The Great Mysteries of Vintage Clothing

November 5, 2011

I have a mystery for someone to solve. This morning I luckily picked up 4 vintage dresses at my favorite barn sale. They appear to be 30’s-ish or very early 40s.  I got home and washed them with the 2 slips, milk glass earrings, a rayon top, a silky Lewis Frimel long pajama top and 2 yards of yellow twill bottom weigh fabric, (all for $8… I know, hate me now. Its the best secret spot ever). I started ironing them and noticed that the dresses were nursing dresses. Not the hot little ” oh doctor, I feel ill” but the “AAAAAAHhhhhhhh” scream of a hungry baby nursing. The two slips I had were maternity (totally wearing them too, they wrap in the back and button but other than that look normal) so I guess it makes sense. I had no idea these types of dresses were around. I have never seen patterns for nursing dress, just the expandable maternity ones. Soooo, long story short they look awesome and no one can tell that they have snaps in odd places for easy feeding. The great mystery is this: they are labeled as ‘Lane Bryant’ dresses with a second tag labeled ‘Lanbry’ or ‘Lambru’. These dresses fit me perfectly which is surprising bc I’m a size 2. I know Lane Bryant has been around a very long time, however I always assumed they have always sold full figure clothing like they do now. And so begins the mystery of the nursing dress. I know someone out there in vintageland knows the score. Thanks!!  ***check my blog tomorrow for pics if you’re interested.***


On a totally unrelated note, why are modern maternity clothes so flippin’ ugly! These dresses are amazing and feminine and tailored. The slips are fab, why in the world do we as women relent and wear such unflattering and boxy cut maternity/nursing clothes when they can so easily be better? It’s almost insulting that the fashion industry thinks so little of expectant and nursing mothers as to dress us in yucky rags. It’s nearly impossible to find decent maternity clothing that is reasonably priced.

  1. You might try contacting our member ‘NewVintageLady’ – she has a collection of Lane Bryant catalogs from the 30s so she might be able to provide some more info for you. Good luck on your quest…drink plenty of fluids and pack a seam ripper 😉

  2. Hi!
    Lane Bryant actually had two catalogs around that time, that I’m aware of. One set was aimed at plus size clothing and the other catalog was for maternity wear. I’ve never actually seen any of the maternity clothing in real life, just the advertisements for the catalogs in some of my old magazines. Good find! It’s really uncommon to run across old maternity or nursing clothing! And chances are that no one will EVER realize it but you 🙂

  3. Ooh, great find- I can’t wait for the pictures.

    This is exactly the reason I made almost all my own maternity clothes- £25 for a boring plain tshirt just because it has a little extra fabric gathered into the side seams? No thanks! Not when it’s so simple to make maternity alterations to a normal dress pattern of the right style. It’ll be interesting to see how your vintage examples are styled; there is another pregnancy planned at some point down the line that I’ll need to sew for 😉

  4. i’m starting to think that maybe i have stumbled upon something that really doesn’t exist anymore. since all of the dresses open out to a certain extent i’m thinking of tracing the dress and making a pattern out of it. there is one dress (my fav!) that has the oddest back piece to it. somehow it forms a ruffle around the collar , lines the back bodice on the outside and wraps around to tie in the front. it took me a while to even figure out what the heck this piece of fabric did. if i took the time to trace these patterns would anyone even be interested in using them?

    as an update: i did find that the Lanbry label was started in 1935 under the parent company of Lane Braynt

  5. I would totally be interested in a pattern tracing if you get around to it (it’d prolly be easier for you to trace in once and make a .pdf so you don’t need to trace it again. I’d be happy to reimburse you for it, so let me know if you decide to do it.

  6. i think you should trace the dresses! i’m dying to know what the pattern pieces/construction look like – sounds really intriguing. i don’t even need maternity dresses, just a sewing nerd over here 😉

  7. I’d certainly be interested in pattern tracings- I’ve never seen patterns for anything like this, so it would be really great to know how they’re made. Please keep us updated if you do decide to trace them 🙂

  8. Please, please make pattern tracings!!!!! Finding nice maternity patterns is not so easy, either. They are either frumpy or way too tight!!! Thank you.

  9. ok, ya’ll convinced me, twist my arm! unfortunately the patterns won’t be graded (idk even what size they are now, 2 seem to fit really well and 2 are a little big). i think it would be easy to grade them though since they are wrap style and have wiggle room. i have never done a pdf of a pattern, are there any tut’s out there showing how to do this?

    i emailed Lane Bryant too and they were so completely unhelpful that its almost not even worth mentioning. they actually referred me back to their website.

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