Category Archives: Vintage Miscellany

Vintage Miscellany – October 16, 2016

One of the most interesting things about this photo from the 1930s is that the original is only 1.25 inches square.  The edges are blurred, but enlarging this digitally opened up a world of detail that went undetected when viewing the original.  Still, there are so many unanswered questions.  What is the woman on the left holding?  What is the bracelet the other woman is wearing?  And most importantly, what is going on with those hats?

With images all over the internet, it is tempting to just help oneself to the goodies, but before using any image, be certain that you have the right to it.  There are so many sites today where the images are free of copyright that it is a shame that people resort to (alleged) theft.

The whole point of Instagram is to post one’s own photos, but I’m noticing more and more people are treating Instagram like Tumblr or even Pinterest, posting photos from museum sites and fashion runway shows.  The pictures are nice, and there is often great commentary, but I prefer seeing what people have going on in their own lives.  I want to see your collection, and your vacation pictures, and your dog.


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Vintage Miscellany – October 2, 2016

In this month leading up to the election of the next president of the United States, I want to remind all eligible voters of the long struggle to obtain voting rights for all Americans.  Voting is a right and a privilege, and I want to encourage all of us to take part in an activity that was denied to women and minorities for many years.

The photo above was a very lucky find. Could this be a mother and daughter in solidarity, holding a Votes for Women pennant circa 1912? The small print on the pennant reads “Woman Suffrage Party”, which was a New York organization. Unlike some other women’s rights groups, WSP was racially inclusive and recruited women of all economic classes. The two women in my photo certainly seem to be from a lower income group, judging by the clothes and hair.  They want you to vote!

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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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