Tag Archives: slimming twenties styles

1920’s Accessories: What’s Missing?

Two pattern illustrations showing two-piece border print dresses, June 1926.

Modified pattern illustrations showing two-piece border print dresses, Delineator, May 1926.

Do they look a little unfinished? Like something is missing? Do you have an urge to add a long necklace — or something — to these dresses? Here are the original illustrations:

Two border-print two piece dresses as they were meant to look. Illustration from Delineator, May 1926.

Two-piece border-print dresses as they were meant to look. Illustration from Delineator, May 1926.

Writing about the ways that 1920’s designers tried to add vertical lines to their designs (click here and scroll down) made me realize how much may have been lost from vintage clothing that appears to be complete.

A dress from July, 1928, with and without its matching scarf. Butterick pattern

A dress from July, 1928, looks complete (left), but very different with its matching scarf (right.) Butterick pattern 2147.

I would be happy to find that 1928 dress with its belt still attached; would I realize that something else might be missing?

Anyone who works with vintage clothing knows how often the matching, self-fabric belt gets lost, leaving just the belt loops as a clue. Without a buckle, however subtle, in the middle of the waist, the design is incomplete. In fact, any items that had to be removed before dry-cleaning — from belts to rhinestone or glass buttons, or bows, scarves, artificial flowers, even jeweled dress clips that were sold with the dress — are liable to have  disappeared over time.

Vintage twenties dress with clever vertical designs. Private collection.

Vintage twenties’ dress with clever vertical designs. Private collection.

The vertical pattern in the black chiffon velvet, the deep V, the row of decorative buttons, and the rhinestone buckle all attract the eye to the center of the body, instead of to the width at the hip.

The decorative buttons and buckle are essential to the design. Vintage twenties' dress.

The decorative buttons and buckle are essential to the design of this vintage twenties’ dress.

I wonder how often I’ve seen a dress that looks complete but slightly boring, and assumed that it needs jewelry. Until I started playing with my photo program, modifying illustrations from 1926, it never occurred to me that what was missing might be two yards of contrasting ribbon!

With and without ribbon or silk ties. Patterns from June, 1926. Delineator.

Left, original pattern illustration; right, as they would look without ribbon or silk ties,  and belt. Patterns from May  1926. Delineator.

Since there is no black on the original dresses, there is no clue that a black accessory is missing. Imagine how easily the black ties (or a belt) would become separated from their garments!

Two dresses from 1926 with their long, vertical ties removed.

Two dresses from 1926, left, and with their long, vertical ties removed, right.

The dress on the left had long ties as part of the collar, so they would probably be intact. But the figured ribbon tie on the gold dress is not part of the dress itself, or even the same fabric. Would I think of adding such a simple accessory instead of jewelry?

Do these 1926 dresses look rather sack-like? Bland?

Do these 1926 dresses look rather like bags? Bland? The illustrations have been altered.

I removed their vertical trims. This is how they ought to look:

All three original dresses had long ties, which create vertical accents.

All three dresses were intended to have long ties, which create vertical accents.

The struggle to draw eyes away from the horizontal hip band of the twenties took many forms, including vivid neck scarves which direct attention to the face.

Scarf from Callot Soeurs, Delineator, April 1927.

Scarf from Callot Soeurs, Delineator, April 1927. No solid-color dress could compete with that high-contrast scarf.

Many women used lively scarves to draw attention up, toward their faces in the 1920s.

Many women used a neck scarf to draw attention up toward their faces in the 1920s. Both illustrations from Delineator, 1928 and 1927. (Even with a scarf, it’s hard to focus on the face above that striped and dotted golf sweater!) The round belt buckle (at natural waist!) is also important.

Chanel Uses Scarves and Flowers, 1927

Chanel uses scarves and masses of fabric flowers; Delineator, Oct. 1927, p. 21.

Chanel uses scarves and masses of fabric flowers; Delineator, Oct. 1927, p. 21.

Fabric flowers, or abstract pompoms at the shoulder, were another device for drawing attention toward the face and away from the hips.

Left, a dress worn with a lively scarf; right a floral pom-pom made of ribbon, to be worn at the shoulder. Delineator, Oct. 1927.

Left, a dress worn with a high-contrast bordered scarf; right, a floral pompom made of organdy, to be worn at the shoulder. Delineator, Oct. 1927. You can see it on an evening dress, below.

Twenties dresses with floral pom-poms at the shoulder, both 1927. Delineator.

Twenties’ dresses with floral pom-poms at the shoulder, both 1927. Delineator.

Even in a very poor photo, this tomato red vintage dress is completed by a “pompom” of self-fabric leaf or petal shapes on the shoulder.

A cluster of red georgette petals is original to this vintage twenties' dress.

A cluster of red georgette petals is original to this vintage “bolero” dress.

This vintage dress from the late twenties retained both its belt with rhinestone buckle and the flowers that can be attached to its shoulder. (Removed before dry-cleaning, they were luckily stored with the dress.)

A vintage dress, late 1920s or early 1930s, which still has its belt and floral trim at that shoulder.

A vintage dress, late 1920s or early 1930s, which still has its original belt and its floral trim at the shoulder.

Vintage late 1920s dress, with original fabric flowers.

Vintage late 1920s dress, with original fabric flowers. You can see wisps of shredded organdy among the artificial flowers.

Of course, sometimes the “missing” touch is a very long necklace:

Evening dresses worn with very long necklaces, 1926; a necklace from 1927. Delineator.

Evening dresses worn with very long crystal necklaces, 1926; right, a gold necklace from 1927. Delineator.

A gown by Carette is worn with lots of crystal beads. Delineator, Sept. 1927, p. 25.

This Paris gown by Carette is worn with waist-length beads, probably cut crystal. Delineator, Sept. 1927, p. 25.

[I just saw Pola Negri in A Woman of the World, made in 1925. Click here. She was glamorous, charming, and tremendously likeable, but not as slender as usual when it was filmed. Those long pearl necklaces hung all the way to her — um — “pelvic area!”]

But a necklace would not necessarily have been the best vertical accent for these dresses:

Dresses that would not be complete without long, narrow ties. Delineator, 1927.

Dresses that would not be complete without their long, narrow ties. Delineator, 1927. Center, a dress with its final touch removed — and as it looked originally, right.

The dress in the center may look wider, but that is an optical illusion. Center, without its narrow self-tie, the three lines of horizontal trim dominate, drawing our eyes to the sides of the dress. Right, the tie draws our eyes to the middle of the body, and reinforces the vertical lines of the bodice trim and the hip bow.

What a difference two yards of ribbon can make.

P.S. There was a twenties’ fashion for very long necklaces — sautoirs — which had fringe or tassels at each end. They could be wrapped once around the neck — or not — and loosely tied wherever the wearer thought most becoming. Usually, this was very low, at the midriff or close to the natural waist. Such a necklace would look very much like the dark ribbon worn in the illustration at left. There is a good slideshow of a beaded, tie-able sautoir at 1stdibs. 

At Antique Gown you can get a better idea of their length.

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, Dresses, Musings, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing, Vintage patterns

Paris Calls for Pleats, 1926 (Part 2: Styles for Larger Women)

In Part 1, I showed some Delineator pattern illustrations for Misses and Women’s dresses for September, 1926. The same issue had a second article about the importance of pleats [called plaits] — this time for larger women.

Plaits Reduce New Parisian Frocks to Their Slimmest Terms

"Plaits Reduce New Parisian Frocks to Their Slimmest Terms." Delineator magazine, Sept. 1926.

“Plaits Reduce New Parisian Frocks to Their Slimmest Terms.” Delineator magazine, Sept. 1926.

All but one of these Butterick patterns from 1926 is meant for larger-than-average women. The three on the right are for women with bust measurements from 36 to 52 inches, far from the boyish figure associated with 1920s styles. The four on the left are drawn, as usual, as they might look on women at the smallest end of their size range, not size 46.

Butterick Skirts and Blouses

"Slimming" Butterick patterns 7066 (blouse), 6286 (skirt), 7078 (blouse), 6331 (skirt) from September 1926. Delineator magazine.

“Slimming” Butterick patterns 7066 (blouse), 6286 (skirt), 7078 (blouse), 6331 (skirt) from September 1926. Delineator magazine.

The blouse patterns are new, but the skirt patterns’ numbers show that they first appeared in the previous year. The pleated skirt on the left came in hip sizes 35 to 49.5 inches. Skirt 6331 was available up to hip size 52 inches — equivalent to a modern size 28W. Most early twenties dresses had straight backs, with any flare or fullness in the front only, like skirt 6286, but that was changing by 1926.1926 sept p 32 delin text 7066 6286 7078 6331 stout dresses

Many mid-twenties illustrations show a decorative colored hankie peeking out from a pocket, like these.

Blouse patterns 7066 and 7078. September 1926.

Blouse patterns 7066 and 7078. September 1926.

That narrow ribbon tie on # 7078 is slenderizing. These blouses were available for bust sizes 32 to 46, a little larger than the normal size range. They both have yokes with gathers or tucks adding fullness in front, unlike this similar design for Misses aged 15 to 20 “and small women,” which has no bust fullness.

Butterick pattern No. 7950 for Misses and small women, Sept. 1926.

Butterick pattern No. 7950 for Misses and small women, Sept. 1926.

Butterick 7051

Butterick pattern No. 7051 for larger women, 1926.

Butterick pattern No. 7051 for larger women, 1926.

This dress was available up to bust size 48; whether the embroidered horizontal band across the front — widened further with decorative buttons — would be becoming to its wearer is questionable. The bodice insert giving the impression of an exposed slip is a “vestee” which could be removed for laundering. It could also be made of a contrasting fabric, like pattern 7089, below.1926 sept p 32 white hat and detail stoutsShe wears a fairly lavish fox fur stole; even the woman wearing sporty blouse #7078 has put a pair of dead animals around her throat.

A small fox stole.

A small fox stole.

My mother (the former flapper) was very proud of her fur stole, which had baleful glass eyes and a hinged clip under the jaw, so that the little critters, like this one, appeared to be biting each other.

Butterick 7089

Butterick No. 7089, Sept. 1926.

Butterick No. 7089, Sept. 1926.

This dress, with a high collar that can be worn buttoned as shown, or open like No. 7051, features a long opening in the center front. 1926 sept p 32  top of 7089 stout leftButterick made this dress pattern in its usual range of sizes, bust 32 to 44 inches, roughly equivalent to modern pattern sizes 10 through 22. Her hat is trimmed with a very long jeweled pin.

Butterick 7077 and 7016

These two patterns were not only available in large sizes, but were described as able “to thin down a stout figure” and “to make the least of a large figure.” I wouldn’t agree about the one on the right.

Butterick patterns 7077 and 7046 for bust sizes 36 to 52. Sept. 1926.

Butterick patterns 7077 and 7046 for bust sizes 36 to 52. Sept. 1926.

1926 sept p 32 delin text7077 7016 stout dressesNumber 7077 certainly does its best to create a long vertical area from neck to hem, drawing our eyes to the center, rather than the outline, of the body. Number 7016 has a diagonal “surplice” line intended to do the same, but the hip band and wide space between two sets of front pleats negates the effect. The top of the dress doesn’t really relate to the lower part. The evening gown below, also from 1926, came in sizes 36 to 48; here, the surplice line is effectively carried down into a side drape so your eye travels past the hip, rather than across it.

Butterick pattern No. 1187 from Dec. 1926 had "reducing properties" and came in sizes 36 to 48.

Butterick pattern No. 1187 from Dec. 1926 had “reducing properties” and came in sizes 36 to 48.

Butterick 7077 and 7016, details.

Butterick 7077 and 7016, details.

It’s hard to be sure if the hat on the right was made of the same fabric as the lapels on the dress, or not.  It could be fur. The woman on the left is wearing what looks like a magnifying glass on a long necklace, but it might hold a secret, like this one:

A vintage lorgnette, courtesy of RememberedSummers.

A vintage lorgnette, courtesy of RememberedSummers.

When you press a tiny button on the silvery filigree, it opens to become a pair of hand held-spectacles:

Lorgnette photo courtesy of RememberedSummers.

Lorgnette photo courtesy of RememberedSummers.

Butterick 7083

Butterick pattern 7083 is "chic for stout women" with bust sizes up to 52". Sept. 1926.

Butterick pattern 7083 is “chic for stout women” with bust sizes up to 52″. Sept. 1926.

The image is curved and distorted because it was photographed from a thick, bound periodical volume. In spite of this garment’s princess seams, the model is drawn as if wearing a bust-flattening corset or corselet.1926 sept p 32  7083 details hat stout rtShe, too, carries a fox fur piece.

One pleasure of Delineator pattern illustrations is the carefully drawn accessories, like these hats:

A selection of hats from September. 1926. Delineator magazine.

A selection of hats from September, 1926. Delineator magazine.

Folds, droopiness, and tiny brims can also be seen in the hats from Part 1. Click here.

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Filed under 1920s, Hats, Vintage Accessories, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes