Sunday, 19 May 2013

Autumn and Fall fashions of the 1930s

It's almost Winter in Australia, but here in North Queensland it's more like the start of Autumn.  I am beginning to wear long pants and think about stockings with my dresses. And I have worn my new beret once, instead of just sun hats. So today some Autumn fashion inspiration from the 1930s.

Fabrics for Autumn day wear included soft wool, and crepe, either pebbled, crinkled or satin backed, all soft and easy to drape, shirr, or tailor. Dull satins were used for late after
noon frocks, velveteen for any hour of the day, velvet for "dressy" frocks. From the mid 30s a combination of two fabrics in the one dress was used, such as wool and satin, wool and velvet, wool and velveteen, crepe and velveteen, or crepe and wool.

Canton Crepe Fabric, 1930s
Browns, tan, every possible shade of green, bright royal-blue, reds from darkest wine to bright coral were also be worn. You could mix two colours in your frock, contrasting belt or scarf, gloves or hat. For example a black wool jersey dress could be worn with bright yellow gloves or with a
royal-blue hat and black gloves.

Australian Home Journal, March 1930
These 1930 dresses above still have the dropped waist of the 1920s, and are worn with the tightly pulled down cloche hats. Here we can see the waist has moved up a bit, and the beret is making an appearance. The two piece outfit is becoming popular.

Home Budget Australia, March 1931
This dress has a lovely shaped blouse top, with a fold over neckline and cuffs with contrasting fabric. Belts are now definitely on the waist. The outfit is finished with a matching jacket and scarf.
McCalls, Nov 1932
All these dress have belts and some have pockets  I love the flared gored skirt of the green dress, as the unusual sleeves.

McCalls c. 1933
These dresses for the Spring racing carnival in the US would have been seen in Australian Magazines in Autumn - the central dress with cape like jacket and brown gloves and hat would have been perfect for the Australian autumn.

Fall 1934
This soft wool tweed dress has the skirt slightly flared from under the gathered bust line, and is worn with the popular 30s fox stole.

Actress Helen Mack, 1934
Here is Bette Davis in two fashion shoots from 1934, in a long and a short jacket.

Bette Davis, 1934 
1935 Home Chat

From the Australian Women's Weekly, February 1936:
1. THIS attractive outfit is sketched from a Schiaparelli model. The quaint waisted jacket is of wool crepe wool. It has a new flared basque jutting out at the back. The skirt of coral wool is slim-fitting.
2. OVER a crepe dress in two tones of brown is worn a full jacket, finger-tip length, of moss-green velveteen. The piquant little hat accompanying it is also of moss-green velveteen.
3. SHEER black wool or crepe for this afternoon dress with draped bodice and sleeves. A long scarf of yellow crepe loops through the belt, and is caught to the hem underneath.
4. TWO bias strips of nigger (sic) brown velvet are threaded through gathered slots on the collar and belt of this pink crepe dress. They finish in simple, pointed ends at neck and waistline.
5. VELVETEEN and wool, red and bright navy, are two new combinations seen in this suit.
The red velveteen jacket is edged with blue braid. The wool skirt has four gores. 

The Fashion Parade. (1936, February 22) Australian Women's Weekly
Suggestions for Your First Autumn Ensemble!
Cream of Coming Season's Wardrobe Wisdom
YOUR first cold-weather purchase should be chosen with an eye on your winter wardrobe. If it is a dress you will wish to wear it later under your winter coat. If it is a suit, you will want the accessories to go with other things later on. Therefore, before you make up your mind, decide upon your winter color scheme.
Dresses follow two trends. The first is military and suits only the young and slim. Here you see one-piece frocks like a military uniform, slim and tailored, with high, stiff collars, braided epaulets, braided or velvet frogs up and down the front of the bodice, yoke trimmed with yards and yards of black ├čoutache braid, shoulders rather square, sleeves straight, skirts slim and straight.
These dresses can be in two pieces, the hip-length jumper looking like a military jacket.
Black, In dull heavy crepe or sheer wool, will be favoured for these dresses. Their color contrasts are military-red and hussar-blue for belts, collars or braid trimming. Gold buttons in the shape of gold franc pieces or gold crowns will be fashionable fastenings. 
The second type of frock is more intricate in cut, but additionally becoming and very feminine. Draped bodices, high necklines, slim skirts, or skirts with all the fullness centre-front, wrapped skirts. Drapery and shirring is handled to give straight lines. There are pleats, usually in the centre-front. Full sleeves, big at the wrists and caught into a band, wide at the armhole and narrowing towards the wrist, pleated or shirred Into the armhole will also be features of this type of frock.

Some Waistlines when the skirt is draped across the hips are slightly lower than the present mode, but the majority of dresses have wide belts which are placed high.
Necks finish with little standing collars or twisted yokes and scarves of the fabric.
Skirts are straight and slim, with low pleats or a wrap-over. They must be short, twelve to fourteen
inches from the ground.
Belts are of gold chain, gold kid, embroidery in bright wools on crepe, of velveteen and velvet, and of colored leather.
Jewelled ornaments are attached to day dresses in the shape of clips, buckles and buttons Gold is a popular accessory color to black frocks for belts, buttons and jewellery.

There are several styles for suits - trim military jackets, with high collars and closing up the front with frogs, Louis XIV suits, with skirts and jackets kicking into flares centre-back, suits with tailored, fitted jackets, little velvet collars, braid-bound edges, double or single-breasted. 
Sleeves are always plain in suits. Wools and velveteen are suit fabrics, and the jacket and skirt often contrast, such as a deep red wool skirt and emerald wool jacket, black wool skirt and coral velveteen jacket, brown skirt and mustard Jacket, cornflower-blue skirt and ruby-red jacket.
A coat, jacket or cape over a crepe dress is a good autumn ensemble. They are made of wool or velveteen.
Full-length coats are slim-fitting and button centre-front. Fingertip-length jackets have full backs and fronts and big sleeves. They can be smocked or shirred at the shoulders to give fullness.
Capes can be any length from the waist to the hem of the dress.

Autumn/Winter 1937
Bette Davis in fashion for fall 1938, from her personal wardrobe, by designer Orry-Kelly: A slim fur and fabric model in black woollen and Russian caracul. Her chic black tricorn is of fur felt. The whole ensemble is just stunning!

Bette Davis, fall 1938

Autumn 1939
For a more detailed look at 1930s Autumn/Fall and winter fashions, have a look at April 1930s Free PDF Booklet, which features fabrics and How to dress smartly and economically.

Deb xx


  1. Fabulous Fashion! I found some vintage patterns this weekend and I think a couple of them are from the 1930's. I loved reading your post!

  2. Lucky you, and thanks for reading!

  3. My favorite era! Thank you for a great read and the patterns and illustrations are just wow!


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