One Woman’s Clothing, Part 2

Back in August I posted some items that I got from Julia of  Carolina Thrift Chick. She had the good fortune to acquire the clothing from the estate of Mary Jane Hefner, a career teacher and guidance counselor. Jane was born in 1931, and so came of age in the years following World War II, and her clothing from that time could be used to illustrate a chapter in a fashion history book on what teens were wearing in 1946 through 1948.

I was lucky to get to visit Julia and see the rest of the clothing. It really is so interesting to see the clothing of one person, especially a person who seems to have saved pretty much everything she wore from her teens to the end of her life.  The clothes date from around 1942 until she retired from education in the 1970s, so there are several different wardrobes. There are the clothes that date to the post-war 1940s, which she would have been wearing when she was still in high school. Then there are college clothes – lots of skirts and blouses. The next phase of her life shows career clothes, with some spectacular 1950s suits and dresses that date into the 1960s. And finally, there is the retirement clothing, poly printed tops and pants to match.

You might want to revisit the first post I wrote about Jane’s clothes. There you can see that she was fond of a certain color palette – browns, beiges, warm tans, and dusty roses. In this new bunch of clothes you will see that Jane, even as a teen, knew what she liked.

I’ve spent a lot of time looking at catalogs and magazines from the 1940s in order to get a clear picture of when each garment was worn. All of the garments that I acquired from the estate date from around 1944 through 1952, with the great majority of them dating to 1946 or 47. Also, most of the clothes from that time have her name label sewn into them. When Julia and I looked at and discussed this, we thought maybe she had sewn in the labels for college. But she would have been only 15 or 16 when most of these clothes were fashionable. Maybe she did a stint as a camp counselor and that would explain the labels.

Another thing I used to help with dating was the measure of the waistline of the clothing. Jane was not a small girl, and most of the shorts and skirts have a waist measurement of around 30 inches. But a couple of the pieces, like the dress above, are smaller.

I’ll admit that this piece is a bit of a puzzle. One of the things that make the collection so great is that most ensembles have all the pieces present. I’m pretty sure that this dress must have had a pair of matching bloomers as it is pretty short. I found a reference to 1946 playsuits in a Life magazine article that showed similar sets, but this one is is a bit smaller than her other things from 1946 and 47.

Still I bought this, even without the bloomers, because, honestly, who could resist this back?

Another set that is a bit smaller, but that fits right in with postwar fashion trends is this bathing suit. It is made of woven rayon, and the skirt has built-in rayon panties. Note the style of the bra, as we’ll be seeing that again.

This bathing suit has an interesting label, but there is not a name label. Does anyone know of Beau Jardin Cie?

These two pieces are rayon, and both were exactly the sort of thing one would find for sale in 1946 and 47.

Bare midriffs were popular, and were shown off in tied shirts and cute bra tops. This illustration is from Montgomery Ward, 1946.

Just so you would know that Jane did thrown in a bit of blue from time to time. These are the same shorts as above.

This swimsuit is probably from 1946 or 47 as well. It’s from Cole of California, and I’ve found quite a few similar ones online, but not the exact suit. The front is rayon jersey, but the back is Lastex, a textile that involved wrapping rayon around a rubber thread. It wasn’t available during WWII, and the maker, the United States Rubber Company announced its availability in the spring of 1946. And notice how the style of the bra is so similar to the ivory and black one above.

Here’s a similar style From Montgomery Ward, 1946.

Here’s a great playsuit. It has a pretty strong shoulder line, and little pads for emphasis.

And yes, there is a matching skirt, all in Jane’s favorite colors.

I’m almost ashamed to post this photo as it is just too awful, but you do need to see this great pair of breeches. They are a brown and beige twill, and I’ve paired them with a Jantzen Khara fleece sweater.

These two item might date from Jane’s college years. Khara fleece was developed for Jantzen in 195o. It’s a combination of wool and synthetic fibers.

And finally, here’s another pair of 1940s pleated shorts, this time in linen. I’ve paired them with a blouse that probably would not have actually been worn with these shorts, but both pieces just look so great in the photo. The top is Textron rayon, and the anchors are beaded. So a bit dressy for linen shorts, wouldn’t you think? Still, it does illustrate how mix and match this wardrobe was. I hope Jane was never at a loss when deciding what to wear with what, because it all fit together so beautifully.

I have one more piece from Jane’s closet to show you. It’s a bit of a surprise!

And here a photo of Jane, I’m guessing when she was in her mid twenties.


Filed under Collecting, Vintage Clothing

23 responses to “One Woman’s Clothing, Part 2

  1. Would all these similar outfits imply she was from a wealthy family? I have no idea if this many outfits for a teenager were typical, but it seems like a lot of the same type of outfit. And I agree, they are all fabulous!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jacq staubs

    YES!!! Absolutely FABULOUS! JUST WONDERFUL! !! Can’t stop looking at it all!Must find out more about this lady. WOW! Congrats Lizzie!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. jacq staubs

    LIZZIE can you show us the suits and dresses from the 50’s / 60’s and all?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That playsuit was so imitated in the 80s/90s don’t you think? And the pink anchor top so 90s!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Loved this tour thru Jane’s closet! Lucky you!


  6. Reba Worth

    So much fun and very cute…thank you for sharing these with us. We can’t wait for The Surprise. I used to have a blue and white gingham midriff peasant blouse in high school that I adored wearing at home, but when I wore my flannel shirt tied that way for co-ed horseback riding, one of my teachers scolded me rather severely. Later in college, the girls from India were allowed to wear their culturally appropriate clothes with bare midriffs while the rest of us Americans had to wear our blouses with only one button near the neck unbuttoned which was a hardship for the short-waisted. Sigh. I loved that particular style: to me it was All-American, just like the early illustrations showing Trixie Belden wearing hers. These midriffs show up in the old movies too, and that’s always a treat to see those young svelte girls attired so fashionably.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. When I compare modern teen clothing to these wonderful outfits, I can’t help but ask myself, “Whatever happened to ‘pretty’?”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Like Stitchingpost, I also think she had an awful lot of leisure clothes. But maybe if she worked as a camp counselor these were work clothes. (I would have to have been a very casual camp!) Do you have any pictures of Mary Jane?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Emily Kitsch

    I love seeing these outfits! Jane had so many wonderful garments! Thank you SO much for posting these and I can’t wait for the surprise!! I think I might have an idea of what it could be, but I won’t say in case I’m right and ruin the surprise – or am wrong and look silly. LOL. I love these posts!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I loved meeting you Lizzie and for touring you through (if that is the right word) all of Jane’s estate that I have. I have started to tag all of Jane’s clothes on Instagram under #janesclothes if anyone wants to view her clothes in one place.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Mary Jane certainly had style! I love it!


    Liked by 1 person

  12. Melissa

    Is the black and white bathing suit for sale?


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