There are a few Marilyn Monroe movies that stick out more than others, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is definitely one of them! I call it a Marilyn movie, but it was just as much a Jane Russell movie as well, in fact, I like Jane a bit more in this show, but the fact is, when you’re next to Marilyn, the spotlight is most definitely skewed towards her.
Do I need to say “spoiler alert” for a movie that came out in 1953? You’ve had 63 years to see this…if you haven’t, it’s on Netflix again, as of this review.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes starts out with a one-two puch of beauty and RED!
These “Two Little Girls from Little Rock” do their song and dance number in matching William Travilla designed gowns, complete with massive feathered headdresses, and covered in squiggles of sequins.
As a side note, Marilyn’s dress sold at Debbie Reynolds’ 2011 costume collection auction for $1.44 million.
Not sure what happened to Jane’s dress. That ol’ rag.
Dorothy Shaw (Jane) and Lorelei Lee (Marilyn) are lounge singers who head out on a transatlantic cruise to Paris. Lorelei is engaged to Gus Esmond, a nerdy rich fellow with a controlling father, who hires a private detective to keep an eye on suspected gold digger Lorelei.
The girls have some lovely day wear in this first on-ship scene. Lorelei has a smart purple outfit with peekaboo cuts in the top, and a wonderful skirt with pleating and a peaked waist. Gold cuffs worn high on the arm match the darker purple belt and dangly hoop earrings. We see more of it later.
Dorothy has a smart pant and top set with wide set halter straps, and THAT COAT, with a wide flared hem and a collar in bold yellow. Dorothy’s Grecian inspired earrings play well in the next scene with all the Olympians, but you might not even notice them because, well….you’ll see
Notice the gal behind them, in her smart black dress with full skirt and Asian influenced hat? There’s a lot of great costuming on the extras and background actors. Not nearly as bright or beautiful as the stars, but worth notice.
Here Lorelei bribes the maitre’d to put a young, wealthy, eligible bachelor at their dinner table for Dorothy.
The chosen man ends up being a 12 year old. It doesn’t work out. Sorry kid. Might have made for a heck of a school boy’s story 5 years later, though.
Dorothy is given some pretty good spectator access to the Olympians. She sings asking if there’s “Anyone Here For Love” amongst scantily clad fellows in a grand tribute to exercise and the stretch-and-stay-in-place qualities of Lastex fabric.
She may be implying more than love.
Her chorus line of nearly naked men is very bold for the 50s.
Notice those earrings?
Um, there were earrings?
The girls enjoy some cocktails and dancing, where they meet Lord and Lady Beakman, owners of a diamond mine. Lady Beakman isn’t shy about showing off the goods.
Apparently she’s not afraid of being jumped, robbed, and thrown overboard. Ahh, simpler times!
This ship has quite the dress code. Lorelei in vivid orange chiffon with dangling jewels at the bust. Dorothy opts for midnight blue sequins.
To quote click bait articles, “jaws dropped”.
Dorothy hits it off with the private detective, Malone, who uses this new access to watch Lorelei closer. The nerve!
The next night the new couple see Lorelei dancing with “Piggy” Beakman, wearing a pleated, shimmering, metallic gold dress with halter neck.
I’ve read that Travilla designed the halter style top cut lower than the censors liked, so the song and scene were cut severely.
The powers that be opted instead to only to show Marilyn from the back as she dances, which is more like a tushy shimmy. Yeah, that’s not titillating at all!
The next day, Dorothy is taking a fabulous play suit and jacket out for a walk when she sees Malone spying on Lorelei and Piggy taking pictures through the port hole. The girls are on to him!
The girls must trick him to get the film back. What better way than with drinks and gowns!
Dorothy goes for strapless taffeta with some grade-A draping and boning. Lorelei goes for the glam matador look, with squiggling soutache over a wiggle skirt draped with satin train, and square shouldered crop jacket and a monster brooch at the neckline.
Lorelei shows the images to Piggy, wearing a skin tight wiggle dress with wide cinch belt, repeating the high gold cuffs from the purple outfit.
They don’t know, though, that Malone has bugged the room. And by bugged, I mean a suitcase holding a reel-to-reel that just happens to record that exact moment. It’s very convenient.
Travilla was told to “cover up” Marilyn, to avoid over sexualizing her in the wake of some early nude photos being discovered. I think he may have been thumbing his nose at the censors with his clever draping and curve hugging tailoring.
Confrontation! This smart green number is made for telling off your lover. The hips have a curve accenting fold over drape, making the waist dramatically tiny. The neck has a bright white epaulette inspired treatment, with big button accents.
The ship docks and the girls are in Paris and must shop! Dior, Schiapparelli, Lelong, Balenciaga! The joy is fleeting, though, as their line of credit and hotel reservations are cancelled by Mr. Esmond, as he thinks he’s been jilted by Lorelei, based on Malone’s tapes.
On top of that, Lady Beakman thinks Lorelei stole her diamond tiara, gifted to Lorelei by Piggy.
This calls for a song!
These girls land on their feet, though, starring in a lush stage show.
Lorelei sings “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” just in time for former fiancée Gus Esmond to catch the show. Taylor Swift didn’t originate the song about your ex post breakup burn.
She wears a masterpiece of a dress in bright pink silk satin with a black accented bow at the back. This scene is another iconic look that has been the inspiration for tributes and parodies, from Barbie to Madonna to Halloween costumes and even a few drag queens!
Several misunderstandings occur in the case of the missing tiara, and authorities are called to question Lorelei. Dorothy disguises herself as Lorelei, who has been brought before a judge by the insurance investigator, buying time for the real Lorelei to get money from Gus to pay for the now-missing tiara.
Malone, in communication with both Mr. Esmond, Sr, and Piggy Beakman, brings everyone to the courtroom, along with the tiara Piggy had stolen back from Lorelei.
We find Dorothy buying time by doing a full song and dance number. With complete unseen orchestra. I can assume all French courtrooms have unseen orchestras.
He helps Dorothy get Lorelei off the hook when he realizes Dorothy has feelings for him, as well.
Everything is resolved, and “Lorelei” is let go. The real Lorelei convinces Mr. Esmond that she loves his son, Gus.
She is accused of just being after money, but replies smartly: “Aren’t you funny? Don’t you know that a man being rich is like a girl being pretty? You might not marry a girl just because she’s pretty, but my goodness doesn’t it help? And if you had a daughter, wouldn’t you rather she didn’t marry a poor man? You’d want her to have the most wonderful things in the world, and be very happy. Why is it wrong for me to want those things?”
She is dressed again in a curve hugging dress with an accented bust. A fantastic bolero jacket with pointed cuffs and high collar steals the show, and once again squiggle soutache is used as an accent.
There is not enough squiggle soutache in the world these days.
Lorelei must have been convincing in getting Mr. Esmond’s approval, and Dorothy must have forgiven Malone, because we’re back on the steamer ship, this time at a wedding. Both girls got their man, and their diamonds, and the whole crew is there in attendance.
Who’s driving the boat!?
Matching lace and pleated chiffon dresses!
And they all lived happily ever after.
It was a wickedly hot and humid day…sounds like the beginning of a weird novel.
Unfortunately, it was the weather vendors and shoppers had to deal with on Sunday, June 26th at the summer edition of Junkstock. Junkstock is in its fifth year, and has grown each time it has been held. It is an outdoor event, held in the summer and fall, with a special birthday edition this past spring.
This was the last year for the event to be held at an old dairy farm West of Omaha, but there is a new home for it starting with the fall 2016 show.
As with any outdoor event, vendors can expect any of the four seasons Eastern Nebraska has to offer. In the case of last fall’s show, which I was proud to have had a booth at, we saw our frosty breath the first morning, and sweat ourselves soaked during take-down on Sunday night.
I have crazy respect (and a twinge of jealousy) for the folks who do the show circuits all year long. They have to be prepared to deal with everything!
I have been to a lot of vintage festivals, and need to start logging my experiences. There’s none better to start with than my favorite. This is probably my 7th Junkstock to attend, counting the one I sold at, and the vibe is always above many of the other group antique shows.
Sure, it’s a great collection of dealers and artisans, but there’s also the music. Like The Prairie Gators, who can be heard here:
I took a few shots as we trudged through the thick summer humidity.
A combination of work and family obligations meant we could only go at the end of the last day, which was good for photos, as the corridors of tents are normally thick with folks searching for that perfect thing to collect from one of the 190 or so vendors.
The displays are always carefully assembled, with some dealers offering specific lines of items, such as hand crafted candles, sewn bags and purses, and jewelry. Others offer a hodge podge of vintage goodies from nice antiques to rusty crusties for the garden.
I even saw a real stuffed bear there once.
There’s food trucks!
This is the type of place that’s made for food trucks.
It was late afternoon and it was hot, so, at the suggestion of my bestie’s 7 year old daughter, we stopped for snow cones from Kona Ice. Cherry limeade flavor.
