Tag Archives: Tubular Twenties

Steps on the Way: 1914 to 1924

How did fashion get from here …

Fashion image from Delineator, March 1910.

… to here …

Fashion illustrations from Delineator, August 1920.

… in just ten years?

This is not a definitive answer — just a large collection of intriguing and sometimes contradictory tidbits I collected last month.

“Facts and Figures;” about the new corsets, from Delineator, April 1914. The author is Eleanor Chalmers. Page 38.

I was reading this article on corsets (1914) when I saw a sentence that leapt out:

That’s what it says: “Among smart women the size of the waistline has increased three inches in the past two or three years.”

I’ve been going through magazines from 1910, 1914, and 1920, and there is no doubt that a big change in the ideal figure happened between 1910 and 1914. This 1914 corset article will make more sense if we first look at some images from 1910.

Cover illustration, Delineator magazine, March 1910.

Full  breasts, narrow waist, wide hips: a classic hourglass figure. This is a voluptuous, grown woman in the prime of life.

Two curvaceous women wearing Butterick patterns from May 1910.

The 1910 beauty ideal is a mature woman, not a teen-aged girl. Of course, not all women looked this way without help.

Two 1910 corsets in a “Nuform”/ “Reduso” corset ad. Delineator, March 1910.

Even slender women were expected to be curvy:

The Sahlin Perfect Form and Corset Combined was lightly structured, but promised the small-waisted, big-busted look of 1910.

“For the Slender Woman… The only garment that, without padding or interlining, produces the stylish high bust, straight waist, and long hip…. Braces the shoulders, expands the chest naturally.”

If pulling your shoulders back didn’t do the trick, you could resort to a different sort of help:

Nature’s Rival promised a Perfect Bust: “the full rounded bust form of a finely built woman” — very large in relation to the tiny waist. Ad from Delineator, June 1910.

A slender but curvy woman (with an ideal figure for 1910) models a lingerie frock. Fashion illustration, Delineator, April 1910.

Shapely — but not necessarily girlish — women, March 1910; Delineator. Even the older woman has a tiny waist.

The woman at left is curvy; the woman in the suit at right has the hips of a corset ad.

Ad for American Lady corsets, April 1910.

The corset Chalmers recommended in 1914 created a very different shape: it doesn’t support the bust at all; it has — preferably — a stretchy rubberized waist, and its stated goal is to make the hips look narrower while making the waist look larger. (“Unless your waist is large, your hips will not be small….”)

Front and back views of a recommended corset, April 1914.

“The waistline no longer exists… You obviously can’t have the new straight lines with a curve at the waist and hips.” I was surprised to read this in an article from 1914. It seems to prefigure (no pun intended) the fashion ideal of the nineteen twenties.

“The silhouette that the corset makers and manufacturers are working on for 1914, and which is the basis for all the present styles, is the straight figure, with small hips, large waist, and no bust. ” [This is 1914, but it could be 1920-something!]

First paragraph of Eleanor Chalmer’s corset advice.”The face alone, no matter how pretty, counts for nothing unless the body is as straight and yielding as a very young girl.” Delineator, April 1914.

“If a woman clings affectionately to the high bust, the small drawn-in waist and the big hips of a few years ago, she is going to look not only old-fashioned, but old. The corset of former years gave a woman a mature, well-developed, matronly figure. The corset of to-day makes her look like a very young girl.”

American Lady Corset ad from April 1914. It seems to meet the large waist requirement, but young?

Compare two corsets from the same manufacturer, 1910 and 1914. Ads from Delineator.

“If necessary, you can wear a brassiere with it.”

Since the ideal was now a small, low bust, this brassiere for a full-breasted woman confined her breasts rather than supporting them.

Ad for a De Bevoise brassiere, June 1914.

Of course, what fashion writers tell readers they are looking at, and what we actually see, are not always the same thing.

Thomson’s corset ad, February 1914. Her hips are bizarrely long and thin.

Ms. Chalmers and the corset makers are selling the idea of a slender, girlish hip. But for other fashion writers in the same year, this was the headline :

“New Skirt Models That Widen the Figure at the Hip.” Delineator, March 1914.

These skirt patterns were shown in the same issue as the corset advice article which emphasized the importance of slender hips. Delineator, April 1914, p 26.

It hardly seems worth the trouble of wearing a corset under those skirts. “Saddlebag thighs?” Very chic!

However, the waist was definitely getting thicker — and higher. Hard to believe, but the following six outfits are all for girls 14 to 19 years old.

Patterns for teens 14 to 19. Delineator, April 1914, p. 37. [These skirts are wide at the hip and very narrow at the ankle.]

The 1914 ideal of a slender, girlish figure does not look as we might expect.

More patterns for teens 14 to 19 years old. April 1914. Tiny waists are out of style. Wide hips seem to be in… regardless of that corset article in the same magazine.

Even though I’ve written about the Tubular Twenties, I was looking for the arrival of the dropped waist; I missed the arrival of the thick waist. Maybe I should have been asking, “When did the waist disappear?” It looks like the answer is earlier than I realized. In 1914, the new style was usually high-waisted, but look at the girl at far left, above. Her waist is almost Twenties….

Skirts began to rise during World War I, but the wide hips and thick waists of the pre-war era continued into 1920:

Butterick fashions for May, 1920. Delineator, p. 151. The wide, loose sash actually adds bulk to the waist.

Maybe the thickening waist is how we got from this …

Butterick patterns 3828 and 3789, May 1910

… to this …

Butterick patterns for March 1914 show a thick-waisted, wide-hipped silhouette.

… to this:

Butterick patterns for January 1924. The line is long and narrow; there is no hint that women have waists.

In 1925, another Delineator writer suggested that women had let their figures go during these years of bulky fashions. “A Few Years Ago Women Took Off Corsets . . . and Let Their Figures Go.” — Evelyn Dodge, Delineator, July 1925.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1910s and WW I era, 1920s, Bras, Corsets, Foundation Garments, Girdles, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Underthings, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, World War I

Summer Dresses from Butterick, July 1918, Part 1

Dresses, skirts and blouses, Butterick patterns in Delineator magazine, July 1918, page 52.

Dresses, skirts and blouses, Butterick patterns in Delineator magazine, July 1918, page 52.

This color page of dresses (and blouses and skirts) from Delineator magazine shows a change in silhouette, from full to narrower skirts. (Tubular Twenties ahead!) Here are designs by Gabrielle Chanel, dated 1916 [from Doris Langley Moore’s Fashion through Fashion Plates via Quentin Bell] :

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/chanel-1916-bell-plate-39-from-fashion-through-fashion-plates-doris-langley-moore.jpg

And here is a Delineator sketch of an influential Chanel suit from January 1925 — very a different silhouette.

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

(You can read about the “Tubular Twenties” here.)

I’ll show the July 1918 images in greater detail below, but first, a few words about underwear and the “ideal” figure.

Ideal figures, July 1918, were thick in the waist, low in the bust, and slightly swaybacked

Ideal fashion figures in July 1918 were thick in the waist, droopy in the bust — even with the model’s shoulders thrust back — and slightly swaybacked.

I’m always unnerved by the emphasis on thick waists and low busts of this period. (How is is possible for a slender young woman to have such a low bust? — The explanation is two-fold: the exaggerations of fashion illustrators, and 1917-1918 corsets and brassieres.)

Corsets for Fall, 1918. Sears catalog.

Corsets for Fall, 1918. Sears catalog.

The brassiere of the World War I era was more likely to smash the breasts than to lift them. The corset of the “teens” did not reach (or support) the breasts at all. It extended down over the thighs and pushed the body very flat in front, causing a posture which made the waist higher in the back and lower in the front, as you can see from these 1917 skirt illustrations.

Women's skirts, Perry Dame catalog, 1917. The waists dip low in front and rise high in back

Women’s skirts, Perry Dame catalog, 1917. The waistlines dip low in front and rise high in back.

Skirts, blouses and dresses, from July 1918 show the oddly high waist in back.

Skirts, blouses and dresses, from July 1918 show the oddly high waist in back.

The beautiful vintage blouses of this period (sometimes called “Armistice blouses”) are often so short in back that they have to have a tail of fabric added before they can be worn without the corset. Otherwise, they won’t stay tucked in.

This vintage "Armistice blouse" is much shorter in back than in front.

This vintage “Armistice blouse” is shorter in back than in front, even allowing for its position on the hanger. It has not been altered; the ties are original.

The thick waists of the WW I era can be interpreted as a reaction to the tiny waists of the previous generation (Here’s Princess Maud in 1906.) (We tend to reject the clothes our mothers wore. Imagine wearing a 1926 dress in 1938…. or a 1906 dress in 1918.)

The page of color fashions (p. 52)  had a half-page of black and white ones, along with all their descriptions, on page 53.

Butterick patterns from page 53, July 1918.

Butterick patterns from page 53, July 1918. Nos. 9932, 1035, and 1037. The two on the right are heavily embroidered.

This month in 1918 marked the start of a new Butterick pattern numbering sequence, from 9999 to the 1000s.

I’m afraid the colors are overexposed in my photos, but still worth looking at. For those who want details, I’ll show each outfit with its original pattern description at the bottom of this post.

Butterick 9992 and 9447, July 1918. Delineator.

Butterick 9992 and 9447, July 1918. Delineator. Belts that crossed over and buttoned in front were a distinctive feature of the “teens.”

Butterick 9989 and 9990, July 1918. Delineator.

Butterick 9989 and 9990, July 1918. Delineator. The dress on the left has a “Peter Pan” collar — very different from the Peter Pan collar of the 50s.

Butterick 9986 and 9973, July 1918. Delineator.

Butterick 9986 and 9973, July 1918. Delineator. There was nothing but fashion to prevent a shapely girl from wearing her belt (or her basque bodice) tighter….

Buttrerick 1005, July 1918. Page 52. Delineator,

Butterick 1005, July 1918. Page 52. Delineator. That’s almost a 1920’s cloche hat.

Dress Details 1918

In case anyone is inspired to recreate these fashions, here are the original descriptions and alternate views.

The high collared blouse fell out of fashion around 1912, when bare necks became acceptable, (cf Lucy Barton, Historic Costume for the Stage) but the V-neck in daytime was a new idea in 1914, so most of these patterns show a high-necked alternative for conservative women.

Butterick 9992, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52.

Butterick 9992, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52. “For women 15 or 50.”

Butterick 9947, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52.

Butterick 9947, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52. Transfer 10686 is the pattern for the bag, which seams to have a figure in a kimono on it.

Bag, Butterick transfer pattern 10686 from 1918.

Bag, Butterick transfer pattern 10686 from 1918.

Butterick 9989, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52.

Butterick 9989, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52.

Butterick 9990, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52.

Butterick 9990, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52. A “delightful new shirt-dress.”

Left, Butterick 9986, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52.

Left, Butterick 9986, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52. It has a side seam opening.

Butterick 9973, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52.

Butterick 9973, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52.

Butterick 1005, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52.

Butterick 1005, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52. “It slips on over the head,” like many of the 1920’s dresses that followed.

Butterick 9932, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52.

Butterick 9932, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52. Without the optional shirring, it becomes an Empire line dress. For maternity wear, perhaps?

Butterick 1035, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52.

Butterick 1035, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52. This style was available up to bust 46 inches, and the scarf-like “bretelles” end in pockets. Transfer 10674 is the embroidery design.

Butterick 1037, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52.

Butterick 1037, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52. The front panel could be asymmetrical. I’m surprised this dress is not shown without its tabard-like top layer.

More dresses in color from 1918 to come….

 

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Bras, Corsets, Corsets, Dating Butterick Patterns, Foundation Garments, World War I