Tag Archives: 1950s fashions styles clothing

Asian-Influenced Maternity Pattern, 1956

This chic maternity pattern appeared in the Butterick Fashion News store flyer in June, 1956.

Butterick 7795, a maternity pattern from June, 1956. Available in three versions.

[I apologize for the poor quality photos — my new computer won’t run my old photo program!]

Pattern description for Butterick 7795, from 1956.

The sleeveless version of Butterick 7795 was illustrated in pale green. The dress at left was for “Expecting company.”

The “Party time” version was a skirt and blouse with three-quarter sleeves and side slits; brocade material was recommended.

A glamorous Asian-influenced brocade maternity outfit for parties. 1956.

These 1950’s outfits — which assume that the mother-to-be will lead a normal life, entertaining, shopping, attending parties — are a refreshing contrast to the attitude of previous decades, which suggested that pregnancy should be concealed as long as possible, and that a pregnant woman should try not to attract attention in public. (See Who Would Ever Guess? (1930’s), Some Maternity Clothes of the 1920’s and 1930’s, and Maternity Fashions for December 1942, etc.)

1934 march p 80 lane bryant maternity catalog

“Designed to conceal condition,” 1934.

I remember the maternity fashions of my own childhood, the fifties, as being pretty — and making the wearer look pretty, too — distinct from the tight-waisted dresses of those days, but available in many versions, from “suitable for church” to “picnic in the back yard,” which included trousers instead of the narrow pencil skirts worn in public. (Trousers were strictly casual — not for school or PTA meetings.) This McCall pattern is from 1959.

McCall maternity pattern 4936, dated 1959. A pencil skirt, tapered “Capri” pants, and Bermuda shorts were included.

Back of pattern envelope, McCall 4936. From 1959. The “kangaroo” front of the pencil skirt and the waist of the trousers are adjustable.

There is no nonsense about concealing pregnancy in these fifties’ outfits. Hooray!

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Filed under 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, Maternity clothes, Sportswear, Vintage patterns, Women in Trousers

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

Online Collections: Creators Studios, 1950’s to 1970’s

1957 dress with piping trim from Creator Studios collection at NYPL

1957 outfit with piping trim from Creators Studios collection at NYPL. “Sports Separates;” is this a two-piece outfit? There are no seams or darts shown on the top, so the company that bought the design would have to figure out how to make it.

A while ago, I wrote about The New York Public Library’s Digital Collection of design sketches from the Andre Studio, which included sketches of couture from the 1930’s, along with many designs generated for sale to clothing manufacturers in the U.S.  You can read about that collection of designs, the Andre collection from the 1930’s, here.]

1960's design from Creator Studios; A three piece outfit.

1960’s design from Creators Studios; a three piece outfit in solid and tweed knit — sleeveless top, jacket, and miniskirt. Colored tights and low-heeled shoes were very popular accessories n the sixties.

The archives at NYPL include another studio that generated sketches for the use of clothing manufacturers — Creators Studios [no apostrophe] — active from the 1950’s to the 1970’s. Over a thousand Creators Studios sketches from the 1950’s and 1960’s have been digitized and can be viewed at

http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/collections/creators-studios-fashion-illustrations#/?tab=about

Full skirted plaid dress design from Creator Studios, 1957. NYPL digital collections.

Full skirted plaid dress design from Creators Studios, 1957. NYPL digital collections.

Creators Studios Costume Sketches from the 1950’s and 1960’s

“This is a collection of 8425 fashion design drawings produced by Creators Studios, a New York City Seventh Avenue fashion business that marketed ready-to-wear designs to clothing manufacturers across the country on a subscription basis, beginning in 1957 and throughout the 1960s and 1970s.” If you go to the site’s Navigation page, you can select sketches to view by decade or by “eveningwear” or “1960’s youth”. Click here.

A design for a bouffant "Bubble dress" by Creators Studios, 1957. NYPL Digital Collections.

A design for a bouffant “Bubble dress” by Creators Studios, 1957. NYPL Digital Collections.

Dresses like this bubble dress had crinolines built in, between the inner, tightly fitted layer, and the full outer layer. They took up a lot of room in closets and on sales racks, and, once crushed, never really looked the same….

"Suit with zipper front and double breasted effect." 1963. Creators Studios at NYPL Digital Collections.

“Suit with zipper front and double breasted effect.” 1963. Creators Studios at NYPL Digital Collections. Not surprisingly, that hat style was called a “flower pot.”

These are clothes intended to be mass-produced, with variations, so the collection should be of interest to vintage collectors; it can be sorted by “date created.” (It sorts with the most recent dates first, however, so you may prefer to use the Navigation page.) As a way to skim through a decade getting a general look, collections like these are very useful. It’s also interesting to see how the style of drawing changed between the fifties and the the late sixties.

Sketch of a plaid sheath dress, Creators Studios, 1957. NYPL digital collections.

Sketch of a plaid “bib” dress, Creators Studios, 1957. NYPL digital collections.

About ten years later, the attitudes, the fashions, and the illustration style have all changed.

Sketch of a plaid dress design from Creators Studios, late 1960's. NYPL Digital Collections.

Sketch of a checked dress from Creators Studios, late 1960’s. NYPL Digital Collections. This design would have been suitable for knit fabrics.

This evening design from the 1960’s shows manufacturers two options:  the same dress in cocktail or full length.

1960's evening dress in two lengths, from Creator's Studios. NYPL Digital Collections.

1960’s evening dress in two lengths, from Creator’s Studios. NYPL Digital Collections. “Beaded embroidery and grosgrain trim on Peau de Soie.”

It’s easy to imagine this dress adapted to several price ranges, depending on materials, including a cheap taffeta version for the bridal trade. Manufacturers could make their own style variations, too — omitting the long sleeves, or using less expensive lace without beaded embroidery, for instance.

Many of the earlier sketches are signed by designer Howard Steel. He was one of the company’s three original creators.

Cocktail dress designed by Howard Steel of Creators' Studios, 1957. NYPL Digital Collections.

Cocktail dress designed by Howard Steel of Creators’ Studios, 1957. NYPL Digital Collections.

Although this bodice would have to be seamed or darted to fit this tightly, it’s left to the manufacturer to figure out where the seams go. The more seams, the higher the cost of manufacture. At the lower end of the market, you’d expect a skimpier skirt, too.

Many of the finished sketches were done by Rose Cohen, working from rough design sketches by Steel or the other “creators” who were copying original designs.

This coat and cocktail dress ensemble from the sixties looks very chic to me — the company’s designers were able to change with the times. In fact, that halter dress could have been worn just about any time in the last fifty years!

Sixties' black ottoman dress and coat, for Creator Studios.

Nineteen sixties’ black ottoman silk & faille dress and 7/8 length coat, for Creator Studios. NYPL Collections.

This 1960’s fabric and leather dress with a zip front would have been out of my price range (I couldn’t afford leather cleaning!) but seems inspired by Bonnie Cashin’s combination of those materials.

1960s zip front dress with leather trim. From Creators Studios, via NYPL Digital Collections.

1960s zip front dress with leather trim. From Creators Studios, via NYPL Digital Collections.

I settled for a similar style, probably from Joseph Magnin, in heavy unbleached cotton, with dark brown stitching and a big, brown, center front zipper; I wore it with dark brown tights in 1968 or 69. (My dress didn’t have a button at the neck — just a big zipper pull. My boss called it my “Emma Peel dress.” I was completely covered neck to wrist; it hadn’t occurred to me that men would think it was sexy.)

NOTE: please do not copy or republish these images; their copyright belongs to the New York Public Library and they have been made low resolution as required by NYPL.

 

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Filed under 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s, Resources for Costumers, Uncategorized, Zippers