Tag Archives: boyish look 1920s

Permanents and Marcels Bridge the Twenties to Thirties

An advertisement for permanent waves, Delineator, April 1932.

An advertisement for permanent waves, The Delineator, April 1932.

"She raved about her experience in Paris." Illustration from The Delineator, August 1931.

“She raved about her experience in Paris.” Illustration from The Delineator, August 1931.

These women are enduring a hair-raising experience in the hope of looking like this:

Cover illustration, The Delineator, August 1931. The artist is probably Dynevor Evans.

Cover illustration, The Delineator, August 1931. A softly waved “Marcel” hairdo with a low bun in back.  The artist is probably Dynevor Evans.

The hairstyle known as a “Marcel” — and the permanent waving process named after its inventor — had been around long before the 1920’s, (click here for more about Monsieur Marcel Grateau’s 1872 innovation) but the combination of changing styles in hats and a switch from the “boyish” ideal to a softer, more feminine appearance as “the twenties” became “the thirties” made the deeply waved “Marcel” especially appealing to women.

Cloche hats could leave your coiffure seriously squashed when the hat was removed.

Gage hats, 1925. Ads from Delineator.

Gage hats, 1925. Ads from Delineator.

Many women who had bobbed hair in the twenties also had permanents. If they didn’t have perms or naturally curly hair, perspiring in a cloche could ruin a hairstyle. For more about early (and curly) 1920s hair styles, click here.

Permanent Waves, 1920’s

The C. Nestle Company sold electric permanent waving equipment like this to hair salons .

C. Nestle Permanent Hair Waving Machine, illustrated in

C. Nestle Permanent Hair Waving Machine, illustration from An Illustrated History of Hairstyles, by Marian I. Doyle.

Nestle also sold home permanent machines, which heated just one roller and plugged into an electric light socket, since most homes did not have wall-sockets in every room.

From Nestle Lanoil Home Permantne ad, Delineator, Dec. 1924.

From Nestle Lanoil Home Permanent ad, Delineator, Dec. 1924. “A whole head can be comfortably waved in just a few hours.”

Nestle Home Permanent ad, Delineator, July 1924.

Nestle Home Permanent ad, Delineator, July 1924. Marcelled hair style at top. Early 1920’s bobbed hair on the right.

The satisfied customer on the lower left is only five and a half years old.

"If You Are Going to HAve a Permanent." Article from The Delineator, May, 1932

“If You Are Going to Have a Permanent.” Article from The Delineator, May, 1932

Many women now in their eighties must remember these machines, because they were still in use in the 1940s. In fact, I was even younger than the little girl in the Nestle ad when my mother took me to a “beauty parlor” to have my hair permanently curled.

Child after a permanent, about 1948.

Child after a permanent, about 1948.

What I remember is how very heavy the porcelain insulators — like those in this picture — were.

1932 april hours 500 permanent ad

Other Ways to Marcel Your Hair

Ad for the Marcelwaver, Delineator, July 1928.

Ad for the Marcelwaver Company, Delineator, July 1928.

"A Perfect Marcel Wave in 15 Minutes" for only two cents. Ad, July 1928.

“A Perfect Marcel Wave in 15 Minutes” for only two cents. Ad, July 1928.

"American women can know the secret of the French woman's always perfectly marcelled hair.... Marcelwaver -- as it is now known -- can be used by any woman in the privacy of her own home."

“American women can know the secret of the French woman’s always perfectly marcelled hair…. Marcelwaver — as it is now known — can be used by any woman in the privacy of her own home.”

The Marcelwaver seems to be a clamp that crimps waves into your hair, but the ad does not say it is heated by electricity. However, the photo at bottom seems to show a twisted electric cord leading to the appliance.

Marcelwaver in use, 1928.

Marcelwaver in use, 1928.

Very Short Hair in the Mid-1920’s

Women wear shingled hair at a fashionable dance. Illustration from The Delineator, July 1928.

All the women wear shingled hair at this fashionable dance. Illustration from The Delineator, July 1928. (Typo edited 4/17/15]

Hair worn very short, and “shingled” to taper close to the head in back, was part of the “boyish” look that was adopted even by chic older women in the mid to late 1920’s. (For more about bobbed and shingled hair in the mid-twenties, click here.) It was not bulky, so it “worked” under a cloche hat, leaving small amounts of hair visible on the cheek.

Four Hats for Spring, April 1925. Delineator.

Four Hats for Spring, April 1925. Delineator.

Women who wanted to wear tight-fitting cloche hats in the 1920’s, but did not want to cut off their long hair, could twist it into a chignon worn very low on the neck in back.

From an article on hair styles, The Delineator, May, 1926.

From an article on hair styles, The Delineator, May, 1926. The waves on the far right are Marcelled.

Not all Marcelled hair was worn long.

Marcel waved hair styles from a Mulsified Cocoanut Oil Shampoo ad, The Delineator, February, 1929.

Marcel waved hair styles from a Mulsified Cocoanut Oil Shampoo ad, The Delineator, February, 1929. A longish bob is worn by the model on the left; the two on the right have long hair.

Longer Hair Returns with the 1930’s

As early as September of 1928, The Delineator’s beauty editor, Celia Caroline Cole, was writing about the return of longer hair — and the confusion it was causing.

