Dickeys -- remember them?
You've seen them, no doubt -- the men's version, in particular -- if only in those old movies where some kid is wearing his father's tuxedo, and the false shirt front keeps snapping up like a broken window shade (A Date With Judy comes to mind). Dickeys were popular back in the period when laundry was a hassle but formality was in fashion. It was a whole lot easier to launder, press, and starch a detachable collar or shirt front, than an entire shirt.
Dickey sewing (and knitting) patterns, as well as patterns for all sorts of collar-and-cuffs ensembles, proliferated back in the day, by which I mean the Nineteen-Thirties through the Sixties. Then, like so many other dainty accessories -- nylon gloves, hats with veils -- they faded away.
I found this description on the Quality Time blog, and you can see the actual pattern pieces there too.
I remember having a knit turtleneck dickey as a kid which served the same practical purpose as a scarf -- easy to don, easy to remove. A little research has revealed that you can still buy the old -fashioned kind here (though it looks like they're used primarily for community theater revivals of Bye Bye Birdie).
Here's the most contemporary dickey pattern I could find: strictly Amish, if you ask me.
Readers, whatever happened to the dickey? I can think of a few reasons why they lost popularity:
1) Clothes became cheap and styles less formal. If you wanted to look like you were wearing a frilly cotton blouse, you went out and bought a blouse. (Or you made one.) You didn't wear a dickey, which has that WWII-era Make Do and Mend feel to it, wouldn't you say?
2) Dickeys, and all those little matching collar-and-cuff sets, work with woven fabrics, but today, when so many women wear stretch knits, dickeys don't sit right, since they can't move and/or stretch with the garment. Just a theory of course...
3) Fashion is just less formal all around: dickeys are fussy (and maybe a bit prissy), and fussy doesn't cut it today.
In closing, did you -- or do you now -- ever wear dickeys, or false cuffs, or any of those frilly combinations? Could you imagine sewing one?
Why do you think the dickey is dead? Or is it dead -- or merely waiting in the wings, ready to make its big comeback?
I'm a native New Yorker and sewing fanatic! I started sewing in 2009 and today make all my own clothes using vintage sewing machines and vintage patterns, in addition to sewing for private clients. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!