I happened across this Ladies’ Home Journal cover for February, 1936, and thought it was worth sharing.
Cover, Ladies’ Home Journal, February 1936.
This low-backed dress from 1933 has similar fabric flower trim:
Butterick 5424, a low backed evening dress trimmed with flowers. Delineator Dec. 1933.
Like the magazine cover, this bare backed evening gown was featured in the February, 1933, Ladies’ Home Journal: [CORRECTION: Both are from February 1936.]
Dinner suit and evening dress for a cruise, LHJ, Feb. 1936.
The nearly backless gown is made of “a vivid flower print on black silk.”
This low-backed gown was featured in a “Wardrobe for the Young Married Woman,”
Butterick 5321, a low-backed evening gown suitable for the young married woman. Delineator, Oct. 1933. “Slithery, slinky white satin with a deep, deep decolletage in back.”
However, the college girl might also wear a low-backed gown:
A low-backed evening gown for an “undergraduate.” Butterick pattern 6011, Delineator, January 1935.
They were not just for evening wear:
Butterick sundress pattern 5766, Delineator, July 1934. Yes, she’s playing tennis.
Low-backed gowns were used to get the reader’s attention in advertisements, too.
A backless gown in an ad for mouthwash or toothpaste, Delineator, April 1934.
Low-backed, sequinned gown in an ad for Listerine mouthwash. Woman’s Home Companion, April, 1936.
This ad is selling hand lotion:
Ad for lotion, featuring a low-backed evening gown. Woman’s Home Companion, April 1936.
Shelvador refrigerator ad, with a party guest visiting the kitchen in her backless evening gown. July, 1936. Delineator.
This was from a series of ads where elegantly dressed guests visited the kitchen to “ooooh and ahhhhh” over the refrigerator. (To be fair, refrigerators were not that common; on the other hand, this seems like “bad form” — bragging.) The men are in white tie.
Low-backed evening gowns also sold Kellogg’s Bran flakes:
Actress Constance Cummings in an ad for Kellogg’s All-Bran. June, 1934. Delineator.
Kellogg’s All-Bran ad, June 1934. “To look well in the new gowns, many of us must reduce.”
This lovely green [velvet?] dress is selling (green) Palmolive soap:
Evening gown in a Palmolive soap ad, Delineator, February 1933.
It’s less surprising that bare-backed ladies in evening dress were also used to sell Fashion classes . . .
An Ad for Woodbury College, Woman’s Home Companion, Dec. 1937. “Earn Good Money as a Costume Designer.”
And pattern catalogs:
Butterick catalog cover, Oct. 1933.
Of course, there were also ads for undergarments that would allow you to wear backless evening gowns. This Gossard foundation really does allow the wearer’s back to be bare all the way to the waist:
Ad for a Gossard backless foundation garment. Delineator, April 1932.
Gossard backless and boneless foundation garment. Advertisement in Delineator; April 1932.