Ballantyne Cashmere for 1965 at N. Peal

N. Peal was established in 1936 by Nat Peal, and was located at the prestigious address of the Burlington Arcade in London. It sold cashmere and other wool sweaters, all made in the UK. Today, N. Peal is still in business, having been bought and somewhat rebranded in 2010. A quick look on the net shows that the sweaters under the N. Peal name are sold in the N.Peal stores, but also on discount sites like Outnet. They also appear to be made in China.

At one time the name Ballantyne guaranteed a high-quality cashmere product. The factory that made Ballantyne sweaters closed in 2013, but you can still buy Ballantyne products – made in China, of course.  But in the 1960s cashmere sweaters were a true luxury, and Ballantyne was one of the best. Combine that quality with the design skills of Bonnie Cashin, and you have a collaboration made in cashmere heaven.

http://fuzzylizzie.com/myPictures/cashmere/pneal65/img002.jpg

Click to enlarge

I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the orange, or zinnia, version of this Bonnie Cashin for sale at some time in the past.

This sweater is so typical of the way Cashin mixed colors. I love that rounded collar.

A seller on etsy actually has this sweater and skirt set in two different colors. Note the pin in the neck opening. One of the sets that is for sale still has the pin and the original tags.

The skirt was a special design by Cashin which ensured a better fit. t was available in all the colors of the various sweaters.

Not all the items in my little catalog were designed by Cashin. Sweaters like the one above were probably available for several years both before and after 1965, being such a classic design.

By 1965, the collarless Chanel jacket had been made and sold by Mademoiselle for over ten years. If a brand labeled a jacket as “Chanel style” women who followed fashion knew exactly what was meant. Chanel herself found such references to be flattering.

Today though, Chanel, Inc. takes a hard line against any other company (and that includes re-sellers on eBay) using the Chanel name to sell a non-Chanel product.

This open letter to would-be abusers of the Chanel name was first published in 2009 in fashion magazines. This is an attempt to keep control of the Chanel name. They don’t want “Chanel” to become an adjective. The Fashion Law explains it well. 

It’s a bit like trying to close the barn door after the horse is already out, seeing as how “Chanel” has been used in a descriptive manner since at least 1965, and I suspect, even earlier. But those Chanel lawyers are, as they say, serious. I’ve known eBay auctions for “Chanel-like” suits to simply disappear.

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Vintage Miscellany – July 23, 2017

That’s Snow Ball and me in back and Rachel is rowing and the girl lying down is Claudia. Rachel’s sister took the picture.

There’s no date, but the all-girl group might indicate that it was taken during WWII. It could be a few years later, and they just left the guys at home. At any rate, it looks like a relaxing afternoon.

And now, on to the news…

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1950s Pat Perkins Fore Action Golf Dress

For longer than I care to think about I had been meaning to drive down the mountain to Greenville, South Carolina. Greenville is one of those places that is making an effort to revitalize the downtown area, and at the same time smaller enclaves of retail and restaurant activity are springing to life.  One of these enclaves is the Village of West Greenville.  West Greenville was originally a a cotton mill village.

The nearby Brandon Mill employed over one thousand workers in the prosperous cotton mill days of the early twentieth century. The most famous person to ever work there was Shoeless Joe Jackson, who started his baseball career playing for the Brandon Mills team. For those of you who don’t know baseball history (or who don’t live with a Chicago White Sox fan) Jackson was involved in the infamous Black Sox scandal of 1919.

Today West Greenville is home to Kate DiNatale Vintage. It was there that I found this great late 1950s golf dress.

I knew the brand name Pat Perkins, but I had no idea the company made golf dresses. I knew them as a maker of affordable day dresses.

Fans of classic television know the Pat Perkins name because it is boldly featured in the opening credits of The Honeymooners. According to The Official Honeymooners Treasury, Mac Kaplan, the owner of Sunnyvale Inc. the maker of Pat Perkins dresses, gave the show a few dozen dresses for Audrey Meadows as Alice Kramden to wear on the show in exchange for a listing in the opening credits. Unfortunately, Alice always wore an apron that covered much of the dress, much to Kaplan’s chagrin.

One thing that makes a good golf dress is the presence of functional pockets. And I love these, with the top of the pocket forming a belt loop.

You can see how the breast pocket mirrors the styling of the lower ones. Because this dress is sleeveless, there is no need for adaptations in the sleeves. Do note the additional ease in the shoulders.

One place I always look for information on a brand or trademark is the Trademark Electronic Search System. It is a very handy tool, but it has to be used with caution. Even though the label has a little R for registered trademark beside “Fore Action”, I could not find it in the system. The only Pat Perkins trademark listed dates to 1962, and clearly states that the first use of the trademark is 1962. Some users might mistakenly take this to mean that the Pat Perkins label was not used before 1962, but we know that is not true. The registration is in fact referring to the brand name plus a slogan: “Pat Perkins, Reflecting America’s Most Treasured Daytime Dress.”

If you are ever in the Greenville area, a trip to Kate’s beautiful store is most recommended.

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Circa 1895 Gage-Downs Bicycle Waists Catalog

The bicycle craze of the 1890s made bike riding popular with women, and clothing companies were quick to see an opportunity to market new goods to these women. Maybe I’m being overly cynical, as clothing had to adapt to meet the needs of women bicyclers. Skirts had to be shortened so they wouldn’t get caught up in the moving parts of the bike. The sleeves of jackets and blouses had to be full enough to allow movement. And corsets had to change in order for a woman to ride in comfort.

This great little catalog from the Gage-Downs Company of Chicago shows how one company worked on the corset problem. This was before the brassiere was developed around 1915, and one purpose of the corset was to support the bust. In a standard corset, the support comes from below, but in a bust supporter like these from Gage-Downs, the bust is mainly supported from the shoulders.

Another big improvement in this design was that the bicycle waist ended at the waist instead of extending over the hips. Here is more information from an 1896 Gage-Downs ad:

Graceful as the New Woman, all the time – at work – a-wheel – in negligee – is she who wears a G-D Bicycle Waist. The most sensible garment ever invented. As shown in cut, it come only to the waist, leaving the lower part of the body absolutely free. Elastic at sides, it gives with every motion of the body. Elastic shoulder straps; tape buttons for attachment to skirt or bloomers.

I love how the illustrator chose to show the bicycling women in bloomers, rather than in skirts, though most women and girls wore shortened skirts of bicycling.

The catalog also has some more conventional corsets which extend to cover the top of the hips.

And here is the 1890s version of the training bra.

I looked to see what the WWW could tell me about Gage-Downs.  The company was started in 1885 by Frank Newton Gage and Lewis A. Downs. Having made a fortune in corsets, Gage sold his interest in the company in 1891. He went into the stock trade where he made even more money.

Lewis Downs has a more colorful story. He continued on with the company until he died in 1911. Unfortunately, Downs had a big secret – he had two wives, one in Chicago and another in Colorado. Upon his death the second wife claimed his property in Colorado, and was taken to court by the son of the first wife. The second “wife” was out of luck, as the marriage was not legal.

Most interestingly, the newspaper article I found, the June 14, 1911 edition of the Chicago Tribune, took the son to task for exposing his father. The headline read, “Son, for Fortune, Reveals Bigamy of Sire in Grave”!

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1960s Alfred Shaheen Pants Set

The Alfred Shaheen name is very familiar to vintage clothing collectors, especially those who love the sun dresses and bathing suits of the 1950s. The business was based in Hawaii, where Shaheen expanded his father’s clothing manufacturing business in the post WWII period, capitalizing on the new fad for Hawaiian shirts.

From my little history at the VFG Label Resource:

At first he used fabrics brought in from the US mainland, but he soon realized that profits would be greater if he printed the fabric in Hawaii. He set up Surf ‘n Sand Hand Prints to print the colorful Hawaiian fabrics. His handprinted textiles were based on the flora and fauna of the Hawaiian Islands, along with Hawaiian traditions and authentic tapa cloth designs.

Shaheen produced not only the fabric, but they also manufactured clothing made from it. Shaheen was known for their sexy sarong dresses and swim suits, Hawaiian shirts and halter dresses with full skirts. The company closed in 1988 when Alfred Shaheen retired.

Shaheen not only used Hawaiian themes; the design studio was also was inspired by the rich multicultural population of post war Hawaii. Even the label took on a decidedly “exotic” look.

The set looks, at first glance, to be from the 1950s. I think we can all see Lucy Ricardo wearing this for casual entertaining. But the label is one that is most commonly seen in the 1960s. To confirm the date, the pants have a nylon coil zipper, which was introduced to the American market in the early 1960s.

The pants legs are very interesting. In 1960 pants were still tapered to the ankle, but then they became straight before blooming into bell-shaped legs in the late 60s. Without the pleat my pants are very straight, but the presence of the pleat sure does hint of things to come.

The collar, too, seems to predict the short-lived fad for the Nehru collar in the late 60s. But in this case I’m guessing it was just the company’s love of the “exotic” that led them to use a collar that is more associated with India than Hawaii.

Even though permanently attached care instructions were not mandated by law in the USA until 1972, the presence of a label like the one above does not mean the garment was made after 1972. Many manufacturers were already sewing simple care labels like the one in my pants long before the law went into effect.

You may have noticed the wonderful condition of this set. I can only imagine that it was bought by a woman who was under the spell of her tropical surroundings, and that when she returned home to Tennessee, the set was just too, well, exotic.

 

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Vintage Miscellany – July 9, 2017

Here’s a rare example of an older photograph with the kind of information one wishes came with all old pictures. Written on the reverse:

Margaret Graham & Bessie Roher (?) about 1897 or ’98 on the tennis (grass) court at Wood Lawn. R. Niles Graham – Pease collection.

Woodlawn had been the estate of Texas governor Elisha Marshall Pease, the grandfather of Margaret Graham and her brother Niles Graham. Niles was a prominent businessman in Austin, Texas, and after he died his papers along with those of his grandfather were donated to the Texas State Library and Archive. I’m not sure why this photo was not included. How did it end up in the vast market of used stuff?

And now for some more modern news…

Here’s the reverse of the photo. Maybe you can help decipher Bessie’s surname. And if the Texas Archive wants this photo, it’s yours.

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Bailey’s Rubber Store Waterproof Coats, Circa 1906

Recently I added this little catalog of automobile coats to my archive. There’s no date on it, but I think it is probably from 1906. Today in the US  we’d call a waterproof coat a rain coat, a garment that gets us from the car to the house without letting us get too wet. But in 1906. a waterproof coat was designed for protection in the automobile. That’s because in 1906, most cars were open, meaning they had no roof for protection against the weather.

To solve the problem of wet and dust, the long coat became standard wear in an open auto. In rainy conditions, one wore a waterproof. When it was dry and dusty, one wore a duster.

Bailey’s Rubber Store specialized in rubber, or waterproof, coats, of course. As the name of the business implies, Bailey’s sold much more than just coats. They were a source of many items made of rubber.

Charles J. Bailey went into the rubber selling business in the 1880s. He had been an importer and seller of laces, but he began experimenting with rubber, and actually invented several new products. One was the rubber flesh brush, meant to increase circulation and improve the complexion. The brush was advertised widely, and became a big seller for Bailey. In 1889 he gave up lace entirely and opened Bailey’s Rubber Store in Boston.

As I said, there’s no date on this little catalog, but I did find a great reference to it in a 1906 issue of The Rubber Age, a trade magazine. A short feature informed the reader that Bailey’s Rubber Store had just published a catalog of waterproof coats. The catalog measured 3 1/4 by 7 inches, and had 24 pages, exactly the same as my little catalog.

There were coats costing as much as $60 in this catalog, but none were as practical as this $10 coat with hood and wind cuffs.

In these pages of coats, you can clearly see the influence of the S-bend silhouette, popular from around 1900 through 1910.

Bailey’s sold both men’s and women’s coats from Burberry’s in London.

Besides coats, Bailey’s also carried goggles and other accessories necessary for motoring.

Charles Bailey died in 1918, and at that time the business was incorporated. Unfortunately the business failed, and bankruptcy was declared in 1921.

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