Category Archives: Sportswear

Fun in the Snow, 1921

A group of office workers from the Southern Pacific Railroad headquarters in San Francisco on a weekend trip to the snow; taken in Truckee, California, February, 1921. That’s the base of the Donner Party monument behind them.

I’ve spent many hours of the past two weeks scanning and sorting my Aunt Dorothy’s huge accumulation of photographs. It’s taking even longer than I expected because, thanks to modern computer technology, I can now see details that would only have been visible with a magnifying glass a few years ago. I end up trying to revive faded or underexposed prints that were tiny to begin with, and saving faces and clothing details. Also, I am trying to put names to as many faces as possible. So, while I am time-traveling through thousands of images, I will share a few “postcards from a time-traveler.”

Dot Barton (my Aunt Dorothy,) with Jen, Spurr, and Dot Robinson at Truckee, 1921.

Dot B. is wearing a very hairy sweater, and she’s borrowed a huge Tam-o-Shanter from her friend Dottie Biggs.

Dottie Biggs and Dorothy Barton in Truckee, 1921.

It was only by enlarging this section of the photo that I saw the shawl and huge tam on the woman standing behind them.

The woman in the middle is Dottie Biggs, wearing a long, thick sweater. 1921.

Dot Barton and Lloyd Muller in 1921. She is wearing the full-legged knickers that many women wore for sports. Her sweater is not too different from those of 1917. He’s wearing his cloth cap turned backwards…. like a baseball cap in the nineties.

Gladys Spurr and Dot Robinson in 1922.

My Aunt Dorothy, nicknamed Dot, worked in an office with Dot Robertson, Dot Robinson, and Dottie Biggs. It must have been a relief when Adeline and Gladys were hired!

For those who live where snow is a normal event, I should explain that it only snows in San Francisco a couple of times per century.  Some people “go to the snow” on the mountainous eastern side of the state every winter — just to see snow. It seems odd today to think a sweater would be enough protection when the snow is falling, but that’s what all these women are wearing, along with knickers or riding pants.

Gladys Spurr and Dot Robinson face the cold in sweaters and wool twill riding pants. 1921.

Dot Barton’s long sweater has pockets big enough to hold her gloves. She has probably laced gaiters over her legs, with turned-down socks.

Dottie Biggs in a sweater vest over a dark shirt, plus a long, thick sweater. And that wonderful hat…. 1921.

I can’t get enough of that Tam-O-Shanter — and her attitude.

A giant Tam-o-Shanter — very chic in the late teens and early twenties. Notice that she’s wearing earrings and … is that lipstick?

It’s lovely to see the fun they had — almost a hundred years ago.

Why did they want to sit on the roof? Probably because it was there.  Donner Lake, 1921.

Because these young people worked for the SP railroad, they probably took advantage of cheap tickets for weekends at Russian River (in the summer) and at Truckee or Lake Tahoe in the winter. The train from San Francisco through the Sierra Nevada mountains still goes through Truckee on its way to Reno, Nevada and points east.

The “gang” from the SP office may be thinking of some liquid refreshment….  Especially that guy wearing just a shirt and bow tie over his sweater. Sadly for them, Prohibition went into effect in January of 1920. But the sign on the rock was still there in 1921.



Filed under 1920s, Hairstyles, Hats, Makeup & Lipstick, Men's Sportswear, Menswear, Sportswear, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing, vintage photographs, Women in Trousers

Two Piece Dresses from 1926

Two-piece dresses from Butterick, Delineator, February 1926. These are for teens and small women.

Iin 1926, as far as Butterick patterns were concerned, a dress could be either one piece or a separate top and matching skirt. In fact, some one-piece dresses were made to look like they were two-piece!

The dress on the right, Butterick 6575, has a deep band near the hip (with buttons), simulating the look of a separate blouse and skirt.

“Many slip over one-piece frocks give the effect of a two-piece costume….” Delineator magazine, February 1926.

The pattern on the right, Butterick 6637, is another dress pretending to be a skirt and blouse. Notice the line of stitching that marks a deep tuck at the hip.

Left: one-piece dress 6533 pretends to be a two-piece. Both these dresses make good use of use border prints.

Real two-piece dresses were available for all ages, from pre-teen to adult.

On the right, Butterick two-piece dress pattern 6582. The separate skirt has a lively flare. (6605 is a one-piece dress.)

“The circular skirt is attached to an underbody.” The underbody (also called a “camisole body or yoke”) was one of the tricks of making a Twenties’ skirt and top work well together. I’m going to re-show the two outfits that started this post so you can compare them easily with two very similar skirt patterns that have underbodies:

Two-piece dresses from Butterick, Delineator, February 1926. Left, Butterick 6545; right, Butterick 6562. For misses 15 to 20 and small women.

If you could see through their blouses, you’d see that the skirts have no waistband. They hang from the shoulders, like this:

Butterick skirt patterns 6601 and 6658, also from the February issue of Delineator.

The circular skirt (6588) “may be worn under blouses or as a slip under frocks.” It’s for ladies 35 to 52 inch hip –quite large.

Alternate views of Butterick skirts 6601 and 6588 show a “hanging from the waist” option, with the underbody option shown in dotted lines.

Although some nineteen-twenties’ skirts did have a waistband, the skirt with underbody didn’t need darts or other shaping for a natural waist that might be ten inches smaller than the hips. In fact, the woman aiming for a boyish figure tried to pretend that she had no waist.

Foundation garments (or corselets) designed to minimize the difference between waist and hip. Delineator, February 1926, p. 24.

Obviously, if you turn your figure into a tube shape, any skirt which hangs from your waist will tend to slide down. (And twist around as you sit and walk.) The underbody solved this problem by making the skirt and top move independently of each other. However, as seen above, pattern illustrations did show a waistband option for those who still had a waist….

Alternate views of Butterick skirts 6601 and 6588. Feb. 1926. These are skirt patterns, but 6588 has several lines of stitching at the hem, which would make it stiffer when used as a petticoat.

I’ve been looking for a good underbody illustration for some time. Making a Twenties’ costume this way means that the actors’ clothes will fall neatly into place when they stand after sitting.

Now for some more Twenties’ two-piece dresses:

Butterick 6522 is simple and charming (don’t forget those important long ribbon ties!) Designed for a youthful wearer, 15 or under, the skirt is shorter than for a mature woman — giving it the knee-length proportions that look “right” to modern eyes. The skirt looks much like No. 6601 (and  dress 6545.)

The use of the word “juniors” surprised me.

The dress featured with this girl’s coat is pattern 6582, illustrated in blue above.

You could make this entire outfit from Butterick patterns: Coat 6609, two-piece dress 6582, and hat 5952. February 1926. Butterick also sold the embroidery transfer, No. 10383.

A closer look at that coat and hat:

Butterick coat pattern 6609 with hat embroidered to match.

Butterick two-piece “dress” 6577 uses double-sided, reversible fabric:

Butterick two-piece dress pattern 6577, from February 1926. “The straight skirt, with its inverted plait at each side front and at the center back, is attached to an underbody with a camisole top.” For teens and small women.

Having grown up wearing cotton flannel pajamas, I have to remind myself that flannel can mean wool.

Right, two-piece dress 6597. Left, a simple one-piece dress that uses a border print for impact. February 1926.

Butterick two-piece dress 6581. The stripes are probably a border print. For teens and small women.

“Its straight skirt, attached to an underbody,” has inverted pleats. This particular skirt style keeps reappearing. Dress skirts from the early 1920’s often had all the pleats or fullness in the front, with a perfectly “plain back,” but now the back of the skirt is also pleated or gathered.

Right, the two-piece dress for average-sized women is shown a few inches longer than dresses for under-twenties. These stripes are definitely a border print (See description of its color illustration, below.) Butterick 6608, February 1926, p 32.

The same pattern was illustrated in color on page 29, and without the stripes:

Butterick 6608 from page 29. “The straight skirt, gathered at the front, is attached to an underbody.”

It has a plain back:

Oops: I never supplied the pattern descriptions for these dresses.  Back views of other patterns appear at the end of the post.

Butterick 6545 and 6562 from February 1926. You might not want to include the cutesy animal embroidery, but those decorative pocket hankies appear constantly in fashion illustrations from 1925 and 1926, including several shown in this post.

