1920s Clothing is NOT just for the skinny

1920s Clothing is NOT just for the skinny

If I hear it one more time, I’m going to scream!

“I can’t wear 1920s styles.  I have curves.”

ARRRRRRRRRGH!!!

How many times do I have to say it?  People weren’t waifs in the 1920s.  They weren’t hipless boys.

Let’s look at people from the 1920s.  And not your average person on the street.  We know they were all shapes and sizes.  Let’s look at professionally good-looking people.  People we think of as “paid to be in good shape.”  Prettier than the rest of us.

World famous dancers.  The best-known movie star.  A model for a top Paris fashion designer.  Reading left to right these are Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes dancers Sokolova and Woizikovsky in December 1924, outrageous 20s movie icon Talulah Bankhead in 1925, and one of famous fashion designer Madeleine Vionnet’s models in the early 1920s.

dancerstahlulabankhead vionnetmodels

Do you see what I see?  Not only do I see well-nourished adult women, I see bellies!

I mean, look at Tallulah’s paunch!

These women are definitely not skinny.  Modernly, we think of ballet dancers, actresses, and models all as being stick thin.  But they weren’t back in the 1920s.

You know, the last time I showed these photos to someone to prove people weren’t skinny in the 1920s, they said to me, “Isn’t it interesting how they’re all older people.”

Talulah Bankhead is 23 years old in that photo. Ms. Sokolova is 28 years old. Madeleine Vionnet’s model is also in her 20s.

Are your preconceived notions dashed yet?

Wait.  There’s more!

Look at the sizes on this original 1920s pattern:

Pictorial-review_9485_front_cropped

Yes, size 38 really says 38″ bust, 28″ waist, and 42½” hips.  On other patterns in the RH archives, a bust size 36 is considered a small, and a 40 a medium.  So this is in between those two sizes.  Today, this would be a size 12 — which most size charts consider a Large — but the hip circumference of a modern size 12 is only 40″.

Even the smallest size on this pattern — 34″ bust — has a 38″ hip.  Today this would be a size 4 and the hips would only be allowed a circumference of 36″ around.

So don’t tell me how “they were smaller back then”.  They weren’t.  It’s true that modern sizing doesn’t accommodate curvy figures.  But sizing in the 1920s certainly did.

Most patterns from the 1920s don’t include waist sizes at all, just bust and hip.  Know what?  Because the waist wasn’t the focus as it had been in the previous period.  The corset had been discarded (or at least changed to a version that flattened the bust instead) and the waistlines of most 1920s garments sat at the high hip level.  Waistlines were not important.  We hear how flappers were like “hipless boys” but they weren’t.  They were like waistless women!  Compared to the hourglass figure of the Edwardian period, this was a revolution in shape.  But they weren’t hipless or uncurvy.  They just weren’t pulled in at the waistline.

So you don’t have to be a waif to wear 1920s clothing.  They weren’t waifs.  They were normal-sized people, just like you and me.  Got it?

Can we stop this now?

Now go tell everyone you know.  Reblog.  Retweet.  Go on.  Spread the good news!

Oh yeah.  And buy some RH 1920s reproduction patterns.

Now shoo!

Leave a reply