Sunday, 8 August 2021

Seven decades ago

I've had no time for any sewing at all this week, so instead, I'm looking at another of my old copies of Vogue Pattern Book. This one is the August/September 1951 issue, so is exactly 70 years old.

The change of seasons is the main theme of the issue, although there are a few other articles. The first, and longest, feature is titled "Summer into autumn", and features patterns for 'town clothes' in crêpe, satin, silk jersey, wool jersey, faille, and sheer silk. One of the suggestions for wool jersey, 7444, is also the cover image.

Vogue Pattern Book, August-September 1951

I must admit that one of the first things I noticed about the cover was the puckered crown of the hat (once a hatmaker, always a hatmaker). On the photograph inside the magazine, however, the puckers have mysteriously vanished. I wonder if the black and white version had been tinkered with a little, but it was too complicated to do the same with the colour image?

The miraculously improved hat

Amid the choices for silk jersey, 7228 is described as "For the older woman". Even though Mrs Exeter had been appearing in Vogue for a couple of years by 1951, it seems as though she hadn't yet made her way into the pattern book.

L to R - 7352, 7362, 7228

There are no references to older women in the four-page feature "Designed to be slimming", and nor are there any illustrations of figures which might need such help. 7443 is described as "particularly flattering to the not-very-slender", which prompted my mum to comment, "She looks pretty blooming slender to me already"!

L to R - 7443, S-4214

The 'Vogue's-eye view' of fashion is also apparent in a short piece on the 1951 National Sewing Contest. One section of this was won by Mrs Irene Basford of Birkdale, who made up a Vogue Paris Original Schiaparelli pattern, 1098.

1098, taken from Pinterest. Photographed in Paris, of course!

Either Mrs Basford was publicity-shy, or she was not considered Vogue material, as the photograph of her wearing her creation is severely cropped.

The mysterious Mrs Basford

Returning to the autumnal theme, "Now - and later" features clothes which can be worn with or without a coat, as the weather cools.

Colourful images for autumn . . .

. . . and a more restrained palette

These include S-4214 "specially designed on softer lines for the older woman" and 7414 which creates "an illusion of slimness for the not-so-slender".

L to R - 630, S-4214, 7414

The feature "Packing for an autumn holiday" offers suggestions for suits, separates, and dresses for sightseeing.

Holiday suits

The green dress in the centre of the right page looked familiar, although the fabric suggestion of shantung is far more formal than the seersucker I used for my version.

Holiday separates and dresses

Also on the side of formality, the final packing suggestion is an evening dress - something which I have never needed on any holiday, at any time of year!

Never part of my packing plans

Vogue Pattern Book readers seemed to attend a lot of cocktail parties, if the number of cocktail dresses and related clothes featured in the issue is anything to go by. Among others, 7155 is described as a jacket "for cocktails or evening wear", while 7208 and 7391 are cocktail dresses in faille and taffeta respectively. That all three appear in a section on maternity wear suggests that pregnancy, like a lot of other things, was very different 70 years ago!

For the cocktail-quaffing mother-to-be (don't try this at home!)

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