Tag Archives: Boyshform

The Power of Golf in Advertisements, 1924

“What Makes a Sportswoman?” Article Illustration, Delineator, May 1924.

“What Makes a Sportswoman?” Article Illustration, Delineator, May 1924.

Advertisers still try to link their products with a desirable life-style, preferably a few rungs higher on the economic ladder than their target audience. In 1924, golf was the sport that meant “middle to upper-middle class.” (The association of golf courses with country clubs and gated communities is still strong.) All of these illustrations appeared in Delineator magazine in 1924. In the September issue alone, golf was used to sell:

Deodorant

An ad for Ab-Scent Deodorant, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

An ad for Ab-Scent Deodorant, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

Carpet Sweepers

An Ad for Bissell Carpet Sweepers, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

An Ad for Bissell Carpet Sweepers, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

Sewing Patterns

Illustration of Butterick Patterns for Girls, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

Illustration of Butterick Patterns for Girls, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

And Shoes.

Ad for Selby Arch Preserver Shoes, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

Ad for Selby Arch Preserver Shoes, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

In August, golf was used to sell:

Lux Laundry Soap

Advertisement about washing sweaters and knits with Lux Soap, Delineator, August 1924.

Advertisement about washing sweaters and knits with Lux Soap, Delineator, August 1924.

And Gossard Corsets

Ad for Gossard Gossard Corsets, Combinations, and Brassieres , Delineator, August 1924.

Ad for Gossard Gossard Corsets, Combinations, and Brassieres , Delineator, August 1924.

In June, the Butterick Pattern Company suggested that a golfing outfit should be part of your trousseau:

From a page of suggested patterns to make for your trousseau and honeymoon, Delineator, June 1924

From a page of suggested patterns to make for your trousseau and honeymoon, Delineator, June 1924

and that girls aged 8 to 15 were also likely to be playing golf.

Butterick patterns for girls aged 8 to 15, Delineator, June 1924.

Butterick patterns for girls aged 8 to 15, Delineator, June 1924.

A Closer Look at Some of These Ads

The ad for Ab-Scent deodorant is actually aimed at men, but different “embarrassment” stories appeared in their other ads. In August, this unhappy young woman was “shunned” at the tennis club.

Ab-Scent deodorant ad, August 1924.

Ab-Scent deodorant ad, August 1924. Notice the snob appeal; “The most select men and women….”

Both ads are interesting because they give us a view of typical sports clothes, including shoes.

From an Ab-Scent deodorant ad, September 1924.

From an Ab-Scent deodorant ad, September 1924. Note his cufflinks and bow tie.

It’s a relief to see that at least one of the women golfers is wearing very flat-heeled shoes; imagine playing golf or lawn tennis with your heels sinking into the grass.

Ad for Selby Arch Preserver Shoes, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

Ad for Selby Arch Preserver Shoes, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

This illustration comes from a full-page advertisement that told a rather lengthy story about woman who had jeopardized her husband’s career by playing golf in uncomfortable shoes.

Before her marriage, she was a champion golfer (always wearing Arch Preserver shoes), but she had stopped playing while her children were young.  Her husband comes home one day and says, “What do you think, little wife, the boss came in today and asked if I played golf….  Then he asked whether you played. I told him plenty about your playing. I told him –” The result was that the boss invited the young couple to play golf with him and his wife. The young wife “started out dashingly, driving a full two hundred yards from the first tee….” But she eventually felt so much pain in her feet that she had to  “hobble over the last few holes. She paid dearly for her ‘bargain’ shoes…. ‘I can’t help but worry,’ she tells her husband. ‘That game meant so much to you in business…. I know you’ll hate me, but I did the silliest thing. I thought I’d save some money by buying shoes at a sale.’ ” A few weeks later they played another game with her husband’s employer and his wife, who says, “Why, what in the world has happened to you? I never saw such a difference in anyone’s playing!” After the ‘little wife’ gives her a whole paragraph explaining the benefits of her new Arch Preserver Shoes, the boss’s wife says, “Do you know, that’s the very kind of shoe I’m wearing”– neatly reinforcing the class aspect of the product.

To my surprise, these are the shoes illustrated in this advertisement:

Selby Arch Preserver Shoes featured with the article about wearing them for golf. Sept. 1924.

Selby Arch Preserver Shoes featured with the article about wearing them for golf. Sept. 1924.

The boss’s wife, seated in the illustration, seems to be wearing either the lace-up shoe No. 678 or the flat oxford shown at the bottom. But the ‘little wife’ is wearing very fashionable Arch Preserver shoes with a broad strap.1924 sept p 37 golf arch preserver shoe shoes only

Sweeping Your Carpet while Dressed for Golf

An Ad for Bissell Carpet Sweepers, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

An Ad for Bissell Carpet Sweepers, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

I don’t for a moment suppose that any women did their housework dressed like this, hat and all. [We had a Bissell carpet sweeper like this one when I was a child. It wasn’t electric; as you pushed it, the round bristles swept the dirt into a trap in the machine, avoiding the need for a dustpan.]

The text of the ad doesn’t mention golf at all.  The idea is that you will save so much time with the Bissell sweeper that you’ll be able to play golf all afternoon instead of cleaning. And the sweeper is good for picking up last-minute spills, so you can grab your clubs and head for the country club.

