Tag Archives: bias gowns 1930s

Day and Night in Vogue Patterns, 1937

“Make These and Have Something to Wear: Vogue Designs for Busy Days and Crowded Nights”

“Vogue Designs for Busy Days.” Ladies’ Home Journal, November 1937, page 30. November 1937.

Vogue Designs “for Crowded Nights.” Ladies’ Home Journal, November 1937, page 31.

This two-page spread in the Ladies’ Home Journal (LHJ) featured nine Vogue patterns. Here they are in detail:

Vogue two-piece dress pattern 7508 (in “copper”) and dress 7511 in black trimmed with grosgrain ribbons in “flower colors” to “trim the deep-lapped seam from neck to hem.” November 1937, LHJ. Shoulders are getting broader.

Vogue 7508, at left,  is “fitted to bring out natural curves;” Vogue 7511 has a “Victorian” collar and bands of grosgrain trim around the hem, too.

Vogue 7510. November 1937; LHJ. “An opportunity… if you’ve never sewn before, for it’s ‘Easy to Make.’ The skirt is in four gores, and you may use tiny buttons down the front in place of a slide fastener.”

Vogue 7510 has a zipper front and is worn with two (!) belts. Zippers made the change from sportswear to more formal clothing in 1936-1937.

This high-cut collar is also seen on the “copper” colored two piece dress, No. 7508.

Vogue dress 7509, in red, and 7512, in blue. In spite of the zigzag look at the hem and cuffs, 7512 is not a knitted dress. LHJ, Nov. 1937, p. 30. No, 7509 was available for large women, up to a bust of 46 inches.

Details of Vogue 7509 and 7512, from 1937. No. 7509 has a “soft, shirred plastron front”  and amazing sleeves. It is worn with matching dress clips. No. 7512 is “of a new violet-blue crepe with tiny wavy pleating worked right into the fabric. You can make the saw-tooth trimming on your sewing machine. Don’t you think the new-length sleeves are young?”

Alternate views of Vogue 7508, 7511, 7510, 7509, and 7512. LHJ, Nov. 1937.

On the facing page, four Vogue patterns for evening were illustrated:

Slinky satin evening gowns without a center front seam show what can be done with a bias cut and a flat tummy. Vogue 7506, in white, and Vogue 7505, in two shades of green.

“If you can enter a room regally, princess dress 7506 is for you!” This is not what is usually meant by “princess dress.” But she is wearing a tiara….

“The apparent lack of a seam down the front is not a mistake; there is one right down the center in back. We just couldn’t bear desecrating the lovely backward sweep with mere seams. The twisted shoulder straps, that are part of the dress front, drop to the waistline in back. We suggest platinum satin with mink or kolinsky banding.”

(A little digression: Kolinsky is a very expensive fur. High quality watercolor brushes are still made from it; Winsor & Newton will sell you a size 10 Kolinsky brush for $499. Movie plug:  In the 1937 comedy, Easy Living, the life of a hard-working young woman is transformed when an angry millionaire throws his wife’s Kolinsky fur coat out the window. Since our heroine doesn’t know what” Kolinsky” is, she wears the coat, not realizing it’s worth $55,000 — in Depression Era dollars! To her surprise, people start treating her differently because they think she is rich — or immoral….  Easy-to-relate-to Jean Arthur is the star. )

Vogue 7507 has a twisted tie on its bolero jacket. The glittering shoulder straps on the dress can be rhinestoned or sequinned. LHJ, Nov. 1937.

Both the bias cut and the twisted fabrics in those two Vogue evening gowns show the influence of Madeleine Vionnet.

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/vionnet-evening-dress-and-jacket-1935-met.jpg

A bias evening gown with twisted and tied jacket by Madeleine Vionnet, 1935. Photo: Metropolitan Museum.

Left, Vogue 7507, with a sheer, deep pink cover-up. Top tight, Vogue evening gown 7504. LHJ, 1937.

“Coronation pink” refers to he coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of England and the United Kingdom in May of 1937. They were the parents of Queen Elizabeth II. “Shocking pink” was introduced by Elsa Schiaparelli, also in 1937.

Alternate views of Vogue 7506, 7505, 7507 and 7504. LHJ, November 1937. Backs were cut to the waist on the gowns at left.

Are you inspired to start sewing your New Year’s gown?

Note:  These patterns were featured in November, so women would have been making and wearing them in 1938 and 1939 — or later. By mid-1939, the hems on the day dresses would have looked much too long.

Butterick Fashion News flyer, July, 1939.

Butterick Fashion News flyer, page 3. July 1939.

 

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Filed under 1930s, 1930s-1940s, Not Quite Designer Patterns, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes, Zippers

Changing the Foundations of Fashion: 1929 to 1934

"Make us look like this!" Sears catalog, Spring 1934, featuring Lastex two-way stretch girdles.

