Monday, July 12, 2010

1939 Elsa Schiaparelli Pant Suit

Photo from the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection.

1939! Are you surprised? I was! Many of you were spot on with your guesses, though so good for you! And my hat goes off to fuzzylizzie who correctly guessed both the era and the designer!

Elsa Schiaparelli designed this menswear inspired pant suit for her Fall/Winter collection in 1939. This was quite "outside the box" for the time, and only the most stylish of women would have the confidence to wear this with ease. This rare pantsuit is in the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

As early as 1930, pants were accepted as women's wear for casual beach wear or for sporting activities, but they were not worn as day or street wear. This linen beach pyjama set was designed by Marcel Rochas in 1933.

Also from 1933, this cotton striped shirt and navy wool beach pant are by Goupy. These would have only been worn at the seashore, never on the street.

By the late 30s, jumpsuits and pants outfits are gaining more acceptance for casual vacation and lounge wear. This ad for Matson Line cruises from 1939 shows a woman lounging on deck in an orange rayon jumpsuit.

WWII brought about many changes in the perception of what was "proper" for women to wear. As men were called away to fight, women took on the responsibilities of jobs on the homefront, and pants were more practical. Here, a wife wears jeans to manage the family dairy farm while her husband is serving in the Army. And we're all familiar with the images of Rosie the Riveter in her overalls.

As pants became more common for work wear, they also became fashion forward as street wear in the 1940s. Most women continued to wear dresses and skirts, however, and only the style confident woman would have adopted the look. This ad for Hadley sweaters from 1943 is unusual in featuring pants.

2 comments:

VintageGrace said...

I love Elsa Schiaparelli! I randomly picked her for a report in one of my fashion classes in college and found her to be amazing. She's just so out of the box and unique. It's sad though, that her label is no longer around. Just in vintage form.

dwythe said...

Brooklyn Museum staff love Elsa Schiaparelli, too! Our library has a collection of her sketches; some scans available here: http://bit.ly/aydDvw
Deb Wythe
Brooklyn Museum Digital Lab

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