Category Archives: Underthings

Striped Underwear for Women, 1930’s

Van Raalte Stryps underwear in an ad from Woman's Home Companion, Nov. 1936.

Van Raalte Stryps underwear in an ad from Woman’s Home Companion, Nov. 1936.

Knit underwear for women was nothing new in the thirties, but it lost its strictly utilitarian appearance by featuring stripes and plaids, as shown by these lingerie ads. Van Raalte, a major manufacturer of rayon/silk knits, was even featured by Ivory Soap Flakes in this color ad:

This ad for Ivory laundry soap featured a striped knit undergarment from Van Raalte. Ladies'Home Journal, Jan. 1936.

This ad for Ivory laundry soap featured a striped knit undergarment from Van Raalte. Ladies’ Home Journal, Jan. 1936.

The model is swearing a “Singlette,” which, according to another ad, “rounds the bust and smooths the waistline.” The Singlette was recommended for wear under evening clothes, since it gave a smooth line from bust to hip. It cost $2 in 1937.

Under the bias satin evening gowns of the thirties, a perfectly smooth undergarment would be preferable to the lavish lace-trimmed underwear of the twenties, but plain knit undies looked stodgy and utilitarian. Striped fabric (which Van Raalte called “Stryps”) may have been an attempt to be both decorative and sleek.

Van Rallte ad from Woman's Home Companion, November 1936.

Van Raalte STRYPS ad from Woman’s Home Companion, November 1936.

Rayon & silk knit bra and panties set from Van Raalte, WHC, Nov. 1936.

Rayon & silk knit Stryps bra and pantie set from Van Raalte, ad in WHC, Nov. 1936.

In 1937, a new style of  Stryps panties is shown, with a snug band around the upper thigh instead of the loosely fitting tap pants style. These are more like briefs.

Van Raalte Stryps "Jigger pantie" with a Stryps bra and a long nightgown. Ad from WHC, Nov. 1937.

Van Raalte Stryps “Jigger pantie” with a Stryps bra and a long nightgown. Ad from WHC, Nov. 1937.

You could get Stryps pajamas, too.

Van Raalte Stryps ad from WHC, 1937. Bra, panties, nightgown, and pajamas.

Van Raalte Stryps ad from WHC, 1937. Bra, pantie, nightgown, and pajamas.

Prices for Van Ralte Stryps lingerie, from an ad in Woman's Home Companion, Nov. 1937.

Prices for Van Raalte Stryps lingerie, from an ad in Woman’s Home Companion, Nov. 1937. “For long wear and successful tubbing.” [i.e., washing.]

This ad reminds us that Stryps lingerie was available in many colors…

Prices and colors for Van Raalte Stryps lingerie, May, 1937.

Prices and colors for Van Raalte Stryps lingerie, May, 1937.

… “Petal Pink, Azure, Maize, Nile, Sun Orange, Coral, French Blue, Flame, White and Black.” The slip was available in two lengths. At a time when many families were living on $18 per week, Van Raalte underwear was moderately luxurious. A suggested budget for a college girl (1936) allowed 35 cents for a brassiere and 60 cents for a nightgown or slip — far less than the 75 cents or two dollars Stryps garments cost.

However, they must have been popular, because Munsingwear, a rival in the field of knit underwear, offered its own striped lingerie:

Ad for a striped slip from Munsingwear, WHC, April 1937.

Ad for a striped slip from Munsingwear, WHC, April 1937. [When an ad mentions youth, it’s usually aimed at older readers….]

In addition to striped undies and nighties, Van Raalte offered a line of plaid lingerie called “Kiltees.”

A Kiltees nightgown from Van Raalte, April 1937. Ad in Woman's Home Companion.

Kiltees lingerie from Van Raalte, April 1937. Ad in Woman’s Home Companion.

The “smooth, figure-moulding” singlette appears to act as a panties and bra combination, replacing the “envelope chemise,” the teddy, the “combination,” or “step-ins.” Click here for a gorgeous teddy.

A rayon and silk knit Kiltees nightgown from Van Raalte. Ad in WHC, April 1937.

A rayon and silk knit Kiltees strap-back nightgown from Van Raalte. Ad in WHC, April 1937. It cost $3.00.

Plaid knit undies from Van Raalte ad, WHC, December 1936.

Plaid knit undies in a Van Raalte ad, WHC, December 1936. “Run proof” knits were important to women who had been plagued by runs in their stockings.

