Category Archives: Vintage Miscellany

Vintage Miscellany – September 14, 2014

How did the 1930s woman manage to look so chic?  Even on horseback this woman is tailored and sleek.  Remove boots and breeches, put on skirt, and she’s ready for lunch at the club.  What a life!

*  Last week was New York Fashion Week, and Bill Cunningham noted a trend in the woman’s working uniform.

*  The Metropolitan Museum has announced the theme of next spring’s costume exhibition, Chinese Whispers: Tales of the East in Art, Film, and Fashion.  It sounds interesting, but from reading the press release, it seems like there is to be an overabundance of more modern fashion, with a John Galliano gown being chosen as the cover photo for the release.  With Andrew Bolton as the curator, I think that is what we can expect.

*   The latest product from Louboutin, a bottle of nail polish, costs $50.  How much does it cost to produce it?

*   Jen at Pintucks has added a great visual timeline of 1950s fashions.

*   When in New York, I love walking past the Stoll knitting factory to watch the machines.  It’s an amazing operation.

*   The LA Times had a good article on how the fashion industry there is having to change in order to survive.

*   Some shoppers are beginning to buy less, but spend more per garment.

*   An intriguing new book, Women in Clothes, is reviewed at NPR.  thanks to Brooke for the link.

*   An exhibition at the Canton Art Museum (Ohio) is about art forgeries.  The twist is that the visitor is given the chance to see if he or she can distinguish between the forgeries and the authentic art in the exhibition.  In February it travels to Oklahoma City.

* Lauren of Wearing History is working toward producing a line of vintage-inspired clothing.  She is in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign that is going well, but could use a bit of support.  Even her fabrics are made in the USA!


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Vintage Miscellany – August 31, 2014

This photo is labeled “Mary & Tante Adafine Hartmann” so along with the wicker beach chair, I think this is probably German.  The beach chair was much more common in Europe than in the USA.  I’ve got to ask you European readers, do you ever see these for sale?

Mary’s white hat and shoes signal that this is probably late spring or summer, but it might serve as a reminder that with a little creative dressing, beach days can extend into the fall, especially here in the South.  September is especially nice, as it is still warm but all the kids are back in school and so the beaches are less crowded, and less noisy.

*  So, what’s the deal with Labor Day and wearing white?  Thanks to Brooke for the link.

*  And I guess I ought to just go ahead and get the issue of the President’s tan suit out of the way.  It used to be that we thought only the dress of women politicians was scrutinized.  No more; we are now a country of equal opportunity scrutinizers.

*  Levi’s made a custom denim tuxedo for Bing Crosby, and his niece is on a quest to find it.

*   Madison Avenue Fashion Heritage Week is a real thing, and will be October 20 through 26, 2014.  The windows of sixteen fashion houses will be turned over to the history of each one during the week.  I love this idea.

*   In “Sign of the Times,” Cathy Horyn discusses the trend toward wearability  in high fashion.  I really can’t see it as a totally bad trend.

*   “The Secret Life of Your Clothes” is an interesting video about how donated clothes end up in Africa and the effect they have on the African clothing industry.

*   Since many of the fast fashion chain designers are so obviously cultural nincompoops, they surely must start hiring history majors who will be able to explain why certain designs might not be a good idea.

*   The ALS ice challenge seems to have its course.  I  appreciate the millions of dollars it generated for research for this puzzling disease, a disease that claimed the life of one of my father’s brothers.  It’s great that something that went viral has actually has a good effect.

I didn’t do the ice challenge, but I did write a check, and another one for my local animal rescue group.  Then I sat with a glass full of ice and oj and cherry vodka.  That’s my kind of ice challenge.  I did really enjoy some of the ice bucket madness, but seeing Anna Wintour’s bob take a hit was the highlight for me.



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Vintage Miscellany – August 17, 2014

Click to enlarge

I really hate this time of year when people start thinking that summer is over. Yes, schools are starting and the days are noticeably shorter, but there’s no reason to go into hibernation just because there are Halloween decorations filling the aisles of your nearest discount store. Can you tell that I love summer?

And now for the news…

*  My favorite new find is Backstory with the American History Guys, a weekly podcast about American history, of course.  A recent show was about fashion, and included interviews with Ann Tartsinis (more from her later this week) and Linda Przybyszewski.

*   Just when I start to think fashion blogs are creating a giant homogenized  look for the world, I see this great video about street fashion in  Dakar, Senegal.

*   Art: coming to a billboard near you.

*   If you deal in vintage clothing, then it is likely you’ve encountered the Edith Flagg label.  It was a mid-priced line, produced in California.  To my surprise, I learned this week that Edith was a reality television star, appearing with her grandson on Million Dollar Listing on Bravo TV.  Who knew?  Edith died this past week at the age of 94.

*   I really, really, want to dislike Andre Leon Talley, but I just can’t.  He amuses me.  See why in this Q&A session with him and Isabel and Ruben Toledo.

*   Cathy Horyn is back with this essay on fashion friendship at Harper’s Bazaar.

*   Project Runway is back, and wackier than ever.

*  I may be confused by Project Runway, but I do love Tim Gunn.



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Vintage Miscellany – August 3, 2014

It’s August, and that means that here in the southern mountains there are three more good months of decent outside weather.  So why was it that when we went in search of a certain piece of outdoor furniture the stores had little to no selection.  In one large chain store the garden center had already been converted into a Halloween and Thanksgiving shop!  I could not find a hammock, but there was a great selection of orange and black junk.

Actually, I did finally find my hammock, stuck back in a corner at KMart, and it was one half off.  But surely I’m not the only person who sees what is wrong with this picture.

And now for the news…

*   A clothing company in Japan is making jeans made from denim that has been “naturally distressed” by lions and tigers and bears. Oh my!

*   World War One is now one hundred years ago, and to commemorate the start of the war, several museums have exhibitions on women’s clothing during the Great War.  Kent State University Museum  American Textile History Museum  Fashion Museum of Bath

*  And a little taste of WW1 fashion comes to us from Jonathan Walford’s blog.

*  And here’s a great story about a WWI kilt. thanks to Christina

*  If you are in New York City this week, find your way to the Alexander Gray Gallery on West 26th Street to see Vera Paints a Summer Bouquet, through August 12.

*   The voting does not start for a few weeks, but there is already speculation on how an independent Scotland would affect the textile industry there.

*   The University of Georgia’s Historic Clothing and Textile Collection is in the process of being inventoried and photographed in order to make an online archive.

*   A similar process is happening at the Afton Historical Museum of Afton, Minnesota.  Amazing where you might find important clothing collections!

*   Robin Givhan asks the very important question,  “Why hasn’t Project Runway produced the next great fashion designer?”

*   And finally, I’m simply amazed sometimes at how many documents from the past have been saved in the oddest places.


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Vintage Miscellany – July 20, 2014

The guy from whom I purchased this photo referred to it as the Atlanta Tennis Club.  By the late 1910s, when this photo was taken, the game of tennis was firmly established in the USA, though I doubt these young players were members at a fancy club.  Surely they did not allow men to play with just one shoe at the renowned Atlanta Athletic Club!

And so we’ll start off with a tennis story.

*   What does one do with the dress of a tennis legend?

*  Fashion historian Anne Hollander died recently.  Read this article from her in a 1974 New York magazine to get a small taste of why she was so important to the study of fashion.

*   It has been ten years since Geoffrey Beene’s death, and Colin McDowell reminds us of the importance of the designer.

*   Susan has written about a long forgotten danger of bicycle riding.

*  It would not be Vintage Miscellany without a Charles James link.  At the Sunday at the Met program two weeks ago, Zac Posen and “Charles James: Beyond Fashion” co-curator Jan Glier Reeder discussed the design career of James.  Take an hour and watch, or rather, listen, and be impressed by the very fashion-literate Mr. Posen.

*   Eileen Ford, the modeling agency owner, died last week.

*  Weaver Theo Wright shows how he makes a scarf in this interesting photo essay.

*  The Vintage Fashion Guild has unveiled a beautiful new website.

*  Don’t even think about stealing museum artifacts in North Carolina.  We have cameras everywhere, as two thief wannabees found out.

Next week I’ve having some much needed and long over-due hand surgery, so I may be a bit quiet in the comment department.  Posts will still go up, as I’ve got some nice things already lined up and written, and I’ll be reading your comments.  Hopefully I’ll be back to clicking the mouse very soon!


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Vintage Miscellany – July 6, 2014

People have been coming to the mountains around Asheville in the summer, hoping for some relief from the summer heat for a hundred and fifty years.  And while the climate here is cooler than that of Charleston and Atlanta, it is still hot in the summer, regardless of what the Chamber of Commerce ads would have one believe.  But this long holiday weekend is straight out of the fantasy of a heat-crazed Floridian – cool and dry.  It’s downright energizing.

And now for the news.

*   Designer Gustave Tassell has died at age 88.  Tassell is probably most remembered for the clothes he made for Jackie Kennedy.

*   Amber Butchart has been writing a book on nautical influences in fashion.  She gives us a little taste of it in this post on the Breton stripe shirt.

*   The Met has added a series of audio interviews with people who knew and worked with Charles James.  These are great.

*   And even more from the Met’s Costume Institute.  They have announced another costume exhibition that will open in October, Death Becomes Her.  Good for them, but now I can’t complain any longer that they only do one show a year.

*   The Waterloo Region Museum in Kitchener, Ontario, and the  Fashion History Museum are currently exhibiting Street Style which  focuses on fashion and architecture in the Waterloo Region.  It looks fantastic, and I love the idea behind this exhibition.

*   In fashion, image is very important, as proven by this article on Kiel James Patrick.  It’s like these people are living in a carefully crafted commercial.  I must add that their products are made in the USA.  I have a belt I bought from them three or four years ago and it looks like new even though I wear it all the time in the summer.

*   Several of the large home wares discounters now have new Vera print tablecloths at very good prices.  There is a lot of fabric in each one, and the uses are limited only by the imagination.  thanks to Mod Betty

*   I’m really not sure what to make of this last story.  In June a shopper in Wales found a handwritten label in the seam of a cheap fast fashion dress that read, “Forced to work exhausting hours”.  Soon another shopper stepped forward with a garment with a label that says, “Degrading sweatshop conditions”.  The company that markets the garments, Primark, claims it is a hoax.



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Vintage Miscellany – June 22, 2014

This photo has identified the beach goers as Jay and Freida.  This photo was most likely taken in the early to mid 1920s.  Freida has adopted the newer wool knit suit, as opposed to the woman to her right who is in an old fashioned bloomer type suit, but she is still not brave enough to expose her legs.

It’s now officially summer here in the Northern Hemisphere.  Enjoy it!

*   The Vancouver Maritime Museum is hosting Babes and Bathers: History of the Swimsuit, June 28 through November 2, 2014. Thanks to Christina

*  Also in Canada, but on the other side is a new exhibition at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto – Fashion Victims: The Pleasures and Perils of Dress in the 19th Century Now through June, 2016 again, thanks Christina

*   And talk about dangerous, how about those flammable crinolines?

*   I’d never seen the Bowery Boys blog, but I recently found it through a link to their post about the Ladies’ Mile, a stretch of Sixth Avenue in New York that was the place to shop in the late nineteenth century.  There is an accompanying podcast, and I suggest you set aside an hour to listen and learn.

*   The National Museum of World Culture in Sweden plans to return 89 ancient textiles to Peru.  The items were smuggled out of Peru in 1930.  I hope more museums follow suit and return stolen works to their proper owners.

*   Connections: Sheep to Chanel is an interesting look at the interconnections between the various crafts and industries revolving around wool.  There is a great look at the production of Linton Tweed.

*   The New York Time Magazine calls Elizabeth Hawes “the most brilliant American fashion designer.”

* After President William McKinley’s wife’s tiara was featured on Pawn Stars, the William McKinley Presidental Library and Museum raised the money via crowd-sourcing to buy it for the museum.

*   The Warren of Stafford, Connecticut wool mill closed in December, but should be up and running again in the next week or so.

*   Here’s the bi-weekly Charles James link, and it’s a great one.  The Costume Institute conservators discuss the problems associated with the James gowns.

*   Dov Charney has been relieved as his post as CEO of American Apparel due to “alleged misconduct”.  Considering how many women employees have complained about his behavior over the years, I’d say it’s about time.

*   As a result, both The New York Times and The Washington Post (Robin Givhan is back!) ran articles asking if people were not just tired of the sleaze factor in fashion.  Gosh, I sure hope so.

*   And finally, a disturbing look at how a Seventeen magazine from 1973 compares to one from 2010.  I was lucky to grow up in a time when the magazines produced for teens had some substance to them.  Sure, there were fashions, and there were some features that would be considered cultural appropriation by today’s standard, but there were also articles about political issues and cultural issues.  And when was the last time a Native American woman has been featured on the cover of a magazine?  Progress?


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