Tag Archives: Marjorie Howard Paris fashion correspondent

Patou’s Evening Gowns for Short and Tall, 1936

According to this article in The Woman’s Home Companion, January, 1936, couturier Jean Patou suggested that, rather than dressing to look taller (if you’re short) or more petite (if you’re tall), women should choose designs that take advantage of their size.

Woman's Home Companion, Jan. 1936. Designs and Advice from Patou

Woman’s Home Companion, Jan. 1936. Designs and Advice from Patou

As reported by Marjorie Howard, “Paris Fashion Correspondent,” here is Jean Patou’s advice for penny-wise shopping in the Depression.

WHC 1936 jan p 57 patou 500 top for tall and little text

Patou’s Advice for Tall Women

Patou evening gowns, Jan. 1936. WHC.

Patou evening gowns, Jan. 1936. WHC. The tall woman is on the left.

WHC 1936 jan p 57 patou 500 for tall and little text ctr tall woman

Patou’s Advice for Short Women

Patou for the short woman, Jan. 1936. WHC.

Patou for the short woman, Jan. 1936. WHC.

WHC 1936 jan p 57 patou 500 for tall and little text btm Little woman

I’ve broken the illustration up so the details are more visible:

Parou design for a tall woman (left) and for a short woman (right.) Jan., 1936.

Patou design for a tall woman (left) and for a short woman (right.) Jan., 1936.

These are both complex designs. What a shame that we can’t see color:  the belt in “dark turquoise leather.” The gown on the left, of  “antelope crepe — mat with a suede finish” has a back drape “because the long lines [of a tall figure] can afford it.” Anyone wishing to copy the bodice on the right, with silver lame bands that almost seem to be woven over and under, will find the stripes helpful in determining straight of grain and bias. That assumes a careful drawing, of course. “The top is made of line stripes in interlaced bands….” The text says that capes or sling drape designs in back are not suitable for short women, but some kind of dark lining (of a cape of drape?) seems to be visible under the model’s arm.

To tell the truth, I can’t be sure from this drawing exactly what is happening with the skirt on the left:

Patou, 1936.

Skirt details of two gowns by Patou, 1936.

The illustration by Clark Fay seems to show a side slit. The text says the train ends in two points, but as drawn, it looks like a recipe for a broken neck! do the tucks in the hip bands continue into the skirt on both side? Is it symmetrical? It’s definitely glamorous. The short woman on the right has a strange hemline “cut into uneven points.” The chevron accenting the center front seam is slenderizing; how nice that the two woman are not equally slim, but proportionate to their heights. By the standards of 1930’s fashion illustrations, the woman on the left is downright voluptuous.

Although Patou was known for his influential sportswear in the 1920’s, this gown, made of tulle covered with pink sequins, is a Patou from the early 1930’s, in the collection of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.

Jean Patou, sequinned evening gown, early 1930's in collection of Victoria and Albert Museum.

Jean Patou, sequinned evening gown, early 1930’s in collection of Victoria and Albert Museum.

It has a “cape or sling drapery” in back, and a contrasting belt, like the 1936 “little woman’s” gown illustrated in the Delineator.  Jean Patou died in 1936, but the House of Patou — and “Joy” perfume — continued.

Incidentally, around 1936-37, several couturiers began using zippers in fitted dresses. Zippers — finally light enough to be used with delicate fabrics — began to take the place of snap closings, making possible form-fitting gowns that didn’t gape open between the snaps. Zippers appeared in sportswear earlier than in Couture. Butterick pattern #2365, in December 1928, called for zippers at the neckline and pockets. It tied in with an ad for Talon. Madeleine Vionnet used a zipper in a blouse/step-in (what we would call a bodysuit) in 1929, and the design was copied by Butterick. Click here for a post about it, with pictures.  Robert Friedel’s book Zipper: An Exploration in Novelty mentions couture in the late 1930’s, but only briefly.

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Filed under 1930s, Exhibitions & Museums, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing

One Coat, Five Dresses: Wardrobe for March, 1936

Companion-Butterick patterns and fashion advice, page 72, Woman's Home Companion for March 1936.

Companion-Butterick patterns and fashion advice, page 72, Woman’s Home Companion for March 1936.

Planning your wardrobe around your coat (assuming you have only one winter coat) has been good budget and fashion advice for a long time. In the Great Depression, it was fair to assume that most women had only one or two coats, period. And they were expected to last for at least two years. Click here for a 1936 clothing budget. However, The Woman’s Home Companion brightened its readers’ spirits by assuring them that they would be wearing the latest styles from Paris under that coat.

A choice of print dresses to wear with your coat. Companion-Butterick pattens from Woman's Home Companion, page 73, March 1936.

A choice of print dresses to wear with your coat. Companion-Butterick pattens from Woman’s Home Companion, page 73, March 1936.

The advice was to make one dress that matched the coat exactly, another in a contrasting color from the same pattern, and one in a print fabric.

Companion Butterick patterns for a dress, 6649, and a coat, 6655. WHC, March 1936, p. 72.

Companion Butterick patterns for a dress, 6649, and a coat, 6655. WHC, March 1936, p. 72.

The coat is Companion-Butterick Pattern 6655, available in bust sizes 30 through 46 inches.

WHC 1936 mar p 72 500 coat 6655 text

Dress No. 6649 was illustrated in two versions, one in a lively color, like the wine red shown above . . .

WHC 1936 mar p 72 500 two dresses 6649 text

. . . and another version of the same pattern in fabric to match the coat.

Companion Butterick dress pattern 6649, WHC, March 1936, page 72.

Companion Butterick dress pattern 6649, WHC, March 1936, page 72.

Companion-Butterick patterns often advised that you could save time and money by making two or three versions of the same pattern. Here are two bodice variations on No. 6649.

Companion -Butterick pattrn 6649 made in two different versions. March 1936.

Companion -Butterick pattern 6649 made in two different versions. March 1936.

Those square armholes are interesting, and the pockets are also sharply geometrical. The pattern envelope shows the version on the right, but without dress clips at the neckline.

Prints for Spring, 1936

Woman's Home Companion, March 1936.

Woman’s Home Companion, March 1936.

“Prints are as certain to come back with spring as the swallows. All the Paris dressmakers who stress spring clothes are using prints in quantity.” Quite a list of French couturiers are cited as inspiration: Mainbocher, Schiaparelli, Molyneux, Chanel, and Lelong.

Companion-Butterick pattern 6632, MArch 1936. WHC, p. 73.

Companion-Butterick pattern 6632, March 1936. WHC, p. 73.

Companion-Butterick patterns 6642 and 6638. WHC, p. 73, March 1936.

Companion-Butterick patterns 6642 and 6638. WHC, p. 73, March 1936.

WHC 1936 mar p 73 500 prints text 6642 6638

Printed Dresses for Sprint, 1936. Woman's Home Companion, p. 73, March 1936.

Printed Dresses for Spring, 1936. Woman’s Home Companion, p. 73, March 1936.

Here’s a pattern envelope for #6642, left.

Butterick and The Woman’s Home Companion

The Butterick  Publishing Company suddenly discontinued its own magazine, The Delineator, in Spring of 1937, but there was already an agreement in place with The Woman’s Home Companion to feature Companion-Butterick patterns in every issue. They debuted in this March, 1936, issue of WHC.  Companion-Butterick patterns usually stressed versatility:  several slightly differing dresses could be made from one pattern. The Delineator had always emphasized Butterick’s “Paris” connection; you can see traces of that attitude in this article by “Paris Fashion Correspondent” Marjorie Howard. The Woman’s Home Companion aimed a little lower on the economic scale, and acknowledged that its readers had to make their money go a long way during the Depression.

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Filed under 1930s, Companion-Butterick Patterns, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes