Thursday, April 30, 2009

On Wearing Polka Dots

Polka dots - you probably either love 'em or hate 'em, but anyone can wear them. This perennial print has a tendency to look juvenile if not done right, though. Here are a few tips for wearing dots without looking too "dotty".

- Mix it up. This dress works because it uses two different sizes of dots. With this mix, the print avoids becoming overwhelming.
- Add solid color accessories. The solid black belt breaks up the dots and adds just the right touch. And guess where your eye is drawn? To your tiny waist.

- Smaller dots work better for dressier styles. The bow blouse at left would look silly in larger dots.
- Or break up polka dots with solids to tone it down. The green dotted dress would be far too much without the white vest worn over it.

- Wear dots in spring and summer. Somehow, polka dots just work better in warmer weather. They're bright and cheery and they send off a more casual vibe.
- Think color! Dots don't have to be white. Orange on purple works great for a casual summer shift. Pink on yellow makes a great swimsuit. Stick with two colors, though, to avoid looking clownish.

All fashions made from McCall's patterns in 1964.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

1963 Vintage Swimsuits

Swimsuit fashions from 1963. All photos by Helmut Newton for Vogue.

Elisabeth Stewart two piece suit with cover-up in red, green, and blue nylon jersey. Sold for $20.00 (about $143.00 in today's dollar).

Peter Pan quilted cotton suit in deep turquoise. Sold for $24.00 (about $171.00 in today's dollar).

Maidenform two piece suit with a white top and pink bottoms. Both in cotton sharkskin with elastic shirring in the back. Sold for $16.00 (about $114.00 in today's dollar).

Roxanne black cotton suit with boy-cut shorts. The top has a high neckline in front that drops low in the back. Sold for $13.00 (about $93.00 in today's dollar).

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ann Fleischer Silk Ribbon Fashions

Ann Fleischer designed exquisite dresses, suits, and ensembles from silk and rayon ribbon that was either crocheted, knitted, or woven completely by hand. The dress shown above, in an ad for Neiman Marcus, dates to 1955 and was handknit of silk organza ribbon. Saks Fifth Avenue offered a complete collection of Fleischer suits and dresses in 1964 which sold for $275.00 - $350.00 (about $1937.00 to $2500.00 in today's dollar). If Saks didn't have the color you wanted, you could have a suit or dress custom made for you. By the late 1960's Fleischer was offering men's ties.

Not labeled Fleischer, but still an excellent example of woven ribbonwork, this 1940's suit is available at Couture Allure for $135.00.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Vintage Train Travel 1941

Cross-country train travel - it brings romantic images of club cars, sleeping berths, and travel at a less frantic pace. Of course, in 1941, one didn't wear jeans and t-shirts or sweats for travel. And you didn't go on vacation with just one carry-on bag. You traveled with a trunk or two of clothing, which were stowed in the baggage car. And you had at least one suitcase of clothing that you kept with you for your days on board the train. Those clothing items became the basis of your wardrobe at your destination. Here, two women board "The Chief" at Chicago's Dearborn Station en route to Palm Springs.

Lightweight wool top-coats are worn over co-ordinating wool dresses, all by Eisenberg. All 4 pieces can be mixed and matched with others in the ladies' travel wardrobes.

Grey silk shantung dress for dinner on the train and for less dressy evenings in Palm Springs by De Pinna.

A beige and white stripe cashmere suit for daytime leisure in the drawing rooms of the train.

In the Observation Car, the woman on the left wears a red Forstmann wool suit by De Pinna. The woman on the right wears a dress with matching jacket by Charles Armour.

In other news, Gladys of Gladys Tells All blog has bestowed upon me a Your Blog is Fabulous! award. Thank you so much, Gladys, and I'm so happy to have you among my faithful readers. And if you haven't had a good giggle today, go read Gladys' blog for a daily portion of mirth and memories.

I was lucky enough to be the winner of a Blog giveaway by Lizzie over at The Vintage Traveler. Lizzie offered the book "Signature Prints" on her blog a couple of weeks ago. The book arrived on Saturday and a quick flip through the pages reveals some wonderful dresses by Pucci, Leonard, Mr. Dino, and others from the late 1960's. I'll share some of them with you soon, and thank you Lizzie!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Vintage Roadshow - Links of the Week

Glamoursplash gives a brief history of 1950's swim cap glamour.

Here's Looking Like You, Kid says, "Maggie the cat is alive.".

