Tag Archives: 1930s ad campaign

Semi-Made Dresses, 1930’s

Berth Robert Semi-Made Dress Catalog, advertised in The Delineator, February 1934.

Berth Robert Semi-Made Dress Catalog, advertised in The Delineator, February 1934.

“You simply sew up the seams. Complete accessories with each dress.”

One way women could save a little on dresses during the great Depression was by buying a partially constructed dress and sewing their own hems, side-seams, buttons, etc.  I didn’t find much information online about the Berth Robert company, or its rival, Fifth Avenue Modes. But I have encountered a sampling of their ads in nineteen thirties’ magazines.

Just at random, I found this Berth Robert ad in The Delineator, February 1931 issue. I may yet find earlier ones.

Top of ad for Berth Robert Semi-Made Dresses, from The Delineator, Feb. 1931, page 79.

Top of ad for Berth Robert Semi-Finished Dress catalog, from The Delineator, Feb. 1931, page 79. “Dress smartly by the Berth Robert Plan and save.”

Text of Berth Robert ad, Delneatro, Feb. 1931. p. 79.

Text of Berth Robert ad, Delneator, Feb. 1931. p. 79.

“In Paris we select the smartest, cleverest styles. Then, in our own New York atelier these charming frocks are tailored to your measurements from the finest fabrics. All difficult sewing — necklines, tailoring, tucking and pleating — is completely, beautifully done. All you do is the easy finishing up. Even an inexperienced sewer can easily finish a Berth Robert Frock or Ensemble.

“This Spring, dress with Parisian smartness, yet actually save money by the Berth Robert Plan.”

The implication is that all the buyer will need is a needle and thread (see pictures.)

Berth Robert catalog ad bottom. Delineator, Feb. 1931, p. 79.

Berth Robert catalog ad bottom. Delineator, Feb. 1931, p. 79.

This ad, from the Fifth Avenue Modes company, appeared in the same issue of The Delineator:

Top of ad for Fifth Avenue Modes "Finish-at-Home" fashions. The Delineator, Feb. 1931, page 106.

Top of ad for Fifth Avenue Modes “Finish-at-Home” fashions. The Delineator, Feb. 1931, page 106.

“How to be well-dressed on a limited budget — that is the problem which the “Finish-at-Home” Plan is solving for so many fashionable women today! Finish-at-Home fashions save you half!”

Text of ad for Fifth Avenue Modes' "Finish-at-Home" catalog. The Delineator, Feb. 1931, p. 106.

Text of ad for Fifth Avenue Modes’ “Finish-at-Home” catalog. The Delineator, Feb. 1931, p. 106.

“Made to Your Order. The dress you select comes from Fifth Avenue Modes cut to your exact size or measurements, with all the difficult work done. . . . Our expert men-tailors complete all the tailoring, pleating, hemstitching, tucking, etc., so that all you have to do is to put together a few completely-made parts. No bothersome patterns to follow, no expense for outside work, no trimmings to buy or make — we furnish everything you need for your dress, down to the spool of matching thread.

“A Little Sewing – A Great Saving. You can easily follow the common-sense finishing instructions we send with your dress. . . . And what you save by this simple sewing will enable you to have two stylish dresses for the usual cost of one ready-made dress of equal style and quality.”

No, both firms don’t have the same mailing address, although they do have very similar ads.

Both companies continued to advertise for several years, in various magazines.

Berth Robert Semi-Made Dress Catalog, advertised in The Delineator, February 1934.

Berth Robert Semi-Made Dress Catalog, advertised in The Delineator, February 1934.

Text of Berth Roberts ad in Delineator, Feb. 1934.

Text of Berth Roberts ad in Delineator, Feb. 1934.

“All you need to do is to sew up a few simple seams . . . fitting the coat or dress perfectly to your figure . . . And presto . . . you have a luxurious spring wardrobe at what the cloth alone would ordinarily cost you. Buying direct from the producer, on the semi-made plan, effects these great savings.”

"Worn with Pride by hundreds of thousands of smart women." Berth Robert Semi-Made dresses ad, Woman's Home Companion, Feb. 1936.

“Worn with Pride by hundreds of thousands of smart women.” Berth Robert Semi-Made dresses ad, Woman’s Home Companion, Feb. 1936.

Berth Robert Semi-Made Dresses Ad, Woman's Home Companion, Sept. 1936.

Berth Robert Semi-Made Frocks Ad, Woman’s Home Companion, Sept. 1936.

“Many women who can afford the finest favor Berth Robert Semi-Made dresses. . . . All you do is sew a few simple seams, adjusting the dress to your figure perfectly as you sew. . . and as you sew you save.”

Berth Roberts Semi-Made  ad, March 1937. Woman's Home Companion.

Berth Roberts Plan, Semi-Made dress ad, March 1937. Woman’s Home Companion.

Fifth Avenue Modes was still in business, too:

"Dress with Fifth Avenue Smartness Yet Save Half!" Finish-Your-Own dress ad, Fifth Avenue Modes, in Woman's Home Companion, Sept. 1937.

“Dress with Fifth Avenue Smartness Yet Save Half!” Finish-Your-Own dress ad, Fifth Avenue Modes, in Woman’s Home Companion, Sept. 1937.

Fifth Avenue Modes ad, text, Woman's Home Companion, Sept. 1937.

Fifth Avenue Modes ad, text, Woman’s Home Companion, Sept. 1937.

“With our “Finish-at-Home” Plan, your frocks are cut to your own,  individual measurements! . . . We furnish all the trimmings and findings  . . . you have only a few simple seams to sew! . . . If you want custom-cut clothes and chic accessories, send today for our Magazine of Fashion. FREE!”

There seems to be a link with Betty Wales fashions, too. I’ve seen Betty Wales fashion ads in magazines as early as 1917. But’s that’s another story. . . .

Artfire dot com has pages from a 1939  Fifth Avenue Modes catalog for sale, but there’s no hint of “Finish-Your-Own” that I can see. There is a paragraph about both companies in an article by Madelyn Shaw about the Tirocchi sisters, dressmakers in Providence, which you can read online; click here.

I just found an affordable 1934 Berth Robert catalog at Ebay, so I’m looking forward to finding out more when it arrives. I’m especially looking forward to seeing the size range, and the prices of the semi-finished frocks and coats, which cost “half as much” as comparable finished clothing.

10 Comments

Filed under 1930s, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture

Some 1930’s Evening Gowns, and What to Wear Under Them

Evening gowns from Companion-Butterick patterns 7073 ans 7083. Woman's Home Companion, November 1936.

Evening gowns from Companion-Butterick patterns #7073 and #7083. Woman’s Home Companion, November 1936.

Although they were available in both women’s and misses’ [teens’] sizes, the illustration shows these patterns from 1936 being worn by sophisticated women. Fashion Editor Ethel Holland Little recommends “this pale pink satin or the dusty blue jacquard crepe [only] if they are becoming. If not, you can go in for tomato red or emerald green or again keep to black or a dark grape color.”

Text accompanying Companion-Butterick patterns 7073 & 7083, WHC Nov. 1936.

Text accompanying Companion-Butterick patterns 7073 & 7083, WHC Nov. 1936.

I love the braided neckline on #7073, and the slenderizing vertical lines on #7083, which also shows a glittering Art Deco belt buckle with matching dress clips.

Details of Patterns #7073 and #7083, Nov. 1936.

Details of Patterns #7073 and #7083, Nov. 1936.

Number 7083 has a matching jacket; both show low, bare backs accented with a row of tiny buttons.

Alternate views of Companion-Butterick #7073 and #7083, 1936.

Alternate views of Companion-Butterick patterns #7073 and #7083, 1936.

Women with perfect figures might wear these gowns with just a smoothing “Softie” girdle, but those who were not as young and firm as they used to be had quite a selection of foundation garments to choose from. This “Flexees” foundation ad was frank about its target customer in 1937:

Ad for Flexees foundation garment, Woman's Home Com[anion, Dec. 1937.

“Years from your Waistline, Inches from your Age.” Ad for Flexees foundation garments, Woman’s Home Companion, Dec. 1937.

“Nowadays a woman’s as young as her figure, and FLEXEES is her greatest rejuvenator. The extra inches that come with years . . . the years suggested by extra inches . . .both surrender to FLEXEES. And it’s a permanent surrender, because FLEXEES patented bias panels . . . Twin and Super Control . . . teach your body to retain the lovely lines in which they mold it. At your favorite store — Girdles, $3.50 to $15 — Combinations, $5 to $35. “

[In 1936, a female college graduate could expect to earn about $20 per week. Click here. Foundation garments from Sears were much less expensive. (Click here for examples.)

These two back-baring gowns are from 1934:

Butterick pattern 5531, Feb. 1934, The Delineator magazine.

Butterick evening gown pattern #5531, Feb. 1934, from The Delineator magazine.

Butterick pattern #5745, June 1934, The Delineator magazine.

Butterick evening gown pattern #5745, June 1934, from The Delineator magazine.

This nearly backless Gossard foundation garment was advertised in The Delineator in April of 1932:

Gossard "Simplicity Junior" foundation garment ad; Delineator, April 1932.

Gossard “Simplicity Junior” foundation garment ad; The Delineator, April 1932.

"Simplicity Junior" from Gossard, April 1932 advertisement.

“Simplicity Junior” foundation garment from Gossard, April 1932 advertisement.

“If you are slim . . .  regardless of your age . . . you can have a debutante’s figure. This silken under-fashion molds your figure without the aid of a single bone. The clever brassiere part gives a pointed outline to the bust, and the back is low enough for your most daring gown. . . .”

The following ad for Flexees — a boneless corset probably knitted from the new rubber called Lastex — appeared in Woman’s Home Companion just one month after these dress patterns.

Evening gowns from Companion-Butterick patterns 7073 ans 7083. Woman's Home Companion, November 1936.

Evening gowns from Companion-Butterick patterns 7073 & 7083. Woman’s Home Companion, November 1936.

Flexees ad, Woman's Home Companion, Dec. 1936.

Flexees ad, Woman’s Home Companion, Dec. 1936.

“Flexees — the modern corset. Twin-Control for the average figure — Super-Control for the full figure. At all good stores.”

Of course, not even a low-backed “modern corset” could be worn under this spectacular sequinned gown, also from 1936:

A sequin covered gown with "back interest" from April, 1936. Woman's Home Companion.

A sequin-covered gown with “back interest” from April, 1936. Woman’s Home Companion.

This photo is from an ad for Listerine mouthwash. I suspect that any woman who could wear this dress on the red carpet today, would wear it! That’s what I call a classic.

4 Comments

Filed under 1930s, Foundation Garments, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Uncategorized, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, vintage photographs

Changing the Foundations of Fashion: 1929 to 1934

"Make us look like this!" Sears catalog, Spring 1934, featuring Lastex two-way stretch girdles.

“Make us look like this!” Sears catalog, Spring 1934, featuring Lastex two-way stretch girdles: “Boneless! Bulgeless!”

Many changes in fashion were taking place between 1929 and 1934, in addition to the fall of the hemline and the rise of the waistline.

For the first time in centuries, fashions followed the natural shape of a woman’s body. Bias-cut dresses, which clung to every curve, were already chic in 1929.

November, 1929. Form fitting gowns from French designers Louiseboulanger and Jean Patou. Delineator sketches by Soulie.

November, 1929. Form fitting gowns from French designers Louiseboulanger and Jean Patou. The Delineator.

Makers of bosom-flattening brassieres — such as the “Flatter-U” and “Boyshform” bandeaux — were losing younger customers to companies like “Maiden Form” and G.M. Poix’s “A-P Uplift.” The word “uplift” was applied rather freely.

"Uplift bandeau" and Foundation with "Uplift rayon jersey top. Seaers catalog, Fall, 1929. Page 218.

“Uplift bandeau” (left) and Foundation (right) with “Uplift style bust.” Sears catalog, Fall, 1929.

Farrell-Beck and Gau, authors of the book Uplift:  The Bra in America, point out that in previous centuries, corsets pushed the breasts up from below; now, brassieres with shoulder straps lifted the breasts up.

After the mono-bosom years earlier in the 20th century, the word “uplift” seems to include the idea of separation. Women were finally acknowledged to have two breasts, one on either side of the sternum.

"Empire Gown" with "uplift line of the bodice." Butterick pattern # , Nov. 1931.

“Empire Gown” with “uplift line of the bodice.” Butterick pattern #4175 , Nov. 1931.

The garment that had been called a “corset” (or “corselette,” if it was unboned) became a “foundation.”

This illustration of the latest foundation garments appeared in The Delineator as early as March, 1929.

This illustration of the latest foundation garments appeared in The Delineator as early as March, 1929.

“Out went the whalebone. In went elastic. . . . The ‘foundation garment’ or ‘costume foundation’ . . . has definitely supplanted the word ‘corset’ and earned universal approval.”  — Editorial in The Delineator, March 1929.

Several months later, this article appeared, with illustrations more typical of 1929 undergarments:

"Facts and Figures About the strikingly feminine new silhouette." Article by Lucile Babcock in Delineator, October 1929.

“Facts and Figures about the strikingly feminine new silhouette.” Article in The Delineator, October 1929.

“Gone are the days of the straight-line, belted-about-the-hips frock which concealed many of our figure deficiencies. Snug fitting hips, slightly raised and occasionally nipped-in waists, a frank recognition of the bust line, are characteristic of autumn styles.” — Lucile Babcock, in The Delineator, Oct. 1929.

Two mid-twenties' corsets: La Camille ad, 1924, and Bien Jolie ad, 1925. Both Delineator.

Before the change: two mid-twenties’ corsets. Left, a La Camille corset ad, 1924, and right, a Bien Jolie corset ad, 1925. Both from The Delineator.

The corset went through other changes after 1929.

Bias-cut satin dresses like these would have revealed every bump, boning channel, and lacing of an old-fashioned corset.

Bias-cut gowns from August and October, 1921. Butterick patterns 4039, 4093, and 4097. Delineator.

Bias-cut gowns from August and October, 1931. Butterick patterns 4039, 4093, and 4097. Delineator.

In 1929, the Sears catalog shows “boyish”/bust-suppressing corsets on the same page as corsets with soft, non-flattening tops. 1929 sears Fall p 218 page 500

 

The foundation on the left  is a typical 1920's corselet, turning the body into a tube shape.

The foundation on the left is a typical 1920’s corset;  bust-flattening boned seams and no waist indentation turn the body into a tube shape.

Significantly, the 1929 corset on the left below has rayon jersey (knit) in the bust area. Although not truly cup shaped, the soft fabric was not designed to flatten the breasts,  unlike the boned garment on the right.

Fall 1929 Sears catalog, p. 223. (Look at that deco fabric!)

Fall 1929 Sears catalog, p. 223. (I love that art deco fabric on the right!)

Several of Sears’ 1929 corsets/foundations use soft rayon jersey over the bust.

Foundation with "uplift" rayon bust; Fall 1929 Sears catalog p. 218

Foundation with “uplift style” rayon bust; Fall 1929 Sears catalog, p. 218. It’s hard to believe that this did much “lifting.”

But the chief problem of late 1920’s corsets (or foundations, as they were now being called)  was that their stretch panels had to be made from something like surgical elastic (similar to the Ace bandages used for sprained wrists and ankles.) At the time, elasticized fabrics were limited in size, so the fronts and backs of corsets had to be made of traditional, non-stretch corset materials, like coutil or thick satin; they needed hook-and-eye or  zipper closings, and the seams (and fastenings) were never smooth enough for wearing under thin, bias-cut gowns like this one:

Bias-cut satin gown in a Kotex ad, July 1931. Delineator.

Bias-cut satin gown in a Kotex ad, July 1931. Delineator.

Lastex Changes Corsetry

The revolution came in the early 1930’s, when a new method for processing rubber was invented. According to Elizabeth Ewing’s Fashion in Underwear, before 1930 the sap of rubber trees (latex) was dried and compressed into bricks for shipping. When it reached England, the bricks were liquified, and long sheets of rubber were made. These sheets would then be cut into strips and incorporated into fabrics, but the strips were never long enough to be effectively woven into material suitable for the mass production of corsets.

Fall 1930 Sears catalog. Before the invention of Lastex, elastic panels had to be used sparingly. (However, the bust is back!)

Fall 1930 Sears catalog. Before the invention of Lastex, elastic panels had to be used sparingly or pieced together. (However, by 1930 the bust is definitely back in style.)

“About 1930,” a new chemical process allowed latex to be shipped in its liquid form. The liquid latex could then be extruded into fine threads — called Lastex —  which were as long as threads of traditional materials, which meant that elasticized yardage could finally be made in lengths and widths suitable for mass produced garments. As soon as weaving and knitting machines had been adapted to use Lastex, a new kind of undergarment became possible.

Munsingwear's 'Foundettes' two-way stretch girdle ad, March 1937. Woman's Home Companion.

Munsingwear’s ‘Foundettes’ two-way stretch girdle ad, March 1937. Woman’s Home Companion.

My question was, “How much time did it take for undergarments made with Lastex to become available — and affordable — to working class women?”

The answer: Hardly any time at all! The Sears, Roebuck catalog for Spring 1932 proudly introduces Lastex and “Clingtex” garments made of “new, cloth-like elastic (Lastex.)”

Sears catalog for Spring 1932, introducing "Sensational new garments of marvelous Lastex ."

Sears catalog for Spring 1932, introducing “Sensational new garments of marvelous Lastex .”

Early Lastex foundations combined the new stretch fabric with traditional corset materials —  for extra control over the abdomen, for example.

Clingtex foundation, Spring 1933, Sears Catalog.

Clingtex foundation, Spring 1933, Sears Catalog.

By Fall of 1933, however, Sears was offering “Two-Way Stretch Softies” made entirely of stretch fabric.  The “roll-on” girdle, which required no fastenings,  “dates from 1932 in England and probably a year earlier in the U.S.A.” [Ewing]

"New Two-Way Stretch Softies." Seamless girdles and foundations from Sears Catalog, Fall 1933.

“New Two-Way Stretch Softies.” Seamless girdles and foundations from Sears Catalog, Fall 1933.

These “step-in” stretch foundations, which pull on, were made on a circular knitting machine; not only did they have no zippers , they had no seams. 

A foundation garment that made a woman look firmer, smoother, and younger — which improved her natural figure without distortion — was perfect under the bias gowns of the 1930s. This 1933 “Softie” All-in One from Sears (on the left) )looks very much like the Spandex “smoothers” available in stores in 2015.

A seamless, Lastex knit foundation garment, Sears, Fall 1933. This foundation cost $3.69; the "roll-on" girdle cost just $1.98.

A seamless, Lastex knit foundation garment, Sears, Fall 1933. This foundation cost $3.69; the “roll-on” girdle (right) cost just $1.98.

Literally for the first time in hundreds of years, the purpose of a corset was not to distort a woman’s body.

The purpose of the nineteen-thirties’ foundation garment was to create the impression of a perfect, nude body under the clothes. It firmed the hips, flattened the belly, and supported the breasts, but all in imitation of nature, giving its wearer the firm, flexible figure of a healthy young woman.

Softies, Fall 1934. Sears catalog. "Not a bone! Not a bulge!" Seamless, circular-knitted two-way stretch foundation.

“Softies,” Fall 1934. Sears catalog. “Not a bone! Not a bulge!” Seamless, circular-knitted, two-way stretch girdle or foundation.

The End of the Boyish Figure

One more (less encouraging) thing about changes in fashion after 1929:

By Fall of 1932 women were already made to feel self-conscious about having small breasts.

1932 fall sears 500 help for flat chested pushup

"Are you boyishly flat-chested? . . . Wear our 'Form Bust' and be neat, smart, up-to-the minute, and so be happy." Sears catalog, Fall 1932.

“Are you boyishly flat-chested? . . . Wear our ‘Form Bust’ and be neat, smart, up-to-the minute, and so be happy.” Sears catalog, Fall 1932.

That didn’t take long, did it?

 

18 Comments

Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Bras, Corselettes, Corsets, Corsets & Corselettes, Foundation Garments, Girdles, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Zippers

Indestructible Breast Forms, 1939

Ad for Nu-Wa Style Assist Breast Forms, Simplicity Fashions Prevue, October 1939.

Ad for Nu-Wa Style Assist Breast Forms, Simplicity Fashions Prevue store flyer, October 1939.

Well, doesn’t she look perky! In spite of some problems in the printing process, this young lady is smiling ear to ear because of her Indestructible Nu-Wa Style Assist Breast Forms. I suppose that should be pronounced “New-Way,” but it says “Nu Wah” to me.

Cover, Simplicity Fashions Prevue from S.S. Kresge Co., Oct 1939.

Cover, Simplicity Fashions Prevue from S.S. Kresge Co., Oct 1939.

The flyer came from S. S. Kresge (a chain store similar to Woolworth’s), so in addition to the latest Simplicity patterns, it contains ads for other products you could buy at Kresge’s, which included: shoe dyes, curlers, chewing gum, deodorants, compacts, sanitary napkins, back to school supplies, buttons, and Nu-Wa falsies, or bust improvers.

Nu Wa Style Assist: A "Nature-Soft" and Shaped Breast Form Aid. Oct. 1939.

Nu Wa Style Assist: A “Nature-Soft” and Shaped Breast Form Aid. Oct. 1939.

“Indispensable in the fitting of This Season’s Stylish Gowns, which are designed for full, natural bust. NU-WA MAKES THE WAIST SEEM SMALLER. Wear NU-WA in the Specially Designed Pocket Bando, which holds each one securely, immovably in place — UNDETECTED.

Back in the 1920s, a “bandeau” was usually worn to suppress the breasts:

Bandeaux. Picture from Everyday Fashions of the Twenties.

Bandeaux. Picture from Everyday Fashions of the Twenties.

But this “Bando” is more like a modern brassiere, with “pockets” to hold the “indestructible forms” in place. (“Crushed?” Indestructible?” This girl led an exciting life.)

Ad for Nu-Wa Style Assist Breast Forms, Simplicity Fashions Prevue, October 1939.

The “pocket bando.”

“Nu-Wa is ventilated, comfortable, washable; adopted by you, it becomes YOUR FIGURE. When crushed down, always resumes right shape and size . . . .”

“NO. 31 STYLE ASSSIST FORMS 25 cents A PAIR;

“NO. 32 POCKET BANDO TO FIT SAME 25 cents EACH.

“SIZES TO FIT  32 – 34- 36  NORMAL FIGURES.

“You can buy without embarrassment at Bando and Brassiere Counter.”

Of course it’s not embarrasing to buy a “Style Assist” so your clothes will fit better. And waists were definitely supposed to be small in 1939; just look at that red suit on the cover of the Simplicity flyer. cover top 500Yep. Her bust does make her waist look smaller.

6 Comments

Filed under 1930s, 1930s-1940s, Bras, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc

Change-Abouts for Teens and Twenties: 1937

Change-About Fashions, Woman’s Home Companion, April 1937

Change-About Fashions, Woman’s Home Companion, April 1937

Companion-Butterick patterns often emphasized that they were economical because the dresses featured could be worn several ways, giving the look of a large wardrobe with only a few garments. These three patterns from the April 1937 Woman’s Home Companion are intended for teens and young women. (Sizes run through Junior Miss size 12 to a Ladies’ Bust size 38″) The text, by Fashion Editor Ethel Holland Little, says:

“If there is one rule that you Teens and Twenties can put at the top of every clothes list, it is: seek variety. You can wear so many of the new fashions. Why not arm yourself with all the season’s hits – the boleros, the bright prints, the colored sashes, the novelty piqués, the hats with fabric crowns? You can do this without stretching your clothes allowance too much – if you go in for change-abouts.

One day you wear it one way, the next, another – the simple dress that you vary by adding or subtracting a jacket, by substituting a belt for a sash. Try it; try all three of the change-abouts pictured here if you are looking for an economical way to put yourself on the fashion map.”

Companion-Butterick pattern #7296, April 1937.

Companion-Butterick pattern #7296, April 1937.

Pattern # 7296 looks demure with its jacket on; the surprise comes with the jacket off – revealing a back bare to the waist. 1937 april p 78 changebackless 500 7296

“No. 7296 is the beach dress you are practically forced to acquire if you want to build a reputation for knowing what’s what. Wide short skirt, cut-out back, and brief bolero – these are the three fundamentals of a style that looks right at the country club with its little jacket, on the sand without. Make both dress and jacket in a splashy surrealist print [popularized by Schiaparelli] or in this new combination of white linen with polkadot silk crepe. But in any case don’t forget your matching rubber-soled sports shoes (they’re cotton and remarkably inexpensive) and your big-brimmed fabric-crowned straw.

Was it a coincidence that rubber-soled Kedettes were advertised in the same issue?

Kedettes rubber-soled shoes ad, 1937. Keds and Kedetttes were made by United States Rubber Company.

Kedettes rubber-soled shoes ad, 1937. Keds and Kedetttes were made by United States Rubber Company.

“Kedettes are made by the makers of Keds and Gaytees. At the better stores… $1.29 to $2.25.”

Companion-Butterick pattern #7924, April 1937.

Companion-Butterick pattern #7924, April 1937.

“No. 7924 makes a good weekday school cotton – one that you can wear with or without the jacket according to the weather and your mood. It is perfect for a novelty piqué (the new ones are called by such pat names as boxbar or hexagon) and for a non-soiling shade such as this wine red, printed and plain.” [Note: She seems to be wearing a pair of the Kedettes featured in the ad.]

Companion-Butterick pattern #7298, April 1937.

Companion-Butterick pattern #7298, April 1937.

“No. 7298 is your silk daytime dress – made to order for club gatherings and monopoly parties. Wear it on Friday the ninth with the printed collar and peplum. Appear on Friday the sixteenth with a tricolor ribbon sash. The crowd won’t know it’s the same dress at first, and when they do, they’ll applaud your sorcery.”

If you look closely, you’ll see that there is no jacket – the same print fabric is used for the detachable collar and peplum, and the peplum is attached to a belt. 1937 april p 79 change abouts teens twenties peplum

 

9 Comments

Filed under 1930s, 1930s-1940s, Companion-Butterick Patterns, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Shoes, Sportswear

Women’s Shoes: Sturdy, Comfortable and Tailored for Spring, 1936

 

Shoe Styles for Spring. Woman's Home Companion, April 1936

Shoe Styles for Spring. Woman’s Home Companion, April 1936

This article from Woman’s Home Companion, April, 1936, showed me that I have a lot to learn about the way shoes were perceived in the 1930s. Were white lace-up heels always for women over fifty? Did young women really wear them, too?

Shoes illustrated with ‘Fashions After Fifty,’ in 1937.

Shoes illustrated with ‘Fashions After Fifty,’ in 1937. Did younger women also wear them?

“Old Lady Shoes”

Woman in her seventies wearing white lace-up heels. Circa 1948.

Woman in her seventies wearing white lace-up heels. Circa 1948.

 

I find many thirties’ shoes stodgy looking because I associate them with “old lady shoes.” My grandmother and her friends were still wearing white, lace-up, perforated shoes in the 1950s.

Florsheim Shoe Ad, May, 1937.

Florsheim Shoe Ad, May, 1937.

Those white shoes looked exactly like some of these fashion shoes from 1936, and the question raised in some online discussions has been, “Were the old ladies we remember wearing shoes they had saved for 15 years, or did they just buy new ones that looked old-fashioned?”

Black Florsheim lace-ups from 1937.

Black Florsheim lace-ups from 1937.

You could still buy similar shoes in the 1960s. (When lace-up oxfords with moderate heels were black instead of white, we called them “nun shoes.” I went shopping with a high school friend who had to buy a pair when she entered the convent in the 1960s. We laughed a lot.)

Shoe Vocabulary, 1936

As often happens with fashion writing, vocabulary doesn’t always mean the same thing now as it did in the past. It would never have occurred to me that oxfords were more “tailored” and more appropriate for wear with a city suit than pumps with straps! It’s also hard to remember that a “sandal” was any shoe that did not completely enclose the foot, no matter how structured and pump-like it was. And how can a high heel be “Monkish?”

Here is the article, with its line illustrations, plus related ads from 1936. [Fashion reports in the Woman’s Home Companion rarely named the sellers of featured items. If you wanted more information, you had to write to the magazine and ask for it.]

Sturdy, Comfortable, and Tailored for Spring

“What type of shoe, Madam?” and if your answer to the sales clerk is “Something to wear with my spring suit – something sturdy and comfortable and tailored looking,” he may bring out some or all of these eight most popular styles.”

Oxford Style Shoes for Spring, 1936.

Oxford Style Shoes for Spring, 1936.

“Oxfords still come first. We used to wear them for comfort and now we choose them for style. The newest are trimmed with stitching and perforations ranging from tiny pinpoints to larger triangular shapes, for decoration as well as ventilation. Some show tiny touches of light contrast under the perforations or, even newer, thongs of bright colored kid laced through the holes.”

Illustration:  Oxford Shoe, April 1936.

Illustration: Oxford Shoe, April 1936.

This perforated oxford was actually black, like some of the shoes in these advertisements.

Ad for Selby Shoes, March 1936; Black Oxford.

Ad for Selby Shoes, March 1936; Perforated Black Oxford.

Ad for Selby Arch Preserver Shoes, May 1936. Prices $9 to $12.50.

Ad for Selby Arch Preserver Shoes, May 1936. Prices $9 to $12.50.

Wide Strap Pumps

“Sharing the popularity of oxfords are wide strap pumps. They have the comfort of oxfords and are more open, a trifle less tailored.” [Surprise. I would have said these are more dressy.]

Illlustration:  Wide Strap Pumps, 1936. The one on the left is made of blue gabardine.

Illlustration: Wide Strap Pumps, 1936. The one on the left is made of blue gabardine.

It’s a little surprising that gabardine fabric shoes were popular in the Depression, since they would not wear as well as leather. But fabric is also featured in this Matrix Shoe Ad, March 1936.

Ad for Matrix Shoe, March 1936. Available in black fabric with patent leather or in blue fabric with kid trim.

Ad for a Matrix Sandal, March 1936. Available in black fabric with patent leather or in blue fabric with kid trim. $9.00 and up.

Blue was definitely a fashionable color:

Queen Quality Shoe Ad, March 1936.

Queen Quality Shoe Ad, March 1936.

In this Queen Quality ad, the question of the wearers’ age is settled by the appeal to “Spring Brides.” And, although not extremely narrow, those are pretty high heels. Here are more wide-strap styles:

Another Wide Strap Shoe; Selby Ad, March 1936.

Another Wide Strap Shoe; Selby Ad, March 1936.

Wide Strap Spectator Pumps; Red Cross Shoe Ad, May, 1936/

Wide Strap Spectator Pumps and an Oxford, right. Red Cross Shoe Ad, May, 1936.

Monk Type Shoes

Illustration: "Monkish Styles Seem to Be Coming Favorites for Town," 1936.

Illustration: “Monkish Styles Seem to Be Coming Favorites for Town,” 1936.

“If you prefer a heavier-looking shoe to go with a mannishly tailored costume then a monk type with side strap and leather heel is your goal. This style originated in smart country shoes and is now coming into new fame for town wear.”

Probably the stacked leather heel gave it a “country shoe” feeling. These “Cabana” two-tones with a (monkish?) tongue and buckle are perforated, but don’t have that ‘old lady oxford’ look to me:

Ad for "Cabana" shoes from Walk-Over, March, 1936.

Ad for “Cabana” shoes from Walk-Over, March, 1936.

Square Toes and Square Heels for Young Women, 1936

Illustration: Square Toes and Square Heels in Dubonnet Red Bucko. 1936.

Illustration: “Square toes and square heels in Dubonnet red bucko for smart young feet.” 1936.

“Young girls, with that smartly casual look, may choose a different type of tailored shoe altogether. With their youthful suits, stubby little square-toed square-heeled sandals are charming. [Bucko was a scraped leather with a slightly sueded or matte finish.]

Low heeled, square-toed shoes were also available in the 1960s, but the one in this ad dates from 1936.

Ad for Square-toed Collegebred Shoes, 1936. Available in Gray, Blue, Brown, Black, or White.

Ad for Square-toed Collegebred Shoes, 1936. Available in Gray, Blue, Brown, Black, or White.

Like the shoes in the illustration, they are made of bucko; the brand ‘Collegebred” confirms that these are for teens and young women. They have casual, stacked leather heels.

Sandals, 1936

Illustration: Formal Tailored Kid Sandals, 1936.

Illustration: Formal Tailored Kid Sandals, 1936.

“The last of these eight popular types is a sandal with high support and an open effect, the perfect complement to your silk suits and dresses.”

These may not be what we usually think of as sandals, but they look light and appropriate for a silk, rather than a wool, suit or dress.

Like the article on shoe styles I have been quoting, these Walk-Over brand sandals are from Woman’s Home Companion, April, 1936:

“Nothing smarter for town, sport or afternoon. New ‘dark accent’ colors of suede. Patent. And British Tan calf, the exciting ‘high’ shade.  Walk-Over Ad, April 1936.

“Nothing smarter for town, sport or afternoon. New ‘dark accent’ colors of suede. Patent. And British Tan calf, the exciting ‘high’ shade.” Walk-Over Ad, April 1936.

They are much more open, but not open-toed.  All four styles were available in patent leather, and some came in a range of colors (Dubonnet, blue, black, white, brown, British tan, white kangaroo suede, etc.) Style A has square toes and heels and is pictured in bucko. Perhaps I like these sandals because – except for the one with the wide strap – they remind me of the elegant shoes of the twenties. The ad says they are “young” and colorful. I wonder:  Would they have looked old-fashioned to women who had worn similar styles – which were then described as new and “unusual” —  in 1928?

"Unusual" Evening Sandals from Netch & Bernard, Delineator,  October, 1928.

“Unusual” Evening Sandals from Netch & Bernard, Delineator, October, 1928.

 

 

 

6 Comments

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

Garters, Flappers, Rolled Stockings, and Other Stocking Stories

 Four Young Women Showing Rolled Stockings, 1921. Used with Permission of RememberedSummers

Four Young Women Showing Rolled Stockings, 1921. Used with Permission of RememberedSummers

It wasn’t till Lynn at americanagefashion.com asked how 1920s roll-on garters worked that I realized many women have never worn stockings, much less rolled garters or garter belts. So I’ll repeat some of my reply, this time with lots of illustrations.

My grandmother still wore 1920s style garters (click link for image)  in the 1950s, when she was in her 70s. The rubber of the garter was tube-shaped, covered in pinkish-tan (knit?) fabric, and sealed into a ring shape with a tubular metal crimp. What this kind of garter  — utterly un-sexy, nothing like a flat, lacy wedding garter — did to the circulation in women’s legs, I don’t want to think about.

Rolled Stockings with Bathing Suit, Delineator,  July 1925

Rolled Stockings with Bathing Suit, Delineator, July 1925

Grandma rolled the ring-type garter up to the top of the stocking, and then rolled stocking and garter, as one, down to a point above or below her knee. The stocking rolled itself around the garter and created a ridge or bump, but this technique saved women from the runs you can get when you kneel while wearing stocking suspenders attached to the corset and clasped onto the stocking. (Rolled stockings also allowed women the comfort of not wearing a girdle….)

Suspender Style Garters

A Girdle form the 1920s and a Corset from the 1930s; when the suspender ran directly from the corset toward the knee (right) it was easy to get a run in the stocking.

A Girdle from the 1920s and a Corset from the 1930s; when the suspender ran directly from the corset toward the knee (right) it was easy to get a run in the stocking.

If those traditional garters (correctly called “suspenders” by the British) weren’t long enough, or you were tall, nylon (and rayon) stockings often “popped” at the knee when you knelt down. I remember coming out of church with my entire knee bulging out of my nylon stocking in the early 60s.

Onyx Hosiery Ad, 1924

Onyx Hosiery Ad, 1924

This 1924 ad for Onyx Silk Stockings claims that other silk stockings, although naturally more elastic than rayon, popped at the knee, too. “Bending the knee like this puts a heavy strain on any silk stocking.”

Lady’s Home Journal, 1936; Lux Soap Ad.

Ladies’ Home Journal, 1936; Lux Soap Ad.

“Costly runs:”  as discussed in my “Living on $18 a Week” post, women with white collar jobs were expected to wear stockings to work, but stockings were fragile and a constant drain on their budget. (The Great Depression made this problem quite serious. In 2014 it’s widely reported that your chance of getting a job interview is better if you already have a job; in the 1930s, a person who was unemployed long enough to start looking shabby was much less likely to get the same kind of job as the one she had lost.)

Knee-Highs to the RescueLHJ 1936 july p 63 knee high stockings 500 dpi ad

I was surprised to find this advertisement for Holeproof  Knee-Highs in The Ladies’ Home Journal, July 1936. “Most good hosiery counters now feature the original Knee-High by Holeproof. In Chiffon, Service, or Dancing Sheer. See it during National Holeproof Knee-High Week, June 13-20.”

[As the writers of Third Rock from the Sun realized, women like me always regarded our knee high stockings as rather embarrassing. There’s plenty of evidence that a woman slowly removing her stockings can be quite erotic, but slowly removing my knee length sox  – or support pantyhose, for that matter – is the opposite of seductive.]

Nevertheless, with the long dresses of the 1930s, knee length stockings made sense.  When you were standing, the tops wouldn’t show. (Although I don’t think many women flaunted them as they do in the top photo below!) Stockings that never had to bear the strain of being stretched between a metal stocking clasp and a girdle were likely to last much longer. And garters of any kind were not necessary with the new Knee-High.

The development of Lastex – thin threads of rubber encased in fabric –  revolutionized undergarments after 1931, and made a self-supporting knee high stocking possible.

LHJ 1936 july p 63 knee high top 2 pix stockings ad

“. . . Gives the knee-freedom of rolled hosiery in a smartly styled way. . . The self-supporting Holeproof Knee-High. . . . No more garter runs. . . this revolutionary new-type stocking eliminates knee-strain and garter pull. You can bend, twist or kneel without straining your sheerest chiffons. No garter bumps to show ‘neath sheer frocks.” LHJ 1936 july p 63 knee high next 2 pixstockings ad“Air-conditioned knees. If you pursue an active life you’ll find cool comfort in Holeproof Knee-High . . . and amazing economy! With garter runs eliminated, 3 pairs outwear 4 or 5 of long hose. Knit-in ‘Lastex’ garter top keeps stocking trimly in place.”LHJ 1936 july p 63 knee high bottom of ad stockings ad“Full-fashioned silk hosiery (knee-length) with knit-in ‘Lastex’ garters.”

Also Introduced in the 1930s: Peds

Peds Ad in Delineator, July 1934

Peds Ad in Delineator, July 1934

The fine print says “elastic edge” and “non-slip heel.” “Wear PEDS for the beach, sportswear, street wear, around the home.” Peds, which could be worn with shoes while you were cleaning house, etc., were also suggested not just as a replacement for stockings, but as stocking savers: “If wearing stockings, use Peds under or over them! Stops wear and mending.” If your problem was that your toenails wore through your stockings, this might actually work.

Update, 6/29/16: There’s a great post with lots of photos of 1920s rolled stockings with bathing suits at  the Frontline Flapper Vintage blog. Click here.

11 Comments

Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, 1940s-1950s, Corsets, Girdles, Hosiery & Stockings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Vintage Accessories, vintage photographs

“Silver Hair Fashions”: Spring Styles for Older (and Larger) Women, 1931

“Silver Hair Fashions” from Butterick’s Delineator, April 1931

“Silver Hair Fashions” from Butterick’s Delineator, April 1931

Six “Silver Hair Fashions” for April, 19311931 april p silver hair fashions large sizes labeled top

A closer look at Butterick dress patterns # 3812 & 3797 (Top Right and Top Left):

3812 & 3797

3812   OLD IVORY LACE adds the final touch of distinction to this frock of sheer crêpe. There’s graceful movement in every line of the flared skirt, and the frills at the wrist match the self jabot. Choose this in soft rose if you are slim – if not-so-slim, black. For 40, 4 7/8 yards 39-inch georgette. Designed for 34 to 44. [bust] [I do wish the writers at Butterick Publishing had not repeatedly suggested that black was the only sensible color choice for larger women! How about something really daring – like navy?]

3797   PARIS SAYS GRAY and for the woman with silvery hair, nothing could be more flattering. This afternoon frock with vestee of white georgette  has gracefully molded hips and sleeves of three-quarter length. Flared wrapped skirt. For 40, 4 3/4 yards 39-inch silk crêpe; 3/8 yard 39-inch contrast.  Designed for 34 to 48.

Butterick patterns 3806, 3804, 3814, 3810; April 1931 Delineator

Butterick patterns 3806, 3804, 3814, 3810; April 1931 Delineator

3806   ONE-REVERS FASHION  Every line of this frock is either up-and-down or diagonal, creating the illusion of height and slenderness. Gray tweed would be very smart, with a white piqué collar, white gloves, and a matching tweed hat. . . . Designed for 34 to 52. [inch bust]

3804   IF YOU’RE NOT SLIM  This surplice frock with pleats will do amazing things in the way of slenderizing and lending additional height. The pleats are stitched down so that fullness begins just above the knee. Contrasting jabot. . . . Designed for 34 to 48 [inch bust. The “surplice line,” running diagonally across the bodice, was a favorite suggestion for women who wore large sizes in the 1920s, too.]

3814   PLEATS FOR FLATNESS This is the kind of ‘useful frock’ you’ll wear for everything from marketing to motoring and golf. [!] The points on the yoke match the points on the skirt panel, and there are four kick pleats. One-piece back. . . . Designed for 34 to 44 [bust.]

3810   LONG SLIM LINES For anyone inclined to be a bit overweight. The low V neck and diagonal flare of this frock will subtract pounds from the silhouette. Wear it in a print if you like. One-piece from shoulder to hem. . . . Designed for sizes 34 to 52 [inch bust.]

And a Reality Check from Lane Bryant, 1931

Obviously, all six of these dresses for “mature figures” have been illustrated by Butterick as they would appear on an elongated fashion figure, in smallish sizes, even when the pattern is “for anyone inclined to be a bit overweight,” or “not-so-slim.” Numbers 3806 and 3810 go up to size 52, which is several inches larger than a modern Size 24. [I give Butterick credit for realizing — in the 1930s! —  that many women make their own clothes because they have hard-to-fit figures.]

This Lane Bryant catalog advertisement — from the February 1931 Delineator — doesn’t mince words: “For Stout Women and Misses.”

Lane Bryant "Style Book"/Catalog Ad, February 1931

Lane Bryant “Style Book”/Catalog Ad, February 1931

The Lane Bryant  illustrations give a more realistic idea of how a 1931 dress would look on a woman with 48 inch hips and a good corset. The Lane Bryant styles also have that slenderizing, diagonal “surplice line,” even on the coat.

2 Comments

Filed under 1930s, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Sportswear, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Spring Styles for Older (and Larger) Women, February, 1931

On Tuesday night I was going through photos I had taken of Delineator fashions from February, 1931. Someone had removed the February 1931 cover from the bound volume at the library – a shame, because the covers in the 1930s were especially lovely. This is the cover from March, by Dynevor Rhys: (Click image to enlarge)

Delineator Cover for March, 1931, by Dynevor Rhys

Delineator Cover for March, 1931, by Dynevor Rhys

I had found a page of spring fashions for older women, so I was thinking about one of my favorite blogs, American Age Fashion: What American Women Wore, 1900 to Now.  Serendipity:  In the next day’s mail, I received a gift from Lynn at americanagefashion.com: a copy on fabric of the missing February 1931 cover of Delineator! (I haven’t photographed it yet.) In return, here are . . .

Four February Fashions “Charmingly Suited to the Dignity of White Hair”

Butterick patterns "Charmingly Suited to the Dignity of White Hair" from Delineator, February 1931

Butterick patterns “Charmingly Suited to the Dignity of White Hair” from Delineator, February 1931

Back Views

Back Views

This text is typed below — the print here is a bit small!

1931 feb p 106 suited to white hair pattern info

Butterick 3363 & 3697

Butterick 3363 & 3697

3663 FLATTER YOURSELF With a deep ivory lace yoke and a lace jabot on your new black frock, and the result will turn other heads than your own.  A bit more lace is added at the cuffs. The angular line of the skirt yoke is flattering also. Notice the hem; it is at exactly the right place for the smart matron. The frock is designed for sizes 34 to 46. [bust measurement]

3697 IF YOU ARE SLENDER Choose raspberry for this frock – it is a new color with dark coats, and a charming one with white hair. If not slender, choose black with white or flesh chiffon vestee. The belt is slightly below the normal line, and both the long collar and the curved insert with a flare have a one-sided trend. Designed for 34 to 48. [bust measurement]

1931 feb p 106 3681 3675f white hair large top

3681 THE SLIMMEST LINE All the important lines in this frock are diagonals – that’s the clever part of it, for they flatter the mature figure. The straight skirt is shirred  on the diagonal. The bodice has a diagonal closing. A long white collar helps to make one appear thin, and soft flares finish the three-quarter sleeves. The frock is designed for 34 to 52. [inches bust measure]

3675 ONE TYPE OF TUNIC  The flared tunic is broken at the center front and back, so that it will not cut any length from the figure, and both skirt and tunic are joined to the long bodice in scalloped outline, Wear the belt where it suits you best. The flared three-quarter sleeves and lace vestee are flattering. The frock is designed for 34 to 48 [inch bust measurement.] “Wear the belt where it suits you best” — in other words, if you are not ready to give up the low waistline of the 1920s.

Lane Bryant Adds a Touch of Reality

Pattern number 3681 is illustrated as if the model were a little larger than the 1930s ideal. However, the three other models appear to be size 34, not size 48 or 52.  This advertisement for the Lane Bryant catalog (Style Book) for Stout Women is also from February 1931 — and a bit more realistic.  The model appears to be wearing a very good corset, with bust support and hip control. There is still a twenties influence in the low waist (or lack thereof.)

Lane Bryant Ad from Delineator, February 1931

Lane Bryant Ad from Delineator, February 1931

2 Comments

Filed under 1930s, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Zippers Are Good for Your Children: Ad Campaigns from the 1920s and 1930s

Vanta Self-Help Garments Ad, Ladies' Home Journal, Oct. 1936

Vanta Self-Help Garments Ad, Ladies’ Home Journal, Oct. 1936

“Your Child’s First Lesson in Self-Reliance is Self-Dressing”

Talon ZIpper Ad, May 1929, Delineator

“Quick Dressing at Camp or Home Is No Longer a Problem.” Talon Zipper Ad, May 1929, Delineator

In Zipper: An Exploration in Novelty, Robert Friedel attributes the wide-spread adoption of zippers in children’s clothing in the late twenties and early thirties to the relatively new field of child psychology.  Child psychologists and scientific child-rearing experts began to stress the importance of developing self-reliance and self-confidence at an early age, beginning with children dressing themselves.

Why Children Couldn’t Dress Themselves

Traditional clothing for children in the 1920s made it impossible for a young child, especially a boy, to dress himself. Girls were also afflicted with clothes that buttoned up the back, but little boys needed help several times a day.

Two Butterick Patterns for Boys, 1925

Two Butterick Patterns for Boys, 1925

Little Boy in Skirt, late 1800s. Photo courtesy RememberedSummers.wordpress.com

Little Boy in Skirt, late 1800s. Photo courtesy RememberedSummers.wordpress.com

In the 1800s, young boys as well as girls wore skirts until they were well out of diapers.

Pictorial Review pattern, courtesy of RememberedSummers

Pictorial Review pattern, courtesy of RememberedSummers

But in the 1910s and 20s, boys’ pants buttoned to their shirts, in front and back, where buttons were hard to reach. This eliminated the need for suspenders to hold the pants up, but it must have been impossible for most 4 or 5 year old boys to go to the bathroom — and re-dress — without help.

[Click on images to enlarge.]

Children circa 1924, courtesy & copyright RememberedSummers

Children circa 1924, courtesy & copyright RememberedSummers

Educator Ellen Miller, of the innovative Merrill-Palmer school, wrote that clothing for small boys had “an average of more than seventeen buttons” to be fastened, and some of these buttons were unreachable by small arms and hands. [Cited in Zipper, p. 179.] There could be even more buttons:

Leggings, 1920s

Children Wearing Buttoned Leggings, in a Ford Ad, 1924

Children Wearing Buttoned Leggings, in a Ford Ad, 1924

In the winter, boys and girls wore tight over-the-knee leggings fastened with buttons – lots of small buttons, which little fingers couldn’t fasten by themselves. (I count 11 buttons just on the part of the girl’s left legging that we can see.)

Butterick Pattern for Leggings, Oct. 1924

Butterick Pattern for Leggings, Oct. 1924

Winter months must have been a nightmare for kindergarten teachers.

As sales of zippers to B.F. Goodrich for ’Zippers’ brand boots for women tapered off around 1928,  the Hookless Fastener Company [which later became Talon] decided to develop a new market, and contacted the manufacturers of leggings: “When the New York fabric and corduroy manufacturers Hallett and Hackmeyer were persuaded to enter the market themselves, armed with the Talon fastener to make their offerings distinctive, the market turned around with astonishing speed.” By 1931, salesmen trying to set up a window display that would contrast a new zipper legging with an old-fashioned button legging reported that it was impossible to find a button legging for sale anywhere. [Zipper, p. 176]

Child Psychology and Zippers

Vanta Self-Help Baby Clothes Ad, Ladies Home Journal, October 1936

Vanta Self-Help Baby Clothes Ad, Ladies Home Journal, October 1936

I wish I could find an advertisement that says “4 out of 5 psychologists recommend zippers,” but I haven’t, yet. This 1936 ad for Vanta Baby Garments comes close to saying that children who don’t dress themselves will be psychologically damaged [Vanta did not necessarily use zippers] :

“If you keep on dressing your child when he should be learning to dress himself, you may be forming a habit of dependence upon others that he will never quite overcome. So say leading child psychologists and educators….

“Vanta Self-Help garments are designed to teach children to dress themselves when only two years old. They make a happy game of dressing – a game that the child looks forward to each day. But an important game that teaches him to think for himself, act for himself, do for himself. A self-reliant, resourceful, independent character in the making. ”

Vanta advertised that its buttonholes were large enough for little fingers; all clothes buttoned in the front, never in back; and the red, heart-shaped Vanta label was always on the front and on the outside, so children could tell when their clothes were right-side out. “This famous label is your child’s first guiding mark to independence . . . your own key to precious hours saved for recreation!”

Talon Slide-Fastener Ad, May 1929. Delineator.

Talon Slide-Fastener Ad, May 1929. Delineator.

This 1929 advertisement for Talon Slide-Fasteners also cites psychologists:  “Quick Dressing at camp or home is no longer a problem…. Whether for play or work, all the very young men are dressing themselves these days – and, thanks to Talon Slide-Fasteners, getting pleasure out of it. The reason they enjoy it, psychologists will tell you, is because Talon-fastened garments bring the ‘play-spirit’ into operation. Young minds quickly grasp any plan that affects their daily lives, in which the element of fun is involved…. Even a 4-year-old can quickly and easily work the slider-pull of a Talon Slide-Fastener….You can buy children’s Talon-Fastened garments for all occasions, or you can make them at home, using Talon Slide-Fasteners which you can buy at any Notion Counter.”1929 may zipper boys ad btm text

“Think what a help to busy housewives these features provide….”

Manufactured Items Made with Talon Zippers, Bottom of 1929 Ad

Manufactured Items Made with Talon Zippers, Bottom of 1929 Ad

The bottom of the ad pictures a “Girl’s Play Suit; Child’s Sweater; Ladies’ Hand Bag; Duffle Bag; fitted with Talon Slide-Fasteners.” The smallest Talon zipper available in 1929 was still too large for very small children’s clothing, but by 1933 the #3 Talon zipper was becoming widely used. In the early 1930s a Hookless Fastener employee named Jack Keilly took his four-year-old daughter to stores to demonstrate how easily a child could use a zipper.  She was very impressive — but too young to work! — so eventually a movie was made, and department stores spent as much as $100 a week to show it to their customers. By 1936-37, when zippers began appearing in women’s dresses, they already knew how a zipper worked — so simple, a child could do it!

6 Comments

Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, A Costumers' Bookshelf, Accessory Patterns, Children's Vintage styles, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Vintage patterns, vintage photographs, Zippers