Category Archives: Vintage Miscellany

Vintage Miscellany – May 13, 2019

This photo was added to my collection for a couple of reasons. First, the poster in the background is for the Colonial Theater, which was the name of the one theater in my hometown. Not that I think this was taken in Canton, NC, but the girl on the right sure looks a lot like my high school classmate Deborah.

The best reason for owning this photograph is because of the sweater “Deborah” is wearing. If I can’t have the sweater, at least I can have the photo of it.

And now for some news…

    •  Recycled tee shirts should soon be a reality.
    •   Here’s another reason to buy only vintage cashmere.
    •   The Western shirt just keeps on going.
    •   There is a Fashion Transparency Index. See how your favorite brands fit in.
    •   Meet five French millennials who hand-stitch couture.
    •   What is the value of a clothing collection?
    •    “Nike is taking tangible steps to grow women’s basketball.
    •   Is it time for a Laura Ashley revival?
    •   I wish I could be as brave as Dolly Shepherd.
    •   “Holy shit, that is some old-timey racism.”
    • And finally, it’s that time again – the Met Gala and the new “blockbuster” fashion exhibition of the Met’s Costume Institute. This year’s theme is Camp, which I was all excited about until I realized the show is not being sponsored by LL Bean.  All kidding aside, I thought this was an exceptionally hard theme, especially since most attendees of the Gala are interested only in looking good.  From what I saw, the idea of camp was just not fully recognized on the red carpet. Some have argued that the same is true of the exhibition.
    • I’m pretty sure I’ll not make it to New York this summer. I try to save trips into the city for when there are exhibitions that really interest me. From what I have heard from attendees of Camp, it is structured a lot like the (hated by me) Punk exhibition of several years ago.  That is, there’s a bit of historical dress at the beginning just so a few iconic pieces (Poiret lampshade dress, anybody) can be trotted out before the onslaught of clothing made within the past ten years, some of which is still hanging on the racks at Saks. And to whoever first thought of stacking exhibits in tiers, a pox on you! Can you imagine putting the Monets and Cezannes and Leonardos ten feet above eye level? If fashion is art, then treat it as such.


Filed under Vintage Miscellany

Vintage Miscellany – April 20, 2019

The 1910s and early 1920s were an awkward time for women’s bathing suits. They were getting smaller, and the proportions often just look off. But here’s a young woman who looks great on the beach with her stripe-trimmed bathing suit and jaunty hat. I like to think that the stripes are red and white.

And now for the news…



Filed under Vintage Miscellany

Vintage Miscellany – March 31, 2019

As a girl going to school in the 1960s and 70s, and later as a public school teacher, I’ve experienced both sides of the dress code debate.  In 1971 a lawsuit against my school system forced it to amend the code to allow facial hair for males and pants for females. Even then there were rules. We could only wear pants that were part of a matching set, with a tunic top or vest that came down to the hips.

By the next year we figured out that the new rules were not going to be enforced. By my senior year in 1973, we were wearing the forbidden jeans. I can remember the first day I wore jeans to class. I spent the entire day worried that I’d be sent home to change. My mother had even tried to talk me into taking a change of clothes with me to school.

But the day passed uneventfully, and before long all the girls were wearing pretty much what we wanted. I’m sure that the school officials figured out pretty quickly that a pair of jeans was preferable to the extremely short skirts of the day.

  •  Maybe that’s why the insistence of a charter school in North Carolina that pants on girls is somehow counter to the “traditional values” of the school seems so puzzling. The ACLU sued the school on behalf of three girls, and last week a court ruled that the rule was a violation of the Constitution’s equal protection provision.  Evidently the school’s administration thought they could take state tax money as a charter, but still pass rules based on their religious beliefs.
  •  In other dress code news, we go to British Columbia, where a dress code for the Legislative Assembly written  in 1980 is being used to tell women not to bare their arms. A bare armed protest was staged the next day.
  •   The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, has a new exhibition, Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence , which can be seen until January, 2020. included in older displays.
  •   Marks & Spencer has developed a played based on the history of the store, using clothing from their archive and replicas.
  •    The popularity of period dramas on TV and in film has created work for historical consultants.
  •    There are quilts, and then there are quilts.
  •    How one museum is reconsidering the out-dated notions included in older displays.
  •    What happened when the Soviet government in the 1920s considered a post-revolutionary fashion for women. 
  •    Here’s the fascinating story of Eliza Hamilton, and how her clothing style “froze” when her husband Alexander was killed.


Filed under Vintage Miscellany

Vintage Miscellany – March 17, 2019

That’s Ma in the middle, surrounded by Hella, Ruza, and Nebbs. The date wasn’t recorded, but I’d say right around 1940. Ma has decided that she is going for comfort over fashion, though I’d love to know the color of her dress. Hella is wearing the ubiquitous blue overalls of the era, so great for gardening and outdoors work of all kinds. Sporty Ruza has earned a letter for her sweater paired with a fantastic pair of nautical inspired trousers. And little Nebbs is attired in what was almost a uniform for little boys, a sailor suit.

The young women’s clothes are currently having a bit of popularity, with the overalls in particular being a hot item. I have been lucky to have found two pairs in the past, which is especially good because today I’d have to pay a small fortune for a pair.  If you love the look, a pattern is available from Decades of Style.

Lots of news this week:

Leave a comment

Filed under Vintage Miscellany

Vintage Miscellany – February 23, 2019

We are having one of those winters that’s cold and dreary and rainy and just depressing. My husband and I looked at the current weather map, trying to find a spot within five or six hours of us that is sunny and relatively warm. That place, at present, does not exist, but we will continue to look. I can be packed and ready to leave in an hour.

This post is either a day early, or thirteen days late. Let’s just say I’m early. And now for some news.

  •   Let’s start with the obvious. Karl Lagerfeld has died. I knew he must be seriously ill when he did not show up for the latest Chanel show.  His death has brought about an interesting conversation on “speaking ill of the dead.” While most of what I’ve read about Lagerfeld in the past few days reminds us of his very successful career at the head of one of the most famous fashion brands, other writers were quick to point out his faults.  Let’s look at both sides. Karl was a fat-shaming misogynist.  Karl was my surrogate brother.  It does give one pause to think. How do we reconcile the bad parts of people whose work we admire?
  •  The fashion weeks have been going on, so that means another round of what the hell were they thinking. First Gucci makes a turtleneck sweater with a quite obvious reference to blackface, and then claimed the inspiration was skiwear. Not to be outdone, Burberry came out with a hoodie with ties that look like a noose. Their excuse was that it tied in with their nautical theme. No. This happens so often that I’ve concluded that they, like Mae West, have decided that it is better to be looked over than to be overlooked.
  • A study by the University of California, Berkeley found that people from the poorest communities in India worked for as little as 15 cents an hour. “Every major brand, every boutique retailer and everyone in between who sources garments from India is touched by this issue.”
  •   If clothing companies would actually pay the workers a decent wage, making clothing prices more reasonable (and by that I mean more expensive) then perhaps over-consumption would not be such a tremendous problem. In the meantime, many people are determined to stop “feeding the monster.”
  • “The calming effects of sewing can help people express and heal themselves.” True.
  •   One of my dreams is to get lost in the racks at Western Costume.
  •    Would your last wish be to visit an art museum?
  •    Don’t buy this book.
  •   How do the struggle for women’s suffrage and the use of a dirigible  intersect?
  •    One of the last hand-pleating workshops, Sorelle Antonini Atelier in Rome, has closed. The business was over 100 years old.
  •   Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving is now showing at the Brooklyn Museum and I’m really, really hoping it will travel south.
  •    The Minnesota Historical Society has digitized and put online their entire collection of hats. I hope that more museums find the resources to follow suit.
  •  The Glasgow Museums have a thought-provoking piece on their blog, “The Black History of White Cotton Dresses.”


Filed under Vintage Miscellany

Vintage Miscellany – January 27, 2019

Choosing a photo for today’s post posed a bit of a dilemma. With so much of the US suffering bitter cold, with colder temperatures and snow to come, and with people Down Under sweltering through the heat, I almost picked a photo of neutral weather. But instead here’s some cold snow for you in Australia, and a reminder to Chicago friends that it is possible to have fun in the snow. Just not this week.

And now for some news.

  •   There’s a reason haute couture is so expensive.
  •    Fast fashion copycats are alive and well.
  •    The Museum of London shows us how they mounted a mourning dress worn by Queen Victoria.
  •    Here’s a great story about a hidden art treasure, found when Oscar de la Renta planned to open a store in Paris.
  •    “The relationship between sports and fashion is often overlooked, but the Historic Costume and Textiles Collection at Ohio State is seeking to show students that fashion isn’t exclusive to the runway.”
  •    Veteran Rodney Bly  is using sewing to cope with PTSD.
  •    Climate change, as seen through knitting.  Also, train delays as seen through knitting.
  •    Who made your sports team apparel? If it came from Badger Sportswear, it’s possible it was made in Chinese internment camps.
  •   In case you are one of the many people who still thinks that what we choose to wear is not important, take the case of the maga red hat. Would the confrontation between a group of boys and a Native elder been so fraught with emotion had the boy been hatless? We have all made up our minds on how that sorry scene played out, but I thought this article about how teens are looking at the maga hat as a statement of another sort was interesting.


Filed under Vintage Miscellany

Vintage Miscellany – January 6, 2019

There has been a lot of talk this past week about what people choose to wear, so let’s join in the chorus by analyzing this couple’s attire. She wins on basis of appropriateness. Her neat breeches topped with boots or leggings are perfect for the snow. Both have the layering thing down pat, but where the heck are his gloves?  Another view of them is at the bottom of the post.

  •   The new Congress was sworn in and clothes mattered. From a veteran’s shorts that showed his new legs, to a feminist white pants suit, to an ultra-femme bisexual look, to Native touches and looks that showed off the wearer’s ethnicity, the 116th Congress is not your grandpa’s government.
  •  The International Tennis Hall of Fame has posted an online gallery, showing off their tennis clothing collection.
  •   We are to be treated to a TV mini-series on designer Halston.
  •   Dress reformer Dr. Mary Edwards Walker was  the first and only woman to receive the Medal of Honor.
  •    To kids of the Sixties, it will always be a Nehru jacket.
  •    This one is not so much about clothing, as it is about bad history in general. However, the main issue of bad history and false research applies to many disciplines. I see a lot of problems with TV “documentaries” when images are chosen to illustrate fashion.
  •    It’s time for us to decide whether or not our historical artifacts are worth preserving.
  •   Exhibition Lab: Sargent and Fashion is an experiment by the Museum of Fine Arts Boston in which visitors get to give input on a future exhibition. Boston readers, if you go, let me know what you think.

Thanks to Janey for the great photos.


Filed under Vintage Miscellany