Tag Archives: 1940s

The Ski-O-Tard from White Stag

One of the great things about collecting it that there is always something new to be discovered.  Take the garment above.  It’s a White Stag creation called the Ski-O-Tard.  I was lucky to spot this recently on etsy, and was even luckier that the thing still had the original hangtag attached.

Hangtags often contain very valuable information, and in this case, the most important info was the name of the garment.  Without the unusual name, I might never have been able to learn a thing about the Ski-O-Tard.  And even with the name, I’ve been able to find only a few images, all dated 1948.

Even though White Stag was in the process of copyrighting the name, I think it is safe to assume that the idea just never caught on.  For one thing, all the bunched up fabric between the legs must have felt like one was wearing a diaper.  And while it probably was warm, it was so bulky that wearing it beneath slim-fitting trousers would have been difficult.

Although it was meant to be worn as a first layer, all the photos I found showed it without pants.  One photo is the January 1948 cover of See, a magazine for men, and another was in the pages of the January 8, 1948 issue of The Dispatcher, a Longshoreman Union newspaper.

When I posted a photo of the tag on Instagram, Julie at Jet Set Sewing commented that the Ski-O-Tard reminded her of the Claire McCardell “diaper” bathing suit.  I had not seen the resemblance, but after Julie mentioned it, I certainly did.  McCardell’s suit dates from the early 1940s, so it could be that it directly influenced the designer of the White Stag Ski-O-Tard.

In the 1940s and 1940s, White Stag used this tag in red, but also similar ones in bright blue and in white with red lettering.  Labels from the 1960s are usually white with gold lettering.  I only am telling this because White Stag garments can be really hard to date, as sportswear , while it did follow fashion, did not change as quickly as fashionable dress.   In this case, the Ski-O-Tard has very strong shoulder pads, at a time when shoulders were beginning to soften up a bit.

I thought you might enjoy seeing what the Ski-O-Tard looks like when not fastened at the waist.  Can you see how the concept might have been improved with a bit less fabric at the crotch?

As always, I welcome any additional information about the Ski-O-Tard.

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Filed under Curiosities, Sportswear, Winter Sports

Late 1940s Shorts and Wrap Skirt

I recently ran across this skirt and a pair of matching shorts, and I bought them even though there are quite a few problems with the two pieces.  To be really honest, I wanted these partly because of the issues and my desire to analyze the set.  Using the questions from The Dress Detective, I wanted to hear the story these pieces have to tell.

To start with, there is a real possibility that a piece is missing.  By looking at sewing patterns and catalogs from 1940 through the 1950s, these sets often came with a matching blouse.  These pieces are home sewn, and there is no way to know if a matching blouse was actually made, but that is the way the pieces were marketed, and presumably, worn.

Here are some good examples from a 1940s brochure from Edwards Department Store in Rochester, New York.  In these photos the top and shorts are attached as one piece, but these were also available as shorts and top separately.

After World War II ended, fabrics became a lot more colorful.  Dyes had been restricted during the war, and I’m sure people were ready for a burst of color.  If you look at fashion magazines starting as early as the middle of 1945, you can really see what I mean.  Interesting designs and color combinations dominated.  In the case of my skirt and shorts you can see turquoise, a chartreuse-y yellow, and two shades of rust, printed on white and accented with black.

As mentioned, the set is home sewn, using simple techniques.  The sewer must have had one of those new-fangled buttonholers that attached to the machine.  The buttons on the skirt are mother of pearl, and they are well-worn.  They seem to be a bit old-fashioned for the piece.  Could they have been re-cycled?

There is a noticeable color difference between the shorts and the skirt.  The skirt looks hardly worn, but the shorts are quite faded.  What does that say?  The shorts were obviously washed more than the skirt, and so we can assume they were worn more.

There is another interesting clue on the shorts, a smear  of dried paint.  Could it be that after the shorts became either worn or not so fashionable (or both) that they were used to wear around the house for chores like painting.  It points to a long life of the shorts and skirt, and possibly a blouse, moving from cute outfit to work attire.

There is one last thing to point out.  At sometime the skirt was shortened as evidenced by the faded line.  During the last part of the 1950s skirt hems did rise, and so this could have been an attempt to make the skirt more fashionable.  Or it is possible this was done years later by a wearer of vintage clothing.  Either way, it is an interesting part of the skirt’s history.

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Filed under Collecting, Sportswear, Vintage Clothing

Sophie in Miami, 1938 – 1942

I look at a lot of vintage photos.  I love nothing more than finding a big box of them at a flea market so I can stand and shuffle through them.  I even look for them online.  Whenever I have a spare thirty minutes or so I’ll often go to Etsy and do some searches for sportswear-wearing vintage women.

That’s how I found the photos I’m showing today.  I usually do not look for lots of more than one photo, but I found a group which contained the same people on the beach in Miami between 1938 and 1942.  It was too interesting to pass up.

The set of photos were taken with several different cameras, but some of the same people kept appearing over and over.  The most common factor in the group is a woman named Sophie.  I’ve come up with the idea that these were her photos, and that she and her group of friends traded them for other photos taken on their days at the beach.  That would explain the different types of photos, plus the fact that there are different handwritings on the various photos.

The oldest photo I have of Sophie is the one above, taken in 1938.  The young man is not identified.

This is Sophie and Harry Lack.

Sophie and Harry again, with a better look at her bathing suit.

A month later, Sophie is wearing the same bathing suit, but she has a new guy to pose with, Lou Shapiro.

And then another month later, Sophie is sporting a new bathing suit, and another new guy, Herb Klein.

The photos end in April, 1942.  Here Sophie has yet another new beau, Irving Saltz.  It would be interesting to know what happened to Sophie.  Did she end up with Harry or Lou or Herb or Irving? Maybe the great and wonderful internet will solve the mystery for us.

 

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Filed under Vintage Photographs

Ad Campaign – Jantzen All-Sports Jackets, 1947

a’hunting you can go… and fishing you can go and that’s not all!  These new Jantzen jackets are as versatile as all outdoors.  They’re for golfing. holidaying, going to college or relaxing, for everything that’s fun to do…

You really can’t ask more of a jacket than that.

Today it is always news when a fashion company moves into a new line, say when a maker of menswear develops a line for women.  If you look back over the history of clothing companies you can see that this is how the industry has operated over the years.  Expansion often meant veering from the product for which the company was known.  In this case Jantzen, which was a long-time maker of swimsuits, was dipping their toes in the sportswear waters.  They had developed a line called “Sun Clothes” which was mainly tee shirts and shorts, but they were also expanding into winter sports.

I have no idea how successful this idea was, but with the exception of 1940s figural sweaters, I don’t see a lot of winter time Jantzen that is older than the 1960s.

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Filed under Ad Campaign

White Stag Function-Alls for Women Workers

I recently got a message from Juliet at SixCatsFun Vintage saying that she had found a denim jacket with an interesting label.  It was “White Stag Function-Alls.”  At first I sort of shook my head in wonder, as White Stag made clothing primarily in canvas up to the middle 1960s.  But something seemed familiar.

I pulled out a WWII era White Stag catalog I have, and there it was – a full page of denim Function-Alls.  They were produced for women who were working in wartime jobs that required sturdy work clothing.

Overall Jacket to match style No. 7844 or No. 653.  Triple-stitched 8-oz. Sanforized denim.  Copper buttons. Complete with bandana Handkerchief.  Dark Blue denim only.

You can see the triple-stitching referred to in the copy.  And if you want to see the label a bit more clearly, it is printed in the catalog.

It’s a gloved hand pulling on a lever of some sort.

Due to the faded and frayed label, you can tell that this piece was used, probably by some 1940s Rosie the Riveter.  I think the documentation from the catalog makes the piece really special.  It’s hard to find WWII era women’s work clothing, though you know it must have been made by the millions.

The great condition of this piece is typical of the type of quality that White Stag turned out.  Even under wartime restrictions and shortages, they managed to produce a product that held up beautifully.  My catalog is not dated, but the references to the war and “the duration” make me think it is probably from 1943 or 1944.

Note the stag on the button.

Thanks to Juliet for sharing this great piece of history with me, and for letting me show it off here.  For anyone interested in this historic piece, she is selling it on ebay.

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Filed under Proper Clothing, Vintage Clothing, World War II

Mademoiselle, June, 1941

Even though this is the cover of a June issue, the photo reminds me more of this time of year.  The stores and magazines are now full of clothes for cold weather, but here in the South there will be at least another month of warm weather.  Women in the South (and the southern parts of the West) have long known to transition to autumn clothing slowly.  Put away the whites and the light pastels and rely on warm, golden colors in cottons.  Add a sweater on chilly mornings.  The coats won’t really come out of the closets until late November.

I finally had a chance to sit down and thumb through the massive Vogue September issue.  At 856 pages, this issue fell short of the 916 page record, but still it is heavy and bulky and full of things to buy.  It is another season of asking who in their right mind would wear a certain shoe, in this case a particularly ugly Dior model that looks like three different shoes were thrown into a blender and mishmashed together.

And while I didn’t sit and count the pages, it sure seems to me that most of the big fashion houses are really in the business of selling accessories.  For the most part, the shoes look ugly and difficult to wear, whereas handbags are generally sleeker and not as tricked out as in previous seasons.

But the only company whose ads really made me wish I had thousands to spend was Louis Vuitton.  The clothes have a nice uncluttered mod vibe, and there is a little handbag that is like a miniature Vuitton trunk.  There is also an article about the new designer at Louis Vuitton, Nicolas Ghesquiere.

Like I said, living in the South means that our clothes are lighter.  I have several coats, all vintage, none of which I wear more than a handful of times each season.  Maybe that is why I find the over-abundance of fur in Vogue so odd.  There were three editorial features on coats, and the majority of the ones shown were either made from fur or trimmed with it.  And many of the other features also had furs.  I don’t get the emphasis on a product that many women can’t wear because of their climate, and that many will not wear because they feel wearing fur is wrong.

UPDATE:

I decided to add a photo of the ugly Dior shoes, taken from one of the many Dior ads in the Vogue September issue.  The pink part is actually molded rubber, like the sole of an athletic shoe, and the name “Dior” is embossed there near the heel.  Note also that the very tip of the black part is red, which extends under that cute little over-hang.  In some photos it looks like a tongue.  And finally, I do hope that heel is steel reinforced, as I can see that really narrow part snapping right off.

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Filed under Too Marvelous for Words, Viewpoint

Ad Campaign – Cohama Fabrics, 1947

Today’s post is a rerun from over two years ago.  I recently ran across this and decided to share it with all who missed it the first time around.

I suppose I ought to have a category titled, “Things I didn’t know,”  because that is where this entry would have to be placed.  Or it could go under “Things I learned while looking for something else,”  or even, “Things I should have noticed before but did not.”

While looking through my collection of American Fabrics magazines, the above ad caught my eye. It tells how fabric maker Cohama maintained the Cohama Hand-Looming Workshop,  a place where the fabric designers could experiment with their ideas before committing to large runs on the mechanized looms. I thought that this was a pretty neat idea, and gave Cohama some silent brownie points for such a practical solution to what can be a costly problem.

But it turns out that Cohana was not the only wool manufacturer who relied on the hand loom to try out the new ideas of the designers.

In the Fall 1949 issue of American Fabrics there is a small article, “Ideas Tailored on a Moment’s Notice”, in which they show the hand weaving operation at Forstmann Woolen Company.  Called the Provincial Designing Room, it was under the direction of Miss Margaret Swanson, and employed two hand looms on which weavers would interpret the ideas of designers working for clothing manufacturers. The designer could watch the fabric develop, and make changes if necessary. After the designer was satisfied with the sample, it would be processed by the mechanized looms.

I love the quaintness of the Provincial Designing Room!  In the photo above Miss Swanson is working with Ellen Brooke of Glenhunt (a suit and coat maker) and a hand weaver to develop the fabric to Miss Brooke’s satisfaction.

Brooke and Swanson, looking at how the newly developed fabric cuts and drapes.

The hand weaver, Alice Berman, making the sample worked out by Swanson and Brooke.

A swatch of the handwoven sample

And where the run of fabric will eventually be made, on the fully automated looms at Forestmann.

All illustrations are from the Fall 1949 issue of American  Fabrics and are copyright Reporter Publications, Inc.

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Filed under Ad Campaign