The perfect body, ’30s-style: Measurements women wanted in the thirties

The perfect woman's figure (1938)

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This is ideal figure that modern women want

Most women in the US would like to have a figure like 20-year-old model June Cox [shown below]. Miss Cox is 5 foot, 6-3/4 inches tall and weighs 124 pounds. According to life insurance statistics, she should weigh 135 pounds.

The perfect woman's figure (1938)

The perfect 1938 figure must have curves, but it differs from the perfect figure of past decades in relationship of curves to straight lines.

In the 1890s, women had full bosoms, round hips. In actual measurements, they probably were no rounder than Miss Cox, but they seemed so because they were shorter, and tightened their weights into an hourglass effect.

As the American girl stressed sports, she grew taller and flatter. The boyish form became the vogue.

With the recent return of the romantic influence in clothes, the soft feminine figure is again back in style. Now, though, the ideal figure must have a round, high bosom, a slip but not wasp-like waist, and gently-rounded hips.

Hollywood picks its perfect figure: Betty Grable

America’s Ideal Girl, according to a jury of Hollywood art specialists, Betty Grable, whose singing has made Saturday nights on CBS worth staying at home for this year.

Inset: the judges taking the measurements which caused them to challenge Atlantic City to produce any Miss America who is nearer to perfection than this lovely Paramount star. Below, with husband Jackie Coogan.

The perfect body 30s-style (2)

Because US women sit so much — in autos, at bridge tables, at desks and in the movies — big hips are their most serious problem.

On the whole, though, they have the sort of figure that prompted dumpy Elsa Maxwell to say, “No French woman should be seen on the beach by her lover — all American women should.”

MORE: Women: Do you have the ideal figure? Here’s what ‘they’ thought in 1950

The ideal measurements: 34-24-34


Head: 21-1/2 inches

Neck: 12 inches

Upper arm: 9-1/2 inches

Bust: 34 inches

Waist: 24 inches

Wrist: 6 inches

Hips: 34 inches

Thigh: 19-1/2 inches

Calf: 13-1/2 inches

Ankle: 8 inches

The perfect body 30s-style (3)

’30s Radio Mirror magazine cover with actress Dorothy Lamour (May 1939)

The perfect body 30s-style (1)

Vintage actress from the 1930 - The perfect figure

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Comments on this story

One Response

  1. Lol my measurements at age 31 and 5’3 100 lbs are 32-24-31 and I don’t think I have the ideal figure. I run daily and eat nothing, but I have cellulite.

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