Category Archives: Hats

Conventions of Mourning, 1910

“The Conventions of Mourning,” an article by Eleanor Chalmers which appeared in Delineator magazine in March, 1910.

Costumers often need information about etiquette and social conventions for the era they are researching. I’m happy to have found this article from March, 1910. I’ve broken it up into segments for legibility. One of the interesting things it mentions is the difference between mourning customs in England and the United States. This magazine, Delineator, was published in both countries and aimed at a middle class or upper middle class reader in the United States, with regular reports on French couture.

The conventions of mourning are different depending on relationship to the deceased. Notice that these three women probably represent three generations; complete mourning dress for a younger girl was shown on the next page.

These women in mourning are different ages, with the early-middle-aged one at the left, the youngest in the center, and the eldest at right. Perhaps the one on the right is the mother, and the one in the middle is her grown daughter. Their clothes would be black, but have been illustrated in shades of gray so the details are more visible.

“The deepest mourning is that worn by a widow for her husband. A widow should wear deep mourning for a year or eighteen months….”

This woman appears to be wearing the widow’s “Marie Stuart bonnet of black crepe with a ruching of white crepe near the face.”

This appears to be the widow. Her veil is bordered in black and very long. Her hat has a touch of white.

Collars and cuffs for widows. 1910. White organdy was lined with stiff black buckram or crinoline.

[Presumably your ladies’ maid would be responsible for making new organdy collars and cuffs every day!]

“One can wear pearls and diamonds, … but no gold, silver, or colored jewels…. Black furs…. Sable has always been accepted as the equivalent of black.” [Well, that must have been a relief….]

In America, black “bands on the sleeves are only worn by servants or people too poor to afford proper mourning.”

I would not describe this hat as a toque. I defer to wiser writers…..

It’s sometimes not clear whether the word “for” refers to the deceased or to the wearer of mourning. “For a young child may mean “worn by a young child” but the context suggests that a mother is not expected to mourn as long for a young child as for a grown child. [My own great-grandmother had twelve children, but only three survived her.]

Young girls might wear all white mourning instead of all black.

All white, especially for [i.e., on] young girls, is considered full mourning…. A girl of 12 or 14 might wear black for a parent or sibling, but it wasn’t obligatory.

“Black and white mourning is only half mourning; in fact, it is worn so much nowadays by smartly gowned women that it hardly suggests mourning at all.”

“For a brother or sister full mourning is worn for a year…. If mourning is worn at all for a grandparent, it is worn for six months; for an aunt or uncle, three months [unless that relative was acting in loco parentis….]

“Mourning means a withdrawal from society, and no formal entertaining or visiting is done throughout its duration.”

“I have said nothing about mourning [to be worn by] children, as there is a very strong feeling against it in this country…. With men, too, mourning is never emphasized as it is for women.”

So, when the husband dies, the wife mourns for 18 months. When the wife dies, the husband wears black for a year, and a black hatband. “Many American men do not wear mourning at all….” [Of course, the widower is expected to “go into society” looking for a replacement after six months or so….]

Mourning hats and veils, 1910. Delineator, March 1910; pp. 243 & 244. Black fur and diamonds were acceptable, but gold or silver jewelry was not.

 

 

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What’s Going on Here? Tops and Skirts from 1914

Almost the full page image of four outfits from Delineator, April 1914. Four outfits: eight patterns.

This is a follow-up to a post that showed this image without any explanation. In 1914, Delineator was a large format magazine, much bigger than the average computer screen (or modern magazine) so I will have to chop up that image to show details of these outfits. The opposite page gave more information about each one, so I also have line drawings and alternate views to share.

Important fact: Not one of these outfits is a dress. They are all separate tops and skirts.

Butterick pattern numbers for the brown and blue-gray outfits at the top right of the page.

It’s not always easy to figure out whether you’re looking at a dress, a skirt and “waist” [i.e., blouse,] or a “coat” and skirt in these fashions from 1914. Luckily, the old Delineator supplied plenty of alternate views.

Sometimes an alternate view  looks so different from the major illustration that only the pattern number shows that they are variations of the same garment. I’ll start by dissecting the gold-colored suit at top left.

Butterick coat 6790 with skirt 6806. Delineator, April 1914.

Coat 6790 and skirt 6806 look like a suit with a long jacket — that’s an illusion.

First surprise: the jacket only reaches the waist.

Coat 6790 with an alternate view, the lapel buttoned.

Front and back views of coat/jacket 6790.

The skirt includes a long tunic top.

Skirt 6808 with two alternate views.  The skirt, drawn in plaid with a bias cut top and two rows of buttons, looks very different.

Butterick waist 6791 with skirt 6792. April 1914, Delineator.

The height of these hats makes it hard to do justice to the entire outfit at once.

Back and front views of waist 6791. In the color version, the waist is two-toned and has a blue and white collar and “vest.”

Alternate views of waist 6791. This view, made in sheer or print fabric, has a high neckline instead of the V-neck shown in the color illustration.

Skirt 6792 has two tiers over the skirt itself.

Skirt 6792 could also be made in a sporty plaid, with more buttons, too. I wonder: were the tunics always cut on the bias, being based on a circle segment? Was the back always placed on the straight grain?

These skirts must have been very warm, if every layer was lined. The drawing of the waistline on all these skirts shows how the corset of 1914 distorted a woman’s body; the boned front of the corset forced her abdominal area into a straight line, pushing the hips and pelvis back — which caused a sway-backed effect. The waistline of the skirt is therefore higher in the back than in the front — one reason why vintage blouses from the WW I era don’t stay tucked into your skirt in back if you aren’t wearing a 1914 corset!

Ad for the Nu-Bone corset, Delineator, March 1914. You can see how the straight-front corset forces the hips and pelvis back.

This Nu-Life corset is higher in back than in front — just like the skirts’ waistbands.

Waist 6799 with skirt 6800.

Incidentally, George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion — which is the basis for My Fair Lady — opened in London in  1914. For the benefit of costumers, I’m sharing a lot of construction information.

A closer view of waist 6799. It looks very short-waisted.

Like the skirts, the waistline of the “waist” is higher in back than in front.

This skirt is elaborately draped.

Front and back views of skirt 6800.

Skirt 6800 later appeared in a feature about bridal costumes. It is very formal.  [Here, it looks like a cape, but it is a skirt.] The view on the left is the back view; on the right is the front view.

Waist 6823 with skirt 6824. Wide hips were obviously very much in style in 1914 — in spite of those corsets.

Three views of waist 6823. Again, the plaid version looks much less formal. It could be worn with a plain skirt.

Skirt 6824 is elaborately draped in a “pannier effect.” The color image gives the back view.

A skirt like this required a shorter interior lining made of sturdy fabric, which supported the weight of the “bustle.”

Description of the blue-gray waist 6823 and skirt 6824. Delineator, April 1914. A “short four-piece foundation skirt” eliminated the need for a waistband.

The surplice-style waist/blouse was also made with a “French lining” to support and control the fullness. I’ll write about French linings some other day.

Here are written descriptions of the other three outfits (I’ll refer to them by color.)

Gold-colored Butterick coat 6790 with skirt 6806. Delineator, April 1914.

Description for the gold-colored “suit” made by combining coat 6790 with skirt 6806.

This skirt also had a “short four piece foundation skirt.”

In addition to the color illustration, skirt 6806 was shown in a plaid version with a different coat on page 24.

Butterick wine-colored waist 6791 with skirt 6792. April 1914, Delineator.

Description of the wine-colored outfit made from waist 6791 and skirt 6792. “The double tunic and one-piece lower part area attached to a short three-piece foundation skirt in regulation waistline.” [As you can see, these skirts have no obvious waistband.]

Waist 6799 with skirt 6800 apparently in brown silk or taffeta.

Description of brown waist 6799 with skirt 6800. Delineator, April 1914. “A short three-piece foundation skirt is given in regulation waistline.”

I don’t think “regulation” had any legal status — it was just the usual no-visible-waistband technique for making skirts.

I can’t resist ending with closer views of the hats:

She’s wearing a wristwatch.

Whew! long post….

 

 

 

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Off to College, September 1930

A hat pattern for the well-dressed college girl; Delineator, Sept. 1930, p. 32. The hat, shown in three versions, is Butterick 3434.

What really caught my eye was the absolutely terrific blouse on the right.

This blouse was part of Butterick suit pattern 3415.

Except for its belt, this 1930 blouse looks very Nineteen Twenties. No wonder, because it is part of the transition to Nineteen Thirties’ styles; the cardigan sport suit that goes with it also looks like a Twenties’ outfit …

Butterick’s cardigan sport suit 3415, Sept. 1930. Delineator.

… until you see the length of the skirt:

A year after Patou introduced the longer skirt length and the natural waist, they were taken for granted in these styles for college-aged women. Delineator, Sept. 1930.

The dark leather belt is also worn at the natural waist.

Butterick 3415 and 3421, September 1930.

The frock beside the suit, Butterick 3421, simply bypasses the “low waist/natural waist” question by having a waistless princess line cut, seen often in 1930.

Back and alternate views of suit 3415 and frock 3421. The back of the jacket is shaped with tucks.

Additional fashion advice:

Seamless stockings that fit well were an innovation in 1930. Delineator, Sept. 1930, page 32.

This paragraph about hats appeared on the same page as Butterick hat pattern 3434. Sept. 1930.

Two versions of Butterick hat 3434. The turban at right was knitted.

Butterick 3434 is the “off the forehead” type of hat recommended in the article. These are made of fabric; thrifty women could use scraps from other sewing projects.

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Postcard #3: Bette Davis Eyes, 1910; Migratory Bird Act Threatened, 2018

Models wearing enormous hats; Delineator, June 1910. Note the feathers — probably not from endangered species — on the left.

The model on the right appears in the 1910 Delineator magazines several times; I couldn’t help noticing her resemblance to Bette Davis, who was only two years old in 1910.

A Bette Davis look-alike models a blouse with square neckline and bare throat (Butterick 3872;) Delineator, June 1910.

The bare throat on this model was not unique in the 1910 magazines I’ve been reading.

The other thing on my mind today is the Migratory Bird Act.

Hat decorated with entire bird wings, Delineator, February 1910.

I’ve just finished reading Tessa Boase’s fascinating book, Mrs. Pankhurst’s Purple Feather, which draws comparisons between the British women who led the fight for woman’s suffrage and the equally successful British women who fought for the protection of birds, and eventually achieved widespread environmental protections.

Boase reminds us that, in the United States, plumage from endangered species was outlawed a decade earlier than in Britain.

I just learned that “the Audubon Society and other organizations named 2018 the year of the bird.” Sadly, the article in The Washington Post which I just quoted describes an attack by the Trump Administration on the Migatory Bird Act of 1918.

A huge hat trimmed with feathers — and possibly entire taxidermied bird wings. Delineator, February 1910. In the U.S., such wings could not come from endangered species.

In 1910, British women praised the United States’ leadership in conservation of species and preservation of the natural world. In the U.S., the Lacey Act of 1900 made it a crime to sell protected species, and the Plumage Act of 1912 also forbade the importation of skins and feathers from endangered birds. In the U.S., women wearing Paris hats trimmed with prohibited feathers — like those from the snowy egret — could have them confiscated.

In April 2018, however, according to Washington Post reporters Darryl Fears and Dino Grandoni,

“In an opinion issued Wednesday to federal wildlife police who enforce the rule, the Interior Department said “the take [killing] of birds resulting from an activity is not prohibited by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act when the underlying purpose of that activity is not to take birds.”

The implication is that deforestation, oil spills, and careless disposal of hazardous waste — actions which can kill wildlife but are not specifically intended to kill wildlife — will no longer be prohibited.

In 2016, thousands of migrating snow geese died when they landed on a pond filled with toxic mine waste. (This is another report from The Washington Post, but verified by other sources.) The Fish and Wildlife Service has information on why and how to prevent oil fields from becoming deathtraps for birds and other species.

One lesson from Tessa Boase’s book — which I will be reviewing soon — was how much can be accomplished by determined women writing letters to newspapers, elected representatives, even parish newsletters.

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Postcard #1 from My Vacation at the Library

Delineator cover, January 1910.

I wondered if Delineator magazines from the early 20th century would have full color pattern illustrations. The answer for 1910 is “Yes!”

Detail of “Latest Tendencies in Princess Dresses,” Butterick patterns illustrated in Delineator, February 1910.

Having a wonderful time!

