Category Archives: Vintage Miscellany

Vintage Miscellany – August 23, 2015

Today’s photo comes to us from 1935.  I’ve posted it before, some years ago, but it illustrates so well what I’ve been spending so much of my time on lately.  If you think I’ve not been posting here as often as I once did then, you would be correct.  I’ve been up to my neck in old magazines and books, looking for accounts of women wearing pants in the years before 1935.  I’ll be sharing my findings, along with other great things I found along the way as posting here gets back to a more normal schedule.

And now for the news…


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Vintage Miscellany – August 9, 2015

Click to enlarge

Look carefully at two of the bathing suits and you’ll see that they read “Salt Lake”.  The reverse of the photo tells us that the year is 1932.  But what is that contraption the swimmers are clinging to?

And on to the news…


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Vintage Miscellany – July 26, 2015

I had a chat recently with another blogger and friend about photos.  We had both noticed that it is easier to find good photos from the 1940s than it is to find them from the 1960s and later.  Part of it has to be that photos from this later era have not yet fallen into the realm of the estate clearance, but time will remedy that.  So the reason I rarely show a photo from the 60s and 70s is simply because I don’t have many of them in my collection.

I do love this one from the late 60s of a young woman and her grandparents.  Grandma seems to be hiding, but not Grandpa!

My first camera was a little Instamatic that took square photos like this one.  Amazing how much this looks like an Instagram photo, only I didn’t need a filter to get that vintage effect.  The fading happens as a result of the type of processing used at the time.  It’s a big problem, and if you have photos from the 1960s through the 80s, you might have noticed what I’m referring to.

And now for the news…

*    In 1899 Berlin writer  Paul Von Schnonthan surveyed women as to why they had taken up bicycle riding.  My favorite response: “One must be nineteen and have a good figure if one wants to ride a bicycle.”

*  And more about women riding bikes from an open-minded minister in Cleveland, Ohio in 1897.

* Bicycles seem to be on a lot of minds this month.  The New York Times explores how the bicycle craze of the 1890s was an important step on the road to modern America.

*   The Historical Society of Pennsylvania has an interesting Tumblr blog, as you can see by this entry on a textile sample book from the mid nineteenth century.

*   Elio Fiorucci died last week.  For a short time his New York store was the place to shop and party.

*   “I think when you’re paying $15,000 for a dress you’re entitled to a pair of sleeves.” Iris Apfel. Amen!

*   Here’s a fascinating story about a note found in the folds of a kilt made for a WWI Scottish soldier.

*   Can Italy revive their silk industry?  

*   Take a peek inside the couture ateliers of Europe.

*  And finally, here is an interesting article about fake handbags on Canal Street in New York. 



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Vintage Miscellany – July 12, 2015

I’m sure this young woman was skirting the rules with her jumper unbuttoned to the waist and her shorts in plain view at the country club.  What a rebel!

*   Donna Karan is stepping down as designer of her label.  I can’t remember a time when she was not designing.  LVMH, the owners of the line have decided to cease production, and dozens will lose their jobs.

*   Here’s a happy look inside the Chanel Atelier.

*   Fashionista did a week-long series on fashion made in the USA.  There’s some real food for thought, and a bit of nonsense.

*   If you love WWI fashions, then you have to browse these online catalogs from 1916 and 1917.

*   The Costume Society is celebrating its 50th Anniversary, and the publisher of their journal has made 50 articles available for reading online for a short time.

*    Here’s an interesting story about how a woman kept after the V & A until they added her coat to their collection.

*   It’s never a good idea to assume that a certain designer “invented” a particular garment, or introduced a concept to the fashion world.

*   The Fashion History Museum has opened at their new home in Cambridge, Ontario.

*   Dumpster diving for beauty products is a real thing.

*   Lauren at Wearing History has posted a great look at WWII era women’s work overalls.

*  What designer Zandra Rhodes is doing to improve the working situation for textile workers in Bangladesh.



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Vintage Miscellany – June 28, 2015

Dingman’s Ferry, PA, 1927

Today is setting up to be one of those days that the local Chamber of Commerce likes to pretend is what we have three months of in the summer.  It’s cool and sunny, and that makes for perfect camping.  I hope the auto campers who set the scene in my photo were so lucky.

So get out and enjoy the day, but first, the news:

*   I think I’ve posted about Zady before, but it is worth reading this article about how the company is working hard to “make a T-shirt that does no harm.”

*  And this article about Patagonia shows how difficult that is to do, even when the company is trying very hard.

*   Is a two-year-old, or even a fourteen-year-old,  your style icon?

*   Make sure to talk to the young woman in the Christian Siriano gown.

*   Hilary Davidson carefully examined Jane Austin’s pelisse, and thanks to crowd funding we can all read the article she wrote about her findings.

*   I’ve always thought the women who wear high heels were a bit unbalanced, and science has proven me right.

*   The ultimate irony is when a designer’s representative states concerning one of her designs:  ‘For her part, Ms Isabel Marrant does not claim to be the author of this tunic and these designs’.

*   L.L. Bean’s boots are expected to be hot again this winter, and the factory is cranking them out as fast as it can.  Here’s a very interesting look inside their Maine factory.

*   PBS showed an interesting British show called Tales from the Royal Wardrobe.  It’s now available for watching on the PBS website.

*   We unruly Baby Boomers are taking over museums, and it ain’t pretty!

*   Crinoline mania, as seen through nineteenth century stereoscopes.

*   If Abercrombie & Fitch wants to survive, this article suggests they return to their past.  Haven’t I been saying that for years?



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Vintage Miscellany – June 14, 2015

Click to enlarge

This week’s vintage photo comes from reader Paula, who thought my post of the cover of a 1930s French catalog looked familiar.  Then she realized it reminded her of a photo of her grandparents, Ellis and Gertrude Teeter, taken before their marriage in 1935.  They were dating, and the photo was taken sometime in 1933 or 34 in Pennsylvania.  Enlarge to photo to see just how great Gertrude’s outfit was.  Thanks so much to Paula for sharing.

*   A lot of people have been talking about courage over the past couple of weeks.  Bethann Hardison, model in the 1970s, and later owner of her own agency, has courage.

*   Smithsonian magazine has a nice feature on the lasting appeal of Claire McCardell’s designs.

*   Madame Carven, who is probably remembered more for her scarves and perfumes these days, died at the age of 105.  At one time she was a very big deal.

*   Authorities in Bangladesh have finally pressed murder charges against the owner of the Rana Plaza factory that collapsed in 2013, killing over 1,100 people.

*   Actress Melissa McCarthy’s new clothing line will be made in sizes 4 through 28, with the hopes that retailers will sell all the sizes in one spot in their stores, eliminating the designation, “Plus Sizes.”

*  Is the de-cluttering craze starting to experience a backlash?  Two recent articles explain that accumulating stuff is not necessarily a bad thing.  Let’s Celebrate the Art of Clutter and In defence of the well-stuffed closet.

*  Amber Butchart talks fashion – and in particular, British fashion – in an entertaining forty minute podcast.

*   Baltimore hairdresser Janet Stephens recreates the hairstyles of the ancient Greeks and Romans.  I loved this article because Ms. Stephens is a not a history professional, yet her research is highly regarded and has been published in scholarly journals.

*   And finally, an excellent article about textile technology and history, and why we take it for granted.


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Vintage Miscellany – May 31, 2015

Brother Gene and Helen, 1943

I’ve looked at thousands of vintage photographs over the years, and I’ve learned that some of them are just more interesting than others.  In this case Gene and Helen could have been standing like statues, both staring at the camera, but how much greater is it that she is looking off to the side.  And notice how they both crossed their legs, but in an opposite manner.

Oh, who am I fooling?  The great thing about this photo is Helen’s shorts.  See the naval influence in the buttons and the dark (probably navy) stripe on the sides?  It’s classic WWII styling.

And now for the news.

*  If you are in the UK, or are traveling to London this summer, go to the Fashion and Textile Museum to see Riviera Style: Resort and Swimwear Since 1900 for me, please. And while you are there, be sure to see the display,  Nautical Chic by Amber Jane Butchart.  It ties in with her recently released book, Nautical Chic, which I’ll be reviewing here in the coming days.

*  And there is a great one for those of you in the Toronto, Canada, area.  Artist Textiles: Picasso to Warhol has opened at the Textile Museum of Canada.

*   I’m not the type of person who believes that an apology can make everything all better.  There have been too many people in my life who thought their apologizing would wipe their bad behavior clean.  But I do think it is time to let poor John Galliano get on with his life.  

*   Mod Betty really knows how to make the best of a roadtrip.  Read her top ten tips on how to get the most from your next trip.

*   Google and Levi’s have announced Project Jacquard, a partnership on wearable tech.  Your car has builtin Bluetooth, so why not your jeans?

*   A new film, The True Cost, addresses the human cost of cheap fashion. I have not seen the film, but reviews are quite critical, saying that the film offers no solutions, and that it targets only one sector of the clothing manufacturing business when the problem is much more complicated than just the cheap clothes at H&M and Forever 21.  Have any of you seen the film?

*   Taylor Swift wore a jumpsuit to an awards program, and former vintage-dealer-turned-manufacturer Nasty Gal quickly Instragramed that Swift was wearing one of their products.  Problem was, the jumpsuit was from Balenciaga, and Nasty Gal’s copy was so close that even they could not tell the difference.

*   Some women who were wearing flats (as opposed to heels) to a screening at the Cannes Film Festival were not allowed admission.  Seriously?

*  Plastics have proven to be a major conservation headache.  If your favorite Bakelite handbag has melted into a toxic blob, it’s probably small consolation that the V&A has similar problems.

*  Here’s a happier conservation story, one that involves velvet and ermine.

*   And finally, another article about older women and fashion.


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