Tag Archives: style

Ad Campaign – Bobbie Brooks, 1960

Going Places with Bobbie Brooks go-togethers

Arrive in style via spice-colored brushed wools… the soft purr of sweaters traveling atop sleek skirts… to mix and match for your very own day-time, date-time, play-time Wardrobe Magic.

We all enjoyed the green and blue last week, so I had to feature another ad, although softer, of that combination.  The reference to “spice-colored” in the ad copy is a bit confusing, as I associate spice with warm golds and browns.

Of course, what Bobbie Brooks dubbed “go-togethers” we would call separates.  By 1960 many companies were producing coordinating lines of separates that a woman could mix and match.

We Baby Boomers remember when Bobbie Brooks was big stuff.  Their target consumer was the teen and college student, and they took a very scientific approach to merchandising.  They came up with an organized plan of choosing which garments to manufacture. This plan utilized a consumer board made up of 600 junior-sized teens and young women, their targeted consumers.  So in effect, the clothes were those chosen by the potential wearers.

Note the offer of a free booklet, “Wardrobe Magic.”  I have a copy and I wrote about it and the company a few years ago, so check it out to learn more about this one great American brand.

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1930s Sailor Inspired Pants

It was during the 1930s that women became serious about wearing slacks.  Many had already taken to wearing knickers during the Twenties, and by the end of that decade the pyjama pant had become a popular beach option.  In the Thirties pants moved from the beach and into other casual venues.

This delightful pair was one of my flea market finds.  They aren’t perfect, but for an eighty-year-old garment that received rough wear, they aren’t bad.  I love the double button flap in the front, but check out this great detail in the back:

Just like a real pair of sailor pants, this pair has laces at the waist.  The stitching holds in place a sort of modesty panel.  We couldn’t be allowing a peek of our panties!

The label is great as well, with a horse and equestrienne theme. Marshall Field was the great Chicago department store, having been founded in 1881.

A second label gives a bit more information about the fabric.  It is “sanforized,” a process that helped keep cotton fabrics from shrinking.  It was developed and patented in 1930 by Sanford Cluett, one of the owners of Arrow shirts.  A sanforized tag can be useful in dating a garment, as one having that label cannot predate 1930.

Here’s a close-up of the front flap opening.  The buttons are the originals.  How about that little pocket?

Another nice detail that does not show in my other photos is the white piping down the side seam.

And I love that piping is also on the trim of the little pocket.

In the 1930s, the nautical look was hot, but it was not new.  Seaside outfits that took inspiration from the sailor’s suit dated back to Victorian times, and the inspiration continued through the Edwardian era and the 1920s  in exercise and swimwear.

This 1930s woman did not need to be on the shore in order to enjoy her nautical ensemble.

 

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Filed under Sportswear, Vintage Clothing

Punk: Chaos to Couture, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The curtain has dropped on the latest clothing exhibition from the Met, and I’m just now getting around to sharing my thoughts.  That’s because I did not see it until last Tuesday, the day before it closed.  No photos were allowed, and I was too lazy to request them at such a late date, but you can see most of the exhibition at the Met site.

The exhibition has been controversial from the beginning, with Malcolm McLaren’s widow questioning the authenticity of many of the items on display, with questions about how big a role Conde Nast (which co-sponsored the show) and Vogue editor Anna Wintour played in the choices of exhibits, and with the lack of garments worn by major players in Punk such as Debbie Harry and Patti Smith.  Reviews have been mixed, with many reviewers being left with the feeling that something was just missing.  Still, attendance was good, perhaps aided by the heat wave.

The day I attended the show it was pouring rain, and the museum was packed.   The exhibition hall was crowded, but not overwhelmingly so.  There was no wait or line.

As you entered the hall, the first thing that one saw was a reproduction of the restroom at the Punk club, CBGB.  Was this to set the mood, to tell visitors that Punk was a down and dirty scene?  If so, they failed miserably.  I’ve seen scarier restrooms in public schools.

But the next room was the heart of the exhibition.  Here there were six juxtapositions of Punk outfits from Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren with modern interpretations from Rodarte, McQueen, Balmain, Watanabe and Yamamoto.  It was a stunning display that clearly got the message across that yes, Punk is still a huge influence on fashion.  (There was also, inexplicably, a single mannequin wearing an outfit from the spring 2013 Burberry collection, with no historic reference.)

Also of great interest was a large collection of vintage Punk tee shirts, the ones questioned by the widow McLaren.  No matter.  They were quintessential Punk, and I’d even call them beautiful.

But with a few exceptions, that is where I began to question the “why” of the whole thing.  There could have been just that one central exhibit, and the message would have been clear, but instead, there were four more rooms of overkill.  Okay, maybe I’ve overstated it a bit, as I did enjoy seeing works by Zandra Rhodes, the famous Versace safety pin gown, the spray paint McQueen dress and an especially gorgeous gown from Ann Demeulemeester’s 2000 collaboration with Patti Smith.

But how many Maison Martin Margiela garments made from trash does one have to see to get the point?  And as stunning as they were, the exhibition was also heavily laden with work by McQueen (didn’t they “do” McQueen two years ago?).  Also on view was a Prada bottle cap skirt, similar to the one in last year’s show.  We were treated to an ensemble from the fall 2013 Saint Laurent collection, which I’d already seen, and hated, at Saks.

The last mannequin in the exhibition wore what can only be described as the back half of a dress, a 1998 model from Maison Martin Margiela (a gift from Barney’s, probably because it was unsaleable).  The mannequin was shooting us a bird, as final proof of how badass Punk is.  I thought it was silly.

What was missing was the feeling of the huge shift in what was shocking in 1976, to what is commonplace today.   The little bit of video and audio were confusing, and just added noise, not clarity.  I’m sure a lot of younger visitors were just left with a feeling that Punk was no big deal; that people still dress that way today.  Especially when they are greeted with this Punk display at Bloomingdale’s:

I did take a few shots of the gift shop outside the exhibition.  There might have been a lot of talk about dyi in the exhibition, but we all know that today it’s easier to just buy that Punk tee shirt.

Of course, if you are really Punk, you’ll add a bit of $8 safety pin Duck tape.

As a subject, I do believe that Punk fashion is valid, and is worthy of study and display.  But it really bothers me that the Met, with their stunning collection, has chosen for the past three years to showcase clothing from the past twenty years.  That might be okay if they were putting on more than one exhibition a year, but as it is , the last exhibition featuring purely historical fashion was American Woman in 2010.  I really hope that next year’s subject will treat us to some of the older delights of the collection.

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Filed under Museums, Viewpoint