Tag Archives: dior new look influence on patterns fashions 1948

Looking Forward to a New Year

cover of The Delineator, December, 1931

Delineator cover, Christmas 1931.

Since I didn’t get around to posting this in time for Christmas, I’m going to ignore the unopened presents and pretend that these ladies are taking down the Christmas decorations (in their evening gowns….) You can read about the fashion for bustle dresses in 1931 by clicking here.

Meanwhile, speculation about the clothing choices we will make when we emerge from months of isolation is all over the place. Will we be so used to comfort that “business casual” becomes even more casual? Or will the pendulum swing toward change: a more dressed up look replacing our pajamas and sweatpants? Here are three articles speculating about post-Covid 19 fashion: from Good Morning America, Barrons.com, and The Washington Post.

Historically, there is a tendency for sportswear to gradually become acceptable in more formal situations, as when the man’s country riding coat with cut-away front:

became business, and then, formal dress:

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/resized-1936-jan-mens-formal-dress-article-illus.jpg

In our own time we have seen the skin-tight leggings which women first wore for dance rehearsals and gym workouts become acceptable street (and even formal) wear, and not just by women who are shaped like ballerinas….

So there’s a distinct possibility that comfort will win out.  On the other hand, after the rationing and shortages and clothing restrictions of World War II,  women’s blocky padded shoulders and knee length skirts were quickly replaced by tightly fitted, mid-calf, super-feminine designs.

Tiny waists, natural shoulders, long skirts: Butterick Fashion News for August 1948.

 

Long skirts, fitted waists, and no scrimping on fabric in these suits from Butterick Fashion News, February 1948.

The wonderful blog A la Recherche des Modes Perdues shared pages and pages of French fashions from L’Art de la Mode, December 1948.  (Do take a look!) If there’s a theme, it’s the lavish waste of fabrics in long, full skirts, and draped skirts. These are super-feminine clothes for grown-up women (very rich ones!) Perhaps the relief of getting out of overalls and “shelter suits” (and pinching every penny) made the fashion pendulum swing to this extreme. It could happen again….

 

 

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Fashion Illustration and Fashion Reality, 1948

Butterick 4609, evening gownfrom Butterick Fashion News, back cover, August 1948.

Butterick 4609, evening gown from Butterick Fashion News, August 1948.

I’ve been looking at pattern illustrations from 1948, when Dior’s “new look” was getting women into waist-cinching undergarments, full (sometimes padded) hips, and a long, long silhouette.

Butterick 4610, from Butterick Fashion News, Aug. 1948.

Butterick 4610, from Butterick Fashion News, Aug. 1948. The waist is exceptionally narrow compared to the hips.

Simplicity store flyer, patterns from April 1948.

Simplicity store flyer, patterns from April 1948. Note the waist sizes.

Butterick suit pattern 4600 from August 1948, Butterick store flyer.

Butterick suit pattern 4600 from August 1948, Butterick store flyer.

I love to remind people that fashion illustrations shape women’s expectations (and self-critical self image) of what they should look like. This 1948 Butterick suit pattern was sized for women under 5′ 5″ tall:

Butterick suit pattern 4569 was available in a special version for women under 5' 5" tall.

Butterick suit pattern 4569 was available in a special version for women under 5′ 5″ tall. Store flyer, July 1948.

If suit 4569 seems awfully tall and thin for a petite woman —  it is.

Fashion models used to be 5’7 or so; this photo from the back of Butterick Fashion News, February 1948, shows a probably waist-cinched but otherwise real young woman:

Ad for Butterick, back of Butterick Fashion News, July 1948.

Ad for Butterick, back of Butterick Fashion News, July 1948.

It was hard to judge her head size exactly, since she is looking down, but from crown to heel (or front anklebone) she is six and a half heads high. The illustration of suit 4569 is relatively (well over a foot) taller and much thinner:

Photo and fashion illustration from July 1948. Using here head a a a unit of measurement, the real woman is six and a half heads from crown to heel. The illustration is eight heads high.

Photo and fashion illustration from July 1948. Using her head as a unit of measurement, the real woman is six and a half heads from crown to heel. The illustration is eight heads high — a woman stretched by more than a foot. And compare their waists!

Over the decades, we appear to have selectively chosen fashion models to match fashion illustrations, putting very thin,  5′ 11″ tall women into very high heels, to resemble these old drawings of imaginary human beings.

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