s nice that women over fifty were encouraged to wear bright colors.

From simple to fancy: Pattern 7458 in striped cotton with short sleeves, in a turquoise print with broad shoulders and 3/4 sleeves, and in a soft yellow chiffon floral print with a V-neck and flounces cascading down the front. WHC, July 1937.

White, perforated summer shoes were not just for “old ladies,” and the heels at right are certainly high.

Perforated shoes for summer. 1937.

Ad for Walk-Over Shoes, with prices, from WHC, June 1937.

“Puncho” shoes. Walk-Over, June 1937. These are white kid suede, but the same shoe was available in blue, black or gray.

“Cabana” shoes from Walk-Over also came in white calf, tan, blue, black or red earth calf, or gray sueded kid. 1937.

Sporty “Lariat” shoes from Walkover. Also in brown or gray. The heel is stacked leather. 1937.

The “Mohawk” oxford shoe from Walk-Over could be purchased in all white calf, or white suede with tan calf, as pictured. 1937.

Shoes weren’t the only things that were perforated in the 193o’s:

Ad for a Perfolastic reducing girdle, WHC, February 1936. That’s “lastic” as in latex: a rubber garment designed to help you sweat off the pounds and inches. Did women have polka-dotted skin when they took it off?

Perfolastic reducing girdle and brassiere ad; WHC, Nov. 1937.

Text, Perfolastic reducing girdle and brassiere, WHC, Nov. 1937. “You appear inches smaller at once.”

Perhaps that’s how these women over fifty maintained their impossibly tall, willowy shapes.

Women over fifty: WHC, July 1937. Elongated fashion figures with suspiciously rosy cheeks.

Top of ad for Louis Philippe’s Angelus Rouge Incarnat lip and cheek rouge, Delineator, June 1934.

Text of ad for Louis Philippe’s Angelus Rouge Incarnat lip and cheek rouge, Delineator, June 1934. “In its allure, it is typically, wickedly of Paris. In its virginal modesty, as natural as a jeune fille….” “You use either on both the lips and the cheeks.”

These women over fifty may have also used another product: Brownatone. It had been in use since the 1920’s — possibly earlier.

Ad for Brownatone gray hair coloring, WHC, February 1937. There seem to be only two color choices.

For another “After Fifty” triad pattern, click here.

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Filed under 1930s, Bras, Companion-Butterick Patterns, Corsets, Corsets & Corselettes, Cosmetics, Beauty Products, Foundation Garments, Girdles, Makeup & Lipstick, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Shoes, Sportswear, Underthings, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Animal Prints and Sheer Yokes, 1927

This classic twenties’ cardigan outfit caught my eye because of its animal print (or fur) accessories. Butterick pattern 1345, from March 1927.

To the author of the AllWays in Fashion blog, who just wrote “it’s clear many of our old friends are returning for another stylish go-round:” this one’s for you! Synchronicity at work.

I’m not in favor of wearing real fur, but I have to admit that the belt and matching clutch purse really jazz up this basic cardigan and pleated skirt costume. I don’t know if the matching shoes came from the illustrator’s imagination or were really in the stock at Butterick’s art department. (I sometimes see the same hat illustrated with several dresses in an issue of Delineator.)

I found the other outfits illustrated with Butterick 1345 less iconic, although 1349 is also classic. Both have skirts with pleats only on the front.

Alternate view and description of Butterick 1349, from 1927.  Surprisingly, it’s described as a “jumper frock,” not a suit or ensemble, although the pattern in the Commercial Pattern Archive says it is a “two-piece frock.”

No. 1349 is third from left below.

Four Butterick patterns from Delineator, March 1927, page 23. From left, 1345, 1297, “jumper frock” 1349, and 1347, called a “bosom front” dress.

In the same issue I found two dresses with an unusual yoke; sheer fabrics were suggested for daytime, which probably means they were afternoon dresses.

Butterick patterns for a box coat (No. 1304), worn over a dress with sheer yoke and box pleated skirt (1337;) third is dress pattern 1335, followed by another sheer-yoked dress, Butterick 1331. Delineator, March 1927, page 22.

Box jacket 1304 over dress 1337. The very simple jacket is accented with dark applied trim. At right, the dress (1337) is illustrated in crepe silk, with a yoke of sheer Georgette, a crepe-like sheer fabric.

Alternate views and text describing Butterick 1304 and 1337. To create a suit-like ensemble,  dress 1337 is made using matching fabrics for jacket and dress. From 1927. It was common for 1920’s dresses to have all the fullness in front, with a straight back.

Butterick 1337, bolero dress 1335, and 1331. Delineator, March 1927, p. 22. The dresses right and left are formal day dresses, and the one at right could be made in a sleeveless evening version.

Alternate views and descriptions of Butterick 1335 with “simulated bolero” (in the center)  and yoked dress 1331. (For a “bolero” topped evening gown by Chanel, click here.)

Butterick 1337 and 1331, from 1927. The treatment of the armholes is different, but the yokes are otherwise similar: curved, and low on the sides. They would have been worn over a slip or teddy/combination, so the sheer bodice would have something opaque covering the sides of the breasts.

All the models in these 1927 illustrations have severely shingled hair. Here’s some shingle haircut advice from 1925.

 

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Filed under 1920s, bags, evening and afternoon clothes, handbags, Hats, Purses, Shoes, Sportswear, Uncategorized, Vintage Accessories, Vintage patterns

House Dresses from Ads, 1930s

Housewife in an ad for Cocomalt, Woman’s Home Companion, September 1936.

Possibly the best costume research advice I ever got was to read old magazines and pay attention to the ads. Fashion coverage rarely goes into the kitchen, but ads for soap, appliances, foods and other homely products will show you images that were credible to their readers. They’re not any more realistic than our TV ads with perfectly maintained kitchens and gardens, but they presented an ideal of normal life.

Did most housewives dress like this in the evening? I doubt it. Koehler furniture ad, WHC, Oct. 1936.

Ads are aspirational. They hold out the dream that, if you buy this product, your life will be transformed. So, for a view of everyday clothing, they aren’t perfect; they show the way people wanted to look. But they’ll help you to get into the mindset of the period.

Most women wore an apron while washing dishes. However, this wrap dress with its two sizes of polka dots and sheer ruffles might give you some good design ideas. S.O.S. Ad, March 1935. Delineator.

O.K., that’s more realistic. Under that clean apron, she’s wearing a dress with sheer ruffles on the sleeves. S.O.S. ad, Feb. 1935. Delineator.

Using an electric floor polisher. Appliance ad, Oct. 1934. Delineator.

Hmmm. White collars and cuffs seem to be a theme.

The next three housewives come from a series of Depression Era ads for Royal Baking Powder, in which their tight family budgets are given; the women may be wearing their best house dresses, freshly washed and ironed for the photographer, but the ads had to be believable to readers on tight budgets themselves:

This young housewife is living on $900 a year (about $17 per week.) Royal Baking Powder ad, March 1934. Delineator.

The housewife at right prides herself on spending just a dollar a day for her family’s food, but she manages to look neat and clean. Royal Baking Powder ad, January 1935.

She married on $20 per week. Interesting dress, with sheer white ruffles. It looks like her coordinating apron is pinned to her dress. Royal Baking Powder ad, February 1934. Delineator.

I was interested to see that some women sensibly adopted the sleeveless dress for housework:

Doing housework in a chic sleeveless dress. S.O.S. ad, May 1934. Delineator.

Sleeveless dress in an ad for Gerber’s baby food. August 1937. Delineator.

Mother in sleeveless dress with her children. Illustration for an article on child rearing, 1935. Delineator.

Ads for Scot paper towels show many pretty but credible house dresses. [It’s hard to imagine a time when we had to be taught what to do with a paper towel, but that is the purpose of this thirties’ ad campaign.]

Ad for Scot paper towels, March 1935. House dresses were often made of lively, small-scale, floral print fabrics.

Ad for Scot paper towels, July 1937. White collar and cuffs on a plaid dress.

Ad for Scot paper towels, March 1936. Woman’s Home Companion. White collar and cuffs again.

