06

September

2013

0

Turning Heads in 1916 and 1917

by Alexia MacClain

Wondering what the styles and trends were almost a century ago? This Bellas Hess & Co. trade catalog gives us an idea of what fashion was like ninety-seven years ago. Fall and Winter Catalogue No. 74 is from the seasons of 1916-1917. It includes a variety of clothing and accessories such as dresses, blouses and skirts, suits, hats, and more.

Illustrated on the first few pages are ladies’ suits. One of these is a velvet suit, shown below on the left. According to its description on the opposite page, it had a flared skirt and a semi-fitted coat flared below the waist. The coat was lined with satin and fastened with velvet buttons and loops. Priced at $32.95, it was available in several colors–wine, plum, black, or green.

Ladies' suits in 1916-1917 Fall and Winter Catalogue No. 74 by Bellas Hess & Co.

Bellas Hess & Co., New York, NY. Fall and Winter Catalogue No. 74, 1916-1917, page 17, Ladies’ suits. Velvet suit described above is shown on the left.

The catalog also illustrates dresses and evening gowns. The evening gown shown below, in the middle, was made of Satin Charmeuse. As described on the opposite page, “the corsage has a surplice drapery of Brussels net with a touch of net embroidered in gold and pastel colored threads, and a spray of pastel rose buds and velvet foliage.” The sleeves matched the front and were made of gold embroidered net. There was a cluster of rose buds at the waist, and the skirt fell in “full graceful folds” with a ruffle of gold embroidered net at the bottom. It was priced at $16.98 and available in light blue, pink, or black.

Dresses in 1916-1917 Fall and Winter Catalogue No. 74 by Bellas Hess & Co.

Bellas Hess & Co., New York, NY. Fall and Winter Catalogue No. 74, 1916-1917, page 27, dresses. The evening gown described above is shown in the middle.

Also advertised in this catalog are hats. Some are trimmed with roses and green foliage while ribbon or ostrich plumes decorate others. Many of the hats illustrated below have one thing in common–velvet.

Hats in 1916-1917 Fall and Winter Catalogue No. 74 by Bellas Hess & Co.

Bellas Hess & Co., New York, NY. Fall and Winter Catalogue No. 74, 1916-1917, page 135, hats.

The catalog goes on to illustrate skirts, blouses, shoes, coats, and more. There is even a wedding dress pictured on page 29. Priced at $19.98, it was “made of Ivory White Satin Meteor combined with Mechlin Lace.”

Fall and Winter Catalogue No. 74 is located in the Trade Literature Collection at the National Museum of American History Library. Interested in more fashion from the 1916-1917 seasons? Take a look at Galaxy of Images for more pages from this catalog.

 

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