Tag Archives: fashion history

Part 2: Butterick Fashions in Color, September 1920

Big hats with a varied dress silhouette; Butterick patterns from Delineator, September 1920. These patterns are from page 96.

1920 was a year when fashions were in transition from the wide hipped “tonneau” skirts of the late teens to the narrow silhouette of the later 1920s.

Left, a “tonneau” or barrel skirt (Butterick skirt 9064.)

Traces of this 1917 silhouette could still be seen in 1920:

Left, Butterick 2572 has a slenderizing opening down the front, revealing a colorful panel; right, Butterick 2560 has a side closing and a hipline that foreshadows the later 1920s.

A hat trimmed with monkey fur; fitted sleeves that cover part of the hand. Looking wider at the hip than the shoulder was not unusual. Butterick 2572.

“The broad sash widens the waistline….” The “vestee” revealed in down the middle is as long as the rest of the garment.

This dress would not make a woman’s hips look slender…. Butterick 2560.

(And the fashion for low busts — even on very young women — always makes me ask, “How is that possible?” Bust flatteners were available in 1920. )

Butterick 2582 is another surplice (or side) closing dress. Another “waist widening” sash effect.

Butterick 2580 from September, 1920.

This over dress ends several inches above the underskirt/satin slip.

Like many other dresses in the September issue, a muted coral or spice-brown red is used.

Left, Butterick 2602 is an embroidered dress with an oriental hem.

For autumn, an enormous brown hat is worn with this gold-ish dress.

The “oriental hem” is gathered to an inner lining.

If the bodice was made of a sheer material, the lining might have a “camisole top” with narrow straps instead of a full lining.

Perhaps it’s a good thing to be reminded that there have been eras when no woman ever asked, “Does this dress make my butt look big?”

 

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Filed under 1920s, bags, Hats, Hats and Millinery, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Butterick Fashions in Color, September 1920 (Part 1)

An unusual style from September 1920. Unfortunately printed off-register, but still interesting.

I feel the need for some color today, so I’m visiting Delineator magazine from September, 1920. As often happens, I’m struck by the 1920s’ color combinations. Not to mention the hats!

Butterick 2584 from September 1920, Delineator, page 96.

I may have shared some of these before — especially the “Oriental Hem” patterns.

Embroidery and fur add to the appeal of these costumes. Delineator, September 1920, page 95. Left, dress 2557 has a blouse effect. The waist is pulled in by elastic.

Right, 2577 has shorter panels over its long skirt. Long necklaces were worn.

A gray hat accents this embroidered dress in an autumnal muted red.

The draped side panels are inserted into the side seam. Butterick 2600 from September 1920.

There were many ways to make these side draperies, called “cascades.”

This long, slim, pleated dress appeals to me. Butterick 2571. The “non button” buttonholes are an odd touch. With the hem raised to just below the knee, this one could still have been worn in the later 1920s.

The same couldn’t be said for the wide-hipped dresses on the same page:

Butterick 2597 was not a style that lasted much longer. September 1920.

These deep pockets were not new in 1920.

Pockets were used to exaggerate the width of women's hips, in French designer fashions and in home sewing patterns. Bothe from Delineator, 1917.

Left, couture; right, home sewing pattern. Both illustrations from Delineator, 1917.

Sheer sleeves and overskirt combine in this afternoon dress.

Butterick 2573 is an afternoon dress. Click here for more Oriental effect [aka “harem”] skirts.

If you want to read entire Delineator magazines from 1920, you’ll find them, digitized by Google, at HathiTrust.org. Click here for volumes 96 and 97.

In Part 2, I’ll show color illustrations from September, 1920, page 96.

More 1920 fashions in color to come! (Yes, I’m afraid that really looks like a monkey fur hat on the left….)

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Filed under 1920s, Gloves, Hats, Hats and Millinery

Failed Fashion? Fichus,1920

A collar resembling an 18th c. fichu is the focus of this dress pattern from 1920.

Sometimes a style appears that captures the mood of the times, and it becomes a dominant fashion. But sometimes a fashion misfires (wrong time, wrong look.) Example: The fichu dresses of 1920.

Another fichu dress pattern from 1920.

In 1920, young people had experienced the deaths and injuries of World War I and the Spanish flu epidemic, which killed young, healthy people rather than the old. “The Lost Generation” wasn’t in the mood for a return to the 18th century.

A “Martha Washington costume” from Butterick, 1924.

A scarf (fichu) was long enough to cross in front and tie in back. 1792, Met Museum costume plate.

The late 18th century fichus helped to cover the breasts which were pushed into view by the combination of stays and low necklines.

The 18th c. fichu could be tucked into the bodice, Met Museum Fashion plate collection.

A fichu crossed in front and tied in back, 1792. Metropolitan Museum Fashion Plates Collection.

This tight-waisted, busty mode would not seem to have much in common with the nineteen twenties.

A fichu crossed in front and tied in back, 1793. Metropolitan Museum collection.

However, we can’t discount the possible influence of popular culture in 1920, such as novels and movies set in the late 1700s, like A Tale of Two Cities, which was filmed in 1911 and 1917. For whatever reason, Butterick thought women might like to wear fichu dresses in 1920.

The fichu/collar is part of the dress. Butterick 2408, June 1920.

Two dresses from June, 1920. Delineator.

Styles that tied in back, or were heavily ruffled, were not unusual in 1920.

Non-fichu styles from Butterick, summer of 1920. (Chi-chi balls on the left?)

Butterick 2364, a fichu dress from May, 1920.

This one has a three-layered skirt.

The waistline was in flux in 1920: sometimes near the natural waist, and sometimes very low-waisted.

Butterick 2470 ties its fichu at a low waist.

This graduation dress for teens 14 to 19 ties its fichu near the natural waist.

Two illustrations of Butterick 2408. On the left, the dropped waist is emphasized with trim.

Butterick 2192 has a fichu-shaped collar, but in darker colors.

Butterick 2192 was illustrated in February 1920…

…and again —  in color — in March, 1920.

The fichu also appeared on this dress for girls:

Butterick 2202 from March 1920.

Sometimes the fichu is referred to as a surplice, and sometimes (as here) what seems to me to be a surplice closing is called a fichu! [“Fashion is spinach.”]

Butterick offered this fichu dress pattern in 1922:

Butterick 3720 from June 1922.

This could mean that Butterick had some success with its 1920 fichu dress patterns after all….  (Also, another film of Tale of Two Cities was released in 1922….) The waist on 1922 pattern 3729 — like the other dresses on the same page — is definitely low.

Three Butterick patterns from June, 1922.

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Filed under 1920s, Children's Vintage styles, Musings

Stocking Memories, 1958 to 1960

Stockings and a girdle from Sears catalog for Fall 1958.

When I started high school around 1958, we wore stockings for dress-up occasions. Usually, those stockings had a seam up the back.

Seamed stockings from Sears, Spring 1960.

(Pantyhose became available in 1959, or so the internet tells me. Seamless nylon or rayon stockings were available — briefly — in the 1940s, but in 1958, seams were the norm for me and the adult women I knew.)

Seamless stockings advertised in Vogue, Aug. 15, 1943.

Of course, stockings are still available and worn by many women, but pantyhose have dominated the market for about 50 years now.

So, for those who never had the dubious pleasure of buying stockings in the 1950s….

A run in her stocking; Lux soap ad from October 1937. Runs looked the same in 1960: a hole with unraveled knit stocking above and below it.

At the Stocking Counter

Perhaps the most astonishing thing about stockings circa 1958 was how many choices you had to make. Faced with the stocking counter — at a department store or even a “five and dime store” — you would see rows and rows of distinctive shallow boxes, each originally holding 6 pairs of stockings. The pairs were separated by layers of tissue; you could buy one pair, incurring the barely concealed scorn of the clerk who waited on you, or two or three pairs of matching stockings (if you could afford them.) Buying the whole box was a wonderful extravagance. Stockings were so fragile that the clerks sometimes wore gloves.

For a young teen, it was a confusing process. You needed to know your size, your “proportion,” the denier, the color, “seam or no-seam,” reinforced heel and toe or sandal foot, knit or “run stop”mesh….

1958 stocking size chart from the Sears catalog.

“What size?” Stockings came in seven sizes. Your stocking size was related to your shoe size, but it wasn’t the same as your shoe size. [Shoes used to come in many sizes and widths, from AAAA (very narrow) to EEE (very wide.)  I wore a shoe size 7 1/2, B width, with a (double) AA heel [Yes, you could buy a wide shoe size with a narrow heel, or many other variations.] As you can imagine, shoe stores had to carry almost as much stock as stocking counters.]

In 1958, your stocking size depended on your shoe size and your shoe width: shoe size 7, width B = stocking size 10.

However, stockings were usually held up by garters (aka suspenders) attached to a garter belt or girdle.

Garter belts, Sears 1958. Also (more accurately) called suspender belts in England.

Top left is a girdle; all the others are panty-girdles. Notice that your stocking top would need to come quite high on the thigh to attach to these garters.

