Tag Archives: crotch strap button construction 1929 1920s twenties

Envelope Chemises, Step-ins, and Other Lingerie, 1924-25

An ad for Royal Society embroidery “package outfits;” Delineator, November 1924, p. 78. It seems that these were kits, ready to be embr0idered.

The variety of lingerie — and the names — from Butterick’s 1924 underwear patterns is amazing to me. It’s a specialized area that doesn’t really make me want to hit the reference books. However, for those of you who love or collect vintage undies, here are some images and pattern descriptions from 1924 and 1925.

The two garments on the right are called “combinations;” The one with birds is Butterick 5030; the one on the far right (“drawer skirt combination”) is Butterick 5050. Delineator, February 1924.

A closer look at combination 5030 and drawer skirt combination  5050. No. 5030 seems to form into legs, but in fact the front and back hems are connected with a strip of fabric.

The back view implies that 5050 has a crotch strap running from front to back [and closed with buttons]. The text doesn’t really explain how number 5050 is constructed. “Tub” means “washable.” 5030 is a “dainty step-in combination chemise and drawers.”

These two patterns were illustrated repeatedly, but not together, with varied descriptions. I arbitrarily referred to this pale green one-piece as a “teddie” in a previous post, but I’m no longer sure that’s the correct term. It might be  “combinations” or a “step-in” chemise. [See comments.]


This pale green, tucked teddy [or step-ins? or combinations? ] has a crotch strap, barely visible. It stops at the edge of the netting lace. You can see a straight line of stitching where it attaches to the garment, about an inch or so above the lace trim.

Edit 1/17/18: thevintagetraveler says this green envelope chemise is not a step-in, because step-ins don’t have a button crotch. See her very helpful comment for more clarifications. That makes this a step-in:

Vintage step-ins; the crotch has no buttons, the sides are open below the waist, and they would not be easy to step into, because your hips would have to fit through the waist — or, rather, the waist has to be as big as your hips.

Detail of leg on vintage combination step-ins. It would not be easy to answer the call of nature while wearing these.

[End of edited section….]

Butterick “Step-in” 4112 and “Envelope Chemise” 5059, pictured in Delineator, June 1924. You can see the button crotch in both of these. But how does a “combination” differ from a “step-in?” Or a “step-in combination” as it says here?

The very low crotch looks uncomfortable to a woman who grew up wearing knitted briefs, but there was probably a notion that “the parts need airing,” as was sometimes claimed by wearers of kilts.

Butterick “cami-knickers” 5124 with “envelope chemise” 5059. Delineator, April 1924.

Munsingwear offered this unfussy, step-in version of a “woven union suit with closed gore, step-in style.”

Ad for Munsingwear knitted underwear for women; Delineator, June 1924. If the crotch strap was close to the hem, that “wide opening at the side” [see below] would be needed.

And the Munsingwear ad mentions bloomers among its underwear selections.

Below, a pair of “knickers” held by a young woman wearing an “envelope chemise.”

The model wearing “envelope chemise” 4137 is holding a pair of “knickers,” pattern 3197. In the U.S., “Knickers” sometimes referred to undergarments in January 1924, and still does in England. Delineator, January 1924. [And Delineator was published in England as well as in the U.S.]

Knickers? Bloomers? Confused? That’s OK. “Don’t get your knickers in a twist….” Incidentally, the pattern numbers give you an idea which were slightly earlier styles that were being continued (3000’s and 4000’s) and newer styles (5000’s and 6000’s.) This knickers pattern (6194) — clearly an undergarment — was new in 1925:

Butterick knickers pattern 6194 was brand new in August of 1925 — and these knickers are definitely underwear.

But, to add to my confusion, Butterick offered knicker pattern 3496 as outdoor wear, also in the summer of 1925.

Woman golfer wearing knicker pattern 3496, from Delineator, July 1925, p. 35.

The number series suggests knicker pattern 3496 was issued back in 1922 or 1923 and still popular in 1925.

Butterick pattern 3496, knickers to wear for sports. Delineator, January 1925, p. 34.

Knickers? Bloomers? Drawers?

Butterick pattern 4974, for step-in “Drawers” was probably issued in 1923 or early 1924. These have elastic in the waist, making them easy to step into and draw up.

Butterick “step-in drawers” pattern 5564, from October 1924. “Under the new narrow dresses you should wear lingerie cut on correspondingly narrow lines.”

This set (“chemise and drawers”) was featured in June, 1924.

A “French chemise” and one-piece step-in drawers, Butterick 3826, illustrated in June 1924. I’m guessing that the pattern contained  a camisole-and-drawers version and an all-in-one version as shown at right. “Width at bottom of each leg 30 inches.”

This vintage step-in [1/17/18 edit: Combination] chemise would look different on a human body. This silky beauty has no waist seam. It does have a button crotch.

“Drawer-skirt combination” (5050, at left,) camisole 4957, and envelope chemise 5059. Delineator, May 1924.

This lovely vintage set of camisole and drawers shows its button crotch clearly:

This vintage set — I love the contrasting lace and embroidery color — has a separate camisole and [not step-in] drawers. Since the waist is not elastic, the “drawers” need to have a button crotch.

A camisole, which covers only the upper body, could be worn with drawers, like the camisole and drawers (or step-ins?)  shown in this Royal Society ad:

Detail from Royal Society ad, November 1924. The camisole costs $1.25 and the drawers [?] cost $1.50.

Different patterns for drawers were issued:

Butterick 4974 was called ” step-in drawers” in January 1924. They have an elastic waist, so they might not need a button-crotch. For hips 35″ to 52.”

A new set of step-in drawers “in a skirt effect” is illustrated in October, 1924: Butterick pattern 5565. These would need a strap-type crotch of some kind. [They don’t have separate legs, so why are they called “drawers?”]

Drawers and knickers were different from bloomers, which tended to be fuller:


Bloomers, Butterick 5705; Delineator, March 1925. To read about boneless corselettes, click here.

But bloomers, like knickers, could also be outerwear:

Butterick “combination” 5030 (again) and bloomers for a little girl [or girls 2 to 16 years!] Butterick 5065. Delineator, March 1924. These bloomers are attached to an underbodice, very practical for the years when little girls have tummies bigger than their hips. [I remember needing suspenders on my skirts in first grade….]

Often, “bloomers” were intended to be seen, and were worn by almost all girls as part of their gym suits, or for any active pursuits. The middy blouse would cover the underbodice:

Middy blouse 3849 was a classic. I have photos of my aunt and friends graduating from high school wearing a middy-blouse-plus-white-skirt uniform in 1917. Gym bloomers (“for girls or misses 2 to 18”) were very full, often pleated. Delineator, February 1924. The Vintage Traveler shared a whole middy catalog from the 1920’s here.

Did I learn anything from this adventure in undergarment nomenclature?  Only to avoid making absolute pronouncements about bloomers, knickers, drawers, teddies, chemises, camisoles, combinations, and step-ins! [Please see helpful comment from thevintagetraveler!]









Filed under 1920s, Children's Vintage styles, Combinations step-ins chemises teddies, lingerie, lingerie and underwear, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Panties knickers bloomers drawers step-ins, Slips and Petticoats, Underthings, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Underwear and lingerie, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Designer Lingerie from Paris, 1920’s

I live so far from the life of people who buy couture that it never occurred to me that couturiers made underwear in the 1920’s. This little article from June, 1929 shows a royal bride, plus trousseau lingerie from the Houses of Worth, Doeuillet-Doucet , Philippe et Gaston, and Rouff.

Wedding dress and lingerie from Worth, Doeuillet-Doucet, etc. Delineator, June 1929.

Wedding dress and lingerie from Worth, Doeuillet-Doucet, etc. Delineator, June 1929.

I already wrote about the white chiffon velvet wedding dress made for Princess Francoise of France (click here.)

Worth wedding gown designed for Princess Francoise of France. Sketched in Delineator, June 1929.

Worth wedding gown designed for Princess Francoise of France. Sketched in Delineator, June 1929.

This bridesmaid dress by Ardanse was not necessarily part of the royal wedding , nor were all the designer lingerie pieces sketched.

Bridesmaid dress by Ardanse. "Green taffeta with the yoke, tiny sleeves and skirt of tulle." June 1929.

Bridesmaid dress by Ardanse. “Green taffeta with the yoke, tiny sleeves and skirt of tulle.” June 1929.

Below, left:  “The wedding nightgown of white crepe de Chine trimmed with Milan lace is netting edged. By Rouff.

