Tag Archives: fashion

Tanner of North Carolina

I’ve been wanting to write about Tanner of North Carolina for the longest time, but I didn’t have a dress from the company to show off.  You would think that I’d be stumbling over them in thrift stores seeing as how I am in North Carolina, but that just is not the case.  The company is located in Rutherfordton, which is only about seventy-five miles from me.  Actually, I did not find this one.  It was sent to me by April of NeatbikVintage, who is in South Carolina.

Tanner has an interesting history.  It was started as the Doncaster Collar and Shirt Company in 1931.  The founders were Bobo Tanner, and his wife Millie who had visited the town of Doncaster, England on their honeymoon.  They must have really liked the place to have named their company after it.

For several years they made shirts at Doncaster, but in 1935 the Junior League of Charlotte went looking for a factory that could make some shirtdresses for them to sell as a fundraiser.  This led to a change in product, as there was a good market for the dresses and the Junior League was successful at selling them.  Millie then came up with the idea of having women do direct sales, sort of like Avon and Tupperware.  Doncaster worked with women who became their Wardrobe Consultants, a business model that continues to this day.

In 1954 Doncaster added another label, Tanner of North Carolina.  Tanner was a casual line, made up primarily of cotton and silk prints.  Unlike Doncaster, it was sold in department stores and boutiques.

Today you can buy Doncaster clothing through their website, through a Wardrobe Consultant, or at one of the factory outlet stores that are sprinkled around the Southeast.  I’m almost ashamed to admit that I’ve never been to the big warehouse sale that is in Rutherfordton, but I’ve heard that it is quite an experience.

Unfortunately, the clothing is no longer made in North Carolina.  The company moved its factory operation to China in the 1990s.  I’ve read that they still maintain their own factory, and that gives them more control over safety and other human rights issues.  I hope that is the case.  Even with overseas manufacturing, Doncaster still employees about 250 people in Rutherfordton, and there are around 1700 Wardrobe Consultants around the country.

I’m curious if Doncaster items are common in different areas of the country.  The thrift stores here have lots of it, but that is because the outlets are here.  I also see quite a bit of Tanner and TannerSport labels clothing from the 1980s and 90s.

My dress is pretty typical of what was made under the Tanner label in the 1960s.  It’s a cotton novelty print, with accents of the blue.  Most of the shift dresses and shirt dresses from the 1960s and 70s had a matching belt.  Mine has the belt carriers, but the belt is missing.

Many thanks to April for this lovely gift.



Filed under Collecting, Designers, North Carolina, Novelty Prints, Textiles

Vintage Miscellany – September 23, 2013

And suddenly, it is autumn.  Yesterday was the most perfect fall day with crystal blue skies, with just enough nip in the air to bring out the sweaters.  I’ve put in an order for two months worth of identical days, so I hope the weatherperson delivers.

And now for the news:

*   Jonathan Walford has a new book coming out, Sixties Fashion: From Less is More to Youthquake.  It is set to be released on October 31, 2013.

*   And speaking of Jonathan, he gives insights on 1920s fashion in an article about the costuming of the latest The Great Gatsby movie.  Lisa Hix of Collectors Weekly examines the issue.

*  Claire Shaeffer also has a book and DVD coming out this fall, Couture Sewing: The Couture Cardigan Jacket, Sewing Secrets from a Chanel Collector. It’s just in time for my fall and winter jacket project, being released on October 22, 2013.

*   If you know someone who just does not get why buying fast fashion is not in their best interest, you might refer them to this short video from The Minute MBA.

*  And on the other end of the spectrum, designer Margaret Howell tells why quality is important.

*  I’m not sure how I feel about the prank that Jimmy Kimmel played on people at New York Fashion Week.  He sent out a “reporter” who asked people about “designers” who do not exist.  Some people pretended to know these designers, and the results are pretty embarrassing.

*   Europeana Fashion is holding a series of Edit-a-tons, where fashion fashion enthusiasts gather to fact check and edit Wikipedia entries on fashion topics.  The latest is being held now, in Belgium, but I’m sure more are planned.  If you are in Europe, you might put this on your fashion radar.  I think it is a brilliant idea.

*   Whatever happened to designer Claude Montana?

*   The New Yorker has an article on the New York garment district this week.  You have to be a subscriber to read the entire article, but there is an interesting video teaser on the website.

*   This has nothing to do with fashion but here is why it is wrong to jump to conclusions over photos on the internet.

*  I’m still loving Instagram, and invite you to check it out and follow my photos.  There and only there can you see photos of me being silly with my beautiful great-niece.

I realize that this post is a day late, but I decided a long time ago that I do not live to blog.  I try to keep to a schedule, but some things (such as a great-niece) trump blogging!


Filed under Vintage Miscellany

1930s Sailor Inspired Pants

It was during the 1930s that women became serious about wearing slacks.  Many had already taken to wearing knickers during the Twenties, and by the end of that decade the pyjama pant had become a popular beach option.  In the Thirties pants moved from the beach and into other casual venues.

This delightful pair was one of my flea market finds.  They aren’t perfect, but for an eighty-year-old garment that received rough wear, they aren’t bad.  I love the double button flap in the front, but check out this great detail in the back:

Just like a real pair of sailor pants, this pair has laces at the waist.  The stitching holds in place a sort of modesty panel.  We couldn’t be allowing a peek of our panties!

The label is great as well, with a horse and equestrienne theme. Marshall Field was the great Chicago department store, having been founded in 1881.

A second label gives a bit more information about the fabric.  It is “sanforized,” a process that helped keep cotton fabrics from shrinking.  It was developed and patented in 1930 by Sanford Cluett, one of the owners of Arrow shirts.  A sanforized tag can be useful in dating a garment, as one having that label cannot predate 1930.

Here’s a close-up of the front flap opening.  The buttons are the originals.  How about that little pocket?

Another nice detail that does not show in my other photos is the white piping down the side seam.

And I love that piping is also on the trim of the little pocket.

In the 1930s, the nautical look was hot, but it was not new.  Seaside outfits that took inspiration from the sailor’s suit dated back to Victorian times, and the inspiration continued through the Edwardian era and the 1920s  in exercise and swimwear.

This 1930s woman did not need to be on the shore in order to enjoy her nautical ensemble.



Filed under Sportswear, Vintage Clothing

Ad Campaign: Faberge Woodhue, 1948

Back to School Woo 1948

Today’s ad campaign is a bit different.  Instead of a magazine ad I have a cologne blotter from Meyer’s Department Store in Greensboro, NC.  These fragrant little ads were picked up at the cosmetics counter.  Some department stores still offer them, but I’ve noticed that some have either done away with perfume blotters, or they are keeping them behind the counter for serious shoppers only.

Of course, the sleek and sophisticated designs of today can in no way compete with the charm of the College Set in their jalopy, or with a little girl with her bouquet of posies.




Filed under Advertisements

Shanghai Glamour: New Women 1910s-40s at MOCA

As I said in my review of Front Row: Chinese American Designers , the Museum of Chinese in America was one of the highlights of my recent trip to New York.  Two fashion exhibitions plus an excellent permanent exhibition made for a great morning being immersed in a multi-faceted learning experience.

Even though the museum’s focus is the Chinese  in America, Shanghai Glamour was all about the emergence of the modern woman in Shanghai, China.   After the end of the Opium War in 1842, the British victors were able to dictate the creation of “trade cities” in China.  These cities were made to tolerate a Western presence and were to allow trade with them.  Shanghai was one of the trade cities.  By the 20th century there were large British, American and French populations in the city.  It was an increasingly cosmopolitan place.

The exhibition shows how the women of Shanghai created their own distinctive style of dress, which was based on Chinese traditional dress but incorporated elements of the West.  The look was feminine, but modern.

In my top photo, on the right is a ensemble worn by a Shanghai courtesan in the 1910s.  The pants were cropped to expose a bit of leg, and the geometric pattern was a “foreign” element.  By that, I mean it was not traditionally Chinese.  Also the use of buttons on the jacket was a Western element.  That high collar was called a sycee collar.

The green dress is a 1920s dancing dress.  You can see the influence of 1920s Western dress, but the fitted bodice and high collar are uniquely Chinese.

These two dresses are both qipao, which some would call cheongsam.  The qipao came into being in Shanghai in the 1920s, and by the 1930s it was floor length and well established among the modern women of the city.  The qipao on the right is trimmed with metal-thread embroidery that used traditional Chinese motifs such as the dragon.  The dress on the left is made from a semi-sheer fabric, and would have been worn with a slip beneath.

The blouse and skirt on the right is typical of that of a Shanghai student of the early 1920s.  Picture this on a young woman with bobbed hair.

The qipao in the center of the photo dates from the 1930s, and shows a departure from the traditional cut of the sleeves in that the sleeves are set-in instead of being cut in one piece with the bodice.

The qipao on the left is from the early 1940s and is made from an embroidered silk.

The garment on the right is a 1920s  vest worn over a blouse.  Look carefully to see the art nouveau design of the textile.

The light colored qipao is made from devore velvet on a georgette foundation.

The purple qipao was the latest style in 1932.   What made it so fashionable was the decorative trim that was applied to all the borders.

In the 1940s the qipao returned to calf-length and the sleeves were generally longer.  The embroidery trim on the black qipao uses traditional symbols of prosperity and longevity.

The shoes worn by the Shanghai modern woman were the fashionable shoes of the West.  Foot binding was on its way out, having been outlawed in 1902.  These shoes are not Chinese, but are from the collection at FIT.  Photographs and drawings of the period show the women of Shanghai wearing similar styles.

The Chinese title of this magazine was Xinzhuang tekan, or New Dress Special Issue and it is dated June 1926.  In it are both qipao and styles that are more Westernized.  There does not seem to be any relation with the American or the French Vogue magazines.

The exhibition has more dresses, accessories and items in print, and gives a clear picture of how this modern woman emerged.

Shanghai Glamour is on display until November 3, 2013.  It really is a rare chance to see modern Chinese garments of this era in the US, as the majority of them are from the China National Silk Museum in Hangzhou, China.

I’m sorry about the photo quality, but the room was dark in order to help protect the textiles.  Click to enlarge for a better view.


Filed under Museums

New York Fabric Shopping, Part II

Click to enlarge all photos

Not all the great fabrics of New York are to be found in the garment district. There are some fantastic stores selling textiles all over the city. I was interested in checking out three in particular.

First was Mendel Goldberg.  This small store on the edge of Chinatown specializes in imported wool and silk, and has the most beautiful selection of tweed and bouclé imaginable.   The place reminded me of the old Waechter’s Silk Shop that was located in downtown Asheville until the late 1970s.   It’s a narrow little space, and both walls are lined with the bolts and rolls of fabrics.   It’s the type of place that you rarely see any more.

On the left side of the store are the bolts of wool, which was on my shopping list.  I want to make a jacket, but I did not want the added problem of having to match a stripe or pattern.  I wanted dark blue.  I no sooner specified what I was after before the shopkeepers were pulling the bolts that matched my description.  It was hard, but I was able to settle on a stunning black and blue wool.

Then it was to the wall of silk to choose a lining.  Again, the lazy cutter that I am did not want a pattern that would have to be matched.  I found a dark blue with a light blue and white flower that had the added attraction of a woven-in dot pattern.

I hope you all like my choices:

Totally different but just as wonderful, I was delighted to visit the Marimekko flagship store.  Vintage clothing lovers might know Marimekko as an iconic 1960s brand.  Marimekko was founded in Finland in 1951, originally as a fabric design business.  Soon they began making clothing from their brightly colored fabrics.   The brand was carried in the US by Design Research and was perfectly in step with the Op Art influence that was showing up in fashion in the mid 1960s.

Their fabrics and many of the articles they make from them are still manufactured in Finland.

Marimekko occasionally does collaborations with other brands, like these Converse sneakers.

A cheerier store would be hard to imagine.  But I do have one that is in the running.

Les Toiles du Soleil features canvas fabrics and things made from them, imported from France.  It’s like a little touch of France set down in Chelsea.

The fabrics are woven in the Catalan region of southern France on antique looms.

The totes, small bags, and hats are actually made in the store.  There is an on site seamstress who works in the rear of the store.

Real espadrilles, made in France.


Filed under Shopping

Chanel Metiers d’Art, Part II

Back in December I posted about the pre-fall 2013 Chanel Metiers d’Art, which was one of my all time favorite fashion shows.  Being a lover of plaids and tweeds and dilapidated Scottish castles was a lot of the appeal.  Luckily for me this collection is in stores currently, and I got to see most of it while in New York last week.

As pretty as the show presentation was, there is simply no way to really see how fantastic these clothes are without examining them in person.  While I do not have a Chanel budget, looking is free, and the education of examining clothing at this level of ready-to-wear is enlightening.  We all bemoan the drop in quality in our clothing, but I can tell you that quality is available for a price.

I looked at the collection at Saks, Bloomingdales, Bergdorf Goodman and the Chanel boutique.  Between the four stores I was able to see most of what was in the show, though it appears that some of the more costumy accessories were either not produced, or they were not picked up to be sold at these venues.  I guess they thought the sporrans were a bit much.


This was the coat that opened the show, and it is really stunning.  Note the subtle plaid in the grey.  The scarf is knit, with little woven wool appliques.

This dress was one of my favorites in the show, and in person it is just stunning.

What really makes this collection (and so many Chanel collections) interesting is the texture of the textiles.  I loved this delicate blouse with the almost armor-like dress.

Note that the sleeves are on the bias.

As wonderful as this is, it is not couture.  Note the machine made buttonholes.

The tweed skirt is actually a culotte.  I wasn’t really crazy about this jacket, but the fabric is fascinating.  It looks like a distressed leather with the yarns that form the design somehow attached.

They also had this boot in a flat, and many of the cute plaid boots from the show were for sale as well.  I could spend winter in these.  A girl can dream, can’t she?


Filed under Designers