A loose-sleeved plaid house dress. Ad for Scot paper towels, February 1936. WHC.

Wrap dress, in small floral print with sheer ruffled accents. Ad for Scot [bathroom] tissue, Nov. 1936.

After teaching women to use Scot paper towels for drying hands, draining bacon, wiping greasy pans, cleaning glass, et cetera

Scot Paper towel ad, December 1936. New customers, unfamiliar with paper towels, would also need a holder.

… the ad campaign finally got around to a use that didn’t require a verbal description:

Ad for Scot paper towels, December 1936.

Oops! No house dress in that one. (I do get distracted by these little glimpses into the past….)

This woman’s clothing probably emphasizes the ease [no sweat, ladies!] of using this vacuum, rather than her normal working clothes.

A housewife and her Hoover. Nov. 1937, WHC. Women who wear high heels all the time find flat shoes uncomfortable, (my stepmother wore sturdy 2″ heels while cooking and cleaning) but these heels are rather high and thin for doing housework.

Whether women really vacuumed the house dressed like this is questionable. But I think that the dress worn by this woman demonstrating a washing machine is probably very close to realistic.

It was hard to use a mangle machine like this without getting wet. From an article about laundry, WHC, March 1936. That’s what I call a “wash dress.”

This isn’t.

From an ad for laundry soap — Fels Naptha. WHC, Sept. 1936. This woman’s dress says her laundry is done. It’s not the “wash day” dress she wears in the drawing.

This ad reminds us that work dresses were still very long in 1936. Large-scale plaid dress in an ad for Sun-Maid Raisins. WHC, March 1936.

Print dresses featured in many ads between 1934 and 1937:

An ad for Lux laundry soap shows a flowered print dress with sheer collar. August 1934, Delineator.

Lux laundry soap claimed to be easy on stockings. Lux ad, Oct. 1937. I can imagine this dress, with its cool neckline, becoming a house dress as it aged.

A crisp floral print dress in an ad for S.O.S. pads. December 1936. This dress could certainly leave the house.

That print dress resembles a “sport dress” available from Tom Boys:

This sport dress could be ordered for $3.95 in February 1937. Ad for Tom Boys; WHC. Hemlines are rising.

Life experience leads me to think that many comfortable, washable sports dresses began as “good” casual clothes but eventually became only “good enough for housework” when they were damaged or out of style.

Perhaps the most truthful ad showing what many women wore during the Depression is this one:

Photo of a healthy farm family, thanks to Nujol laxative. From a Nujol ad, April 1934, Delineator.

 

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Filed under 1930s, Hairstyles, Hosiery, Hosiery, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Resources for Costumers, Sportswear, Uniforms and Work Clothes, vintage photographs, Women in Trousers

World War I Paper Dolls, 1917

A little while ago I wrote about a series of paper dolls based on silent movies.

Another set of paper dolls based on popular actors in silent films, Delineator, June 1917.

Later in 1917, after the U.S. entered World War I, Delineator magazine gave children a new set of heroes.

Paper dolls of U.S. Naval uniforms, Delineator, September, 1917.

This change of emphasis extended to clothing patterns for children:

Butterick pattern 8383 for boys 4 to 12. Delineator, September, 1917, page 63.

In November, pilots were featured. The illustrations are by Corwin Knapp Linson.

Paper Dolls based on Naval Air Force Uniforms. Delineator, Nov. 19217, p. 25. “A Naval Airplane With Its Daring Crew.”

The illustrator crammed as many drawings as possible on each page,  including a battleship and an airplane — and the Navy Mascot.

U.S. Navy uniforms illustrated as paper dolls, Delineator, September 1917.

U.S. Navy uniform illustrated as paper doll, Delineator, September 1917.

U.S. Navy uniforms illustrated as paper dolls, Delineator, September 1917.

U.S. Navy uniforms illustrated as paper dolls, Delineator, September 1917.

The pilots include one woman:

U.S. Naval air pilots illustrated as paper dolls, Delineator, November 1917, p. 25.

U.S. Naval air pilots illustrated as paper dolls, Delineator, November 1917, p. 25. “This aviatrice is dressed in a serviceable uniform similar to that worn by Ruth Law.”