I do like her striped sweater and the checker board band on her hat. She seems to be wearing a pleated skirt like the women golfers in this Ab-Scent ad.1924 sept deodorant Ab-scent ad golf pleated skirtsOnly the sportswoman pictured in the illustration at the top of this post is wearing golf knickers.  It is an illustration for an article, not an ad. Advertisers would avoid any clothing that might be considered controversial, such as a woman wearing ‘men’s’ clothing. The woman golfer in this Gossard corset ad is also wearing a pleated, buttoned skirt with her striped sweater:

Ad for Gossard Gossard Corsets, Combinations, and Brassieres , Delineator, August 1924.

Ad for Gossard Gossard Corsets, Combinations, and Brassieres, Delineator, August 1924.

This 1924 ad is really ahead of its time. The model has a well-defined, natural waist [!] accentuated by a belt, and an equally natural bust, styles which were not widely adopted until the end of the decade. By 1926, some women were beginning to replace breast-flattening bandeaux and brassieres with bras that had a gathered center front, acknowledging, for the first time in years, that women naturally have two breasts, not a mono-bosom. The name “Maiden Form” — as opposed to Boyshform, makers of the Boyshform binder — was registered as a trademark in 1924, the date of this ad, but bras that separated and lifted the bust first appeared in advertisements a couple of years later. (See Uplift: The Bra in America, p. 41) I do wish this 1924 ad from Gossard had shown the underwear this young lady was wearing!

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, Bras, Corsets & Corselettes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Shoes, Sportswear

Not All Flappers Wanted to Be Flat in the 1920s

I love Art Deco style, but I’m always glad that I didn’t have to be young in the 1920s, because I have exactly the wrong figure for 1920s dress styles. And then, one day, I looked at this photo of my mother in a 1920s bathing suit, and realized that she had exactly the wrong figure for the twenties, too.

On the right:  Stranded in the 1920s with a  Gibson Girl figure.

On the right: Stranded in the 1920s with a Gibson Girl figure.

 But that was her era.

She was a teenager when the 1920s began, a popular, fun-loving, slightly wild girl (She eloped while still in high school.) She was the first girl in town to get her hair bobbed; she loved fabric shopping and sewing her own dresses, going dancing, and earning her own living in “The City” as a secretary. So I think it’s fair to say she was a flapper. helen in washington 500 dpi 20s

 

“The boyish figure sans bust and curves and waistline is the ideal silhouette.” –Evelyn Dodge, Delineator magazine, July, 1925.1925 july  5204 swim july shortened

Underneath 1920s Fashions

Some women in search of the boyish figure bought “Boyshform binders,” or the “Flatter-U” brassiere or bandeaux, or wore flattening brassiere-and-girdle combinations called corselettes. [See Underpinning the Twenties: Brassieres, Bandeaux, and Bust Flatteners, and Underpinning the Twenties: Girdles and Corsets]

Corselette pattern, Butterick, 1925, and Bien Jolie Corsette Ad, 1925. Delineator.

Corselette pattern, Butterick, 1925, and Bien Jolie Corsette Ad, 1925. Delineator.

Others wore only one thin layer of light cotton or silk ‘combinations,’ or camisoles and bloomers, and rolled their stockings  over elastic garters to hold them up, eliminating the girdle completely.

Combinations or Teddies, and a Chemise set, all from April 1925, Delneator.

Combinations or Teddies, and a Chemise set, all from April 1925, Delneator.

Some women wore even less.

Some Flappers Did Not Try to Reshape Their Figures

Writer Elspeth Huxley spent 1927 as a student at Cornell University. An animal husbandry major, she was matter-of-fact about sex, but she was surprised enough to record this incident:

“A teddy was the silk slip worn by some co-eds; others wore no underclothes at all. One, demonstrating a device she had thought of, peeled off her dress to reveal herself naked but for a strip of adhesive bridging the buttocks. ‘It improves my silhouette,’ she said.” – from Love Among the Daughters: Memories of the Twenties in England and America, by Elspeth Huxley; p. 244.

I would love to know more about the placement of that adhesive strip!

Never Assume

A graceful 1920s figure; this one is surprisingly late, from 1929.

A graceful 1920s figure; this one is surprisingly late, from 1929.

“Never Assume” is a rule of the costume shop. But I realize now that I have been assuming that young women who chose to wear next-to-nothing under their clothes were the ones who had a slim build, close to the twenties’ fashion ideal.

July, 1928 (left); December 1925 (right); Butterick patterns from Delineator.

July, 1928 (left); December 1925 (right); Butterick patterns from Delineator.

I confess I’m a little surprised, looking this photo of people in similar fashions, that some young women apparently chose not to wear a brassiere or bandeau, even if they had very un-boyish, unfashionable curves.

Two office workers, late 1920s. They demonstrate two, different contemporary attitudes toward underwear.

Two office workers, late 1920s. They demonstrate two, very different, contemporary attitudes toward underwear.

The girl on the right has what is usually thought of as an “ideal” nineteen twenties figure; her bust is so flat that I suspect she is wearing a breast binder. The girl on the left is obviously wearing nothing more restrictive than a chemise or combinations as underclothes. Her body is far from the 20s ideal, but she looks confident and completely at ease.

Seeing Through Clothes

Anne Hollander has demonstrated, in Seeing Through Clothes, how strong the influence of fashion is on our idea of beauty – to the extent that artists sometimes paint nudes as if they were wearing an invisible corset. This raises the question: Can we ever see through the eyes of another era?

Which of those girls was considered more attractive by the men of the late 1920s? Were other women scandalized when the big-breasted girl danced the Charleston? Or did many young women dress just as revealingly?

I think I know which one a man would be more likely to bring home to meet his mother – but – I shouldn’t assume!

 

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Filed under 1920s, A Costumers' Bookshelf, Bras, Corselettes, Corsets & Corselettes, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, vintage photographs