Tag Archives: Jean Patou French designer 1920s twenties

Tennis Dress, Part 2: Tennis Patterns from 1929

Tennis and spectator sports outfits, Delineator, June 1929.

Tennis and spectator sports outfits, Delineator, June 1929.

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.

Tennis frocks, Delineator, June 1929, page 32 (Detail, bottom of page.)

Tennis frocks, Delineator, May 1929. (Detail, bottom of page 32.)

On the opposite page, the caption is “Necklines Have Style News for all on the sidelines,” i.e., for spectators.

Delineator, May 1933, page 33 (Detail, bottom of page.)

Delineator, May 1929. (Detail, bottom of page 33.)

Also illustrated on the same two pages  — at the tops — were these outfits:

Butterick patterns 2626, 2603, 2555, 1929. From "Delineator Backs the Tennis Frock." May, 1929.

Butterick patterns 2626, 2603, 2555.  From “Delineator Backs the Tennis Frock.” Top of page 32, May, 1929.

Delineator, May 1929, page 33. Detail from top of page.

Delineator, May 1929. Detail from top of page 33. “Necklines Have Style News for all on the sidelines.”

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?

Butterick patterns 2626, 2603, 2555, 1929. From "Delineator Backs the Tennis Frock." May, 1929.

Butterick patterns 2626, 2603, 2555, May 1929. Which of these is really a tennis dress?

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.

Simplicity No. 9417, dated 1971. Tennis dress and shorts, or tunic and long trousers.

Simplicity No. 9417, dated 1971. Tennis dress and shorts, or tunic and long trousers. Click to enlarge

The Article, Pattern by Pattern, page 32. Delineator, May 1929.

Butterick 2555: Double Breasted Wrap Dress

Butterick pattern 2555, May 1929.

Butterick pattern 2555, May 1929.

Butterick 2603:  Tennis Dress with Polka Dot Trim

Butterick pattern 2603, May 1929.

Butterick pattern 2603, May 1929. This is a tennis dress. “An amusing version of the sleeveless white tennis frock has a polka dot collar and a knot of polka dots on the pocket.” All the pleats are in the front of the skirt, a common practice in the 1920’s.

Butterick 2616: Demure in front, low in back

Butterick pattern 2616, for jacket and dress. May 1929.

Butterick pattern 2616, for jacket and dress. May 1929. The back view is a surprise — except that tennis dresses were often low backed. The deep V-neck in back “may be of different lengths.” The skirt has pleats in front and back. Available in sizes up to 44 inch bust.

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.

Sunback dress from Hattie Carnegie, 1929.

Sun-back dress from Hattie Carnegie, 1929. “The intense flower tints which look so well against a bronzed complexion appear in this Hattie Carnegie chiffon afternoon resort frock with an unconventional neckline and three-color jabot.”

 

Butterick patterns 2551, 2531, 2365; May 1929.

Butterick patterns 2551, 2531, 2365; May 1929.

Butterick 2551:  The Evening Back

Butterick 2551, May 1929.

Butterick 2551, May 1929. “This frock, a sunburn fashion, is cut with a sun back — the strap across the shoulders holding it in place.” That would allow you to play tennis in it; the skirt is pleated in front. It looks very different in two colors.

Butterick 2531: The Sun Frock

Butterick 2531, May 1929.

Butterick 2531, May 1929. “The woman of fashion exposes arms, legs and back to the healthful rays of the sun.” Pleated skirt, front and back.

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

Butterick 2635, May 1929.

Butterick 2635, May 1929. “A sleeveless tennis frock that may be cut with a sun-back.” The pointed trim line in the front is not echoed in back.

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

Buttrick 2625, 2633, 2367, from May 1929,

Butterick 2625, 2633, 2367, from May 1929.

Butterick 2625: White with an accent of color, polka dots

Butterick 2625, May 1929.

Butterick 2625, May 1929. “White with an accent of color is very smart.” A spectator dress, more elaborate than the polka-dot trimmed tennis dress pictured earlier (No. 2603.)

Butterick 2633: Checked fabric, kimono sleeves, lingerie collar

Butterick 2633, May 1929.

Butterick 2633, May 1929. “The checked frock is one of the first sport fashions.” The same page featured other dresses with “lingerie collars.”

Butterick 2637:  Tucked waistline, pleats at the sides

Butterick 2637, May 1929.

Butterick 2637, May 1929. A spectator sport dress, apparently with two different back views.

Butterick 2621:  Kimono sleeves and a monogram

Butterick 2621, May 1929.

Butterick 2621, May 1929. A Patou-like monogram, but not a word about playing tennis, in spite of her practical shoes.

On the same page….

Delineator, May 1929, page 33. Detail from top of page.

Delineator, May 1929, page 33. Detail from top of page.

Butterick 2605: Color contrast in a 4-H dress

Butterick 2605, May 1929.

Butterick 2605, May 1929. “Contrast in color is the season’s most predominant note. . . . This two-piece frock can be used for a 4 H club uniform. Designed for . . . 15 to 20 years.”

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

Butterick 2589, May 1929.

Butterick 2589, May 1929.  The “lingerie touches” (delicate fabric ruffles) are attributed to Patou and to London Trades (a 1920’s designer name.) Available in bust sizes 32″ to 44″

Finally, also from 1929, the tennis dress I showed at the very top of this post, Butterick 2549 :

Butterick 2545, June, 1929.

Butterick 2549, June, 1929. “An evening-back tennis frock with a detachable panel that may be buttoned up to cover the low decolletage if you do not want to tan.”

1929 june p 33 tennis 2549 etc dress skirt text btm

The same criss-cross back straps are a detail in these dresses for younger girls:

Butterick 2684, for little girls, and 2686, for older girls. June 1929.

Butterick 2684, for little girls, and 2686, for older girls. Delineator, June 1929.

2684 2686

Butterick No. 3544, from 1965, left.

Butterick No. 3544, from 1965, left. Can we call it a classic?

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1960s-1970s, Children's Vintage styles, Shoes, Sportswear, Vintage patterns, Women in Trousers

Tennis Dress, Part 1– A Few Images 1870’s to 1970’s

Tennis dress, Chesterfield cigarette ad, Nov. 1929. Delineator.

Tennis dress, Chesterfield cigarette ad, Nov. 1929. Delineator.

I am no authority on tennis or any other sport. I just have a batch of images to share — more than will fit into one post.

When I began playing tennis for fun, around 1971, I thought you were supposed to wear white on the court. In fact, my tennis partner and I felt quite daring because we were wearing the new white-piped-with-color tennis outfits, like this one.

Tennis dress and shorts, Simplicity pattern 9417, dated 1971.

Tennis dress and shorts, Simplicity pattern 9417, dated 1971.

Now, of course, women players like the Williams sisters appear in tournaments wearing comfortable stretch fabrics and brilliant hues. If some of the period illustrations I’ve come across are accurate, wearing white is a fashion that comes and goes (although casual play is different from playing at Wimbledon, where the dress code is strict.)

Tennis game in an ad for Indian Head Cloth, May, 1925. Delineator.

Tennis game in an ad for Indian Head Cloth, May, 1925. Delineator.

For informal games in the 1920’s and earlier, both spectators and players apparently had the option of wearing colorful clothing.

Tennis and golf dresses, Butterick patterns 5994 and 5590. May 1925, Delineator.

Tennis and golf dresses, Butterick patterns 5994 and 5990. May 1925, Delineator.

A sleeveless version of the red print dress is shown in the background, worn by a tennis player.

“5994:  If you omit the sleeves, this slip-over frock makes a smart tennis costume, for the two-piece circular skirt fastened at the hip-line allows freedom for running, etc. ”

Of course, tennis rackets, golf clubs and parasols were often used in pattern illustrations as as way of emphasizing the season, and may not be taken too literally. Another illustration of the blue “golf” dress above (No. 5990)  is shown with a tennis racket a few pages later — in a shorter version for a younger wearer. It does not seem well suited for running or leaping.

Butterick 5990, Delineator, May 1925

Butterick 5990, Delineator, May 1925. Here, the model is a teen.

Nevertheless, prints, stripes, plaids and colors all seem to have been acceptable — possibly chic — in a friendly game.

Masthead illustration of a tennis game, Delineator, July 1928.

Masthead illustration of a tennis game, Delineator, July 1928. The model below wears a very similar pleated skirt and patterned top.

Dressed fpr tennis, July 1925. Delineator.

Dressed for tennis? July 1925. Delineator. Butterick 6088.

Although she has both a racket and tennis balls, her shoes don’t look appropriate for active sports. (Rubber-soled shoes were available. Click here for some vintage Keds.)

Pattern description, Butterick No 6088. Tennis is not mentioned.

Pattern description, Butterick No. 6088. Tennis is not mentioned, nor is golf.

How Did They Do It? Some Earlier Tennis Outfits

A Rally, watercolor painting by Sir James Lavery, 1885.

“A Rally,” watercolor painting by Sir James Lavery, 1885. Detail.

For photographs of a tennis player actually dressed like this, click here. Playing tennis while wearing  a bustle, a corset, petticoats, and long hems, like this, must have required immense agility and balance. Not to mention stamina….

It was quite a handicap, as cartoonist George du Maurier noticed in 1877:

1877 tennis cartoon by Du Maurier. "Charlotte and Ethel, having accepted a Challenge to play against their cousins, Tom and Harry, insist upon Handicapping them, as is only fair."

1877 tennis cartoon by Du Maurier. “Charlotte and Ethel, having accepted a Challenge to play against their cousins, Tom and Harry, insist upon Handicapping them, as is only fair.”

Cartoonists also noticed that athletic young women — even those who scorned to play tennis wearing corsets — found male admirers. [Caution: This is a cartoon, from Punch magazine, not a photograph….]

Tennis without corsets, Cartoon, 1879. "They have given up stays altogether.... and are all engaged to Dukes."

Tennis without corsets, Caricature, 1879. “They have given up stays altogether…. [and] are all engaged to Dukes. “

The full caption says, “The O’Farrell – Mackenzie girls have gone in so extensively for early-rising, fresh air, cold water, farinaceous food, rowing, riding, rinking, lawn-tennis, gymnastics, and what not, that they have distorted their figures into the likeness of so many Greek statues, and have no more waist to speak of than that quite horrid Venus at the Louvre; indeed, they have given up stays altogether as a bad job. As they are all engaged to marry Dukes, Mr. Punch fears they will set the fashion; and as he holds that a long and wasp-like waist is as essential to a lady as a — well, as a hump between the shoulders, a prominent nose and chin, and a protuberant abdomen are to a gentleman, he hopes that the above caricature may serve as an example and a warning.” [Illustration from The Way to Wear’em, by Christina Walkley.]

The idea that a woman’s body should support itself without stays (boned corsets) — thanks to healthy exercise — was a principle of the Jenness-Miller magazine. This is a Jenness-Miller pattern for lawn-tennis, 1890.

Lawn Tennis outfit (right) from dress-reformer Annie Jenness-Miller. 1890.

Lawn Tennis outfit (right) from dress-reformer Annie Jenness-Miller. 1890.

Two decades later, British tennis champion Charlotte Cooper Sterry managed not to trip on her skirts, winning five singles titles in outfits like this one:

Tennis champion Charlotte Sterry, 1909; from Elizabeth Ewings' History of 20th Century Fashion.

Tennis champion Charlotte Sterry, 1909; from Elizabeth Ewings’ History of 20th Century Fashion.

In 1918, Butterick’s Delineator recommended a colorful two piece outfit:

Butterick patterns for a middy blouse and pleated skirt; tennis costume, July 1918.

Butterick patterns for a middy blouse (1033) and striped skirt (9723); tennis costume, July 1918. The skirt is striped, not pleated, although pleats were popular in 1918.

“Behind the tennis net a middy blouse and striped skirt do their part … championship in sport and fashion.”

In this 1925 advertisement, the male player wears white; one woman wears a white middy or dress with pleated (?) skirt, but the other wears lavender –and recognizable tennis shoes.

Indian Head Cloth ad, May 1925.

Indian Head Cloth ad, May 1925. Detail. Most of the women in the background — probably waiting to play — are wearing white.

“Gradually, white for tennis became a rule, so that in 1890 Wimbledon mandated all-white outfits for players. Elsewhere, the all-white tennis outfit became a decorous standard by the early 20th century — just in time, by the way, for the Frenchwoman Suzanne Lenglen to aggravate rich people everywhere by playing tennis in a (white) calf-length skirt and short sleeves.” — Emily Chertoff, writing in The Atlantic. Click here.

(Another theory is that white doesn’t show sweat stains as badly as colored fabrics.)

Champion Suzanne Lenglen wore a longish pleated skirt in this tournament:

Suzanne Lenglen playing tennis in 1919, from Elizabeth Ewing's History of 20th Century Fashion.

Suzanne Lenglen playing tennis, from Elizabeth Ewing’s History of 20th Century Fashion.

Lenglen wore many outfits designed by couturier Jean Patou in the 1920’s, which helped to popularize his sporty sweaters and skirts.  Lenglen first appeared at Wimbledon in Patou’s short white silk pleated skirt and a sleeveless cardigan in 1921. According to Brenda Polan & Roger Tredre, her outfit created a sensation and introduced the sporty, boyish look known as the “garçonne.”

“As with so much sportswear, many of [his] clothes were in reality bought by women who did not participate in sport and were more interested in showing off their Patou monogrammed cardigan sweaters to their envious friends.” — Polan and Tredre, in The Great Fashion Designers

Patou took credit for shortening skirts to the knee in 1925; he was one of the first designers to put his monogram very visibly on his designs — monogrammed cardigans, scarves, etc. This was a clever move, since without the monogram his relatively simple sportswear — sweater, skirt, and matching scarf — would not have proclaimed its price. [Sometimes I’d like to go back in a time machine and strangle Patou, but then I realize that somebody else —  probably his arch-rival, Chanel — would have invented the merchandising of Monogrammed “Designer” Everything if he hadn’t done it.]  For a concise history of Patou, see The Great Fashion Designers, by Polan and Tredre.

The outfit on the right shows Patou's influence. The woman is wearing tennis shoes and socks, so is probably not merely a spectator. Delineator, May 1929.

The outfit on the right shows Patou’s influence. The woman is wearing tennis shoes and socks, so perhaps she is not merely a spectator. Delineator, May 1929.

If you couldn’t afford couture, you could put your own monogram on your clothing.

Butterick patterns for August 1926. Right, No. 7043: "The Monogram is chic."

Butterick patterns for August 1926. Right, No. 7043: “The Monogram is chic.”

(Butterick sold embroidery transfers for alphabets as well as sewing patterns.)

Monogram fad, 1924. Butterick's Delineator magazine.

Monogram fad, 1924. Images collected from Butterick’s Delineator magazine.

The influence of Patou, as stated by Polan and Tredre, may explain why it’s not always easy to tell spectator sportswear from active sportswear in fashion illustrations. Which of these ladies are playing, and which are spectators?

Butterick patterns 2626, 2603, 2555, 1929. From "Delineator Backs the Tennis Frock." May, 1929.

Butterick patterns 2626, 2603, 2555, 1929. From “Delineator Backs the Tennis Frock.” May, 1929.

More about these patterns later.

For a slide show of historic tennis dress at Wimbledon, click here.  K. Shriya Sharma has written a chronology of women’s Wimbledon fashions in the Times of India. Click here to read it.

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Filed under 1870s to 1900s fashions, 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, A Costumers' Bookshelf, Costumes for the 19th century, Late Victorian fashions, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Sportswear, Vintage patterns, vintage photographs, Women in Trousers

Paris Fashions for June 1926, Sketched by Soulié

Paris designs by (from left) Worth, Jenny, and Lucien Lelong. Soulie's sketches for Delineator magazine, June 1926.

Paris designs by (from left) Worth, Jenny, and Lucien Lelong. Soulie’s sketches for Delineator magazine, June 1926.

Butterick kept an office in Paris, where, among other things, the latest collections were sketched.

“. . . Butterick keeps a staff of experts in Paris all the time. Wherever new models are launched, there is a Butterick expert noting each successful model. Quickly that expert cables the news. Sketches, details follow by the fast steamer. Immediately patterns are made for each of the successful new dresses.”

These sketches by Soulié were a regular feature in Butterick’s magazine, The Delineator. Many of these designers’ names are still very familiar (Worth, Patou, Molyneux) while others are less often mentioned. Jenny and Renée often created lovely fashions in the 1920s.  I photographed these illustrations from a bound copy of six issues of The Delineator, so this image of a gown by Patou is distorted by the curvature of the book, but the details are worth a look.

Jean Patou

Design by Jean Patou sketched by Soulie for Delineator, June 1926.

Design by Jean Patou sketched by Soulie for Delineator, June 1926.

” ‘Premier bal’ [first ball] is the charming name of a charming frock from Jean Patou. It is made of pale pink chiffon with a bolero beginning at a yoke and ending over a draped girdle. Petals of pink taffeta weight the full godets.”

I don’t claim a direct influence, but I have seen vintage dresses with similar details.

Fabric flower petals at the shoulder and a "bolero" effect on a vintage twenties' gown.

Fabric flower petals at the shoulder and a “bolero” effect on a vintage late twenties’ gown.

Two vintage twenties' dresses; one has floating side panels; the other has a bolero effect falling all the way to the waist.

Two vintage twenties’ dresses; one has floating side panels that evoke Patou’s bolero; the other has a bolero effect falling all the way to the waist — and self-fabric petals at the shoulder.

A cluster of petals, or a bow, on the left shoulder was often repeated at the right (or left) hip, perhaps with a drapery or cascade of fabric falling from there to the hem or beyond. This was a clever device for attracting attention away from unflattering horizontal lines and making the viewer’s eye travel up and down the dress instead of across it.

Butterick 2450 (Feb.) and 2490 (March), 1929. Trim at the shoulder and hip.

Butterick 2450 (Feb.) and 2490 (March), 1929. Trim at the shoulder and hip.

Renée

Design by Renee, sketched by Soulie for Delineator, June 1926.

Design by Renee, sketched by Soulie for Delineator, June 1926.

“Renée puts clusters of fan plaits in the cape and skirt of a Summer ensemble of violine wool poplin trimmed with buttons dyed to match the material. Skirts remain short and sleeves long in Paris street clothes and necks turn up their collar.”

Molyneux

Molyneux design sketched by Soulie for Delineator, June 1926.

Molyneux design sketched by Soulie for Delineator, June 1926.

“Molyneux makes a shimmering evening frock of mauve Georgette with the bodice double crossed with lines of mauve celophane [sic] and the same glistening trimming edging the petals of the skirt.”

Cellophane was invented by a Swiss textile engineer named Brandenberger and perfected in time for use in gas masks in WW I. (Click here for a history of cellophane.) I do not recommend dry cleaning cellophane dress trims!

Perhaps the client who bought this 1926 evening dress also bought glittering this Molyneux wrap.

Evening jacket by Molyneux, 1926. Collection of the Metropolitan Museum.

Evening jacket by Molyneux, 1926. Collection of the Metropolitan Museum.

Detail of Molyneux jacket, 1926. Collection of the Metropolitan Museum.

Detail of Molyneux jacket, from 1926. Collection of the Metropolitan Museum.

To return to the outfits pictured at the top of this post, here they are shown full length, and later, I will show their details.

Paris designs by (from left) Worth, Jenny, and Lucien Lelong. Soulie's sketches for Delineator magazine, June 1926.

Paris designs by (from left) Worth, Jenny, and Lucien Lelong. Soulie’s sketches for Delineator magazine, June 1926.

Worth (far left, above,)

“Worth puts a bolero and tunic of a reddish pink silk printed with roses over an apple-green front and skirt. The wide sleeves end in a green hem edged with three minute folds of the rose silk.” What a shame we can’t see this in color!

Jenny (center, above)

Jenny makes a rather wonderful Summer ensemble with a flared coat of ash-pink cloth over a smocked frock of silk printed with roses, cyclamen, and white cherries. Touches of Sevres blue trim the neck both of coat and frock.”

Lucien Lelong (Right, above)

“‘Sans atout‘ or “No Trumps” is a grand slam of finely tucked white Georgette used for a soft coat and a still softer frock. Civet fur hems the coat.”

Rose and green outfit by Worth, Ash-pink and blue ensemble by Jenny, and a tucked georgette ensemble by Lucien Lelong, Delineator sketch by Soulie, June 1926.

Pink and green outfit by Worth, Ash-pink and blue ensemble by Jenny, and a tucked georgette ensemble by Lucien Lelong; Delineator sketch by Soulie, June 1926.

“No Trumps:”  Playing bridge was becoming a chic pastime, and evening dresses sometimes included a “bridge jacket.”

This embroidered coat by Jenny, in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum, also dates to 1926:

Coat by Jenny, 1926. Collection of the Metropolitan Museum.

Embroidered coat by Jenny, 1926. Collection of the Metropolitan Museum.

It’s nice to remember how colorful these garments could be. (Click here for more images of this coat.)

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Filed under 1920s, Coats, Dresses, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing