Tag Archives: Maiden Form

The Power of Golf in Advertisements, 1924

“What Makes a Sportswoman?” Article Illustration, Delineator, May 1924.

“What Makes a Sportswoman?” Article Illustration, Delineator, May 1924.

Advertisers still try to link their products with a desirable life-style, preferably a few rungs higher on the economic ladder than their target audience. In 1924, golf was the sport that meant “middle to upper-middle class.” (The association of golf courses with country clubs and gated communities is still strong.) All of these illustrations appeared in Delineator magazine in 1924. In the September issue alone, golf was used to sell:

Deodorant

An ad for Ab-Scent Deodorant, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

An ad for Ab-Scent Deodorant, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

Carpet Sweepers

An Ad for Bissell Carpet Sweepers, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

An Ad for Bissell Carpet Sweepers, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

Sewing Patterns

Illustration of Butterick Patterns for Girls, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

Illustration of Butterick Patterns for Girls, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

And Shoes.

Ad for Selby Arch Preserver Shoes, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

Ad for Selby Arch Preserver Shoes, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

In August, golf was used to sell:

Lux Laundry Soap

Advertisement about washing sweaters and knits with Lux Soap, Delineator, August 1924.

Advertisement about washing sweaters and knits with Lux Soap, Delineator, August 1924.

And Gossard Corsets

Ad for Gossard Gossard Corsets, Combinations, and Brassieres , Delineator, August 1924.

Ad for Gossard Gossard Corsets, Combinations, and Brassieres , Delineator, August 1924.

In June, the Butterick Pattern Company suggested that a golfing outfit should be part of your trousseau:

From a page of suggested patterns to make for your trousseau and honeymoon, Delineator, June 1924

From a page of suggested patterns to make for your trousseau and honeymoon, Delineator, June 1924

and that girls aged 8 to 15 were also likely to be playing golf.

Butterick patterns for girls aged 8 to 15, Delineator, June 1924.

Butterick patterns for girls aged 8 to 15, Delineator, June 1924.

A Closer Look at Some of These Ads

The ad for Ab-Scent deodorant is actually aimed at men, but different “embarrassment” stories appeared in their other ads. In August, this unhappy young woman was “shunned” at the tennis club.

Ab-Scent deodorant ad, August 1924.

Ab-Scent deodorant ad, August 1924. Notice the snob appeal; “The most select men and women….”

Both ads are interesting because they give us a view of typical sports clothes, including shoes.

From an Ab-Scent deodorant ad, September 1924.

From an Ab-Scent deodorant ad, September 1924. Note his cufflinks and bow tie.

It’s a relief to see that at least one of the women golfers is wearing very flat-heeled shoes; imagine playing golf or lawn tennis with your heels sinking into the grass.

Ad for Selby Arch Preserver Shoes, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

Ad for Selby Arch Preserver Shoes, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

This illustration comes from a full-page advertisement that told a rather lengthy story about woman who had jeopardized her husband’s career by playing golf in uncomfortable shoes.

Before her marriage, she was a champion golfer (always wearing Arch Preserver shoes), but she had stopped playing while her children were young.  Her husband comes home one day and says, “What do you think, little wife, the boss came in today and asked if I played golf….  Then he asked whether you played. I told him plenty about your playing. I told him –” The result was that the boss invited the young couple to play golf with him and his wife. The young wife “started out dashingly, driving a full two hundred yards from the first tee….” But she eventually felt so much pain in her feet that she had to  “hobble over the last few holes. She paid dearly for her ‘bargain’ shoes…. ‘I can’t help but worry,’ she tells her husband. ‘That game meant so much to you in business…. I know you’ll hate me, but I did the silliest thing. I thought I’d save some money by buying shoes at a sale.’ ” A few weeks later they played another game with her husband’s employer and his wife, who says, “Why, what in the world has happened to you? I never saw such a difference in anyone’s playing!” After the ‘little wife’ gives her a whole paragraph explaining the benefits of her new Arch Preserver Shoes, the boss’s wife says, “Do you know, that’s the very kind of shoe I’m wearing”– neatly reinforcing the class aspect of the product.