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Fashion Advice for Summer, 1933 (Part 1)

Five tips for summer fashions from June 1933. Left is Butterick 5149. Delineator, page 61.

I seem to be spending a lot of time in 1933 lately. Marian Corey, writing in Delineator, June 1933, offered a full page of advice about summer fashions:  Five ideas starting with “Yes” and five with “No.”

As the really hot weather approaches, here’s one topic Corey thought we all have on our minds: Gloves!

Glove advice from Delineator, June 1933.

“… Gloves of all sorts of queer fabrics. Printed silk gloves to match your frock and sometimes sold with the dress! White organdy gloves to wear with your dark dress that has white organdy touches on it. White piqué gloves to wear with your tailored suit. Lastex gloves. Fit? They don’t have to . It’s smart to wear them big.” (Lastex stretch fabrics were introduced in the early 1930s — which is different from Latex, which was sometimes used for rubber bathing suits!)

Matching print fabric gloves, hat and bag — all made from Butterick patterns. Delineator, August 1933, p. 52.

Organdy gloves and handbag, “to wear with your dark dress that has organdy touches on it.” August 1933, Delineator, p. 52.

Three Butterick dresses with organdy accents, Delineator, June 1933, p. 64. Notice the sheer areas in the sleeves. 5186 used a heavier, stiffer organdy.

It should be noted that fashion advice from Delineator magazine — not coincidentally –often mentioned Butterick patterns. Delineator was part of the Butterick Publishing Co. empire.

White piqué hat (Butterick 5256,) gloves (Butterick 5225,) and bag (Butterick 5274.) Delineator, August 1933.

Maybe Ms. Corey mentioned that gloves no longer needed to fit [“like a glove?”] because making gloves is difficult. Store-bought gloves used to come in a wide range of sizes, not just S, M, and L. Here’s what she said in a longer article:  “…Don’t worry if your gloves do not fit closely. They are not supposed to.”

Glove advice from Marian Corey, Delineator, August 1933.

Butterick glove pattern 5225 from July 1933, Delineator. This pattern was featured in both July and August.

“At first the loosely fitting glove seems clumsy…. All are worn big.” The gloves worn with these summer dresses are more like gauntlets:

Dresses worn with gloves made from Butterick 5225, July 1933. Delineator.

Gloves and a bag made from taffeta; Butterick patterns, August 1933.

More accessories made of piqué ; Butterick patterns from Delineator, August, 1933, p. 52. The illustrator is Myrtle Lages.

OK, I confess, the “No” paragraph about gloves was not really the first paragraph of the article about Summer fashions. The first paragraph was a “Yes” — about fur!

“Silver fox and blue fox are the furs” for trimming summer dresses,” or rabbit if your budget is more modest. Delineator, June 1933.

Butterick summer outfits trimmed with fur: From left, patterns 5176, 5178, and 5168. Delineator, June 1933, page 62.

Another “Yes” for summer was the white piqué swagger coat:

Butterick coat pattern 5164 from June 1933.

Everyone who owns a dark printed silk dress… should have a white piqué swagger coat to wear with it.” Butterick 5164; Delineator, June 1933, p. 62.

This style was only available in smaller sizes — an early use of “Junior Miss” patterns.

So, fur and gloves aside, what more practical fashions for summer were recommended in 1933?

Bicycle clothes, tennis dresses, beach pajamas, slacks and shorts — all coming up in Part 2.

 

 

 

 

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Ollie

Can a dress change a life? Probably not, unless you’re Cinderella. But a dress can mark a turning point in your life…. I inherited many photos of a young woman named Ollie Cornelius. Often, there is an air of sadness about her.

Studio portrait of Ollie Cornelius, taken in Colusa, CA.

I’ve been trying to find out more about her from an ancestry site, with limited success. Ollie Cornelius and my mother became friends as young teenagers, and they were still writing to each other in 1950.

Ollie, left, and my mother, right (with ukelele) in a school playground, Redwood City, CA, circa 1918.

Ollie posing in a schoolyard. She is wearing a corduroy jacket over her school uniform. Circa 1918.

Young Ollie on a bench in Redwood City, CA. Although posing for a friend, she doesn’t look happy.

Ollie looks sad in the next photo because, having made friends in a new city — Redwood City, California — she was uprooted when her family moved again, to Colusa, 148 miles away.

Ollie in Colusa, CA, about 1919.

On the back she wrote, “When I had this picture taken I was thinking of Redwood City [That’s] why I look so sad.”

Today friends exchange photos instantly; then, people also kept in touch by mailing photographs back and forth. Luckily for us, these pictures often have writing on the back.

Ollie posing on a bridge, about 1919. This is not a period for flattering fashions…. but she knew how to wear an enormous black tam-o-shanter.

In her later teens, Ollie’s sadness had a more serious cause: she was diagnosed with tuberculosis — the “consumption” that killed so many in Victorian times.

On the back of the bridge photo, Ollie wrote, “This was taken before I was sick.”

Ollie is wearing the same dress in this photo taken at Weimar TB Sanatorium.

Ollie on the steps of her ward at Weimar Joint Sanatorium.

In 1919 there were no antibiotics; the usual treatment for TB was a move to a place with “better air” and complete rest for several months. Obviously, for working class people, quitting work and spending months in a private sanatorium was not an affordable option. Often, they continued working, incidentally spreading infection, until they literally dropped in their tracks.

Another tam-o-shanter. Ollie did not come from a wealthy family.

For a young office clerk like Ollie, TB could be a death sentence. Among men receiving treatment, the mortality rate was 50%.

Ollie and Claude (another TB victim) on the steps at Weimar Sanatorium.

Given America’s current attitude toward healthcare, it’s disconcerting to read that one hundred years ago, public health officials realized that an epidemic of this frequently fatal, contagious disease could only be prevented by treating the poor as well as the wealthy.

The Weimar Joint Sanatorium was created by the State of California and subsidized to give working class people the same chance of recovery as people who could afford private care.

Ollie at Weimar Sanatorium. The back of this photo says, “Where I used to live.” Dated 1919.

Fresh air was considered necessary for TB patients; Ollie is standing by a screened-in sleeping porch — unheated.

Three patients at Weimar; Ollie is on the right. The photo was dated 1919 by my aunt, who received it in the mail.

Ollie made friends with other women in her ward; in spite of their grim situation, they were still young and tried to cheer each other up.

Fellow patient Mrs. Alice Smith with Ollie Cornelius, about 1919.

On early photos, Ollie respectfully called her “Mrs. Smith.” “She was just married above a month,” [when she was diagnosed with TB] Ollie wrote. Apparently, Mr. Smith came to visit, still in his First World War military uniform.

Ollie with Mrs. Smith, who is clowning in her husband’s tunic and hat. “It is her husband’s uniform; her name is Mrs. Alice Smith.” I wonder if he took the photo.

Nevertheless….

Ollie and other young women at Weimar Sanatorium knew they might be facing death.

“…Patients frequently became depressed due to the severity of their infection and the hopelessness of a cure or because of separation from their families. In many cases it was difficult for families to visit either due to the cost of travel or because of the fear of becoming infected themselves. Seeing other patients die was another cause of despair.” — read more.

But a change came for Ollie. Was she really feeling well again? Had her doctors given her hope that she might be able to go home? These pictures of Ollie in a pretty new dress seem to mark a turning point:

Ollie next to her bed on the sleeping porch at Weimar Sanatorium.

Ollie modeling her new dress. Did it come from a catalog? Was it a gift?

Ollie reading in a common dining area. She still has dark circles under her eyes, but this is a different Ollie. She’s happy.

Ollie did recover, at least for many years. Trivial as it sounds, taking an interest in fashion may signal the end of her physical illness and resulting depression.

Ollie in Colusa, CA, about 1920.

Also, her friends had not forgotten her.

Ollie in a chic, sheer-brimmed hat, with my mother. About 1920.

My mother and her friend Ollie, 1920s.

Ollie fell in love:

Ollie and Lloyd Jennings, about 1920.

She got married:

Ollie and her husband. Note her Marcelle-waved hair. 1920s.

Ollie and my mother on a vacation, late 1920s.

Thanks to low-cost care during a public health crisis, Ollie survived TB and returned to active life:

Ollie, second from front, in the snow, circa 1931.

Ollie fashionably dressed (including necktie) for the snow; this photo was printed in February 1931.

Ollie with my Uncle Holt, 1930’s.

How wonderful that she had a future!

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