For the past six years I have been trying to achieve a specific goal: to create the ultimate vintage trousers for us ladies. Everyone who knows us, knows i am never satisfied and am always searching for improvements - but sometimes there simply isn't one solution - and in this case there are 4!
So far, we have produced 4 specific styles of vintage trousers starting with the high waist swing pants, quickly moving to the 30s inspired sailor slacks - a few years later came the wide leg yoke pants and then more recently the Katherine Hepburn inspired 40s pleated trousers.
Wide leg, natural leg - turn up, no turn up - natural waist, high waist - button side, bib front - pleats, darts - etc... I think Im obsessed!
However, after feedback and speaking to our customers at shows and observing what ladies have bought - I have come to the simple conclusion that because we women come in all different shapes and sizes - we have simply been creating these different styles with that in mind.
A bit of History & why we love the vintage trouser...
Safe to say it wasn't really until the wartime 1940s that the average woman would have considered wearing trousers and this was only due to the fact that many were now working in factories and trousers were safer and warmer. Prior to that there were trends among the wealthy set that evolved from beach pyjamas from the late 20s onwards and there are a few fashion images from these times that feature trousers including the sailor styles slack. These trends came from the rise of sports as a major past time for women.
In the 1940s, however, the trousers women wore were initially mens but the growing need resulted in the production of trousers. They were functional rather than fashionable but, as we women tend to do - they made them work to their advantage.
So in my relentless search for inspiration on the perfect vintage trouser - here are our styles and a bit of history and which shapes tend to choose which style and why.
1. The 40s High Waisted Swing Pant
This style was derived from a late 1930s pyjama pattern I acquired and is the very first style we produced. It first high on most people - at least 2 inches above the belly button and is darted to fit with the flare dropping from the upper hip. The style has 4 medium sized shell buttons on the left. Fabric is a nice quality poly/viscose with some stretch. The leg width is generous but not as wide as our other styles to adhere to lower fabric use guidelines of the 1940s. However, they do have a turn up which is perhaps not as wartime accepting - but gives a nice finish. Inside leg is 32" (measuring 31 from crotch seam) and we offer a custom length service for this product.
The style works really well with blouses tucked in and then pulled out a little to enhance the waistline. Pair with a short jacket like the Americana.
Shape & fit Advice:-
Less wide leg means pear shapes find this style too lean on the thigh area. Style seems to work wonders on those without a defined waist like pillars, inverted triangles - many apple shape ladies have liked this style. If you have a flat bottom - this style is great because the high waist creates shape.
Click here to see our High Waisted 1940s Swing Trousers
2. Sailor Slacks
This style was inspired by the sailor fashions of the late 30s and American 40s - they fit on the natural waist but have a wide waist band and so can fit fairly high on some people. The size large buttons on the big front are fully functional and the leg width is a bit more generous than the 40s swing trouser. No turn up but a deep hem to allow for personal adjustment but to also give some weight to the trouser. Fabric is a nice quality poly/viscose with some stretch and has a 32" leg.
These are a best selling style - possibly due to the button front which is VERY vintage/retro and so many ladies are drawn to it. Feedback is that they are extremely comfy!
Shape & fit Advice:-
You must remember that the use of buttons on the front means that this area will draw attention. Because they are functional, there may be some gaping if they are very tight. Some ladies like this - some ladies don't.
This style is popular with all shapes BUT works best on hourglass, pillar and average pear shapes. Extreme pear shapes will find these a little tight on the thigh.
Click here for our Sailor Style Pants
3. Yoke Pants
These are inspired by the beach pyjama styles of the late 20s and 30s due to the V yoke panel at the front. These are certainly inspired rather than being an authentic reproduction of a style but nevertheless, still a great vintage style that pairs great with all out tops.
This style has been a slow burner from a sales point of view BUT has sold very well when at shows and through stockists. Meaning ladies love it when tried on. Style is evolved from the sailor pant pattern and has a similar waist band which fits on natural waist and is quite wide. Style also has 4 large wooden buttons on the side which are a lovely feature. The magic element on this style, however, is the V yoke panel over the tummy. The yoke panel holds the tummy in rather than expanding too much to accommodate and the soft drapy fabric on the leg drops from there. Inside leg is 32/33" but have no turn up and so are easy to take up.
Shape & fit Advice:-
We have been more generous with the waist band on this - which means that the style will fit ladies who have a wider waistline. The yoke on the tummy holds in BUT won't behave like control pants... This style works very well on apple shapes, extreme pear shape due to wide leg but won't work well for hourglass without adjustment to waist band.
4. 40s Tailored Pleated Trousers
These are an authentically reproduced style - albeit using modern stretchy fabric. Taken and adapted from an original pattern - these are definitely our 'most' 1940s repro style in the collection. Wide waist band fits on natural waist and style has two deep pleats on the front which run into front creases. Darts in the back fit the bottom in a flattering way and style also has turn-ups. This is the first style of have pockets and a zip rather than buttons - although it has one shell button on the waist band.
Style has a real Katherine Hepburn vibe to them but due to their recent design - we don't have a lot of feedback just yet. However, this style is definitely one that creates shape as they are designed to give that boxy 40s look since the pleats and pockets bring some extra to the hip area and thus enhance the waist.
Shape & Fit Advice:-
Pleated trousers are not for ladies who are overly conscious of their tummy area or who want to avoid bulk. However, for straight pillar shapes, inverted triangle or those who wish to disguise a flat bottom - this is a great style that creates shape.
Check out our 1940s pleated trousers here