Tag Archives: 1960s

1960s Clutch Wallet with a Strap

I’m hoping that my somewhat vague title brought forth a distinct memory in any Baby Boomer readers.  That’s because this post is a bit of a memory check for me.  When I was a young teen, or maybe even a preteen in the late 1960s, the little bag shown above was carried by every girl in my town.  I don’t know how fads get started, but I do know how quickly they can spread.  By the time this one died out, all my peers had one.  Mine was black “patent leather”.

I remember getting it for Christmas, but I just can’t come up with a year.  I’m guessing it was sometime between fifth and eight grade, which would mean from 1966 to 1969.  Growing up in a small town in North Carolina, girls were always lamenting that we were at least two years behind the times.  That was true in some cases, but looking back I can see that for the most part the clothes we wore were pretty much in keeping with the styles of the day, if a bit more conservative.

After finding the little clutch bag above in a local antique mall, I spent a good afternoon doing “research” in my stash of 1960s Seventeen magazines.  I thought that would be the place to start, as this was a fashion I associated with the young.  In spite of the overwhelming practical nature of this type bag, the only people I remember carrying them were girls and teens.  It didn’t seem to appeal to our mothers.

But I was not able to find a single photo in Seventeen, so I turned to that great American selling place of the past – the Sears, Roebuck catalog.  I have several editions, dating from 1964 through 1970, and so another afternoon was pleasantly passed.  Unfortunately, I was again unsuccessful in my quest.

So, I’ve decided to turn to you.  Do you remember this type bag, and if so, what years do you associate with it?  Did you have one in the 1960s?  Were they a fad at your school?  Do you remember what it was called?

Here’s a look inside.  There is a snap purse with a clear vinyl separator.  The sides are lined with a cotton print that looks a bit dated even for 1965, but the magazines and catalogs for that year are surprisingly full of dresses made of this type print.  There is no label of any sort.

Each side has a pocket for cash and papers.  The strap is attached to the purse in the center of the bag.

Considering how popular these were, I’ve run across only two in the past fifteen years or so.  I didn’t buy the first one I found so many years ago, mainly because I thought there must be thousands of these just waiting to be found.  When that turned out not to be true, I put this style on my shopping list.  It made me happy that the one I finally did find was such a bright, cheery color.

So what has happened to all these little bags?  It could be that my experience with them is not usual, and there are literally millions of them in thrift stores across the country.  Or it could be that when the fad had run its course, these went into the donate for charity pile.  They were cheaply made, and no longer in style.  I can almost guarantee that is what happened to mine.

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Filed under Collecting, Proper Clothing, Vintage Clothing

1960s Beach Bag That Might Be from Coppertone

If you were around in the 1950s and 60s then you probably are familiar with the Coppertone Suntan Lotion slogan, “Don’t Be A Paleface!”  Billboards and magazine ads showed the little girl with her tan line being exposed by an enthusiastic spaniel.  I recently ran across this beach bag, and immediately thought it was a Coppertone item, probably a premium of some type.

On closer examination though, the word “Coppertone” is nowhere to be seen, though there is a bit of a copyright symbol at the bottom of the girl’s right foot.

Weirder still is the image on the other side of the bag.  It shows a woman in a rather modest bikini, and a very exuberant man in matching trunks.  Still no Coppertone logo, though there is a little bottle of suntan lotion on the blanket.

It does look a lot like a Coppertone bottle.

To add to the mystery, there is another version of this bag that does have the word “Coppertone”, and that was somehow associated with the Olympics.  The bag does not reveal the year, but I’m guessing 1964 or 1968.

Since I bought this, I’ve seen ones like it for sale online, and the listings all use the Coppertone connection.  The ad and image were so well-known, that maybe the actual word “Coppertone” was thought to be unnecessary.

Note the squirrel photo-bombing my first photo.

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Filed under Collecting, Curiosities, Summer Sports

Mohair Sweater, Circa 1960

My first fashion history teacher was my mother.  In telling me about the clothes she wore as a young woman in the 1940s, I became fascinated with how clothing styles changed and how they reflected the times in which the wearers lived.  I’ve always loved stories about women and the clothes that have been important to them.

While I was young, I witnessed two major changes in the the way women dressed – the switch from the conservative styles of the early 1960s to the Mod styles of the mid 60s, and then from the Mod styles to the 1970s which brought about a greater acceptance of women wearing pants and a more eclectic way of dressing overall.

Growing up in a small town in the mountains of North Carolina, I was made aware at an early age that fashion as seen in magazines and on television was not always what was being worn in my community.  The girls I knew always complained that we were at least two years behind the rest of the country, but looking back I realize that it wasn’t just this area that suffered a fashion lag.  What woman or girl in the 1960s could afford to replace all her clothing every season?  And so wardrobes were made more stylish as clothing was replaced or altered.

One garment I recall from my childhood was the bulky mohair sweater.  Whenever I come across one of these sweaters, I’m instantly reminded of my older cousin Nancy and the other high school girls who rode my school bus.  All these teens were wearing mohair sweaters in the early 60s, but by the time I would have wanted one, they were no longer the style.  I estimate that the girls I knew were wearing them in the early 1960s, and my search for images confirms that this was the era in which they were popular.  The latest image I found was in a 1965 Montgomery Ward catalog.

Like most of these sweaters that I’ve seen, the catalog states that this one was made in Italy of a blend of mohair, wool, and nylon.

I’d love to hear any memories you might have of wearing mohair.  Please tell me how itchy it was so I can get over this sense of loss at never getting to wear it as a child.

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1960s Golf Blouse from Adelaar

Not only do I collect sports clothing, but I also love clothes that depict women participating in sports and outdoor activities.  The 1950s and into the 60s was a great time for novelty prints, and so a lot of what I’ve found is from that time frame.  My new blouse appears to be from the early 1960s.

The young women shown are wearing fashionable golf attire which includes some very sharp shirts.  That’s not surprising as this blouse was made by Adelaar, one of the great blouse companies of the mid twentieth century.

Adelaar was originally Adelaar Brothers, and was owned by Emil, Maurice, and Bernard Adelaar.  The company was founded in 1934 in Chicago, with Maurice being the original designer of the blouses.  The company eventually relocated to New York City where it was easier to find sewing factories to actually construct the garments.

A couple of years ago a poster at VFG told about his family’s relationship with Adelaar.

I have a lot of familiarity with Adelaar. My uncles were the jobbers that made most of the blouses that were sold in the US. One shop was in Brooklyn. The second was on Long Island. They started making them right after WWII. The height was in the 1950’s and 1960’s. At that time I would venture that my uncles employed about 150 people, mostly first generation and immigrant Italian-American women. They were producing thousands of dozens a month. The blouses were very high quality material–silks, cottons, some linens (although they really didn’t like working with linen). They had a lot of style and wore very well. In fact, my aunt (my uncles’ youngest sister) passed away last year. Cleaning out her closet we discovered a number of Adelaar blouses including some that never came out of the box. They looked and felt brand new.

When a new run of blouses came in my uncles would sit down with Manny Adelaar and “make prices”–negotiate the wholesale cost of putting the blouses together. They had a great relationship with the Adelaar’s. There were no contracts. Everything was done on a handshake and an invoice. Adelaar would then ship the material, the buttons and the thread. Then the cutters would use the patterns and make all the sizes. Eventually some of the blouses were coming pre-cut. Toward the late 1970’s there were several trends occurring: women weren’t wearing those style blouses as much (didn’t quite fit the Woodstock generation profile); Adelaar was moving more into man-made material; US production costs were rising; and overseas competition was able to shave significant costs. The cost differential was too much for Adelaar to ignore so they had to move production overseas. One of my uncles passed away in 1979. The other one closed the second shop in about 1986. During the mid-70’s on Saturdays my cousins and I would occasionally help out as sweepers, packers, etc.

He was correct in saying that Adelaar produced a high quality product.  While this blouse is a bit over-shadowed by the graphic design of the illustration, without the decoration it is still a very nice shirt.

Note the cloth-covered buttons.  And even though this blouse is about fifty-five years old, the colors of the print are still good, even though the ragged state of the label shows it has been washed many times.

The blouse, which I bought through a facebook group, is not perfect due to a former owner cutting the sleeves off.  I was able to find a photo online of another example of this blouse and it had three-quarters sleeves with cuffs that button, and so I know how the shirt looked originally.  I did not know it at the time I bought the shirt, but I’d have purchased it anyway as the price was good, and the main thing is the graphic design.

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Filed under Collecting, Novelty Prints, Sportswear, Summer Sports

Kerry-Teen Skating Ensemble, Early 1960s

When I think of sportswear, Sears, Roebuck is not a brand that immediately pops into my mind.  But in this case, Sears made a really sweet little skating ensemble, marketed under their Kerry-Teens label.

Kerrybrooke was the Sears, Roebuck house brand from the late 1940s until the 60s.  And even though you can see the little R in a circle symbol, meaning that the name was a registered trademark,I could find no trace of the Kerry-teen name on the US trademark database.

The only reference to Kerry-Teen I could find in my sources was in a 1958 Sears, Roebuck catalog that I own.  Online, I found catalog references to the Kerry-Teen name from 1956 to 1961.

The set that I bought falls squarely within that time frame.  Consisting of a short skating skirt and a sleeveless top, this could be either late 1950s or early 1960s.  Fashion does not obey the arbitrary assignment of decades that we try to impose upon it.

The skater is appliqued onto the flannel skirt.  What makes it really special are the pom-poms on the tops of each skate. 

The skirt is lined with red acetate, which made for fancy twirling on the ice.

I could not decide if the half-belt which is attached to the top goes to the front or to the back.  I’m betting that one could have also ordered a red turtleneck sweater to go under the top.

I was really happy to get this because it is a set, and not just the individual pieces.  It is getting harder and harder to find matched pieces of sportswear, and though the skirt is really great, it helps to better visualize how it was worn when the top is added.

 

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Filed under Collecting, Sportswear, Winter Sports

A Matter of Proportion

I spotted this skirt recently at a nearby antique mall, and I really liked it, but for some reason it looked a little off. The mix of colors was so fresh and unexpected, so that wasn’t it.  Still, it left me a bit unsettled.

A check inside the skirt revealed one of my favorite sportswear labels from the 1950s and 60s, Bill Atkinson for Glen of Michigan.  I’ve sung the praises of this label in the past, and I know it to be of good quality and to have a sound design aesthetic.  So what about it bothered me?

I took the skirt from the rack and turned it inside out to examine it.  And there was the story.  The skirt had been shortened.

The bottom squares were originally true squares like the rest of the ones in the skirt.  Even better, there was a band of that same dark pink velveteen that is used in the waistband.  My faith in Mr. Atkinson was restored.

I was impressed that the person who turned this knee-length skirt into a mini did not take the scissors to it.  Instead she turned up the band and half of the bottom squares, which made for a very bulky hem.  I’m guessing it didn’t get a lot of wear as the condition of the skirt was so good.

As a short person, I’ve learned that there is often more to consider when putting up a hem than just length.  Proportion is very important in order for a dress or skirt to look “right.”  Several years ago before maxi-length dresses came back into fashion, it was common on ebay to see 1970s maxis that the seller had cut off to a mini length.  Because the scale of prints in the early 70s was often quite large, the prints were well suited to the maxi length.  But with three feet of fabric sliced from the bottom, the mini versions always ended up looking off kilter.

I’m glad that floor-length dresses made a reappearance in fashion, because it saved many vintage 1970s maxi dresses from the chopping block.

Correction: Spelling error

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Mixed Messages – The Mini and the Midi

I’m not going to go into details about the great midi debacle of 1967-1970 because I wrote about it at length last year.  I wanted to show this set though to point out just how confusing the issue of dress length was at the time.

The set is from Ladybug, which might be surprising if you remember that label from the early to mid 1960s.  Ladybug, the junior division of The Villager, was known more for their conservative prints and preppy separates, not for pushing the fashion edge.  Maybe that is why they were hesitant to go full out midi, and instead compromised with the short/long look.

Without the vest, the dress looks a lot shorter.  It is a great little dress, made from wool tweed, or possibly a blend; this was the late 1960s after all.  The bias cut adds so much to the design, as does the leather trim.  But unfortunately, the leather is actually fake, and did not age well.

I can see that this is inspired by the work in leather and wool that Bonnie Cashin did for Philip Sills in the 1960s.  Unfortunately the real leather pieces of Cashin often did not fare any better than did this cheaper version.  Neither leather nor plastics age well without careful preservation.

I didn’t take a photo of just the vest, but I’m glad the set is still together so as to give an accurate picture of its story.  Without the matching dress, one would be tempted to place the vest later in the 1970s, as it is so reminiscent of Maude and her famous long vests.

And while I’m mentioning Ladybug, here is what comes to my mind when thinking of that label.  As I said, Ladybug was the younger version of The Villager, a brand famous for blouses and shirt dresses made of little prints.  Each Ladybug purchase came with a little stickpin in the form of a ladybug.

These pages are from a Ladybug catalog insert in a Seventeen magazine, 1965, and are very typical of what the brand had to offer.  It was the All-American college girl  look, which was fading fast in 1965 due to the Swinging London Mod girl look.

It does seem like so much of the study of  history is interconnected.  I’m currently reading Seven Sisters Style by Rebecca C. Tuite, a history of the clothing worn by the young women at the Seven Sisters colleges.  Villager and Ladybug were a big part of that look in the late 1950s and into the 60s.

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Filed under Ad Campaign, Collecting, Vintage Clothing