Monday, 20 February 2012

A 1940s Trousers Saga. Part 2: Photos and sources

Hollywood movie starlets from the 1930s are generally acreditted with starting the daily wear of trousers as a fashion trend rather than something worn as an (often scandalous) necessity for manual jobs as it had been previously.

Fabulous Marlene Dietrich, who wore male styles in her film roles of the early 1930s, and carried the style into her off-screen wardrobe:




The other most well known trouser-wearing actress of the period was Katharine Hepburn. In her style we start to see the relaxed, more feminine tailoring as she pairs wide-legged slacks with simple blouses and open jackets. Her comfortable poses in these images help with this of course!




During the war years, as women took on the roles of those men gone to fight abroad, the role of trousers in many women's wardrobes turned to workwear.  Taking on jobs ranging from farming through to engineering and munitions manufacture, women needed work clothing that was hardwearing, unrestrictive and protective.

This set of images from New Vintage Lady  shows a variety of styles and fabrics in trousers for work and everyday wear, including different cuts of overalls, and the introduction of denim in womenswear.


Denim jeans quickly found their way into the everyday wardrobe, particularly amongst teens and younger women. Amy Jeanne of It'll Take The Snap Out Of Your Garters has an interesting post looking at the trend of jeans and T-shirts in the '40s, something we often think of as a much more recent trend. 


I've now decided to make up my trousers as jeans. Cue pattern alterations for pockets and turned up cuffs!

Next up: Tips, Tutorials and Makes from around the blogosphere

7 comments:

  1. Do you want to swap me a copy of your 2645 for a copy of the trouser pattern from Simplicity 3688? I just ordered it, it should be here within the week. I'm planning to do jeans from that pattern as it has a waistband so you could add pockets really easily. The 2645 would look amazing in something nice and drapey and thick, with those buttons added like in your last post :)

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    1. Ooh, please. I'll be done with my pattern prety soon once I've traced it off and done the alterations. Hopefully order the denim on Friday. Once I've sorted the fit out I'll probably make about a million pairs. I'll be having a trip to the mill soon so I'll have a rummage for some good fabrics. The nearest places I know of up here that sell anything other than patchwork fabrics are in Carlisle.

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  2. I might go tomorrow if I can budget for it, after I go for a rummage round the fleamarket for untapped vintage treasures. Last time I got six rock 'n' roll 78s for a tenner, the Little Richard and Bill Haley ones alone would go for at least £30 each were I to sell them. I'm not going to though, obviously!

    The fabric choices here are pretty poor considering it's a major city... there are loads of Asian fabric shops but all they sell are horrible synthetics pre-cut into suit sized lengths (goodness knows what happens if you are a fat woman in these shops) so the only other option is Abakhan in town who will get something good in once, then never again. They have denim but it's in the weighed fabric department cut up into random lengths.

    Woo a million pairs of pants... I need new ones.

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    1. Ooh, flea market. Oooh, 1940s factory folds kids patterns for 25p (assuming I didn't buy them all last time!)

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  3. If I see any I'll get them for you. x

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    1. It's ok, I'm going down in a couple of weeks so I'll nab them then- I doubt there's many people in Burnley would buy stuff like that!

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    2. I didn't see any, I did however buy many sparkly things and knitting needles.

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