These Are Maternity Dresses from 1936
I look at those slim 1930s hips, those flat 1930s bellies, and, even after reading the full text, it’s hard to imagine how these dresses expanded to cover the ninth month of pregnancy.
However, it’s important to remember that women did try to conceal their pregnancies as long as possible in this time period.
How to Look Smart Before the Baby Comes
The text says “You can be just as smartly dressed as ever and perhaps a little prettier than usual in a maternity wardrobe that is well-chosen and carefully planned. All you need as a guide is Triad Pattern No. 6948. The style is a straight concealing wrap-around with three flattering necklines and a separate jacket. One version is your afternoon dress of dark pure silk with a soft shirred blouse and pastel collars. The second dress of sheer wool has a more tailored look with a squared-off button bib. The third gives you a simple and attractive house dress of sanforized shrunk cotton. Add to these essentials comfortable kid oxfords, soft all-Lastex brassieres, one of the special new adjustable elastic girdles and underwear that is wrap-around or two sizes larger that usual. Be sure that your coat has a wide lap-over and your hat a becoming brim. You’ll be surprised to find how well you look.”
The back views of pattern #6948 show that all three versions tied with a sash behind, and there is a deep pleat or fold of material which presumably could be released to expand the dress as needed. (I wish there was a pattern layout illustration! Exactly how it worked is not very clear, since the fold seems to run up into the bodice only on the dress at left.)
A Lane Bryant Maternity Dress, 1934
This 1934 catalog from the Lane Bryant company, which had pioneered maternity clothing in 1904, shows that Companion-Butterick patterns were not alone in designing clothes which expanded only from the back and tried to look as much as possible like normal fashions for as long as possible. “Designed to conceal condition. . . .”Fashion-incubator.com discusses the early Lane Bryant Maternity catalogs and how they handled sizing — ingeniously!