Vintage Playsuit Inspiration

Today I have for you some fabulous vintage pictures of two-piece playsuits as well as a few patterns and refashion ideas for making your own.

The two-piece playsuit, or romper, is a look that started appearing in the 1930s as both a swimsuit style and as a summer daywear look. There were two styles of tops that were most popular. One was a cropped shirt with short sleeves that sometimes had buttons up the front, while the other style was similar to a bra and is sometimes referred to as a bralette. Both styles often featured a tie at the front. To complete the look they were worn with high-waisted shorts or skirts so the ribcage was the part of the midriff on display. This style continued to be popular throughout the 1940s.

Check out these fabulous playsuits:

[caption id="attachment_4833" align="alignnone" width="422"] Actress Ann Rutherford[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_4834" align="alignnone" width="360"] Lana Turner in "The Postman Always Rings Twice" 1946[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_4835" align="alignnone" width="192"] Priscilla Lane in "Daughters Courageous" 1939[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_4836" align="alignnone" width="792"] Actress Carole Landis in the 1940s[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_4837" align="alignnone" width="396"] Pin-Up Model Betty Grable[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_4838" align="alignnone" width="553"] Not sure who these lovely girls are but I'm digging their outfits![/caption]


If you want to make your own, here are a few vintage patterns you can probably source online. Etsy and eBay are great sources of vintage patterns.

[caption id="attachment_4839" align="alignnone" width="388"] Hollywood Four Star pattern #921 from WWII era[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_4840" align="alignnone" width="570"] McCall #5648[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_4842" align="alignnone" width="570"] McCall #6881[/caption]


If you like the look of the top on the McCall #6881 pattern but don't want to make it from scratch, consider refashioning a men's button-up shirt. To start, remove the collar and add a slightly more scooped neckline. Add some ribbon around the raw edge neckline (gathering above the chest first) and then finish with a bow above the buttons.

For the sleeves, the easiest thing to do would be to simply remove them from the original shirt and re-hem the edges. If the men’s shirt is large enough the shoulders should overhang and give the appearance of cap sleeves. Then bring in the side seams to make the armhole smaller and create a slimmer fit. Another option would be to take in the sides for a slimmer fit, cut new arm holes, create little cap sleeves from the off-cut, and sew the new sleeves on.

Crop the top and make a band using the sleeves. Gather under the bust area (and at the back) before attaching the band and finish with the addition of a button and button hole to the band.

[caption id="attachment_4841" align="alignnone" width="305"] Butterick #3756[/caption]

The shirt on this Butterick #3756 pattern would be even easier to remake from a men’s button-up because it doesn’t have the button panel or detailed neckline. All you would need to do is remove the collar and button panel, cutting an angle from the widest part of the neckline in. Then add some facing or bias tape to clean up the raw edges.

The sleeves on this one definitely have the appearance of a men's shirt with the sleeves removed. So all you would need to do is take off the sleeves along the seam and restitch to finish the edges. Take in the sides of the shirt to create a slimmer fit and smaller armhole.

Use the sleeves to create a band in three pieces: one to go along the back from side seam to side seam, and two to go from the side seam to the front with enough overhang to tie them together. Be sure to gather under the bust (and put in darts at the back) before attaching the band.

Depending on how much shirt you have left over, you might even be able to use the bottom portion to create a matching mini skirt with buttons up the front.

Of course, if you don’t want to sew you can always shop! Check out these cute styles available at Ra Ra now:

[caption id="attachment_4843" align="alignnone" width="400"] Cadillac Crop Top and Soft Serve A-Line Scallop Skirt[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4844" align="alignnone" width="400"] Cadillac Crop Top and Surfside High Waisted Capri Shorts[/caption]

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