Tag Archives: thirties clothing

Early Thirties’ Hats & Patterns

This big-brimmed hat was shown on the cover of Delineator, August 1930. Illustrated by Dynevor Rhys. It may be based on Butterick pattern 3816, shown later in this post.

The transition from 1920s to 1930s was more gradual in hats than in dresses. The cloche was still around, but tiny hats and huge hats were also featured.

Five different hat styles appeared on the same page in Delineator, August 1930.

Above, Hat B is a familiar cloche, Hat C clings very tightly to the head, Hats A and D have wide brims, and Hat E is cut away in front, with most of the brim at sides and back.

You would expect these wide brims in summer; August 1930.

By summer of 1930, the natural waist is everywhere.

Delineator cover for June 1930. Detail.

I find 1930 hats with a pleated brim very attractive:

Left, a medium-width pleated brim. August 1930.

Another pleated brim from August 1930.

Wide-brimmed hats were especially seen with afternoon dresses:

A long, formal afternoon dress is topped with a very wide brim. August 1930. You can imagine this woman is a guest at a wedding.

Another afternoon ensemble; Delineator cover, June 1930.

This socialite was photographed in an afternoon dress by Paquin and a Reboux hat with unusual brim. Delineator, August 1930. Click here for another asymmetrical Reboux hat dated 1928.

However, wide brims were also worn for sun protection with casual dresses and even pajamas:

Fashion editorial illustrations; Delineator, May 1930.

Detail from a Delineator cover, February 1931. Thanks to Lynn at Americanagefashion.com for this image! [Thong shoes!]

Butterick offered this versatile hat pattern in 1931.

Butterick pattern 3816 for hats with and without a brim. Delineator, April 1931.

The one second from left doesn’t have a brim, just a “binding.”

Butterick hat patttern 3816; back view of two versions.

This pattern is also in the collection of the Commercial Pattern Archive.

Butterick 3816 image from pattern envelope. CoPA.

The version at lower left resembles the hat featured on the August 1930 Delineator cover.

Very similar to Butterick 3816, but with added trim inside and outside the hat.

The shapes of the pattern pieces for Butterick 3816, courtesy of CoPA.

Once you create a log-in for the Commercial Pattern Archive, you have free access to this and other patterns.

McCall hat pattern 1879 from 1931. CoPA archive.

Pattern pieces for McCall 1879, a hat from 1931.

This beautiful hat from the CoPA collection dates back to 1924:

McCall pattern 1362 envelope illustration, courtesy of Commercial Pattern Archive.

It shouldn’t be too difficult to copy those flowers and add them to a purchased straw hat!

A big hat was still appropriate for summer in 1933:

 

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Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Accessory Patterns, Hats, Hats and Millinery, Resources for Costumers, Vintage Couture Designs, Women in Trousers

Seamless Stockings in 1930

Seamed stockings from Sears, Roebuck catalog, 1939.

Every costume design job is an opportunity to do more research, but there are some things that are just part of your general knowledge. For example, when I was hired to costume a college production of Brighton Beach Memoirs, which takes place in 1937, I automatically put the adult female characters in seamed stockings.

I was surprised recently when I came across this image from 1930:

Seamless stockings could be purchased at department stores in 1930! This image is from Delineator, May 1930.

I simply hadn’t come across this information before, so I checked another source: the Sears, Roebuck catalogs. There they were:

“No-Seam” hosiery for women, Sears Roebuck catalog, Fall 1930, p. 171.

No-Seam stockings text, Sears catalog, Fall 1930.

And another source….

From a fashion editorial about accessories, Delineator, September 1930.

There are some typos in the original text, as you can see, but corrected, it says, “I made a new discovery a few days ago — stockings needn’t have seams in order to fit. You may remember the old seamless stockings … which went into Grecian drapery at the ankles after their first contact with soap and water. The new Guildmode hose is knitted in a special way so that it fits just as snugly as a full fashioned stocking. It is dull [matte] and very sheer.”

“Full-fashioned” meant stockings which were shaped like the outline of a leg, curving in at the ankle, and gradually curving out over the calf area.

Before stretchier knits became available, the seam at the back was necessary for a good fit. Full-fashioned stocking illustration from Sears, 1958.

A short history: Knitted stockings have been around for hundreds of years. The simple knitted tube naturally stretched — somewhat — to the shape of the leg, but a seam up the back permitted a closer fit.  As stockings became more sheer (and more visible under short skirts) in the Nineteen Twenties, women became aware of the way the vertical seam up the back created a slenderizing line on their legs.

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/hosiery-nov-1928-mar-1929-apr-1929-may-1929.jpg

Gordon Hosiery ads from Delineator, Nov. 1928 through May 1929.

Seams and pointed heels made these stockings flattering. Sears, Fall of 1939.

“Notice how they follow the natural shadows of the ankle — to give you slenderness and grace.”

Skirt hems went down and then up again in the Nineteen Thirties, but seamed stockings were so much a part of normal dress that women couldn’t give up that seam line even when silk or nylon stockings became unavailable during World War II.

There were no nylon or silk stockings available from Sears in 1944 because nylon and silk were needed for the war. Sears catalog index, Spring 1944.

In Spring of 1945, before the War ended,  Sears offered these un-glamourous cotton stockings. Three pairs were guaranteed to last you three months. (I.e., you would have two wearable stockings left.)

But, back to the Thirties:

Chiffon [sheer] and Service Weight stockings from Sears, Fall 1930.

Seamed rayon stockings from Sears, Fall 1930. Rayon, a synthetic fabric based on cellulose, was cheaper than silk.

At the first dress rehearsal of Brighton Beach Memoirs, the director knelt down beside my chair and whispered, “Are those seams on their stockings?” He was clearly delighted. I whispered back, “Well, stockings with seams are too expensive for our budget,** so I taught the actresses to do it the 1940s’ way: we drew ‘seams’ up the backs of their hose with an eyebrow pencil.” (The lines didn’t come out completely when we washed their sheer tights, so they just had to retrace the previous line for the next performance.)

At first, I thought the director was impressed by the seamed stockings because I was much more detail-oriented than my predecessor. Later I realized that anyone who was a teen-aged boy in the 1950s probably feels a certain nostalgia for seamed stockings, which, along with high heels and garter belts, were often seen on pin-up girls.

This 1950s’ stocking ad, shared by Sally Edelstein at Envisioning the American Dream, shows the sex appeal of seamed stockings.

Being allowed to wear high heels (or even kitten heels,) and sheer stockings held up by a garter belt was a rite of passage for girls of my generation. (I think that my first heels and stockings were required for a school field trip to the ballet [or opera?] circa 1958, when I was in 8th or 9th grade.)

Garter belts, seamed stockings, high heels, and a bouffant “crinoline” petticoat in 1958: “Today I am a woman!”

At thirteen, I was finally old enough to ask, “Are my seams straight?”

To return to my costume design for Brighton Beach Memoirs, would this new (to me) information about the existence of seamless stockings*** in 1930 have made any difference? No, because the characters in the play are struggling financially, and because they are not fashionable women. They would have worn inexpensive stockings — probably cotton, rayon, or “service weight.”

Service weight silk stockings were not as sheer as “chiffon” ones. Sears, Fall 1930.

I settled for using sheer tights with added seams because at the time of the production that was the most affordable option. Also, in college productions, most of the actors are younger than the characters they play. The two “mothers” were actually about twenty years old, and the teenaged daughters were also played by twenty year old actresses. Putting the mothers in seamed stockings and the daughters in bobby socks helped to establish an age difference.

More of my own “Garter Belt and Seamed Stockings” Memoirs to come….

** Some very good costume shop supervisors have told me that a seam can be added to inexpensive modern hosiery with an overlock sewing machine, but I haven’t tried it myself.

*** If you need a research topic, note that some of the images make reference to seamless stockings earlier than 1930.

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, 1930s-1940s, 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, Hosiery, Hosiery, Hosiery & Stockings, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Vintage Accessories

Cross-Over Dresses, 1930s

Two Butterick styles from November 1930: 3525 and 3535.

As I browse through images from Delineator magazine, I notice odd trends, like these cross-over button plackets from 1930 to 1933. They seem rather complicated, and I’m glad I don’t have to figure out their construction.

The tricky bit on some, like the two pictured above, is that the part of the dress with the buttonholes on top is different on the bodice and the skirt. If the bodice buttons left over right, the skirt buttons right over left, and vice versa.

Full views of Butterick 3523 and 3535 from 1930.

Butterick blouse 3502,also from November 1930.

The dress with a sort of zig-zag front closing is also seen with the bodice and skirt overlaps going in the same direction:

Butterick 3070 from Delineator, February 1930, page 35.

This variation was suggested as flattering to older women.

The idea seems to be inspired by a couture dress from Patou, which was sketched for Delineator in May of 1930.

A dress by Jean Patou, sketched for Delineator readers among other Paris fashions in May, 1930.

Bodice detail of Patou dress. [Unfortunately, it was one of many sketched on the same page, so the image is small.]

Butterick’s interpretation, featured in September 1930. Pattern 3417.

This approach, with one side of the dress clearly overlapping the other on both bodice and skirt, is easy to understand.

This two-button version of the zig-zag front closing looks simple. Butterick 3462 from October 1930.

It was recommended for older and larger women:

“Youthful” Butterick 3462 was available in large sizes, bust 34 to 48 inches.

This sleeveless dress from August 1930 has a lot going on…. Butterick 3359. It’s not a two-piece, however.

The dress below really has a lot happening — the multi-closing, overlapping front pushed to extremes: **

Three buttons, in three places, on narrow strips of fabric: I can’t help thinking of mummies…. Butterick 3343 from August 1930.

But Butterick had not given up on the really difficult “right over left/ left over right” look. In 1933 two versions of this blouse were featured:

Butterick blouse pattern 4882, from January 1933. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that closure. **

A second version of blouse 4882. Delineator, January 1933.

Below, center, is another 1933 cross-over dress, with the top and skirt appearing to button in different directions:

Vacation fashions from Delineator, May 1933. Butterick 5104 (center)** carries on the cross-over style, but with bigger buttons.

** One possibility is that many 1930s’ garments had a side seam closing, which was almost never shown on the pattern illustrations. That would allow some of these button closings to be purely decorative. Till I actually see one of these “left over right, right over left” garments, I can only speculate.

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Filed under 1930s, Musings, Not Quite Designer Patterns, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Sleeves with a Flare: 1930

Sleeves which end in a flare: Butterick patterns from February 1930. Delineator.

Left: bare arms covered by a sheer Bertha collar; Center: bare arms covered by a sheer jacket whose sleeves have a double flare or flounce. Right: bare arms for evening. Butterick patterns in Delineator, April 1930.

1930 was a good year for capelets, Berthas, and other soft, sheer, flowing covers for the arm.

Butterick sleeve pattern 3075, February 1930.

Short sleeves (above the elbow) were also appearing on dressy dresses (and even on dinner dresses.) A sort of combination of the two styles was the new fitted sleeve with a flounce or “flare.” I first noticed these “medieval” sleeves:

The very long, slit flare on these sleeves was “medieval.” Butterick 3265 from Delineator, June, 1930.

Click here for some real medieval sleeves. Was Charles Addams remembering these dresses when he drew Morticia Addams?

Butterick 3534, from Delineator, December 1930. Another example of a flounce or flare with a slit in it.

A side note: notice how many of these 1930 evening dresses have a long, sheer skirt over a shorter, opaque lining.

Three evening gowns with sleeve interest. Butterick 3052, 3044, and 3054 from February 1930.

Digression: The one on the right is not chiffon but a coarse net mesh, and would deserve a closer look even without its above-the-elbow, tied sleeves (definitely a 1930 style.)

Sleeves that tie above the elbow “are entirely new;” sheer skirt over a shorter opaque layer. Butterick “dinner frock” 3054, February 1930.

The flared sleeve, which is my real topic, was included in pattern 3075 — it offered several sleeve styles for updating or individualizing other patterns:

Butterick sleeve pattern 3075, Delineator, February 1930, p. 31

Butterick sleeve pattern 3075, Delineator, February 1930, page 30. This illustration included the tied sleeve seen on No. 3054.

Right, the flared sleeve again. Afternoon dresses, Butterick 3215 and 3202, May 1930.

Here is the flared sleeve on a dress for “madame,” i.e., an older women. (She holds her lorgnette in her hand.)

Butterick 3128, an afternoon dress for older or larger ladies.

(This alternate view shows a tied sleeve instead.)

I inherited this collapsible lorgnette with leather case and long chain, like the one worn in the illustration above.

Left, a dress with removable sheer cape; right, Butterick 3289 has a tied bolero top with long, flounced sleeves.

Both dresses have a shorter, opaque under layer with a longer sheer layer on top.

Detail of the 1930 bolero top, Butterick 3289.

I was lucky to find pattern 3269 at the Commercial Pattern Archive. (CoPA), so we can see the pattern pieces.

Pattern envelope for Butterick 3289.

Right: pattern shapes for sleeve and flare  3289.

In that case, the flare is a circle or oval with a round opening in the center.

I was glad to see that these sleeves were not limited to Butterick styles. Here is a very similar dress and jacket pattern from Ladies’ Home Journal:

Another evening dress with optional flounced-sleeve jacket. LHJ pattern 6483, 1930.

The pattern shapes for the sleeve and sleeve flare. This flare (10) is made very differently.

Another — different — sleeve flare:

A third way to achieve the “flare” sleeve. This one hangs open at the back.

Another flare was seen on this McCall pattern from 1931:

McCall pattern 6617 from 1931.

A short sleeve with a frill (top) and a long sleeve with a surprising shape. McCall 6617.

Also from 1931 is this set of sleeves:

Nine sleeve shapes from 1931. Butterick 3698.

A variety of ways to create a flared sleeve.

And, for real inspiration, here is a couture dress by Ardanse, very sheer from neckline to upper arm, where the lace fabric of the dress creates full, slit sleeves with a big, circular flare; they seem to defy gravity.

Couture by Ardanse, left, and Lelong, right. Delineator, May 1930.

Wow.

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Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Capes, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Broad Shoulders for September, 1933.

Wide shoulders were appearing as early as September, 1933.

I had thought of mannish padded shoulders as typical of the late 1930s and early 1940s,…

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/bfn-sept-1943-p-11-suit-dresses-shoulders.jpg

Butterick Fashion News, Sept. 1943. Broad, padded shoulders for women.

… but the September 1933 issue of Delineator surprised me. The huge, ruffled shoulders of the Letty Lynton era (the movie was released in 1932) were an early symptom of a change in silhouette — and the ability of wide shoulders to make hips look smaller in comparison mustn’t be ignored.

Shoulders begin to square up as early as summer of 1933.

Delineator, July 1933, p. 53. Left, a yoke with sharp shoulder line; right, a Letty Lynton ruffled shoulder.

Fall and winter coats offered novelty shoulders, sometimes exaggerated by fur trim:

Tpo of page 61, Delineator, September 1933.

Bottom of page 61, Delineator, September 1933.

Lead paragraph of Delineator article, September 1933, p. 61. “These shoulders look broad, but not stoutish.”

Butterick 5276, a coat with enhanced shoulders, was recommended for a college wardrobe. Delineator, Sept. 1933, page 63.

Even without fur or padded shoulder rolls (reminiscent of Elizabethan fashions!) the shoulders are getting straight and squared off, as in this blouse.

College wardrobe, Sept. 1933.

Patterns for women not going off to college show the same exaggerated shoulder line:

Ladies’ dress patterns from Butterick, September 1933.

Ladies patterns, Delineator, Sept. 1933, page 66.

As hips become impossibly narrow, exaggerated shoulders widen the top of the body.

“Paris frocks” become Butterick patterns, Delineator, Sept. 1933, page 65.

“Coal-heavers’ shoulders” are a feature of this Butterick pattern. Delineator, September 1933, page 55.

Ladies’ dress patterns from Delineator, September 1933, page 55. Note that extended yoke at bottom right.

Butterick 5247, 5270, 5259, and 5365. September 1933.

Extended shoulders were also shown on coats for girls:

Even the little girl’s coat (top right) has wide shoulders, thanks to its yoke or collar.

Older women also benefited from broader shoulders in 1933:

Clothes for women no longer young or slender. Butterick patterns 1933.

Delineator, September 1933. I found No. 5307 at the Commercial Pattern Archive.

Those shoulders, almost square, cannot be achieved without padding, but I have not found a 1933 pattern at CoPA that mentions shoulder pads — not even this exact pattern, No. 5307.

Coats for evening wear were even more exaggerated, evoking the sleeves of 1895:

Evening dress with jacket; Butterick pattern 5279, Sept. 1933.

Evening wrap and evening dress for a trousseau, Delineator, September 1933.

Four years later, in 1937, these patterns for young women were still “broad shouldered.” The “squarely fitted” cape shoulders were especially stylish.

Butterick patterns for young women; Delineator, Sept. 1937.

 

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Filed under 1930s, 1930s-1940s, Capes, Children's Vintage styles, Coats, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Slenderizing Fashions from 1931

Butterick 4064 from September 1931, Delineator.

“These Slanting Lines Are for Slenderness.” Seven styles meant to flatter large or mature figures were featured on the same page.

Slenderizing Butterick patterns from Delineator, September 1931. Top of page 91.

Two of these designs were available up to bust size 48 inches. The rest came in the normal size range, up to 44 inches. Two “slenderizing” ideas were 1) diagonal lines and 2) lighter or brighter colors near the face, to draw the eye upward and away from the not-so-slender figure. I have my doubts about No. 4064:

Butterick 4064 from September 1931, Delineator.

It’s hard to tell whether the back view succeeds because of the diagonal line or the elongated fashion figure. Notice the tiny tucks fanning out like rays from the back neck. The six gored skirt has a side closing in front.

Butterick 4064.

