Tag Archives: white

Hurrah for the Red, White and Blue!

I realize the the old story about Betsy Ross and George Washington and the American flag was pretty much made up by her grandson and is probably about 95% false, but I’d still like to send a bit of gratitude their way.  It’s not that I’m particularly patriotic; it’s that I am really really fond of the red, white and blue color combination.

I realized that I must had sent the message out quite clearly when fellow fashion history blogger and internet friend Lynn recently sent a red, white and blue Vera scarf my way, and she mentioned that she had noticed I favored the combination.  And she didn’t even have the benefit of this view of my closet:

As far back as I can remember, I’ve associated red,white, and blue with summer.  Perhaps that is because the Fourth of July is in summer.   Even though the US Bicentennial was not until 1976, the lead up to it was a very big deal, with the flag colors being very popular throughout the early and mid 1970s.   I was reminded of that this week when I read the Joyatri blog, who had featured a series of magazine layouts from the early 1970s.

Look at Jo’s photos and you’ll see a lot of stars and stripes, but you’ll not see an actual depiction of the US flag, although that shoulder bag is pretty darned close.  That’s because according to the United States Flag Code, the flag cannot be used as wearing apparel.  In the late 1960s and early seventies there were all kinds of challenges to this law, including rock singers and hippies wearing the flag as a cape or as patches on their jeans.  This caused a furor, but times have changed and today we think nothing of the flag being printed on everything from tee shirts to boxer shorts.

My favorite flag/apparel story comes from Deanna Littell who was a designer at the Paraphernalia boutique in the mid 1960s.  She designed a shirt made from the little cotton flags that people wave at parades, and found a supplier who could provide the flags by the yard.  The design was ready to go into production when Paraphernalia learned that the DAR was looking for flag defilers, and that they were prosecuting offenders.  The design was scraped.  The Supreme Court has since ruled that violations of the Flag Code cannot be prosecuted as it is an infringement of the right of free speech.

I’m not the only one thinking of red, white, and blue.  Bill Cunningham’s On the Street video  for the New York Times this week features this summer standby as well.  As he said, “It’s a time for sporting red, white and blue!”



Filed under Collecting, Viewpoint

White Shoes

You know the rule, right?  The one that said, “No white shoes until Memorial Day.”

In my little town, these types of rules were strictly adhered to, in some cases as late as the 1970s.   There were certain things that were only worn between Memorial Day to Labor Day, and others that were strictly for the rest of the year.  Summertime yeses were white shoes, white clothing,  sandals, nude stockings (or no stockings), patent leather and shorts, though I strongly suspect the last one was merely my mother’s rule.  Summertime noes were suede, dark hosiery and corduroy.

I was thinking about that rule because Memorial Day is only two days away, and I was wondering if women still rotate their shoes on that day.  I’ve never liked white shoes, with the exception of canvas ones.   I’m pretty sure the last pair I wore was in 1977 on my wedding day.  So I could not use my own experience to answer the question.

A quick web search has left me thinking that with the exception of athletic shoes and sandals, there is no such thing as a pure white shoe these days.  Is that true?  I mean, I know I don’t like them, but it’s interesting to think that a long-standing rule has been made obsolete  because the object of the rule no longer exists.

I like how the white shoes look in these vintage photos.  In fact, some of them look so sharp that I wonder why I crossed them off my sartorial list.


Filed under Shoes, Viewpoint, Vintage Photographs

Tennis Whites

I’ve often wondered when tennis players started wearing all white.  Well now I know!  Until the turn of the 20th century, tennis costumes came in all colors and patterns.  Often, the clothes made for playing tennis were made using an “all purpose” sports costume patterns, and the same dress might be used for sailing as for tennis.

In the very early years of the 20th century, white became a most fashionable color for summer wear.  As a result, tennis wear became white.  But for some reason, tennis clothes remained white, even after the general fashion trend passed.

Several points about the girl on my snap fasteners card.  According to Patricia Warner, tennis attire was often ahead of the trends.  This girl’s shorter skirt and  short sleeves might seem to suggest the mid 1910s, but this is what college students were wearing to play tennis in by 1901.  Spectators would be wearing full length dresses and long sleeves, but the players themselves wore skirts that allowed more freedom of movement in the legs and arms.


Posted by Alina:

I think is funny how all these sporty women were wearing heels. You had another post with two girls hiking/power walking, they were also wearing heels. I also find it inspiring (as I do the whole 20s-30s-40s period). Not exactly comfortable, but a woman should do anything to look presentable, right? It’s all in the name of fashion!

Sunday, August 13th 2006 @ 9:57 AM

Posted by Lizzie Bramlett:

Yes, that really is funny that they are wearing heels. Scroll down to the Keds post, and you can see that even sports shoes had little heels! I’d break my neck!

Thursday, August 17th 2006 @ 10:03 AM

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Filed under Proper Clothing, Summer Sports