Friday, October 28, 2016

1950s Vintage Fashion: Hourglass Corsage Silhouettes


1950s Vintage Fashion: Hourglass Corsage Silhouette

In the mid-1950’s, the Hourglass silhouette had a popular style termed “corsage”. This look was worn by fashionable women with slender waistlines. It had a fitted bodice or corsage that is not as tightly boned like a corset. I wanted to look closer at these dresses to learn more about how they are both similar and diverse.

When spotting this style, (such as the illustration above from 1956 advertisement for Burlington that showcases McCalls 3458), look first for a horizontal seamline, either just below the bust line, or around the upper hip level, somewhat in the same location as a corset edge. These seam lines are often accented with wide sashes, cuff-like belting, or a trim to emphasize the body fit.



This illustration shows the corsage fit in both a hip emphasis and under-bust shaping. Princess seam dresses are often part of the pattern design used to create this look without a defined waistline seam that has a strong hourglass silhouette.

The illustrations shown here again feature McCalls 3458, and come from a McCall’s spring 1956 pattern magazine, however many of the patterns in this issue seem to be dated 1955. This helps us to know that this look was a long term, strong and popular design feature.



A typical novelty print fabric with tiny houses is shown using patterns 3434, a true princess seam dress, and 3494, a drop waist corsage with an easy to sew darted bodice. The dramatic red sheath is pattern 3493, and shows an under bust seam that comes to a point at center front.


This shapely corsage style in the rose print is a separate skirt and top set, 3511 and 3512. The geometric print dress was not labeled with pattern, but it could be 3458 that has a similar cuff style hip band.

This magazine issue lists many similar patterns that create the corsage fit. I tracked down several to show original sewing pattern cover art. I find pattern covers are an excellent source for fabric color and print as well as accessories, hair and makeup.


3497: a modification of the princess seamed dress that shows a bustline seam
3434: a true princess shaped dress that has flared and shaped panels from neckline to hem


This set of patterns show the modifications of the princess pattern with addition of the hip level seam and applied gathered skirt. In this case I found both an all around skirt, 3479, and another with a smooth front and gathered sides, 3492. This style recalls the silhouette of Marie Antoinette and the 1700’s, creating a romantic air.

3492: the hip skirt has a wide sash sewn into the seam line with bows to emphasize the hips, the corsage is fit with curved bust seams into the armscye
3479: this simple version clearly shows the princess seams to shoulder in the corsage

This look was considered a youthful style, and can be found in many of the Givenchy designs for Audrey Hepburn (Sabrina, Funny Face, Love in the Afternoon).  These were among the early styles produced by 'junior' style houses that catered to the growing teenage consumer population.  Look for these additional corsage patterns by McCalls:

3499 (V front seam), 3478 (under bust seam), 3477 (fitted midriff), 3481 (knit top), 3467 (low waist, full skirt), 3355 (V waist jumper), 3432 (V waist dress), 3433 (shaped hip sash), 3523 (low waist, full skirt),

The patterns shown here are available at the following online vintage pattern shops, show your support and take a look:

3434: Pattern Shop
3479: The Perfect Pattern
3492: Midvale Cottage
3497: The Spectrum


5 comments:

fabriquefantastique said...

my favorite era

Jen O said...

It's a great era indeed!

Kathleen said...

Thanks so much for this very informative post. I love learning the details of history fashion!

Your Pattern Shop said...

Such a great blog! Lots of information here! Thanks for including my pattern in your post! Check this blog out, it is great!

Jen O said...

Thank you for commenting, it's great to hear from readers like you too!

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