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Housework in winter?

Discussion in 'The Home Front Woman' started by St. Louis, Dec 6, 2012.

  1. St. Louis

    St. Louis Practically Family

    For those who wear vintage all the time, what do you wear around the house in the winter? I've decided that this winter I want to wear vintage at home, not just at the office or to go out. But I'm a bit stumped.

    During the summer I usually wear a vintage cotton dress or skirt with a blouse, with white keds or oxfords and ankle socks. That works well for laundry, washing the kitchen floor, even gardening.

    But in my drafty bungalow a cotton dress and ankle socks aren't warm enough in December, even with a cardigan.

    I can't figure out what a normal woman would have worn to scrub her kitchen floors, say in December 1939. I can picture the apron and the oxfords but am drawing a blank at everything in between. Surely she wouldn't have worn her expensive nylons while taking out the trash or scrubbing the toilet?
  2. Cotton stockings were worn for everyday household chores -- or wool-and-cotton blends in cold climates. A flannel slip would be rather a fine thing to have in the winter as well.
  3. Woolen knee socks are nice. Combine them with a flannel slip and warm tap pants and you are good to go. They also make wool tights, which you could possibly hem if you wanted to wear them as stockings. Also make sure your dress is a warm one- flannel is nice and inexpensive.

    Also some women wore pants around the house (particularly in winter) even if they didn't wear them out.
  4. St. Louis

    St. Louis Practically Family

    Thanks! I like the idea of a flannel slip. I have several good vintage patterns that should work. This may be a dumb question, but do you wear the flannel side toward the skin? I'm wondering whether a flannel slip would make the dress bunch & ride up?

    So is the consensus that you'd still wear a cotton house dress but just put warmer layers underneath?
  5. That's what I do, and what my grandmother always did. A flannel slip is easy enough to make, and once you've got a couple you'll really notice the difference. I usually wear a nylon slip next to the skin and the flannel slip over that. Or a cotton knit slip if it's too warm for flannel but too cool to go without something extra.

    Another thing worth keeping in mind is that no sane woman would have worn her best sheer stockings to do housework at any time of the year. Cottons or "service weight" 70-denier hosiery would have been worn for everyday unless she had a maid to do the housework.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2012
  6. Sometimes I wear a nylon slip, flannel slip, and nylon slip. And woolen knee socks and a pair of leggings. It gets cold here.

    Although leggings aren't the most accurate (I'm talking about the insulated ones, like Cuddle Duds with no feet) you can always wear the leggings under your knee socks. This way you get the warmth but you'd still look vintage. (Insulated underwear isn't a new invention.) Desperate times call for desperate measures.

    Personally, if I were you, I'd really look into making a few flannel dresses for around the house for winter. You can use flannel shirting (which comes in beautiful plaids) from the fabric store. Since it is made for shirts, it's both pretty light (not too heavy to drag you down) and it's also pretty inexpensive per yard.
  7. Union suits for women were very common in colder climates.


    Keep in mind that most American homes lacked central heating until well into the 1950s. When your house was heated by a kerosene stove in the living room and an oil range in the kitchen, you got used to being cold most of the time.
  8. Heather

    Heather Practically Family

    I need to get back into my dress & skirt wearing habit. I've become so lazy about it this winter. All I seem to be able to muster up is slacks, blouses and sweaters. I'm starting to feel like Katharine Hepburn!
  9. MissNathalieVintage

    MissNathalieVintage A-List Customer

    I saw this under the thermal section in their catalog an noticed the vest and short pants looked like a vintage union suit. Here is the link to the vest and short pants http://www.shopnational.com/Intimates-Thermals
    I got them and they are so warm and comfortable. However the vest straps were a little to long for me (which I can hand sew together to fit no problem). I wear these with my skirts and dresses. I too also add a full slip or half slip over these. I also wear thermal long pants under my dresses and skirts. I got my thermal pants in two colors grey and pink. I wear over the knee socks too so my thermal pants do not show. I got a few over the knee socks from Sock Dreams http://www.sockdreams.com/products/socks/thigh-highs/ and a couple of over the knee socks from Rock N scoks http://www.rocknsocks.com/socks/over-the-knee-socks.html I just add sock garters to help keep my socks over my knees http://www.sockdreams.com/products/accessories/sock-garters/

    I also learned that after a shower if you stand under a cool shower it will help fight the chill during the winter.

    Great great question

  10. lareine

    lareine A-List Customer

    Really? That seems counterintuitive to me. Can you explain more?
  11. St. Louis

    St. Louis Practically Family

    Maybe b/c it acclimates your body to the colder house temperature? Interesting suggestion.

    Thanks for the link to the socks! These long ribbed wool socks look like they'd do the job perfectly. I've tried wool tights in the past, but they wore out very quickly (from chafing) so I think wool socks would actually work really well.

    So -- back to the flannel slips for a minute -- do you sew them with the flannel facing inward or outward?
  12. Do you mean the nap side of the flannel inside or out? I prefer mine nap in, but sometimes I'll wear it inside-out depending how awake I am when I get dressed in the morning. You don't want to use heavy flannel for these, like in a pair of pajamas -- get the lightest-weight you can find. I make mine out of worn-out flannel bedsheets.
  13. Lovely Leah

    Lovely Leah Familiar Face

    The Vermont Country Store has two button front flannel dresses which definitely are perfect cold weather house dresses. Both styles are plaids. They also have some vintagey cardigans. These pieces really look like something from the thirties.
  14. I don't know if they still have them, but Vermont Country also used to carry mercerized cotton hosiery -- I got mine there for years, after they disappeared from JC Penney.
  15. Flicka

    Flicka One Too Many

    In the winter I have a problem with taking off/putting on cardigans and thick socks all the time. I have to take clothes off whenever I do housework because I get too hot and I have to bundle up whenever I sit down. I mean, scrubbing floors vs reading; you need two completely different outfits for that (not to mention when I'm cooking and the windows in the kitchen just steam up).

    Am I the only one who has this problem?
  16. Heather

    Heather Practically Family

    Nope, I can totally relate to this! I'm hot, I'm cold, I'm hot...it's a vicious cycle!
  17. geekgirl

    geekgirl New in Town

    I sometimes wear my regular sweaters over my lighter weight dresses during the winter. If I'm still cold after that, I will throw a cardigan over the sweater. If I'm even colder than that I will wear a blouse under my dress (along with a slip of course). I sometimes wear socks over tights to keep my feet warm. I frequently forget to take my scarf off when I come inside because it's keeping me warm, or I put on fingerless gloves/mitts to keep my hands warm while typing or sewing. Of course I put a nice wool blanket on my lap every chance I get to sit down too.

    I'm a naturally cold person though & have previously always lived in 100+ yr old houses that were hard to keep warm without spending a fortune.

  18. Heather

    Heather Practically Family

    Yeah, I'm the same way. :-/
  19. MissNathalieVintage

    MissNathalieVintage A-List Customer

  20. nerkg

    nerkg Familiar Face

    Extreme heat or cold?

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