Category Archives: Women in Trousers

Fashion Advice for Summer, 1933 (Part 2)

Beach pajamas [aka pyjamas]; detail from Delineator cover, August 1933.

When we think of summer fashion, we usually think of loose clothes, cool dresses with bare arms and backs, and sporty clothing suitable for vacation activities. Here is Part 2 of summer fashion advice from Marian Corey, writing in Delineator,  June 1933. [Click here for Part 1.]

For Tennis

Butterick 5182, at right; “The pinafore frock that buttons down the back is THE tennis dress.” Delineator, June, p. 61. (This is the only illustration of it that I found.)

Delineator, June 1933, p. 61.

Like dress 5182, Butterick 5025 buttons in back:

“Bermuda” is the name given to this dress (Butterick 5025) which, like tennis dress No. 5182, buttons down the back. “…Known technically as a beach dress although it is far more apt to be worn off the beach than on.” Delineator, April 1933.

Notice the bare backs and chic suntans of these blonde models.

“Hello Everybody” is the name given to Butterick 5021, at right. From Delineator, April 1933.

Bicycle Clothes

Clothes for bike riding and skating, Delineator, June 1933.

I didn’t find any illustrations of divided skirts in this issue, but there were good-looking slacks or beach pajamas, and shorts sets, too,

Butterick 5219 could be made as trousers or shorts. Delineator, July, 1933.

The Talon fastener — a slide fastener or “zipper” — was still new in 1933; many dressmakers would not know how to install one.

Butterick slacks pattern 4884 had a sailor influence in its double row of buttons. The shirt pattern was included.

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/1934-june-p-17-sea-sun-sand-4884-5219-pants-500.jpg?w=423&h=498

Left, Butterick 4884 photographed for Delineator in June, 1934. The reclining model wears Butterick 5219.

Shorts (or slacks) pattern 5219 was featured again in July; this time No. 5219 was christened “Eight Bells.”

Slacks pattern 5219 (“Eight Bells”) pictured with a bathing suit, 5215 (“Seawothy.”)  Delineator, July 1933, p. 60.

For those too young to remember, this was what roller skates looked like in the 1930’s; they were the same in the 1950’s, when I learned to skate:

You could earn a pair of skates like this by selling subscriptions to Ladies’ Home Journal. Ad from LHJ, August 1936. My skates could only be used with leather-soled shoes; the clamp at the front was adjusted with a “skate key,” but slipped off of tennis shoes.

The Pretty and the Kitsch blog happened to show this photo of women roller skating in trousers (like Butterick 4884 or 5219) or beach pajamas. The photo is not dated precisely, but it’s apt! Thanks, Emily Kitsch.

Bathing Suits

“Don’t get a wool jersey bathing suit — the wool suit isn’t enjoying its usual popularity. The rubber bathing suit and the cotton ones are making it look sick.” Marian Corey, Delineator, June 1933. p. 61.

Wool bathing suits in an ad for Ironized Yeast, Delineator, March 1933.

A wool bathing suit — and especially a heavy, soaking wet, wool bathing suit — did not camouflage any figure faults:

Wet wool bathing suits, late 1920’s or early 1930’s. All (well, nearly all) is revealed as the weight of the cold water pulls the knit suits tight against the body.

This cotton bathing suit was designed by Orry-Kelly for Bette Davis, seen wearing it. Butterick briefly offered line-for-line copies of clothing worn in the movies, as “starred patterns.” This one is from June, 1933; Delineator.

Marian Corey recommended cotton bathing suits, like this one, Butterick pattern 5215. June 1933.

Two versions of Butterick bathing suit 5215, from July and June, 1933.  “Jersey tights” were worn under the skirt  or shorts.

[You can read more about Butterick Starred Patterns from several movies: costumes for Bette Davis by Orry-Kelly, Katharine Hepburn by Howard Greer, Mary Astor by Orry-Kelly, Kay Francis by Orry-Kelly, and Helen Twelvetrees by Travis Banton.]

If you’re curious about the “beguiling” drawstring neckline dress mentioned by Marian Corey, here it is:

Butterick 5173, a dress with a drawstring neckline; Delineator, June 1933, p. 62.

And here are two rubber bathing suits featured in McCall’s Magazine, July 1938. In case Ms. Corey piqued your interest: “We know you can think of dozens of reasons why a rubber suit wouldn’t suit you, but even so and nevertheless! You see, they’re good-looking, and so nice and cheap, and they give one quite a figure.”

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/p-70-bathing-suit-btm-text-500.jpg?w=500&h=405

Rubber bathing suit pictured in McCall’s Magazine, July 1938.

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/p-71-bathing-suit-top-500-text-rubber.jpg?w=500&h=351

Rubber bathing suit pictured in McCall’s Magazine, July 1938.

Beach Pajamas

Gingham beach pajamas and bare shouldered sundress. Butterick 5133 and 5075 , Delineator, May 1933.

In “Gingham Girl” one can crawl about on hands and knees and get in the way of the garden hose without any harm being done. “Gingham Girl ” takes housework in its stride, too, doing away with bulky and unattractive aprons.” “New Low” is the thing for tennis, for there’s nothing to hinder the most smashing serve.” — Delineator, May 1933, p. 52.

Now I’m ready for July.

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Filed under 1930s, Bathing Suits, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Sportswear, Swimsuits, Vintage patterns, Vintage patterns from the movies, vintage photographs, Women in Trousers, Zippers

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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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Hats, Musings, Sportswear, vintage photographs, Women in Trousers, World War I

Trying to Put a Name to Forgotten Faces

I know where this picture was taken, but not when, or who it is. Monaco, Excelsior Art Gallery, 183 Main Street, Stockton, Cal. “The most artistic photographic work guaranteed, at moderate prices.” Ben Batchelder owned several photo galleries in Stockton from 1872 to 1891, but not necessarily the Excelsior at 183 Main…. So the picture is still undated.

Once a year (usually in December) I try to remind readers to use family get-togethers as an opportunity to bring out that box or scrapbook full of old family photos and go through them with the eldest members of the family. Try to put names to the faces. Someday, someone might thank you. (And you might hear some surprising stories….) If you’re lucky, more than one person will be able to put a name to the faces in the photos.

Photograph taken by Elliott and Harkness in Stockton, California. On the back the sitter has written, “Drunk when taken.” (I think he was kidding….)

I’d like to identify this man — he seems to have had a sense of humor. And he really was better looking than the “drunk” photograph implies:

Great hat. Now, who and when was he? A member of my family? or a friend who gave his picture to a pretty girl or to a member of the same fraternal organization? There’s no name on the back.

I’d also like to date his suit, hat, etc. If I knew his name, I could probably find out what he did for a living, and where he fit in the socio-economic scale. Did he live in Stockton, which was quite a large city by the 1880’s? Or was he a farmer who came into town so rarely that he had his picture taken to commemorate the event?

These children were also photographed in Stockton. I used Pioneer Photographers of the Far West to date these photos.

Two photographs taken at the Pioneer Gallery, 198 Main St., Stockton, CA.

A photographer named Ben Batchelder was active in Stockton from 1872 to 1891, but he only had the Pioneer Gallery at this address for three years: 1884 to 1887. It’s a clue; it eliminates some possible relatives because they were too old or too young to be this age in those years. It’s nice to be able to date these photos — but it would be nicer to know more about them. The date is not enough to identify this boy and girl.

Unknown boy in suit with short trousers, big bow. Photographed in Stockton, CA, between 1884 and 1887.

Unknown girl in a wool dress that looks home-made. Photographed in Stockton, CA, between 1884 and 1887.

By the 1980’s I had only one relative I could ask about family photos from the 1880’s and early 1900’s: my Aunt Dorothy, also known as Dot. (We can usually identify our close relatives, even if the picture was taken before we were born.) However, as I try to verify names and dates from public sources, I am discovering that — in the words of literary critics — she was an “unreliable narrator.” And, since I have been using photos she identified and dated to identify other photos, I made a serious error.

I had already figured out that some of the photos I inherited from Dot were probably labeled years after they were taken.

This photo — and many taken on the same weekend — says Monte Rio, July 4, 1921. Dot is 3rd from left, and my mother is on the far right.

She seems to have had many weekend getaways in 1921: in Monte Rio, in Santa Cruz, in Truckee, plus a trip to Washington State…. Or perhaps she just remembered having a good time in 1921, and wrote that on all of them (?)

Dot (back to camera) and The Gang from the Office, Truckee, CA, 1921.

Four women in Santa Cruz, CA, 1921. Dot is third from left. For more about their clothes, click here.

Dot in Granite Falls, Washington, 1921 (She wrote.)

I’m not blaming her — doesn’t everybody have a shoebox full of (pre-digital) photos that we finally get around to putting into a scrapbook years later? Her scrupulousness about writing dates on photos and on the scrapbook pages made me too trusting. I can recognize my Great Aunt Alice, because she was still alive (and lively) when I was a child. (That impish smile in the lower left photo captures the Alice I knew: shrewd and witty.)

Alice Barton: 1900’s, 1930s, 1950s.

My very young Aunt Dot is sitting on the steps with her brother Mel (in sailor suit.) The woman in stripes, center, is her Aunt Alice (my great-aunt.) But — is the woman in white her Aunt Cora or her Aunt Laura? I’m no longer sure.

Dot said this was Aunt Laura, but I’m no longer certain. Is it Laura or Cora? (That is a terrific coat — with an enormous hat — whoever is wearing them. Note the mud splashes around the coat’s hem.)

I believed that my Aunt Dot could tell the difference between her Aunt Laura and her Aunt Cora — they were still alive when she was an adult. But… trusting her identification of photos, I think I wrote a post about the wrong one!

I thought this was Great Aunt Cora, with an unknown man, and my Great Aunt Alice, in the 1930s. Their dresses are short and sleeveless, with belts at the waist: after 1925, probably close to 1930. (Other photos I have examined recently suggest that the man is their brother, John, who died in 1934. Three surviving siblings; that makes sense.)

My research in local sources [The San Mateo County Genealogical Society has amazing databases online!] finally located Cora and Laura’s death dates: Cora died in December of 1924; Laura lived until 1936. Therefore, the woman in glasses in this photo is probably Laura, the unmarried librarian, instead of Cora, the widow. (Oops!)

I subscribed to Ancestry.com a few years ago only because I wanted to access its collection of Sears, Roebuck catalogs. (And I would recommend this to anyone who needs to research “everyday clothing” instead of couture. You’ll get more information for $20 a month than from a dozen books.) But, once I noticed that Dot’s spelling of names was quite variable, I began using Ancestry.com to try to find the correct spelling of names for the people in her photos.

Azalia Dellamaggiore (as spelled on census records) on the courthouse lawn in Redwood City, CA, dated 1918. Dot’s shadow as she takes the picture is included.

Again, Dot did her best. If you asked me to spell the last names of everyone I have met in social situations, — well, I couldn’t. Also, after you meet people several times, and think of them as friends, it’s embarrassing to have to ask them what their last names are! What was Dot — a girl with an 8th grade education — to make of a name like Dale Lucchesi — or Luchese? or Luchassi… or Lucassi? (She pronounced it Loo chee’ zee.)

Dale Lucchesi [she wrote Lucassi here] sent this photo of himself to my aunt. Early 1920s.

Dale Lucchesi [she wrote Luchessis this time] sent this charming photo of “my little brother and I” to my aunt around 1921. (Look! A sleeve garter! and a tiny boy still in a dress!)

If Dale had given her a studio portrait with his signature on the back (as many of her old beaux did) she would have figured it out. Caston Popescul signed  his:

Studio portrait of Caston Popescul mailed from Columbus, Georgia, dated 1920. (He’s retained his WW I military haircut. For reasons I don’t understand, this haircut was back in fashion in 2017!) Caston was a soldier in the American Army when he applied for U.S. citizenship in 1918.

C. Popescul and Dot Barton in Santa Cruz, 1921. (That’s what she wrote.)

Then there’s a military man sometimes identified as “Val:” Volowsky or Walasky or Walisky ….

“Volouskey” (or “Valowskey”?) changes a tire while Jack and Dot look on.

“Walasky” with a tank, on the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto, CA; dated 1920. There was a WW I military camp, Camp Fremont, in nearby Menlo Park.

Nick and “Walisky” at Neptune Beach. Dated 1920.

Dot and the soldier-with-the-hard-to-spell-name at Neptune Beach, Alameda, California. Dated 1920.

(Is that a box camera in her hand?)

Census Name Variations

I’m finding some wild spelling variations on census reports, too — possibly the fault of the census taker, or the person who happened to be at home to answer questions when the census taker knocked on the door — or a transcription error made when the hand-written census forms were typed into a database.

You wouldn’t think a four-letter name like Lipp would be a problem — but I found some Lipps under the name Siff. And Sipp. And Gipp.  Barton showed up as “Baldhoe” in 1940. So just imagine the variations I’ve found for the family of Augustus Feodorovich Moosbrugger, who emigrated from tzarist Russia at the age of 19 and married one of the Lipp girls; the name on her tombstone is “Alice Moosberger” — and my aunt Dot pronounced it “mooseburger.” Tasty!

I’m so glad someone identified this couple; it’s my mother’s father with Emma Emerson, whom he did not marry.

Dorothy’s father (b. 1862) with Emma Emerson — their names were written in pencil on the back. He married my grandmother in 1893, so this is earlier — probably 1880’s, as the dress suggests. [Taken in Stockton at Monaco Excelsior Art Gallery.]

It was a delight to find this picture:

Signed on the back, “Geo E. Meekins, Menlo Park, California.” It also says, “Age 25.” I found him in the Register of Voters: he was 25 in 1890. How satisfying!

The back of Meekins’ portrait is inscribed — in elaborate writing — “Geo. E. Meekins … Compliments to Miss Lillie M. Lipp,” Dorothy’s mother (my maternal grandmother.) Below, my Aunt Dot wrote, “Mama’s first fellow.” I think she got that one right.

Unknown woman in the snow, white fur muff and stole,  probably 1917 to 1922. I’m still looking for a photo that will identify her….

P.S. Thank you, Aunt Dorothy, for hundreds of photos!

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Work Clothes: Bib Overalls and Coveralls

Story illustration by George Giguere, Delineator, February 1924. A young man in bib overalls receives a visit from two pretty girls. Notice the house across the street. This is not necessarily a farm.

When I began writing witness2fashion, I wanted to focus on everyday clothes, clothing for working class people. All the men in my family did manual labor — skilled labor, but impossible to do without getting dirty.

My mother (in light dress) with her older sister and her two brothers. About 1913, judging from their ages. My Uncle Harris, wearing a coverall on the right, would have been working in his family’s ice house by then.

I grew up seeing bib overalls on my father and my uncles. This is not a scholarly history of overalls, but a little tribute to a 20th century classic.

Both overalls [the word I use to refer to bib overalls] and coveralls [by which I mean mean a one piece garment with sleeves which covers the body from neck to ankle] have been around for a very long time. Early Levi jeans were called “waist overalls.”

Waist overalls from Sears, Spring 1896. The construction is like that of men’s wool trousers, with a high back and a buckle for adjusting the waist fit. “Overalls” meant a work pant — with or without an “apron” or “bib,” front. The top two were also available in a bib version: “Same as above, with apron front … and strap suspenders.”

For farmers and other men (and sometimes women) doing manual labor, the bib overall was almost synonymous with “work clothes.” It was also an ideal garment for active children.

My great-aunt with my Aunt Dorothy, my Uncle Mel, and my Uncle Harris. Dorothy was born in 1901, so this is probably before 1906. My grandmother has very sensibly dressed her boys in bib overalls.

Sears Roebuck sold overalls for children “4 to 14” as early as Spring of 1896. They called them “Brownie suits.” The model is not wearing a shirt: “Let your boy play in the healthy outdoor air this summer, dressed in a Brownie Suit. They are all the style this season.”

In 1907 the style had changed slightly.

From a Sears catalog, 1907. Overalls were made of durable fabrics and allowed a boy to “play without being afraid of spoiling his best clothes.”

The pockets seem a bit small to me, but a boy wearing these could answer the call of nature without adult assistance, since the bib suspenders unhooked from the front.

In 1907, the boy who didn’t wear overalls might wear something like this:

Clothes for boys from Sears catalog, 1907. Not really suitable for playing in the dirt.

Since overalls were made of heavy fabrics, and available at low prices from catalogs, I was a little surprised to see Butterick sewing patterns for them:

Butterick pattern 5410, for men’s overalls/coveralls, and Butterick 5365, a very similar “play suit” for young boys. Both from Delineator, 1924. Note: the word “jumpsuit” dates to World War II and is American in origin; in England they were called siren suits.

Butterick pattern 5780 for men’s bib overalls [also called apron overalls,] Delineator, January 1925. This man is a mechanic carrying a pipe wrench. My Uncle Mel, a plumber, still wore striped overalls in the 1940s and 1950s.

Overalls for boys two to twelve; Butterick 5258 from June 1924. He may be gardening, but professional farmers wore overalls, too. [And, more than 20 years later,  my Grandma bought me sandals exactly like those he is wearing. Mine were always red, bought new at the start of each summer.]

Some children wore overalls as a matter of course:

A farm family in 1934; photo from a Nujol ad in Delineator, April 1934.

For a well-illustrated article on bib overalls, as worn by farmers and others, click here.

Overalls for a “youth” and a grown man, from Sears, Spring 1929. “Fellows! The real thing! … just like Dad’s!” Left, bib overalls and a matching jacket in “Sturdy 2.20 white back denim.”

My uncle, the plumber, wore dark, denim, indigo blue overalls with narrow white stripes — and a matching jacket — in 1950. Unlike modern plumbers who wear jeans, he could crawl under a sink without exposing cleavage in back.

Sears overalls and matching jacket, Spring catalog, 1929.

“Heavy reinforcements where reinforcements are needed. Securely bar tacked at all points of strain.”  Levi Strauss used rivets to reinforce stress points — and held a patent.

One of the great things about bib front overalls was the specialized pockets.

From the Sears Catalog, Spring, 1950. Carpenters overalls, left, have ample pockets for nails, a carpenter’s rule, carpenters’ pencils, and a loop on the side seam of the leg for carrying a hammer. Painters’ and paperhangers’ overalls have room for paint rags, etc. House painters traditionally wore white overalls.

Sears overalls for painters and paperhangers, 1897. “Two pockets and knife pocket.”

If you’ve ever hung wallpaper, you’ll appreciate the knife pocket.

My father wears [once white] carpenter’s overalls in 1950. His foreman, at left, preferred dungarees and a blue work shirt. Note the foreman’s felt hat.

1956: Sears’ coveralls and overalls from Everyday Fashions of the Fifties. Coveralls were favored by auto mechanics; they had to lie on their backs to reach the undersides of cars. There’s not a baseball cap to be seen on these working class men from the 1950’s — they are wearing their old “good” felt hats.

In this illustration, a traveling salesman shows his wares to a woman he (understandably) mistakes for the farmer’s wife:

Story illustration, Delineator, February 1936.

However, overalls could be beach pajamas or play suits for women in the 1930s:

Masthead illustration by Leslie Saalburg for Delineator, March 1932. She’s not wearing a top under her overalls.

These pajamas were suggested for tennis in an ad from Delineator, June, 1932. They look like a trip hazard to me.

Women had worn men’s overalls when doing factory work in the First World War.

American woman in Ladies' Home Journal, August 1917.

American woman, Ladies’ Home Journal, 1917.

They also wore them during World War II, but this 1940’s sewing pattern is for work or play:

Anne Adams sewing pattern 4350 circa 1942.

My father still wore overalls from time to time after he retired in the 1970’s. This striped pair have big, removable pockets attached with a zipper.

Striped overalls worn on a fishing trip, 1970s — better than gutting fish in your good trousers and shirt!

He’s  standing in a basement laundry room. Automatic washing machines may explain why many workers now wear chinos or jeans instead of overalls.

Here are some overalls for children from the 1940’s:

Overall-styled play suit (with matching jacket) from Butterick Fashion News, October 1943.

An overall/play suit very like the back-baring beach pajamas of 1932, with narrower legs. Butterick Fashion News, August, 1948.

Overalls for children continue to be popular. These brand new striped overalls from OshKosh are faded and aged before being sold.

I don’t remember these, but here’s proof that I used to wear overalls, too:

Witness2fashion in overalls, early 1950s. The curls and the hair bow were my mother’s idea.

What’s with the dirt piles? My father was a housemover; the house behind me is “up on blocks” and on its way to a new location.

A house being moved from one location to another, California, 1950s.

In England, “housemovers” move furniture, but in my part of the world, where wooden houses survive earthquakes better than stone or brick ones, housemovers could separate a house from its foundation and move it to a new location, often miles away, while keeping it perfectly intact. It was definitely skilled work.

P.S. The Vintage Traveler supplied a link to the article in Paris Review: The Jumpsuit That Will Replace All Clothes Forever. We’re not convinced.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s, Boys' Clothing, Children's Vintage styles, Menswear, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Sportswear, Uniforms and Work Clothes, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing, vintage photographs, Women in Trousers, World War I

Fun in the Snow, 1921

A group of office workers from the Southern Pacific Railroad headquarters in San Francisco on a weekend trip to the snow; taken in Truckee, California, February, 1921. That’s the base of the Donner Party monument behind them.

I’ve spent many hours of the past two weeks scanning and sorting my Aunt Dorothy’s huge accumulation of photographs. It’s taking even longer than I expected because, thanks to modern computer technology, I can now see details that would only have been visible with a magnifying glass a few years ago. I end up trying to revive faded or underexposed prints that were tiny to begin with, and saving faces and clothing details. Also, I am trying to put names to as many faces as possible. So, while I am time-traveling through thousands of images, I will share a few “postcards from a time-traveler.”

Dot Barton (my Aunt Dorothy,) with Jen, Spurr, and Dot Robinson at Truckee, 1921.

Dot B. is wearing a very hairy sweater, and she’s borrowed a huge Tam-o-Shanter from her friend Dottie Biggs.

Dottie Biggs and Dorothy Barton in Truckee, 1921.

It was only by enlarging this section of the photo that I saw the shawl and huge tam on the woman standing behind them.

The woman in the middle is Dottie Biggs, wearing a long, thick sweater. 1921.

Dot Barton and Lloyd Muller in 1921. She is wearing the full-legged knickers that many women wore for sports. Her sweater is not too different from those of 1917. He’s wearing his cloth cap turned backwards…. like a baseball cap in the nineties.

Gladys Spurr and Dot Robinson in 1922.

My Aunt Dorothy, nicknamed Dot, worked in an office with Dot Robertson, Dot Robinson, and Dottie Biggs. It must have been a relief when Adeline and Gladys were hired!

For those who live where snow is a normal event, I should explain that it only snows in San Francisco a couple of times per century.  Some people “go to the snow” on the mountainous eastern side of the state every winter — just to see snow. It seems odd today to think a sweater would be enough protection when the snow is falling, but that’s what all these women are wearing, along with knickers or riding pants.

Gladys Spurr and Dot Robinson face the cold in sweaters and wool twill riding pants. 1921.

Dot Barton’s long sweater has pockets big enough to hold her gloves. She has probably laced gaiters over her legs, with turned-down socks.

Dottie Biggs in a sweater vest over a dark shirt, plus a long, thick sweater. And that wonderful hat…. 1921.

I can’t get enough of that Tam-O-Shanter — and her attitude.

A giant Tam-o-Shanter — very chic in the late teens and early twenties. Notice that she’s wearing earrings and … is that lipstick?

It’s lovely to see the fun they had — almost a hundred years ago.

Why did they want to sit on the roof? Probably because it was there.  Donner Lake, 1921.

Because these young people worked for the SP railroad, they probably took advantage of cheap tickets for weekends at Russian River (in the summer) and at Truckee or Lake Tahoe in the winter. The train from San Francisco through the Sierra Nevada mountains still goes through Truckee on its way to Reno, Nevada and points east.

The “gang” from the SP office may be thinking of some liquid refreshment….  Especially that guy wearing just a shirt and bow tie over his sweater. Sadly for them, Prohibition went into effect in January of 1920. But the sign on the rock was still there in 1921.

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Filed under 1920s, Hairstyles, Hats, Makeup & Lipstick, Men's Sportswear, Menswear, Sportswear, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing, vintage photographs, Women in Trousers

Beach Pajamas for a Little Girl

Butterick 3801, Delineator, April 1931. Some rather sophisticated beach pajamas for girls aged 4 t0 15 years. These were definitely for outdoor wear — and how relieved little girls must have been to play in trousers instead of dresses.

Beach pajamas were worn by ordinary women in the Thirties, not just those who could afford vacations at resorts, the Lido, or the South of France. The Vintage Traveler shared images of beach pajamas from a 1930 Montgomery Ward catalog. (Montgomery Ward was a rival of Sears. It was not an upscale store — my uncle, the plumber, bought his overalls there.) Lynn at American Age Fashion just shared a 1933 photo of my family’s close friends in beach pajamas, with a wonderful eye for the differences between the generations.

These pajamas (or pyjamas) were intended for lounging, but many of them were worn as beachwear  if the fabric was not obviously lingerie material.

Butterick pajamas for big and little girls, December 1931. Left, 4177; right, 4223.

Beach pajamas were so important that even dolls needed them.

Butterick doll wardrobe pattern 440, Delineator, December 1931.

These pajamas were sleeveless, like the ones on the little girl in this painting, and trimmed with bias tape.

A little girl wears beach pajamas in this painting based on a 1930’s photograph. Detail, “Bobbie with Marbles.” Used with permission of the artist.

McCall doll clothes pattern 525 from 1937, with the original photo on which the painting was based. Both outfits have bias tape binding.

Butterick girl’s play pajamas, No. 5181, from 1933. The dots make them look a bit clown-like, and the ruffles are sheer organdy, more for lounging than sleeping..

“Cotton pajamas are one of the most practical things in the world to play in;” cotton is appropriate for the beach, but shantung seems more like an indoors lounging option [and rather sophisticated casual party wear for a girl aged 2 to twelve.]

The dots and ruffles are not so different from these lounging pajamas for grown women:

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/1931-sept-p-86-undies-pjs-4014-3937.jpg?w=301&h=500

Lounging Pajamas, Butterick patterns 4014 and 3937. Delineator, Sept. 1931.

 

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Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Children's Vintage styles, Sportswear, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing, vintage photographs, Women in Trousers

More Blouses from the Early 1930’s

Two versions of the same blouse, Butterick 4420, from April 1932, Delineator.

These blouses from 1932 and 1933 continue to popularize the use of separates, possibly for office wear, possibly because a blouse is easier to launder in a wash-basin than a dress,  and probably because a blouse takes less fabric. The ability to get several looks from the same two or three blouses and one or two skirts might be another attraction in the scarce-money days of the 1930’s.

A few of the blouses shown below, all from 1932 or 1933, plus two or three skirts or suits, would combine to make a really extensive wardrobe. The skirts of 1932 -1933 were long.

Here, two Butterick blouse patterns are shown with skirt 4908. February 1933, Delineator.

First, Butterick blouses and tops from 1932:

Butterick blouse 4420 was shown in long or short-sleeved versions. Delineator, April 1932.

Butterick blouse 4420 in a more casual version, with short sleeves, a peek-a-boo front, and in dotted fabric. Notice the triple darts that shape the waist and control the fullness. Clever! [Did it have a side opening?] April 1932.

A more “strictly-business” attitude for Butterick 4444 and 4368. April 1932, Delineator. The striped blouse has a “shirtwaist front.” 4368 has a peplum.

Although this next set of tops are called jackets, they are so brief they might be worn with skirts or beach pajamas.

Butterick “bell-hop” jacket 4436, which comes only to the waist. April, 1932.

A young man wearing a bell-boy or bell-hop’s uniform. Story illustration, Ladies’ Home Journal, Jan. 1936.

This version of the “bell-hop jacket”  has “a strict, tailored air.” Butterick 4436, April 1932.

Jacket 4436  was available in a bolero version which “makes a blouse and skirt look like a frock and gives a frock a dress-up air.” 1932.

In case you noticed, three fabric hats made from Butterick pattern 4472 accompany the jacket illustrations.

1933 was also a good year for blouses, beginning in January. All are Butterick patterns featured in Delineator magazine.

Butterick blouse 4882 looks complicated — I’d like to see the pattern pieces! It was also shown in two versions. January 1933. [Sorry about the fuzzy lines — it was a small illustration, not a hairy blouse.]

Butterick 4882 with long, fancy sleeves. January 1933.

[In the interests of space and legibility, I moved the blouse illustration from right to left.] Match your skirt and blouse colors.

Two Butterick blouses for February, 1933. Left, pattern 4922 (“Aboveboard”); right, pattern 4914 (“Half and Half.”) Full sleeves with fitted lower portions  — reminiscent of the 1890’s –were chic.

The February report on Paris Fashions says dressy blouse 4922 in “saffron yellow rough crepe” would look good  “over any table, bridge or luncheon.” Blouse 4922 in “light gray lawn … with a schoolboy collar and tie” is paired with a dark gray wool wrap-around skirt, 4914.

The cover of Butterick Fashion Quarterly showed another short jacket, Butterick 4888, and a wonderful pair of button front beach pajamas, Butterick 3884.

Detail from cover of Butterick Fashion Quarterly, from an ad in Delineator, February 1933.

Here is a clearer image of both, from Delineator, July 1933.

Resort wear: Butterick jacket 4888 in a longer version, and beach pajamas 4884 (right) and 4404 (left.) July 1933.

However, I’m getting ahead of myself; more blouses were shown in the April issue of Delineator:

Butterick blouses 5060 and 5030. April 1933, page 86. 5030 has “cowl sleeves,” an expression I’ve never heard before. 5060 has a sort of built-in weskit or vest.

[Full at the top, fitted at the bottom: 1890’s sleeves.]

Metropolitan Museum Collection. Gigot or “leg of lamb” sleeves. 1890’s.

Digression: I’ve written before about the popularity of collars which could make one dress look like a wardrobe. On the same page was Butterick collar pattern 5072. Imagine these Depression Era collars transforming  a simple dress or a sweater.

Butterick collar pattern 5072 — an inexpensive way to “boost morale.” Delineator,  April, 1933, p. 36

Some Thirties’ dress patterns even came with interchangeable collars.

Back to Blouses: In May, Delineator was writing about borrowing masculine styles for feminine clothing:

Left, Butterick blouse 5090; lower right, Blouse 5116. May 1933. Notice the little darts on 5090, insuring a neat waistline. 5116 is the first of many garments with the look of a man’s vest or weskit. “Note the square buttons.”

Sleeves, 1893. They are very full at the shoulder but tight on the lower arm. Met Museum fashion plate collection.

Blouse (jacket?) 5084 was shown in two versions. This one seems like a wild topper — in taffeta — for an evening skirt, a dark velvet one, perhaps. Below, it’s barely recognizable as the same pattern:

Butterick 5084 is both feminine, in the sleeves, and masculine, in its weskit, which is essentially a man’s formal white evening vest. It is worn over a blouse or dress. May 1933.

For men, there was a brief fad for short mess jackets — copied from the military — in 1934.

I’ll leave blouses from 1934 for another day.

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Filed under 1930s, Accessory Patterns, Hats, Men's Formalwear & Evening, Sportswear, Uniforms and Work Clothes, Women in Trousers