Tag Archives: World War I

Ferris Corsets for Women and Girls, 1914, 1917 and 1910

Mother and daughter both wear Ferris Corsets in this ad from March, 1914. Delineator, page 65.

The Ferris Corset Waist was often stiffened by channels of cording, rather than exclusively by steel bones. In its day, it was a sort of “reform” or “good sense” garment, more flexible and less rigid than the usual boned corset. Nevertheless, it’s dismaying to read:

“Made in more than 100 styles to properly fit all ages, infants to adults.” Ad for the Ferris Waist; Delineator, March 1914.

The full ad for Ferris Waists, March 1914.

The girls at the bottom seem to be teens. The one at left appears to be leaning forward while using some kind of exercise equipment.

The tiny waist at left seems more 1910 than 1914. It may have been a “sport” corset.

The straps help to “teach” correct posture — and hold up your stockings. Even young girls needed something to hold their stockings up… especially when they were too young to have a waist and hips.

Text of Ferris ad, March 1914. “Ferris Waists take the place of corsets.”

Two girls wear Ferris waists in this ad from April 1917.

Ferris Good Sense Corset Waists were “lightly boned and  beautifully corded” to naturally develop the growing body into a more perfect figure in later years.” Ad from April 1917. Delineator.

Ad from May, 1914, featuring a maternity corset. Maternity corsets were sold by several companies, including Lane Bryant [click here to read more about Lane Bryant;]  Sears, Roebuck; and Berthe May.

Ferris Maternity Corset, May 1914. Delineator, page 73. [Why is she wearing her slip under her corset? Because the upper thigh was not usually shown in ads even in the 1950’s, which always led me to wonder how those stocking suspenders reached the stocking tops.]

A rival to the Ferris maternity corset was this more traditional boned corset from Berthe May. January 1914, Delineator. It “allows one to dress as usual and preserve a normal appearance.”

In this ad from 1910, Ferris assured buyers that their products were made “under the cleanest conditions.”

Ferris assured women that the Ferris Good Sense corset waist was not made by exploiting women workers in sweatshop conditions or by piecework in tenements. Ferris ad, 1910.

However, this Ferris maternity corset from 1910 does show fashionable constriction of the waist:

A Ferris Good Sense maternity corset/waist from 1910 clearly was intended to maintain the then-fashionable hourglass figure as long as possible.

Ad for Ferris Waists from Delineator, May, 1910.

Ferris ad, May 1910.

“Good sense” or not, corset-wearing started early:

Ferris Good Sense Corsets for girls, starting at age 6 months. If it buttoned up the back, a girl couldn’t get out of it without help.

Ferris Good Sense corsets for girls and teens, 7 to 15 years old. “[…Pleated] busts soft as silk. Specially adapted to growing girls 11 to 15 of slender form.”

Ferris waist for girls 12 to 17. May 1910 ad.

Those hose supporters (stocking suspenders) are really long!

An adult corset from 1910 sold by waist size: 19 to 30 inches. Ferris ad, Delineator, May 1910.

You can read more about the Ferris Brothers here.

 

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1910s and WW I era, Children's Vintage styles, Corsets, Corsets, Corsets & Corselettes, Foundation Garments, Hosiery, Hosiery, Maternity clothes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, World War I

Fancy Stockings, Twinkling Toes in 1914

Shoe buckles and fancy stockings featured in this Delineator article; April 1914, page 21.

By 1914, skirts might have very narrow hems of 44 or 45 inches — (Lay that out in a circle with a tape measure and imagine walking with that restriction on your ankles.) Some skirts had slits or a curved hem to permit a natural stride.

A peg-topped pannier skirt pattern from April 1914. Hems were narrow, and feet and stockings peeping out from them could be sexy. Butterick skirt pattern 6736.

Feet — and stockings — could be a focal point. It’s no surprise that stockings and shoes got more attention.

Parisian stockings, April 1914. All three have lace inserts. The lace on the right has a pattern of birds flying. Sold by La Maison Chatelet, Paris.

Swallows fly across the leg on the left. White silk stockings might have black lace inserts, like that on the right. A serpent snakes its way around the leg in the center. Hosiery from La Maison Gastineau, Paris.

Delineator magazine, which had offices in Paris and London as well as New York City, reported on couture designs  every month and aimed at an upper-middle-class reader. But it’s hard to imagine those snake stockings on the wife of a small-town American businessman or politician!

Slightly more conservative — but luxurious — stockings sold by La Maison Meier, Paris.

This was also an era of fabulous shoe buckles. (They clipped on to evening pumps and were purely decorative.) I inherited this pair of shoe clips from my aunt (and sold them!)

A pair of rhinestone or paste shoe buckles, probably World War I era or slightly later. Each was about two inches wide.

A lower-middle-class woman owned these beautiful shoe clips. Did she wear them often? Perhaps she wore them to formal events given by the Masons or the Eastern Star — she and her husband were members.

This photo of the backs shows the sliding fastener that clipped the buckle to the shoe.

A patented sliding device allowed you to use the clips on many different pairs of shoes.

As shown in these photos from Delineator, shoe clips could take many forms, even an owl, or a butterfly.

A shoe clip might be an abstract shape or a bow…

An owl’s face, and a different bow …. The clip at bottom right reminds us that a ribbon bow could match your shoes to your outfit.

These shoe clips show a traditional buckle shape, left, and a jeweled insect.

Evening shoes from Paris, April 1914. Delineator. Two of these shoes are shown with shoe clips. The one at top left is also trimmed with lace. The one at bottom left is “plain satin.”

[An embroidered shoe and an embroidered stocking: overkill?]

The embroidered shoe at the right, with straps that extend up the ankle, is a “cothurne” or “tango slipper.”  The straps keep it from flying off if you kick up your heels during the dance.

Another 1914 cothurne or tango slipper.

A lace-up shoe called the cothurnus was worn by the ancient Greeks and especially by actors performing while wearing masks. The built-up sole of the performers’ cothurni added to the stature of actors, making them appear larger than ordinary humans.

Shoes suitable for day or afternoon wear. April, 1914. (I think the stocking at left has a decorative “clock,” not a run.)

The dance called the tango was just becoming popular, along with the afternoon dance, called the “thé dansant” in French. (I just read an article about them in Delineator, May 1914 — written by Irene Castle.)

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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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Vintage Kodak Ads and Vintage Photos

Family photo:  Isabel Porter and Dot Barton in car, dated 1919. Isabel is wearing an embroidered dress, but Dot is wearing hiking clothes:  knickers and a middy shirt.

Imagine how dreary costume history in the 20th century would be without photographs — not just posed studio photographs, but the millions of pictures taken of and by ordinary people. Small, simple to operate, “pocket” cameras really did give us a window into the past.

Four teenaged girls from Redwood City, California, pose in a back yard on May 5, 1918. From left, Edith Nicholls, Ruth Cross, Dot and Helen Barton. Edith and Ruth are wearing fashionable dresses; Dot wears her school uniform and Helen adds a sleeveless sweater to hers.

I have written before about the importance of informal snapshots during  World War I, made possible by the development of small, light-weight, portable “pocket” cameras. Click here for that post.

“Snap-shots from Home” enhance morale for soldiers in World War I. Kodak ad, Ladies’ Home Journal, September 1917, p. 91.

Soldiers also took photos with the “vest pocket” Kodak and mailed them to the their families and friends.

Kodak was also developing innovative cameras for use at home. This 1917 advertisement is for the Kodak Autographic camera, which allowed you to record when and of whom the picture was taken on the negative: a 1917 time stamp!

Ad for the “Autographic Kodak”, from Delineator magazine, July 1917.

“And to make an authentic, permanent record, on the negative, is a simple and almost instantaneous process with an Autographic Kodak.” 1917.

This ad appeared seven years later, but the “family” focus is the same.

Ad for the Autographic Kodak from Delineator, May 1924.

The Autographic Kodak was still being advertised in 1924, but, sadly, no one in my family seems to have had one — so they wrote on the pictures, sometimes long after they were developed, and not always accurately.

The folks in this group photo are named in ink on the margin of the picture.

Isabel and Dot visit an Aviation School, dated 1919.

Dot in the cockpit and Isabel beside the plane, dated 1920. Was this picture really taken in a different year? Did they take flying lessons? Some women did — quite successfully.

By 1927 you could take your own moving pictures:

Home movies taken with a Cine-Kodak, from an ad in Delineator, March 1927.

From an ad for the Cine-Kodak, Delineator, May 1927. The cost of a camera, plus a “Kodascope C  for projecting,” and a projection screen, was $140. “The price of Cine-Kodak film, amateur standard (16 mm.), in the yellow box, includes finishing.”

My Uncle Mel had a movie camera in the late 1940s, and, as the only toddler in the family, I was filmed so often that when my parents took me to a movie theater for the first time, I watched for several minutes and then began shouting, “Where’s Me? Where’s Me?”

My Uncle Mel as a teenager, with Ruth Cross. Ruth wears a pinafore. WW I era.

How I wish I could watch those family movies today — to see my parents and grandma and aunts and uncles in motion, wearing their ordinary clothes, doing ordinary things….

Family and friends at a party in the early 1930s. I recognize many of these faces, although I was born many years later. The photo is about this small, since it was a contact print.

The McLeods pose for a snapshot. The mother is dressed very differently from her daughters. 1920s.

Three men pose in La Honda, CA, in the 1920s. Yes, people did wear those golf outfits, [matching sweater and socks!] even when not playing golf. 1920s.

In the late 1920’s, pocket cameras were so common that Kodak advertised them in different colors, to match your outfits. Obviously, women were taking a lot of the pictures that we treasure today.

Ad for Vanity Kodaks in colors to match your outfit. Delineator, June 1928.

Top of ad for Vanity Kodaks. 1928.

“Vanity Kodaks come in five lovely colors [“Redbreast, Bluebird, Cockatoo,  Seagull and Jenny Wren”] to harmonize with one’s costume.” 1928 ad.

My Aunt Dot took to photography early. You can see her shadow as she takes this photograph of young Azalia Dellamaggiore in front of the Redwood City courthouse in 1918.

Here Dot and a soldier are photographed by someone else, but Dot has her camera in her hand.

 

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100 Year Old Kodak Camera Ads from World War I

“The Parting Gift — A Vest Pocket Kodak.” Ad in Ladies’ Home Journal, August 1917.

We take small, portable cameras for granted. But one hundred years ago, Kodak was putting pocket sized cameras into the hands of people who never had them before — including the men and boys who volunteered to fight in World War I.

Kodak Vest Pocket camera ad, Ladies’ Home Journal, August 1917, p. 51. “It is monotony, not bullets, that our soldiers dread…. In the training camps and during the days of forced inaction there are going to be some tedious, home-sick days — days the Kodak can make more cheerful…. There’s room for a little Vest Pocket Kodak in every soldiers’ and sailor’s kit.”

When the United States entered the war in April of 1917, training camps were still being built — including Camp Fremont, in what is now Menlo Park, California. For teen-aged girls like my mother’s older sister and her friends, it was both a patriotic duty and a pleasure to meet homesick young men from all over the country. And, judging from the photos I inherited from my aunt, “the boys” did enjoy sending pictures of their daily activities to family and friends.

My aunt, in her school uniform, with Walter van Alyne. The back of the photo says, “aged 20 years,” and it was apparently mailed to her when Walter was “Somewhere in Fra …. chelles.” [writing not legible]

Here she is with Wentworth Prescott  Gann, in 1918:

Wentworth Prescott Gann and my aunt, 1918.

Pictures reassured soldiers’ families, and were also a pretext for corresponding with new friends. (“I’d love a copy of that photo with you….” or “Here’s a copy of that picture we took at the beach….”)

Wentworth Prescott Gann, posing with artillery and a friendly dog, 1918.

Three soldiers posing for a picture to send home — or to sweethearts. The one on the left is Gaston Popescul; “Columbus (?) GA”

Clarence Turpening, probably at Camp Fremont, 1918. Sitting on two garbage cans, he is the picture of military camp tedium.

Because Camp Fremont was still under construction in 1917,  many of the soldiers who trained there did not get sent overseas. However, some unfortunate members of the 8th Division were sent to Siberia after the Russian Revolution of 1917. They were on active duty for months after World War I came to an end.

This photo of a luckier group was made into a postcard — probably everyone in it sent a copy home. I believe it is a group of bakers, with my uncle Holt (the soldier my aunt eventually married) leaning against a post in the center. I’m sure a picture like this would reassure worried families that their menfolk were safe and well. And perhaps, a bit bored….

A group of Army bakers or cooks, military camp in U.S.A., World War I photo.

“Snap-shots from Home” enhance morale for soldiers in World War I. Kodak ad, Ladies’ Home Journal, September 1917, p. 91.

Text of “Snap-shots from Home” ad, Kodak, Sept. 1917. Ladies’ HOme Journal.

Even schoolgirls like my aunt took (and sometimes printed) their own photos.

This typical photo from 1917-1918 fits easily in my hand. It’s about three inches high. The soldier’s name is Philip Wilson.

I was always puzzled by how tiny (about 2″ by 3″) many of these old photos are.  Finally, I found a full page ad in the Ladies Home Journal that gave me a hint: to save money, many people used their contact prints — made directly from the negative — but never bought enlargements. (In my aunt’s case, she made her own duplicate contact prints for friends.)

[Not Actual Size] Top of a full-page ad for Kodak, showing Vest Pocket photos in two sizes. July 1917, LHJ, page 79.

The contact prints, made by putting the negative directly on the photo paper without using an enlarger, were actually about two by three inches. The paper used for contacts feels flimsier than normal photo prints.

Bottom of full-page Kodak Vest Pocket camera ad, July 1917, page 79. Not actual size. “You don’t carry a Vest Pocket Kodak, you wear it, like your watch.”

I was not able to photograph the magazine page at actual size, so I took a photo of the whole page and then made this “relative size” image of the contact print and the enlargement.

Relative size of a contact print and an enlargement, 1917. The small contact prints — the same size as the film — were meant to be used for selecting the enlargements you ordered, but people who couldn’t afford 15 cents per enlargement made do with the contact prints themselves. And duplicate contact-sized pictures could be made by amateurs who didn’t own an enlarger.

Different cameras used different sized film, so those little contact prints came in a range of sizes.  A roll of film for the Vest Pocket Kodak cost twenty cents in 1917 and made eight exposures.

Although most people on the home front, especially in the U.S.,  had no idea of the horrors of the First World War, a tone of sadness, or at least, of solemnity, affected even Kodak’s Christmas season advertising  in wartime.

“Kodak knows no dark days.” Top of a full -page ad for Kodak cameras, December 1917. Ladies Home Journal, p. 104.

The ad was referring to taking pictures indoors, but a reference to “its allies” in the text is a reminder of the war.

Text of a Kodak ad, Ladies’ Home Journal, December 1917, page 104.

“With its allies, the Kodak flash sheets and a Kodak flash sheet holder….” As in fashion writing, allusions to the war crept in everywhere, even when it wasn’t mentioned specifically.

And here, as our dessert, is that lovely pink silk dress in better detail:

A young woman poses in a party dress in this Kodak ad from 1917. Ladies’ Home Journal, Dec. 1917, p. 104. It’s not a full color ad, which would have been more expensive, but probably printed using just black and red ink.

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Fringe Fashions, December 1918

Old copies of Delineator magazine always have surprises that catch my eye.

December fashions, Delineator, 1918, top of p. 64

December fashions, Delineator magazine, 1918, top of p. 64. Butterick patterns 1276, 1260, 1255, and 1243.

Parts of the December 1918 issue were probably ready to print before the Armistice was announced on November 11, and the magazine contains many references to World War I.

Butterick doll clothing for a soldier, 402, and a sailor, 403. Delineator, December 1918.

Butterick doll clothing: “boy doll’s military suit,” pattern 402, and “boy doll’s sailor suit,” 403. Delineator, December 1918. This woman’s “one-piece dress” pattern was available up to size 44.

text-patterns-1276-402-403-1918-dec-p-65-dec-1918-btm-text

But the “theme” of the month seems to be fringe. Here is the bottom of the same page:

Butterick patterns for women, December 1918. Two are fringed, and the gold dress is trimmed with black monkey fur. Delineator, p. 64.

Butterick patterns for women, 1283, 1294, and 1305. December 1918. Two are fringed, and the gold dress is trimmed with black monkey fur. Delineator, p. 64.

Pattern descriptions for Butterick 1283, 1294 and 1305, December 1918. Delineator.

Pattern descriptions for Butterick 1283, 1294 and 1305, December 1918. Delineator.

Fringe could be light-weight, like chenille, or made from heavier silk or cotton. I have encountered monkey fur coats in costume storage. [Eeeeeek. Just as unpleasant as having the paw fall off a vintage fox fur stole.]

More fashions with fringe appeared on page 63:

The blue dress is fringed; the other is trimmed with fur. Delineator, Dec. 1918,. p 63

The blue dress (1278) is trimmed with fringe; the other outfit (blouse 1259 and skirt 1105) is trimmed with fur and decorative buttons. Delineator, Dec. 1918, p 63. Two different muff patterns were illustrated, 1190 and 9517.

In addition to keeping your hands warm, a muff often had an interior pocket that functioned as a purse.

Two more fringed day dresses, Dec. 1918. Delineator, p 63.

Two more fringed day dresses, Dec. 1918. Delineator, p 63. Butterick 1253 and waist/blouse 1263 with skirt 9865. No. 1253 is illustrated in satin; waist 1263 is in velvet, worn over a satin skirt.

More fringe from December 1918:

Butterick patterns illustrated in Delineator. Dec. 1918, page 65.

Butterick patterns illustrated in Delineator. Dec. 1918, page 65. Fringe trims the center two.

Butterick patterns in Delineator, page 71, December 1918.

Fur or fringe trims these Butterick patterns in Delineator, page 71, December 1918.  Women’s dresses No. 1294, 1309, and 1285.

Butterick patterns, Delineator, Dec. 1918, p. 68.

Butterick patterns, Delineator, Dec. 1918, p. 68. The shape of the skirt is determined by the high-waisted, curve-flattening corset of the era.

Fringe hangs from the pockets of a skirt, Delineator, Dec. 1918, p. 68.

Fringe hangs from the pockets of a skirt, Delineator, Dec. 1918, p. 68. Butterick blouse 1306 with skirt 1226. Shirt-waist pattern 1279 with skirt of suit 1101.

In October, Butterick suggested a fringed wedding gown, pattern 1169, shown again in November in a dark, velvet version:

Left, wedding gown 1169, Butterick pattern from October 1918; right, the same pattern in velvet, worn for a formal occasion. (November, 1918.)

Left, wedding gown 1169, Butterick pattern from October 1918; right, the same pattern in velvet, worn for a formal daytime occasion. (November, 1918.)

If you weren’t ready to go wild with fringe, you could carry a subtle fringed handbag instead of a muff.

Winter coats from Butterick December 1918. The woman in the center carries a matching striped muff; the woman on the right carries a fringed handbag. Delineator, December 1918, p. 66.

Winter coats from Butterick December 1918. The woman in the center carries a striped muff (Butterick 1266) to match her coat; the woman on the right carries a fringed handbag (Butterick pattern 10720.) Delineator, December 1918, p. 66.

The coat on the right is a reminder that the “Barrel skirt” or “tonneau” was [to me, inexplicably] in fashion for a while.

 

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Cutting the Cost of Clothes, March 1917

In March, 1917, before America officially entered World War I, Delineator magazine began a series of articles on the advantages of making your own clothing. I find them interesting because the cost of making up the same pattern(s) in different fabrics is given.

"Cutting the Cost of Slothing," Delineator, pages 54 and 55, March 1917.

“Cutting the Cost of Clothes,” Delineator, pages 54 and 55, March 1917.

Second page of "Cutting the Cost of Clothes" article, Delineator, March 1917.

Second page of “Cutting the Cost of Clothes” article, Delineator, March 1917.

Digression:  Before I show the patterns and their budgets in detail, I can’t ignore that ad for Hump Hair Pins.

Ad for Hump Hair Pins, Delineator, March 1917.

Ad for Hump Hair Pins, Delineator, March 1917. “The Hump Hair Pin Locks the Locks” … “hours after your hair has been dressed.”

Not quite a bobby pin and not quite a traditional hairpin, the Hump Hair Pin seems to be designed for women who are bobbing their hair like Irene Castle, or at least wearing it shorter in front while pinning up the long hair in back.

Hump Hair Pin ad, Delineator, March 1917. "Short Ends never worry the woman who insists on Hump Hair Pins."

Hump Hair Pin ad, Delineator, March 1917. “Short Ends never worry the woman who insists on Hump Hair Pins.”

Cutting the Cost of Clothes, March 1917.

1917 mar p 54 cost of clothes caption

The article by Evelyn Chalmers, “Cutting the Cost of Clothes,” was the first in a series intended to be of “very practical helpfulness to women of average means.” Delineator aimed at the middle and upper-middle class woman; not everyone lived near a department store, but most towns had dressmakers who made clothes from patterns their customers selected. Not every woman who bought a Butterick pattern would sew it herself. However, Butterick Publishing Company had good reasons to stress the cost-saving potential of sewing patterns.

“I am going to show how you can cut the cost of clothes. . . . I am going to show, . . . for instance, how you can have a delightful little suit under fifteen dollars that you couldn’t buy for twenty-five. . . . I am going to help you choose styles that will serve as many purposes as possible so that you will always be correctly dressed without having to go to the expense of a very elaborate and varied wardrobe. It is a question of using your brain, your thrift and your industry in place of money.”– Eleanor Chalmers in Delineator

“The three [suits] I have chosen . . . are simple but not too severe, smart enough to answer all requirements  and yet so conservative that you can use them for traveling, shopping, etc. . . . The suits are smart. They are correct. They are young looking and becoming.”

Costs of Materials for Making Butterick Patterns 9039 and 9019 

“A smart little suit with pinch tucks:”

Butterick Jacket and Skirt, Delineator, March 1917, p. 54.

Butterick Jacket 9039 and Skirt 9019, Delineator, March 1917, p. 54.

Supplies for making this coat and skirt combination ranged from $7.21 to $11.43, depending on the version you made and the materials you chose. March 1917. Delineator.

Costs of making Coat 9039 and Skirt 9019, March 1917. Delineator.

Supplies for making this coat and skirt combination ranged from $7.21 to $11.03, depending on the version you made and the materials you chose.

I am assuming that “flannel” is wool flannel, but it is a facing, so perhaps not. Satin lining material varies from $0.80 to $1.00 per yard. I’m surprised to find that the coat is interlined with cambric (which I associate with handkerchiefs) which can cost either $0.09 or $0.12 per yard. As now, buttons could be cheap ($0.18 per dozen) or a bit fancier ($0.25 per dozen.) Chalmers suggested celluloid buttons.

Detail of jacket No. 9039.

Detail of jacket No. 9039.

Costs of Materials for Making Butterick 8980 and 9040

“A suit with splendid lines:”

Butterick coat pattern 8980 and skirt pattern 9040, March 1917. Delineator, p. 55.

Butterick coat pattern 8980 and skirt pattern 9040, March 1917. Delineator, p. 55.

The jacket has a rather interesting pocket and belt combination. High, and bizarre, hats were popular.

Costs for materials: four different versions of jacket 8980 and skirt 9040. Delineator, March 1917, p. 55.

Costs for materials: four different versions of jacket 8980 and skirt 9040. Delineator, March 1917, p. 55.

The jacket’s collar could be made of velveteen, at $0.75 per yard, or of velvet, at $1.00 to $1.25 per yard.

All three jackets are lined with satin, and interlined with cambric. “For your lining you can get a satin with a cotton back at the price I’ve quoted.”  This outfit’s price ranged from $7.20 to $11.20.

1917 mar p 54 Light Bright

Costs of Materials for Making Butterick 9041 and 9042

Butterick coat 9041 and skirt 9042, March 1917. Delineator, p. 55.

Butterick coat 9041 and skirt 9042, March 1917. Delineator, p. 55. “The new barrel silhouette.”

This is a typical “( “Six or seven inches from the floor is the length accepted by the best  houses here and abroad.”

1917 mar p 54 skirt in illust IIIYou can understand how the 1917 barrel skirt might have tempted women to let their figures spread a little, so that the slim lines of the 1920’s were a bit of a problem for the not-very-young. (See How to Look Thinner in the 1920’s;  Corsets and Corselettes.)

Material costs for four version s of Butterick 9041 and 1942. March 1917. Delineator. p. 55

Material costs for four versions of Butterick 9041 and 1942. March 1917. Delineator. p. 55

This suit (jacket and skirt) could be made as cheaply as $8.27 or from more expensive “serge, gabardine or check” for $13.45, assuming you made it yourself.

All of the patterns call for dress weights, cambric interlining, silk thread, cotton thread, and basting thread.

Chalmers suggested making a satin blouse (with a peplum) in the same color as your skirt, so that it could be worn as a “street dress” when the weather got warmer and you didn’t need a jacket.

Prices for Mail Order Clothing from Delineator Advertisements

The cost of making the suits shown in Eleanor Chalmers’ article do make her point:  “You can have a delightful little suit under fifteen dollars that you couldn’t buy for twenty-five”

In the same month, March 1917, advertisers in her magazine offered two piece suits, something like those above, for as much as $35.00.

Woman's suits from the Bella Hess catalog, Ad, Delineator, March 1917, p. 33.

Women’s suits from the Bella Hess catalog. Ad, Delineator, March 1917, p. 33. Suits, $25.00 and $18.98; Hats for $1.98 and $2.98.

Clothing from the Bedell dress catalog; ad in Delineator, March 1917.

Clothing from the Bedell dress catalog; ad in Delineator, March 1917. A silk dress for $16.98 and a velour coat for $12.98 .

Price range of women's clothing from Bedell catalog, 1917.

Price range of women’s clothing from Bedell catalog, 1917. Suits $8.75 to $35.00; skirts $1.00 to $10.00, Dresses $5.00 to $25.00.

An Easter Dress from the Philipsborn catalog, advertised in Delineator, March 1917.

An Easter Dress from the Philipsborn catalog, advertised in Delineator, March 1917. $4.98. Quite a bargain!

Cost of Living, March 1917

One kind of ad that appeared in Delineator over a long period — decades — was for nursing schools. To give you an idea of a desirable income for a woman:

"Be a Nurse -- Delineator, March 1917.

“Be a Nurse — Earn $15 to $25 per week.” Delineator, March 1917.

This Dodge convertible closed car cost $ 1135.00, F.O.B. Detroit.

Dodge closed car in ad, March 1917, Delineator.

Dodge closed car in ad, Delineator, March 1917.

 

 

 

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