U.S. Naval air pilots illustrated as paper dolls, Delineator, November 1917, p. 25. Left, “a lieutenant of aviation in service uniform;” right, “his flight suit of light leather or waterproof cloth.”

U.S. Naval air pilots illustrated as paper dolls, Delineator, November 1917, p. 25. Left, the leather coat and hood of a lieutenant of aviation.

U.S. Naval air pilots illustrated as paper dolls, Delineator, November 1917, p. 25.

Delineator was a “woman’s magazine,” but it had been running articles about the valiant French and English for a long time.

“Women of France: What They Have Done in the Great War” by Gertrude Atherton. Delineator, February 1917, p. 5. Illustration by W. T. Benda.

Much of the fashion coverage used military terms, like “over the top,” and “holding the line.”  Illustrations of little boys used to show them engaged in peacetime activities; now they were shown “playing war.”

Boys imitating soldiers in a fashion illustration. Delineator, September 1917.

Did anyone really make this uniform, complete with puttees, for a little boy?

Butterick pattern 9383 for boys aged 4 to 12. September, 1917, page 63.

Butterick patterns for boys, September 1917. Left, sailor suit 9171; right, a toddler so young that he is still in a dress  (No. 8867) waves a wooden sword. (In some eras it was customary for boys to wear dresses until they were out of diapers.)

(Did the writer really understand that allusion? “The paths of glory lead but to the grave.” — Elegy in a Country Churchyard, by Thomas Gray, published in 1751.)

Butterick patterns for boys, Delineator, September 1917. Left, a sporty suit with Norfolk jacket, No. 8553; right, suit No. 8381 has a naval flavor. Sailor suits for boys were an established tradition. Even girls wore middy blouses (from “midshipman.”)

Butterick patterns for boys, Delineator, 1917.

It’s almost a relief to see this “manly looking” — but civilian — overcoat for boys aged 4 to sixteen.

Butterick overcoat 9030 for boys, 1917. “… It is just the type that Dad wears.”

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Children's Vintage styles, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Sportswear, World War I

Back to School Clothes, Fall 1927

“All Aboard for School or College: Butterick patterns for young women, Delineator, August 1927,  top of page 28.

“The Smart Mode on Campus:” Butterick patterns for young women and girls, Delineator, August 1928, top of page 29.

“For the Young and Younger Student:” Butterick patterns for girls, teens, and women. Delineator, August 1927, top of page 32.

“Semi-Formal Frocks for College:” Butterick patterns from Delineator, August 1927, top of page 33.

There’s a lot to like about these outfits; for one thing, they have the proportions I think of as “Twenties’ Style.” I was pleased — and surprised — to find that many of these patterns were also sized for mature women. In fact, it’s very hard to distinguish between 1927 styles for girls and styles for adults on these pages. For those who are deeply interested in the 1920’s, the descriptions of the dresses remind us of a more formal and structured society — the wildness of the “Roaring Twenties” notwithstanding. I’ll include closer views, alternate and back views, and the full text that appeared on these four pages.

Book recommendation: British author Elspeth Huxley attended Cornell University in the U.S. in 1927. Her memoir Love Among the Daughters: Memories of the Twenties in England and America is an insider’s/outsider’s view of American college life.

Butterick 1526, is a “frock for the classroom” for ages 8 to 15 years;  1544, is also for 8 to 15 years;  and 1589, for 15 to 18 years and adults to bust 44″. August 1927. The young girls’ dresses are as stylish and complex as those for adults.

Butterick 1569, for women aged 15 to 20 and in sizes 38 and 40. For football games “this is the frock to wear beneath your fur coat.” Butterick 1566, for girls 8 to 15, has a square neckline attributed to Vionnet. The blouse has a chic monogram. August 1927.

Butterick pattern 1562 is for young girls 8 to 15; 1556 is a coat for young girls and women 15 to 18 years and women with bust 36 to 44 inches. No. 1519 is for teens 15 to 18 and women all the way up to size 48! August 1927.

