18 Aug 2014

vintage maternity fashion - how did they do it?

Another blogpost I had to rewrite after accidentally deleating everything, inclusive all of the pictures (and believe me, it was a picture-heavy post!). Frustrating, and it took me quite some time to rewrite it.
As I had many of the pics on my pc, I didn't have the sources anymore (most pics are from etsy, newspaper images from the AWW)

Overall, 30's garments weren't easy to convert into maternity versions. The fashionable long, statuesque lines of the dresses couldn't hide a baby bump for a long time. In the 30's pregnancy was also something a woman wanted to  hide, so there was not a lot of choice is specially designed garments. The fashion advise was to dress like the 'broader women' and try to cover up as much as possible. Below two wrap dresses which sort of could grow with the baby bump. The width could be adjusted at the side with ties. I can imagine that it worked for a small baby bump, but I'm convinced, with the shifting of the side seam the front part of these dress should get out of balance:

Entertaining and dinner parties were typical 30's activities for women. For those occasions pregnant women were advised to wear a house-coat with embellishments to take away the attention from the growing bump instead of an evening dress. Something similar to the house-coat below, which has draped sleeves, bodice and gathered front panels which could be adjusted:


The 40's were the war-years. There was not much money to spend on a full maternity wardrobe. Women had to wear garments which could be refashioned after the pregnancy. There are quite a few maternity dresses which look like a normal dress, just with extra width added at the sides of in the back.
did you know......that Veronica Lake was pregnant when filming the movie Sullivan's Travels? Her baby bump was carefully covered at all times, but you can see her expanding bust-line and rising waist line in the pictures below:

The ultimate maternity-wear is of course, was the wrap-dress. At left a 'from-beginning-to-end' garment which fastens above the breasts and can be opened up when the belly grows. At right an 'unusual wrap dress', I only don't know how it can be adjusted. Probably opening up the pleats which are initially sewn down? What do you think?

The wrap dresses below has a bodice with a fixed width and a gathered skirt that can be tied as needed:

The other simple maternity solution were wide dresses with front pleats in the bodice, and wide skirt. The size could be adjusted with a tie:

While most maternity dresses had extra fabric at the sides or in the back, these below have a fitted back and gathered front which can be adjusted with ties:

There were maternity frock and jacket ensembles too:

Also skirt and blouse combinations were popular instead of frocks, for the advanced stage of the pregnancy, because of more coverage. The set on the left features a wrap-skirt with a gathered, wide blouse. The pattern at right is interesting, because it features a wrap-style slipdress with a skirt made out of fashion fabric  in combination with a wide blouse which can be clinched in if needed with a belt:

Let's take a look at the skirts. How do you like this one below? Quite a construction, right? It has a cut-out part for the baby-bump? It is adjustable with a tie in the front and for added security it has built-in suspenders too!

Slips and underwear had a tied wrap-style too, often with an opening in the back or extra fabric at the sides:

In the 40's women wore pants and guess what, there were solutions for pregnant women too! At left an expandable front with adjustable belt and button closure. At right slacks with gusset-inserts. The width could be adjusted with buttons at both sides:


In the 50's matching sets of separates were very popular. Until the very late 50's we see more skirt-blouse or skirt-jacket combinations, rather than dresses.

Then there were the elegant coats (left) I love the simplicity and clean lines of it, without gathering and pleats! At right the 'glamorous, very versatile, all-purpose' duster-coat, which can also double as a dress:

The 50's were the era of the cigarette pants and pedal-pushers. Below two different options for the baby bump, the 'hole-in-the-pant' solution and the 'cover-flap'. I actually quite like the flap-idea, where the front flap sides form the pocket inserts. The pocket insides close with ties which can be gradually adjusted:

So, how about skirts? In the 50's skirts were made using either the cut-out or the flap-method to cover up the growing bump:


When thinking of maternity fashion we Mad Men's Betty Draper comes to mind. A great variety of dresses, combinations of tunics, skirts and pants were popular. I actually quite like the wide tunic-fitted skirt combination and the A-line dresses could be very flattering on a smaller size baby-bump imo:

Construction-wise there is not much excitement anymore when looking at maternity garments. By the 60's the use of elastics in pants and skirts was widely spread and also the elastic fabrics appeared on the market. Most skirts and pants had a belly-panel, similar to what we are used to nowadays, with an elastic casing or an inserted panel made out of elastic fabric:

The fun thing is though that in the 60's the sun-dresses and swimming suits appeared! The swimming-suit at left is made of cotton fabric. It doesn't look really flattering, does it? It looks like an enlarged version of a baby dress of that time. Can you imagine it being soaking wet after swimming?

After the 60's in the 70's the tunics and wider dresses were popular until we arrive to the fashion-disaster-era of the 80's, with very unflattering, high waisted and wide pants, dungarees and over-over-oversized dresses...

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