Bois de rose (rosewood) was a popular color introduced in couture; it’s a neutralized, slightly tan, rose pink — hard to photograph!

Back views of dresses for girls 15 or under. 1926. 658s is a girl’s version of 6562, above.

Back views of one-piece dresses pretending to be separates. Delineator, February 1926.


Filed under 1920s, Children's Vintage styles, Corselettes, Corsets, Corsets & Corselettes, Foundation Garments, Sportswear, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Underthings, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc

Fashions for Girls and Teens, February 1927

Butterick patterns for girls, Delineator, February 1927. A young teen (up to age 15) would probably be happy to wear a dress (right) so much like adult fashions of the day. The button detail on the child’s outfit at left is a nice touch, too. Their silhouettes are very different, however.

Butterick styles for teens 15 to 19 years; Delineator, February 1927. There is nothing babyish about these.

There was often a distinct style difference in dresses for young girls and those for adults in the Twenties (and in the early Fifties, for that matter), but Butterick patterns sold for size “age 15 to 20” were often described as designs for teens and “small women.” In fact, since those styles were usually shorter (what we might call “petites,”) the proportions of styles for teens often look quintessentially “nineteen twenties” to modern eyes.

Butterick patterns for teens 15 to 19, from Delineator, February 1927, p. 27. Jacket 1229 was also illustrated in women’s sizes in the same issue. Nos. 1274 and 1288 were sold as dress patterns, although they look like separates.

Dresses for little girls usually were fuller, with no hip belts, and those for very young girls often include matching knickers or bloomers.

Dresses for girls up to 10 years old: Butterick 1261 and 1277; Delineator, February 1927, p. 28. Young girls were not sexualized by dressing them in adult styles.

Smocked and embroidered “peasant” dresses were popular adult styles, too. You can see smocking on dress 1267, below.

These dresses for older girls are mainstream fashions.

Dresses for teens 15 to 19 years old. Butterick patterns from Delineator, February 1927. The robe de style in the middle was often suggested for bridesmaids, but older women sometimes wore more sophisticated versions.

A closer look at these hairstyles:

Three hair styles, 1927. I have no idea what is going on with the two-tone hairdo in the middle [a silk hat?], but the one on the left could be worn in 2018.

An asymmetrical cropped haircut, 1927. Tres chic. The back is shingled.

More about these patterns for teens:

Butterick 1272 has a sheer yoke and sleeves on a darker silk dress. Delineator, February 1927. It was also available in women’s bust sizes 38 and 40.

Coat 1256 has a curved hem, revealing a pleated dress beneath. The scalloped sleeves and embroidered collar add complexity to a simple style.

Details of Butterick coat 1256, from 1927. Embroidery on the inside of the collar is a clever touch, but isn’t mentioned. “For women and young girls 33 to 48 bust” — a larger than usual size range. The back of the collar is scalloped, too.

Butterick patterns for teens 15 to 19; Delineator, Feb. 1927.

This compose dress, Butterick 1269, uses three shades of the same color, or three different colors. This back view shows a long, vertical scarf tie in back, which creates a more slender rear view.

Another compose dress, in two colors. Like most dresses with a basque top, which could fit quite tightly, Butterick 1279 closes with a snap and/or hook and eye opening under the left arm.

Another dress using three colors, Butterick 1267, is essentially a tube cinched with a belt at the hip, and would have been unflattering to almost every woman, in spite of its long vertical stripe.

Outfits for young women 15 to 19, these are “very twenties.” The pleats on each skirt are treated in a different way — quite a variety.

The skirt of Butterick 1274 has inserted pleated godets — plaid cut on the bias, in this illustration. The skirts of two-piece dresses like this one often hung straight from a sleeveless underbodice, so there was no shaping needed at the waist.

Right, below, is another view of coat/jacket 1229, this time lined with the same fabric as the dress bodice.

Here, jacket 1229 combines with dress 1298 to create a suit. It is lined with the same fabric as the dress bodice, although the illustrator seems to have colored in one lapel by mistake.

Butterick 1288 shows a Russian influence in its asymmetrical closing.

Below, these dresses for younger teens do reflect adult styles, although dresses with a Bertha collar like 1271 were usually recommended for very young women.

Two Butterick patterns for girls up to 15 years. Left, No, 1259; right, dress 1271 with a Bertha collar. Delineator, February 1927.

The dress on the left, with a cape-like Bertha collar (from 1926) is much more girlish than the one on the right, although both are for teens.

Beside Butterick 1271, for girls aged 8 to 15, is Butterick 1242, for a girl six or younger. Her doll, Butterick 426, is dressed in matching fabric.

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Children's Vintage styles, Sportswear, Vintage patterns

Women’s Fashions for February, 1927

Butterick patterns from Delineator, February 1927, page 22. Illustrations by M. Lages.

Butterick patterns from Delineator, February 1927, page 25.

These patterns for spring of 1927 show quite a variety of looks, from a graded-color “compose” dress to peasant-look embroidery. There is a bolero dress, plus two shirred dresses, and a really striking coat — simple in style, but dramatic when made in a jazzy fabric.

Butterick’s “informal” coat 1254 looks fabulous in this material. Note the tie belt, which seems to run under the pocket.

The dresses on these pages are very different, but all twelve illustrations show variations on one (rather sloppy) hat style.

Butterick 1300, 1264, and 1270, Delineator, February 1927, p. 22. 1264 has the bolero look — but the bolero only hangs loose in back.

The sheer Georgette vestee — or dickey– is detachable. The bodice tabs extend into belt carriers in back.

Butterick 1270 is a “frock that looks like a coat.” I could use a bit more construction information on that one….

Pages 23 and 24 showed four more outfits, including this graded dress and a dress-and-jacket combination.

Butterick graded-color dress 1282 is monogrammed, a style attributed to Patou, and suggests a jacket — an illusion. Dress 1298 combines with a real jacket, Butterick 1229, to create a suit. Delineator, Feb. 1927, page 23

As is often the case, the back of the outfit is much plainer than the front.

Butterick dresses 1278 and 1253, Delineator, Feb. 1927, p. 24. No. 1278 has a dark band on the skirt and at the bottom of the sleeves. (The dress at the right seems to me to be a bit of a hodge-podge….)

The following fashions are from page 25:

A woman in a shirred dress (Butterick 1238) leads a woman in a tiered, graded-color dress (Butterick 1280.) Delineator, February 1927, page 25. No. 1238 could be made sleeveless for evening, and was available in large sizes.

Details of Butterick 1238 and 1280. No. 1238 is shirred in a semicircular pattern at the closure. The sleeves and belt of No. 1280 repeat the color progression of the skirt tiers.

Butterick 1268 has a lighter yoke and sleeves, and darker banding. Butterick 1276 has sheer, embroidered “peasant” sleeves. Delineator, Feb. 1927, p. 25.

What to wear under these clothes? A light, boneless corselet like this one minimized the wearer’s curves:

A light foundation garment made by Gossard. Ad from Delineator, Feb. 1927.

And don’t forget to dye your stockings to match your dress….

Ad for Putnam Dyes, Delineator, February 1927, p. 121.


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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Corselettes, evening and afternoon clothes, Foundation Garments, Hats, Hosiery, Hosiery, Hosiery & Stockings, Sportswear, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Beach Pajamas for a Little Girl

Butterick 3801, Delineator, April 1931. Some rather sophisticated beach pajamas for girls aged 4 t0 15 years. These were definitely for outdoor wear — and how relieved little girls must have been to play in trousers instead of dresses.

Beach pajamas were worn by ordinary women in the Thirties, not just those who could afford vacations at resorts, the Lido, or the South of France. The Vintage Traveler shared images of beach pajamas from a 1930 Montgomery Ward catalog. (Montgomery Ward was a rival of Sears. It was not an upscale store — my uncle, the plumber, bought his overalls there.) Lynn at American Age Fashion just shared a 1933 photo of my family’s close friends in beach pajamas, with a wonderful eye for the differences between the generations.

These pajamas (or pyjamas) were intended for lounging, but many of them were worn as beachwear  if the fabric was not obviously lingerie material.

