Sunday, November 8, 2015

Hannah of Troy

My friend Tina of What-I-Found, posted this pattern for sale recently on Facebook.  It's by Hannah Troy.  This era of McCall's patterns are some of my favorites but despite selling sewing patterns for over 15 years, I'd never heard of Hannah Troy, so I went to do some research.

Turns out that Ms Troy was a big designer from the late 30s until at least the late 60s.  How had I never heard of her?  She presented collections along with the big designers, and was frequently quoted in newspapers along with contemporaries like Alan Graham and Jo Copeland.  Interesting that she flew under the radar over the years.

I love her take on 60s mod fashions though.  Keep in mind how outrageous it was when fashion changed from this type of style to the micro minis and such.  It really was out there to think about.  Ms Troy had her say though, stating rather firmly that she saw no reason to show a knee when wearing a dress.  She went so far as to say that knees are UGLY.  She really was repulsed by the idea.  Maybe she saw my knees, but I found that to be a really interesting viewpoint.  Scandalous, yes, but ugly?  WOW.

She went on to mention how vulgar fashion had become, because "everyone is a slave to labels.  Once if you said 'I'm wearing Mr X tonight,' you were bragging.  Now it's expected.  It doesn't even matter if it's pretty.  It must have a designer name to bolster our -- security."

Think about this for a minute.  This is SO true.  The fashions coming out of Dior right now are absolutely atrocious, but people like Jennifer Lawrence are contracted to wear them, so out this beautiful girl walks in some of the most heinous stuff I've seen in years.  She is only one example.  And people like Reese Witherspoon and Taylor Swift do a sidewalk sashay in designer fashions where at least they look cute, but I'm sure are attached to contracts or at least financial reimbursements.  Back in Ms Troy's day, I'm not sure that it was the case that the stars were paid to wear the fashions.  This was an era where women were just starting to be loaned garments to wear to red carpet functions -- before this, they had to come up with their own stuff.  It was considered vulgar by many to brag about what designer you were wearing.  Now the stars get PAID to wear them, and they have to be sure to get it in when they are interviewed.  "Who are you wearing tonight" tends to be one of the first questions the stars are asked now.  And yes, it doesn't even matter if it is pretty stuff, as long as it has a name attached to it.

I have to agree with Ms. Hannah.  It's just plain vulgar.  Your thoughts?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Age Old Dispute

There have been conversations -- some quite animated -- over the years about whether or not it's ok to alter vintage clothing.  Long gowns cut top shorter lengths, sleeves cut, and the like have upset lovers of vintage style, who cry out at the inappropriateness of it all.  These same people say that these are pieces that should be saved for posterity, despite the fact that most textiles are not stored properly to protect them.  Most of the time, these are the same people who wear vintage --- and that's the worst way to preserve these precious textiles.

Mind you, I am not against people wearing vintage.  Quite the contrary:  I LOVE vintage clothing, and the more people wear it, the better in my book.  Yes, there are some true museum pieces, like a Charles James gown, a vintage Dior, or even some Ceil Chapmans.  I'd love to see the fun novelty prints saved, like Alex Colman and Vested Gentress, and the daily wear styles like Anne Fogarty and Jonathan Logan.  Au contraire -- I love it when vintage is saved intact.  There's nothing worse than seeing some poorly (and completely inappropriately) inserted corset, put into a 50s gown where it doesn't belong.  And a ball gown trimmed to a mini just isn't right, if for nothing other than the fact that the proportions are altered so as to look wrong, most of the time.  One does need to use judgement in these things.

That being said, I came across this article in the November, 1950 Woman's Day magazine, and it is just perfect for proving the point that people have been renovating their clothing for years, so we are really no different.  This gown was originally worn in 1900.  It is constructed of pure satin.  When her grandson's wife prepared to marry, they used the train and skirt to create a fashionable dress for the wedding 50 years later.  The bottom half of the train was used to create the bodice, complete with a tucked border that was part of the original trimming.   The collar was cut from one long side of the train, tucked at the shoulders, and then attached to the bodice.  The ends were then crosed over the front, creating a surplice effect.  Facings were made from bias strips.  The original skirt's waistband was removed.  The skirt then became an underskirt in the new gown.  The underskirt was stitched to the bodice, and a side zipper was added.  

4 1/4 yards of oyster white lace and 1 1/4 yards of veiling was purchased.  The overskirt was made by cutting the lace crosswise into four equal pieces.  These were seamed together, gathered at the top, then attached to Grandma's waistband and hemmed.  The headband was made from a piece of the train, then lined with taffeta from the original train lining, then the two ends were joined.  The veiling was tacked to the back of the headband, so the veil could be worn either over the face or folded back, as shown.  The veiling and gloves were soaked in tea about an hour, to create a tint that matched the dress and overskirt.

All in all, an excellent use of vintage clothing to create another stylish garment.  The original dress may have been fortunate to survive the years, given the calling for fabric during World War II.  That means that there may have been those in 1950 who cried out to save the original dress.  I could totally understand their concerns, but when it was used to create a beautiful heirloom garment, who could argue?  I'm not sure how I feel about it.  What do you think?

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Giving It Up for the War Effort

When fabric began being rationed in 1942 -- everything was saved for the war effort -- designers had to be especially creative.  Clothing of this era usually lacked buttons, lace, or embellishments, and were shorter in length than prior to the war. Sleeves were shorter, and hem and belt width was limited to 2 inches.  (If you were a bride, or were pregnant, the rules were different.)

I like this 1943 dress because it shows the creativity used to create a fashionable day look while not having all the frippery.  The bow could be made from a remnant, and although Style A (on the left) looks like the cutouts may have lace to fill them, the instructions do not mention it.  Notice, there are no pockets, which were also considered unnecessary in most garments.

I don't know that we will ever see another time where people come together for a single effort like we did during World War II.  Bless all those soldiers for whom the sacrifices were made, and especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Devil's Fiance

Jacques Fath was a genius of fashion, whose life was cut short by leukemia in 1954.  The dress, an example of his genius, is from the Fall/Winter collection he showed in February, 1951.  It was termed "fiance du diable", or "devil's fiance."  I guess it's pretty obvious why, yes?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Women Drivers............

I came across this today and had a little chuckle.  Of course, after watching the Mad Men finale (::sob::), I realize that there may have been an adman's hand in this "study."  He probably worked for Topaz Pantyhose.  But still, the things they spent money on in 1970, trying to undermine's mind boggling.  And just for the record, Officer, I fully intended to go that fast!

Monday, May 4, 2015

For the Shoe Lovers............

LOVE these.  I'm reading a book right now by Anne Fogarty, and she proclaims that she considers a red shoe to be standard.  She didn't like boring shoes!  Alas, the two pairs of flats that I bought today were taupe, and tan/white.  Definitely standard!  And though I love these, I do wonder if the arch is as pronounced as the illustration shows.  If so, I would definitely not be able to wear them, cute as they are.

From 1944.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A Bit of Trivia

I've seen so many "sanforized" garments over the course of time, but this is the first time I cam across a real explanation of what it was.  I found this in a 1944 Good Housekeeping magazine.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Paper Dolls, anyone?

I loved paper dolls when I was a kid, so imagine my glee when I came across these Tillie the Toiler (and some Etta Kett) paper dolls.  I don't have an exact date on them -- Tillie was around for quite some time, but most of the ones I have are late 30s, early 40s. 
Tillie and Etta were fun, because wannabe designers would submit their drawings of outfits for her, and the newspaper would print paper dolls with those outfits next to her full size cartoon in the funny pages.  I have a bunch of these, and they are just amazing.  Here's a sample:
However, in the interest of thinning the herds as far as stuff around here, they're listed on ebay, so if you're interested, click here.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Just Because.........Hats.

I love hats so much.  These are from 1935:

Thursday, February 19, 2015

When Safety Entered Fashion

Talk about an odd showing:  in 1954, three new developments in fashion were developed. 