Butterick coat 1550 has a “mushroom shawl collar” and was available in sizes 15 to 18 years and sizes 36 to 44. For an explanation of “Size 16 Years,” click here. “School costume” 1583 is a two-piece outfit in sizes 15 to 18 years and women’s sizes 38 and 40.

The second dress, No. 1563, is very similar to 1569, for smaller women. The fourth outfit, No. 1532, is a girl’s variation on 1589.

Similar fashions from August 1927. There is no indication of anything “childish” in No. 1532; were children dressing like women in the twenties, or was it the other way around?

Butterick 1554 is “for the boarding-school girl” aged 8 to 15 years. Butterick 1563 was available from size 15 years to women’s size 44, and 1553 was also sized for 15 year-olds to women with a 44 inch bust. Its belt glides in and out of the skirt.

Butterick 1532 is “correct for school wear” for girls 8 to 15,  and “school coat” 1586 is also for girls 8 to 15 years. August 1927.

“Semi-formal” dresses for college women. 1927.

Butterick 1575 “for the formal occasions of school or college” has a “straight Vionnet neckline” and opens under the left arm, so the bodice can fit closely. For 15 to 18 years and in sizes 38 and 40. No. 1565, seems much more sophisticated (or is that because of her severely cropped hair?) It was intended for teens and for adult women up to size 44. Butterick 1581 is also suitable for teens or adults. “Concerts and that important institution, the ‘Sunday-night supper’ of schools and colleges, require a formal frock on this order.” From 1927. (Even in the 1960’s, at my women’s college we were required to “dress” for dinner, and to be back on campus by Sunday evening. Luckily, “dressing” in 1965 just meant wearing high heels and stockings with our normal school clothes.)

Butterick dress 1541, for teens and small women, is a versatile pattern; depending on the fabric used, it could be a day dress or a semi-formal one. Butterick 1577 could be made “without sleeves and with an evening neckline” to be worn to proms. As shown, it’s an afternoon dress.  For teens and small women. 1927.

Did women really dress this formally for school or college? Didn’t most female students usually wear a skirt and blouse or sweater for attending classes? Well, Delineator aimed at a middle-class readership, and it should be noted that all these dresses are for women going away to school, to boarding schools or colleges, and not to a public institution close to home.

I also wonder if this way of showing Butterick’s new dresses was really a good idea; did all readers realize, by reading the descriptions, that many of these styles were suitable for mature women, and came in sizes equal to a modern size 22, or bigger? (See dress 1589, coat 1556, coat 1550, dress 1519, dress 1563, dress 1565, and dress 1581.)

That many styles were considered suitable for mature women and college girls does emphasize the importance of a youthful look in 1927.

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Children's Vintage styles, Sportswear, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Embroidery Ideas from 1927: Sports Motifs and More

Butterick embroidery transfer 153, from Delineator, May 1927.

The oriental motifs on the scarf look a bit bigger than 5 3/4 inches…. Artistic license, presumably.

Vaguely Middle-Eastern (“Oriental”) embroidery motifs for hat and scarf, Delineator, May 1927.

The vaguely “oriental” embroidery on this dress from May 1927 is the top right design from Butterick 153, rotated to the left. Butterick 1390. Delineator.

But for me, the delight of this particular set of transfers is the women playing sports : tennis, golf, and polo.

Sportswomen depicted on Butterick embroidery transfer 153, from 1927.

You could use this design to make your own 1920’s “Polo shirt.”

[Note: This post is dedicated to sportswear collector, mentor, historian, and always interesting blogger The Vintage Traveler. ]

Tennis players in an ad for Lucky Strike cigarettes, Nov. 1927. “You, too, will find that Lucky Strikes are mild and mellow,” said Ed Wagner to Margery Bailey.

Monogram Mania

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/lenglen-tennis-1919-ewing811.jpg?w=500

Tennis champion Suzanne Lenglen wore many outfits designed by couturier Jean Patou in the 1920’s, which helped to popularize his sporty sweaters and skirts.  Lenglen first appeared at Wimbledon in Patou’s short white silk pleated skirt and a sleeveless cardigan in 1921. According to Brenda Polan & Roger Tredre, her outfit created a sensation and introduced the sporty, boyish look known as the “garçonne.”

