Tag Archives: 1930s ad campaign

Underneath Those Twenties’ Fashions

Fashions for May, 1924. Undergarments flattened the bust and hips and eliminated the waist. Delineator, May 1924, p. 27.

[This is another post in a series offering links to posts some followers may have missed, while I take time to visit the library and collect more photos.]

Some of the most exciting discoveries I made when I started reading old magazines from the 1920’s had to do with underwear. In addition to fashion advice about what to wear to achieve that “boyish” figure, I found dozens of advertisements — a veritable window into the past. In one article I read,

“To be smart this season one must be more than slim. The figure must defy nature and be as flat as the proverbial flounder, as straight as a lead pencil, and boneless and spineless as a string-bean. One must be straight like a boy and narrow like a lady in a Japanese print.” – Delineator magazine, February 1924.

I happened to read a 1925 article by Evelyn Dodge about the new, boneless corselets: “Not all women need corsets. Women with young, slender figures find that the corselet, which is a combination brassière and hip-confiner, is sufficient. It is unboned and is therefore as soft and flexible as the natural figure.”  I was delighted to find this one illustrated in an ad:

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/1925-may-treo-corset-corselet-p-82-ad-girdle.jpg?w=367&h=500

Treo “Brassiere Girdle — a combination garment” ad from Delineator, May 1925. The Treo brand was sold through Sears catalogs, as well as in stores.

You can read more about it in “Underpinning the Twenties: Corsets and Corselets.”  Click here.

These corselets reshape a woman to look like a tube (or maybe a sausage?) https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/1925-corselette-pattern-1925-bien-jolie-corsette.jpg?w=500

Another thing that struck me while reading so many 1920’s ads was that the boyish silhouette meant that women aspired to be flat in back and flat in front. This was actually a feature of the “tubular Twenties,” not the late nineteen twenties.

Women shaped like test tubes, probably thanks to their corselets. A blouse (left) and a tunic blouse, right, from the “tubular twenties.” Delineator, 1924. I used to wonder how a thin young woman (right) could possibly have a bust that low! [It was mashed by her undergarment.]

If you didn’t want to wear a corselet, you could opt for a separate girdle, worn with or without a bandeau to flatten your breasts. Corsets and girdles of the 1920s were designed to flatten your posterior: “Underpinning  Twenties Fashions: Girdles and Corsets.” Click here to read.

If you are curious about “bust flatteners” or “bound breasts” in the nineteen twenties,  click here for “Underpinning the Twenties: Brassieres, Bandeaux, and Bust Flatteners.”  It has lots of illustrations.

If  you are curious about what 20th century women wore before the modern brassiere, these two posts give  a quick review of brassieres, and their transition from the 1910’s to the 1920’s.

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/sears-1917-spring-catalog-brassieres-with-boning500.jpg?w=500&h=407

The fact that women have two, separate breasts was hidden by these “monobosom” brassieres. WW I Era. Older women probably continued to wear these in the 1920s.

To read Part 1, “Uplift Changes Brassieres: 1917 to 1929, Part 1” click here.

For Part 2, “Uplift Changes Brassieres: Late 1920s Brassieres,” click here.

The monobosom of the early 1900s slowly gave way to the more natural look — with support — of the 1930s:

From a Maiden Form brassiere ad, Womans’ Home Companion, 1936. “For that all-important line of separation.”

The Book, “Uplift: The Bra in America,” by Jane Farrell-Beck and Colleen Gau covers other decades in addition to the Twenties.  Learn more about this fascinating book here.

Of course, not all women were “bound” to be boyish. Click here to read “Not All Flappers Wanted to Be Flat in the 1920s.”

Between the dress and the flattening girdle, corset, bandeau, or corselet, — or between one’s skin and the dress — were sometimes very delectable silk or rayon undergarments.

Trousseau lingerie from Paris, the house of Doeuillet- Doucet. Illustrated for Delineator, June 1929.

There were also some very awkward looking combination garments. See: Envelope Chemises, Step-ins and Other Lingerie. That post elicited wonderful comments about vocabulary and links for further research.

My mother models her one piece camiknickers and her rolled stockings. About 1918.

Butterick “cami-knickers” 5124 with “envelope chemise” 5059. Delineator, April 1924.

Women also wore some not very sexy drawers or knickers….

Right, knickers for 1924. You can often get a glimpse of these in silent movies — especially in comedies, when a woman does a pratfall or climbs into a vehicle. These knickers have elastic at the waist and above the knees — for undergarments, the words “knickers,””bloomers,” and “drawers” were sometimes used interchangeably.

See “Theda Bara’s Bloomers” for a distinctly un-sexy pair — on Cleopatra!

 

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Bras, Combinations step-ins chemises teddies, Corselettes, Corsets, Corsets, Corsets & Corselettes, Foundation Garments, Girdles, lingerie, lingerie and underwear, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Panties knickers bloomers drawers step-ins, Underthings, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Underwear and lingerie, vintage photographs

The Great Depression Reflected in Ads from the Back of Women’s Magazines

Ad from Womans’ Home Companion, March, 1936.

“My husband is out of employment and has been for some time…. Our savings are gradually disappearing, and I am so helpless. I don’t know a thing I can do to earn money….” The Woman’s Home Companion invited her to sell magazine subscriptions.

One of the fascinations of vintage women’s magazines is their “time capsule” quality. While reading through them for fashion information, I can’t resist the advertisements, which give me a idea of the era’s preoccupations (zeitgeist is the correct word, I suppose.) What was new — from zippers to steam irons? What did advertisers want people to worry about, from halitosis and pyorrhea to underarm hair? In the Thirties, massive male unemployment found many women desperate to help support their families.

Women’s magazines had many such ads, promising that women could make money at home — “no experience needed.” Ad from Delineator, February 1931.

Before color photography was widespread, black and white photos were hand tinted — “We instruct you by our new simple Photo-Color process and supply you with work.”  Coloring printed images was already “women’s work.” In the 19th century, some women had earned money by hand-painting fashion plates with watercolor.

I realize that researchers tend to notice what they expect to find, so it’s not surprising that, as the child of people who married in 1933 — in the heart of the Great Depression — I noticed these little ads crowded into the backs of magazines.

A few ads from the back of Delineator magazine, October 1931.

Here is a selection of ads which promised women that they could earn money at home, with no experience or skills. Some of them were probably preying on the desperate — but perhaps I’m just cynical….

Top of an ad for Brown Bobbys, Delineator, February 1931.

Text of Brown Bobby ad, February 1931. Brown Bobbys were doughnuts. I suspect that the Food Machine Display Corp. was willing to sell families the equipment for a home doughnut business.

Women might also try to start a candy business….

Open your own candy business? “Making and sales equipment furnished.”  Delineator, February 1933. The American School of Home Economics was already publishing home economics study courses and books in the 1920’s, including Cooking for profit: catering and food service management.

Or sell clothing…

“Women — Sell Fashion Frocks…. Earn up to $22 a week and get all your own dresses without a penny of cost.” Ad from Delineator, April 1936.

Sell Silk Hose: “Startling money-making proposition…. enormous earnings…Your own hose free of cost.” Ad from Womans’ Home Companion, November 1936. Wilknit Hosiery Co. ad. [Do you think that guaranteed stocking replacement might be a problem?]

“Women wanted” to sell fabric, sheets, handkerchiefs, blankets… Mitchell & Church Club ad, Delineator, February 1934.

“Do  you want to make money? … Sell Fashion Frocks.” Ad from WHC, March 1937. “We are appointing a few more ambitious women to act as our representatives.”

[I don’t think it would be easy to sell dresses or anything else to your friends and relatives if you were all equally broke….]

October, 1934; Delineator. “Start earning at once. Thousands of prospects near you.” General Card Co., Chicago.

Was there really such a demand for hooked rugs? From a series of ads for Hollywood Studio Stores, Inc., Ltd., Delineator, December 1934. “Women… Earn extra money at home making beautiful hooked rugs…. Make money the first week! …We furnish complete instructions, tools, and materials.”

Another “Hooked rugs” ad, November 1936. “No experience necessary.”

Fireside Industries said there was a market for hand-painted decorative items:

“Make extra money at once” — after you learn to “decorate clever art gifts at big profit per piece. No experience needed … No tedious study… You don’t even have to leave the house.” October 1931, Delineator. Fireside Industries ad.

Fireside Industries ad, March 1935. Delineator. “Everything furnished including supply of Novelties, for you to decorate and Homecrafters outfit.” “Openings in every locality.” “FIRST LESSON FREE.” [And then?]

Selling greeting cards, stationery, and especially Christmas cards, was advertised as a way to make money.

Ad for Wallace Brown, Inc. greeting card sales, Delineator, February 1937. “Show samples to friends and neighbors. Everybody buys.”

Bluebird Studios ad, WHC, Sept. 1936. “Sells on Sight. Box on approval.” The text looks very similar to that Wallace Brown ad, above.

The words “Earn,” “Easy,” and “Extra Money” appear again and again, often with the promise that women can work from home..

Process Corporation ad, August 1931. ” Thousands of women — many without experience — turn their spare minutes into dollars…. Permanent, big-paying position, if you make good.”

Process Corporation sought women and men to sell greeting cards” imprinted to customer’s order.” October, 1931, Delineator. Jeanette Maumus of New Orleans “Earned $78.20 in 45 minutes. $87.50 just a day’s sales for Mrs. H.H. Castle, Burke, Idaho.”

Janes Art Studio ad for card sellers. Sept. 1934. This ad admits that the pay is on commission — which makes Mrs. H.H. Castle’s $87 in sales look a little less lucrative.

From my own experience in door-to-door sales, sometimes you have to sell a “quota” amount before you qualify for the commission. In 1967, if I didn’t sell enough children’s encyclopedias to meet my weekly sales quota, I didn’t get paid at all. I believe some car salesmen still face this problem.

Ad for John A. Hertel Co. Christmas card sales, September 1931. Delineator. “No experience needed.”

Other ads [which I regard less cynically] offered educational opportunities leading to a new career — in hotel management, dressmaking, or nursing.

Ad for Lewis Hotel Training Schools, October 1934, Delineator.

Women could “Be a Hotel Hostess” or possibly manage an apartment house — a good job for a single mother. Lewis Hotel Training School ad, October 1931. Delineator. In the ad just below, you could make $2 by tipping the Denver Optic Company off to potential artificial eye customers….

Back in the 1920’s, Lewis would teach you how to run a tea room, so this was an established business school:

Ad for the Lewis Tea Room Institute, Delineator, January 1924. “Fortunes are being made in this big new industry….”

Ads for nursing schools were also traditional, and little changed from 1924 to 1937 — except for the potential salary and the hats.

Ad for Chatauqua School of Nursing, January 1924. This school offered a home-study course.

Ad for Chicago School of Nursing, February 1935.  “You can learn at home in spare time.”

Ad for Chicago School of Nursing, WHC, March 1937. “High School not required. Easy tuition payments.”

Ads for the Woman’s Institute have a long history, but during the Depression, the ads emphasized using your sewing skills to earn money. March, 1934.

I have some respect for the ads that suggested professional training for women who, like this one from the ad I began with, had never expected to work outside the home.

“I am nearly 35 years old and have no business experience…. My husband is out of employment and has been for some time.” Woman’s Home Companion ad for subscription sellers, March 1936.

And I can’t resist sharing (again) the “ad from the back of a magazine” that startled me into collecting them:

Ad from Delineator, March 1937. Courtesy Remembered Summers. Who wouldn’t leap at the chance to raise giant frogs for the American Frog Canning Company?

Now, that is desperation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Woman's Institute

Charm After Fifty, July 1937

Charm after Fifty is illustrated in these three dresses made from one pattern: Companion-Butterick 7458. Woman’s Home Companion, July 1937.

This Companion-Butterick triad dress pattern from the summer of 1937 is illustrated on three mature women, none of whom has a conspicuously middle-aged figure.

This illustration by Ernst shows pattern 7458 as it might look on three tall, slim-hipped women. None of them seems to have a single gray hair, never mind a sagging chin or a “menopot.”

However, the size range went all the way to bust size 52.

