Category Archives: Hosiery & Stockings

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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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Combinations step-ins chemises teddies, Hosiery, Hosiery, Hosiery & Stockings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Panties knickers bloomers drawers step-ins, Shoes, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc

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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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, Combinations step-ins chemises teddies, Hairstyles, Hosiery, Hosiery, Hosiery & Stockings, lingerie, lingerie and underwear, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Shoes, Underthings, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Underwear and lingerie, vintage photographs, World War I

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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Women’s Shoes: 1929 versus 1936

These are Foot Saver Shoes from a February 1929 ad in Delineator. Foot Saver Shoes emphasized comfort over high fashion, but these shoes are also chic; the dressy shoe on the bottom has a delicate strap and gracefully curved heel.

Nineteen thirties’ shoes from the same company look “clunky” to me. Their thick heels drop straight from the arch to the ground, and the shoe covers much more of the foot.

These dressy shoes (one of them trimmed with sequins) are also Foot Saver Shoes, from an ad in Woman’s Home Companion, October 1936. To me, they look thick and chunky, with high vamps guaranteed to make a woman’s legs look shorter and thick ankles look thicker.

I see a big difference between the fashionable shoes of 1929 — most of which seem graceful and beautiful to me — and the chunkier, more covered-up shoes of 1936.

Styles from an ad for Dorothy Dodd Shoes, Delineator, March 1929. How delicate they seem.

In March 1929, Delineator ran a fashion article (by Lucile Babcock) on Spring shoes, which featured these six shoes, from different manufacturers. The following quotations come from Babcock’s article.

Black patent leather pump from Laird-Schober. Delineator editorial on Spring Shoes, March 1929. For clocked stockings, click here.

“Patent leather is most successful when combined with lizard or kid in a monotone.”

Foot Saver walking pump in brown lizard and calfskin. Delineator, March 1929.

A Queen Quality pump decorated with  “sunburn beige” lizard. Delineator, March 1929.

“Water-snake and lizard are carried over for the spring session, and those lovely gray-beige tones which blend so well with frocks of beige, gray, blue or green are witnessed everywhere…. Kid-skin colors hold a brief for the sunburn vogue, and all tones of beige are important.” (Suntanned skin was just becoming chic in the late twenties.)

This natural linen [spectator] sport shoe has an embroidered toe and delicate leather trim. Delineator, March 1929.

“The fabric shoe, essentially a sports style, is very definitely on trial for its acceptance by smart women…. In its best aspects, the fabric shoe is the prefect final note of gaiety for the white costume.”

A slate blue kid afternoon pump by J. & T. Cousins. Delineator, March 1929.

“Two blues demand attention, a slate blue and a deep bright blue called “commander.’ ”

This “Frosted calf” pump by Garside is silvery gray, with an enameled [Art Deco] buckle. Delineator, March 1929.

“A new leather called “frosted calf,” with a lustrous surface, is seen in gray (a deeply beautiful gun-metal hue) in beige, brown and black.”

Coordinating stocking colors were recommended for each featured shoe. “So specialized is the hosiery situation with its complexion tints and sunburn hues that the wise woman saves time and effort by selecting her hose wardrobe at the same time that she makes her shoe decisions.” [1929]

Shoes and stockings are coordinated to the clothing in this Arch Preserver shoe ad, June 1929.

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/1929-oct-hosiery-ad-photo2.jpg?w=500&h=423

Stocking colors in this ad from October 1929 could match your gown, your shoes, or your skin tone.

By 1936, stocking colors were more natural, but still coordinated with shoes and/or clothes.

Arch Preserver shoes from April 1929. Delineator.

Foot Preserver shoe ad, March 1929. Delineator. The lace-up shoe on the bottom is similar to the “old lady shoes” of the 1930’s, shoes my grandmother still wore in the 1950’s.

The Foot Saver shoe at the top of the ad has a thick strap, but it’s trimmed with a fancy buckle and has a graceful curve on both sides of the heel. March 1929.

