Fashion tips from 1935...and today

Illustration by Sam Kaiser ’19

From 1935

In this new OWU Magazine column, we’ll look back at past Ohio Wesleyan campus life. For new female students coming to Ohio Wesleyan in the fall of 1935, the university provided the “1935-36 OWU Freshman Women’s Handbook.” One section of the book suggests appropriate clothing to bring to Delaware. The tips are a fascinating blend of fashion and thrift — this was the middle of the Great Depression. Below are highlights.

Be ready for rain
To begin with the outer layer, and with the most important article of this group — a raincoat. You will certainly need one in Delaware for the town is known for its abundance of rainfall. And if your coiffeur needs protection throw an old beret or hat into your trunk along with a pair of galoshes for the heavy rain. And when the rain turns to snow have ready to wear in your closet, a heavy sport coat.

The essentials
For classes on the warm days washable dresses, including cottons, linens, rayons, and wash silks. For the winter student, a skirt to match your coat plus several sweaters or perhaps your old dresses transformed into blouses. Maybe you would prefer wool costumes or a knitted suit. For sorority teas, receptions, dates and so on, you will need to select one unified outfit — a costume with the afternoon degree of formality and shoes, hose, gloves, bag, hat to match or harmonize. Dressing for dinner consists simply in putting on something fresh.

Formal frocks
One formal gown a year is enough, during the first at least. A tip here — velvet cannot be worn for spring, nor is organdy in effect during cold weather. Laces, crepes, satins can be worn for both making a second frock unnecessary. It is very important to bring along a white dress for sorority pledging and initiation, and Y.M.C.A. initiation, so save your graduation dress for such events, and you will not have the trouble of going around trying to borrow one at the last minute.

From head …
If you look well in a beret, they are grand for classes; but most girls go hatless which is more comfortable and saves buying a chapeau for school. Do have your most becoming one for those teas, receptions and Sunday night dates at Buns.

To toes …
We walk miles at Ohio Wesleyan so come prepared with flat or medium heeled oxfords for classes. Of course high heels if you prefer them for parties and dances, but even for such occasions low heels would be the height of fashion. Delaware is an inexpensive town in which to have shoes fixed and with new heels and soles they last longer. Buy several pairs of hose the same color so that they can be interchanged and so wear better. You know your capacity in this item — washing as well as wearing. Net or silk hose of the semi-service weight are appropriate for classes and sport. Your sheer chiffon, of course, for special occasions.

And underneath
Save your graduation gifts of silk underthings for special occasions and your delicate pajamas for week-end trips. Quaint cotton undies as well as inexpensive pajamas which express your personality are not hard to find. A warm bathrobe and soft slippers for study are a comfort. Mules look chic, but their clatter makes roommates grey headed, so keep them for the weekend trips. Do bring a girdle, if you don’t wear one already, for after several months of regular hours and diet you will need one. (Sad but True!)

Illustration by Sam Kaiser ’19

And today?

Top five fashion items today’s female students bring to campus:

  1. OWU sweatshirt/hoodie
  2. Birkenstocks
  3. Leggings
  4. Fuzzy socks
  5. Jeans

Return to the Winter 2020 OWU Magazine