Tag Archives: Great Depression

Also Very Thirties: Great Big Collars

Butterick dress 5391 from March 1934 has a great big collar with matching cuffs. Delineator magazine.

A while ago I posted a collection of fashions that featured over-sized bows, which were “Very Thirties.” Today’s featured nineteen thirties’ look is Great Big Collars.

Great big collars didn’t necessarily have that “Puritan” look, but many of them did.

Butterick 5688 from Delineator, May 1934.

Butterick 5870 claimed to be based on a design by Lanvin. (I wouldn’t care to sit for long on all those big, big buttons….) Left, illustration from Delineator, September 1934, Right, photo of the pattern constructed, from Delineator, August 1934.

Digression EDIT 3/18/18: In response to a question from Christina, I looked for more information on these two images, and found that, in August, the dress design was supposedly from Lanvin, and in September, it was attributed to augustabernard:

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/1934-aug-p-62-lanvin-dress-pattern-7870-text.jpg?w=500&h=367

From Butterick’s Delineator magazine, August 1934, p. 62. “Jeanne Lanvin’s button-down-the-back dress….”

Pattern description of Butterick 5870 from Delineator, September 1934. This time, the design is supposedly inspired by augustabernard. I guess that answers the question I posed back in 2014: When Is a Designer Pattern Not a Designer Pattern?

End of Digression.

Photography was just beginning to be used in the less expensive fashion magazines. I love seeing the “fashion ideal” alongside the fashion reality. What an awkward pose that model has had to take!

The illustration on the left seems to show a double collar, which was definitely a fashion “thing.”

Versions of Butterick collar pattern 5952, Delineator, November 1934.

Collars and scarves could change the look of a dress for the office; Delineator, November 1934.

Butterick dress pattern 5854 has a double collar and “don’t order soup while wearing these” cuffs. September 1934. Photo by Arthur O’Neill.

Butterick dress pattern 4564 has a soft, sheer double collar. June 1932.

Butterick dress 5785 from Delineator, July 1934. This sheer double collar is probably a stiff organdy — which would be crushed by a winter coat.

Butterick dress 5854 has a double collar and double cuffs. Delineator, August 1934.

These collars would make any woman look like the perfect secretary or executive assistant.

Some collars could also be changed from one dress to another, which helped to make a small number of dresses look like a more extensive wardrobe. This was practical fashion for the Great Depression. [For other examples of changeable collars, see One Good Dress in the 1930s,  or   More Button-On Collars.]

Here are some Great Big Collars I have shown before, but these are clearer images:

A great big double or triple-layered collar, Butterick 4797, was featured in an article about “new life for old clothes.” Very timely, in December of 1932.

Another version of Butterick collar pattern 4797 from Dec. 1932.

A new collar was cheaper than a new dress, and several collars could make one dress seem like a larger wardrobe — this was during the massive unemployment of the Great Depression, after all.

This V shaped collar has a high neckline to cover whatever “antiquated” neckline was already on your dress or sweater. Delineator, December 1932.

This similar V-shaped collar was part of the dress:

This vintage dress with a great big collar reminds us that black and white images don’t always give a true idea of what was being worn.

Butterick dresses from November 1934. Delineator. One has a great big collar; one has a great big bow (two, actually.)

Not all great big collars were so attention-getting. These dresses were recommended for the college girl:

September 1931: a dress for college. Butterick 4058 has barely a trace of 1920’s fashion. Delineator.

Butterick 5812, another double-breasted dress for college, from August 1934.

Sometimes crisp and business-like, a big collar could also be soft:

This big collar is an important part of the dress’ asymmetrical design. Butterick 4564 from June 1932.

Butterick 4558 from June 1932 also has a surplice closing. Delineator.

This big collar appeared on an evening dress for women over forty:

Butterick 5924 — “smartness at forty’ =– uses its large, cape-like collar to camouflage upper arms. Delineator, November 1934.

Big collars were not just for grown-ups:

Butterick girls’ dress pattern 4416 from April 1932. Delineator.

And, remember, big collars did not have to be white:

A woman in a big, checked collar visits her butcher. [Prime rib was probably not on everyone’s menu in 1934.] Delineator.

Speaking of dresses for secretaries: I can never resist a plug for the pre-Code movie Baby Face.

Movie Recommendation: Baby Face, 1933
If you watch the movie Baby Face, from 1933, you’ll see Barbara Stanwyck in many variations of the simple dress with accessories, as she literally sleeps her way to the top. This is a Pre-Code picture, a lot more frank about sex than movies were 20 years later! (In some versions, it begins with this teenaged girl’s father clearly prostituting her to the patrons of his dive bar.) Armed with determination, cynicism, and a series of ‘secretary’ dresses, she works her way to the penthouse suite – and a much more glamorous wardrobe.

 

 

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Filed under 1930s, Accessory Patterns, Children's Vintage styles, Dresses, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Uniforms and Work Clothes, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

The Great Depression Reflected in Ads from the Back of Women’s Magazines

Ad from Womans’ Home Companion, March, 1936.

“My husband is out of employment and has been for some time…. Our savings are gradually disappearing, and I am so helpless. I don’t know a thing I can do to earn money….” The Woman’s Home Companion invited her to sell magazine subscriptions.

One of the fascinations of vintage women’s magazines is their “time capsule” quality. While reading through them for fashion information, I can’t resist the advertisements, which give me a idea of the era’s preoccupations (zeitgeist is the correct word, I suppose.) What was new — from zippers to steam irons? What did advertisers want people to worry about, from halitosis and pyorrhea to underarm hair? In the Thirties, massive male unemployment found many women desperate to help support their families.

Women’s magazines had many such ads, promising that women could make money at home — “no experience needed.” Ad from Delineator, February 1931.

Before color photography was widespread, black and white photos were hand tinted — “We instruct you by our new simple Photo-Color process and supply you with work.”  Coloring printed images was already “women’s work.” In the 19th century, some women had earned money by hand-painting fashion plates with watercolor.

I realize that researchers tend to notice what they expect to find, so it’s not surprising that, as the child of people who married in 1933 — in the heart of the Great Depression — I noticed these little ads crowded into the backs of magazines.

A few ads from the back of Delineator magazine, October 1931.

Here is a selection of ads which promised women that they could earn money at home, with no experience or skills. Some of them were probably preying on the desperate — but perhaps I’m just cynical….

Top of an ad for Brown Bobbys, Delineator, February 1931.

Text of Brown Bobby ad, February 1931. Brown Bobbys were doughnuts. I suspect that the Food Machine Display Corp. was willing to sell families the equipment for a home doughnut business.

Women might also try to start a candy business….

Open your own candy business? “Making and sales equipment furnished.”  Delineator, February 1933. The American School of Home Economics was already publishing home economics study courses and books in the 1920’s, including Cooking for profit: catering and food service management.

Or sell clothing…

“Women — Sell Fashion Frocks…. Earn up to $22 a week and get all your own dresses without a penny of cost.” Ad from Delineator, April 1936.

Sell Silk Hose: “Startling money-making proposition…. enormous earnings…Your own hose free of cost.” Ad from Womans’ Home Companion, November 1936. Wilknit Hosiery Co. ad. [Do you think that guaranteed stocking replacement might be a problem?]

“Women wanted” to sell fabric, sheets, handkerchiefs, blankets… Mitchell & Church Club ad, Delineator, February 1934.

“Do  you want to make money? … Sell Fashion Frocks.” Ad from WHC, March 1937. “We are appointing a few more ambitious women to act as our representatives.”

[I don’t think it would be easy to sell dresses or anything else to your friends and relatives if you were all equally broke….]

October, 1934; Delineator. “Start earning at once. Thousands of prospects near you.” General Card Co., Chicago.

Was there really such a demand for hooked rugs? From a series of ads for Hollywood Studio Stores, Inc., Ltd., Delineator, December 1934. “Women… Earn extra money at home making beautiful hooked rugs…. Make money the first week! …We furnish complete instructions, tools, and materials.”

Another “Hooked rugs” ad, November 1936. “No experience necessary.”

Fireside Industries said there was a market for hand-painted decorative items:

“Make extra money at once” — after you learn to “decorate clever art gifts at big profit per piece. No experience needed … No tedious study… You don’t even have to leave the house.” October 1931, Delineator. Fireside Industries ad.

Fireside Industries ad, March 1935. Delineator. “Everything furnished including supply of Novelties, for you to decorate and Homecrafters outfit.” “Openings in every locality.” “FIRST LESSON FREE.” [And then?]

Selling greeting cards, stationery, and especially Christmas cards, was advertised as a way to make money.

Ad for Wallace Brown, Inc. greeting card sales, Delineator, February 1937. “Show samples to friends and neighbors. Everybody buys.”

Bluebird Studios ad, WHC, Sept. 1936. “Sells on Sight. Box on approval.” The text looks very similar to that Wallace Brown ad, above.

The words “Earn,” “Easy,” and “Extra Money” appear again and again, often with the promise that women can work from home..

Process Corporation ad, August 1931. ” Thousands of women — many without experience — turn their spare minutes into dollars…. Permanent, big-paying position, if you make good.”

Process Corporation sought women and men to sell greeting cards” imprinted to customer’s order.” October, 1931, Delineator. Jeanette Maumus of New Orleans “Earned $78.20 in 45 minutes. $87.50 just a day’s sales for Mrs. H.H. Castle, Burke, Idaho.”

Janes Art Studio ad for card sellers. Sept. 1934. This ad admits that the pay is on commission — which makes Mrs. H.H. Castle’s $87 in sales look a little less lucrative.

From my own experience in door-to-door sales, sometimes you have to sell a “quota” amount before you qualify for the commission. In 1967, if I didn’t sell enough children’s encyclopedias to meet my weekly sales quota, I didn’t get paid at all. I believe some car salesmen still face this problem.

Ad for John A. Hertel Co. Christmas card sales, September 1931. Delineator. “No experience needed.”

Other ads [which I regard less cynically] offered educational opportunities leading to a new career — in hotel management, dressmaking, or nursing.

Ad for Lewis Hotel Training Schools, October 1934, Delineator.

Women could “Be a Hotel Hostess” or possibly manage an apartment house — a good job for a single mother. Lewis Hotel Training School ad, October 1931. Delineator. In the ad just below, you could make $2 by tipping the Denver Optic Company off to potential artificial eye customers….

Back in the 1920’s, Lewis would teach you how to run a tea room, so this was an established business school:

Ad for the Lewis Tea Room Institute, Delineator, January 1924. “Fortunes are being made in this big new industry….”

Ads for nursing schools were also traditional, and little changed from 1924 to 1937 — except for the potential salary and the hats.

Ad for Chatauqua School of Nursing, January 1924. This school offered a home-study course.

Ad for Chicago School of Nursing, February 1935.  “You can learn at home in spare time.”

Ad for Chicago School of Nursing, WHC, March 1937. “High School not required. Easy tuition payments.”

Ads for the Woman’s Institute have a long history, but during the Depression, the ads emphasized using your sewing skills to earn money. March, 1934.

I have some respect for the ads that suggested professional training for women who, like this one from the ad I began with, had never expected to work outside the home.

“I am nearly 35 years old and have no business experience…. My husband is out of employment and has been for some time.” Woman’s Home Companion ad for subscription sellers, March 1936.

And I can’t resist sharing (again) the “ad from the back of a magazine” that startled me into collecting them:

Ad from Delineator, March 1937. Courtesy Remembered Summers. Who wouldn’t leap at the chance to raise giant frogs for the American Frog Canning Company?

Now, that is desperation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Woman's Institute

More Blouses from the Early 1930’s

Two versions of the same blouse, Butterick 4420, from April 1932, Delineator.

These blouses from 1932 and 1933 continue to popularize the use of separates, possibly for office wear, possibly because a blouse is easier to launder in a wash-basin than a dress,  and probably because a blouse takes less fabric. The ability to get several looks from the same two or three blouses and one or two skirts might be another attraction in the scarce-money days of the 1930’s.

A few of the blouses shown below, all from 1932 or 1933, plus two or three skirts or suits, would combine to make a really extensive wardrobe. The skirts of 1932 -1933 were long.

Here, two Butterick blouse patterns are shown with skirt 4908. February 1933, Delineator.

First, Butterick blouses and tops from 1932:

Butterick blouse 4420 was shown in long or short-sleeved versions. Delineator, April 1932.

Butterick blouse 4420 in a more casual version, with short sleeves, a peek-a-boo front, and in dotted fabric. Notice the triple darts that shape the waist and control the fullness. Clever! [Did it have a side opening?] April 1932.

A more “strictly-business” attitude for Butterick 4444 and 4368. April 1932, Delineator. The striped blouse has a “shirtwaist front.” 4368 has a peplum.

Although this next set of tops are called jackets, they are so brief they might be worn with skirts or beach pajamas.

Butterick “bell-hop” jacket 4436, which comes only to the waist. April, 1932.

A young man wearing a bell-boy or bell-hop’s uniform. Story illustration, Ladies’ Home Journal, Jan. 1936.

This version of the “bell-hop jacket”  has “a strict, tailored air.” Butterick 4436, April 1932.

Jacket 4436  was available in a bolero version which “makes a blouse and skirt look like a frock and gives a frock a dress-up air.” 1932.

In case you noticed, three fabric hats made from Butterick pattern 4472 accompany the jacket illustrations.

1933 was also a good year for blouses, beginning in January. All are Butterick patterns featured in Delineator magazine.

Butterick blouse 4882 looks complicated — I’d like to see the pattern pieces! It was also shown in two versions. January 1933. [Sorry about the fuzzy lines — it was a small illustration, not a hairy blouse.]

Butterick 4882 with long, fancy sleeves. January 1933.

[In the interests of space and legibility, I moved the blouse illustration from right to left.] Match your skirt and blouse colors.

Two Butterick blouses for February, 1933. Left, pattern 4922 (“Aboveboard”); right, pattern 4914 (“Half and Half.”) Full sleeves with fitted lower portions  — reminiscent of the 1890’s –were chic.

The February report on Paris Fashions says dressy blouse 4922 in “saffron yellow rough crepe” would look good  “over any table, bridge or luncheon.” Blouse 4922 in “light gray lawn … with a schoolboy collar and tie” is paired with a dark gray wool wrap-around skirt, 4914.

The cover of Butterick Fashion Quarterly showed another short jacket, Butterick 4888, and a wonderful pair of button front beach pajamas, Butterick 3884.

Detail from cover of Butterick Fashion Quarterly, from an ad in Delineator, February 1933.

Here is a clearer image of both, from Delineator, July 1933.

Resort wear: Butterick jacket 4888 in a longer version, and beach pajamas 4884 (right) and 4404 (left.) July 1933.

However, I’m getting ahead of myself; more blouses were shown in the April issue of Delineator:

Butterick blouses 5060 and 5030. April 1933, page 86. 5030 has “cowl sleeves,” an expression I’ve never heard before. 5060 has a sort of built-in weskit or vest.

[Full at the top, fitted at the bottom: 1890’s sleeves.]

Metropolitan Museum Collection. Gigot or “leg of lamb” sleeves. 1890’s.

Digression: I’ve written before about the popularity of collars which could make one dress look like a wardrobe. On the same page was Butterick collar pattern 5072. Imagine these Depression Era collars transforming  a simple dress or a sweater.

Butterick collar pattern 5072 — an inexpensive way to “boost morale.” Delineator,  April, 1933, p. 36

Some Thirties’ dress patterns even came with interchangeable collars.

Back to Blouses: In May, Delineator was writing about borrowing masculine styles for feminine clothing:

Left, Butterick blouse 5090; lower right, Blouse 5116. May 1933. Notice the little darts on 5090, insuring a neat waistline. 5116 is the first of many garments with the look of a man’s vest or weskit. “Note the square buttons.”

Sleeves, 1893. They are very full at the shoulder but tight on the lower arm. Met Museum fashion plate collection.

Blouse (jacket?) 5084 was shown in two versions. This one seems like a wild topper — in taffeta — for an evening skirt, a dark velvet one, perhaps. Below, it’s barely recognizable as the same pattern:

Butterick 5084 is both feminine, in the sleeves, and masculine, in its weskit, which is essentially a man’s formal white evening vest. It is worn over a blouse or dress. May 1933.

For men, there was a brief fad for short mess jackets — copied from the military — in 1934.

I’ll leave blouses from 1934 for another day.

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Filed under 1930s, Accessory Patterns, Hats, Men's Formalwear & Evening, Sportswear, Uniforms and Work Clothes, Women in Trousers

Blouses from 1931

Butterick blouses 4225 and 4198, December 1931. Delineator magazine.

The blouses of the early 1930’s are varied and, to my eyes, attractive.  They take their interest from unusual cuts and soft fabrics, like silk or rayon crepe, or, in one case, “triple georgette.”

It’s notable that, although these blouses can be worn tucked into the skirt, wearing them as shown gives a dressy effect. Only three years earlier, 1920’s styles broke the silhouette at the hip, so these may be transitional to the natural-waisted styles of the 1930’s, offering a familiar low line and a fitted waist.

This soft blouse with a shawl-like bertha collar was featured in April, 1931. It is Butterick 3758. It looks lovely in white, but watermelon pink was suggested.

Butterick blouse 3778 from Delineator, April 1931. Those openings on the upper arm seem to be popular again, but these end interestingly, with a tie.

Butterick blouse 4158 would easily go from office to date. November 1931, Delineator. Reversible (aka double-sided) crepe satin was suggested.

Butterick blouse 4164, November 1931. The slightly flared bottom is now a “peplum” and echoes the flared wrists.

Three elegant blouses were illustrated in December — perhaps in time for office parties….

Left, another rather formal blouse that would turn a simple skirt into a dressy dinner outfit: Butterick 4217 from December 1931. Sleeves became more complex and sometimes have a “cuff” at or above the elbow while the sleeve continues to the wrist. The dark outfit is a dress.

Butterick blouses 4225 and 4198, December 1931.  These overblouses could be tucked in, or worn as illustrated.

“…Note its length, for blouses are creeping up on us.”

Alternate views of Butterick 4217, 4225, and 4198, from December 1931. 4198 is shorter than the others.

Next: More Blouses from the early 1930’s — 1932 and 1933.

 

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Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Uniforms and Work Clothes

Paris Fashion Shoes, 1936

“Exquisite — Flattering” Paris Fashion Shoes. Ad from Ladies’ Home Journal, November 1936. Black suede side tie shoe, with a very high heel.

I hadn’t encountered any other ads for Paris Fashion Shoes, and the very high heels and relatively low prices in the ad intrigued me.

Paris Fashion Shoes, center of ad, Ladies’ Home Journal, November 1936. Top, a brown or black square-toe sandal.

Paris Fashion Shoes cost just $3 to $4 in 1936. Bottom of ad from Ladies’ Home Journal, November 1936, p. 111. This high heeled “butterfly” tongue step-in was available in “black, wine, or green suede” or in “black or blue kid” — quite a range of choices and sizes.

(Oh, for the days when shoes were available in a such a variety of widths. I still miss AA heels on B width shoes.)

A high-heeled “Foot Rest” shoe from Krippendorf promised comfort, for “$6.95 to $7.95” or more. Ad from WHC, October 1936.

