You know, I generally don't understand these clingy maternity clothes women are wearing these days. Maybe I'm old fashioned, or maybe I just don't like constricting clothing. It's quite possible that I reject them solely on the basis of the occasional hot flash that creeps into my world, but one thing I do know: I would never wear a maternity corset
I found one some time back at an antique store. It was complete with the box and instructions, which clearly told the purchaser how to tie it for each month of pregnancy. This concept is very foreign to me.
It is Veteran's Day today. This is the day we honor the 10% of Americans who signed a check, payable with their life, for the defense of our country and the people who live here. This includes my grandfather, great grandfather, and great great grandfather, all of whom graduated from West Point. It includes my great uncle Bruce, who died at West Point from the flu. He was 19. It includes my Uncle Will, who died in WWII, only a month before V-E Day, also at the age of 19, leaving a whole in his family's heart that never has healed. It also includes my dad, who had an appointment to West Point, couldn't pass the eye exam, and instead, memorized the eye chart and went into the Air Force. It includes his brother, my Uncle Roger, an Army vet, my own brother, a Navy vet, his son, who is not only an Army vet, but who served in Iraq AND Afghanistan, and who received a Purple Heart. I am in awe of him. And yes, it includes my boo, who served as a Marine for 33 years, including Desert Storm.
No matter your feeling about war, or our involvement in international arenas, we will forever owe a debt to those who are willing to sacrifice themselves so that we can be safe, and I hope that you think of them not only today, but every time you see the flag that they so proudly defend.
My boo and I went to a wedding tonight. The bride is a girl I've known since she was very small, and she looked gorgeous. Of course, she always does, but there's nothing more beautiful than a bride on her wedding day.
I came across this photo in my travels, and thought I'd share it. Sorry for the poor quality -- my phone wasn't cooperating well. I'm not sure of the year, but it looks about 1961-62 to me. Pretty, yes?
Dior's Bar Suit, created in 1947, changed the face of the fashion world. After years of wartime fabric rationing, he created a suit that required up to 15 yards of fabric just for the skirt. Critics were brutal, women even picketed, but the nipped waist, padded hips New Look era had begun.
See the suit that changed fashion:
And so, when I came across this pattern, you can understand why I immediately thought of the Bar.
Yes, the collar is different -- I love the contrasting lining and the shape -- but I've also seen a shawl collar version of the Bar Suit, so the notched collar wasn't set in stone. This is an Advance Import Adaptation pattern, unknown year, but must be late 40s, because of the Bar influence. It's not really known what the Adaptation part of the name means, but most of us generally think that they were cheaper adaptations of what was seen on the Paris runways. It would be fun to go through them and see who we thought influenced each one, wouldn't it?
But this one just screams Dior. Pattern currently available on the website.
Men pretty much have never had a real issue on what to wear under their trousers. Boxers or briefs? That's pretty much it. But when I was looking through the issue of Life magazine that I used in the last post, I came across this: what to wear under your slacks.
"for under slacks control, pantie girdles and bra are suggested. Pantie shown is advisable only for slim hipped girls. For women with bulges, stronger support is urged." Wouldn't want to let the muffin top loose, now would we?
"Slacks-chemise, a one piece affair which functions as bra and pantie, will not bulge under slacks. This is the 1942 version of envelop chemise popular during the last war."
" "Blitzies" is the name of this garment which combines blouse and pantie. Shirttail which comes around to forma a pair of brief pants also acts as an anchor, keeps shirt in place." Of course, we have no idea how you will use the powder room, but your shirt will not come loose.
Note that there are no real embellishments here, and the Blitzie's shirt could easily go with Rosie the Riveter overalls. This is because it was 1942, so fabric rationing was still in place. Lace and fripperies were not allowed, so the clothing was straight up practical.
Lucy truly was a gorgeous woman, but I think that this photo is one of my favorites ever.
From "Reminisce" magazine: "Harry Warnecke, a photographer with the New York Daily News, created this color portrait of Lucille Ball in 1940. Except for Sunday funnies, color was unheard of in newspapers in the 30s and 40s, but Warnecke believed that color photographs would give a paper a distinct upper hand in the newsstand. He developed a unique one shot color camera that created dazzling images like this--shots that graced the covers of the Daily News Sunday magazine."
Photo by Harry Warnecke, currently featured in the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery.
There's nothing more fun than a pretty pair of boudoir slippers. Do they even make them anymore? I'm not sure. But look how cute these are, and to add to the fun, they are called "Oomphies." I'm not sure who came up with that completely sex-less name, or completely vulgar name. They are cute, no matter how mis-named they might be.
Darned if I can find a photo of it, but I was watching the Dick Van Dyke Show the other day, and I saw something rather crazy. It was The Talented Neighborhood episode, from the first season. Something about a most talented child contest, and how the neighbors wanted Rob to help their child win. Well, the neighborhood kids ended up standing next to Rob and Laura's bed, with their son Richie. It was a rather Children of the Corn sight -- parents sleeping, weird children standing there talking about them. And then Rob sat up.
He was wearing what appeared to be zebra striped silk pajamas. Zebra. Striped. Silk. Pajamas.
Now if that wasn't one of the most odd sights I've ever seen, then I don't know what is. I wish to heavens that I could find a screen cap of it but no........I can't even find a video clip from the episode. So if you find one, let me know and I will post it.
Today is my oldest son's birthday, so I thought I'd share some vintage maternity wear for you to look at. It's a much better look that letting it all hang out like the girls do now. But that's just my opinion......
Here's a Butterick brochure from November, 1966. The military style coat on the front is designed by Gayle Kirkpatrick, described inside as "one of the innest in designers." His focus was on sportswear. "He believes it's a look...not an activity uniform. It's an amusing, alive look...with surprises...but no gimmicks...His clothes are well constructed and designed with great individuality. We're proud to add his name to our growing list of famous 'Young Designers.'"
If you've never seen any patterns from this Young Designers series, you should. This line from Butterick included such designers as the legendary Mary Quant, Norma Tullo (who made some REALLY cute things), and none other than Betsy Johnson "of Alley Cat." I'm starting to offer up some of my pattern magazines from my personal collection on the website, so if you are interested, come and see what I've got. I'm the innest of the in.
In the 50's black performers were usually not allowed to play in the larger clubs. They generally played in smaller clubs for what was presumed to be primarily black audiences. Well, they didn't plan on Miss Marilyn Monroe shaking up that system.
Marilyn loved to go to The Mocambo, a Latin-themed club in Los Angeles. It was a place where the stars loved to hang out: people like Frank Sinatra, Natalie Wood, Myrna Loy, Bob Hope, and many more. It was so popular that Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball replicated it to create The Tropicana (tell me you aren't saying "bobalooooooo" in your head right now. You know you are.) Well, there was plenty of entertainment at The Mocambo, but no black artists. They just were not allowed. Enter Marilyn, who was a great fan of Ella Fitzgerald.
Marilyn appealed to the owner to have Ella Fitzgerald sing at his club, promising that she would sit front and center every night if he did. Well, he did, and so did she. It was a group coup, because the club got plenty of publicity for Miss Marilyn Monroe being there, and Miss Ella reportedly never played a small club again. It was acts like this that changed civil rights as we knew them, bit by bit.
Marilyn was a deeper thinker than most people realized.
This beauty is from the House of Worth, circa 1898. Frederick Worth is known as the first couturier, because he was a pioneer in using live models to show off his creations. The House of Worth was a destination -- women would travel there to buy an entire wardrobe. The House of Worth opened in 1858, and didn't close its doors until 1952.
Who says in fashion, one day you're in, and one day you're out?
So, my friend Janet shared this photo with me. It is the wedding dress of Margaret Campbell Surry, whose wedding dress was designed by Norman Hartnell for her wedding in 1933. Mr Hartnell, as you may remember, designed dresses for such casual events such as then Princess Elizabeth's wedding to Prince Phillip, Princess Margaret's wedding dress, and Queen Elizabeth II's coronation gown. Little stuff like that......
So rumor got out about this fantastical dress, and on her wedding day, Miss Margaret found traffic jams in the streets of London, with people anxious to see the dress. And for good reason. It's easy to see how Mr. Hartnell became such a favorite of the royals, isn't it?
If you'd like to see a bit of footage of the recessional from the wedding, here it is. What a bunch of somber bridesmaids.
BRILLIANT SOCIETY WEDDING
Sadly, the wedding ended in divorce in 1947. Mrs. Surrey later fell down an elevator shaft, falling 40 feet. The resulting head injury caused her to lose her sense of taste and smell, and to become something of a nymphomaniac. Her next marriage in 1951, to the Duke of Argyll, ended in a very nasty divorce full of Polaroids of her escapades.
But despite her marital foibles, on one wonderful day in 1933, she was princess for a day, and wore the most beautiful silk creation to grace the planet thus far. If you'd like to see other beautiful wedding dress creations, check out this link. How I would've loved to be there for the unveiling of that display.
My brother mentioned yesterday that he had just watched Stage Door. What a wonderful movie, with early performances by not-yet-known stars like Lucille Ball and Ginger Rogers. But first and foremost, of course, is Miss Katherine Hepburn.
The climactic scene is shown above, with Miss Hepburn wearing a gown designed by Muriel King. I saw it, and I fell in love. I can't find a full length photo of it online, and I'm hesitant to post the video clip, lest it ruin the movie for you. But if you must.......
Just look at how that dress moves. It's like liquid. Absolutely gorgeous. Apparently, Ms. King believed that dresses should have only one focal element which, of course, is the bodice in this dress. How smart is it when a designer knows how to edit themselves? And it served her well, because although she didn't draw, or sew, or even drape, she became a personal designer for Ms. Hepburn both on and off the stage. Her work process was backward -- she painted a full watercolor of the dress, then left it up to her people to make the dress a reality. What I would give to have one of those paintings.........
And if you are like me, and wonder how that dress looked in real life color, here it is.
I imagined it in powder blue, but after seeing it in color, realized that designers had to design for the lighting of black and white film. This detail only adds to the genius of designers such as Muriel King. She retired in the late 50s to paint full time, leaving behind a fine set of designing credits.
Photo: Kent State (who had a display of Katherine Hepburn's wardrobe in 2010. Had I known it was there, I would have slept on their doorstep, waiting to see it.)
Her life was short, but left a legacy that is probably never going to be equalled. She was both innocent and sexy, sad and joyous, amazing and tragic. She married and divorced. Her first husband sent flowers to her grave every week for twenty years.
She was our Marilyn.
It was said that she could walk down the street unnoticed, until she turned on Marilyn. As Norma Jean Baker, she could blend into a crowd. As Marilyn, she attracted one. Her film career didn't include any Oscars, and it was, by comparison, short. But we will never forget her.
I love old wedding pictures, especially from the wartime era, when women wore a nice suit, got their hair done, and went off to take their vows. There's something beautifully simple about those pictures, so this one caught my eye. The picture, and story, are courtesy of Reminisce magazine.
As the story goes, Darrell and Louise had been together since Louise was 15. Darrell joined the Marine Corps the day after Pearl Harbor, and went off to San Diego for training. One day after that, Louise and a friend went to an amusement park in Chicago, where they met two sailors. They had their pictures taken in one of those little photo booths, hung out for a while, then went their separate ways at the end of the day.
Well, fate plays tricks on us, and as fate would have it, the sailor who Louise was photographed was also stationed in San Diego. It's a small world indeed, because the sailor ended up showing Darrell the photo of him and this "random" girl from the amusement park. Darrell promptly went AWOL, and showed up on Louise's doorstep demanding an explanation, and telling her he wanted to get married. Louise refused.
Darrell turned himself in and was thrown into the brig, where he had his his head shaved and was fed nothing but bread and water. After that, he was shipped to the Pacific, and ended up receiving a Purple Heart . He married Louise on October 16.1944. They were married 49 1/2 years before Darrell died in 1994.
I can't remember where I came across this particular photo, but I can't take my eyes off of it. The model on the right is none other than Wilhelmina Cooper, of Wilhelmina Modelling Agency fame. Girlfriend made herself some top coin as a model before going off to become an agent for models. Her agency is still considered one of the top ones.
And so I came across this article about Willy. Added to my list of things that don't surprise me is the fact that she starved herself thin, and she smoked like a chimney -- both are habits that models have had since Jesus came. But I was shocked to read that Willy one was one of the heaviest models and.............wait for it...........SHE WORE A GIRDLE.
What. The. Heck.
Sounds like she thought of herself as one of the big girls. And that is something that I'd be happy to call myself if I could just look as cool as this.
And by the way, today is Diana Rigg's birthday. She's another one who was annointed with the Essence of Cool. And honey, ScarJo as an Avenger ain't got nothin' on Miss Emma Peel.
I've been listing some of the most fabulous fifties patterns I've ever seen, found in a box that I forgot I had. There are Prominent Designer, Advance Import, Spadea, Vogues, and even a few Fashion Originators in there. All in all, amazing stuff. Because you know, a website is much more profitable if one say, lists things on it.
So imagine my excitement when I came across this little gem. Cool, yes? Notched scoop collar, ginormous pockets, and wow, that jacket. I have no idea who Surrey is (or was) but this is one cool pattern. And then I opened it up.
Unused. Cool. Uncut. Better. Instructions. Check. I was seeing dollar signs while I was drooling, because something like this has a huge market. Then I realized that the unused, uncut pattern inside was this one instead:
Nice pattern, but not the Surrey. And this, dear readers, is the kind of thing that makes me sad.
I do not know what year this is from, but I do know it's the kind of thing that drives me crazy. I was counting pattern pieces tonight, and found a wonderful 50s wiggle dress pattern with a GREAT neckline:
Started counting pieces, and realized I had way too many. Turns out that there is not only the dress pattern in there, but a pattern for a totally different jacket. Problem is, it's an unprinted pattern, and the only indication of what that pattern actually is, is the handwritten labels like "front", "sleeve," etc. No pattern number, no instructions. And one of the pieces was the aforementioned homemade pattern piece, made from a piece of newspaper. I saw the illustrations and it took my breath away. I sure do wish I could see those swimsuits. Or even just the full ad. That's some kind of fabulous.
I have a thing for pearls. Call it the preppy, proper, classic side of me, but I love them. I've never had a set of real pearls, though the ex gave me a pearl and diamond necklace before our wedding. The pearl fell off once. I had it fixed. The second time it fell off, I gave up. Maybe it was a sign, I don't know.
In either event, I love this vintage Dutchess Pearls ad, from 1956. It features Jean Patchett, who was Eileen Ford's first model to hit superstardom, and I think it's beautiful in its simplicity. It was probably rather daring for its time, too. Jean Patchett was well known in her day for her graceful, elegant photos (not unlike my idol, Dovima). She was a regular feature in Vogue. And yes, the beauty mark is real.
The pearls, of course, are simulated, as we would never see hues of that color in nature, I'm sure. The strings harken back to Coco Chanel, but updated to the cusp of a revolution -- it's pure housewife gone bad, a la Mrs. Robinson, yes? Perhaps this alludes to the Dutchess of Windsor, who was something of a bad girl in her own right. Either way, I love it.
Want to see more Jean Patchett loveliness? Click here, to see her official website, which is full of beautiful photos from her modelling years. Want to buy the ad? Click here.
My uncle was on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. He survived, only to succumb to a bombing a month before V-E Day. The oldest of my grandmother's 18 children, she was said to never have been the same after his death.
My children's great-grandfather Herb was on the beaches of Normandy as well. He also survived, and survived the war as well. He never talked much about it, other than to say he'd lied about his age to get into the Army.
The beaches of Normandy saw battle 68 years ago today. They weren't particularly famous before the war, but they were infamous afterward. And so it is today that we honor those brave men who ventured into the terrifying unknown, some living, some dying, and all changed forever from the events they witnessed and experienced that day.
And if you'd like to know how private citizens honored their war heroes, kept the morale alive at home, and represented their country with pride, read the FIDM blog about this British Propaganda dress, created during wartime rationing. I truly took pause while reading this blog, in honor of those who gave all, those who gave some, and those who believe and hope, "never again."
I came across a treasure trove of fantastic sewing patterns tonight -- ones I didn't realize I had, like Ceil Chapman, Jo Copeland, Harvey Berin, and Phillip Hulitar. This one, by Jean Modiste, is pretty fabulous as well, so I went searching for information about Msr. Modiste, but to no avail. I'm wondering if it was a fictional name, but either way, this dress is pretty cool.
Of course, the model on the left takes it into trashy-land, with her taking of of her pearls like that. I imagine her as someone's trashy neighbor, who wears her clothes too tight, too revealing, and who probably drinks too much at the Christmas party and ends up in a compromising position, either dancing on a table, or in a back room with someone's husband. The one on the right is just flat out trying too hard, what with her spiky hat -- would you really see feathers AND a veil like that? -- and the tacky pocket that looks like it has lobster embroidery on it. The flounce in contrasting collar is just as bad.
Either way, the girls are tacky. The dress, however, is fabulous, and reaks of Jayne Mansfield's influence, yes?