Sunday, 10 May 2020

Vogue and the older woman - the 1934 edition

What little sewing I have managed to do this week has been more scrubs, and that's really not worth showing - once you've seen one set of blue scrubs, you've seen them all. So instead, I was going to write about a very old issue of Vogue Pattern Book, but then I got distracted.

In the 1930s, Vogue Pattern Book was not a standalone publication; instead it was sold attached to an issue of Vogue, which was then a fortnightly magazine.

May 16 1934 edition of Vogue, with the June/July Pattern Book attached

Looking through Vogue, I came across this article. (Don't worry, there are enlarged version of every paragraph below!)

Suggestions for the older woman

The reader's question at the start was depressingly familiar.

This was almost 86 years ago!

As was the answer.


So there you go. Vogue was just aching to feature older women but the fashion-artists would insist on drawing youngsters. And the photographers? Well, they just couldn't be bothered. Apparently Vogue in 1934 was such a minor, unknown publication that it just had to accept whatever artwork it was given, and had no say in the matter! Which seems unlikely, given that the author of these articles was at pains to stress that any artist wanting to make a career in fashion illustration needed to be aware that the requirements of the client were paramount.

Anyway, leaving sarcasm and venting aside, what was Vogue's response to the "matron's letter"?

The first recommendation

Crepe and georgette evening gown by Molyneux, worn by a countess

This reminded me of several of the evening dresses in the Tinne Collection. While many of Vogue's readers would not have been able to afford Molyneux dresses, they would have taken note of the styles, and looked for something similar within their own budget.

Staying with the evening dress theme

None of the four ensembles on page 52 have any maker's details, so I assume that they are purely imaginative.

The suit in question is second from the left

The next recommendation refers to the one illustration in the entire magazine which features an obviously older woman.

"tulle . . . is most kindly to age"

Evening ensemble by Alix

If tulle, despite its 'kindly' properties, isn't your thing then there is always satin instead.

Double satin

This wrap appears in a feature about a wardrobe of five(!) Worth ensembles ordered by the Comtesse Elie de Ganay, who was photographed wearing them.

Oyster satin cape with black satin lining

The article then moves on to daywear.

'Sporting' choices

The suggestions from pages 60 and 61

It's interesting to look at what other items of clothing feature in the colour spread. I can see why the outfit on the far right might not pass muster, but I'm not sure why the others are considered unsuitable for the older woman.

The full spread

As an aside, I'm taken with the idea of H&M being a 'name' in 1934, albeit a different one!

Henri and Mawdsley, of Conduit Street in London

Carrying on with daywear.

More suits and dresses

Only the outfit on the right is considered suitable: possibly the "corrugated ribs" of the jacket on the left were thought to be unflattering to the older figure!

Ribs and stripes

This dress can be "had from Harrods", but is also available from other stockists, including 'Elaine' in Guildford. I wonder what my namesake's shop was like?

Silk crepe printed dress

Finally, if you just want to refresh a dress you already have, a detachable jabot (another Mrs Tinne favourite) or collar are this season's way of doing so.

Again, only some of the examples shown are considered suitable

I prefer the examples on the left, but apparently I shouldn't!

The article goes on to state that the attached Vogue Pattern Book "simply teems with good models for the oolder woman", but that will have to be the subject of another post. (Now written, it's here.)