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