Tag Archives: sports

Uniformity at the Museum at FIT

I’ve just returned from a whirlwind trip to New York, the purpose of which was to play guide to my friend Jill and a pair of twenty-four year olds who wanted to experience the big city. As such, fashion things were not number one on our list, but Jill and I managed to fit in two exhibitions.  First up is Uniformity, the latest at the Museum at FIT.

Uniforms are not fashion (though they can be fashionable) but they do influence fashion and designers.  The museum chose to show this influence though four categories of uniforms: sports, school, work, and the military.  Above, the curator, Emma McClendon, set the stage by giving us an example from each category, with an extra military uniform thrown in for good measure.

Perhaps that is because there are so many military influences in fashion that the category deserved extra representation.

Here we have on the left, a US colonel’s dress blue uniform from the 1950s.  It does not take a lot of imagination to see how designer Mainbocher took the men’s original to develop the US Navy WAVE uniform of WWII, center.  It does take a bit more of an imaginative stretch to see how Coco Chanel was inspired by blue military uniforms, but there it is in the brass buttons and navy wool of her suit from around 1960, right.

And that is how great designers work.  A garment is not so much copied as it is re-interpreted.

On the right you see the famous “Ike Jacket”, named for General Eisenhower, who favored the style.  During the war, and even afterward, the style became a favorite of both men and women as returning GIs found the jacket to be functional for civilian wear ( My father-in-law’s well-worn Ike jacket still hangs in the coat closet of his home.)  Designers like Claire McCardell adapted the look, as in her shorts ensemble shown above.  Note the bit of red plaid halter top, with was definitely not a part of the uniform.

On the left is a 1998 jacket and skirt from Comme des Garcons designer, Rei Kawakubo.  It is a pretty faithful copy of an olive drab men’s army jacket, but the sleeves have been ripped away.  Literally. You can’t really tell from the photo but the armholes are rough and a bit frayed.  On the right is Marc Jacob’s 2010 “army” jacket, which he paired with a long, romantic skirt.

Probably my favorite grouping of the exhibition was this one featuring the influence of the sailor’s uniform.  In the middle you see the typical summer and winter uniforms of a midshipman.  Though they seem timeless, the white suit is from 1912 and the navy is from 1915.

With their middy collars, the midshipman influence in these two very different dresses is unmistakable.  On the left is an 1890s dress made of red and white cotton, and intended for casual summer day wear.  One might even attempt a round of tennis in such a dress.  In an interpretation from the late 1950s, designer Norman Norell turned the dress into a luxury look, using silk instead of the expected cotton.  This dress was definitely not for playing tennis.

You might have mistakenly thought that the center look is a typical French sailor uniform, but instead, this is one of designer Jean Paul Gaultier’s many adaptations of the mariniere, or Breton shirt.  In 1984 Oscar de la Renta did a sequined version for evening.  The lace and striped look on the right is from designer Chitose Abe for her label, Sacai, 2015.

Work uniforms also influence fashion.  The flight suit of aviators has been adapted into fashionable looks many times.  The suit on the right could be a uniform if not for the bright pink color.  Made in 1976 by Elio Fiorucci, this jumpsuit came to the museum from Lauren Bacall.

Another work uniform that has been much adapted is the typical French waiter’s costume.  This ensemble is from Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel in 2015, so you may remember the Chanel show that was staged like a Parisian Brasserie.  All I can see that that perfect cardigan.

Though designed for children and very young adults, the school uniform also has been an influence on fashion.  The blazer dates to 1825 when members of a rowing team at Cambridge University wore “blazing red” jackets.  The garment became associated with college men’s uniforms.  On the left is what is thought to be a Princeton blazer from the 1920s.  The one on the right is a 1944 Princeton blazer.  Today the blazer is more associated with office attire, but it still has preppy connotations.

Here we see an influence of an influence.  The 1927 girl’s school uniform of the left clearly mimics the sailor’s uniform with the navy color and tied collar.  Unfortunately, you can’t tell that the uniform also reflects fashion in the dropped waist and pleated skirt.  On the right is designer Rudi Gernreich’s 1967 version of the schoolgirl’s uniform.  The sailor influences are still present.

Also go back to the very first photo.  What looks to be an additional school uniform is one, though it is from Japan and dates from a much more recent era.

And finally, you can see the influence that sports uniforms have on fashion.  In 1967 designer Geoffrey Beene made fashion news with his sequined football jersey dress.  It was featured in all the best fashion magazines.  In the middle is the real thing, a 1920s football uniform.  The craziness on the right is from Stella Jean.

The outfit on the right is very interesting.  It really could be mistaken for a uniform for an active sport, but it is actually from French designer, Ungaro, 1969.  It’s like he was inviting the wearer to join  Team Ungaro.  The set on the left is a cycling ensemble fro the 1980s, and the Swiss jersey on the wall is from 1972.

It’s interesting how sports teams have capitalized on their uniforms by marketing hats and jerseys to the general public.  Is that fashion?

I really enjoyed this thoughtful and well-presented exhibition.  We went late, an hour or so before the 8 pm closing, and we pretty much had the place to ourselves.  I really loved having Jill with me, as although she does love pretty clothes, she is a professional educator, not a fashion-obsessed crazy like me.  She was seeing some of these concepts for the first time, and I loved the way the museum made the crossover between uniforms and fashion so clear to her.

Now through September 16, 2016.

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1920s Girl Power Tin Box

I somehow usually manage to limit any vintage purchases to clothing items for my collection or to print resources that might aid in research.  But sometimes an object so perfect that completely encapsulates my interests presents itself, and so it becomes part of my “archive.”  In this case it is this 1920s tin lunchbox.

That may seem to be an odd object to add to a vintage clothing collection, but with a theme this perfect, how could I say no.  As the vendor put it, “I’ve never seen so much 1920s girl power on one item.”  Neither had I.

For I’ve seen a lot of sports-themed decorated items that were designed for teenagers, but the great majority of them were geared toward boys.  There might sometimes be a token girl, cheering her boyfriend football hero from the sidelines, or maybe a shapely teen in a swimsuit, but the baseball player, the golfer, the racing driver would all be male.

The graphics on my new box put the girls front and center, and put boys in a secondary role.  This is obviously an item designed for girls, but it has none of the pink-tinged soft Hello Kitty motifs of products that are designed for girls today.  These are real girls who enjoy sports.  They are not portrayed as masculine girls, but they are shown to be strong girl competitors.  They are not trying to be boys, but are enjoying the freedoms given to girls in the twentieth century.

Interestingly, it was this generation of American girls who came of age in the 1920s that was the first to grow up knowing they would have the right to vote.*  Girls were growing up better educated and knowing they had opportunities that had been denied their mothers.

I’ve been reading a book written for teenagers about the battle for women’s right to vote, Petticoat Politics, by Doris Faber, published in 1967.  It was the type of book that I loved as a girl.  It showed that our rights were gained by hard work and perseverance.

I’m somewhat perplexed by young women today who claim they are not feminists.  But I think it is because they do not have a strong understanding of the history of women’s rights and because they mistakenly think that to be feminist is to be anti-male.   Maybe they should look to the young women on my tin box as role models.

Cooperation, not competition.

Just because there are no boys at the swimming hole does not mean that they can’t look cute.

Not only can she drive the race car, she can do it in style.

This independent girl finished her needlework pillow and promptly took it for a spin in her canoe.

Presenting the most non-aggressive basketball players ever!

*  Some states, starting with Wyoming in 1869, had already written into state law the right of women to vote.  There was nothing in the US Constitution that did not allow women to vote, as voting rules were left up to each state.  By the time the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920, most women living in the West already had the vote.  With the passage of the 19th amendment all states were required to allow women to vote.

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Filed under Collecting, Fashion Magazines, Viewpoint

Spalding’s Athletic Library

If you are in the US, you probably recognize Spalding as the brand name of a company that makes sporting equipment.  The company has a very long history, being formed by A.G. Spalding in the 1870s.  His first product was baseballs; Spalding himself had been a pitcher for the Chicago White Stockings. Before long his business was making all kinds of sporting equipment.

Spalding got into publishing when he produced an official guide to baseball.  In 1885 he branched off into guides for other sports, and the series became known as Spalding’s Athletic Library.  Eventually the company was publishing around 300 guides.

I did not buy this book, probably from the early 1920s, as I felt like it was too pricy, but I looked on eBay and prices for these guides are all over the place. It’s interesting that women were featured as well as men in the cover art. The company was making items specifically for girls and women by this time.  I have a 1920s gymsuit in my collection.

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Filed under Sportswear, Summer Sports

Vintage Shopping: Sporty Finds

The weather this winter has been very unpredictable and so I’ve had quite a few plans cancelled, but then other opportunities have arisen.  I try to fit in vintage shopping especially when I’m out of town, and I recently took a bloodhound to rescue in Georgia, I had a visitor from out of town who wanted to hit a few antique stores, and I had a bit of business in a small town that I rarely visit.  It’s always fun to compare what is found in  other places compared to my usual haunts.

I guess lots of sellers have had the Olympics on their minds, as I’ve seen a lot of great winter sports themed items.  The George Barbier ski print above is a newer reproduction of a 1920s print.  That explains the $8 price sticker.

I don’t know the proper name for this type of picture, but the black silhouette is printed on the back of the glass, and the snow and mountain are printed on the paper backing.

This is a table surface from a 1939 Genco pinball machine.  Someone took it apart, and now it is ready to hang on the wall.

Here is the ultimate vintage cold weather coat – the Hudson’s Bay Company point blanket coat.  I bet this one is from the early 1960s when “Chanel” style jackets were so popular.  And what a great project idea.

Other sports items were found as well.  These wonderful hiking or outing boots are probably from the early 1920s.

And speaking of outings, here are two wind-up record players in travel cases.  In Sabrina, Humphrey Bogart used one like the smaller model on the right to woo Audrey Hepburn with long out of style recordings.

For people going a bit farther afield, here are two little Limoges boxes shaped like suitcases.  I’d love to have seen inside them, as these boxes often hold a little surprise.

This is a blank sample for an advertising calendar.

And in another example of women golfers being a useful sales motif, I found this great candy box.  And be sure to admire the Scottie box as well.

Tomorrow, more shopping photos.

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What I Didn’t Buy – The Park Antique Tennis Racket

I’m sure you have spotted the problems with this elderly tennis racket, but I still was almost a victim to its charms.  It just stands to reason that a collector of sportswear would be attracted to the corresponding sports equipment, even if they would just be props.  I’ve been tempted before, and I’ve resisted, just as I resisted this great old racket.

Click to see the great logo.

The maker was Wright & Ditson, a sporting goods company started by baseball player George Wright and businessman Henry Ditson in 1871.  The company was bought in 1891 by Spalding, but the Wright & Ditson name was used until the 1930s.  Some sources say the the Spalding company bought up other sports equipment companies  and then continued to use the name of the acquired company in order to give the appearance of competition to consumers.  Today there is a “vintage” sports shirt company that uses the Wright & Ditson name.

The best I can tell, this racket was made in the very late 1800s, or in the first decade of the 1900s.  The oval shape was introduced around 1885, and a 1910 catalog shows an up-dated form of the tennis-player logo, so I’m pretty sure it dates within that range.

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Filed under I Didn't Buy..., Summer Sports

The Enna Jettick Aerocar, 1930s

If you have been looking at vintage shoes  chances are you’ve encountered the Enna Jettick brand.  The company was a division of Dunn and McCarthy of Auburn, New York which had been in business since 1867.  The first reference I can find to their Enna Jettick brand is 1928.

Enna Jettick shoes were advertised as being comfortable but stylish.  They came is a huge range of sizes:

I was pretty excited to find the advertising card above.  It dates to the early 1930s, and features a Glenn Curtiss Aerocar.  Curtiss is remembered most for his airplanes, but late in his life he turned to road transportation, and his contribution was the Aerocar, an upscale travel trailer.

Around 1930 Enna Jetticks ordered four of the Areocars, which were to be used as traveling showrooms.  The salesman would park the Areocar in front of the store where he was making his call, and for a short time people would be allowed in to oh and ah at the latest in modern transportation.

Most Aerocars had a straight back, but the ones made for Enna Jettick had an odd shape, resembling that of a blimp.  This was most likely intentional, because Enna Jettick had a bit of a theme going.  In other words, they also bought a blimp which was used as a promotional gimmick.

The Enna Jettick blimp is sometimes credited with making the only successful docking on the Empire State Building’s airship mooring platform, but one article I read says that the attempt was scrapped as it was too risky.  But the blimp was taken to towns that had a store where Enna Jettick shoes were sold, it would land, and would even take people for short rides.

I happen to have a pair of Enna Jettick’s in my collection, a pair of 1930s sports shoes.  The uppers are two colors of perforated leather, and the sole is an interesting rubber-like substance.  They are quite snappy!

The imprint on the sole reads “Enna Jettick Sport Shoes”.

Oh my, I’ve been playing with Vine.

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Filed under Collecting, Curiosities, Shoes, Sportswear

1930s College Women and Sports

A fellow vintage lover, Julie of Joules Funky Chic at etsy, sent this fabulous old scarf to me.  It dates from the 1930s, and is covered with college women at sporting events, with a border of college pennants.  Not just any colleges, these are women’s colleges or those known for their women’s programs.

Since women’s organized sports got their start at women’s colleges, this makes the scarf especially interesting.  From one sport in the 1890s – basketball – to a full range of events in the 1930s, this small piece of fabric shows just how far women had progressed in less than 40 years.

One of the colleges represented is Brenau, which is located in Gainesville, GA.  Brenau was founded in 1878 as the Georgia Baptist Women’s Seminary, but was renamed Brenau College in 1900.  They still have a strong sports program, and they also have the Wages House. The Wages House is home to a collection of vintage clothing from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

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Filed under Novelty Prints, Vintage Clothing