Tag Archives: Helen Dryden illustrator artist illustration

More Princess Line Dresses (and Styling Tricks) from the Nineteen Twenties

These princess line dresses from the 1920’s do not have the characteristic horizontal hip band of most twenties’ fashions.

In my post about Butterick styles for October 1927, I wrote,

Not all 1920’s dresses had a strong horizontal line across the hip. Princess-seamed dress patterns were available for several years and didn’t change much — except for their length.

Left, Butterick 1683, a princess line dress; Delineator, October 1927, page 31. These 1927 hemlines are just below the knee.

The rear view of the princess dress (1683) shows the characteristic princess seams, which can be shaped to follow the lines of  the body without any waist seam. The front and back are each divided into three panels. A princess line dress usually skims the body — at least, they did before the use of stretch fabrics and elasticated knits.

More Princess Line Dresses from the Nineteen Twenties

Here are some other princess line patterns from 1925 to 1928. Some combine fur and velvet for evening, but one is a day dress.

Left, Butterick princess line dress pattern 6424, Delineator, December 1925. For a young woman or teen.

Left, Butterick princess line dress pattern 6506, from December 1925.

Also from December 1925, Butterick princess line dress pattern 6428. Dresses for adult women were slightly longer than those for teens.

In 1928, the princess line evening gown has a hem that dips low in the back. So does the neckline.

Butterick princess line pattern 2257, from October 1928. Delineator.

Putting Twenties Styles on Modern Bodies

A chenille or ribbon shoulder decoration draws our eye up toward the face on these formal dresses from December 1927. Butterick patterns 1734 and 1753.

I think I’ve mentioned this before: a director once told me that he wanted “absolutely authentic 1920’s costumes” — but added, “Just don’t give me any of those dresses with the waists down around the hips!” In times (like the 1980’s) when contemporary fashion insists on narrow hips and wide shoulders, making an actress feel confident in a dress with natural shoulders and a horizontal line across her hips can be difficult — especially if she isn’t slim-hipped or is self-conscious about her figure.

Trim or fur leads your eye to focus on the top of the body in these styles from December 1928. Butterick patterns 1761 and 1757.

But theatrical designers also have to consider audience expectations — I would not do a twenties’ show in which every woman wore princess line dresses! However, the princess line dress is among the authentic possibilities for one or two characters, or for a re-creator who doesn’t have a “boyish” figure.

Illustration by Helen Dryden, Delineator cover, September 1928. A band of deep pink on the scarf lends a touch of bright color to her head and face area.

The most flattering twenties’ styles balance the hip interest with interest near the face. Butterick patterns 1745 and 1735, from December 1927.

For plays and operas, we try to draw attention to the face and upper body. (It sounds crazy, but audiences can’t hear the lines if they can’t see the faces. Humans lip-read much more than they realize.) Accessories that create a vertical line, such as lighter or brighter colors near the face, those looooong 1920’s necklaces, and those often-seen 1920’s shoulder decorations are flattering and authentic twenties’ tricks.

A scarf or bows with long ties add interest to the top of the body and, in the case of the bows, create a vertical line to balance the hip interest. June 1928, Delineator.

These three couture sketches are undoubtedly twenties’ styles, but they use a variety of styling tricks to move our attention up the body, toward the face, and to deflect interest from the hips.

French designer fashions from May 1928. 1) Renee, 2) Jane Regny, 3) Jenny. Sketches for Delineator. The coat by Jenny suggests princess lines.


Filed under 1920s, evening and afternoon clothes, Musings, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage patterns

Wishing You Serenity (with an Illustration by Helen Dryden)

Cover, Delineator Magazine, November 1926. Illustration by Helen Dryden.

Cover image, Delineator Magazine, November 1926. Illustration by Helen Dryden. [The cover shows damage near the model’s left eye.]

Far from being a giddy flapper, this young woman looks thoughtful, but serene.

Born in 1887, artist Helen Dryden began working for Vogue in 1913, but it’s clear that she was a “pioneer” twentieth-century working woman, always in tune with her times.

The Vintage Traveler posted this Vogue Christmas cover from 1917, also by Helen Dryden, and several of her stylized  Art Deco illustrations for Aberfoyle textiles, from 1928. A search for “Helen Dryden illustrator” images will lead you to many examples of her work.

Dryden was a very prolific illustrator, painting dozens of covers for Vogue and for Delineator magazine, and also working as a costume designer on Broadway.

Helen Dryden Cover illustration by Helen Dryden, Delineator magazine, July 1929.

Helen Dryden, cover illustration, Delineator magazine, July 1929.

Born in the previous century, she adjusted brilliantly to the aesthetics of the nineteen-teens, twenties, and thirties. Cover of Delineator magazine, September 1928. Illustration by Helen Dryden.

In addition to working in fashion illustration, she was active in industrial design. As a designer/illustrator for Studebaker automobiles, she was reportedly paid $100,000 per year. Her name featured prominently in Studebaker ads.

An advertisement for the 1937 State President proclaims, “Glorified inside and outside by the genius of Helen Dryden’s styling, the State President belongs in the upper brackets of fine car luxury from its tiny fender lamps to its chromium strip running boards and its costly custom pillow type upholstery.” — Ed Heys, writing in Hemmings Classic Car.

You can read all of Ed Hey’s excellent article, “Helen Dryden, Pioneering Gatecrasher of the Boys-Only Industrial Design Club,” by clicking here. There is a slide show of Dryden and her work for Studebaker.

Dryden also designed everything from textiles, to Art Deco bathroom faucets, to a battery operated candlestick/lamp, while doing industrial design for the Dura company.  Click here for those extraordinary faucets.

Art Contrarian’s blog post about Dryden gives an idea of how well she adapted her style to the times. If you’re hungry for more Dryden images, the Art Admirer blog has some beauties.

I think that lovely young woman in the black fur coat looks both serene and intelligent — and inspiring.



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