Tag Archives: Downton Abbey

Suspender Skirts, 1925

Butterick suspender skirts,, 1925. Left, May, # 5997; right, April, #5979.

Butterick suspender skirts with smocked blouses, 1925. Left, May, #5997; right, April, #5979.

The “suspender skirt” — called the “Pretty Peggy Skirt” in the Fall 1925 Sears catalog — was available in several Butterick patterns for women and girls during 1925. I hate to keep mentioning Downton Abbey, but I remembered seeing suspender skirts in Delineator magazine because Lady Edith recently appeared wearing one. (She was photographed mostly from the waist up, so I can’t be absolutely certain, but it looked like she was wearing a dark suspender skirt with a white blouse in the brief scene where she told Tom that she intended to leave Downton Abbey without talking to anyone.)

Suspender skirt 6079, left, and 6063, far right. June 1925, Delineator.

Suspender skirts #6079, far left, and #6063, far right. June 1925, Butterick patterns in Delineator.

It’s a rather strange fashion, and was sometimes described as a skirt, and sometimes as a dress. In America today, we’d be inclined to call it a “jumper,” meaning a sleeveless dress designed to be worn over a blouse. (“Jumper” is one of those words, like “braces” and “vest,” which mean a completely different piece of clothing in the U.K.)  Sometimes, as above, it was scooped to above the natural waist, but some versions appear to be open so low that the blouse wrinkles.

Designers had already shown one-piece dresses with a curved contrasting “bib,” one of many ploys for adding a vertical element, or a contrasting element near the face, to mid-1920’s fashions.

A dark dress with a contasting bib effect. May, 1924.

A dark dress with a contrasting bib effect. May, 1924. Delineator.

A dress from Dec. 1924, left, and one from Oct. 1925, right. Butterick patterns in Delineator magazine.

A ‘bib’ dress from Dec. 1924, left, and one from Oct. 1925, right. Butterick patterns in Delineator magazine.

The suspender skirt, however, was a skirt with wide shoulder straps — often bias bound — and a low, curved front, worn over a separate blouse. Patterns were available for women, teens ( called “misses”) and girls. In adult sizes, patterns for the blouse and skirt were sold separately, sometimes with a matching jacket or vest pattern, too. Suspender skirts for girls, however, included the blouse pattern — probably because child-sized patterns used less paper.

Girls' suspender skirt and blouse pattern 6176. August, 1925. Delineator.

Girls’ suspender skirt and blouse pattern #6176. August, 1925. Delineator.

Butterick suspender skirt and blouse #6009. May, 1925.

Butterick suspender skirt and blouse #6009. May, 1925.

Girls' skirt and blouse pattern 6131, July 1925.

Girls’ suspender skirt and blouse pattern #6131, July 1925.

MIsses' skirt 6017, with blouse 5903. Butterick, May, 1925.

Misses’ skirt #6017, with blouse #5903. Butterick, May 1925.  Note the line of slenderizing decorative buttons, seen on many 1925 patterns.

Many of the suspender skirts were shown over blouse pattern 5903, which has a smocked neckline and “folk” embroidery.

Butterick suspender skirt 6079 with blouse 5903. June 1925.

Butterick suspender skirt #6079 with blouse #5903. June 1925.

In 1925, dresses were often shown with a decorative handkerchief hanging out of the pocket, like most of these.

Skirt 5964 with blouse 5498 and coat 5981. May, 1925. The blouse was from 1924.

Skirt #5964 with blouse #5498 and coat #5981. May, 1925.

In this version, the coat is lined with the plaid wool used for the skirt. The blouse, Butterick 5498, first appeared in 1924.

Pattern information for skirt 5964 and the rest of the outfit. April, 1925; Delineator.

Pattern information for skirt #5964 and the coat, #5981. The same coat and skirt were featured two months in a row; this describes them worn a different blouse and hat. From the April, 1925 Delineator.

The pattern descriptions for skirts #5997 and #5979 appear below.

Butterick suspender skirts,1925. Left, # 5997; right, #5979.

Butterick suspender skirts, 1925. Left, #5997 has small pleats in front; right, #5979, has pleats near the hem at CF and side seams, but not in back.

Pattern information for skirt 5997.

Pattern information for skirt #5997, when it was featured in a different magazine issue with the sleeveless jacket, #6001, below.

Suspender skirt #5979, on the right above, was also illustrated in red, with a sleeveless jacket and contrast binding:

Suspender skirt 5979 with blouse 5903. May, 1925. Delineator.

Suspender skirt #5979 with blouse #5903, and  jacket #6001. May, 1925. Delineator.

Pattern information for Butterick skirt 5979. Jacket 6001 was also illustrated with suspender skirt #

Pattern information for Butterick skirt #5979 and jacket #6001; this is the description from a different month, which showed the skirt and jacket with a different blouse and hat.

The vocabulary was not always used precisely; the outfit on the left, below, was called a “suspender skirt” and blouse, but the one on the right was described as a “dress” and blouse. They are shown with two versions of the same blouse, #5508, from 1924.

Suspender skirt #6077 (June) with blouse #5508  and "Dress" 6119 with blouse #5508 (July.) 1925.

Suspender skirt #6077 (June 1925) with blouse #5508 and “Dress” #6119 (July 1925) with blouse #5508. The ‘dress’ has higher armholes.

Another thing worth noting, for the light it sheds on pattern production:  all but one of the suspender skirts have exactly the same back.

Back views of suspender skirts 5964 and

Back views of suspender skirts #5964 and #5979.

Back views of suspender skirts 5979 and 6017.

Back views of suspender skirts #6017 and #5979.

Personally, I suspect that the reason why this style only appeared for a short time was that it’s a bad design; with the back scoop as low as the front scoop, the straps would fall off your shoulder every time  you reached down, especially when you were sitting. Only #5997 solves the problem with a higher scoop in back than in front.  If you make a suspender skirt, copy this back.

1925 may p 102 pattern back view skirt 5997 higher back

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Filed under 1920s, Children's Vintage styles, Vintage Accessories, Vintage patterns

To Bob or Not to Bob Your Hair: 1925 (Part 2)

Getting a pointed shingle haircut, Delineator Nov. 1926. Illustration by Leslie Saalsburg.

Getting a pointed shingle haircut, Delineator, November 1926. Illustration by Leslie Saalsburg.

“If your hair grows so that a point can be made in the center of the back, have your barber cut it in a point.” — Celia Caroline Cole, in her article “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker,”  Delineator magazine, January 1924.

I exerpted the first part of “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker” in Part 1 of this post. (Click here to read it.) (And thank you to Dinah and Cristina , et al, for their really informative comments!) If you watch Downton Abbey, you have probably seen the episode where Lady Mary gets her hair cut into a sleek bob with a point in the back. [After looking at many images from 1924 through 1925, I realized that the thick point above her nape was not what was bothering me; it was the length of her hair in front.]

Louise Brooks probably had the most iconic sleek bobbed hair in the movies (click here), but she didn’t have the pointed back shown in the illustration above, which, as Celia Cole says, was only possible for about one in fifty women. The really “slicker ‘n’ slicker” hair that “looks like paint” probably belonged to elegant Josephine Baker, the American girl who became a legendary star in France. (Click here.) She even marketed a hair preparation called “Bakerfix.”

More from “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker,” January 1925

"The friendliest shingle is to have it cut long on the sides so as to cover the ears. . . . A lovely little sloping curve from behind the ear down to the sharp little point." Two pattern illustration modesl from May, 1925. Butterick's Delineator magazine.

“The friendliest shingle is to have it cut long on the sides so as to cover the ears. . . . A lovely little sloping curve from behind the ear down to the sharp little point.” Two pattern illustration models from May, 1925. Butterick’s Delineator magazine.

from the friendliest shingle to head of young boy

“And long or short, the hair must be very neat — no more tousled heads — brushed until it shines, and for most faces waved in large, loose undulations.”

A Gallery of Mid-Twenties Hair Styles from Delineator Illustrations

April 1924, Paris fashion sketches by Soulie.

April 1924, Paris fashion sketches by Soulie.

March 1924, Delineator. Butterick pattern illustrations.

March 1924, Delineator. Butterick pattern illustrations.

A few months later, in  January, 1925, the girl above left would have been among those who were advised to have the hair in back tapered or thinned “with a razor so that it does not stand out.”

October 1924. Delineator.

October 1924. Delineator.

March, 1925. Delineator.

March, 1925. Delineator. Paris models.

The blonde on the right has her hair cut almost like a man’s, long in front and tapered in back. She has tendrils falling on her cheek, like these other Paris models:

Very short hair on Paris models. The two on the left are from January 1925; the one on the right is from April, 1924.

Very short hair on Paris models. The two on the left are from January 1925; the one on the right is from April, 1924.

A haircut like this gave you the option of pulling a lock from the front down to curl on your cheek on each side, or you could brush it straight back, like singer Dora Stroeva, pictured in Delineator, March, 1924.

Singer Dora  Stroeva wears a severly mannish "Eton crop" in the "New in New York" column; Delineator, March 1924.

Singer Dora Stroeva wears a severely mannish “Eton crop” in the “New in New York” column; Delineator, March 1924.

The “Eton crop,” named after the prestigious English boys’ school Eton College, was the subject of cartoons like this one:

The woman on the right, admiring a photograph of the man the woman on the left is engaged to, says, "Well, God bless you, my dear, congratulations and all that. He certainly looks twice the man that you are." March, 1928, Punch magazine.

The woman on the right is admiring a photograph of the man the woman on the left is engaged to marry.  March, 1928, Punch magazine, reprinted in The Way to Wear’em by Christina Walkley.

The caption says, “Young woman (looking at a photograph of friend’s fiance).  ‘Well, God bless you, my dear, congratulations and all that. He certainly looks twice the man you are.’ ” (For more “fashion” cartoons from The Way to Wear’em and other books, click here.)

However, most women felt the need for some hair near the face to “save it from that utterly revealed look.”

1925, Delineator.

1925, Delineator. The woman in the center has had her hair thinned a little at the bottom, as advised in “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker.”

October 1924, Delineator.

October 1924, Delineator.

December 1924, Delineator.

December 1924, Delineator. Styles for wavy hair.

Having some hair around the face looked better with a hat.

Hair Styles That Are “Nice to Buy Hats For”

“Any one who has had short hair knows the joy of it — cool and free, easy to care for and nice to buy hats for.”

March, left, and January, right, 1925. Hair styles meant to look good under a cloche hat.

March, left, and January, right, 1925. Hair styles meant to look good under a cloche hat.

Hats, story illustration, September 1924. Delineator.

Hats and hair, story illustration, September 1924. Delineator.

It’s hard now to remember that women once wore hats whenever they went out in public, but through the 1920’s and 1930’s photographs of crowds rarely show a person without a head covering of some kind. The tight-fitting, head-hugging hats of the 1920’s required hairstyles that could survive being compressed, and still look presentable when a woman took her hat off at work or at home. No wonder hairstyles got “slicker ‘n’  slicker.”

from gray bobbed to arrange for herself

It didn’t matter whether the hat was a turban, or a cloche, or a hat with a brim; part of the twenties look is those little poufs or curls or “guiches” that fill in the hollow of the cheek. Without them, a cloche hides all your hair, and the look is austere and rather grim. As Celia Cole put it, ” The dressing of the hair means to the face and head what shrubbery and trees mean to a brand-new house: they save it from that utterly revealed look.”

Four Hats for Spring, April 1925. Delineator.

Four Hats for Spring, April 1925. Delineator.

Hats illustrated with dress patterns, February 1925. Delineator.

Hats illustrated with dress patterns, February 1925. Delineator. Imagine how different they would look with no hair visible.

Even a tiny wisp of hair on the cheek softens the hat and sculpts the face.

Hair cut to a point in back, February 1925. Delineator.

Sleek, shiny hair cut to a point in back, February 1925. Delineator.

Which brings me back to Lady Mary’s haircut. Because the front was longer than any of the styles shown in these 1924-1925 illustrations, her haircut didn’t work very well with the hat of her riding habit.  Her hair didn’t fit neatly into the hollow of her cheek. It got messy. That bothered me, like getting a piece of popcorn stuck to a back tooth.

Two hats -- with wisps of hair showing at the cheeks. February 1924, Delineator.

Two hats — with wisps of hair showing at the cheeks. February 1924, Delineator.

Of course, when it comes to dressing actors, the rule is , “The physical attractiveness of the actor to the audience outweighs all other considerations.” It doesn’t apply to all characters — and not to extras — but it does apply to leading actors playing physically attractive characters. Sometimes we search through incredible amounts of research, until we find one example that justifies the style that best becomes the actor. Molly Ivins said that there is nothing so dangerous as a man who has only read one book.”  I probably haven’t found the right book — and “I’m always hungry for more.”

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Filed under 1920s, Hairstyles, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture

To Bob or Not to Bob Your Hair: 1925 (Part 1)

Dinner Party from a Toothpaste Ad, Delineator magazine, January, 1924.

Dinner Party from a Toothpaste Ad, Delineator magazine, January, 1924. These full hairdos were about to be replaced by “slicker” head-hugging styles.

I’m not a big fan of Downton Abbey, but I watch it anyway. In the last episode I saw, in season 5, Lady Mary got a new haircut, which is certainly something lots of women do when they feel the need for a change. But there was something about her bob that bothered me, so I poked around in my files, trying to figure out what it was.

Instead, I found a lengthy article about bobbed hair, “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker,” from January 1925, plus many hair-related images.  The article is long, so I’ll break the text up into readable sections (over two posts) and include period images of the styles it refers to. The author, Celia Caroline Cole, was a regular beauty columnist for Delineator magazine, and most of my images are from mid-twenties issues of Delineator.