I was curious about the Paris Fashion brand, and found that it was only one of many lines made by the Wohl Shoe Company. Wohl owned forty-six trademarks. A 1941 booklet celebrating the history of the Wohl Shoe Company was recently offered on eBay. In 1941, Wohl produced lines called Jacqueline, Natural Poise Arch Shoes, Connie, and Paris Fashion Fifth Avenue Shoes. Click here.  

A selection of shoe ads from Woman’s Home Companion, also from 1936, shows that Paris Fashion Shoes were relatively low-priced, compared to other brands. You can tell from the names of the companies, however, that these ads were aimed at women who wanted shoe comfort as well as style.

“According to the Table of Shoe Hotness, any brand that promises comfort will add 10 years to one’s WEA (Wearer’s Estimated Age.)” – Columnist Leah Garchik, writing in the Style section of the San Francisco Chronicle.)

Enna Jettick shoes cost $5 to $6 in 1936. Ad from WHC, April 1936.

This Enna Jettick shoe ad from April 1936 featured 27 year old Hollywood star Helen Twelvetrees wearing Enna Jettick shoes. (Ener-Getic! Get it?) Enna Jetticks were aimed at older women. Many other brands promised both comfort and style.

Red Cross shoe ad, WHC, April 1936. (Great swing coat! You could have worn that suit in the 1950’s.)

These Red Cross shoes cost about $6.50 a pair. Ad from WHC, October 1936. Red Cross shoes were supposed to “exercise your feet and legs back to shapeliness with every step you take.”

I remember similar claims for shoes in the 1970’s.

However much they promised comfort, these 1936 shoes are not necessarily “old lady” shoe styles.

This Butterick-Companion holiday frock pattern (7155) was drawn on a youthful model and illustrated with fashion accessories: shoes, bags, and gloves. WHC, December 1936.

Fashionable shoes and purses  for December 1936. Gray or Claret were suggested. WHC, p. 69. These shoes also appeared in WHC ads.

Apparently advertisers supplied shoes to the magazine for use in fashion layouts. Nothing new about that!

This Walk-Over “Cabana” model, from a October 1936 ad [inset], was available in gray suede and a range of other colors: black, green, brown, and blue.

December fashion illustration and [inset] October ad for Red Cross Shoes. WHC.

Other seasonal colors were advertised :

There is no price range on this ad for high-heeled Queen Quality shoes. WHC, March 1936. This ad is aimed at brides and “every other girl with a flair for fashion.” These styles were available in blue, and probably in a range of other color

Ads for Selby Arch Preserver shoes are interesting because they always show three women of different ages striding along in chic outfits. Ad from WHC, November 1936.

Queen Quality shoe ad, WHC, November 1936. The Bengal, right, looks rather middle-aged to me, but the Lanett pump, top left, has a very high heel.

These Walk-Over shoes from October 1936 range from casual and sporty (top left) to citified. Top left has a stacked leather heel. Prices $7.50 to $8.50, in a wide range of colors, including “Araby green.”

The top-stitched Walk-Over shoe at top right looks a lot like the gray shoe featured in that December fashion illustration.

Back to those $3 to $4 Paris Fashion Shoes: They were really inexpensive compared to shoes advertised in Woman’s Home Companion at the same time.

Red Cross Shoes cost $6.50 to $6.85 in November 1936.  That’s more than 50% to 100% higher than Paris Fashion Shoes. (A couple of these styles look rather graceful compared to others from 1936.)

These Foot Saver shoes cost as much as $12.75 in October, 1936. WHC. [Are those sequins?]

According to Woman’s Home Companion, October 1936, a working woman with a college education could expect to earn $18 per week. She was expected to need four pairs of shoes per year, at $3 a pair. Maybe she bought Paris Fashion Shoes!

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/1936-oct-college-girls-budget.jpg?w=500

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1930s, 1930s-1940s, bags, Gloves, handbags, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Purses, Shoes, Vintage Accessories

More Ads for Woman’s Institute from 1920’s and 1930’s

1933 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. Big, ruffled “Letty Lynton” sleeves became a huge fashion influence after the release of the movie in 1932.

