This 1971 booklet from Vogue Patterns was a lucky eBay find. “The ‘70s see them [pants] as a mainstay of feminine wardrobes,” reads the peppy opening paragraph, “totally fashion-right everywhere, any time, for any occasion.” (4) This bold statement was made just a few years after women in pants were barred from fancy restaurants.
In previous decades, many fashion writers stressed that pants were only for the young, tall, and slim. While age isn’t mentioned, the authors find no weight or height restrictions. “Happily there’s hardly a woman among us who can’t wear pants, in one style or another…and look just great in them.” Of course, “the tall, ramrod thin figure wears pants especially well.” Those not so lucky have to follow certain fashion rules. The short, thin woman should wear bright colors and textured fabrics. The “tall, amply endowed woman” should reach for slimming styles and subdued colors. “Fluff or ruffles, too-tiny print, snug fitting belts…all no-nos for you!” Even the short, curvaceous woman could look good in pants, especially if she chose straight-legged styles to add height.
Included is a full glossary of pant styles and lengths. It’s interesting to see how some of the terminology has changed. What they term “elephant pants” I think would just be wide legged pants today. The “gangster pants” are now often called a “Hollywood” or “Hepburn” style. I wasn’t aware of the category of “deck pants,” and apparently the authors were not ready to give “shortpants” their racier name, “hot pants.”
The rest of the booklet is filled with practical fitting advice, including how to draw position lines at various points like the high hip and knee for fine tuning. And the following simple method is presented for those with a flat rear: “Simply pin the unwanted back fullness into a seam that extends from waist to hemline, straight down the center back of each leg.”
So this little book is a double treasure–historical artifact and sewing guide. I’m going to put it in my sewing room.