Patterns in Vogue

We recently bought an amazing pattern book which was produced by Vogue. You do see vintage patterns for sale quite a lot…..but this one is from October-November 1937. The magazine is full of beautiful pictures of stylish ladies to inspire you  to also look the same. You then went to a stockist and bought the relivent paper pattern, took it home, made your own dress and hey presto….you are now also a stylish lady!

The stockists also would provide you with a free fashion folder for you to store your precious patterns in.

The book opens with this season’s “Vital Statistics”, introducing you to the key looks for the winter ahead. This is really no different from a fashion mag today! It starts with the words:

“Talk swirls about the Paris Collections, and one is caught in an eddy of furs and sequins and lame and a return of the opulence and elegance of the pre war period. But through the sound and smoke some things rise above others to appear as the practical, applicable and vital statistics of the 1937-38 fashion story.  Let your head stay in the clouds with the fabulous charm of the story-these few fundamentals will help keep your feet very much on the ground”

It lists the following as the style to have:

  • Sleeves are “different, smoother, softer. Your shoulders are, for the most part, very much your own”.


  • Silhouettes are slender and elegant, thinning down the figure in 4 different ways
  • The waist “assumes great importance. You definatately have one, and it’s very small”!
  • Hemlines on a day dress are quite short…”13 or 14″ from the floor”! An afternoon dress is 12″ from the floor. Evening dresses are still ankle length.

So in summary: tiny waists, long skirts, soft shoulders…very sophisticated and feminine.

The first feature is called “Your coat” which according to Vogue is winter’s “major clothes problem”!

We are shown stunning shapes with fur collars, belted waists and checks….worn with gloves and matching clutch bag. This reminds me of this winter’s ladylike look:  sophisticated and demure.

Next are “Autumn Indispensables”, including a casual and afternoon ensemble as well as a 3 piece for all day. “Daytime frocks borrow Autumn Landscape colours”….greens and rusty reds in tailored shapes. I love the fitted skinny belts, pill box hats, light pleats and I am so going to rock the the double skinny belt look.

There are 7 pages on Vogue Couturiers: evening looks also in autumnal colours.

Floor length gowns, diamand rouching between the bust and wide sash belts are the key looks.

I love these gowns, we so dont wear floor length dresses anymore..they need a comeback!

There are 2 pages for the “not so slender” with 3/4 length sleeves, collarless necklines, shirts with soft tie sides that rouch over the tummy.

Also pages called “Make the most of an imperfect figure”….how to add curves for the slim (“vertical lines directly above and below the midriff and a wide draped girdle to introduce curves”), how to slim your shoulders (wear pointed top raglan sleeves to minimise them), how to slim down a “plethora of a bosom”!!! (“a  smooth line of surplice front offers the cure”). The best line has to be: “Do you need bosom emphasis and nice coverage of a bony chest?” (a deep, narrrow neckline and bodice shirring will do it”)

I love the 2 pages full of “classics for girls and for little girls”. 

Having my own little girl and loving vintage fashion these are the pages for me! Princess frocks, girls with hoops, bloomers included, frilled necks in pastel colours are worn by innocent, pretty little girls.

In 1937, money (or lack of it) was important, just as it is today. “But I cant spend too much” is 2 pages of ideas to cut back. Wear an odd jacket with another skirt (ie. mix and match), a blouse that can be worn in the day through to the evening….remember these ladies wore 3 outfits a day!!

I love the “problem page” idea of patterns that will solve your problems. “I want a maternity dress that is smart as well as practical”,

“I want a business dress that hasnt the occupational look” and the best “My neck is frankly quite long, my figure minus curves”.

This has given us hours of pleasure and we hope you now have some ideas for what to wear this autumn/winter (especially if you have a bony chest, long neck or a plethora of a bosom!)


I love


  1. Lucy Jacobs
    13 November 2010 / 7:55 pm

    I love this blog, they all had such skinny waists! I love the evening dresses, I agree the maxi dress look is beautiful, very glamourous. Maybe I should follow suit for the Xmas parties….if only my waist was that skinny!!!!!

  2. christine wallis
    14 November 2010 / 1:28 pm

    Wow! My mother was a tailoress and worked on beautiful haute couteure garments. I well remember her patterns, hundreds it seemed to me all showing these skinney elegant ladies. She also made her own designs and the sketches and detailing on these sketches showed just how much attention to detail mattered. B ring back elegance and feminine guile. Love the way you weave the past nostalgia into up to date modernity. Looking forward to next blog!

  3. Jennifer Grumbridge
    17 November 2010 / 8:58 am

    Can you imagine a plethora of a bosom being a problem!!!

  4. Laina Freeman
    17 November 2010 / 9:00 am

    Another brilliant blog; giving us an insight into the gloriously stylish ’30s ladies

  5. 17 November 2010 / 9:07 am

    Thank you ladies for your comments! I just wish I looked like the ladies in the pictures: tall and willowy with such amazing style! Watch out everyone at this years Christmas parties..I WILL wear a long evening dress!

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