Stockings attach high on the leg, with one garter in front and one in back on this panty-girdle. Sears, 1958.

The suspender part was somewhat adjustable in length, but you had to buy stockings that were long enough to reach the garter comfortably.

Proportioned Stockings for tall women; Sears, 1958. “The extra length reduces garter pull and strain…”

Finding the right proportioned stocking for your height and weight. Sears chart, 1958.  At Sears, your four proportion choices were “petite, shapely, classic, or tall.” (7 sizes x 4 lengths = 28 choices!)

There were so many size variations because 1950s’ stockings did not have much “stretch.” To answer the question “What size?” you needed to know your stocking size and your “pattern” or proportion. (Or you could tell the clerk your height and weight.)

If you wanted long enough stockings, you might have to pay more.

Sears, 1958. The cheaper stockings came in 15 or 30 denier weight, but only one length.

College memory: A friend named Mary was standing in the doorway when my roommate said, “Mary, your stockings are all wrinkled around your ankles.” Mary said, “I’m not wearing stockings. My ankles are sagging.”

Before modern stretch knits, stockings might bag or sag. Worse, if the reinforced top wasn’t high enough, when you knelt down the pull of the suspender could put too much strain on the knee, and your stocking would run or “pop.” Cheap stockings didn’t come in a full range of lengths, so I sometimes came out of church with one or both knees bulging out of big holes in my stockings. All those sizes were necessary because stockings were not very stretchy.

Stocking runs: a tiny hole would unravel the stocking both up and down your leg. This was still true in the 1960s. Lux soap claimed to improve stockings’ elasticity. Ad from 1936.

The stocking clerk might ask, “What weight?” This meant, not your own weight, but the amount of sheerness or strength you needed in the stocking. Light weight 15 denier was very sheer. 30 denier was more durable for everyday wear, and even thicker stockings were available.

“Seams or seamless?” My first stockings had seams, but the seams on the soles of my feet sometimes gave me blisters, so once I discovered seamless stockings, I always bought those. Seamless stockings were available in 1958, but I didn’t discover them for a couple of years. (A vertical seam up the back would have been more flattering to my sturdy legs, but limping on blisters didn’t improve my looks or disposition, so I chose comfort over vanity.) Besides, it’s maddening to be down to your last two intact stockings when you’re dressing for work and find that one of them has a seam and the other doesn’t.

Seamed stockings with reinforced heel and toe (and a seam under the ball of your foot.) Sears, Spring of 1958.

“Reinforced toe and heel? Sandal heel? Sheer foot?” If you wore pumps, then you could buy longer-lasting stockings with reinforced heels and toes. (Toenails or rough heels were hard on stockings.) However, by the 1940s many women wore open-toed or strap-heeled shoes, making the less durable options necessary.

Nude heel or reinforced heel in seamless stockings, Sears, 1958.

“Run stop or regular?” Runs were always a problem. A tiny snag from a chair or a fingernail would start a run racing up and down your leg. Many women kept a bottle of clear nail polish in their purse or desk drawers, because it was the only thing that could stop a run from progressing. If you dabbed a bit on the run before it passed the hem of your skirt, then the stocking might be salvaged enough for future wear. Otherwise, sheer stockings couldn’t be mended. One reason for always buying several identical pairs at the same time: as long as you had two stockings that matched, you could wear them. Once you were down to one stocking, you would probably never find a matching color or knit again, (too many brands, too many choices) so the final stocking might as well be tossed out.

Rayon mesh stockings from Sears, 1944. “Lockstitch resists runs, snags.”

Run-proof stockings were usually a mesh knit. They did get holes, but they didn’t get runs. The holes, however,  kept getting bigger….

Mesh stockings did not run, but they did get holes. And the weave was rather coarse and noticeable. Sears’ seamless mesh stockings from 1942.

“What color?” Stocking manufacturers and fashion magazines urged women to buy stockings to match every outfit. However, the woman on a budget often stuck to one or two shades. We all had drawers full of not-qute-matching stockings (usually kept in a padded box within the drawer.) Sticking to just one color matching your skin tone (or the healthy tan color you wished your legs were) was the economical choice. However, those black or dark stockings for evening were so temptingly glamourous….

Stockings from Sears to match your skin tone or your dress. 1959 catalog.

If you bought the last pairs of stockings in the box, or the whole box (six pairs,) you would be given the box itself, and therefore you would know the brand and color when you needed to buy more stockings a few weeks later.  Otherwise, stockings were simply wrapped in tissue. It was easy to forget where you bought them, the brand, and the name of the color, so your supply of single, unmatched, surviving stockings continued to grow. (One maker’s “nude” or “taupe” was rarely the same as another’s, and “suntan” could mean anything from light golden brown (in expensive brands) to orange (cheaper brands) ….

One Christmas in the Sixties, my father gave me a nightgown set that I didn’t need, so I took it back to Macy’s and exchanged it for a dozen pairs of stockings — two whole boxes! I had several blissful months of not worrying whether I had a pair of stockings that matched. Such luxury!

Next: The Pantyhose Revolution and Supermarket Stockings.

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Filed under 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s, Girdles, Hosiery, Hosiery, Hosiery & Stockings, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc

Seamless Stockings in 1930

Seamed stockings from Sears, Roebuck catalog, 1939.

Every costume design job is an opportunity to do more research, but there are some things that are just part of your general knowledge. For example, when I was hired to costume a college production of Brighton Beach Memoirs, which takes place in 1937, I automatically put the adult female characters in seamed stockings.

I was surprised recently when I came across this image from 1930:

Seamless stockings could be purchased at department stores in 1930! This image is from Delineator, May 1930.

I simply hadn’t come across this information before, so I checked another source: the Sears, Roebuck catalogs. There they were:

“No-Seam” hosiery for women, Sears Roebuck catalog, Fall 1930, p. 171.

No-Seam stockings text, Sears catalog, Fall 1930.

And another source….

From a fashion editorial about accessories, Delineator, September 1930.

There are some typos in the original text, as you can see, but corrected, it says, “I made a new discovery a few days ago — stockings needn’t have seams in order to fit. You may remember the old seamless stockings … which went into Grecian drapery at the ankles after their first contact with soap and water. The new Guildmode hose is knitted in a special way so that it fits just as snugly as a full fashioned stocking. It is dull [matte] and very sheer.”

“Full-fashioned” meant stockings which were shaped like the outline of a leg, curving in at the ankle, and gradually curving out over the calf area.

Before stretchier knits became available, the seam at the back was necessary for a good fit. Full-fashioned stocking illustration from Sears, 1958.

A short history: Knitted stockings have been around for hundreds of years. The simple knitted tube naturally stretched — somewhat — to the shape of the leg, but a seam up the back permitted a closer fit.  As stockings became more sheer (and more visible under short skirts) in the Nineteen Twenties, women became aware of the way the vertical seam up the back created a slenderizing line on their legs.

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/hosiery-nov-1928-mar-1929-apr-1929-may-1929.jpg

Gordon Hosiery ads from Delineator, Nov. 1928 through May 1929.

Seams and pointed heels made these stockings flattering. Sears, Fall of 1939.

“Notice how they follow the natural shadows of the ankle — to give you slenderness and grace.”

Skirt hems went down and then up again in the Nineteen Thirties, but seamed stockings were so much a part of normal dress that women couldn’t give up that seam line even when silk or nylon stockings became unavailable during World War II.

There were no nylon or silk stockings available from Sears in 1944 because nylon and silk were needed for the war. Sears catalog index, Spring 1944.

In Spring of 1945, before the War ended,  Sears offered these un-glamourous cotton stockings. Three pairs were guaranteed to last you three months. (I.e., you would have two wearable stockings left.)

But, back to the Thirties:

Chiffon [sheer] and Service Weight stockings from Sears, Fall 1930.

Seamed rayon stockings from Sears, Fall 1930. Rayon, a synthetic fabric based on cellulose, was cheaper than silk.

At the first dress rehearsal of Brighton Beach Memoirs, the director knelt down beside my chair and whispered, “Are those seams on their stockings?” He was clearly delighted. I whispered back, “Well, stockings with seams are too expensive for our budget,** so I taught the actresses to do it the 1940s’ way: we drew ‘seams’ up the backs of their hose with an eyebrow pencil.” (The lines didn’t come out completely when we washed their sheer tights, so they just had to retrace the previous line for the next performance.)

At first, I thought the director was impressed by the seamed stockings because I was much more detail-oriented than my predecessor. Later I realized that anyone who was a teen-aged boy in the 1950s probably feels a certain nostalgia for seamed stockings, which, along with high heels and garter belts, were often seen on pin-up girls.

This 1950s’ stocking ad, shared by Sally Edelstein at Envisioning the American Dream, shows the sex appeal of seamed stockings.

Being allowed to wear high heels (or even kitten heels,) and sheer stockings held up by a garter belt was a rite of passage for girls of my generation. (I think that my first heels and stockings were required for a school field trip to the ballet [or opera?] circa 1958, when I was in 8th or 9th grade.)

Garter belts, seamed stockings, high heels, and a bouffant “crinoline” petticoat in 1958: “Today I am a woman!”

At thirteen, I was finally old enough to ask, “Are my seams straight?”

To return to my costume design for Brighton Beach Memoirs, would this new (to me) information about the existence of seamless stockings*** in 1930 have made any difference? No, because the characters in the play are struggling financially, and because they are not fashionable women. They would have worn inexpensive stockings — probably cotton, rayon, or “service weight.”

Service weight silk stockings were not as sheer as “chiffon” ones. Sears, Fall 1930.

I settled for using sheer tights with added seams because at the time of the production that was the most affordable option. Also, in college productions, most of the actors are younger than the characters they play. The two “mothers” were actually about twenty years old, and the teenaged daughters were also played by twenty year old actresses. Putting the mothers in seamed stockings and the daughters in bobby socks helped to establish an age difference.

More of my own “Garter Belt and Seamed Stockings” Memoirs to come….

** Some very good costume shop supervisors have told me that a seam can be added to inexpensive modern hosiery with an overlock sewing machine, but I haven’t tried it myself.

*** If you need a research topic, note that some of the images make reference to seamless stockings earlier than 1930.

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, 1930s-1940s, 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, Hosiery, Hosiery, Hosiery & Stockings, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Vintage Accessories

Amphora Skirts, 1914

“The New Amphora Skirts Introduced by Paquin,” Delineator, May 1914.

“The New Amphora Skirts Introduced by Paquin” were fashion news in the summer of 1914. I didn’t understand, at first, because when I saw the word “amphora,” I first thought of the plain wine or oil jars that had pointed bottoms; many, many simple amphorae like these have been recovered by archeologists, especially from wrecked ships.

Amphora, terracotta; Greece, circa 3rd century BC. Image courtesy of Metropolitan Museum.

However, a Greek amphora (“jar”) can be highly decorated and have a base that flares out at the bottom:

Attic wine jar, circa 500 BC. Image courtesy Metropolitan Museum.

The “peg-top” skirts of 1914 — which get tighter at the bottom — accidentally resemble the plain, everyday jar, but were not called “Amphora skirts.”

Peg-top skirts (shaped like a child’s spinning top) narrow at the bottom, like this amphora. No wonder I was confused!

But the  “Greek-vase”  amphora skirt style “introduced by Paquin” resembles the more elaborate Greek wine vessel.

This is the type of amphora Paquin had in mind. Like the Greek vase, the skirts get narrow near the knee and then flare out at the bottom.

These Paquin-inspired amphora skirts have ruffles near the hem. Delineator, May 1914.

“Summer evening gowns will be the first to feel the influence of the new amphora or Greek-vase skirt. The softer versions of the amphora skirt, trimmed with ruffles of silk or lace are particularly pretty and they are delightful things to dance in. In fact, Madame Paquin had the new dances in mind when she designed her new skirt, a fact which accounts to a great extent for the width she has introduced in it below the knee.” — The Delineator, June 1914, page 19.

More amphora skirts introduced by Paquin.

“Most tub suits [i.e., made of washable fabrics] are made with straight gored skirts, the simpler peg-top models, or the new amphora skirt with a circular flounce at the sides. The latter skirt will be very popular for summer suits, for it is very easy to make and to launder, and is most comfortable for walking.” — Delineator, June 1914.

To give you an idea of why the “amphora skirt” was a change in direction, here are some images of the narrow-bottomed peg-top skirts that dominated early 1914 fashions:

Butterick patterns from March 1914, Delineator.

Look at these restrictive, narrow-bottom hems:

Narrow hems, wide hips, create the need to take tiny steps. Peg-top skirts; March 1914.

Butterick peg-top skirt pattern 6818, from April 1914.

Butterick skirt 6770 is typical of the silhouette of early 1914. The center back has a small opening at the bottom, and probably in front, also.

How did they walk in these? Nos. 6818  and 6770 had slight openings. A back view of No. 6736 shows a slight opening in front and fullness in the rear:

Butterick skirt 6736 is narrow in front, but has ease for walking (or dancing) in the back. March 1914.

These peg-top skirts are not the “hobble skirt” which cartoonists lampooned earlier in the century, but they are descended from it.

This skirt was not made for long strides. Butterick 6914.

Two views of Butterick Amphora skirt 6978. June 1914.

Amphora skirt 6981.

Amphora skirts with lace or silk ruffles (left) and one with an insert, right.

Back views of 6979 and 6981. May 1914.

Alternate views of skirt 6980. May 1914. “The softer versions of the amphora skirt, trimmed with ruffles of silk or lace are particularly pretty and they are delightful things to dance in.”

You didn’t have to be young to appreciate the greater movement possible with the amphora skirt:

Two mature figures showing the skirt options available in Summer of 1914.

Fashion could accommodate more than one “look” in 1914.

It’s always nice to have a choice!

“While Paquin has been introducing the amphora skirt with its widened base, Cheruit and Premet have been experimenting with pantalets….”  The Delineator, June 1914, page 19.

If you want to read  more fashion predictions for 1914, click here.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1910s and WW I era, Not Quite Designer Patterns, Vintage Couture Designs, World War I

Cross-Over Dresses, 1930s

Two Butterick styles from November 1930: 3525 and 3535.

As I browse through images from Delineator magazine, I notice odd trends, like these cross-over button plackets from 1930 to 1933. They seem rather complicated, and I’m glad I don’t have to figure out their construction.

The tricky bit on some, like the two pictured above, is that the part of the dress with the buttonholes on top is different on the bodice and the skirt. If the bodice buttons left over right, the skirt buttons right over left, and vice versa.

Full views of Butterick 3523 and 3535 from 1930.

Butterick blouse 3502,also from November 1930.

The dress with a sort of zig-zag front closing is also seen with the bodice and skirt overlaps going in the same direction:

Butterick 3070 from Delineator, February 1930, page 35.

This variation was suggested as flattering to older women.

The idea seems to be inspired by a couture dress from Patou, which was sketched for Delineator in May of 1930.

A dress by Jean Patou, sketched for Delineator readers among other Paris fashions in May, 1930.

Bodice detail of Patou dress. [Unfortunately, it was one of many sketched on the same page, so the image is small.]

Butterick’s interpretation, featured in September 1930. Pattern 3417.

This approach, with one side of the dress clearly overlapping the other on both bodice and skirt, is easy to understand.

This two-button version of the zig-zag front closing looks simple. Butterick 3462 from October 1930.

It was recommended for older and larger women:

“Youthful” Butterick 3462 was available in large sizes, bust 34 to 48 inches.

This sleeveless dress from August 1930 has a lot going on…. Butterick 3359. It’s not a two-piece, however.

The dress below really has a lot happening — the multi-closing, overlapping front pushed to extremes: **

Three buttons, in three places, on narrow strips of fabric: I can’t help thinking of mummies…. Butterick 3343 from August 1930.

But Butterick had not given up on the really difficult “right over left/ left over right” look. In 1933 two versions of this blouse were featured:

Butterick blouse pattern 4882, from January 1933. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that closure. **

A second version of blouse 4882. Delineator, January 1933.

Below, center, is another 1933 cross-over dress, with the top and skirt appearing to button in different directions:

Vacation fashions from Delineator, May 1933. Butterick 5104 (center)** carries on the cross-over style, but with bigger buttons.

** One possibility is that many 1930s’ garments had a side seam closing, which was almost never shown on the pattern illustrations. That would allow some of these button closings to be purely decorative. Till I actually see one of these “left over right, right over left” garments, I can only speculate.

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Filed under 1930s, Musings, Not Quite Designer Patterns, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

A Visit to January 1920, from Delineator Magazine

Ice skaters in an ad for Ivory Flakes laundry soap. Delineator, January 1920, page 4.

One hundred years ago, the January Delineator offered Butterick patterns, advice for the working girl (and her mother), sketches of Paris couture, and all kinds of advertisements. Enter the time capsule:

French couture from Doucet and Paquin. January 1920.

Butterick sewing patterns inspired by French designer styles.

Butterick sewing patterns, January 1920.

These are not what we usually think of when we hear “Twenties’ style,” but the decade was just getting started. Page three began an essay on the dangers awaiting naive young women who went out to work in offices….

“A Warning for Business Women…”

The “young, ignorant girl” applies for a job….

Her boss tells her that “he would go mad unless he could find a young girl who could understand him and care for him….”

Here, he offers her alcohol….****

And then, he escorts her home….

Her mother needs to warn her…. (Author: Josephine Stricker)

It was 100 years ago, but all of this sounds painfully familiar in the 21st century. At least we now acknowledge that saying ‘no” isn’t always enough.

If you had to work as a housemaid, the difficulties might be considerable. This little article about the life of a housemaid in England shows that even Delineator was shocked by their working conditions:

Delineator was aimed at middle and (aspiring) upper class women, but the plight of British housemaids was shocking.

Back to fashion: These Butterick patterns for misses (age 14 to 19, in most cases) show a hint of what women wore in the later 1920s:

A selection of Butterick patterns for misses in their teens. The schoolgirl’s outfit at right shows the straight, low-waisted trend of the future.

Dresses for grown women also offered some styles without exaggerated hips:

Daytime styles for women from Butterick, January 1920.

The bare arms of evening dresses, even for girls in their teens, surprised me. For more “very bare” gowns from 1920, click here.

For young men returning from WW I, these uncorseted young women in bare-armed dresses must have been a pleasant surprise.

What did women do about underarm hair?

Ad for DeMiracle hair remover, January 1920.

A prized gift in 1920 was a “Spanish comb,” often made from celluloid, “the first synthetic plastic material.  In this ad, a celebrity endorsing fingernail powder (yes, nails were buffed to a shine by most women) wears a Spanish comb:

Actress Kitty Gordon wears a Spanish comb in her hair while endorsing Graff’s Hyglo powder nail polish.

More Spanish combs. These are from 1922.

You could order your camisoles, nightgowns, bloomers, and combinations from Dove and other companies.

Ad for Dove Undergarments, January 1920.

WW I had made knitting more popular than ever; this is an ad for Fleischer yarns:

Knit yourself this aqua sweater with Fleischer Yarns.

The obsession with boyish figures has not yet appeared.

You could wash your woolens and fine lingerie with Ivory Soap Flakes.

Well into the Twenties, women shaved their own soap flakes from bar soap, so this was a modern convenience product.

Also convenient: Rubber shoe covers.

Rubber shoe covers slipped on over your shoes in 1920. The shoes might be worn with gaiters that laced up the front. Some shoes had built-in gaiters.

Later in the 1920s, the B.F.Goodrich rubber company introduced a winter shoe cover with a slide fastener closing, giving us the word “Zipper.”

Mothers could find ads for maternity corsets in 1920:

The H & W maternity corset ad, January 1920.

And safety pins had been around for over a century:

Changing diapers was easier after the rust-proof safety pin became widely available. January 1920 ad.

It was appropriate that a magazine designed to sell sewing patterns should have ads for sewing machines.

The Davis sewing machine was portable and electric.

The Davis portable electric sewing machine was operated by a foot pedal. [I made clothes on a (non-electric) treadle sewing machine in the 1960s. Wish I still had one, even though it took up a lot of room.]

This ad should hold a special interest for all us who love Daphne DuMaurier’s novel Rebecca. In a scene often described as the most un-romantic marriage proposal ever, Maxim de Winter includes the information that “I prefer Eno’s.”

Ad for Eno’s Fruit Salts, a laxative. January 1920.

(Let’s hope it wasn’t the Washington Monument in this ad that attracted his attention.)

Eno’s Fruit Salts ad, January 1920.

To see the marriage proposal scene from the excellent (and faithful) 1979 TV adaptation of Rebecca, starring Joanna David and Jeremy Brett, click here.

**** I am irresistibly reminded of the limerick about “the young lady of Kent/ who said that she knew what it meant/ when men asked her to dine/ over cocktails and wine….” Perhaps her mother had explained it to her after reading the article in Delineator.

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Filed under 1920s, Combinations step-ins chemises teddies, Maternity clothes, Menswear, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Shoes, Underthings, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Couture Designs

Mistletoe and Hemlines, 1920s

Butterick patterns for girls. December 1924, Delineator.

An entire page of patterns for girls and young teens had a Christmas theme in 1924. Above, left, a very young girl holds mistletoe over her own head. Right, a little girl is ready for snow in her red hat, coat and leggings. (Imagine buttoning those leggings onto a squirming 3 year old!)

Holiday dresses for girls, December 1924. The older girl’s hem is just below her knees, while the younger girl’s hem is mid-knee.

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/adult-1928-with-girls-1924.jpg

Dresses for Girls 8 to 15, 1924; Woman’s dress, 1928

I’m always struck by how “right” the proportions on early Twenties’ dresses for girls look, while the length of dresses for women and older teens was still quite long:

Patterns for grown women (“Ladies,” bust size 32 to 44 inches.) September 1924. Delineator.

Dresses for misses aged 15 to 20, November 1924. Not a rouged knee in sight — yet.

Patterns for girls under 15, October 1924. Knee-length!

Before the late nineteen twenties, as girls got older they dressed more like grown women, exchanging short skirts for longer hems.

The younger the girl, the shorter the dress in 1924.

Those hems make even these 1924 party dresses for older teens look long and dowdy.

These teens are wearing quite long hems, compared to their younger sisters. December, 1924.

But, by 1927, adult women were wearing dresses as short as the pre-teens of 1924! Women aspired to look younger, and youth set the fashions.

Left a teen under 15, 1924. Right, a grown woman from 1927. Both are Butterick patterns illustrated in Delineator.

In 1927, these sophisticated women are wearing hems that only schoolgirls would have worn just three years earlier.

Ladies’ fashions from November 1927 are as short as this girl’s dress from 1924.

This is just a sample of the “youth” trend of the late Twenties. Of course, by 1927, young teens were showing the entire knee….

Coat and dress for 15-and-unders. November 1927.

For girls 12 to 16 years of age. November 1927.

As one (hair dye) advertisement put it, “You Cannot Afford to be Gray because … this is the Age of Youth.” (1925.) Happy 2020!

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Filed under 1920s, Children's Vintage styles, Coats, evening and afternoon clothes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture

Sleeves with a Flare: 1930

Sleeves which end in a flare: Butterick patterns from February 1930. Delineator.

Left: bare arms covered by a sheer Bertha collar; Center: bare arms covered by a sheer jacket whose sleeves have a double flare or flounce. Right: bare arms for evening. Butterick patterns in Delineator, April 1930.

1930 was a good year for capelets, Berthas, and other soft, sheer, flowing covers for the arm.

Butterick sleeve pattern 3075, February 1930.

Short sleeves (above the elbow) were also appearing on dressy dresses (and even on dinner dresses.) A sort of combination of the two styles was the new fitted sleeve with a flounce or “flare.” I first noticed these “medieval” sleeves:

The very long, slit flare on these sleeves was “medieval.” Butterick 3265 from Delineator, June, 1930.

Click here for some real medieval sleeves. Was Charles Addams remembering these dresses when he drew Morticia Addams?

Butterick 3534, from Delineator, December 1930. Another example of a flounce or flare with a slit in it.

A side note: notice how many of these 1930 evening dresses have a long, sheer skirt over a shorter, opaque lining.

Three evening gowns with sleeve interest. Butterick 3052, 3044, and 3054 from February 1930.

Digression: The one on the right is not chiffon but a coarse net mesh, and would deserve a closer look even without its above-the-elbow, tied sleeves (definitely a 1930 style.)

Sleeves that tie above the elbow “are entirely new;” sheer skirt over a shorter opaque layer. Butterick “dinner frock” 3054, February 1930.

The flared sleeve, which is my real topic, was included in pattern 3075 — it offered several sleeve styles for updating or individualizing other patterns:

Butterick sleeve pattern 3075, Delineator, February 1930, p. 31

Butterick sleeve pattern 3075, Delineator, February 1930, page 30. This illustration included the tied sleeve seen on No. 3054.

Right, the flared sleeve again. Afternoon dresses, Butterick 3215 and 3202, May 1930.

Here is the flared sleeve on a dress for “madame,” i.e., an older women. (She holds her lorgnette in her hand.)

Butterick 3128, an afternoon dress for older or larger ladies.

(This alternate view shows a tied sleeve instead.)

I inherited this collapsible lorgnette with leather case and long chain, like the one worn in the illustration above.

Left, a dress with removable sheer cape; right, Butterick 3289 has a tied bolero top with long, flounced sleeves.

Both dresses have a shorter, opaque under layer with a longer sheer layer on top.

Detail of the 1930 bolero top, Butterick 3289.

I was lucky to find pattern 3269 at the Commercial Pattern Archive. (CoPA), so we can see the pattern pieces.

Pattern envelope for Butterick 3289.

Right: pattern shapes for sleeve and flare  3289.

In that case, the flare is a circle or oval with a round opening in the center.

I was glad to see that these sleeves were not limited to Butterick styles. Here is a very similar dress and jacket pattern from Ladies’ Home Journal:

Another evening dress with optional flounced-sleeve jacket. LHJ pattern 6483, 1930.

The pattern shapes for the sleeve and sleeve flare. This flare (10) is made very differently.

Another — different — sleeve flare:

A third way to achieve the “flare” sleeve. This one hangs open at the back.

Another flare was seen on this McCall pattern from 1931:

McCall pattern 6617 from 1931.

A short sleeve with a frill (top) and a long sleeve with a surprising shape. McCall 6617.

Also from 1931 is this set of sleeves:

Nine sleeve shapes from 1931. Butterick 3698.

A variety of ways to create a flared sleeve.

And, for real inspiration, here is a couture dress by Ardanse, very sheer from neckline to upper arm, where the lace fabric of the dress creates full, slit sleeves with a big, circular flare; they seem to defy gravity.

Couture by Ardanse, left, and Lelong, right. Delineator, May 1930.

Wow.

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Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Capes, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes