Ad Campaign – Ship ‘n Shore, 1957

Ship ‘n Shore fashion talks embroidery behind your back

Since we all loved the Ship ‘n Shore blouses from 1953, I thought I might share some from a few years later – 1957.   Like the earlier blouses, these all have a small detail that makes each special, whether it is a line of embroidery down the back or a pocket stitched up like a maze, or a notch cut out of a sleeve.  I can see why the products from this company were so popular.  They were nicely designed and sold for a reasonable price ($3.98 equals $32.49 today).

I’ve now got plans to make that blue blouse.  That is my favorite collar, and I just can’t resist those sleeves.


Filed under Ad Campaign

1950s White Stag Canvas Jeans

I’m always impressed by the quality and styling of vintage White Stag clothing from the 1950s.  As if brown canvas jeans were not wonderful enough, White Stag added that extra bit of color at the hem.  And what a sophisticated palette for sportswear: black,white, turquoise, brown, and khaki.

Until the early 1960s, White Stage used a form of this blue label in their women’s sportswear.  Sometimes the label is red and sometimes it is white with red print.  Sometime around 1961 the label changed to white with gold print.

I’d like to know why all women’s jeans and slacks do not have side zippers.  They are infinitely more flattering, and just as convenient.

These can be worn with or without the striped cuff.

And finally, the rear view.

I’s hoped to find an ad for these pants, but so far I’ve had no luck.  White Stag advertised extensively, so I’m holding out hope that I’ll locate it.  In the meantime, here’s an ad from 1951 that shows the wide range of separates they were making in coordinating fabrics.


Filed under Sportswear, Vintage Clothing

Currently Reading – A Variety of Crafting Books

When I was teaching, one of the questions most asked by parents was, “How do I get my child to read?”  By this they were really saying, “My kid won’t sit down with a book and enjoy it.”  As the conversation progressed it was usually revealed that the parent never read either.  Of course, there were the dozens of excuses with, “I don’t have time,” being the big winner.

I was lucky.  My mother managed to do a full day’s worth of housework by one in the afternoon, and the time between lunch (and Jeopardy, which came on at 12:30) and dinner was her reading time.  She always had at least one book with her place marked, as well as a magazine of two.  I don’t think it is a coincidence that her four children turned out to be big readers as well.

Whenever anyone asks how I’ve learned about fashion history, I tell them the truth – that I read a lot.  When I get a new book, I read it immediately, or put it in my reading queue.   If the reading queue runs dry, I pull out an older book to reread.  So I always have fashion or textile history of some kind on my mind.

Lately, I’ve discovered a new source of excellent clothing and textile information.  On rainy days I often drive over to the Goodwill Clearance Center, where there are usually eight or ten bins of used books.  In such a place you can experience first hand the old saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”  I’ve learned to open and flip through any book that seems remotely promising.  That’s how I learned that craft books, especially older ones, often have excellent historical information about the craft.

Tartans, Their Art and History, was an easy one, as the authors come right out and let the reader know this is not just about weaving.  And it is not just history, but also the process of making tartan.  Above you can see a vintage photo of women and girls gathering lichen which was used for dye.

And if the reader happens to be a weaver, there are beautiful photos of many tartans with the weaving diagram for each.

Patterns for Guernseys, Jerseys & Arans is for knitters, but it too has lots of information about the history of fishermen’s sweaters and the symbolism they contain.  The author, Gladys Thompson actually went to the traditional fishing villages and followed any man who was wearing an interesting sweater.  Today she’d be accused of stalking.

This book is a Dover reprint of a 1969 work, and is still available on their website.

My latest find, and the one I’m currently reading, is Smocks and Smocking by Beverley Marshall.  It was published in 1980 at the end of the big crafts revival and back to nature movement of the 1970s.  From the cover you might think it was just another lets-get-funky-and-wear-funny clothes tome, but a glimpse inside tells another story.

There is a large and fascinating look at the historical garment which traces the evolution of the smock from agricultural clothing to fashion statement.

It also has good instructions on how to make a smock, and some 1980s dudes awkwardly modeling the modern examples.

I have a pretty good fashion library (and you can too) but the information in these books is so specialized that it would be hard to find elsewhere.   I’d love to hear of other unexpected sources of fashion information that you might know of.


Filed under Currently Reading, Viewpoint

McCall’s, October, 1917

In 1917 there were more women than ever working outside the home.  Many who were doing the jobs of farm and factory laborers had begun to wear pants or overalls on the job.  Suits were fashionable for the office set, and they often had an air of the military about them.

But tea and evening dresses remained very feminine in the traditional sense of the word.  Frocks were shorter, but no less frilly.  The skirts were quite full, and fell from a waistline that was above the natural waist, but was not quite an Empire waist.   In just a few years the waist would disappear and the skirt would become very narrow.   To learn more about the tubular styles of the early 1920s, you need to read Witness2Fashion’s analysis of them here and here.

I love this cover from 1917.  I wonder if she really did pair the yellow beads with her pretty blue dress.



Filed under Too Marvelous for Words

Relaunch of Anne Fogarty Label


I recently received an email from Gregory Halvorsen who was requesting to use a biography of designer Anne Fogarty I had written some time ago.  He explained that he and a partner were in the process of reviving the Anne Fogarty label, and they wanted to use my writing as part of their information packet.

You can read the old blog post that I wrote about Fogarty, so I’ll not say a lot about her here.  One of the criticisms that is often used against women designers is that they tend to design for themselves.  In the case of Anne Fogarty, that was definitely the truth.  Luckily for her, they were also the clothes many young American women wanted.  Her designs were a success from the time she began designing under her own name in 1950, until she retired in the 1970s.

The look she is most remembered for is her take on the New Look, with tiny waists and full skirts.  Fogarty worked with this look throughout the 1950s, and into the 60s, but as fashion changed, so did she.  Her work from the 1960s is a sophisticated take on the youthful fashions of the times.

At the high fashion level it is pretty common for names from the past to be revived.  For instance, there have been several attempts to revive the Schiaparelli name, including one that is currently in process.  As for American ready-to-wear, I can only think of a few examples of revivals, like Claire McCardell which was shut down by her family, and Lilly Pulitzer which has been a huge success.

I wish the new company well.  They have re-registered the trademark and have incorporated in New York.  They have also hired a designer, and a capsule collection is in the works.  They plan to launch a Kickstarter campaign in June.  It will be interesting to see what they come up with.  In the meantime you can follow their social media:

Facebook: AnneFogartyInc

Twitter: @FogartyAnne

Instagram: @FogartyAnne

Pinterest:  AnneFogartyInc

My illustration is from Fogarty’s 1959 book, Wife Dressing, which has also been re-released.


Filed under Designers

Ad Campaign – Ship ‘n Shore, 1953

More here than meets the eye…

Ship ‘n Shore tailoring is so kind to the curve of an armhole… so generous where a shirt-sleeve meets a shoulder… no wonder it brings out the best in fine fabrics! 

Ship ‘n Shore is another of those brands from the mid twentieth century that despite being a big deal then, is all but forgotten today.  At $2.98 ($26.60) today, the line was affordable, but even from a photo one can tell this was a quality product.

One of my very favorite fashion details is a mitered collar in a stripe.  That collar took expert precision in cutting and in sewing.  And I also love the contrast of the horizontal placket against the vertical stripe.  And even though we can’t see it, we are assured by the ad that the curve of the armhole is properly cut.  Today you can easily find a sleeveless blouse for less than $26.60, but not with this quality.

Ship ‘n Shore was founded in 1916 as the Susquehanna Waist Company in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, by Samuel Netzky.  You might know that a waist was what we would today call a blouse, and even though the company ventured into making other women’s garments, the blouse was their mainstay.  According to an article that quoted a great-grandson of Netzky, the company changed its name to Ship ‘n Shore in 1954, though it is apparent from this ad that they were using the name before that date.  The US Trademark site gives 1939 as the first use of the Ship ‘n Shore name by the company.

The Netzky family sold the business in 1977, and it was eventually bought by Montgomery Ward.  In 2002 some of the Netzky family purchased the rights to the name from Montgomery Ward.  They formed a corporation, SWC Enterprises, Incorporated, and began plans to revive the label.  In the article I found I thought this bit was very interesting:

To understand what customers want today, SWC conducted market research with two groups of women, ages 35 to 49 and ages 50 and up, and found a desire for moderately priced clothing that looks youthful but not dowdy and fits women’s bodies better as they age, he said.

“There was a sea of complaints about styles of clothing for the age 35-plus woman,” Schwartz said.

Unfortunately, it looks as if the plan did not materialize, as today the trademark status is dead, and I could find nothing about SWC after 2003.  Now that is a real loss opportunity for the plus 35 set.

I have a few more great Ship ‘n Shore ads I’ll be sharing in the next few weeks.

Information from, accessed April 16, 2014.


Filed under Ad Campaign

Lily Mills of Shelby, North Carolina

We tend to think of the textile industry as makers of fabrics, but there really is a huge range of products that can be classified as textiles.  My state, North Carolina, has long been a grower of cotton, and much of the industry here involved the production of cotton products.  Much fabric was made, especially in the big denim mills like Cone, and also jersey knits were an important product.  Equally important were products like towels, socks, stockings, and bedding.  But one of the largest components of the industry was the spinning of yarns.

Lily Mills was located in Shelby, on the edge of cotton country in the piedmont of North Carolina.  It was founded in 1903 as the Lily Mill and Power Company by John Schenck.  It was one mill of a growing industry in the area, and by the 1940s, there were twenty spinning mills in the Shelby area, some of which were also making products that were then marketed by Lily Mills.

The range of products made by Lily is pretty amazing, everything from regular sewing thread to yarns for handweaving to heavy rug yarns.  To help promote their yarns they also published instruction booklets and marketed small looms for the home weaver.

Probably one of the most interesting things about Lily Mills was their relationship with the Penland School Of Crafts.  Penland, located near Spruce Pine, North Carolina, continues to be a highly regarded school for craftspersons.  In the late 1940s Lily Mills helped finance the Lily Loom House at Penland.  Weavers who attend classes today still work in the Lily Loom House.  In return, weaving instructors at Penland wrote booklets for Lily Mills, such as Practical Weaving Suggestions.

By the looks of the variety of booklets on eBay and Etsy, Lily Mills must have published booklets for every yarn they made.  There is an astounding amount of material.  And though I’ve never seen an example, I’ve read that during the 1940s they also marketed sewing patterns.

I found these sample cards a few weeks ago while traveling through the area.  I was struck at how fresh the colors remain.

There was no date on either card, but I’m guessing that the code at the bottom of them dates them to 1961 and 1962.

And while it has nothing to do with textiles, the Lily Mills has an important connection to the development of bluegrass music.  In the early 1940s banjo player Earl Scruggs worked at Lilly Mills and stayed with a fellow musician.  The area around Shelby was evidently a hive of three-fingered banjo pickers.  The style Scruggs developed became the standard for the bluegrass banjo.


Filed under North Carolina, Southern Textiles