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.
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 it!:)
Sunday, November 30th 2008 @ 6:12 PM
Posted by Lisa:
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.
Sunday, November 30th 2008 @ 6:36 PM
I love the illustration that inspired you – would that I could look so poised and elegant while standing on skates!
Monday, December 1st 2008 @ 12:21 PM
Posted by Penny:
that illustration is so beautiful!
Tuesday, December 2nd 2008 @ 7:39 AM
photo courtesy of whereitsatvintage
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!
Read more about vintage ski attire.
Yes, it is winter, even here in the South. We had snow on Thursday and flurries again today, so I’m in the mood for something warm and fashionable. This sheet music cover from 1910 fits the bill quite nicely!
By 1910, women were getting into sports in a very big way, but for the most part they were still expected to wear long skirts while participating. I can’t help but think how many ripped hems, not to mention twisted ankles, resulted.
The first woman to compete in the Ice Skating World Championship was Great Britain’s Madge Syers, who in 1902 entered the competition against men. There was no mention of gender in the rulebook, but that was due to the fact that women had never competed in such events, and it just did not occur to the judges that a woman might enter. She came in second, but after the contest, women were barred. The committee stated that it was unsafe for women to compete due to the long skirts.
Three years later women got their own World Championship competition, an event won by Ms. Syers for the first tw years. And in 1908 she won the first women’s figure skating gold metal, and at age 27, she remains the oldest winner of the gold in Olympic history.
I’d never even though about skating ensembles until I saw the Sonja Henie outfit on eBay. It wasn’t actually owned by Henie; it was from a line of clothing endorsed by her in the 1940s. And it was a great set, consisting of a dark blue wool jacket and pants, lined in red, with matching red cap. It was really special, and my disappointment in being the underbidder was lessened only slightly by the fact that I know the bigh bidder, and know the set was going to an excellent home!
So when I spotted this cute little skating dress a few weeks later, I knew it was meant to be. This was my consolation prize. Not from Ms. Henie, but a nice find anyway.