Tag Archives: 1940s styles for women

Du Barry Fashions, August 1939

Cover, Du Barry Fashions Prevue store flyer, August 1939. What a hat!

Du Barry patterns were sold by Woolworth’s — we called it the “dime store,” or the “five and ten,” as in the 1931 song lyric, “I found a million dollar baby in a five and ten cent store.” ( Click here to hear it .)

Page 6, Du Barry pattern flyer, Aug. 1939.

Page 5, Du Barry pattern flyer, Aug. 1939.

The Du Barry flyer from August 1939 shows relatively few patterns — but illustrates the same patterns in different “views” on several pages.

Du Barry pattern 2306 was illustrated on page 2 and on page 4 of the August 1939 flyer.

Du Barry pattern 2304B, an “Easily-Made” frock for sizes 12 to 20, appeared on both page 3 and page 5; August 1939.

Here are three versions of the dress featured on the cover, Du Barry pattern 2319.

Du Barry pattern 2319 in yellow, as shown on the cover. Aug. 1939.

“Choose this soft afternoon frock for sheer flattery. Sizes 32 through 42. Slide fastener for side placket 9”. Du Barry 2319B illustrated in a sheer fabric, page 3 of flyer, Aug. 1939.

Earlier dresses with side openings used snaps. By 1939 a slide fastener was mentioned in the pattern description, so side zippers must have been common, but not yet taken for granted with all dresses.

“A soft afternoon dress that is perfect for sheer fabrics.” Du Barry 2319B illustrated in a purple print fabric. Store flyer, page 6, Aug. 1939. Available in sizes 32 through 42 bust measurement. Note the sophisticated expression on the model — she is an adult woman, not a teen.

You can usually tell which designs are aimed at younger women and teens by the faces and illustration style, but the size range — 12 to 18, or 12 to 20 — is also a clue.

“A smart-looking dress and jacket,” Du Barry pattern 2300B, was available for sizes 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18.

“Easily-Made” frock for sizes 12 to 20; Du Barry pattern 2307B from 1939.

“A dress and petticoat ensemble” for younger women and teens, sizes 12 through 20. Du Barry pattern 2318B from Aug. 1939 flyer, illustrated on two pages. “Convenient closing” referred to other dresses, not this one.

Du Barry pattern 2314B is a “jumper frock that will delight the young miss. Sizes 12 to 18.” 1939.

The evening cape with hood accompanies a gown with a “vest-like bodice” for young or small women size 12 to 20. Du Barry pattern 2309B; Aug. 1939 flyer.

Tailored styles like this pink dress ( Du Barry 2316B)  and the sporty pleated one (2311B) were also for sizes 12 through 20. This sizing dates back to the time when patterns for teens and small women were sized by year, rather than by bust measure. (See “Size 16 years. What Does That Mean?”

Right: this pink tailored dress, Du Barry 2316B, is for teens and small women, sizes 12 to 20.

It could be made with a zipper front closing instead of buttons, as shown in white with red stitching (Scroll  down.)

Left, “A tailored dress designed for comfort. Stitched pleats are an added feature.” Du Barry pattern 2311B, store flyer, Aug. 1939. Sizes 12 to 20.

The Du Barry/Woolworth’s pattern flyers also contained ads for other products, from chewing gum to sanitary belts.

DuBarry pattern 2305B appeared twice on page 5 — once in an ad for Wrigley’s Doublemint Gum.

“Du Barry Patterns are 10 Cents Each — for sale exclusively by F. W. Woolworth Co.”

Du Barry 2305B was available in sizes 12 through 20 and for women bust sizes 30 to 38 inches. 1939. A tie in back ensures a snug fit.

I was pleased to see so many dresses made with visible zippers — a style introduced by Parisian designers in 1936-37. (This is mentioned briefly in Robert Friedel’s book, Zipper: An Exploration in Novelty.)

Du Barry pattern 2313 B illustrated with a slide fastener down the front and trimmed with parallel rows of top-stitching. August 1939 store flyer, p. 6. Sizes 14, 16, 18, 20 and 40.

“Attractive and trim for mornings at home,” Du Barry housecoat pattern 2317B from 1939 has a zipper front closing.

[Schiaparelli is usually credited with being the first, but that’s not strictly accurate. One Butterick pattern with both practical and decorative zippers appeared in 1928. Schiaparelli did encourage the manufacture of colored plastic zippers.]

“Convenient closings with slide fasteners” were featured on DuBarry patterns 2313B (again) and 2316B, from 1939. Page 7 of store flyer.

Is it possible that DuBarry patterns with zipper closings were featured because the same flyer contained this Talon ad?

An advertisement for Talon slide fasteners from a Woolworth’s Du Barry store flyer, Aug. 1939, p. 7. “For decorative purposes — ask for the TALON plastic fastener.”

Although in common use, the word “zipper” technically belonged to the B.F. Goodrich company. (See Flappers, Galoshes, and Zippers for more about the history of the slide fastener.)

My mother still wore a long housecoat very much like this one in 1947 or so; hers was a large floral print in blue seersucker, without a collar. It had these sleeves, but it zipped down the front.

Du Barry housecoat pattern 2317 was shown in two versions, on two different pages. Aug. 1939.

(I call this blog “witness2fashion” because I saw clothes like this being worn.)

 

 

 

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Filed under 1930s, 1930s-1940s, Hats, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Purses, Vintage Accessories, Vintage patterns, Zippers

Sized to Height Patterns from Butterick, 1948

The July 1948, cover of Butterick Fashion News was still introducing a new product: "Special" patterns for shorter women.

The July 1948, cover of Butterick Fashion News was still introducing a new product: “Special” patterns for shorter women.

I happen to have a group of Butterick Fashion News Flyers from 1948. For several months, “Sized to Height” patterns, or “Special Patterns,” were featured as an innovation which still needed some explanation. The February issue explained the concept several times.

Front cover of Butterick Fashion News, Feb. 1948. The suit on the left, No. 4422, was available in short and average patterns.

Front cover of Butterick Fashion News, Feb. 1948. The suit on the left, No. 4422, was available in both short and standard pattern sizes.

I don’t have a complete, consecutive run — just February, March, July and August of 1948 — but this “Special Patterns” or “Sized to Height” box appears on all four covers. (What I Found has a copy from 1947; that cover also mentions “shorter length” patterns.)

Special patterns for shorter women information box. Cover of Butterick Fashion News, February 1948.

Special patterns for shorter women, information box. Cover of Butterick Fashion News, February 1948.

Further explanation and examples appeared on facing pages 2 and 3.

Pages 2 & 3 featured patterns which could be ordered in sizes for women under 5' 5". BFN, Feb. 1948.

Pages 2 & 3 featured patterns which could be ordered in sizes for women under 5′ 5″. BFN, Feb. 1948.

If the pattern was available in both standard and shorter sizes, customers could order the shorter one by putting an “S” after the pattern number.

Page 3, BFN, Feb. 1948. These patterns for shorter women were described on page 2.

Page 3, BFN, Feb. 1948. These patterns for shorter women were described on (facing) page 2.

Here is the explanatory text from the top of page 2:

Text from top of page 2, BFN Feb. 1948.

Text from top of page 2, BFN Feb. 1948. “Special length … patterns are one inch shorter from neckline to waistline.”

Short pattern purchasing information, bottom of page 2, BFN, Feb. 1948.

Short pattern purchasing information, bottom of page 2, BFN, Feb. 1948.

Special Length patterns were shortened from the waist up, and were not aimed at stout or older women. (If the skirts were also proportionally shortened, Butterick didn’t mention it here.) Some of these patterns were illustrated twice in the same issue, once with the number followed by “S” and once as standard sized patterns. Starred numbers were available in both versions.

Butterick 4424 pattern for a suit with fitted jacket, available in average or short versions. Feb. 1948.

Butterick 4424 pattern for a suit with fitted jacket, available in standard  or short versions. Feb. 1948.

