Late 1940s Alice Stuart Travel Blouse

One thing that really determines whether or not I add an object to my collection is the condition, especially if it is a fairly common garment.  But sometimes a piece that is damaged crosses my path and I have to decide if the garment is special enough to disregard the damage.

Such was the case of this rayon blouse from the late 1940s or early 50s.  I loved the print, which is made up of ocean liner stickers.  I loved the blue, black, and lime green color scheme.  I loved the style.  But it had numerous problems.  The price was reasonable, so I bought it anyway.

Look carefully at the two photos above to spot the differences.  The bottom photo is before a few temporary repairs.  There were a series of darts that released into fullness above the waist.  This was a design trick that helped a tucked in blouse look neater because it reduced the bulk around the waist.  A previous owner had taken out all the darts, and then she hemmed the blouse about an inch and a half.

Here you can see the stitch marks that had been removed, and the fold line where the blouse had been hemmed.  Note that the stitch lines of the darts had been strained, which probably explains that they had been removed following a weight gain.  The shorter length could possibly have occurred late in the 1950s when over-blouses became popular.

Because the seamlines were somewhat compromised, I decided not to restitch the darts permanently.  Instead, I lightly basted them in place so that when displayed they had the shape of the original design, but with less stress on the dart seams.  The seams around the bottom of both sleeves had been repaired, with much of the underarm seams being broken.  Again, I used basting as these seams were also in fragile condition.

After the repairs, the blouse is still fragile, but is strong enough for display.  It has the look of its original self.

The ad above is from September, 1951, around the time my blouse was made.  One thing I love about researching old brands it that it allows a few guilt-free hours looking through vintage fashion magazines.  I did not expect to find an ad for my blouse, as I would have remembered this print from previous browsings.  But I felt confident that I would find ads for Alice Stuart.

Blouses were a very big deal in the 1940s and 50s, with there being dozens of companies that made blouses exclusively.  Every issue of magazines targeted toward the career girl, like Glamour and Mademoiselle, had plenty of blouse advertisements including those for Alice Stuart.

From the ad above you can see that the blouses were made by Alice Stuart, Inc.  By 1956 the label had become part of the Jonathan Logan dressmaking empire.  In that year Jonathan Logan registered the trademark, which the application claims that the label was first used in 1942.  That sounds about right, though sometimes the information contained in trademark applications involved a bit of guesswork by the applicant.

I have no idea when the label was discontinued, but a search on ebay produced styles from the 1980s.


Filed under Advertisements, Collecting, Novelty Prints, Proper Clothing, Vintage Clothing

16 responses to “Late 1940s Alice Stuart Travel Blouse

  1. Beautiful tailoring. Maybe I would tuck in if it looked like this!


  2. Really LOVE the 1951 advertisement ! The clean crisp detail- the wide belts even in blk./skirts used to accessorize are such a statement. The sleek hairstyle-lack of gaudy jewelry is so important to this period. I remember the name/vendor-wish you had all of it for yourself! Thank YOU! Will save this time capsule! “ROOTS” of inspiration for the 80’s Donna Karen!?!


  3. P S Lizzie-When I was working as an image consultant /personal shopper/stylist-whatever “they” are naming it this week- I always choose a beautiful blouse(most often white) for VIP business meetings for my clients . This Alice Stewart ad brings back memories. Too bad Alice was not around then!


  4. I’ve seen that advertisement before; the top model looks just like my mother did at that age, glasses included. I love both models (and adore that rayon). Thanks, ma’am!


  5. I love this blouse–the print and the bow–and it obviously found, with you, its perfect new home!


  6. I love the blouse print and also the advertisement. Isn’t interesting that those women look like they are working in an office? No fifties housewives here.


  7. Why, do you think, is skirt in inverted commas in the ad? I know women were referred to disparagingly as “skirts”, but surely a company wishing to sell to them wouldn’t be putting them down in the same breath? Or maybe they were, in the 50s. But I’m puzzled!


  8. If there was ever a blouse that screamed “The Vintage Traveler” it is this! What a darling print and in a delightful style. Shame about the condition, but I am glad it found a home in your collection.

    I wish there were blouse-exclusive companies still. Many of my best vintage blouses are from companies that focused only on blouses. I feel that clothing companies that try to cover it all often leave the customer wanting in certain areas of the garments.


  9. This is the most gorgeous vintage item I have seen!! Wish it was still for sale…haha


  10. Thanks for that additional research into Alice Stuart. When I was researching it years ago, I could only find a mention of the 1950s trademark registration, which did not sound right. Now it occurred to me to search again, and this makes more sense.
    I have an Alice Stuart blouse I got from my friend’s mother, who got it from a relative of hers who lived in the US (I’m Czech). Both the overall style of the blouse and oral history place it probably at the end of the 1930s – it’s IMHO too “Edwardianish” for later. It’s definitely not a 1950s style, so that trademark registration really did not sound right to me as the beginning of the label.
    But this part of the history makes the side of the blouse’s history I had far more plausible. The lettering in the blouse is in a different style than ones I’ve seen online – so maybe it began even earlier, maybe it began smaller and they were not able to trace it that far back?
    (Old post with experimental outfit that did not work out: Which is all I’ve written about the blouse so far. What it doesn’t quite show is the very high neckline with a flat collar, and the fact it buttons up the back.)


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