Tag Archives: 1940s fashions styles clothing for women girls

Peasant Blouses, 1940’s to 1950’s

McCall pattern 1254 for a Mexican-influenced embroidered peasant blouse. Circa 1945, illustrated in May 1950 needlework catalog.

When full, puffy sleeves returned to fashion in the late 1930’s, the “peasant blouse” reappeared. This Hollywood pattern from the Commercial Pattern Archive for a peasant blouse is from 1938.

A “Tyrolean ski suit” available in stores in January, 1936. Woman’s Home Companion, p. 55.

A “yodeler” type hat. December 1937, WHC. Note “the gay embroidery on the mittens.”

A “Yodel Apron” featured in July, 1937. WHC. “Go very Swiss-peasant….”

“Tyrolean” hats, ski clothes, and embroidery were briefly popular in the late thirties, until WW II tainted anything German or Austrian for U.S. consumers.

“The Peasant Note is Popular:” A “Swedish” embroidered headscarf, a “Carnaval” apron (over a peasant style blouse), and a “Tyrolean” knitting bag. Woman’s Home Companion, December 1937.

Wool embroidery decorated this Companion-Butterick Triad pattern for schoolgirls.

Left, yarn embroidery adds “Peasant” chic to Butterick pattern 7589 for girls 8 to 15. WHC, October 1937.

The difficulties of travel during the Second World War led many Americans to seek sunshine and a complete change of scene in Mexico, resulting in a fashion influence which lasted for several years after the war. I have already written about Mexican embroidered jackets

McCall "Mexican" coat pattern #1399, May 1950.

…and “Russian” blouses.  A Mexican blouse pattern, McCall 990, at CoPA, dates to 1942.

McCall peasant blouse pattern 1385, from a 1950 Needlework catalog, has “heavily Mexican” embroidery.

Some peasant blouses incorporated smocking and embroidery:

McCall “fiesta-mood” peasant blouse pattern 1317, from about 1947. The illustration is from a 1950 catalog.

The smocking resembles the pattern on this blouse:

McCall pattern 1221 for a smocked blouse. This image is from the Dec. 1946 catalog, but the pattern dates to 1945.

This smocking pattern, 1315, was featured in the same issue as the “fiesta-mood” blouse, pattern 1317 :

McCall smocking pattern 1315. Circa 1947.

Detail of McCall 1315.

Detail, McCall 1315.

For those who were willing to embroider a blouse, but not to smock it, McCall 1386 offered the option of shirring the blouse and applying very fine rickrack to imitate smocking.

McCall 1386, a peasant blouse that could be smocked… or not.

Detail of rickrack on McCall Mexican blouse pattern 1386. Circa 1947.

We tend to think of 1947 dominated by Dior’s New Look, but comfortable, unstuctured casual clothing was still popular in the pattern books.

Smocking continued to be associated with high-end clothing for girls. So did the peasant look:

McCall 1255, circa 1945, is a smocked and cross-stitched peasant dress for a little girl. “The cross-stitch is optional but very “peasanty.’ “

I went looking for a forties’ photo of my mother in a peasant blouse and found a “twofer:”  She’s wearing a peasant blouse and skirt, and I am wearing a smocked dress!

American woman in a simple peasant blouse and skirt, with toddler in a smocked dress. Circa 1947.

Although this 1950’s pattern for children is not “peasanty,” it can be smocked.

 

Artists’ smocks for girls and boys. McCall 1402, illustrated in May 1950. [I could live in that blue outfit, in a grown-up size!]

In fact, McCall 1402 actually is a smock — a painter’s smock — which reminds us that embroidered smocks were originally worn for work by shepherds and country folks — peasants.

A group of country gossips. Punch cartoon from The Way to Wear’em.

 

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under 1930s-1940s, 1940s-1950s, Children's Vintage styles, Companion-Butterick Patterns, Sportswear, Uniforms and Work Clothes

Simple, Glitzy Tops from the 1940s

A variety of McCall patterns from the 1940's showed glittering trim on simple tops.

A variety of McCall patterns from the 1940’s showed glittering trim on simple tops.

In the forties, McCall offered several patterns for simple tops which could be raised to evening wear status with sequins or beading. “Afternoon-evening” style implied a fashion that could be worn for dates when combined with your daytime business suit; a simple change of blouse and the working woman or traveler was ready for cocktails, dinner, and dancing.

McCall 1192 had an attractive back, too. The cap shoulders are a style that returns periodically.

McCall 1192 had a decorated back, too. The cap shoulders are a style that returns periodically. “Just two pieces to this blouse.”

No. 1192, from 1945, was still featured in the needlework catalog for May, 1950. It included an embroidery transfer and  instructions for applying the sequins one at a time, although you could also purchase strands of sequins by the yard.

How to stitch sequins or do a decorative embroidery stitch. McCall 1192.

How to stitch sequins or do a decorative embroidery stitch. McCall 1192.

You could also work it in bugle beads, or in six-strand cotton embroidery thread “for a  more restrained effect.” A simple chainstitch was also recommended. Most of the ornamentation would be done before before sewing the side seams.

Description of McCall 1192.

Description of McCall 1192. Embroidery transfers came in blue, for visibility on most light colors, or yellow, for use on dark colors.

McCall pattern 1283, from a 1946 catalog. The blouse is simple, but the sequin trim is glamorous.

McCall pattern 1283, from 1946. The blouse is simple, but the sequin trim is glamorous. Making a long skirt in matching fabric would give you an “evening gown” that could be varied with other tops.

The rows of sequins suggest necklaces. The sash seems to be attached in the back, and brought around to tie in front. [If I were making this blouse, I’d add more fabric to keep it tucked in at the waist.]

McCall 1283, circa 1946. A handbag pattern was included.

McCall 1283, circa 1946. A handbag pattern was included. “For daytime wear, trim with fine rickrack and wear under suit jackets. One of the ‘musts’ for that special weekend or vacation and so easy to pack.”

There was a time when a lady did not wear sequins in the daytime. However, late afternoon and the cocktail hour permitted a bit of sparkle.

Witness to Fashion note:  The wearing of metallic fabrics, rhinestone-studded clothing, and sequins during daylight hours was only beginning to be acceptable in the early 1970’s. I remember walking to breakfast with my husband in Hollywood one morning about nine; a woman passed us wearing tight jeans, high wooden platform heels, and a strapless sequinned stretch top, called a tube top. “Was she — or wasn’t she — a prostitute?” I asked to my spouse, figuring a man might pick up signals I was missing.  He looked utterly bewildered when he admitted, “I don’t know!” A few years earlier, we would have had no doubts.

Many forties’ dresses for late afternoon and evening have subtle sequin trim; some are not so subtle.

Vintage black dress with black sequin trim, 1940s. (It photographed navy, but it was black.)

Vintage black dress with black sequin trim, 1940s. (It photographed navy.)

500-v175-dress-front

A short forties’ party dress trimmed with green sequins and cream-colored seed beads. [A black petticoat visible near the hem is not part of the dress.]

Detail: a spray of flowers made from sequins on a vintage dress.

Detail: a spray of flowers made from sequins and beads on a vintage dress.

Black vintage dress with a sunburst of beads.

Black vintage dress with a “necklace” and sunburst of sequins.

Another late forties detail:  This blouse has beading around the neckline, suggesting a necklace.

McCall transfer No. 1408 used beading to transform a very simple blouse into a sparkling one. You wouldn't need to carry jewelry if you packed a blouse like this.

McCall transfer No. 1408 used beading to transform a very simple blouse into a sparkling one. You wouldn’t need to carry  jewelry on vacation if you packed a blouse like this.

1408-may50-p-37-text-only-bead-necklace-on-blouse

Using an embroidery hoop,  organza, tissue, (or modern tear-away stabilizer) to keep the fabric from stretching makes applying these trims easier.

In 1950 you could choose among several neckline beading designs:  a bow, a pendant, etc.

More neckline beading designs from McCall. Pattern 1491.

More neckline beading designs from McCall. Pattern 1491.

A bow on your shoulder of a "brooch" could also trim your dress or suit jacket. McCall 1491.

A bow on your shoulder or a beaded “brooch” could also trim your dress or suit jacket. McCall 1491.

More beading patterns for blouses, dresses and suits. McCall pattern 1314.

More beading patterns for blouses, dresses and suits. McCall pattern 1314. (From 1947.)

Gold or iridescent beads were available, but many of these patterns were used very subtly, in black on black, bronze on brown, blue on blue, etc. The square pattern below would turn a simple wool crepe suit into an elegant one, if you worked it in beads or shiny thread on the pockets.

A square beading pattern like this would be subtle in black beads on a black suit jacket. Variations could be used on the neckline of a wool dress or the collar of a suit jacket. McCall 1314.

A square beading pattern like this would be subtle in black beads on a black suit jacket. Variations could be used on the neckline of a wool dress or the collar of a suit jacket. McCall 1314.

If you’re tempted to make a dressy forties’ blouse, remember how often sparkle was added to day-into-night clothing. Pick a simple style, and let the ornamentation supply the sophistication.

McCall 1404: simple linger sleeved blouses embellished with rays of sequins at the neck.

McCall 1404: simple longer-sleeved blouses embellished with glittering rays at the neck. Late forties.

1404-may50-p-36-long-sleeve-bouuse-with-rays-of-sequins-around-neckline-text626

McCall 1293 for a vestee, a timeless halter top, a hat and a bag.

McCall 1293 included a vestee, a timeless halter top, a hat and a bag. Dated 1946.

Picture that 1940’s halter with evening trousers or a short lace skirt; if you found it in a thrift store, would it scream “1946” to you?

McCall 1293.

McCall 1293 included this Juliet cap and evening bag. This cap would not work over high forties’ hairstyles, but was perfect over a close-to-the-head fifties’ cut.

A sequinned monogram on a blouse or dress was also worn by many — although I wonder whether monogrammed gifts are always appreciated by the recipient….

McCall transfer pattern 1339 supplied 5 inch high initials to work in sequins or embroidery thread.

McCall transfer pattern 1339 supplied 5 inch high initials to work in sequins or embroidery thread. (1947) Swing, anyone?

If you like the idea of adding sparkle, but not too much, consider an applique. I used to own several forties’ dresses which had bodice (and sometimes skirt) appliques of flowers — cut from printed material — and outlined or delicately accented with sequins. This dress does not have sequins, but a few on the appliqued tulip — clear or matching the colors — wouldn’t be out of period.

This vintage dress has a solid rayon crepe bodice, a floral printed crepe skirt, and one motif -- a tulip -- from the skirt fabric appliqued to the bodice. A few sequins on that tulip would be fine.

This vintage dress has a solid rayon crepe bodice, a floral printed crepe skirt, and one motif — a tulip — from the skirt fabric appliqued to the bodice. A few sequins on that tulip would be fine.

Obviously, this mannequin was too small for the dress; the flared, bias-cut skirt should hang from the natural waistline. A narrow self-belt probably accompanied this dress, but has been lost.

It’s not too late to make your forties’ style  holiday party blouse or dress!

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under 1940s-1950s, bags, Dresses, Hairstyles, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Purses, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing, Vintage patterns

What’s Cooking? Holiday Aprons, Mostly from the 1940’s

Holiday party aprons for little girls, McCall pattern 1281, from a needlework catalog for December 1946.

Holiday party aprons for little girls, McCall pattern 1281, from a needlework catalog for December 1946.

Back in the mid-twentieth century, before women wore casual slacks or jeans to do housework, the apron was a useful, and often elaborate, handmade gift. Aprons were not included in the rule that gifts of clothing were too intimate for anyone but family members. Pattern catalogs and women’s magazines usually featured apron patterns in November and December;  in my parents’ home, one sign that Christmas was approaching was the making of pajamas and aprons.

Holiday Aprons" from Woman's Home Companion, December 1937. Companion-Butterick pattern No. 7652.

“Holiday Aprons” from Woman’s Home Companion, December 1937. Companion-Butterick pattern No. 7652.

The elaborate backs of these aprons may be surprising to those of us who are used to modern, store-bought, unisex aprons. These were serious aprons that protected your dress.

Back views and text for Companion-Butterick apron pattern 7652. Dec, 1937.

Back views and text for Companion-Butterick apron pattern 7652. Dec., 1937. “Triad” meant three designs in one envelope.

This unisex apron set from 1950 shows the basic outline of inexpensive, utilitarian aprons like the ones in my kitchen today; in 1950 they were called “barbecue” aprons, and the idea of a man cooking and wearing an apron at home was no longer just a joke — although the gift aprons were often intended to be humorous.

His and Hers barbeque aprons. McCall pattern circa 1950.

His and Hers barbecue aprons. McCall pattern 1515, circa 1950.

This apron set, found in a McCall Needlework catalog from May, 1950, has elaborate appliques, and would probably have been intended as a gift set — made for a friend, or newlyweds, or intended to be sold at a charity bazaar.

Making aprons to sell at fundraisers is an old tradition. The Ladies’ Home Journal suggested making these aprons for a fundraiser during WW I:

Aprons to make for a Charity Bazaar; Ladies' Home Journal, October 1917.

Aprons to make for a Charity Bazaar; Ladies’ Home Journal, October 1917. (In 1917, some skirts also had a ruffle at the waist.) Many women still wore “pinner” aprons, without straps, like those at right.

Of course, when women made aprons for themselves, they might prefer a simple shape, bound in bias tape

Two versions of Butterick apron pattern 6874, from 1926.

Two versions of Butterick apron pattern 6874, from 1926.

… but frilly, sometimes silly, labor-intensive aprons were a staple of holiday gift-making.

McCall called this a "little girl look" apron. Needlework catalog, Dec. 1946.

McCall called this a “little girl look” apron. Pattern 917, McCall Needlework catalog, Dec. 1946, but first issued in 1941. [I can picture June Allyson in this one.]

You can see the pattern piece shapes for No. 917 from a copy in the CoPA collection; click here.

Aprons like the ones below, often decorated half-aprons, were called “cocktail aprons” or “bridge aprons,” [for hosting card parties] and were worn while entertaining, not cooking or washing dishes.

Apron decorated with sequinned hearts. McCall 1278, from a 1946 needlework catalog.

Apron decorated with sequinned hearts. McCall 1278, from a 1946 needlework catalog. I have also seen aprons with sequinned martini glasses on them….

Simplicity aprons No. 1805, dated 1956. Starching and ironing those ruffles would be time consuming.

Simplicity apron No. 1805, dated 1956. Starching and ironing those ruffles would be time consuming.

This dress, McCall 1312, made from sheer fabrics, might be a gift to a bride. It was a fantasy of housework.

This apron, McCall 1312, made from sheer fabrics and delicately appliqued, might be a gift to a bride. It evokes a fantasy of housework, unrelated to reality. 1950 needlework catalog.

I suspect that many fancy aprons were re-gifted and never worn (probably why so many delicate aprons survive in vintage collections.)

This one, decorated with Scottie dogs, is my virtual gift to The Vintage Traveler.

McCall Scottie dog apron, circa 1950.

McCall Scottie dog apron, before 1950. I prefer the version on the right.

Aprons and Sewing Classes

Many girls and women made aprons while learning to sew. A simple half apron was well within the abilities of elementary school students, and many a proud mother must have received an apron — far too pretty to wear — for Christmas, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, etc.

McCall apron 1096 -- probably a Valentine gift. From a 1946 needle work catalog.

McCall apron 1096 — an appropriate Valentine gift. Photographed from a 1946 needle work catalog, but it dates to 1943.

Simplicity aprons from 1956, pattern No. 1789.

Simplicity aprons from 1956, pattern No. 1789. Even a beginner could make version 4, or apply rickrack, as in version 3.

A Super-Successful Apron Pattern

I found three McCall needlework catalogs (1946 to 1950) at an estate sale; some apron patterns were so successful that they appeared year after year, so a three-digit pattern number is often an indication that the pattern pre-dates 1946. This one first appeared in 1941 and was still in the catalog for November, 1950 — nine years later.

McCall pattern 884, called the "Necktie" apron dates to 1941 and was still being offered in 1950.

McCall pattern 884, called the “Necktie” apron dates to 1941 and was still being offered in 1950 –and, possibly, later.

The Necktie apron — cut in many sections — had to be folded to be ironed correctly:

Necktie apron, McCall 884. It is shown folded for ironing at the left.

Necktie apron, McCall 884. It is shown folded for ironing at the left.

Necktie apron description form 1946 catalog.

Necktie apron description from 1946 catalog. Rickrack trim was applied behind its edges, so that only half the trim was visible. Other designs used rickrack more obviously:

Rickrack was applied to the top sides of these aprons, McCall 987, from 1942.

Rickrack was applied to the outsides of these aprons, McCall 987, from 1942. The tassels would be rather impractical.

Mother-Daughter Aprons

In the post-war period it was generally assumed that little girls wanted to grow up to be housewives, just like their Mommies. You could buy identical apron patterns for children and women, like these:

McCall apron pattern 1532, for women. May 1950 needlework catalog.

McCall apron pattern 1532, for women. May 1950 needlework catalog.

Child's version of McCall 1532 was McCall 1533.

The child’s version of McCall 1532 was McCall 1533.

This Butterflies apron was also available in a child's version. (From 1946)

This Butterflies apron was also available in a child’s version. (From 1946) McCall No. 1257.

A Daughter (or little sister) version of the Butterflies apron was McCall 1258.

A daughter (or little sister) version of the Butterflies apron was McCall 1258.

Once upon a time, little girls wore dresses all day, and protected them with aprons or pinafores. Women also expected a practical apron to protect their dresses from cooking spatters and laundry suds; except for their elaborate embroidery or appliques, these aprons would do the trick:

McCall 1209 covered most of the dress,

McCall apron No. 1209 covered most of the dress. 1940s.

Kitchen pet of the career girl -- this young apron ... completely covers the dress. Pinafore ruffles give the smart broad-shouldered look." McCall 1135.

“Kitchen pet of the career girl — this young apron … completely covers the dress. Pinafore ruffles give the smart broad-shouldered look.” McCall 1135. Circa 1945.

The apron below is really unusual — but I’ll save the other aprons with novelty pockets for another day!

A tulip forms a novelty pocket on this unusual, fasten-in-front apron. McCall 1403, from 1948.

A tulip forms a novelty pocket on this unusual, fasten-in-front apron. McCall 1403, from 1948.

Although it looks complex, this apron would lie completely flat for ironing — more practical than it looks.

1403-m50-p-44-text-tulip-novelty-pocket-front-tie-waist-coverall593

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you’re inspired to cook up something delightful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Comments

Filed under 1920s, 1930s, 1930s-1940s, 1940s-1950s, Accessory Patterns, Children's Vintage styles, Companion-Butterick Patterns, Menswear, Uniforms and Work Clothes, Vintage patterns, World War I