Thursday, April 7, 2011

Floral Frocks - Vintage History

A gift for no reason is a lovely surprise, so I have a new book in my fashion reference library.  My friend Herma came across this book and said she thought of me.
Floral Frocks   a celebration of floral printed dresses from 1900 to the present day
Floral book cover

I can see why she did, based on some of my recent creations.  A look at my Etsy shop shows that I am wild for florals.
The book has very interesting photos and a good amount of history, explaining the development of the floral day dress in the 20th century.  I enjoy reading about this time period, and all my watching of public television costume dramas and pre-war mysteries has just reinforced my occasional wish that we could dress that way again.
book bw 40s dress
book bw 40s dress caption

This one really grabs me, I am crazy for those shoes, plus look how the pleats in the skirt incorporate the design of the fabric.  
Here is the accompanying caption,
featured in Vogue Magazine as 
the "Bargain of the Month."

According to the authors, prior to the mid-twenties, floral print was rarely seen in fashionable day wear, mostly used for work wear or cheaper clothes such as nightwear, aprons or linings.  During the 20's, with the growing emphasis on leisure and outdoor activities, floral prints for casual beachwear became available, eventually migrating to dresses for women of all classes.

book blue white dressbook blue 2-piece dress
Look at how they created those varying stripes with the floral pattern, fantastic.  The dress on the right is a 2-piece, sundress with little jacket.

At the same time new methods for printing fabrics were developed, and a range of new synthetic fabrics made more choices available.  Changes in fashion production meant that prices went down and people could acquire more clothes, either buying or making at home.

book 50s dress bw
Note the gloves worn in this photo.  Had I been dressing then I would have had a collection of single gloves - as I am sure I would lose just one on a regular basis.

In the late 40's and all through the 50's prints moved into everyday clothes for women and the summer floral day dress gained in popularity.  I think this one below is my favorite.  While I love the use of the horizontal pattern and full skirts of the dresses shown above, the color in this one really attracts me, as well as that bow.  And I would wear that dress on the cover of the book in a heartbeat. 
book pink dress
Lastly, a couple of shift dresses from the 60's, more selections I would wear right now.
book 60s shift dresses

Fun to have a peek into some fashion history - but think of all that ironing!
My recommendation for today - wear florals and be cheery.

Very serendipitous to receive this book now as I am just finishing a project this week, something vintage and floral. I will do a post next week but here is a peek.  The fabric is from my "Margaret" collection, an estate sale treasure trove that is like Mary Poppin's magic bag, unlimited gems in that box.

pinkblue floral sleeves


  1. Your friend is so nice, howlovely to be given a prezzie, "just because"! There are some truly lovely florals pictured here. I think it is lovely that these pretty sorts of dresses are making a comeback.

  2. What a great book! Love the sixties shift dresses too. I have a floral blouse that I cut out last year and have yet to sew. If I don't get to it soon it could end up as a garage sale item, to be sewn fifty years from now...

  3. What a fun post. Thanks for sharing all these great photos! I just love those 60's dresses. I have got to get my sheath figured out!

  4. That is one amazing book and so fill of inspiration. You are right the sheath/shift dresses are amazing!


Related Posts with Thumbnails