This is part one of three. The next two posts will be on an individual designer of fiesta dresses and a housewife turned career women due to her wonderful creations. Stay tuned.
It's All About the Dress
"the gay, comfortable and almost universally becoming..."
- a slightly gathered skirt based on Navajo dress
- a "broomstick" or pleated skirt based on Navajo and Mexican attire
- a fully gathered, three-tiered skirt based on contemporary Western Appache camp dresses or Navajo attire
-They were most popular in the Southwest, where they most likely originated from.
-The dress complimented the patios and ranch type architecture of the lazy, carefree sunny Southwest.
-The "Squaw" dress found its greatest success between 1948 and 1958, which was quite long for a fashion trend.
-By 1953 national advertisement and articles existed about the "Squaw" dress.
-The negative connotation of squaw was avoided by marketing the dress using the positive stereotype of the Indian Princess and turned her into a princess of the American West in her full, swirling skirt.
-The dress represented both idealized feminity (as we were moving away from the masculine look of the WWII) and Americanness (because of the Native American origin).
-The dress, however, did not require the New Look extreme of body contouring with minicorsets and petticoats; instead they relied on fabrics and decorative patterns as identifying features.
-First "squaw" skirts were "pleated" by being wrapped on broomsticks. A Navajo technique, whereby a wet skirt was bunched around a broomstick and tied to the stick tightly with string. Once dried the resulting accordion-style pleats created a unique controlled wrinkle. Later the skirts were encased in nylons, which quickened the dry time. Then later a "secret" method perfected the pleating technique.
-The fad was also easily spread because housewives could easily make them, resulting in several major pattern companies who produced various patterns for this new look. Textile manufacturers even created a special fabric called "squaw cloth."
-Women typically would have 2-3 tops for one skirt, in order to create a variety of looks. The wardrobe could go from daytime to evening, summer or winter by simply changing the top.
-The "Squaw" outfit would often be accessorized with squash blossom necklaces and concho belts which were popular pieces in the Southwest.
-The most famous of "Squaw" dress resurrection was when the "Santa Fe-style" became popular with its full, broomstick tiered skirts and concho belts, however the blouses were fuller and made of jersey knit of a solid color.
-The term "Squaw" has found itself linked to negative connotations in modern society, therefore I might illicit some negative feedback from identifying this dress as such. However, in my defense, this was the term that manufacturers and advertisers coined for this style of dress and thus I have referred to it as such.
Most of my information came from the following:
Parezo, Nancy J. and Jones,Angelina R.. "What’s in a Name? The 1940s–1950s 'Squaw Dress'.” 2009.
An article mostly about the symantics of the word "Squaw", but very interesting if you have the time.
Some of the information came from another article which will be featured more in another post.
Hope you've enjoyed and will come back for the next two parts!!!