And – the winning number is 7503

Any serious dressmaker working in the 1950s must surely have known this four-digit number by heart.  This was the number of the Vogue pattern for “shoulder shapes,” what we now call shoulder pads (more on that nomenclature in a minute).   While 1940s’ fashion was dominated by the broad shoulder look, not so the 1950s’ – and that is what is so clever – and remarkably useful – about this pattern, which has a copyright date of 1953.

However, I am getting ahead of myself.  I first learned of Vogue 7503 when I purchased this dress pattern from an online shop called “Stitches and Loops” last Spring.

This pattern gave me my first clue to Vogue 7503

On the back of the envelope, it states:  Optional shoulder shapes  – Use Vogue Pattern 7503

Here is the statement which sent me on my search for Vogue 7503

My interest piqued,  I started looking at some of my other patterns for suits, dresses and blouses from the 1950s.  Some of them, too, had a reference to Vogue Pattern 7503.  Having just made an outfit which required shoulder pads – and for which I had purchased “ready-made” ones which just were not quite the right shape, thickness nor natural feel – I knew that Vogue 7503 was something I needed to find.  A quick Google search told me that I had just missed one that had been available on eBay.  Thus began a months’ long search which ended in early November, when an uncut, ff (factory folded) copy with original envelope was listed by a shop on Etsy.  Excited, I could barely get my order in quickly enough!  Here is my copy of this wonderful dressmaker’s aid:

Vogue 7503 - Copyright 1953

Now for the particulars:

1 – My copy is actually copyrighted as Revised 1953.  It is unprinted!  Those of you who follow this blog know that I’m not a fan of unprinted patterns, but this is a little different.  For one thing, the pattern pieces are all small, the directions simple, and each piece can easily be copied onto pattern tracing paper, where I can make all the notations I want.  Interestingly, I have since seen this pattern for sale in its 1957 printed and perforated version, so obviously The Conde Nast Publications, Inc. was keeping up with demand.

2 –The term “shoulder shapes” is so much more precise and useful than “shoulder pads”, as that is what these mini-creations do – they help to shape the shoulder line. I’m not sure why the term “shoulder shapes” was replaced by “shoulder pads.”  Patterns from 1958 still referred to “shapes,” but by 1959, they were being referred to as “pads.”  I guess it’s a minor thing, this particular “nomenclature,” but put me in the “shapes” fan club.

3 – Finally – the remarkable versatility of this pattern becomes apparent when you take the time to look closely at the pattern envelope.  Here you can see all the versions of shoulder shapes for different applications:  for coats and suits with set-in sleeves (two variations); for a coat, suit or dress with raglan sleeves or sleeves cut-in-one with garment; for suits and coats with a dropped shoulder line; and for blouses, sweaters or dresses with set-in sleeves.

Here is a close-up of two variant shapes for use with coats and suits. Notice the extra darts in View D, which add a gentle slope to the shoulder line.

Here is a very simple - "just enough" - shape for blouses, sweaters and dresses.

Then if you look in the lower left hand corner, you will see that this pattern also includes a “hip shape” for a coat, jacket, skirt or dress.  Very 1950s.   I guess this was used to accentuate one’s narrow waist – however, this is the only part of this pattern which I just can’t see myself using…

Hip shapes - for those who need it!

I have “view F” cut out for the silk blouse which I am currently sewing – and now that I have this clever pattern, I doubt I will ever again use a purchased shoulder pad  – oops, I mean shoulder shape.

1 Comment

Filed under Shoulder shapes (shoulder pads), The Conde Nast Publications, Unprinted patterns from the 1950s, Vogue pattern 7503 for shoulder shapes, Vogue patterns

One response to “And – the winning number is 7503

  1. Very cool – thanks for the little history lesson! I like shoulder “shape” better than shoulder “pad” too. (Anytime I hear the words shoulder pads, I have mental images of the horrible shoulder pads from the 80’s that made me look like I was ready to play a game of football!)

    “Hip shapes” seem like a last resort to compensate for a wimpy girdle, hehe. That’s funny!

    If you have a scanner/copier type printer, you can copy little pattern pieces like these instead of tracing. =)

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