Here is the illustration and caption that accompanied “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker”:

 One's crowniing glory is such a problem, what is a body to do? To bob or not to bob -- and how?" Delineator, Jan. 1925, p. 22.


“One’s crowning glory is such a problem, what is a body to do? To bob or not to bob — and how?” Delineator, Jan. 1925, p. 22.

“ONE-FOURTH of the women of Paris are bobbed. And there is about that same proportion in London and New York.” —  Celia Caroline Cole, Delineator, January 1925.

Paris fashions from Lucien Lelong, left, and Jean Patou, center and right. Sketched by Soulie for Delineator, 1925.

Paris fashions from Lucien Lelong, left, and Jean Patou, center and right. The models have bobbed and shingled hair. Sketched by Soulie for Delineator, late 1925.

Women Whose Hair Was Not Yet Bobbed

What about the other seventy-five percent of women, the ones who had not yet succumbed to the fashion for very short, “slick” hair?

Bobbed hair had first been popularized during World War I; dancer and fashion icon Irene (Mrs. Vernon) Castle was influential in setting the style.

Irene Castle, with bobbed hair, endorsing Corticelli  Silk in this advertisement from Ladies' Home Journal, October 1917.

Irene Castle, with bobbed hair, endorsing Corticelli Silk in this advertisement from Ladies’ Home Journal, October 1917.

However, after the war ended, long hair became fashionable again. The Marcel Wave — and later, a permanent curl — made it possible for women born with straight hair to have very wavy locks. You could even get a  home permanent “outfit” (using one roller, which screwed into your lamp, like a lightbulb, since there was usually no other electrical supply in the room.) “A whole head can be waved comfortably in just a few hours.”

A Nestle Home Permanent Machine, "Price only $15" in December, 1924. Delineator.

A Nestle Home Permanent Outfit, “Price only $15” in December, 1924. Delineator. It’s going to take more than a few hours to wave that head of hair.

My mother, like many other women, was still wearing her “marcelled” hair in the late 1920s:

A marcel wave, worn close to the head to fit under a cloche hat in the 1920's. Most women did not have a curl right in the middle of their foreheads, but the center part was very typical.

A marcel wave, worn close to the head to fit under a cloche hat in the 1920’s. Most women did not wear a curl right in the middle of their foreheads, but her center part was very typical. “A part in the middle is as smart for bobs as for long hair.”

Three models from one page of Delineator magazine, November 1924:  the woman on the left has a marcel wave and long hair gathered into a chignon low on her neck. The woman on the right has a sleek bob with a “shingle” cut in back. Either style would fit under a cloche hat.

November 1924: Three hair styles seen together in one  Butterick pattern illustration. Delineator,  p. 27.

November 1924: Three hair styles seen together in one Butterick pattern illustration. Delineator, p. 27.

Return of the Bob

The fashion for bobbed hair returned in the early 1920’s. Daring young women went to the local (male) barber shop to have their “crowning glory” chopped off — sometimes to the horror of their parents.

Display poster sold to barber shops in 1924. From

Barber’s Display card sold to barber shops in 1924. From An Illustrated History of Hairstyles, by Marian I. Doyle, page 82.

However, in January of 1925, most women had not yet bobbed their hair. Those who had, usually wore it very full (one might say, “bushy”);  the author of “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker” refers to their “large, gnomelike heads.”  Ads for shampoos and other hair products emphasized a thick, wavy head of hair:

An ad for Danderine hair product, January 1925. Delineator.

An ad for Danderine hair product, January 1925. Delineator.  In the same issue, the beauty editor called these bobbed hairdos “very demodee.”

Even these styles, from the Barber Shop display card shown above,  are full, rather than sleek.

Straight bobs from barber shop display card, 1924. An Illustrated History of Hair

Straight bobs from barber shop display card, 1924. From An Illustrated History of Hairstyles, M. Doyle.

That is why the beauty editor of Delineator had to tell women, in January of 1925, that “the old straight bob is very demodee.” [Démodée means “out of style, unfashionable.”] “To be modee and exciting and to look like an illustration in a novel, the hair should be either shingled or dressed so close to the head that it looks like paint.” — C. C. Cole

The Shingle Explained

A Shingle Hair Cut, April 1924. Delineator.

A Shingle Hair Cut, April 1924. Delineator.

“If a woman has a well-shaped head . . . , the hair is cut close to the head in the back and about a third of the way up from the nape of the neck and from there on it is longer. The whole aim is to have a beautiful line for the back of the head — that loveliness one finds in the head of a young boy.

“If the hair is thin . . . , the smart hairdresser does not cut the hair close at the nape of the neck, but cuts it in one length from the crown to the nape, thinning the ends with a razor so that it will not stand out.” — Celia Cole in her article “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker.”

More Exerpts from “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker,” Published in January 1925

to be modee para

"A dashing little head on the stop of a slender supple body not at all concealed by its extremely simple frock." Pattern illustrations from Delineator, Feb. 1924.

“A dashing little head on the top of a slender supple body not at all concealed by its extremely simple frock.” Pattern illustrations from Delineator, Feb. 1924.

Four Paris models sketched by Soulie, Delineator, January 1925.

Four Paris models sketched by Soulie, Delineator, January 1925 — The same issue carried “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker.”

two things must be considered

"The short, stout woman can very rarely wear a shingle; she needs a "thatch." Corset ad, Dec 1924. Delineator.

“The short, stout woman can very rarely wear a shingle; she needs a ‘thatch.’ ” Round-U Corset ad, Dec 1924. Delineator.

French Models sketched by Soulie, March 1924. Delineator.

French Models sketched by Soulie, March 1924. Delineator. “The bob has no age limit.”

from the bob, lik to the flatness

 

"Wave it" or "Dress it low" if a shingle doesn't suit your hair or head shape; two styles from 1924. Delineator.

“Wave it” or “Dress it low” if a shingle doesn’t suit your hair or head shape; two styles from 1924. Delineator.

However, if a woman’s hair is thick, she should “go to a good barber — and by “barber” we mean a woman’s barber, a hairdresser — and have him thin it out evenly, so that it can be dressed smartly close.”

To be continued . . . .

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, Hairstyles, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Vintage patterns, vintage photographs

Fashions from Paris, January 1924

Illustration from January 1924 Deliineator. Not by Soulie.

An illustration — not by Soulie — from January 1924 Delineator. 

 

“Soulié’s Sketches Sent from The Delineator’s Paris Establishment Draw Attention to Godets, Princess Lines, and Frills Flat or Otherwise.” — Headline in Delineator Magazine, January 1924

Butterick Publishing Company kept an office in Paris for the purpose of following the  latest fashion trends and reporting on them. (Not to mention producing Butterick patterns based on those trends.)

In January of 1924, Soulié sketched designs by several well-known Paris houses:  Patou, Agnès, Doucet, Louise Boulanger, and Poiret. Since Downton Abbey’s current season is set in 1924, this seems like a good time to show some 1924 French designs. (Even though my real interest is in clothing for ordinary people, the influence of major French designers always percolates down through the department stores and pattern houses.)

Jean Patou

A coat (left) and a suit (right) by Jean Patou, January 1924. Sketches by Soulié for Delineator magazine.

A coat (left) and a suit (right) by Jean Patou, January 1924. Sketches by Soulié for Delineator magazine.

“A coat that has quite the cut of a suit is made by Patou of black kid lined throughout with persisky — a form of civet — and trimmed with straps.”  [In other words, this is a soft leather coat lined with fur.]

“Flat frills begin where the straight coat ends in a suit of green fulgarante with a knee-length bodice of green and gold brocade with collar and cuffs of gray fox. From Jean Patou.” [“Fulgarante” is apparently one of those words with a specialized meaning to fashion writers; it is Spanish for “blazing.”]

Agnès

A suit and a dress designed by Agnès and sketched by Soulié for Delineator, Jan 1924.

A suit and a dress designed by Agnès and sketched by Soulié for Delineator, Jan 1924.

“Suit coats are of all lengths and many cuts, but the string-tied jacket and narrow skirt remain as popular as ever. Agnès uses them for a suit of beige zibella velours de laine with bearskin collar and cuffs.” In January of 1913, the New York Times reported that “Velour de laine, that soft, silky woolen tissue that arrived in the Autumn and was so popular till satins and silks usurped its place later, has now reappeared ….” [ Velours means velvet, laine means wool, and zibella is a mystery to me!]

“Gold braid underscored with rose-colored embroidery binds the slashed edges of an overdress and tunic of black crêpe marocain.  The foundation is narrow, the sleeve short, and the length about eight inches from the floor. From  Agnès.” You can find out more about Agnès, and see one of her dresses, at 1stdibs. Click here.

Paul Poiret

A Dress and a cape-like coat by Paul Poiret, sketched by Soulié for Delineator, January 1924.

A dress with metallic threads and a cape-like coat by Paul Poiret, sketched by Soulié for Delineator, January 1924.

“For the new note of gorgeousness that the French dressmakers are introducing, Poiret uses embroidery of silver and gold on a dress of blue poplacote moire.” [Poplacote is another term my search engine has never encountered.]

“Poiret uses suède-colored sapho velvet trimmed with civet cat for a wrap that hides the fact that it is a coat under cape-like sides lined with black satin.” There is a brief biography of Paul Poiret at Encyclopedia Britannica (click here).  The Metropolitan Museum devoted an exhibition to Poiret in 2007; click here to visit it online. You can see his iconic “lampshade” dress of 1912 in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Click here. (Be sure to look at the second image — the color and beadwork is lovely.)

Louise Boulanger [She later designed as Louiseboulanger.]

A coat and a dress from Louise Boulanger, sketched by Soulié for Delineator, January 1924.

A coat and a dress from Louise Boulanger, sketched by Soulié for Delineator, January 1924.

“The Ladies’ Book of 1924 is to show godets in skirts and capes according to an interesting coat of green wool duvetyn [a brushed woolen fabric] with a civet collar from Louise Boulanger.” You can see another 1920s dress by Louiseboulanger in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum. Click here.

“Also from Louise Boulanger comes a dress of bright blue matelassé flared at the foot, banded low on the hip and embroidered in gold on copper at the V neck.”  [The Fashion Model Directory says Louise Boulanger worked for Cheruit until 1927, but the Delineator attributed these designs to her in 1924.]

Doucet

Two evening gowns by Doucet, sketched by Soulié for Delineator, January 1924.

Two evening gowns by Doucet, sketched by Soulié for Delineator, January 1924.

“Doucet’s characteristic elegance speaks for itself in an evening gown of steel lace over a blue silk slip.  A girdle of blue chenille fringe is clasped with a  motif of diamonds and blue stras. [Stras is a type of artifical jewel.]”  The illustration shows the shoulder drape of the the black dress on the right hanging confusingly in front of the light-colored dress on the left — it does not have a black panel in front! You can read more about Jacques Doucet at Fashion Model Directory; click here.

“The new princess line, flat, beltless and narrow, shows itself to great advantage in a Doucet gown of black crêpe velours embroidered with blue and gold Chinese motifs.”

A Few Observations About These Fashions from  January 1924

  • Skirts are still quite long — only 8 inches from the ground.
  • All the models have short, “bobbed” hair.
  • Most of these designs have strong accents at the hip; only the heavily embroidered  Doucet  gown is a tube.
  • The “princess line” is “new.”
  • Fur adds a note of luxury to all the daytime fashions, either as collars, cuffs, belts, (even coat lining,) or carried as a stole or muff.
  • Soulié has drawn most of the models wearing rather high heels, which means the skirts are very long to still be 8″ above the floor.

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Filed under 1920s, Exhibitions & Museums, Hairstyles, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Couture Designs

1917 Fashions Revisited

Delineator, September 1917 editorial image.

Delineator, September 1917 editorial image.

My local Public Broadcasting Station has shown Downton Abbey Revisited so many times in the past few weeks that I suspect a new season is about to begin. I realize they’re somewhere in the 1920s by now — I lost interest many episodes ago — but I still have some lovely color images of 1917 fashions from the American fashion magazine Delineator to share. [Back and alternate views — sometimes surprising — may be found at the bottom of the post.]

Butterick patterns for September 1917. Delineator magazine, page 51.

Butterick patterns for September 1917. Delineator magazine, page 51.

Starting at the top of the page:

1917 sept p 51 color top 500

 Butterick patterns 9375, 9363, 9326

A “waist” is what we call a blouse. Waist and skirt patterns were commonly sold separately, but often made up of matching fabrics and called a “frock.” Butterick suggested that either of the outfits below could also be made in navy or dark blue serge; the dress on the right was suitable for “serge, gabardine, checks and stripes” and would also be “pretty in marine blue, smoke gray, beige, soft green or claret color.” Note the red pocket lining and stitching.  Parallel rows of decorative topstitching made a popular trim in 1917. (Click here and scroll to the bottom of that post for a photo.) That’s quite a lovely jeweled belt — very Arts & Crafts, like this set of hairpins.

Butterick waist 9375, skirt 9363, and dress 9326, Sept. 1917.

Butterick waist 9375, skirt 9363, and dress 9326, Sept. 1917.

 Butterick 9369, 9316, 9384

The French blue Georgette top (below, no. 9369) with matching midnight blue satin skirt (9316) is worn for afternoon or tea — tea dances were popular — but for “general wear fine serge or gabardine with a satin; [sic] silk crepe or chiffon cloth body and sleeve would be good-looking and useful.” Pullover dress 9384 is shown made of “mustard color broadcloth. The soft sleeve shown here is cut with a pointed outline that ends with a fascinating bell tassel of dark blue to match the deep indigo satin of the collar and cord sash. . . . One piece frocks are worn in navy, beige, Burgundy, dust color, prune or brown.”

Butterick patterns 9369. 9316, and dress 9364; Delineator, Sept. 1917.

Butterick patterns 9369. 9316, and dress 9364; Delineator, Sept. 1917.

Skirt 9316 is illustrated in two versions, with the “tonneau” skirt [below left] arranged “in four soft loops that are especially effective in the satin surfaced silk;” it can also be made as the “envelope” skirt [right] with the folds overlapped and apparently stitched or buttoned together — and trimmed with a tassel.

Two versions of the same skirt: a

Two versions of the same skirt: a “tonneau” [barrel skirt] on the left and an “envelope” skirt on the right. Butterick 9316, from 1917.

The Tonneau Skirt, 1917

It must have taken a merchandising genius to persuade women that they wanted their hips to look like a “tonneau,” the French word for  “barrel.”  Nevertheless, they did; here is a photo of a California girl proudly showing off her new dress:

“Ethol” wearing a taffeta tonneau-skirted dress, circa 1918.

Ethol and Bretta, San Mateo Co., California, about 1918.

Ethol and Bretta, San Mateo Co., California, about 1918.

The “envelope” version of pattern 9316 (in light blue ) appeared at the bottom of the page, with this wine colored dress, No. 9381:

1917 sept p 51 waist 9337 skirt 9316 dress 9381 500
1917 was a good year for interesting hats, upswept hairstyles . . .

Finely pleated hat, 1917. Delineator.

Finely pleated hat, 1917. Delineator.

. . .  novelty sleeves, plenty of buttons, tassels galore, and beautifully embroidered dresses. Butterick sold embroidery transfers and also the pattern for the handbag, at left, No. 10625.

Novelty sleeves, plenty of self-covered buttons, tassels everywhere, and embroidered dresses and suits. Delineator, Sept. 1917.

Novelty sleeves, plenty of self-covered buttons, tassels everywhere, and embroidered dresses and suits. Delineator, Sept. 1917.

Butterick patterns 9373, 9073, 9340, 9360

The salmon-colored top and skirt outfit below has a white satin collar, and the buttons are also satin-covered. “Deep patch pockets are embroidered in red and stitched in black.” [!] The blouse can be cut in a shorter length. For afternoon wear, the outfit should be made in satin; “serge, gabardine, wool jersey, stripes or checks make a useful morning and street costume during early Autumn.” [The alternate view of the Russian blouse — at the botttom of this post — looks very different.]

Russian blouse 9373 with skirt 9073; waist 9340 with skirt 9360. Butterick patterns, Delineator. Sept. 1917.

Russian blouse 9373 with skirt 9073; waist 9340 with skirt 9360. Butterick patterns, Delineator. Sept. 1917.

Above right: “Russian green and beige are the colors, soft silk and Georgette crepe the materials that make a frock of distinction for afternoon wear, teas and luncheons. . . . The two-piece skirt can be made with trimming pieces on the hips that give a graceful draped effect. [See the back view, further down.] It has a very soft, pretty silhouette and is made with a moderate amount of fullness.”

Butterick patterns 9350 and 9251

Butterick waist patern 9350 with skirt 9251. Delineatro, Sept. 1917.

Butterick waist pattern 9350 with skirt 9251. Delineator, Sept. 1917.

“In this frock of blue a draped front in bodice effect has a pointed closing fastened by a single big button. . . . The front of the waist forms a sash at the sides and ties over the back giving an attractive peplum impression. [Scroll down for a back view.] The two-piece skirt is arranged with drapery at the sides and gives the popular narrow lower edge and yet is not at all extreme. For evening wear there is a separate train that is very smart and graceful…. For general wear the serge frock is effective in dark blue, mastic, gray, dull red, brown, or prune color.” It could also be made as an afternoon frock in satin, charmeuse, crepe de Chine or crepe meteor “for receptions, tea, or matinee wear.” It’s not hard to imagine an evening version of this skirt, with a long train trailing after those tasseled side-poufs.

Back versions of three of these outfits were also fully illustrated:

Back (or alternate) views of Dress 9384 , waist 9340 with skirt 9360, and 9381. Butterick patterns for September 1917. Delineator.

Back (or alternate) views of Dress 9384 , waist 9340 with skirt 9360, and 9381. Butterick patterns for September 1917. Delineator.

