Du Barry patterns were sold by Woolworth’s — we called it the “dime store,” or the “five and ten,” as in the 1931 song lyric, “I found a million dollar baby in a five and ten cent store.” ( Click here to hear it .)
The Du Barry flyer from August 1939 shows relatively few patterns — but illustrates the same patterns in different “views” on several pages.
Here are three versions of the dress featured on the cover, Du Barry pattern 2319.
Earlier dresses with side openings used snaps. By 1939 a slide fastener was mentioned in the pattern description, so side zippers must have been common, but not yet taken for granted with all dresses.
You can usually tell which designs are aimed at younger women and teens by the faces and illustration style, but the size range — 12 to 18, or 12 to 20 — is also a clue.
Tailored styles like this pink dress ( Du Barry 2316B) and the sporty pleated one (2311B) were also for sizes 12 through 20. This sizing dates back to the time when patterns for teens and small women were sized by year, rather than by bust measure. (See “Size 16 years. What Does That Mean?”
It could be made with a zipper front closing instead of buttons, as shown in white with red stitching (Scroll down.)
The Du Barry/Woolworth’s pattern flyers also contained ads for other products, from chewing gum to sanitary belts.
“Du Barry Patterns are 10 Cents Each — for sale exclusively by F. W. Woolworth Co.”
I was pleased to see so many dresses made with visible zippers — a style introduced by Parisian designers in 1936-37. (This is mentioned briefly in Robert Friedel’s book, Zipper: An Exploration in Novelty.)
[Schiaparelli is usually credited with being the first, but that’s not strictly accurate. One Butterick pattern with both practical and decorative zippers appeared in 1928. Schiaparelli did encourage the manufacture of colored plastic zippers.]
Is it possible that DuBarry patterns with zipper closings were featured because the same flyer contained this Talon ad?
Although in common use, the word “zipper” technically belonged to the B.F. Goodrich company. (See Flappers, Galoshes, and Zippers for more about the history of the slide fastener.)
My mother still wore a long housecoat very much like this one in 1947 or so; hers was a large floral print in blue seersucker, without a collar. It had these sleeves, but it zipped down the front.
(I call this blog “witness2fashion” because I saw clothes like this being worn.)