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A Skirt and Two Waists, January 1917

Some Butterick patterns for January 1917, Delineator magazine.

Some Butterick patterns for January 1917, Delineator magazine. These are not dresses, but skirts with separate blouses [called “waists.”]

These are not dresses. Bodice, or “Waist” patterns were sold separately from skirt patterns for a long time. (Sometimes, sleeve patterns were sold separately, too.) In Victorian times, practical women often had two bodices made to match one skirt:  a high necked, long-sleeved bodice for day, and a low-cut, short sleeved bodice for evening wear. When upper and middle class families “dressed for dinner” every night, this was a sensible way to maximize the clothing budget. Skirts took several yards of fabric, while bodices took less fabric but more labor.

It’s not surprising that patterns for these 1917 skirts, which take a lot of fabric, were also sold separately from their “waists”, i.e. blouses. This allowed women a great deal of originality in their costume, and made it possible to use one elaborate skirt with several top variations, as shown in these Delineator illustrations featuring Butterick skirt pattern 8875.

The simplest (and barest) version of both skirt and waist were shown in an editorial illustration:

Editorial Illustration, Delineator,  Jan. 1917. The top and skirt of this evening ensemble were sold separately, and both skirt  (No. 8875) and waist (No. 8901) had variations.

Editorial Illustration, Delineator, Jan. 1917. Patterns for the top and skirt of this evening “frock” were sold separately, and both skirt (No. 8875) and waist (No. 8901) had variations.

[I was able to identify the pattern numbers because they were featured in more detail elsewhere in the magazine. Butterick didn’t usually specify the patterns used for the full-page editorial illustrations that began Delineator‘s pattern pages every month.]

In this illustration, the surplice [wrap] waist is very bare, and trimmed with embroidery  at shoulder and waist:

Waist pattern 8901, shown sleeveless. Jan. 1917 Delineator, p. 37.

Waist pattern 8901, shown sleeveless. Jan. 1917 Delineator, p. 37.

On a different page, the same waist has short lace sleeves to match its more elaborate skirt:

Butterick waist pattern 8901, illustrated on page 38. Delineator, Jan 1917.

Butterick waist pattern 8901, illustrated on page 38. Delineator, Jan 1917.

Waist 8901 requires a “French lining,” which would have been close-fitting and supported the loose folds of the fashion fabric layer. Pattern 8901 was sold in sizes 32 to 46 inches bust measurement.

Butterick Skirt pattern 8875, from 1917

Skirt pattern 8875 can be made relatively simply, as on page 37:

Skirt pattern 8875 as illustrated on page 37, Delineator Jan. 1917

Skirt pattern 8875 as illustrated on page 37, Delineator Jan. 1917

Here, the sides of the panels are open at the natural waist and the front and back panels are connected with a button. The underskirt appears to be finely pleated chiffon, matching the fabric seen at the bodice underarm. [This skirt could also be made with the underskirt and overskirt of the same silky fabric — see color illustration below.]

Editorial Illustration, Delineator,  Jan. 1917. The top and skirt of this evening ensemble were sold separately, and both skirt  (No. 8875) and waist (No. 8901) had variations.

Editorial Illustration, Delineator, Jan. 1917. Page 37. This version has a plain, sheer, pleated fabric under the silk parts of the skirt and bodice.

The version with short lace sleeves was shown with matching lace — yards and yards of it — for an underskirt.

Waist 8901 with lace sleeves, and skirt 8875 with a lavish lace underskirt. Delineator, Jan. 1917, page 38.

Waist 8901 with lace sleeves, and skirt 8875 with a lavish lace underskirt. Delineator, Jan. 1917, page 38.

A closer view of this version of skirt 8875:

This version of skirt pattern 8875 has a lace underskirt, open at the sides like the overskirt, pulled through the opening near the natural waist.

This version of skirt pattern 8875 has a lace underskirt, open at the sides like the overskirt, and pulled through the opening near the natural waist. The patterned stockings echo the lacy look.

Butterick 8875:  “The skirt has an extremely graceful drapery at the front and back which gives a cascade effect at the sides. The underskirt is cut in two pieces and can be made with a flounce having a straight lower edge. The skirt is 39 inches long in front and has a slightly raised waistline.”

To make the skirt as illustrated would not be cheap. “A medium size requires 4  1/2 yards of taffeta silk 36 inches wide, 1/2 yard lace 22 inches wide, 7  1/2 yards edging 16 inches wide, 1  3/8 yard of narrow edging, 2  1/2 yards material for underskirt. Bottom foundation skirt measures 2  1/2 yards.”  When I was studying this illustration, I wondered how the underskirt could have galloon edged lace on three sides; apparently, the lace we see is the seven-plus yards of 18″ wide edging. The skirt shown here has at least three layers: silk top drape, lace under-drape, and and opaque “foundation skirt.” This skirt pattern was available in waist measurements 22 to 36 inches, for 20 cents.

Waist Pattern 8863 with Skirt pattern 8875

Skirt pattern 8875 was also illustrated with a completely different bodice, No. 8863, which had its own variations.

Other views of skirt pattern 8875, with waist 8901, left, and waist pattern 8863, right. Delineator,  Jan. 1917 .

Other views of skirt pattern 8875, with waist 8901, left, and waist pattern 8863, right. Delineator, Jan. 1917.

Butterick waist pattern 8863 with Skirt 8875:

Waist 8863 with skirt 8875, Delineator Jan. 1917.

Waist 8863 with skirt 8875, Delineator Jan. 1917. Embroidered bag transfer pattern 10616.

This is a day or afternoon version of the look. In this case, the skirt has been made with panels and underskirt of the same fabric, and trimmed with beading and tassels, which match the points of the bodice.  “Satin, charmeuse, taffeta or crepe meteor” are recommended. This two-piece outfit is described as a “smart frock.”

Butterick Waist pattern 8863:  “The waist has a draped front which is in one with the sash ends — a very new and effective arrangement for the back. The closing is made at the left shoulder and at the seam under the arm. Two different types of long sleeves with one seam are offered, or you could use the shorter length if you prefer. [The color illustration shows long, sheer sleeves with a cuff, and the black and white views show a tight long sleeve, left, and a below elbow sleeve, right. “The lower edge of the waist can be cut  in a single [black and white illus.]  or double pointed effect [color illus.]

Waist 8863 with a single point center front and high collared chemisette, or with the sheer collared V-neck chemisette shown in the color illustration.

Waist 8863 with a single point center front and a high-collared chemisette, or with the sheer collar and V-neck shown in the color illustration. Butterick also sold the embroidery design, Transfer No. 10101.

“The chemisette and collar can be omitted, but not the French lining, which is extremely important.” [I believe “French lining” refers to a close-fitted lining that does not have exactly the shape of the outer garment; it supports blouson or ruched and gathered effects on the outer layer and was very common on 19th century bodices.]

Waist pattern 8863 with sheer, cuffed sleeves and a double-pointed top, trimmed with embroidery and beaded tassels.

Waist pattern 8863 with sheer, cuffed sleeves and a double-pointed top, trimmed with beaded embroidery and tassels to match the skirt. The bag is also beaded and tasseled.

In 1917, one skirt pattern and two bodice patterns provided many variations; a woman could really feel that her choices would give her a unique look. Careful planning could also give her several “frocks” which used just one skirt. A second, more workaday, skirt pattern made from coordinated fabric could really multiply her wardrobe.

Simpler Skirts, January 1917

Skirts and blouses for day wear, Delineator, January 1917. p. 45.

Skirts and blouses for day wear, Delineator, January 1917. p. 45.

Since taffeta and silk were worn in daytime, as well as evening, one of these skirts might also be combined with the waists shown with skirt 8875.

I can’t resist pointing out the chi-chi balls / ball fringe trimming the hat on the right. Ole!

Hat with ball fringe, January 1917. Delineator, page 45.

Hat with ball fringe, January 1917. Delineator, page 45.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, bags, handbags, Hats, Purses, Vintage Accessories, Vintage patterns

“Original and Becoming” Work Clothes, 1917

Work clothes for women suggested by Ladies Home Journal, Sept. 1917

Some work clothes for women suggested by Ladies’ Home Journal, Sept. 1917. Illus. signed Sheldon.

This article suggests seven different work outfits suitable for American women in wartime. One of them, surprisingly, is a dress with a divided skirt — what would later be called a culotte skirt. Sadly, although the Ladies’ Home Journal sold its own mail order patterns, none of these outfits has a pattern number. The article is “editorial,” suggesting that outfits which would have been rather shocking a few months earlier may now be “safely” worn on the streets and in the stores of an America at war. I’ll show an overview first, and then describe each outfit with its accompanying text. Except where noted, all illustrations are from the same Ladies’ Home Journal article, dated September 1917. 1917 sept p 89 work clothes farm pants ctr 5001917 sept p 89 work clothes farm pants btm text 500

Women in Trousers, 1917

Women were already wearing bloomers for gym classes and jodhpurs or riding breeches when on horseback. In July of 1917, a rival fashion magazine, Delineator, had suggested that a sort of trouser outfit might be worn for housework:

Butteric pattern No. 9294 for a smock dress over bloomers. Delineator, July 1917.

Butterick pattern No. 9294 for a smock dress over bloomers. House-dress No. 9288 is on the right. Delineator, July 1917.

“For the home-reserve corps comes this new costume (design 9294) suited to the woman who wants to go on active service — either at home, out camping, or for gardening.” The house-dress next to it shows a typical hem length for women. As skirts became shorter, they were usually worn with opaque stockings or boots.

The bloomer outfit above, with gathered cuffs, is a close relative of women’s pajamas like these, also from 1917 :

Butterick pajama pattern No. 9400, Sept 1917. Delineator magazine.

Butterick pajama pattern No. 9400, Sept 1917. Delineator magazine.

The Ladies’ Home Journal Suggests Some Trouser Outfits for 1917

“Even the most inveterate feminine ‘slacker’ will be lured into laborious occupations if such fascinating uniforms as these are to be worn.” [After World War I began in August, 1914, women in Europe began filling traditionally male occupations in order to free men for military service. “Land girls” worked on farms; women became train and street car conductors, munitions workers, heavy equipment operators, etc.]

1917 sept p 89 work clothes farm pants top left breeches“[These] trig knee-buttoned trousers …, worn with a laced skirted blouse, tam and laced high boots, were designed for an ardent motorist. Surely even the most stubborn opposition could be overcome at sight of these!” For an official Red Cross Motor Corps Woman’s Uniform, click here.1917 sept p 89 work clothes farm pants top right“It may be that the fair farm maid . . . has paused dissatisfied with her work, but surely no doubt could lurk in her mind as to the fitness of her well-made olive-drab khaki suit. Side fullness given by plaits [pleats] begins at the underarm and ends at the hem.” lhj 1917 sept p 89 work clothes farm pants ctr rake“[Above] One may rake, pile, and burn autumn leaves  in the serene consciousness that no flickering flame will catch on the strapped leggings worn with [this] pocketed bloomer suit. . . .” 1917 sept p 89 work clothes farm pants ctr“Indoors expediency demands simplified dressing, and the adoption of such an attractive combination — apron, blouse, divided skirt — as shown above . . . made of ticking, may do much to encourage women to take up their housework seriously.” [Note the unusual “divided skirt!” In 1917, the word apron could refer to a garment we would now call a dress.] 1917 sept p 89 work clothes farm pants btm left shopping“When marketing is part of the day’s routine, a long tucked smock of khaki with wide-bottom trousers… makes a work outfit one could safely venture out in.” [Think about what is implied by “safely.” The government encouraged women to collect their own groceries rather than having them delivered, freeing the deliverymen for active service.] lhj 1917 sept p 89 work clothes farm pants ctr right“Strapped leggings, a high buttoned collar, hip pockets and wrist straps effectively suppress any loophole which may hint of feminine softness in [this] public service uniform.” Oh, really ? Her pose makes me wonder exactly what public service she is performing! For official Red Cross service uniforms, click here. 1917 sept p 89 work clothes farm btm rt outfit“Indoors or out, one could find many reasons why and times when just such a quaint smock and short skirt as [these] could be worn.”  I don’t know what the editors of Ladies’ Home Journal were thinking, but the Red Cross did not allow women younger than 23 to serve coffee and doughnuts to the troops. They had their reasons. Although artistic, this leg-baring outfit might be subject to misinterpretation.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Nightclothes and Robes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Uniforms and Work Clothes, Vintage patterns, Women in Trousers, World War I

How to Look Thinner in the 1920s, Part 1: Wear a Corset or Corselette

 

Paris designs, Delineator, January 1925. From Left: Doucet, Lanvin, Molyneux, Premet, Chanel.

Paris designs, Delineator, January 1925. From Left: Doucet, Lanvin, Molyneux, Premet, Chanel.

In the July, 1925 issue of Delineator magazine – published by the Butterick Publishing Company — columnist Evelyn Dodge gave the following advice on looking slender while wearing 1920s fashions. I will divide it into three parts — proper corsets, proper lingerie, and proper sizing and styles. I have already exerpted part of her article in Underpinning the Twenties: Corsets and Corselets.  I will add illustrations from Delineator and other sources, and my own comments.

How to Reduce Your Hips Three Inches – 1925

“My subject this morning, dear friends, I know you will find delightful. My text is ‘How you can reduce your hips three inches in three minutes without diet, drugs or exercise and still eat your way through June without giving up strawberry shortcake, asparagus, and any of the other pleasures of the season. . . .’

“I can’t tell you how you can become slender, but I can show you very easily how you can look several inches slighter and thirty or forty pounds lighter than you do now. Almost any woman can reduce her actual measurements appreciably by proper corseting, proper lingerie and the proper size clothes. Old shapeless corsets with bent and bulging bones, too much lingerie cut on too wide lines and made of clumsy materials, clothes that are too large, too long and too wide for the present fashion will make a mountain out of any feminine molehill.”

[Comment: As a costume designer, I could usually create the illusion that a 145 pound actress weighed 133 pounds (or that my 160 pound self weighed 10 pounds less), but erasing forty pounds is promising a lot! As an opera designer once told me, “You can create visual illusions with costumes — up to a point, but there’s only so much that vertical lines can do for a singer who’s built like a tugboat.” ]

The 1920s Ideal Figure

Butterick patterns, June 1925. Delineator.

Butterick patterns, June 1925. Delineator.

In 1925, when Evelyn Dodge wrote this article, she said, “The boyish figure sans bust and curves and waistline is the ideal silhouette.”

Butterick patterns, June 1925. Delineator.

Butterick patterns, June 1925. Delineator.

Tip Number One: Wear a Corset or a Corselette.

“A Few Years Ago Women Took Off Corsets . . . and Let Their Figures Go.” — Evelyn Dodge

Dodge attributed the change in women’s figures to the relatively shapeless styles of the preceding decade.

[I know that fans of Titanic and Downton Abbey may not believe that the styles of the late 1910s could be extremely unflattering; that’s because theatrical costume designers do a great deal of period research and then select the clothing that a modern audience will find most attractive.  If a woman is supposed to look young and appealing, or sophisticated and sexy, she has to be dressed in a way that conveys those character points to an audience that has not done months of period research.] Here are some outfits for women, circa 1917:

Three outfits from the Perry, Dame Catalog, 1916.

Three outfits from the Perry, Dame & Co. Catalog, 1917.

If you were an actress — whose next job might depend on being shapely — which would you prefer to wear?

Even outfits designed by Gabrielle Chanel could add pounds in 1916:

1916 designs by Gabrielle Channel [sic] from Doris Langley Moore’s Fashion through Fashion Plates, cited by Quentin Bell.

1916 designs by Gabrielle Channel [sic] from Doris Langley Moore’s Fashion through Fashion Plates, republished by Quentin Bell in On Human Finery.

Under all that fabric, it would be easy to put on a few inches around the hips without even noticing. (Weighing yourself at home was not an option when scales were huge, heavy machines.)

Then came the 1920s, when the ideal figure was flat in front and flat behind.

Warner’s corset, March 1925. Delineator.

Warner’s corset, March 1925. Delineator.

Sweater Girls, World War I

Young Women Wearing Sweaters, California, 1917-1918

Young Women Wearing Fashionable Sweaters, California, 1917-1918. Note how similar their sweaters are to the ones in the catalogs, below.

Evelyn Dodge continued:

“A few years ago during the vogue of the sweater with its concealing lines, women took off corsets, drew a long breath and let their figures go.

Sweaters from the Perry, Dame Catalog, 1917. Dover Books.

Sweaters from the Perry, Dame & Co. Catalog, 1917. Dover Books.

1922 sweaters from Sears catalog. From Everyday Fashions of the Twenties, by Stella Blum. Please do not copy this image.

Sweaters from Sears catalog, 1922. From Everyday Fashions of the Twenties, by Stella Blum. Please do not copy this image.

“Some of the results were good, others were bad. The large waist and the resulting lowering of the bust and straightening of the hip has a youthful air.  [!]  But the diaphragm bulge, the middle-aged spread, the very pronounced increase in weight, have proved ugly and stubborn.

Models Photographed for Ads in Delineator, 1917. These figures would be out of fashion in the nineteen twenties.

Models Photographed for Ads in Delineator, 1917. Their figures would be out of fashion in the nineteen twenties. Imagine the woman on the left in a 1920s dress.

“Many women who have tried going without corsets are now wearing them again – not to make their waists smaller, but to flatten the abdomen and lower back.”

Bon Ton Corset Ad in Delineator. April 1925.

Bon Ton Corset Ad in Delineator. April 1925.

The Modart Corset company ran a series of “X-ray vision” ads showing corsets as worn under clothes.

Young woman wearing a Modart Corset under her dress. October 1924, Delineator.

Young woman wearing a Modart Corset under her dress. October 1924, Delineator.

Corsets and Corselettes

Corsets from Sears catalog, 1925-26. From Everyday Fashions of the 1920s by Stella Blum. Please do not copy this image.

Corsets from Sears catalog, 1925-26. From Everyday Fashions of the Twenties, by Stella Blum. Please do not copy this image.

Many women wore a Brassiere or Bandeau to compress their breasts, plus a corset to control their hips and abdomen. (See the “Detachable Ceinture Step-in,” above.) This could leave an uncomfortable and unsightly ridge of flesh bulging out where the brassiere and corset met, so the Brassiere + Girdle combination — also called a corselette — became very popular:

Treo "Brassiere Girdle combination garment" ad from Delineator, May 1925.

Treo “Brassiere Girdle combination garment” ad from Delineator, May 1925. This could also be called a corselette or corsette.

Dodge explains: “Most young girls and practically all women need some sort of figure control . . . . Not all women need corsets. Women with young slender figures find that the corselet, which is a combination brassiere and hip-confiner, is sufficient.”

Butterick corselette pattern #5691, January 1925.

Butterick corselette pattern #5691, January 1925.

The boneless corselet (spelled many ways) would have acted on a woman’s body the way that sausage casing acts on sausage, redistributing her flesh into a tube shape.  Although it had no metal boning, this corselette’s vertical flat-felled seams pass over the bust points, effectively flattening the breasts. Tension between the shoulder straps and the stocking garters would finish the job. (For more information about corsets and corselets, click here. For more information about 1920s bust flatteners, click here.)

Coming Soon: How to Look Thinner in the 1920s, Part 2: Wear the Right Lingerie

 

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, Corselettes, Corsets, Corsets & Corselettes, Girdles, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, vintage photographs

Early Keds for Women Ads, Summer 1917

Keds for women ad, June 1917.

Keds for women ad, June 1917.

Keds rubber-soled shoes were introduced in 1916 (according to Wikipedia), a product of the United States Rubber Company. I have not searched through magazines from 1916, but this ad from June 1917 implies that this particular Ked shoe is a new style, “A New Shoe with a New Charm.” An ad from the following month makes a pun about this model: “Keds Make Their First Bow to You.” Obviously, these are not the high-topped sneakers that were the first Keds produced. These rubber-soled flats, with their squared bow on the toe, look amazingly modern compared to other women’s shoes from 1917:

Women's Shoes for April, 1917. From an article in Delineator magazine.

Women’s Shoes for April, 1917. From an article in Delineator magazine.

Here is the text from the June Keds advertisement pictured above:1917 june p 33 keds ad btm text“A new shoe — a new name — a new attractiveness in style — a new comfort in  coolness and graceful flexibility — a new economy worth while. These are reasons why you, too, will appreciate the charm of this big new American shoe family called Keds.

“Keds have cool tops of the firmest and finest of canvas. The soles are made of rubber, full of grace and spring.

“Keds prove a necessity to the well-dressed woman who values perfect ease in all of her outdoor games and sports. They are so comfortable outdoors that she also wears them for housework, shopping, and leisure dress-up hours. Keds, in name, means quality, for behind every pair there is the reputation of the largest rubber manufacturer in the world. You will find all that is desirable in materials, workmanship and shapeliness and smart style in any of the three grades of Keds. Ask for Keds according to price and style desired under these names:

“National Keds, from $1.50 up; Campfire Keds, $1.25 to $2.00; Champion Keds, $1.00 to $1.50.

“There is style, service and economy in Keds for every member of the family.

“Keds for girls and boys are national favorites. The lines and support of Keds conform to little growing feet. There is also great economy in their splendid wearing qualities.”

Keds Advertisement, July 1917

Keds Advertisement for July 1917; it appeared in both Delineator and Ladies' Home Journal.

Keds Advertisement for July 1917; it appeared in both Delineator and Ladies’ Home Journal.

This full page ad — “Keds Make Their First Bow to You” —  appeared in the July edition of the women’s magazines Delineator and Ladies’ Home Journal.  “They bow to you — discriminatingly well-dressed American woman!”

“Keds for you will cover all daytime occasions — home wear; golf, tennis and all other outdoor games; for ordinary walking or longer ‘hikes’; for yachting and riding wear; and plenty of other styles just as perfectly suitable for wear with morning frocks and daintiest house gowns, at home or on the country-club porch.

“She travels many miles a day — the woman going about her household duties; but she is perfectly content to walk on that journey of loving service when she wears a shoe as pretty as it is comfortable….”

[U.S. Rubber later introduced a line of woman’s shoes called Kedettes, closely resembling fashion shoes; some even had medium-high heels.]

I’m not sure whether the July 1917 shoe is the same as the June one, or if the July shoe actually had thin black piping as drawn. The illustrations also have different skirts and different backgrounds — a boat race in June, a beach scene in July.

Take another look at that classic, slip-on shoe; it’s 97 years old this month.

Keds for women ad, June 1917.

Keds for women, June 1917 – almost 100 years ago.

 

 

 

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Shoes, Sportswear, Vintage Accessories