Tag Archives: 1920s fashions

Failed Fashion? Fichus,1920

A collar resembling an 18th c. fichu is the focus of this dress pattern from 1920.

Sometimes a style appears that captures the mood of the times, and it becomes a dominant fashion. But sometimes a fashion misfires (wrong time, wrong look.) Example: The fichu dresses of 1920.

Another fichu dress pattern from 1920.

In 1920, young people had experienced the deaths and injuries of World War I and the Spanish flu epidemic, which killed young, healthy people rather than the old. “The Lost Generation” wasn’t in the mood for a return to the 18th century.

A “Martha Washington costume” from Butterick, 1924.

A scarf (fichu) was long enough to cross in front and tie in back. 1792, Met Museum costume plate.

The late 18th century fichus helped to cover the breasts which were pushed into view by the combination of stays and low necklines.

The 18th c. fichu could be tucked into the bodice, Met Museum Fashion plate collection.

A fichu crossed in front and tied in back, 1792. Metropolitan Museum Fashion Plates Collection.

This tight-waisted, busty mode would not seem to have much in common with the nineteen twenties.

A fichu crossed in front and tied in back, 1793. Metropolitan Museum collection.

However, we can’t discount the possible influence of popular culture in 1920, such as novels and movies set in the late 1700s, like A Tale of Two Cities, which was filmed in 1911 and 1917. For whatever reason, Butterick thought women might like to wear fichu dresses in 1920.

The fichu/collar is part of the dress. Butterick 2408, June 1920.

Two dresses from June, 1920. Delineator.

Styles that tied in back, or were heavily ruffled, were not unusual in 1920.

Non-fichu styles from Butterick, summer of 1920. (Chi-chi balls on the left?)

Butterick 2364, a fichu dress from May, 1920.

This one has a three-layered skirt.

The waistline was in flux in 1920: sometimes near the natural waist, and sometimes very low-waisted.

Butterick 2470 ties its fichu at a low waist.

This graduation dress for teens 14 to 19 ties its fichu near the natural waist.

Two illustrations of Butterick 2408. On the left, the dropped waist is emphasized with trim.

Butterick 2192 has a fichu-shaped collar, but in darker colors.

Butterick 2192 was illustrated in February 1920…

…and again —  in color — in March, 1920.

The fichu also appeared on this dress for girls:

Butterick 2202 from March 1920.

Sometimes the fichu is referred to as a surplice, and sometimes (as here) what seems to me to be a surplice closing is called a fichu! [“Fashion is spinach.”]

Butterick offered this fichu dress pattern in 1922:

Butterick 3720 from June 1922.

This could mean that Butterick had some success with its 1920 fichu dress patterns after all….  (Also, another film of Tale of Two Cities was released in 1922….) The waist on 1922 pattern 3729 — like the other dresses on the same page — is definitely low.

Three Butterick patterns from June, 1922.

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Filed under 1920s, Children's Vintage styles, Musings

A Visit to January 1920, from Delineator Magazine

Ice skaters in an ad for Ivory Flakes laundry soap. Delineator, January 1920, page 4.

One hundred years ago, the January Delineator offered Butterick patterns, advice for the working girl (and her mother), sketches of Paris couture, and all kinds of advertisements. Enter the time capsule:

French couture from Doucet and Paquin. January 1920.

Butterick sewing patterns inspired by French designer styles.

Butterick sewing patterns, January 1920.

These are not what we usually think of when we hear “Twenties’ style,” but the decade was just getting started. Page three began an essay on the dangers awaiting naive young women who went out to work in offices….

“A Warning for Business Women…”

The “young, ignorant girl” applies for a job….

Her boss tells her that “he would go mad unless he could find a young girl who could understand him and care for him….”

Here, he offers her alcohol….****

And then, he escorts her home….

Her mother needs to warn her…. (Author: Josephine Stricker)

It was 100 years ago, but all of this sounds painfully familiar in the 21st century. At least we now acknowledge that saying ‘no” isn’t always enough.

