1920s: The Long Tubular Look

Even people who know nothing at all about fashion history have a mental image of how women dressed in the 1920s.  Actually, they can picture how women sort of dressed in 1926-27, with an image of what can be called the flapper with her knee length dresses and long strings of pearls.

But of course history is not as simple as that stereotype.  Before 1925 skirt lengths wavered between eight and twelve inches from the floor, with a big shift toward shorter skirts developing in 1925.

One thing that most 1920s dresses do have in common is a dropped waistline.  It was really more of a hip line than a waistline.  While most dresses did sport this long waist, some dresses were tubular, with no waistline at all.

The tubular dress seems to be most popular in 1924, though it is seen and mentioned earlier in fashion magazines.  In December, 1922, Vogue advised, “Those who do not care for the unbelted waist-line may wear a narrow grosgrain ribbon ties at the side in long ends…”  The accompanying drawing showed these ribbon ties at the hip.

Also in 1920 there was a vogue for bordered fabrics.  Susan at Witness2Fashion did a fabulous post about the fashions of 1924, and if you look at it you will see how these borders were incorporated into the styles of that year.  Note too, how many of them are tubular.

I found and bought the dress above last week, and I feel pretty confident that it does date to 1924.  All of the design is machine embroidered, with the neck section being engineered as a curve in the embroidering of the fabric.  The sleeve caps, however, are cut and sewn to the sleeves.

There are only two pieces to this dress, the front and the back, with the sleeves being cut as part of them.  Note the covered buttons, and see that there are also rows of them on the sides, from the hip to the hem.

Here you can see how the sleeve trim is sewn on top of the little sleeve.

The dress is beautifully made, with all seams being enclosed.  It’s as neat and tidy on the inside as on the outside.



Filed under Collecting, Vintage Clothing

18 responses to “1920s: The Long Tubular Look

  1. Ellen Ruggles

    This was a great find and in such good condition. I enjoy your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The embroidery is beautiful — and still in lovely, shiny condition. Do you think it is Chinese? That bottom section is a delight! Thanks for collecting this and sharing it. And at a terrific bargain price!


  3. What a beautiful item! Fascinating. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. vastlycurious.com

    I have at least three pieces similar to this. I love the detail work and anything on black. Lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So nice to have a closer look at this beauty! And she really does come to life on your dress form. I also really enjoyed reading Witness2Fashion’s post about the hemlines of 1924.

    I keep scrolling up to look at the border of that dress again. Just gorgeous!


  6. This really shows how embellishment can raise something from ordinary to extraordinary. What a beautiful end product. I can see your traveling girl slipping into this after a tennis match.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. What a fun filled you have! I enjoy your blog, your images and reports of your travels…I appreciate the history of yesterday. When your post appears, i know it’s time for a new story..happy spring..


  8. Interesting! Years ago while working with a designer(who designed during that period in New York) I learned the silhouette you are showing was known to as a chemise – as in “slip” which was considered very daring-yet appropriate however as to /for shock value! I also wanted to share-the dress would have had no seam at the waist-and should slightly graze/slide but touch the hip..to give attention to hip and back! Mercy! It was quite daring I was told! Later -a side slit was added for obvious functional/sexy reasons! I was receiving a fashion/history lesson all in one


  9. Wonderful (and enjoyed the comments, too). I admit that I would love to see a close up of the bottom band. 🙂 Thanks for linking to the fascinating post by witness2fashion as well. Informative and interesting, as always.


  10. Jewell Roesler

    Simply stunning, Lizzie! A museum quality addition to your collection. Thank you for sharing her.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Wow! What a find! The skill of the maker is amazing, between the fine embroidery detail, and your mention of the seams enclosed.

    I love your discussion of era stereotypes. It is so true.



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