To my surprise, these are the shoes illustrated in this advertisement:

Selby Arch Preserver Shoes featured with the article about wearing them for golf. Sept. 1924.

Selby Arch Preserver Shoes featured with the article about wearing them for golf. Sept. 1924.

The boss’s wife, seated in the illustration, seems to be wearing either the lace-up shoe No. 678 or the flat oxford shown at the bottom. But the ‘little wife’ is wearing very fashionable Arch Preserver shoes with a broad strap.1924 sept p 37 golf arch preserver shoe shoes only

Sweeping Your Carpet while Dressed for Golf

An Ad for Bissell Carpet Sweepers, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

An Ad for Bissell Carpet Sweepers, Delineator, Sept. 1924.

I don’t for a moment suppose that any women did their housework dressed like this, hat and all. [We had a Bissell carpet sweeper like this one when I was a child. It wasn’t electric; as you pushed it, the round bristles swept the dirt into a trap in the machine, avoiding the need for a dustpan.]

The text of the ad doesn’t mention golf at all.  The idea is that you will save so much time with the Bissell sweeper that you’ll be able to play golf all afternoon instead of cleaning. And the sweeper is good for picking up last-minute spills, so you can grab your clubs and head for the country club.

I do like her striped sweater and the checker board band on her hat. She seems to be wearing a pleated skirt like the women golfers in this Ab-Scent ad.1924 sept deodorant Ab-scent ad golf pleated skirtsOnly the sportswoman pictured in the illustration at the top of this post is wearing golf knickers.  It is an illustration for an article, not an ad. Advertisers would avoid any clothing that might be considered controversial, such as a woman wearing ‘men’s’ clothing. The woman golfer in this Gossard corset ad is also wearing a pleated, buttoned skirt with her striped sweater:

Ad for Gossard Gossard Corsets, Combinations, and Brassieres , Delineator, August 1924.

Ad for Gossard Gossard Corsets, Combinations, and Brassieres, Delineator, August 1924.

This 1924 ad is really ahead of its time. The model has a well-defined, natural waist [!] accentuated by a belt, and an equally natural bust, styles which were not widely adopted until the end of the decade. By 1926, some women were beginning to replace breast-flattening bandeaux and brassieres with bras that had a gathered center front, acknowledging, for the first time in years, that women naturally have two breasts, not a mono-bosom. The name “Maiden Form” — as opposed to Boyshform, makers of the Boyshform binder — was registered as a trademark in 1924, the date of this ad, but bras that separated and lifted the bust first appeared in advertisements a couple of years later. (See Uplift: The Bra in America, p. 41) I do wish this 1924 ad from Gossard had shown the underwear this young lady was wearing!

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, Bras, Corsets & Corselettes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Shoes, Sportswear

Underpinning the 1920s: Brassieres, Bandeaux, and Bust Flatteners

The women’s undergarment called a “brassière” has been around since 1905 in the U.S. (1) and before 1912 in England (2). However, the first brassieres didn’t look anything like the garment we know today. (Numbers) indicate sources listed at end of post. [Read about 1920s Girdles and Corsets here. Read about Early 1920s Fashions here.]

Boneless Brassieres from the Perry, Dame & Co. Catalog, 1917

Boneless Brassieres from the Perry, Dame & Co. Catalog, 1917

Warner Brothers Brassiere Ad, March 1925

Warner Brothers Brassiere Ad, March 1925, Delineator.

A very similar brassiere, made entirely of delicate machine lace, is in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Lace Bandeau Brassiere circa 1920, Fashion in Detail drawing by Eleri Lynn, Photographs by Richard Davis

Lace Bandeau Brassiere circa 1920, from Fashion in Detail. (4) Drawing by Leonie Davis, lace photograph by Richard Davis. It closes at the side back with hooks and eyes, so the help of a maid would be required to put it on.

An undergarment like this, worn very tightly, would compress the breasts. However, if I had found any of these brassieres in a box of vintage underwear, I might have classified them as camisoles, rather than brassieres.

The first uplift brassieres — with shoulder straps and a snug, elasticized band below the breasts, and, most importantly, two distinct cups for the breasts — were not mass-produced until the mid-to-late nineteen twenties.

Ideal Fashion Figure, Early 1920s

Couture dress by Lucien Lelong, 1925; Clara Bow, photographed by Dyar for Vanity Fair, 1928

Couture dress by Lucien Lelong, 1925; Clara Bow, photographed by Dyar for Vanity Fair, 1928

Movie star Clara Bow had an ideal figure for early 1920s fashions; she epitomized the garçonne, or “boy-girl” look.

Butterick Ad, Delineator, June 1925.

Butterick Ad, Delineator, June 1925.

Naturally, most of the women alive in the twenties did not look like boys at all.

Young woman and her mother, 1920s. Photo courtesy of rememberedsummers.

Young woman and her mother, 1920s. Photo courtesy of rememberedsummers.wordpress.com

And this is where the brassieres, bandeaux, and bust flatteners come in.

Bust-flattening Bandeaux and Brassieres, 1920s

Ads for De Bevoise Bandeaux, May & April 1925. Both are made of stiff corset material; the one on the right is boned and designed to flatten a more mature figure.

Ads for De Bevoise Bandeaux, May & April 1925. Both are made of stiff corset material; the one on the right is boned and designed to flatten a more mature figure.

The terms brassiere and bandeau were not used consistently, but in general a 1920s “bandeau” was a band that went around the chest, supported by two ribbon straps.

Bandeaux, 1928. Picture from Everyday Fashions of the Twenties, by Stella Blum.

Bandeaux, 1928. Picture from Everyday Fashions of the Twenties, by Stella Blum.

A “brassiere” was less skimpy and usually reached to the waist; both brassieres and bandeaux had one or more tabs that could be used to attach them to the girdle or a waist-high corset, which in turn had suspended garter hooks which attached to the stockings.

Old-fashioned brassieres from a 1928 Sears catalog would have appealed to older women.

These old-fashioned brassieres from a 1928 Sears catalog would have appealed to older women.

You can see that, although the brassieres above resemble the brassieres from 1917 pictured at the top of this post, there is a difference:  these 1920s brassieres have almost no curve. They are meant to flatten the bust.

Brassieres for "stout women" from a Sears catalog, 1928-29. From Everyday Fashions of the Twenties, p. 130.

Bust flattening brassieres for “stout women” from a Sears catalog, 1928-29. From Everyday Fashions of the Twenties, p. 130.

The brassiere on the left is “for stout women and nursing mothers” [Ouch!] only because it fastens up the front.

Reducing Brassieres

Women who were not content with compressing their breasts could try to reduce them:

The Bailey rubber reducing brassiere. Ad from Delineator, July 1918.

The Bailey Rubber reducing brassiere. Ad from Delineator, July 1918.

The Madame X Reducing Brassiere, November 1924. It was also made of rubber, to encourage water loss.

The Madame X Reducing Brassiere, November 1924.

Madame X corsets, girdles, and brassieres were also made of rubber, and usually worn over an absorbent undergarment. The purpose of the rubber was to “sweat off” the fat.

Brassieres That Hold Your Stockings Up (and Push Your Breasts Down)

Brassieres from 1928-29. Pictured in Everyday Fashions of the Twenties.

Brassieres from 1928-29. Pictured in Everyday Fashions of the Twenties.  The brassiere on the left is unboned and “comfortable for sports or dancing.” The one on the right “can be worn without a corset.”

Even in the twenties, some objected to bust-flatteners on the grounds that they would damage breast tissue. These garter-and-brassiere combinations, with the stockings exerting a constant downward pull, must have forced all but the smallest breasts to crease at the bottom. In addition to breaking down the breast tissue,  imagine how perspiration forming in those creases would have caused rashes and general misery in warm weather.

Bandeaux and the Boyshform Binder

These 1928 bandeaux have elastic backs, and either a back or side closing. Notice that they have some easing along the side seam, but they still have the “uni-bosom” or “mono-bosom” look of the previous century, as if a woman had one, large, oblong breast running across her chest. These bandeaux were intended to make even that slight curve disappear.

Bandeaux. Picture from Everyday Fashions of the Twenties.

Bandeaux, 1928. Picture from Everyday Fashions of the Twenties.

I have not yet come across a picture of the Boyshform binder. The Boyshform company was formed about 1918 and “claimed optimistically that its utterly flat bandeaux would hold the bust in position without ‘pressure or pinching.’ ” (1)  Another bust flattener with a punning name was the Kabo Corset Company’s “Flatter-U.” The bust reducer illustrated below has a back made from corset material and a front made from several overlapping bands of elastic stitched together:

"Elastic Front Brassiere Bust Reducer gives the bust firm lines. Corset material back...." 1928. Pictured in Everyday Fashions of the Twenties.

“Elastic Front Brassiere Bust Reducer gives the figure firm lines. Corset material back….” 1928. Pictured in Everyday Fashions of the Twenties.

The authors of Uplift: The Bra in America suggest that the Maiden Form company trademarked that name in 1924 to distinguish the purpose of its new, non-flattening bras from the Boyshform flatteners.

Corselets, Corsolettes, Corselettes, Corsettes and Other Combination Undergarments

The discomfort of brassieres that had to be buttoned with a tab to corsets or girdles — and probably often produced a bulge at the waist where the gap occurred — led to the widespread adoption of a combination garment that was called (with several spelling variations) the corselette.

1924 Brassiere Corset combination, 1924 Long Brassiere 1925 Treo Brassiere Girdle Combination Garment Ad. All from Delineator magazines.

1924 Brassiere Corset combination, 1924 Long Brassiere; 1925 Treo Brassiere Girdle Combination Garment Ad. All from Delineator magazines.

Treo undergarments, here pictured from an ad in Delineator magazine, were sold in stores and also carried as a brand name in the Sears, Roebuck catalog, so they reached a wide spectrum of customers. (1)

1925 Bien Jolie Step-In Corsette Ad, Delineator.

1925 Ad for Bien Jolie Step-In Corsette; “which comfortably flattens the lines of the body.” Delineator.

Corselette pattern from Butterick, 1925. Delineator magazine.

Butterick Corselette pattern, 1925. Delineator magazine.

Women could also make their own simple — and flattening — brassieres, bandeaux, and corselettes from sewing patterns until true uplift bras, which “lifted and separated,” became available in the mid-1920s, and were too complex for the home stitcher. Simple bandeaux which had cups, but did not give support, were still featured in pattern catalogs.

The End of the Boyish Form

Breast flatteners and binders continued to be sold throughout the 1920s, but the return to a more natural, feminine figure in the second half of the twenties — accompanied by the invention of brassieres that had cups that fit and actually supported the breasts — gradually put an end to bust flatteners. The Boyshform company was in financial trouble by August of 1925 and went bankrupt in 1928. (1)

Sources especially useful for this post include (1) Uplift: The Bra in America, by Jane Farrell-Beck and Colleen Gau; (2) Fashion in Underwear: From Babylon to Bikini Briefs, by Elizabeth Ewing; (3) Everyday Fashions of the Twenties as Pictured in Sears and Other Catalogs, by Stella Blum; (4) Women’s and Children’s Fashions of 1917: The Complete Perry, Dame & Co. Catalog, a Dover Book; (5) Fashion in Detail: Underwear, (V&A Museum), by Eleri Lynn, Photographs by Richard Davis, Drawings by Leonie Davis; (6) The Mode in Costume, by Ruth Turner Wilcox, (7) Fashion, by Mila Contini; (8) History of Twentieth Century Fashion, by Elizabeth Ewing, (9) 20,000 Years of Fashion, by Francois Boucher, and issues of Delineator magazine from 1924 to 1929.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, A Costumers' Bookshelf, Bras, Corselettes, Corsets & Corselettes, Hosiery & Stockings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Vintage patterns, vintage photographs, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Musings, January 2014

1936 january Delineator stitcher and cat

What Do You Call a Person Who Sews?

That’s not the set-up for a joke. Whenever I see the word “sewer,” I have to read the whole sentence before I know whether it’s about stitching or drains.

Tinker, Tailor, Sewer, Seamstress? Stitcher.

There was a time when a man who made clothes for men was called a tailor, and a woman who made clothes for women was called a seamstress. (Or, by some patronizing patrons,  “my little dressmaker,” regardless of her size.)

But in the modern world, jobs are not usually gender related.  I have worked with female tailors and with men who sew dresses.

None of us wants to be called a sewer – because in English, there are two ways to pronounce that word, and one of them has to do with plumbing.

Call Me Stitcher

My last real job before retiring was as a stitcher.

In professional costume shops, the job title for a person who mostly sews is “Stitcher.” I like that word; it’s gender neutral, and it’s accurate.

Besides, it was in a costume shop that I first heard this saying:

“She’s still stitching, but her bobbin ran out years ago.”

Let’s hope it never applies to us!

Other News:

Wedding Dresses 1775 to 2014: Exhibition at the V&A Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum has an upcoming exhibition of Wedding Dresses.  Opening on May 3, 2014 and lasting until  March 15, 2015, the Victoria and Albert Museum will be exhibiting wedding dresses from 1775-2014, including couture gowns and royal wedding dresses. Thanks to The Para-Noir for writing about it. “O, to be in England, now that April’s there …” or coming, eventually….

Great Color Images from The Sears Roebuck Catalog, 1948

What-I-Found has been posting some marvelous winter clothing and accessories from a 1948 Sears catalog, including winter sweaters, gloves, purses, slippers,  & children’s clothing — and a Mickey Mouse scarf.

Earlier posts in December featured a 1934  child’s ski suit (about the same time I was posting a 1940 ski suit for women) and some classic children’s sweaters, including knitting instructions for a snowflake sweater, from 1955.  Thanks to What-I-Found for sharing!

Uplift: The Bra in America

Serendipity at the library: While looking for something else in the fashion shelves, I found Uplift: The Bra in America, by Jane Farrell-Beck and Colleen Gau. [264 pages | 6 1/8 x 9 1/4 | 51 illus. Cloth 2001 | ISBN 978-0-8122-3643-9; Paper 2002 | ISBN 978-0-8122-1835-0 ] — University of Pennsylvania Press. Although it’s not a new book, it looks like a very informative and entertaining one, with lots of illustrations. And the text is searchable at this University of Pennsylvania Press site.  Just browsing through the book, I found an ad for Maiden Form, “The Original Uplift Bra,” dated November, 1927. The authors also showed a 1943 ad for Bali bras, from Vogue magazine,  with Cup Sizes A – B – C – D.  And I learned that the underwire bra, “although offered by elite producers such as Vonny and Andre as early as 1934, … became common only after World War II” because the metal was needed for the war effort.  If you want “the inside story” on brassieres in America, Uplift by Farrell-Beck & Gau might be just your cup … of tea.  I found copies online for as little as one cent.

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Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s-1940s, 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s, A Costumers' Bookshelf, Bras, Children's Vintage styles, Exhibitions & Museums, Musings, Sportswear, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Vintage Accessories