Monday, October 10, 2011

What's a Hooverette?

     A Hooverette sounds like some kind of vaccume cleaner or a cheerleader of some sort doesn't it?  Actually, it's the name of a type of housedress designed and worn in the late 1920s and 30s possibly to conserve water, laundry soap and clothing.  The dresses had a "lap" front.  You would lap one side over the other and fasten it with a tie.  When that side got soiled, you simply lapped the other side over the dirty one.

     Before WWI, all wealthy and most middle class families had household "servants" to keep things neat and tidy.  The war changed things as it modernized the world creating more desirable jobs for those workers.  Wives found themselves having to do much of the housework themselves.  It was unthinkable to go to the door if callers came wearing an apron so the Hooverette was a good substitute.

Woman on right wears
a Hooverette which ties
in back.

     Hooverettes were sometimes referred to as either Hoover Aprons or, more commonly, morning dresses since the women did their housework in the morning then changed their clothes to go "out" in the afternoon for shopping, visiting friends, and other vital errands.  The morning dresses were made of inexpensive cotton fabric which washed easily.  Sold cheaply at 2 for 95 cents in the 1935 Sears catalog, a woman could possibly have more than one.  Simplicity pattern #1151 (not shown) from 1932-3 was for a Hooverette dress so the industrious woman could make her own.


     According to Barbara Brackman's book Making History:  Quilts and Fabric from 1890-1970,  no one is certain how the dress got it's name, but it may have been named in honor of conservative President Herbert Hoover who took over the presidency at the beginning of the 1929 and served until 1933.  Hoover was blamed for the depression although he didn't cause it...but someone must take the blame.  However it got it's name, the Hooverette or Hoover apron is simply an inexpensive work dress.

1930 Hooverette Art Quilt
8 3/4" X 11"

     Here's my version of a Hooverette dress worn in the 1930s along with some sensible shoes.  Dirt won't show much on this print fabric.

     Now we wear jeans to do our housework, though society didn't permit them at that time.  We've come a long way in our dress liberation, haven't we?

     So, remember the ladies.


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