Several weeks ago I got an email from friend Jody at Couture Allure Vintage Fashion who has the best on-line shop and writes her own vintage blog. She had found a pair of 1970s ski pants from White Stag, and she wanted to know if I’d like to have them. I’ve been a fan of White Stag sports clothing for a long time, so I quickly accepted her generous offer. But I couldn’t help wondering how she was so certain that the pants were from the 70s.
Well, the minute I got a look at those bell bottoms, I had to laugh! Only the 70s could have produced this odd-looking pair of ski pants!
It serves as a reminder that sportswear does tend to reflect the fashion of the time. When trying to place a date on an item of sportswear, the fabric is a big consideration, but you should also consider the colors that were used, and the general styling of the object. In this case, the pants are black, which was not particularly useful, and the fabric blend could range from the mid 1950s through the 70s. It was the styling that revealed the era of manufacture.
You would think that bell bottomed pants would be terribly impractical in the snow, that the wide legs would permit drafts and snow to make contact with the leg. But the designers at White Stag had that covered. At the bottom of the leg is a bit of lining in which they put elastic to keep the opening attached to the leg. It probably also helped keep the legs from riding up in the event of a fall.
My thanks to Jody for thinking of my collection, and for kindly sending these my way.
This photo dates to the late 1930s and was taken in St. Moritz. The couple is Mr. and Mrs. Blackbarrow, and the woman on the right is Olga. They are taking time out from a morning of skiing (note the boots) and are relaxing with a little glass of wine in a quaint cafe.
Why is it that skiing photos from Europe always look so glamorous, while those made in the US look outdoorsy?
At any rate, I have a new blog on my blogroll, that of Poppy Gall, who writes about skiing and textiles and knitting and design. I’m headed off for a few days of R&R at the end of the week, and some of my relaxing time will be spent catching up on her old posts.
Here’s another photo of Olga with her glamorous pal Viola. Contrast them with the two American skiers in the last photos.
Bass is best known for their loafer – the Weejun, but they also made other casual boots including ski boots. These are typical ski boots of that time, and from all I can tell from looking in vintage catalogs and online searches, ski boots pretty much remained the same from the 1930s through the 1950s. They were sturdy and very heavy.
Another ad from 1948
I recently found this vintage pair. They are well worn, but really snazzy. And if you don’t ski they could be used for a door stop or as a leathal weapon. They are that heavy.
1937 Montgomery Ward catalog
I grew up in the 1960s and 70s, a time when things were changing rapidly for women. When I was a little girl, it seemed like the only careers for a woman were that of teacher, nurse or homemaker. By the time I reached college in 1973, that perception of women’s work was going by the wayside.
Also changing was the idea of women as “helpless.” Instead of relying on “wiles” young women were learning that they could rely on their own particular set of skills. This scarf, which was probably thought to be clever in 1962, would not have flown in 1972. Or would it? I was completely convinced this scarf was from the early 60s until I found a second signature – that of designer Michaele Vollbracht. Vollbracht didn’t even finish design school until 1969, and he worked as an illustrator during the 1970s and 80s.
To be honest, I’m not a fan of graphics which portray women as helpless, or dumb, or as sex objects. I don’t see the appeal of pinups in today’s world, but I can certainly appreciate that they did have a place in history. The same goes for an object like this one. I’d be accepting of the scarf as a reflection of the early 1960s, but knowing it is from a later date is just sad.
Other dating clues: The scarf is made from acetate, and was made in Japan. It was made by Glentex, which has been closed for a number of years. My best guess it that this is from the early 1980s.
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.
Or reindeer sweater, or Norwegian sweater, which ever you tend to think is correct. Here in the South the weather has finally decided to moderate, and I do want to express my sympathy to those of you in the Northeast and other snowy places who are still being bombarded by the white stuff. I know most of you have had enough, so I’m here to the rescue, with one of the best layering pieces ever conceived, the heavy wool sweater.
But not just any sweater, I’m taking about the snowflake sweater, favorite of skiers and snow fans of the 1940s. And while they became fashionable in the 40s, the designs themselves are quite a bit older, dating back to the 19th century, and originating in Norway. The snowflake isn’t actually a snowflake at all – it is a star, the Selbu Star. It is also referred to as the Selbu rose. This design probably was first put on mittens, and then was put on sweaters. In traditional knitting, the designs are in two colors, though some commercial knitters (like Dale of Norway) use three.
These vintage Norwegian sweaters almost always have a version of the Selbu star, though it can sometimes be quite fancy. And the most traditional ones have the fanciest part of the design only at the top of the sweater, as these were worn tucked into the pants.
As the designs became more popular, the designs spread across Europe. By the 1940s some traditional knitters in Scotland were using an adapted Norwegian star. Commercial firms in the US started making their own versions of the snowflake sweater. This 1940s one is from California sportswear company Catalina:
And I hope those of you with a surplus of snow are not reduced to this type of disposal:
An entertaining way to study the fashions of any particular year is to watch its movies. Lately I’ve been thinking about the early to mid 1960s so I decided to revisit some of the films from my childhood. The Beach Party movies sprang to mind, and since it is winter, I settled on Ski Party, released in 1965 and staring Frankie Avalon and the gang.
Talk about suffering for fashion! Thirty minutes into watching it I was wondering why I had loved it so much. Then Frankie answered my question when he stated that the average age of a viewer of the movie was probably 15. That’s right; in the movie he made such a statement; one of cheesiest things about it was how the actors never let the viewer forget this was a movie. This included the trick of actually turning and speaking to the audience.
So it was at that point I gave up on the plot and and just concentrated on the task at hand – studying the ski clothes. That was doable and actually quite enjoyable. The studio photo above shows just how cute they all were, and that continued throughout the film. (By the way, the photo came from the estate of actress Deborah Walley, far right, and is for sale by Book Shack. Photo copyright and courtesy of Book Shack at etsy)