Tag Archives: color

Real Silk Costume Color Harmony Charts for Spring & Summer 1925


I have gone on and on about color, and finding this 1925 color chart has just made me more determined to learn more about historical colors.  This one was produced by Real Silk Hosiery Mills, which used it to help consumers pick out the correct color of stocking.  Real Silk was like Avon, being sold only through representatives who called on women at home.  Their slogan was “From Mill to Millions.”

The color consultant and fashion director at Real Silk was Miss Katherine Harford.  As you can see, she was formerly with Harper’s Bazar, but it does not tell us what her job there was.  The only references I could find to Miss Harford were in Real Silk ads.

Unfortunately it appears that one/third of this folder is missing.  In other examples I’ve found there was another section labeled “Street”.  Still, there is enough here to give us a good idea of fashionable colors in 1925.

In today’s anything goes world women might find the advice of how to match costume, hose, shoes and accessories to be a bit quaint.  But in 1925, the showing off of one’s legs was a big deal, one that many women were still unaccustomed to doing.

If you are up on internet social causes, you might have noticed the “nude” color.  Today most people have come to recognize that people are not all the same color, and one “nude” does not fit all.  The same thing goes for “flesh.”

Of course, in 1925 it was okay to use such terms as “Indian Skin” and “Mulatto”.  Sometimes when I feel discouraged about the lack of progress in our own society, I can always look to the past to see that in some areas, at least, improvement has been made.

But societal issues aside, we can see on this chart some of the best and most popular colors of the mid 1920s.  Salmon, of course, as orange was so much in favor, but also Bluet, Blush Rose, and Melon.  I find it interesting that black is not in the evening costume category, as it had really gained in favor.

I look for old color charts, and buy any that are dated and reasonably priced.  Thread and needlework companies also did color charts, but I’ve found they are rarely dated.  Maybe they didn’t change the colors so often, as needlework requires a large range of colors, many of them not of the mode.


Filed under Collecting, Curiosities

The Colors of Summer: Red, White, and Blue

I love red, white, and blue, not because the colors are somehow “patriotic” but because they simply say “summer” to me.  When we think of clothing classics, we think of the little black dress and the white cotton shirt and the cardigan sweater.  Maybe we ought to also consider this on-going color combination favorite.

To make my point, today I’m sharing some summer clothes from my collection, all of which have some combination of the color trio.  If you are a newcomer to The Vintage Traveler, you can click the links to read the original blog post about each item.

The early 1970s tennis dress above reminded me of tennis star Chris Evert.

Along the same lines is this 1970s  tennis dress from White Stag.  Note the logo on the pocket.

Red, white, and blue always says “nautical” to me as well.  This gathered novelty print skirt from the 1950s shows why.

Continuing with the nautical theme is this  late 1950s or early 60s short sleeve jacket.  Just add navy slacks.

Add these red 1950s Summerettes to make the ensemble complete.

A 1930s beach-goer would have covered up with a red,white, and blue beach pyjama.

For sports spectating, the 1930s woman might have chosen a nautical themed sundress.

Nautical themes were also good for shopping, as seen in this 1930s cotton frock.

Bathing suits have always looked good in red, white, and blue, as in this Jantzen suit from 1936...

And this swimsuit from the early 1970s.

Got something red, white, and blue to sell or to share?  Feel free to post a link in the comments.


Filed under Holidays, Novelty Prints, Proper Clothing, Uncategorized, Vintage Clothing


 © Pantone LLC

“Trend” seems to be the word of the week for me.   First, Pantone released their color of the year, Radiant Orchid.  I generally don’t pay much attention to things like “the color of the year,” but I’d just finished listening to a segment on NPR’s Planet Money that talked about how color trends are determined.

The segment was part of a project the program has been undertaking to track the development and production of a tee shirt.  In last week’s Vintage Miscellany I posted a composite website they put together that tells about what they learned, but all summer and fall they did segments.  Thanks to Lynn Mally, I discovered the other programs.

In choosing the colors for the Planet Money tee shirts, the company who managed the manufacturing, Jockey, consulted a color trend manual.  There are groups, like Pantone, I suppose, that track colors as they emerge in things featured in the news.  For instance, the color forecasters noticed that due to a recent sell of one of his paintings, the colors used by artist Frank Stella in his protractor series were becoming familiar to the public.  The more people see a color, the more they tend to see it as new and popular.

So the Planet Money pink came directly from a Frank Stella painting.

Another encounter with trends came from a book I’m reading, The Power of Style, by Annette Tapert and Diana Edkins.  This book has been around since 1994, and I read it then, but I found a copy in a thrift store recently so I added it to my library and decided to reread it.

I was reading about Millicent Rogers, and how she varied the way she dressed depending on where she was living.  In 1936 she moved to Austria, and took up elements of Tyrolean costume in her dress.  She would go to Paris, mixing her Schiaparellis with Austrian peasant costume.  Before long other women, including the influential Wallis Simpson, were doing the same.  Next thing you know, this was a full blown trend.  Of course, there were probably other factors, including the exposure Germanic folk dress received during the 1936 Olympic Games which were held in Berlin.

Still, it was good food for thought.

A side note:  The color trends program was done in response to criticism that the woman’s tee shirt was to be made in pink, a color that many consider to be “girly”.  Many thought it to be  stereotypical and patronizing.  It’s true that the men’s shirt would never have been made in pink, and it is also interesting that the program did not really address the issue.


Filed under Viewpoint

Historical Color Guide

I really am a sucker for old books, especially something odd or quirky, and even more especially if it has to do with fashion or design.  This recently found gem, Historical Color Guide, published in 1938 by Elizabeth Burris-Meyer, fits the bill perfectly.  Burris-Meyer was the Dean of the School for Fashion Careers, which I assume was the Tobé-Coburn School for Fashion Careers.   The book was meant to be a guide to color schemes for decorators and designers of all types.  For each of the 30 different color schemes, she gives a bit of historical reasoning.

The Egyptian colors were all mineral in origin – red from haemalite, blue from copper, green from powdered malachite – and so on.  Note the un-scientific names given to each color!

According to Burris-Meyer, it was Josephine’s cultivated taste that inspired the colors of this era.

Soon after I found this book, I chanced upon a set of Prang Examples of Historic Ornament cards, published by Louis Prang.  Prang was established as a printer of Christmas cards, and soon branched out into other types of chromolithography.  The cards date to 1879, according to the records at Winterthur, which has some sets of these.  Louis Prang was interested in education and continued to publish items such as these cards for use in schools and in adult education.

I thought these two pages were interesting together.  I have a page on Persian Miniatures from Historical Color Guide beside a Historic Ornament card titled Arabian.  Note the similar colors.

I’ll not show every card, as some of them are very similar.  And you will need to click on each card to see an enlarged view.


Filed under Collecting, Curiosities

Using Color in Dating Vintage Clothing

People who are experienced in working with vintage and historical clothing will tell you that there is no magic formula to putting a date on when a garment was made.  Of course, there are those lucky times when the label is dated, or you find the exact garment pictured in a vintage magazine, but that is usually not the case.   That’s when you go to the clues: the styling, the label, the construction methods, the materials.  But a clue that is sometimes over-looked is the color.

Knowing which colors were used in which eras is just like knowing the styles – you have to study them.  I’ve never run cross a book on the subject, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one.   So in the absence of a color bible, you go to the primary sources.  Studying the fashion magazines of a season will give you a pretty good idea of what colors were “in”.  Even better are home sewing catalogs.  All the major pattern companies put out a home catalog magazine from the 1920s through the present day, and most of them have a feature on popular fabrics and colors.

The best print source I’ve found is American Fabrics magazine.  It was a trade publication, with its audience being the many US clothing makers.  The magazine started publication in the late 1940s and is like a time capsule of the trends in fabrics, prints and colors.

Harder to find are fabric merchant samples like the ones pictured here.  I got these through a bit of luck, included in a batch of other fashion advertising junk in an ebay auction.  These are from the late 1920s.  Can’t you picture 1920s outfits in these color combinations?


Filed under Curiosities, Vintage Clothing