Joggers everywhere applauded when "crashproof" raincoats were shown.  Now, they didn't really prevent crashes, but they "lit up like neon signs as soon as the sun went down," in helping to protect pedestrians and bicyclists who were out after dark.  Jogging really wasn't a big thing yet, but I'm sure if Forrest Gump saw it, he would've liked it.  The new product was displayed at the Aqueduct race track, where the audience got a chance to ride around in race cars, whilst models stood in various places around the track, wearing different colors of reflectorized clothing, reportedly "glowing safely in the darkness while cars whizzed by." Hopefully no alcohol was being served.

Next was "worlderized" fabric.  The "worlderizing" process stiffened the fabric, rendering it flameproof."  This was evidenced by a live model standing calmly whilst the demonstrator held a match to her Ceil Chapman nylon net dress.  Thankfully,no one went up in flames, and, though a part of her skirt melted under the heat, it didn't continue once the flame was removed.  Hmmm......... I'm sure this was a precursor to fire retardant kid's jammies.  It supposedly made the fabric water repellant and crush resistant, and it had shrinkage control too.  Pretty sure they figured they had the perfect product there, though melting nylon doesn't have much appeal to me, and I bet it smelt awful.

The third development wasn't a safety feature, but sweater girls were probably quite interested.  The "Tycora" process was unveiled, which supposedly made the yarn pill-proof and helped it keep its shape.  This meant that sweaters would keep their shape and maintain their original smooth texture, even after multiple washings. 

So what's not to love, when you go to a display and get racecars melting dresses, and perfect sweaters?  Who says fashion isn't science?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Let Me Give You a Hand on Gloves

Let's talk about gloves.  This is adapted from "How to Sew" by Mary Lynch  and Dorothy Sara, copyright 1960.

Glove sizes are measured in inches.  The measurement is taken around the palm of the hand, at the base of the fingers.  If your hand measures 6 1/2 inches, you wear a 6 1/2 glove.  Many women like to buy gloves slightly large.  (I have man hands and long fingers, and wear a 7 1/2.)

String gloves were popular in wool, cotton, nylon or rayon.  Yellow, beige, or any natural color was worn with sports or riding clothes. Alternates for sports clothes are woolen gloves or mittens.  "They are especially smart in black for a woman and in bright colors for teenagers."  Double woven fabric, made from cotton is very thick and smooth and can barely be distinguished from suede leather.  It can be washed, so it is more practical.

Other materials:

  • Chamois can mean either natural creamy yellow color, or the actual chamois leather.  
  • Kid, glace kid, and glace are thin, smooth surfaced leather gloves.  Fine kid has a gloss but is not usually so rich and luxurious looking.
  • Pigskin is exactly what it says.  Pigskin gloves are worn with sports, tailored and casual clothes.
  • Ostrich, reindeer, and capeskin are also used for everyday wear.
  • Suede and mocha are soft, velvety leather. 
  •  Doeskin is similar to suede and mocha, but of lesser quality. Some doeskin gloves can be washed, but white doeskin will yellow after a few washings.  Most leathers tend to stiffen with washing.
  • Black sueded is lovely, but prone to "cracking" (rubbing off on your clothes).

For petite women, "shorties" (gloves that come just above the wrist) are the perfect length, in slip on, or one button style.  Wear them to match your outfit, or as the only contrasting accessory - don't match gloves to purse to hat.

"If You Are a Tall One": "your gloves- on the street -- fabric or leather gloves in slip-on or gauntlet (wide flared top) style are best for you.  If you like sports clothes, tweed suits, or loose swinging topcoats, you may wear your gloves in a half size larger than your wee bit sister.  If you like your gloves, bags and other accessories a bit large, why not wear them that way?  This will give you a casual and comfortable air." Correctly shown in the illustrations on the left.  If you are tall, you should apparently not go gloveless, as the "wrong" illustrations on the right show no gloves.

Perhaps flu season would go better for us if we went back to wearing gloves?  I'd be ok with this, as I love gloves.  All in favor, raise your (properly gloved) hand.