Back (or alternate) views of Dress 9384 (the mustard one), waist 9340 with skirt 9360 (the green striped one), and 9381 (the Burgundy dress with sleeve tassels and front emboidery.) Apparently the woman on the left is not looking over her shoulder to ask, “Does this dress make my butt look big?” That was a “given” in most 1917 fashions. The alternate version of 9340 – 9360 [center] is very different from the “Russian green” striped version we saw before.

Other alternate and back views for the dresses in this post:

Other views of Butterick patterns 9363, 9316, 9350, 9251, Sept. 1917.

Other views of Butterick patterns 9363, 9316, 9350, 9251, Sept. 1917. Note the sleeve variations, right.

Other views of Butterick 9337, 9316, 9326, Sept. 1917.

Other views of Butterick 9337, 9316, 9326, Sept. 1917. Waist 9337 is almost unrecognizable.

Othre views of Butterick skirt 9073 and Russian blouse 9373, Sept. 1917.

Other views of Butterick skirt 9073 and Russian blouse 9373, Sept. 1917.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, bags, Hairstyles, handbags, Hats, Purses, Vintage Accessories, Vintage patterns, vintage photographs, World War I

“Make Do and Mend”

Clothing Rationing in World War II 1943 wartime ad for synthetic fabrics

The Vintage Traveler printed a link to Nancy Hill’s very well-done TED lecture on “Make Do and Mend,” a way of life during World War II in the U.S. and in England. Thank you to Worn Through for blogging about this video!

Shoe Rationing

Both countries passed strict laws about how much fabric could be used in a dress or suit, and issued a limited number of clothing coupons per person per year. This included shoes and other garments. When you bought a pair of shoes, for example, you had to pay with money and with the appropriate coupons. Shoes You Love with couponAt the top of this ad, from Vogue magazine, August 15, 1943, is a woman’s hand holding a ration coupon. “Spend it wisely!” reads the ad.

Fabric Rationing and Synthetic Fabrics

Since fabrics like silk and nylon were needed for parachutes, etc., synthetic versions were much in demand. Another ad from Vogue, August 1943 makes that point visually: 1943 wartime ad for synthetic fabricsText for 1943 Textron Rayon ad

The text announces that “This October at your favorite department store, you will be able to buy, in limited quantities, exclusive, luxurious Textron Fabrics in finest Rayon … glorious lengths of lovely weaves in the most flattering and exciting colors.”

Women on the March, Women in Uniform

Many women were taking on jobs normally reserved for men; not ‘just’ shipbuilding and work in munitions factories, but also ferrying military planes, serving as army nurses, etc.

Ad from Vogue, August 1943

Ad from Vogue, August 1943

This ad for Hill and Dale shoes says,

“From Africa to New Guinea, from Boston to Mexico, Hill and Dales are on the march – with women wearing every uniform. So, pet and polish your Hill and Dale shoes, buy them only when you need them. In classic style and long wearing quality, they are the most – for your coupon and your money.” In the case of shoes, “pet and polish” was the equivalent of “make do and mend.”

Even the Duchess of Devonshire Made Do and Mended

Deborah Mitford marries the future Duke of Devonshire

Deborah Mitford marries the future Duke of Devonshire

In England, rationing continued until 1954.  Of course, wealthy people could buy things on the black market, but many women who had sons, husbands, brothers, fathers, and friends serving in the military refused to cheat the system.  Deborah,  Duchess of Devonshire, née Deborah Mitford, tells a lovely story in Counting My Chickens, about her mother-in-law and a friend who had been “Making Do and Mending” throughout the war and after it.  When their husbands were sent to Paris on a diplomatic mission in 1947, these ladies, used to wearing couture before the war, accompanied them.  Christian Dior’s New Look was ‘all the rage,’ so they were eager to see the collection.  But, when they presented themselves at the Dior showroom, wearing the same mended shoes and worn cloth coats they had been using throughout the war, they were refused admission!  So the Duchess of Rutland and the Duchess of Devonshire sadly ‘ate their sandwiches on a park bench’ and returned to the British Embassy.

Dowager Duchess of Devonshire at Chatsworth

Dowager Duchess of Devonshire at Chatsworth

If you are not familiar with the marvellous “Debo,” Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, I highly recommend her books. She writes as well – and with as much humor –  as her famous sisters, Jessica Mitford (The American Way of Death) and Pamela Mitford (Love in a Cold Climate, The Pursuit of Love).  If you are a fan of Downton Abbey,  Deborah Devonshire can tell you what it’s really like to live in a great house – Chatsworth— with 200 rooms.  One of her tips: Never forget where you put down your reading glasses or your car keys….

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Filed under 1930s-1940s, 1940s-1950s, A Costumers' Bookshelf, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Shoes