The wide selection of colors, stripes, and plaids in these 1930’s undies surprised me. When Formfit Rogers collaborated with Emilio Pucci to create wildly patterned and colorful slips in the 1960’s, I felt quite daring! (I couldn’t afford the Pucci, but of course, there were copies.)

Incidentally, I have been searching for a photo of vintage Van Raalte Stryps or Kiltees garments — without success. I didn’t even find these ads online under “Van Raalte ad 1930s.” If you have encountered one of these garments, I hope these pictures help identify it. [Maybe they did not survive. Lastex is not mentioned in the ads, but there is s suggestion of “figure-moulding.”  Perhaps some Stryps fabric had a rubber content that did not age well?] Comments welcomed!

 

 

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Filed under 1930s, Bras, lingerie, Nightclothes and Robes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Slips and Petticoats, Underthings

Bodysuit Combination Blouse and Undergarment, 1927

This is one of those surprises that makes reading old magazines so much fun.

Combination blouse and panties, Butterick pattern 1493, from June 1927. Delineator, p. 34.

Combination blouse and panties, Butterick pattern 1493, from June 1927. Delineator, p. 34.

“Here is a costume that provides its own underclothing…. The two-in-one blouse slips on over the head and extends into panties.” [It would have had a button crotch, like other combination underwear, called “teddies,”  “step-ins,” or “an envelope chemise.”]

I remember wearing a bodysuit — that is, a blouse that stayed tucked in because, below the waist, it became a snap-crotched panty. As the “bodysuit” it was popularized by Donna Karan, and other manufacturers followed suit.

In 1927, Butterick sold this outfit as three separate patterns:  Blouse 1493, Skirt 1480, and Cardigan jacket 1367.

Three Butterick patterns from 1927: Combination blouse 1493, skirt 1480, and jacket 1367. Butterick patterns from Delineator, June 1927, p. 34.

Three Butterick patterns from 1927: Combination blouse 1493, skirt 1480, and jacket 1367. Butterick patterns from Delineator, June 1927, p. 34.

When writing about a 1929 blouse/underwear combination attributed to Madeleine Vionnet, I said, “The problem of wearing a 1920’s wrap skirt which rides far below the natural waistline (the skirt over a satin blouse would have a tendency to migrate around the body as you walk), and the problem of keeping the blouse tucked in when you sit and stand, or raise your arms, are both neatly solved by the “culotte blouse,” as it was called in 1929.

Delineator's sketch of a suit by Vionnet, and the Butterick copy, Pattern 2526. Delineator, March 1929.

Delineator’s sketch of a suit by Vionnet, and the Butterick copy, pattern 2526. Delineator, March 1929. This “culotte” blouse was also a “step-in” panty.

At the time, I was interested in the fact that a couture design using a very visible zipper and attributed to Vionnet in 1929 pre-dated Schiaparelli’s use of zippers by several years. [To read that post, click here.]

However, I was surprised to see this blouse and panties combination (Butterick  1493) even earlier, in June of 1927, when it was called the “Two-in-One Blouse.”

Text, page 34, Delineator, June 1927.

Text, page 34, Delineator, June 1927.

“The two-in-one blouse is more than a blouse — it is a combination tailored shirt and panties…. It is splendid for sports and for riding since it can’t pull up. ” A “printed silk cardigan” — “the most important sport jacket of the year” — sounds pretty nifty, too.

Butterick cardigan 1367 could be made of wool, velvetten, jersey, or printed silk. The skirt fabric was used for binding on the jacket, creating a suit look.

Butterick cardigan 1367 could be made of wool, velveteen, jersey, or printed silk. The skirt fabric was used for binding on the jacket, creating a suit look.

Pattern descriptions, Butterick blouse 1493, skirt 1480, and cardigan jacket 1367. Delineator, June 1927.

Pattern descriptions, Butterick blouse 1493, skirt 1480, and cardigan jacket 1367. Delineator, June 1927.

 

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Sock Suspenders: Garters for Men

Ad for men's stocking garters made by Hickok, Esquire, August 1934.

Ad for men’s stocking garters made by Hickok, Esquire, August 1934.

This garter ad is from 1917:

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/1917-jan-p-30-boston-garter-for-men-ad.jpg?w=500

Knitted stockings have been around for centuries. (Queen Elizabeth I liked the silk stockings she was given as a Christmas gift in 1561.) The Bata Shoe museum has a lovely pair of embroidered stockings for a lady which date to the early 1700s. But until the invention of Lastex elastic thread, around 1931, stockings tended to fall down without a garter or suspender to hold them up. (Men’s socks with “elastic ribbed tops” were available before that, although it’s not always easy to tell if the word “elastic” means “stretchy” or “made with latex/rubber.”)