I haven’t eaten a snow cone in ages, the day was made for them, though.
As usual, the event was enjoyable, well organized, and thoughtfully curated.
I’m not just saying that because my application for the fall show is still pending approval.
The fall show will be at a new home, at Sycamore Farms, not far from the old location, on October 7, 8, & 9, 2016. I hope to see you there!
You can find out more about this event at JunkstockOmaha.com
The problem with wearing prescription glasses is not being able to throw on any old pair of vintage shades I find. Since it’s high summer in middle America, I’m really noticing that glare today.
In the depths of winter, it’s wise to wear a sweater for warmth. It’s my favorite time of year, because I get to layer on all my lovely cardigans and fuzzy knit tops. My holy grail, though, is the Schiapparelli heart and dagger design from the 40s.
It came in white, too! Or cream…one can never tell with black and white photos. Best to purchase one in every available color!
Notice the slightly different placement and angle to the dagger, and the addition of an extra drop of blood. I am envisioning a troop of nimble fingered ladies stitching away, thinking of long lost lovers that did them wrong.
Ginger Rogers shows us a slightly less violent version of the heart sweater, this time with a more cupid’s arrow look, and less blood loss….from the 1938 movie Carefree
The house of Schiaparelli brought back the original for their 2014 line. This time the applique is in sequins, with far more coverage and too many arrows. We can’t all have Elsa’s design sense.
It’s Mom’s favorite time of year…and the kiddo’s least favorite. It’s back to school time!
By mid August me and the kid will be fully re-immersed in packed lunches, homework, and project deadlines.
When I was going to school, that meant trying on everything in my closet, usually on the hottest day of the year, then trekking off to the Sears or Penney’s to replace what I’d outgrown. It was an endless task of fitting rooms and hoping my personal taste wasn’t what was going to get me picked on by the cool kids.
We’d shop for supplies, and I would be denied the 64 pack crayon box yet again, only to be consoled with maybe getting the notebook with a kitten on it. Tough times. I’m still not over it.
What do you remember about back to school?
Oh, school assemblies. Gosh, doesn’t it bring back memories, being squished hip to hip with ALL of your schoolmates in the hot gym? The strange air wilting your hair and will to live, as you listen to the principle drone on about something. Good stuff.
At least the independent women of the 70s got to have awesome wide legged pants in their wardrobes! No more mini-skirted thighs sticking to the wooden desk seat.
I’d wear that outfit on the left any day.
So I asked my son to water the small patch of flowers in front of the house yesterday. It was already past 90 degrees outside, so they were going to need the water. The kid came back in soaked…because sprinklers are fun! It’s classic, timeless fun!
Back before air conditioning, a sprinkler party was a great way to cool off in the city heat. Dig that skinny fella in the front of the shot in wool swim trunks!
A fire hydrant would be opened up and the kids would come running. How did they get the word out before twitter?
It’s quickly becoming summer here in middle America. There are flowers on the trees, kids at the playground, and the countdown to school letting out is reduced to mere days. It’s time to load the family dinner in the car and head to somewhere warm and shady to sit in nature’s glory while you eat.
I’m going to share my simple recipe for the picnic and pot luck classic…coleslaw!
Slaw has had a bad run these last few decades. It’s no longer the fresh salad our fore-mothers used to make. No, it’s been reduced to a goopy, squishy side dish at every deep fried meat establishment. It swims in a chemically treated briney sauce that will keep it in suspended form for days. Ick.
Not my slaw, though…no way! It’s fresh and divine, and never lasts more than a day as leftovers, just because it gets eaten up quickly! This is the way your grandma made slaw, so strap on your vintage apron and have at it!
Here’s the recipe:
1/4 Cup White Wine Vinegar (a little less if your vinegar is strong and fresh)
1/2 C Mayonnaise (your favorite tasting brand)
1/4 to 1/2 Cup Roasted Sunflower Seeds (or finely chopped nuts if you prefer)
1 tsp Celery Salt
1 tsp Ground Black Pepper (more if you prefer it punchy)
1/4 C White Sugar
3-4 Strips Cooked Bacon
Start with a medium sized bowl with a lid…like a Tupperware or any of the spawn of Tupper that are available now. The sealed lid part is important, because we’ll be shaking this later.
Collect your dressing ingredients and assemble the dressing. You’ll need white wine vinegar, sugar, mayo, celery salt, pepper, and sunflower seeds.
Next, put a whole bag of shredded coleslaw mix in there with the goo.
Isn’t it lovely and bright?
You can find this stuff in the bagged lettuce area of the grocery. The bag should be snug to the shreds, with lots of color from the cabbage and carrots. This stuff makes a pretty good salad on its own, just mix in some lettuce and greens.
Now pop on the lid and seal tight, flip it over, and walk away for a minute or two…really! Go swap a laundry load or check on the kids. This allows gravity to pull the dressing through the strands of veggies, making it easier to stir.
After a minute of getting down with gravity, pick up the bowl and give it a few gentle shakes and spins to further distribute the dressing. Nothing violent, just enough to blend it around.
Dig this action shot. Shake it baby!
You’ll stir it before serving, this just gets things moving.
Now add some chopped up crispy bacon. How much? How much do you have?!
I usually use 3-4 strips, but adjust to your level of bacon lust.
If your bacon is a little soft and doesn’t easily crumble, snip it with clean kitchen scissors. It makes chopping it up easier and cleaner.
Plus, you can eat the little end you were holding while snipping because, you know, your finger was all over it.
If you’re making this ahead, put the lid back on and give it a jiggle to distribute the bacon while on your way to stash it in the fridge for a while. Otherwise, stir with a rubber spatula, making sure to move around any dressing from the bottom of the bowl.
I prefer to make my slaw about an hour ahead of time, but it can be eaten right away. The longer it sits, the more the veg give up their moisture to the dressing. That’s not a bad thing, necessarily, plus it gives the flavors time to get happy together.
When it’s time to serve, you can put it in a fancy bowl for the table, or chuck the bowl in the cooler and head out picnicing.
Or just take the whole bowl and a fork to the couch and dig in sloppy style.
I won’t judge.
I was looking at this great candid shot of my Grandma the other day, and was inspired to think about road trips as a past time.
In Great Grandma’s day, the road trip was a lot more work. People tended to stay a little closer to home, and it took longer to get much further away than that. It’s a bold choice to wear anything light colored while riding on a one-horse-power buckboard.
Time for a pit stop! You’ll be making a lot, since your car is fully loaded and only gets about 15 miles to the gallon.
The plus side is getting an ice cold Coke in a glass bottle, made with real sugar. Mmmm.
Spring has sprung, so it’s time to shed the drab colors of winter and embrace vibrant, bright looks, bold prints, and lighter fabrics. You know you want this look!
A beautiful outfit without a wonderful hat is like a cupcake without frosting! Check out these lovely hats available on HatfeathersVintage.com, inspired by the ladies above.
It’s a divine spring day here in middle America! It gives one the urge to spring clean, spruce up, and consider her wardrobe for the warmer weather. Let’s do a little spring thinking, but in the mind of the early 1960s gal.
I had the opportunity today to view the travelling exhibit Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen, currently at Omaha’s Durham Western Heritage Museum. The museum is housed in the former Union Station, a monumental building of Art Deco magnificence, and a wonderful former train station from the golden age of rail travel.
The Hepburn exhibit is from the collection of Kent State University, one of the foremost homes of fashion, clothing, decorative arts, and costume history. As such, photography was not allowed (which really nixed a lot of my intentions for this post). I was hoping to zoom in on the fabrics, stitches, and details, but these found publicity images of the exhibit’s various tours will have to do. This also limits presenting some of the notable but less popular costumes, so if you have a chance to view the exhibit, it’s certainly worth seeing! Personal viewing gives one a chance to see the extraordinary details put forth in the costumes, especially areas of hand-stitching and trims, some of which would never be picked up on camera.
From 1934, Hepburn played a gypsy in The Little Minister. The dress shown was designed by Walter Plunkett, who later went on to costume some lovely little numbers for Gone With the Wind, and won an Academy Award for his work on American In Paris. For this dress, he chose fabrics that would read well on camera, accent Hepburn’s features (like an 18″ waist), and give the actress the feel of being a gypsy. Details such as the red underskirt were never shown on camera, but were added solely for the wearer to enhance performance.
From 1937′s Stage Door. This soft blush cream gown has a long, flowing, layered skirt with a magenta velvet belt. The collar/bodice is trimmed with petal-look ruffles. The coloring was intentional, though it looks muted in person, when shot for black and white film, it would appear as if it were white, but not glaring under the lights.
1949′s film, Adam’s Rib, gives us the most divine piece of the entire exhibit. This black silk goddess gown, designed by Walter Plunkett, was made to accent Hepburn’s tiny 20″ waist. At 5’8″ she was the same height as I am, so standing shoulder to shoulder with this gown, it was quite evident how slim she really was. Add to that Plunkett’s masterful draping to draw the eye out at the shoulders, bust, and hips, the form becomes beyond hourglass and yet incredibly strong and bold.
This gown also sticks out from other pieces because it shows the neck and shoulders. Shortly after this film was made, Hepburn decided she would not like to expose her neck, and tasked costumers with designing around what became her signature buttoned up look.
By 1959′s Suddenly Last Summer, Hepburn’s high collar style was set. This brown dress and swing coat set of silk shantung is a line-for-line copy of the light colored outfit she wore in the movie. She had Norman Hartnell recreate his design for her personal collection, but in her preferred muted color palette.
In 1962, Hepburn played a woman of Irish heritage, so the costumers collectively known as Motley (Elizabeth Montgomery, Sophie Devine and Margaret Harris) decided this lavender dress of linen should be accented with Irish lace. In a sea of earth tones from Hepburn’s personal collection, this one really popped out!
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the exhibit was the inclusion of Hepburn’s personal wardrobe items, most noticeably her trousers. Pants were once a controversial thing. A woman wearing slacks was unusual, but Hepburn was a strong woman who was not going to be swayed by the crowd.
The pieces in this travelling collection are from the Kent State University Museum. Their museum director, Jean Druesedow, narrates a series of videos on the Hepburn collection, available on their YouTube page. The museum also regularly shows off pieces from their collection on their Facebook page
One of the things I love about old-school animations (Disney, Warner Bros) is the backgrounds; the textures, decor, and styles of illustration that set the tone of the scenes.
Before CGI’s computerized file-sharing would be the way to keep an illustrative effort congruent, there were guys like these. They had to be talented enough to share a style in a group effort, and draw each frame by hand so it all blended seamlessly.
In this vintage video, we see four of Disney’s artists work together, then put their own styles to canvas to paint an image of a tree.
Wishing you and yours the grooviest of holidays. Thank you for visiting our site, and we hope you’ll return again!
I happened to find myself on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan on the day after Thanksgiving. Sounds great, in theory, but for this introvert it was beyond overwhelming. So many people!! I couldn’t get close to any of the most notable stores for window displays, but did see some from the upper level of a double-decker tourist bus. Not a bad way to see the city, save for freezing our tushes off.
Window shopping is as old as shop windows, or at least as old city shops. Look a the beautiful hats and dresses on the passerby! The shop windows advertise the wares inside, like a form of early social media.
Of course, shop windows don’t just happen. This young shop girl from the 50s is dressed in dungarees and flats, and a smart short sleeve sweater with polkadot necktie. Window dressing is hard work, and one wouldn’t want to bend over in the window in a skirt.
As downtown shops faded away starting in the 80s, the mall became the place to be and be seen. Window shopping was done from the comfort of indoor sidewalks that wafted scents from the food court and perfume counters.
It’s a bit early for this, but here comes winter weather in Nebraska, and much of the rest of the USA. The weather is cold and the snow in on the way. So I wondered how well people fared in earlier times when weather radar wasn’t so reliable and snow plows a little less sophisticated.
There’s a new feature on the site, one that I’d been thinking of adding for a while. A customer inquiry lit the fire to finally get it done…well, to bribe the Mr. to do it for me. He’s tech support in this endeavor.
Behold! The glory that is the newest feature for the site! Sort by sizing!
(There! In the circle at the end of the arrow)
I’ve always noted an approximate size in my titles for clothing items, but this allows the viewer to filter out the itty bitty, or the not so itty bitty, or just see the in-between stuff. You can choose more than one topic by checking the boxes you wish to see. You’ll find it on each of the era-specific pages. Accessories on the womenswear and menswear pages drop off when sorting by size, as they are one size fits all.
Pretty cool, eh?
It’s also a good time to review how I come up with these measurements. From the About Us page, my measuring icon, showing the basics of every item. Though it varies just a bit for menswear, the idea is the same.
When assigning a sizing letter (S, M, L) to a garment, I use this chart. Of course, just as every body varies, so does every dress. That is why an item might have more than one letter assigned. It may have been custom made for a busty gal with a slim waist, or some other variation.
As I always say, measurements are best for judging fit.
But which size is BEST?!?
There isn’t a best, silly! People have been trying to change what their mama gave ‘em since people began. Whether it’s ceremonial tattoos or a bone through a caveman’s nose, to the grapefruit diet, Fen-Fen, and 24 Hour Fitness franchises. It’s a rare few who are happy with their size.
Sure, I see more small sizes than plus in the vintage acquisitions and dispersal game, people are just bigger now. Even men’s hats large enough to fit a modern noggin are hard to find. I don’t think you can blame cranium size on fast food.
Got a little extra, fashion has a way to fix that! Modern Spanx-type items do have something over the boning, gadgets, snaps, and lacing of girdles and corsets, though…and it’s all right to wear them, if you want to!
Apparently, there was a time when you could be TOO THIN! Curves were the rage, and as actress Eva Six tells us, skinny is easy to fix with this hospital tested product. We should listen to her, she was in three movies!
What’s the point of it all? I don’t know…
Be healthy, move around, know yourself and what looks best on you. Order your vintage to fit your measurements..remember to allow for eating, breathing, and moving, and enjoy wearing classic items!
Well, it had to happen eventually. I have gotten a “real job”, as people call it.
That is a second job for me, as I do consider this website to be a real job, at least I try to treat it as such. I know a lot of vintage dealers who do the same.
They tend to have the best sites.
This new, additional venture, will get me out of the house 15-20 hours a week and help my family with a reliable paycheck. I adore vintage selling, but it ebbs and flows in peculiar ways. Thus is the life of selling online.
As a bonus, instead of just working from home alone every day, I’ll get out of the house and talk to real live people…IN PERSON!
But fear not, lovers of vintage clothing, accessories, jewelry, and housewares!
But wait…aren’t I a graphic designer with a keen eye and retro flair?
But after working in the soul sucking graphics profession on and off since The Rachael Haircut was popular (that’s 1996 for the newer vinties), I’ve decided to take a break from it for all but a few clients.
The new job is in the exciting field of groceries!
Yeah, I’m a checkout girl. But hey, I like food! I like packaging! And 30 years of playing Tetris has made me extra good at bagging groceries.
During the training, I was in “grocery class” with several other new employees. As the team leader was telling us about how to smile and talk to people, I may have mentally wandered off a few times. This isn’t my first trip to the job rodeo, but there were a few high school kids to whom it was. I just called high schoolers kids. Sigh…
It turns out, the store I’m working for was first established in 1938. Packaged goods were becoming popular, and more people were moving to urban areas that didn’t afford them land for gardens, livestock and chickens. Instead, you would take a walk to your neighborhood store for your foods.
I have this image from my archives, of a downtown grocery store in my hometown. It is stocked with brands you can still find,such as Kraft, PET canned milk, Rainbo bread, Ritz crackers, Kellogg’s cereal, and Campbell’s soup. The produce selection is more seasonal and local than we have today. Back then, many items were behind the counter, and you asked the clerk to fill your order. He may have even calculated the total manually, with math!
In the 40s grocery stores were becoming the norm, though still smaller than the mega markets we have today. Smaller towns may still have these buildings intact, though the store is long gone. They were the place to get the local gossip, for kids to hang out, and for the housewife to get items independently, as her husband had often taken the family car to work. And, according to my Granny, you dressed to go to the store. By dressed she meant you put on a nicer dress than you did your housework in. You most certainly didn’t go in your pajama pants and house shoes!
By the 50s stores were getting bigger, and the modern woman had more products than ever to choose from. Even fashion marketing would set their images in the grocery isles. These two gals are discussing how fabulous they look in their smart fall outfits.
I dig every bit of this picture…from the sunflower yellow slim skirt and matching jacket, the scarf collar patterned blouse she has under the jacket, and the pumpkin orange gloves and hat. I’d carry that black patent leather box purse in a heartbeat! Plus, coffee. Even before the Starbucks revolution there was oodles of ways to get your caffeine fix.
I’m mostly sharing this for the Mid Century Modern interior. I’d wrestle a bear for those wall disks and tubular pendant lights. The smart lady of the 60s, shown here in her little black dress, could choose her cut of meat in a brightly lit modern slice of heaven.
This new job isn’t my first time to report for grocery duty. In fact, it’s my third. The first time was in the very late 80s. I wore jelly bracelets and black jeans to work and looked awesome!
Early in my initial 2-year stint, I had the glorious task of handling glass soda bottle returns. Plastic 2-liter bottles were a brand new thing, with only a few flavors available in them. People still bought their soda in 8-pack cartons with the metal cap tops you needed a “church key” or bottle opener for. It was SO much better. Colder, still made with real sugar, and there were some great local bottling companies. The big one in our town was Double Cola. So syrupy and delicious.