Arch Preserver shoe ad, Delineator, March 1929. Notice the high-vamped, Thirties-ish shoes worn by the model at left.

These shoes foreshadow the higher, chunkier shoes of the 1930’s, but the 1929 sport shoe (below at top left) still has thin, graceful trim.

Arch Preserver shoes ad, March 1929.

Speaking of sport shoes, this nineteen twenties’ ad for ZIP depilatory shows them worn with socks.

Sporty spectator shoes worn with diamond-patterned socks in a Zip depilatory ad, 1929.

In 1934 you could still buy Sandals (a Walk-Over brand) with straps almost as thin as 1920’s shoes:

Ad for Walk-Over Sandals shoes, December 1934. Delineator.

This ad for Rhythm Step shoes shows a delicate strapped shoe (top left) in 1936. Woman’s Home Companion.

But the lace-up shoe in the same ad was more in line with mainstream fashion by then, with a high heel and high vamp  covering most of the foot.

I love the Twenties’-look shoes used in this 1936 Lux soap ad:

Thin-strapped shoes in a Lux soap ad, WHC, Feb. 1936. (Lux claimed to prevent stocking runs.)

But fashion is a tyrant. Did they look old-fashioned to the eyes of 1936?

Queen Quality Shoes from April 1936, WHC.

One more look at 1928:

Queen Quality shoe ad from 1928. There was a big difference between sport shoes and dress shoes, but there’s also a big difference between these 1920’s shoes and 1930’s shoes from the same company.

Here are oxfords from 1936 versus 1928:

Different heel, different vamp on two lace-up shoes from Queen Quality, 1936.

Three generations, 1937. Can you tell which are the young woman’s shoes and which are her grandmother’s? Pattern illustration, WHC.

 

Three generations of fashionable women, 1937. Were you able to match the shoes to their ages?

Mother, daughter, grandmother.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Hosiery, Hosiery, Hosiery & Stockings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Shoes, Vintage Accessories

Hosiery Ads with a Bit of Wit

My favorite series of ads for stockings came from the McCullum Company in 1927.

A wonderfully stylized illustration of short skirts and stockings under the bridge table. Ad for McCallum silk stockings, Delineator, March 1927. (Shades of John Held, Jr….)

Illustration for McCullum silk stockings for everyday wear, Delineator, April 1927.

Text of McCullum Hosiery ad, April 1927.

Extra-long silk stockings to wear with a bathing suit, August 1927. Ad for McCullum’s hosiery, Delineator magazine. Note her bathing shoes and the seams up the back of the stockings.

About stockings with bathing suits:

Text of McCullum ad for hosiery to wear while swimming. August 1927.

“In the water, or just out, silk hose have the smooth gloss of a wet seal.” Stockings were usually worn with bathing suits in the nineteen teens and early twenties.

This 1917 ad for Luxite soap shows long stockings worn with a bathing suit.

A bathing suit illustration from 1924 shows both swimmers wearing rolled stockings. Delineator, July 1917, p. 34.

However, in this photo from the late twenties, you can clearly see the marks left by my mother’s rolled stockings.

Late 1920’s swim suit; you can see the marks left on her legs by rolled stockings, which she had removed.

She took them off when she put on her bathing suit. That McCullum “opera length” ad from 1927 seems to be trying to revive a disappearing custom.

Back to more wonderful McCallum illustrations:

Playing footsie? A couple dressed for a big date plays footsie in this McCallum hosiery ad. Notice how tense the man is, balancing a corsage box on his knees, and how relaxed the woman is as she stretches out her long legs to brush his ankle. December 1927.

Each ad had a border to match — waves for swimming, music for dancing….

“Sheer audacit” describes the short-skirted woman blowing smoke rings in this ad for McCallum hosiery, Dec. 1927. “The beauty of silken sheerness on slender, shapely legs . . is it this that gives the owner such assurance, such audacity . . is it this that fills even the timid man with admiration . .”

I do not know the illustrator — only that these eye-catching drawings are signed H on their left side and M on the right side.

The Onyx Hosiery company also used humor to sell stockings, but the illustrations in this series which referred to classical statues lacked the Art Deco dash of the McCallum ads.

The stature of the goddess Diana is implied to have thick ankles in this ad for Onyx Hosiery.  Onyx ad, November 1926, Delineator.

Onyx Pointex stockings had a pointed heel which, their ads claimed, made ankles look slender.

Venus had thick ankles compared to women who wore Onyx stockings. Onyx ad, March 1927. That dark triangle at the heel was advertised as slenderizing.

Onyx stockings, with their pointed heel, were supposed to make wearers’ ankles look thinner. (The darker heel area showed above the shoe.) Onyx ad, December 1926.

Other stocking ads illustrated the product itself — with elegance, but not many laughs.

The heels of Gordon stockings came in many shapes; left, a V-shape; right, a rectangle. Gordon Hosiery ad, Dec. 1928. Delineator.

As skirts got shorter, stockings got sheerer and more elaborate.

Ad for Gordon Hosiery to wear to the racetrack, September 1928. Delineator. The stockings at left have clocks (a vertical design,) which remained a feature of dressy men’s hose for decades.

Gordon Hosiery ad, May, 1928. Delineator. A different clock pattern.

Gordon hosiery with V-shaped or rectangular heels. Gordon ad, Delineator, October 1928. In the background, a stylized airplane takes off.

Anther stocking company just used celebrity endorsements. The extraordinary dress in this ad is worn by Mary Astor, best known nowadays for her role in The Maltese Falcon. In the 1920’s, she made five or six films a year.

Actress Mary Astor in an ad for Allen-A hosiery. April 1928, Delineator.

For me, none of those ads has the 1920’s zest of this one:

A wonderfully stylized illustration of short skirts and stockings under the bridge table. Ad for McCallum silk stockings, Delineator, March 1927.

“A length of flawless silk stockings to above the knee . . meets the brevity in skirts.” McCallum hosiery ad, March 1927.

“Full-fashioned” means the stockings were shaped like a leg, instead of like a tube. Full-fashioned stockings cost more, but before stretch knit fabrics, stockings that were not full-fashioned tended to wrinkle at the ankles. Like McCallum stockings, the other silk stockings in these ads cost two dollars a pair, more or less, a luxury item for the twenties’  working woman.

Prices from an ad for Onyx Pointex stockings, Dec. 1926.

Cotton lisle was longer wearing than silk, so it was often used at toes and heels and the band where the garter attached to the stocking. Less practical and more fragile, all-silk stockings cost more.

Prices from ad for Allen-A hosiery, April 1928.

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Filed under 1920s, evening and afternoon clothes, Hosiery, Hosiery, Hosiery & Stockings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc

Some Maternity Clothes of the 1920’s and 1930’s

Ad for Lane Bryant maternity apparel, Vogue, 1920, Feb. 1, pg. 141

Ad for Lane Bryant maternity apparel, Vogue, 1920, Feb. 1, pg. 141

I’ve never been pregnant, so I have no experience with wearing maternity clothes. However, a few weeks ago I was trying to learn to use the ProQuest search engine (courtesy of my public library.) Under “Fashion,” I typed in “maternity.”  I now have quite a collection of articles giving maternity fashion advice from the 1920’s and 1930’s — and haven’t even begun to explore the decades before and after. The emphasis on “concealment” is striking.

Ad for Lane Bryant Maternity catalog, May, 1931.

“Designed to conceal condition and to provide for expansion. “Ad for Lane Bryant Maternity catalog, Good Housekeeping, May, 1931.

“Clothes that are designed solely for maternity wear are apt to look the part, and call attention to a woman’s condition. At this time you do not want to be conspicuous in any way. You want to look as much like other women as possible so there will be nothing to draw notice to you. It is much better to choose current styles that can be adapted to maternity wear and use them in preference to special maternity clothes.” — The New Dressmaker, circa 1921, from Butterick Publishing Company via Hearth.

(Nevertheless, Lane Bryant had been selling maternity clothes since the early 1900s. See the company history at Funding Universe. (Caution from McAfee security about some ads on that site.)

AD for Lane Bryant Maternity catalog, Good Housekeeping, May 1930.

“Dresses and Corsets in latest modes, designed to conceal condition.” Ad for Lane Bryant Maternity catalog, Good Housekeeping, May 1930.

Ad for Lane Bryant maternity catalog, Good Housekeeping, January 1932.

“Maternity apparel with no maternity look… conceals condition.” Ad for Lane Bryant maternity catalog, Good Housekeeping, January 1932.

Of course, clothes that could also be worn after the baby was born were a good thing for the budget.

Confinement: Confined to Home

I’ve read enough Victorian novels to realize that women in the upper levels of society were expected to stop appearing in public once their condition became obvious — perhaps because contemporary fashion simply couldn’t accommodate an eight or nine-month baby bump, but also because this evidence of sexual activity was considered distasteful. (Playwright Louise Lewis discusses the old ceremony of “Churching” women to purify them after childbirth here;  however, the ceremony was not exclusive to  Catholics. A much more detailed examination of the practice can be found here.)

Modern mothers who are expected to leave the hospital the day after birth and resume their normal work routine may feel envious of women who once were expected to rest for a few days — or weeks. Depending on the era and region, a woman might be “confined” to her home for several weeks either before or after giving birth. (A brief article summarizing Victorian pregnancy practices for the upper classes can be found here. Queen Victoria herself gave birth nine times.)

In an era when paying and receiving “calls” occupied a good portion of a lady’s week, receiving callers — in a tasteful tea-gown — meant that the mother-to-be was not completely cut off from social activity; friends came to her. Elegant tea-gowns or dinner-gowns were still prescribed in the 1920’s and 1930s.

Store-bought Dinner-gowns suggested for maternity wear; Vogue magazine, 1924 and 1928

Store-bought dinner-gowns or tea-gowns suggested for maternity wear; Vogue magazine, 1924 and 1928. The surplice line, right, (a diagonal front opening closed at the side) was often recommended for maternity wear. (I can just imagine those sleeves trailing through the soup….)

By sheer serendipity, you can read about tea-gowns from 1915 at American Age Fashion.

But what about daytime maternity dresses in the nineteen twenties? That tubular style, the distinctive low waist-line — often accented by a snug horizontal belt or band — how did that work with a baby aboard?

Three semi-made dresses, Good Housekeeping, March 1927, p. 64. The one on the right is a maternity dress.

Three semi-made dresses, Good Housekeeping, March 1927, p. 64. The one on the right is a maternity dress. Sizes 14 to 44, $12.50. [This is a good example of why I hate microfilmed magazines! They do not digitize well….]

Here are three Vogue patterns from 1927. Find the maternity dress:

Vogue patterns 9462, 9457, and 9463. July, 1928. One is a maternity dress pattern.

Vogue patterns 9462, 9457, and 9463. July, 1928. One is a maternity dress pattern.

Vogue, July 1928, page 75.

Vogue, July 1928, page 75. Frock 9463, on the right, is a maternity pattern for sizes 14 to 46. [Sizes 14, 16, 18 and 20 were for teens and small women. Average sizes were sold by bust measure, e.g., 46 inches.] The dress in the middle is for teens to age/size 17.

At least No. 9463 has a hem that dips in front — which would become level as the abdomen grew. It does not appear to have a pleat or seam in back which could be let out for increasing girth. Perhaps the entire bulge was supposed to go above the low belt. No. 9463 was also recommended for “the large woman,” as if a pregnant woman’s weight gain was distributed equally all over her body.

