Category Archives: Collecting

1920s Sacony Knit Sports Dress

One of the hard things about collecting antique and vintage sportswear is that so much of what was made did not survive.  These were clothes meant to be worn in rough conditions, and often times it really shows on the survivors.  Hiking clothes have impossible to remove stains.  Rubber swim caps and shoes have disintegrated over the years due to poor storage.  And wool swimsuits and other woolen articles are commonly full of holes.

Several months ago I was delighted to see the above dress on Instagram.  The poster was unsure as whether or not she’d be selling it, but eventually she did post it for sale.  There was a long line of interested buyers, but the relatively high price plus the presence of multiple moth holes discouraged most.  After a few emails back and forth, the seller and I came to an agreement as to price, and the dress became mine, holes and all.

As a collector, I’ve come to accept a few holes in older vintage woolens.  As long as they can be stabilized and do not detract terribly from the garment when it is displayed, I can deal with them, especially in a piece as rare as this one.  Because for every several hundred beaded 1920s frocks encountered, you might come across one sports dress.  And very few of those are knit.

The neck trim and the faux-ties were constructed separately and were then attached.  The very deep arm holes meant that a blouse had to be worn beneath.  I’ve paired it with a v-neck silk blouse I already had in my collection.

The dress was made by Sacony, which was a brand of S. Augstein & Co. The earliest reference I’ve found to S. Augstein was an entry in a 1918 Fairchild’s Womens Wear Directory, but I think the business was started earlier due to the fact that company namesake Siegmund Augstein died in 1913.  In 1920 Siegmund’s son-in-law, August Egerer, tried unsuccessfully to register the Sacony trademark, as it was judged to be too similar to another knit maker, Saxony.

In 1922 the business warranted a new factory and office building in Elmhurst, NY, where the entire operation including knitting and sewing were under one roof.  This is most likely where my dress was made.  The company continued as a maker of knit sportswear and swimsuits through the 1930s, but at some point, the products changed from being all knit, to being cut and sewn of woven fabrics.  Their niche was still sportswear.  I have several cotton pieces from Sacony made in the 1950s.

With details like this, I can forgive a few holes.  Okay, more than a few, but in the end it looks quite presentable.

Here’s a better view of the stitched-in pleats.  The skirt was wider than the bodice, and then was pleated to fit, forming the straight silhouette of the mid 1920s.

And here is the back neckline.

So when would the 1920s woman have worn this dress?  My guess is when she was playing golf.

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Filed under Collecting, Sportswear, Summer Sports

Mohair Sweater, Circa 1960

My first fashion history teacher was my mother.  In telling me about the clothes she wore as a young woman in the 1940s, I became fascinated with how clothing styles changed and how they reflected the times in which the wearers lived.  I’ve always loved stories about women and the clothes that have been important to them.

While I was young, I witnessed two major changes in the the way women dressed – the switch from the conservative styles of the early 1960s to the Mod styles of the mid 60s, and then from the Mod styles to the 1970s which brought about a greater acceptance of women wearing pants and a more eclectic way of dressing overall.

Growing up in a small town in the mountains of North Carolina, I was made aware at an early age that fashion as seen in magazines and on television was not always what was being worn in my community.  The girls I knew always complained that we were at least two years behind the rest of the country, but looking back I realize that it wasn’t just this area that suffered a fashion lag.  What woman or girl in the 1960s could afford to replace all her clothing every season?  And so wardrobes were made more stylish as clothing was replaced or altered.

One garment I recall from my childhood was the bulky mohair sweater.  Whenever I come across one of these sweaters, I’m instantly reminded of my older cousin Nancy and the other high school girls who rode my school bus.  All these teens were wearing mohair sweaters in the early 60s, but by the time I would have wanted one, they were no longer the style.  I estimate that the girls I knew were wearing them in the early 1960s, and my search for images confirms that this was the era in which they were popular.  The latest image I found was in a 1965 Montgomery Ward catalog.

Like most of these sweaters that I’ve seen, the catalog states that this one was made in Italy of a blend of mohair, wool, and nylon.

I’d love to hear any memories you might have of wearing mohair.  Please tell me how itchy it was so I can get over this sense of loss at never getting to wear it as a child.

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Filed under Collecting, Proper Clothing, Vintage Clothing

1960s Golf Blouse from Adelaar

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.

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Filed under Collecting, Novelty Prints, Sportswear, Summer Sports

Ad Campaign – Jantzen, 1944

I got the above ad from Pam at glamoursurf.com after she posted it during a VFG Sportswear workshop.  Not only is it a great ad, it was important to me because I have the shorts in the illustration.  It’s always great to get a date verification for things in my collection, especially in the form of an ad or magazine copy.

The ad comes from 1944 – note the reference to War Bonds and the pun of a headline.  Even though clothes were rationed and fabric was in short supply, the American sportswear makers still managed to come up with some wonderful sportswear.  This pleated (front only, to save fabric) short style is one of the most flattering shorts ever made, and they look just as fresh in 2016 as they did in 1944.

I originally posted this in 2008, but the shorts in Sunday’s post reminded me so much of these that I thought a repost was in order.

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Filed under Collecting, Sportswear, Vintage Clothing, World War II

1920s: The Long Tubular Look

Even people who know nothing at all about fashion history have a mental image of how women dressed in the 1920s.  Actually, they can picture how women sort of dressed in 1926-27, with an image of what can be called the flapper with her knee length dresses and long strings of pearls.

But of course history is not as simple as that stereotype.  Before 1925 skirt lengths wavered between eight and twelve inches from the floor, with a big shift toward shorter skirts developing in 1925.

One thing that most 1920s dresses do have in common is a dropped waistline.  It was really more of a hip line than a waistline.  While most dresses did sport this long waist, some dresses were tubular, with no waistline at all.

The tubular dress seems to be most popular in 1924, though it is seen and mentioned earlier in fashion magazines.  In December, 1922, Vogue advised, “Those who do not care for the unbelted waist-line may wear a narrow grosgrain ribbon ties at the side in long ends…”  The accompanying drawing showed these ribbon ties at the hip.

Also in 1920 there was a vogue for bordered fabrics.  Susan at Witness2Fashion did a fabulous post about the fashions of 1924, and if you look at it you will see how these borders were incorporated into the styles of that year.  Note too, how many of them are tubular.

I found and bought the dress above last week, and I feel pretty confident that it does date to 1924.  All of the design is machine embroidered, with the neck section being engineered as a curve in the embroidering of the fabric.  The sleeve caps, however, are cut and sewn to the sleeves.

There are only two pieces to this dress, the front and the back, with the sleeves being cut as part of them.  Note the covered buttons, and see that there are also rows of them on the sides, from the hip to the hem.

Here you can see how the sleeve trim is sewn on top of the little sleeve.

The dress is beautifully made, with all seams being enclosed.  It’s as neat and tidy on the inside as on the outside.

 

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Filed under Collecting, Vintage Clothing

A Good Shopping Day

After whining about the poor state of the vintage market, I thought I really ought to counter my last post with a more positive view.  That is, simply put, there are plenty of old treasures still out there.  Many times the things are tremendous bargains.  I don’t buy things because they are cheap, though.  I buy what I know is fairly priced, and finding a bargain is always a pleasant plus.

I mentioned in the comments that I could resale everything I bought on that shopping trip and make a nice profit.  These days I buy only for my collection, but with a bit of luck and patient looking, one can still find things for resale, and I suspect that part of the reason I find fewer things for myself is because diligent sellers have shopped before me.

The bag above was someone’s embroidery project, and she did a very nice job of it.  Instructions for bags of this nature are commonly found in women’s magazines in the 1910s through the early 20s.  This is linen, embroidered in  cotton.  The ribbons are old, but probably not original, as they appear to be a later rayon type.

I’ll give a better look at all these items later, because you really do need a good look at the details of all.  The Christmas card is actually a photo holder.

I found this little change purse at an antiques mall.  It is only three inches high, and probably dates from the later 1940s or early 50s.

I’ve been looking for a good pair of dumbbells, not to use, but to display with my early gym attire.  These are only a half pound each, and must have been for a very weak person, or maybe a child.

After having just posted about vintage chenille, I was lucky enough to stumble across this beach cape.  See the anchors?

And the back is a complete beach scene with palms, sun, gulls, and what might be a life preserver.

And what was probably my favorite find, an early 1920s dress, complete with machine embroidery and covered button trim.  My photo does not begin to do it justice, and I will post a better photo of it later to show it off and to talk about the construction.

Here’s a closer look at the hem along with the buttons.

I don’t usually talk about the prices of things, as what is more important is an object’s value as an object of history and as a piece that helps me tell a story through my collection.  But as proof that bargains are still to be found, I will tell you that I paid a total of $59 for the items above.  Yes, it was a very good shopping day.

 

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Filed under Collecting, Shopping

1950s Sports Car Themed Belt by Calderon

This belt that I recently bought from Carla and Carla on Etsy was chosen for my collection because of two things.  It fits into a general travel theme and it can be paired with my 1950s novelty print skirts. I’m always looking for this type of belt, especially those featuring travel or sports.

I’ve seen these novelty belts advertised as being from the 1950s, 1980s, or even 1970s.  I can see why there is confusion, especially with the 80s.  During that era belts were wide, and were often contoured to fit the waist.  I’ve even seen similar belts from the 1980s that were decorated with African animals or faux coins.  But this one is from the 50s, or maybe the early 60s, when novelties were very popular.

The maker is Calderon.  I don’t know a thing about the company other than they made belts and handbags at least from the 1950s through the 1980s.  Oh, and that they made a high quality product.  My belt is stamped “Handmade” and it has features that would not be seen in lower quality belts.

Note the little leather patch.  These are glued over the metal pieces that hold on each metal motif.  Also, notice how nicely the back of the buckle is lined in leather.

In this photo you can see how the belt curves to fit the bottom of the waist.  A belt this wide, just under two inches, would be uncomfortable if it was cut straight and had to sit on the middle of the waist.

If I were the type to go crazy with a theme, I might pair this belt with this skirt.

I’m always looking for similar belts, so if you happen to spot one, please don’t hesitate to let me know about it.  But don’t bother with this one on 1st Dibs, as I’ve been looking at it lovingly for quite a while now.  And I’ll be looking at it for a while longer until someone lists one on etsy for a bit of a lower price!

 

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Filed under Collecting, Curiosities, Novelty Prints, Vintage Clothing