Tag Archives: girls 1920s

The Power of Golf in Advertisements, 1924

“What Makes a Sportswoman?” Article Illustration, Delineator, May 1924.

“What Makes a Sportswoman?” Article Illustration, Delineator, May 1924.

Advertisers still try to link their products with a desirable life-style, preferably a few rungs higher on the economic ladder than their target audience. In 1924, golf was the sport that meant “middle to upper-middle class.” (The association of golf courses with country clubs and gated communities is still strong.) All of these illustrations appeared in Delineator magazine in 1924. In the September issue alone, golf was used to sell:

Deodorant

An ad for Ab-Scent Deodorant, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

An ad for Ab-Scent Deodorant, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

Carpet Sweepers

An Ad for Bissell Carpet Sweepers, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

An Ad for Bissell Carpet Sweepers, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

Sewing Patterns

Illustration of Butterick Patterns for Girls, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

Illustration of Butterick Patterns for Girls, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

And Shoes.

Ad for Selby Arch Preserver Shoes, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

Ad for Selby Arch Preserver Shoes, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

In August, golf was used to sell:

Lux Laundry Soap

Advertisement about washing sweaters and knits with Lux Soap, Delineator, August 1924.

Advertisement about washing sweaters and knits with Lux Soap, Delineator, August 1924.

And Gossard Corsets

Ad for Gossard Gossard Corsets, Combinations, and Brassieres , Delineator, August 1924.

Ad for Gossard Gossard Corsets, Combinations, and Brassieres , Delineator, August 1924.

In June, the Butterick Pattern Company suggested that a golfing outfit should be part of your trousseau:

From a page of suggested patterns to make for your trousseau and honeymoon, Delineator, June 1924

From a page of suggested patterns to make for your trousseau and honeymoon, Delineator, June 1924

and that girls aged 8 to 15 were also likely to be playing golf.

Butterick patterns for girls aged 8 to 15, Delineator, June 1924.

Butterick patterns for girls aged 8 to 15, Delineator, June 1924.

A Closer Look at Some of These Ads

The ad for Ab-Scent deodorant is actually aimed at men, but different “embarrassment” stories appeared in their other ads. In August, this unhappy young woman was “shunned” at the tennis club.

Ab-Scent deodorant ad, August 1924.

Ab-Scent deodorant ad, August 1924. Notice the snob appeal; “The most select men and women….”

Both ads are interesting because they give us a view of typical sports clothes, including shoes.

From an Ab-Scent deodorant ad, September 1924.

From an Ab-Scent deodorant ad, September 1924. Note his cufflinks and bow tie.

It’s a relief to see that at least one of the women golfers is wearing very flat-heeled shoes; imagine playing golf or lawn tennis with your heels sinking into the grass.

Ad for Selby Arch Preserver Shoes, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

Ad for Selby Arch Preserver Shoes, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

This illustration comes from a full-page advertisement that told a rather lengthy story about woman who had jeopardized her husband’s career by playing golf in uncomfortable shoes.

Before her marriage, she was a champion golfer (always wearing Arch Preserver shoes), but she had stopped playing while her children were young.  Her husband comes home one day and says, “What do you think, little wife, the boss came in today and asked if I played golf….  Then he asked whether you played. I told him plenty about your playing. I told him –” The result was that the boss invited the young couple to play golf with him and his wife. The young wife “started out dashingly, driving a full two hundred yards from the first tee….” But she eventually felt so much pain in her feet that she had to  “hobble over the last few holes. She paid dearly for her ‘bargain’ shoes…. ‘I can’t help but worry,’ she tells her husband. ‘That game meant so much to you in business…. I know you’ll hate me, but I did the silliest thing. I thought I’d save some money by buying shoes at a sale.’ ” A few weeks later they played another game with her husband’s employer and his wife, who says, “Why, what in the world has happened to you? I never saw such a difference in anyone’s playing!” After the ‘little wife’ gives her a whole paragraph explaining the benefits of her new Arch Preserver Shoes, the boss’s wife says, “Do you know, that’s the very kind of shoe I’m wearing”– neatly reinforcing the class aspect of the product.

To my surprise, these are the shoes illustrated in this advertisement:

Selby Arch Preserver Shoes featured with the article about wearing them for golf. Sept. 1924.

Selby Arch Preserver Shoes featured with the article about wearing them for golf. Sept. 1924.

The boss’s wife, seated in the illustration, seems to be wearing either the lace-up shoe No. 678 or the flat oxford shown at the bottom. But the ‘little wife’ is wearing very fashionable Arch Preserver shoes with a broad strap.1924 sept p 37 golf arch preserver shoe shoes only

Sweeping Your Carpet while Dressed for Golf

An Ad for Bissell Carpet Sweepers, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

An Ad for Bissell Carpet Sweepers, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

I don’t for a moment suppose that any women did their housework dressed like this, hat and all. [We had a Bissell carpet sweeper like this one when I was a child. It wasn’t electric; as you pushed it, the round bristles swept the dirt into a trap in the machine, avoiding the need for a dustpan.]

The text of the ad doesn’t mention golf at all.  The idea is that you will save so much time with the Bissell sweeper that you’ll be able to play golf all afternoon instead of cleaning. And the sweeper is good for picking up last-minute spills, so you can grab your clubs and head for the country club.

I do like her striped sweater and the checker board band on her hat. She seems to be wearing a pleated skirt like the women golfers in this Ab-Scent ad.1924 sept deodorant Ab-scent ad golf pleated skirtsOnly the sportswoman pictured in the illustration at the top of this post is wearing golf knickers.  It is an illustration for an article, not an ad. Advertisers would avoid any clothing that might be considered controversial, such as a woman wearing ‘men’s’ clothing. The woman golfer in this Gossard corset ad is also wearing a pleated, buttoned skirt with her striped sweater:

Ad for Gossard Gossard Corsets, Combinations, and Brassieres , Delineator, August 1924.

Ad for Gossard Gossard Corsets, Combinations, and Brassieres, Delineator, August 1924.

This 1924 ad is really ahead of its time. The model has a well-defined, natural waist [!] accentuated by a belt, and an equally natural bust, styles which were not widely adopted until the end of the decade. By 1926, some women were beginning to replace breast-flattening bandeaux and brassieres with bras that had a gathered center front, acknowledging, for the first time in years, that women naturally have two breasts, not a mono-bosom. The name “Maiden Form” — as opposed to Boyshform, makers of the Boyshform binder — was registered as a trademark in 1924, the date of this ad, but bras that separated and lifted the bust first appeared in advertisements a couple of years later. (See Uplift: The Bra in America, p. 41) I do wish this 1924 ad from Gossard had shown the underwear this young lady was wearing!

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, Bras, Corsets & Corselettes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Shoes, Sportswear

A Book I Need to Read Again: The Language of Clothes

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the popularity of striped coats in 1924.

Two striped coats from 1924, Delineator magazine.

Two striped coats from 1924, Delineator magazine.

This week I found this photo in Alison Lurie’s book The Language of Clothesillustrated with images assembled by Doris Palca.

A British fashion photograph of motoring and sports coart, 1924, from The Language of Clothes, by Alison Lurie.

A British fashion photograph of motoring and sports coats, 1924, from The Language of Clothes, by Alison Lurie.

The Language of Clothes, by Alison Lurie, 1981

I was de-accessioning my library, and had listed this book on Amazon, but I didn’t have to read more than a few sentences to realize that I want to read it again. Lurie’s observations about fashion are perceptive, very well-written and often very amusing. Her comment on these coats is:

striped 20s coats lurie p 74777“Women entered the second decade of the twentieth century shaped like hourglasses and came out of it shaped like rolls of carpet.”

When I was teaching, I always stressed that “Costume communicates.” We all speak the language of clothes, and we constantly make judgements based on our reading of what other people wear. Lurie’s book is about the subtle statements and psychological impulses behind our clothing choices, with chapters on “Clothing as a Sign System,” “Youth and Age,” Fashion and Status,” “Fashion and Sex,” and many other topics that explore the clothes we usually take for granted. Her comments on the fashions of the 1920s, in the chapter “Fashion and Time,” interested me particularly, because I have been thinking many of the same thoughts while looking through pattern illustrations of the twenties — but Lurie anticipated my ideas by thirty years.

And she writes really well, so that there is a lot of information packed into her seemingly effortless prose.

Dressing as Children: Thoughts on 1920s Styles

After summarizing several theories about why women minimized their breasts and hips in the twenties, Lurie reminds us that . . .

Child's drop-waisted dress, late 1880s, from Dress, The Jenness-Miller Magazine.

Child’s drop-waisted dress, late 1880s, from Dress, The Jenness-Miller Magazine.

“It has been sugested that women were asserting their new-won rights by dressing like men; or, alternatively, that they were trying to replace the young males who had died in World War I.

“…But a glance at contemporary photographs and films shows that women in the 1920s did not look like men, but rather like children — the little girls they had been ten to twenty years earlier….

“…And although [the flapper] might have the figure of an adolescent boy, her face was that of a small child: round and soft, with a turned-up nose, saucer eyes, and a “bee-stung” mouth.

I have been noticing that patterns for young women, aged 15 to 20 —  i.e., ‘flappers’ — were illustrated with very round-headed, big-eyed, baby-like heads, like the prototypical flapper cartoon character, Betty Boop.

Betty Boop, and fashion illustrations of women aged 15 to 20; Delineator, 1924.

Betty Boop, and fashion illustrations of women aged 15 to 20; Delineator, 1924.

Illustrations of a teenager and an adult woman wearing the same hat pattern, 1925. Delineator magazine.

Illustrations of a teenager and an adult woman wearing hats made from the same pattern, 1925. Delineator magazine.

Very large eyes, spaced far apart, in a round — rather than oval — head, with a tiny nose and “rosebud lips;” those are the traits associated with an infant’s head.

Middy blouse for athletic events; Jan. 1925.

Middy blouse for athletic events; Jan. 1925.

Alison Lurie goes on to say, “One popular style of the 1920s was the dress cut to look like a shirt, with an outsize collar and floppy bow tie of the kind seen on little boys ten or twenty years earlier. [See above, left.] Another favorite was the Peter Pan collar, named after [the boy who] . . . was chiefly famous for his refusal to grow up. . . . Middy blouses and skirts were now worn by grown women as well as children, and the ankle-strap button shoes or “Mary Janes” once traditional for little girls became, with the addition of a Cuban heel, the classic female style of the twenties.”

 

 

“I Won’t Grow Up”

My own observation is that dresses considered suitable for little girls aged 8 to 15 (or younger) in the early 1920s became the adult fashions of the later 1920s. When adult women were still wearing mid-calf-length skirts, in 1924, 12-year-old girls were wearing skirts that came just to the knee. Two years later, adult women — not just ‘flappers’ — were wearing knee-length skirts. The curves of a sexually mature female body were suppressed, or at least de-emphasized. The ideal may have been a ‘boyish’ figure, but it was also the figure of a little girl, too young for adult responsibilities, but insisting upon adult freedom of behavior.

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

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

 

Young girl's dress, 1924; Dresses for ladies, 1928. Butterick patterns illustrations.

Young girl’s dress, 1924; Dresses for ladies, 1928. Butterick pattern illustrations.

Earlier in the century, young women looked forward to the day when they could “put up” their hair and let down their hems. By 1925, women were reverting to schoolgirl clothing styles: dropped waist lines, short skirts, pullover dresses, and middy-type blouses worn outside their skirts rather than tucked in (a look previously only seen on gym suits and children’s outfits.) Here’s another example of a child’s dress influencing the adult dress on the right:

Girl's dress with smocking, 1924; woman's dress with smocking, 1926.

Girl’s dress, 1924; women’s dresses, 1926. Butterick pattern illustrations.

At least, The Language of Clothes got me thinking more deeply about fashion trends. I’m looking forward to reading it straight through– but it’s hard not to skip ahead to such enticing topics as “Sexual Signals:  The Old Handbag,” and the underlying meanings of “Color and Pattern.” It’s available in used hardcover for about $10 plus shipping.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, A Costumers' Bookshelf, Children's Vintage styles, Coats, Hats, Shoes, Vintage patterns, vintage photographs, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes