Tag Archives: thirties fashion

Fashion Transition: From 1920’s to 1930’s

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Hem length from 1929 to 1931, from Sears catalogs. In 1929, the hem is above the kneecap; two years later it has dropped to mid-calf, and the belt has returned to the natural waist.

Higher Waists and Longer Hems

In 1929, hems were already on their way down. An article by Pamela A. Parmai at Love To Know cites an article in the New York Times from October 27, 1929 — two days before the Black Friday stock market crash — which said, “some women claimed that the effort to put them back in long skirts was ‘an insidious attempt to lure women back into slavery.’ ” Parmai implies that, since skirts had already been at the knee for two or three years, clothing manufacturers were eager for a change. It seems the stock market started down after skirts did.

“The waist-line continues to rise,” Delineator magazine, November 1929, p. 33.

However, in November of 1929, Delineator’s fashion editors weren’t completely focused on longer skirts; this article was about rising waists. [The lead time which put magazines in stores by November meant that articles and illustrations had to be ready long before the end of October, and the stock market crash on October 29th. Longer hems are mentioned, but not in the title of this article. ]

Butterick 2891 has a belt near the natural waist. November, 1929, Delineator.

The next dress has a two-layer skirt, with one layer ending above the knee (where dresses ended in 1928) and one below the knee, a transitional fashion to longer skirts.

Butterick frock 2923 from November 1929. Delineator. Note the belt, which is just at the hipbone [and I bet it didn’t stay there easily, even with belt carriers.]

This dress has “three of the very newest features:” greater length, higher waist, snug hips and a dipping hem. [Wait — isn’t that four? Not really. Dipping hems were well-established by 1928.]

Butterick 2924 shows a longer hem and a shirred waist that sits on the hipbone rather than the hip. Delineator, November, 1929. It covers the knees completely.

“The line is longer, as it must be this season,” and the waist line is higher.

[“Pans” is probably a typo for “Panels.”]

Butterick coat 2857 shown over dress (frock) 2903. Delineator, November, 1929. The rising girdle [hip band] is a subtle change.

“The higher waist-line is indicated on the frock by the girdle top.” The “girdle” is that band of fabric around the hips. It does look a little higher than these earlier “snug hips” of June 1929:

A snug-hipped dress and matching jacket from June of 1929, Delineator. Butterick 2646.

Back in June, 1928, these dresses showed a tight, low hip girdle:

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Butterick patterns in Delineator, June 1928, show a low hip girdle, expecially the one on the left, which appears to be far below the hip-bone.

The elongated torso of 1920’s fashion illustration makes the waist hard to locate on this blouse.

Butterick blouse 2884 with wrap skirt 2745, from November 1929, Delineator. The blouse is gathered to the hip just below the natural waist –where many women’s trousers rested in the 2000’s.

Blouses from the early 1930’s (see below) were often overblouses, not too different from blouse 2884.

Butterick blouse 3968, July 1931.

Tunic Blouses for Transition — Again

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Tunic blouse outfits from Butterick; Delineator, December, 1924. Within three years, dresses were shorter than these “blouses.”

I do find transitional fashions interesting. Back in 1924 — 1925, these tunic blouses eased the transition to shorter hems by providing two horizontal lines — one near the knee (the coming fashion) and one at low mid-calf (the early Twenties’ length.)

I’ve found a few tunic styles easing the transition from late Twenties to early Thirties, too.

Butterick 3644, “the smart tunic line,” has a tunic ending near the knees over a longer 1930’s hemline. Delineator, February 1931.

The natural waist, accented by a belt, is taken for granted by 1931.

Right, below,  is a “tunic blouse” and skirt combination; this “blouse” is as long as a late Twenties’ dress.

Right, tunic blouse 3666 with skirt 3643; Delineator, February 1931.

The tunic blouse is shown in mid-thigh (back view) and knee lengths.

It’s surprising how brief the period of knee-length twenties’ fashion really was — as this cartoon from January, 1929 implies.

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It’s more evidence that early in 1929, skirts were already on their way down.

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s

Beach Pajamas for a Little Girl

Butterick 3801, Delineator, April 1931. Some rather sophisticated beach pajamas for girls aged 4 t0 15 years. These were definitely for outdoor wear — and how relieved little girls must have been to play in trousers instead of dresses.

Beach pajamas were worn by ordinary women in the Thirties, not just those who could afford vacations at resorts, the Lido, or the South of France. The Vintage Traveler shared images of beach pajamas from a 1930 Montgomery Ward catalog. (Montgomery Ward was a rival of Sears. It was not an upscale store — my uncle, the plumber, bought his overalls there.) Lynn at American Age Fashion just shared a 1933 photo of my family’s close friends in beach pajamas, with a wonderful eye for the differences between the generations.

These pajamas (or pyjamas) were intended for lounging, but many of them were worn as beachwear  if the fabric was not obviously lingerie material.

Butterick pajamas for big and little girls, December 1931. Left, 4177; right, 4223.

Beach pajamas were so important that even dolls needed them.

Butterick doll wardrobe pattern 440, Delineator, December 1931.

These pajamas were sleeveless, like the ones on the little girl in this painting, and trimmed with bias tape.

A little girl wears beach pajamas in this painting based on a 1930’s photograph. Detail, “Bobbie with Marbles.” Used with permission of the artist.

McCall doll clothes pattern 525 from 1937, with the original photo on which the painting was based. Both outfits have bias tape binding.

Butterick girl’s play pajamas, No. 5181, from 1933. The dots make them look a bit clown-like, and the ruffles are sheer organdy, more for lounging than sleeping..

“Cotton pajamas are one of the most practical things in the world to play in;” cotton is appropriate for the beach, but shantung seems more like an indoors lounging option [and rather sophisticated casual party wear for a girl aged 2 to twelve.]

The dots and ruffles are not so different from these lounging pajamas for grown women:

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Lounging Pajamas, Butterick patterns 4014 and 3937. Delineator, Sept. 1931.

 

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Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Children's Vintage styles, Sportswear, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing, vintage photographs, Women in Trousers

Very Thirties: Great Big Bows

Butterick jacket outfit with a big, big, white pique bow. Butterick 5783, July 1934. Delineator.

Sometimes an era has fashion details that just scream the date — Leg o’ Mutton sleeves for the 1890’s, bustles for the 1880’s and 1870’s, etc. One of the things that screams “Nineteen Thirties” is the great big bow. [Some of these are not technically “bows,” because they give the impression of a bow without actually tying the fabric — but it ‘s the impression that counts.]

Outfits with 1930’s bows, Butterick 5138 and 5145, Delineator, June 1933. The one on the left might not look ridiculous, but the one on the right says “comedy” to me.

It may be the stiffness of the bow on the left that makes it extreme; the soft bow on the far right looks less aggressive, but it’s still a big one. Butterick 5856, 5860, and 5866, all in metallic fabrics; Delineator, September 1934.

Of course there are some bows that seem in proportion with the dress — and the human body — but there are also 1930’s bows that now look comic. Good if you’re designing a musical comedy…. Hard to carry off in realistic dramas.

The model in this Midol ad from 1934 wears a big plaid bow. Delineator, December 1934.

Matching plaid hat and stiff taffeta scarf, Butterick 5478, March 1934.

Bows appeared on evening gowns — front or back.

Butterick “robe de style” No. 5989 would discourage dancing cheek to cheek. Delineator, December 1934, p. 17.

Butterick 5780 is an evening grown with matching jacket … and bow. Delineator, July 1934.

“Code for College,” August 1934, included an evening jacket and gown with a big, stiff bow, although the suggested fabric was crepe…. Delineator. Butterick 5840.

The gown on the left (5864) is “after” Lanvin; the gown with the bow (5843) was “adapted from” designer augustabernard. Delineator, September 1934.

Bows on day dresses could range from modest to very large.

Butterick 5069, Delineator, April 1934. It’s really a collar scrunched up to look like a bow.

Butterick 5632, April 1934. White bow and cuffs; square buttons, parallel diagonal seams on bodice and skirt. Interesting!

Butterick 5628, April 1934. A bow edged with crisp, pleated ruffles, shown in detail at top.

Butterick 5848, August 1934. This bi-color bow seems to emerge from the front seam of the dress [but doesn’t.] The seam lines are very creative.

Butterick 5858, featured among “dresses from Paris.” August 1934. A band of trim on the end of the bow is continued down the skirt.

Bows appealed to the mature woman:

Butterick jacket frock, April 1934.

Fashions to flatter the large or short figure, December 1934. Left, 5967, with a pale jabot collar to draw the eye toward the face, was available up to size 52. The ensemble on the right with a soft bow, Butterick 5999, was available through size 48. It’s notable for being illustrated on a figure with realistic  hips.

Butterick 5449 combines two “very Thirties” looks: a big, big, bow and a big, big collar. It is sleeveless, but the model looks mature.

Bows, sometimes made of fur, even appeared on coats (5984). Butterick patterns from December 1934. Left: 5985 has a droopy bow; right: 5975 has a big, perky bow.

Bows were not considered matronly — they appeared on clothes for teens,  junior misses and even younger women.

Butterick 5061 for the Junior Miss. April 1933, Delineator.

Butterick 6071, from February 1935. I can picture this on the smart young office worker in any number of 1930’s movies. For Junior Misses 12 to 20 and women from 30″ up to 38″ bust. [Sizes 12 through 20 were for short and small women and teens.]

Butterick coat 5580, for girls, has a combination collar/bow that buttons into place. March 1934.

Butterick patterns for fur collars (5954) and hats (5933.) November 1934. The ones at top and center give the impression of being tied into a bow.

This one is a grand version of the collar on the girl’s coat:

Fur collar pattern, Butterick 5954, November 1934.

Did women really wear all these big bows?

Butterick 5756, from summer 1934, couples the big bow with unusual shoulders.

Miss Mary Kenny in a similar bow made of necktie silk. Delineator, June 1934. Her top has fashionable open sleeves, too. [In the early days of changing to fashion photographs instead of drawings, Delineator used young socialites and debutantes as models.]

Truth to tell, I really like this 1930’s dress with a bow:

Butterick 5915, from November, 1934.

Although most of these “big bow” images are from 1934, it just reflects that I have a lot of Delineator photos from that year. Butterick’s Delineator magazine ceased publication in 1937, but not before arranging for Butterick patterns to be featured in Woman’s Home Companion:

Variations on Junior Miss pattern 7204, Woman’s Home Companion, February 1937. The bow is still there.

 

 

 

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Filed under 1930s, Accessory Patterns, Children's Vintage styles, Sportswear, Vintage Accessories

More Blouses from the Early 1930’s

Two versions of the same blouse, Butterick 4420, from April 1932, Delineator.

These blouses from 1932 and 1933 continue to popularize the use of separates, possibly for office wear, possibly because a blouse is easier to launder in a wash-basin than a dress,  and probably because a blouse takes less fabric. The ability to get several looks from the same two or three blouses and one or two skirts might be another attraction in the scarce-money days of the 1930’s.

A few of the blouses shown below, all from 1932 or 1933, plus two or three skirts or suits, would combine to make a really extensive wardrobe. The skirts of 1932 -1933 were long.

Here, two Butterick blouse patterns are shown with skirt 4908. February 1933, Delineator.

First, Butterick blouses and tops from 1932:

Butterick blouse 4420 was shown in long or short-sleeved versions. Delineator, April 1932.

Butterick blouse 4420 in a more casual version, with short sleeves, a peek-a-boo front, and in dotted fabric. Notice the triple darts that shape the waist and control the fullness. Clever! [Did it have a side opening?] April 1932.

A more “strictly-business” attitude for Butterick 4444 and 4368. April 1932, Delineator. The striped blouse has a “shirtwaist front.” 4368 has a peplum.

Although this next set of tops are called jackets, they are so brief they might be worn with skirts or beach pajamas.

Butterick “bell-hop” jacket 4436, which comes only to the waist. April, 1932.

A young man wearing a bell-boy or bell-hop’s uniform. Story illustration, Ladies’ Home Journal, Jan. 1936.

This version of the “bell-hop jacket”  has “a strict, tailored air.” Butterick 4436, April 1932.

Jacket 4436  was available in a bolero version which “makes a blouse and skirt look like a frock and gives a frock a dress-up air.” 1932.

In case you noticed, three fabric hats made from Butterick pattern 4472 accompany the jacket illustrations.

1933 was also a good year for blouses, beginning in January. All are Butterick patterns featured in Delineator magazine.

Butterick blouse 4882 looks complicated — I’d like to see the pattern pieces! It was also shown in two versions. January 1933. [Sorry about the fuzzy lines — it was a small illustration, not a hairy blouse.]

Butterick 4882 with long, fancy sleeves. January 1933.

[In the interests of space and legibility, I moved the blouse illustration from right to left.] Match your skirt and blouse colors.

Two Butterick blouses for February, 1933. Left, pattern 4922 (“Aboveboard”); right, pattern 4914 (“Half and Half.”) Full sleeves with fitted lower portions  — reminiscent of the 1890’s –were chic.

The February report on Paris Fashions says dressy blouse 4922 in “saffron yellow rough crepe” would look good  “over any table, bridge or luncheon.” Blouse 4922 in “light gray lawn … with a schoolboy collar and tie” is paired with a dark gray wool wrap-around skirt, 4914.

The cover of Butterick Fashion Quarterly showed another short jacket, Butterick 4888, and a wonderful pair of button front beach pajamas, Butterick 3884.

Detail from cover of Butterick Fashion Quarterly, from an ad in Delineator, February 1933.

Here is a clearer image of both, from Delineator, July 1933.

Resort wear: Butterick jacket 4888 in a longer version, and beach pajamas 4884 (right) and 4404 (left.) July 1933.

However, I’m getting ahead of myself; more blouses were shown in the April issue of Delineator:

Butterick blouses 5060 and 5030. April 1933, page 86. 5030 has “cowl sleeves,” an expression I’ve never heard before. 5060 has a sort of built-in weskit or vest.

[Full at the top, fitted at the bottom: 1890’s sleeves.]

Metropolitan Museum Collection. Gigot or “leg of lamb” sleeves. 1890’s.

Digression: I’ve written before about the popularity of collars which could make one dress look like a wardrobe. On the same page was Butterick collar pattern 5072. Imagine these Depression Era collars transforming  a simple dress or a sweater.

Butterick collar pattern 5072 — an inexpensive way to “boost morale.” Delineator,  April, 1933, p. 36

Some Thirties’ dress patterns even came with interchangeable collars.

Back to Blouses: In May, Delineator was writing about borrowing masculine styles for feminine clothing:

Left, Butterick blouse 5090; lower right, Blouse 5116. May 1933. Notice the little darts on 5090, insuring a neat waistline. 5116 is the first of many garments with the look of a man’s vest or weskit. “Note the square buttons.”

Sleeves, 1893. They are very full at the shoulder but tight on the lower arm. Met Museum fashion plate collection.

Blouse (jacket?) 5084 was shown in two versions. This one seems like a wild topper — in taffeta — for an evening skirt, a dark velvet one, perhaps. Below, it’s barely recognizable as the same pattern:

Butterick 5084 is both feminine, in the sleeves, and masculine, in its weskit, which is essentially a man’s formal white evening vest. It is worn over a blouse or dress. May 1933.

For men, there was a brief fad for short mess jackets — copied from the military — in 1934.

I’ll leave blouses from 1934 for another day.

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Filed under 1930s, Accessory Patterns, Hats, Men's Formalwear & Evening, Sportswear, Uniforms and Work Clothes, Women in Trousers

Blouses from 1931

Butterick blouses 4225 and 4198, December 1931. Delineator magazine.

The blouses of the early 1930’s are varied and, to my eyes, attractive.  They take their interest from unusual cuts and soft fabrics, like silk or rayon crepe, or, in one case, “triple georgette.”

It’s notable that, although these blouses can be worn tucked into the skirt, wearing them as shown gives a dressy effect. Only three years earlier, 1920’s styles broke the silhouette at the hip, so these may be transitional to the natural-waisted styles of the 1930’s, offering a familiar low line and a fitted waist.

This soft blouse with a shawl-like bertha collar was featured in April, 1931. It is Butterick 3758. It looks lovely in white, but watermelon pink was suggested.

Butterick blouse 3778 from Delineator, April 1931. Those openings on the upper arm seem to be popular again, but these end interestingly, with a tie.

Butterick blouse 4158 would easily go from office to date. November 1931, Delineator. Reversible (aka double-sided) crepe satin was suggested.

Butterick blouse 4164, November 1931. The slightly flared bottom is now a “peplum” and echoes the flared wrists.

Three elegant blouses were illustrated in December — perhaps in time for office parties….

Left, another rather formal blouse that would turn a simple skirt into a dressy dinner outfit: Butterick 4217 from December 1931. Sleeves became more complex and sometimes have a “cuff” at or above the elbow while the sleeve continues to the wrist. The dark outfit is a dress.

Butterick blouses 4225 and 4198, December 1931.  These overblouses could be tucked in, or worn as illustrated.

“…Note its length, for blouses are creeping up on us.”

Alternate views of Butterick 4217, 4225, and 4198, from December 1931. 4198 is shorter than the others.

Next: More Blouses from the early 1930’s — 1932 and 1933.

 

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Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Uniforms and Work Clothes

Bare Shoulders, December 1933

Butterick 5437, December 1933. Delineator.

Back in the nineteen nineties Donna Karan realized that, as women age, some become reluctant to bare their necks, or their upper arms, or their chests. Yet, for women, formal evening dress usually requires some bare skin. Karan cleverly exposed the shoulders! Shoulders rarely get wrinkled or flabby, and their skin never sags.

Click here for the “cold shoulders” dress as worn by then First Lady Hillary Clinton in 1993. Versions were also worn by Barbra Streisand and Liza Minelli.

Those Karan bare shoulders are back now: click here.  In 2017 they have worked their way into Bloomingdales, Macy’s, and even children’s clothing. But Donna Karan wasn’t the first to show bare shoulders, by sixty — or ninety — years.

Butterick 5415, a “cold shoulders” nightgown from December 1933. Delineator, p. 60. [“Cold shoulders” is not the 1930’s description.]

Film designer Howard Greer created a bare-shouldered dress for Katherine Hepburn in Christopher Strong, 1933.

Katharine Hepburn’s bare-shouldered dress, designed by Howard Greer for the film Christopher Strong, was available as a Butterick “starred” pattern in May, 1933. Delineator.

Butterick 5156 was a faithful copy of this 1933 movie costume.

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In the 1930’s, patterns that had bare shoulders — or slit sleeves that revealed bare upper arms — were available. Butterick 5437 and Butterick 4944.

Right, Butterick evening dress pattern 5530. On the left, Butterick 5518. From 1934; Delineator.

From 1935, this gown for a young woman echoes the evening gowns of an earlier era.

Butterick 6061 from February 1935.  The text says,”Borrowed from another century, the robe de style is today’s evening news.”

However, the bodice evokes this Edwardian evening style:

Evening gown from the House of Worth, 1906-1908. Metropolitan Museum Collection.

The fitted hips of  the 1935 version bears no resemblance to the “robe de style” popularized by Jeanne Lanvin in the 1920’s. [Fashion writing…. as imprecise in 1935 as it is today.]

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Robe de Style, Jeanne Lanvin, 1926. Collection of the Metropolitan Museum. It’s hard to see any resemblance between this gown and Butterick 6061.

