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. I also sew for private clients. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!