Earlier in the 1920s, Good Housekeeping offered a pattern for this maternity dress in an article about its construction. Oddly, the pleated panels seem to be decorative, rather than a means of expansion.

A maternity pattern from Good Housekeeping, August 1923.

A maternity pattern from Good Housekeeping, August 1923.

“The pattern for this dress is cut in twelve pieces, as follows: two waist [bodice] sections; two sleeves; two skirt sections; a vest; a girdle [sash]; two strips for plaited panels for waist and skirt (front and back); a plaited [pleated] collar; and band for elastic. The front waist [bodice] section has a dart which takes care of some of the extra fullness thrown in to allow for the development of the figure. The front skirt section is wider than the waist [bodice] section after the dart is taken up, but this extra fullness may be adjusted at the hip and under the pleated panels, to be let out when it becomes necessary to open the dart in the waist. The front skirt section also has an extension at the top, which can be let down as necessary to adjust to the figure.”

Adding about three inches to the top of the center front of the skirt in a curve which tapers to nothing at the sides  is actually a clever idea (if you don’t mind taking the dress apart at the waist seam every few weeks) since it adds length at the waist in front, keeping the hem even and untouched.

The girdle [sash] “should fold over at the hips, not tie. The ends should come well down the length of the skirt.” “Have strips for panels hemstitched and then plaited — fine knife plaiting which can be done by any of the small shops or by a department store. Be sure to caution the worker” that the pleats in the two panels should not all run in the same direction, but folding toward or away from each other. — Laura I. Baldt, “How to Make a Smart Maternity Frock” in Good Housekeeping, August 1923.

In July of 1926 Professor Baldt recommended this maternity pattern, also available from Good Housekeeping.

A Good Housekeeping maternity pattern, July 1926, p. 79.

A Good Housekeeping maternity pattern, July 1926, p. 79. (Sorry for the photo quality.)

“It is a loose-fitting model, easy to put on and take off, and, with a few alterations from time to time, it may be adjusted to the figure quite easily.” “When it is necessary, the darts in the waist [bodice] lining may be let out; the plaits in the vest may be let out and also in the skirt, the last one being laid much deeper than the others for this purpose.The hem on the front of the tunic may be let out also, as it has a generous hem allowance to provide for this.”– p. 164

These made-to-order “Practical maternity clothes” could be ordered from Good Housekeeping Shopping Service in 1925.

Practical maternity dresses from Good Housekeeping, February 1925, p. 62.

Practical maternity dresses from Good Housekeeping, February 1925, p. 62.

“The dress above is a dark blue (also comes in black or brown) crepe de Chine coat effect over a beige under-dress, 36 to 46, $20.50. Gown at right is also of crepe de Chine, all colors, 32 to 42, $49.50. Both models are excellent in line for maternity purposes.”

They would have been worn over a maternity corset — thought necessary for healthy support — like these:

"Maternity girdle with front and back lacings is of pink satin, $10. Back-lace maternity corset of brocade damask, $10. Brassiere $3.50. Good Housekeeping, Feb. 1925, p. 62.

“Maternity girdle with front and back lacings is of pink satin, $10. Back-lace maternity corset of brocade damask, $10. Brassiere $3.50. Good Housekeeping, Feb. 1925, p. 62.

Side views of maternity corset,girdle, an brassiere, Good Housekeeping, Feb. 1925.

Side views of maternity brassiere, girdle, and corset. Good Housekeeping, Feb. 1925.

Lane Bryant maternity corset ad, Vogue, Nov. 15, 1925, p. 159.

Lane Bryant maternity corset ad, Vogue, Nov. 15, 1925, p. 159.

Some fun, huh?

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Bras, Corsets, Corsets, Foundation Garments, Girdles, Hosiery & Stockings, Maternity clothes, Nightclothes and Robes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Underthings, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

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