The bare shoulders of Butterick 6061 can be seen in 2017: click here.

More about this 1933 nightie:

Butterick 5415, a “cold shoulders” nightgown from December 1933. Delineator, p. 60.

The same article, about lingerie, showed a rather extreme velvet negligee:

Butterick negligee pattern 5413, December 1933. Delineator. [The play, which opened in 1932, as described in The Harvard Crimson as “one long bedroom scene.”]

It’s more fun than getting pajamas for Christmas.

Although I wouldn’t say no to these:

Lounging pajamas from 1933. Butterick 5410. [And, yes, in the 1960’s my college dorm still turned off the heat late at night.]

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, evening and afternoon clothes, Nightclothes and Robes, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage patterns from the movies

Charm After Fifty, July 1937

Charm after Fifty is illustrated in these three dresses made from one pattern: Companion-Butterick 7458. Woman’s Home Companion, July 1937.

This Companion-Butterick triad dress pattern from the summer of 1937 is illustrated on three mature women, none of whom has a conspicuously middle-aged figure.

This illustration by Ernst shows pattern 7458 as it might look on three tall, slim-hipped women. None of them seems to have a single gray hair, never mind a sagging chin or a “menopot.”

However, the size range went all the way to bust size 52.

The three dresses have similar skirts, but bodice and sleeve variations range from casual to dressy. [I imagine that the floral print version was made more often in navy or brown rayon than in yellow chiffon, but it’s nice that women over fifty were encouraged to wear bright colors.

From simple to fancy: Pattern 7458 in striped cotton with short sleeves, in a turquoise print with broad shoulders and 3/4 sleeves, and in a soft yellow chiffon floral print with a V-neck and flounces cascading down the front. WHC, July 1937.

White, perforated summer shoes were not just for “old ladies,” and the heels at right are certainly high.

Perforated shoes for summer. 1937.

Ad for Walk-Over Shoes, with prices, from WHC, June 1937.

“Puncho” shoes. Walk-Over, June 1937. These are white kid suede, but the same shoe was available in blue, black or gray.

“Cabana” shoes from Walk-Over also came in white calf, tan, blue, black or red earth calf, or gray sueded kid. 1937.

Sporty “Lariat” shoes from Walkover. Also in brown or gray. The heel is stacked leather. 1937.

The “Mohawk” oxford shoe from Walk-Over could be purchased in all white calf, or white suede with tan calf, as pictured. 1937.

Shoes weren’t the only things that were perforated in the 193o’s:

Ad for a Perfolastic reducing girdle, WHC, February 1936. That’s “lastic” as in latex: a rubber garment designed to help you sweat off the pounds and inches. Did women have polka-dotted skin when they took it off?

Perfolastic reducing girdle and brassiere ad; WHC, Nov. 1937.

Text, Perfolastic reducing girdle and brassiere, WHC, Nov. 1937. “You appear inches smaller at once.”

Perhaps that’s how these women over fifty maintained their impossibly tall, willowy shapes.

Women over fifty: WHC, July 1937. Elongated fashion figures with suspiciously rosy cheeks.

Top of ad for Louis Philippe’s Angelus Rouge Incarnat lip and cheek rouge, Delineator, June 1934.

Text of ad for Louis Philippe’s Angelus Rouge Incarnat lip and cheek rouge, Delineator, June 1934. “In its allure, it is typically, wickedly of Paris. In its virginal modesty, as natural as a jeune fille….” “You use either on both the lips and the cheeks.”

These women over fifty may have also used another product: Brownatone. It had been in use since the 1920’s — possibly earlier.

Ad for Brownatone gray hair coloring, WHC, February 1937. There seem to be only two color choices.

For another “After Fifty” triad pattern, click here.

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Filed under 1930s, Bras, Companion-Butterick Patterns, Corsets, Corsets & Corselettes, Cosmetics, Beauty Products, Foundation Garments, Girdles, Makeup & Lipstick, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Shoes, Sportswear, Underthings, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes