Mrs. Exeter’s Sewing Skills

Although Mrs. Exeter’s age was never certain, if she was well into her fifties in 1948 she must have been born in the 1890s.  That meant she probably gained a lot of hand sewing skills as a child.  Since her family was well off—she muses about her debutante ball at times—she might have even had a sewing machine as she learned her craft.  Thus it should come as no surprise that Mrs. Exeter had excellent sewing skills, and that she used her position to recommend Vogue Patterns to her faithful readers.

Vogue Patterns had existed since 1905, so it is interesting that Mrs. Exeter only became involved in selling them in 1953—five years after her first appearance in Vogue magazine.  On her sewing table in October of that year were a wool day dress, a black afternoon suit, a blouse, and a long skirt—quite an ambitious list.  In 1955, she endorsed two dress patterns:  “Each has the lines she finds most becoming to her: the shallow V-neckline, the good tapered sleeves, the illusion of slender length.”  Even the New York Times’ occasional features on sewing sometimes used Mrs. Exeter to recommend patterns that the editors felt older women might like.

Mrs. Exeter never had her own pattern line, but in 1955 Vogue Patterns created a special section in its pattern catalog for styles that would appeal to older women.  In addition, the Vogue Pattern Book, a special magazine introducing new pattern styles, sometimes ran spreads on designs that might suit Mrs. Exeter and her friends.  The October/November 1958 issue had 10 pages of recommendations, including day dresses, suits, and evening gowns.  Although the line drawings showed a very willowy woman, many of  the patterns came in large sizes. Mrs. Exeter was careful to recommend looks that were “kind to slender and not-so-slender figures.”

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1 Response to Mrs. Exeter’s Sewing Skills

  1. Anne says:

    with regard to pants and the older woman, while I agree that most women today spend most or all of their time in pants, my mother only wore pants on picnics in the mountains–for everyday wear, for casual wear, for formal wear she always preferred to wear skirts. I have a friend who turned 68 this year, and she always wears skirts too. she doesn’t like the feel of a pants seam between her legs. Another friend who just turned 65 almost always wears skirts to show off her legs and because she likes a more feminine appearance. These are all highly educated women, progressive in their politics.

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