Tag Archives: Ladies’ Home Journal

Shoes and Stockings, 1936

"Stockings and Shoes Have New Color Hramony," Ladies' Home Journal, October 1936.

“Stockings and Shoes Have New Color Harmony,” Ladies’ Home Journal, October 1936.

In the 1930s, as less of the leg became visible, sheer stockings were the dominant fashion. This issue of Ladies’ Home Journal from October, 1936, contained much fashion advice about wardrobe planning. Women were advised to select their winter coat first, and then to think about shoes.

“This year, . . . instead of just being a good supporting cast, they are stepping right out to the front of the stage and becoming principals. It happens this year, because shoes are usually made of contrasting colors, or at least contrasting leathers that take different lights. One of the colors in your shoes may match your coat.  The other may set the color scheme for your dress — your other accessories — your hat. The only exception is all black suede . . . .

“Shoes mostly creep higher and higher up in the instep.  If there are straps, there may be several quite close together, or one placed quite low over the arch — you find few wide-open spaces.

“After your shoe selection should come your dresses.” — “Now It’s Time to Get Your Wardrobe Together,” by Julia Coburn, Ladies’ Home Journal, p. 29, Oct. 1936.

The article “Stockings and Shoes Have New Color Harmony” appeared in the same issue. These shoe and stocking combinations appeared at the top of the page . . .

Shoes and stocking vombinations, LHJ, Oct. 1936.

Shoes and stocking combinations, LHJ, p. 33, Oct. 1936.

. . . and these appeared at the bottom, with descriptive text in the middle.

Shoe and stocking combinations, LHJ, p. 33, Oct. 1936.

Shoe and stocking combinations, LHJ, p. 33, Oct. 1936.

Starting from top left:

From left, a Monk Type Shoe, a Brown Oxford, a Green Service Shoe. Oct. 1936.

A black and brown Monk-type Shoe, and a Brown Oxford; LHJ, Oct. 1936.

“On the left above, worn with a coat of black rough wool, is a monk type shoe of black and cinnamon brown reverse calf, the stocking matching the brown and completing the contrast.  Just behind is a splendid simple oxford of brown suede, trimmed with reddish brown calf, the exact color of the hairy tweed of the suit. The same color is chosen for the stockings.”

Green and brown service shoe, Gray Monk Shoe  , Brown Three Strap Oxford. LHJ, Oct. 1936.

Green and brown high-in-front shoe, Gray Monk Shoe , Brown Three Strap Oxford. LHJ, Oct. 1936.

“The grand dark blue-green that is so smart this fall somehow suggests combination with brown. So, for a brown wool suit, we selected the green service calf high-in-front shoe,  with buttons and trimming of alligator calf. The stockings are a deep reddish brown, just a shade lighter. With the wine-colored skirt we show a monk shoe with a slightly higher heel, in a fairly dark gray reverse calf, with gun-metal calf. The stocking is a pinkish gray which takes on an even warmer tone over the skin.  The three-strap oxford in tan calf, [far right] with stockings in a lighter tan shade, is suggested for a coat of green curly-surfaced wool. Can you see what a difference the right shades of shoes and stockings make?” [I’m having a hard time figuring out why the three-strap shoe is called an “oxford.”]

“Attending a tea party below are some shoes for afternoon silks and dressier suits.” Starting from the left:

Wine Gabardine Pump, Black High-in-front black eyelet tie shoe, Black Suede and Patent Two-Strap. Afternoon shoes, LHJ, Oct. 1936.

Wine Gabardine Pump, Black High-in-front Eyelet tie shoe, Black Suede and Patent Two-Strap. Afternoon shoes, LHJ, Oct. 1936.

[Left:] “A wine gabardine pump, trimmed with kid, is worn with a matching crepe dress. The little whirligig ornament can be turned to tighten or loosen the instep. The gray stockings have enough pink to harmonize with the shoes. [Center:] With a black rough crepe dress, next, we suggest a high-in-front one eyelet tie, piped in silver. A warm, bright, tan stocking for contrast. [Right:] The black-suede-and-patent two-strap might go with a fuschia-red crepe dress, in which case it might have gun-metal gray stockings, very sheer.” [This is the darkest stocking mentioned in this 1936 article. Women with thick ankles and calves generally look best in stockings matched to their shoes, but the strong matches of the 1920’s seem to be a thing of the past.]

Brown Step-in Pump, Darkish Gray Dress Shoes, Brown Suede One-eyelet Tongued Shoes. LHJ, Oct. 1936.

Brown Step-in Pump, Darkish Gray Dress Shoes, Brown Suede One-eyelet Tongued Shoes. LHJ, Oct. 1936.

[Far Left:] “The brown step-in pump, worn with a soft green dress . . . is calf combined with suede, gored to fit high over the arch. The stocking is a lighter brown, still on the reddish cast. [Center:] Dress shoes in darkest gray are very nice. We show them with a royal-blue dress, and gray stockings a little lighter and a little pinker. [Right:] The one-eyelet tongue ties at the right hand corner, worn with a red-brown dress, show the combination of red-brown suede with brown kid.”

“From hemline to heels, you have a chance to show the utmost discrimination in your use of color harmonies and color contrasts.”

Stockings came with either pointed or rectangular heels, as in the nineteen twenties.

Enna Jettticks Ad, October 1936

This full color advertisement for Enna Jetticks (not a real person’s name, but “energetic” — a little branding joke) shows some shoes in gorgeous colors. It’s from the same copy of the Ladies’ Home Journal. The image of a chic young woman is a way of persuading women that Enna Jetticks are not “old lady shoes.

Enna Jetticks Shoe ad, Ladies' Home Journal, Oc.t 1936.

Enna Jetticks Shoe ad, Ladies’ Home Journal, Oct. 1936.

Enna Jetticks ad, top right, Oct. 1936.

Enna Jetticks shoe ad, top right, Oct. 1936. The shoe on the top harks back to 1920’s styles.

Enna Jetticks shoe ad, Oct. 1936. Bottom right.

Enna Jetticks shoe ad, Oct. 1936. Bottom right.

Enna Jetticks shoe ad, bottom left. Oct. 1936.

Enna Jetticks shoe ad, bottom left. Oct. 1936.

“. . . Shoes so comfortable that they require no difficult breaking in. For Enna Jetticks, you know, are designed for ease in the first place, and then they are thoroughly-hand flexed by master craftsmen before you ever try them on.”

“Sizes 1 to 12 and widths AAAAA to EEE. $5 and $6. Slightly higher in Canada.”

One Dress, Three Shoe Options

In December, the Woman’s Home Companion showed three different accessory choices for one claret colored dress, made from Companion-Butterick pattern 7115.

Companion-Butterick pattern 7115, December 1936. In claret colored silk, perfect for "holiday festivities."

Companion-Butterick pattern 7115, December 1936. In claret colored silk, perfect for “holiday festivities.”

Suggested accessories to wear with a claret colored silk dress. Dec. 1936.

Suggested accessories to wear with a claret colored silk dress. Woman’s Home Companion, Dec. 1936.

Black suede is shown on the model, but gray or dark brown shoes, bags, and gloves will provide “variety.”

Accessory description, Woman's Home Companion, December 1936.

Accessory description, Woman’s Home Companion, December 1936.

Both the Ladies’ Home Journal and the Woman’s Home Companion agreed that, with a wine-colored dress, black suede or dark gray shoes were appropriate.

For examples and illustrations of shoe styles such as “monk,” “sandal,” and “oxford” in the 1930’s, click here. Then scroll down for a vintage article defining styles.

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Filed under 1930s, bags, Companion-Butterick Patterns, Gloves, handbags, Hosiery, Hosiery & Stockings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Purses, Shoes, Vintage Accessories

Up Like Little Soldiers: Wilson Garter for Children, 1917

Ad for Wilson Garter, Ladies' Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

Ad for Wilson Garter, Ladies’ Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

I want to share this advertisement for a couple of reasons. First, there may be a collector of vintage underthings who has one of these contraptions and will appreciate the identification.

The Wilson Garter for children and pregnant women. It supports the stockings from the shoulders instead of from the waist. LHJ ad, Sept. 1917.

The Wilson Garter for children and pregnant women. It supports the stockings from the shoulders instead of from the waist. LHJ ad, Sept. 1917.

Second, it is just one more example of the way America’s entrance into World War I, in April of 1917, permeated American popular culture.

Wilson Cord and Slide Garters

“Up Like Little Soldiers — That’s how the Cord & Slide Wilson Garter allows children to grow — trim, graceful — all ginger. No more little rounded, stooping shoulders, and no more torn hose tops.

“For Boys and Girls, 1 to 16 years. Shoulder style like picture, slips on over head, white or black, 25 cents. Give Age.

“For Women, same style. Fine for home, athletic or Maternity wear, 50 cents. Bust sizes.”

Digression:  I feel I should explain a bit;  we live in an era when many people have never worn stockings. (Pantyhose are more popular, if less erotic, than individual thigh-high stockings worn with garter belts.)

When I wore my first garter belt in eighth grade, I was puzzled by ads — like this page from a 1958 Sears catalog — that showed the garters [suspenders] being worn over full petticoats — which would have flattened the petticoat absurdly. I had no mother to ask about this; finally an older girl explained that you actually wore the petticoat on top of the garter belt, but advertisers couldn’t show a garter belt attached to stocking tops over a bare thigh in family magazines.

Garter belts from Sears catalog, Fall 1958.

Garter belts from Sears catalog, Fall 1958. My first garter belt looked like K (bottom center), not P (the black one.) Back then, normal 12 year old girls did not wear black lace undies. However, if you wore stockings when dressed up, you needed a garter belt.

“Pull Up Your Socks!”

It’s hard to conceive of a time when active little children wore stockings instead of socks.

Fashions for boys, Ladies' Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

Fashions for boys, Ladies’ Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

Nevertheless, these little boys are wearing boots with spat-like contrast uppers (or possibly spats! see far right), over stockings probably made of cotton lisle, although wool was a possibility.

Ad for Buster Brown Shoes for Boys or Girls, Delineator, October 1917.

Ad for Buster Brown Shoes “For Boys — for Girls,” Delineator, Oct. 1917.

A poor boy receives a basket of food from a boy who is better off. Both wear stockings. Robert A. Graef illustration, Delineator, Nov. 1924.

A poor boy receives a basket of food from a boy who is better off. Both wear long stockings. Robert A. Graef illustration, Delineator, Nov. 1924.

Because putting on his first pair of “long pants” was once a rite of passage for an adolescent boy, pre-adolescent boys wore knickers or short pants; these left their lower legs exposed all year round — so they sometimes wore long stockings.

Since neither little boys nor little girls have a waist significantly smaller than their hips, keeping trousers, shorts, and stockings from falling down was a problem.

Pictorial Review pattern 3386, for boys shorts that button on to the shirt.

Pictorial Review pattern 3386, for boys’ shorts that button on to the shirt. Note the sagging sock.

A solution popular in the 1920’s was to button the pants to the shirt, or to a sleeveless underbodice, in front and in back. This made it very difficult for small boys to go to the bathroom without help. (To read “Zippers Are Good for Your Children,” click here. )

Boys didn’t always wear stockings; some wore sensible socks, sometimes rolled over elastic garters, and little boys and girls kept warm by wearing stockings under leggings in the winter. [Like much fashion vocabulary which changes over time,  “leggings” now describes a completely different garment, i.e.,  women’s knit tights that stop at the ankle.]  Formerly, stiff (lined) wool or corduroy leggings were buttoned from below the anklebone to above the knee (you needed to use a buttonhook) and must have been a nightmare to put on squirming children.

Clothes for boys, Delineator, Nov. 1917. The smallest boys wear buttoned leggings.

Clothes for boys, Delineator, Nov. 1917. The smallest boys wear buttoned leggings. Butterick patterns.

Grown men wore long trousers which covered their garters:

Boston Garter ad for man's stocking garter; Delineator, Jan. 1917.

Boston Garter ad for man’s stocking suspender with “Velvet Grip;” Delineator, Jan. 1917.

Grown women suspended their stockings from their corsets:

La Camille Corset advertisement, April, 1917.

La Camille International Corset advertisement, Delineator, April, 1917. Look at those lovely clocked/embroidered stockings! For modesty’s sake, the model is drawn wearing frilly bloomers, which would have made it difficult to attach the suspender to the stocking! Here it is left dangling.

Corsets and stocking suspenders were also worn by some unlucky little girls:

Ad for girls' corsets; April 1917.

Ad for girls’ corsets; April 1917. Ferris Good Sense “Waist” for Girls and Misses.

The younger girl’s figure is still unformed, so her corset has shoulder straps to prevent the tension on her stockings from pulling it down. If it only attached to her stocking tops in front, this might produce the “stooped” look mentioned in the Wilson Garter ad.

Like Little Soldiers

Boy's patterns, Delineator, July 1917. Two of these children have sagging socks.

Children’s patterns, Butterick’s Delineator, July 1917. The long stockings of the boy on the left are falling down. Note the military insignias on their tunics.

There was a time when a parent, seeking to divert children from mischief, would simply yell, “Pull up your socks!”

However, the pugnacity of these two boys was part of a general trend to illustrate children as little warriors during World War  I.

Boy's pattern illustration, Delineator, Sept. 1917.

Boy’s Butterick pattern illustration, Delineator, Sept. 1917.  A few months earlier, boys were shown flying a kite, not leading a charge “over the top.”

Butterick pattern for a girl's military uniform, Sept. 1917. Delineator.

Butterick pattern for a girl’s military style “Service” uniform, Sept. 1917. Delineator.

Butterick pattern for boy's military uniform, Delineator, Sept. 1917.

Butterick pattern for boy’s military style outfit, complete with putteesDelineator, Sept. 1917.

Which brings us back to the Wilson Garter, which “allows children to grow . . . up like little soldiers.” By Jingo.

Ad for Wilson Garter, Ladies' Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

Ad for Wilson Garter  for children, Ladies’ Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, Children's Vintage styles, Corsets, Hosiery, Hosiery & Stockings, Maternity clothes, Menswear, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Shoes, Underthings, Uniforms and Work Clothes, Vintage patterns, World War I, Zippers

Dresses from Remnants, World War II

“Remnants on Your Budget,”October 1943, Butterick Fashion News flyer. Pattern #2718.

With war-time fabric regulations and eventual fabric rationing, women who sewed were trying to make do, cannibalizing old garments to create more up-to-date styles. Butterick responded to their needs with a series of suggestions on how they could combine fabric remnants using specific Butterick patterns. Some new fashions also helped, like a fad for dresses made with two different materials, or for suits that no longer needed matching jackets and skirts.

“Something New from Something Old,” Butterick Fashion News flyer, September 1943. Yoke and sleeve pattern #2304.

The dress below, from Saks or Neiman-Marcus, combined a dotted fabric with a solid one, like the Butterick illustration above.

Enka Rayon dress available from Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman-Marcus, or Meier & Frank. Vogue, Aug. 15. 1943.

Enka Rayon dress available from Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman-Marcus, or Meier & Frank. Vogue, Aug. 15. 1943.

It cost $35.00, a lot of money in 1943.

Butterick 2304 was a pattern for just the spotted sleeves, collar, and yoke of this “remnant” dress.

Butterick pattern 2304, Sept 1943 Butterick Fashion News.

Butterick pattern #2304, Sept 1943 Butterick Fashion News.

The body of the dress was one you might already have in your closet; Butterick gave instructions for removing the existing sleeves and collar and replacing them with just one and one eighth yards of 39 inch fabric.

BFN sept 1943 bk cvr 500 text btm wartime color block pattern reuse277

BFN sept 1943 bk cvr text  follow 500

information from bottom of page, Butterick Fashion Flyer, Sept. 1943.

Information from bottom of page, Butterick Fashion Flyer, Sept. 1943.

“Stop, look, and consider just how you can salvage that discarded dress for another season or two. . . . Next time you’re at the remnant counter of your favorite store, look for a fabric to combine with your original dress. This bit of salvage magic will give you a completely new one. . . . This transformation of your tired frock will do such wonderful things for your budget as well as aiding in the vital program of fabric conservation.”

Click here for a great illustration of a refashioned dress in this article about clothes rationing — and the usefulness of printed feedsacks — from the Lebanon County Historical Society.

Butterick 2718

Information from the back cover of Butterick Fashion News, October 1943.

Information from the back cover of Butterick Fashion News, October 1943. “Slim two-piece dress” pattern #2718.

Because it lacks the interior structure of a suit, this is called a two piece dress, but it has a jacket-like bodice and a separate skirt.

“Remnants used adroitly are invaluable in balancing a budget; invaluable in aiding the all-out wartime effort of fabric conservation. . . . we suggest Butterick 2718, a slim two-piece dress . . . . Plan it in contrast . . . . . . In this was you can have a really individual dress . . . a dress that saves fabric . . . a dress that saves your budget from the doldrums!”

The skirt takes less than 2 yards of 39″ fabric, and the top uses only 1 3/8 yards — so the chance of finding both pieces on the remnant table were pretty good.

Butterick 2746

Butterick suit pattern #2746, Oct. 1943 Butterick Fashion News flyer.

Butterick suit pattern #2746, Oct. 1943 Butterick Fashion News flyer.

Pattern information for #2746, October 1943. Butterick.

Pattern information for #2746, October 1943. Butterick.

The skirt from either pattern could also be combined with jacket-like blouses — sometimes with a peplum — like these:

Peplum blouse patterns from Butterick, Dec. 1942.

Peplum blouse patterns from Butterick, Dec. 1942. From left, 2301 version A, 2301 version B, 2302 version B.

Butterick 2747

Butterick also offered this “shirtwaist dress,” (left, below) which looks like two pieces but isn’t. The waist is very similar to a blouse and skirt combination sold at I. Magnin. (right)

Burrerick dress pattern 2747 (left) and an outfit from I. Magnin, right. Both from Fall of 1943.

Butterick dress pattern #2747 (left) and an outfit from I. Magnin, right. Both from Fall of 1943.

Pattern information for Butterick #2747, Oct. 1943.

Pattern information for Butterick #2747, Oct. 1943.

The coral rayon top (also available in aqua) and the black velveteen skirt from I. Magnin (a very upscale store) came in junior sizes 9 to 15, and cost $35.00. The ad reminds careful shoppers that they could be worn separately.

Details copied from the I. Magnin ad in Vogue, Aug. 15, 1943.

Details copied from the I. Magnin ad in Vogue, Aug. 15, 1943.

I haven’t checked the Ladies’ Home Journal for 1943, but that magazine constantly suggested ways to remake dresses during World War I. The World War II slogan “Make Do and Mend”  was observed by all levels of society in England and the U.S.

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Filed under 1940s-1950s, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, World War I

Handbags and Gloves, October 1936

"Let's Concentrate on Your Bags and Gloves," Ladies' Home Journal, October 1936, page 32.

“Let’s Concentrate on Your Bags and Gloves,” Ladies’ Home Journal, October 1936, page 32.

Let’s Concentrate on Your Bag and Gloves

In October of 1936, the Ladies’ Home Journal devoted an issue to articles about coordinating your wardrobe, including brief articles like this one about handbags and gloves. Similar attention was paid to coordinating your stockings to your shoes, and both with your dress, and to hats. A longer article suggested a coordinated wardrobe of dresses, coats, etc. By 1936, The Ladies’ Home Journal featured Vogue patterns instead of its own brand. These accessories look upscale to me, but the magazine had a Depression-era emphasis on planning a coordinated wardrobe. These bags can go with more than one outfit.

Now You Can Swing Your Bag By Its Handle

Bags and Gloves, Ladies' Home Journal, Oct. 1936.

Bags and Gloves, Ladies’ Home Journal, Oct. 1936.

These small, neat bags, many with top-stitching, also have something the editors thought worth mentioning: “Now You Can Swing Your Bag by Its Handle.” Only three, as far as I can tell, are “envelope” or clutch bags.

lhj 1936 oct p 32 500 handbags and gloves top left blk tan

“Two shades of black, calf and patent in the bag, kid and patent in the gloves, make a nice contrast to a gray tweed in the upper left corner. They would also be nice with green or any strong shade. The most exciting thing about this season is the tan shades, [right] and the way they combine with black as well as brown. The diamond-shaped bag, hand-stitched, and its matching gloves are in a pinkish-tan doeskin, for contrast with the tan-flecked black tweed. This shade is also delightful with navy, green or all-black.”

Bags and gloves, Oct. 1936, Ladies Home Journal.

Bags and gloves, Oct. 1936, Ladies’ Home Journal.

“The gray buckled envelope bag is conservative in its size, but its matching gloves have exaggerated cuffs. Worn here with a gray herringbone tweed. With the brown tweed mixture [right] is carried an oversize brown calf bag with white stitching and short brown capeskin gloves with leather knob buttons closing the slit of the wrist.”

Tucking and Stitching Make Gloves Look New

Handbags and Gloves, Ladies' Home Journal, October 1936.

Handbags and Gloves, Ladies’ Home Journal, October 1936.

“We might as well get used to it — suede is practically the only bag material for your more formal town clothes, and for afternoon. With it, suede or doeskin gloves. But handbag and gloves do not necessarily match each other.”

lhj 1936 oct p 32 500 handbags and gloves left btm

“The gold-buckled very deep bag to the left above takes red-brown gloves with an S-shaped stitching, against a black costume. White doeskin gloves [right], corded on the back, lend further formality to the black suede bag with gold bar and slide fastener.”

Bags and gloves, Oct. 1936.

Bags and gloves, Oct. 1936.

“The shell-topped bag [probably real or imitation tortoise shell] of brown suede has matching gloves, longish, the cuffs buttoned and nicely tucked. Notice how well this brown goes with a brighter brown costume. But black may also be worn with this shade, as you see in the suede bag with the ruffled edge, on the right, the gloves piped at the top with the red-brown of the dress.”

Oddly, the articles on bags, gloves, shoes, etc.,  did not name the manufacturers. Perhaps that information — for all the articles –was located on a page I didn’t photograph at the library.

These illustrations make wearing brown accessories with black clothing seem like a fresh, sophisticated idea.

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Filed under 1930s, bags, Gloves, handbags, Purses, Vintage Accessories

To Bob or Not to Bob Your Hair: 1925 (Part 1)

Dinner Party from a Toothpaste Ad, Delineator magazine, January, 1924.

Dinner Party from a Toothpaste Ad, Delineator magazine, January, 1924. These full hairdos were about to be replaced by “slicker” head-hugging styles.

I’m not a big fan of Downton Abbey, but I watch it anyway. In the last episode I saw, in season 5, Lady Mary got a new haircut, which is certainly something lots of women do when they feel the need for a change. But there was something about her bob that bothered me, so I poked around in my files, trying to figure out what it was.

Instead, I found a lengthy article about bobbed hair, “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker,” from January 1925, plus many hair-related images.  The article is long, so I’ll break the text up into readable sections (over two posts) and include period images of the styles it refers to. The author, Celia Caroline Cole, was a regular beauty columnist for Delineator magazine, and most of my images are from mid-twenties issues of Delineator.

Here is the illustration and caption that accompanied “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker”:

 One's crowniing glory is such a problem, what is a body to do? To bob or not to bob -- and how?" Delineator, Jan. 1925, p. 22.


“One’s crowning glory is such a problem, what is a body to do? To bob or not to bob — and how?” Delineator, Jan. 1925, p. 22.

“ONE-FOURTH of the women of Paris are bobbed. And there is about that same proportion in London and New York.” —  Celia Caroline Cole, Delineator, January 1925.

Paris fashions from Lucien Lelong, left, and Jean Patou, center and right. Sketched by Soulie for Delineator, 1925.

Paris fashions from Lucien Lelong, left, and Jean Patou, center and right. The models have bobbed and shingled hair. Sketched by Soulie for Delineator, late 1925.

Women Whose Hair Was Not Yet Bobbed

What about the other seventy-five percent of women, the ones who had not yet succumbed to the fashion for very short, “slick” hair?

Bobbed hair had first been popularized during World War I; dancer and fashion icon Irene (Mrs. Vernon) Castle was influential in setting the style.

Irene Castle, with bobbed hair, endorsing Corticelli  Silk in this advertisement from Ladies' Home Journal, October 1917.

Irene Castle, with bobbed hair, endorsing Corticelli Silk in this advertisement from Ladies’ Home Journal, October 1917.

However, after the war ended, long hair became fashionable again. The Marcel Wave — and later, a permanent curl — made it possible for women born with straight hair to have very wavy locks. You could even get a  home permanent “outfit” (using one roller, which screwed into your lamp, like a lightbulb, since there was usually no other electrical supply in the room.) “A whole head can be waved comfortably in just a few hours.”

A Nestle Home Permanent Machine, "Price only $15" in December, 1924. Delineator.

A Nestle Home Permanent Outfit, “Price only $15” in December, 1924. Delineator. It’s going to take more than a few hours to wave that head of hair.

My mother, like many other women, was still wearing her “marcelled” hair in the late 1920s:

A marcel wave, worn close to the head to fit under a cloche hat in the 1920's. Most women did not have a curl right in the middle of their foreheads, but the center part was very typical.

A marcel wave, worn close to the head to fit under a cloche hat in the 1920’s. Most women did not wear a curl right in the middle of their foreheads, but her center part was very typical. “A part in the middle is as smart for bobs as for long hair.”

Three models from one page of Delineator magazine, November 1924:  the woman on the left has a marcel wave and long hair gathered into a chignon low on her neck. The woman on the right has a sleek bob with a “shingle” cut in back. Either style would fit under a cloche hat.

November 1924: Three hair styles seen together in one  Butterick pattern illustration. Delineator,  p. 27.

November 1924: Three hair styles seen together in one Butterick pattern illustration. Delineator, p. 27.

Return of the Bob

The fashion for bobbed hair returned in the early 1920’s. Daring young women went to the local (male) barber shop to have their “crowning glory” chopped off — sometimes to the horror of their parents.

Display poster sold to barber shops in 1924. From

Barber’s Display card sold to barber shops in 1924. From An Illustrated History of Hairstyles, by Marian I. Doyle, page 82.

However, in January of 1925, most women had not yet bobbed their hair. Those who had, usually wore it very full (one might say, “bushy”);  the author of “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker” refers to their “large, gnomelike heads.”  Ads for shampoos and other hair products emphasized a thick, wavy head of hair:

An ad for Danderine hair product, January 1925. Delineator.

An ad for Danderine hair product, January 1925. Delineator.  In the same issue, the beauty editor called these bobbed hairdos “very demodee.”

Even these styles, from the Barber Shop display card shown above,  are full, rather than sleek.

Straight bobs from barber shop display card, 1924. An Illustrated History of Hair

Straight bobs from barber shop display card, 1924. From An Illustrated History of Hairstyles, M. Doyle.

That is why the beauty editor of Delineator had to tell women, in January of 1925, that “the old straight bob is very demodee.” [Démodée means “out of style, unfashionable.”] “To be modee and exciting and to look like an illustration in a novel, the hair should be either shingled or dressed so close to the head that it looks like paint.” — C. C. Cole

The Shingle Explained

A Shingle Hair Cut, April 1924. Delineator.

A Shingle Hair Cut, April 1924. Delineator.

“If a woman has a well-shaped head . . . , the hair is cut close to the head in the back and about a third of the way up from the nape of the neck and from there on it is longer. The whole aim is to have a beautiful line for the back of the head — that loveliness one finds in the head of a young boy.

“If the hair is thin . . . , the smart hairdresser does not cut the hair close at the nape of the neck, but cuts it in one length from the crown to the nape, thinning the ends with a razor so that it will not stand out.” — Celia Cole in her article “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker.”

More Exerpts from “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker,” Published in January 1925

to be modee para

"A dashing little head on the stop of a slender supple body not at all concealed by its extremely simple frock." Pattern illustrations from Delineator, Feb. 1924.

“A dashing little head on the top of a slender supple body not at all concealed by its extremely simple frock.” Pattern illustrations from Delineator, Feb. 1924.

Four Paris models sketched by Soulie, Delineator, January 1925.

Four Paris models sketched by Soulie, Delineator, January 1925 — The same issue carried “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker.”

two things must be considered

"The short, stout woman can very rarely wear a shingle; she needs a "thatch." Corset ad, Dec 1924. Delineator.

“The short, stout woman can very rarely wear a shingle; she needs a ‘thatch.’ ” Round-U Corset ad, Dec 1924. Delineator.

French Models sketched by Soulie, March 1924. Delineator.

French Models sketched by Soulie, March 1924. Delineator. “The bob has no age limit.”

from the bob, lik to the flatness

 

"Wave it" or "Dress it low" if a shingle doesn't suit your hair or head shape; two styles from 1924. Delineator.

“Wave it” or “Dress it low” if a shingle doesn’t suit your hair or head shape; two styles from 1924. Delineator.

However, if a woman’s hair is thick, she should “go to a good barber — and by “barber” we mean a woman’s barber, a hairdresser — and have him thin it out evenly, so that it can be dressed smartly close.”

To be continued . . . .

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, Hairstyles, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Vintage patterns, vintage photographs

New Clothes from Old, World War I

Ladies' Home Journal Cover by M. Giles, September 1917.

Ladies’ Home Journal Cover by M. Giles, September 1917. Her dress, with its 1860-ish pagoda sleeves, evokes the Civil War.

When the United States entered World War I, the “women’s magazines” communicated many of the new restrictions on food and fabric use to families all over the country.

“This Is What the Englishwoman Did.” Ladies’ Home Journal, July 1917.

What the Englishwoman did was plunder her closet and convert out-of-fashion or worn-out clothing to new styles for herself and her family. She made children’s dresses from her old jackets (top left) and old petticoats (top right), put new, remade sleeves on old gowns, turned old suits into “new” dresses (center), and refurbished old hats.

Woman's Institute ad, Ladies' Home Journal, Nov. 1917.

Woman’s Institute ad, Ladies’ Home Journal, Nov. 1917. “This year women are urged to economize, but economy need not mean fewer clothes.” Woman’s Institute offered correspondence courses in sewing, etc.

Both Delineator (which targeted middle and upper middle class women) and Ladies’ Home Journal (which was aimed a little lower on the social scale) began runnning regular articles on how to convert old clothes to new; sometimes they even sold patterns intended to be used in this way.

Ladies' Home Journal pattern No. 9776 for boy's shirts made from worn out men's shirts. Aug. 1917.

Ladies’ Home Journal pattern No. 9776 for boy’s shirts made from worn out men’s shirts. Aug. 1917. “When a man’s shirt is perfectly good ‘all but,’ it may be made over into any one of these three garments pictured here.”

This blouse was made from an old evening dress:

How to use an old evening gown is solved by this dainty Georgette crepe waist made from the gown above.

You can see that the bands of trim from the evening gown, including ruffle, have been incorporated into the blouse. This may not be easy reading for Vintage Clothing Dealers; today, a lovely pre-war gown is more appreciated than a matronly blouse.

Dresses suitable for salvage, Ladies' Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

Dresses suitable for salvage, Ladies’ Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

” ‘ What shall I ever do with this old-fashioned eyelet embroidery gown? ‘ Combine it with that black satin dress you spilled acid on, select an up-to-date model and you will not believe your own eyes. Here the result is shown.”

Dress made from two old dresses, Sept. 1917. Ladies' Home Journal.

Dress made from two old dresses, Sept. 1917. Ladies’ Home Journal.

A reader of mystery novels might wonder why a woman wearing a black satin dress was handling acid . . . .

The dress below was made from an old dress and a long plaid skirt. The criss-cross belt was very fashionable in 1917.

Dress made from two old dresses, Sept. 1917. Ladies' Home Journal.

Dress made from an old skirt and dress, Sept. 1917. Ladies’ Home Journal. I’m not sure that “bite” out of the front showing an underskirt is a great idea….

When you ran out of old clothes, you could start on the curtains:

“Young girls fairly glow in fluffy things with ruffles, like this party frock made of dotted curtain mull.” Ladies’ Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

This young woman told a story of embarrassment solved by an ingenious remodel:

Remodelled coat, Sept. 1917. Ladies' Home Journal.

Remodeled coat, Sept. 1917. Ladies’ Home Journal. Illustration by Sheldon.

” ‘I cannot wear this old coat another season; everyone knows it by its plainness.’ A friend suggested a new collar, cuffs, pockets and sash of a self-toned material, all coarse-stitched with a heavy floss. Anyone would be proud to wear the coat after the ‘fixing.’ “

The result is much more stylish, indeed. coat remake

I had a chance to photograph a high-quality wool suit ( probably dated 1918) with similar “coarse-stitching” in silk floss; it’s a lovely detail.

“Coarse-stitching” on the pockets, belt, and center front opening of a vintage suit with labels from Hickson (New York & Boston)and E. E. Atkinson & Co., Minneapolis.

Thanks to B. Murray for the opportunity to photograph this suit.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Children's Vintage styles, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing, Woman's Institute, World War I

Printzess Week, 1917

Printzess Fashion Ad, Ladies' Home Journal, October 1917

Printzess Fashion Ad, Ladies’ Home Journal, October 1917

Omigosh! I almost missed Printzess Week! A “Nation-Wide Fashion Event” October 8th to 13th — 1917.

Printzess Fashion Week, October 8th - 13th, 1917. "Nation-Wide Fashion Event. Visit the Printzess Dealer in your City."

Printzess Week, October 8th – 13th, 1917. “The Nation-Wide Fashion Event. Visit the Printzess Dealer in your City.”

