Category Archives: vintage photographs

Doll-Sized Girdles, 1954

Doll-Sized Girdles, Sears catalog for Spring 1954, page.

Doll-Sized Girdles, Sears catalog for Spring 1954, page 314.

This idea seemed so strange to me that I have to share it: “Doll-Sized Girdles” from the Sears catalog for Spring 1954.

At first, I wondered why dolls would need girdles — was it just some grown-up’s nutty idea of a “doll wardrobe?” I was never very interested in realistic dolls, or Barbie, but I was a child in 1954.

Witness2fashion around 1952. I was not thinking about doll sized girdles.

Witness2fashion around 1953. I was definitely not thinking about doll-sized girdles.  I was too old to play with these dolls, and I hated posing for pictures. I still do.

By 1959 I was old enough to wear a girdle and stockings, but it never for a moment occurred to me to associate girdles with dolls.

And, in fact, these are not girdles for dolls.

They are made to fit women with waist sizes from 23 to 30 inches. The “hi-waist”one at top “stretches to 17 in. long on figure.”

Here are some other women’s girdles from the same page:

"Puckerette" girdles for women, Sears catalog for Spring, 1954, page

“Puckerette” girdles for women, Sears catalog for Spring, 1954, page 314. “Big size range… all the way up to 32-inch waist.”

Sally Edelstein, at Envisioning the American Dream, has shown many vintage fifties and sixties girdle ads — they sure bring back memories for me! This one seems to show a woman holding a very small girdle which would stretch to the size of a normal body.

But it’s not quite “doll” size.

True Story: I remember shopping for a long-legged panty girdle around 1963. I tried one that seemed to fit with relative comfort, but the saleslady insisted that I try one in a smaller size. I struggled into it; I couldn’t even pull it up all the way. The saleswoman said, “I’ll hold the waist, and you jump!”

No sale.

Part 2 of Sally’s “A Girl and Her Girdle” can be found here.

 

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Filed under 1950s-1960s, Children's Vintage styles, Girdles, Musings, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, vintage photographs

German Spies Pictured in Fashion Magazine, 1918

Images from an article in Butterick's Delineator magazine, July 1918.

Images from an article in Butterick’s Delineator magazine, July 1918.

In high school, history was my least favorite subject. Now that I am older, I wish we had been encouraged to study history in a different way; I have always been interested in people and their daily lives. The faces of these women  intrigued me. [Caution: I may be guilty of doing superficial research — TLDR–while trying to find out more about these “Huns,” “spies, and “traitors.”]

My point is that more research might be rewarding, that starting with a face and a name might be a way into the past for people who think history is boring,  and that “women’s magazines” or “fashion magazines” should not be disdained by historians.

Historians may find more than they expect in “women’s magazines.” Especially in wartime,  Ladies’ Home Companion, Delineator, McCalls’ Magazine and several other “fashion” periodicals presented a ready platform for communicating with women across the country. During World War I,  Ladies’ Home Journal and McCall’s Magazine had over a million subscribers each. [Magazines in the Twentieth Century.]

"Huns, Here There, and Everywhere," a page from Butterick's Delineator magazine, July 1918.

“Huns, Here, There, and Everywhere,” a page from Butterick’s Delineator magazine, July 1918. Detail: top of page. “These are in jail, but other spies and traitors are at work for the Kaiser … WATCH FOR THEM.” Calling the enemy by a pejorative nickname (e.g., “Huns”) is a propaganda device, which made me want to learn more about these people.

When I leaf through a women’s magazine from 1925, or 1917, such as Ladies’ Home Journal, or Butterick’s Delineator, I find more than fashion — I get a little social insight into the era. The editors wanted to sell magazines, so the articles that surrounded the patterns for sale had to be of interest to readers, too. Often they are short stories, or serialized novels. But the magazines are not always about creating a fantasy world. “Real world” topics impinge.

How much money does a young married couple need, and how should they budget it? (1920’s)  What are the jobs open to a college girl? How much will they pay? Can she live on $18 a week? (1930’s) Why does one out of seven babies born in America die? (1917 Delineator series) Should doctors administer anesthetics to a woman in childbirth? (Delineator, September 1934.)

In wartime, women’s magazines cooperated with the federal government in spreading information.

How can you feed your family and understand wartime food restrictions?

Wartime food restrictions, form Ladies' Hme Journal, August 1917, p. 16.

Explaining wartime food restrictions, from Ladies’ Home Journal, August 1917, p. 16.

Herbert Hoover's Food Administration answers women's questions. Ladies Home Journal, September 1917.

Herbert Hoover’s Food Administration answers women’s questions. Ladies’ Home Journal, September 1917. So many articles appeared in more than one magazine source that I stopped photographing duplicates.

What garments can you sew for the Red Cross?

Official Red Cross garments to be made by volunteers. A surgical gown, and two kinds of pajamas -- one which can be easily opened while treating wounded men. Delineator, November 1917. P. 77.

Official Red Cross garments to be made by volunteers. A surgical gown, and two kinds of pajamas — one of which can be easily opened while treating wounded men. Delineator, November 1917, p. 77.

From an article on sewing for the Red Cross, Delineator, September 1917, p. 77.

From an article on sewing for the Red Cross, Delineator, September 1917, p. 77.

In December, the same information appeared in Ladies’ Home Journal, illustrated with photos instead of line drawings.

Hospital garments to sew for the Red Cross, Ladies' Home Journal, December 1917., p. 25/

Hospital garments to sew for the Red Cross, Ladies’ Home Journal, December 1917., p. 25.

What can you expect when your son goes off to war?

From an article in Ladies' Home Journal, August 1917. "If he is the right kind of boy?" This is heartbreaking -- and it is propaganda.

From an article in Ladies’ Home Journal, August 1917. “If he is the right kind of a boy… Nothing will happen to him.” — If he is “the right kind of a boy?” This is heartbreaking — and it is morale-building propaganda.

In this case, the topic was watching out for German Spies. (July 1918)

Top of "Spies and LIes" article, Delineator, July 1918, page 38/

Top of “Spies and Lies” article, Delineator, July 1918, page 38.  The women are oblivious of the eavesdropper.

More of "Spies and LIes, Delneator, July 1918, p. 38. I regret that I didn't photograph the entire article.

More of “Spies and Lies, Delineator, July 1918, p. 38. In World War II, the equivalent message was “loose lips sink ships.” But readers should also “Report the man who spreads pessimistic stories [or] … cries for peace.” I regret that I didn’t photograph the last few lines of the “Spies and Lies” article from this fashion magazine.

Huns, Spies and Traitors, 1918

Delineator, July 1918.

A gallery of German “spies” — or is it? Delineator, July 1918.

This set of “mug shots” has been on my mind recently, especially since the San Francisco Chronicle published two 100th anniversary articles about the prosecutions following the “Preparedness Day Parade” bombing that occurred in San Francisco on July 23, 1916.  One 2016 article, by Carl Nolte, had the title “Bombing Centennial: Blast in July 1916 killed 10, left 2 innocent men in jail for decades.

“Juries convicted two labor union organizers, Tom Mooney, 33, and Warren Billings, 22, … although, as it turned out, the convictions were based on perjured testimony and doctored evidence. The real bombers were never caught.

“Investigations later showed that Mooney and Billings had been framed by San Francisco District Attorney Charles Fickert, who was acting on behalf of the city’s business establishment, anxious to strike a blow at labor unions and what they saw as dangerous leftists and anarchists. “

Thanks to a crusading newspaper man  — editor Fremont Older — Mooney and Billings were finally freed — in 1939.

” ‘ It is impossible to know what really happened that day in 1916,” said Chris Carlsson, a local historian. ‘But for sure, it was not Mooney and Billings who planted that bomb.” — Carl Nolte, SF Chronicle, July 17, 2016.

If you want to read Nolte’s entire article, (the online version has a different title,)  click here. (And who doesn’t want to read about a newspaper man who lost his job — and got another– because of his investigation, but never stopped trying to free two innocent men?)

After reading about this incident,  I remembered Delineator’s gallery of convicted German spies, and I wondered about them –especially these two women. (It’s important to remember that activities which are lawful in times of peace — like organizing a strike, or opposing the draft — may be illegal in times of war. It can happen very quickly.)

Who Were These People?

They were all convicted. They were not all “Huns” or German agents.

Left, Missouri's Kate Richards O'Hare; Right, California's Mrs. Margaret Cornell. Images from Delineator July 1917.

Left, Missouri’s Kate Richards O’Hare, convicted of espionage and sentenced to five years. Right, California’s Mrs. Margaret Cornell, convicted of conspiracy. Images from Delineator July 1917.

In 1916,  Kate Richards O’Hare was the Socialist Party candidate for U.S. Senate from Missouri. She opposed America’s entry into the war.  O’Hare was arrested in July, 1917 because she gave a speech “deemed to be anti-war.”  (By this time, the U.S. was officially at war with Germany.) When sentenced to five years in prison, she said, “[if] it is necessary for me to become a convict among criminals in order that I may serve my country there, then I am perfectly willing to perform my service there.” She was guilty of “espionage”  because she violated the Espionage Act of 1917. She later devoted many years to prison reform; according to Britannica.com, “in 1924–26 she conducted a national survey of the contract-labour practice of prisons.” [A topic still of interest today.] A great deal has been written by and about her.

But Cornell is another story. Mrs. Margaret Cornell of San Francisco might be a rewarding subject for more research.  Was she a low-level office worker trying to keep her job at the German Consulate, or a willing participant in her boss’ plot to disrupt British shipping?  She was the only woman was among many workers at the German Consulate in San Francisco convicted in the Indo-German-Irish plot: “Just a few months into World War I, an Indo-German-Irish plot was established to ship American weapons to India for a revolt against the Raj with the intention of reducing Britain’s ability to wage war on Germany and Irish nationalism. ” See British Intelligence Station in San Francisco during the First World War.  (Yes, in the neutral U.S.A., spies of many nations were at work.)

Cornell received a relatively light prison sentence, and no fine. I found the record of her admission to San Quentin Prison, on Feb. 8, 1917, through Ancestry.com. Although newspapers sometimes refer to her as Margaret W. Cornell, there she is listed as Margaret E. Cornell; Cornell is presumably her husband’s name. Her occupation is “office clerk,” her age is 52, and her birthplace is Ireland. She was convicted of espionage (Sections 37 and 13 of the U.S. criminal code) because she passed coded messages between her boss (the German Consul-General) and Charles Crowley, another member of the “Hindu Conspiracy,” as the press called it. Was she a dupe? Was she suspected of having anti-British, Irish Republican sympathies? (The Easter Rising of 1916 was a rebellion against British rule in Ireland.) At one point in the trial, she said, “I am now a woman without a country.” She is mentioned — and quoted — in newspaper accounts of the trial;  in 1917, San Francisco had several competing major newspapers, so there is plenty of material for a student of history to explore. Cornell claimed to have TB, and feared that she would die in jail. What happened to her?

Here are brief descriptions of some of the other “huns” and traitors who were pictured.

Olivereau and Schmidt, Delineator, 1918.

Left, Louise Olivereau of Seattle, Washington,  and Carl Schmidt of Detroit, Delineator, 1918.

Louise Olivereau worked as a stenographer for the Industrial Workers of the World (a labor organization popularly known as the Wobblies) — but she was also an anarchist, and she distributed anti-war circulars which she had printed at her own expense, for which she was convicted under the Espionage Act of June 1917.

Wilhelm von Brinken of San Francisco, and Jacobsen

Left, German “Baron” Wilhelm von Brinken of San Francisco, and Gustave H. Jacobsen of Chicago.

If Wilhelm von Brinken (who looks as if he usually wore a monocle) seems familiar, it is because he became an American citizen in 1920 and had a long career playing Germans in 92 Hollywood war films (WW I and WW II.)

Von Brinken was indicted along with his boss,  Franz Bopp, the German Consul-General in San Francisco, Baron E.H. von Schack (the Vice-Consul)  and Charles C. Crowley.    Like Margaret Cornell, Crowley worked for the German Consulate.  [San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 9, 1917.] A well-known detective hired by the German Consul-General, Crowley was accused of trying to plant bombs in Canadian munition ships and elsewhere; Crowley and Bopp communicated — in “coded messages” — that were sent to Cornell. (Did she understand what they were about?)

Left, von Schack, right Crowley.

Left, Baron von Schack; right, Charles C. Crowley. Von Schrack looks jaunty in a straw boater hat. Crowley was a private detective hired by the German Consulate.

Left, Bopp, and right, von Rintalen. Delineator, 1917.

Left, Franz Bopp, German Consul-General in San Francisco, who was convicted of violating U.S. neutrality as part of  the “Hindu Conspiracy,” among other charges.  Right, Captain Franz von Rintelen was chief of the German Secret Service in the U.S. during WW I. Delineator, 1917.

Somer C. Spence and LAmar in Delineator, 1917.

Homer C. Spence of Oklahoma (“sedition and anti-draft riots,) and David Lamar of New York (“planned munition delay through strike plots,”) pictured in Delineator, 1917.

David Lamar, who “planned munition delay through strike plots” and German spy-chief Captain Von Rintelen (pictured earlier) were convicted in a munition strike conspiracy.

“Anti-draft rioter” Homer C. Spence of Oklahoma — who looks like he stepped out of the pages of Time-Life’s “The Pioneers” —  was implicated in the “Green Corn Rebellion,” which was subject of a 1937 novel of that name by William Cunningham. The  inter-racial (white, black, and Native American) “Working Class Union” (WCU) of mostly young tenant farmers was involved. (The idea that rural Oklahoma was once a hotbed of Socialism was certainly news to me!)

I knew nothing about this part of American History, and I have not read every word of all the links I cited — some are book-length. (They are there for anyone to pursue.)

But it just goes to show what surprises you find while reading old “women’s magazines.” If you know any history students in search of material, you might want to steer them toward browsing old “fashion” periodicals. What a lot of questions they raise!

Since many of these “Huns” were arrested and tried in San Francisco, I used some news items from the San Francisco Chronicle archives for 1917 and 1918, accessed through my public library.

(For other ways World War I was reflected in women’s magazines, see “Up Like Little Soldiers,”  WW I Fabric Shortages , and “New Clothes from Old.”)

 

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Hats, Menswear, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, vintage photographs, World War I

Hairstyles and Hats for the Mid-Nineteen Thirties

The hairstyle is designed to be worn with a hat. Delineator cover, March 1935. Dynevor Rhys illustration.

The hairstyle is designed to be worn with a hat. Delineator cover, March 1935. Dynevor Rhys illustration.

In February of 1936, Butterick’s Delineator magazine showed six fashionable hairstyles by some top New York salons — but they were photographed on mannequin heads, rather than real women. (Stylists still practice on such uncomplaining heads while training.) I have added a few photographs and drawings from advertisements to supplement Delineator’s 1936 color images. (Because Delineator was a large format magazine, a full page photo doesn’t translate well into a 500 dpi image. This is just the top half of page 16:

"Tip-Top Hair Styles" article by in Delineator, February 1936, page 16.

“Tip-Top Hair Styles” for evening; article by Josephine Felts in Delineator, February 1936, page 16. These brilliant heads flash across the evening mode. Follow their lead in smart new ways to fix your hair.”

Evening hairstyle for 1936.

Evening hairstyle for 1936 by Charles of the Ritz. Most of us wouldn’t describe this as a “wide halo” of curls.

"The top of the head is entirely without waves."

“The top of the head is entirely without waves.”

Hairstyle to be worn with a cocktail hat, by Michael of the Waldorf. 1936.

Hairstyle to be worn with a cocktail hat, by Michael of the Waldorf. 1936.

"Have your bob three-quarter length, curled from the part on each side all around. You can't see it, for its under her hat, but the top of the head is smooth." 1936.

“Have your bob three-quarter length, curled from the part on each side all around. You can’t see it, for it’s under her hat, but the top of the head is smooth.” 1936.

Evening hairstyle for silver hair, by Emile at Rockefeller Center. 1936.

Evening hairstyle for white hair, by Emile at Rockefeller Center. 1936.

A "distinguished" style for white hair. "Have your mother try it." 1936.

A “distinguished” style for white hair. “Suggest that your mother” try it. 1936.

[This one is for Lynn at American Age Fashion. I’m pleased to see that the one featured 1936 hairstyle that could be worn today without looking bizarre is the one suggested for white hair! The side part would allow for a close-fitting 1930’s hat to be worn on one side of the head, as was the fashion.]

1936 hairstyles werer usually flat at the crown to allow for a small hat pulled down on one side of the head. Delineator fashion illustrations from January 1936.

1936 hairstyles were usually flat at the crown to allow for a small hat pulled down on one side of the head. A lady always wore a hat in public in the daytime – even if it was just a tam pulled down over one eyebrow. Delineator fashion illustrations from January 1936.

Here are images from the bottom of the page of “Tip-Top Hair Styles.”

"The unusual side treatment comes from a rolling braid begun at the part and simulating a halo." Delineator, February 1936, p. 16.

Hairstyle by Michael of the Wardorf, 1936. “The unusual side treatment comes from a rolling braid begun at the part and simulating a halo.” Delineator, February 1936, p. 16. The wide braid begins over her left eye and continues around the back of her head to the left side.

400-btm-left-1936-feb-p-16-hairstyles-text

An artificial braid sometimes formed a halo or tiara effect for evening. Here is a such a braid on Ginger Rogers.

1936 evening hairstyle by Emile at Rockefeller Center.

1936 evening hairstyle by Emile at Rockefeller Center.  “This style is best worn by the very sophisticated.”

400-btm-center-1936-feb-p-16-hairstyles-text

Hairstyle by Charles of the Ritz, 1936. A "tailored" style for evening.

Hairstyle by Charles of the Ritz, 1936. A “tailored” style for evening. The “flat curls above the forehead” are barely visible bangs rolled under at the hairline.

The final hairstyle in the article by Josephine Felts, Delineator, February 1936. You could write to her for more information.

The final hairstyle in the article by Josephine Felts, Delineator, February 1936. You could write to her for more information.

This was certainly a time for “small heads” and tightly curled hair. However, I browsed for a few photos of real women and real hair in the same issue:

Delineator showed these young models in an article about the polite way to chew gum. 1936.

Delineator showed these young models in an article about the polite way to chew gum. February, 1936. The one on the left has the flat crown which suited 1936 hats.

In September of 1936 Delineator showed this model in an evening gown designed by Ruzzie Green.

In September of 1936 Delineator showed this model in an evening gown designed by Ruzzie Green.

Miss Vivian Dixon, a debutante, wears a much more natural looking hairstyle in an ad for Camel Cigarettes.

Debutante Vivian Dixon has long-ish, softly flowing hair in the Came Cigarette ad form Delineator, February 1936.

Debutante Vivian Dixon has long-ish, softly flowing hair in the Camel Cigarette ad from Delineator, February 1936.

I believe a lot of young women who did their own hair must have looked like this model in Delineator’s “How to Sew” feature article:

A model in an article about home sewing, February 1936, Delineator.

A model in an article about home sewing, February 1936, Delineator.

Illustrator Dynevor Rhys made tight curls and close-to-the head hair look pretty:

Advertising illustration by Dynevor Rhys, February 1936. Delineator.

Advertising illustration by Dynevor Rhys, February 1936. Delineator.

But illustrator Hans Flato showed a softer, looser hairdo in a series of ads for sanitary products:

Hans Flato illustration for an ad, Delineator, March 1936.

Hans Flato illustration for an ad, Delineator, March 1936.

Hans Flato illustration for an ad, March 1935. Delineator.

Hans Flato illustration for an ad, March 1935. Delineator.

But one thing all these styles have in common, regardless of the age of the model, is the need to accommodate a 1930’s hat.

WOmen's hats in Delineator fashion illustrations, January 1936.

Women’s hats in Delineator fashion illustrations, January 1936.

Elsa Schiaparelli’s hat designs were very influential in the 1930’s. Click here for a post about them, with many more pictures.

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Filed under 1930s, Hairstyles, Hats, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Vintage Accessories, vintage photographs

Becoming Dresses and Maternity Gowns, 1930

"Smart Patterns and Becoming Maternity Gowns," Good Housekeeping, February 1930, p. 74.

“Smart Patterns and Becoming Maternity Gowns,” from Good Housekeeping, February 1930, p. 74.

You’d expect fashion coverage from 1930 to be interesting, as women were trying to adjust to natural waistlines and descending hemlines. Caroline Gray, writing in Good Housekeeping, combined her suggestions for the mature figure with suggestions for maternity fashions. (Can you guess which are which?)

“The new silhouette is definitely here! Waists are higher and skirts are longer, and whether we like it or not, if we wish to look smart we must try to adapt it to ourselves and make it becoming…. Find the exact place where a higher belt is most becoming to you and put it there, regardless of whether it is quite as high as the dresses you see…. Nothing will look truly smart on you unless it suits your figure…. When you are determining the length of your skirt, experiment until you find the exact spot where it will add the most to your height and slenderness, for that is what we all want to achieve this season.”

Good Housekeeping pattern F-7 was recommended in February 1930. Sizes up to 42.

Good Housekeeping pattern F-7 was recommended in February 1930. Sizes 34 to 42. Not a maternity fashion.

“A small bolero is always becoming and makes the higher waistline more bearable.” The band at the hips echoes the familiar line of the twenties, but it follows the line of the bolero instead of  running horizontally.

Pattern F-6 is also suggested as a transitional style for “mature” women:

Good Housekeeping pattern F-6 from February 1930, p. 74. The natural waist is there, but not accented.

Good Housekeeping pattern F-6 from February 1930, p. 74. The natural waist is fitted, but not accented. For sizes 36 to 42. The tunic gives both a short and a longer hemline.

Of course, looking tall and thin is a challenge for most women even when they are not pregnant. Many writers in the 1920’s assumed that a woman’s goal was to conceal her pregnancy as long as possible.

“Maternity clothes have two objects: One is to make your condition unnoticeable, the other is to give you every physical advantage possible…. At this time you do not want to be conspicuous in any way.” — From The New Dressmaker, a Butterick book, c1921, p, 72.

To this end, Vogue suggested, in June of 1930, that pregnant women simply buy chic dresses in a larger-than-usual size, and have the neck and shoulders altered to fit.

“At first, concealment is easily effected by any woman with an eye for dress, but, after the figure is obviously changed, it is still possible to achieve, sometimes to the very end, the effect of a normal figure…. One should try to create the illusion of the naturally heavy figure, rather than be conspicuous for a disproportionate one.” — (Vogue, June 1930, pp 83, continued on p 102.) [This is 1930’s “pregnancy shaming:” it was better to be thought “heavy” than pregnant.]

Vogue suggested these fashionable gowns, among others, for the expectant mother in 1930:

Suggested maternity fashions, Vogue, June 1930. The one on the right is a Vionnet tea-gown.

Suggested maternity fashions, Vogue, June 1930. The one on the left was from Bonwit-Teller; the one on the right is a Vionnet tea-gown available from Jay Thorpe.

I’ll devote a later post to Vogue‘s other “just buy a bigger size” 1930 maternity suggestions.

Here are the maternity styles suggested by Good Housekeeping in 1930:

Maternity gown suggestions, Good Housekeeping, Feb. 1930, p. 74.

Maternity gown suggestions, Good Housekeeping, Feb. 1930, p. 74.

The article did not offer a pattern, or say that this suit and rather formal surplice dress could be purchased ready-made.

gh-text-two-maternity-dresses-1930-feb-p-200-end-of-article-proquestdocuments-2016-09-14

It’s hard to imagine how these dresses could be expanded enough, although the assumption was often made that you would constantly open seams, as your shape changed,  and remake the dress as needed from wide seam allowances.

“It is much better to choose current styles that can be adapted to maternity wear and use them in preference to the special maternity clothes…. The slight alterations [!] that you make for maternity use can be changed back to normal lines after the baby is born.” (The New Dressmaker, circa 1921. Page 72.)

There Were Clothes Specifically for Pregnancy

Dressmaker Lena Bryant had found a market niche back in 1905, when her private clients began asking for maternity fashions (She used elastic in the waistbands, among other  devices for making them expandable.)

Lane Bryant ad for maternity corset, Ladies Home Journal, December 1917, p. 112.

Lane Bryant ad for maternity corset, Ladies’ Home Journal, December 1917, p. 112.

“By 1904, [Lena] Bryant was successful enough to open her own shop on Fifth Avenue at 120th Street. In the process of obtaining a loan from Oriental Bank, her first name was misspelled, giving birth to “Lane Bryant.”

“Bryant soon turned to producing dresses as well as undergarments for pregnant women, who had a difficult time finding stylish clothes that fit well. Bryant designed a maternity tea dress, called “Number 5” after its place on the order form. According to Figure, no newspaper would run advertisements for her maternity dresses–it was against the mores of the day for “ladies in waiting” to appear in public. When Bryant finally managed to have a small ad run in the New York Herald, she sold out of maternity dresses the day it appeared.” — from Funding Universe  (My McAfee security says it blocked ads from this site.)

Ad for the Lane Bryant maternity catalog, Delineator, March 1917. p. 43.

Ad for the Lane Bryant maternity catalog, Delineator, March 1917. p. 43. “Portraying the prevailing New York fashions, but so adapted as to successfully conceal condition….Fit when figure is again normal.”

The Lane Bryant mail-order catalog passed $1 million in sales in 1917. (Oddly, that was an era that favored thick waists, very full skirts, and smock-type overblouses — one of the rare times when mainstream fashion was perfectly suited to accommodate pregnancy.) Lane Bryant promised that their dresses would “automatically adjust” to fit after the baby was born — making them a good investment.

Chanel styles 1916 from Fashion through Fashion Plates by Doris Langley Moore.

Chanel styles, 1916, from Fashion Through Fashion Plates by Doris Langley Moore.

Teen-aged girls, circa 1918. Waists were thick and skirts were full.

Teen-aged girls in California, circa 1918. Waists were thick (and high) and skirts were full.

However, of the many decades when fashion was cruel to the chic pregnant woman, the early nineteen-thirties may hold the crown. These are maternity dresses. (Seriously.) The mores of the publishing industry meant that they could not be illustrated on a visibly pregnant body.

Woman's Home Companion, August 1936

The illustration shows three versions of Companion-Butterick maternity dress pattern 6948, from Woman’s Home Companion, August, 1936.  To read more about it, see Who Would Ever Guess?

A long, slender ideal silhouette plus soft, clinging fabrics, narrow hips, flat tummies, and (often) a decorative belt at the natural waist — combined with the idea that pregnancy was shameful and had to be concealed — must have made pregnant women feel frustrated in the thirties. Talk about an impossible ideal!

 

 

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Companion-Butterick Patterns, Corsets, Corsets, Foundation Garments, Girdles, Maternity clothes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Vintage patterns, vintage photographs, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

The Persistence of Fashion

While looking through some family photos, I found a few good examples of the persistence of fashion — a reminder of the variety that can be found within a historical period.

Fashion doesn’t change overnight — and it changes very slowly for some people. There is a theory called “the persistence of fashion” which accounts for the fact that clothing which is twenty or even thirty years out of date can be seen in many illustrations and photographs.

Story illustration, Woman's Home Companion, Feb. 1936. Thw Woman on the right demonstrates the persistence of an older fashion.

Story illustration, Woman’s Home Companion, Feb. 1936. The hem length of the woman on the right, about right for 1917 or 1923, demonstrates the persistence of an older fashion.

In the 20th century, the persistence of fashion was often associated with older women. (An older man wearing a suit that is twenty years out of date is barely noticeable, because men’s styles change very slowly — and some styles for men have changed very little since the nineteenth century.)

But, in the 20th century, it was older women who were usually depicted as clinging to the styles of their youth — or, at least, of their middle age.

Jeanette Albers, Mrs. McLeod, and Nan Mc Leod, mid-1920's.

“Jeanette Albers, Mrs. McLeod, and Nan McLeod,” late 1920’s.

Mrs. McLeod doesn’t look impoverished, but her dress is probably several years old. (Hems this long were last in style  in 1923.) Jeanette Albers (left) has a hem which barely reaches her knees, suggesting 1927 or later. Nan McLeod (right) has a more conservative — or possibly two or three year old — outfit. It reminds me of this Chanel suit from January 1925 — which was not short.

Three generations. Probably World War I era, or a little later.

Three generations. This picture was in an album, and dated 1921.

Although the youngest woman wears a mid-calf skirt appropriate for teenagers, her mother and grandmother wear much longer dresses — the plaid one could have been seen on a wagon train; she’s dressed like the 19th century prairie pioneers!

Wearing out-of-date styles is sometimes caused by a lack of money, or a body that cannot be made to conform to the current fashion ideal, or conservatism and/or prudery, or the expectations of the local community (the wife of a small-town businessman had to dress “respectably.”) Ageism is also a factor — an older woman who dressed to compete with marriageable younger women was called “mutton dressed as lamb.” [Note: a mutton chop, which comes from a fully grown sheep, does not taste like a lamb chop….]

I captured these two late fifties’ dresses from a clip of the Groucho Marx quiz show, You Bet Your Life. The older woman, a schoolteacher, is wearing a longish, conservative 1950’s dress, probably new, but not very different in style from what she would have worn in the 1930’s. The other woman is a teenager in flat shoes (“flats”) and a full-skirted knee-length dress.

Teacher and teen-aged girl on You Bet Your Life. The oder wman has a longer skirt, sensible high heels, and longer sleeves. 1950s.

Teacher and teen-aged girl on You Bet Your Life, probably 1960. The older woman has a longer skirt, sensible high heels, and 3/4 sleeves that cover her arms. This episode is copyright 1961, the show’s last season.

Female contestants on You Bet Your Life, a TV quiz show which ran throughout the 1950s.

Female contestants on You Bet Your Life, a TV quiz show which ran from 1950 to 1960.

Mothers and grandmothers were not encouraged to present themselves as sexually attractive.

Persistence of Fashion: an Advertisement for Sealy Mattresses, Delineator, Sept. 1917.

Persistence of Fashion in an advertisement for Sealy Mattresses, Delineator, Sept. 1917. The younger woman wears a V-neck blouse, a relatively new fashion in 1917, but the older woman wears a high, 1890’s style collar.

The reasons for the persistence of fashion among older women are many. Magazine illustrations and advertisements make it clear that among prosperous older women, many who could afford to keep up with changing styles chose to have their new clothing made with the high collars and low hemlines of a previous decade. Sewing  patterns from 1918 allowed a choice of neckline.

Illustration of a restaurant, Delineator, Oct. 1924. Notice the persistence of fashion on the older woman in the foreground.

Illustration of women in a restaurant, Delineator, Oct. 1924. The young women are very stylish, with bare arms and necks. Notice the persistence of an earlier fashion on the older woman in the foreground.

The waitress in the background, and the young women in the foreground, are dressed for 1924.

The waitress in the background, and the young women in the foreground, are dressed for 1924, but the older woman would not be out of place in 1910.

The older woman has the hairstyle and the high-waisted dress of the previous decade, although she is clearly a prosperous member of the middle class. She is comfortable wearing an older style that she feels is becoming to her.

The woman on the left in this photograph is dressed up and proud of it — in new-looking clothes that are ten years out of date.

Helen Taylor in 1915. The young woman on the right is not wearing a shorter skirt because she is a girl, but because it is the fashionable length.

Left: Mrs. Taylor and Helen Taylor in 1915. The young woman on the right is not wearing a shorter skirt because she is a child, but because it is the fashionable ankle-baring length.

Obviously, it is not lack of money that prevents this hostess from dressing in the current fashion:

This lady, with her butler at her side, could afford to dress in chic clothes -- but she chooses not to. May, 1932 illustration by W. Morgan.

This lady, with her butler at her side, could afford to dress in chic clothes, like the lady on the right — but she chooses not to. May, 1932, illustration by W. Morgan.

The older woman’s long skirt is a relic of 1923 — or even earlier. She is conservative in hair and hem.

I found this interesting example of the persistence of fashion in an article about women who volunteered to sew for soldiers during World War I:

Full mourning -- circa 1898 -- in a photo from 1917. Ladies Home Journal, Nov., p. 22.

One woman wears “full mourning”– circa 1898 — in a photo taken in 1917. Ladies’ Home Journal, November, p. 22. Poor woman — has she been in mourning for 19 years? [Edit: 9/10/16: Christina reminds me that this woman may be mourning a son lost in the early months of WW I; I failed to consider naval losses.]

Mourning costumes, 1898, from Victorian Fashions and Costumes from Harper's Bazar.

Mourning costumes, 1898, from Victorian Fashions and Costumes from Harper’s Bazar.

The widow’s bonnet had a long black veil which could be pulled over the face for privacy, or to hide tear-swollen eyes. It’s a little surprising to see that Jacqueline Kennedy wore one at President Kennedy’s funeral — but it was over her normal pillbox hat.

Another extraordinary hold-over appears on the right in this photo:

Persistence of fashion: Right, a turn of the century dress beside a dress from the early 1920s.

Persistence of fashion: Right, a turn of the century dress (or “wrapper”?) beside a dress from the late teens or early 1920s. The older woman has shortened her dress to walking length for housework — or to expose her shoes, which look new. Her throat is exposed, too, so this is a fairly new dress made in an older style, and worn over petticoats!

The Lack of Ready-to-Wear Clothing and the Persistence of Fashion

Today, we take the existence of “off-the-rack” ready-to-wear clothing in a range of sizes for granted. If we need a new coat, we go to a store and buy one, from a range of prices to fit most budgets.

That was not possible until the latter part of the 19th century.  Suiting Everyone, published by the Smithsonian, was the book that made me aware of the importance of the U.S. Civil War (which ended in 1865) in developing the standardization of sizes. The urgent demand for hundreds of thousands of military uniforms, plus the development of industrial sewing machines, created a need for statistics about human measurements — and the war supplied them. For the first time it was possible to predict that a man with a 44 inch chest was statistically likely to have a 38 inch waist, and a man with a 38 inch chest was likely to have a 32 inch waist. Related back and sleeve lengths could also be calculated. [This is not to say that Civil War uniforms fit well!]

Elizabeth Ewing’s History of 20th Century Fashion makes it clear that standardized sizes for women happened later in England than in the U.S.; she says large-scale production of ready-to-wear in the early 20th century happened in America about ten years earlier than in Britain. (p. 122.) There, at the turn of the century, “The only dresses which were ready-made were those produced for window display.” (p. 40) At least one London department store would make up a dress, fully trimmed, and leave the back seam open, for easy “fitting” to the customer. [Note: this is the worst way to alter a dress!] Of course, the simplification of styles and the relaxed fit of women’s wear in the 1910’s and 1920’s made mass-produced clothing for women much easier to sell. A snug fit in the torso was not needed.

Unfitted styles like these, from Delineator, Sept. 1924, made ready-to-wear for women easier to manufacture and sell.

Unfitted styles like these, from Delineator, Sept. 1924, made ready-to-wear for women easier to manufacture and sell.

Before the 1860’s, most fitted clothing was custom made. If you could not afford to have your dresses and coats made for you, or make them yourself, second-hand clothing was all you could find. Sometimes, clothes had been passed through a long line of used clothing sellers and pawnbrokers. “The rag trade” was a literal description of the end of the line. The very poor wore rags. It was a “perk” of body servants in upper class houses to be given their masters’ and mistresses’ old and damaged clothing — sometimes after removing the re-usable trims and lace. The servants could not wear luxurious clothing themselves — at least, not where their employers could catch them in it — so it was sold. And sold, worn, pawned, sold, worn, and sold again. I recommend Diana de Marly’s book, Working Dress for an overview of what was and was not available ready-made before the late 1800’s. Ewing’s book discusses the earliest mass-produced items for women.

Clearly, the lack of ready-to-wear clothing at affordable prices used to have something to do with the persistence of fashion. However, there is a psychological element, as well.

As an older woman myself, I have lots of ten-year-old clothing in my closet. I haven’t reached the alarming proportions of my [Edited from “once beautiful” on 9/5/16] once fashionable great-grandmother, on the right, below:

Three generations, probably about 1910.

Three generations, probably about 1910. The woman on the right has clearly lost all interest in current fashion — and in corsets.

… but I have always worn classic,  straight-legged slacks. Sadly, I have them in sizes 12 through 16…. As I get closer to a healthy BMI, some barely-worn size twelves will return to the front of the closet. I’ll wear them, even if they were bought several years ago. [

Old Body, New Ideas

I’m retired. I don’t have to dress to impress anybody, because I no longer have a job telling other people how to dress. I no longer need to read WWD or fashion magazines, because I no longer design modern dress plays. I used to “shop” for a living (for clothing and fabrics,) so I don’t think of shopping as entertainment. Long ago, I met — and married — “Mr. Right,” so the fantasy of finding the perfect dress — “the one that will make me beautiful” — is over.

When I need something specific, like a new raincoat with a zip-out wool lining, I go to Nordstrom, just as I did when I was working. When I needed a dressy pair of water-and-snow-proof boots for a January vacation in New York City, I paid full price willingly — for the most expensive pair of shoes I have ever bought. (The vacation included reservations at a lot of good restaurants, plus an opera, plays, etc.) But in general I’m now much more likely to shop at Ross than at a major department store. When you prefer simple, classic styles in neutral colors, “last season” and “this season” aren’t very relevant. (And budget is a consideration — I am always saving up for a trip to Europe.)

Like the older women in these photos, I reject some new styles on sight. I’m not going to be buying any leggings or jeggings or any other tight-at-the ankle trousers, because I know from experience that, in them, I look really broad in the beam. I’ve been shopping for myself for 60 years; I know what to avoid by now. I already know what colors I should never wear (like yellow,) and which styles are most flattering to my narrow shoulders and wide hips. Plus, I am trying to get rid of “things,” not acquire them.

Buy Less, but Buy Better.

I admire people who try to limit their purchases of new clothing for ethical reasons. The excellent documentary The True Cost is a real eye-opener. In fact, it has me shopping for organic cottons — and it convinced me they are worth the price. Here’s a good idea: “Buy less, but buy better –” Better quality, and better for the world.

I realize I may end up as an example of the persistence of fashion, because I don’t own any up-to-the-minute fashions. But Fashion doesn’t own me.

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

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

Sunbonnets are a very old head covering, although the one on the left uses early 20th century fabric.

Sunbonnets are a very old form of head covering. And they protect the back of your neck. The Met has a corded sunbonnet slightly similar to the tan one — dated 1840.

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Filed under 1830s -1860s fashions, 1870s to 1900s fashions, 1900s to 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1950s-1960s, Costumes for the 19th century, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, vintage photographs, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Photos of Summer Dresses, circa 1919

Graduation photo, 8th grade class, May 1919.

Graduation photo, 8th grade class, May 1919.

I can date this photo, because my mother is second from the right in the back row. Her family took another photo of her holding her diploma, and wrote on the back, “May 1919.”

Eighth grade graduation day, 1919. I "pushed" the photo to clarify the ruffles on her dress. which arn't visible in the official photographs.

Eighth grade graduation day, 1919. I “pushed” the photo to clarify the ruffles on her dress, which aren’t all visible in the overexposed  photograph.

14 year old girl, graduation dress, 1919.

14 year old girl in her graduation dress, 1919. She has a ruffled “Bertha” collar, and the fabric is very sheer, probably netting. I’ll discuss the hairdo in a later post.

All these dresses are so lovely that I wanted to share them. I even know some of the students’ names.

Front row, left. is Frances Ryan. 1919.

Front row, left, is Frances Ryan. 1919.

I don’t know the girl who is second in the row, but the sheer fabric of her dress, with an opaque pattern woven in, is my favorite. [I once had an extravagantly expensive Swiss cotton nightgown from similar fabric.] Note how many of these girls have big bows in their hair — they are still children.

From Left, Angelina Piana, Alice Perry, and Frances Flynn. Seated is Albert Genoce. 1919.

From Left, Angelina Piano, Alice Perry, and Frances Flynn. Seated is Albert Genoce. 1919.

Almost every dress is trimmed with horizontal tucks, which create the effect of opaque stripes across the sheer cotton fabrics. Notice their crossed ankles. This was how a lady sat. I believe these girls were graduating from a Catholic school run by nuns, so lady-like posture was enforced.

Alice Perry, Francies Flynn, and Eleanore Larrouy. 8th grade graduation, 1919.

Alice Perry, Frances Flynn, and Eleanore Larrouy. 8th grade graduation, 1919.

Most of the dresses have a rounded, scooped neckline, but Frances, like some of the girls in the top row, has a high, square-ish, lace-trimmed neckline.

Top row, left, is Eleanor Hahir. 1919.

Top row, left, is Eleanor Hahir, next girl unknown. 1919. Bottom row: Frances Ryan, unknown, Angelina Piano.

Left, my mother; the girl on the right is unknown (and slightly out of focus, too. In Front row are Frances Flynn and "Elinore" Larrouy. 1919,

Left, my mother; the girl on the right is unnamed (and slightly out of focus, too.) In front row are Frances Flynn and “Elinore” Larrouy. 1919.

I was delighted to find that someone had written the names of several of these students on the back of the picture, because my parents remained in the same town, and I knew many of their friends, including some of the girls in this picture. Sadly, I have no idea who the lovely young woman at the center of the back row is.

Unknown girl in 8th grade graduation photo, 1919.

Center, an unknown girl in 8th grade graduation photo, 1919. Left, “Angie” Piano; right, Alice Perry.

The girl in the center looks older than the others, or perhaps just more poised, in her beautifully embroidered dress and string of pearls.

Angie Piano remained a friend to my father and me in the years after my mother’s death, as did Frances Flynn, who wore tailored, non-fussy clothing, often dressed in slacks, was great fun to be with, and took us huckleberry picking at her family cabin in the Coastal hills. (Stepping into a packrat’s nest was always a bit of a shock, but the contents were fascinating!) The cabin was a bit of a time machine in the 1950’s, with a sleeping porch, an ice box, and a water tank that collected cold spring water;  we depended on oil lamps when we couldn’t get the electricity generator started.

Angela , or Angelina, Piano, called "Angie." Note her hairstyle, which is long in back, but has chic puffs over her ears. about 1919.

Angela (or Angelina) Piano, called “Angie.” Note her hairstyle, which is long in back, but has chic puffs of shorter hair over her ears. About 1919-20.

Angelina Piano in a velvet dress and long "crystal" necklace. On the back of the picture is her address in San Francisco and her age, 15. Dated "April 4, 1920."

Angelina Piano in a velvet dress and long “crystal” necklace. On the back of the picture is her address in San Francisco and her age, 15. Dated “April 4, 1920.”

Elegant “Angie” Piano was still chic and charming in her fifties — in fact, I hoped my widowed father would marry her.  She did take me to the ballet in the 1950’s, when I was about ten years old, and she fixed us a memorable dinner of crab and spaghetti! Between Angie and Frances I had two good but very different role models.

Edith Nicholls, Ruth Cross, my Aunt Dorothy, and my mother, dated 1918.

Edith Nicholls, Ruth Cross, my Aunt Dorothy, and my mother, dated 1918.

I like two things about about this photo. The first is that it shows a range of clothing — Edith is wearing taffeta and wonderful high boots, Aunt Dorothy is in her school uniform, and my mother is wearing a casual sleeveless pullover sweater. The second thing I like is that it shows how far from high society these girls were. They are standing on a dirt path in somebody’s back yard. Behind them is a fruit tree in a small vegetable patch, and on the left, a clothesline.

I’m not sure of the name on this picture — but I do like her dress ( with another Bertha-type collar) and her face. I wish I’d known her, too.

Another "Redwood City girl" circa 1918.

Another “Redwood City girl” circa 1918.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Dresses, Hairstyles, Shoes, Uniforms and Work Clothes, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing, vintage photographs, World War I

Chic Wigs for September, 1927

Transformations in the mode of the present day.... All the pictures are of the same charming woman. Top of page 37, Delineator, September, 1927.

Transformations in the mode of the present day…. All the pictures are of the same charming woman. Top of page 37, Delineator, September, 1927.

Yes, fashion wigs, or “transformations,” as they were called, allowed a woman to change her hair color and hairstyle to suit her mood in the 1920’s. This full page of transformations, from Delineator, September, 1927, shows five wigs, all on the same model.

"A deep wave accents the gold in blonde hair." Delineator, Sep.t 1927, p. 37. Photo by Alfred Cheney Johnston.

“A deep wave accents the gold in blonde hair.” Delineator, Sept. 1927, p. 37. Photo by Alfred Cheney Johnston.

She doesn’t seem blonde to me, but that is a lovely hairstyle, and no one would guess it wasn’t her own hair.

500 blond hair wig 1927 sept p 37 transformations one model many wigs white silver page

“At the top of the page is a blonde bob, the only bob in the group. The other transformations all have the small knot at the neck. This transformation is parted far on the left, drawn low on one side of the forehead and low over the ears.”

text of article delineator sept 1927 p 37

“In the center, dark brown hair, parted a little on the right is brought low on the forehead in the curled fringe one sees so often on the smart Parisienne. Faintly serious, a  little demure, there is yet a piquancy about this transformation.”

A dark brown wig with "curled fringe." Delineator, Sept 1927. Photo by Johnston.

A dark brown wig with “curled fringe.” Delineator, Sept 1927. Photo by Alfred Cheney Johnston.

“The silver head is so lovely that we couldn’t resist showing you two views of it.”

A silver wig for women sixteen or sixty, Delineator, Sept. 1927, p 37. Photo by Alfred Cheney Johnston

A silver wig for women of sixteen or sixty, Delineator, Sept. 1927, p 37. Photo by Alfred Cheney Johnston

“There is an enchantment and coquetry in silver locks. Whether one is sixteen or sixty, pure white hair deepens the color and adds brilliance to eyes, and the skin becomes more delicately pink and glowing. [18th century aristocrats wore white wigs, or powdered their hair, to get this look.] Here the wave is very wide so that the shadows will not lose their subtlety.”

A white wig worn by a young woman, Delineator, Sept. 1927. Photo by Alfred Cheney Johnston.

A white wig worn by a young woman, Delineator, Sept. 1927. Photo by Alfred Cheney Johnston.

A dark wig with a tiny bun low on the neck in back. September, 1917, Delineator, page 37. Photo by Alfred Cheney Johnston.

Formal elegance: A dark wig with a tiny bun low on the neck in back. September, 1917, Delineator, page 37. Photo by Alfred Cheney Johnston.

“…A transformation is arranged with simple elegance for a formal occasion. The contour of the head is closely followed and an air of extreme dignity is attained.”

A chestnut wig, Delineator, Sept. 1927. Page 37. Photo by Alfred Cheney Johnston.

A chestnut wig, Delineator, Sept. 1927. Page 37. Photo by Alfred Cheney Johnston.

“… A soft chestnut coiffure is very graceful. It has a flattering soft bang, covers the ears and has the small chignon, which is most attractive.”

Credits for the "transformations" photo shoot.

Credits for the “transformations” photo shoot in 1927.

Wig tips for costumers:  If you have ever worn a wig, you’ll know that it will look most realistic if the hair is not swept straight back from the hairline, but has at least a few hairs covering the forehead where the wig begins — something all these “transformations” have in common. They were intended to be worn in private life, and seen from inches away.  “Movie wigs” and good theatrical wigs have a delicate flesh-toned mesh at the front, with individual hairs “ventilated” into the mesh — The process is much like making a hooked rug (a very tiny one, with hairs instead of yarn.) This mesh can then be glued to the actor’s forehead, and looks very realistic — although I don’t know how HDTV is affecting that! Sean Connery’s crew-cut gray wig in the movie Red October was amazingly convincing — My husband and I came out of the movie talking about that wig!

If you can’t afford a high quality wig to wear with your off-the face-Gibson girl updo, try positioning a Gibson styled wig the same color as your hair slightly behind your hairline. Use a rat-tailed comb to pull about a quarter inch of your own hair out from under the wig cap, and carefully brush it into the hair of the wig before spraying it.

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Cosmetics, Beauty Products, Hairstyles, Resources for Costumers, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Vintage Accessories, vintage photographs