Ad for Esquire silk stockings for men, Esquire magazine, June 1934.

Ad for Esquire Hose silk stockings for men, Esquire magazine, June 1934. These pure-silk-top hose would stay up better with a garter.

Before Lastex, exasperated mothers would yell, “Pull up your socks!” — sometimes, just to get their offspring to stop whatever else they were doing.Boy's patterns, Delineator, July 1917. Two of these children have sagging socks.
When an impeccably dressed gentleman undressed, however elegant his clothing, he eventually revealed his stocking garters. I’ve rarely seen a full illustration of a man wearing underwear, socks, and garters — perhaps because the result is faintly comical.

Men's underwear in an ad for Celanese, a plant-based synthetic fiber. 1934.

Men’s underwear in an ad for Celanese, a plant-based synthetic fiber. 1934.

I was surprised that men’s garters came in a riot of colors.

Men's stocking garters. Detail of Esquire illustration, March 1934.

Men’s stocking garters. Detail of Esquire illustration, March 1934.

Stocking garters for the college man. Esquire, March 1934.

Stocking garters for the college man. Esquire, March 1934. Illustration by Hurd.

Esquire, March 1934.

Esquire, March 1934. [Ripley’s Believe It or Not was a popular newspaper feature.]

A glimpse of stocking was a good thing, but a glimpse of hairy shins was not.

Socks were always on display when a man crossed his legs. Esquire, July 1934. Illustration by L. Fellows.

Socks were always on display when a man crossed his legs. Esquire, July 1934. Illustration by L. Fellows.

The well-dressed businessman wore sock garters to keep his socks from falling down around his ankles, or revealing skin when he sat with his legs crossed.

Distinguished suits for men, February 1934. Accessories include stocking garters, a pocket square, and men's jewelry. Esquire magazine illustration by Oxner.

Distinguished suits for men, February 1934. Accessories include stocking garters, a pocket square, a cuff link,  and a gold collar pin. Esquire magazine illustration by Oxner.

Some stocking garters had one fastener, in center front, but others had a garter on either side of the shin.

Men's sock garters from Sears catalog, circa 1930.

Men’s sock garters from Sears catalog, circa 1930. “Come in the color combinations men prefer.” “Neatly boxed,” because garters were a useful gift.

Ad for Paris Men's Garters. This ad appeared in the January issue, which was on news stands in time for Christmas shopping. Esquire, Jan. 1934

Ad for Paris Men’s Garters. This ad appeared in the January issue, which was on news stands in time for Christmas shopping. Esquire, Jan. 1934.

Judging from the men’s magazines and pin-up illustrations of my teen years, many men enjoy looking at a woman who is wearing a garter belt and stockings. I personally can’t imagine getting a similar erotic charge from the sight of a man wearing stocking garters — even in brilliant blue:

Hickok garters, 1934 ad. Esquire.

Hickok garters, 1934 ad. Esquire.

Fortunately for costumers, you can still buy sock garters — there are plenty listed on Amazon.

 

 

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, 1930s-1940s, Hosiery, Men's Haberdashery & Accessories, Menswear, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Underthings

Chic Undergarments for Ladies, 1917

Butterick patterns for ladies' underwear, Delineator, August 1917.

Butterick patterns for ladies’ underwear, Delineator, August 1917.

In 1925, Delineator fashion writer Evelyn Dodge recommended three ways to look thinner in nineteen twenties’ clothes. Her first suggestion was to wear a corset or lightly boned corselette. (Click here to read about 1920s corselettes.)
Her second recommendation was to stop wearing the bulky underwear of the previous decade.

Evelyn Dodge, writing in Delineator magazine, July 1925.

Evelyn Dodge, writing in Delineator magazine, July 1925.

The styles of the World War I era were not worn close to the body, so underwear did not have to be sleek or tight.

Some typical, military-influenced women's fashions from August 1917. Delineator, p. 50.

Some typical, military-influenced women’s fashions from August 1917. Delineator, p. 50.

The following images show Paris couture underwear from August 1917, followed by Butterick lingerie patterns from the same issue of Delineator magazine.

Underpinnings of Paris included lingerie by designers Premet, Doucet, and Jenny. Delineator, August 1917, p. 60.

“Underpinnings of Paris” included lingerie by designers Doucet, Premet, and Jenny. Delineator, August 1917, p. 60.

Paris lingerie by Premet, August 1917.

Paris lingerie by Premet, August 1917. This bridal set included “Pale pink voile, pale silver-blue ribbons, and pointed net embroidered with bouquets and baskets.”

Couture undergarments by French designers Doucet and Jenny. Aug. 1917.

Couture undergarments by French designers Doucet and Jenny; Aug. 1917. Left, pink voile combination trimmed with lace; right, cream yellow lace on pink satin knickers, outlined with “cocardes” of satin ribbon. The crotch of the combination is very low.

The simple ribbon straps (“braces”) seem to be a new idea on lingerie. (And they were already falling off women’s shoulders, as shown.) The Butterick corset covers shown later in this post, some of which covered the underarm area, were beginning to look old-fashioned [and they were.]

Couture undergarments by Premet, August 1917. Delineator.

Couture undergarments and nightgown by Premet, August 1917. Delineator.

Lingerie from Paris, by designers Doucet and Jenny. August 1917.

Lingerie from Paris, by designer Jenny. August 1917. Left, a petticoat made of sulphur-yellow “gaze” trimmed with lace; right, a box-pleated chemise of flowered muslin.

It’s impossible to imagine these garments under a narrow 1920’s dress.

A petticoat from Paris by Premet. August 1917.

A petticoat from Paris by Premet. August 1917. “The kilted skirt is …held in by a blue ribbon” at the hem. Pretty, but bulky….

A corded slip by Doucet, designed to be worn under the wide-hipped styles of 1917.

A slip by Doucet, designed to be worn under the wide-hipped styles of 1917. The ribbon-bound ruffles would keep a woman’s skirt far from her body. “Shoulder ribbons for both day and evening wear.”

Nightgowns, negligees, peignoirs, etc., were also shown:

Paris designer Doucet created this pleated nightgown and a peignoir with a classical Greek inspiration. August 1917. Delineator.

Paris designer Doucet created this pleated nightgown and a peignoir with a classical Greek inspiration. August 1917. Delineator.

To modern eyes, the models’ nightcaps (boudoir caps) are not very sexy. More about boudoir caps later….

The August issue of Delineator also showed a selection of Butterick lingerie patterns. The combination on the left has tiny underarm sleeves to protect clothing from perspiration.

Butterick combination 9347 and Butterick chemise 9353. Delineator, Aug. 1917, p. 49.

Butterick combination 9347 and Butterick chemise 9353. Delineator, Aug. 1917, p. 49.

Although called a chemise, Number 9353 has a very low crotch, probably closed with buttons between the knees. Number 9347 has an open crotch, like Victorian drawers. The top of No. 9347 is described as a “corset cover.”

9347-9353

Butterick nightgown pattern 9345 and combination 9343. August 1917.

Butterick nightgown pattern 9345 and combination 9343. August 1917. No. 9343 has a corset cover on top of open drawers.

9345-nightgown-and-9343-combination-500-1917-aug-butterick-p-49

The fact that not all women adopted new fashions immediately is shown by the inclusion of “corset covers;” the corset of 1917 did not cover the bust area, although it was often worn with a “brassiere.”

Bon ton corset ad, Delineator, May 1917. P. 71.

Bon Ton corset ad, Delineator, May 1917, p. 71.

BUtterick corset cover pattern #8478, drawers #9341, and princess slip #8973. Delineator, Aug. 1917.

Butterick corset cover pattern #8478, open drawers #9341, and princess slip #8973. Delineator, Aug. 1917.

corset-cover-8478-drawers-9341-princess-slip-8973-1917-aug-butterick-p-49

About those boudoir caps….

boudoir-caps-1917-delineator

They could be quite elaborate; probably the most lavishly decorated and well-preserved ones were from bridal trousseaux.

This vintage boudoir cap was embroidered with silver thread, which has tarnished to dark gray.

This vintage boudoir cap was embroidered with silver thread, which has tarnished to dark gray. Pomegranates are associated with fertility.

BUtterick boudoir cap pattern 9253, Delineator, August 1917, p. 52.

Butterick boudoir cap pattern 9253, Delineator, August 1917, p. 52. The “Castle cap” is a reference to dancer Irene Castle, a fashion trend-setter in the nineteen tens and twenties.

Vintage boudoir cap, 20th century.

Vintage boudoir cap, 20th century.

This vintage silk boudoir cap is trimmed with "wings" of crochet.

This vintage silk boudoir cap is trimmed with “wings” of orange crochet lace.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, Accessory Patterns, Corsets, Corsets, Foundation Garments, Hats, lingerie, lingerie and underwear, Nightclothes and Robes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Slips and Petticoats, Uncategorized, Underthings, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Underwear and lingerie, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing, Wedding Clothes, World War I

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

Sanitary Protection: Tampax Introduced 80 Years Ago

Detail, Ad for Tampax tampons, Woman's Home Companion, March 1937, p. 124.

Detail, Ad for Tampax tampons, Woman’s Home Companion, March 1937, p. 124.

When I saw this ad — “A few short months ago many women heard about Tampax for the first time….” — in Woman’s Home Companion, March, 1937, I was surprised. It was like running into an old friend, and finding that she’s a lot older than you thought.

Text of ad for Tampax, March 1937. WHC, page 124.

Text of ad for Tampax, March 1937. WHC, page 124.

“The first ad [for Tampax] appeared on Sunday, July 26, 1936, in the American Weekly. A Sunday supplement that was inserted in many major newspapers, it claimed the greatest circulation in the world, some 11 million buyers.”– Tampax history

I realize that discussing women’s sanitary needs is still not comfortable for many of us. However, now that the discussion of sales taxes on sanitary products is in the news, we are going to have to get comfortable discussing a normal function which about 51% of the world’s population experiences at regular intervals for approximately half of their lives.

"The proof is in the Wearing," said this Kotex ad in WHC, Nov. 1937. Pg. 119

“The Proof Is in the Wearing,” said this Kotex ad in WHC, Nov. 1937. Pg. 119. Women only discussed it in whispers….

I’m not sure which college dormitory friend coached me through my first use of a tampon from an adjoining bathroom stall — but I owe her a big “thank you!” In the sixties, if you found yourself in need of sanitary protection while visiting a friend’s house, and you asked her “if she had something,” she would usually ask your preference: “Mattress or plug?” — our way of classifying pads and tampons. But, until 1936, there was no choice.

Even before Tampax, vintage ads for Kotex and Modess pads were very discrete, lest young minds learn too soon about “feminine secrets.”

From an ad for Modess. Illustration by Dynevor Rhys. Delineator, April 1931.

From an ad for Modess. Illustration by Dynevor Rhys. Delineator, April 1931. It could be an ad for chic accessories.

The ads often featured women in slinky white dresses — or engaging in active sports while wearing white sportswear.

A 1933 ad for the Kotex Equalizer, with "Phantomized ends." Delineator, Sept. 1933. p. 77.

A 1933 ad for the Kotex Equalizer, with “Phantomized ends.” Delineator, Sept. 1933. p. 77.

Detail, Kotex ad, Delineator, August 1933.

Detail, Kotex ad, Delineator, August 1933. Sailing in white clothes.

When I learned about menstruation in the Girl Scouts, and again in the classroom (“girls only” for that “special” movie or filmstrip,) only external pads were mentioned. Until then (roughly 1954) my friends and I had been so puzzled by what came out of the dispenser in the ladies’ room at the VFW post that we once used some of our candy money to find out what came out of the dispenser. (Our parents were playing Bingo.) What we got was a box. We opened the box. It seemed to be full of white packing material, so we pulled it apart, and found nothing inside. (No Cracker Jack toy!) At this point, a grown up lady whom we did not know found us, accused us of being “filthy” little girls, and reported to our folks that we had been caught doing something nasty in the restroom. We remained bewildered. Why would you pay money for a box with nothing in it? The stuff in the box was clean and white, if not very interesting. So why was it “dirty” and “disgusting?”

In western society, women were (and as far as I know, still are) not eager to broadcast the fact that they are menstruating. And we still worry about “leaks”  — nobody wants to leave a bloodstain on the upholstery. So, many ads emphasized “safety.”

This 1937 ad for Kotex pads emphasized comfort --"can't chafe" even during active sports -- and safety -- "Can't fail" even on a long airplane trip. top of ad, Delineator, August 1937.

This 1937 ad for Kotex pads emphasized comfort — “Can’t Chafe” even during active sports — and safety — “Can’t Fail” even on a long airplane trip. Top of ad, Delineator, August 1937.

Bottom of Kotex ad, Aug. 1937. "Kotex can't fail" and "Kotex can't show."

Bottom of Kotex ad, Aug. 1937. “Kotex can’t fail” and “Kotex can’t show.”

Young women who have never known a sanitary pad that didn’t adhere to the crotch of a normal pair of panties may not understand the constant emphasis on “absolute invisibility.” “Even the sheerest dress, the closest-fitting gown, reveals no tell-tale lines or wrinkles.” “The rounded ends of Kotex are flattened and tapered to provide absolute invisibility.” And let’s not forget those “Phantomized ends.”

Consider the text of that early Tampax ad:

Detail of ad for Tampax, 1937.

Detail of early ad for Tampax, 1937.

That’s right — in the 20th century, before Tampax, a bulky pad had to be safety-pinned to an elastic belt. At each end of the pad was several inches of the wrapping material, without padding. This was pinned to the belt (in the 1920’s) or pulled through the celluloid or plastic device on the belt (in the 1930’s and for decades after), then folded back on itself, which made a lump fore and aft.

Sanitary belts and supplies from Sears catalog, 1924

Sanitary belts and supplies from Sears catalog, 1924. Notice the safety pins.

Ads for Beltx personal belt, with celluloid tabs for holding the ends of the napkin. Delineator, July and June 1929.

Ads for Beltx personal belt, with celluloid tabs for holding the ends of the napkin. An apparatus like this eliminated the need for safety pins. Delineator, July and June 1929.

Sanitary belts and a sanitary pad from Sears Catalog, 1937.

Sanitary belts and a sanitary pad from Sears Catalog, 1937. The safety pins are attached to prevent dropping them and losing them — a disaster if you weren’t at home and didn’t have another safety pin.

Sanitary belts from Sears catalog, 1937. You can see a pad with its end pulled through the clasp at top left.

Sanitary belts from Sears catalog, 1937. You can see a pad with its end being pulled through the clasp/tab1920s 1930s at top left. This is the kind of sanitary protection we girls were taught to use in the 1950’s.

Obviously, clinging silk dresses or knits would reveal bulges. ” ‘I warn women when they have gowns fitted,’ says a famous Modiste:’ ”

Text of a Kotex ad, Delineator, March 1929, p. 107.

Text of a Kotex ad, Delineator, March 1929, p. 107.

Image from Kotex ad, Delineator, March 1929, p. 107.

Image from the same Kotex ad, Delineator, March 1929, p. 107.

Modess Vacation ad, Delineator, July 1931.

Modess Vacation Special ad, Delineator, July 1931.

“Why worry about summertime protection? You can wear Modess under your sheerest dresses with an easy feeling of perfect safety — perfect comfort. The softly fluffed filler is cool and evenly absorbent. Modess will never be conspicuous, because the edges and corners are carefully rounded and it smoothly fits to the figure. It is deodorant — easily disposable.”

It can’t have been easy writing ad copy for a product that couldn’t be pictured, and whose purpose could only be hinted at. Here, a woman sits nervously while people in the background seem to be making fun of her.

Top of Modess ad, Ladies' Home Journal, 1936, p. 77.

Top of Modess ad, Ladies’ Home Journal, probably 1936, p. 77.

“What is this woman afraid of? Often a haunting fear spoils good times. But now — women can say goodbye to all that!”

In the second picture, thanks to Modess, she is playing golf in a white dress — with no fear of embarrassment.

Bottom of Modess ad, 1936.

Bottom of Modess ad, 1936.

In another ad, women ride bicycles while wearing pale-colored (probably white) dresses. White emphasized the “safety” from leaks and the sanitary”/”hospital cleanliness” of disposable pads. (And disposable pads were a a lot more pleasant than earlier home-made pads of folded fabric which had to be boiled clean after every use….)

Modess ad, September 1936. Woman's Home Companion.

Modess ad, September 1936. Woman’s Home Companion.

Nurses often appeared in ads for sanitary products, although images of the finished product itself were hard to find in popular magazines. (Images from the factory production line were acceptable.)

Kotex ad, Feb. 1932. Delineator.

Kotex ad, Feb. 1932. Delineator. “The known immaculacy of genuine Kotex.”

Nurses in Kotex ads. 1924 and 1932.

Nurses in Kotex ads, 1924 and 1932. They are not holding the product itself.

What really amazed me as I collected these images was the difference between close-fitting “sanitary protection” underwear and normal ladies’ underpants. Whether you call them “knickers,” or “bloomers,” or “combinations” these variations on women’s underpants from 1924-1925 are long and bulky:

Women's underwear, 1924: knickers, a "combination," and and "envelope chemise" which buttons at the very low crotch. Butterick patterns

Women’s underwear, 1924: knickers, a “combination,” and an “envelope chemise” which buttons at the very low crotch. Butterick patterns 3197, 4112, and 5059. The number sequence implies that the combination first appeared in the catalog in 1924.

Knickers or bloomers from women, 1925. Butterick patterns

Knickers or bloomers for women, 1925. Butterick patterns 6194 and 5705. These were worn by young women as well as by their mothers, and can sometimes be glimpsed in silent movies. (Note the use of elastic.) Delineator.

