Tag Archives: 1950s

Late 1940s Alice Stuart Travel Blouse

One thing that really determines whether or not I add an object to my collection is the condition, especially if it is a fairly common garment.  But sometimes a piece that is damaged crosses my path and I have to decide if the garment is special enough to disregard the damage.

Such was the case of this rayon blouse from the late 1940s or early 50s.  I loved the print, which is made up of ocean liner stickers.  I loved the blue, black, and lime green color scheme.  I loved the style.  But it had numerous problems.  The price was reasonable, so I bought it anyway.

Look carefully at the two photos above to spot the differences.  The bottom photo is before a few temporary repairs.  There were a series of darts that released into fullness above the waist.  This was a design trick that helped a tucked in blouse look neater because it reduced the bulk around the waist.  A previous owner had taken out all the darts, and then she hemmed the blouse about an inch and a half.

Here you can see the stitch marks that had been removed, and the fold line where the blouse had been hemmed.  Note that the stitch lines of the darts had been strained, which probably explains that they had been removed following a weight gain.  The shorter length could possibly have occurred late in the 1950s when over-blouses became popular.

Because the seamlines were somewhat compromised, I decided not to restitch the darts permanently.  Instead, I lightly basted them in place so that when displayed they had the shape of the original design, but with less stress on the dart seams.  The seams around the bottom of both sleeves had been repaired, with much of the underarm seams being broken.  Again, I used basting as these seams were also in fragile condition.

After the repairs, the blouse is still fragile, but is strong enough for display.  It has the look of its original self.

The ad above is from September, 1951, around the time my blouse was made.  One thing I love about researching old brands it that it allows a few guilt-free hours looking through vintage fashion magazines.  I did not expect to find an ad for my blouse, as I would have remembered this print from previous browsings.  But I felt confident that I would find ads for Alice Stuart.

Blouses were a very big deal in the 1940s and 50s, with there being dozens of companies that made blouses exclusively.  Every issue of magazines targeted toward the career girl, like Glamour and Mademoiselle, had plenty of blouse advertisements including those for Alice Stuart.

From the ad above you can see that the blouses were made by Alice Stuart, Inc.  By 1956 the label had become part of the Jonathan Logan dressmaking empire.  In that year Jonathan Logan registered the trademark, which the application claims that the label was first used in 1942.  That sounds about right, though sometimes the information contained in trademark applications involved a bit of guesswork by the applicant.

I have no idea when the label was discontinued, but a search on ebay produced styles from the 1980s.

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Filed under Advertisements, Collecting, Novelty Prints, Proper Clothing, Vintage Clothing

Mrs. William Stock Wearing a Familiar Looking Dress

I’m in the process of organizing and making good digital copies of my photograph collection.  Actually, I’m waiting for a big snowstorm that will force me to actually stay at home and accomplish the task, but that’s another story.  Anyway, I have been reviewing and categorizing each photo, and when I came to this one, I did a bit of a double-take.  Mrs. Stock’s dress looked very familiar.  Then it hit me.  I have that dress.

The dress is a rayon print with travel tags: Paris, Salzburg, Marrakesh, Edinburgh, and Venice.

It’s 1950s in every way possible, from the pink and olive green used in the print, to the fonts of the words, to the line drawings.  And the design of the dress – actually a skirt and blouse – is also typical of the 1950s.

My dress has no label, but it was commercially made.  I’ve seen the print in another colorway, and in a different type garment – a much fuller skirt.  That’s not uncommon, as a fabric design was often not only used by more than one company, and it might have been offered to home dressmakers as well.

Click to enlarge

Here’s a closer look at Mrs. Stock and her dress.  I love that we can see how she accessorized the dress, with her pearls, bracelet, and especially, the belt.  It’s the only piece that does not match!

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Filed under Collecting, Curiosities, Novelty Prints, Vintage Clothing

1950s Sports Car Themed Belt by Calderon

This belt that I recently bought from Carla and Carla on Etsy was chosen for my collection because of two things.  It fits into a general travel theme and it can be paired with my 1950s novelty print skirts. I’m always looking for this type of belt, especially those featuring travel or sports.

I’ve seen these novelty belts advertised as being from the 1950s, 1980s, or even 1970s.  I can see why there is confusion, especially with the 80s.  During that era belts were wide, and were often contoured to fit the waist.  I’ve even seen similar belts from the 1980s that were decorated with African animals or faux coins.  But this one is from the 50s, or maybe the early 60s, when novelties were very popular.

The maker is Calderon.  I don’t know a thing about the company other than they made belts and handbags at least from the 1950s through the 1980s.  Oh, and that they made a high quality product.  My belt is stamped “Handmade” and it has features that would not be seen in lower quality belts.

Note the little leather patch.  These are glued over the metal pieces that hold on each metal motif.  Also, notice how nicely the back of the buckle is lined in leather.

In this photo you can see how the belt curves to fit the bottom of the waist.  A belt this wide, just under two inches, would be uncomfortable if it was cut straight and had to sit on the middle of the waist.

If I were the type to go crazy with a theme, I might pair this belt with this skirt.

I’m always looking for similar belts, so if you happen to spot one, please don’t hesitate to let me know about it.  But don’t bother with this one on 1st Dibs, as I’ve been looking at it lovingly for quite a while now.  And I’ll be looking at it for a while longer until someone lists one on etsy for a bit of a lower price!

 

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Filed under Collecting, Curiosities, Novelty Prints, Vintage Clothing

Charm, January 1957

I can imagine that to the average Charm reader, a trip to somewhere in which a swimsuit would be needed in January was just a dream.  It was, after all, The Magazine for Women Who Work, and not for the women who had large sums of money with which to take winter vacations. Or maybe this was meant to be for the “later” mentioned in the caption.

I’m really interested in the idea of swimsuits with sleeves.  Ever since the sleeves were banished from bathing suits in the early 1920s, makers have tried on numerous occasions to bring them back, and in fact, many of Claire McCardell’s designs for swimsuits had sleeves.  Nevertheless, it is very rare for one to come onto the vintage market, so I’m betting they just didn’t go over, especially in the days when much of the object of wearing one was to get a tan.

Today  everything from two pieces of string tied strategically to a long sleeved leotard paired with leggings can pass for a bathing suit.  I rather like the idea of a short sleeved bathing suit, but then I’m pretty much in favor of all sleeves these days.

Bathing suit was part of the International Set line from Jantzen; hat by John Fredericks; copyright Conde Nast.

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Filed under Curiosities, Fashion Magazines

A Diary of Travels Abroad, 1958

There’s something sneaky about reading the journal of another, even if the journal in question is fifty-seven years old.  In 1958 Judy B. went on the “Imperial Tour of Europe.”  It lasted all summer and was surely the trip of a lifetime – the 1950s equivalent of the Victorian Grand Tour.

I first read parts of this journal when Donna of The Vintage Vendeuse started posting entries from the diary at the Vintage Fashion Guild.  She then made a website for the entries, which are now being posted as a day by day entry of what happened fifty-seven years ago.  There is a new site, which is great, with Judy’s entry followed by extra information and photos of the places she mentioned.  You can subscribe to get the daily entry, and I suggest you back up through the old ones to read about the ocean voyage and Judy’s adventures thus far.

If Judy is still alive she is eighty-one years old.  That’s hard to imagine when the diary is so full of the young men she met and the fashionable clothes she wore.  Or maybe not.  I’d like to think she is still traveling, and meeting boys and buying out the stores.

 

 

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Filed under Vintage Travel

An Engineered Novelty Print, 1950s

Click to enlarge

 

What you are seeing above is one of two halves of a print that was designed to be made into a circle skirt.  Circle skirts were a huge fad in the 1950s and into the early years of the 1960s, and there are dozens and dozens of prints to be found.  Many are an all over print that the sewer cut the skirt from in regular fashion.  Some were border prints that were designed to be made into gathered or pleated versions of the skirt.  One could even buy pre-printed pie wedges that were sewn together to form the skirt.

But this is the first time I’d ever seen an actual half circle printed onto the fabric.  I got this from another collector who I found through Facebook, of all places.  I’ve finally found a use for Facebook – finding stuff to buy.

I know I don’t have to explain why this print had to be in my collection.  The ski theme combined with a passion for novelty prints made it easy to set up a deal for this print.

According to the other collector, she got this fabric from a seller in the United Kingdom.  I already thought that the print had a certain European look to it.

What made this really interesting was that one of the two pieces was stamped with the rectangle you see above.  For the life of me I could not figure out what language this was, but sharper eyes at the Vintage Fashion Guild pointed out that this was actually in English.

WARRANTED DYED ______
APPROPRIATE _____ & SDC
STANDARD COLOR FASTNESS
____________AND WASHING

SDC is the Society of Dyers and Colourists, which is a British group that dates back to the nineteenth century.  That knowledge does not help date the fabric, but it does mean that it was made in the UK.

UPDATED, (but still open to interpretation!):

WARRANTED DYED TO
APPROPRIATE  8 SI & SDC
STANDARD  OF FASTNESS TO
LIGHT AND WASHING

Unlike the printed wedge-shaped skirt pieces that were made in the United States, there are no instructions printed on this fabric.  It is possible that it came with instructions on paper, but if so, they have been lost.

Novelty prints are having a bit of a moment in the vintage world.  I started buying travel themed skirts about twelve years ago, and I never paid more than $35 for one.  Now they are bringing three or more times that, and there are many collectors who are always looking for the rarer and more desirable designs.  High on the list are two skirts that were licensed from Disney’s Lady and the Tramp.  Both skirts were of the printed wedge variety.

Also highly desired are skirts made from fabrics designed by artist Saul Steinberg.  There prints are not signed, but all are stamped  “A Regulated Cotton – Never Misbehaves” in the selvage.

Of course, being highly desirable means that these prints are now being reproduced.  The Lady and the Tramp print is being made as a border print, and at least two companies are making clothes from modern adaptations of Saul Steinberg fabrics.

To see examples of the printed wedge fabrics and to see vintage catalog pages of novelty prints, there is a great Facebook media set.

I had planned to turn the fabric into a skirt, but now that I have it I think it is more interesting as fabric panels.

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Filed under Collecting, Novelty Prints

Harlequin Print Top from Catalina

Catalina is another of those great old sportswear companies that I love to find.  It was located in California, a fact that the company used in their branding.  Many of the labels brag that Catalina was a “California Creator,” and that their products were “Styled for the Stars of Hollywood.”  In the early years they were mainly a maker of bathing suits, but they moved into sportswear by the 1940s.  Especially great were the figural design sweaters they made.

I found the blouse above several weeks ago, and I’ve spent some time thinking about it.  If not for that exaggerated collar, it is pretty typical of the late 1950s and early 60s.  But that crazy collar might make someone assume that this is a product of the 70s.

It is not.  Collar aside, this shirt dates from that period of time – the late 1950s and early 1960s – when people had an ongoing love of all thing Italian.  That included harlequin prints, Sophia Loren and Emilio (Pucci) of Capri.

harlequin-inspired designs from Emilio (Pucci) of Capri from a 1957 McCall’s mini-catalog

 

Besides the styling and the fabric, the label points to an early Sixties date.  This blue label was only used for a short time at Catalina, and while I don’t know the exact dates, all the garments I have ever seen with it date from the late 1950s or early 60s.  You can see a lot of Catalina labels on the VFG Label Resource.  While the Resource does not always lead to an exact dating, it is invaluable in giving a general idea of when a particular label was used.

The rolled short sleeves and the squared-off hem with side vents are commonly seen features in casual clothing of this era.

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Filed under Sportswear, Vintage Clothing