“Make us look like this!” Sears catalog, Spring 1934, featuring Lastex two-way stretch girdles: “Boneless! Bulgeless!”

Many changes in fashion were taking place between 1929 and 1934, in addition to the fall of the hemline and the rise of the waistline.

For the first time in centuries, fashions followed the natural shape of a woman’s body. Bias-cut dresses, which clung to every curve, were already chic in 1929.

November, 1929. Form fitting gowns from French designers Louiseboulanger and Jean Patou. Delineator sketches by Soulie.

November, 1929. Form fitting gowns from French designers Louiseboulanger and Jean Patou. The Delineator.

Makers of bosom-flattening brassieres — such as the “Flatter-U” and “Boyshform” bandeaux — were losing younger customers to companies like “Maiden Form” and G.M. Poix’s “A-P Uplift.” The word “uplift” was applied rather freely.

"Uplift bandeau" and Foundation with "Uplift rayon jersey top. Seaers catalog, Fall, 1929. Page 218.

“Uplift bandeau” (left) and Foundation (right) with “Uplift style bust.” Sears catalog, Fall, 1929.

Farrell-Beck and Gau, authors of the book Uplift:  The Bra in America, point out that in previous centuries, corsets pushed the breasts up from below; now, brassieres with shoulder straps lifted the breasts up.

After the mono-bosom years earlier in the 20th century, the word “uplift” seems to include the idea of separation. Women were finally acknowledged to have two breasts, one on either side of the sternum.

"Empire Gown" with "uplift line of the bodice." Butterick pattern # , Nov. 1931.

“Empire Gown” with “uplift line of the bodice.” Butterick pattern #4175 , Nov. 1931.

The garment that had been called a “corset” (or “corselette,” if it was unboned) became a “foundation.”

This illustration of the latest foundation garments appeared in The Delineator as early as March, 1929.

This illustration of the latest foundation garments appeared in The Delineator as early as March, 1929.

“Out went the whalebone. In went elastic. . . . The ‘foundation garment’ or ‘costume foundation’ . . . has definitely supplanted the word ‘corset’ and earned universal approval.”  — Editorial in The Delineator, March 1929.

Several months later, this article appeared, with illustrations more typical of 1929 undergarments:

"Facts and Figures About the strikingly feminine new silhouette." Article by Lucile Babcock in Delineator, October 1929.

“Facts and Figures about the strikingly feminine new silhouette.” Article in The Delineator, October 1929.

“Gone are the days of the straight-line, belted-about-the-hips frock which concealed many of our figure deficiencies. Snug fitting hips, slightly raised and occasionally nipped-in waists, a frank recognition of the bust line, are characteristic of autumn styles.” — Lucile Babcock, in The Delineator, Oct. 1929.

Two mid-twenties' corsets: La Camille ad, 1924, and Bien Jolie ad, 1925. Both Delineator.

Before the change: two mid-twenties’ corsets. Left, a La Camille corset ad, 1924, and right, a Bien Jolie corset ad, 1925. Both from The Delineator.

The corset went through other changes after 1929.

Bias-cut satin dresses like these would have revealed every bump, boning channel, and lacing of an old-fashioned corset.

Bias-cut gowns from August and October, 1921. Butterick patterns 4039, 4093, and 4097. Delineator.

Bias-cut gowns from August and October, 1931. Butterick patterns 4039, 4093, and 4097. Delineator.

In 1929, the Sears catalog shows “boyish”/bust-suppressing corsets on the same page as corsets with soft, non-flattening tops. 1929 sears Fall p 218 page 500

 

The foundation on the left  is a typical 1920's corselet, turning the body into a tube shape.

The foundation on the left is a typical 1920’s corset;  bust-flattening boned seams and no waist indentation turn the body into a tube shape.

Significantly, the 1929 corset on the left below has rayon jersey (knit) in the bust area. Although not truly cup shaped, the soft fabric was not designed to flatten the breasts,  unlike the boned garment on the right.

Fall 1929 Sears catalog, p. 223. (Look at that deco fabric!)

Fall 1929 Sears catalog, p. 223. (I love that art deco fabric on the right!)

Several of Sears’ 1929 corsets/foundations use soft rayon jersey over the bust.

Foundation with "uplift" rayon bust; Fall 1929 Sears catalog p. 218

Foundation with “uplift style” rayon bust; Fall 1929 Sears catalog, p. 218. It’s hard to believe that this did much “lifting.”

But the chief problem of late 1920’s corsets (or foundations, as they were now being called)  was that their stretch panels had to be made from something like surgical elastic (similar to the Ace bandages used for sprained wrists and ankles.) At the time, elasticized fabrics were limited in size, so the fronts and backs of corsets had to be made of traditional, non-stretch corset materials, like coutil or thick satin; they needed hook-and-eye or  zipper closings, and the seams (and fastenings) were never smooth enough for wearing under thin, bias-cut gowns like this one:

Bias-cut satin gown in a Kotex ad, July 1931. Delineator.

