Vintage Library: Designing Women by Margeretta Byers

Another vintage find too cool to keep to myself. This book is subtitled “The Art, Technique and Cost of Being Beautiful” and is from 1938. And is available, for free, from archive.org (here).

“Today clever women build wardrobes as carefully as architects build skyscrapers.” This is more of a style guide than a sewing guide, and some of the advice is (obviously) very period specific, and the value of hard and fast rules about what to wear is questionable, but it is thorough and has tons of things that I hadn’t thought of. How to hide my big feet?! Um, yes please! It also breaks down styles in an interesting way (exotic, gamine, patrician, romantic, coquette, sophisticate) and gives examples. Turns out my style preferences are gamine + sophisticate, which was fun to find articulated in this way. My colors and styling preferences are even outlined, much to my surprise, very accurately in these descriptions! This has info on designers of the era, too. And the ever important, ever difficult trick of balancing all of these style and fashion tricks with the day to day reality of (dum dum DUM) the budget. Lots of pages devoting to budgeting here. It’s kind of like Style Statement with all the hippie frou frou self-helpiness drained out of it replaced with budget sense and practicality. I’m definitely enjoying the read!

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2 thoughts on “Vintage Library: Designing Women by Margeretta Byers

  1. Thank you for taking the time to share these free online resources with us. It helps a dressmaker or hobbyist grow her library without the layout of money. The money saved can be used for supplies!

    1. Absolutely! I *love* to find old books, and sewing related stuff is so rich in history and aesthetic appeal I think it’s going to be an addiction for me for a looong time. It’s even better if that helps other people too!

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