The three dresses have similar skirts, but bodice and sleeve variations range from casual to dressy. [I imagine that the floral print version was made more often in navy or brown rayon than in yellow chiffon, but it’s nice that women over fifty were encouraged to wear bright colors.

From simple to fancy: Pattern 7458 in striped cotton with short sleeves, in a turquoise print with broad shoulders and 3/4 sleeves, and in a soft yellow chiffon floral print with a V-neck and flounces cascading down the front. WHC, July 1937.

White, perforated summer shoes were not just for “old ladies,” and the heels at right are certainly high.

Perforated shoes for summer. 1937.

Ad for Walk-Over Shoes, with prices, from WHC, June 1937.

“Puncho” shoes. Walk-Over, June 1937. These are white kid suede, but the same shoe was available in blue, black or gray.

“Cabana” shoes from Walk-Over also came in white calf, tan, blue, black or red earth calf, or gray sueded kid. 1937.

Sporty “Lariat” shoes from Walkover. Also in brown or gray. The heel is stacked leather. 1937.

The “Mohawk” oxford shoe from Walk-Over could be purchased in all white calf, or white suede with tan calf, as pictured. 1937.

Shoes weren’t the only things that were perforated in the 193o’s:

Ad for a Perfolastic reducing girdle, WHC, February 1936. That’s “lastic” as in latex: a rubber garment designed to help you sweat off the pounds and inches. Did women have polka-dotted skin when they took it off?

Perfolastic reducing girdle and brassiere ad; WHC, Nov. 1937.

Text, Perfolastic reducing girdle and brassiere, WHC, Nov. 1937. “You appear inches smaller at once.”

Perhaps that’s how these women over fifty maintained their impossibly tall, willowy shapes.

Women over fifty: WHC, July 1937. Elongated fashion figures with suspiciously rosy cheeks.

Top of ad for Louis Philippe’s Angelus Rouge Incarnat lip and cheek rouge, Delineator, June 1934.

Text of ad for Louis Philippe’s Angelus Rouge Incarnat lip and cheek rouge, Delineator, June 1934. “In its allure, it is typically, wickedly of Paris. In its virginal modesty, as natural as a jeune fille….” “You use either on both the lips and the cheeks.”

These women over fifty may have also used another product: Brownatone. It had been in use since the 1920’s — possibly earlier.

Ad for Brownatone gray hair coloring, WHC, February 1937. There seem to be only two color choices.

For another “After Fifty” triad pattern, click here.

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Filed under 1930s, Bras, Companion-Butterick Patterns, Corsets, Corsets & Corselettes, Cosmetics, Beauty Products, Foundation Garments, Girdles, Makeup & Lipstick, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Shoes, Sportswear, Underthings, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Paris Fashion Shoes, 1936

“Exquisite — Flattering” Paris Fashion Shoes. Ad from Ladies’ Home Journal, November 1936. Black suede side tie shoe, with a very high heel.

I hadn’t encountered any other ads for Paris Fashion Shoes, and the very high heels and relatively low prices in the ad intrigued me.

Paris Fashion Shoes, center of ad, Ladies’ Home Journal, November 1936. Top, a brown or black square-toe sandal.

Paris Fashion Shoes cost just $3 to $4 in 1936. Bottom of ad from Ladies’ Home Journal, November 1936, p. 111. This high heeled “butterfly” tongue step-in was available in “black, wine, or green suede” or in “black or blue kid” — quite a range of choices and sizes.

(Oh, for the days when shoes were available in a such a variety of widths. I still miss AA heels on B width shoes.)

A high-heeled “Foot Rest” shoe from Krippendorf promised comfort, for “$6.95 to $7.95” or more. Ad from WHC, October 1936.

I was curious about the Paris Fashion brand, and found that it was only one of many lines made by the Wohl Shoe Company. Wohl owned forty-six trademarks. A 1941 booklet celebrating the history of the Wohl Shoe Company was recently offered on eBay. In 1941, Wohl produced lines called Jacqueline, Natural Poise Arch Shoes, Connie, and Paris Fashion Fifth Avenue Shoes. Click here.  

A selection of shoe ads from Woman’s Home Companion, also from 1936, shows that Paris Fashion Shoes were relatively low-priced, compared to other brands. You can tell from the names of the companies, however, that these ads were aimed at women who wanted shoe comfort as well as style.

