Tag Archives: striped dress 1938

More Sheer Dresses from the Late 1930s

Recently Lynn at American Age Fashion posted photos of some older women wearing sheer day dresses in the 1930‘s and the 1940‘s.

Ashville, Ohio, July 4th 1938. Photo by Ben Shahn, Library of Congress.

Ashville, Ohio, July 4th 1938. Photo by Ben Shahn, Library of Congress.

Like Jennifer (from Holliepoint) in Lynn’s comments section, I was surprised that older women would wear sheer dresses that showed their slips. In the fifties and sixties, just having a slip strap drop off my shoulder and become visible was a mortifying experience for me.  “Intimate apparel” was not supposed to be seen except in intimate situations.

However, I was forgetting that many fashions of the 1900’s and 1910’s were sheer, and that women who had been twenty or thirty at the turn of the century would not think of summer dresses that revealed your lingerie as shockingly new. Au contraire.

Ladies' Blouse-waists, Delineator, July 1917. Most of these are sher; you can see through the sleeves.

Ladies’ blouse/waists, Delineator, July 1917. Most of these are sheer; you can see through the sleeves, and probably through the bodices, in real life.

Early in the century, there was even a long-running fashion for “lingerie dresses” like these; they are made of sheer “handkerchief linen,” or cotton batiste, or lawn and ornamented with inset lace, like the underwear (lingerie) of their day.

Lingerie dresses. Left, early 1900's; right 1910's or early twenties.

Lingerie dresses. Left, early 1900’s; right, 1910’s or early twenties. These were photographed over a black slip to show the lace to advantage. A white slip would have been very visible through these dresses.

Thin cotton fabrics and lace inserts were used to make undergarments and also to make blouses. Butterick patterns from Delineator, 1917.

Thin cotton fabrics and lace inserts were used to make undergarments and also to make blouses. Butterick patterns from Delineator, 1917. The blouse/waist at right is sheer enough to show the model’s embroidered underwear, or a lace underbodice.

This beautiful — and very sheer — blouse was made of two layers of netting:

A blouse/waist so sheer that it is made of two layers of netting. Private collection.

A blouse/waist so sheer that it is made of two layers of netting. Private collection.

Here is its equally beautiful back:

This sheer, embroidered netting blouse has a "sailor collar" in back.

This sheer, embroidered netting blouse has a “sailor collar” in back. Circa 1910’s to 1920’s.

Sheer blouses like the one below are now called “Armistice Blouses,” but it probably dates earlier than 1918, when the Armistice ending World War I was proclaimed.

A sheer vintage blouse, circa WW I, sometimes called an "Armistice Blouse."

A sheer vintage blouse, circa WW I, sometimes called an “Armistice Blouse.”

In this photo, you can easily see the coat hanger through the blouse. Underwear would have been equally visible.

Skin and underwear would have been visible through this sheer cotton. Vintage blouse, private collection.

Skin and underwear would have been visible through this sheer cotton vintage blouse. Private collection.

During the 1910’s, a skirt and matching bodice (called a waist) were often worn instead of a dress. The patterns were sold separately. These surviving waists show that  they were part of see-through fashions:

Purple chiffon waist, probably 1910's.

Purple chiffon waist, probably 1910’s.

Embroidered peach colored blouse or waist. Probably 1910's.

Sheer, embroidered pink blouse or waist. Probably 1910’s.

It makes sense to me that women who wore these sheer clothes in their prime . . .

Sheer vintage blouse, before 1910.

Sheer vintage blouse, before 1910.

. . . would be perfectly comfortable in sheer dresses in their middle and old age:

Older woman wearing a sheer, striped dress. Fourth of July, 1938, Ashville, Ohio. Library of Congress photo by Ben Shahn.

Older woman wearing a sheer, striped dress. Fourth of July, 1938, Ashville, Ohio. Library of Congress photo by Ben Shahn. Detail.

No wonder they took to the sheer fashions of the late 1930’s:

A dress flattering to larger figures, Simplicity store flyer, Oct. 1939.

A dress flattering to larger figures, Simplicity 3139, store flyer, Oct. 1939. Sizes 32 to 44.

DuBarry pattern 2319B, for a sheer dress. Store flyer, Aug. 1939.

DuBarry pattern 2319B, for a sheer afternoon dress. Store flyer, Aug. 1939. Available in sizes 32 to 42.

Vogue 8315, Vogue store flyer for May 1, 1939.

Vogue 8315, Vogue store flyer for May 1, 1939. Sizes 32 to 42 bust.

Companion-Butterick pattern 7989, from August 1938.

Companion-Butterick pattern 7989, from August 1938. Dotted sheer fabric.

Simplicity 3205, store flyer, Oct. 1939. A sheer dress.

Simplicity 3205, store flyer, Oct. 1939. A dress with sheer lace yoke and sleeves.

Fourth of July, 1938, Ashville, Ohio. Photo by Ben Shahn from Library of Congress.

Fourth of July, 1938, Ashville, Ohio. Photo by Ben Shahn from Library of Congress. Detail. A sheer dress with polka dots and a lace dress.

The lace dress has a curving under-bust seam like this one:

"Figures are no problem to us." A lace evening dress with bolero jacket, Butterick Fashion News flyer, August 1938.

“Figures are no problem to us.” A lace evening dress with bolero jacket, Butterick Fashion News flyer, August 1938.

Lace dress for larger or mature women. Butterick pattern, 1938.

Lace dress for larger or mature women. Butterick pattern 7998, 1938. “Wear with dignity and chic.” Sizes 34 to 52 inch bust.

For more about these and other sheer nineteen thirties dresses, click here.

Thanks again to Lynn at American Age Fashion for writing about photos of older women in sheer dresses!

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1930s, 1930s-1940s, Dresses, lingerie, Musings, Shirts and Blouses, Slips and Petticoats, Underthings, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing, vintage photographs, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes, World War I

Striped Prints, Spring 1938

Companion -Butterick patters Nos. 7734 and 7733, March 1938 Butterick Fashion News flyer.

Companion -Butterick patterns Nos. 7734 and 7733, March 1938 Butterick Fashion News flyer.

The dress on the right, Companion-Butterick pattern 7733, is both a floral print and a stripe. What’s more, it’s a horizontal stripe. Not just the fabric, but the high waist and the draped V top reminded me of something familiar:

My mother with her mother, 1938.

My mother with her mother, 1938.  The woman on the left is in her 30s; the older woman is in her 60s.

Of course, it’s not exactly the same dress, but it’s very similar. The photograph is dated 1938, and I happen to have several Butterick Fashion News flyers from 1938.  Large scale prints were becoming popular in women’s dresses, under the influence of Elsa Schiaparelli. This Schiaparelli blouse, in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum, has a floral/horizontal striped print, too.

Schiaparelli print evening blouse, Metropolitan Museum. Winter 1938-1939.

Schiaparelli print evening blouse, Metropolitan Museum. Winter 1938-1939.

It has some elements in common with the dark fabric on the dress shown by Butterick, #7733.

Companion -Butterick patters Nos. 7734 and 7733, March 1938 Butterick Fashion News flyer.

Companion-Butterick patterns Nos. 7734 and 7733, March 1938 Butterick Fashion News flyer.

Companion-Butterick pattern 7733 (right):  “A soft, simple dress just right for the new striped prints. Junior Miss sizes 12 to 20; [women’s sizes] 30 to 38 [inches bust measurement.]

Companion-Butterick pattern 7734 (left):  “A tiny lace frill on a new scalloped neckline. Junior Miss sizes 12 to 20; [women’s sizes] 30 to 38 [inches bust measurement.]

Another horizontally striped floral print is used for Companion-Butterick 7745, below. “Peasant influence, laced bodice, puffed sleeves, square neck. Sizes 12 to 20; [women’s sizes] 30 to 40 [inches bust measurement.]

Companion -Butterick pattern No. 7745, Butterick Fashion News, March 1938.

Companion -Butterick pattern No. 7745, Butterick Fashion News, March 1938.

“Tyrolean” fashions were popular until World War II broke out. Lantz of Salzburg dresses — very popular with young women in the 1950s  — were known for these floral stripes. (Now, those floral stripes — used lengthwise — are associated with flannel nightgowns.)

Companion-Butterick patterns 7781 (seated) and 7791, Butterick Fashion News , April 1938.

Companion-Butterick patterns 7781 (seated) and 7791, Butterick Fashion News , April 1938.

The dress on the left  looks youthful, but the pattern goes to size 42″.

Companion-Butterick No. 7781 (left):  “The neckline outlined with flowers is fresh. Size 36 takes 3 1/2 yards rayon crepe 39. Sizes 12 to 20; [women’s sizes] 30 to 42 [inches bust measurement.]

Companion-Butterick No. 7791 (right):  “A peasant dress in bayadere print. Junior Miss sizes 12 to 20; [women’s sizes] 30 to 38 [inches bust measurement.]” The Design Fabric Glossary defines “bayadere” as “brightly coloured stripes in a horizontal format characterized by strong effects of colour. A Bayadere is an Indian dancing girl, trained from birth.”

Although this dress does not technically have striped print fabric, the floral pattern is distributed in chevrons, rather than randomly:

March 1938 cover of Butterick Fashion News, featuring Butterick pattern No. 7757.

March 1938 cover of Butterick Fashion News, featuring Butterick pattern No. 7757.

Butterick 7757:  “One of the new prints in a dress with softly shirred bodice.  Sizes 12 to 20; [women’s sizes] 30 to 42 [inches bust measurement.]

This dress, whose top is made of striped print fabric, appeared in Woman’s Home Companion in November of 1937:

Companion-Butterick pattern 7626. Woman's Home Companion, Nov. 1936.

Companion-Butterick pattern 7626. Woman’s Home Companion, Nov. 1936.

Strong colors and stripes were certainly used by Schiaparelli in this blouse from 1936:

Schiaparelli blouse, summer of 1936; Metropolitan Museum collection.

Schiaparelli blouse, summer of 1936; Metropolitan Museum collection.

(It could have been worn in the 1980s — or now — but it dates to 1936.)

The woman who couldn’t afford to make a new, print dress could add a print halter top over a solid dress, as in this Butterick accessory pattern (No. 7792), which included “collars and cuffs, gilets and sashes to make a small wardrobe seem extensive:”

Butterick "Quick Change" accessory pattern 7792, Butterick Fashion News April 1938.

Butterick “Quick Change” accessory pattern 7792, Butterick Fashion News, April 1938.

Taking a closer look at my mother’s dress from 1938, I can see that the pattern in the fabric is not actually floral; it is more like a negative pattern made by using lace to bleach out a solid color.

Close up of print dress, 1938.

Close up of print dress, 1938.

I can also see that there is a little white chemisette filling in the neckline.

Daughter and mother, 1938.

Daughter and mother, 1938.

Note:  Pictures from the Metropolitan Museum should not be copied from a blog and posted elsewhere — The Met graciously allows their use for writing about fashion history. If you want to use them, please get them from the Met’s Online Collection site, and credit the Museum.

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Filed under 1930s, Accessory Patterns, Companion-Butterick Patterns, vintage photographs