Tag Archives: 1920s couture

Sleeves with a Flare: 1930

Sleeves which end in a flare: Butterick patterns from February 1930. Delineator.

Left: bare arms covered by a sheer Bertha collar; Center: bare arms covered by a sheer jacket whose sleeves have a double flare or flounce. Right: bare arms for evening. Butterick patterns in Delineator, April 1930.

1930 was a good year for capelets, Berthas, and other soft, sheer, flowing covers for the arm.

Butterick sleeve pattern 3075, February 1930.

Short sleeves (above the elbow) were also appearing on dressy dresses (and even on dinner dresses.) A sort of combination of the two styles was the new fitted sleeve with a flounce or “flare.” I first noticed these “medieval” sleeves:

The very long, slit flare on these sleeves was “medieval.” Butterick 3265 from Delineator, June, 1930.

Click here for some real medieval sleeves. Was Charles Addams remembering these dresses when he drew Morticia Addams?

Butterick 3534, from Delineator, December 1930. Another example of a flounce or flare with a slit in it.

A side note: notice how many of these 1930 evening dresses have a long, sheer skirt over a shorter, opaque lining.

Three evening gowns with sleeve interest. Butterick 3052, 3044, and 3054 from February 1930.

Digression: The one on the right is not chiffon but a coarse net mesh, and would deserve a closer look even without its above-the-elbow, tied sleeves (definitely a 1930 style.)

Sleeves that tie above the elbow “are entirely new;” sheer skirt over a shorter opaque layer. Butterick “dinner frock” 3054, February 1930.

The flared sleeve, which is my real topic, was included in pattern 3075 — it offered several sleeve styles for updating or individualizing other patterns:

Butterick sleeve pattern 3075, Delineator, February 1930, p. 31

Butterick sleeve pattern 3075, Delineator, February 1930, page 30. This illustration included the tied sleeve seen on No. 3054.

Right, the flared sleeve again. Afternoon dresses, Butterick 3215 and 3202, May 1930.

Here is the flared sleeve on a dress for “madame,” i.e., an older women. (She holds her lorgnette in her hand.)

Butterick 3128, an afternoon dress for older or larger ladies.

(This alternate view shows a tied sleeve instead.)

I inherited this collapsible lorgnette with leather case and long chain, like the one worn in the illustration above.

Left, a dress with removable sheer cape; right, Butterick 3289 has a tied bolero top with long, flounced sleeves.

Both dresses have a shorter, opaque under layer with a longer sheer layer on top.

Detail of the 1930 bolero top, Butterick 3289.

I was lucky to find pattern 3269 at the Commercial Pattern Archive. (CoPA), so we can see the pattern pieces.

Pattern envelope for Butterick 3289.

Right: pattern shapes for sleeve and flare  3289.

In that case, the flare is a circle or oval with a round opening in the center.

I was glad to see that these sleeves were not limited to Butterick styles. Here is a very similar dress and jacket pattern from Ladies’ Home Journal:

Another evening dress with optional flounced-sleeve jacket. LHJ pattern 6483, 1930.

The pattern shapes for the sleeve and sleeve flare. This flare (10) is made very differently.

Another — different — sleeve flare:

A third way to achieve the “flare” sleeve. This one hangs open at the back.

Another flare was seen on this McCall pattern from 1931:

McCall pattern 6617 from 1931.

A short sleeve with a frill (top) and a long sleeve with a surprising shape. McCall 6617.

Also from 1931 is this set of sleeves:

Nine sleeve shapes from 1931. Butterick 3698.

A variety of ways to create a flared sleeve.

And, for real inspiration, here is a couture dress by Ardanse, very sheer from neckline to upper arm, where the lace fabric of the dress creates full, slit sleeves with a big, circular flare; they seem to defy gravity.

Couture by Ardanse, left, and Lelong, right. Delineator, May 1930.

Wow.

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Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Capes, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Troubadour Sleeves, 1926-1927

Butterick patterns from Delineator, December 1926.

The illustration on the left is from an article on dress alterations. Click here to see it. These sleeves were a Butterick fashion in late 1926 and early 1927. (I haven’t found any sold by Sears….) Sometimes called “troubadour” sleeves, they were known by other names — “dolman” or bat-wing or “deep armhole” sleeves, too.

Troubadour sleeves. Butterick blouse pattern 1174, from December 1926.

Left, “deep sleeve” Butterick 1154; Right, “deep armhole” Butterick 1167. Both from December 1926 Delineator.

“Fashion Outlines of 1927:” left is dolman-sleeved Butterick 1216. January 1927.

Butterick 1121, a youthful fashion, was described as having “bat-wing” sleeves. November 1926, Delineator.

Butterick 1124, “bat-wing” deep sleeves. November 1926.

Whatever it was called, Butterick was definitely pushing this fashion in 1926-27, although I’m not sure how successful the push was.

The heroine in this story illustration by John F. Crosman wears a dolman/troubadour/deep-armhole dress. December 1926, Delineator.

Butterick 1120 has troubadour sleeves; this dress uses contrast sleeves of metallic fabric.

Butterick 1110 illustrated in November 1926. Satin crepe dress with red and silver metallic sleeves.

French couture: a coat of “medieval cut” by Lucien Lelong. Sketched for Delineator, December 1926.

Butterick’s version of a dolman sleeved  evening coat: pattern 1086 from November 1926.

I wonder if this dress style didn’t really catch on because you would need a new coat like this one if you made dresses with the new “troubadour/dolman/bat-wing” sleeves, which wouldn’t fit under a normal coat sleeve.

“Deep armhole coat” Butterick 1158; Delineator , November 1926. Not all troubadour sleeves would fit under a coat like this, much less a normal coat.

The slim lines of the late twenties included close-fitting sleeves in both 1926 and 1927.

Butterick deep armhole coat 1158, January 1927. [It’s not very deep!] The blouse at right has very close, long sleeves which would fit under any coat.

More typical Butterick dress and coat patterns, from December 1927, have close fitting sleeves and high armholes, even the raglan sleeve at right.

Delineator suggested that Vionnet solved the sleeve problem with this evening wrap:

Worth evening dress and Vionnet evening cape. Delineator, April 1927. A cape would accommodate any sleeve — or no sleeves.

A not-very-thorough search hasn’t found Troubadour sleeves elsewhere, in spite of all these examples from Butterick’s Delineator magazine. Sears did carry a lot of “Troubadour red” items in 1926. I found only one dolman sleeved dress pattern for 1926 at the Commercial Pattern Archive. It was a Butterick pattern.

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Filed under 1920s, Children's Vintage styles, evening and afternoon clothes, Not Quite Designer Patterns, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Wide, Sheer Sleeves: A Fashion from 1922

Nearly rectangular sheer lace sleeves with deep armholes. Butterick 3510, from January 1922.

While collecting images of 1922 tunic blouses, I noticed a parallel trend toward very wide sleeves — sometimes rectangular, sometimes funnel-shaped.

Butterick 3510 from February 1922, Delineator.

French designer fashion: wide, funnel sleeves on a gown from Molyneux, Photographed by O’Doye for Delineator, January 1922.

Sometimes they appeared on dresses that suggested the tabard worn by medieval knights.

A sheer under layer with a tabard-like opaque layer on top. Butterick 3508 illustrated in February 1922.

Butterick dress 3508, Delineator, January 1922.

Butterick patterns for teens, February 1922.

Often the sleeves of 1922 were made of sheer fabrics like lace or chiffon.

Dress for teens, Butterick 3474 from January 1922.

This inspiration for these patterns came from Paris couture.

Left: wide, sheer sleeves on a dress by Drecoll. Sketched for Delineator by Soulie, January 1922.

The Paris house of Madeleine et Madeleine showed this dress with sheer, rectangular sleeves that close tightly at the wrist.

Some have armholes that reach almost to the waist:

Butterick dress 3601 from March, 1922.

This Butterick pattern (3393) from December of 1921 cited French designer Jenny as its inspiration. Google image from Hathitrust.org.

Butterick Blouse 3532 from Delineator, February 1922.

Very wide, deep sleeves on Butterick 3406, 1922.

Those were very deep armholes, like pattern 3510:

A closer look at Butterick 3510. “Butterfly-wing sleeves.”

These sleeves were sometimes attached to a slip-like lining, rather than to the dress itself.

Sheer sleeves could also begin from a dropped shoulder:

Left, a Paris designer dress from the House of Beer; right, the same sleeves on a Butterick sewing pattern. 1922.

Butterick 3479 with sheer sleeves. January 1922.

Of course, a very wide sleeve requires a coat to match:

Butterick dress 3465 with coat 3454. January 1922. The dress has a sheer lace bodice over a matching lining.

These enormous sleeves date to 1921-1922.

A dress with very full sleeves, Butterick 3841. 1922.

Funnel sleeves, 1922.

Another distinctive 1920’s sleeve, supposedly based on medieval or “Medici”costumes, was the “troubadour” sleeve, which was very wide — the armhole almost reached the waist — but which tapered to a tight fit in the lower arm and wrist.

Troubadour sleeves. Butterick blouse pattern 1174, from December 1926.

The troubadour sleeve was “a thing” in 1926. More about these sleeves in my next post.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

“Oriental” Hems, 1920

These dresses from 1920 have “Oriental” hems. Butterick patterns in Delineator magazine.

Dresses and skirts with Oriental hems were not the dominant style of 1920, but I’d love to hear from any vintage collectors who have encountered one.  I suspect that, like other trends that didn’t dominate their era, dresses with Oriental hems are probably rare, especially since they had plenty of fabric for re-making into a more conventional dress later.

The “Oriental” skirts of 1920 remind me of the bubble skirts popular — especially as formals — in the late fifties and early 1960s.

A bubble skirted evening dress, circa 1959. Click here for more. Associated with Balenciaga in the 1950s, they seemed to be making a comeback in 2018!

For the benefit of anyone who has found a vintage 1920s’ dress with this strange hem, here are more examples from Delineator, 1920.

Dress with Oriental hem, Butterick 2248, Delineator, April 1920.

The “Oriental hem” hem is not the same as harem pants, although this outfit also appeared in 1920:

Orientalism in high fashion: harem pants for an evening in Paris. Delinator, May 1920.

Oriental hem on Butterick 2309, May 1920.

On the same page:

Oriental hem — and ball fringe! — on a dress from 1920.

The pattern descriptions make it clear that the fuller hem on the fashion fabric is gathered to a narrower interior skirt — not trousers.

“The skirt is in one piece and caught under in Oriental fashion to a short, straight foundation skirt.”

Like most unusual fashions, this one began in couture houses:

Oriental hem on an evening gown by Elise Poret, sketched for Delineator, February 1920.

The Paris house of Madeleine et Madeleine showed this gown; sketched for Delineator; March, 1920.

There was — in more mainstream dresses — a trend to narrow hems, often as an under layer with a fuller, shorter skirt on top.

Butterick 2472 has a shorter, sheer overskirt and a narrow, longer underskirt. 1920.

Left, Butterick 2695 has a short overskirt and a narrow underskirt. Right, No. 2699 has an Oriental hem.

Butterick 2695 and 2699, skirt detail.

The “Oriental hem” was not the look for everyone, but, if you’re looking for something a little different — but authentic…. have fun.

Butterick patterns with “Oriental Hems” from 1920.

Witness to Fashion on Memory Lane: Bubble dresses circa 1960 often had wadded-up nylon tulle sandwiched in between their skirt layers. They did not emerge from dry-cleaning with all their charm intact. Since the small, hand-held steamer was not a common household appliance in 1959, taking a lovely bubble dress out of a packed closet could be a sad experience: a “light as whipped cream” taffeta dancing dress might emerge as a flattened prune.

 

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Filed under 1920s, Dresses, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing

Evening Gowns Held up with Straps, 1920

Butterick pattern 2690, evening gown with camisole top, Delineator, December 1920. This pattern was featured two months in a row.

Evening gowns for misses aged 14 to 19; Butterick patterns from February 1920. Delineator.

The 1920 name for these gowns, bare-shouldered and supported only by straps, was “camisole top.”

Paris fashion by Georgette, illustrated for Delineator in February 1920.

Actresses and couturiers introduced these very bare evening looks before 1920, but I am surprised by how many 1920 examples I found when I started looking — and in just one source, Butterick’s Delineator magazine. [I did find a Standard pattern from 1919 with a straight top, simple straps, and optional sheer, cape-like sleeves at the Commercial Pattern Archive: Standard 391, archive No. 1919.65 BWS]

There aren’t even visible straps holding this bodice up, just the beaded hem of the sheer drape:

Butterick evening waist pattern 2083, Delineator, January 1920.

Digression: Serendipity — here is a surprising discovery I made while reading the text of a 1924 corset ad:

Unfortunately, this corset ad mentioned a strapless brassiere but did not illustrate it. Bien Jolie ad, Delineator, September 1924.

The earliest strapless brassiere I found in the Sears catalog was Fall, 1939.

Only slim strands of beads are supporting this gown from 1920.  Delineator, March 1920, p. 128.

The text for this photo concerned the “coils over the ears hairstyle,” and didn’t even mention that very revealing dress. Nor did this photo of a messy “houpette” hairdo have much to say about the beaded straps of this young woman’s gown:

This photo caption did mention “braces over the shoulders,” but was really focused on the “houpette” hairstyle.

“We only meant to show her ‘houpette’ coiffure, but from the braces over her shoulders to the ribbons on her feet she is so utterly engaging that we could find no place to draw the line.”Delineator, March 1920.

While I recover from that admiring description, perhaps I should mention that the 1920s’ “camisole” was sometimes an undergarment for the top of the body, but also referred to the simple bodice that many 1920s’ skirts hung from.

Later 1920s’ skirts didn’t necessarily hang from the waist; a simple bodice (“camisole”) could be basted to skirts so they hung from the shoulder.  Butterick skirt patterns 6601 and 6588, 1926; Warren’s camisole skirt foundation ad, 1924.

One thing “camisole” seems to mean is “a bodice/undergarment suspended from [narrow] straps.” (In 1920, the word “chemise” might also describe an undergarment with narrow straps.)

The narrow straps of these French couture gowns are really minimal: just a strand or two of beads:

Don’t be distracted by her necklace; her dress is ends just above the bust and is suspended from strands of beads. By Drecoll, sketched for Delineator, May 1920.

Evening gown by Beer. Sketched for Delineator, October 1920.

Butterick patterns followed suit:

Butterick 2690, illustrated in November of 1920.

This camisole topped dress came in sizes 32 to 46 bust, and the skirt, embroidered with a spiderweb pattern, seems “vamp”-ish to me.

Butterick embroidery design 10741 is a pattern of spiderwebs.

[Lanvin showed a lacy spiderweb design like this in 1922 (French Vogue, January 1.) ]

The same 1920 issue of Delineator showed a more modest alternate version: sleeveless, with V-neck.

Butterick evening dress 2690, in a more covered-up version; illustrated in Delineator, November 1920.

Yes, this is the same dress as the black, very bare version at the top of this post; that illustration was from December 1920.

Butterick 2690 with the camisole top and the “pleated panels” skirt. December 1920. It seems to be black, but might be any dark color.

Delineator showed women how to make “Paris” trims for evening dresses:

“Making Paris Trims” article from Delineator, March 1920, p. 147. [Several of the dresses for misses have this high waist and a strap top.]

These very bare dresses for misses have beaded straps:

Butterick 2067 for young women aged 14 to 19, February 1920.

Butterick dress 2702-B is a camisole top dress. For misses 16 to 20.  Delineator, November 1920, p. 127.

Butterick 2702-B next to a V-necked dress more usual in the evening wear of the mid-1920s. Actually, they’re the same pattern…!

The “conservative” dress pattern (2702-A) also included a camisole top version (B); what’s more, No. 2702 is the “size 16 to 20 years” version of Butterick 2690! Butterick was really committed to these styles.

Butterick 2702 is a teens’ 16 to 20 version of 2690, illustrated in two camisole versions and a pale blue  sleeveless one earlier in this post! 2702-A is like the sleeveless version of 2690, but with an optional sheer sleeve.

Straps didn’t have to be beaded:

Butterick 2181; February 1920. Two different straps.

Party looks for “debs and sub-debs,” Delineator, Feb. 1920.

The contrast between the covered-up and very bare dress is striking, and reminds me that young men returning from war were more accustomed to the #2151 kind of party dress (above left) than the “nothing under this dress but me!” #2181 (center.)

Two dresses with strap tops, and a slightly more conservative one, right. #2130 is actually pretty revealing, too, since it has a very sheer layer over a camisole top.

The sheer-over-camisole-top versions were probably chosen by girls (or their mothers) who were not ready to show off so much bare skin. All these alternate views include a sheer sleeve.

Paris designer Elise Poret showed a sheer layer over her bare, camisole-strapped bodice in February 1920.

Party dresses for 14 to 19 year-old women. Butterick 2107 and 2238, March 1920.

The dress at left has a gathered sheer layer over a camisole top. Most 1920 evening dresses were not bare, camisole topped fashions. This pattern is another from February 1920.

Butterick evening waist pattern 2172 with skirt 2166. February 1920. The horizontal line of the camisole layer is partially covered by the V-shaped top layer.

This dress, Butterick 2682, does not have the dropped waist of the later nineteen-twenties, but the V-neck and sleeveless bodice are very typical of those years.

However, the popularity of camisole-topped dresses —  bare, revealing dresses — is shown by their appearance in these ads:

Ad for Woodbury soap, for “the skin you love to touch.” Delineator, March 1920.

From an ad for Cuticura soap, November 1920.

From an ad for Cutex nail polish. September, 1920. Two different straps.

From an ad for DeMiracle hair remover, “every woman’s depilatory.” Delineator, January 1920.

Detail, cover of Delineator Magazine, October 1920.

The initial shock of dancing with young women in scanty, revealing clothing didn’t happen in the “Roaring Twenties.” It began with the “lost generation” right after World War I. ” …Members of The Lost Generation had survived World War I but had lost their brothers, their youth, and their idealism.”  They didn’t “discover” sex, but they certainly discussed it more frankly than their grandparents had.

 

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1910s and WW I era, 1920s, evening and afternoon clothes, Hairstyles, lingerie, Underthings, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

From Curved to Straight and Back Again: Corsets 1917 to 1929

Ad for Bien Jolie Corsette, an all-in-one bust flattener and corset. Delineator, March 1926.

Corsets, 1907 and 1926. The garment on the right is a “corsette,” very lightly boned — if boned at all.

I took a detour from corsets to brassieres before writing this post, because brassieres became necessary when corsets became so low that they couldn’t offer bust support.

The female shape as seen in corsets advertised in Delineator: 1907, 1917, and 1924.

American Lady corset ad, April 1917.

In 1918, this Kabo corset and brassiere ad pairs a corset with a brassiere. The two were often worn together. Kabo made both.

Most brassieres of this era did not have two “pockets,” or “cups” as they were later called; they did not lift the breasts, but “confined” them. Click here for bust confiners.

Ad for the Kabo “Flatter-U” brassiere and bust flattener. Delineator, November 1920. “It makes a flatter you.”

DeBevoise brassiere ad, June 1920. Delineator. This mesh brassiere (some would call it a bandeau) produces a low bust with a very gentle curve.

Warner’s Rust Proof Corset ad, February 1922. These corsets are being worn without a brassiere.

These dresses from 1922 are nearly unstructured, like a tube with a belt and sleeves. Butterick patterns. Low busts, slouching posture.

[How were those busts possible? Read on.] The smooth, tubular lines of the Twenties demanded a smooth, all-in-one garment, brassiere plus girdle, and the corsette or corselette was born.

Article in Delineator, February 1924.

This Treo “brassiere girdle” — “a combination garment” appeared in May, 1925.

Bien Jolie corsette ad, October 1924, Delineator.

Some women (especially young or slender ones) wore a girdle without a brassiere. Below, left: a “hip-confiner” of glove silk.

Left, a glove-silk hip-confiner was almost not there. Right, a corset for those who needed more control. Delineator, February 1924.

Some wore neither.

Some slim women wore a girdle or corset with a brassiere…

Brassiere patterns from Butterick’s Delineator, July 1926.

…  or a bandeau.

Bust-flattening bandeaux from Sears catalog, 1928.

However, for those larger women who wore a bust-flattening brassiere with a corset, the brassiere needed to come down over the corset to prevent an ugly bulge between them:

Long Brassiere. From fashion advice article in Delineator, February 1924.

Ad for the H & W brassiere with diaphragm control. March 1924. It won’t “Push up” the “flesh.”

Dress patterns from Butterick, April 1924; Delineator.

Those who wanted a completely smooth, no curves, flexible shape under their dresses could wear a corselette.

This corsette gives a perfectly flat silhouette in front. 1924.

(There were many spelling variations: Corsette, Corselet, Corselette, Corsolette….) Most corselettes did not use metal bones, but depended on seams and elastic to shape the body into something resembling an oblong test tube — the “boyish” shape suited to Twenties’ fashions.

Left, a corset; right, a bust flattening bandeau over a waist-high corset. April 1925. DeBevoise ad.

Article in Delineator, February 1926, p. 24.

This corsette is trying to turn a mature figure into a boyish one…. Bien Jolie ad, February 1926.

Corselette for large figures, “boned in the modern manner.” The bottom may be boned, but the top is soft silk jersey! Warner’s ad, April 1925.

A very flat posterior was as important as a flat bosom:

Back view, Bon Ton Corset ad, April 1925.

More corsettes/corselettes from 1925:

Bien Jolie Corsette ad, April 1925.

Bien Jolie corsette ad, June 1925.

Casual dresses from Butterick patterns, June 1925; Delineator, p. 29.

Although you might not see it in these ads, (perhaps because corsette ads were probably aimed at women old enough to have “figure problems”) by 1926 a change was taking place.

Article in Delineator, February 1926. p. 24.

“The younger woman who can keep slim and firm… either wears no corset at all or a tiny girdle of satin or glove silk with an equally ephemeral bust-supporter of lace or net.” Interesting that in 1926 1) the bust is supported, not flattened; and 2) the girdle supports a curve under the bottom. (The illustration does not quite match this description.)

Illustration for article in Delineator, February 1926, p. 24.

Research by the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in 1924 and 1925 discovered that younger patrons, dubbed “flappers” by buyers and the JWT staff, “were looking for uplift styles of brassiere, in contrast to older women who wanted the flattening styles.” (Uplift, p. 40.)

Curves gradually returned. For me the interesting thing about these Butterick brassiere patterns from 1926 is that both the flatteners and the brassiere with breast separation are on the same page:

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/1926-july-p-38-500-undies-top-left-bras-flattener.jpg

At top, two bust flatteners, pattern 6964. At bottom right, pattern 6961 for a brassiere that separates and does not flatten the breasts. Delineator, July 1926, p. 38. [It does not offer any support, just coverage.]

Bien Jolie corset ad, July 1926, p. 80. Delineator.

Bien Jolie corsette ad, September 1926. (Quite interesting fabric!)

Gossard corset ad, February 1927.** Note the curvy hips and the division between the breasts.

The bust was being worn in a more natural position:

Couture evening dresses by Boulanger and Paquin, illlustrated for Delineator, February 1927. p. 18. Note the high bust.

Modart’s combination, March 1928. Notice her curved bust silhouette. (Not helped by that garment!)

Modart ad, March 1928. Bandeau and girdle, bottom of same ad as above.

This brassiere isn’t even mentioned, but it has separation and a supportive band. Modart ad, March 1928.

Transition: two “foundation garments” featured in the same corset advice article; Delineator, March 1929.

The return of the curve, 1929:

Fashions that show off the female shape: (Butterick patterns) September, 1929. Delineator.

Light, non-restrictive foundation garments, October, 1929. Delineator.

Soft, flexible undergarments from Nemo-flex. Illustration from Delineator, October 1929.

Improvements in elastic, made possible by new Lastex fabrics, came just in time for the change to 1930s fashion.

** Gossard corsets had an ad campaign praising the curve (Hogarth’s “line of beauty”) as early as 1924.

Ad for Gossard “Line of Beauty” corsets, praising the curved figure, Delineator, February 1924.

If you’ve read all the way to here:  sorry this post was so long, but there was a lot I needed to get off my chest…!

 

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1910s and WW I era, 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Bras, Corselettes, Corsets, Corsets, Corsets & Corselettes, Edwardian fashions, evening and afternoon clothes, Foundation Garments, Girdles, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Underthings, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc

Jumbled Musings and Fashion Surprises

When I named this blog “witness2fashion,” it didn’t occur to me that its initials were WTF. However, that abbreviation does occur to me occasionally when I’m wandering through the pages of a 100 year old magazine.

Caution: this ad uses a word that is offensive when applied to a human being, but the ad uses it to describe a sock supporter….

Ad for “Velvet-Grip Baby Midget Hose Supporters,” Delineator, February 1920.

What the hey? “Baby Midgets” are tiny garters or stocking suspenders which are attached to this baby’s diaper with safety pins!

Seriously: How is a garter supposed to hold up your stockings when you can’t even stand up and walk yet?

I remember reading a book (The Egg and I?) in which the grandmother, hearing that the children were either making too much noise or were suspiciously silent, would shout, “You! Pull up your socks!” This was a fairly effective all-purpose command, since children couldn’t pull up their socks without removing a hand from the cookie jar, or putting down that air rifle…. Just today, reading The Library Book, by Susan Orlean, I found that the Oklahoma Public library sent a condolence message to the Los Angeles Library after a terrible fire. It included the encouraging (?) phrase, “Keep your socks up!”

Incidentally, I also found this ad for Baby Dimples Safety Pins. Awwwww….

Ad for Baby Dimples Safety Pins, Delineator, January 1920.

Here’s another old expression:  “Keep it under your hat.”

Paris hat designed by Virot, Delineator, March 1912.

Don’t wear it while driving. Or while crossing a busy street.

Speaking of hats….

Hat featured in an ad for Cheney “Shower-Proof” silks. Delineator, March 1912.

Ad for Cheney “Shower-Proof” Silks, March 1912.

I don’t know why she would need an umbrella when she’s wearing that hat! In fact,  I’m not sure the umbrella would be big enough to cover that hat. (And what about the umbrella handle…? She couldn’t get it close to her head… or even close to her shoulder! Which is why the umbrella is down on the ground catching water, I guess.)

I started with the intention of writing about this:

When is this? (No, not 2012….)

It surprised me. It’s got bare shoulders. It’s got breast exposure. It’s got a good chance of a “wardrobe malfunction” if you lean sideways. I could imagine this on the red carpet of some awards show, probably in red satin, and probably held in place with toupee tape.

(“Toupee tape” was for many years as common in a wardrobe person’s tool kit as safety pins. It was a double-sided tape intended to secure a toupee to a bald head, but was quickly adapted to keeping low-cut dresses from gaping too far for television. Its great virtue was that the adhesive didn’t give out when exposed to sweat or body oils. Now there’s a similar product manufactured and sold — in larger quantities — specifically for use with clothing.) The video ad amusingly says it prevents “peekaboob.”)

I found this sketch charming. Clue to the date: the artist is fashion illustrator Soulié. [The model was not a young Nicole Kidman….]

And this bodice is part of a couture dress designed by Jeanne Lanvin and shown in Paris in 1920.

Couture gown by Jeanne Lanvin, Paris, 1920. The net skirt is embroidered and beaded. Sketched for Delineator, March 1920.

A deep V neckline in 1920? Breasts as an erogenous zone in 1920? Yes, to my surprise…

Couture gown by Martial et Armand, Paris, 1920.

When I showed these images to a non-fashion-historian friend, she couldn’t get over the “make-your-hips-look-at-least twice-as-wide” skirts.

Couture evening gown by Martial et Armand, sketched for Delineator, January 1920.

The bottom of the hip yoke is wired to make the skirt stand away from the body. Of course, the coat to wear over a dress like this will not produce a slender silhouette, either:

An “evening cloak” and gown designed by Bulloz, Paris, 1920.

My friend was also horrified by the long, dragging panels on these dresses. (Fashion historians accept that wasteful, extravagant, impractical “conspicuous consumption” is a hallmark of high fashion.) “How could you dance in a dress like this?” we wondered. “Everybody would step on it! It would get so dirty!”

The editors of Delineator had a suggestion:

So that’s what you do with it…. Or them….  This gown has two dragging “French panels,” one of fragile lace and one of silk:

Couture gown by designer Elise Poret [not Poiret] from the February, 1920 Delineator.

(That dress also has an “oriental hem.”) There have been many decades when skirts were widened to make waists look smaller by comparison. But that’s not what’s happening here.

We are so conditioned to the fashion ideal of slenderness (or at least, a tall, lean look on fashion models) that, while I was thinking,”Wow! a bodice held up by straps in 1920!” my friend was asking “Why would you wear that? It makes her look fat!”

I look at this hip-widening gown by Berthe and notice that its couture workmanship is outstanding, and … pretty:

Couture gown by Berthe-Hermance illustrated in May, 1920; Delineator.

Couture details on a 1920 gown. Undeniably luxurious.

(Also undeniable is its potential for a wardrobe malfunction if one shoulder relaxes….)

But it is difficult for me to look at coats like these and yearn to wear them:

Evening coats from Butterick patterns, November 1920.

Couture “cloak” by Renee, covered with red, yellow, and green “balls.” January 1920.

“What The F[ashion]?” Are those mules on her feet? With a coat? Seriously? And, what did it feel like to sit on those balls?

The historic House of Worth contributed this (shall we say transitional?) suit which gets its stiffness from pony skin. [Perfect if your name is “Whinnie.”]

From the House of Worth, Paris. Illustrated in Delineator, January 1920.

In other words, after five years of war and its aftermath, Paris went mad for luxury. “Suits no longer content themselves with fur collar and cuffs but are made entirely of mole, caracul, etc.” A lot of horses died in WW I, so I guess pony was a luxury item, too.

To end on a more cheerful note, we know about harem skirts and orientalism and the influence of the Ballet Russe. But this is the first photo of a model wearing harem pants that I’ve encountered:

Orientalism in high fashion: a harem hem for an evening in Paris. Delineator, May 1920.

Glamourdaze paid tribute to the Poiret-influenced harem hem outfit worn on Downton Abbey. But these are later, and not by Poiret.

Information about “Deddy” is hard to find, but the designer Deddy did appear in Delineator fashion coverage more than once.

The harem pants worn on Downton Abbey by Lady Sybil were definitely not as revealing as this outfit!

Very Bare in 1920: The top of Deddy’s harem outfit.

That’s all my “WTFashion?” images for now.  More to come.

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