“According to the Table of Shoe Hotness, any brand that promises comfort will add 10 years to one’s WEA (Wearer’s Estimated Age.)” – Columnist Leah Garchik, writing in the Style section of the San Francisco Chronicle.)

Enna Jettick shoes cost $5 to $6 in 1936. Ad from WHC, April 1936.

This Enna Jettick shoe ad from April 1936 featured 27 year old Hollywood star Helen Twelvetrees wearing Enna Jettick shoes. (Ener-Getic! Get it?) Enna Jetticks were aimed at older women. Many other brands promised both comfort and style.

Red Cross shoe ad, WHC, April 1936. (Great swing coat! You could have worn that suit in the 1950’s.)

These Red Cross shoes cost about $6.50 a pair. Ad from WHC, October 1936. Red Cross shoes were supposed to “exercise your feet and legs back to shapeliness with every step you take.”

I remember similar claims for shoes in the 1970’s.

However much they promised comfort, these 1936 shoes are not necessarily “old lady” shoe styles.

This Butterick-Companion holiday frock pattern (7155) was drawn on a youthful model and illustrated with fashion accessories: shoes, bags, and gloves. WHC, December 1936.

Fashionable shoes and purses  for December 1936. Gray or Claret were suggested. WHC, p. 69. These shoes also appeared in WHC ads.

Apparently advertisers supplied shoes to the magazine for use in fashion layouts. Nothing new about that!

This Walk-Over “Cabana” model, from a October 1936 ad [inset], was available in gray suede and a range of other colors: black, green, brown, and blue.

December fashion illustration and [inset] October ad for Red Cross Shoes. WHC.

Other seasonal colors were advertised :

There is no price range on this ad for high-heeled Queen Quality shoes. WHC, March 1936. This ad is aimed at brides and “every other girl with a flair for fashion.” These styles were available in blue, and probably in a range of other color

Ads for Selby Arch Preserver shoes are interesting because they always show three women of different ages striding along in chic outfits. Ad from WHC, November 1936.

Queen Quality shoe ad, WHC, November 1936. The Bengal, right, looks rather middle-aged to me, but the Lanett pump, top left, has a very high heel.

These Walk-Over shoes from October 1936 range from casual and sporty (top left) to citified. Top left has a stacked leather heel. Prices $7.50 to $8.50, in a wide range of colors, including “Araby green.”

The top-stitched Walk-Over shoe at top right looks a lot like the gray shoe featured in that December fashion illustration.

Back to those $3 to $4 Paris Fashion Shoes: They were really inexpensive compared to shoes advertised in Woman’s Home Companion at the same time.

Red Cross Shoes cost $6.50 to $6.85 in November 1936.  That’s more than 50% to 100% higher than Paris Fashion Shoes. (A couple of these styles look rather graceful compared to others from 1936.)

These Foot Saver shoes cost as much as $12.75 in October, 1936. WHC. [Are those sequins?]

According to Woman’s Home Companion, October 1936, a working woman with a college education could expect to earn $18 per week. She was expected to need four pairs of shoes per year, at $3 a pair. Maybe she bought Paris Fashion Shoes!

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/1936-oct-college-girls-budget.jpg?w=500

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1930s, 1930s-1940s, bags, Gloves, handbags, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Purses, Shoes, Vintage Accessories

More Ads for Woman’s Institute from 1920’s and 1930’s

1933 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. Big, ruffled “Letty Lynton” sleeves became a huge fashion influence after the release of the movie in 1932.

In a previous post I wrote that Woman’s Institute ads were different every month, and that lining them up gives a mini-tour of fashions for each year. I have no photos from some years and some months, so there are big gaps in this little fashion show. I’ll just put the ones I have in chronological order. I love the captions, which repeat a few Woman’s Institute themes, like “It’s the prettiest dress I’ve ever had” and “I love to wear this dress.”

Woman’s Institute Fashions from the Twenties

February 1924 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. This dress is basically a simple tube with neck and arm openings and a belt.

December 1924 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. Except for the collar, this is a dress based on rectangles.

August 1925 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. 1920’s fashions are getting more complex.

August 1926 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. “Nothing will ever appear ‘home-made.’ “

By December 1926, Twenties’ styles are no longer simple tubes or rectangles.

December 1926 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course.

January 1927 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. Notice how short skirts have become in just 25 months.

Styles had changed a great deal between December 1924 and January 1927 — just two years:

A Woman’s Institute “One Hour Dress” from 1924; two years later, the Woman’s Institute ads showed much more complicated styles.

However, the possibility of making a dress in one hour, thanks to early 1920’s styles, probably inspired many women to try making their own clothing for the first time.

February 1927 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. This dress requires piecing curves; it’s not a project for beginners.

March 1927 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course, “used by over 230,000 women and girls.”

August 1927 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. Now there are 250,000 users.

October 1927 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course.

February 1928 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course.

June 1928 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. This is the most matronly outfit I’ve run across in these ads.

The reason many women sew for themselves is that they have non-standard-sized bodies or hard to fit figures. (Having an exceptionally small waist, broad shoulders, or tall body makes it hard to find store-bought clothes that fit, just as having a smaller or larger than average body does.) Oddly, the Woman’s Institute ads I’ve seen don’t seem to be aimed at hard-to-fit women.

October 1928 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. This dress has a chic, asymmetrical collar and side drape.

Sending in the coupon from October 1928 would get you a 32 page booklet and a 60 page dressmaking lesson “which tells how to take correct measurements, select the right pattern, alter to your own measurements, cut and fit for all types of figures, etc.” Perhaps hard-to-fit women let their dressmakers alter patterns for them.

March 1929 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course.

Woman’s Institute Fashions from the Thirties

I have not collected many ads from 1929 or 1930, so my parade of fashions from Woman’s Institute ads has some big gaps.

February 1931 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. This shows that not all hems dropped precipitately after 1929.

I have no photos from 1932, but the very long hemline on this dress was well established by 1933.

January 1933 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. “The new feminine fashions have created a big demand for dressmakers.”

February 1933 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. 1930’s ads often showed evening gowns.

This marks a change to more evening gowns in the Institute’s advertising; 1933 was one of the worst years of the Great Depression. Ads that said “Earn $20 to $40 a week at home” in 1924 said “Earn $10 to $35” in March of 1933:

March 1933 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. Scottie Dog (and fox fur stole) optional.

The number of women wearing furs during the Depression used to surprise me, but “In 1917, there were only four fur farms in the entire United States; by 1930, there were more than forty-five hundred.” This drove down the price of furs — and millions of animals were raised for slaughter. [See A Perfect Fit by Jenna Weissman Joselit.] Also, cheap furs from domestic animals like rabbits and dogs were sold as coney “seal” and “Manchurian wolf.”

March 1934 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. In 1934, “Letty Lynton” sleeves were still in style, and a dressmaker might earn a more optimistic “$20 to $50 a week.”

September 1934 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course.

Woman’s Institute ads seem to feature more evening dresses in the 1930’s, perhaps because the emphasis is changing to copying fashions, designing your own, and owning your own business or dress shop.

March 1935 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. “You can earn a splendid income in a dressmaking business of your own.”

February 1936 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. “Earn Money in Dressmaking and Designing.”

March 1936 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. [What a lovely train!]

In addition to lessons in making dresses and hats, Woman’s Institute courses on Cookery and, now, Tea Room Management were available.

Traditionally, most 20th century women who had their clothes made by dressmakers started with a commercial pattern or a photograph from a fashion magazine, although they might ask for changes to suit their taste.

September 1936 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. This ad is unusual because it shows a commercial pattern, Vogue 7403.

These 1930’s ads now introduce the idea of copying high fashion, designing dresses, and opening your own dress shop.

October 1936 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course.

February 1937 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. “Earn a fine income at home.”

The ability to work from home has always been important to women with children and other domestic responsibilities. And, of course, the overhead of a home business is lower than that of a shop.

October 1937 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. You can earn money at home . . . or have a good income in a smart dressmaking shop of your own.”

In 1938, Woman’s Institute placed this ad in a Butterick Fashion News Flyer, encouraging women who use commercial patterns to design and make their own clothes with the dressmaking skills learned from Woman’s Institute.

Woman’s Institute advertisement that appeared in the Butterick Fashion News Flyer for March, 1938.

“Be the smartest dressed woman in your town!” That’s almost what the ads said in 1917!

Testimonials from Woman’s Institute customers. There are now 300,000 of them. March 1938.

Coupon for Woman’s Institute, March 1938.

Mary Brooks Picken also published a quarterly magazine, Fashion Service. If you are researching Woman’s Institute ads, I found 1114 citations with a search on the Cornell University Home Archive.

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, evening and afternoon clothes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Resources for Costumers, Woman's Institute

More Cutex Nail Polish Ads in Color

Cutex advertises smoky nail polish shades for chic bridesmaids; Ladies’ Home Journal, September 1936.

While catching up on files I hadn’t labelled, I found two more 1930’s color ads for Cutex Nail Polish.

In 1936, ads assured customers that their Cutex nail polish would not get thick and gummy after being opened. Ad from Ladies’ Home Journal, October 1936

Those sharply pointed kitten-claw nails are much in evidence, with white, unpainted half-moons and tips. The colors are “smoky” and coordinated with autumn clothing colors.

Smoky shades of nail polish to compliment bridesmaids’ clothing colors. Cutex ad, September, 1936.

Robin Red was recommended for this pink organdy dress.

“Be divine in pink organdy with Cutex Robin Red nails.”

This bridesmaid wears Rust nail polish with her green dress.

By sending in a coupon and fourteen cents, you could get two samples of nail polish, nail polish remover, and a Cutex lipstick to harmonize! (This is the first mention I happen to have seen about coordinated nail and lip color; that’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of earlier references I simply haven’t come across.)

Cutex coupon ad, Ladies’ Home Journal, September 1936.

In the October ads, competition among the nail polish companies became evident: both Cutex and Glazo claimed that their polish wouldn’t get thick or “gummy.”

Top of Cutex ad, October 1936.

Cutex showed a lineup of colors from different companies.

Nail polish colors in competition; Cutex ad, October 1936.

“We deliberately uncorked [!] 10 bottles of nail polish — two of our New Cutex — Clear and Creme, and 8 popular rival brands — and let their contents stand exposed to the air for 14 days.”

Text from a Depression Era Cutex ad (October 1936) stresses economy: “usable down to the last drop — a distinct saving!” “There’s no question about value for your money when you buy Cutex.”

Nail polish being a luxury, rather than a necessity, women must have felt a little bit guilty buying it during hard times — unless it was really a money-saving purchase, “usable down to the last drop — a distinct saving!”at “the old economical price” of 35 cents.

Glazo nail polish also addressed the problem of nail polish that became too thick to use. Glazo ad, Ladies’ Home Journal, October 1936. At 25 cents per bottle, Glazo was cheaper than Cutex.

Here’s a closer look at those hats:

The hats worn in this Glazo nail polish ad are really rather conservative for 1936.

New “smoky” Cutex nail polish colors from October 1936.

 

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

House Dresses from Ads, 1930s

Housewife in an ad for Cocomalt, Woman’s Home Companion, September 1936.

Possibly the best costume research advice I ever got was to read old magazines and pay attention to the ads. Fashion coverage rarely goes into the kitchen, but ads for soap, appliances, foods and other homely products will show you images that were credible to their readers. They’re not any more realistic than our TV ads with perfectly maintained kitchens and gardens, but they presented an ideal of normal life.

Did most housewives dress like this in the evening? I doubt it. Koehler furniture ad, WHC, Oct. 1936.

Ads are aspirational. They hold out the dream that, if you buy this product, your life will be transformed. So, for a view of everyday clothing, they aren’t perfect; they show the way people wanted to look. But they’ll help you to get into the mindset of the period.

Most women wore an apron while washing dishes. However, this wrap dress with its two sizes of polka dots and sheer ruffles might give you some good design ideas. S.O.S. Ad, March 1935. Delineator.

O.K., that’s more realistic. Under that clean apron, she’s wearing a dress with sheer ruffles on the sleeves. S.O.S. ad, Feb. 1935. Delineator.

Using an electric floor polisher. Appliance ad, Oct. 1934. Delineator.

Hmmm. White collars and cuffs seem to be a theme.

The next three housewives come from a series of Depression Era ads for Royal Baking Powder, in which their tight family budgets are given; the women may be wearing their best house dresses, freshly washed and ironed for the photographer, but the ads had to be believable to readers on tight budgets themselves:

This young housewife is living on $900 a year (about $17 per week.) Royal Baking Powder ad, March 1934. Delineator.

The housewife at right prides herself on spending just a dollar a day for her family’s food, but she manages to look neat and clean. Royal Baking Powder ad, January 1935.

She married on $20 per week. Interesting dress, with sheer white ruffles. It looks like her coordinating apron is pinned to her dress. Royal Baking Powder ad, February 1934. Delineator.

I was interested to see that some women sensibly adopted the sleeveless dress for housework:

Doing housework in a chic sleeveless dress. S.O.S. ad, May 1934. Delineator.

Sleeveless dress in an ad for Gerber’s baby food. August 1937. Delineator.

Mother in sleeveless dress with her children. Illustration for an article on child rearing, 1935. Delineator.

Ads for Scot paper towels show many pretty but credible house dresses. [It’s hard to imagine a time when we had to be taught what to do with a paper towel, but that is the purpose of this thirties’ ad campaign.]

Ad for Scot paper towels, March 1935. House dresses were often made of lively, small-scale, floral print fabrics.

Ad for Scot paper towels, July 1937. White collar and cuffs on a plaid dress.

Ad for Scot paper towels, March 1936. Woman’s Home Companion. White collar and cuffs again.

A loose-sleeved plaid house dress. Ad for Scot paper towels, February 1936. WHC.

Wrap dress, in small floral print with sheer ruffled accents. Ad for Scot [bathroom] tissue, Nov. 1936.

After teaching women to use Scot paper towels for drying hands, draining bacon, wiping greasy pans, cleaning glass, et cetera

Scot Paper towel ad, December 1936. New customers, unfamiliar with paper towels, would also need a holder.

… the ad campaign finally got around to a use that didn’t require a verbal description:

Ad for Scot paper towels, December 1936.

Oops! No house dress in that one. (I do get distracted by these little glimpses into the past….)

This woman’s clothing probably emphasizes the ease [no sweat, ladies!] of using this vacuum, rather than her normal working clothes.

A housewife and her Hoover. Nov. 1937, WHC. Women who wear high heels all the time find flat shoes uncomfortable, (my stepmother wore sturdy 2″ heels while cooking and cleaning) but these heels are rather high and thin for doing housework.

Whether women really vacuumed the house dressed like this is questionable. But I think that the dress worn by this woman demonstrating a washing machine is probably very close to realistic.

It was hard to use a mangle machine like this without getting wet. From an article about laundry, WHC, March 1936. That’s what I call a “wash dress.”

This isn’t.

From an ad for laundry soap — Fels Naptha. WHC, Sept. 1936. This woman’s dress says her laundry is done. It’s not the “wash day” dress she wears in the drawing.

This ad reminds us that work dresses were still very long in 1936. Large-scale plaid dress in an ad for Sun-Maid Raisins. WHC, March 1936.

Print dresses featured in many ads between 1934 and 1937:

An ad for Lux laundry soap shows a flowered print dress with sheer collar. August 1934, Delineator.

Lux laundry soap claimed to be easy on stockings. Lux ad, Oct. 1937. I can imagine this dress, with its cool neckline, becoming a house dress as it aged.

A crisp floral print dress in an ad for S.O.S. pads. December 1936. This dress could certainly leave the house.

That print dress resembles a “sport dress” available from Tom Boys:

This sport dress could be ordered for $3.95 in February 1937. Ad for Tom Boys; WHC. Hemlines are rising.

Life experience leads me to think that many comfortable, washable sports dresses began as “good” casual clothes but eventually became only “good enough for housework” when they were damaged or out of style.

Perhaps the most truthful ad showing what many women wore during the Depression is this one:

Photo of a healthy farm family, thanks to Nujol laxative. From a Nujol ad, April 1934, Delineator.

 

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