“As with so much sportswear, many of [his] clothes were in reality bought by women who did not participate in sport and were more interested in showing off their Patou monogrammed cardigan sweaters to their envious friends.” — Polan and Tredre, in The Great Fashion Designers

Patou took credit for shortening skirts to the knee in 1925; he was one of the first designers to put his monogram very visibly on his designs — monogrammed cardigans, scarves, etc. This was a clever move, since without the stylized  JP monogram his relatively simple sportswear — sweater, skirt, and matching scarf — would not have proclaimed its price. [Sometimes I’d like to go back in a time machine and strangle Patou, but then I realize that somebody else —  probably his arch-rival, Chanel — would have invented the merchandising of monogrammed “Designer” everything if he hadn’t done it.] For a concise history of Patou, see The Great Fashion Designers, by Polan and Tredre.

A  monogrammed tennis dress (or just a sporty dress) from May 1929. Butterick 2621;  Delineator.

After Patou popularized monogrammed sportswear in the 1920’s, Butterick’s Delineator magazine showed monograms or other embroidered motifs on many of the patterns illustrated.

Monograms on Butterick patterns from October 1924. On the left, GAB; on the right, JK.

Monograms in vaguely “Chinese” lettering were popular, as was stylized lettering that created a spot of interest on an otherwise simple garment.

Monograms in April 1927 and 1925. The dress at left uses the monogram letters below; three letters (R S K) create a diamond shape.

Butterick lettering transfer 10309 could be used to make a diamond-shaped monogram: one large letter between two smaller ones. January 1925.

Letters in the shape of Chinese brushstrokes were also chic:

Pseudo-Chinese letters for monograms; Butterick 10245, May 1924. Two letters — one from the set at left, one from the set at right — form a (roughly) diamond shape.

The monogram on this Butterick blouse says “AG.” September 1924.

Although completely unlike the other designs from Butterick transfer 153, this idea of embroidering a posey of poppies as if the flowers are emerging from a pocket is still charming:

A bunch of embroidered poppies seems to grow from the pocket of a dress or blouse. 1927. This design could be an applique, too.

Note: I quoted the passage about Patou and monograms from a previous post about tennis and fashion. Click here to read more.

It was customary, in three-letter monograms, to put the initial of the last name in the center, in a larger size, with first and middle name initials on either side. The monogram of Betty Louise Smith would be B S L.

 

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, Accessory Patterns, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Sportswear

Sleeveless (and Almost Sleeveless) in 1924

“New in New York:” Sleeveless dresses, May 1924. Delineator, p. 23.

“The sleeveless styles are to be much worn for country dresses and frocks for restaurant use…. For out of town these dresses are made of the fine cotton materials in white and delicate colors.”

Caption for “New in New York” article by Evelyn Dodge, Delineator, May 1924.

What makes this worth notice is that most contemporary fashion advice until 1924 emphasized that evening dresses were sleeveless; day dresses for city wear were not.

This dress is definitely “sleeveless,” and the parasol tells us that it is not being worn as an evening dress, but an afternoon dress. May 1924.

Although the dress in this illustration does not look short to me, editorial advice in April declared: “Dresses remain decidedly short except for evening. For day dresses sleeves can be long or short [;] evening dresses are sleeveless.” Nevertheless, the rules were obviously changing in 1924, as this drawing of a casino shows:

From an advertisement for Butterick in Delineator, January, 1924. “On the Riviera, in Paris, wherever fashionable society meets….” Dresses with long and short sleeves, as well as sleeveless dresses, are worn at this gaming table, blurring the distinction between day and evening clothes.

Often, nineteen-twenties’ lace, silk, or chiffon afternoon dresses used the same pattern as an evening dress — but the evening version was sleeveless and usually had much lower-cut armholes:

This evening dress for Misses has deep armholes. Butterick 5255, Delineator, June 1924.

Paris showed some very deep armholes in 1924 …

Soulie’s sketch of a Paris evening gown by Doucet, Delineator, June 1924.

Paris couture by Georgette, left, and Lenief, right; March 1924. Delineator.

