American women had been reading about the active wartime roles of women in France and Germany since 1914. Here, a few months after the U.S. entered the first World War, softly feminine (although thick-waisted) styles appear beside clothes that look like uniforms.
Fashions from Butterick’s Delineator magazine, August 1917.
During World War I, patterns for pseudo-military uniforms appeared for women who wanted to wear them while volunteering for war-related charities. (The Red Cross and other agencies soon prescribed their own — official — uniforms, with strict regulations about wearing them. Click here.) I’ll show these dresses and their descriptions in detail later in this post; first, here is the second full color fashion page from this issue of Delineator:
Another page of fashions from Butterick’s Delineator magazine, August, 1917.
Some of these outfits are one-piece dresses, but often what looks like a dress turns out to be a blouse (sometimes called a “waist”) pattern with a separate skirt pattern. That allowed a great deal of customization, and I always enjoy seeing illustrations of the same skirt with several tops, or vice versa.
Starting at top left of the first color plate:
Blouse pattern No. 9311 with skirt pattern No. 9318. Butterick’s Delineator, August 1917.
Butterick’s description of 9311 and 9318; Delineator, Aug. 1917.
“It has the popular wide collar and large pockets…. A very good design for misses [i.e., teens] as well as women.”
Left, in pink: blouse 9330 with skirt 9073; right, coat 9324 with skirt 9318. Butterick patterns, Delineator,Aug. 1917.
Blouse 9330 with skirt 9073, Butterick patterns in Delineator, Aug. 1917.
Description of Butterick 9330 and 9073, Aug. 1917. Delineator.
What makes this a “Russian Blouse?” I have no idea. Research project for somebody….
Coat pattern 9324 with skirt 9318, Butterick patterns in Delineator, Aug. 1917.
Description of Butterick patterns 9324 and 9318; Delineator, Aug. 1917.
” ‘Who goes there?’ The answer — a new suit with smart military cape and pockets receives a salute from Fashion. . . . The cape is removable. . . The suit is a splendid design for misses [i.e., ages 15 to 20] as well as women.” This same skirt, No. 9311, was also shown with the long, dotted blouse No. 9311.
Butterick blouse pattern 9311 with skirt 9318. 1917.
Butterick patterns 9317 and 9320, Delineator, Aug. 1917. “The coat has the popular large collar, [No kidding!] with two new outline possibilities….”
Description of Butterick patterns 9317 and 9320; Delineator, Aug. 1917.
The pattern descriptions page included two more contrasting styles, a loose embroidered dress beside another version of the piped coat with military pockets and insignia:
Butterick dress 9326; coat 9324 with skirt 9309. Delineator, Aug. 1917.
This is the same military-influenced coat, No. 9324, that was shown above in a tan, caped version.
Description of Butterick coat 9324 and skirt 9309, Aug. 1917.
“It is a splendid model for the woman who wants something newer and more picturesque than the severely tailored suit.” [Top it with a Rough Riders hat?]
Description of dress 9326, Butterick’s Delineator, Aug. 1917. “The deep pouch pockets and long narrow sash-belt are popular parts of the one-piece look.”
The one-piece dress above, No. 9326, has big, triangular, embroidered pockets something like this one, shown in color:
Description for Butterick dress pattern 9335; Delineator, Aug. 1917.
Description of Butterick dress 9335, Delineator, Aug. 1917.
Dress patterns 9323 and 9331, Butterick. Delineator, Aug. 1917.
Description of Butterick pattern 9323; Delineator, Aug. 1917. “The modern woman buckles on her armor . . . .”
Alternate views of Butterick 9323 and 9331, Aug. 1917.
Description of Butterick pattern 9331, Aug. 1917.
It’s interesting that the blue dress, No. 9323, is described as appealing “to the woman who does not care for the one-piece frocks.” But it is a one-piece frock, with several sleeve variations. The checked dress, No. 9331, has a more complicated cut than you would think from the color illustration. This issue of Delineator had a separate article about gingham dresses.
Butterick pattern 9321, Delineator, Aug. 1917.
This blue and tan dress is worn with an exaggerated military cap; Butterick also sold embroidery transfers for military insignia like the one on this dress’s sleeve.
Description of Butterick patern 9321 from August, 1917.
“The attractive military lines . . . military pockets and collar . . . maintain the martial spirit. . . . It is pretty for a young girl. . . . Sizes 32 to 44 inches bust measure.”
Two more black and white illustrations appeared with the descriptions of the color images on page 43.
Both are waist and skirt combinations, and both outfits use the same skirt pattern, No. 9316. When the folds are buttoned together, as on the left, it is called an “envelope effect.”
Left: Butterick dress patterns 9340 and 9316. Right: waist 9350 and skirt 9316. Delineator, Aug. 1917.
Description of Butterick waist [blouse] pattern 9340 and skirt 9316, above on the left. Aug. 1917.
Description of Butterick waist pattern 9360 with skirt 9316, illustrated above on the right. Aug. 1917.
It’s possible that the Delineator magazine was especially militaristic, but this coat ad from the Ladies’ Home Journal also shows a military influence on women’s ready-to-wear:
Ad for Hamilton coats, Ladies’ Home Journal, Oct. 1917.