Vintage Miscellany – December 10, 2017

 

Here’s Geraldine Kirkendall, 1941, wearing her fancy ski suit and posing next to a 1938 Plymouth. Her suit is probably the same year as the car with the puffed sleeve caps, hip length jacket, and Germanic style motifs. Yes, even as Hitler was bullying his way across Europe, Bavarian and Austrian-inspired clothing continued to be popular in the US.

And now for the news…

9 Comments

Filed under Vintage Miscellany

Bradley Knitwear 1920s Ski Suit

If you have been reading The Vintage Traveler for a while you already know that Bradley is one of my favorite vintage brands. Bradley Knitting Company was located in Delavan, Wisconsin, and was established in 1904.  They made all kinds of woolen knit goods, including swimming suits, sweaters, and other sports apparel.  This company was very important to the small town of Delavan as it was their chief employer, with 1200 persons working there when the company was at its peak.  In fact, they often had to advertise in larger cities in order to keep enough workers.

When I first spotted this set on etsy, I was confused because at the time it was made (late 1920s or very early 30s) Bradley was making only knits, and from the photos in the listing, these pieces looked to be woven. I was pleasantly surprised to get the set and to find they were actually knit.

Yes, this is a knit, though it is hard to tell from this photo. Another interesting thing about the top is the use of the zipper. Even if this dates from 1930 the use of the zipper in a garment is a very early example.

These little black arrow accents were not knit in; they are appliqued on top of the garment. You see this feature quite a bit in late 1920s bathing suits in a nod to the geometric designs of Sonia Delaunay, perhaps.

The straight bodice of the top is another hint to the date of the set. After 1930s jackets became shorter, often ending at the waist. This piece still has the long straight look of the late 1920s.

And what is an old wool garment without a few moth nibbles. I’m showing you this because here you can actually tell that this garment is knit, not woven. I also want to draw attention to the overlock stitching where the collar is attached to the bodice. There are some vintage sellers who insist that you don’t see overlock before the 1970s, but that is simply not true. It was commonly used on early sweaters and other knits, having been invented in the 1880s.

A bit more applique is found in the bands at the sleeve cuffs. And what about that tassel!

 

7 Comments

Filed under Collecting, Proper Clothing, Winter Sports

Cool Notes Sneakers, Circa 1963

I’m really picky when it comes to adding things younger than I am to my collection. There really is a lot of stuff left over from the 1960s and younger, so a collector can afford to wait until  something really special comes along. As a rule of thumb, the younger the object, the better condition I want it to have. A pair of Keds from 1923 can have a bit of wear, but I want  a pair of sneakers from 1963 to be in excellent condition.

I first spotted these on the Instagram feed of @jessamity and I knew I had to have them. I have an early 1960s set of separates from Tabak of California, that came from the estate of the designer, Irene Saltern, that are a gray and white stripe. These shoes could not be more perfect to go with those separates.

I don’t have a firm date on the Tabak pieces, but stylistically, they date to the early 1960s. I can be a bit more certain about the shoes. I’m pretty sure they came from 1962 or 1963.  The story is in the turned-up toe.

This is from a 1963 advertisement for a pair of Daniel Green slippers. I had saved it because I have these slippers in pink. What was it about 1963 that made women want to wear a vaguely Asian-looking toe on their shoes?

I don’t have a definitive answer, but it is useful to get an idea of what else was happening in the world that might have inspired the look. In 1962, Jackie Kennedy went on a tour of India and Pakistan. Also in 1962, Lawrence of Arabia was released. Eastern culture was on people’s minds, and this looks to me as a fuzzy sort of Asian look.

To show just how fuzzy, the Daniel Green slippers were advertised as “Bangkok… Oriental opulence in a brocade slipper…” and the color was described as “Ming” blue.

I have not been able to turn up any information about Cool Notes, but these are a pretty inexpensively-made product. My guess is that they were made for the teen market.

There is one more hint on the box. These were sold at a store called Masso’s. I’ve found a Masso’s that was located in Plainville, Texas. I could not determine if the store is still in operation.

As always, additional information about Cool Notes would be greatly appreciated.

12 Comments

Filed under Proper Clothing, Shoes

Maid of the Mountains, 1912

The minute I spied this book in a local consignment store I knew I was onto something good. But what?

As it turns out, Maid of the Mountains is a cross between a high school yearbook and a literary journal written by the girls at the Southern Seminary of Buena Vista, Virginia. Unlike the slick yearbooks of today (and even of the 1920s), This one appears to be entirely written and produced by the students of the school. The printing was done at a local press, and the photos were glued into the book.

The advances in education for girls played a major part in the movement toward equal rights for women. Schools like Southern Seminary produced a generation of women who were used to being leaders. And in the form of athletic attire, these women were used to wearing pants.

Athletics were a big part of what was happening at schools like Southern Seminary. The yearbook has pages for the baseball team, five different basketball teams, a tennis club, and a riding club. There was a boating club, but they must not have had a swimming pool, as swimming is not mentioned.

There’s not a photo of the baseball team, but a drawing by student May Wichelhausen shows the proper attire of athletic turtleneck sweater and bloomers. The basketball uniforms was similar with sweater (with SS logo) and bloomers.

Bloomers were not worn for tennis. Instead the girls wore the already traditional white skirt and middy blouse.

Two of the girls have words printed on headbands. I’ve tried enlarging them and have no idea what the one on the left reads, unless it is USS something. The one on the right seems to read “… George Do It”. It’s a mystery to me.

The younger girl at left in the back row is wearing the huge bow that was favored by teens at this time. One of the theories of how the 1920s flappers were so named came from the bows that were worn by them during adolescence.

The girls of the riding club wore a hodgepodge of garments, but all seem to be riding astride wearing divided skirts. I was surprised that not all were wearing hats.

This is part of a photo of the freshman class. All these girls were wearing the schoolgirl middy with a skirt right above the ankles. We can also see another flapper bow.

Contrast the freshmen with this photo of the yearbook staff, a group of juniors and seniors. No more middies for this adult-looking bunch…

except for when participating in boating club, of course.

The seniors and the superlatives all got an individual photo included. This portrait of senior Miriam Conklin was typical of the demure pose most girls struck.

But none of that for Miriam Thompson. She was voted most athletic, and to prove it she posed in her sweater and looked directly at the camera. She and her sister Virginia went on to college at Newcomb College, and Miriam eventually became Dr. Thompson, and a faculty member of Limestone College in Gaffney, SC where she was professor of mathematics. She retired in 1969.

Southern Seminary eventually became Southern Virginia University. The original building, the former Buena Vista Hotel, is still used as the school’s Main Hall.

19 Comments

Filed under Curiosities, Proper Clothing

Vintage Miscellany – November 26, 2017

The photo above came from an estate in California, but other than that, I know nothing about it. I have not had a lot of success finding vintage photos of women of color wearing sportswear but I am always looking. Anyway, this probably is from the mid to late 1930s.

I was told by the internet that today is #MuseumStoreSunday. I had not planned this, but many of today’s links are museum related. And if you are lucky enough to live near a good museum, you might show your support with a visit today.

4 Comments

Filed under Vintage Miscellany

Pajamas from 1930 Montgomery Ward

One of my chief interests continues to be how women transitioned into pants in the twentieth century. One part of the story is pajamas (pyjamas). Today pajamas were pretty much for sleeping and lounging, and that’s how they started out in the 1910s. But by the middle of the 1920s pajamas were being worn on a very limited basis in public. Someone discovered that pajamas made a very effective beach cover-up, and so pajamas moved from the boudoir to the beach.

The first reference I’ve found to pajamas being worn in public is from 1925. The January 15, 1925 issue of Vogue declared:

“All the shops are showing the new and brilliant beach pyjamas, so successfully worn at the Lido – so daringly sponsored by one lone Newport leader last summer. Will they – or won’t they – be seen at Palm Beach? Poiret, for one, declares that they will. But customs are very different at the Lido and at Palm Beach, and it is unlikely that their popularity will be as great in this country as in Italy.”

So 1924 pretty much is the starting point for the wearing of pajamas at the beach. And while Vogue seemed to think not much would come of the trend, Best & Company ran an ad for beach pajamas in the same Vogue issue.

“The Lido Pajama is the latest thing for beach wear. These have wool jersey trousers and a smart little mandarin top of bright patterned rubberized silk banded in Jersey.”

I recently found two catalogs from American mass merchandiser Montgomery Ward, one from 1925 and the other from 1930. It’s interesting to see how this one company featured pajamas in the two years. In 1925, there was only one pair of pajamas offered in the catalog, and they were obviously just for sleeping, with the top being pretty much just a short nightgown.

But five years later the picture was quite different. I found six different sets for women, and several more for teens. All were available in multiple color combinations.

The top and pants pictured above are typical with the combination of a solid color and a matching print. The ad reads, “Of mercerized Front Page Cotton broadcloth, whose fine quality is quite in keeping with the excellent tailoring of these pajamas. The printed blouse , finished with collar and pert bow of plain color, tucks slimly into plain colored trousers, whose smooth-fitting yoke, pocket, and cuffs of the print lend contrast.”

Remember, the year is 1930, but one can already see the return of the natural waistline in this set.

There were several sets that also had matching robes. Again we see the emphasis on the waist and a contrast of colors. “What gay flower effects are achieved in these pajamas – designed especially for Ward’s. Of printed Wendy batiste in popular tuck-in style, with front yoke and elastic in waist at back. Cuffs and yoke of trousers contrast in plain white, as do the yoke and tie of the blouse. The lounging coat, of Peter Pan cotton pique, has a flower print just the color reverse of the pajamas, adding to their air of smartness.”

Probably the most interesting set is the one above. Unlike the others, this ensemble was located with the day dresses instead of the lingerie. They refer to it as a “kitchenette ensemble”. The copy even refers to wearing these in public.  “Fashion’s last word in nonchalant Kitchenette Pajama Ensembles – not only for house but flower gardening, boating or beach. The smart world revels in it!”

Also fun to note are the solid color inserts below the knees on the trousers. This is showing that pants legs are beginning to widen, a feature that really does help separate the Twenties from the Thirties. In a more fashion-forward publication, you might already be seeing much wider pant legs in 1930.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Proper Clothing, Sportswear

Shopping with the Vintage Traveler – Fall 2017

I need to re-title this type post as Browsing with the VT, as I didn’t actually buy any of the items I’m showing here. Does the word “shopping” actually include “looking but not buying”?  That’s one of those tough Mensa questions.

Some of these photos, like that suitcase of buttons, date back to September. I love buttons but rarely buy them. That is probably because I have boxes full of them, you know, just in case I need one.

This cotton scarf was an almost buy. I loved the late 1950s graphics, but the fade was just too prevalent, and it was almost threadbare in spots. Still, it was hard to pass on a girl and her duck. That would be an inflatable float toy, right?

A seller in Hillsville, Virginia had a whole stack of antique men’s nightshirts. The trim on these was so beautiful that I wanted one for myself. Unfortunately, “LG”, the original owner, was not my size.

I really can’t afford to buy everything I want, so I reluctantly left this old print behind. It is such a great illustration of the mid 1890s divided skirt that was used by women who had taken up the wheel. What is this story about? Is it true that men have always had the reputation of not wanting to ask for directions?

There was a conversation on the Vintage Fashion Guild forums recently about the value of beaded and fancy handbags. It appears to many vintage sellers that these have dropped in value. It probably is a case of supply outpacing demand. If you have ever been to an estate sale you know that there might not be a single old garment, but there are almost always the hats and handbags that were saved.

An apron with cocktail recipes can come in very handy.

A couple of weeks ago I made a trip into downtown Asheville (a major mistake during leaf season…). I was on an errand for a friend, and ended up in my favorite Asheville old stuff shop, Magnolia Beauregard. Seriously, that place is like a treasure house, and though the shop is small, it takes a while to see it all. It’s worth a trip just to see the hat heads and the wax mannequins.

The hats are for sale; the heads are not.

A small look inside Aladdin’s cave.

These last photos are from an antique mall in Florence, South Carolina. One of the advantages of being retired is that when one of us makes an off-hand remark about always wanting to have seen a certain place, the possibility is great that a hotel room will be booked and we’ll be on the road the next day. In this case Tim mentioned that he’d always wanted to see the racetrack and museum in Darlington, SC. I’m not a fan of racing, but experience has taught me that even the most unlikely museums often have old clothes. And once again, I was correct.

Above is a mesh corset cover or bra-let of some type. I’d never seen anything like it.

You may not be able to tell from my photo, but this head and hat were five feet above my head. I understand that dealers who are renting a space want to make the best of it, but putting stuff that high up seems to be pointless unless it is something that a prospective buyer has on her wishlist. In this case, I thought the hat was interesting, but not interesting enough to get an employee to bring a ladder so I could get a closer look.

And finally, a very poor photo of a great 1950s dress. Look at those pockets. They are about fifteen inches deep, with a bow and a rhinestone button to boot. It was really adorable, and had a great label, Gigi Young. Gigi Young was the sister label to Suzy Perette. Both were made by Lombardy Frocks which was known for their Americanized versions of Dior’s New Look. Picture this dress with full petticoats, and you’ll get the picture.

Quite unbelievably, yesterday someone on Instagram posted a photo of the same, or very similar dress, but in pink.

12 Comments

Filed under Shopping