Gloria Swanson, Dress Designer

In the 1950s, famous actress Gloria Swanson became involved in the dress business.  It’s not as strange as it sounds, since Swanson had designed some of her own costumes for films and even won a Neiman Marcus Fashion Award in 1950. At the awards ceremony, her own designs were displayed along with those of fashion professionals. 

In 1951, she signed a contract with Puritan Dress Co to promote a line of dresses with a focus on half sizes. Soon you’ll read more about it, since I recently spent a week in Austin, Texas working in Swanson’s archive.

As luck would have it, I discovered a historical artifact of my own—a Swanson half size pattern on eBay.  It’s part of the American Designer Series (although it remains an open question if Swanson really designed the Puritan offerings under her name.) Here’s the pattern description: “Softly curving yoke simulates a short bolero. Buttoned selfbands at front forms flattering neckline. Short sleeve cut in one with front yoke and back bodice. Four gore, moderately flared skirt.”

All Advance Patterns were advertised as “easy printed patterns,” but creating the bodice required a lot of careful sewing and clipping

This particular pattern comes in a size 18 ½, which equates to a 39” bust, 33” waist and 43” hip.  Care to make it? The pieces are still uncut.

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3 Responses to Gloria Swanson, Dress Designer

  1. Cherry Robinson says:

    Yes I’d love to make it. It is probably one size small in bust and waist, but I could deal.
    Are you selling the pattern?

  2. Lizzie says:

    I’d love to see the finished product!

    That’s a very wild photo of Swanson on the envelope!

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