Updates – The Rest of the Story

It’s been over a year since I posted photos of this fantastic ski themed vest (or waistcoat in certain parts of the world) from Balmoral Knitwear.  This week I was contacted by Mike at Balmoral who wanted to use the photo on their website’s history and heritage page.  How could I say no?

I was enchanted by this piece of folk art that I saw at the Mint Museum in Charlotte last month.  The maker was “Granny” Kate Clayton Donaldson of Marble, NC, where she was a contemporary of my paternal grandparents.

I recently found a little book from 1946 titled Tar on My Heels, that contains lots of little interesting stories about North Carolina.  I was happy to find a short piece on and this photo of Granny Donaldson.

Mod Betty shared her visit to the Peabody Essex Museum to see California Design 1930 – 1965.  One of the items on display was this Cole of California swimsuit that was thought to be a tie-in with the Esther Williams film, Million Dollar Mermaid.

Susan of Witness2Fashion ran across Williams’ autobiography at her library, and sure enough, there she is in a publicity shot wearing a very similar Cole of California suit. To quote Susan:

Her suit has a more complex skirt than the one in the exhibit. The book is a good read — and rather frank about her love life — but full of surprising information. Her working relationship with Cole of California led to her selling 50,000 Cole swimming suits to the US Navy for the Waves to wear! In case the photo isn’t clear enough, she says she liked this Cole suit so much that she wore it in three movies and put it on all the chorus swimmers, too. What I learned: when posing for a photo in a bathing suit, always stand on your tippy-tippy toes! And never dive 50 feet into a pool while wearing an aluminum crown — she broke her neck, because no one realized it would enter the water differently from the smooth crown of a human head. As I said, a good read.

1960's TANNER of North Carolina Dress, Floral Maxi Dress, Tropical, Island Dress

I think one of the most underrated clothing brands from the past was Tanner of North Carolina.  They produced some seriously nice dresses, like this one sent to me by Rosa’s Vintage Finds.

Finally, I want to thank everyone who sent cards and who helped spread the word about Magda Makkay’s birthday surprise.  She was so touched by the well wishes, and I thank all of you for being so kind as to help me make her day special.


Filed under Rest of the Story

4 responses to “Updates – The Rest of the Story

  1. I love that piece by Granny Donaldson.

    I have a pair of pants in my shop with the same print as Rosa’s Vintage’s dress. My pants have no label, but perhaps they are by Tanner, too.


    • It is possible that they are by Tanner.

      I’m obsessed with the likelihood that my grandparents knew Granny Donaldson, as the community there is very small – the type of place where everyone knew each other.


  2. So wonderful. You always have the most informative interesting tidbits. I have one of those Balmoral vests with the sailor pattern but until now had thought it was perhaps a small man or boy’s size. The 34 size tag threw me off, but now I know…thanks for helping unravel the mystery!


  3. Carrie

    I’m not surprised Balmoral wanted a photo of that amazing vest! And it’s wonderful to have the full Hollywood connection on that swimsuit (poor Esther William’s neck…)

    I agree with you about Tanner. I’ve run into 4 Tanner dresses so far, all floral and all really nicely made. I always think of you when I find one!


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