Category Archives: Hats

Paris Fashions, September 1917

“Fashions as Usual” from wartime Paris — from World War I, that is. Delineator, September 1917.

During World War I, Butterick’s Delineator magazine, which had an office in Paris, continued to publish sketches of French designer fashions. Some of the ten design houses featured in this article, such as Worth, Paquin, Doeuillet, Doucet and Poiret are still fairly well-known today; others (like Jenny, Beer, Margaine-LaCroix and Buzenet)  are not so well remembered.

A glittering black satin evening dress by Doeuillet, 1917. Doeuillet opened his fashion house in 1900.

“Among the jet sequins on the bodice and hem, Doeuillet uses a few of silver, making the motives of the embroidery shadowy, phantom-like, lovely. The dress is of black satin with argent [silver] roses at the waist. The train is black satin like the dress.”

A dress by Margaine-LaCroix with a criss-cross sash that is typical of 1917.

“Silk jersey in a faint shade of reddish pink which Margaine-LaCroix calls rust color, with sash and collar of sand-colored silk. The skirt is cut wider at the top and the cascades end in heavy tassels.”

Both of the dresses below use navy colored fabric, and one also uses “flag blue.” The colors of the French flag are bleu, blanc, et rouge, which patriotically appear in several of these fashions.

Left, an ensemble by Jenny: “navy serge with a rose-red collar and dog-leash belt;” right, a navy, black and “flag blue” pleated dress with tunic by Premet. 1917.

Delineator, a “woman’s magazine,” was jingoistic and used many military terms in its fashion writing in 1917-1918. Jenny’s “not strictly submersible” dress is a reference to submarines  (submersibles.)

This “pale prune-colored” Paris suit by Beer has a cream satin vest (“gilet”) embroidered to match. 1917.

This was the era of the “Tonneau” or barrel skirt, and the width of women’s hips is deliberately exaggerated, as in the skirt below, which is “narrower at the hem than at the hip,” like the dress by Margaine La-Croix.

This dress from Paris, by Buzenet, in blue serge and satin has an organdy collar embroidered in gold. 1917.

Paul Poiret showed a loose-fitting red jersey dress, embroidered in blue and ochre yellow, with big pockets. 1917.

Famous for his exotic designs in the 1910’s, Poiret was still very active in the 1920’s. His 1924 “Brique” dress at the V & A Museum is still charming.

French designer Jenny showed this pale gray dress with a sleeveless coat embroidered in fine lines of green stitching. 1917.

Jenny was also a very well known designer in the 1920’s.

An afternoon dress by Paquin, 1917, “has all the hallmarks of its era.” The “tablier” [apron] hangs from the shoulders

The House of Worth showed a gray redingote [overdress open down the front] with a peculiar, stiff collar, worn here with a very wide, bird-winged hat. 1917.

Doucet‘s “Russian Blouse” is trimmed with rows of stitching and features a cuff-like pocket, matching the actual sleeve cuffs, that goes all the way around its front hem. 1917. The “double” criss-crossing belt is very characteristic of this period.

Jacques Doucet was included in “Ten Influential Fashion Designers You’ve Probably Never Heard Of”  and Gustave Beer was included in its sequel, “Ten (More) ….” 

Jenny (born Jeanne-Adele Bernard, married name Jenny Sacerdote) was profiled here. (The designer Augusta Bernard, who called her fashion house Augustabernard to avoid confusion with other designers named Bernard, was apparently no relation.) The Costume Gallery  does an excellent job of profiling designers in brief histories, with lots of thumbnail illustrations. You can find Beer, Doeuillet, Doucet, Jenny, Paquin, Poiret, Premet, Worth and many more famous designers at The Costume Gallery. To make full use of its extensive research library and photo collections, a small subscription is required, but even using the public access part of The Costume Gallery site is wonderful. I’ve added it to my “Sites with Great Information” sidebar.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, Hairstyles, Hats, Vintage Couture Designs, World War I

Colorful Clothing for Girls and Boys, July 1926

Clothes for girls (and a boy) age 15 and under, Delineator, July 1926, page 30.

I’m making an educated guess at the age range, based on other Butterick illustrations. Teen girls aged 15 to 20 years were “Misses,” and they usually had their own pages of fashions in Delineator magazine. Butterick patterns for children often reflected adult style details; but styles for young children changed very slowly, so we sometimes find patterns that were released years before mixed in with brand new ones — in this group, two patterns numbered in the 5000’s appear among 6900’s.

From left, a girl’s dress and bloomers, Butterick 6923; a “suit” for a young boy, 6928; and another dress and bloomers set for a girl, Butterick 6905, with hat 6323. Delineator, July 1926. Matching or coordinating bloomers were part of a toddler’s outfit.

Girl’s dress (probably for 6 to 10 years) No. 6859, and a red bathing suit, Butterick 5210. July 1926. The bathing suit is unchanged from previous summers; it first appeared in 1924.

Red and blue often photographed as black, so I love seeing the red swimsuit. It buttons at the shoulders.

When I based a painting on this 1920’s photo of my cousins Gerald and Mimi, I made their bathing suits blue, but colors ranging from purple (or navy blue) to red, green, and brown all photographed as black.

My cousins enjoying the sprinkler in the 1920’s. I guessed that their swimsuits were blue; now I know they might have been red. At least I gave them red sandals!

Three Butterick patterns for girls: Left, 6878; center, 6043; right, 6915. July 1926.

The white and blue dress (6878) looks much like the dresses for grown-ups in the same issue:

These dresses are smocked near the shoulders and hip, but they could also be made with ruched or shirred gathers, like the girl’s dress. When the sleeves continued to the neckline, forming a yoke, as on the left, they were called “saddle shoulders.”

The lavender dress has a sort of scalloped front; scallops were also used on this woman’s dress:

Scallops bound with bias tape decorate the front of a woman’s dress and a girl’s dress, both from 1926.

This is my favorite:

Butterick 6915 has colorful dots and a red tie that weaves in and out of openings on the front of the dress.

The same detail is seen in a dress for older girls:

Dresses for school-age girls, Butterick 6959, left, and 6909. July 1926.

Like the scalloped lavender dress above, the polka dotted dress (6959) can be tightened at the hip with button tabs. Perhaps the tie on the back of the flowered dress (6909) serves the same function.

Butterick 6908 is shown in a large floral print. It has a “saddle shoulder.” Its “collar” becomes a long tie — very common in this period.  Butterick 6087 is shown in coral red, trimmed with blue and white smocking.

Butterick embroidery design 10365 shows variations on smocking. From the August, 1925 Delineator.

Dresses for girls and women were often shown with smocking near the shoulder or hip, and sometimes at the neckline and wrist.

In the center, a Misses’ smocked dress pattern, 6012, from May, 1925. Left (6963) and right (6087,) smocked dresses for girls from July 1926.

Butterick patterns for little girls: Left, 6963 with hat pattern 6753; right, Dress and bloomers No. 6911 with hat 5557. Illustrated in July 1926.

In addition to children’s patterns illustrated in color, these outfits for boys and girls were shown in black and white, with a touch of yellow:

Matching brother-and-sister outfits from July 1926: Butterick boy’s “suit” 6948 and girl’s dress 6958. They look like they are wearing blouson jackets; in the twenties, a “dress” pattern could mean a separate top and skirt, often a skirt suspended from the shoulders on a sleeveless bodice.

The little girl wears Butterick dress 6917; the boy’s suit has shorts which button to his shirt and a “bib front…”

… like this woman’s dress (in yellow) from the same July 1926 issue of Delineator.

Left, a bib front dress from June, 1926; right, a bib front dress from July, 1926. Both from Delineator.

July is time to start planning a fall wardrobe, so these stylish coats for older girls were also shown:

A caped coat pattern, Butterick 6920, and a top-stitched coat, No. 6955, with Butterick hat pattern 6089. July 1926, Delineator. By making your own hat, you could match it to your dress, as shown at right. The hat on the left, however, has a grown-up buckle trim that must have made its wearer feel very sophisticated.

Notice how short these coats for girls are. I sometimes think that young women adapted easily to the shortest of nineteen-twenties fashions because they had never worn longer ones. Below are some coats for young women aged fifteen to twenty from the previous season — March, 1926.

Coats for Misses 15 to 20 or small women, Delineator, March 1926, p. 27.

By comparison, they look too long to me! By the end of the year, such coats were probably being shortened:

Couture by Berthe, left, and Vionnet, right. Delineator, January 1927.

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Filed under 1920s, Bathing Suits, Children's Vintage styles, Hats, Sportswear, Swimsuits, Vintage patterns

Cloth Bonnets for Sun or Indoors

A vintage sunbonnet, which shows signs of wear.

I know next to nothing about millinery. However, a recent conversation with Linda Rahner about sunbonnets reminded me that I photographed several from a collection that has since been sold. The same collection had Victorian cloth bonnets which may have been made to be worn alone indoors, or under a hat, and it seems logical that their construction would inspire the cloth bonnets used for sun protection. So here are a few sunbonnets and — perhaps — some of their antecedents.
[Tip: If you ever try to search for sunbonnets online, be sure to limit your search by adding “-sue -baby.” Otherwise, Sunbonnet Sue quilts will dominate your results…. ]

This American photo from the late twenties or early 1930’s shows a woman, on the left, wearing a sunbonnet; on the right, her daughter wears trousers.

It's the 1930s. The woman on far right is wearing trousers. Her mother, far left, wears a sunbonnet.

Trying to date vintage sunbonnets must be a nightmare, because sunbonnets are still being made and sold. The needs of re-enactors, docents at historic sites, and participants in local history days have resulted in many commercial patterns for sunbonnets.

I’m pretty sure this one is “the real thing,”  because it is almost worn out.

A threadbare sunbonnet in grayish brown cloth. Its brim is stiffened with padding and diagonal machine quilting and sticks out quite a way to shade the face.

A close up of the worn sunbonnet. Some white selvedge shows in the ruffle.

Back of the worn brownish sunbonnet. The neck cover is not very long. I have no idea about its date except that it’s machine stitched.

This checked gingham sunbonnet is in very good condition — which makes me wonder if it was really worn for working outdoors.

This sunbonnet is made from striking fabric, so perhaps a reader can identify when it was probably made. It does appear to have been worn more than once. It is stiffened with padding and parallel rows of stitches.

Even this blurred photo shows that it would give the back of your neck good protection.

The rickrack trim on this blue sunbonnet makes me think it may be from the 1930’s — but other opinions are welcome!

This crisp sunbonnet is made of blue chambray and trimmed with rickrack. Perhaps it was a gift — “too good to wear” for yardwork.

Little girls continued to wear variations on sunbonnets in the 1940s.

My friend’s collection also included some white bonnets, definitely vintage, which I am utterly unqualified to date. However, some have long back flaps (like sunbonnets;) some have been stiffened with parallel rows of cording or quilting; and the basic coif shape goes back a long, long way. If you recognize the period for any of these, feel free to share your knowledge:

The simplest white bonnet or house cap:

One piece of fabric forms the front; another is gathered into a back. The stripes are woven into the cloth. The seam between the front and back is piped.

The front has a single ruffle trimmed with lace framing the face.

A closer view of the lace and fabric. Is it machine lace?  The ruffle is actually pleated into place rather than gathered.

Here’s a close up of the fabric — badly mended in one spot:

The fabric looks like linen to me. A hole was badly mended.

There is a drawstring in the back casing (and a French seam.)

Like the front, the back is trimmed with a single ruffle.

A more complex cap or bonnet looks similar from the front:

The front of this bonnet or cap is very simple . . .

But from the side, it’s another story:

Parallel rows of cording stiffen this cap. It also has a long flap in back, pleated rather than gathered.

A closer view of the cording.

The cording appears to be hand stitched.

I just discovered that a similar bonnet was illustrated in Godey’s Lady’s Magazine in 1857.

Is a cap like that one the ancestor of those sunbonnets?

This one — perhaps a house cap? — is too elaborate for farm work:

Definitely meant to be seen, this bonnet has ruffles and cording everywhere — even running down its back.

The be-ruffled bonnet seen from the front. If it was intended to be starched, what a nightmare to iron!

This is the ruffled bonnet seen from the rear. It has a long neck flap, too.

For all I know, one or more of those is really a night-cap….

It’s not quite fair to judge this last masterpiece (and it is one!) without starch, but, since starch attracts insects, it was washed thoroughly before being put into storage. Try to imagine the hand-embroidered lace freshly ironed and standing crisply away from the face:

A front view. The ties are very long.

A closer look at the hand-embroidered cutwork lace.

The same hat viewed from above; in addition to the long ties that go under the chin, there are ties ending in a bow on top.

A close up of the quilting which stiffens the brim.

A very chic cap or bonnet in profile — I’ll go out on a limb and say “probably late 1830s.”

The voluminous crown suggests that it was made to be worn over a hairstyle like this one:

Fashion plate from La Mode, Sept. 1838. The Casey Collection.

Back view of a tulle bonnet trimmed with marabou, The Lady’s Magazine, Feb. 1837. Casey Collection.

An assortment of bonnets from World of Fashion, Nov. 1838. Casey Collection.

An earlier cloth bonnet or coif can be seen in The Bonnet Maker, Costumes d’ouvrieres parisiennes, by Galatine, 1824. (Zoom in to see the details of her embroidered bonnet, and the corded bonnets in her hand.)

I no longer own my Godey’s  or Harper’s fashion plate anthologies, so I present all these photos for the enjoyment of those who do. Happy hunting.

P.S. If you have never visited the Casey Collection of Fashion Plates, there’s a link in my “Sites with Great Information” sidebar.

 

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Filed under 1800s-1830s, 1830s -1860s fashions, 1860s -1870s fashions, 1870s to 1900s fashions, 1900s to 1920s, 1930s, Early Victorian fashions, Hairstyles, Hats, Hats, Mid-Victorian fashions, Uniforms and Work Clothes, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing

Du Barry Fashions, August 1939

Cover, Du Barry Fashions Prevue store flyer, August 1939. What a hat!

Du Barry patterns were sold by Woolworth’s — we called it the “dime store,” or the “five and ten,” as in the 1931 song lyric, “I found a million dollar baby in a five and ten cent store.” ( Click here to hear it .)

Page 6, Du Barry pattern flyer, Aug. 1939.

Page 5, Du Barry pattern flyer, Aug. 1939.

The Du Barry flyer from August 1939 shows relatively few patterns — but illustrates the same patterns in different “views” on several pages.

Du Barry pattern 2306 was illustrated on page 2 and on page 4 of the August 1939 flyer.

Du Barry pattern 2304B, an “Easily-Made” frock for sizes 12 to 20, appeared on both page 3 and page 5; August 1939.

Here are three versions of the dress featured on the cover, Du Barry pattern 2319.

Du Barry pattern 2319 in yellow, as shown on the cover. Aug. 1939.

“Choose this soft afternoon frock for sheer flattery. Sizes 32 through 42. Slide fastener for side placket 9”. Du Barry 2319B illustrated in a sheer fabric, page 3 of flyer, Aug. 1939.

Earlier dresses with side openings used snaps. By 1939 a slide fastener was mentioned in the pattern description, so side zippers must have been common, but not yet taken for granted with all dresses.

“A soft afternoon dress that is perfect for sheer fabrics.” Du Barry 2319B illustrated in a purple print fabric. Store flyer, page 6, Aug. 1939. Available in sizes 32 through 42 bust measurement. Note the sophisticated expression on the model — she is an adult woman, not a teen.

You can usually tell which designs are aimed at younger women and teens by the faces and illustration style, but the size range — 12 to 18, or 12 to 20 — is also a clue.

“A smart-looking dress and jacket,” Du Barry pattern 2300B, was available for sizes 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18.

“Easily-Made” frock for sizes 12 to 20; Du Barry pattern 2307B from 1939.

“A dress and petticoat ensemble” for younger women and teens, sizes 12 through 20. Du Barry pattern 2318B from Aug. 1939 flyer, illustrated on two pages. “Convenient closing” referred to other dresses, not this one.

Du Barry pattern 2314B is a “jumper frock that will delight the young miss. Sizes 12 to 18.” 1939.

The evening cape with hood accompanies a gown with a “vest-like bodice” for young or small women size 12 to 20. Du Barry pattern 2309B; Aug. 1939 flyer.

Tailored styles like this pink dress ( Du Barry 2316B)  and the sporty pleated one (2311B) were also for sizes 12 through 20. This sizing dates back to the time when patterns for teens and small women were sized by year, rather than by bust measure. (See “Size 16 years. What Does That Mean?”

Right: this pink tailored dress, Du Barry 2316B, is for teens and small women, sizes 12 to 20.

It could be made with a zipper front closing instead of buttons, as shown in white with red stitching (Scroll  down.)

Left, “A tailored dress designed for comfort. Stitched pleats are an added feature.” Du Barry pattern 2311B, store flyer, Aug. 1939. Sizes 12 to 20.

The Du Barry/Woolworth’s pattern flyers also contained ads for other products, from chewing gum to sanitary belts.

DuBarry pattern 2305B appeared twice on page 5 — once in an ad for Wrigley’s Doublemint Gum.

“Du Barry Patterns are 10 Cents Each — for sale exclusively by F. W. Woolworth Co.”

Du Barry 2305B was available in sizes 12 through 20 and for women bust sizes 30 to 38 inches. 1939. A tie in back ensures a snug fit.

I was pleased to see so many dresses made with visible zippers — a style introduced by Parisian designers in 1936-37. (This is mentioned briefly in Robert Friedel’s book, Zipper: An Exploration in Novelty.)

Du Barry pattern 2313 B illustrated with a slide fastener down the front and trimmed with parallel rows of top-stitching. August 1939 store flyer, p. 6. Sizes 14, 16, 18, 20 and 40.

“Attractive and trim for mornings at home,” Du Barry housecoat pattern 2317B from 1939 has a zipper front closing.

[Schiaparelli is usually credited with being the first, but that’s not strictly accurate. One Butterick pattern with both practical and decorative zippers appeared in 1928. Schiaparelli did encourage the manufacture of colored plastic zippers.]

“Convenient closings with slide fasteners” were featured on DuBarry patterns 2313B (again) and 2316B, from 1939. Page 7 of store flyer.

Is it possible that DuBarry patterns with zipper closings were featured because the same flyer contained this Talon ad?

An advertisement for Talon slide fasteners from a Woolworth’s Du Barry store flyer, Aug. 1939, p. 7. “For decorative purposes — ask for the TALON plastic fastener.”

Although in common use, the word “zipper” technically belonged to the B.F. Goodrich company. (See Flappers, Galoshes, and Zippers for more about the history of the slide fastener.)

My mother still wore a long housecoat very much like this one in 1947 or so; hers was a large floral print in blue seersucker, without a collar. It had these sleeves, but it zipped down the front.

Du Barry housecoat pattern 2317 was shown in two versions, on two different pages. Aug. 1939.

(I call this blog “witness2fashion” because I saw clothes like this being worn.)

 

 

 

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Filed under 1930s, 1930s-1940s, Hats, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Purses, Vintage Accessories, Vintage patterns, Zippers

Before “Twenties’ Fashions” Had That Twenties’ Look

Fashions for women from Butterick patterns, February 1924. Delineator Magazine, page 32.

The iconic look of nineteen twenties’ fashions — dropped waists, short skirts, an emphasis on youth — didn’t really dominate until the latter half of the decade. These styles from 1924 don’t suggest flaming youth.

Butterick coat 5055 with skirt 4743, from 1924.

These outfits from the tubular twenties have very long skirts, just exposing the ankle area. Women’s hemlines are not much changed from 1917. The 1924 Butterick suit coat shown above, from the lower left of the page, not only looks matronly to me, it reminds me of the suits of 1910, although the body ideal is quite different.

More suits from The Gimbel Book, a 1910 catalog in the Metropolitan museum collection.

Another suit, from the Bendel Collection, by French designer Jenny has a vague twenties’ look, hinting at a lowered waist, but it is actually from 1914. Here’s a closer look at that Butterick style for 1924:

The coat is long, the bust is low, and the waist is ignored. 1924. Butterick also sold the hat pattern, a Tam-o Shanter, No. 4886.

An illustration from later in 1924 shows that this shapeless look (with the same hat) was not necessarily for older women:

Butterick hat pattern No. 4886, is worn with a coat (Butterick 5120) and matching skirt (Butterick 4983.) in Delineator, April 1924.

Returning to the top of page 32, a “box coat,” elaborately embroidered using Butterick transfer pattern 10181, is at left. The dress worn under it does have a dropped waist.

At left, Butterick’s box coat pattern 5052 over dress 4721. From 1924. The outfit at right is made from coat pattern 5051 over dress 4789.

Butterick coat pattern 5053 treats the female body as a long cylinder, although this pattern was available up to bust size 46 inches, which assumed a proportionately bigger hip measure.

Left, a “coat dress,” Butterick 5054, with embroidery pattern 10191; right, a mannish suit made from “sack coat” 5040, blouse 4790, and skirt 4753. Delineator, Feb. 1924, page 32.

The sack coat (as in the traditional sack suit worn by men) is shown with a Butterick hat pattern, 4973. From 1924.

Here’s another illustration of hat 4973, worn by a much more girlish model, from April of 1924.

This last coat, from the lower right side of page 32, is rather charming, perhaps because it looks more like the fashions to come:

Butterick coat pattern 5032, Delineator, February 1924.

The model is drawn as a teen; her hem shows just a bit more leg, and the coat’s pin-tucked trim on cuff and collar hints at an Art Deco influence.

Butterick coat 5032 — with a swirling button — and cloche hat pattern 4973 again.

When I look at these styles, I can hardly wait for the “real” twenties to begin. As in the 1960’s, styles favored by young women and teens became dominant as the decade progressed.

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Filed under 1920s, Accessory Patterns, bags, Hats, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Butterick Vacation Wardrobe for $25, 1933

You could make a complete summer vacation wardrobe — six outfits — for just $25 from a set of Butterick patterns. Delineator magazine, May 1933, p. 69.

The Butterick company’s target market in the 1920’s was upscale; there were regular reports on French fashions, and even a new column giving women financial advice during the stock market boom of the late twenties. But in this Depression Era article from May, 1933, the emphasis is on economy.

The accessories suggested include some rather elegant shoes, a sweater, and, as explained in the text, only one hat that you couldn’t make for yourself.

I’m not surprised that those shoes were expensive.

A Store-bought black straw hat for summer, 1933. Delineator, May 1933, p 69.

A store-bought sweater and a home-made hat, May 1933; Delineator.

Other gloves and hats could be made from Butterick patterns:

Butterick glove pattern 5135, hat pattern 5126, and clutch purse No. 3131. Delineator, May 1933.

Notice the extended shoulders on most of these clothes.

Butterick Skirt 4908, worn with a sweater and coat 5043; next, dress 5019  in a fine print; “tennis dress” 5104 made in white; and afternoon dress 5095 in a floral print voile fabric. May, 1933. Delineator magazine.

In addition, a print suit (a dress plus jacket) and a “Letty Lynton” – influenced evening gown were part of the twenty-five dollar wardrobe.

Butterick evening gown pattern 5069 from May, 1933.

The stiff, sheer layered sleeves show the influence of Adrian’s design for Joan Crawford in the film Letty Lynton.

Butterick jacket dress 5107, 1933.

The $25 budget didn’t include accessories, not even the ones made from Butterick patterns.  However, there is an emphasis on the need for wardrobe planning:  coordinating your pieces so that they can all be worn with either black or white accessories. (And, if you could afford a vacation in 1933, setting some limits would definitely make packing easier.)

The cost per outfit of making the $25 wardrobe. Delineator, May 1933. Page 69.

The cost of the Butterick patterns themselves ranged from fifty cents (the jacket dress or the evening gown) to thirty-five or forty-five cents for the other dresses, and twenty-five cents for the hat pattern, which included three styles. I wonder if the big, stylish buttons were included in the price estimates.

In 1936, a woman fresh out of college could expect to earn about $80 per month. According to one article, on this salary, she could even afford to take a vacation…. https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/1936-oct-working-college-grad-woman-budget-end.jpg?w=500

She can “join a savings club and see the world. Happy landing, we say.” — Woman’s Home Companion, October 1936.

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Filed under 1930s, Accessory Patterns, bags, Gloves, handbags, Hats, Purses, Shoes, Sportswear, Vintage Accessories

A Mother’s Day Meditation on My Mother’s Hair (and Maternity,) 1940s

An evening hairstyle from a Vogue fashion flyer, May, 1939.

My mother’s friends joked about her vanity, calling her “glamourpuss,” but she stayed with this 1939 hairstyle for at least ten years.

My mother’s hair, worn in two rolls over her forehead from the late 1930s until about 1950.

I’ll admit, it suited her. In this picture, she’s dressed for the Fourth of July, always a big occasion in our town, with a parade and rodeo.

Her hair, without a hat.

If you’re interested in World War II era hairstyles, I can tell you  how she did hers:  she parted it down the center from forehead to nape, then sectioned off the front. In back, her very long hair was braided into two braids, each long enough to wrap over the top of her head, or around the base, from ear to ear and back, where the ends were tucked neatly under the wide part of the braid. The braids were kept in place with both bobby pins and hairpins, as needed. The rolls were curled in toward the center and secured with pins.  Oddly, I never saw hairspray until the 1950s. She didn’t use it.

The style worked well with hats, and, until I came along, she worked as a secretary for a tobacco company in San Francisco, so she wore a hat to work every day, commuting by train.

My mother in a wide hat, during World War II

Although she had been one of the first girls in town to bob her hair in the early 1920s, she didn’t adopt a short 1950’s Toni perm until a radical mastectomy made it impossible for her to raise both arms over her head.  She couldn’t manage this braided hairstyle any more. Although she hated to cut her long hair, in fact the perm made her look much more youthful because it wasn’t an outdated style, but the latest thing. But that’s not why I’m writing this for Mother’s Day.

While looking through old photos for examples of this hairstyle — which I was stunned to actually find illustrated in that Vogue fashion flyer…

My mother wore her hair in the style illustrated with this 1930’s evening gown pattern from Vogue.

… I was equally surprised to find this photograph of my mother (and me.) I’ve been writing about maternity fashions of the twenties, thirties, and forties. And here is my mother wearing a smock, a few months before I was born:

Maternity wear, 1945. Before motherhood, her hair was a long pageboy in back. Once she had a baby to take care of, she grew long braids and pinned them up.

The fact that this photo exists surprises me. I remember overhearing her bragging that out-of-town friends who came to visit her when she was six months pregnant didn’t realize that she was expecting a baby. (My cynical adult self wonders if they were too polite to mention her weight gain.) On the other hand, no one expected her to have her first child at the age of forty. Also, this was a period when fashion magazines still advised pregnant women to be “inconspicuous” — it wasn’t until Lucille Ball wore maternity clothes on America’s most popular TV show in 1952 that the media stopped being embarrassed by visible pregnancy. The Post-War baby boom ushered in attractive maternity clothing — clothing that celebrated instead of concealing. But that’s a topic I mentioned in my last post.

Probably because my existence put a new financial strain on the household, I don’t think my mother — now that she didn’t have an office job in The City — allowed herself many fashion extravagances. Nevertheless, here we are around 1946. She still looks good in a hat:

My mother, a proud parent at age 41. Her hat has a veil, her knee-length coordinating dress is decorated with metal studs, her figure is back to normal, and her love of pretty new clothing seems to be directed at her offspring’s outfit. 1946 or 1947.

To everyone who makes those willing sacrifices — Happy Mother’s Day.

 

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Filed under 1930s-1940s, 1940s-1950s, Hairstyles, Hats, Maternity clothes, Musings, vintage photographs