Nightgown by Rouff, chemise and matching panties by Doeuillet-Doucet. Delineator sketch, June 1929.

Nightgown by Rouff, chemise and matching panties by Doeuillet-Doucet. Delineator sketch, June 1929.

The nightgown by Maggy Rouff is surprisingly un-sexy (but perhaps the Princess was modest.)

Lingerie top and bottom from Doeuillet-Doucet. Delineator, JUne 1929.

Lingerie chemise and “pantalon” underwear from Doeuillet-Doucet. Delineator, June 1929.

“Pale pink crepe de Chine and pantalon for the going-away lingerie set.” Doeuillet was a known design house, and so was Doucet. When Doucet died in 1929, Doeuillet took over the house of Doucet; that explains the hyphenated name.

This similar set, probably not couture,  was not labelled, but very elegant:

Vintage pink silk chemise and panties or knickers.

Vintage underwear:  a pink silk chemise and panties or knickers.

Note the crotch fastened with buttons. I think of wide-legged undies like these as “tap pants,” since they resemble dancers’ rehearsal shorts from the twenties and thirties. Separates were replacing “combinations” or “Teddies” as waistlines returned to late nineteen twenties and early thirties dresses.

Silk bedjacket by Maggy Rouff, sketched for Delineator, June 1929.

Silk bedjacket by Maggy Rouff, sketched for Delineator, June 1929.

“The bride slips this pale pink satin jacket over her night-dress for the ‘petit dejeuner’ in bed.” Married women were allowed to eat breakfast in bed — a luxury denied to the unmarried daughter or houseguest.  [Source: The World of Downton Abbey, by Jessica Fellowes.] Bed jackets were a common gift item, useful because a long robe would have been uncomfortable under the blankets, but even Great Houses and hotels were not well heated.

Combinations (a teddy) by Phillipe et Gaston, right, and a combination that ties in the back, by Doeuillet-Doucet. Sketched for Delineator, June 1929.

Chemise-pantalon (a teddy) by Doeuillet-Doucet, right; left, a long wrapped chemise that ties in the front, by Philippe et Gaston. Sketched for Delineator, June 1929.

The teddy — an all-in-one, step-in undergarment, would have had a crotch strap; the “trousseau chemise” that ties in front strikes me as a very impractical garment to wear under clothing — the bow would create a bulge — but is certainly trousseau-worthy for wandering around the honeymoon suite. (It almost seems designed to slip off gracefully….) The House of Philippe et Gaston rose rapidly in the 1920s. (See a fashion plate here.)

Left, Phillipe et Gaston; right, Doeuillet-Doucet. Sketcher for Delineator, June 1929.

Left, Philippe et Gaston; right, Doeuillet-Doucet. Sketched for Delineator, June 1929.

This pale green tucked teddy has a a crotch strap, barely visible. it stops at the edge of the net lace.

This pale green, tucked teddy has a a crotch strap, barely visible. It stops at the edge of the netting lace.

Netting lace and tucks were both used on the wedding nightgown illustrated above.

I personally love the use of “cafe au lait” colored lace on vintage lingerie — and, of course, it could give the illusion of nudity under sheer dresses, depending on your skin tone.

Detail of lace on pale green silk undergarment, 1920s.

Detail of lace on pale green silk undergarment, 1920s.

Cafe au lait lace on a pink silk undergarment,, 1920s.

Cafe au lait lace on a pink silk undergarment, 1920s.

The extraordinary Vintage Textile website has exquisite 1920’s garments for sale; after an item is sold, its photograph is moved to the Gallery, where we can enjoy it for years to come (Thank you!) Click here for the 1920s Gallery.

A sample from the Vintage Textile Gallery: “France, 1925.”

Details of another lovely piece of lingerie attributed to Maggy Rouff can be seen here. Another famous twenties Fashion House was Boue Soeurs. See an example of their work by clicking here.

For dessert:

A step-in teddy from Pinterest…

… And a black peignoir from 1925, at the Vintage Textile Gallery– you really should take a look at Vintage Textile.com! It’s not just 1920’s clothing. Who knows what you might find in their “Treasure Hunt” pages!




Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, lingerie and underwear, Nightclothes and Robes, Resources for Costumers, Slips and Petticoats, Underthings, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing