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To Bob or Not to Bob Your Hair: 1925 (Part 2)

Getting a pointed shingle haircut, Delineator Nov. 1926. Illustration by Leslie Saalsburg.

Getting a pointed shingle haircut, Delineator, November 1926. Illustration by Leslie Saalsburg.

“If your hair grows so that a point can be made in the center of the back, have your barber cut it in a point.” — Celia Caroline Cole, in her article “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker,”  Delineator magazine, January 1924.

I exerpted the first part of “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker” in Part 1 of this post. (Click here to read it.) (And thank you to Dinah and Cristina , et al, for their really informative comments!) If you watch Downton Abbey, you have probably seen the episode where Lady Mary gets her hair cut into a sleek bob with a point in the back. [After looking at many images from 1924 through 1925, I realized that the thick point above her nape was not what was bothering me; it was the length of her hair in front.]

Louise Brooks probably had the most iconic sleek bobbed hair in the movies (click here), but she didn’t have the pointed back shown in the illustration above, which, as Celia Cole says, was only possible for about one in fifty women. The really “slicker ‘n’ slicker” hair that “looks like paint” probably belonged to elegant Josephine Baker, the American girl who became a legendary star in France. (Click here.) She even marketed a hair preparation called “Bakerfix.”

More from “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker,” January 1925

"The friendliest shingle is to have it cut long on the sides so as to cover the ears. . . . A lovely little sloping curve from behind the ear down to the sharp little point." Two pattern illustration modesl from May, 1925. Butterick's Delineator magazine.

“The friendliest shingle is to have it cut long on the sides so as to cover the ears. . . . A lovely little sloping curve from behind the ear down to the sharp little point.” Two pattern illustration models from May, 1925. Butterick’s Delineator magazine.

from the friendliest shingle to head of young boy

“And long or short, the hair must be very neat — no more tousled heads — brushed until it shines, and for most faces waved in large, loose undulations.”

A Gallery of Mid-Twenties Hair Styles from Delineator Illustrations

April 1924, Paris fashion sketches by Soulie.

April 1924, Paris fashion sketches by Soulie.

March 1924, Delineator. Butterick pattern illustrations.

March 1924, Delineator. Butterick pattern illustrations.

A few months later, in  January, 1925, the girl above left would have been among those who were advised to have the hair in back tapered or thinned “with a razor so that it does not stand out.”

October 1924. Delineator.

October 1924. Delineator.

March, 1925. Delineator.

March, 1925. Delineator. Paris models.

The blonde on the right has her hair cut almost like a man’s, long in front and tapered in back. She has tendrils falling on her cheek, like these other Paris models:

Very short hair on Paris models. The two on the left are from January 1925; the one on the right is from April, 1924.

Very short hair on Paris models. The two on the left are from January 1925; the one on the right is from April, 1924.

A haircut like this gave you the option of pulling a lock from the front down to curl on your cheek on each side, or you could brush it straight back, like singer Dora Stroeva, pictured in Delineator, March, 1924.

Singer Dora  Stroeva wears a severly mannish "Eton crop" in the "New in New York" column; Delineator, March 1924.

Singer Dora Stroeva wears a severely mannish “Eton crop” in the “New in New York” column; Delineator, March 1924.

The “Eton crop,” named after the prestigious English boys’ school Eton College, was the subject of cartoons like this one:

The woman on the right, admiring a photograph of the man the woman on the left is engaged to, says, "Well, God bless you, my dear, congratulations and all that. He certainly looks twice the man that you are." March, 1928, Punch magazine.

The woman on the right is admiring a photograph of the man the woman on the left is engaged to marry.  March, 1928, Punch magazine, reprinted in The Way to Wear’em by Christina Walkley.

The caption says, “Young woman (looking at a photograph of friend’s fiance).  ‘Well, God bless you, my dear, congratulations and all that. He certainly looks twice the man you are.’ ” (For more “fashion” cartoons from The Way to Wear’em and other books, click here.)

However, most women felt the need for some hair near the face to “save it from that utterly revealed look.”

1925, Delineator.

1925, Delineator. The woman in the center has had her hair thinned a little at the bottom, as advised in “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker.”

October 1924, Delineator.

October 1924, Delineator.

December 1924, Delineator.

December 1924, Delineator. Styles for wavy hair.

Having some hair around the face looked better with a hat.

Hair Styles That Are “Nice to Buy Hats For”

“Any one who has had short hair knows the joy of it — cool and free, easy to care for and nice to buy hats for.”

March, left, and January, right, 1925. Hair styles meant to look good under a cloche hat.

March, left, and January, right, 1925. Hair styles meant to look good under a cloche hat.

Hats, story illustration, September 1924. Delineator.

Hats and hair, story illustration, September 1924. Delineator.

It’s hard now to remember that women once wore hats whenever they went out in public, but through the 1920’s and 1930’s photographs of crowds rarely show a person without a head covering of some kind. The tight-fitting, head-hugging hats of the 1920’s required hairstyles that could survive being compressed, and still look presentable when a woman took her hat off at work or at home. No wonder hairstyles got “slicker ‘n’  slicker.”

from gray bobbed to arrange for herself

It didn’t matter whether the hat was a turban, or a cloche, or a hat with a brim; part of the twenties look is those little poufs or curls or “guiches” that fill in the hollow of the cheek. Without them, a cloche hides all your hair, and the look is austere and rather grim. As Celia Cole put it, ” The dressing of the hair means to the face and head what shrubbery and trees mean to a brand-new house: they save it from that utterly revealed look.”

Four Hats for Spring, April 1925. Delineator.

Four Hats for Spring, April 1925. Delineator.

Hats illustrated with dress patterns, February 1925. Delineator.

Hats illustrated with dress patterns, February 1925. Delineator. Imagine how different they would look with no hair visible.

Even a tiny wisp of hair on the cheek softens the hat and sculpts the face.

Hair cut to a point in back, February 1925. Delineator.

Sleek, shiny hair cut to a point in back, February 1925. Delineator.

Which brings me back to Lady Mary’s haircut. Because the front was longer than any of the styles shown in these 1924-1925 illustrations, her haircut didn’t work very well with the hat of her riding habit.  Her hair didn’t fit neatly into the hollow of her cheek. It got messy. That bothered me, like getting a piece of popcorn stuck to a back tooth.

Two hats -- with wisps of hair showing at the cheeks. February 1924, Delineator.

Two hats — with wisps of hair showing at the cheeks. February 1924, Delineator.

Of course, when it comes to dressing actors, the rule is , “The physical attractiveness of the actor to the audience outweighs all other considerations.” It doesn’t apply to all characters — and not to extras — but it does apply to leading actors playing physically attractive characters. Sometimes we search through incredible amounts of research, until we find one example that justifies the style that best becomes the actor. Molly Ivins said that there is nothing so dangerous as a man who has only read one book.”  I probably haven’t found the right book — and “I’m always hungry for more.”

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Filed under 1920s, Hairstyles, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture

To Bob or Not to Bob Your Hair: 1925 (Part 1)

Dinner Party from a Toothpaste Ad, Delineator magazine, January, 1924.

Dinner Party from a Toothpaste Ad, Delineator magazine, January, 1924. These full hairdos were about to be replaced by “slicker” head-hugging styles.

I’m not a big fan of Downton Abbey, but I watch it anyway. In the last episode I saw, in season 5, Lady Mary got a new haircut, which is certainly something lots of women do when they feel the need for a change. But there was something about her bob that bothered me, so I poked around in my files, trying to figure out what it was.

Instead, I found a lengthy article about bobbed hair, “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker,” from January 1925, plus many hair-related images.  The article is long, so I’ll break the text up into readable sections (over two posts) and include period images of the styles it refers to. The author, Celia Caroline Cole, was a regular beauty columnist for Delineator magazine, and most of my images are from mid-twenties issues of Delineator.

Here is the illustration and caption that accompanied “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker”:

 One's crowniing glory is such a problem, what is a body to do? To bob or not to bob -- and how?" Delineator, Jan. 1925, p. 22.


“One’s crowning glory is such a problem, what is a body to do? To bob or not to bob — and how?” Delineator, Jan. 1925, p. 22.

“ONE-FOURTH of the women of Paris are bobbed. And there is about that same proportion in London and New York.” —  Celia Caroline Cole, Delineator, January 1925.

Paris fashions from Lucien Lelong, left, and Jean Patou, center and right. Sketched by Soulie for Delineator, 1925.

Paris fashions from Lucien Lelong, left, and Jean Patou, center and right. The models have bobbed and shingled hair. Sketched by Soulie for Delineator, late 1925.

Women Whose Hair Was Not Yet Bobbed

What about the other seventy-five percent of women, the ones who had not yet succumbed to the fashion for very short, “slick” hair?

Bobbed hair had first been popularized during World War I; dancer and fashion icon Irene (Mrs. Vernon) Castle was influential in setting the style.

Irene Castle, with bobbed hair, endorsing Corticelli  Silk in this advertisement from Ladies' Home Journal, October 1917.

Irene Castle, with bobbed hair, endorsing Corticelli Silk in this advertisement from Ladies’ Home Journal, October 1917.

However, after the war ended, long hair became fashionable again. The Marcel Wave — and later, a permanent curl — made it possible for women born with straight hair to have very wavy locks. You could even get a  home permanent “outfit” (using one roller, which screwed into your lamp, like a lightbulb, since there was usually no other electrical supply in the room.) “A whole head can be waved comfortably in just a few hours.”

A Nestle Home Permanent Machine, "Price only $15" in December, 1924. Delineator.

A Nestle Home Permanent Outfit, “Price only $15” in December, 1924. Delineator. It’s going to take more than a few hours to wave that head of hair.

My mother, like many other women, was still wearing her “marcelled” hair in the late 1920s:

A marcel wave, worn close to the head to fit under a cloche hat in the 1920's. Most women did not have a curl right in the middle of their foreheads, but the center part was very typical.

A marcel wave, worn close to the head to fit under a cloche hat in the 1920’s. Most women did not wear a curl right in the middle of their foreheads, but her center part was very typical. “A part in the middle is as smart for bobs as for long hair.”

Three models from one page of Delineator magazine, November 1924:  the woman on the left has a marcel wave and long hair gathered into a chignon low on her neck. The woman on the right has a sleek bob with a “shingle” cut in back. Either style would fit under a cloche hat.

November 1924: Three hair styles seen together in one  Butterick pattern illustration. Delineator,  p. 27.

November 1924: Three hair styles seen together in one Butterick pattern illustration. Delineator, p. 27.

Return of the Bob

The fashion for bobbed hair returned in the early 1920’s. Daring young women went to the local (male) barber shop to have their “crowning glory” chopped off — sometimes to the horror of their parents.

Display poster sold to barber shops in 1924. From

Barber’s Display card sold to barber shops in 1924. From An Illustrated History of Hairstyles, by Marian I. Doyle, page 82.

However, in January of 1925, most women had not yet bobbed their hair. Those who had, usually wore it very full (one might say, “bushy”);  the author of “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker” refers to their “large, gnomelike heads.”  Ads for shampoos and other hair products emphasized a thick, wavy head of hair:

An ad for Danderine hair product, January 1925. Delineator.

An ad for Danderine hair product, January 1925. Delineator.  In the same issue, the beauty editor called these bobbed hairdos “very demodee.”

Even these styles, from the Barber Shop display card shown above,  are full, rather than sleek.

Straight bobs from barber shop display card, 1924. An Illustrated History of Hair

Straight bobs from barber shop display card, 1924. From An Illustrated History of Hairstyles, M. Doyle.

That is why the beauty editor of Delineator had to tell women, in January of 1925, that “the old straight bob is very demodee.” [Démodée means “out of style, unfashionable.”] “To be modee and exciting and to look like an illustration in a novel, the hair should be either shingled or dressed so close to the head that it looks like paint.” — C. C. Cole

The Shingle Explained

A Shingle Hair Cut, April 1924. Delineator.

A Shingle Hair Cut, April 1924. Delineator.

“If a woman has a well-shaped head . . . , the hair is cut close to the head in the back and about a third of the way up from the nape of the neck and from there on it is longer. The whole aim is to have a beautiful line for the back of the head — that loveliness one finds in the head of a young boy.

“If the hair is thin . . . , the smart hairdresser does not cut the hair close at the nape of the neck, but cuts it in one length from the crown to the nape, thinning the ends with a razor so that it will not stand out.” — Celia Cole in her article “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker.”

More Exerpts from “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker,” Published in January 1925

to be modee para

"A dashing little head on the stop of a slender supple body not at all concealed by its extremely simple frock." Pattern illustrations from Delineator, Feb. 1924.

“A dashing little head on the top of a slender supple body not at all concealed by its extremely simple frock.” Pattern illustrations from Delineator, Feb. 1924.

Four Paris models sketched by Soulie, Delineator, January 1925.

Four Paris models sketched by Soulie, Delineator, January 1925 — The same issue carried “Slicker ‘n’ Slicker.”

two things must be considered

"The short, stout woman can very rarely wear a shingle; she needs a "thatch." Corset ad, Dec 1924. Delineator.

“The short, stout woman can very rarely wear a shingle; she needs a ‘thatch.’ ” Round-U Corset ad, Dec 1924. Delineator.

French Models sketched by Soulie, March 1924. Delineator.

French Models sketched by Soulie, March 1924. Delineator. “The bob has no age limit.”

from the bob, lik to the flatness

 

"Wave it" or "Dress it low" if a shingle doesn't suit your hair or head shape; two styles from 1924. Delineator.

“Wave it” or “Dress it low” if a shingle doesn’t suit your hair or head shape; two styles from 1924. Delineator.

However, if a woman’s hair is thick, she should “go to a good barber — and by “barber” we mean a woman’s barber, a hairdresser — and have him thin it out evenly, so that it can be dressed smartly close.”

To be continued . . . .

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, Hairstyles, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Vintage patterns, vintage photographs

Fashions from Paris, January 1924

Illustration from January 1924 Deliineator. Not by Soulie.

An illustration — not by Soulie — from January 1924 Delineator. 

 

“Soulié’s Sketches Sent from The Delineator’s Paris Establishment Draw Attention to Godets, Princess Lines, and Frills Flat or Otherwise.” — Headline in Delineator Magazine, January 1924

Butterick Publishing Company kept an office in Paris for the purpose of following the  latest fashion trends and reporting on them. (Not to mention producing Butterick patterns based on those trends.)

In January of 1924, Soulié sketched designs by several well-known Paris houses:  Patou, Agnès, Doucet, Louise Boulanger, and Poiret. Since Downton Abbey’s current season is set in 1924, this seems like a good time to show some 1924 French designs. (Even though my real interest is in clothing for ordinary people, the influence of major French designers always percolates down through the department stores and pattern houses.)

Jean Patou

A coat (left) and a suit (right) by Jean Patou, January 1924. Sketches by Soulié for Delineator magazine.

A coat (left) and a suit (right) by Jean Patou, January 1924. Sketches by Soulié for Delineator magazine.

“A coat that has quite the cut of a suit is made by Patou of black kid lined throughout with persisky — a form of civet — and trimmed with straps.”  [In other words, this is a soft leather coat lined with fur.]

“Flat frills begin where the straight coat ends in a suit of green fulgarante with a knee-length bodice of green and gold brocade with collar and cuffs of gray fox. From Jean Patou.” [“Fulgarante” is apparently one of those words with a specialized meaning to fashion writers; it is Spanish for “blazing.”]

Agnès

A suit and a dress designed by Agnès and sketched by Soulié for Delineator, Jan 1924.

A suit and a dress designed by Agnès and sketched by Soulié for Delineator, Jan 1924.

“Suit coats are of all lengths and many cuts, but the string-tied jacket and narrow skirt remain as popular as ever. Agnès uses them for a suit of beige zibella velours de laine with bearskin collar and cuffs.” In January of 1913, the New York Times reported that “Velour de laine, that soft, silky woolen tissue that arrived in the Autumn and was so popular till satins and silks usurped its place later, has now reappeared ….” [ Velours means velvet, laine means wool, and zibella is a mystery to me!]

“Gold braid underscored with rose-colored embroidery binds the slashed edges of an overdress and tunic of black crêpe marocain.  The foundation is narrow, the sleeve short, and the length about eight inches from the floor. From  Agnès.” You can find out more about Agnès, and see one of her dresses, at 1stdibs. Click here.

Paul Poiret

A Dress and a cape-like coat by Paul Poiret, sketched by Soulié for Delineator, January 1924.

A dress with metallic threads and a cape-like coat by Paul Poiret, sketched by Soulié for Delineator, January 1924.

“For the new note of gorgeousness that the French dressmakers are introducing, Poiret uses embroidery of silver and gold on a dress of blue poplacote moire.” [Poplacote is another term my search engine has never encountered.]

“Poiret uses suède-colored sapho velvet trimmed with civet cat for a wrap that hides the fact that it is a coat under cape-like sides lined with black satin.” There is a brief biography of Paul Poiret at Encyclopedia Britannica (click here).  The Metropolitan Museum devoted an exhibition to Poiret in 2007; click here to visit it online. You can see his iconic “lampshade” dress of 1912 in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Click here. (Be sure to look at the second image — the color and beadwork is lovely.)

Louise Boulanger [She later designed as Louiseboulanger.]

A coat and a dress from Louise Boulanger, sketched by Soulié for Delineator, January 1924.

A coat and a dress from Louise Boulanger, sketched by Soulié for Delineator, January 1924.

“The Ladies’ Book of 1924 is to show godets in skirts and capes according to an interesting coat of green wool duvetyn [a brushed woolen fabric] with a civet collar from Louise Boulanger.” You can see another 1920s dress by Louiseboulanger in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum. Click here.

“Also from Louise Boulanger comes a dress of bright blue matelassé flared at the foot, banded low on the hip and embroidered in gold on copper at the V neck.”  [The Fashion Model Directory says Louise Boulanger worked for Cheruit until 1927, but the Delineator attributed these designs to her in 1924.]

Doucet

Two evening gowns by Doucet, sketched by Soulié for Delineator, January 1924.

Two evening gowns by Doucet, sketched by Soulié for Delineator, January 1924.

“Doucet’s characteristic elegance speaks for itself in an evening gown of steel lace over a blue silk slip.  A girdle of blue chenille fringe is clasped with a  motif of diamonds and blue stras. [Stras is a type of artifical jewel.]”  The illustration shows the shoulder drape of the the black dress on the right hanging confusingly in front of the light-colored dress on the left — it does not have a black panel in front! You can read more about Jacques Doucet at Fashion Model Directory; click here.

“The new princess line, flat, beltless and narrow, shows itself to great advantage in a Doucet gown of black crêpe velours embroidered with blue and gold Chinese motifs.”

A Few Observations About These Fashions from  January 1924

  • Skirts are still quite long — only 8 inches from the ground.
  • All the models have short, “bobbed” hair.
  • Most of these designs have strong accents at the hip; only the heavily embroidered  Doucet  gown is a tube.
  • The “princess line” is “new.”
  • Fur adds a note of luxury to all the daytime fashions, either as collars, cuffs, belts, (even coat lining,) or carried as a stole or muff.
  • Soulié has drawn most of the models wearing rather high heels, which means the skirts are very long to still be 8″ above the floor.

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Filed under 1920s, Exhibitions & Museums, Hairstyles, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Couture Designs

A Sequinned Gown by Vionnet, 1924-1925

Mrs. Reginald Vanderbilt (nee Gloria Morgan) in a sequin trimmed black velvet gown by Vionnet. Photo by Steichen. Pond's cold cream ad, 1925.

Mrs. Reginald Vanderbilt (nee Gloria Morgan) in a sequin trimmed black velvet gown by Vionnet. Photo by Steichen. Pond’s cold cream ad, Delineator, June 1925.

In answer to Christina’s question about the Vionnet disc dress— what were the sequins really made of? — I have to acknowledge that I only saw that dress in one source, Butterick’s Delineator magazine from April 1929. As Molly Ivins said of a former president, “There is nothing so dangerous as a man who has only read one book” — a good reminder for anyone doing research.

When I find interesting things in old magazines, I try to put them in the blog so that other researchers can take the information and build on it — assuming that my source was reliable. I do try to leave a trail that can be followed — Month, Year, Name of Magazine. I have no reason to doubt the Delineator fashion sketches more than I doubt modern sketches;  Butterick maintained an establishment in Paris for the purpose of reporting on the latest styles (and occasionally, copying them . . . .)

Butterick Ad, August 1924, Delineator.

Butterick Ad, August 1924, Delineator.

“For Butterick keeps a staff of experts in Paris all the time. Wherever new models are launched, there is a Butterick expert noting each successful model. Quickly that expert cables the news. Sketches, details follow by the fast steamer. Immediately patterns are made for each of the successful new dresses.”

It’s true that Butterick ran one or two pages of sketches of Paris designs every month. In the 1920s, they were usually done by the illustrator and designer Soulie. Since there were usually five or more drawings per page, they’re not terribly large. Whether the sketches were perfectly accurate would be hard to establish without getting sketches or photos of the same garments from other sources.  ( I don’t have access to Vogue online, but that would be a good starting place.)

Mrs. Vanderbilt, photographed by Steichen in a gown by Vionnet. 1925.

Mrs. Vanderbilt, photographed by Steichen in a gown by Vionnet. Delineator, June 1925.

I found this photo of Mrs. Vanderbilt in a full page ad for Pond’s Face Cream — a celebrity endorsement. I could not find this exact dress in Betty Kirke’s Madeleine Vionnet, but Kirke did have numbered photos of similar sequin- trimmed dresses from the same collection. (It’s easy to forget that Vionnet was not averse to decoration; she just insisted that it be essential to the design, not added gratuitously.) Here is a detail of the skirt:

Vionnet using sequins on a black velvet gown, Delineator, June 1925.

Vionnet uses sequins on a black velvet gown, Delineator, June 1925.

Christina’s question was about the size and material of the paillettes on the disc dress. All the photo above shows is that Vionnet used sequins heavily in the 1920s, and could have custom work like this done to suit her needs. (Kirke does mention that.)

Vionnet dress trimmed with discs, 1929 .Sketches from Paris, The Delineator, April 1929, page 40.

Vionnet dress trimmed with discs, 1929 . Sketches from Paris, The Delineator, April 1929, page 40.

Whether the paillettes on the disc dress were celluloid or metal, I can’t say for sure, but “overlapping” metal that size would have been heavy for a “rose chiffon” support. (I suggested celluloid sequins; gelatin sequins have been used on clothing, but were unsatisfactory for several reasons — one being that they were water soluble….) So — if anybody finds out more about this disc dress, please let us know!

Whether this is relevant or not:  Many years ago, one of my friends was building costumes for a Russian circus that was going to perform in Japan. She visited their costume shop in Russia, and saw an unfamiliar machine next to a stack of clear plastic shirt collar supports — the kind used for packaging shirts so their collars don’t get squashed in shipping. When she asked, she was told that the machine was for making sequins — the costume shop had to make their own out of any scraps of shiny plastic they could salvage. When she got back to the U.S., she mailed them a big package of colored sequins.

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Filed under 1920s, Vintage Couture Designs