Replacing Your Sleeves to Update Your Dress (and Sometimes Widen Your Shoulders)

This post started with sleeve patterns as its subject, but it grew into one about the widening of shoulders in the 1930’s…. If that’s your interest, just scroll down to 1930’s Sleeve Patterns.

Sleeve pattern 5113 from Delineator, Butterick, March 1924.

Butterick periodically offered sleeve patterns as a way to give your dress a new look without much expense.

Renew your old coat with new sleeves or collars; Butterick patterns from Delineator, October 1933.

Changing the sleeves on an old garment doesn’t make any sense to me, because you would rarely have enough of the original dress material left over to make a pair of long sleeves…. Nevertheless, here is an assortment of sleeve patterns from 1917 to 1933:

1910’s Sleeve Patterns

Butterick sleeve pattern 9220, June 1917; Delineator.

“Design 9220 is a splendid set which will quite transform a dress that is slightly worn.” Unfortunately, I didn’t photograph the whole paragraph.

Butterick sleeve pattern 8954 from February 1917. There is a little visible gathering at the sleeve head — probably to be sure it would fit an existing armhole.

Here are some fashions from 1917 and 1918; would changing the sleeves have made much of a difference?

Summer fashions from Butterick, Delineator, February 1917.

Butterick patterns, July 1918. The sleeves are varied, including some that are wide at the cuffs, and one version (top right) is slit.

Butterick patterns from July 1918. The green blouse has sleeves that partly cover the hand, like those in the “update your sleeves” pattern 9220 from 1917.

1920’s Sleeve Patterns

Sleeves in the 1920’s were usually simple, fitted without fullness at the shoulder and close to the arm. However, some sleeves were sheer from the wrist to below the elbow, some widened, and some were split.

These dresses from 1926 have attention-getting sleeves. Delineator, July 1926.

Butterick sleeve pattern 5113, April 1924. Adding these to a dress from the early Twenties would update it — but by 1926, shortening the dress would update it more effectively!

Sleeve pattern 6544 from Butterick; Delineator, January 1926.

1930’s Sleeve Patterns: The Silhouette Begins to Change

Sleeves from the early 1930’s were often long but simple:

These dresses from February of 1931 have narrow, fitted sleeves. Delineator.

This 1931 pattern included some fluttery “capelet” sleeves, which really were a coming fashion. Delineator, April 1931. However, these sleeves start high on the natural shoulder, and don’t exaggerate its width.

A sheer evening jacket, Delineator, April 1933.

Ruffles created a wider shoulder on many evening dresses after 1932. This ad for Lux laundry soap appeared in Delineator, June 1934. (Blame the fad for ruffles on the 1932 movie Letty Lynton.)

This writer saw a connection between smaller hats and bigger sleeves:

Article from Delineator, November, 1931. This pre-dates Adrian’s designs for Letty Lynton.

However, back in 1931, this article noted that as hat styles changed, they looked better with “period clothes, clothes such as were worn with them originally. Period styles have appeared, but they are mostly evening dresses. Something else happened, however, to make the new clothes look right with the new hats… wide sleeves and puffed sleeves.”

Sleeve variations, reported by Marian Corey in Delineator, Nov. 1931. “The puffs may occur anywhere on your arm — at the shoulder, at the elbow, at the wrist….But … There are still more frocks with straight sleeves than frocks with puffed sleeves.” [A ratio of 12:1.]

We can trace a slow increase in shoulder width from the 1930’s to 1940, but from my small sample it appears that wide shoulders and gathered sleeves (except for the frilly ones on formal dresses) were a gradual style change between 1931 and 1937, starting with evening and outerwear.

Delineator reported the return of the Gibson Girl sleeve as early as April 1933, pg. 73.

Also in 1933, coats and jackets with fur accents or extensions at the shoulders were being featured, and not necessarily to accomodate fuller sleeves on dresses:

Winter coats with extended shoulders or sleeve heads. Delineator, September 1933.

Winter coats with wider sleeves, Delineator, September 1933. “Pillowcase” sleeves at bottom.

1933 coat pattern 5347 has wide shoulders and a modified, droopy leg-o-mutton sleeve.

Butterick coat pattern 5347 from Oct. 1933. If you didn’t want to make an entire coat, you could make new sleeves (right) or a new collar (left) from pattern 5351.

Butterick 5351 included sleeves and collars. Delineator, Oct. 1933.

These 1933 jackets also show the “Gibson girl” influence:

Big sleeves on short coats from Butterick, Delineator, Oct. 1933.

By 1935, even dresses appear to have wider shoulders — it would be hard to get this silhouette without using shoulder pads:

Two Butterick dress patterns from February, 1935.

A selection of Butterick dress patterns from February, 1936; Delineator. Shoulders are definitely broader, at least as illustrated.

By 1937, exaggerated shoulders with sleeves that are full at the top are standard features, as these patterns from a Butterick store flyer illustrate.

Dress patterns from Butterick News Flyer, December 1937. These sleeves are not droopy, but probably supported from the inside with a pad or ruffle.

Shoulders, 1940:

Very wide shoulders, achieved with shoulder pads rather than “Gibson girl” puffed sleeves. Butterick Fashion News, Feb. 1940.

The natural shoulder of the 1920’s and early 1930’s is completely out of style.

Advertisements

8 Comments

Filed under 1870s to 1900s fashions, 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, 1930s-1940s, Accessory Patterns, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Vintage patterns

French Designer Gowns from May 1927

Evening designs from three famous houses, illustrated for Delineator in May, 1927.

A little guessing game: Can you guess the designers of these three evening gowns illustrated in May, 1927? Hint: Here are some names in alphabetical order; Chanel, Doeuillet, Lanvin, Patou, Vionnet.

Full length images; It’s 1927, and the skirt on the left bares the kneecaps. The dress in the center is a “bolero” fashion.

Answer:

From left, gowns by Vionnet, Lanvin, and Chanel. 1927.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the simple gown with ingenious twisted fabric is the work of Madeleine Vionnet.

“Vionnet ties white crepe satin into a Gordian knot to give the swathed hip and up in front movement of the new season.” Delineator, May 1927.

The gown by Lanvin is elaborately sequinned, and — surprise — under the sheer skirt, it has knee-length trousers!

Lanvin bolero dress, heavily spangled. Delineator, May 1927.

“Gold and silver spangles outline the bolero in a heavy rope design and trim the bodice of Lanvin’s white crepe version of the Zouave silhouette with lamé trousers.”

The Metropolitan museum collection includes a black evening coat by Lanvin, also from 1927.

A “vanilla color” lace gown by Chanel, shown in Delineator, 1927.

“The square decolletage, fulness [sic] at the hips, and the use of vanilla color lace characterize Chanel’s frock.” It’s also notable for the bow shaped pin.

Pins in the shape of bows were widely copied. A nearly identical Chanel dress with similar joined bands of lace is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum. (Click to see the additional images. It has a long tunic to be worn over a slip with two more layers of lace, plus a belt.)

These three dresses could be purchased in New York: the Vionnet and Lanvin from Altman, and the Chanel from Lord & Taylor.

Another interesting fact: All three dresses were designed by women at the top of French fashion — Madeleine Vionnet, Jeanne Lanvin, and Gabrielle Chanel.

Also illustrated in the same issue of Delineator were these lovely French gowns:

Fringed and beaded gown by Doueillet; Delineator, May 1927. The fringe is apparently tubes or strips of white chiffon.

A froth of a dress in black net, with pink satin bow. By Patou. Delineator, May 1927.

The Metropolitan museum has a similar (but not identical) 1927 black net dress by Patou.

For formal afternoon wear, Lanvin showed this:

An afternoon dress by Lanvin, seen in Delineator, May 1927. The curves of the embroidered design on the overskirt are echoed in the shape of the yoke. The taffeta sash is crimson.

Black and white organdy with a red sash is dramatic for an afternoon dress. Delineator explained the most popular evening color schemes from Paris:

Text from Delineator‘s fashion coverage, May 1927. Colors of the evening include “lipstick red.”

P.S. I can’t resist a shout out to Glamourdaze’s beautifully illustrated history of 1920’s fashions.

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under 1920s, evening and afternoon clothes, Hairstyles, Hats, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Couture Designs

Rapid Change in Twenties’ Fashions: 1924 to 1927

Dresses for women; Butterick’s Delineator magazine, March 1924, p 27.

When we speak of “the Twenties,” most of us are picturing the short skirts and dropped waists of the later 1920s:

Two Butterick pattterns for women, March 1927.

But during the immediate post-war Twenties, women’s clothing actually became longer, although less bulky and more revealing of the body under the clothes.

These dresses are from 1918, the year the war ended. One has a slightly dropped waist:

Dresses, skirts and blouses, Butterick patterns in Delineator magazine, July 1918, page 52.

Dresses, skirts and blouses, Butterick patterns in Delineator magazine, July 1918, page 52.

And these — 6 years later — are from 1924:

Butterick patterns for women, Delineator magazine, March 1924, page 27.

A reaction to the trauma of the First World War created “the Lost Generation” as described by Fitzgerald (in The Great Gatsby, published in 1925) and Hemingway (in The Sun Also Rises, published in October 1926.) Both were writing in the post-war period from 1924 to 1926. Fashions from those years may not look like “the Roaring Twenties” as we often imagine them.

Left, a draped dress from March 1927 which looks very “Twenties” to a modern eye; right, a draped dress from March 1924 — just three years earlier. Both are Butterick patterns featured in Delineator.

Which changed first: the fashions, or the women?

Less formal clothing from 1927, left, and from 1924, right. Butterick patterns from Delineator. What a difference three years made!

More fashion contrasts from March 1924 and March 1927:

Butterick patterns for young women, March 1924. Delineator, page 29.

Clothes for young women and teens; Butterick patterns from March 1924. Delineator, page 29.

Clothes for young women and teens were usually a bit shorter than those for mature women, but not nearly as short as these adult styles from just three years later:

Buttterick patterns from Delineator, March 1927, page 22.

Butterick patterns for women, March 1927.

If you want more details about those eight dresses from 1927, click here.

These youthful outfits from 1924 look fussy and rather stodgy, compared to the streamlined styles of 1927.

Butterick patterns for teens and small women, March 1924. Delineator.

Three styles for teens, Butterick March 1927. [The illustration on the left is bizarrely elongated….]

For more about dresses that combined different shades of the same color, click here. For more examples of rapid change in 1920’s fashion, click here.

A coat (1318) and dress (1323) from Butterick patterns, March 1927. Delineator, page 25. They’re like shingled hairstyles: short and sleek.

 

4 Comments

Filed under 1920s, evening and afternoon clothes, Hats, Musings, Sportswear, Vintage Accessories, 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!

5 Comments

Filed under 1870s to 1900s fashions, 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, Bathing Suits, Boys' Clothing, Children's Vintage styles, Costumes for the 19th century, Hats for Men, Late Victorian fashions, Men's Sportswear, Menswear, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Resources for Costumers, Sportswear, Suits for Men, Swimsuits, Uniforms and Work Clothes, Vintage Accessories, vintage photographs, Women in Trousers, World War I

Great Twenties’ Styles for Girls 8 to 15: April 1929

Three Butterick patterns for girls 8 to 15 years old, Delineator, April 1921, page 38.

Three Butterick patterns for girls 8 to 15 years old, Delineator, April 1929, page 39. The legs look coltish, (as they did in 1960’s illustrations…) but the bodies have credible proportions.

The daytime styles we think of as quintessentially “nineteen twenties” have kneecap length skirts, dropped waists, a sporty air, and proportions that look pleasant on an actual female body. The elongated fashion illustrations of the Twenties are hard to imagine on a normal young woman — but these illustrations of teens look “just right” to me.

These charming and sophisticated Butterick patterns for girls 8 to 15 years old are easy to imagine on a real (and adult) person. If you’re seeking inspiration, scroll down for the details:

A suit (dress plus matching coat), a dress, and a suit made up of suspender skirt with attached blouse, and jacket. Delineator, April 1929. Only the suspender skirt (right) is a style not worn by older women.

The dress in the center looks girlish in comparison to its neighbors. On the other hand, that’s a lot of eye makeup! Delineator, April 1929, page 39.

Here are the details:

Butterick 2572 has pleasant proportions, and those bias cut chevrons at the neckline of the sleeveless dress would look just as good without the 3/4 length coat. (Nice detail: the chevrons are repeated on the coat pockets and sleeves.)

Butterick 2427 has nothing childish about it. A long tie in back is purely decorative, but flatters the figure.

The sleeve/armhole treatment is very 1920s, and the swooping curve of the yoke, balanced by a curve on the skirt yoke, is elegant and sophisticated. If you were copying these designs for an adult, a small bust dart — or two — in each side seam would be a good idea — and common in women’s patterns from the later 1920s.

Butterick 2574 has a suspender skirt. They were worn by young adults, but not by matronly types.

Butterick 2485 owes a lot to Chanel; her jersey suits and cardigan sweaters were a major influence on the acceptance of casual chic.

You could make two blouses to go with this skirt, which hangs from an underbodice rather than the waist: one dark blouse and one in a lighter color. Bingo! Two suits instead of one. (Two neckline variations are illlustrated, too.)

Butterick 2507 uses fagoting — a nod to Vionnet — in a simple shift. I think it would look better without the embroidery.

In spite of those tucks over the breast, I’m not sure this one would be flattering to a grown woman.

Crisp and made dynamic by plaid on the bias in the top of the dress and pocket. Butterick 2558, for girls 8 to 15, Delineator, April 1921, page 39.

A long-sleeved version was also possible; and of course, the plaid is zingy, but not required. This dress could be monochromatic, or made with a white or cream top and a dark skirt and trim, or in two shades — or two textures — of the same color, for a dressy look.

I can’t imagine many pre-teens getting away with the amount of mascara illustrated, but….

Actress Phyllis Haver in an ad for Maybelline Mascara, Delineator, April 1929, pg 107.

Blame it on the movies. Advertisers didn’t have photo doctoring programs in the Twenties, but they still managed to doctor photos….

A little exaggeration in an ad for Maybelline Mascara, 1929.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Children's Vintage styles, Cosmetics, Beauty Products, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Sportswear

White Dresses for Summer, July 1931

“First Comes White — Then White with Color;” page 25 of a two-page article in Delineator, July 1931.

White dresses — and white with color accents — were the topic of a two page article in Delineator magazine in July 1931. It even included a white coat for summer:

Butterick coat pattern 3964 was a double-breasted polo coat with raglan sleeves. Delineator, July 1931, page 25.

It was described as a polo coat, and camel’s hair twill was suggested, although pale beige or pastels could be substituted for natural camel color.

1931 is not far from the late 1920’s, so it’s not surprising to see a lot of nineteen twenties’ hipline interest combined with a nineteen thirties’ natural waist.

This summer dress, Butterick 3949, combines white with color. I thought the tennis racket just signalled “summer,” but she’s wearing athletic shoes, too. Delineator, July 1931, page 24. The “white for tennis” idea didn’t apply to casual games.

Butterick 3979 has an unusually long, curved yoke on the skirt front. Delineator, July 1931, page 24.

This skirt was only pleated and yoked in front; the entire back of the dress is one piece.

This dress has a clever horizontal line (yoke and short sleeves) making the upper body look wider, in contrast to narrow 1930’s hips, accented with strong vertical lines in the skirt.

The curving seams on Butterick 3993 give it a dressy look to me, and in spite of the tennis racket, she is wearing pumps, not tennis shoes. Delineator, July 1931, page 24. The elaborate cut of this skirt is repeated in back.

“It is the perfect frock either for playing or spectating;” I think silk shantung would be a “spectating” fabric.

Butterick 3999 is sleeveless, double-breasted and loosely bloused. Delineator, July 1931, page 24. The back view shows short sleeves.

On this dress, the flares of the six gored skirt are repeated in the back.

Financial constraints during the Depression made Delineator magazine switch to smaller and less elaborate illustrations than the glorious full color fashion pages of the mid-1920’s.

Butterick 3956 has a 1920-ish look, with its long “weskit” style bodice and yoke, but it is from Delineator, July 1931, page 25. Optional short sleeves.

“…For any sporting event — for action or the sidelines. It’s all-whiteness fairly cries for the addition of the boldly bright accessories that will ring changes in the simplest little outfit this year.” Transforming a dress with accessories was a frequent theme in the Thirties.

Butterick 3995 has a surplice-line wrapped front. Delineator, July 1931, page 25. There is a long sleeved version, too.

A vestee (a partial blouse) is usually separate from the dress, and the colored cuffs might be detachable for laundering.

All of these patterns were available in what was then the normal range of sizes for women: bust 32 to 44 inches, with hips correspondingly bigger.

Butterick 3954 shows some vestiges of 1920’s styles. Delineator, July 1931, page 25.

Butterick 3973, a simple “utility” dress, accessorized with a golf club. Delineator, July 1931, page 25. Optional short sleeves.

Butterick 3981, a white dress accented with nautical embroidery, a colorful striped scarf and matching belt. Delineator, July 1931, page 25.  Does it have a dark binding around the neckline and armholes? From the small drawing, it’s hard to tell. Short sleeve option,

It’s undeniable that white accents a summer suntan (chic in 1931) and looks cool and fresh on hot days.

2 Comments

Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Sportswear, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Whoopee Booties, 1929

Whoopee Booties, Sears catalog, Fall 1929, p. 63. They came in red with gray or black with red trim.

Last week The Vintage Traveler reminded me that shoe illustrations, being fashion illustrations, are not always truthful. As a vintage buyer and dealer, she observed that real 1920’s shoes generally do not have super-high heels. That sent me to the ever-useful Sears Roebuck catalogs at Ancestry.com. And that is where I was distracted by these “Whoopee Booties” from 1929.

Sears Whoopee Booties, 1929. “Modern as youth itself!” Do they lace all the way up, or do they “flap?” Rain boots from 1928 looked like this.

And before discussing heel height, I want to recommend one of the best articles on “Flappers” that I’ve ever seen; the Silent Film site Silent-ology devoted the month of March 2018 to Flappers and wrote this brilliant essay to set the theme. Click here for The History (and Mythology) of 1920s Flapper Culture.

And Now, Back to Heel Heights from 1929

Sears did offer one pair of 4 inch heels:

Four inch heels from Sears’ Fall catalog 1929, page 66. “Patent leather d’Orsay pump, made on the Follies last, featuring the new 4-inch covered spike heel and short vamp which make the foot look smaller.”

Women from the twenties (like my mother and my aunt) were proud of having small feet (or, more precisely, of wearing small shoe sizes, which is not quite the same thing….) It’s interesting that in 1929  “smaller feet,” not “longer legs,” was the selling point for higher heels.

But, as The Vintage Traveler predicted, in most of these ads showing high heels, the heel height — even when described as “spike heels” — is two and a half inches.

Two and a half inch “spike heels.” Sears catalog, Fall 1929, page 67.

Purple heels from Sears, Fall catalog , 1929, page 63. Available in Antique Purple kid or black patent leather; as illustrated, the heels look  high, but they are “2 1/2 inch covered spike heels.”

These pumps were available in black satin (for evening) or black patent leather. They have 2 1/2 inch “spike heels.” Notice the range of sizes.

The Savoy style was “an actual copy of a high priced model” — and these heels were only 2 inches high.

Ditto for The Parisian:

The Parisian shoe from Sears. Fall of 1929, p, 66.  These are actually 2 inch heels.

The heels of these green shoes are just 1 3/4 inches high, but they don’t aspire to be “spike” heels. Sears, Fall of 1929, p. 64.

These surprisingly asymmetrical shoes have a delicate braided T strap which seems to un-braid on to the toe of the shoe. The 1928 article in Delineator remarked on the unusual asymmetrical style of a shoe by Perugia.  These chic shoes also have a modest 2 1/2 inch spike heel.

And, to return to those youthful Whoopee Booties, they have a 1 and 3/4 inch “military” heel.

Whoopee Booties from Sears, 1929. They have 1 3/4 inch heels.

If you have any doubt what “whoopee” is …. There was a hit song about it in 1928:
“Another bride,
Another groom,
Another sunny honeymoon,
Another season,
Another reason
For making whoopee.”
“The chorus sings, “Here comes the bride.”
Another victim is by her side.
He’s lost his reason cause it’s the season
For making whoopee.”
“Another year or maybe less
What’s this I hear?
Well, can’t you guess?
She feels neglected so he’s suspected
Of making whoopee.”

Detail: ad from Delineator, May 1929.

“She sits alone most every night.
He doesn’t phone or even write.
He says he’s busy.
But she says, “Is he?”
He’s making whoopee.”

The song ends in the divorce court, where the judge says,

“You better keep her.
You’ll find it’s cheaper
Than making whoopee.”

You can see Eddie Cantor perform his 1928 stage hit song, “Makin’ Whoopee” in this movie clip from the 1930 color (!) film musical Whoopee!

Co-produced by Florenz Ziegfeld (Jr.) and Samuel Goldwyn, this film is as close as I’ll ever get to seeing a Ziegfeld show — with musical numbers staged by Busby Berkeley. Set “out west,” the film quality is poor, the plot is silly, but the costumes are fabulous — if you can stand dozens of half-dressed women of European ancestry wearing enormous feather headdresses, and Eddie Cantor wearing blackface….(truly nauseating.) If you’re designing a revival of Will Rogers Follies, it’s a must-watch bit of research. Besides, tap-dancing cowboys!

4 Comments

Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Resources for Costumers, Shoes, Vintage Accessories