As a bonus, if you sucked all the air out of a glass bottle, you could then get the bottle to suck your lip in with the reversed pressure.
That’s some good pre-internet entertainment there, folks!
It’s Labor Day here in the United States, which means the end of summer, BBQs, and mattress sales.
Surely there wasn’t a national movement for just those sorts of things…turns out, much like many of our national holidays now steeped in more commercial traditions, this one has some history to it! According to the History Channel website “Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. It was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894.”
It is a day to honor those who worked their fingers to the bone, their muscles to breaking, and who wanted more for the American worker that would come later.
That’s pretty cool.
I thank them as I work from home in air conditioned comfort in my stretchy pants and sip the soda that was super cheap because of a Labor Day sale.
It honors them. Well…maybe.
Anyway, I raise my beverage of choice to them, and thank them for fighting for 8 hour work days, decent pay, workplace safety, not having my kid doing hard labor in a factory, and all the other things we take for granted these days.
From the Hatfeathers archives (a file of old pics on my computer):
one of my Great Uncle’s war buddies enjoying the first of what appears might be many bottles of Dick’s Beer.
Feel free to make your own dirty joke about the name.
Here’s a famous photo of American workers:”Men on a Girder” by Charles Ebbett, showing men taking a lunch break as they build up the New York City skyline.
I, however, prefer to call it “Hell No, No Way, Does Your Mother Know You’re Up There, Holy Crap, Don’t Drop Anything”.
I’m not keen on heights.
They’re lumberjacks, and they’re OK!
They’ve cut down a tree with a six-foot wide trunk with something people hang over their couch as an antique.
I had to saw down a 3″ wide branch once.
I got a splinter and it hurt. I would have starved to death back then.
Of course, as a lady, I like to make sure to single out the women in the work force.
Like these gals, assembling the 1942 Sears catalog. By hand.
If you ever find an old catalog with blood on it, it was probably from one of these gals. So many paper cuts.
Of course, women worked hard even before they had traditional jobs outside of the home. Can you imagine doing your laundry on a wash board? The pressure of gardening when it was make or break, because what you canned now was what you ate in February? One bad run of early blight could mean starvation.
Once the men went off to war, there was a national push for women to do what they’d always done, but harder and on their own while also working outside the home.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the “Rosies” in a salute to laborers.
My husband’s Great Aunt was the tiniest little wisp of a thing. Her job was riveting in the hard to reach crevasses of airplanes. That’s pretty cool.
Plaid isn’t just for the men!
These days, gals can take on anything the guys do, they can also take their signature pattern! Plaid looks great as a shirt, sure, but it can also be smashing in dresses and skirts….and not just for school girls, either!
A quick look around this site revealed some fun takes on plaid for women. We found several great patterns that take some new directions from the classic plaid pattern. Of course, the ladies made it their own!
Vintage 50s NWT Deep Green & Gray Plaid Wiggle Skirt
Plaid! It’s a pattern that’s been around for ages, a true classic.
It’s great for men and women, but it has a certain appeal for the fellas. It looks great as a kilt and the lumberjacks have really made plaid their own. Everyone loves the buttoned up plaid shirt for that clean cut 50s school boy outfit. In the 90s we wore plaid flannel shirts over our ripped jeans for the grunge look. Now plaid is back to the clean look, similar to the 50s but with a modern flair that works well with vintage shirts.
We took a quick road trip this weekend, and we were not alone on the interstate! Here in the Midwest you can tell when it’s time for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota, just by the massive amount of motorcycle traffic heading North.
I noticed more women in the driver’s seat this time, along with the usual double riding couples. It got me to wondering about the history of women and motorcycles.
I found a few fun images of early, independent lady riders, like this one. She’s dressed in a skirt, but even a walking skirt length would prove some challenge. Her mushroom top ha would have a bit of trouble staying on, too, I’m sure.
This gal, though, she’s got the right idea! Smart lace up riding boots and trousers that look similar to johdpurs for horse riding will make it much easier to ride, once she’s done showing off. The flat newsboy style cap has a good chance of holding to her head if she gets up to any speed.
These two look like a couple of fun gals! The new independent spirit of the 20s woman shows in their wool bathing suits and knee high stockings. They’re ready to go with wrapped hair scarves to keep the curls in check.
This image is from the Harley Davidson archives, and shows a gal that is ahead of her time. She’s not riding for novelty, but to get some where. She’s ditched the soft dresses of the day for proper dungarees and leathers. Her skullcap will ensure she gets where she’s going with minimal bugs and knots in her hair.
Finally, the incomparable Ann-Margaret, the best advertisement Triumph motorcycles ever had. Not sure how much protection those dark nylons offer, but the jacket and boots are amazing! Plus, she didn’t just ride in the movies!
Well….that was a fast summer. Only a couple of weeks until school starts here, and we’ll be back on the day to day schedule of packed lunches and homework. This got me thinking of summer vacations.
Of course, if you were visiting family and friends, you would dress nicely. Here’s Granny in the early 50s, dressed in a fine shirtwaist dress and smart wedge sandals. Her friend Dora is wearing a sheer pinstriped dress with cute collar and neck tie. Under the dress, I see hints of a lace trimmed slip, and smart sandals, too!
It’s finally full blown summer here in the midwest, which means I’ll be hiding inside in the afternoons, grateful that we’re in the age of air conditioning! Even the great old Victorian homes, designed to take full advantage of cross breezes, wouldn’t be tolerable in this heat. Viva air conditioning!
This ad from January of 1960 tells lady readers to come get their “farmer’s daughter denims”. The use of denim, along with a sprinkling of bandana print, made up the “country cousins collection with citified airs”. Denim was what men wore, bikers wore it, farmers wore it. James Dean wore it because he was a rebel. This ad shows the designer trying to mainstream the fabric, which meant getting ladies to buy it.
I’d be willing to bet you or a member of your immediate family is wearing denim right now. It’s been the go-to fabric for my entire life, starting just a little over a decade after this ad. I’ve been through several incarnations of the general term “denim” in my personal wardrobe, which for argument’s sake I’ll say started around school-age. Since, that’s when every kid wants to blend in and wear the same stuff their friends are wearing.
First there were the starched stiff thick cotton denim jeans of the 70s and early 80s, which my mom bought too-long in the leg and hemmed up, only to be let down later with a worn edge an inch above the true hem. Don’t believe me? If you can get past all the awesome that is 12 year old me, check those pant cuffs.
In the 80s denim took off, and lucky me, I was right there! I had acid wash, stone wash, dyed colors, high waist, yoked and pleated, and most importantly pinch rolled cuffs.
Photo not available.
I mean, it’s at my Mom’s house and that’s really far away.
In the 90s we had the last of the great jeans. All cotton, thick fabric, REAL blue jeans. REAL denim. Some still made in the USA, which is super hard to find now 20 years later. Even Levis, who built their name on the American-ness of denim jeans has not been made in the US for a decade plus. I wore the same 5 or so pairs of Levis denim jeans through 4 1/2 years of college in the early 90s. They were standard issue jeans (see photo above), but they were solid. They stood up to Northern Missouri winters and everything an art student could spill on them. It may have helped that laundry money was not a priority over art supplies, so washing was infrequent.
The denim I wore after that was a bit thinner in the fabric, then came STRETCH DENIM! Lovely stuff for daily wear, but it’s certainly not a “keeper” item. There’s no wearing it daily for a week, lest they fall to your knees from stretch failure. It’s a product of fast fashion, to be sure, and I doubt that 50-100 years from now anyone will be paying thousands of dollars (or moon bucks or whatever the currency is then) for a pair of them, like those REAL denim jeans from the 1900s-1960s fetch today.
Boy, do I wish I could find more of those real denim jeans!
How I wish this were true, and that I could still sleep afterwards.
My Dad has told me coffee stories about both of my great grandparents. Great Grandma liked a little coffee with her sugar. I can relate to that!
Great Grandpa was a little different. See, they lived on the family farm, and had dairy cows back then. One of the kids had the chore of milking the cows before school, so there was always fresh milk on the table. When fresh squeezed milk sits for a while, it separates, and the delish fatty stuff floats right to the top, much like me in a swimming pool. Great Grandpa would skim a big glob of that super fatty cream right off the top and blop it into a cup of dark black coffee. Then he’d go work the fields, tend the animals, and all of the stuff that a farmer in the 50s would do. He was thin as a rail despite that fatty cream, real bacon, eggs, real butter, and other wonderful foods. So, see, coffee is good for you!
It’s the question that keeps many a vintage clothing lover up at night….what was in the closets of the starlets of the 50s and 60s? I suppose truthfully the question is usually more like what happened to all of their beautiful gowns and dresses? Early starlets were less likely to have things on loan, like the popular actresses of today are. I can assume there was an estate sale I missed. Dang.
I recently got a bundle of clippings from a former seamstress (made it to that estate sale!). She had loads of ads for various designers and department stores, pages torn from magazines, and newspaper articles. I suppose the organized piles were like her look book or mood boards, with notes and arrows on some, stapled swatches on others. More on her collection to come soon, but for now…One of these pieces was this 3 page spread about Italian bombshell Gina Lollobrigida, with little illustrations of each piece and their corresponding inventory numbers. I believe this is from Life magazine, November 1954, first because the size of the pages made me think “oh, Life magazine” and second because a google search shows her on the cover of Life Nov 1954 with the headline “A Star’s Wardrobe”. I’m like CSI-Old Clothes (cue The Who music).
According to the article, Ms. Lollobrigida’s wardrobe had grown to so many pieces it had become unmanageable! I totally understand, as I wrestle daily with management of the seemingly thousands of solid colored Tshirts of my two fellas. Stars. They’re just like us!
So, in the pre Excel spreadsheet and desktop printer era, the clever actress took pencil to paper and drew each dress at 1 3/4″ tall. The dresses were then numbered so that when she or the housekeeper went spelunking through the closet of chiffon gowns, furs, and sequin dresses, they returned with the proper piece. Her original drawings are shown on these pages so that we can troll her collection in the comfort of our own homes. The article explains that her clothes are all made in her native Italy, most of them by Emilio Schuberth. They are designed to accent her figure, which was 5’5″ “including hairdo” (insert puzzled look), with measurements of 36-22-35, which was then a size 12. If she found she liked a certain item, she had it made in multiple colors. That’s smart!
Enough with my banter…let’s start drooling over some lovely now-vintage dresses, shall we? Pardon the missing image edges. The clippings were in less than archival condition.
Want to see it HUGE? Click here.
Want to see it HUGE? Click here.
Want to see it HUGE? Click here.
I don’t get to dress up very often. Though I’m surrounded by pretty dresses, prom gowns, fur stoles, and dress gloves most every day, my normal outfits skew more towards jeans and cotton tops, with a few trusty cardigans and baggy sweaters thrown in for the cold months. When I get an opportunity to dress nice, sometimes it’s a struggle to get an entire look together, from dress to outerwear. Sure I’ve got a few pretty dresses, but then what to pair it with to keep out the chill? Surely not that trusty sweatshirt-jacket I scoop snow and make grocery runs in!
This quandary gives me a certain love for the matched set. Not necessarily a suit, though I do admire those, too. I’m talking about the dress and matching coat. I recently added two of these sets for sale on the site, which is what brings the topic to mind.
and this wonderful wiggle dress and clutch coat dress set.
Likely home-sewn, but no less fetching than the designer look above.
Won’t you help a gal out? I need to clear some stock and lighten our load for our move. To make it enticing, I’ve put a site-wide 30% off discount on all of our delish vintage items. Vintage dresses, sweaters, jewelry, and coats? YOU BET! Housewares, decor, vintage accessories, and vintage lingerie? ABSOLUTELY! It’s all on sale!
Here’s the great news, too…after we move, I’ll be able to concentrate more on the site, which means we’ll have EVEN MORE vintage goodies to offer!
I found this interesting bag wrapped around a pair of shoes from the late 50s. It shows that light and diet food marketing is not such a new thing! So whether you’re watching your calories so you can wear that strapless gown or swimsuit, Skylark’s Petite Slice Bread is the stuff for you.
My Granny didn’t have much growing up, or when she was a young bride for that matter. She did have a camera, though, and a love for hamming it up in front of the lens…and her photo albums and shoe boxes full of snapshots are some of my most prized possessions. Since Summer has come on fast and hot here, I thought I’d look at a few of her summertime images. Photos are a great way to learn about the wardrobes of the past, and how everyday gals dressed.
This is one of my favorite shots, in fact, I have it super-enlarged on the wall of my sign shop (the day job), not only because I like it, but to show the awesome details from a film-shot image that was printed on a 2″ tall photo paper. Granny is on the left, wearing a smart striped cotton dress, with her friend in a similarly cut day dress and head wrap. They are sitting in a park not far from her home at the time. A lot of people would congregate there under the comforting shade of the tall old trees. You can see them in the background, centered around a fountain.
From what I can tell, there were a lot of car rides and picnics on Granny’s summer schedule. Here’s one I wish I’d found when she was still around, just so I could ask why she’s sitting in the trunk of the car. I’m guessing shade and a place to sit. Who knows? However, let’s look at that smart cotton dress! Vertical stripes from shoulder to hem, with the exception of a panel of horizontal stripes at the shoulder and hem, each trimmed with giant buttons. A tie belt and cap sleeves would have made this a comfy summer option.
This picture is a hoot! I use it as a button icon on my home page here, so let’s take a closer and larger look at it.
This is Granny and her three good friends, dressed in typically fantastic dresses of the day. On the left, a smart white blouse and high waisted bold floral patterned skirt are casual for the day, almost dressy looking by modern standards. She appears to have her hair pulled back with a flower at the center.
Next, wow…I’d fall over if I found this dress! A lovely pattern with wide bands of a light toned solid fabric and solid across the shoulders and neck.
Granny, third from the left, is wearing polka dots! Her dress has a drop waist over a lightly full skirt. The bodice appears to have an interlaced band at the shoulder and waist, ending at a bow each.
Our fun-time gal on the right is wearing a naval-inspired design. This image was taken just after WW2 ended, and military inspired designs were common. I love this jaunty little frock, with it’s pleated skirt and sailor styled collar, complete with neck tie. I spy what I believe to be a headband hat, too.
Shorts and pants were becoming more common for women in the 40s and 50s, and Granny shows a fun pair here.The design is still wide at the leg to give an illusion of a dress, but short and comfy. The pattern appears to be gingham with a plisse treatment, and triangle-edged fold-over pocket treatments. Paired with a light cotton blouse, the ensemble looks similar to some of the playsuits that were becoming popular.
A few years later, we see how shorts are starting to really look like shorts. Granny is shown here, along with her three sisters and mother…and look at the gams! The older gals and mom are still wearing cotton dresses, still a great choice for summertime, but the younger two are in separates, and Granny, being the youngest, chooses the boldest option. Note the low heel slip on shoes on the aunties to the left. Don’t they look comfy with the skirts?
Let’s not forget the men here in our little vintage fashion tour! First we have brother to the four gals above, Uncle Eugene, shown with their mother, again in a smart cotton print dress. He has chosen light toned slacks and a short sleeved striped cotton shirt, topped with a straw fedora.
And here’s my handsome Grandpa, ready for a day at work. Simple pressed slacks with a turned up cuff and some awesome two toned shoes. A white undershirt and light cotton collared shirt, with the sleeve cuffs rolled.
As I was looking through some old war-time magazines, I noticed how the ads and articles were geared towards how people at home could help in the war effort. I realized that, despite the current state of wars going on overseas, in Iraq and Afghanistan, that my life has not been terribly challenged. I know a few soldiers who have done tours, but it isn’t like it was during WW2, with a young man from pretty much every family leaving home to serve his country. I’m sure that the massive amount of men deployed made it much harder to ignore the war effort, if you so chose to try.
If you’ve studied the wartime history, specifically what life was like at home, then you would know about rationing. Everyone was rationed, from meat to butter, cloth to metal. Families were only allowed to buy a certain amount of foods per week. This made planting a Victory Garden that much more important. Those garden veggies had to fill the gap between store-bought items. Women were only allowed a certain amount of fabric for dressmaking as well. This gave war-time garments their very identifiable style…and lead to a lot of re-purposing of old garments, especially bridal and formalwear.
Many products were changed to fit the rationing efforts. Silk was limited, so stockings were modified. Advertisers also played on the war effort themes, with the word victory showing up a lot. Here Kayser uses it for their stockings:
Men who weren’t away fighting still had to keep their socks up, so advertisers said carefully to still buy their products, but to make them last. Men are advised to rotate two pairs, so the elastic rests between wears.
Women entered the work force for the first time, pitching in to build airplanes and the bombs inside…but don’t be un-feminine while doing it! Here we see that the Hinds company only uses ingredients not needed for the war effort. We also see a scenario that would get a guy sued for harassment these days.
And finally, don’t be the jerk with spare change in his pocket! Buy War Bonds! What would the reaction of today’s magazine readers be if they were asked to contribute their extra funds to the war effort?
I was tickled to be able to attend a recent showing of the documentary film “Nelly Don: A Stitch in Time”, which was accompanied by the exhibit “Nelly Don: Self-Made, Ready-Made”. The event was a collaboration between Missouri Historic Costume and Textile Collection and State Historical Society, in honor of Women’s History Month. The exhibit is in the gallery of the State Historical Society on the University of Missouri campus, running through May 18th, 2013.
The film was presented by Terence O’Malley, nephew of Mrs. Nell (Quinlan) Donnelly Reed, who was the creator, owner, and leader of the Donnelly Garment Company, producing the label Nelly Don.
Nelly learned her craft modifying hand-me-downs from her older sisters. She was well educated, including college, which was rare for the time. She was not resigned to be a simple housewife, though, and started her company with one dress, a pink gingham frock she made herself. In 1916 or so, after taking the dress to several department stores and being turned down, she eventually landed at Peck’s Dry Goods in downtown Kansas City. Her sales pitch was a simple idea, one that she firmly believed in, that housewives would be happier in their work if they looked better doing it, that they would “do their best when they looked their best”. The “Old Mother Hubbard” styles that were most common for women working in the home were drab and unattractive. Nell thought that a simple, easy to care for frock would boost the spirits and be popular with women. The owner of Peck’s thought he’d prove her wrong, assuming she would fail…he agreed to carry Nell’s dresses. She set up manufacturing in her living room, and with the help of friends and family filled her first order for Peck’s. Much to the Peck’s owner’s surprise, the dresses sold so well he had to call Nell and beg for more immediately, stating he had a near riot on his hands of women wanting the dress…his wife being one of them!
Nell was in business! He husband, Paul, helped her get set up, forming the Donnelly Garment Company, with him listed as the owner, since a women just weren’t the heads of a companies back then. Nell was in charge, though, and ran the business when Paul went off to fight in WW1.
By 1929, Nell and her company employed 1000 workers, usually operating seasonally for the fall and spring production schedule…then the Depression hit. Nell valued her workers, mostly women, and knew husbands and fathers were loosing their jobs. She developed a new product, allowing the employees to produce year-round, with the Handy Dandy Apron filling the gap between seasonal dress styles.
A Handy Dandy Apron, along with the patent application, hand drawn by Nell.
After surviving the Depression years, Nelly Don continued to thrive…then came WW2. Nell was contacted by the war department, and asked to produce garments for the women involved in service. She refused their initial designs, as they were not functional or attractive. She reworked the ideas with them, and agreed to produce the garments in her factories at cost, adding a second factory in St. Joseph, MO to handle extra manufacturing of undergarments for soldiers. She was later quoted, when asked why she did the work for no profit, that if Hitler won the war, what would her little dress company be worth anyway?
Nell was given an award for quality in her contribution to the war effort.
A few wartime dresses from Nelly Don:
Quite early in the history of the Donnelly Garment Company, they were able to order their own designed patterned fabrics direct from the manufacturer. The patterns were lovely indeed. Here is an example of one of Nelly Don’s more whimsical patterns, appearing to be an aerial cityscape with an artistic hand.
A Nelly Don ad featuring a patterned dress similar to the one below from the exhibit. (Image borrowed from CoutureAllure.com)
At one point, Nelly Don was producing 7500 dresses a day. Nell set up her factory as an extended family, treating employees with respect, making sure they were happy at their station. She used an assembly line technique, believing that if someone was best at patterning, button sewing, or cutting, then that is what they should be doing. If they didn’t like their station, they would be moved to another. The overall mood of the factory was happy. Nell gave them benefits, sponsored employees and their children’s education efforts, and held games and picnics to keep morale high. When the ILGWU (International Ladies Garment Worker’s Union) came knocking at the factory door, the employees rejected the unionization efforts, saying they were happy with the treatment by management, so much so that they created their own Loyalty League. The union tried to create trouble for the company, and the mess was tied up in courts for seven years…with Nell and her employees coming out as the winners.
Nell based her company on a few key beliefs. Her dresses should be stylish, fitting a variety of women, and they proved quite popular with women of varying hard-to-fit sizes. She wanted her garments to be affordable enough for the housewife’s budget, and made sure her garments were produced so that they could be modified easily in the home. She insisted on giving generous seam allowances and styling so that the bodice could be lengthened or shortened to fit, without messing up the intended look. Nelly Don was one of the first lines to add extra replacement buttons to the inside seam. The belt loop was adjustable on every garment, and every garment had a pocket.
She believed her garments should be made with quality materials and techniques. Many of the techniques were of Nell’s creation, and were so admired that the Singer sewing machine company turned to Nell for advice in making modern sewing machines.
Nell was a pioneer in American manufacturing, an admirable woman, and someone whose ideas of manufacturing should be studied and emulated. At one point her Kansas City factory was the largest dress manufacturing plant in the world, and the company regularly out-performed New York garment district production and sales. Nell had an office in New York, and was one of the first tenants to the Empire State Building. The Nelly Don line was carried by 2500 retailers nation-wide.
Nell’s life was certainly an interesting one. Her 25 year marriage to her first husband, Paul, was ended by divorce, with Nell buying out his share of the company. She eventually remarried to Senator James Reed, with whom she had a child while she was still married to Paul (oh my!).
At one point she was one of the most heavily insured women in America, with the beneficiaries being her employees and factory. This notoriety and wealth did not go unnoticed, and in 1931 she was kidnapped, along with her chauffeur George. At the time Kansas City was heavily influenced by the mob..who were not involved in the crime, and not too pleased by not being consulted beforehand. Through Reed’s connections with political players of the time, Nell and George ended up being rescued by the mob, who placed the kidnappers at the police department’s doorstep.
Nell was fiercely loyal to those who helped her along the way. Her chauffeur George was employed with Nell his entire life. She gave generously to the college she attended and the groups with which she was involved throughout her education. She sponsored the creation of the Reed Wildlife Area (Lee’s Summit, Missouri) in honor of her second husband.
She sold the Donnelly Garment Company in the 60s. It did not survive under the new ownership and was closed in 1978.
Nell Donnelly Reed lived to be 102 years old, outliving all of her 12 siblings.
I recently ran across an old Life magazine from April of 1951 with a story called “Ready-to-wear Flowers”. The short article told readers that designers have put “whole plots of artificial flowers” on their styles for the season. It gives the designer prices for the pieces, as well, but goes on to explain that women with the patienceg to sew on their own flowers can mimic the looks with clusters of ten-cent-store flowers at 29 cents a bunch. Thrifty!
This beautiful floral stole is made of white violets and sweet peas, sold by Flower Modes for $60. That’s about $523 when comparing via an inflation calculator.
This design would be an easy one to mimic, as well. These daffodil cuffs are accenting doeskin gloves (by Superb, $75 in 1951), copied from a Balmain design. Saying that the design is copied sort of floors me….I know it happens still, but designers today aren’t apt to say they copy something, even though I’ve had fellow sellers lay out side by side comparisons of items by modern names to whom they have sold.
Our final example is simple enough. A bouquet is attached to a full skirted apron to be worn as a “cocktail costume” with a black sheath dress. Basically, this is what you put on after the hard work is done in the kitchen. You won’t be wearing this when you’re frying chicken.
Maybe we can start a new craze with these ideas. Add some flowers to your wardrobe!
The light was coming into my photo area just right to capture this artsy shot of this dress. Art. It’s everywhere.
*not my actual grandma….a stunt grandma..but really similar!
I’m trying to learn to cook like my fore-mothers did. Real ingredients, no artificial crap, made from scratch with love…you know the drill. I have a particular fondness for biscuits. It’s because of my Great Grandma. I can still picture her in her dinky little mobile home, sun streaming in from the kitchen window, flour dust in the air, hands wiped on a floursack apron. She made biscuits every day…I doubt she ever bought bread.
When I would visit with my father, she would have him doing chores, but I got to sit around watching cartoons and listen to her clanking around in the kitchen. She made a perfect roast, veggies, and biscuits every time. She had a bowl full of dough in her fridge at all times…just added a handful of this and that as needed.
I have tried and tried to make good biscuits, but they will never taste like those did. We’re lucky if they’re edible. Maybe some day I’ll get the hang of it.
Just as rent costs change for brick and mortar shops, postal rates fluctuate for those of us who sell online. The US Postal Service has increased their rates yet again. Hatfeathers Vintage tries to keep the shipping costs as low as we can for our buyers. Combined shipping is always available, and as always, if there is an overcharge for postage, you will be refunded the extra payment.
Adjustments will be made, if necessary, to keep your shipping cost as low as possible. If an item to a USA buyer will ship for less by using a flat rate box, parcel post, or UPS, I will certainly do that. Those of you on the US coasts who order heavier items such as coats, luggage, or decor items might see that adjustment, as you are the furthest from my midwestern home.
For international shipments, the costs reflect First Class International rates, which are the lowest available. Trackable and insurable Priority shipping is always available, just email with your desire to purchase and let me know where you are (your country) and I will invoice you directly through Paypal.
If you have any questions about purchases, your emails are always welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
I love Ella Fitzgerald. Listen to her daily. So when I came across this tidbit on a Pinterest post about how Marilyn Monroe helped boost Ella’s career, I decided to look into it. Could this be true? Marilyn is so often just an icon, we forget that she was also a gal who liked music, a fan, and apparently a nice person! She used her celebrity to help break a racial barrier for Ella, and the world is richer for it.
Ella Fitzgerald said ” I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt. Its because of her that i played Mocambo. She personally called the owner of the Mocambo, and told him she wanted me booked immediately,and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. And Marilyn was there,front table,every night”.
I never thought I would have much in common with Marilyn, but I guess we have similar taste in music. Cool.
As an odd coincidence, I found this postcard from 1947 a few weeks ago, just as hurricane Sandy was pummeling Atlantic City and the entire Eastern seaboard.
The fate of the Boardwalk has been much publicized. The boardwalk was washed away down to its piers. Years of family memories and history has been lost.
A cursory search across the web tells me the Ambassador Hotel was renovated to become the Tropicana Hotel. Some reports have said that many of the piers have survived with some damage.
I love old photos! They are a great way to study how the real people of an era dressed. My Midwestern location often yields items from regular run-of-the-mill folks, as opposed to high fashion designer stuff from people with old money. I’m ok with that! As I was working on a hat, I remembered this set of images from my town’s sidewalk sale, specifically the 1967 sidewalk sale! This annual sale is still done to this day, though the purely retail nature of our downtown has changed some, as most small town downtowns have, we do still celebrate this event in early August.
Let’s do some fantasy shopping in these pics, shall we?
Our first stop is the Woolworth’s store..Ladies in summer cotton dresses push tots in strollers that would most certainly not pass modern safety standards. There are some lamps for sale, and some bolts of fabric. Let’s stop inside at the Luncheonette for a lemonade?
One block down is the P.N. Hirsch store. Similar to Woolworth’s, they had a variety of items. Oh! A rack of cotton summer dresses! I’ll take the rack of them! Looks like more fabric there by the door, and I spy a few mannequins there in the window. The ghost sign on the side advertises Big Smith jeans. I sure wish this building hadn’t burnt down. That would be neat to walk by.
Across the street now from Hirsch’s, we’re at two menswear shops, Little Dick Clothing (I know…go ahead and giggle) and Camp’s Menswear.
Looks like we could get some patterned and plaid shirts (yes, please!). The boxes at the front of the table say Campus, wonder if those are shoes? Sure looks like it.
Let’s do some shopping at Nola Leach next..it’s just across the street and carries fine women’s clothing. Oh dear! Are those unmentionables out on the sidewalk? Oh…just socks and pajamas. I guess that’s ok.
Nola Leach is still in operation at this very location! The owner recently decided a purge of the storeroom was in order, and if I’m not mistaken, that mannequin in the window is one of the ones I now have in my collection.
We should really buy some gifts and greeting cards…let’s head over to the Coach Light next. This Hallmark store is also still around, now run by the second generation in a different location down the street.
I spy another thing that’s still going strong…there’s Lucy from Peanuts in the window! Looks like some nifty paper goods on the table in front of the lady in the most awesomest bold striped dress! Looking super close, I’d be willing to bet a nickle that the bracelet she’s wearing is Bakelite.
The next block down is the home of Patterson’s, where you can buy fine clothing, housewares, and furnishings. The gals out in front are going through a pile of blue jeans. Pick up some for me! I’m digging those angle-legged tables, too.
Let’s make sure to shop the side streets, too. They’ve got some specials at Montgomery Ward’s. Just under that blerp in the photo paper I think that’s some good work pants, denim maybe? I’ll take the rack of short sleeve sweaters there next to the window. How cute is that little girl in the yellow mini dress and Mary Janes? She’s ready for shopping with her little purse in tow.
Oh, and the reflection in the glass behind the ladies in this first shot? That’s my building back when it was a furniture store. Like I said, downtown has changed a lot in 45 years. What was a furniture store is now a sign shop (the day job for me). Some of the buildings have gone through a few owners and shops, while some stay the same. We’ve got a lot more life in our downtown than some small towns, and that in itself is awesome.
Now, who has a time machine I can borrow?
One of my favorite movies is A League of Their Own. It came out in 1992, but was set in 1943. The boys were off to war and baseball had lost most of its players to the service. Not wanting to see professional baseball die, young ladies were recruited to play exhibition games. The story follows the players for the Rockford Peaches, and more specifically, sisters Dottie and Kit.
Dottie and Kit are farm girls. They are shown in side closure jeans and simple tops as they head from a ball game to the farm for chores. Younger sister Kit has a nautical themed pant with wide legs
Later that evening we see the girls discussing the offer to play pro-ball in the family kitchen. We get to see more of the great casual wear, plus a printed tablecloth and awesome Hoosier cabinet. Kitchens didn’t have cabinets like we do today, and they certainly weren’t air conditioned. The girls’ lightweight tops would have been common for around-the-house wear.
Girls who have made it to one of the four teams are sent to charm school for poise and behavior lessons. Yes, this really happened. Some of our modern ball players could benefit from such classes. (scratch, spit)
We get some great shots of summertime separates, simple skirts and light blouses, and some great shoes!
Uh Oh, the bus has pulled over…what’s that we see? Dottie (Geena Davis) is wearing a silk sheer blouse with a simple embroidered cardigan. Doris (Rosie O’Donnell) is wearing a chocolate plaid wool jacket. It looks a lot like a precurser to the Pendleton 49er jacket, which was quite popular in the late 40s (hence the name). I couldn’t quite tell if this was one, but if it was, there was a costume oops! Swell simple wool jacket, though.
One of the players, Shirley, can’t read. Who better to teach her than All-The-Way-May (Madonna). Who cares if it’s a smutty paperback, she’s reading! We see the style difference between Shirley, a simple farm girl in what looks like a feedsack dress, and May, a Brooklyn girl in a rayon print dress.
The girls spend a lot of time traveling on the bus. Here Dottie is wearing a sheer blouse and a silver brooch, paired with an A-line skirt, shown just before she sits. Coach Jimmie Dugan (Tom Hanks) is wearing a casual button down cotton shirt.
A stray ball is returned to Dottie by a fashionable gal who shows she could play as good as the Peaches. We get a clue to the racial issues of the time, as she and her companions are watching from the fence row and not the stands.
The sisters argue…Kit in a skirt and almost-a-Tshirt pullover, Dottie wears side button jeans again, with a purple silk blouse. We see yet another awesome hairstyle with a scarf. This is pre-scrunchy, so scarves had to pull hair taming duties and not just be frilly accents.
The movie ends with a fast forward to 1988, and the opening of the Women In Baseball exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. We get a mix of fact and fiction with several of the actual players from the AAGPBL (All American Girls Pro Baseball League) as extras. The movie ends with a ballgame in the background, with the original players having a game.
When it comes to recognizable logos, the Jantzen diving girl is right up there with the Nike swoosh, Coca Cola’s script, and the Golden Arches…well, it is if you love vintage, anyway! This lovely red-clad gal has been on Jantzen swimsuits since her debut in the 20s. Jantzen is still producing fine quality swimwear today, but for the vintage enthusiast, their styles from the 40s to 60s are the best.
Hatfeathers Vintage is happy to have three Jantzen swimsuits listed currently, all with classic feminine yet sporty styling.
It’s been a while since shipping rates went up for boxes and packages, but alas the time has come for those of us who ship packages.
Rate changes for this site have been made to reflect the information put out by the post office thus far. We’ve waded through their files and links, and think we’ve got it accurate. As always, though, if there is an overcharge for postage, you will be refunded the extra payment. Adjustments will be made, if necessary, to keep your shipping cost as low as possible.
For international shipments, the charts reflect First Class International rates. Items over $100 will be sent via Priority rates which are higher.
If you have any questions about purchases, your emails are always welcome at email@example.com
….well, a vote for good vintage!
Once again, it is time for the Lulu’s Vintage Blog vote for your favorite vintage website.
Voting runs through May 31st, 2011 on the Lulus site. Vote by responding to the blog page linked above. You can choose up to ten of your favorites from the oodles of great sites Lulus has listed.
Thanks to Lulu’s for once again hosting this fun look at vintage sites on the web! Your vote for HatfeathersVintage.com would be appreciated!
In this episode of “Let’s Overanalyze a Picture” I chose good old Uncle Eugene. Always a lady’s man, he is frequently pictured in Granny’s photobooks in nice to stylish clothes…with the exception of his WW2 pics, which are, of course, uniformed. Even then he always looked confident, and a little ornery. OK, a lot ornery. He was a joker, for sure.
In this pic, we see Eugene dressed to the nines. I’m not sure where he was heading, but he was doing it in style.
Let’s start with the hat…a classic wide brimmed fedora with a grosgrain ribbon.
Wish I could see the colors of this outfit!
The wide lapel on his suit jacket is dotted with a pin, could it be one that I found in his stuff? His crisp white/light shirt is paired with a dark tie; seems to be a minimal pattern there. French cuffs on the shirt have cufflinks; maybe they match the lapel pin. His left hand shows a ring, although he was never married. It is likely a heavy ring, as I found several in a jewelry box of his.
The pant legs show a crisp crease line and cuffed hem, typical of mens suits at the time. Then there are the socks. Whimsical argyle socks. I just love the socks!
Add it all up and pair it with his dashing good looks and fun attitude, and you have a great example of the modern late 40s man.
Want to get a similar look? Check out our Vintage for Men department, where we have a nice selection of fedoras, ties, and men’s jewelry items.
Once again the site committee of The Vintage Fashion Guild has come up with a wonderful visual presentation for their seasonal “Inspirations” feature. This feature, done in spring and fall, takes the looks of the runways and interprets them for the vintage wearing gal. The themes this year are White Is The New Black, Spring Lineup, Go With The Flow, and Love-a-Flair.
Once again the feature looks effortlessly beautiful, which I can tell you from experience is a great achievement! Yours truly has participated in the production of a few of these, and the undertaking is huge. I am so proud of what the committee has come up with this season. Won’t you go take a peek at their work?
Photographs are a great way to learn about daily life, and I’m lucky enough to have a lot of them from my family. My Grandmother, who is featured on many of the link buttons on this site, was very good about putting at minimum a date on the back. Often there are names as well. I’ll be showing more pics from my inherited collection in the future, but first, let’s overanalyze this one!
My great uncle worked at Brown Shoe Company for most of his career, after returning home from military service. He started here in Moberly MO and eventually transferred to a plant in Arkansas. You know the phrase “made in the USA”? Well, here’s some of the gals who did just that.
These lovely ladies worked in a factory setting in 1961, very unlikely to have air conditioning, and were likely to get dirty, so their choice of fabric is good old washable cotton. The majority of them are wearing shirtwaists, also known as day dresses. There are a few separates worn, as seen by the three gals on the front row. There are prints galore, including plaids and florals. Check out the cat eye glasses on three of the gals, and the great head wrap on the lady at the center.
My favorite has to be the second from the left of the standing women. Check out the offset buttons and the offset solid fabric behind, plus at the cuffs. Oh, and I like the plaid one at front center, too!
I was shocked to read an article today on the American Corporation Sweatshops: The 5 Worst Offenders, as brought to my attention by my fellow vinties at Elsewhere Vintage.
While it does not surprise one to find out the majority of our modern clothing is made abroad, the fact that Levis was on this list sort of took me back. Levis is the true American success story, founded out of necessity more than fashion. They changed the way we ALL dress. At my “day job” as a graphic designer, I am always drawn to vintage ads. As a small town merchant, I was especially charmed by the sentiment on the above series of ads. If you can’t read that, it says “Patronize Your Hometown Merchant-He’s Your Neighbor”.
Hang on there….if someone in the Levis company at some point acknowledged that thought, then how far they have fallen since. The merchant is not your only neighbor. The laborer is also your neighbor. The folks that ran the machines that produced that once great product are OUR NEIGHBORS. It’s a shame that Levis forgot that when they abandoned American production in 2003.
As someone who used to wear Levis exclusively, I have to say also that right around 2003 was when I stopped wearing their product. The quality was no longer there, from the quality of the fabric, to the styling and finishing, to the consistency from one piece to another in sizing. Nice job, Levis.
For some wearing vintage is a personal choice, others may enjoy it as a collection of treasures to be showcased at home. Vintage clothing and accessories can be enjoyed every day, whether as an all out vintage outfit from head to toe, or just a few key pieces as an accompaniment to modern clothing. The classic styling will keep your look fashionable and trendy.
Professionals who have to wear business attire can choose from the sharp lined suits of the 40s or the 50s slim skirted dress and crop jacket suits. Men can utilize the classically tailored lines of the suits from the 50s and 60s.
For women’s casual attire, a novelty print skirt or vintage pin up sweater are sure to make heads turn. A men’s guayabera, knit shirt, or vintage Hawaiian shirt will put any modern mall-bought shirt to shame.
But what if you don’t want to wear your collection from head to toe?
Vintage beaded cardigans look great over a baby doll T with jeans or a pencil skirt, old or new. A vintage print or eyelet blouse can be worn with shorts for cool look in warm weather.
Guys can spice up their modern suits with a vintage tie or colorful dress shirt, or even a fedora. A vintage concert T looks great with jeans, vintage or new.
Vintage jewelry and accessories can spice up a modern wardrobe with an eccentric touch. A vintage 60s enamel brooch can add a splash of color to your coat lapels while costume jewelry can make even the simplest outfit fun and fancy!
Vintage purses and handbags are a great way to add anything from chic style to colorful whimsy to your daily wardrobe, plus they make a great conversation piece!
A colorfully patterned scarf can be worn as a neck tie or headband or scarf or a waist sash. Vintage platform shoes can add the spice of disco diva or kitten spikes can add sexy sophistication.
Whether head to toe or just as a finishing touch, vintage clothing and accessories can make your look complete.
The Happy Housewife knows time is tight and so are budgets. Here is a fun and tasty treat to throw together quickly from the most common of ingredients. This is really fun to have the little ones help with; what kid doesn’t like to smash stuff!? Plus, on those sorta-cold days, the hour-long bake time really makes the kitchen a cozy spot.
Bake two batches, or double and make muffins for the week’s packed lunches. Muffins will have a shorter bake time.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees
1/2 C softened real butter (1 stick)
2 Tbs milk
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 over-ripe bananas, mashed/squashed/smooshed to a goopy mess (watch for sale prices on ‘naners!)
Cream the sugar and butter together, then mix in the eggs and milk. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt together. Combine the dry ingredients with the wet, mixing just until mostly combined. Add the squished bananas just until mixed together. If you would like to add 1/2C of chopped nuts, do it now.
Put in a loaf pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 1 hour or until slightly cracked on the top and firm.
Top with butter, cream cheese, or go au natural!
Since I am moving my blog over to my site from Blogger, I am going through some of my old posts to see if there are any gems. I enjoyed using this theme now and again, because I like sharing ways we can all embrace a little of the “old way” of doing things in our hectic modern lives.
I made a huge stock pot-full batch of this soup a few nights ago, resulting in an estimated 3-4 gallons of good-for-the-soul dinner! Aided by my 8 yr old sous chef, we calculated a sum total of about $8 for the whole pot of soup! A large Tupper-full has been put into the freezer, and will be pulled out in a few weeks. Until then, the leftovers will be lunch for me this week!
Budgets are getting tighter all around, so how about fixing up a big old kettle full of something to chase away the chill, feed the soul, cure what ails ‘ya, AND goes a long way? The Happy Housewife is proud to (attempt) to put into words her “famous chicken noodle soup”, as the little one calls it. Adapt it to your family’s preferences, adding more of this or less of that, until you have it just right. You can make a whole lot, as this keeps for a good week in the fridge, and also freezes pretty well. I like to fill a pretty big Tupperware with enough for 4 bowls, and stash it in the freezer. It makes a great evening’s meal a week or two later, and can be thawed pretty quickly by a few minutes in the microwave and the rest in a pot on the stove. Just add some grilled cheese sandwiches and all will be happy.
The Happy Housewife’s extra budget hint…watch for store specials on chicken breast and coupons for noodles, both can be kept in the freezer for a rainy day.
You will need:
A really big pot, stock pot if you intend to make a hefty batch
2-6 bone in (cheaper!) split chicken breasts, skin or no skin (for less fat)
4-12 carrots, depending on batch size and family preference, diced into 1/8” rounds, half those rounds it the carrots are particularly fat
4-8 celery stalks, diced into 1/8” thick pieces, halve if large
1/2 of a baseball sized onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, diced, or 2-3 spoonfuls of pre-diced jarred garlic, or a teaspoon of garlic powder
1/4-1/2 cup of lemon juice
1/8 to 1 teaspoon EACH of poultry seasoning, black pepper, seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon of ground rosemary, or a tea infuser full of dried (the infuser allows you to pull the rosemary out after cooking, so there aren’t sticks in your soup)
2-4 Tablespoons of Kosher salt (start with less, add more if needed at the end)
16 or 24 oz bag of Reames (or store brand) frozen egg noodles
In your really big pot, put enough water to cover the chicken by an inch or two, add your spices and lemon juice. Start simmering over medium heat while you chop the veggies, adding as you go, starting with the onion and garlic, then carrots and celery. Simmer until the chicken is just cooked through. Pull the chicken out of the broth with tongs, but allow the soup to continue to simmer (never boil), add your frozen noodles at this time. Let the chicken cool a bit; splitting open the pieces will speed this along.
Once you can handle the chicken, separate the meat from the skin and bone, and dice it, dumping back into the soup as you go. Put the carcass-bits in the bag from the frozen noodles, to reuse the bag and keep them hidden from kitty in the trash. I’m just saying…!
Check the taste, and add more spices or salt if necessary for desired taste. Serve….serve…and serve again!