I posted a photo of this poster on Instagram, along with a plea for followers to encourage me to buy it. I left it in the antique store where I spotted it, but I could not forget about it. So a month later I decided to go back to the store, and if the poster was still there, I would buy it. And so I did
Not only is this a great piece of sports ephemera, it’s a bit of Asheville history. According to my mother, everyone roller skated in the 1940s, and so the Skateland Rollerdrome was opened in 1946 to capitalize from the fad. The craze faded, and the rink was closed in 1962, The building was converted to a music venue in the late 1960s, first as the Jade Club, and later as the Orange Peel. Both clubs were mainly R & B, and later, Soul, and the clientele came mainly from the nearby Black community. But being the Seventies, the club was not segregated, and White music lovers crowded in to see nationally known acts like The Commodores. By 1980 the (Almighty) Orange Peel had closed, along with everything else in downtown Asheville. But the late 1990s brought a revitalization, and in 2002, the Orange Peel was reborn.
So I bought the poster and brought it home. I knew that antique frame was not the right fit for a mid-century poster. An examination of the poster in the frame showed that it was mounted on some questionable paper, and needed to be removed.
The back showed some interesting mounting, including some tape and corrugated cardboard. It was all going to have to go.
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.
I’ve been holding these skating pictures, hoping to show them on an actual snowy day, but here it is the end of February and we’ve only had a couple of dustings. (Of course that means everyone is walking around proclaiming that “It’s going to catch up with us,” or “We’ll pay for this later,” which means we are destined to suffer through a late snow like we did in March, 1993 when there was close to three feet in my front yard!)
Don’t you just love those high topped skates on the girl above? The illustration is an advertising card from Star Brand Shoes.
Into the 1920s, women pretty much wore their warmest sporty attire when skating. They might have a skirt that was shorter than what would have been worn on the street along with a warm sweater and a knit cap. Most sources credit Olympic skater Sonja Henie with the development of the short circular skirt for skating. I found photos of her wearing that style skirt as early as 1928.
It’s interesting to me to see how this basic style is still the standard for competitive skating. A very short skirt that moves with the action of the skater is what we expect to see a womam skater wearing. The big difference is that there is no longer any pretense as to the warmness of the materials used. The heavy materials of the past – wool and velveteen – have given way to chiffon, sequins and fringe.
Two mid century skating garments from my collection:
This folkloric style skirt is wool, made in Minnesota.
Could it be that this velveteen and felt skating dress was inspired by the decorated skirts of Juli Lynne Charlot?
I’m always looking for both skating clothing and photos of skaters. Both are relatively hard to find compared to, say, ski clothing. It could be that because skating never became the huge destination-vacation type sport as skiing, that women were just not as willing to invest the money for special clothing. Any other thoughts?
And I just could not resist sharing this great roller skater:
I promise, this is the last post about snowy weather until December. By then I’ll have forgotten how cold and inconvenient snow is and will be looking forward to it again. But now I, like most of the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, am tired of snow. Still, I have a few things I never got around to talking about, and since it snowed here this morning, I might as well take the chance that none of you winter-weary readers will just click away to a warmer site.
First up, this super vintage photo of French skiers, circa 1937. Proof that the French do not need a Parisian backdrop in order to look chic.
We awoke to a dusting of snow, so I felt it was time for a winter sports post. The only winter sport I really know anything about (firsthand, that is) is sledding. We have plenty of high hills that made for some pretty fine sledding when I was a kid. But skating was out of the question. First of all, we have few natural lakes and ponds, and secondly, the ones we do have rarely freeze to the point where one could safely skate upon them.
This advertisement folder is from the Quality Shoe Store in High Point, North Carolina. That area of the state has lots of ponds, but the weather there is even warmer than it is here. So why is a picture of people skating being used in an ad for shoes in an area where probably 99% of the population had never had on a pair of ice skates? I suppose the answer is for the same reason people in the South sing White Christmas, when the likelihood of that happening is pretty darn slim! (Well, except for last year, when it snowed on December 18th and then stuck around for a month. People here probably won’t be singing Let it Snow this year!)
I may not know a thing about ice skating, but I DO know a great outfit when I see one. The hat and scarf remind me of a super Sonia Delauney set that The Way We Wore has for sale. I’d strap on skates any day in order to have and wear that great ensemble.
Illustration from a card in my personal collection
I got this Christmas card several years ago from a friend, and loved the image so much that I kept it. The original was published in the French fashion magazine, Art, Gout, Beaute sometime in the 1920s, probably 1924 or 25, when white was having a major fashion moment. The little touches of red and blue help keep her from blending in with the snow.
White comes and goes as a winter color, but it is always a creamy white that seems to be popular in the colder months. A pure white just looks cold, and isn’t seen as much except maybe in velvet. One of my first “sophisticated” dresses was made from winter white wool jersey. I was about 14 or 15, and I felt like Francoise Hardy wearing it!
I LOVE that illustration! My first fashion purchase after graduating nursing school was a wool winter white coat. I loved that thing to death, except when I had to scrape the snow off my car, and it got so dirty.
I was recently thrilled to spot and “win” this great ski suit on eBay. I bought it from MJ and Walter at wearitsatvintage more proof that you can still find some fantastic things on eBay. I’ve been wanting an item with the Sonja Henie label ever since I saw – and lost – a skating outfit last year.
I learned about Sonja Henie from my mother. She remembered going to see her skating movies, and then going home to try out her skating moves. Only Mom didn’t ice skate. It wasn’t a big thing here in North Carolina. But she did roller skate, and she loved Sonja Henie’s movies.
She wasn’t the only fan. For years after winning her last Olympic gold metal in 1936, Sonja starred in movies and in a touring skating production called the Hollywood Ice Review. She became wildly popular, and even had deals to license her name on clothing, jewelry and toys. I’m not sure of the dates, but this suit is from the early 40s, probably around the time she made what is likely her best known film, Sun Valley Serenade.
from Hollywood Ice Productions program, 1941
The ski suit is very special, with lots of details that you can expect to find only in a vintage item. My favorite detail? The lining, which is printed in a skiing novelty print!