Tag Archives: simplicity 2402 dress and jacket 1948 forties 1940s

Fashion Illustration and Fashion Reality, 1948

Butterick 4609, evening gownfrom Butterick Fashion News, back cover, August 1948.

Butterick 4609, evening gown from Butterick Fashion News, August 1948.

I’ve been looking at pattern illustrations from 1948, when Dior’s “new look” was getting women into waist-cinching undergarments, full (sometimes padded) hips, and a long, long silhouette.

Butterick 4610, from Butterick Fashion News, Aug. 1948.

Butterick 4610, from Butterick Fashion News, Aug. 1948. The waist is exceptionally narrow compared to the hips.

Simplicity store flyer, patterns from April 1948.

Simplicity store flyer, patterns from April 1948. Note the waist sizes.

Butterick suit pattern 4600 from August 1948, Butterick store flyer.

Butterick suit pattern 4600 from August 1948, Butterick store flyer.

I love to remind people that fashion illustrations shape women’s expectations (and self-critical self image) of what they should look like. This 1948 Butterick suit pattern was sized for women under 5′ 5″ tall:

Butterick suit pattern 4569 was available in a special version for women under 5' 5" tall.

Butterick suit pattern 4569 was available in a special version for women under 5′ 5″ tall. Store flyer, July 1948.

If suit 4569 seems awfully tall and thin for a petite woman —  it is.

Fashion models used to be 5’7 or so; this photo from the back of Butterick Fashion News, February 1948, shows a probably waist-cinched but otherwise real young woman:

Ad for Butterick, back of Butterick Fashion News, July 1948.

Ad for Butterick, back of Butterick Fashion News, July 1948.

It was hard to judge her head size exactly, since she is looking down, but from crown to heel (or front anklebone) she is six and a half heads high. The illustration of suit 4569 is relatively (well over a foot) taller and much thinner:

Photo and fashion illustration from July 1948. Using here head a a a unit of measurement, the real woman is six and a half heads from crown to heel. The illustration is eight heads high.

Photo and fashion illustration from July 1948. Using her head as a unit of measurement, the real woman is six and a half heads from crown to heel. The illustration is eight heads high — a woman stretched by more than a foot. And compare their waists!

Over the decades, we appear to have selectively chosen fashion models to match fashion illustrations, putting very thin,  5′ 11″ tall women into very high heels, to resemble these old drawings of imaginary human beings.

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Filed under 1940s-1950s, Corsets, Musings, Vintage patterns