Category Archives: Vintage Miscellany

Vintage Miscellany – September 18, 2016

I’ve had a not-so-great automotive week involving a lost set of keys and a frustrating two hour trip that ended up being twice as long.  And now my precious supply of gasoline is disrupted  right before I need it to get to the Liberty Antique Fair.  I’m thinking of getting a horse.  These ladies seem pretty proud of their little guy, but I’m more interested in the one photobombing from the window on the left.  I love a horse with a sense of humor.

  •   Tim Gunn addressed the problem of clothing sizes in an opinion piece in The Washington Post.
  •    Prince Charles is doing a science fair type experiment to show why wool is superior to synthetics.  I love the photo of him shoveling.
  •    Investors in Nashville-based denim company Imogene + Willie have accused the company’s founders of fraud and mismanagement of company money to fund their lavish lifestyle.
  •    Rebecca at the Documenting Fashion blog had an interesting conversation with Gavrik Losey, the son of designer Elizabeth Hawes.
  •    Here’s a great little video showing the workings of the Woolrich Woolen Mill. (Thanks so much, Beth!)
  •   A disturbing trend in New York City’s Garment District is the closing of fabric shops, with their former spaces being converted to restaurant use.
  •    There has been a lot of discussion about dreadlocks recently, due to a video showing a confrontation between a black woman and a white man wearing dreads went crazy on Youtube, the brief wearing of dreadlocks by Justin Beiber, and most recently, the wearing of dreadlock wigs by models in the Marc Jacobs fashion show last week.  Dazed has two beautifully written essays that look at both sides of the issue.
  • We all see how others dress, and we all have opinions.  But sometimes (and by that I mean usually) it is best to keep one’s opinion to oneself.
  • What can I say about Kanye West?  For those of you who do not follow the craziness of Fashion Week, you probably need a bit of background.  On the day before the day before New York Fashion Week, West sent out invitations to his fourth “Yeezy” collection which was to take place the next day.  The chosen ones invited to the show were directed to get on special buses on the Upper West Side, with a destination of Roosevelt Island.  This meant a crosstown ride that was actually quite short, but not in New York traffic.  Many spent an hour on the bus, only to get to the venue and be left standing in the heat for another hour or so before being admitted to the outdoor seating.

Once there, another wait ensued, and so by the time the “show” actually started, models who were standing in a formation of sorts were starting to pass out from the heat.  Angry tweets from the waiting crowd showed the frustration of people who were starting one of the busiest weeks of their year, and yet were sitting waiting for the Kardashian clan to arrive so the show could start.

Not surprisingly, the reviews were brutal, but not just because of the wait and the heat.  Robin Givhan called the show “boring.”   So did Cathy Horyn.   But my favorite statement came from Women’s Wear Daily’s Jessica Iredale who called the relationship between Kanye and the fashion press, “abusive.”

I’ve got to agree.  If this disregard for other people was being practiced by anyone other than a big celebrity like Kanye West, do you think anyone in the fashion press would give a care?  Of course not, so I really had a hard time feeling sympathy for people who know better, but who could not say no to such a big star.  Besides, Anna Wintour would be there, but she certainly did not come in on a bus.

The icing on the cake came in the form of one of Kanye’s famous rants, in which he whined about and threatened the fashion industry.  He needs to learn that in order to get respect, one must also give it.

Please, keep comments about Kanye and the Kardashians civil.



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Vintage Miscellany – September 4, 2016

“This is Nellie on the beach, Fla. 1941”

I can sympathize with Nellie. Labor Day is the symbolic end to summer, and I’m not happy about it.  She may be taking it lying down, but I am up and squeezing every bit of warmth out of these cool-ish days.  I love fall, but why does winter have to follow so closely?

While I’m trying to figure it all out, here are some stories from the past two weeks.

*  Major clothing companies continue in their refusal to learn more about the people making clothes for them.

*  Urban Outfitters had  more than $3.4 billion in sales in 2015, but still asked employees to give up their weekends to  volunteer at the company’s fulfillment center.  The CEO is worth $1.3 billion but salaried employees often work 16 hour days. And so on…

* “Jayne Shrimpton explains how photographs of our ancestors at leisure can give us an insight into their lives.”

* After being “lost” for 250 years, Clones Castle was found – “behind a Georgian terrace known as Castle Street, which contains a building called Castle House.”

* Here’s proof that bad human behavior does not happen only in museums.

* Clothing sales are suffering because people are beginning to recognize that the quality is bad.

* Are any of you watching The Collection on Amazon?  I am waiting for a rainy day.

* “Charred tatters that were part of one of Britain’s greatest tapestry collections are to be publicly displayed for the first time…”

* The conservation labs at the National Scottish Museums show the conservation of a rare dye laboratory book.

*  When a clothing exhibition focuses on the wearers rather than the clothing.

* Fast fashion is bad for us, article number 974.



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Vintage Miscellany – August 21, 2016

There’s a touch of fall in the air here in the North Carolina mountains.  Soon it will be all about slacks and sweater vests.

I don’t dress in historical clothing, but I have friends who do, not as a full-time endeavor, but as a special activity.  I’ve been out with these friends, and the attention they get is incredible.  It makes for a positive experience for everyone.  But I can also see why any privately owned attraction would have historical dress guidelines.  These attractions work hard to create the atmosphere of their sites.  In the same way that Walt Disney World does not allow adults to wear “costumes or clothing that can be viewed as a costume”, any privately owned site has the right to place limitations on visitors that do not  infringe on civil rights.





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Vintage Miscellany – August 7, 2016

Bikers, circa 1895

I’m really enjoying the Olympics, not that I’m spending much time watching them on television.  No, I’m enjoying all the vintage sportswear photos on Instagram and Twitter.  The people I follow have really come through for me!

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Vintage Miscellany – July 24, 2016

The latest OMG-I-MUST-Have-This vintage clothing object of lust on the internet seems to be the 1930s one piece beach pyjama.  Pyjamas (or pajamas, if you wish) as clothing for Western women started out in the boudoir, but in 1924 they were seen in public for the first time, on the Lido in Venice.  Pyjamas were originally two pieces, much like a set of pajamas today.  They were loose and comfortable, and perfect for the beach.

Were women actually wearing their sleepwear on the beach, in public?  Can you picture the woman above sleeping in her outfit?  The answer to both is yes.

The one piece pyjama came about just a year or two after this 1929 photo was taken.  That garment too was meant for both bedroom and beach, and I strongly suspect that most of the “beach” pyjamas for sale on the internet now never saw the light of day.  But it is exactly the same garment, so it really does not matter.

And now for some news…

* The last time I posted a Vintage Miscellany, there was no Pokemon Go.  Can you imagine?  What were people going to do all summer?  Anyway, some museums  including the museum at Auschwitz, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and Arlington National Cemetery have decided to ban the game, calling it inappropriate for the surroundings.  I agree.

* Westminster Abbey has an incredible clothing collection, all of it made for funeral effigies.  Conservation is currently underway.

* Mainbocher will be the subject of an upcoming exhibition at the Chicago History Museum.  Opens October 22, 2016.

* I’ve written a lot about how over time, sportswear for women has become more functional, so I found the whole Nike dress debacle to be interesting.

*  An exhibition on Australian swimmer Annette Kellerman will open at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney in August 2016.  I’ll be writing about her in the near future.

*  The Miss Teen USA is dropping the swimsuit competition.

* As the Museum at FIT  is showing now, military uniforms have long been an inspiration for fashion.  Still, some US Marines were not amused when Burberry sent a very close replica of a Marine dress blue jacket down their runway.

*  I loved this interesting history of the Converse All Star.

*  Because looking cool is actually more important than being cool.

*  It’s bad enough for a kid to be seriously ill, so every little comfort is a fantastic morale lift.

*  Can cotton manufacturing make a comeback in Manchester, UK?

*   If you want a Savile Row quality suit, you really do have to pay for it.

*  Pioneering Black model Pat Cleveland opened doors, and still gives a great interview.

*  Here’s the story of a dress made from WWII silk escape maps.

*  The “fake shirt”, otherwise known as a dickey, makes news.

*  The archivists at The Met are trying to make sense of the Charles James archive.

*  Of course these photos of the Parisian fashion industry in 1910 are staged, but they are still marvelous.

*  Fast fashion powerhouse Zara has been caught (again) stealing the work of an independent designer, and has justified by saying the designer was too small to matter.

*  “This summer the New Museum presents The Keeper, an exhibition dedicated to the act of preserving and collecting objects, artworks, and images.” ArtDaily.  I’m really sorry I missed that one.

Well, that is a lot of links, but it has been almost a month since the last post.  I promise to keep to the schedule from now on (fingers crossed).

The great majority of images in my collection are from North America, but there are times when I just have to add one from other parts of the world.  Today’s photo is from Germany, and I’d sure appreciate any and all help in reading the inscription.

UPDATE:  I’ve heard from a lovely reader in Berlin who has kindly provided some insight on the card’s inscription:

“Foto Goebel” is the name of the photographer and his shop.He had two dependances:One in Heringsdorf and one in Berlin/Mitte (Wilhelmstraße 7).
Heringsdorf is a very famous seaside resort on an island called Usedom in the very North of Germany at the Baltic Sea.It is famous for its architecture from the 19th century and always was an “upper class” resort in the earlier years. After 1945 it belonged to the Soviet Zone. After the wall came down in 1989 it became a place for everyone!
The Lady signed “Bln. 19.August 1929″.”Bln.” is the short form for Berlin and I think she was on holiday in Heringsdorf like lots of well situated Berliners did in the roaring 20s!
“Zur freundlichen Erinnerung” means “as friendly memento/remembrance“.  Erna Hebecker
The name “Erna” is as German as Sauerkraut and really often at that time.
Many thanks to Ingo at


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Vintage Miscellany – June 26, 2016

By now you have probably heard the news that style photographer Bill Cunningham died yesterday.  Considering that he was 87, it should not be so surprising, but until just week before last he was still working, putting together the weekly style photo essay he photographed and wrote for The New York Times.

It seems like everyone wants to be a photographer these days, with style blogs and Instagram and Snapchat and so on and on and on.  But Bill was different.  He wasn’t in it just for the pretty picture; he was in it to see and document, to analyze style, and then to put it all into historical perspective.

  • Much has been written about Bill Cunningham over the past day.  My favorite was the piece in The Washington Post.
  • People were writing about Bill even before he gained (unwanted) fame from the 2010 film, Bill Cunningham: New York.  This piece in The New Yorker tells us why Bill’s work is so important.
  • You can contrast Cunningham’s strict rule of never accepting any gifts with the “journalists” mentioned in this article on how extravagant gifts lead to biased reviews.
  • Modern technology was used in the recent restoration of a tent used by George Washington during the American Revolution.  The tent has an interesting history, having passed to the wife of Robert E. Lee, a great-granddaughter of Martha Washington.  During the American Civil War the tent was one of the many Washington family articles that the Lee family scrambled to protect.  Unfortunately, many of Washington’s letters did not survive the war.
  • For years it was thought that poor Charlotte Brontë made a terrible fashion faux pas, but a new study by historian Eleanor Houghton seems to negate this ugly rumor.
  • Friend Mod Betty takes us all on her recent visit to THE SIXTIES! The Age of Aquarius at the Chester County Historical Society.
  • The conservation lab of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art got some good  (and interesting) press this past week at Racked and at The Creator’s Project.
  • Embroidering a sarong kebaya the “old fashioned way.”
  • A new study claims that the Disney princess stuff is bad for little girls, but good for little boys.


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Vintage Miscellany – May 29, 2016

Thanks to Janey, I have several photos of these two women in their bathing suits.  Unfortunately, none is dated.  So how can one accurately put a date on a photo that has none?  In this case, start with the bathing suits.  The two-toned suit is quite distinctive, and it might even be possible to find a vintage ad featuring it.  Also, note that the suit on the dark suit is quite shiny. Next, examine the shoes.  The striped sandals are another identifiable item. You can’t see them very well, but the woman on the left is wearing rubber bathing shoes.  Last, look at the hair and note the scarf ties turban-style on one woman.

Any guesses?  The best I can do is early 1940s.  I looked and looked for an ad showing that two-toned suit, but came up empty.  But the plainer suit with the shiny fabric might hold a clue.  This fabric became popular in the late 1930s, and remained so into the 40s.  I got lucky with the striped sandals, and found a 1941 ad for the exact shoe.

And on to the news…

Edited for spelling errors.



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