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Poiret and Tunic Dresses, 1914

Paul Poiret’s “Sorbet” gown. Illustrated by Georges Lepape, September 1913. Image from Irene Lewisohn Collection, Metropolitan Museum.

I saw Poiret’s famous “Sorbet” gown at the V & A years ago.  It’s sometimes referred to as “the lampshade dress,” because of the rigid bottom of the tunic.

I expected to laugh; instead, I haven’t found a picture that does it justice. It’s ridiculous. It’s impractical. And it’s couture: what doesn’t show in the photos I’ve found is that the stylized roses are made from thousands of subtly glittering beads. The silk has the soft gleam of quality. It is lovely.

Perhaps because this is clearly a “wear it once” dress (except for the version without a boned tunic,) it has survived in at least three public collections (V & A, Chicago History Museum,  & FIT. ) And, being couture — custom made for every client —  each rendition is slightly different. Sometimes only the skirt is different (one version has harem pants;) in one, the tunic falls softly instead of being rigid; in the collection at the Fashion Institute of Technology, the dark parts are not black, but mauve (or raspberry sorbet?)

Randy Bigham has written a fascinating essay comparing the three versions.

I called “Sorbet” a “wear it once” dress because it would make a grand entrance, be highly memorable, and also be highly impractical. How would the wearer sit at a dinner table, or travel to a party in a carriage or car? How would she dance in it, since the hoop would pop up in the back as soon as her partner embraced her? [Imagine it flipping around during a tango!]

Butterick pattern 6639 seems to be influenced by Poiret’s “Sorbet” gown, which has black fur at the rigid hem of the tunic in the V&A version. Delineator, January 1914.

The New Flaring Tunics, Delineator, March 1914. In 1914, a “tunic” was an overskirt.

But …. Poiret caught the spirit of the times, even if he didn’t create the tunic fad; by 1914 his dress was influencing Butterick patterns and being imitated elsewhere. I found it in advertisements, too — usually a sign that a style has penetrated the common culture.

Ad for McCallum Hosiery, Delineator, March 1914.

A suit with a flaring tunic and wide sash is seen in an ad for American Woolen, March 1914, Delineator.

This ad for Suesine silk fabric uses Butterick 6639, with the hoop-like tunic.

A flaring tunic dress goes dancing in this ad for Kleinert’s Dress Shields. April 1914; Delineator.

Tunic Dress Patterns from 1914

An outfit with the tunic look might be a dress, or a skirt and “waist” combination.  [A “waist” was a blouse or separate bodice.] The flared part of the tunic might be part of the blouse/waist) …

Waist 6639. Butterick pattern from January 1914. Delineator.

… Or it might be part of the skirt:

Butterick skirt pattern 6719, March 1914. Delineator.

Butterick waist 6718 with skirt 6719. The flared tunic is part of the skirt. Note the fur or velvet border at right, which makes the hem stand out more.

Wearing the tunic over an elaborately draped skirt increased bulk over the hips — and narrowing at the ankles exaggerated it.

Tunic dress; Butterick pattern 6779 from April 1914 has optional ruffles to help the tunic’s hem stand out a bit. Delineator.

Alternate and back views of Butterick tunic dress 6779; 1914.

These are many one-piece tunic dresses, rather than waist and skirt combinations:

Tunic dresses for women to size 44 bust; Delineator, April 1914.

Alternate views of tunic dress 6820, April 1914.

Alternate views of tunic dress 6832, April 1914. Seeing it without the tunic tells us more about how it was made.

A group of hip-widening fashions from April, 1914. Delineator. The one in color is a waist & skirt combination. [Fun hat!]

Butterick waist 6791 with skirt 6733. The tunic is part of the skirt; waist 6791 is not long at all.

Other views of Butterick waist 6791. From 1914.

However, tunic outfit 6797 is a dress:

Butterick dress 6797, April 1914. In the illustration at left, the diagonal closing is barely noticeable.

To my eyes, accustomed to slender, athletic bodies, the fashions of the World War I period are hard to understand, since they add the appearance of many pounds around the hips. [Poiret also took credit for the 1908 “hobble skirt,” still affecting fashion in 1914.]

“What Your Girl Will Want for Easter” 1914: Wide hips and narrow hems. These are styles for teens age 14 to 19. Did teen girls really want to look like they had big, low-slung bottoms? Well…”fashion.”

With dresses like those, you’d hardly need this corset….

Nubone corset ad, March 1914, Delineator.

The tunic styles were for recommended for women (including larger sizes) and for teens:

Butterick 6684 was for teens aged 14 to 19. February, 1914.

Butterick 6651 for teens 14 to 19 and small women. This one has fur trim.

That headdress deserves a closer look:

Lace, fur, chiffon, flowers, and a rather exotic jeweled headdress. January 1914.

For large women, this modified tunic with more vertical lines was recommended.

Left, Butterick 6809 “For Matronly Figures; New styles that are becoming to them.” Delineator, June 1914.

Buttrick 6809 was not a true tunic; this back view is much more slenderizing. “Matronly figures” went up to size 46 bust. Note the ( ) shaped silhouette.

The tunics and draped skirts that increased hip width were apparently popular, but women did have other choices:

Left, a tunic-style outfit made from waist 6627 and skirt 6613; right, distinctly un-fussy shirtwaist 6619 with slim, tailored skirt 6620. Both of these skirts were described as “peg-top.” January 1914.

(I’m still not clear on what “peg-top” actually meant — but now I know where to look….)

If you made it this far, thanks for sticking with this long post!

The tunic look from Delineator, May 1914.

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Ferris Corsets for Women and Girls, 1914, 1917 and 1910

Mother and daughter both wear Ferris Corsets in this ad from March, 1914. Delineator, page 65.

The Ferris Corset Waist was often stiffened by channels of cording, rather than exclusively by steel bones. In its day, it was a sort of “reform” or “good sense” garment, more flexible and less rigid than the usual boned corset. Nevertheless, it’s dismaying to read:

“Made in more than 100 styles to properly fit all ages, infants to adults.” Ad for the Ferris Waist; Delineator, March 1914.

The full ad for Ferris Waists, March 1914.

The girls at the bottom seem to be teens. The one at left appears to be leaning forward while using some kind of exercise equipment.

The tiny waist at left seems more 1910 than 1914. It may have been a “sport” corset.

The straps help to “teach” correct posture — and hold up your stockings. Even young girls needed something to hold their stockings up… especially when they were too young to have a waist and hips.

Text of Ferris ad, March 1914. “Ferris Waists take the place of corsets.”

Two girls wear Ferris waists in this ad from April 1917.

Ferris Good Sense Corset Waists were “lightly boned and  beautifully corded” to naturally develop the growing body into a more perfect figure in later years.” Ad from April 1917. Delineator.

Ad from May, 1914, featuring a maternity corset. Maternity corsets were sold by several companies, including Lane Bryant [click here to read more about Lane Bryant;]  Sears, Roebuck; and Berthe May.

Ferris Maternity Corset, May 1914. Delineator, page 73. [Why is she wearing her slip under her corset? Because the upper thigh was not usually shown in ads even in the 1950’s, which always led me to wonder how those stocking suspenders reached the stocking tops.]

A rival to the Ferris maternity corset was this more traditional boned corset from Berthe May. January 1914, Delineator. It “allows one to dress as usual and preserve a normal appearance.”

In this ad from 1910, Ferris assured buyers that their products were made “under the cleanest conditions.”

Ferris assured women that the Ferris Good Sense corset waist was not made by exploiting women workers in sweatshop conditions or by piecework in tenements. Ferris ad, 1910.

However, this Ferris maternity corset from 1910 does show fashionable constriction of the waist:

A Ferris Good Sense maternity corset/waist from 1910 clearly was intended to maintain the then-fashionable hourglass figure as long as possible.

Ad for Ferris Waists from Delineator, May, 1910.

Ferris ad, May 1910.

“Good sense” or not, corset-wearing started early:

Ferris Good Sense Corsets for girls, starting at age 6 months. If it buttoned up the back, a girl couldn’t get out of it without help.

Ferris Good Sense corsets for girls and teens, 7 to 15 years old. “[…Pleated] busts soft as silk. Specially adapted to growing girls 11 to 15 of slender form.”

Ferris waist for girls 12 to 17. May 1910 ad.

Those hose supporters (stocking suspenders) are really long!

An adult corset from 1910 sold by waist size: 19 to 30 inches. Ferris ad, Delineator, May 1910.

You can read more about the Ferris Brothers here.

 

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Fashions for November, 1917

November fashions from Butterick, Delineator magazine, Nov. 1917, p. 84.

November fashions from Butterick, Delineator magazine, Nov. 1917, p. 84.

November fashions from Butterick, Delineator, Nov. 1917, p. 83.

November fashions from Butterick, Delineator, Nov. 1917, p. 83.

As usual, I’ll show individual pattern illustrations, then give full descriptions at the end of the post. I’ll give details of the coats in a later post.

And, before I forget, these illustrations are always interesting for their hats and hairstyles:

Women's hats with feathers, Delineator, Nov. 1917.

Women’s hats with feathers, Delineator, Nov. 1917.

Women's hats and hairstyles from Delineator, Nov. 1917.

Women’s hats and hairstyles from Delineator, Nov. 1917. These hats also have feather trim.

By 1917, many women were cutting their hair shorter in front, leaving the back long; bangs and poufs of short curls over the ears softened their look and framed the face under closely fitting hats, which foreshadow the cloche hats of the 1920’s.

Butterick patterns from the top of page 84, Nov. 1917.

Butterick patterns from the top of page 84, Delineator, Nov. 1917. Top row: left, 9422; center, waist 9435 with skirt 9468; right, blouse 9472 with skirt 9444.

Butterick dress pattern 9422. Delineator, Nov. 1917 .

Butterick dress pattern 9422. Delineator, Nov. 1917 .

No. 9422 is described as a serge frock with a surplice closing, a slightly raised waist, and chamois colored satin shawl collar and trim. The belt is separate, and a sash could be used instead. Other recommended dress colors were navy blue, tobacco brown, mustard, sand, dark red, plum, etc.

Butterick 9435 with skirt 9468. Delineator, Nov. 1917.

Butterick 9435 with skirt 9468. Delineator, Nov. 1917.

Butterick No. 9435 is a pleated tunic style trimmed with “self-colored beading at the throat, sleeves and sash.” It is shown in “cadet blue” with self-covered ball button trim. Various silk fabrics are suggested, and  “black is very smart for the silk dress and makes a very useful dress for many different occasions.”

Butterick bodice (waist) 9472 comes to below the hip and is trimmed with embroidery; skirt pattern 9444 was shown with many tops. Nov. 1917.

Butterick blouse 9472 comes to below the hip and is trimmed with embroidery; skirt pattern 9444 was shown with many tops. Nov. 1917.

Here are two views of the blouse:

Blouse pattern 9472 could have a high collar; either a straight or pointed hemline, and three different belts.

Blouse pattern 9472 could have a high collar; long or  3/4 sleeves, either a straight or pointed hemline, and three different belts. The version on the left appears to be trimmed with many ball buttons.

More Butterick patterns from page 84, Nov. 1917. Delineator.

More Butterick patterns from page 84, Nov. 1917. Delineator. From left, 9470, 9476, and 9479.

Butterick dress pattern 9470 from Nov. 1917.

Butterick dress pattern 9470 from Nov. 1917.

No. 9470 has dozens of satin-bound buttonholes and covered buttons. It is shown with a brown velvet collar and brown braid (applied at hem and neckline.)

Butterick pattern 9476, Nov. 1917. Delineator.

Butterick pattern 9476, Nov. 1917. Delineator. It has a dropped waist, which dominated in the 1920’s.

Novelty silk voile was used for the sleeves and collar; the dress was made of brown velvet, or velveteen. Wool serge was also recommended for this dress; “made in satin or velvet it is suitable for any afternoon occasion.” “For the woolen materials like chiffon broadcloth, serge, gabardine, checks, stripes and plaids could have the sleeves of satin, taffeta, charmeuse, silk crepe or chiffon.”

Butterick patterns 9479 and 9509, Nov. 1917.

Butterick patterns 9479 and 9509, Nov. 1917.

“Sand color-gabardine for the smart little jumper and new tunic skirt makes a delightful combination with blue satin for the side body and full-length sleeves. (Designs 9479 and 9509.)” Although called a jumper, the bodice (including the sleeves and collar) is separate from the skirt. [In American usage, a “jumper” is usually a sleeveless bodice attached to a skirt and worn over a separate blouse.]

Butterick patterns from Delineator, November 1917, page 83.

Butterick patterns from Delineator, November 1917, page 83. Patterns 9480 (tan), 9517 (navy), waist 9477 with skirt 9502 (gray), and a red suit which uses coat pattern 9490 with skirt 9444.

Butterick dress pattern 9480 with muff pattern 9511, Nov. 1917. Delineator.

Butterick dress pattern 9480 with muff pattern 9511, Nov. 1917. Delineator.

Frock 9480 was illustrated in gold colored velvet, but could also be made in serge or silk for an autumn wardrobe. A higher necked “chemisette” was recommended for wear under a winter coat. “The draped front extends down to form a wide panel, and there are sash ends that tie loosely in the back.” “The dress could be trimmed with beading or embroidery.” However, “This Autumn the embroidery is smartest worked in soft colors that harmonize with the dress itself; the sharper contrasting and striking effects of the past season are not being used for the new dresses.”

Butterick dress pattern 9489, Nov. 1917.

Butterick dress pattern 9489, Nov. 1917.

9489-text-1917-nov-p-83

Butterick pattern 9477 wit skirt 9502 and stole pattern 9517. Nov. 1917.

Butterick blouse-waist pattern 9477 with skirt 9502 and stole pattern 9517. Nov. 1917.

This “blouse-waist,” No. 9477, was also described as a jumper, with a tunic skirt.

9477-blouse-9502-skirt-9517-stole-1917-nov-p-82-text-p-83

Butterick coat pattern 9490 with skirt 9444, Nov. 1917.

Butterick coat pattern 9490 with skirt 9444, Nov. 1917. The trim, including the belt buckle, is gray squirrel fur.

suit-coat-9490-skirt-9444-1917-nov-p-82-costume-every-hour-9510-and-text-p-83

Skirt No. 9444, shown with several different tops,  has an optional belt with pockets attached:

Butterick skirt pattern 9444 was shown with many tops; the belt with attached pockets could be omitted.

Butterick skirt pattern 9444 was shown with many tops; the belt with attached pockets could be omitted to make a simple under skirt. 1917.

The corsets of this period created a very high waist in the back, as shown in this skirt illustration.

Other views and details of patterns shown at the top of the post:

500-comp-9422

Details, Butterick blouse 9435 and skirt 9468. 1917.

Details, Butterick blouse 9435 and skirt 9468. 1917.

Butterick 9470, from 1917.

Details of Butterick 9470, from 1917.

Details, Butterick 9476, from 1917.

Details, Butterick 9476, from 1917.

Details of Butterick 9479 and 9509, November 1917.

Details of Butterick 9479 and 9509, November 1917.

Details of Butterick dress 9480. From 1917.

Details of Butterick dress 9480. From 1917.

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