Latest Posts

Gossard Corsets ad, The Designer Oct 1916, thedreamstress.com

The Ideal WWI era figure: Part I

As a celebration (slightly belatedly) of the release of the Scroop Rilla Corset, over the next few weeks I’ll be doing a series post about the ‘ideal’ figure from 1913 to 1921 – the period covered by the Rilla corset.

The Scroop Rilla Corset Pattern Scrooppatterns.com

I’ll be covering how the figure ideal changed from 1914 to 1921, how corsets and other undergarments were used to achieve the ideal figure and ‘correct’ the less than ideal figure, and how to wear a 1910s corset if you are ‘large above the waist’, and how to fit the Rilla to your figure.

Of course, in any era, beauty is in the eye of the beholder: what the ideal figure is depends on who is describing it, so there are lots of variations.  Part of the reason I really love the 1914-1921 period is that it covers a vast range of fashionable silhouettes within that 7 year range, even within a single year, and with so many different waistlines, necklines, skirt silhouettes and overall ‘looks’, there is a mid-teens style for every body.

To start off with, a look at the range of ideal bodies from a Gossards Corset advertisement from The Designer magazine, October 1916.  Gossard’s was an American corset manufacturer that heavily marketed their range of corsets for specific individual figures, with each different style of corset being designed to mould your particular type of figure into the fashionable ideal.

I’ve got quite a few Gossard’s advertisements in my magazine collection, but this one is particularly interesting as being an early example of the use of Hollywood stars to market fashion and beauty.

Gossard Corsets ad, The Designer Oct 1916, thedreamstress.com

Here we see Gossard’s description of how each corset enhances each figure and corrects its perceived faults:

Gossard Corsets ad, The Designer Oct 1916, thedreamstress.com

Gossard ads typically include photographs of models for each type of figure and corset:

Gossard Corsets ad, The Designer Oct 1916, thedreamstress.com

These images have almost certainly received at least some re-touching (aka, early photoshopping) to idealise the figure even more, but give a good general idea of what actual women, albeit ideal ones, looked like in corsets of the eral

Gossard Corsets ad, The Designer Oct 1916, thedreamstress.com

Gossard Corsets ad, The Designer Oct 1916, thedreamstress.com

Gossard Corsets ad, The Designer Oct 1916, thedreamstress.com

Gossard Corsets ad, The Designer Oct 1916, thedreamstress.com

Gossard Corsets ad, The Designer Oct 1916, thedreamstress.com

Of course, the problem with these is figuring out where your figure would sit. I could plausibly see myself falling into the Average Figure, Arched Back Figure, Large Below Waist, or possibly even the Tall Slender Figure category!

Rate the Dress: a butterfly ballgown, ca 1865

Last week’s purple velvet aestheticism inspired reception gown / tea gown proved very popular, with many of you commenting that you loved it because you could actually imagine wearing it.  It did loose points for awkward lower-front rouching (which I hadn’t noticed and will now never be able to unsee!), and not everyone was on-board with the long train, all-over high-necked-with-velvet thing, or the Renaissance sleeves.  So, for lots of excitement with a few niggles, a still very regal score of 8.5 out of 10.

Although no-one commented that last week’s gown made them feel hot as happened with the green velvet gown earlier this year, this week I chose a dress that seemed much more summery in theme: an 1860s ballgown of butterfly patterned chiné silk.

Were it not for the striking butterfly patterned fabric this dress would never have made it as a Rate the Dress choice.  It’s almost completely devoid of ornamentation or design interest except for the tassel-trimmed sleeves, which would flutter and move with the dress, evoking wings, or delicate cocoons hanging from leaves – quite appropriately for the fabric.

The dress has one other unusual and intriguing feature: it appears to fasten up the front, which, combined with the pattern placement on the front, makes me wonder if it originally had a detachable bertha or guimpe, or other form of trimming which obscured part of the front.  The museum record indicates a three-part garment, and Robe à transformation would suggest a dress with a day and evening bodice, or other method of altering the aesthetic or suitability for various occasions.

Without confirmation we can only guess, and rate the dress as it is (though hopefully without subtracting anything for the unfortunate glove choice).  Do you think this dress has pulled off elegance and impact by relying solely on the fabric and the sleeve trimmings, or are even butterflies and dragonflies not enough to make it interesting?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10

SaveSave

Madame O's Rilla Corset by Scroop Patterns thedreamstress.com

Madame O’s embroidered Rilla Corset

I had a fantastic group of testers for the Scroop Rilla Corset, and they all made amazing corsets.

The Scroop Rilla Corset Pattern Scrooppatterns.com

With every Scroop Patterns I select testers from all over the world, to make sure that the instructions are universally clear and comprehensive, but I always try to have at least one local tester, so I can see their resulting garment in person.

With the Rilla that was particularly fun, as Madame O was one of my local testers, and she embellished her test corset with her fabulous embroidery (remember the embroidered buttons she made for this wedding dress?).  And she’s let me photograph and share it!

Madame O's Rilla Corset by Scroop Patterns thedreamstress.com

This is a test version of the Rilla Pattern, so doesn’t look exactly like the finished pattern does (the main differences are the shape of the front cut out), and Madame O tried single boning construction to see how it would work (answer: not nearly as well as double, so stick to the pattern!).

 

Madame O's Rilla Corset by Scroop Patterns thedreamstress.com

Madame O's Rilla Corset by Scroop Patterns thedreamstress.com

Madame O's Rilla Corset by Scroop Patterns thedreamstress.com

Madame O's Rilla Corset by Scroop Patterns thedreamstress.com

SaveSave