Monday, September 24, 2012

"just dash in recklessly"

Did you know hoop skirts were totally en vogue in fall 1938?  These pages are from the September 5, 1938 issue of Life magazine and outline the full range of fall fashions.  The article starts out with a short illustrated history of fashion silhouettes.

I can't say I'm a particular fan of these ruffle-trimmed, giant-hooped dresses...but I do love the hoop skirt-wearing hints given in the margins!  "In crowded elevators you won't be popular, but keep calm."  "Revolving doors are a menace.  Just dash in recklessly."  "Phone booths never bothered great grandmother, but they will you."

The article also says that "notoriously hippy" American women will "pounce upon the bell-shaped silhouette."  Maybe that should be somone's rap name.  The Notorious H.I.P.

"Sports clothes" and shoes.  Now that's more like it.  Check out the spool heel on the oxfords on the left!  Italian-made platforms and wedges by Palter de Liso are the cutting edge in shoes in fall 1938.  Apparently American women hadn't quite yet come to equate Italy with Salvatore Ferragamo and amazing shoe design, as "In the  minds of most Americans, Italians are associated with shoes either as bootblacks or repair men." !!!

Love the oversize handbag shown on the right.

Coats!  That block plaid on the left is my favorite.  The article says Queen Elizabeth and her Scottish heritage are responsible for the trendiness of plaid.  Fancier fur-trimmed coats on the right (and please notice Life getting all goth--photoshoot in a cemetery!).

Day dresses include the "lumberjacket"--a shirtwaist dress with a "mannish" collar--and trendy accents like embossed quilting and modified dolman sleeves.  The dress on the lower right on the left is called a "modified dirndl" and the model sports a $7 pin, "a surrealist horse on lips."  It doesn't say the name of the pin's designer, but it sounds to me like something made--or certainly inspired by--Elsa Schiaparelli!

On the right is the "new fall dinner suit," made of wool with a long, high waisted skirt, by Monteil.



  1. Hahaha! You won't be popular in elevators… brilliant!

    How interesting Queen Elizabeth was influencing American fashion, though when you look back she was quite the fashionable lady.

  2. I actually have an evening gown from the late 1930s that has hoops built into the skirt. It's a bitch to store! I've always assumed the trend had to do with the popularity of Gone with the Wind.

    1. Lizzie, my first thought when I saw this was Gone with the Wind, too. The movie didn't come out until 1939, but the book was published in 1936. I can't imagine that hoop skirts could have ever come back as anything other than a very short-lived trend!


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