February 20, 2014

The Twenties Tabard

Callot Soeurs 1922-1923, MET
The 1920's tabard, wait the what? Tabard, like the middle ages garment? Why yes of course!

"A tabard (from the French tabarde) was originally a humble outer garment of tunic form, generally without sleeves, worn by peasants, monks and foot-soldiers (including the "plowman" in Chaucer'sCanterbury Tales[4]). In this sense, the earliest citation recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary dates from c.1300.[5]" - (the ever reliable Wikipedia :)

Well of course in the simplified, rectangle loving, twenties the tabard was suddenly back in style! Though now the tabard came in a newly embellished and modern form. I searched far and wide (or rather through the depths of pinterest) to find extant examples of the style.

The perfect example, look how simple! Just a long rectangle with a neckline!
Velvet and tied at the sides
Velvet again with side closures, but again also just a simple rectangle
A beaded version, so beautiful!
This one seems a bit shorter in length but again the same style and in velvet again
Some examples in brocade/silk
This style inspired the 20's holiday dress I made at Christmas time. This first dress I made by way of trial and error. I added side darts to the front to allow the tabard to fit better at the bust. Somehow, (how? HOW?) the two darts ended up asymmetric, even though I had a ruler and pins and a brain. I don't know how it happened, but luckily, being dark velvet, this mistake doesn't really show on the final garment. I ended up wearing the dress to a symphony at the Kennedy Center when I visited Washington DC and loved wearing it! First of all, no spanx-ish worries as the twenties dresses are so flowing and forgiving. Secondly, the dress felt so glamorous and modern despite being rather accurately 1920's. Perhaps because the general public doesn't really have a wealth of knowledge of 20's styles, other than fringed flapper dresses, the look felt really modern walking through the halls of the Kennedy Center.

Well since I really enjoyed wearing the first tabard I made, I decided to make another! This time, though again in velvet, I made it a bit differently and with more glitz and embellishment! I'll show you tomorrow!


  1. Wow. I love those. So different from what people normally make for the 20's. I love it and I can't wait to see your new one.

  2. Thanks so much Tracy! I really like the simplicity of the style and I agree it is a style you don't see much these days

  3. Wow, gorgeous! I love the tabard style, and think of it as being so iconic of the 1920s. Out of curiosity, did you sew the underdress yourself, or is it just a slip? If it's a slip you bought, any chance of letting me know where? I'm on the hunt for more colourful slips!

    1. Thanks Amanda! I did make the slip I have on here, though as it is polyester and therefore rather static prone I really need to make another in silk.


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