If you had to work as a housemaid, the difficulties might be considerable. This little article about the life of a housemaid in England shows that even Delineator was shocked by their working conditions:

Delineator was aimed at middle and (aspiring) upper class women, but the plight of British housemaids was shocking.

Back to fashion: These Butterick patterns for misses (age 14 to 19, in most cases) show a hint of what women wore in the later 1920s:

A selection of Butterick patterns for misses in their teens. The schoolgirl’s outfit at right shows the straight, low-waisted trend of the future.

Dresses for grown women also offered some styles without exaggerated hips:

Daytime styles for women from Butterick, January 1920.

The bare arms of evening dresses, even for girls in their teens, surprised me. For more “very bare” gowns from 1920, click here.

For young men returning from WW I, these uncorseted young women in bare-armed dresses must have been a pleasant surprise.

What did women do about underarm hair?

Ad for DeMiracle hair remover, January 1920.

A prized gift in 1920 was a “Spanish comb,” often made from celluloid, “the first synthetic plastic material.  In this ad, a celebrity endorsing fingernail powder (yes, nails were buffed to a shine by most women) wears a Spanish comb:

Actress Kitty Gordon wears a Spanish comb in her hair while endorsing Graff’s Hyglo powder nail polish.

More Spanish combs. These are from 1922.

You could order your camisoles, nightgowns, bloomers, and combinations from Dove and other companies.

Ad for Dove Undergarments, January 1920.

WW I had made knitting more popular than ever; this is an ad for Fleischer yarns:

Knit yourself this aqua sweater with Fleischer Yarns.

The obsession with boyish figures has not yet appeared.

You could wash your woolens and fine lingerie with Ivory Soap Flakes.

Well into the Twenties, women shaved their own soap flakes from bar soap, so this was a modern convenience product.

Also convenient: Rubber shoe covers.

Rubber shoe covers slipped on over your shoes in 1920. The shoes might be worn with gaiters that laced up the front. Some shoes had built-in gaiters.

Later in the 1920s, the B.F.Goodrich rubber company introduced a winter shoe cover with a slide fastener closing, giving us the word “Zipper.”

Mothers could find ads for maternity corsets in 1920:

The H & W maternity corset ad, January 1920.

And safety pins had been around for over a century:

Changing diapers was easier after the rust-proof safety pin became widely available. January 1920 ad.

It was appropriate that a magazine designed to sell sewing patterns should have ads for sewing machines.

The Davis sewing machine was portable and electric.

The Davis portable electric sewing machine was operated by a foot pedal. [I made clothes on a (non-electric) treadle sewing machine in the 1960s. Wish I still had one, even though it took up a lot of room.]

This ad should hold a special interest for all us who love Daphne DuMaurier’s novel Rebecca. In a scene often described as the most un-romantic marriage proposal ever, Maxim de Winter includes the information that “I prefer Eno’s.”

Ad for Eno’s Fruit Salts, a laxative. January 1920.

(Let’s hope it wasn’t the Washington Monument in this ad that attracted his attention.)

Eno’s Fruit Salts ad, January 1920.

To see the marriage proposal scene from the excellent (and faithful) 1979 TV adaptation of Rebecca, starring Joanna David and Jeremy Brett, click here.

**** I am irresistibly reminded of the limerick about “the young lady of Kent/ who said that she knew what it meant/ when men asked her to dine/ over cocktails and wine….” Perhaps her mother had explained it to her after reading the article in Delineator.

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Filed under 1920s, Combinations step-ins chemises teddies, Maternity clothes, Menswear, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Shoes, Underthings, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Couture Designs

Mistletoe and Hemlines, 1920s

Butterick patterns for girls. December 1924, Delineator.

An entire page of patterns for girls and young teens had a Christmas theme in 1924. Above, left, a very young girl holds mistletoe over her own head. Right, a little girl is ready for snow in her red hat, coat and leggings. (Imagine buttoning those leggings onto a squirming 3 year old!)

Holiday dresses for girls, December 1924. The older girl’s hem is just below her knees, while the younger girl’s hem is mid-knee.

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/adult-1928-with-girls-1924.jpg

Dresses for Girls 8 to 15, 1924; Woman’s dress, 1928

I’m always struck by how “right” the proportions on early Twenties’ dresses for girls look, while the length of dresses for women and older teens was still quite long:

Patterns for grown women (“Ladies,” bust size 32 to 44 inches.) September 1924. Delineator.

Dresses for misses aged 15 to 20, November 1924. Not a rouged knee in sight — yet.

Patterns for girls under 15, October 1924. Knee-length!

Before the late nineteen twenties, as girls got older they dressed more like grown women, exchanging short skirts for longer hems.

The younger the girl, the shorter the dress in 1924.

Those hems make even these 1924 party dresses for older teens look long and dowdy.

These teens are wearing quite long hems, compared to their younger sisters. December, 1924.

But, by 1927, adult women were wearing dresses as short as the pre-teens of 1924! Women aspired to look younger, and youth set the fashions.

Left a teen under 15, 1924. Right, a grown woman from 1927. Both are Butterick patterns illustrated in Delineator.

In 1927, these sophisticated women are wearing hems that only schoolgirls would have worn just three years earlier.

Ladies’ fashions from November 1927 are as short as this girl’s dress from 1924.

This is just a sample of the “youth” trend of the late Twenties. Of course, by 1927, young teens were showing the entire knee….

Coat and dress for 15-and-unders. November 1927.

For girls 12 to 16 years of age. November 1927.

As one (hair dye) advertisement put it, “You Cannot Afford to be Gray because … this is the Age of Youth.” (1925.) Happy 2020!

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Filed under 1920s, Children's Vintage styles, Coats, evening and afternoon clothes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture

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

Age and Hem Length, September 1925

Hem variations on young women, teens to twenty. Delineator, September 1925.

Generally, grown women (“Ladies’ sizes”) were illustrated with slightly longer hems in 1925, but the rules were not absolute.

Dresses for adult women/Ladies’ bust size 33 to 44 inches. Delineator, September 1925.

A row of Ladies’ dresses. (The women are chatting with men, one of whom wears a golf suit with knickers.)

Some hem variations are visible in that line-up.

Dresses for Ladies in larger sizes. Delineator, Sept. 1925.

No. 6268 & 6286 was available up to hip size 49.5 inches.

Not much larger than the usual Ladies’ sizes, but perhaps bigger than one would expect.

When it comes to unrealistic illustrations of large sizes, this is a star: would you believe size 52?

Well, it was also available in size 33. Nevertheless….

This color page featured Butterick dresses for teens and small women:

On a page of dresses for women age 15 to 20, hems vary. Some of these patterns were also available for small women. Delineator, Sept. 1925.

Notice the hem length difference between 6245 and the others. Although younger women (20 and under) might wear shorter skirts, there was some flexibility. (Besides, shorter women would need shorter skirts to remain in proportion.)

For schoolgirls (and younger girls,) the younger the girl, the shorter the skirt, with very young girls wearing dresses so short that they needed matching bloomers.

Left, an outfit suitable for schoolgirls aged 8 to 15. Right, this dress pattern for schoolgirls aged  6 to 10 came with bloomers for the youngest wearers.

Left, really young girls through age 6 might wear very short smocks with matching bloomers. Right, clothes for schoolgirls aged 8 to 15 are similar to women’s styles — but shorter. Delineator, Sept. 1925.

Styles for women; Delineator, Sept. 1925.

Some of those dresses came in larger sizes, often associated with older women. So when choosing a hem length in 1925, individual preferences might outweigh the dictates of fashion.

For a spectrum of styles:

Dress lengths for Teens (usually 15 to 20.) At or slightly below the knee.

Dress lengths for Ladies (usually bust 33 to 44 inches.) Definitely longer than the Teens’ dresses.

Dresses for women in large sizes. [‘Larger’ and ‘older’ were often equated.] Left, No. 6285 for women 36 to 52 inch bust; right, No. 6221 for women 36 to 48 bust. [Obviously illustrated as they might look on the smallest sizes given….]

Except for schoolgirls, women really did have a choice of lengths.

[Sorry about the picture quality — I took these many years ago.]

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Filed under 1920s, Children's Vintage styles, evening and afternoon clothes, Sportswear, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Tunic Blouses, 1922

Three out of five dresses pictured are “Tunic Blouses” with matching slips. Butterick patterns in Delineator, January 1922. Page 30.

The outfit on the right in this illustration is a “Tunic Blouse” with matching slip. Butterick 3509 with slip 3489. February 1922.

Another simply cut but attractive tunic blouse appeared in this color illustration:

Right, Butterick Tunic Blouse 3530 with slip 2930. Delineator, February 1922, page 27.

We’ll take a closer look at that one in a minute…..  You may have guessed that “tunic” means an over layer that is shorter than the rest of the outfit. But the one below is not called a tunic blouse — it’s just a “dress.”

Butterick dress pattern 3456. Delineator, January, 1922, page 28.

It took me a while to realize that Delineator was selling patterns, so the patterns which included all the layers were described as “dress” patterns, and those that only contained the top layer were “tunic blouse” patterns. That way, the buyer knew she would have to buy a separate pattern (or use one she already had) for the longest layer, which was usually made as a slip — but with fashion fabric rather than lingerie fabric.

In spite of their overskirts, these are not tunics but “dresses.” Delineator, May 1921.

The Tunic look had been very important in the 1910s:

Tunic outfits in 1914. Delineator.

Then, the longer layer of the outfit might be part of the skirt pattern or part of a blouse (called a “waist”) pattern. Or it could be sold as a complete tunic dress pattern:

Alternative and back views of Butterick tunic dress 6779; 1914.

This version of the tunic look appeared in 1921:

Butterick sold this pattern as a tunic blouse; the skirt/slip pattern was sold separately. Google scan from Delineator, found at Hathitrust.org.

Another tunic blouse pattern from late 1921.

“A blouse of the sort with a suitable slip makes a complete costume. The Florentine neck and wide sleeves are particularly smart.”

In 1922, a variety of tunic blouses were on offer.

Butterick 3509 illustrated in January 1922.

Right, Butterick 3509 — again — as shown in February 1922. Delineator.

Butterick tunic blouse 3497 illustrated in February 1922, Delineator.

Detail of Butterick 3530 from February 1922.

I especially like the surprise of bright yellow lining on this black velvet tunic. The bands on the sleeves seem to be embroidered with birds.

Matching embroidered fabric shows through the slit at the neck.

That dress almost makes me forget that most women would look like a sack of potatoes in it — a beautiful, black velvet, embroidered sack ….

Some of these tunics have very deep slits at the sides. Butterick tunic blouses 3497 and 3507.

Those very wide sleeves were also typical of 1922 — they deserve (and will get) a post of their own.

Black chiffon over a black slip. Strips of coral red trim keep it from looking too bedroom-y.

Butterick tunic blouse 3462 over slip 3428. January 1922.

The simple tunic blouse pattern lent itself to different ornamentation.

“An elastic can be run through a casing at the low waistline. If transparent, the blouse is worn over a slip; otherwise a skirt will do.”

Teens and young women wore tunic blouses, too. Butterick 3462 from 1922.

I’ve written before on the tunic as a transition to shorter styles. These tunics are from January, 1925.

Tunics from Delineator, January 1925. The slit side was still seen.

A whole page of tunics in different lengths, from Delineator, March 1925.

As skirts rose to knee length in the later 1920s, the knee-length tunic became irrelevant.

This tunic blouse appeared in 1930, another time of hemline transition:

This tunic blouse with long skirt is from December, 193o. The tunic is the same length as dresses from 1929. Butterick 3560. December 1930; Delineator, p. 27.

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Filed under 1910s and WW I era, 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Slips and Petticoats