One thing that really determines whether or not I add an object to my collection is the condition, especially if it is a fairly common garment. But sometimes a piece that is damaged crosses my path and I have to decide if the garment is special enough to disregard the damage.
Such was the case of this rayon blouse from the late 1940s or early 50s. I loved the print, which is made up of ocean liner stickers. I loved the blue, black, and lime green color scheme. I loved the style. But it had numerous problems. The price was reasonable, so I bought it anyway.
Look carefully at the two photos above to spot the differences. The bottom photo is before a few temporary repairs. There were a series of darts that released into fullness above the waist. This was a design trick that helped a tucked in blouse look neater because it reduced the bulk around the waist. A previous owner had taken out all the darts, and then she hemmed the blouse about an inch and a half.
Here you can see the stitch marks that had been removed, and the fold line where the blouse had been hemmed. Note that the stitch lines of the darts had been strained, which probably explains that they had been removed following a weight gain. The shorter length could possibly have occurred late in the 1950s when over-blouses became popular.
Because the seamlines were somewhat compromised, I decided not to restitch the darts permanently. Instead, I lightly basted them in place so that when displayed they had the shape of the original design, but with less stress on the dart seams. The seams around the bottom of both sleeves had been repaired, with much of the underarm seams being broken. Again, I used basting as these seams were also in fragile condition.
After the repairs, the blouse is still fragile, but is strong enough for display. It has the look of its original self.
The ad above is from September, 1951, around the time my blouse was made. One thing I love about researching old brands it that it allows a few guilt-free hours looking through vintage fashion magazines. I did not expect to find an ad for my blouse, as I would have remembered this print from previous browsings. But I felt confident that I would find ads for Alice Stuart.
Blouses were a very big deal in the 1940s and 50s, with there being dozens of companies that made blouses exclusively. Every issue of magazines targeted toward the career girl, like Glamour and Mademoiselle, had plenty of blouse advertisements including those for Alice Stuart.
From the ad above you can see that the blouses were made by Alice Stuart, Inc. By 1956 the label had become part of the Jonathan Logan dressmaking empire. In that year Jonathan Logan registered the trademark, which the application claims that the label was first used in 1942. That sounds about right, though sometimes the information contained in trademark applications involved a bit of guesswork by the applicant.
I have no idea when the label was discontinued, but a search on ebay produced styles from the 1980s.