Category Archives: Too Marvelous for Words

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

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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Mademoiselle, September, 1957

Navy takes a turn at fall, thanks to the addition of a fur collar.  I love navy all year long, even though it is not exactly a “fall” color.  It looks especially great with the red stairs.

The blue suit is by designer Anne Klein.  In 1957 she was a young designer and was working at Junior Sophisticates.  In this issue other young American designers were featured, some of which are familiar names to fashion history lovers:  Donald Brooks, Rudi Gernreich, and Anne Fogarty.  The photographer took all the shots of the young designer feature in his studio, where the spiral stairs were located.

The “Paris Extra” was interesting, because fall 1957 saw the spread of the infamous “Sack Dress”  which had seen its debut in the spring of that year.  You can see the influence in a lot of the clothes in this issue, with a less fitted silhouette and that awkward just-above-the-calf length.

Really shocking are the prices of the suit and the accessories.  The suit was $125 and both the handbag and  the hat were $15 each.  That sounds pretty good until the prices are adjusted for inflation.  In the 2013 dollar, the suit would be $1005, and the accessories would be $121 each.

Photographer:  George Barkentin
Model:  Not credited
Copyright:  Condé Nast

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Fashionable Dress, August, 1927

I suppose I should have posted this lovely cover last month, but to be honest I’m not sure where August went.  It certainly was a fast-moving month.  And even though this is a beautiful summer frock, why can’t one wear it in September?

The truth is, I no longer care about the idea of changing clothes with the changing seasons.   I’ve known for a long time that I was moving toward a year-round wardrobe, but when I went to pull out a light sweater from my off-season storage, I opened the trunk to find it practically empty except for one Pendleton plaid shirt bought on clearance at the outlet this spring and woolen gloves, hats and scarves.  All my sweaters were already in my closet.

It helps that I wear the same colors – blue, white, black, red – pretty much all the year.  For winter I add plaid and cashmere.  For summer it is shorts and sandals.  Of course it helps that I lead a very casual lifestyle where work clothes are not required.

And even though it is after Labor Day, my white jeans are still in my closet, and will remain there indefinitely.

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