Tag Archives: Lucile Babcock 1929

Dancing Shoes, December 1928

“… Never have the shops made it easier to select dazzlingly beautiful slippers to complete the Christmas and New Year’s formal costume.” — Lucile Babcock in The Delineator magazine, December, 1928, p. 61.

Top of article, "Dancing Data," by Lucile Babcock, The Delineator; Dec. 1928.

Top of article, “Dancing Data,” by Lucile Babcock, The Delineator; Dec. 1928.

Elegant shoes were featured in The Delineator in November of 1928, too. (Click here for shoes by Vionnet’s husband.) All these dancing shoes are made of fabric — fragile but practical, since fabric shoes don’t usually need to be “broken in.”

(A) is made of gold brocade trimmed with soft gold leather. (B) is "dramatic with gold kid and gayest embroidery." December 1928, Delineator.

(A) is made of gold brocade trimmed with soft gold leather. (B) is “dramatic with gold kid and gayest embroidery.” Dancing shoes, December 1928, Delineator.

(C) is "ready-to-dye" crepe de chine fabric. (D) is "silver and white brocade which may be dyed."

(C) is “ready-to-dye” crepe de Chine fabric. (D) is “silver and white brocade which may be dyed.” Dancing shoes, Dec. 1928, Delineator.

I928 dec p 61 text C and D dancing shoes

“There is paisley brocade, as gorgeous in its many colors as a Persian shawl, which chooses to collaborate with gold kid heels and straps — a vivid lovely accent for a white or off-white evening frock.”

(F) Gold or silver brocade dancing shoes from Arch Preserver. (G) Crepe de Chine pump made by Delman. Dec. 1928.

(E) Gold or silver brocade dancing shoes from Arch Preserver. (F) Crepe de Chine pump made by Delman. Dancing shoes, Delineator, Dec. 1928.

I928 dec p 61 text E and F dancing shoes

 “Gold or silver brocade twinkling with rhinestone buckles has elaborate new tendencies in plaided or flowered designs, and is as glamorous as the fabled slippers of the fairy tale.”

(G) "Persian brocade and silver kid. Dance magic!" (H) Black velvet with scarlet satin inserts. Dec. 1928.

(G) “Persian brocade and silver kid. Dance magic!” (H) Black velvet with scarlet satin inserts. Dancing shoes, Delineator, Dec. 1928.

I928 dec p 61 text G and H dancing shoes

“The suave beauty of velvet has a dozen new guises and disguises when it appears on the dance program. Embroidered, painted in flamboyant colors, moired or inlaid with satin in some fanciful arabesque, the velvet slipper adds an ornate look to the simple, stately, monotone frock of velvet or satin.”

(I) is labelled "Red and gold paisley brocade" but clearly is not. (J) says "Rhinestones sparkle on the strap of this pump." Dec,. 1928.

(I) is labelled “Red and gold paisley brocade” but clearly is not. (J) says “Rhinestones sparkle on the strap of this pump.” Dancing shoes, Dec. 1928.

If you don’t know the online shoe museum called “Shoe-Icon” — based in Russia — it has a large, well illustrated collection and an excellent library of shoe trademarks.  You can search for shoe designers by name or by trademark. (Translate into English by clicking at upper right of screen.) Shoes by the designers in this article are well-represented.

The shoes illustrated in this article came from I. Miller & Sons, J. & T. Cousins (click here for a very similar shoe — in color — at the Shoe-Icons site. ), Laird Schober & Co. (click here for a brocade shoe by Laird Schrober with rhinestoned heel, at Shoe-Icons,) Delman (Shoe-Icon shows many Delman shoes — click here), and Arch Preserver. (“Arch Preserver ” and “Foot Saver” shoes, advertised for comfort, were nevertheless sometimes very attractive. The brocade one shown above (E) has a slightly thicker heel than the others.

From a Foot Saver ad, Feb. 1929.

Woman’s Shoe from a Foot Saver ad, Feb. 1929.

Day shoe from Arch Preserver, June 1929. Delineator.

Day shoe from Arch Preserver, June 1929. Delineator.

It reminded me of this I. Miller evening shoe:

I928 dec p 61 dancing shoe II really like 1920’s shoes. They are usually beautiful and wearable (not too high) — and flattering. The thin straps that kept them on even during a Charleston are often a color that blends with the wearer’s stockings or legs — gold, tan, silver, bronze, etc. — so that the strap doesn’t visually “cut” the leg at the ankle. (See the white shoe with tan strap, above.)

Israel Miller’s shoes were worn by fashionable women from the early 1900’s through the 1960’s. Andy Warhol was a shoe illustrator for I. Miller & Co. ads in the 1950’s. The Historialist wrote about the Warhol shoe ads here.

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Filed under 1920s, Shoes, Vintage Accessories

Changing the Foundations of Fashion: 1929 to 1934

"Make us look like this!" Sears catalog, Spring 1934, featuring Lastex two-way stretch girdles.

“Make us look like this!” Sears catalog, Spring 1934, featuring Lastex two-way stretch girdles: “Boneless! Bulgeless!”

Many changes in fashion were taking place between 1929 and 1934, in addition to the fall of the hemline and the rise of the waistline.

For the first time in centuries, fashions followed the natural shape of a woman’s body. Bias-cut dresses, which clung to every curve, were already chic in 1929.

November, 1929. Form fitting gowns from French designers Louiseboulanger and Jean Patou. Delineator sketches by Soulie.

November, 1929. Form fitting gowns from French designers Louiseboulanger and Jean Patou. The Delineator.

Makers of bosom-flattening brassieres — such as the “Flatter-U” and “Boyshform” bandeaux — were losing younger customers to companies like “Maiden Form” and G.M. Poix’s “A-P Uplift.” The word “uplift” was applied rather freely.

"Uplift bandeau" and Foundation with "Uplift rayon jersey top. Seaers catalog, Fall, 1929. Page 218.

“Uplift bandeau” (left) and Foundation (right) with “Uplift style bust.” Sears catalog, Fall, 1929.

Farrell-Beck and Gau, authors of the book Uplift:  The Bra in America, point out that in previous centuries, corsets pushed the breasts up from below; now, brassieres with shoulder straps lifted the breasts up.

After the mono-bosom years earlier in the 20th century, the word “uplift” seems to include the idea of separation. Women were finally acknowledged to have two breasts, one on either side of the sternum.

"Empire Gown" with "uplift line of the bodice." Butterick pattern # , Nov. 1931.

“Empire Gown” with “uplift line of the bodice.” Butterick pattern #4175 , Nov. 1931.

The garment that had been called a “corset” (or “corselette,” if it was unboned) became a “foundation.”

This illustration of the latest foundation garments appeared in The Delineator as early as March, 1929.

This illustration of the latest foundation garments appeared in The Delineator as early as March, 1929.

“Out went the whalebone. In went elastic. . . . The ‘foundation garment’ or ‘costume foundation’ . . . has definitely supplanted the word ‘corset’ and earned universal approval.”  — Editorial in The Delineator, March 1929.

Several months later, this article appeared, with illustrations more typical of 1929 undergarments:

"Facts and Figures About the strikingly feminine new silhouette." Article by Lucile Babcock in Delineator, October 1929.

“Facts and Figures about the strikingly feminine new silhouette.” Article in The Delineator, October 1929.

“Gone are the days of the straight-line, belted-about-the-hips frock which concealed many of our figure deficiencies. Snug fitting hips, slightly raised and occasionally nipped-in waists, a frank recognition of the bust line, are characteristic of autumn styles.” — Lucile Babcock, in The Delineator, Oct. 1929.

Two mid-twenties' corsets: La Camille ad, 1924, and Bien Jolie ad, 1925. Both Delineator.

Before the change: two mid-twenties’ corsets. Left, a La Camille corset ad, 1924, and right, a Bien Jolie corset ad, 1925. Both from The Delineator.

The corset went through other changes after 1929.

Bias-cut satin dresses like these would have revealed every bump, boning channel, and lacing of an old-fashioned corset.

Bias-cut gowns from August and October, 1921. Butterick patterns 4039, 4093, and 4097. Delineator.

Bias-cut gowns from August and October, 1931. Butterick patterns 4039, 4093, and 4097. Delineator.

In 1929, the Sears catalog shows “boyish”/bust-suppressing corsets on the same page as corsets with soft, non-flattening tops. 1929 sears Fall p 218 page 500

 

The foundation on the left  is a typical 1920's corselet, turning the body into a tube shape.

The foundation on the left is a typical 1920’s corset;  bust-flattening boned seams and no waist indentation turn the body into a tube shape.

Significantly, the 1929 corset on the left below has rayon jersey (knit) in the bust area. Although not truly cup shaped, the soft fabric was not designed to flatten the breasts,  unlike the boned garment on the right.

Fall 1929 Sears catalog, p. 223. (Look at that deco fabric!)

Fall 1929 Sears catalog, p. 223. (I love that art deco fabric on the right!)

Several of Sears’ 1929 corsets/foundations use soft rayon jersey over the bust.

Foundation with "uplift" rayon bust; Fall 1929 Sears catalog p. 218

Foundation with “uplift style” rayon bust; Fall 1929 Sears catalog, p. 218. It’s hard to believe that this did much “lifting.”

But the chief problem of late 1920’s corsets (or foundations, as they were now being called)  was that their stretch panels had to be made from something like surgical elastic (similar to the Ace bandages used for sprained wrists and ankles.) At the time, elasticized fabrics were limited in size, so the fronts and backs of corsets had to be made of traditional, non-stretch corset materials, like coutil or thick satin; they needed hook-and-eye or  zipper closings, and the seams (and fastenings) were never smooth enough for wearing under thin, bias-cut gowns like this one:

Bias-cut satin gown in a Kotex ad, July 1931. Delineator.

Bias-cut satin gown in a Kotex ad, July 1931. Delineator.

Lastex Changes Corsetry

The revolution came in the early 1930’s, when a new method for processing rubber was invented. According to Elizabeth Ewing’s Fashion in Underwear, before 1930 the sap of rubber trees (latex) was dried and compressed into bricks for shipping. When it reached England, the bricks were liquified, and long sheets of rubber were made. These sheets would then be cut into strips and incorporated into fabrics, but the strips were never long enough to be effectively woven into material suitable for the mass production of corsets.

Fall 1930 Sears catalog. Before the invention of Lastex, elastic panels had to be used sparingly. (However, the bust is back!)

Fall 1930 Sears catalog. Before the invention of Lastex, elastic panels had to be used sparingly or pieced together. (However, by 1930 the bust is definitely back in style.)

“About 1930,” a new chemical process allowed latex to be shipped in its liquid form. The liquid latex could then be extruded into fine threads — called Lastex —  which were as long as threads of traditional materials, which meant that elasticized yardage could finally be made in lengths and widths suitable for mass produced garments. As soon as weaving and knitting machines had been adapted to use Lastex, a new kind of undergarment became possible.

Munsingwear's 'Foundettes' two-way stretch girdle ad, March 1937. Woman's Home Companion.

Munsingwear’s ‘Foundettes’ two-way stretch girdle ad, March 1937. Woman’s Home Companion.

My question was, “How much time did it take for undergarments made with Lastex to become available — and affordable — to working class women?”

The answer: Hardly any time at all! The Sears, Roebuck catalog for Spring 1932 proudly introduces Lastex and “Clingtex” garments made of “new, cloth-like elastic (Lastex.)”

Sears catalog for Spring 1932, introducing "Sensational new garments of marvelous Lastex ."

Sears catalog for Spring 1932, introducing “Sensational new garments of marvelous Lastex .”

Early Lastex foundations combined the new stretch fabric with traditional corset materials —  for extra control over the abdomen, for example.

Clingtex foundation, Spring 1933, Sears Catalog.

Clingtex foundation, Spring 1933, Sears Catalog.

By Fall of 1933, however, Sears was offering “Two-Way Stretch Softies” made entirely of stretch fabric.  The “roll-on” girdle, which required no fastenings,  “dates from 1932 in England and probably a year earlier in the U.S.A.” [Ewing]

"New Two-Way Stretch Softies." Seamless girdles and foundations from Sears Catalog, Fall 1933.

“New Two-Way Stretch Softies.” Seamless girdles and foundations from Sears Catalog, Fall 1933.

These “step-in” stretch foundations, which pull on, were made on a circular knitting machine; not only did they have no zippers , they had no seams. 

A foundation garment that made a woman look firmer, smoother, and younger — which improved her natural figure without distortion — was perfect under the bias gowns of the 1930s. This 1933 “Softie” All-in One from Sears (on the left) )looks very much like the Spandex “smoothers” available in stores in 2015.

A seamless, Lastex knit foundation garment, Sears, Fall 1933. This foundation cost $3.69; the "roll-on" girdle cost just $1.98.

A seamless, Lastex knit foundation garment, Sears, Fall 1933. This foundation cost $3.69; the “roll-on” girdle (right) cost just $1.98.

Literally for the first time in hundreds of years, the purpose of a corset was not to distort a woman’s body.

The purpose of the nineteen-thirties’ foundation garment was to create the impression of a perfect, nude body under the clothes. It firmed the hips, flattened the belly, and supported the breasts, but all in imitation of nature, giving its wearer the firm, flexible figure of a healthy young woman.

Softies, Fall 1934. Sears catalog. "Not a bone! Not a bulge!" Seamless, circular-knitted two-way stretch foundation.

“Softies,” Fall 1934. Sears catalog. “Not a bone! Not a bulge!” Seamless, circular-knitted, two-way stretch girdle or foundation.

The End of the Boyish Figure

One more (less encouraging) thing about changes in fashion after 1929:

By Fall of 1932 women were already made to feel self-conscious about having small breasts.

1932 fall sears 500 help for flat chested pushup

"Are you boyishly flat-chested? . . . Wear our 'Form Bust' and be neat, smart, up-to-the minute, and so be happy." Sears catalog, Fall 1932.

“Are you boyishly flat-chested? . . . Wear our ‘Form Bust’ and be neat, smart, up-to-the minute, and so be happy.” Sears catalog, Fall 1932.

That didn’t take long, did it?

 

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Bras, Corselettes, Corsets, Corsets & Corselettes, Foundation Garments, Girdles, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Zippers