The Betty Dress is inspired by the classic tea dress that was once a staple piece in a woman’s wardrobe. The look is flattering and versatile, working for many different occasions while nipping in the waist. Here’s a look at how this dress captures the mood of an era.
In the 1930s, dresses conformed to a certain shape. An advertisement for Wards in 1937, uncovered by www.vintagedancer.com, described the look as “wide shoulders, slim fitted waists and swingling lines.”
The dresses would be fitted through the hips with a flare from the mid-thigh that ended at the calf. One popular fashion in the early 30s was to have skirts made of multiple panels that curved up over the hips. Necklines were always high. Sleeves started long and slim, but trends changed throughout the decade to include larger puff sleeves and create those coveted wide shoulders. This sleeve had many variations, but most included a generous gathering at the seam. Other options included pleated sleeves, capelet sleeves which looked like a cape on the shoulder, and butterfly sleeves which flared out.
These designs worked for all activities, whether shopping, going to church or enjoying an informal evening event. Dresses for daytime parties often included ruffles, lace and florals and were enhanced with a white dress collar. Women would add gloves and they rarely left the house without a hat. It was also popular to accentuate the waist with a belt, usually made in the same fabric as the dress itself.
Upside-down V-shaped seams and half-moon-shaped seams under the bust made the waist appear smaller, keeping the fabric smooth and fitted. Sometimes, the upper bodice included gathers above the seam to enhance this appearance.
By the 1940s, women were more focused on practical elements. Hemlines were shorter, as the reduction in fabric made the garments more affordable and easier to work in. There were fewer embellishments; decoration was pintuck pleats and gathers around the bust. Shirring was also popular, helping to narrow the waist on a top or create a sleek, sultry look for evening wear.
Puff sleeves were out, and short deep cap sleeves were in. Women were keen to keep their feminine hourglass silhouettes, so belts remained a key feature of all dresses. Necklines stayed high, but women did start to experiment with their shirt dresses, opening the buttons to create a high V-neck style, above the collar bone.
Our beautiful Betty dress embodies the trends of the retro era. Falling just below the knee, the dress celebrates the waist with a thin tie. Loose flared sleeves look incredible with the gathered V-neck bodice. The skirt is fitted down to the hip where it flares out to create the classic tea dress style.
It is the gathering at the bust and shoulders that really bring this design to life. This feature at the shoulders helps to make that puffy sleeve, adding volume to the look. Similarly, at the bust, this clever style element works to create the illusion of a fuller chest and was a very popular characteristic of the time.
Prints were also popular throughout the 1930s. They could be floral, polka dots, striped or novelty, in spring colours like pink, butter yellow, peach, sky blue, orange, tan, white orchid or rose. In the following decade, they preferred primary colours and navy, black, brown, beige, rose pink, and copen blue.
The Betty dress has a floral print with a bold red colour inspired by cherry blossom, one of the first signs that spring is on its way. Cherry blossom can lift your spirits, bringing hope at the end of a long winter. Also known as Sakura, it has a pure, renewable beauty that excites and inspires. Sakura season is a great opportunity to celebrate the inner strength of women.
In the 30s, silk crepes, acetates and rayons were the materials of choice, while day dresses in the 40s added wool or chambray to the mix. Fabrics such as velvet and silk were for formal afternoon events, while chiffon and shiny rayon were evening materials.
Our Betty Dress is made of Rayon. This fabric can be adapted to look like any of the more expensive materials, making it popular among dressmakers. It is also known as viscose or artificial silk.
Natural fibres, such as eucalyptus, beech, pine, bamboo, soy and sugar cane are chemically processed to create this soft fabric. The pulpy substance is spun into the fibres that make our Betty dress. Viscose is cheaper than silk but keeps that same irresistible feel and drapes beautifully on the body. The ideal combination of affordability and luxury, this breathable fabric is easy to work with, blending well with woven fabrics and soaking up dyes to make vivid, bold colours.
It is an environmentally friendly and sustainable fabric due to its use of fast-growing natural elements.
The Betty Dress is a versatile piece that can be dressed up or down to suit the occasion. With flat sandals or heels, you’ll have a casual retro day look that ensures you are ready for anything! Alternatively, ooze elegance with seamed stockings and pull in that waist as tight as you can to evoke images of a 1930s Hollywood actress!
“What a strange thing!
to be alive
beneath cherry blossoms.”
― Kobayashi Issa
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