As I mentioned in Part 1, when the casual, sportswear look became chic in the nineteen twenties, clothes for actively playing tennis and for watching tennis and other sports began to be illustrated together. A two-page layout in the May, 1929 issue of Butterick’s Delineator magazine contains a few surprises when you read the pattern descriptions.
On page 32, the caption is “Delineator Backs the Tennis Frock against all sports styles,” but not every pattern illustrated in the article is for actively playing tennis.
On the opposite page, the caption is “Necklines Have Style News for all on the sidelines,” i.e., for spectators.
Also illustrated on the same two pages — at the tops — were these outfits:
It’s pretty clear that those two dresses, Butterick patterns 2605 and 2589, are a bit fussy for active sports, in spite of their pleated skirts; but what are we to make of the woman in a columnar, sleeveless, wrap dress, holding a tennis racket and wearing tennis shoes and socks?
Is pattern 2555 really a tennis dress? I can see that bottom button popping right off if she lunges for a low ball.
It’s interesting to look at the alternate views of these dresses, too. The style details from the front don’t necessarily carry to the back. It’s obvious that — as with this 1971 pattern — the pattern company is trying to multi-purpose the designs: with sleeves, or sleeveless; for playing or watching; in plaids or solid colors, etc.
The Article, Pattern by Pattern, page 32. Delineator, May 1929.
Butterick 2555: Double Breasted Wrap Dress
Butterick 2603: Tennis Dress with Polka Dot Trim
Butterick 2616: Demure in front, low in back
More “Sunburn Fashions”
This chiffon resort dress is from Hattie Carnegie; although definitely a spectator dress (with matching jacket and scarf) it has a back like the tennis fashions that follow.
Butterick 2551: The Evening Back
Butterick 2531: The Sun Frock
The front and back of this dress echo each other, but I don’t think I would have guessed at the low back from an illustration of the front!
Butterick 2635: Sleeveless Tennis Frock
In the back view, she is wearing tennis shoes and socks, but will the high front neckline keep the dress on when she bends over to pick up a ball?
Pattern by Pattern, Delineator, page 33
Butterick 2625: White with an accent of color, polka dots
Butterick 2633: Checked fabric, kimono sleeves, lingerie collar
Butterick 2637: Tucked waistline, pleats at the sides
Butterick 2621: Kimono sleeves and a monogram
On the same page….
Butterick 2605: Color contrast in a 4-H dress
Those 4-H club girls must have been fairly accomplished dressmakers. As illustrated, the soft fabric looks like silk, but the 4-H girls would probably have used cotton.
Butterick 2589: Lingerie touches
Finally, also from 1929, the tennis dress I showed at the very top of this post, Butterick 2549 :
The same criss-cross back straps are a detail in these dresses for younger girls: