Tag Archives: Robe de Style

the slinky dress- 1920s

Right now I am working on two velvet gowns inspired directly from two that were used for film of the late 1920s, these are very representative of a style worn through the 1920s.

I have endeavoured to credit the design or wardrobe team where possible.

Vilma Banky in The magic Flame (1927, uncredited designer), and Norma Shearer in Upstage (1926, Kathleen Kay*, Maude Marsh and André-ani).

Both of these gowns are from the height of the flapper era, and yet both are designed to cling to the body from shoulder to hips. And they are not alone!


Nita Naldi, Cobra (1925, Adrian), Anna May Wong, Nita Naldi Cobra, (1925, Adrian)

These gowns are clearly designed to make a stark visual impact and yet the materials are soft and flow around the body.


These gowns have defined body shaping. It is achieved using inserts and cutouts to take in or spread out  V shaped elements- using decorative elements to achieve a closer fit, and was used a lot in the 1920s to shape clothing.

From experience it is a style that is best draped on the stand. French bias* is used through the 1920s which affects stretch in seams and this style makes most use of barely diagonally cut fabric.

It can be seen on long clinging gowns, short gowns, and even what I am calling a demi skirt- a flared rather than gathered skirt that ends below the knees and before the ankles.

A hip seam (straight or also v shaped) is of benefit in anchoring the bodice to the torso especially for skirts that are gathered or flared.

*french bias is barely off the grain and is usually used on the CF line. True bias is cut at 45 degrees to the grain. A lot of shaping of this time is not true bias, but uses the same extra ease offered from french bias


Dorothy Sebastian & Anita Page, Our Dancing Daughters (1928, David Cox), Colleen Moore, Clara Bow


Norma Shearer, The Last of Mrs Cheyney (1929, Adrian), Joan Crawford, Our Dancing Daughters (1928, David Cox).

And the fit was even used for Robes de Style!


Arlette Marchal, Clara Bow, Jacqueline Gadsen

Anita Page, Our Modern Maidens (1929, Adrian)


In this case the fit is from the hips up to underbust at the side and then the excess from the bust is eased into the scooped neckline.

Paul Poiret evening gown, 1920s, Christies auctions.

This gown makes use of the seaming needed to create the geometric patterns to also fit to the body. This use of decorative seams to hide functional seams can also be seen in Patterns of Fashion, a blue silk crepe dress from 1925 has teardrop shaped panels that are used to take in or spread the ground fabric.

1921 evening dress, Les modes, “where there’s smoke” by Patterson.



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making my Robe de Style

For the Very Vintage Day Out I wound up in a fluffy Robe de Style so thought I should update with how I made it, and proof it was a very common shape!

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I spent days going through every issue of Les Modes de la Femme de France There were hoops in most years, if not most issues!

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Jan 9, 1921, Jan 16 1921, Feb 13 1921

To show every single example would take forever! But I really recommend going through these for inspiration. They really show the amazing experimentation that was going on in the era.


To draft the gown I used a few resources.


Art in dress by Brown, P. Clement (Percy Clement), 1886-

Published 1922
Topics Dressmaking, Clothing and dress
Publisher New York, P. C. Brown
Pages 204
Call number 9662562
Digitizing sponsor Sloan Foundation
Book contributor The Library of Congress
Collection library_of_congress; americana

This book has illustrations slightly out of the usual order, but here are some teasers to show how varied the era actually was.

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These first two images are for measurements and the types of lining options. The double dart was so well established from the 1870s that it seems to have stayed on as a fitting solution. Do note the french bias. Those centre fronts are cut on a diagonal.

I wound up using a thin lining of cotton sateen and option (a) style. My darts were much deeper, and they were disguised by the lace overlaid.

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It is similar to the patterning seen in Draping a Magic Dance Frock-from Fashion Service Magazine September 1928, page 20.

The narrow V inserts were inspired by vintage photos. In the end I decided to cut the neckline off and used narrow straps instead. This way I was able to make the lace work as an off the shoulder style.

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These two are clearly influenced by the same sources as the Robe de Style. However they predate Jeanne Lanvin’s phrase by several years. These can be know as sobe de soir, or influenced by spanish styles. The firt gown has a yoke that is shaped to flare around with separate panels hanging from it, while the second has extra length in the top part of the skirt.

This latter solution was how I solved my hoops problem.  I wanted my lace to be as even as possible so all layers were sewn straight to the hem while the very top row were shaped to be longer over the hips and shorter at front and back.

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This shows how I shaped flat net panels over my panniers. The panels were flat top and bottom, so it’s possible to see how the top of the panels are shorter front and back compared to the sides.

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These patterns offer insight in to circular panels that can be used to add drama to a hem in this era. Note the bodice fitting solutions as well.


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Comparing the sizes of my current hoops with the ones for my Marie Antoinette gown!

My #robedestyle #panniers My #drwho #reinette #panniers My 1938 #marieantoinette #panniers

Robe de Style, Reinettes, Mari Antoinette.

This gown may even get close to Maleficent for projects that eat my workroom.

Now that is a project I can tackle again while working on hoop things. That train will have the proper struts as soon as I can get them sorted ????


Oh and that roll of white to the left? That is a super mega heavy duty crinoline with so much fusing I thought it was a double sided vinyl. I already know it will be used to help support the new hoops!


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I have made a page for this

I need to get it in to the menu though!

Robe de Style

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So many… oy! But I’m about to organise them by type to make it easier to show people in person how they work and are freaking easy compare to other styles :)

And then Katherine posts about the Robe de Style:


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