In a previous post I wrote that Woman’s Institute ads were different every month, and that lining them up gives a mini-tour of fashions for each year. I have no photos from some years and some months, so there are big gaps in this little fashion show. I’ll just put the ones I have in chronological order. I love the captions, which repeat a few Woman’s Institute themes, like “It’s the prettiest dress I’ve ever had” and “I love to wear this dress.”

Woman’s Institute Fashions from the Twenties

February 1924 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. This dress is basically a simple tube with neck and arm openings and a belt.

December 1924 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. Except for the collar, this is a dress based on rectangles.

August 1925 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. 1920’s fashions are getting more complex.

August 1926 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. “Nothing will ever appear ‘home-made.’ “

By December 1926, Twenties’ styles are no longer simple tubes or rectangles.

December 1926 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course.

January 1927 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. Notice how short skirts have become in just 25 months.

Styles had changed a great deal between December 1924 and January 1927 — just two years:

A Woman’s Institute “One Hour Dress” from 1924; two years later, the Woman’s Institute ads showed much more complicated styles.

However, the possibility of making a dress in one hour, thanks to early 1920’s styles, probably inspired many women to try making their own clothing for the first time.

February 1927 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. This dress requires piecing curves; it’s not a project for beginners.

March 1927 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course, “used by over 230,000 women and girls.”

August 1927 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. Now there are 250,000 users.

October 1927 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course.

February 1928 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course.

June 1928 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. This is the most matronly outfit I’ve run across in these ads.

The reason many women sew for themselves is that they have non-standard-sized bodies or hard to fit figures. (Having an exceptionally small waist, broad shoulders, or tall body makes it hard to find store-bought clothes that fit, just as having a smaller or larger than average body does.) Oddly, the Woman’s Institute ads I’ve seen don’t seem to be aimed at hard-to-fit women.

October 1928 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. This dress has a chic, asymmetrical collar and side drape.

Sending in the coupon from October 1928 would get you a 32 page booklet and a 60 page dressmaking lesson “which tells how to take correct measurements, select the right pattern, alter to your own measurements, cut and fit for all types of figures, etc.” Perhaps hard-to-fit women let their dressmakers alter patterns for them.

March 1929 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course.

Woman’s Institute Fashions from the Thirties

I have not collected many ads from 1929 or 1930, so my parade of fashions from Woman’s Institute ads has some big gaps.

February 1931 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. This shows that not all hems dropped precipitately after 1929.

I have no photos from 1932, but the very long hemline on this dress was well established by 1933.

January 1933 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. “The new feminine fashions have created a big demand for dressmakers.”

February 1933 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. 1930’s ads often showed evening gowns.

This marks a change to more evening gowns in the Institute’s advertising; 1933 was one of the worst years of the Great Depression. Ads that said “Earn $20 to $40 a week at home” in 1924 said “Earn $10 to $35” in March of 1933:

March 1933 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. Scottie Dog (and fox fur stole) optional.

The number of women wearing furs during the Depression used to surprise me, but “In 1917, there were only four fur farms in the entire United States; by 1930, there were more than forty-five hundred.” This drove down the price of furs — and millions of animals were raised for slaughter. [See A Perfect Fit by Jenna Weissman Joselit.] Also, cheap furs from domestic animals like rabbits and dogs were sold as coney “seal” and “Manchurian wolf.”

March 1934 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. In 1934, “Letty Lynton” sleeves were still in style, and a dressmaker might earn a more optimistic “$20 to $50 a week.”

September 1934 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course.

Woman’s Institute ads seem to feature more evening dresses in the 1930’s, perhaps because the emphasis is changing to copying fashions, designing your own, and owning your own business or dress shop.

March 1935 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. “You can earn a splendid income in a dressmaking business of your own.”

February 1936 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. “Earn Money in Dressmaking and Designing.”

March 1936 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. [What a lovely train!]

