Category Archives: Rest of the Story

Nashville: The Rest of the Story

Nashville is one of those cities that changes depending on where you are standing.  You can be on one corner and it is a completely different city two blocks over.  This is Honky Tonk Row, and I pretty much bet that anyone who has never been to Nashville would think this is what the city is all about.  Actually, this is only a little over two city blocks.  One block past this area is a park on the Cumberland River, and three blocks up the hill to the left and you are in the middle of the Tennessee state government.  A couple of miles to the southwest and you are at Vanderbilt University.

That said, this is what tourists go to Nashville for.  By late afternoon this area was bumper to bumper tourists.  Because the three sites we wanted to visit were in this area, we had to take in a honky tonk or two.

Every restaurant/bar/honky tonk had a live band, and the place was noisy.  It was also a lot of fun.

Besides the Tennessee State Museum and the Country Music Hall of Fame, we wanted to see the Johnny Cash Museum.  As you might imagine there was a lot of black suits, though many of them were far from plain, as you can see above.  Most of the stage costumes from Cash and his wife June Carter were from the 1970s , during the time he had a TV variety show.  As such, Carter’s costumes were, frankly a bit too polyester for my taste.

Interestingly, there were no clothing items from early in June Carter’s career.  The dress above is vintage early 1960s, but it was worn not by Carter, but by actress Reece Witherspoon when she portrayed Carter in the 2005 movie of the relationship of Cash and Carter, I Walk the Line.

I’ve been meaning to rewatch that film because of an interesting mend on the arms of the dress.  Can you tell that there are multiple rows of machine stitching?  I suppose a supporting fabric was put beneath and then the dress stitched to it.  There was no attempt to hide the mend, and I’ve got to wonder if the dress was damaged while filming.  Or perhaps, the film was cleverly edited to hide the mends.

Even Cash’s boots were black.  These were custom made boots from Acme Boots.  He was pictured in Acme ads in the early 1980s.

Between the Honky Tonks and cowboy boot stores, there are a few gift shops. When traveling to a new place I have to always go into at least one so I can find the “gift” that is unique to that city.  These cowboy boot socks might just be that unique item.

Or maybe these Elvis pajamas are the thing, but I’m betting you can also pick these up in Memphis.

But back to the real purpose of the trip – vintage clothing shopping.  I didn’t take many photos of the big sale I attended because I was too busy looking, and I have no idea how I got a photo without other buyers in it.  This was a tiny, tiny bit of this massive sale.  It had been a very long day (and wait) and so by the end of it I was exhausted.  I did find enough wonderful things to have made the trip worthwhile, and I’ll be sharing them from time to time.

There are some places we’ve traveled to that we return to again and again.  Nashville is not going to be one of them, that is unless another big sale comes along.

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Filed under Museums, Rest of the Story, Road Trip, Shopping

The Rest of the Story, Glamour, 1944

Some time ago I posted this Glamour cover from 1944 and I asked the question, what are these two young women discussing?  It seems as if they were wearing the same coat design.  I’m still not completely sure about the conversation, but I now know the identity of the woman on the right.  Last week I got an email from her grandson who is working on a family project.  I asked if he could tell me a little about his grandmother, and his answer was a bit of a surprise.

Thank you! I would be happy to.  My grandmother’s name is Dina Merrill.  She is 93 years old now.  She is a well known actress and you could learn much more on google than I could tell you.  After she graduated from the University of Wisconsin, she moved to New York in 1941 (despite her parents’ objections) and insisted she paid her way through acting school (Academy of Dramatic Arts) by modeling for Conde Nast, even though her parents (Marjorie Merriweather Post  and  E.F. Hutton) were extremely wealthy. Anyway, she put her acting on hold when she met, fell in love and married my grandfather, Stanley M. Rumbough, Jr. in 1946 and started a family. They had three  children (the oldest is my dad) and once she felt they were old enough, decided to pursue her career.  So, she changed her name to Dina Merrill from Nedenia Hutton and landed her first movie, Desk Set with Katherine Hepburn & Spencer Tracy. Then the rest is history.
You just never know who is going to show up in old fashion magazines.  Here’s another photo of Nedenia/Dina modeling a hat in Glamour.

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Updates – The Rest of the Story

It’s time to update a few old stories.  I wrote about the above golf set almost a year ago.  It is from Serbin of Florida, had had a Marianne by Serbin label.

As I’d hoped, I have heard from Marianne Serbin Friedman, and she is in the process of answering some questions about her family’s company.  Stay tuned!

The photo above was sent to me by Pam of Glamoursurf.  Two years ago I posted an ad for fabric that Vera Neumann designed for Schumacher in the 1950s.  In my post I stated that Vera signed a licensing agreement with Schumacher in 1947 and that it lasted for ten years.  Evidently, Vera did a later project with Schumacher, as Pam found an ad for a similar fabric to the one above that was dated 1979.

It always pays to keep an open mind when reading anything about history.  There are no absolutes that I know of.

And finally, I wrote about Lou Pollock’s Asheville shoe store last year.  It was a real treat hearing from his daughter.

I am the youngest daughter of Lou Pollock and you brought tears to my eyes.I was raised in that store and learned when I was very young – how to give to the community. My father not only gave away shoes to children in need on Christmas day – but to care for them 364 days during the rest of the year.  I learned.
Later in years my husband and I were in the children’s wear business in Michigan and the 1st Christmas came along – our thoughts turned to the children and (without details) we carried on the lessons given by my father.  He was also one of the founders of the cemetery in West Asheville in 1916 and made a dream come true to create hallowed ground for our ancestors.  The Cemetery honored him while he was still living – by re-naming it in his honor. The Lou Pollock Memorial Park  where he and the rest of my family are all buried.
 
As for the Haywood Street Pollock’s Store. It was actually called the Cinderella Store and sold ladies’ shoes only.  Whereas the store on Patton Avenue sold Men’s, Ladies’
and Children’s. There were 2 floors. 
 
Did you see the SHADOW of the letters POLLOCK’S on the wall where the letters were removed when remodeled?  They still remain.
 
Thanks for remembering my Father in such a special way, I have many memories still alive on Patton Avenue and Haywood Street. 
That is from Betty Pollock Golden, who is 89 years old.

 

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Updates – The Rest of the Story

I never imagined that I’d buy a magazine called Western Horseman, but the price was cheap and there were those magic words: “Western Wear”.  So I picked it up, and when I got home I began to really look through it.  I’ve stated before that I really don’t know much about riding attire, but I am willing to learn, and this magazine from 1966 seemed like a good place to start.

My reward for taking a chance on this magazine was swift.  A while back I asked for opinions about the age of a Miller & Co.  western shirt and Karman pants I had found.  The blouse is very much like the one in the middle in the above photo.  I’m happy to say that several readers identified it as mid 1960s, and they were right.

The copy reads, ” Candy… magic comes to western sportswear in the form of Miller & Co.’s new ice cream colored, matching ladies’ and girls’ sets.”

As for the pants, I did not get an exact match, but there were similar styles all through the magazine.  What looked to be bell-bottom legs, are in fact described in the volume as “the new bell bottom style.”

Some time ago (2010!) I wrote a post about one of the theories of why young women in the 1920s were called flappers.  One of the theories is that the name came from the hair bows that preteens  and younger teens were wearing in the decade of the 1910s, as seen in the girl on the right.

flapper

This weekend I came across the above ad from 1915, advertising clothing for the hard-to-fit girl of 12 – 16.  It is obvious that the term “flapper” is describing a girl, not a crazy, Charleston-dancing, cigarette-smoking twenty-something woman.

Last week I heard from a woman who had worked for the Vera Company.

I worked at The Vera Companies, first as an intern starting in 1983 and left in in 1990 …Manhattan Industries was bought by Salant Corp (Perry Ellis International) but The Vera Companies stayed intact until after her death in 1993…it is sometime after that The Tog Shop bought the company.

This information changes the way the Vera story is often told, with the company essentially closing in 1988.  I appreciate this important correction.

And finally, here is my semi-regularly scheduled mention of social media.  Every week I get several invitations to be friends on Linked-in.  I did join Linked-in for a very short time, and then I deleted my registration because I could not see how I could use the network.  For some reason, it still has me a a potential contact for people, but I cannot respond to all the requests because I’m not a member and I cannot log in.  So, the short of it is, if you have contacted me through Linked-in, I’m not ignoring your request; I simply cannot reply to it.

On the other hand, Instagram continues to be a constant source of interesting things and fascinating people.  There is a growing community of fashion history people there, and if you want to join us, I’ll be happy to send you a list of my favorite accounts.  I’m using it more and more as a mini-blog, posting things that are interesting, but don’t somehow deserve a post here.

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Schiaparelli for Catalina Swimsuit, 1949, Part II

Click to enlarge

 

In reading about the Schiaparelli for Catalina swim suit I recently bought I discovered that, according to an advertisement, that this suit was the “Official Swim Suit of the Atlantic City Miss America Pageant.” That sent me on an internet search to see if I could actually find photos of the contestants wearing this particular suit.  When I came up  empty I just assumed that it was Catalina suits in general that were the official suit of the pageant.

To my surprise and delight, I got the above photo in my inbox last night.  Julie of Jet Set Sewing saw my Schiaparelli suit and thought it looked familiar.  Then she realized that a photo of the 1948 contestants wearing the suit was hanging in her home.  Julie’s husband found the photo in a shop in Paris.

As you can see, it is the Schiaparelli swim suit, but with the addition of the Catalina flying fish logo.  And even though this was the 1948 Miss America contest, the suit was not made commercially until the next year.  Thus, all my searches for “Miss America Catalina 1949” brought up a different set of swim suits.

Even though the power of Google is great and it so often leads us to the correct information, it makes me happy that it was a friend who provided the breakthrough on this one.  Thanks, Julie!

Click to enlarge

 

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Filed under Curiosities, Rest of the Story, Sportswear, Summer Sports

The Milliner and Her Hats

Sylvia on the right, 1920s

 

I received some more photos of  Sylvia Whitman Seigenfeld, the designer behind the Suzy label, from her daughter.  It seemed a bit odd that I wrote about this important milliner and she was wearing a hat in none of the photos!  Thanks to daughter Susan, we can now see that Sylvia knew how to sport a hat.

1930s

 

1930s or early 40s

 

Late 1940s or early 50s

 

In the last photo we see Sylvia wearing an uncharacteristically fussy hat.  I wonder what she thought about the hat of the woman sitting across the table from her.  Now that’s a hat!

I want to thank Susan Novenstern again for all the information about her mother and for the fantastic photos of her. Her generous sharing adds to the historical record and helps eliminate confusion about all the Suzy millinery labels.

This points out once again just how important the internet has become in doing historical research.  Susan found my original post on her mother’s label after someone posted a link on her facebook page.  Others have found my posts after doing a Google search on a family member who was in the fashion business.  It is just amazing the connections that are being made today that were impossible in the last century.

For those of us who blog and who post in other places on the internet, we just never know who might be reading.  It’s exciting that information can be so easily found and shared.

Sorry that there are no links today, but I only had a few to share so I decided to wait a week before doing the post.   If any of you run across an interesting story about clothing or textiles, I always appreciate an email with the link .

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Filed under Designers, Rest of the Story, Viewpoint

Suzy USA Hats

Over three years ago I posted photos of a hat I’d found that I at first thought was made by Madame Suzy, a Parisian milliner.  I pretty quickly came to the realization that I was not correct, but until now I did not know who the Suzy who made my hat was.  The problem is there was not just one Suzy hatmaker in the mid twentieth century, there were actually quite a few.  Besides Madame Suzy, I’ve found Suzy Lee of California, Suzy Michelle, Suzi of California, Suzy et Paulette, and Suzy B.

Last week I had the good fortune of hearing from a woman named Suzy.  She is the daughter of the milliner who designed my hat, Sylvia Whitman Seigenfeld, who sometimes went by Midge.  It was she who formed Suzy hats sometime in the 1930s.  I’ve had several emails from Suzy in which she has told me about the hats that were designed by her mother.

Sylvia was born in 1909 in New Jersey.  When she was sixteen she went to work in the millinery business of her father, Nat Whitman.  When she was twenty she married Nathan Seigenfeld whose family was in the clothing business.  In fact, Nathan’s mother was a sister to Anna Miller and Maurice Rentner who owned the companies that gave  Bill Blass his start in the 1950s, and of which he became owner  in the 1960s.

With husband Nat Seigenfeld, son Alan, and daughter Suzy, 1944

 

Sylvia and Nathan’s daughter Suzy was born in 1938, and around the same time, they began the millinery, which was also named Suzy.  Suzy really didn’t know which came first, the daughter or the millinery, but she suspects that the business was born first.  The showroom was located at  417 Fifth Avenue, right across the street from Lord & Taylor.  There Sylvia gave showings of her hats to buyers from major department stores from across the country.  The workrooms and shipping departments were in the back of her showroom.

Sylvia and Family, Homecoming on the Queen Mary, 1950

 

Suzy can remember her mother going to Paris every year on the Queen Mary or Queen Elizabeth.  She visited the Place Vendome and Rue de la Pais.  Paris inspired her designs.  Sylvia made all sorts of hats – hats with veils, straw hats,  pillboxes, snoods, and cloches.
Suzy has confirmed that my hat is one of her mother’s, as it does have the label that she used.  My hat is made from jersey, as was another Suzy hat that I found in an online listing.
I want to thank Suzy for sharing her mother’s story and photographs with me.  It is so important that we continue to find and document the stories of people from the past who played such a major role in the history of American fashion.

Sylvia in Florida, visiting her parents, 1940s

Vintage photos copyright Susan Novenstern.  Do not copy.

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