Category Archives: Vintage Miscellany

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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Vintage Miscellany – May 15, 2016

If I did not know better, I’d say that is a giant smartphone in the pocket of this great circa 1917 cardigan sweater.

But it’s not, so here’s some real news for you.


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Vintage Miscellany – May 1, 2016

I recently was lucky enough to get a set of photo from fellow VFG member, Poppy’s Vintage Clothing, all of a group of women and a golf club.  Note that there is a very important element missing in the photo above – the golf ball!  It appears that the women were just posing.  I posted on Instagram that the women all looked to be too corseted to be playing golf, and was then sent a photo of a circa 1895 golfing corset.  I guess it was like the spots bra of that era.

My photos are not dated, but are 1910 or so.

I appreciate all the thoughtful comments and interesting ideas posted last week in my series on working toward a guilt-free closet.  The topic continues to be in the news.


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