In addition to lessons in making dresses and hats, Woman’s Institute courses on Cookery and, now, Tea Room Management were available.

Traditionally, most 20th century women who had their clothes made by dressmakers started with a commercial pattern or a photograph from a fashion magazine, although they might ask for changes to suit their taste.

September 1936 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. This ad is unusual because it shows a commercial pattern, Vogue 7403.

These 1930’s ads now introduce the idea of copying high fashion, designing dresses, and opening your own dress shop.

October 1936 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course.

February 1937 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. “Earn a fine income at home.”

The ability to work from home has always been important to women with children and other domestic responsibilities. And, of course, the overhead of a home business is lower than that of a shop.

October 1937 ad for Woman’s Institute dressmaking course. You can earn money at home . . . or have a good income in a smart dressmaking shop of your own.”

In 1938, Woman’s Institute placed this ad in a Butterick Fashion News Flyer, encouraging women who use commercial patterns to design and make their own clothes with the dressmaking skills learned from Woman’s Institute.

Woman’s Institute advertisement that appeared in the Butterick Fashion News Flyer for March, 1938.

“Be the smartest dressed woman in your town!” That’s almost what the ads said in 1917!

Testimonials from Woman’s Institute customers. There are now 300,000 of them. March 1938.

Coupon for Woman’s Institute, March 1938.

Mary Brooks Picken also published a quarterly magazine, Fashion Service. If you are researching Woman’s Institute ads, I found 1114 citations with a search on the Cornell University Home Archive.

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, evening and afternoon clothes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Resources for Costumers, Woman's Institute

More Cutex Nail Polish Ads in Color

Cutex advertises smoky nail polish shades for chic bridesmaids; Ladies’ Home Journal, September 1936.

While catching up on files I hadn’t labelled, I found two more 1930’s color ads for Cutex Nail Polish.

In 1936, ads assured customers that their Cutex nail polish would not get thick and gummy after being opened. Ad from Ladies’ Home Journal, October 1936

Those sharply pointed kitten-claw nails are much in evidence, with white, unpainted half-moons and tips. The colors are “smoky” and coordinated with autumn clothing colors.

Smoky shades of nail polish to compliment bridesmaids’ clothing colors. Cutex ad, September, 1936.

Robin Red was recommended for this pink organdy dress.

“Be divine in pink organdy with Cutex Robin Red nails.”

This bridesmaid wears Rust nail polish with her green dress.

By sending in a coupon and fourteen cents, you could get two samples of nail polish, nail polish remover, and a Cutex lipstick to harmonize! (This is the first mention I happen to have seen about coordinated nail and lip color; that’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of earlier references I simply haven’t come across.)

Cutex coupon ad, Ladies’ Home Journal, September 1936.

In the October ads, competition among the nail polish companies became evident: both Cutex and Glazo claimed that their polish wouldn’t get thick or “gummy.”

Top of Cutex ad, October 1936.

Cutex showed a lineup of colors from different companies.

Nail polish colors in competition; Cutex ad, October 1936.

“We deliberately uncorked [!] 10 bottles of nail polish — two of our New Cutex — Clear and Creme, and 8 popular rival brands — and let their contents stand exposed to the air for 14 days.”

Text from a Depression Era Cutex ad (October 1936) stresses economy: “usable down to the last drop — a distinct saving!” “There’s no question about value for your money when you buy Cutex.”

Nail polish being a luxury, rather than a necessity, women must have felt a little bit guilty buying it during hard times — unless it was really a money-saving purchase, “usable down to the last drop — a distinct saving!”at “the old economical price” of 35 cents.

Glazo nail polish also addressed the problem of nail polish that became too thick to use. Glazo ad, Ladies’ Home Journal, October 1936. At 25 cents per bottle, Glazo was cheaper than Cutex.

Here’s a closer look at those hats:

The hats worn in this Glazo nail polish ad are really rather conservative for 1936.

New “smoky” Cutex nail polish colors from October 1936.

 

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Filed under 1930s, Hats, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Vintage Accessories