Tag Archives: rayon

Dinner Suit for Summer or Cruise, late 1930s

A dinner suit, linen or rayon, late 1930s. From a private collection.

A dinner suit, linen or rayon, late 1930s. From a private collection.

After writing about 1936 swimsuits and dresses for a cruise to Cuba or Bermuda, I remembered this vintage suit which was collected by a friend. It was white linen (or linen-look rayon) with a medium-large navy floral print. It has a low, square-cut back, like the evening dresses for a 1936 cruise. It’s fresh and young-looking, but the cut is quite conservative (you could easily wear a low-backed corset under it, whereas more dramatic 30s evening gowns require the wearer to go bra-less.)

A dinner suit and evening dress to wear on a tropic cruise. Ladies' Home Journal, Feb. 1936.

A dinner suit and evening dress to wear on a tropic cruise. Ladies’ Home Journal, Feb. 1936.

Here are front and back views of the linen-look dinner dress:dress front and backThe bodice has a triangular insert that creates a squarish neckline. There is fullness in the front rather than darts, so it may have had a slight blouson when worn. Like this black and white gown from the cruise article, there is more fullness in the skirt back than in the front:

Ladies' Home Journal, Feb. 1936.

Ladies’ Home Journal, Feb. 1936.

The jacket is longer in the back than in the front, which looks graceful in profile, and its short, loose sleeves are very comfortable for an evening in a warm climate.suit jacket front side backThe puffy sleeves probably date this to the late thirties; here are some sleeves (1937) with a similar silhouette, but different construction:

Butterick-Companion patterns from Woman's Home Companion, January 1937.

Butterick-Companion patterns from Woman’s Home Companion, January 1937.

This suit did not have a manufacturer’s label; the jacket and bodice were lined, but the skirt was not. The dress closed with snaps at the side, plus a hook at the waist — always a good idea!

Side underarm bodice closing. Some female snaps are missing. The skirt (right) is unlined.

Side underarm bodice closing. The female snaps are not visible. The skirt (right) is unlined.

Here’s a closer look at the princess-line jacket:lg V173 jacket frontThe buttons are self-covered and the buttonholes were hand-bound: lg V173 jacket buttons

Karen at Fifty Dresses has been writing marvelous posts about Moygashel linen (she even found a 1955 advertisement picturing one of her vintage fabric purchases!) Click here to read her post and see the clever dress she made from a very small remnant.)

I think this dinner suit was made by the wearer — or her dressmaker — and I wouldn’t be surprised to come across the pattern someday!



Filed under 1930s, Companion-Butterick Patterns, Dresses, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing

Stockings for the Beach, June 1917

Luxite Hosiery Advertisement, June 1917

Luxite Hosiery Advertisement, June 1917. Illustration by Coles Phillips.

Stockings Worn with a Swimsuit, 1917

This charming illustration by Coles Phillips might have been titled “Sand in His Shoes.”  You could make up a story about why the girl is wearing a knit swim suit — possibly wet, since it’s shiny — but the man is still wearing a necktie. Fine print at the bottom of the ad says that a “beautiful color print of this illustration” measuring 12 by 11 inches, “will be sent upon receipt  of 15 cents in stamps.”

Luxite Stockings

Ad for Luxite Hosiery, June 1917

Ad for Luxite Hosiery, Delineator magazine, June 1917

1917 june p 50 Luxite hose ad text

“Hosiery, today, is regarded more important to the charm of personal appearance than ever before. Look your best — not on state occasions only — but always; that is the modern idea. Hose of Luxite have the spirit of luxury — yet they are not extravagant. Shapely, shimmering, and closely woven — the product of beautiful materials, pure dyes and specialized methods. Long wear and elegance are combined in inseparable union. ”

Luxite Hose were available in “Japanese Pure Silk” or “Gold-Ray (scientific silk) [i.e., rayon], lisle, and cotton. “Prices as low as 25 cents per pair, for Men, Women and Children.”

Truth in Advertising

What interested me in this ad, aside from the lovely, Maxfield Parrish style golden light on the figures, is the imperfection of the woman’s stockings. The artist has drawn all the irregularities of the woven fabric. 1917 june p 50 Luxite hose ad woman bathing suitI’m sure that’s what the product really did look like. Many women wore their stockings rolled over a garter when wearing a bathing suit, but special corsets — sometimes rather like a boned garter belt — were available for wear under swimsuits. Lastex wasn’t available until 1931; the wool knit swim suit itself did not support the figure at all, and was very revealing on a cold, wet body.

Love That Green Striped Shirt

1917 june p 50 Luxite hose ad man shirt

Yet another reminder of the colorful past — black and white photos just don’t convey these bold, exuberant textiles.


Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Bathing Suits, Hosiery & Stockings, Menswear, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Swimsuits

Garters, Flappers, Rolled Stockings, and Other Stocking Stories

 Four Young Women Showing Rolled Stockings, 1921. Used with Permission of RememberedSummers

Four Young Women Showing Rolled Stockings, 1921. Used with Permission of RememberedSummers

It wasn’t till Lynn at americanagefashion.com asked how 1920s roll-on garters worked that I realized many women have never worn stockings, much less rolled garters or garter belts. So I’ll repeat some of my reply, this time with lots of illustrations.

My grandmother still wore 1920s style garters (click link for image)  in the 1950s, when she was in her 70s. The rubber of the garter was tube-shaped, covered in pinkish-tan (knit?) fabric, and sealed into a ring shape with a tubular metal crimp. What this kind of garter  — utterly un-sexy, nothing like a flat, lacy wedding garter — did to the circulation in women’s legs, I don’t want to think about.

Rolled Stockings with Bathing Suit, Delineator,  July 1925

Rolled Stockings with Bathing Suit, Delineator, July 1925

Grandma rolled the ring-type garter up to the top of the stocking, and then rolled stocking and garter, as one, down to a point above or below her knee. The stocking rolled itself around the garter and created a ridge or bump, but this technique saved women from the runs you can get when you kneel while wearing stocking suspenders attached to the corset and clasped onto the stocking. (Rolled stockings also allowed women the comfort of not wearing a girdle….)

Suspender Style Garters

A Girdle form the 1920s and a Corset from the 1930s; when the suspender ran directly from the corset toward the knee (right) it was easy to get a run in the stocking.

A Girdle from the 1920s and a Corset from the 1930s; when the suspender ran directly from the corset toward the knee (right) it was easy to get a run in the stocking.

If those traditional garters (correctly called “suspenders” by the British) weren’t long enough, or you were tall, nylon (and rayon) stockings often “popped” at the knee when you knelt down. I remember coming out of church with my entire knee bulging out of my nylon stocking in the early 60s.

Onyx Hosiery Ad, 1924

Onyx Hosiery Ad, 1924

This 1924 ad for Onyx Silk Stockings claims that other silk stockings, although naturally more elastic than rayon, popped at the knee, too. “Bending the knee like this puts a heavy strain on any silk stocking.”

Lady’s Home Journal, 1936; Lux Soap Ad.

Ladies’ Home Journal, 1936; Lux Soap Ad.

“Costly runs:”  as discussed in my “Living on $18 a Week” post, women with white collar jobs were expected to wear stockings to work, but stockings were fragile and a constant drain on their budget. (The Great Depression made this problem quite serious. In 2014 it’s widely reported that your chance of getting a job interview is better if you already have a job; in the 1930s, a person who was unemployed long enough to start looking shabby was much less likely to get the same kind of job as the one she had lost.)

Knee-Highs to the RescueLHJ 1936 july p 63 knee high stockings 500 dpi ad

I was surprised to find this advertisement for Holeproof  Knee-Highs in The Ladies’ Home Journal, July 1936. “Most good hosiery counters now feature the original Knee-High by Holeproof. In Chiffon, Service, or Dancing Sheer. See it during National Holeproof Knee-High Week, June 13-20.”

[As the writers of Third Rock from the Sun realized, women like me always regarded our knee high stockings as rather embarrassing. There’s plenty of evidence that a woman slowly removing her stockings can be quite erotic, but slowly removing my knee length sox  – or support pantyhose, for that matter – is the opposite of seductive.]

Nevertheless, with the long dresses of the 1930s, knee length stockings made sense.  When you were standing, the tops wouldn’t show. (Although I don’t think many women flaunted them as they do in the top photo below!) Stockings that never had to bear the strain of being stretched between a metal stocking clasp and a girdle were likely to last much longer. And garters of any kind were not necessary with the new Knee-High.

The development of Lastex – thin threads of rubber encased in fabric –  revolutionized undergarments after 1931, and made a self-supporting knee high stocking possible.

LHJ 1936 july p 63 knee high top 2 pix stockings ad

“. . . Gives the knee-freedom of rolled hosiery in a smartly styled way. . . The self-supporting Holeproof Knee-High. . . . No more garter runs. . . this revolutionary new-type stocking eliminates knee-strain and garter pull. You can bend, twist or kneel without straining your sheerest chiffons. No garter bumps to show ‘neath sheer frocks.” LHJ 1936 july p 63 knee high next 2 pixstockings ad“Air-conditioned knees. If you pursue an active life you’ll find cool comfort in Holeproof Knee-High . . . and amazing economy! With garter runs eliminated, 3 pairs outwear 4 or 5 of long hose. Knit-in ‘Lastex’ garter top keeps stocking trimly in place.”LHJ 1936 july p 63 knee high bottom of ad stockings ad“Full-fashioned silk hosiery (knee-length) with knit-in ‘Lastex’ garters.”

Also Introduced in the 1930s: Peds

Peds Ad in Delineator, July 1934

Peds Ad in Delineator, July 1934

The fine print says “elastic edge” and “non-slip heel.” “Wear PEDS for the beach, sportswear, street wear, around the home.” Peds, which could be worn with shoes while you were cleaning house, etc., were also suggested not just as a replacement for stockings, but as stocking savers: “If wearing stockings, use Peds under or over them! Stops wear and mending.” If your problem was that your toenails wore through your stockings, this might actually work.

Update, 6/29/16: There’s a great post with lots of photos of 1920s rolled stockings with bathing suits at  the Frontline Flapper Vintage blog. Click here.


Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, 1940s-1950s, Corsets, Girdles, Hosiery & Stockings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Vintage Accessories, vintage photographs

Flappers, Galoshes, and Zippers in the 1920s

Galoshes, 1922, from Everyday Fashions of the 1920s by Stella Blum

Galoshes, 1922, from Everyday Fashions of the 1920s by Stella Blum

There is a widespread belief that the term “flapper” was first applied to young women in the 1920s because of a fad among college girls for wearing their rubber galoshes unfastened (right).

By the late 1920s, two rubber companies were competing for the women’s waterproof boot market, with attractive, tight-fitting fashion boots and shoe covers.

Ad fo Gaytees overshoes, December 1928, Delineator

Ad for Gaytees overshoes, December 1928, Delineator

United States Rubber Company’s Gaytees Overshoes

Gaytees were made by the United States Rubber Company, and came in a range of styles including waterproofed fabric and even simulated reptile.

Gaytees Overshoes Ad, December 1928, Delineator

Gaytees Overshoes Ad, December 1928, Delineator

Gaytees advertised that their rainboots for 1929 had six new features:

New styles! Cross straps, turn-down cuffs, a new pointed back style.

New colors! The new rosy browns and tans; the tannish grays; black.

New Fabrics! Wools, Rayon-and-wool mixtures. All-rubber.

New lasts that fit the new Fall shoes! New heels – four different heights.

Lighter weight in every pair – yet full protection.

Fast color linings!

Gaytees Ad, November 1928, Delineator

Gaytees Ad, November 1928, Delineator

These are “Tailored Overshoes” because they are worn over your normal shoes. “See the style show of 1929 Gaytees at your own shoe store. Then, when you buy your Fall shoes, ask to have them fitted with the Gaytees that match your new Fall costume.”

Gaytees Ad, December 1928, Delineator

Gaytees Ad, December 1928, Delineator

The text next to Gaytees worn with a chiffon evening gown (right) says, “Fast color linings. Gaytees won’t rub off on the sheerest evening stockings or the lightest colored evening slippers. And the pointed back adds slimness as well as extra spatter protection….

“Your shoeman will be glad to show you the 1929 Gaytees. Let him fit a pair on your slim ankles. See how snugly they hug the new shoe styles; how well they harmonize with your Winter costumes.” Prices “from $2.50 to $6.” Gaytees usually fastened with snap fasteners, but even when they closed with a ‘slide fastener,’ the ads couldn’t call it a ‘zipper’ because of . . . .

B.F. Goodrich Company’s Zippers

B.F. Goodrich Zipper Ad, July 1928

B.F. Goodrich Zipper Ad, July 1928

In 1921, the B.F. Goodrich Company had quietly begun experimenting with rubber boots that closed with slide fasteners from the Hookless Fastener Company. There were problems to overcome, but by 1922 Goodrich had launched their “Mystik Boots,” which closed with Hookless slide fasteners instead of snaps or buckles. They were such an immediate success that B.F. Goodrich Company asked Hookless for exclusive rights to use their fasteners. In 1923, the Mystik Boot was renamed, to draw attention to the ease with which they were put on and taken off.

“What we need is an action word,” said company president Bertram G. Work, “something that will dramatize the way the thing zips.” He quickly added, “Why not call it the zipper?” – from The Evolution of Useful Things, by Henry Petroski, p. 111.

B.F. Goodrich Zipper Ad, July 1928

B.F. Goodrich Zipper Ad, July 1928

Goodrich trademarked the word ‘Zipper.’ At first, “Zipper” referred to a brand of overshoe, not to the gizmo that opened and closed it.

B.F. Goodrich Zipper Ad, December 1928, Delineator

B.F. Goodrich Zipper Ad, December 1928, Delineator

The text at left says, “But remember, all overshoes that close with a sliding fastener are not genuine Goodrich Zippers. Look for and find the name Goodrich on the shoe . . . only in this way can you be sure of authentic Goodrich style with the famous Hookless Fastener which cannot rust, stick, loosen or cause trouble. . . . Over fifty thousand stores are now ready to show you the correct new colors of genuine Zippers. . . in either snap or Zipper fastener.” The Goodrich ad doesn’t mention prices, and it’s not in color. Presumably, Gaytees had to try harder.

A New Word Enters the Language: Zipper

Goodrich sold half a million ‘Zippers’ in 1923 and bought a million Hookless Slide Fasteners every year after that until 1927. By the late 1920s, the novelty was wearing off (and three to four million women already had Zippers in their closets, not counting the women who bought Gaytees instead!)

The word ‘Zipper’ may have belonged to the B.F. Goodrich Company, but in common usage, Americans were calling any slide fastener a ‘zipper.’ The Hookless Fastener Company adopted an eagle’s talon as its company trademark in 1928, and changed the company’s name to Talon a decade later (Source: Zipper: An Exploration in Novelty, by Robert Freidel, page 169.)

Talon Zipper Advertisement from Delineator, March 1929

Talon Zipper Advertisement from Delineator, March 1929


Filed under 1920s, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Shoes, Vintage Accessories, Zippers

“Make Do and Mend”

Clothing Rationing in World War II 1943 wartime ad for synthetic fabrics

The Vintage Traveler printed a link to Nancy Hill’s very well-done TED lecture on “Make Do and Mend,” a way of life during World War II in the U.S. and in England. Thank you to Worn Through for blogging about this video!

Shoe Rationing

Both countries passed strict laws about how much fabric could be used in a dress or suit, and issued a limited number of clothing coupons per person per year. This included shoes and other garments. When you bought a pair of shoes, for example, you had to pay with money and with the appropriate coupons. Shoes You Love with couponAt the top of this ad, from Vogue magazine, August 15, 1943, is a woman’s hand holding a ration coupon. “Spend it wisely!” reads the ad.

Fabric Rationing and Synthetic Fabrics

Since fabrics like silk and nylon were needed for parachutes, etc., synthetic versions were much in demand. Another ad from Vogue, August 1943 makes that point visually: 1943 wartime ad for synthetic fabricsText for 1943 Textron Rayon ad

The text announces that “This October at your favorite department store, you will be able to buy, in limited quantities, exclusive, luxurious Textron Fabrics in finest Rayon … glorious lengths of lovely weaves in the most flattering and exciting colors.”

Women on the March, Women in Uniform

Many women were taking on jobs normally reserved for men; not ‘just’ shipbuilding and work in munitions factories, but also ferrying military planes, serving as army nurses, etc.

Ad from Vogue, August 1943

Ad from Vogue, August 1943

This ad for Hill and Dale shoes says,

“From Africa to New Guinea, from Boston to Mexico, Hill and Dales are on the march – with women wearing every uniform. So, pet and polish your Hill and Dale shoes, buy them only when you need them. In classic style and long wearing quality, they are the most – for your coupon and your money.” In the case of shoes, “pet and polish” was the equivalent of “make do and mend.”

Even the Duchess of Devonshire Made Do and Mended

Deborah Mitford marries the future Duke of Devonshire

Deborah Mitford marries the future Duke of Devonshire

In England, rationing continued until 1954.  Of course, wealthy people could buy things on the black market, but many women who had sons, husbands, brothers, fathers, and friends serving in the military refused to cheat the system.  Deborah,  Duchess of Devonshire, née Deborah Mitford, tells a lovely story in Counting My Chickens, about her mother-in-law and a friend who had been “Making Do and Mending” throughout the war and after it.  When their husbands were sent to Paris on a diplomatic mission in 1947, these ladies, used to wearing couture before the war, accompanied them.  Christian Dior’s New Look was ‘all the rage,’ so they were eager to see the collection.  But, when they presented themselves at the Dior showroom, wearing the same mended shoes and worn cloth coats they had been using throughout the war, they were refused admission!  So the Duchess of Rutland and the Duchess of Devonshire sadly ‘ate their sandwiches on a park bench’ and returned to the British Embassy.

Dowager Duchess of Devonshire at Chatsworth

Dowager Duchess of Devonshire at Chatsworth

If you are not familiar with the marvellous “Debo,” Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, I highly recommend her books. She writes as well – and with as much humor –  as her famous sisters, Jessica Mitford (The American Way of Death) and Pamela Mitford (Love in a Cold Climate, The Pursuit of Love).  If you are a fan of Downton Abbey,  Deborah Devonshire can tell you what it’s really like to live in a great house – Chatsworth— with 200 rooms.  One of her tips: Never forget where you put down your reading glasses or your car keys….


Filed under 1930s-1940s, 1940s-1950s, A Costumers' Bookshelf, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Shoes