1920s Orange and Black: Not Just for Halloween

In my recent post featuring a sympathy card I commented on the inspiration of Downton Abbey’s ruddy and wine hued dresses for my piece; the year is 1924 in Season 5 and I had been noticing the frequency of reds, oranges, as well as deep blues in the long, tubular, Grecian-style dresses worn by many of the characters. Curious about this and knowing that the fashion will change pretty dramatically by 1926 (including hairstyles), I decided to seek out some historical photos and information about the designs of the time. That search led me to this wonderful website, Witness2Fashion. It is beyond exciting to find this wealth of research and these primary source images, including patterns, covering a variety of eras. I just had to reblog the entry that follows as an addendum to my most recent post. Enjoy and do check out this fabulous site if you love history and fashion!

All photos below are found on Witness2Fashion’s post with specific information about the sources.

witness2fashion

It isn’t news that certain colors — and color combinations — go in and out of fashion. But the combination of orange and black is now so strongly linked to Halloween that it’s a surprise to find it on dresses for spring in the mid-1920s.

Dresses for women aged 14 to 20, February 1925. Butterick pattern illustrations from Delineator. Dresses for women aged 14 to 20, February 1925. Butterick pattern illustrations from Delineator magazine.

These young women are enjoying a box of Valentine’s Day candy. Early twentieth century color printing was not based on the CMYK [Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black] inks we use today, so illustrations from the twenties often have an autumnal quality compared to the bright colors we are used to. Nevertheless, the red valentine hearts show that the dress on the right, above, is definitely orange, with black trim. The same color combination was suggested for older women, too:

Fashions from Delineator, April, 1924. Butterick pattern illustrations. Fashions from Delineator, April, 1924. Butterick pattern illustrations.

Orange was also worn with…

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