Essentials of a perfect College Wardrobe; Delineator, September 1929.
It’s a bit late in the year to be planning an “off to college” wardrobe, but Delineator devoted several pages to this question in September, 1929.
Administrators at Vassar, Wellesley, and Smith colleges shared their observations on what college girls were wearing in 1929. Delineator, Sept 1929, pp. 29 & 104.
Administrators at three prestigious East Coast women’s colleges contributed their observations in an accompanying article, which was later quoted in the Butterick pattern descriptions.
In addition to Butterick patterns, several “college clothing” illustrations were sketched from clothes being sold at Lord & Taylor.
These “College Requirements” could be purchased at Lord & Taylor. Delineator, Sept. 1929, page 28.
At all three colleges, sportswear — rather than “city” clothing — was said to dominate. (Vassar was literally “in the country.” In the case of Wellesley, Freshmen lived in the nearby town, so clothes suitable for walking and bicycling to campus were necessary.) Dressing for dinner usually required a change, but not into evening dress. However, dances and Proms called for at least one formal evening gown. [I attended a women’s college in California in the 1960s, and we often loaned or borrowed evening gowns for off campus dances, so having only one wasn’t a real problem. Our dates saw us in a different dress each time.] I also appreciated reading about a dorm at Smith where the girls grouped together to rent a sewing machine! All three writers agreed that sporty, casual clothing — home made or purchased — dominated the college wardrobe and to some extent erased class distinctions. (In the late Twenties, Vassar had 1150 undergraduate students, Wellesley 1500, and Smith 2000.)
Laura W. L. Scales, Smith College. Delineator, Sept. 1929, page 29.
I’ll start with college clothes available from Lord & Taylor in 1929:
(A) A fur coat was practical on campus in snowy winters, but wool coats were equally acceptable.
(B) is an afternoon dress, suitable for formal daytime events (teas, concerts) or as a dinner dress at college.
Wool knits, jersey, and tweeds were practical and traditional “country” looks; most of these colleges were then in the country a few miles from big cities, although urban sprawl has changed that.
“Simulated suede raincoat”? Interesting. Augusta “Bernard” and “Louiseboulanger” were top Paris designers,
A warm robe, pajamas for sleep and dorm lounging, plus “sports” underwear (J): the top and bottom are buttoned together. 1929.
Formal evening wrap and dress from Lord & Taylor. September 1929. The coat is short; the gown has a long dipping hem.
Note those stretchy bias diamond pieces at the hip of the gown. Pearl-covered handbag.
Butterick patterns for the young college woman, September 1929:
Butterick patterns for college women, Sept. 1929, p. 30.
This dress really is easier to make than it looks. The full, scalloped skirt is cut on the straight grain, lined with “skin” colored taffeta, and has a dipping hem because it is attached to a dipping bodice.
Intimate apparel for college girls:
The slip at right has built in panties, to save time while dressing ….
“No brassiere is necessary,” but some girls do “make this set with a bandeau brassiere instead of a vest.”
Fall and winter weather was another good reason for wearing sporty wool clothing with low heeled shoes and wool, instead of silk, stockings on campus.
Wool fabrics were suitable for campus or weekends in town:
More sporty patterns for college women, 1929. Butterick patterns, Delineator, page 31.
A tweed suit suitable for city or country, a chic two-toned jersey dress, and a princess line wool or jersey dress with flared panels. Butterick patterns from Delineator, September 1929, p. 31
A sporty tweed dress with laced trim (very popular in the 30s), a pleated wool dress with Deco lines (“staircase pleats,”) and a fur-trimmed tweed coat. Butterick patterns for college women, Delineator, Sept. 1929, p. 31.
It’s sad to realize that these attractive 1929 styles would be out of fashion just a year later — although many women would have no choice but to continue wearing them as the economy crumbled in the early nineteen thirties.