Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Fashion Forecast: September 1917

What was the well-dressed young woman wearing in September 1917?

According to the cover of this month’s The Delineator, “The New Factors in National Life have Produced New Fashions. The Dress of To-day is Simple. It is also Smart and more than ever Expresses the Spirit of Youth.” I think you’ll notice that this month’s styles are less fussy...but what an interesting note about “the Spirit of Youth.” Commercial obsession with youth is not a modern phenomenon!

In keeping with “the new factors in national life,” The Delineator includes an article on “War Ways of Making New Clothes From Old.” Among the suggestions: changing collars on old dresses, taking advantage of the narrower silhouettes of current style to re-shape old dresses, and using the current fashion for adding panels of different fabrics to dresses to smarten up last year’s frocks.

Always instructive to see are what goes on under the fashions. Undergarments were at a changing point, as both corsets (for the waist and hips) and brassieres (or “bust confiners”) were in use. And yes, in 1917, even articles on lingerie have a militaristic flavor: note the title, First Line Defense of the Figure!:

And now, the styles. The barrel silhouette is still in, but waists are dropping (foreshadowing of the waistless twenties). Prints seem to be out, and ornamentation limited to embroidery details and buttons:

Military-inspired styles of course are in...and at right is possibly one of the made-over colorblock styles mentioned above:

Also popular this month are blouses (known at this time as “shirt-waists” or just “waists”) and skirts, probably because it’s much easier for a busy mom working on her victory garden or sewing for the Red Cross to launder a waist than it is a dress:

More “at home” fashions:

And a look at clothes for teens:

Note the young lady at left knitting!:

A quick look at clothes for little girls...

And little boys:

And one last note: all of The Delineator’s covers were charming, and this one’s no exception...but one thing sets it apart. The artist was Maud Humphrey, whom you’ve probably never heard of but was a well-known commercial artist of her day. Perhaps you’re more familiar with her son, Humphrey Bogart? ☺


DangAndBlast! said...

I am always a month late (slow in my feed reader), but I just wanted to let you know how much I love these posts. I do heirloom children's sewing and enjoy how little some things have changed :) And some of those skirts for women look quite useful for this fall! Pockets!

Marissa Doyle said...

Thank you! Do you post pictures of your creations anywhere on the web?

DangAndBlast! said...

I rarely remember to! And I've been inundated with princess dress orders lately. But whenever I have something nice to photograph, I'll come and let you know :)

Barbara Etlin said...

Maud Humphrey was a very successful illustrator and did better financially than her doctor-husband. Humphrey Bogart, as a baby, was a model for her Mellin's baby food ads.