Butterick patterns for ladies’ underwear, Delineator, August 1917.
In 1925, Delineator fashion writer Evelyn Dodge recommended three ways to look thinner in nineteen twenties’ clothes. Her first suggestion was to wear a corset or lightly boned corselette. (Click here to read about 1920s corselettes.)
Her second recommendation was to stop wearing the bulky underwear of the previous decade.
Evelyn Dodge, writing in Delineator magazine, July 1925.
The styles of the World War I era were not worn close to the body, so underwear did not have to be sleek or tight.
Some typical, military-influenced women’s fashions from August 1917. Delineator, p. 50.
The following images show Paris couture underwear from August 1917, followed by Butterick lingerie patterns from the same issue of Delineator magazine.
“Underpinnings of Paris” included lingerie by designers Doucet, Premet, and Jenny. Delineator, August 1917, p. 60.
Paris lingerie by Premet, August 1917. This bridal set included “Pale pink voile, pale silver-blue ribbons, and pointed net embroidered with bouquets and baskets.”
Couture undergarments by French designers Doucet and Jenny; Aug. 1917. Left, pink voile combination trimmed with lace; right, cream yellow lace on pink satin knickers, outlined with “cocardes” of satin ribbon. The crotch of the combination is very low.
The simple ribbon straps (“braces”) seem to be a new idea on lingerie. (And they were already falling off women’s shoulders, as shown.) The Butterick corset covers shown later in this post, some of which covered the underarm area, were beginning to look old-fashioned [and they were.]
Couture undergarments and nightgown by Premet, August 1917. Delineator.
Lingerie from Paris, by designer Jenny. August 1917. Left, a petticoat made of sulphur-yellow “gaze” trimmed with lace; right, a box-pleated chemise of flowered muslin.
It’s impossible to imagine these garments under a narrow 1920’s dress.
A petticoat from Paris by Premet. August 1917. “The kilted skirt is …held in by a blue ribbon” at the hem. Pretty, but bulky….
A slip by Doucet, designed to be worn under the wide-hipped styles of 1917. The ribbon-bound ruffles would keep a woman’s skirt far from her body. “Shoulder ribbons for both day and evening wear.”
Nightgowns, negligees, peignoirs, etc., were also shown:
Paris designer Doucet created this pleated nightgown and a peignoir with a classical Greek inspiration. August 1917. Delineator.
To modern eyes, the models’ nightcaps (boudoir caps) are not very sexy. More about boudoir caps later….
The August issue of Delineator also showed a selection of Butterick lingerie patterns. The combination on the left has tiny underarm sleeves to protect clothing from perspiration.
Butterick combination 9347 and Butterick chemise 9353. Delineator, Aug. 1917, p. 49.
Although called a chemise, Number 9353 has a very low crotch, probably closed with buttons between the knees. Number 9347 has an open crotch, like Victorian drawers. The top of No. 9347 is described as a “corset cover.”
Butterick nightgown pattern 9345 and combination 9343. August 1917. No. 9343 has a corset cover on top of open drawers.
The fact that not all women adopted new fashions immediately is shown by the inclusion of “corset covers;” the corset of 1917 did not cover the bust area, although it was often worn with a “brassiere.”
Bon Ton corset ad, Delineator, May 1917, p. 71.
Butterick corset cover pattern #8478, open drawers #9341, and princess slip #8973. Delineator, Aug. 1917.
About those boudoir caps….
They could be quite elaborate; probably the most lavishly decorated and well-preserved ones were from bridal trousseaux.
This vintage boudoir cap was embroidered with silver thread, which has tarnished to dark gray. Pomegranates are associated with fertility.
Butterick boudoir cap pattern 9253, Delineator, August 1917, p. 52. The “Castle cap” is a reference to dancer Irene Castle, a fashion trend-setter in the nineteen tens and twenties.
Vintage boudoir cap, 20th century.
This vintage silk boudoir cap is trimmed with “wings” of orange crochet lace.