Category Archives: Too Marvelous for Words

Mademoiselle, June, 1941

Even though this is the cover of a June issue, the photo reminds me more of this time of year.  The stores and magazines are now full of clothes for cold weather, but here in the South there will be at least another month of warm weather.  Women in the South (and the southern parts of the West) have long known to transition to autumn clothing slowly.  Put away the whites and the light pastels and rely on warm, golden colors in cottons.  Add a sweater on chilly mornings.  The coats won’t really come out of the closets until late November.

I finally had a chance to sit down and thumb through the massive Vogue September issue.  At 856 pages, this issue fell short of the 916 page record, but still it is heavy and bulky and full of things to buy.  It is another season of asking who in their right mind would wear a certain shoe, in this case a particularly ugly Dior model that looks like three different shoes were thrown into a blender and mishmashed together.

And while I didn’t sit and count the pages, it sure seems to me that most of the big fashion houses are really in the business of selling accessories.  For the most part, the shoes look ugly and difficult to wear, whereas handbags are generally sleeker and not as tricked out as in previous seasons.

But the only company whose ads really made me wish I had thousands to spend was Louis Vuitton.  The clothes have a nice uncluttered mod vibe, and there is a little handbag that is like a miniature Vuitton trunk.  There is also an article about the new designer at Louis Vuitton, Nicolas Ghesquiere.

Like I said, living in the South means that our clothes are lighter.  I have several coats, all vintage, none of which I wear more than a handful of times each season.  Maybe that is why I find the over-abundance of fur in Vogue so odd.  There were three editorial features on coats, and the majority of the ones shown were either made from fur or trimmed with it.  And many of the other features also had furs.  I don’t get the emphasis on a product that many women can’t wear because of their climate, and that many will not wear because they feel wearing fur is wrong.

UPDATE:

I decided to add a photo of the ugly Dior shoes, taken from one of the many Dior ads in the Vogue September issue.  The pink part is actually molded rubber, like the sole of an athletic shoe, and the name “Dior” is embossed there near the heel.  Note also that the very tip of the black part is red, which extends under that cute little over-hang.  In some photos it looks like a tongue.  And finally, I do hope that heel is steel reinforced, as I can see that really narrow part snapping right off.

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The American Magazine, June 1933

Pyjamas were the women’s pants of the early 1930s.  Worn only on the most casual of occasions, they are most associated with the beach or with sailing.  Today they are more commonly found than you might think, but they are highly prized by vintage wearers and collectors.  I have two pairs in my collection, but I’d love to have a matching set like this, with the pants, sun top, and jacket, not to mention the hat and sandals.

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Everygirl’s Magazine – 1926 through 1931

Everygirl’s was a magazine for members of the Camp Fire Girls.  The Camp Fire Girls were established in 1912 as an organization for girls that was an alternative to the Boy Scouts.  Interestingly, Juliette Low was busy at the same time organizing the Girl Scouts, and in the early days of both organizations there were several attempts to merge the two groups.

Almost all the issues in my collection have ads for middies.  In one issue girls were reminded:

A clean middy a day will keep life gay.  Yes, there are middies and middies.  Not every piece of cloth cut with a sailor collar and long enough to go over your skirt is acceptable to Camp Fire Girls.  We want cut plus style, don’t we? And sometimes we want those stunning corduroy knicker suits.

In the early days of the organization the Campfire Girls were strongly influenced by “Native American lifestyle,” which included members making and dressing in an Indian style dress and making up an Indian name and symbol for oneself.    I’ve seen dozens of these “Indian” dresses for sale over the years.

Through the magazine girls were encouraged to live a healthy and active lifestyle, which included sports of all kinds.  I love how these girls were active and well-dressed.  An article about winter sports reinforced the idea of looking fashionable:

…Gladys, the fashion plate of the crowd, had achieved a very elegant effect.  She wore forest green corduroy knickers, a green suede windbreaker and a green beret, and double socks, the short ones turned down over the top of her ankle-high elk skin shoes.  She looked stunning.  Moreover, the outfit was both warm and practical.

The magazine seems to be targeted toward teen girls,  and this 1931 cover has an older looking girl on the cover.  All the issues mention appropriate dress for girls, but the 1931 issue also includes some pages that actually feature fashions.   I find it interesting that a magazine for a camping organization was also in tune with girls’ desires to look fashionable.

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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.

 

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Glamour, December, 1953

Let’s focus on the dress.

And who wouldn’t whisper compliments to the girl in the holly-berry red dress? Heavily textured lace overlays satin for a party dress that’s bare of shoulder  but covered of arm.  By Suzy Perette in Liberty cotton lace over acetate satin.  About $35.  Shoes by Herbert Levine.  

Suzy Perette was not an actual person.  It was the name of one of the labels owned by Lombardy Frocks, which was located in the Garment District of New York City.  The owner of Lombardy, Max Blauner, would buy the rights to reproduce dresses from Paris designers.  Dior was a favorite, and you can see Dior’s influence in this lovely dress.

Suzy Perette was considered to be a moderately priced line, and it was marketed toward young career women.  The $35 price tag does seem to be moderate, but in the 2013 dollar, the price is closer to $300.

By looking at the photo, even the original cover, I would never have guessed the dress was lace.  Thank goodness for the “On the cover’ feature.

Photographer:  Leonibruno-Bodi

Models: Not credited

Copyright: Condé Nast

 

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Charm – December 1952

Could a Christmas look be any more festive?  Here’s proof that one does not have to be wearing a big gaudy red sweater decorated with Santa’s sleigh complete with reindeer, including Rudolph with light-up nose.

No, all it takes is a softly structured coat in a soft dove grey, sparkly earrings, bright red lipstick, and a gloved hand full of carefully chosen and wrapped gifts.

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Ladies’ Home Journal, February, 1949

To celebrate the first snow for many of us in the Northern Hemisphere, I thought a bit of a sledding party was in order.  I love how the mother and children are all dressed alike, right down to the half-belts on the backs of their coats.  And such an effective use of red, seen only on the caps and in their cheeks (and Mom’s lips).  

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Filed under Too Marvelous for Words, Winter Sports