Tag Archives: plaid

McEwens of Perth, Scotland Wools, 1961

Today I wore a skirt I made from Pendleton Black Watch plaid, and that reminded me that I had not talked about a group of brochures I have that advertise Scottish plaids and woolen knits.  McEwens was actually a department store which operated for nearly 150 years before closing in 2016. McEwens had a feature that people today would consider to be a real luxury, but which was fairly common in nicer departments stores in 1961. That feature was a department that made clothing to order.

My brochures are advertising skirts made from wool. There were sixteen skirt styles from which to choose, and sixteen different tartans. A buyer would fill out the order form which asked for the correct measurements. She would then order either a waistband or a petersham waist. She could order pockets for an additional charge. The item was truly made to order.

All the style names start with “glen”. The prices quoted beneath each style was just for the sewing charge. The fabric had to be bought for an additional charge.

If you wanted a truly coordinated ensemble, you could buy your sweater from McEwens using this handy chart that told which sweaters would match. I really love the Black Watch skirt above with that deep green twin set. You probably gathered that because I have it pictured three times.

The custom department at McEwens also made other garments, like these coats and jackets. Note how much more it cost to make a jacket than a skirt.

For home sewers, McEwens sold the fabric by the yard.

This catalog showed some of the made-to-order items along with what might be considered the types of items tourists visiting Scotland were looking to buy. Things like kilt pins, tartan neckties, and tartan scarves.

A shopper could not only choose the style of handbag, but also the tartan used and the color of leather trim. I can’t imagine what this would cost today, but the best that I can figure, these cost approximately $120 in current dollars.

I find so many vintage tartan scarves that I think every visitor to Scotland must buy at least one. It has to be a rule, right?

I think I need a pair of New Caledonian dancing sandals.



Filed under Advertisements, Collecting, Proper Clothing

Chanel Metiers d’Art, Pre Fall 2013

It’s not often that I post about a current fashion show, but then it is not often that someone presents a show that makes me want to have been there, to have soaked it all in, to even wear the clothes.  In this case it is the pre-fall Chanel metiers d’art show, in which all the little craft houses owned by Chanel are put in the spotlight.

It makes sense that Lagerfeld choose Scotland as the inspiration for the show, seeing as how the house has recently acquired luxury cashmere maker, Barrie Knitwear.  The factory is located in Hawick, Scotland, and before the show at Linlithgow Palace (birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots), the journalists covering the show were treated to a tour of the facility.

And the show was full of cashmere, along with lots of tweed, plaid, argyle, tams and sporran-inspired handbags.  It could have easily crossed over into Scottish cliche territory, but instead, it all looked so right in a Chanel sort of way.  Maybe it was because one just expects to see tweeds and knits in a Chanel show.   After all, Coco Chanel herself spent many days in the Scottish countryside with the Duke of Westminster, and starting in the 1920s, sourced Scottish tweeds to be used in her creations.

To see just how dramatic the show was you can see a video of it on youtube, along with still shots of each look.  Be sure to note the metiers d’art touches: feather neck ruffs from Lemarie,  incredible Lesage embroidery, beautiful gloves by Causse, tweed and leather shoes and boots by Massaro, and of course, lots of tweed and leather camellias from flower maker Guillet.

And note how many of these looks can be achieved with vintage finds.  It’s enough to make one go running to the nearest thrift store or vintage clothing shop in search of the perfect argyle/tweed/leather/cashmere combination.

For a small taste:

All photographs copyright Giovanni Giannoni for Women’s Wear Daily.  DO NOT pin or copy these photos to Pinterest or to Tumblr from this site.


Filed under Designers

And One More of Plaid

I fully intended to include this cute plaid eyeshade yesterday in my plaid post.  But out of sight, out of mind, as they say.  This was in the pile on the table that is supposedly a workspace, but is in reality an object catcher.

It was a lucky etsy find, which came up under my usual “travel” search.  I love the woven Pan Am label and the little plastic case.  Oh, the advantages of First Class, though back in the 1960s when this eyeshade was most likely made, there were perks all around the plane.  My husband flew to Europe on Pan Am in 1970 on one of the brand new 747s, and he remembers having access to a lounge, and I’m sure his student group was flying tourist class.

I have not been watching the new TV series, Pan Am, as the previews were just too annoying, but it looks as if the show is headed for the same fate as the airline – cancellation.  Any opinions?


Filed under Collecting

The Accidental Collection

If you are a collector (or maybe even if you are not) then you will be able to relate.  One day you wake up and realize you have another collection.  It is probably a sub-collection what what you are consciously acquiring, but put together as a group, it is an obvious collection.

In my case it is red plaid travel articles from the Baby Boomer era: that golden time from just after WWII until 1964 or so.  For some reason, plaids, and red ones in particular, seem to be the print of choice on all types of travel accessories and picnicking accouterments.   How did it all get started?  I don’t have an answer, but perhaps it was with the Skotch Kooler from Hamilton Metal Products Company, when they began putting a distinctive (and soon to be widely copied) red plaid on their picnicking supplies such as metal baskets, coolers and jugs.

I’ve seen everything from luggage to golf bags to portable grills to portable bars.  Every leisure time item was worthy of the plaid.

Anyway, it’s hard for me to visualize the word picnic without forming a picture containing lots of red plaid.  Maybe my attraction to it is nostalgic.  Some of the collection:

The large bag probably held a Thermos picnic kit, and the small one is probably a travel kit.

Probably a cover for a picnic blanket.  See the Troy Blanket ad below.

My favorite, a portable table.  Inside there are spaces for thermoses and plates and all.  And we actually use it!

Even car seat covers came in plaid.

And of course the travel dress.

Stop the presses!  Just as I was finishing up this post I looked to my left, and hanging there on a rack was another plaid carrier.  This one is a flask set, and then I remembered the wine bottle cover…

The tag with the original price is inside: $15.  That was quite a bit in 1955.

One more thing, I love Skotch Koolers, but what I’d really love to find is one of the small jugs Skotch make for Esso, with a map of the USA printed on it.  I run across them from time to time, but they are always beat up, or more than I want to pay.  I’d appreciate any leads on a nice one (no rust), reasonably priced.

And to finish, here are some super plaids for sale now on etsy:

The Skotch Kooler motherload, at The House  of Oliver

Car-Snac set, which hangs off the back of the front seat!


Filed under Collecting