Fashion & Travel:
I think all the great vintage Valentines you find with dog illustrations on them must have been for the little boys (and girls) who hated all that mushy stuff. And from the number of doggie Valentines, there must have been an awful lot of puppy lovers, or of opposite sex haters, or most likely, both.
Whether or not you have a sweetheart or any such person in your life, there is still a need to love and be loved. This Valentine's Day, I'd like to suggest to any of you who has a love void, that the answer to your problem might be found as nearby as your local animal shelter. Every day, hundreds of dogs end up in shelters across this country, through no fault of their own. And all they really need is what we all need a little love. Open your heart.
This ad is from 1919, a year in which Americans were seeing the return of many injured servicemen from WWI. America had a bit of a romanticized view of the war, being so far removed from the horrors that Europe was experiencing, and even after the war ended, and many men came home with their rose-colored glasses removed, the public was pretty much unaware of the horrendous experience of it all.
This ad came form a 1919 Harper's Bazar. Many of the stories in the magazine, and in others from 1919, refer to returning soldiers, and to the war, but there really is no mention of just how bad an experience it had been. In the stories, there seems to be no "shell shock," no poison gas, no death.
I guess it would have been worth it had one of the names for WWI been true - "The War to End All Wars." But unfortunately, they were wrong in 1919.
Body of the car, that is, was built by the Fisher Brothers, coachbuilder for General Motors.
By 1926, car advertising made up a pretty big percentage of the ads in fashion magazines. This one came from Vogue, which also had Rolls Royce and Lincoln ads that month. Cars had become very fashionable!
I don't know when they changed, but there was a time when a factory outlet really was at the factory and really did sell over-runs, seconds, unsold lines and such. The shopper had to have sharp eyes to spot the flaws, but there were tremendous bargains to be found.
Here in the South where every town of any size had some kind of textile factory, the outlets were a real attraction to the bargain hunter. My mother and her friends would plan entire days of outlet-hopping, where they would pick an area with a lot of outlets, and just hit all they could until the stores closed. A favorite of my mom's was Rutherford County, North Carolina, where the towns of Spindale and Rutherfordton are located. Besides the big Tanner clothing factory, there were numerous fabric factories. She always came home with bags and bags of the most wonderful fabrics.
I was passing through that area last week, and decided to stop in at a great little antique mall Where I bought a Pucci silk scarf for $5 last year, and then homeward on the old scenic route across a winding mountain road. It was a part of the mountains I had not been through in years. Just outside Rutherfordton, I passed an antique/junk store, hit the brakes, and swung into the parking lot. There on a table outside were bags and bags of mill end pieces of vintage fabrics. All were novelty weaves - not prints, but weaves of various textures.
This was the stash of a long-time sewer and fabric collector, and yes, the pieces did come from some of the area mills, purchased years ago. And at $1 a bag, I just went crazy. Most of the pieces are just a little over a yard, but these are going to make some dandy summer blouses, don't you think?
It occurred to me last week while looking at that great collegiate sports scarf how rare sporting print scarves are. I have one from the 1930s of swimmers, and several of people sailing, but other than that, they are really pretty hard to find.
The exception being ski prints. I have four ski and winter sports themed scarves, including what is probably my favorite scarf, the one directly below. It was made in Switzerland where they know a thing or two about winter sports, and where they also know how to print a pretty nifty scarf!
Here's another travel-related hatbox. This one's a little different from the usual Paris themed boxes. It features travel destinations across the US. When I found it I was hoping that it featured Asheville, but the only town in the Carolinas shown is Aiken, SC, a well-known horse training center.
I just got back from my little trip to Charlottesville, Virginia, and I've got to say that the fortune cookie was right; I did have a pleasant and successful trip! The weather was beautiful, the shopping delightful, and the Federal Fashions program excellent. I hit every antique mall and Saturday flea market I could until I ran out of time on Saturday. Drat those 6 o'clock closing times!
Sunday, I took the Blue Ridge Parkway from Lexington to near Charlottesville. The leaves are just beginning to turn, and the mountain valleys were full of smoky mist. As the fog lifted, I could see the little farming communities, straight out of Walton's Mountain. No, really, because this is the part of Virginia where the TV show was set.
Before the program I had time to visit Jefferson's home, Monticello and the buildings he laid out as the University of Virginia. Interestingly, they have the room Edgar Allen Poe inhabited preserved as a little monument to him. There is even a stuffed raven in the room!
The Federal era fashions program was at Ashlawn-Highlands, the home of James Monroe, and only about 3 miles from Monticello. This home was more of a farm house, very nice, but certainly not in the same league as Monticello.
And Monday, on my return home, I stopped at all the places I didn't get to on Saturday. I found lots of things for my collections including a pair of 1920s gauntlets, a 1940s Mad Carpentier reproduction (or adaptation) dress, a scrapbook full of 1930s cards and 2 big boxes of sewing patterns. Oh, and a pair of 1940s women's work bib overalls.
I could show photos of all the historic places I visited, but I know my readers - you want to see the treasure! So here are photos of one of my favorite finds, a Touring game from 1926. You've got to love the graphics on the box and cards! Thank goodness I had none of the problems shown on the cards!
There's a lot of buzz in the press right now about Michelle Obama and what she will be wearing for the Inaugural festivities. There are numerous blogs (one of which has turned out to be run by a big advertising agency) chronicling her style and trying to guess what (or rather, who) she'll be wearing on the Big Day.
Americans have been fascinated by First Lady fashion for many years: the Smithsonian Institution has had a First Lady exhibit since 1914. I loved the old exhibit, with mannequins representing each first lady lined up in a chronological row. The newly reopened exhibition, First Ladies at the Smithsonian, is an abbreviated version.
Fellow fashion history blogger Hollis at Past Perfect Vintage, has been doing daily features on First Lady fashion. It's a great series, with a few surprises. I mean, who knew Helen Taft was such a fashion queen? She's yet to feature Laura Bush, who isn't exactly known as a slave to fashion, but who got it totally and completely right with the Oscar de la Renta dress and coat ensemble she wore to the Oath of Office ceremony and parade in 2005.
In her entry on Jackie Kennedy, Hollis shows the cover of this book:
A friend of mine found this book in a thrift store she works in and thought I might like to sell it. It took only one quick look to know that this one was a keeper. The book was published as the companion book to an exhibition with the same name at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2001.
What's so special about this particular book? It takes each individual dress or suit, has a beautiful photograph of it, and then tells the "wearing history" of each, along with vintage photos of Mrs. Kennedy wearing the garment. It tells the designer of each, and how the dress came to be owned by Mrs. Kennedy. It shows how Oleg Cassini took the ideas she liked from French couture (especially Givenchy) and adapted them for the First Lady.
It's a wealth of information about this period in fashion history - the last gasp of elegance before Youthquake and Mary Quant converted the world to Mod. And the book is surprisingly inexpensive. Buy it at Amazon for less than $20, or take a chance on getting it on eBay for even less.
The weather here has turned cold and snowy, something that thrills the hearts of teachers and ski slope operators. I've posted several times that I do not ski. I have always thought, however, that I would be very good at apres-ski. So I decided to check out THE guide to Elegance published in 1964:
"After skiing, you can indulge in much greater originality and an orgy of daring color schemes. Emilio Pucci is the undisputed leader of this fashion specialty, and the elegance of a ski resort can be measured according to the number of women who are dressed in his acid-colored tapered trousers and silk overblouses printed with giant patterns in harmonizing shades.
Only rather tall and very thin women can carry off this ensemble with real chic; for smaller women, a more becoming and more personal intrepretation of after-ski wear would be a gored felt skirt, a blouse or a plain cashmere sweater tucked inside it and worn with a snug belt to make the waistline seem tiny, and ballerina slippers - all of these items selected to form a refined and unusual color scheme."
I'm not tall, and very thin, but I can see myself (or at least the apres-ski self) sitting by the roaring fire in the lodge, sipping a steaming concoction from the bar, wearing my Emilio Pucci slacks and blouse. Now to find the perfect Pucci apres-ski suit!
For years I've wanted to decorate in all blue and silver for the holidays, but never had the time and money to round up and buy all new things. This year I was to host dinner for my bothers, sister, and families, so I decided to see how much of the little Victorian I could decorate from what I already had and from thrift store finds. I was surprised at the amount of blue and silver I already owned, so there was a good base from which I started.
It simply amazes me to see the amount of Christmas stuff in thrift stores. Back in the 1980s I haunted thrifts in search of vintage Christmas ornaments, and eagerly awaited the small Christmas tables that would be set up after Thanksgiving. Now cheap Christmas stuff from China is over-running the stores. It just punctuates how much we have become a throw-away society in just the past 20 years.
So I had no trouble finding enough ornaments to fill my grandmother's glass bowl, and several silver ones to boot. There were yards of discarded blue ribbon and candles of every sort. The only thing I had to purchase new was the little silver tree, as I just ran out of time before finding a used one. The cloth beneath it is a vintage wool scarf, a souvenir of someone's trip to Switzerland. I found it in an antique store and would have purchased it regardless of the Christmas decor!
Altmann then went to the US, where in 1943, his preserverence paid off. He started yet another company, and in 1947, started manufacturing cashmere sweaters. His Bernhard Altmann label became one of the leading cashmere labels in the US, with a branch factory in Vienna. I found his story of triumph over adversity to be truly inspiring!
I bet you are thinking, yes, NC and a state of confusion! No, not even close. It's Tennessee and Virginia. Go to Bristol, TN and VA, and you can go from a store in Virginia to a store in Tennessee. Of course, the sales tax in Virginia is lower...
The state line runs through the middle of State Street, which is their main shopping street. As in many towns, the old department stores and specialty shops have closed, but there is a thriving antiques market in the downtown area. In fact, there are several of them, on both sides of the street.
The sign was erected in 1921, after they had a slogan contest to determine what it would say. The sign is on the National Register of Historic Places! Here's from an old 1930s postcard. This scene is reproduced on a lot of nostalgic goods that you can buy in Bristol.
This box has been more places than I have! I love this vintage travel themed box so much better than the modern PARIS emblazoned ones. People might actually thing you had been to all these places, but everyone knows that PARIS can be bought at the local Target!
This fabric is from a vintage woman's work smock that I have in my collection. Airlines represented are PAA - Pan American, Sebena - Belgian National Airline, TCA - Trans Canada Airline, Alitalia Airline, SAS - Scandinavian AirlineAir France, and VARIG.