Butterick 4422; its hip-widening peplum shows "New Look" influence.

Butterick 4422; its hip-widening peplum shows “New Look” influence. Feb. 1948.

Both pink dresses are pattern 4419, in Average and shorter sizes.

More “New Look” influence. Both pink dresses are pattern 4419, in standard and shorter sizes. (The model looks long-waisted in both illustrations.) Center, Butterick 4431; perhaps its complex bodice design made it unsuitable for a shorter version.

I don’t know why dresses for larger women, like those on page six, below, were only aimed at women over 5′ 5″ in 1948.

Dresses for mature or large women, available to size 46. (The gray one was available up to size 50.) Shorter versions of these patterns were not mentioned. Feb. 1948.

Dresses for mature or large women, available to size 46. (The gray one was available up to size 50.) Shorter versions of these patterns were apparently not available. Feb. 1948.

It’s a mystery to me why a pattern company like Butterick did not always capitalize on the fact that many women — especially mature women — are both short and “stout.” You would think that women who are not standard sizes would be a perfect niche market for specially sized sewing patterns, but that isn’t the case here.  (Lynn at American Age Fashion has written about the development of “half-size” dresses and patterns several times.)

Butterick did sell such patterns earlier.  In the nineteen thirties,  Butterick had issued some patterns for “shorter women with larger hips.” In her History of the Paper Pattern Industry, Joy Spanabel Emery shows Companion-Butterick pattern No. 7586, from 1937; it is a “Frock for Shorter Women of Larger Hip.” See it at the Commercial Pattern Archive by clicking here. Another from BFN in 1937 was Butterick 7647, the gray dress shown below: dec 1937 BFn numbered no faces 500

Another pattern for Shorter Women of Larger Hip (No. 8014) was shown in the BFN for August 1938. I don’t have a complete run of Butterick Fashion News, but the idea of patterns for shorter women with larger hips appeared at least as early as February, 1933 (Butterick 4883.) See “Clothes for Clubwomen.” 

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/1933-feb-p-77-text-4883-shorter-figure-large.jpg?w=500

I find them as late as Feb. 1940 (Butterick 8790) in my very limited collection.

I haven’t found that phrase in my 1948 flyers, however.

Some of the 1948 dresses on page 7 came in either standard or “special” versions; the text at the bottom of the page taught  customers how to order:

Page 7, Butterick Fashion News, Feb. 1948.

Page 7, Butterick Fashion News, Feb. 1948. A Star next to the number meant that the pattern could be ordered in short or standard versions.

Text, bottom of page 7. BFN Feb. 1948.

Text, bottom of page 7. BFN Feb. 1948.

Perhaps the “S” stood for “Special,” but I suspect that customers thought it meant “Short.”

In July, 1948, Butterick used the word “Petite” to describe these patterns. The expression may well have appeared earlier, but it’s the first time I’ve noticed it applied to Butterick patterns — so far. It’s definitely an improvement over “Special.” Too bad they didn’t think of it in time to indicate these patterns with a “P” instead of an “S.”

Butte4rick Patterns for "Petite" women, Butterick News Flyer, July 1948.

Butterick Patterns for “Petite” women, Butterick News Flyer, July 1948.

Incidentally, it seems incredible to me that for decades Butterick assumed its average customer was 5′ 5″ or over, even in the nineteen twenties, when some of the most glamorous women in Hollywood were tiny:  Gloria Swanson was 5′ 1″. Clara Bow was 5′ 3 1/2″. “Little Mary” Pickford was just over five feet. Louise Brooks? 5′ 2″. Pola Negri? Five feet exactly. Greta Garbo was considered tall — and criticized for her wide hips and big feet — at five foot seven and a half. In the 1920’s Butterick patterns for “small women” were literally small — maximum bust about 37″ — when the normal pattern run fit sizes up to 44″ bust, with some patterns available up to size 52.

There is a great essay (with charts) about pattern sizing here; a chart from a very flawed government study shows that the average American woman was 5′ 3″ in 1937.

After World War II, more statistics were available and led to more specialized pattern sizing. The excellent Midvale Cottage blog (which I just discovered) says that Butterick introduced half sizes (for women under 5′ 5″ who were shorter-waisted and larger in the waist and hip) in 1949. Click here for her history of 1940’s pattern sizing.

I’ll share  more fashions from 1948 in later posts. [As often happens, when I started this post, I didn’t remember Butterick’s Shorter/Larger patterns from the 1930’s — even though I had mentioned them in other posts. As a result of proofreading and checking facts, this post kept getting longer…. Caution:  my sample of Butterick flyers is hardly conclusive for real scholarship — Just full of interesting things to share.]

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Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s-1940s, 1940s-1950s, Companion-Butterick Patterns, Resources for Costumers, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

When Pantsuits Were “Slacks Suits:” 1938, 1940, 1948

Play dresses and a pants suit, Butterick Fashion News flyer, March 1938.

Beach wear and a pants suit, Butterick Fashion News flyer, March 1938.

All the “pant suits” for women —  actually trousers with matching jackets (called slacks suits) —  in this post are from Butterick Fashion News flyers, given away for free in pattern stores. Trousers with matching jackets for women are always shown with other resort wear or beach wear, as in the illustration above.

Butterick 7756

Butterick 7736, March 1938.

Butterick 7756, March 1938. Pattern for slacks, jacket and shirt, sizes 12 to 20 and 30 to 40 inches bust.

This trim jacket would also look at home with a skirt; sharkskin fabric was recommended. The cuffed trousers have full, straight legs.

Butterick 7796

Butterick pants suit 8796, February 1940.

Butterick (pantsuit) slacks suit 8796, February 1940.

To be worn “where it’s fair and warmer,” this mannish chalk-striped trouser suit is shown with very broad shoulders and casual sandals — and painted toenails. The evening gown on the right, Butterick 8798, is shown with a snood on the model’s hair — possibly the influence of 1939’s blockbuster movie, Gone with the Wind.

“With the increasing approval given to slacks by fashionable women everywhere, you can wear the pants in the family.  These have a band with suspenders attached (optional) and a fitted, classic tailored jacket. Sizes 12 to 20 and bust 30 to 42 inches.” Flannel (i.e., wool flannel) was the recommended fabric.

Butterick 4458

Butterick slack suit with optional long shorts. March 1948.

Butterick “slacks suit” # 4458 with optional long shorts. March 1948.

The waist is nipped in with eight darts, and the slacks are narrower in this post-war, New Look-era suit. The model on the right has a bicycle, but these are called “long shorts,” not “pedalpushers.”

This ensemble was the centerfold in a two page spread of “sun fashions for resort wear.”

Butterick Fashion Newsflyer, March 1948.

Butterick Fashion News flyer, March 1948.

The “sea sprite” bare-midriff bathing suit (top left) has shorts that draw up on the sides, probably inspired by Claire McCardell’s Pantung Loincloth swimsuit of 1946.

Again, it’s clear that these trouser suits are not to be worn in the city, nor to restaurants except in resorts. (There’s a story that Marlene Dietrich, refused admission to a city restaurant because she was wearing a suit with trousers, simply stepped out of them and was escorted to a table wearing only her jacket. Well, she had famously great legs. . . .)

Butterick 8454 trousers

Butterick trouser pattern , July 1939.

Butterick trouser pattern #8454 , July 1939. The playsuit to the left is a different pattern, #8475, as is dress #8494, on the lower right.

These long, full-legged and high-waisted trousers evoke Katharine Hepburn, and come back into fashion every once in a while. When they do, I always buy a pair!

“The pattern includes long and short-sleeved shirt, and slacks, and a culotte, to scramble as you choose. Junior Miss sizes 12 to 20, 30 to 38.”

Sadly, the culottes are not illustrated.

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Filed under 1930s, 1930s-1940s, 1940s-1950s, Bathing Suits, Shoes, Sportswear, Swimsuits, Vintage patterns, Women in Trousers