Not only do I collect sports clothing, but I also love clothes that depict women participating in sports and outdoor activities. The 1950s and into the 60s was a great time for novelty prints, and so a lot of what I’ve found is from that time frame. My new blouse appears to be from the early 1960s.
The young women shown are wearing fashionable golf attire which includes some very sharp shirts. That’s not surprising as this blouse was made by Adelaar, one of the great blouse companies of the mid twentieth century.
Adelaar was originally Adelaar Brothers, and was owned by Emil, Maurice, and Bernard Adelaar. The company was founded in 1934 in Chicago, with Maurice being the original designer of the blouses. The company eventually relocated to New York City where it was easier to find sewing factories to actually construct the garments.
A couple of years ago a poster at VFG told about his family’s relationship with Adelaar.
I have a lot of familiarity with Adelaar. My uncles were the jobbers that made most of the blouses that were sold in the US. One shop was in Brooklyn. The second was on Long Island. They started making them right after WWII. The height was in the 1950’s and 1960’s. At that time I would venture that my uncles employed about 150 people, mostly first generation and immigrant Italian-American women. They were producing thousands of dozens a month. The blouses were very high quality material–silks, cottons, some linens (although they really didn’t like working with linen). They had a lot of style and wore very well. In fact, my aunt (my uncles’ youngest sister) passed away last year. Cleaning out her closet we discovered a number of Adelaar blouses including some that never came out of the box. They looked and felt brand new.
When a new run of blouses came in my uncles would sit down with Manny Adelaar and “make prices”–negotiate the wholesale cost of putting the blouses together. They had a great relationship with the Adelaar’s. There were no contracts. Everything was done on a handshake and an invoice. Adelaar would then ship the material, the buttons and the thread. Then the cutters would use the patterns and make all the sizes. Eventually some of the blouses were coming pre-cut. Toward the late 1970’s there were several trends occurring: women weren’t wearing those style blouses as much (didn’t quite fit the Woodstock generation profile); Adelaar was moving more into man-made material; US production costs were rising; and overseas competition was able to shave significant costs. The cost differential was too much for Adelaar to ignore so they had to move production overseas. One of my uncles passed away in 1979. The other one closed the second shop in about 1986. During the mid-70’s on Saturdays my cousins and I would occasionally help out as sweepers, packers, etc.
He was correct in saying that Adelaar produced a high quality product. While this blouse is a bit over-shadowed by the graphic design of the illustration, without the decoration it is still a very nice shirt.
Note the cloth-covered buttons. And even though this blouse is about fifty-five years old, the colors of the print are still good, even though the ragged state of the label shows it has been washed many times.
The blouse, which I bought through a facebook group, is not perfect due to a former owner cutting the sleeves off. I was able to find a photo online of another example of this blouse and it had three-quarters sleeves with cuffs that button, and so I know how the shirt looked originally. I did not know it at the time I bought the shirt, but I’d have purchased it anyway as the price was good, and the main thing is the graphic design.