The Philosophy of Zippers

My reading about buttons in the 1940s quite naturally led me to reading about ZIPPERS.  Zippers began showing up on women’s clothes sometime during the mid to late forties.   BUT the arrival of the zipper did not make writing the love scenes any easier than when my characters’ still had buttons on their clothes.

The dress zippers at that time were not located on the back; they were on the side.  You can see an example of this in the 1946 film, Gilda.  Look for the scene where Rita Heyworth, in a self-destructive mood, challenges the men in the audience to help her take her dress off.  One eager gentleman comes up on stage and immediately goes for her zipper on the side.  Of course, Bill Holden stops the eager gentleman before anything can actually get zipped off.  I’ve also used as my model for these side zippers an old 1948 Montgomery Ward catalogue.  I don’t know when they finally started putting zippers on the back of women’s dresses, but I do know that zippers were still located on the side in women’s pants into the early sixties.   The reason for the side zipper?  Zippers suggested a woman was too easy to get out of her clothes.


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4 responses to “The Philosophy of Zippers

  1. That’s very interesting about why zippers were placed on the side of a dress. It still, to me, is the best way to hide a closure.

    Of course, now, prominent, exposed zippers are very in. I wonder what that’s saying? Heh.

    • I think the zippers of today are saying exactly what you think they’re saying and show the changing attitudes woman. Still, this makes me wonder if this is really progress.

  2. Having a zipper or buttons for that matter on the side of one’s dress meant that a woman could undress herself, vs having help from her maid. Before zippers, it was all buttons, laces, hooks and eyes. Try doing those up the back by yourself. ha! And yes, those exposed zippers do say something quite clearly: here you are, unzip me — even if you’re nearsighted, or drunk or stoned, you should be able to see THIS zipper! Thanks for this fab article on zippers, Vanda!

    • Sandra, you’re right. You can see the how women at looked at, considered, not considered simply by noting where they put the zipper. Thanks for taking my thoughts a to further level.

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