Category Archives: Too Marvelous for Words

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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Metropolitan Magazine, October, 1909

How does an illustrator say “autumn” without drawing leaves and pumpkins?  One way is to do it with color.  The orange and browns, along with the deep blue (for the October sky) says “autumn” quite effectively.

I don’t know who the artist is, and I don’t have the magazine with me, but it looks like the work of Edward Penfield.  Penfield was best known for his Harper’s covers, but he also illustrated other magazines like Metropolitan.

Metropolitan was not a fashion publication.  As the name suggests, it was a magazine for New Yorkers.  Established in 1895, in the early years it focused on the New York theater scene, but soon branched off into other facets of city life.  The magazine became increasingly political as the country moved toward involvement in World War I, and was highly critical of President Wilson.  Some of the articles were written by Teddy Roosevelt who was an editor at the magazine.

After the war the magazine focused on publishing stories and serialized novels, and included writers like Jack London, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Edna Ferber.   The last issue was published in 1925.

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