Cover Vogue, Inccorpoating Vanity Fair August 15, 1937

Fashion magazines have used the back to school theme as inspiration for their August issues for many years. I recently found an issue of Vogue dated August 15, 1937 with College Fashions as the theme. 1937 was a turbulent year in history with the Spanish Civil War, the Hindenburg disaster, the disappearance of Amelia Earhart and the rise of Stalin. In spite of the unrest, all was rosy on the fashion front.

Published twice a month, there were three Vogue magazines at the time- American, French and British. Edna Woolman Chase was Editor-in-Chief of all three. 

The August 15, 1937 issue of the magazine was 166 pages and features a model wearing a green and red plaid wool dress that is “reminiscent in style of the Grossman jersey dress, adopted by the emanticipated woman of 1918”, but with the “casual chic of youth in its pleated skirt and white pique collar.” 

The magazine features college themed advertisements as well as editorials on topics like: 

Voted most popular

College endowment

Compulsory for campus

Cut out for college

School directory

Autumn landscape colours

Puzzle parties

Most likely to succeed

Professor Shop-hound

As well, there are also articles about fashionable society covering The Duke and Duchess of Kent, The Directoire ball in Paris, and The Duchess of Westminster’s house, plus fashion advice for the non-college set such as articles on: Temperamental waist-lines, Caracal and Persian lamb, and Autumn hats. 

My favourite feature is one called “We foresee” which predicts the fashion trends for fall 1937. There is the merest allusion to the world unrest in the wording of the piece. For example:

An unrest in hem-lines. A slight uprising in day skirts and an erratic up-in-front movement in evening skirts. Some dance skirts at calf-length. A swing downward in suit jackets to the 1910 length. And a plurality of short fur coats.

History-making coalitions of fur and fabric for coats; new liaisons of fabric and leather; unusual pacts between velvet and tweed. 

No usurping of the dictatorship of black. 

Some unbridled spending by the economic royalists. Such prodigality as a thousand yards of ruching on a black tulle dress. 

Vogue, August 15, 1937 page 83

But back to college. What did the fashionable college bound senior want in 1937? That was answered quite succinctly in a single paragraph about contestants who applied to Vogue’s second “Prix de Paris” contest. They apparently all wanted:

plenty of sweaters and scarfs: that they have a wholesome respect for good tweeds, cry for camel’s hair coats, can’t do without a rain-cat, and like simple knitted or wool dresses to vary the eternal triangle of sweater, skirt, and scarf. That they want three evening dresses, two dinner-dresses, and a long velvet evening-wrap “probably furless” (an eye on the budget!). That they sleep in silk, lounge in flannel, do wear girdles, and want about eight pairs of shoes, four of five pairs of gloves and at least five hats.” (Vogue, August 1937, page 78). 

It’s quite a list for a college-bound gal on a budget. I wouldn’t mind three evening dresses and a long velvet evening wrap myself!

Reference: Vogue incorporating Vanity Fair, August 15, 1937. 

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