Category Archives: Vintage Miscellany

Vintage Miscellany – May 18, 2021

This young woman may look like she’s having a carefree day at the beach, but actually she is working. She’s a model and this is a professional photograph, made for the arcade card trade. I love it because the emphasis is not on the bathing suit, but on the girl’s happy attitude. And the accessories.

And now for what’s new…

  • I love that dress designer Ann Lowe is finally getting recognition. I hate that every article introduces her as the maker of Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress.
  • Always over-contextualized, the Met has announced the next exhibition of the Costume Institute.
  • Here’s a great profile of Helen Uffner, owner of the last large costume rental shop in New York.
  • Designer Alber Elbaz died of Covid-19 in April.
  • In 1887 Hannah Ditzler Alspaugh started a scrapbook of fabric swatches from her clothing.
  • The plea for pockets continues.
  • Why should museums be de-colonized?
  • Do the clothing brands you buy from share your values?
  • The Jane Austen Society of North America, Southwest Region has posted a presentation on 18th century shoes on their Youtube channel.
  • You probably have heard about the biopic based on Halston’s life. It’s currently showing on Netflix. Ewan McGregor plays Halston, and he actually took dressmaking lessons in preparation for the role. I’ll have a review of the miniseries up later this week.

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Filed under Vintage Miscellany, Vintage Photographs

Vintage Miscellany – March 29, 2021

The only caption for this late 1940s photo is “The Coveted Basketball suit”. I almost bought a coveted basketball suit recently, but I passed because I felt the price was too high, and because I couldn’t learn anything about the team it represented. The seller listed it as a woman’s baseball suit, and the members of some professional women’s teams did wear similar satin suits. So I couldn’t determine whether the suit was worn for basketball or baseball, or even softball. Now that the suit has sold I’m sitting here asking myself if it really mattered.

There will be other coveted suits.

And now for some news…

  • Alex Trebek’s  fourteen suits, fifty-eight dress shirts, and three hundred neckties were donated by his family to a charity that helps formerly incarcerated men.
  • Alfie Date, 109, knits sweaters for at-risk penguins.
  • John Kennedy’s Harvard cardigan recently sold for $85,000.
  • Martha Washington was more than the grandmother we always picture her as.
  • And, learning from Martha’s purple dress.
  • Historic Deerfield will present a virtual forum, “Invisible Makers: Textiles, Dress, and Marginalized People in 18th- and 19th-Century America,” on Saturday, April 10.
  • Sealaska Heritage Institute and Neiman Marcus have settled a lawsuit over a coat the company sold, bears a striking resemblance to a copyrighted, Alaska Native Ravenstail pattern.
  • Beatrice Behlen shows what we can learn from photographs of Suffragettes.
  • Jessica McClintock, maker of Gunne Sax, has died at age 90.
  • Elsa Peretti, designer of jewelry for Tiffany, has died at 81.


Filed under Vintage Miscellany, Vintage Photographs

Vintage Miscellany, November 11, 2020

I have a big stack of vintage and antique photos that I’ve never shared, and whenever I get ready to post a new Vintage Miscellany, I go through the stack to find one that resonates with my mood. The date on the basketball – 1920 – and the ages of the girls struck a chord. These girls and their teacher were among the first women to gain the right to vote under the 19th Amendment.

The girls were too young to vote for president in 1920, but I hope the coach got registered and exercised her new-found legal right. But what really amazes me is that when I cast my first vote for President, Jimmy Carter, in 1976, it is very likely that some of these girls voted in the same election. The past is really not so long ago!

And now for some news…

  • My first historical love was the 18th Century, and I find myself still intrigued, especially when it comes to shoes.
  • Sometimes I’m amazed at some artifacts that survive, like the dress Carlotta Walls wore on her first day of school in 1957 at Little Rock Central High School.
  • Mutton dressed as lamb? Susan at Witness2Fashion addresses the concept.
  • A little late, but the Met has finally opened the spring exhibition, About Time. I’d love to hear from anyone who has seen it. There’s an awful lot of black.
  • In 1920 Jackson, Wyoming elected an all-female government.
  • Fred Perry did the right thing and pulled from the market a polo shirt that had been appropriated by a White supremacist group.
  • Fashion designer Kenzo died on October 4, 2020.
  • Powerful Western clothing companies continue to cheat clothing sewers.
  • Video: A look inside the Costume Design Center at Colonial Williamsburg.
  • Do we need a documentary on Audrey Hepburn? Yes, of course we do.
  • The pandemic has had another effect – the breaking down of the worldwide trade in used clothing. I’m seeing this on a local level. Many thrift stores are no longer taking donations due to a glut of stuff.
  • Video: Watch how FIDM dresses a mannequin in preparation for exhibition.
  • Help save the roof of the Jane Austen house.
  • Here’s more proof of the significance of what we choose to wear.
  • And that leads me to the obvious political nature of the above link. In the past I have been criticised for allowing politics on a fashion history site. But as I have pointed out, clothing is more than just pretty frocks. We cannot separate culture from politics. And yes, I have criticized the clothing choices of the now lame duck administration. Not to do so would have been ignoring the elephant in the room. And yes. I was not neutral, but this is my blog, and I provide the content free of charge. So, please, no comments about how unfair I was to the former-president-to be and his sponges. I am over it.


Filed under Uncategorized, Vintage Miscellany

Vintage Miscellany – September 25, 2020

This photo of three women reminds me of my own good friends. After thirty-five years of friendship, we still have one another’s back. We still travel together and the bravest of us still wears a two-piece swimsuit. She looks just as fabulous as the unidentified style star in this 1940s photo.

It’s been a rough month, both personally and nationally. I’m still trying to mend my broken toes. They will get better. I hope our country is as lucky.

And now the news:


Filed under Vintage Miscellany

Vintage Miscellany – August 27, 2020

I still have beach pajamas on my mind, so here’s a beautiful example of how they were worn. I love how the maker took the time to match the print. This could have ended up looking like a mess, but instead there’s a lovely symmetry about it. I also love how the wearer is not a thin teenager. What’s interesting is that I have five pairs of 1930s beach pajamas in my collection, and three of them fit a figure like this woman’s. Fun fashion is truly for everyone.

And now for the news…


Filed under Vintage Miscellany

Vintage Miscellany, July, 2020

Well, the miscellany is back, thanks to several of you who have been regularly feeding great links to me. I hope to be able to share links once a month, so if you run across any good fashion or textile news, please pass then on to me.

The pandemic has made me so grateful for the internet. Many groups and museums and fashion historians have really stepped up with online content. My favorites have been live programming, such as conversations between historians and museum personnel. I’ll be sharing a few of these.

Between times, my long range project list has really dwindled. Most importantly, I have almost finished repairing and quilting a pieced quilt top my Grandma Lizzie made in the early 1940s. There’s a story that I’ll be sharing when I get it finished.

And now, the news…

* The National Arts Club in New York has been an excellent resource for live programming. They add events on a regular basis, and many are about fashion.  After they air, the programs are put on their YouTube channel. Here’s a recent conversation with an actress who portrays Hollywood designer Edith Head.

*   Just how is the pandemic changing fashion?

*   The Barbara Brackman blog is always interesting. Read this post on polka dots.

Brooks Brothers is the latest retail establishment to file for bankruptcy.

*   Another group that has had some excellent online content on fashion and cultural history is Jane Austen & Co. They recently hosted a presentation by Hilary Davidson on dressing in Austen’s time. The next presentation is about crafting in Austen’s time.

*  The excellent BBC series, A Stitch in Time with fashion historial Amber Butchart is now showing on Amazon Prime.

*   There is a new and improved Fashion and Race Database.

*   The one-day Willi Smith exhibition lives on in digital form.

*  The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum posted an online presentation,  The American Look: Georgia O’Keeffe and the Fashion of Her Time.

*  “The Gwillim Project Online, which centres around the unpublished correspondence and artwork of two sisters who lived in Madras at the beginning of the nineteenth century…” presented a program on the sisters’ correspondence concerning textiles and clothing.

* Finally, wear a mask.



Filed under Viewpoint, Vintage Miscellany

Vintage Miscellany – May 27, 2020

I hope that this finds all of you well. I hope that if you do go to the beach, that you are like the two women above. Keep your family to yourselves, and no one gets hurt.

I have been writing these Vintage Miscellany posts since June, 2010. That’s almost ten years, but in internet years it’s many, many more.  I know I’ve posted in the past that I get most of the links from Twitter. Twitter has always been a great place for gathering information, but unfortunately, it is now a place where the most vile falsehoods are being allowed to be posted by those in power. So until Twitter does something about the crazed posting by the president of the USA, I’ll no longer be using the platform.

Unfortunately, that means I will have to really cut back on posting links to fashion history and fashion issues articles. I do hope to do posts on fashion exhibitions and events once the world returns to some sort of normality. I’m not holding my breath.

So, here’s the last Vintage Miscellany as we have known it until the world is once again made safe for Twitter.


Filed under Vintage Miscellany