Sometimes a style appears that captures the mood of the times, and it becomes a dominant fashion. But sometimes a fashion misfires (wrong time, wrong look.) Example: The fichu dresses of 1920.
In 1920, young people had experienced the deaths and injuries of World War I and the Spanish flu epidemic, which killed young, healthy people rather than the old. “The Lost Generation” wasn’t in the mood for a return to the 18th century.
The late 18th century fichus helped to cover the breasts which were pushed into view by the combination of stays and low necklines.
This tight-waisted, busty mode would not seem to have much in common with the nineteen twenties.
However, we can’t discount the possible influence of popular culture in 1920, such as novels and movies set in the late 1700s, like A Tale of Two Cities, which was filmed in 1911 and 1917. For whatever reason, Butterick thought women might like to wear fichu dresses in 1920.
Styles that tied in back, or were heavily ruffled, were not unusual in 1920.
The waistline was in flux in 1920: sometimes near the natural waist, and sometimes very low-waisted.
Butterick 2192 has a fichu-shaped collar, but in darker colors.
The fichu also appeared on this dress for girls:
Sometimes the fichu is referred to as a surplice, and sometimes (as here) what seems to me to be a surplice closing is called a fichu! [“Fashion is spinach.”]
Butterick offered this fichu dress pattern in 1922:
This could mean that Butterick had some success with its 1920 fichu dress patterns after all…. (Also, another film of Tale of Two Cities was released in 1922….) The waist on 1922 pattern 3729 — like the other dresses on the same page — is definitely low.