The middy blouse is one of those garments that today we have sort of pushed to the side and forgotten. Ever since it went out of favor in the late 1920s, the middy has made a reappearance from time to time. It was big during the patriotic times of the 1940s, had a brief moment in the 1960s, was revived by Laura Ashley in the 1980s, and was sported by the Duchess of Cambridge last year.
Still, it is hard for us today to realize how ubiquitous the middy actually was with girls and young women in the 1910s and 1920s. If you look at as many vintage photos as I, then you begin to see just how commonly this garment was worn by schoolgirls. It’s sort of like the jeans of the era.
I tend to think of it as a white cotton twill garment, and to be truthful, that is usually what is seen both in vintage photos and in vintage clothing shops. But the middy was made in a wide range of colors and fabrics.
I recently acquired the two little brochure catalogs above. On the left is the catalog from 1920 and on the right is the one from 1922. They are from Henry S. Lombard, a Boston company, and were sold only through the catalog. I’ve reproduced most of the pages for you, and you can click to enlarge each double page.
1922. Notice how much skirts have shortened in just two years.