"The men who create the styles of today and tomorrow give theri verdict on the return of long hair." Delineator, September, 1928.

“The men who create the styles of today and tomorrow give their verdict on the return of long hair.”  Delineator, September, 1928.

“One of the most chic hairdressers in the world told me . . . that the bob is surely passing. Then two blocks down that same broad street, another hairdresser, equally swanky, assured me that  . . . the bob will never go — it is here to stay.”

The first hairdresser reminded her that “Styles are a part of life. And youth catches on to them first.  Youth makes us do what it wants. The young girls now are letting their hair grow — they don’t want to look like women of forty — and soon women of forty will let their hair grow because they don’t want to look like women of forty either. They will do what youth does.”

” ‘Have you seen women of forty with that little knot at the back of their heads?’ I demanded.

” ‘I know,’ he agreed, ‘they look their years, but they will adapt to their needs this new style as they did the bob. And they will dislike the hairpins, but they will let it grow, just the same — not right away, but gradually, like the skirts — you say that you will never give up short skirts, but here they are, an inch or two longer this autumn, still a little longer next spring, and so on. One is helpless before this evolution, this ‘style’ — Youth sees it coming, and catches it, and we follow. The bob is going. “

Celia Cole noted, “The general trend is much more hair about the face, framing it softly.” That is what the waves of the Marcel did for women in the late nineteen twenties and early thirties.

Waved hair softly framing the face. Butterick illustration, April 1921.

Waved hair softly framing the face. Butterick illustration, April 1931.

However, in 1928, the other “swanky” hairdresser Celia Cole consulted said, ‘The bob going? Not for years and years, maybe never. Women seek more and more freedom — and they will go on seeking it. . . . Oh, no, women like you will not go back to hairpins and something dragging at their heads. Young girls must try out the unknown — they have never had long hair dragging at their heads, hairpins jabbing in, but last spring all my young clients came in and had the hair they had been growing all winter cut off again.”

Cole concludes that “We can do as we like. . . . What is style for you? The thing that exactly suits your type.”

However, by 1931 she was writing aboutThe Return of the Long Lost Locks — Hair styles have completely changed.”

Longer hair returns, August 1931 article from The Delineator.

Longer hair returns, August 1931 article from The Delineator. The model is actress Tallulah Bankhead.

By 1931, fashions had changed, and hairstyles with them. Hemlines had plummeted. Young women were wearing “uplift” brassieres that separated the breasts instead of flattening them. The waistline had returned to its natural location.

“Nothing sleek and hard is left in the feminine world today.” “The masculine neckline has vanished as completely as the dinosaur.” “Weary of realism and boyish, frankly displayed bodies, we’re going to play at romanticism.” — Celia Caroline Cole, The Delineator, August 1931.

“There was a moment, in this evolution of hair out of restrained boyishness into feminine curls, when the fashionists and coiffeurists came to blows. ‘We’ll keep the bob!’ the coiffeurists cried…. ‘Let it grow!’ the fashionists shouted back, their minds on ruffles and bows and little tip-tilted hats.”

Tilted hats from Sears Catalog, Spring 1933. Both young and older women wore their hats tilted to one side of the head, revealing a good deal of hair.

Tilted hats from Sears Catalog, Spring 1933. Both young and older women wore their hats tilted to one side of the head.

In fact, the change in hat styles took place very gradually, but as the cloche hat receded, more hair became visible, especially as the “tip-tilted” hats of the 1930’s began to be worn on the side of the head and tilted down over one eye.

In the late twenties, “the human parade that wanders up and down the streets saw only hats, close little hats that hugged every woman’s head and revealed only a wisp or two of hair making arabesques on her cheeks. Then all of a sudden [last March] forth they came — all those long lost locks! . . . In joyous abandon, they waved and curled and pushed hats ‘way over on one ear.” — Celia Cole, August 1931.

In May of 1932, The Delineator ran this article, “If You Are Going to Have a Permanent,” reassuring women that the process was safe — even for dyed or gray hair. Although they had been available for years, permanents still needed to be explained.

"If You Are Going to HAve a Permanent." Article from The Delineator, May, 1932

“If You Are Going to Have a Permanent.” Article from The Delineator, May, 1932

Top of Article, "So You Are Going to Have a Permanent," May, 1932.

Top of Article, “If You Are Going to Have a Permanent,” May, 1932.

Bottom of Article "So You Are Going to Have a Permanent," May, 1932

Bottom of Article “If You Are Going to Have a Permanent,” May, 1932 This hairstyle has a little roll of curls at the neck, just like the model wearing the $1.69 hat below.

The article concludes, “Most permanents have to be set after each shampoo unless you are very clever and use your combs or fingers skillfully. It depends on the setting, whether you look like a Fiji Islander [or a 1925 movie star] or a sculptured lady.”

The “long bob permanent” pictured above looks very much like the hair on this hat model:

Hats from Sears Roebuck Spring 1933 catalog.

Hats from Sears Roebuck catalog, Spring 1933.  Hats show more hair, and the “long bob permanent” Marcel wave ends in a soft roll of curls at the back.

Changes in hat styles and hair styles happen in reaction to each other.

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, 1940s-1950s, Hairstyles, Hats, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Vintage Accessories, vintage photographs

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