Butterick pajamas for big and little girls, December 1931. Left, 4177; right, 4223.

Beach pajamas were so important that even dolls needed them.

Butterick doll wardrobe pattern 440, Delineator, December 1931.

These pajamas were sleeveless, like the ones on the little girl in this painting, and trimmed with bias tape.

A little girl wears beach pajamas in this painting based on a 1930’s photograph. Detail, “Bobbie with Marbles.” Used with permission of the artist.

McCall doll clothes pattern 525 from 1937, with the original photo on which the painting was based. Both outfits have bias tape binding.

Butterick girl’s play pajamas, No. 5181, from 1933. The dots make them look a bit clown-like, and the ruffles are sheer organdy, more for lounging than sleeping..

“Cotton pajamas are one of the most practical things in the world to play in;” cotton is appropriate for the beach, but shantung seems more like an indoors lounging option [and rather sophisticated casual party wear for a girl aged 2 to twelve.]

The dots and ruffles are not so different from these lounging pajamas for grown women:

Lounging Pajamas, Butterick patterns 4014 and 3937. Delineator, Sept. 1931.



Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Children's Vintage styles, Sportswear, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing, vintage photographs, Women in Trousers

Very Thirties: Great Big Bows

Butterick jacket outfit with a big, big, white pique bow. Butterick 5783, July 1934. Delineator.

Sometimes an era has fashion details that just scream the date — Leg o’ Mutton sleeves for the 1890’s, bustles for the 1880’s and 1870’s, etc. One of the things that screams “Nineteen Thirties” is the great big bow. [Some of these are not technically “bows,” because they give the impression of a bow without actually tying the fabric — but it ‘s the impression that counts.]

Outfits with 1930’s bows, Butterick 5138 and 5145, Delineator, June 1933. The one on the left might not look ridiculous, but the one on the right says “comedy” to me.

It may be the stiffness of the bow on the left that makes it extreme; the soft bow on the far right looks less aggressive, but it’s still a big one. Butterick 5856, 5860, and 5866, all in metallic fabrics; Delineator, September 1934.

Of course there are some bows that seem in proportion with the dress — and the human body — but there are also 1930’s bows that now look comic. Good if you’re designing a musical comedy…. Hard to carry off in realistic dramas.

The model in this Midol ad from 1934 wears a big plaid bow. Delineator, December 1934.

Matching plaid hat and stiff taffeta scarf, Butterick 5478, March 1934.

Bows appeared on evening gowns — front or back.

Butterick “robe de style” No. 5989 would discourage dancing cheek to cheek. Delineator, December 1934, p. 17.

Butterick 5780 is an evening grown with matching jacket … and bow. Delineator, July 1934.

“Code for College,” August 1934, included an evening jacket and gown with a big, stiff bow, although the suggested fabric was crepe…. Delineator. Butterick 5840.

The gown on the left (5864) is “after” Lanvin; the gown with the bow (5843) was “adapted from” designer augustabernard. Delineator, September 1934.

Bows on day dresses could range from modest to very large.

Butterick 5069, Delineator, April 1934. It’s really a collar scrunched up to look like a bow.

Butterick 5632, April 1934. White bow and cuffs; square buttons, parallel diagonal seams on bodice and skirt. Interesting!

Butterick 5628, April 1934. A bow edged with crisp, pleated ruffles, shown in detail at top.

Butterick 5848, August 1934. This bi-color bow seems to emerge from the front seam of the dress [but doesn’t.] The seam lines are very creative.

Butterick 5858, featured among “dresses from Paris.” August 1934. A band of trim on the end of the bow is continued down the skirt.

Bows appealed to the mature woman:

Butterick jacket frock, April 1934.

Fashions to flatter the large or short figure, December 1934. Left, 5967, with a pale jabot collar to draw the eye toward the face, was available up to size 52. The ensemble on the right with a soft bow, Butterick 5999, was available through size 48. It’s notable for being illustrated on a figure with realistic  hips.

Butterick 5449 combines two “very Thirties” looks: a big, big, bow and a big, big collar. It is sleeveless, but the model looks mature.

Bows, sometimes made of fur, even appeared on coats (5984). Butterick patterns from December 1934. Left: 5985 has a droopy bow; right: 5975 has a big, perky bow.

Bows were not considered matronly — they appeared on clothes for teens,  junior misses and even younger women.

Butterick 5061 for the Junior Miss. April 1933, Delineator.

Butterick 6071, from February 1935. I can picture this on the smart young office worker in any number of 1930’s movies. For Junior Misses 12 to 20 and women from 30″ up to 38″ bust. [Sizes 12 through 20 were for short and small women and teens.]

Butterick coat 5580, for girls, has a combination collar/bow that buttons into place. March 1934.

Butterick patterns for fur collars (5954) and hats (5933.) November 1934. The ones at top and center give the impression of being tied into a bow.

This one is a grand version of the collar on the girl’s coat:

Fur collar pattern, Butterick 5954, November 1934.

Did women really wear all these big bows?

Butterick 5756, from summer 1934, couples the big bow with unusual shoulders.

Miss Mary Kenny in a similar bow made of necktie silk. Delineator, June 1934. Her top has fashionable open sleeves, too. [In the early days of changing to fashion photographs instead of drawings, Delineator used young socialites and debutantes as models.]

Truth to tell, I really like this 1930’s dress with a bow:

Butterick 5915, from November, 1934.

Although most of these “big bow” images are from 1934, it just reflects that I have a lot of Delineator photos from that year. Butterick’s Delineator magazine ceased publication in 1937, but not before arranging for Butterick patterns to be featured in Woman’s Home Companion:

Variations on Junior Miss pattern 7204, Woman’s Home Companion, February 1937. The bow is still there.





Filed under 1930s, Accessory Patterns, Children's Vintage styles, Sportswear, Vintage Accessories

Palm Beach Resort Wear by Lelong, January 1928

Two couture tennis dresses by Lucien Lelong, January 1928. Imagine the background in green, and the coat on the right in tucked scarlet crepella. Wow.

Lelong discusses color in the first part of this article on resort wear for America’s brighter sunlight. Delineator, top of page 32, January 1928. It’s a pity that the Delineator ran this article in black and white!

Couturier Lucien Lelong explained to the Delineator magazine how his resort wear for Palm Beach differed from the colors he would have used for French clients.

Colors for Palm Beach: “vied with the parrot and the bougainvillea flower” because the “sub-tropical sunshine … subdues the strongest colors.”

For evening he suggested lighter shades:  greens, grays, coral, pink, amber, ivory, and black and white.

Two evening gowns by Lelong, January 1928. Left, black with rhinestone bands; right, mauve pink chiffon.

His bathing costumes for Palm Beach are colorful in greens and blues:

Left, Lelong uses “green jersey banded with darker green and worn under a sponge cloth coat of string beige.” Right, “blue and white printed crepe de Chine with chartreuse bands and beach coat.”  Both have “tunic tops and shorts.” January, 1928.

For daytime, Lelong’s dress shows the graded colors popular in 1927-28. Costumes using blocks of colors were called “compose” [with an accent aigu on the e : kom-poh-zay.]

Left: Lelong’s blue two-piece sports frock with bands of graded colors. Right, a three piece ensemble in two shades of blue. January 1928 resort wear.

Let’s not forget those sleeveless tennis frocks by this extraordinary French designer:

Two sleeveless and collarless tennis frocks, plus a scarlet coat of tucked crepella. Lelong resort collection, January 1928. Delineator. Illustration by Muriel Lages.

“Design grows more and more simple in appearance, tho [sic] inner cuts are complicated. And of course, all these models, as is usual with me, induce slenderness in the appearance of their wearers. That sums it up.”– Lucien Lelong on his resort collection, in Delineator, January 1928.

When I called Lelong “extraordinary,” I wasn’t exaggerating. As head of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture during the German Occupation of Paris, Lelong managed to thwart the Germans’ plan to move the center of couture to Berlin. You can read “The Man Who Saved Paris” by clicking here.

Further reading:  The Encyclopedia of Fashion has a bibliography of books about Lelong. Click here.



Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Bathing Suits, evening and afternoon clothes, Sportswear, Swimsuits, Vintage Couture Designs