An owner of a vintage clothing store once told me that the best part of running the store was all the great stuff that people brought to her. She never had to go in search of stock. Writing a blog about clothing history is a bit that way, as I’m always hearing from people who have great stories to tell, but also I hear from those who have a few questions about what they have.
Not too long ago Julia of Carolina Thrift Chick emailed me about a playsuit set she got from an estate. In emailing back and forth I found that from the same estate she had gotten some nice 1940s pants sets. I was lucky to not only get these sets, but I also learned a bit about the original owner, Mary Jane Hefner of Hickory, NC.
Jane was born in 1931 and attended Lenoir Rhyme College. It’s very likely that these garments were part of her college wardrobe. They date to the second half of the 1940s, and she would have probably started college in 1948. In the original collection, Julia also found a lot of 1950s skirt suits, which Jane would have worn in her first job of teaching.
Jane seems to have been very fond of the warm peachy colors found in these suits. She also liked browns and dark blues. She was one of those dream women that vintage clothing sellers love to find, as she evidently kept everything, and stored things properly. Both suits still have the tags in them where they were dry cleaned before they were stored. Her cousin who is managing the estate said that she wanted to make sure Jane’s clothing went to a good home where it will be cherished. I think my home fits that bill.
Mary Jane Hefner never married. She eventually left teaching to care for her aging parents and an aunt. Throughout her life she kept and loved animals of all sorts, from guinea hens to goats. And she was a very stylish dresser.
Both of the pants sets are made from rayon that have a lovely drape. At first I thought that the one above was missing its belt, but then it dawned on me that the tie belt I photographed with the cream colored suit matched the buttons and trim on the peach colored one. The tie was hanging with the cream suit in storage, so maybe Mary Jane wore it with both suits.
The cream suit does not have a label, but the peach one was made by Kabro, a company based in Houston, Texas. I don’t know why that photo makes the fabric look off white. It is peach.
Here’s the back. That deep inverted pleat and the two pleats on the side must have made this very comfortable.
The playsuit is also in a peachy color. It is made from cotton, and has the best series of buttons. It completely buttons from one side of the shorts, across the waistband, and up to the neck.
And here it is with the matching skirt. It looks rather long for the day, but Jane was tall. Her pants measure 44 inches long.
The pretty neckline makes this playsuit look a little less like a gymsuit than many of the 1940s playsuits I’ve seen.
Interestingly, this set also has a Texas label – Nardis of Dallas. Both Nardis and Kabro were distributed nationally. Nardis was the official supplier of clothing to the Dick Van Dyke Show in the early 1960s, so you might have seen some of their clothes on Mary Tyler Moore and Rose Marie. As far as I can tell, Nardis was opened in the 1930s and it survived until 1980.