Admire, Textiles & Costume

Fashions for Winter 1931, from The NZ Mirror

Since it’s definitely hit winter weather here in NZ I thought you might enjoy some fashion inspiration for Winter 1931.

These are from the August 1931 edition of The Mirror (because, of course, August is definitely winter in NZ!)

First, some rather delicious coats, as they were ‘Favoured in Paris’:

Winter 1931 fashions, thedreamstress.com1


#1 is a three-quarter ensemble in checked wool, trimmed with beige astrakhan (blech).

#2 is “the new collarless tailored coat in tweed jersey.’   Looks, and sounds, very wearable indeed!

#3 ‘The tunic coat…in navy serge trimmed with persian lamb’ (i.e. astrakhan by another name, still blech).

#4 ‘The loose bolero coat, in black velvet, worn with a tweed or checked skirt’.  So fabulous, and also so very modern – nothing new in fashion at all!

And to go with your chic coats, a lovely selection of blouses:

Winter 1931 fashions, thedreamstress.com2I particularly like the asymmetrical number at top left, and the lower left number with it’s cunning cross details – though  I think I’d struggle to get away will all the frills and fuss.

Can you see yourself dressing 1931 style?  Which are your favourites?


  1. JanetD says

    They did like the large cuffs didn’t they? I really like all 4 jacket bodies, without the cuffs (and astrakhan – yes, blech) they could be very attractive. However, the bolero is my favorite. Not being much of a blouse person none of them really grab me – but the skirts with the jackets are enticing.

  2. Uuuhhh… 32 degrees Celsius in the shade today in South Moravia. So the warm side of it doesn’t appeal to me much at the moment (but I love the assymetrically buttoning coat, anyway! more so because my own refashioned coat buttons in a similar way). But that polka-dot blouse! I could definitely see myself wearing that, especially in blue-and-white! The assymetrical one at top left is also great – do you think it’s lace, or some other trim?

    • Lisa W says

      As a fellow D-cup I’m with you Lesley! I find that front yoke gathers do absolutely nothing for me – the word ‘matronly’ springs to mind!

  3. Lisa W says

    In terms of shape, I’m a big fan of 1930s tailoring after the straight lines and waistlessness of the 1920s. Although I love the simplicity of form and use of surface embellishment in the latter, they do precious little to flatter a top-heavy figure! I would wear every one of these coats (and it’s definitely cold enough in Dunedin for all of them), the shapes are lovely and I adore the cuff detailing (I’m afraid to say that I do love astrakhan too…)

    I’m less enamoured of the blouses. The general shape is fine but I find the profusion of draping, gathers, pleats and bows overkill – mainly because I know they’d look awful on me. They need to take Coco Chanel’s advice to look in the mirror and remove one thing before going out! My favourite is the top left with the wrap front, although the diagonal placement of the trim on the sleeves seems a little strange.

    • Ironically, if you look at Chanel’s blouses from the same era, the vast majority of them are just as over-burden with tucks, ruffles, buttons, and details!

  4. Helene Illervik says

    I’ll take them all, please. I love the fashion of the thirties, it’s a bit silly perhaps to bundle up it as “the thirties” as so much happens with fashion during a decade.
    If I had to chose, I’d go with the second from the left of the wintry coats and skirts. I love the cut of the skirt!
    I’d take the middle blouse to go with the skirt and I’d have to take the upper left one as well, it’s asymetrical and fun, and I really would like to make me one, but I have no idea where to hide the E-cups in it, or any other thirties blouse.

    • Well, the thing to remember about NZ is that is long and thin, and basically runs North to South. So we have more climate range than any other country in the world: everything from sub-antarctic to sub-tropical (though definitely on the SUB side of sub-tropical, whereas Hawaii is on the tropical side of sub-tropical).

      I’m in Wellington, which is in the middle. It’s like a really, really crappy version of SF’s weather. Every 20 years or so we get snow in the winter, but mostly we just have an endless chill, damp days a bit above freezing, with the unpleasant bonus of incredibly strong winds straight off Antartica, where the wind chill factor makes it freezing.

      Down on the South Island, nearer to Antartica, there are plenty of places that regularly get snow all winter long, and there are ski fields on both the North & South Islands up in the mountains.

      In the far north it’s a few degrees warmer, but you still need warm clothes and heaters.

      The problem with NZ is that houses are very poorly insulated and heated. I once worked in an office in a posh, newish building where it was regularly 12 celsius/54 fahrenheit under my desk. That’s fine for walking around in bundled up, but mighty unpleasant for sitting in trying to type!

      • I think Chile may just have the edge on us when it comes to climate range: they have deserts, too, and we just have the Desert Road…
        That said, this winter has turned me suddenly very pro-blouse, but only if they have collars – it’s been so cold (autumn was pretty cold too) that I am wearing wool, wool, wool, and my thickest jersey’s a bit scratchy round the neck if there’s no collar. And no collar means it needs washing more often, and under present conditions it takes about a week to dry!
        I love the ’30s styles though – the elegant leanness of the twenties, but with a bit more freedom of movement when walking. And a bit more flattering to those of us who are not in fact lean underneath 🙂

        • Hmmmm…possibly. I’m pretty sure there is a difference between climate range (Artic, Antarctic, Sub-Artic, Sub Antarctic, temperate, subtropical, tropical etc.), which is defined by location on the globe, and environmental zones (desert, alpine desert, tropical rainforest, subtropical rainforest etc.), but I’m thinking back to high school geography lessons with these, so it’s entirely possible I’m mis-remembering! If I am remembering correctly, Hawaii, tiny as it is, may actually win with environmental zones, because it has everything from tropical rainforest to alpine desert. It’s been a long, long time though!

          In any case, we certainly have one of the most diverse climate ranges, if not the most diverse!

          • Alas, I never took geography, I had no idea of the difference between climate range and environmental zones. Which make a lot of sense, now that you mention them. Still, Chile goes from 625km inside the tropics to 1,400 km from the Antarctic Circle, which is a fairly respectable range.
            Another thing I learned today: Hawaiian Alpine desert! I had no idea! Clearly, I need a trip to Hawaii 🙂
            Having grown up in the tropics, I always grumbled when NZ was described as temperate bordering on sub-tropical – it always felt Antarctic to me!

  5. I love how many details the blouses have! From embroidery to tucking, to print-mixing! Oh they’re just scrumptious! I think my favorites would be the blouse in the middle, and the suit on the lower right hand side.

  6. I like the bottom left blouse too Leimomi. Could you possibly draft a pattern for it? I’m perfectly serious.

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