Friday, July 31, 2009

"Slenderette" Demystified! And a Giveaway!

I wrote to Simplicity Patterns to try to get the inside scoop of the "slenderette" pattern line from the 50's and 60's. A very helpful employee responded!

Nicole, our friend from Simplicity, writes that the term slenderette "was only used as a design name for patterns and garments that would essentially make you look more slender." So there we have it! This explains why it was available in such a large range of sizes, not just "plus" sizes (whatever that means in the world of vintage patterns).

In Vogue's New Book for Better Sewing,there's an interesting parallel. In the section on "Selecting Your Patterns," they offer up this bit of advice for a "slenderette" effect:
If you wear a size 44 or 46, look in the separate section in the Vogue Pattern Counter Catalogue. There you will find a varied choice of patterns designed with subtle arrangements of vertical lines, panels or gores that help give an illusion of slimness.
Interesting, eh?

And then there's the "Half Size Slenderette." To my query about these sizes, Nicole from Simplicity responded:
"From the 50’s to around the 70’s half sizes catered to a shorter fuller figured body type and were available not only in patterns but also ready to wear. So it wasn’t for petite or plus size it was its own category of clothing."
Now to the giveaway! I have this Half Size Slenderette pattern (below) to give to a good home. It's a lovely shirtdress with a full or slim skirt option, as well as short or three-quarter sleeves. It's a half size 14-1/2, which means a 35" inch bust, 29" waist, and 39" hip. If you'd like to win this pattern, please leave a comment indicating that you'd like this pattern by the end of the day on Monday, August 3rd. I'll choose someone to bestow it upon. (If you don't want the pattern, you can still comment--and please do!)

P.S. The pattern featured at the top of the post is a regular slenderette in a 38" bust, available from this wonderful seller!


  1. Yay!! I was actually coming over to leave you a comment because I had to scrap my theory about the bustline and so had no idea -- I finally dug out some patterns and found that the slenderette measurements were the same as standard if I looked at the same year.

    Here's what's scary though - take that 38" bust -- in '55 the corresponding waist/hip is 32/41 -- just a few years later it's 30/40!! Waist/hip seems to have dropped at every size around '58 or so. What is up with that? New kinds of underwear, do you think? I knew that the size numbers changed over time, but never realized the proportions did!

  2. I've never commented here before, but what a good reason to start! Very cute pattern... I have a 35" bust and most patterns are for either 34" or 36".
    I've been reading your blog since you started it and it is awesome! It's one of my favorites and you seem really cool. I really like the idea of having a capsule wardrobe made from all the patterns from VoNBSS.
    BTW I actually really liked how your chemise dress turned out... that VoNBSS picture of it is decieving... making it in pink silk probably helps ;)

  3. It's so interesting to see how the sizes are so incredibly different back then! I am a 38" bust, or about a 10 in modern dress size. There are heartbreakingly few vintage patterns out there for a gal my size (including the one you're giving please give it to someone who will be able to fit their boobs into it!) :)

  4. Please count me in! I looked online recently and the bulk of vintage patterns seems to be 31" bust.

    I have to say, I love this whole adventure you've set on. Appeals to my archivist's soul.

    Have fun!

  5. Thanks for the great investigative research! I knew that slenderette was for me!

  6. Oh I'm so glad to have a resolution on the Great Slenderette Mystery ;-)
    And a lovely giveaway - although don't include me, as there is zero chance of fitting my big mama boobas into that dress!

  7. Now that we know what it means: Who doesn't love a slenderette effect?

    And thanks for your lovely blog. I truly enjoyed every post, even though I'm not good at commenting.

  8. That pattern seller you linked to is incredible! I was just clicking through the pages until I realized they had 2,378 patterns! AND their prices are so sane. How come I never came across this before? Thanks, again.

  9. Wow, quite interesting. I always came across the slenderette patterns without wondering what slenderette was referring to ;)
    Love the pattern! And for one I'm feeling lucky to not be busty ;)
    Lovely blog!

  10. Cute pattern! I'd love to have it even though I'd probably have to do a FBA.

  11. How cool the folks at Simplicity, got back to you so quickly. I had asked some of my sewing friends and no one had a clue!
    Thanks for another informative post.
    Please put me in the running if its not too late! I could not believe the measurements are the same as mine, I had to double check myself with the tape twice!

  12. I love slenderette & will definitely look for it in the future...

    Thanks for doing some research on it.

    Here's my slenderette dress (#2847):

  13. yay!! I am always having to alter the patterns I buy because my measurements don't match the sizes... but unbelievably the slenderette is exactly my size! Plus shirt dresses are so popular this spring, cant wait to get started making mine


Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

© Gertie's Blog For Better Sewing. Powered by Cake