Tag Archives: surplice dress

Tubular Twenties: Some Early 1920s Fashions

It’s easy to forget that the decade known as The Twenties saw considerable changes in fashion. The period of ‘bound breasts’ and cylindrical figures was ending by 1925. I think of the early 1920s as the ‘tubular twenties.’ The long, tubular dress pattern on the left, illustrated in Delineator in December, 1924 is closely related to this actual beaded dress from a private collection.

A Butterick dress pattern from December 1924, and a vintage beaded dress from the same period.

A Butterick dress pattern from December 1924, and a vintage beaded dress from the same period.

Both dresses are very long, and hang straight from the shoulders; the concentration of beading near the hem weights the dress.

Details of the beading on the front of the dress.

Details of the beading on the front of the dress.

This beading was probably done in China, for export.

This beading was probably done in China, for export.

The back of the chiffon dress was also beaded, so it was relatively heavy and fell without curves.

Cylinder Dresses and Flattened Curves, Early 1920s

Other designs from 1924 show the same long, cylindrical shape, with style variations.

Butterick patterns for January, 1924 from Delineator magazine, p. 38.

Butterick patterns for January, 1924, from Delineator magazine, p. 38.

More Butterick patterns for women, January 1924; Delineator, p.38.

More Butterick patterns for women, January 1924; Delineator, p.38.

Many fashion trends associated with the later 1920s are visible:  embroidery, a cloche hat, some dropped waists, side panels, etc. But these dresses are actually longer than the dresses of the World War I era, and they share the peculiarly low bust of that period.

Dresses for Young Women, January 1924

The styles above are for adult women. Patterns for teens, then called  ‘misses’ and sold by age (“size 15 to 20 years, or small ladies”) show the same tubular shape and low bust, but are slightly shorter.

Butterick patterns for misses, Delineator, January 1924, p. 37.

Butterick patterns for misses, Delineator, January 1924, p. 37.

The blue checked dress shows some indecision about the dropped waistline, and opts for two, a belt at the high hip and a band much lower. The dress on the far right has front panels and ends in a sash, like blouses of the early 1920s. It’s hard to imagine how a slim teen-aged girl could have the bust shown in the tan pleated dress, unless she was wearing a bust-flattening brassiere or bandeau, or a tube-like corselette (more about these in a later post.)

Evening dresses for misses and small ladies, January 1924, Delineator.

Evening dresses for misses and small ladies, January 1924, Delineator, p. 37.

Styles from Delineator, February 1924, p. 30.

Styles from Delineator, February 1924, p. 30.

The surplice line dresses on the left remained popular throughout the twenties, as did cloches and tam-o’shanter hats. The blue dress on the right — shortened and with a slight change in proportions — became a classic style for the rest of the decade. Below:  This is how Chanel interpreted it in January, 1925. Note the change in length, the bust dart, and the natural bustline. The flattened chest was going out of fashion.

Chanel design, January 1925, as sketched by Soulie in Delineator.

Chanel design, January 1925, as sketched by Soulie in Delineator.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, Bras, Hats, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing, Vintage patterns

“Silver Hair Fashions”: Spring Styles for Older (and Larger) Women, 1931

“Silver Hair Fashions” from Butterick’s Delineator, April 1931

“Silver Hair Fashions” from Butterick’s Delineator, April 1931

Six “Silver Hair Fashions” for April, 19311931 april p silver hair fashions large sizes labeled top

A closer look at Butterick dress patterns # 3812 & 3797 (Top Right and Top Left):

3812 & 3797

3812   OLD IVORY LACE adds the final touch of distinction to this frock of sheer crêpe. There’s graceful movement in every line of the flared skirt, and the frills at the wrist match the self jabot. Choose this in soft rose if you are slim – if not-so-slim, black. For 40, 4 7/8 yards 39-inch georgette. Designed for 34 to 44. [bust] [I do wish the writers at Butterick Publishing had not repeatedly suggested that black was the only sensible color choice for larger women! How about something really daring – like navy?]

3797   PARIS SAYS GRAY and for the woman with silvery hair, nothing could be more flattering. This afternoon frock with vestee of white georgette  has gracefully molded hips and sleeves of three-quarter length. Flared wrapped skirt. For 40, 4 3/4 yards 39-inch silk crêpe; 3/8 yard 39-inch contrast.  Designed for 34 to 48.

Butterick patterns 3806, 3804, 3814, 3810; April 1931 Delineator

Butterick patterns 3806, 3804, 3814, 3810; April 1931 Delineator

3806   ONE-REVERS FASHION  Every line of this frock is either up-and-down or diagonal, creating the illusion of height and slenderness. Gray tweed would be very smart, with a white piqué collar, white gloves, and a matching tweed hat. . . . Designed for 34 to 52. [inch bust]

3804   IF YOU’RE NOT SLIM  This surplice frock with pleats will do amazing things in the way of slenderizing and lending additional height. The pleats are stitched down so that fullness begins just above the knee. Contrasting jabot. . . . Designed for 34 to 48 [inch bust. The “surplice line,” running diagonally across the bodice, was a favorite suggestion for women who wore large sizes in the 1920s, too.]

3814   PLEATS FOR FLATNESS This is the kind of ‘useful frock’ you’ll wear for everything from marketing to motoring and golf. [!] The points on the yoke match the points on the skirt panel, and there are four kick pleats. One-piece back. . . . Designed for 34 to 44 [bust.]

3810   LONG SLIM LINES For anyone inclined to be a bit overweight. The low V neck and diagonal flare of this frock will subtract pounds from the silhouette. Wear it in a print if you like. One-piece from shoulder to hem. . . . Designed for sizes 34 to 52 [inch bust.]

And a Reality Check from Lane Bryant, 1931

Obviously, all six of these dresses for “mature figures” have been illustrated by Butterick as they would appear on an elongated fashion figure, in smallish sizes, even when the pattern is “for anyone inclined to be a bit overweight,” or “not-so-slim.” Numbers 3806 and 3810 go up to size 52, which is several inches larger than a modern Size 24. [I give Butterick credit for realizing — in the 1930s! —  that many women make their own clothes because they have hard-to-fit figures.]

This Lane Bryant catalog advertisement — from the February 1931 Delineator — doesn’t mince words: “For Stout Women and Misses.”

Lane Bryant "Style Book"/Catalog Ad, February 1931

Lane Bryant “Style Book”/Catalog Ad, February 1931

The Lane Bryant  illustrations give a more realistic idea of how a 1931 dress would look on a woman with 48 inch hips and a good corset. The Lane Bryant styles also have that slenderizing, diagonal “surplice line,” even on the coat.

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Filed under 1930s, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Sportswear, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes