Sunday, November 4, 2012

Depictions of teens in 20th century patterns.

I recently purchased a large number of vintage patterns from an estate sale.  The woman, who had lived to be 102,  had been an avid seamstress her entire life.  The patterns I purchased spanned four decades ranging from the 1930's mail order to the 1960's.  The patterns I am showing are from the 1950's.

While going through the patterns to check them to make sure all the pieces were accounted for as well as the directions, I started to notice an unsettling trend in the depiction of young teens.  They didn't look like teens at all - more all a mature women in their 20's. 

Let me give you a few more size 11 measurements:  waist 24 1/2", hip 32", width across back - 4" below neckline 12 3/4".  

Advertisers and merchandisers have long been giving unrealistic depictions of girls and women in their products!  Why in 1950 would advertisers/pattern companies want young girls to look like women?  I could reverse this question for today and ask why media and advertisers want mature women to look like young girls!  In 1950, did girls want to look like their Mother? 


  1. And just check out their waists!
    How unrealistic were they then - nothing much changes does it.

  2. Perhaps it was because they were wives and mothers in their teens? (at least my parents and grandparents were) I think the measurements must have been realistic for the women of their day since a majority of vintage clothing I find is tiny, tiny, tiny!

    1. Historical clothing is VERY tiny!! Corsets and the like were also very unrealistic and caused major health issues for women. Men and women are taller today by several inches.

      One argument is nutrition is better for adolescents today, hence the change in average heights for boys and girls compared to their 19th century counterparts.

      I'm going to get some pics of historical clothing at the local historical society and take some measurements. I'll report back on this :)