Monday, May 16, 2016
A Close Up Look: 1930's Silk Party Dress
This wonderful silk print floor length dress dates from the pre-WWII era, late 1930's. Silk chiffon is printed in vibrant colors, and cut with a balanced symmetry, so that the design image is the same on both sides of this gown.
Both front and back views show how the silk print is arranged, and it also presents the silhouette, with its long fit and flared skirt. This look appears late in the 1930's after years of a more slender fitting long skirt that might have hem fullness, but was not circular.
The skirt fits smoothly from the bodice (with side zipper) through the hips, where the extra soft fabric of the circle skirt creates many folds that hang down to the hemline. Before WWII formal hemlines were 6 yards and more around.
The fitted bodice has gathered fabric to create a sweet heart neckline. In center front, the gathers meet in a loop of cording, creating a small circular peep hole. The same peep hole is on the puffed sleeves at the hem. The use of extra fullness, gathers and shirring also gains popularity at the end of the 30's, with many novelty applications like the ones seen in this dress.
Considering the number of dresses from the 1930's with rayon or acetate textiles, this silk chiffon represents a designer or higher priced gown. The bold print was a popular trend, seen also in tropical or Hawaiian prints as well as strong florals like this dress shows.
Puffed sleeves are also found at this time. While shoulder fullness gained in popularity by 1932, the release in 1937 of Disney's "Snow White" created a revival of this rounded look, which lent itself to the wider shoulder silhouette that was becoming predominant.
This wonderful dress (recently sold) was part of my long term collection, and lent itself well to the study of fashion from the 1930's, looking for inspiration, attending a vintage event or simply wearing something beautiful.