Ad Campaign – Jantzen Kharafleece, 1951

That wonderful top-to-toe look…

it’s Kharafleece

sweaters

skirts

and match-mate

sox

all together now-

heavenly sweaters and skirts

in Jantzen-exclusive

Kharafleece: purest virgin

worsted wool, nylon and

miracle vicara… cashmere soft…

washable… practically

wrinkleproof.  And stunning sox for an echo!

The question in my mind was what the heck is vicara?  I had seen the fiber listed on sweaters from the 1950s, but I’d never really given it a lot of thought.  As it turns out, vicara is a protein fiber that is extracted from corn.  Those twentieth century chemists were nothing if not creative.

As were the ad copy writers.  See how they tied together vicara and cashmere?  It’s enough to make you think there was a vicara goat.

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Catalina Official All America Board of Football Sweater Vest, 1940s

If it were up to me, this label would read “Bored of Football” but then if everyone were like me there’d not be lots of old athletic sweaters to covet.  I’ll admit, I bought this mainly because I thought the label added a lot to the story.

As you can see, this sweater is official, of what though, I’m not entirely sure.  Googling brought up some vague references to a Board of Football helping to select the All American college players for each year.  Unfortunately, I soon got bored with the search and decided to just focus on the sweater.

Athletic letter sweaters are a fairly commonly found item.  Unfortunately, the moths often find them first, as I’ve found many that were nibbled beyond repair. There is a reason these are so common, as the letter sweater was a standard trophy for not only high school and college football players, but also for cheerleaders, basketball players, track runners and even band members.

Older athletic sweaters, before the mid 1930s or so, tend to be pullovers.  My 1936 Lowe & Campbell Athletic Goods catalog has both pullovers and cardigans, for both men and women.  They are called warm-up pullovers and coats.  Later athletic sweaters, from the late 1950s or so, are often made from acrylic yarn.

 

It’s such a nice hefty knit.  My color here is wrong though.  The real color is what you see in the top photo.  I obviously have not mastered the art of color balance.

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Filed under Collecting, Sportswear, Winter Sports

Style and Influence: First Ladies’ Fashions

I usually share links to other sites during my Vintage Miscellany posts, but this video is so interesting (and so long) that I thought it deserved a bit of extra attention.  This is a video of an event that was held in Washington, DC last week.  Hosted by the US National Archives, it is a conversation about the fashions of the First Ladies.

The moderator is Tim Gunn of Project Runway, along with Valerie Steele of the Museum at FIT, Lisa Kathleen Graddy of the First Ladies Collection at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, and fashion designer Tracy Reese who has dressed Mrs. Obama.  Each participant brought an interesting perspective and set of knowledge, and Gunn kept the program moving.

Many of the clothing examples shown came from the Smithsonian’s collection.  For years there was a wonderful exhibition that started with Martha Washington and featured a dress from each First Lady.  They were all lined up in chronological order and it was an excellent timeline of two hundred years of fashion.

Several years ago this exhibition was taken down and was reinstalled as a sampling of clothes and personal items from the First Ladies.  I’m so glad that I got to see the First Ladies in all their glory, as the new exhibition is not nearly so impressive.  It is, however, wildly popular.  I was there last spring and had to squeeze into the smallish gallery along with busloads of field-tripping schoolgirls.  Still, it is a must-see exhibition for the visitor to Washington.

The question was asked of the panel participants: “Which First Lady’s style do you most admire?”  To me it is Dolley Madison, if only for the fact that she came from the North Carolina backwater and was reared as a Quaker, and went on to be one to the style leaders of her day.  Feel free to answer the question in the comments, and do yourself a favor and take an hour and a half to enjoy this program.

 

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Filed under Proper Clothing

September in Review

I love September.  It’s warm enough that one can pretend that it is still summer.  But not October.  Today was blustery and quite chilly, and there is no doubt that summer is over.  Before long I’ll be excited about snow.

The wolf dressmaker’s form was up for silent auction at my local Habitat for Humanity.  I gave up at $265, as it was a bit too small for me to actually use.  Still, it was an incredible find.

Welcome to Frog Level.  This is an old warehouse area in Waynesville that has been made commercial.  There is a great coffeehouse and a new brewery, plus the best thrift store in town.

I love having lunch outside, and so many restaurants now offer outdoor seating during the warm days.  This is at my favorite local coffee shop, Panacea, in Waynesville.  Out back is the best seating in town, on the banks of Richland Creek.

Back in the day, lunch in Asheville might have been at the S&W Cafeteria.  Now the top floors have been converted into condos.  There’s at least one unit left:  1000 square feet for half a million dollars.  Not too many years ago the entire building could have been bought for a fraction of that.

This 1930s Vogue was a lucky flea market find.  These are getting harder and harder to find.

I got all dressed up in my favorite Marimekko dress just to go to lunch with my husband.  And I took the photo without straightening the room just so you would know I’m keeping it real.

I called this a crime against mannequins.  Can you just imagine the time (and glue sticks) it took to do this?  Why?

Here’s a photo of the lucky bins at the Liberty Antiques Festival, where I found the gym shirt and some other really great sports clothing.  There must have been twenty boxes and bins full of old textiles and clothes.

A great thing about fall is that it is apple season.  This is the exterior of the Barber’s Orchard Fruit Stand, built in 1932.  The apples are good, but we go for the cider doughnuts.

And as always I leave you with the beautiful Carolina sky.

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1920s Spalding Ted Shirt

Last week I got to take in the big Liberty, NC Antiques Fair.  Actually it is more like a big flea market where most of the stuff is old.  It’s usually not the best place to find clothes because it is outside and some dealers don’t like to exhibit clothing out in the weather, but I have found some fabulous things there over the years.

The first booth I came to had the dealers still pulling bins of textiles off their truck.  There must have been over a dozen big plastic binds full of clothing and linens from the past 125 years.  According to the seller they cleaned out the clothing from an estate and this was everything in the house.  There was no rhyme or reason to the packing of the bins.  You might have one with Victorian underwear and 1940s kids’ clothes together.

So I settled in to go through all the bins, and I was rewarded with some really interesting items.  One was this shirt from sportswear maker, A.G. Spalding.  It looks a bit odd, kind of like a shirt with legs.  I knew I’d seen a similar one in an ad in a 1929 EveryGirl’s magazine.

As you can see, in this ad from Man O’ War, it was called a ted shirt, which I assume is a cross between a teddy and a shirt.  Even though it is shown without a bottom in the ad, I assume it would be worn with bloomers.

I think this ted shirt is also from the late 1920s, with the popular round collar that is also seen on dresses from this era.  Also, the label is very similar to another Spalding suit from the late Twenties that I have in my collection.

Note how the top of the opening is shaped like a V and fastens beneath the collar.

As in the ad, there are curved shirt tails.

It looks like the purpose of the ted shirt was to keep the tails of it neatly tucked inside the bloomers, rather like the bodysuit of the 1970s.

Click to enlarge

Here’s the entire ad.

I’ll be sharing some of the other great sportswear I got from this dealer in the coming days.

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Filed under Curiosities, Sportswear

Currently Reading – Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History

I think I’d made the comment here that one thing the world does not need is another book about Coco Chanel.  Between 2009 and 2012, at least twelve books on Chanel’s life were published.  What more was there to say?

As it happens, I was wrong.  The world does need Mademoiselle:Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History , a book that at over 600 pages (including notes and references) attempts to set the story of Chanel’s life straight, and to place it and her work into the historical framework of the Twentieth Century.  It was a huge task, especially considering the myths surrounding the woman and her namesake business.

Through meticulous research and the locating of some key new resources such as the diaries and private papers of some of Chanel’s lovers, Rhonda Garelick has painted the most authentic portrait of Chanel to date. It isn’t as though there is a lot of new material, because there is not.  What makes this book so good is that Garelick cuts to the heart of the many conflicting stories about Chanel, and through her research comes up with the most plausible versions.  To add to the narrative, she also relates the alternate versions when there is any question as to the truth.

Most people writing about Chanel point out how she appropriated the clothing of her lovers.  What Garelick adds to this is how she also  absorbed and reflected their ideological and political views as well. Unfortunately, Chanel seemed to be attracted to men who were openly anti-semitic and who leaned toward fascism.

With the exception of Hal Vaughan’s Sleeping with the Enemy, most books about Chanel have reduced her life during the years between 1939 and 1945 to that of an aging romantic woman becoming infatuated with a younger German army officer.  With Mademoiselle, there is no white-washing of history.  Drawing on the research of Hal Vaughan, Garelick clearly presents the truth that Chanel was a spy for Germany.  There is also proof that she exposed an acquaintance as being Jewish, and that she went into at least one apartment that had been abandoned by its fleeing Jewish occupant and helped herself to art and antiques.

Garelick points out in her introduction that Chanel has become a popular first name for baby girls.  I’ve got to assume that the parents of these babies know nothing about Chanel the woman. As much as we might acknowledge her talent, Chanel was not a nice person, and she certainly would not be a good role model for your kid.

It also brings up the disturbing question of how much are we willing to overlook in the admiration of Chanel’s design talent and in the pursuit of style. Should we be like the Jewish Wertheimer family who continued to do business with Chanel even though she tried to “aryanize” their business during WWII, and who continue to protect her image even today?

Almost 45% of the book consists of end notes and the bibliography.  Unfortunately I was reading a advance reviewer’s copy on my e-reader and the notes were not linked.  I finally gave up tying to flip back and forth and read the notes at the end of each chapter.  They added a lot to the narrative.

My thanks to NetGalley and Random House.

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Filed under Currently Reading, Designers

Vintage Sewing – New Look 6838 and Vintage DVF Fabric

For most of my sewing projects I use vintage patterns, but I found this modern pattern, New Look 6838 when I was looking for one with which to make pajama pants.  I also loved the style of the top, which is designed for knits only, and I put cotton jersey on my fabric shopping list.

I knew that I did not need stripes, as I already have quite a few in this style.  Besides, though the drawing of the matching at the sleeves looks nice and tidy in the illustration, I know that would be easier drawn than sewn. So I started thinking about dots.  But then I got distracted cleaning and sorting my existing fabrics.  And in the middle of my “reds” bin, I pulled out this vintage fabric from designer Diane von Furstenberg.

I found the fabric in an antique store in one of the many little towns in the piedmont of North Carolina that for years survived off the making of cotton textiles.  These towns were a source of the best fabrics for a home sewer as well, as the factories often sent remnants and “seconds” to their factory outlet for sale to the public.  I suspect that is what happened with this fabric, as there was a small wrinkle in it that caused a bare spot in the print.

In 1976 Vogue Patterns magazine did a feature on Diane and her printed dresses.  As you can see, the patterns were by Vogue, and the fabrics were made by Cohama.

I never did finish my sorting job because I laid out the fabric piece and realized I had just enough of it to make the boat-necked top. I spent the rest of the afternoon sewing, and before long my new top was finished.  As the pattern envelope promises, it was easy.  There were only three pieces, the front, the back and the sleeves.  The back has a center seam, which I like because it makes for a smoother fit.

The neck was to be finished simply by turning under the seam allowance and topstitching, but I made a little facing using the selvage of the fabric.  I just could not see “wasting” that Diane von Furstenberg signature.

And here is the finished product.  It is perfect for the early fall weather we are having.

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Filed under North Carolina, Southern Textiles, Vintage Sewing