Description of evening gown by Lenief, March, 1924. Delineator. “For more formal evening use the decolletage is deeper and the bodice is entirely sleeveless.”

Butterick evening gowns from April 1924: No. 5126, in yellow, has armholes that reach the waist. It is a robe de style in the mode of Jeanne Lanvin. No.  5110, in pink, is more conservatively sleeveless.

Sometimes the underarm opening was very revealing; it could be charming when a lace or chiffon under-dress was revealed, as in this advertisement:

Very low-cut armholes reveal the under-garment in this 1924 ad for Vivaudou talcum powder.

Not all evening gowns had extremely deep arm openings:

Not all evening armholes were cut extremely low. Sleeveless Butterick 5064 from April 1924.

However, the “sleeveless” look that caught my attention as distinctly a fashion of 1924 is this one:

A closer look at the “New in New York;” the dress on the right of the illustration of “sleeveless” dresses has an unusual armhole, cut very deep and finished with a band of fabric. Delineator, May 1924.

Several versions were offered as Butterick patterns.

Right, a different illustration of the dress in the editorial illustration: Butterick 5199, shown here in yellow, is a deep-armholed dress is made of sheer chiffon.  May 1924. Notice how far below the top of the slip is the bottom of the armhole.

Butterick 5259 appeared in April, 1924. Anyone looking at her side with the arm raised would have seen inside the dress. It could also be made with long sleeves.

For vintage dealers and historians, here’s an interesting fact: Butterick 5259 used elastic in a casing at the sides of the low waist.

In June, a similar style was illustrated as a dress for Misses:

Butterick 5253 was similar to 5259, but the dress is not printed with stripes; those are graduated tucks which get bigger near the hem.

This blurry photo of a dress by Paul Poiret shows a similar deep armhole with a wide, straight binding:

Photo of a dress by Paul Poiret, from Delineator, July 1924.

“Sleeveless Styles;” detail of Butterick dresses 5350 and 5360, July 1924, Delineator. No. 5360 was available up to size 52.

These are not “sleeveless” by today’s standards; other, more typical 1920’s styles might have a sort of cap sleeve, often cut in one with the shoulder of the dress:

Typical twenties’ dresses with short sleeves, sometimes cut-in-one with the body of the dress. These are not described as sleeveless. All from 1924, Delineator. Butterick 5375, 5368, and 5221

However, I haven’t yet found a specific word for the low, bound arm openings like this one, simply described as “bindings” or “sleeve bands” :

Butterick 5267, from June 1924.

Pattern information an alternate view for Butterick 5267, June 1924. This view (far right) has long sleeves.

These wide, band-bound armholes were also seen a blouse:

Butterick blouse pattern 5575, as shown in November (left) and October, 1924. (Yes, Butterick also sold patterns for cloche hats. See more hat patterns from 1924 here.)

Of course, sleeveless fashions helped to sell certain grooming aids in 1924:

Ads for Zip hair remover, both from Delineator, 1924.  “Those embarrassing moments… those critical looks….” Superfluous hair is “off because it’s out.”

Removal of underarm hair was not a new idea — evening gowns of the 1910’s were also revealing.

This Neet depilatory ad from 1924 suggests that “Perhaps because of an old-fashioned scruple you have hesitated to rid yourself of the disfigurement of underarm hair….Are your arms constantly pinned to your sides? …The swing of convention … is carrying America back to the old Greek ideal of womanly beauty — the unhampered, active, supple body.” It was also a body with underarms as hairless as a marble statue.

Ad for Neet hair remover/depilatory. Delineator, Oct. 1924, p. 25. “…Rid yourself from the disfigurement of underarm hair.”

Ad for Neet dipilatory, Nov. 1924. Delineator, p. 99. (That’s some party!)

In 1925, the peculiar “sleeveless sleeve” I’ve been showing was still around — this time, on a nightgown. I love the striped pajamas, too.

Nightgown 5936 and pajamas 5948; Butterick patterns in  Delineator, April 1925.

 

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, Accessory Patterns, Nightclothes and Robes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Sportswear, vintage photographs