Companion-Butterick patterns often emphasized that they were economical because the dresses featured could be worn several ways, giving the look of a large wardrobe with only a few garments. These three patterns from the April 1937 Woman’s Home Companion are intended for teens and young women. (Sizes run through Junior Miss size 12 to a Ladies’ Bust size 38″) The text, by Fashion Editor Ethel Holland Little, says:
“If there is one rule that you Teens and Twenties can put at the top of every clothes list, it is: seek variety. You can wear so many of the new fashions. Why not arm yourself with all the season’s hits – the boleros, the bright prints, the colored sashes, the novelty piqués, the hats with fabric crowns? You can do this without stretching your clothes allowance too much – if you go in for change-abouts.
One day you wear it one way, the next, another – the simple dress that you vary by adding or subtracting a jacket, by substituting a belt for a sash. Try it; try all three of the change-abouts pictured here if you are looking for an economical way to put yourself on the fashion map.”
Pattern # 7296 looks demure with its jacket on; the surprise comes with the jacket off – revealing a back bare to the waist.
“No. 7296 is the beach dress you are practically forced to acquire if you want to build a reputation for knowing what’s what. Wide short skirt, cut-out back, and brief bolero – these are the three fundamentals of a style that looks right at the country club with its little jacket, on the sand without. Make both dress and jacket in a splashy surrealist print [popularized by Schiaparelli] or in this new combination of white linen with polkadot silk crepe. But in any case don’t forget your matching rubber-soled sports shoes (they’re cotton and remarkably inexpensive) and your big-brimmed fabric-crowned straw.
Was it a coincidence that rubber-soled Kedettes were advertised in the same issue?
“Kedettes are made by the makers of Keds and Gaytees. At the better stores… $1.29 to $2.25.”
“No. 7924 makes a good weekday school cotton – one that you can wear with or without the jacket according to the weather and your mood. It is perfect for a novelty piqué (the new ones are called by such pat names as boxbar or hexagon) and for a non-soiling shade such as this wine red, printed and plain.” [Note: She seems to be wearing a pair of the Kedettes featured in the ad.]
“No. 7298 is your silk daytime dress – made to order for club gatherings and monopoly parties. Wear it on Friday the ninth with the printed collar and peplum. Appear on Friday the sixteenth with a tricolor ribbon sash. The crowd won’t know it’s the same dress at first, and when they do, they’ll applaud your sorcery.”
If you look closely, you’ll see that there is no jacket – the same print fabric is used for the detachable collar and peplum, and the peplum is attached to a belt.