And yet, this is a pair of 1924 sanitary bloomers made by Kleinert’s (a company that also made underarm shields and baby pants — all products which used rubber as well as cloth.)

Kleinert's Blue-Line Santalettes, sanitary protection underpants, in an ad from September. Delineator. 1924.

Kleinert’s Blue-Line Santalettes, sanitary protection underpants, in an ad from Delineator, September, 1924.

By 1936, close-fitting women’s briefs as we now know them were finally appearing:

Panties and combination garments from 1936, Ladies Home Journal, August.

Panties and combination garments from 1936, Ladies Home Journal, August.

Ad for Spun Lo rayon knit panties, WHC, Dec. 1936, p. 89.

Ad for Spun-Lo rayon knit panties, WHC, Dec. 1936, p. 89. They appear to be very sheer — and ample….

But by then, Kleinert’s was selling what we would call a “French cut brief” for sanitary protection :

Ad for Kleinert's Sani-Scant, Delineator, April 1937.

Ad for Kleinert’s Sani-Scant, Delineator, April 1937. A traditional (but improved?) sanitary belt was also offered. Doesn’t that Sani-Scant look modern?

Kleinert’s knew how to make a pair of briefs that fit close to the body in 1924. But women didn’t get used to wearing sleek, close-fitting undies — except for long johns — for quite a while.

In 1931, the term "panties" was replacing "knickers" or "bloomers" in the U.S. Delineator, Sept. 1931.

In 1931, the term “panties” was replacing “knickers” or “bloomers” in the U.S. Delineator, Sept. 1931. Butterick patterns 4012 and 3798.

Apparently air circulation around “the privates” was preferred — at least, for most days of the month.

And the acceptance of internally worn sanitary products “even for unmarried girls” also had to overcome considerable prejudice in the thirties and later. (So did the use of anesthetics during childbirth, but we got over that, too….)

Sadly, some of the “ingredients” put into tampons — fragrances, synthetic materials, etc. — during the 1970’s and 1980’s caused fatal infections in some women. (Back in the 1930’s cellulosic materials –i.e., rayon, or plant based–  were used in external pads, but they turned out to be a bad idea in tampons.) It turns out that 75% of cases of Toxic Shock Syndrome were related to one specific brand of tampon: Rely.  It was withdrawn from the market.

There is an excellent history of the tampon in the Atlantic magazine which discusses toxic shock syndrome [TSS], ingredients that caused it, and legislation concerning tampons.  In 2015, Representative Carolyn Maloney introduced a bill regarding independent testing of the safety and ingredients of tampons, with oversight by the FDA. The Atlantic gave it just a 2% chance of passing in Congress.  In May of 2016, 40 states still charged sales tax on tampons, as if they were a not a necessity for women, but something we could easily do without. (Unlike candy, or potato chips….)

Here’s a possibly relevant fact: “When Sally Ride became the first American woman in space, NASA engineers asked her whether 100 tampons would be enough for her weeklong journey on the space shuttle Challenger—arguably helping cement the tampon’s reputation as both a fixture of modern womanhood and a complete mystery to men.” [My italics] — Ashley Fetters, writing  in The Atlantic. (A magazine which, as it happens, used to be called The Atlantic Monthly.)

Anyway, “Happy Belated 80th Birthday” to Tampax — a product that made my life a lot more pleasant.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, 1950s-1960s, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Underthings, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc

Summer Dresses from Butterick, July 1918, Part 2

Summer fashions from Butterick, Delineator, July 1918, page 51.

Summer fashions from Butterick, Delineator, July 1918, page 51.

These summer outfits — with one exception — are really blouse and skirt combinations. The blouses deserve a close-up look:

Butterick blouse patterns 9999 and 9997, Delineator, July 1918, p 51.

Butterick blouse patterns 9999 and 9997, Delineator, July 1918, p 51.

9995 and 1011, with skirts 1028 and 1001. The bag, with tassel trim, is Transfer pattern 10370. Delineator, July 1918, p. 51.

Butterick blouses 9995 and 1011, with skirts 1028 and 1001. The bag, with tassel trim, is Transfer pattern 10670. Delineator, July 1918, p. 51.

These sheer overblouses are smocked to provide a little fullness over the bust. "Smock or Blouse 9994 and Blouse 1012. Delineator, July 1918, p. 51.

These sheer overblouses are smocked to provide a little fullness over the bust. “Smock or Blouse” 9994 and “Smock or Blouse” 1012. Delineator, July 1918, p. 51.

Dress 1007 is bluish, with a slight teal or gray tint. Its pockets and hem area are either embroidered or use soutache braid as a trim. Butterick sold the transfer pattern for such embellishments: No. 10692.

Butterick dress pattern 1007, from July 1918, Delineator.

Butterick dress pattern 1007, from July 1918, Delineator.

Page 50, which had all the pattern descriptions, also showed three additional outfits in black and white illustrations:

Butterick patterns from Delineator, July 1918, p. 50. From left, Blouse 1025 with skirt 1020; dress 9934, and dress 1019.

Butterick patterns from Delineator, July 1918, p. 50. From left, Blouse 1025 with skirt 1020; dress 9934, and dress 1019.

Here are all ten outfits, with their original descriptions and alternate views — which are often quite different from their color illustrations.

Butterick blouse 9999 and skirt 9991, July 1918.

Butterick blouse 9999 and skirt 9991, July 1918.

The alternate view shows a very different, high necked version of the blouse; the U-shaped neckline was a fairly recent fashion, so the high-necked version was aimed at older or more conservative dressers.

Butterick blouse 9997 and skirt 1013, July 1918.

Butterick blouse 9997 and skirt 1013, July 1918.

The skirt pattern was available in waist sizes 24 to 38 inches. The alternate view has a “Peter Pan collar.” The actress Maude Adams toured extensively in the play Peter Pan, setting a fashion. Click here to see her Peter Pan collar. Click here to see more about this Turn-of-the Century beauty with a brain.

Butterick Smock or Butterick dress pattern 1007. Delineator, July 1918.

Butterick dress pattern 1007, July 1918. The illustration of the alternate view shows a high collared insert — perhaps a dickey or vestee?

Dress pattern 1007 came in a larger than usual size — 46″ bust — and has a surplice closing “becoming to every woman, whatever her age,”  so it was expected to appeal to older women, too. During World War I, Delineator fashion writing often used military phrases, such as “maintains the morale,” “obeys all orders,” and “dangerous to mankind.” (See Up Like Little Soldiers for more examples of jingoistic fashion writing.)

Butterick Smock or Blouse 1012 with skirt 9723. Delineator, July 1918.

Butterick Smock or Blouse 1012 with skirt 9723. Delineator, July 1918.

Notice that the fancy, smocked pocket is shown as part of the skirt pattern, although it is on the smock in the color illustration. This skirt is gathered in back, and forms a header/ruffle above the waistband. This smock is also shown with a Peter Pan Collar (or it may be a long Buster Brown…. see below.) If not made in sheer fabric, would it be a maternity top?

Another Smock or Blouse pattern from Butterick, No. 9994. This sheer blouse is shown over a "Foundation" -- a slip like underdress, meant to show. July 1918.

Another Smock or Blouse pattern from Butterick, No. 9994.  Foundation 9842. July 1918.

This sheer blouse is shown over a “Foundation” — a slip-like underdress, meant to show; the foundation looks more like a lingerie slip in the alternate view.

Butterick blouse 9995 with skirt 1028. Delineator, July 1918.

Butterick blouse 9995 with skirt 1028. Delineator, July 1918. The skirt was available in waist measurements 24 to 38 inches.

Butterick blouse 1011 and skirt 1001, July1918.

Butterick blouse 1011 and skirt 1001, July, 1918. More smocking gathers the bodice. This alternate view shows a “Buster Brown collar.

Buster Brown shoe ad, Nov. 1917. Delineator.

Buster Brown shoe ad, Nov. 1917. Delineator.

Butterick blouse 1025 with skirt 1020. July, 1918.

Butterick blouse 1025 with skirt 1020. July, 1918.

Butterick dress pattern 9934, from July 1918.

Butterick dress pattern 9934, from July 1918. The bodice can be made with either front or back closures, and “all of the most popular necklines.” The unusual sleeves were a popular style.

Her flower-covered hat has a sheer brim. (For others, click here or here or here.)

Butterick dress pattern 1019, July 1918.

Butterick dress pattern 1019, July 1918.

The hat shown in the middle of the page deserves a closer look. How did the wearer get through doorways, or into a car?

The hat is adorned with two feathers which appear to be ten or twelve inches taller than the hat.

The hat is adorned with two feathers which appear to be ten or twelve inches taller than the hat.

Perhaps the hatless lady in the foreground is making a comment?

Part 1 of Summer Dresses from Butterick, July 1918, is here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

page 51

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Accessory Patterns, bags, handbags, Hats, lingerie, Maternity clothes, Purses, Slips and Petticoats, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Vintage Accessories, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes, World War I