The Streamline Moderne Style of the 1930s Portrayed in Fashion Illustration


Bias cut dresses-McCalls fashion illustration 1935On a recent flea market shopping trip I  picked up a few McCall’s magazines from the 1930s.  Inside were pages of stunning fashion illustrations that captured the essense of the Art Deco design aesthetic of that era, which was referred to as Art Moderne or Streamline Moderne.

The  earlier 1920s Art Deco style characteristics were geometric with emphasis on the vertical and elaborate surface ornamentation, while the style of the 30s emphasized horizontal, graceful flowing lines, and paired down ornamentation.   Edges and angles vs. roundness and curves. It was design for the Machine Age. Aerodynamic, sleek and sexy.

Which brings me back to the fashion illustrations in the magazines. Just as in every era, design trends show up everywhere. The fashion and art of the 1930s was influenced by the Art Moderne design of buildings, cars, planes, ships etc. Unlike the fashions of the flapper era, which de-emphasized a woman’s figure,  the fashions of the 30s  were all about celebrating the female form. Flowing curves, an important hallmark of the Streamline Moderne look, was interpreted by fashion designers, particularly with the creation of the bias cut dress.

In 1934 Vogue reported that a fashionable woman’s profile would have to be the “windswept fleet lines of a speedboat or airplane. ”  Now that’s streamlined!

Here are some of my favorite images. McCall’s Magazine hired illustrators, such as Jean Des Vignes,  Blanche Rothschild and Marian Blynn to depict the outfits you could sew from their patterns.


Evening gowns-McCalls Magazine 1935


These patterns were replicas of designer gowns that you could sew yourself! From left to right, Mainbocher, Patou, Lanvin and Paray designs.

Bias cut gown illustration-McCalls magainze 1935

The gowns on the left are Lucile Paray designs. The ones on the right are by Rober Piguet.

bias cut gown illustation-McCalls Magazine 1936

Beside the curve flattering bias cut, cutout or plunging V backs were a popular trend in the 30s.

summer dresses-McCalls fashion illustration 1936

evening wear fashion illustration-MCalls magazine 1936


Summer dresses fashion illustration McCalls Magazine 1936


I don’t know about you, but these fabulous drawings made me wish I had a closet full of these dresses!

Till next time…..


By | 2018-07-06T08:53:26-04:00 July 6th, 2018|Fashion|4 Comments

About the Author:

Hi, I'm Theresa, owner and chief classy dame at the Blue Velvet Vintage online boutique. Lover of mid century fashion and home decor, classic films, Old Hollywood, pretty dresses, red lipstick, swing dancing and retro culture in general. Between my ecommere site and vintage style blog my mission is to revive the eras of classy dressing and inspire women to add more glamour to their lives! So don't be shy! I love to hear from others who share my appreciation of the styles of the past.


  1. Theresa Campbell
    Theresa Campbell July 9, 2018 at 8:31 am

    Oh yes, Vix. So many fashions of the 70s were inspired by those dreamy bias cut 30s dresses. How I would love to get my hands on an Ossie. Not familiar with Hulanicki. Will have to check her out.

  2. Avatar
    Vix July 9, 2018 at 6:37 am

    How fabulous! I’ve always loved the cut and the extravagant use of fabric of 1930s clothes and the best designers of the 1970s had more than a nod to the era (Ossie Clark & Barbara Hulanicki especially).
    The Chinese pyjamas and the floral maxi in the Summer Nights page really ought to be in my wardrobe. xxx

  3. Theresa Campbell
    Theresa Campbell July 8, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    I always get so excited when I come across magazines likes these. The illustrations are worth framing, they are so pretty. And many of the 30s styles would still look very appropriate today. The gowns are particularly glamorous. Glad you enjoyed them.

  4. Avatar
    Ann July 8, 2018 at 10:39 am

    Oops, my comment seems to have disappeared, so I’ll give it another try. I always love finding these magazines, and I can spend many an hour looking through their contents, especially the fashion plates. Although my own style is somewhat different, I still have a penchant for the 1930s and the streamline clothes of this decade. I could very well see myself going to work in the dress on the left and right of the last picture and I wouldn’t mind owning the gown with the short ruffled jacket! Thank you for sharing, Theresa! xxx

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