A Patented House Dress, 1915

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Click to enlarge

Since I find so many photos of older women in house dresses, I’ve become very interested in their construction. How could I resist this ingenious little flier for a patented version by the M. Alshuler Co., discovered by chance on ebay? What is so special about this model, you might ask. It “Slips on like a coat. Adjusts with two buttons. Reverses when soiled. Prevents undergarments from showing.”

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The flier opens up to show how the dress is put on. “Imagine the convenience of being able to dress in nine seconds…The ‘Utility’ Garment is in universal demand because of this happy idea of simplicity, the cleverness of the styles and the attractive material employed in the making.”

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

There’s a list of the fabrics available, including ginghams, percales, crepes, plisses, challis and flannelettes. Although there is no sizing information, the manufacturer mentions that it also comes in extra stouts.

Although the flier promises that the house dress is nationally advertised, I looked   through Good Housekeeping at the Hearth Archive and the Library of Congress newspaper archive, Chronicling America, and found nothing. I did find the patent file though.

AlshulerHousedress14What was it that merited a patent for this basic wrapper style? I’m guessing it might have been the structure of the waistband, since it is so elaborately illustrated.

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6 Responses to A Patented House Dress, 1915

  1. Mema says:

    Liebe Lynn,
    very interesting.
    Schöne Grüße Mema

  2. eimear says:

    what a clever flyer…. and a precursor to the dvf wrap!

  3. The “Hooverette” wrap dress of World War I was also praised for being reversible. My first thought is, “Yuck!– I get to put the spilled breakfast jam or woodstove blacking next to me?” But I can see the housedress’s attraction to a busy woman who suddenly has to answer the door to an unexpected visitor.

  4. Lizzie says:

    I love things like this.

    By “reversible” did it mean that the front lap could go either way, left over right, or right over left? I have seen several garments with confusing closures that sometimes it only answer is that it closes both ways.

  5. JenO says:

    First, this little bit of history is adorable, the flyer graphics are so fun! What strikes me about this garment is how much it is a for-runner to Claire McCardell’s Pop Over dress (also patented, 1942) and the later Swirl wrap house dress (usually wrapped to the back). The double breasted front wrap idea itself would later become a day dress staple as well. So in some ways, this is one of the roots for modern dress design.

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