Friday, June 20, 2014

Without Prejudice

I found this ad for corsets in a 1906 Delineator Magazine.  "It weighs nothing and outweighs prejudice."

That quote stopped me in my tracks, and made me wonder what in the world they were punishing women with now.  Body shaming has been around since Eve ate the apple.  From what I read in the details of the ad, I think it means that no matter how rolypoly/curvaceous/Rubenesque/curvy/fluffy/whatever adjective you want to use, this corset will take care of it.  (Add to the list, of course, skinny/beanpole/whatever thin adjectives you want to add, too.  No prejudice, after all.)

What  find interesting is that this is an ad from 1906.  This was not only time for the S-bend corset, but was also nearing the end of the corset era, period.  The corset shown is a more traditional Victorian, late 1800s one.  Interesting ad, considering that the magazine is one for the newest sewing patterns of that month.  It also shows just how important Paris was, even then, and even in random places such as Cleveland, Ohio.  My (new) husband is from Cleveland.  I can't speak for all of Cleveland, of course, but there is a large population of immigrant families there, and even more so in the early 1900s.  My husband's family came there right around this time, as did his mother's.

I need to do some more research on corset history, to see how the working class women's corset use may have varied from upper class, and how American vs immigrants may have used foundation garments.  But that will have to wait, as I'm doing some very in depth study of Ceil Chapman right now.  So for now, feast on this website, which is a veritable feast of corset history, photos, and trivia.  I may or may not have been known to browse it for long periods of time during work. Don't say you weren't warned.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

1960, in Feathers, Sequins and Spangles.

And now, for some Norman Norell awesomeness.  This is from the September 26, 1960 issue of Life Magazine. In case you can't see the details here, the dress on the left is a yellow plaid wool skirt that is topped with a purple sequined bodice.  That's some 80's color realness, in a 50's-60's style.  Hidden in the corner is a red ostrick coat.  WOWZA!  Next is the more expected sequin top with red skirt.  Moving to the right, an iconic look: a slim sheath dress with a fox hem, and dig those Breakfast at Tiffany's opera gloves.  LOVE that look.  The barfly to the right has a jacket that is lined with sequins.  Next up, fully sequined white sheath and a spangled black knit dress.

Apparently, Mr Norell had a shiny year n 1960.  LOVE the art direction in these photos.  It's old school Vogue, but in Life.  It's the kind of stuff that you just don't see in Vogue anymore (::cough:: Anna Wintour needs to retire ::cough::) unless Grace Coddington is involved.  She is an artistic genius.  Mental note: still haven't read her book.  Need to.

1960 meant that Mr Norell was feeling strong colors.  These pictures show lots of purples, reds, and this fabulous yellow trapeze coat that I just love.  He was clearly also inspired by the 20s, with a side of Gigi thrown in.  Notice the raccoon eye look he favors.  Both the colors and the heavy eye makeup are revisited in the 80s.  (Think Robert Palmer videos.)  Alas, not the gloves and hats.  We need to bring back gloves and hats.  Seriously.

An $850 outfit that today would cost you just shy of $6600.  Mr. Norell was so adamant about not having bad copies made of his garments that he actually offered to give the pattern away -- free -- to any manufacturer who wanted it.  I find that fascinating, and wonder what the caveats were.  I will try to dig and find more on that.  Remember, this is an era where designers were just starting to figure out licensing of their fashions.  Christian Dior sent his models out on the street covered in muslin sheets when they did photo shoots, so that no one could steal the designs before they were presented.  These guys were SERIOUS about protecting their designs. 

And lastly, the ostrich coat.  Because everyone needs a red ostrich coat in their life, yes?

Friday, June 13, 2014


I've been working on expanding the Ceil Chapman Wikipedia page, because it just didn't do justice to her talents.  Don't judge -- it's the first time I've edited in Wikipedia, and the original page was a mess.  It's now a work in progress, but at least it has more than minor details.

While I was reading about her, I came across an interesting article that spoke about her providing dresses for a fashion show in Baton Rouge.  Another designer who was supplying dresses was Robert Darieux, who I had never heard of before.  He's an interesting character.

Apparently, he was born in France, to a family of Colombian diplomats -- doesn't that sound so mysterious -- but was an admirer of American woman, who he designed for.  His love for fashion came from attending social functions around the world, so he decided to become a designer.  He was known for clean lines with intricate details, and superb workmanship.  He also built foundations into his garments, so that bras and corselettes weren't necessary. He had a boutique in New York, and designed for a number of stars (unnamed) as well as well dressed women from the U.S., Europe, and South America.

A quote I found really funny, but a sign of the times:  "I believe that women dress to please the men -- and the men definitely do NOT admire many of the freakish European styles."  The article, written in 1962's Baton Rouge Advocate, made me wonder what in the world was freakish about European styles?  True, by then, Christian Dior had died, Fath was gone, and the love of French fashion was fading -- soon to be replaced by love for British fashion, but to call it "freakish" seems a bit harsh.

In searching, I've thus far only come across this Darieux creation, which apparently has already been sold from the Ruby Lane store where it was listed.

It's very early Betty Draper, isn't it?  It's very pretty but simple, but I'm pretty sure that that collar would drive me nuts.  I will have to be on the hunt for other non-freakish Darieux, moving forward.

Once I'm done with my Ceil Chapman research, that is.

Sunday, June 8, 2014


My friend Sally takes Ambien.  As a result, she has some crazy weird dreams, many of which she blogs.  I can't find the link right now, but trust me, they are weirder dreams than mine, and that's saying something.  She also has some of the other side effects of Ambien, like eating in the middle of the night, and doing other things that she doesn't remember.  She woke up one morning with burs stuck all over her nightgown.  She still isnt' sure what happened there, but her husband started trying to be more cautious about keeping an eye on her, especially when they are camping.

For some reason, the internet has a draw after she's taken her Ambien.  Like the time she ordered 50 pounds of gluten free pasta in her sleep.  I mean, she likes pasta, but 50 pounds? She also posts a lot on Facebook after Ambien, which is pretty random, as well as hilarious.  I'm not sure that this exchange between herself and her daughter could be blamed on the Ambien, but it's a small example of why I love her so much.

Sally:  Laying here worrying for more than an hor.  Can't turn my brain off.  Isn't the Ambien supposed to turn that off?
Sally:  Things to worry about: Josh, the flower beds, should we buy new furniture, who's going to take care of the pets next weekend, why didn't we ever move Jewel downstairs, if I go to the sofa now Ebby will want out of the mudroom, that sofa is uncomfortable to sleep on.  I hate that sofa; we need a new one........and the beat goes on!
Sally:  Corri, why I'm not worried about her, Chad, while I'm at it, vacation, why am I so itchy...
Sally:  Chad's dentist apt.  I'm hungry, but I'm not supposed to snack after I take Ambien, but I know what's going on, but I'm not supposed to be on FB after I take Ambien - because I do crazy shit......Maybe I should delete this whole post!
Corri:  Uh....Josh is ok.
The flower beds are fine for now.
What's next weekend?
Jewel came and went over a decade ago.
Yes, Ebby wants to be near you.
I'm sorry, you can sleep on our couch if you want to, or our bed.
Not sure why you're not worried about me.
Dunno why you're worried about Chad.
Vacation will be awesome!
Because we are itchy people.
His appointment will go great.
Don't eat.
Go to sleep.
I love you <3 span="">
Sally:  What do you mean his appointment will go great?  He has one?  I suck.  It took me more than a week to check in on him. No what?  SHOULD I be worried about you?
Sally:  Uh, Father's Day and race at France Park?
Corri: All of the answers go with each question you asked.
In order.
You don't suck.
You're sleepy.
Sally:  I'm still awake and downstairs now.  You didn't answer me.  SHOULD I be worried about you?  Did you know about the race next weekend?
Corri:  No.
And yes.

For the record, Josh and Corri are her kids.  Chad is Corri's boyfriend.  Jewel was their rabbit, and Ebby is one of their dogs.

Love. These. People. SO. Much.  It's like Sethanese on drugs. I deemed it Ambien-head sometime back, and some of the best late-night entertainment out there.

Friday, June 6, 2014

How to Properly Prevent Snow Down South

I came across a 1959 issue of Co-Ed magazine that contains a nice article about foundation garments and lingerie, and though I'd share, especially for those who don't even remember what a slip is.  They're harder to find these days, and today's nylon and polyester feel NOTHING like vintage nylon.  Lead me down an aisle blindfolded, and I'll be able to pick out the vintage slips by feel alone -- not to mention how pretty they are.

"A slip or petticoat is worn, not only for beauty, but as a 'lining' for your dress, and should have the same silhouette as the fashion you're wearing.  That's why petticoats or half slips are best under separates, while fitted, full slips are worn under unbelted and princess line dresses.  When out on a shopping trip, you'll want to remember:

  • slips and petticoats should fit as well as your clothes.
  • They should be opaque, especially when worn under sheers.
  • Like girdles, half slips and petticoats go by waist measurement and are labelled Small, Medium, or Large.
  • Full slips are sized according to bust measurement
  • Since sizes vary, be sure to try on before buying, so you can see that fit and length are right for yo.
  • Look for wash and wear fabrics, firmly stitched seams, and washable trimmings that won't come off.
And keep your invisible wardrobe as if it showed!