Tag Archives: scarf

Hurrah for the Red, White and Blue!

I realize the the old story about Betsy Ross and George Washington and the American flag was pretty much made up by her grandson and is probably about 95% false, but I’d still like to send a bit of gratitude their way.  It’s not that I’m particularly patriotic; it’s that I am really really fond of the red, white and blue color combination.

I realized that I must had sent the message out quite clearly when fellow fashion history blogger and internet friend Lynn recently sent a red, white and blue Vera scarf my way, and she mentioned that she had noticed I favored the combination.  And she didn’t even have the benefit of this view of my closet:

As far back as I can remember, I’ve associated red,white, and blue with summer.  Perhaps that is because the Fourth of July is in summer.   Even though the US Bicentennial was not until 1976, the lead up to it was a very big deal, with the flag colors being very popular throughout the early and mid 1970s.   I was reminded of that this week when I read the Joyatri blog, who had featured a series of magazine layouts from the early 1970s.

Look at Jo’s photos and you’ll see a lot of stars and stripes, but you’ll not see an actual depiction of the US flag, although that shoulder bag is pretty darned close.  That’s because according to the United States Flag Code, the flag cannot be used as wearing apparel.  In the late 1960s and early seventies there were all kinds of challenges to this law, including rock singers and hippies wearing the flag as a cape or as patches on their jeans.  This caused a furor, but times have changed and today we think nothing of the flag being printed on everything from tee shirts to boxer shorts.

My favorite flag/apparel story comes from Deanna Littell who was a designer at the Paraphernalia boutique in the mid 1960s.  She designed a shirt made from the little cotton flags that people wave at parades, and found a supplier who could provide the flags by the yard.  The design was ready to go into production when Paraphernalia learned that the DAR was looking for flag defilers, and that they were prosecuting offenders.  The design was scraped.  The Supreme Court has since ruled that violations of the Flag Code cannot be prosecuted as it is an infringement of the right of free speech.

I’m not the only one thinking of red, white, and blue.  Bill Cunningham’s On the Street video  for the New York Times this week features this summer standby as well.  As he said, “It’s a time for sporting red, white and blue!”

 

3 Comments

Filed under Collecting, Viewpoint

Winter’s Last Gasp

For the past two days here in the Southern mountains it has been rainy, sleety and cold.  But hopefully this is really the end of winter, and the weatherman is my new BFF, as he has predicted sunny skies and highs in the 60s and 70s for the next five days.  All I can say is that he’d better deliver.

I thought about saving this fantastic skating theme scarf for December, but then I realized that a good scarf is a good scarf, regardless of the theme and the time of year.

That must be the crazy scarf elf.  Is he matchmaking?

That little tyke is going to learn to skate whether he wants to or not!

Skate tag?

 

And I want to say a huge “Thank You” to Juliet of SixCatsFun Vintage for sending this lovely gift.  I don’t know what I’ve done to create such a nice bunch of readers, but believe me, I’m so grateful for all of you.

18 Comments

Filed under Collecting, Novelty Prints, Winter Sports

From Shawl to Scarf

If you are a regular reader of this blog you know that I’m not a fan of mindless “up-cycling.”  I didn’t arrive at that opinion quickly or lightly.  I’m a child of the 60s and 70s, and those of my generation thought we invented the re-crafting of old clothes.  Of course that was not true, no more than the DIYers of today invented the idea.

No, as long as there have been textiles, people have taken the old and tried to make it new.  Collectors of old clothes often come across garments that are reincarnations of an older item.  One favored material for such up-dating was the paisley shawl.

Shawls were popular during the age of the crinoline, the mid 1800s.  They were huge and rectangular in shape, and were used as a warm wrap over the voluminous dresses.   The very best ones were quite expensive.   After skirts began to shrink, so did the shawls.  Eventually, they became passe’.  But that did not mean that people discarded them.

I’ve seen many garments dating from the Edwardian era and the 1920s made from paisley shawls.  Many of them were cut into jackets and into robes.  Smaller pieces became handbags.  Here is an example form the 1890s.

Click to enlarge. From Handbags, by Anna Johnson

Even today, shawls are being made into new items.  A few years back, slipper-maker Stubbs and Wootton did a paisley slipper made from old shawls.

Several years ago I found what had once been a robe made from paisley.  It was missing an arm and most of one side, but the price was right – 50 cents if my memory is correct – and I knew that eventually I’d use it for something.  It was in such terrible shape that this was one piece that could be remade without guilt.  A few weeks ago it occurred to me that it would make a lovely scarf.

In order to get a good length, I had to piece the fabric.  I arranged and cut, and then resewed the paisley.

Then I had several larger holes to deal with.  I used a patch, but I’m not entirely happy with the results.  I may take off the patches and go with embroidery around each hole.

Finally, I backed the paisley with a length of black wool flannel.

To see more paisley, visit Brenna Barks’ blog, where Monica Murgia has written about an exhibition at the Allentown Art Museum.

16 Comments

Filed under Vintage Sewing

A Liberty Scarf, and the Value of Not Being Unusual

I bought this Liberty of London scarf at the Metrolina Flea Market several weeks ago.  I pulled it out of an overflowing box of scarves because the print was practically yelling “Liberty!”  Although it is not terribly old, it has that wonderful British Arts and Crafts-William Morris-Art Nouveau look about it.  And that is what Liberty is all about.

One thing some on-line sellers love to say about their items is that they are “rare.”  I also read the word “unusual” a lot in descriptions.  Of course most of the time the item is not rare at all.  But what about the items from a known designer or company that are truly unusual?

As an example, I love the sportswear designs of Tina Leser, but occasionally I run across a suit designed by her.  They are quite rare, but does that alone make them desirable?  For my part, I’d much rather have a well designed play ensemble than an awkward-looking suit made by a person unaccustomed to designing suits.  You don’t go to LL Bean for a bridal gown any more than you would go to Vera Wang for hiking boots.

For a person or institution who collects only garments from Tina Leser, the suit would be a very nice find, but for those of us who want an example of the designer at her best, we would rather have the more common playsuit or bathing suit.  If I have a scarf from Liberty, I want it to look like a Liberty print.

It is often the quintessential design that is most valuable.  Liberty scarves in the famous Peacock Feather print always fetch a nice sum on ebay.

If anyone knows the name of this print, I’d be eternally grateful if you would share it with me.

25 Comments

Filed under Collecting, Viewpoint, Vintage Clothing

Luck and Brooke Cadwallader

This post is about luck, on several different levels.  I feel so lucky to live in a time when communication with other collectors, history lovers and vintage nuts is so easy.   It seems like all I have to do is make a post about some obscure designer or store or manufacturer, and the information just starts flowing.

A year ago I posted photos of a Brooke Cadwallader scarf I had found.  The Cadwallader name is well-known to scarf and textile collectors, and anyone who has ever found one of his scarves will know from the quality that they have a special object.  But for the most part, Brooke Cadwallader has been forgotten and information about him is hard to come by.  Information is so scarce that if one does a google search for him, my old blog post is first in the results.  Because of that, I still get lots of hits to that post, and people are continuing to share what they know about Cadwallader and his textiles.

One poster, Janis, mentioned that the Cadwalladers designed a special scarf every year that they gave out as Christmas gifts.   I’m asking you, how lucky were those friends, when the cost of a Brooke Cadwallader scarf was about $175 in today’s dollar?

Then a few days ago, another reader, Beth,  posted that she had found some of the Christmas scarves at a sale some years ago.  Again, I’d say Beth is pretty darned lucky.  And she’s nice too, because she sent photos for me to share, and she gave some links to some very informative old articles about the Cadwalladers.  If you want to learn more about Brooke Cadwallader, you must read this article from Colliers, 1944, and this one from the New York Post, 1947.  Especially interesting was the story about how he and wife Mary left Paris as the Germans were occupying the city.

Note the poodles.  If you look at the New York Post article you’ll see a photo of Mary holding her poodle.

All images courtesy and copyright of Beth Walker.

9 Comments

Filed under Curiosities, Designers, Vintage Clothing

Wesley Simpson Custom Scarfs, 1948

Wesley Simpson presents a group of new scarfs from his collection of designs by famous artists.  Included are scarfs by Marcel Vertes and Salvador Dali.

I’ve yet to find a Wesley Simpson scarf, but I’m always delighted to see “new” ones that are unearthed from the used clothing venues of America.   It made me really happy that art and vintage clothing lover Monica Murgia recently found an especially peachy one.

10 Comments

Filed under Ad Campaign

Ad Campaign – A. Sulka & Company, 1946

This ad from 1946 gives a bit of a hint of the luxury that was Sulka.  At one time THE place a gentleman in New York went for his shirts and neckwear, Sulka closed its doors in 2002 after a long downhill slide and a noble but failed attempt to resurrect the company.

Amos Sulka and partner Leon Wormser started the company in the 1890s on lower Broadway.  Originally they made uniform shirts for fireman and policemen, and for butlers.  Before long the employers of these well-shirted butlers became clients of A. Sulka, and the business became a shirt and tie supplier to the ultra rich and famous. In the early years of the 20th century they  started a store in Paris, and in the 1920s the New York store moved to Fifth Avenue and there were stores in London’s Old Bond Street and in Chicago.  They even bought a textile mill in Lyon, France that supplied them with fabrics of the highest quality.   Sulka had arrived, and being a customer of the store said that you had arrived as well.

Sulka products were luxury at its finest, and quality that was matched only by stores such as Turnbull and Asser in London. In all the years I’ve been haunting used clothing shops, I’ve run across only a handful of Sulka items, including a necktie that was lined in the same fabric as the tie, and that had an extra piece in the neck to ensure that it fit properly.

So last week when I pulled a gentleman’s silk and cashmere scarf from the Goodwill bins and then saw the Sulka label, I had to suppress a little squeal of delight.

In 1975 the last family owner sold his share of the company, and for the next 15 years A. Sulka floundered as it was sold several times.  In 1989 it looked as though the company was saved when it was purchased by Vendome, a holding company in the business of luxury brands such as Cartier and Piaget.  It is interesting that in my 1996 book, Style and the Man, author Alan Fusser is cautiously optimistic concerning the future of A. Sulka.  Unfortunately, Sulka’s target customers were more interested in Brioni and Ralph Lauren, and the last store closed in 2002.  The trend toward “heritage” brands came a little too late for Sulka.

3 Comments

Filed under Ad Campaign