I can’t help liking a company that proudly proclaims itself “The Printz-Biederman Company:  Paris CLEVELAND New York.”

Printzess clothing label: "Distinction in Dress." 1917.

Printzess clothing label: “Distinction in Dress.” 1917. There seems to be a hand (?) holding a spear on the logo.

“The Fascination of French Fashions”

This ad doesn’t give prices, but the Printz-Biederman Company was very successful, with sales of $6.44 million in 1922. You can find a brief company history at The Encyclopedia of Cleveland: click here.

In this advertisement from 1917, the company brags about its ability to copy Paris Fashions:

Printzess:  "The Fascination of French Fashion" Ad

Printzess: “The Fascination of French Fashion” Ad

“The secret of style supremacy enjoyed by the French fashion designers lies in their ability to originate beauty of line and grace of fold and to combine them in a finished garment — which is invariably becoming to the wearer.

“Printzess garments are faithful reproductions of original creations by the great French designers — which the world of fashion has adopted as authentic.

“Thousands of women have learned to accept the name Printzess as an assurance of style and a guarantee of quality, materials and perfect tailoring.

“There is a Printzess dealer in your city — be sure you see his stock of Printzess suits and coats before making your selection for Fall. Ask the Printzess dealer in your city to send you the beautiful Printzess Art Portfolio containing Rotogravure reproductions of the last word from Paris in coat and suit styles.”

 

Printzess coat No. 521, 1917.

Printzess coat No. 521, 1917.

“This beautiful coat, Printzess No. 521 is one of the season’s most striking models. It is box pleated from the deep yoke, a fashion to be much in evidence this season. The large, convertible collar is of Kerami Mole, and the cleverly designed pouch pockets, hanging gracefully beneath the broad encircling belt, are mole trimmed. The material is an all wool Kersey coating of exquisitely soft texture, half-lined with an excellent quality of peau-de-cygne. Colors are: Black, Navy, Green, Brown and Burgundy.”

Printzess suit No. 601, 1917.

Printzess suit No. 601, 1917.

“Printzess suit No. 601 is made of Rib Rodier cloth. A delightfully youthful effect is conveyed by the plaits which extend downward from the belt in the back of the jacket. When worn open, the ample collar drapes gracefully over the shoulders, terminating in tapering points, and is embellished with a curving band of velvet. The cut-in pockets and belt effect are very chic, and the coat is beautifully lined with Persian. The skirt is an excellent example of the straight line silhouette, and has two cut-in pockets. This stunning suit comes in Pekin, Mouse, Taupe, Havana, Russian, Seal, Navy and Black.”

This is proof that making up non-descriptive names for fashion colors is not a new practice. “Havana” is presumably a shade of tobacco brown; perhaps the comma in “Russian, Seal” is a mistake? Valspar paint still has a color called Pekin; it’s a dusty pink-ish beige. These hats are worth a closer look.

Printzess coat No. 521, 1917.

Printzess coat No. 521, 1917.

Coat No. 521 looks incredibly fattening, with all those bulky pleats, huge hip pockets,  and a thick belt around the waist. (No, it’s not a maternity fashion.) The popular styles of the 1910s can be very unflattering by current standards. It’s hard to believe that chic women ever wanted to buy a dress with a “barrel skirt,” but in 1917-1918, they did.

The Printzess line was still being made in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. In 1954,  Printzess employed over 1000 workers, mostly in Cleveland, and had annual sales of $8 million. There are images of several later  Printzess suits online, and a Printzess label. The business closed in 1978.

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“Original and Becoming” Work Clothes, 1917

Work clothes for women suggested by Ladies Home Journal, Sept. 1917

Some work clothes for women suggested by Ladies’ Home Journal, Sept. 1917. Illus. signed Sheldon.

This article suggests seven different work outfits suitable for American women in wartime. One of them, surprisingly, is a dress with a divided skirt — what would later be called a culotte skirt. Sadly, although the Ladies’ Home Journal sold its own mail order patterns, none of these outfits has a pattern number. The article is “editorial,” suggesting that outfits which would have been rather shocking a few months earlier may now be “safely” worn on the streets and in the stores of an America at war. I’ll show an overview first, and then describe each outfit with its accompanying text. Except where noted, all illustrations are from the same Ladies’ Home Journal article, dated September 1917. 1917 sept p 89 work clothes farm pants ctr 5001917 sept p 89 work clothes farm pants btm text 500

Women in Trousers, 1917

Women were already wearing bloomers for gym classes and jodhpurs or riding breeches when on horseback. In July of 1917, a rival fashion magazine, Delineator, had suggested that a sort of trouser outfit might be worn for housework:

Butteric pattern No. 9294 for a smock dress over bloomers. Delineator, July 1917.

Butterick pattern No. 9294 for a smock dress over bloomers. House-dress No. 9288 is on the right. Delineator, July 1917.

“For the home-reserve corps comes this new costume (design 9294) suited to the woman who wants to go on active service — either at home, out camping, or for gardening.” The house-dress next to it shows a typical hem length for women. As skirts became shorter, they were usually worn with opaque stockings or boots.

The bloomer outfit above, with gathered cuffs, is a close relative of women’s pajamas like these, also from 1917 :

Butterick pajama pattern No. 9400, Sept 1917. Delineator magazine.

Butterick pajama pattern No. 9400, Sept 1917. Delineator magazine.

The Ladies’ Home Journal Suggests Some Trouser Outfits for 1917

“Even the most inveterate feminine ‘slacker’ will be lured into laborious occupations if such fascinating uniforms as these are to be worn.” [After World War I began in August, 1914, women in Europe began filling traditionally male occupations in order to free men for military service. “Land girls” worked on farms; women became train and street car conductors, munitions workers, heavy equipment operators, etc.]

1917 sept p 89 work clothes farm pants top left breeches“[These] trig knee-buttoned trousers …, worn with a laced skirted blouse, tam and laced high boots, were designed for an ardent motorist. Surely even the most stubborn opposition could be overcome at sight of these!” For an official Red Cross Motor Corps Woman’s Uniform, click here.1917 sept p 89 work clothes farm pants top right“It may be that the fair farm maid . . . has paused dissatisfied with her work, but surely no doubt could lurk in her mind as to the fitness of her well-made olive-drab khaki suit. Side fullness given by plaits [pleats] begins at the underarm and ends at the hem.” lhj 1917 sept p 89 work clothes farm pants ctr rake“[Above] One may rake, pile, and burn autumn leaves  in the serene consciousness that no flickering flame will catch on the strapped leggings worn with [this] pocketed bloomer suit. . . .” 1917 sept p 89 work clothes farm pants ctr“Indoors expediency demands simplified dressing, and the adoption of such an attractive combination — apron, blouse, divided skirt — as shown above . . . made of ticking, may do much to encourage women to take up their housework seriously.” [Note the unusual “divided skirt!” In 1917, the word apron could refer to a garment we would now call a dress.] 1917 sept p 89 work clothes farm pants btm left shopping“When marketing is part of the day’s routine, a long tucked smock of khaki with wide-bottom trousers… makes a work outfit one could safely venture out in.” [Think about what is implied by “safely.” The government encouraged women to collect their own groceries rather than having them delivered, freeing the deliverymen for active service.] lhj 1917 sept p 89 work clothes farm pants ctr right“Strapped leggings, a high buttoned collar, hip pockets and wrist straps effectively suppress any loophole which may hint of feminine softness in [this] public service uniform.” Oh, really ? Her pose makes me wonder exactly what public service she is performing! For official Red Cross service uniforms, click here. 1917 sept p 89 work clothes farm btm rt outfit“Indoors or out, one could find many reasons why and times when just such a quaint smock and short skirt as [these] could be worn.”  I don’t know what the editors of Ladies’ Home Journal were thinking, but the Red Cross did not allow women younger than 23 to serve coffee and doughnuts to the troops. They had their reasons. Although artistic, this leg-baring outfit might be subject to misinterpretation.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Nightclothes and Robes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Uniforms and Work Clothes, Vintage patterns, Women in Trousers, World War I

American Red Cross Service Uniforms, 1917

New Authorized Red Cross Uniforms, September, 1917 Ladies' Home Journal, p. 5.

New Authorized American Red Cross Uniforms, September, 1917 Ladies’ Home Journal, p. 5.

After the U.S. declared war in April of 1917, there was a great outpouring of volunteerism.  Women were eager to support “our boys,” and magazines aimed at female readers were a perfect, pre-existing medium for the government to communicate with millions of households all over the country. Official articles like the ones quoted here appeared in both Butterick’s Delineator and  Ladies’ Home Journal, among others.

Women Wanted to Wear Uniforms, Too

So many women wanted to wear some type of official uniform while doing “war work” that cautions were repeatedly issued.

Official Red Cross policy statement by William Taft, Chair of Central Committee, August 1917 issue of Ladies Home Journal.

Official Red Cross policy statement by William Taft, Chair of Central Committee, August 1917 issue of Ladies Home Journal.

The new, authorized Red Cross Corps uniforms (pictured above) were described in September, but the problem of unauthorized used arose again in October:

Ladies Home Journal, October 1917, page 33.

Ladies Home Journal, October 1917, page 33.

Clearly, there were unscrupulous people “raising money for the Red Cross” but not turning over all the proceeds to the charity. “Red Cross Bazaars” had to have prior approval at the local level or use of the name was not permitted. And only members of the Red Cross who had taken a loyalty oath and met other requirements could wear Red Cross uniforms.

There was a difference between being a Corps Member and being a Red Cross Nurse — only women who had completed two years of nursing training, who had an additional two years practical nursing experience, and who were registered nurses in their own state could apply to be a Red Cross Nurse. However, there were many other vital ways for a woman to serve through the Red Cross. Wearing any of these Corps uniforms required a permit.

American Red Cross Supply Corps Uniform & Clerical Corps Uniform, 1917

Red Cross Supply Corps and Clerical Corps Uniforms, Sept. 1917. Ladies' Home Journal.

Red Cross Supply Corps and Clerical Corps Uniforms, Sept. 1917. Ladies’ Home Journal.

Supply Corps Uniform

Supply Corps Uniform, American Red Cross, 1917.

Supply Corps Uniform, American Red Cross, 1917.

“In this division of Red Cross Work the service of the members is to prepare surgical dressings, hospital garments and all other Red Cross supplies. The uniform is a white dress, or a white waist [i.e., blouse] and skirt, with dark blue veil and white shoes. Small Red Cross emblems are worn on the veil and on the left front of the dress. The arm band is dark blue, with a horn of plenty embroidered in white.” [Her scalloped collar gives the impression that she is wearing white clothing she already owned with the uniform head covering and armband.]

Women who wondered why they had to wear a head covering while making bandages and dressings were reminded that this was necessary “for sanitary reasons;” “she must also wear an apron for the same purpose.” lhj 1917 p 33 oct war needs pajamaslhj 1917 p 33 oct war needs surgeon operatingThe Demand for Bandages:  “The Red Cross could send all its available supply to Europe for instant use there and start all over again. . . .Wounded soldiers in France to-day are being bandaged with straw and old newspapers.” — William Howard Taft in Ladies’ Home Journal, August, 1917.

The official Red Cross patterns for making pajamas, surgeon’s gowns, etc., were available from pattern companies, stores, or Red Cross Chapters for 10 cents each.

Clerical Corps Uniform

Supply Corps Uniform of the American Red Cross, September 1917, Ladies' Home Journal.

Clerical Corps Uniform of the American Red Cross, September 1917, Ladies’ Home Journal.

“This service is designed to include the women who do the large amount of clerical work in an active Red Cross Chapter — the volunteer stenographers, bookkeepers, etc.  The uniform consists of a one-piece gray chambray dress, a white, broad collar, white duck hat with yellow band, and white shoes.  The Red Cross emblem is worn on the hat and on the left front of the dress, while the arm band is yellow, with two crossed quill pens embroidered in white.”

By October, the national headquarters of the American Red Cross was receiving 15,000 letters per day. To cope, it was decentralized, with thirteen divisions spread to large cities throughout the U.S.  When you consider that women all over the country were being asked to roll bandages, to make hospital garments and supplies such as sheets and pillowcases, to knit warm scarves, sweaters and socks for servicemen, and to supply 200,000,000 “comfort kits” for soldiers, you can imagine the logistical nightmare of shipping and sorting that had to be done by the Supply Corps and the Clerical Corps.  Shipping companies agreed to deliver packages addressed to the thirteen Red Cross collecting centers for two thirds the usual price, but all shipments from local Red Cross chapters had to have separate notices of shipment mailed, as well.

American Red Cross Refreshment Corps and Motor Corps Uniforms, 1917

Refreshment Corps and Motor Corps Uniforms, AMC, Ladies' Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

Refreshment Corps and Motor Corps Uniforms, AMC, Ladies’ Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

Refreshment Corps Uniform

Refreshment Corps Uniform, AMC, 1917. Ladies' Home Journal.

Refreshment Corps Uniform, AMC, 1917. Ladies’ Home Journal.

“The Corps feeds soldiers passing in troop movement or en route to a hospital, or furnishes lunches in the way of extras to troops in near-by camps. The uniform is a dark blue and white striped chambray dress, long white apron with bib, white duck helmet with dark blue veiling, and tan shoes.  The arm band is dark blue, with a cup embroidered in white. A large Red Cross emblem is worn on the apron bib and a small one on the helmet.”

Presumably because of the dangers of fraternization, “no person under 23 years of age may be a member of the Refreshment Corps.” Also, because attempts had been made “to injure our soldiers through tampering with Red Cross articles,” all foodstuffs had to be prepared in supervised kitchens and “by persons whose devotion to the United States can be vouched for.” (Taft, October 1917.)

Motor Corps Uniform

Motor Corps Uniform, American Red Cross, 1917.

Motor Corps Uniform, American Red Cross, 1917.

“All women volunteer drivers for Chapter work are included in this service. Members may or may not furnish their own cars. The uniform is a long gray cloth coat with a tan leather belt, a close-fitting hat of the same material, riding breeches, tan puttees or canvas leggings and tan shoes. The Red Cross emblem is worn on the hat.  The arm band is light green embroidered in white.”

Motor Corps Puttees or Canvas leggings worn with riding breeches.  Ladies' Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

Motor Corps Puttees or Canvas leggings worn with riding breeches. Ladies’ Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

Although her riding breeches are modestly covered by the length of the coat, this is a variation on a male chauffeur’s uniform. Most cars were open (and cold) in 1917. Whether or not you supplied your own vehicle for transporting troops, this uniform had to be purchased, not home-made. It cost about $25.

Who Can Wear These Red Cross Uniforms?

lhj 1917 sept p 5 Red cross uniform rule top hallf 500

Text of article announcing the new American Red Cross Corps Uniforms, Sept. 1917, Ladies' Home Journal, page 5.

Text of article announcing the new American Red Cross Corps Uniforms, Sept. 1917, Ladies’ Home Journal, page 5.

American Red Cross Nurses Uniforms

Alessandra Kelley, who writes the blog Confessions of a Postmodern Pre-Raphaelite, found a 1918 copy of The Red Cross Magazine with pictures and descriptions of the official uniforms for Red Cross nurses at home and serving overseas. She kindly photographed it in detail for the use of historians and re-enactors. Click here for a link to her great post about Nurses Uniforms.

I have also written about the U.S. Food Administration Uniform, 1917.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Uniforms and Work Clothes

Official Uniform: Members of the Food Administration, 1917

Article explaining the need for food conservation in World War I, LHJ, Sept. 1917.

Article explaining the need for food conservation in World War I, Ladies’ Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

I finally got my hands on a copy of Linda Przybyszewski’s The Lost Art of Dress (after reading several very favorable reviews, including this one from The Vintage Traveler). I had barely started reading the book when I found a paragraph on page 4 about the importance of home economists to the war effort in World War I:

“With the help of the home economists, the US Food Administration recruited some 750,000 women to help teach the rest of America’s women about food conservation . . . .  The recruits got a pin, a badge, and a pattern for an apron. The white apron was named after Herbert Hoover, who was then head of the Food Adminstration. The Hoover apron’s claim to design fame was that it completely wrapped around your dress and protected it from spills, opening in the front with a large overlap. . . .”

“I’ve seen one of those,” I thought. And here it is, from Ladies’ Home Journal, September, 1917.

The Official Badge and Uniform of Members of the Food Administration of the United States, WW I. From an official article in Ladies' Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

The Official Badge and Uniform of Members of the Food Administration of the United States, WW I. From an official article in Ladies’ Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

“. . . .Since it could overlap in either direction, you could wear it twice as long as a regular apron before it was too filthy to wear. It was practical, and sort of disgusting, but it became a popular design.  Renamed “Hooverettes” or “bungalow aprons,” done up in perky prints with ruffles at the neck and sleeves, they were sold in stores as dresses over the next two decades.” — Linda Przybyszewski, The Lost Art of Dress, p. 4.

Przybyszewski cites an article by Joan Sullivan from Dress 26, “In Pursuit of Legitimacy:  Home Economists and the Hoover Apron in World War I,” which I have not read. It’s available from The Costume Society of America.

I’ll print the picture of the uniform again,  in two sections, so the text and details will be more legible:

lhj 1917 sept p 27 Food uniform top 500 w

lhj 1917 sept p 27 Food uniform btm 500 dpi wIn spite of Dr. Przybyszewski’s description, the official apron was not white, but “of blue chambray.”  The fact that the pieces all “open out flat” for ironing must have been a great point in its favor, like the removeable cuffs.  Notice that “any woman who signs the Hoover pledge is entitled to wear” this uniform. The Hoover Pledge appeared in the August Ladies’ Home Journal and other women’s magazines. lhj 1917 aug woman and war hoover pledgeHere are the rules these women were agreeing to follow: lhj 1917 aug woman and war 500 hoover asks box

Boxes explaining the food conservation rules appeared in many articles in the Ladies' Home Journal. Aug. 1917 .

Wartime illustrations explaining the food conservation rules appeared throughout the Ladies’ Home Journal. Aug. 1917 .

American women had been reading about the sacrifices made by European women during the twenty months that passed before the United States entered the war. The women’s magazines showed pictures of women in uniform in England, of women filling previously male occupations, and American women were eager to do their part. Judging from the fashion illustrations and patterns available, they were also depressingly eager to wear uniforms, or clothing that looked like uniforms, as if one couldn’t volunteer to host a war relief fund-raiser until dressed like a pseudo soldier.

Butterick patterns for women and teens, Delineator, August 1917.

Butterick patterns for women and teens, Delineator, August 1917.

Aprons and House Dresses

A

A “Hoover apron,” 1917.

It’s a little surprising to modern eyes to see this all-covering, sleeved garment described as an apron, but the distinction between aprons and house dresses remained blurry into the 1920s.  The “Hoover apron” was very similar to these 1917 house dresses from Butterick — dresses which preceded the Food Administration uniform:

Butterick House Dress pattern, June 1917.  Delineator.

Butterick House Dress pattern, June 1917. Delineator.

Butterick patterns, January 1917.  From left, a negligee, a house dress, a wrap house dress, and a negligee. From Delineator magazine..

Butterick patterns, January 1917. From left, a negligee, a house dress, a wrap house dress, and a negligee. From Delineator magazine.

However, in the 1920s, aprons that we would call dresses, and which pulled on over the head, appeared equally with sleeveless aprons that primarily covered the front of the body.

Two Butterick aprons, 1924. #5156, left, is dress-like; #5096, right, is recognizably an apron.

Two Butterick aprons, 1924. #5156, left, is dress-like; #5096, right, is recognizably an apron.

[For those who do not remember the house dress, it was a dress — often with pockets — that was easy to launder and was worn while doing housework. Even in the 1940s, no woman with pretensions to the middle class would wear a house dress outside her own yard. In 1917, they were also called “porch dresses.”]

Butterick patterns from February 1924. The flowered garment is called an apron. The wrap dress on the right is a house dress.

Butterick patterns from February 1924. Center:  Apron #5026. Right: House dress #5043.

The floral garment in the center is described as an apron. The wrap dress on the right is a “house dress.” Perhaps some women would have called them Hooverettes?

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