Butterick 4054 has an ingenious skirt, with “arrows” pointing to the center of the body.

Butterick 4054, from 1931.

Those little frills look skimpy to me, but the princess seams are very clever, making the shoulders lok wider and the hip, look narrower.

The sheer frills  –“lingerie touches” — contrast with the wool dress fabric.

The lighter top and darker skirt (Butterick  4075 and 4052 ) is a classic combination, but may not be slenderizing when the dividing line is at the hip….

Butterick top 4075 with skirt 4052. 1931. Orange is suggested for the top,with a brown skirt.

Nevertheless, that diagonal line and side opening skirt are interesting.

Also diagonal is this wrap dress:

Butterick 4049 is a wrap dress. 1931,

In addition to its diagonal closing and front hip seam, a pale colored under layer draws attention to the face. The bodice, with its “soft revers,” has enough drape to camouflage a thick waist.Dress 4051 has an unusual collar which folds under, and a skirt whose yoke has sharp diagonal lines that add interest.

Butterick 4051, 1931. Available in bust sizes 34 to 48 inches.

Velvet is the recommended fabric, not necessarily in black. Midnight blue, burgundy, dark brown, forest green –any dark color might be used.

Butterick 4044 also uses a jabot effect with diagonal lines in the skirt’s double yoke.

Butterick 4044 has a softly falling collar and strong V-shapes in the skirt.

The yoke creates a focus of interest at the center of the body. It echoes the V of the bodice. Satin is suggested for both the light and dark areas.

There is a hint of the Twenties in this dress for older (or larger) women.

Buttrick 4070 is illustrated as a two-color dress with a low waistline in front. 1931. Available in sizes 34″ to 48″ bust..

For larger sizes, a one color dress, rather than this two-tone version, is recommended. The “new unbelted waistline” is hardly new — they were still in style just two years earlier, in 1929.

1920s Butterick 2799 from October 1929.

[Fashion writing…. Feh!] Nevertheless, diagonal lines and lighter, brighter colors near the face are not just a Delineator fashion writer’s idea:

Lane Bryant catalog for stout women, ad from October 1931.

 

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Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Hostess Pajamas & College Pajamas, 1930

These pajamas, Butterick 3554 and 3551, can be “beach pajamas,” too. I’ve probably written about them before, but I just found the pattern for No. 3554 at the Commercial Pattern Archive. Besides, I do love pajamas!

Hostess pajamas (left) and “college pajamas,”(right) 1930. Both Butterick patterns appeared on page 82 of Delineator magazine, December 1930.

The hostess pajamas are made with a yoke and have very full legs.

Hostess pajamas 3554 are a three piece set.

The pattern envelope (at CoPA) shows options for sleeves on the bolero and a sleeveless blouse.

Information from the pattern envelope. CoPA.

That’s quite a lengthy list of possible fabrics, including linen, pique, and [silk] shantung for beach wear, and light weight velvets or metallic fabrics for “lounging.” I do wish yardage estimates were included, because these trousers need a lot of fabric:

The trousers for Butterick 3554 have very full legs, attached to a close-fitting yoke. Pattern pieces for “inside bands” explain how the waist was finished.

The yoke on 3554 is close-fitting and buttons at the side.

Here, the luxurious hostess pajamas have decorative tassels on the V-neck. The pattrn illustration shows a bow of bias matching the sleeve and neck binding.

Delineator magazine description of Butterick 3554. A 44″ bust meant 47.5″ hips, as a rule….

“College pajamas” as the magazine referred to Butterick 3551, did not have such voluminous trousers.

“College pajamas” 3551 have a longer robe/jacket and less extravagant (more practical) wide-legged trousers.

For beach wear or late-night philosophical discussions, 3551 would be just the thing. For decorating your dorm room, Butterick provided this 30 inch “sailor trou” doll pattern (on the same page as the other pajamas.)

Delineator, December 1930, page 82.

It’s not too early to start planning Christmas gifts — or too late for “back to college” pajamas. More inspiration: Molyneux offered these velvet hostess pajamas with sheer jacket in 1927. Why don’t I dress like this while binge-watching? (Well, mine would have to be washable, but this sleeveless PJ with sheer above-the-knee top isn’t a bad idea!)

A sketch of Molyneux’ luxurious velvet and chiffon pajamas for entertaining at home. Delineator, November 1927. In black chiffon and vermillion [red-orange] velvet, with [vermillion?] poppies and green leaf embroidery. The tight ankles are unusual.

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Filed under 1920s-1930s, Musings, Nightclothes and Robes, Sportswear, Vintage Couture Designs, Women in Trousers