This Sunday is Easter. So I was looking for Easter hats for Rose. [As an aside, don’t you wish hats would come back in vogue? All those frilly Easter hats, especially from the 40s, look like so much fun.]
But, back to the matter at hand… As I was saying, I was looking for Easter hats, perusing the Sears Catalog when a phrase I saw as I whizzed through pages stopped me in my tracks.
Tub what???? Who would name a dress that? And why?
And why are they so hideous looking?
Easter hats forgotten, I started trying to solve the mystery of the Terrible Tub Frock. It was no easy task. I had to call in the professionals (my friend Tara, Queen of the Search Engines). And just what did she help me learn?
Well, despite its very odd name, a tub frock is just a lightweight summer day dress that can be washed… i.e. thrown in the tub.
That’s it. Mystery solved.
They’ve been around since about 1909¹ (at least that’s the earliest reference found). And girls who are “thickly made” should avoid them: “It is a safe rule that all tub frocks should be short, a trying doctrine perhaps for those who are not blessed with slim ankles, but fashion is never kind to the thickly made girl²…” And finally, they’re perfect for “morning marketing, business, beach, or picnic wear” and even suitable for informal afternoons³.
I also determined that they aren’t all hideous. These tub frocks, shown in the May 1923 Pictorial Review, are pretty cute.
I wonder how the muumuu craze of the 1970s will affect unwary researchers eighty some-odd years in the future? I hope they have an easier time of it than I had with tub dresses!
And now, poor Rose will be wearing last year’s Easter hat, all because of those danged tub frocks!
(One tiny bit of trivia before I go: Easter headwear did not earn the moniker Easter Bonnet until after 1933 when Irving Berlin coined them as such in his song Easter Parade.)