Bias-cut satin gown in a Kotex ad, July 1931. Delineator.

Lastex Changes Corsetry

The revolution came in the early 1930’s, when a new method for processing rubber was invented. According to Elizabeth Ewing’s Fashion in Underwear, before 1930 the sap of rubber trees (latex) was dried and compressed into bricks for shipping. When it reached England, the bricks were liquified, and long sheets of rubber were made. These sheets would then be cut into strips and incorporated into fabrics, but the strips were never long enough to be effectively woven into material suitable for the mass production of corsets.

Fall 1930 Sears catalog. Before the invention of Lastex, elastic panels had to be used sparingly. (However, the bust is back!)

Fall 1930 Sears catalog. Before the invention of Lastex, elastic panels had to be used sparingly or pieced together. (However, by 1930 the bust is definitely back in style.)

“About 1930,” a new chemical process allowed latex to be shipped in its liquid form. The liquid latex could then be extruded into fine threads — called Lastex —  which were as long as threads of traditional materials, which meant that elasticized yardage could finally be made in lengths and widths suitable for mass produced garments. As soon as weaving and knitting machines had been adapted to use Lastex, a new kind of undergarment became possible.

Munsingwear's 'Foundettes' two-way stretch girdle ad, March 1937. Woman's Home Companion.

Munsingwear’s ‘Foundettes’ two-way stretch girdle ad, March 1937. Woman’s Home Companion.

My question was, “How much time did it take for undergarments made with Lastex to become available — and affordable — to working class women?”

The answer: Hardly any time at all! The Sears, Roebuck catalog for Spring 1932 proudly introduces Lastex and “Clingtex” garments made of “new, cloth-like elastic (Lastex.)”

Sears catalog for Spring 1932, introducing "Sensational new garments of marvelous Lastex ."

Sears catalog for Spring 1932, introducing “Sensational new garments of marvelous Lastex .”

Early Lastex foundations combined the new stretch fabric with traditional corset materials —  for extra control over the abdomen, for example.

Clingtex foundation, Spring 1933, Sears Catalog.

Clingtex foundation, Spring 1933, Sears Catalog.

By Fall of 1933, however, Sears was offering “Two-Way Stretch Softies” made entirely of stretch fabric.  The “roll-on” girdle, which required no fastenings,  “dates from 1932 in England and probably a year earlier in the U.S.A.” [Ewing]

"New Two-Way Stretch Softies." Seamless girdles and foundations from Sears Catalog, Fall 1933.

“New Two-Way Stretch Softies.” Seamless girdles and foundations from Sears Catalog, Fall 1933.

These “step-in” stretch foundations, which pull on, were made on a circular knitting machine; not only did they have no zippers , they had no seams. 

A foundation garment that made a woman look firmer, smoother, and younger — which improved her natural figure without distortion — was perfect under the bias gowns of the 1930s. This 1933 “Softie” All-in One from Sears (on the left) )looks very much like the Spandex “smoothers” available in stores in 2015.

A seamless, Lastex knit foundation garment, Sears, Fall 1933. This foundation cost $3.69; the "roll-on" girdle cost just $1.98.

A seamless, Lastex knit foundation garment, Sears, Fall 1933. This foundation cost $3.69; the “roll-on” girdle (right) cost just $1.98.

Literally for the first time in hundreds of years, the purpose of a corset was not to distort a woman’s body.

The purpose of the nineteen-thirties’ foundation garment was to create the impression of a perfect, nude body under the clothes. It firmed the hips, flattened the belly, and supported the breasts, but all in imitation of nature, giving its wearer the firm, flexible figure of a healthy young woman.

Softies, Fall 1934. Sears catalog. "Not a bone! Not a bulge!" Seamless, circular-knitted two-way stretch foundation.

“Softies,” Fall 1934. Sears catalog. “Not a bone! Not a bulge!” Seamless, circular-knitted, two-way stretch girdle or foundation.

The End of the Boyish Figure

One more (less encouraging) thing about changes in fashion after 1929:

By Fall of 1932 women were already made to feel self-conscious about having small breasts.

1932 fall sears 500 help for flat chested pushup

"Are you boyishly flat-chested? . . . Wear our 'Form Bust' and be neat, smart, up-to-the minute, and so be happy." Sears catalog, Fall 1932.

“Are you boyishly flat-chested? . . . Wear our ‘Form Bust’ and be neat, smart, up-to-the minute, and so be happy.” Sears catalog, Fall 1932.

That didn’t take long, did it?

 

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Bras, Corselettes, Corsets, Corsets & Corselettes, Foundation Garments, Girdles, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Zippers