Couture Allure looks at shoes from 1949 and readers share where to find modern reproductions.

New at Couture Allure - Vintage Dresses and Accessories

New this week at Couture Allure are a couple of wonderful 60's evening dresses from a recent estate as well as a few scarves and necklaces.

In the 50's and 60's, if you needed a party dress or an evening gown, you headed over to the Lillie Rubin store because that was their specialty. This early 1960's cocktail dress has dangling crystals on the beaded bodice that move when you do.

The next time you want to channel the drama of a 1940's Hollywood film noir starlet like Rita Hayworth or Barbara Stanwyck, you'll want to pull this dress from your closet. Velvet and crepe combined with a side drape at the hip give you all the allure you need.

Perfect for a summer formal event or even a bride, this early 1960's evening gown is fashioned of off-white cotton pique with a dramatic band of beading that curves under the bust.

Sparkling crystal rhinestones surround marquise shaped emerald rhinestones on this exquisite vintage 1950's necklace.

This vintage Burberrys silk scarf is one of several scarves we listed this week. Check out the rest here.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Weekend Eye Candy - 1946 Charles Montaigne Evening Gown

1946, charles montaigne, evening gownOctober 1946 - French designer Charles Montaigne fashions an evening gown from yards and yards of pink and lavender striped silk. Two criss-crossed swathes of fabric form the bodice, leaving a bare midriff at the center.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Vintage Co-ordinates by Bobbie Brooks

Bobbie Brooks - almost everyone remembers that name. The company started as Ritmore Sportswear in 1939 in Cleveland, OH. Maurice Saltzman and Max Reiter took a $3000.00 investment and built a women's apparel business worth several million dollars over the next 15 years. In 1953, Salzman bought out Reiter's share in the business for $1 million and changed the name to Bobbie Brooks.

Bobbie Brooks produced co-ordinating stylish garments for the teen and junior market, and expanded into women's wear later. In 1959, the company became the first women's garment manufacturer to be listed on the NYSE. By the 1960's, Bobbie Brooks was one of the top 5 clothing manufacturers in the US with 15 factories producing 18,000,000 garments a year.

Here is an example of the genious of the Bobbie Brooks company. From 1955, 7 basic garments with enough style and panache to take a gal anywhere she wants to go. Mix and match them to your heart's content, add a couple of extra tops in colors, and you've got a wardrobe to last all summer. There are more ways to mix these pieces than I can count, but my favorite would be to wear the white blouse with the capri pants and the 3/4 sleeve jacket worn open over the blouse.

The sleeveless white blouse sold for $4.00 (about $33.00 in today's dollar).
The swing skirt sold for $6.00 (about $49.00 in today's dollar).
The hat sold for $2.00 (about $16.00 in today's dollar).
The 3/4 sleeve jacket sold for $6.00 (about $49.00 in today's dollar).
The walking shorts sold for $5.00 (about $41.00 in today's dollar).

The short shorts sold for $4.00 (about $33.00 in today's dollar).
The cuffed capri pants sold for $6.00 (about $49.00 in today's dollar).

How would you mix these pieces to make a favorite outfit?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pat Premo - California Designer

Isn't this the perfect summer dress? Not surprising, since it was designed by one of the best known California-based labels, Pat Premo. Premo, who was born and raised in California, started her design career at Peggy Hunt in the 1930s. After moving to Marjorie Montgomery, she married the owner, Bill Schminke. He then gave his wife her own label, and the Pat Premo line of daywear was born.

The Premo label was well known for casual sportswear and dresses that used fabrics and trims in a unique way. The dress above, from 1955, uses a large scale plaid cotton. The bodice is cut on the bias with a V at the waist that follows the lines of the plaid. The skirt is gathered onto that V waistline in a very flattering manner, and the gathers of the shoulder straps pull the whole dress together. As always, click the photo to see a larger view.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

1967 White Swimsuits

Nothing looks better with a deep tan than white. Now, I'm not advocating sun exposure, but if you've got it why not show it off to advantage? Here, white swimsuits from 1967 photographed by Irving Penn for Vogue magazine.

Skirted swimsuit with a surprising bare back criss-crossed by straps. Suit by Bill Blass for Roxanne in double knit nylon. Sold for $30.00 (about $196.00 in today's dollar).

Tiny bikini with bows by DeWeese in nylon jersey. Sold for $20.00 (about $131.00 in today's dollar). P.S. - I have no idea what is holding that top up!

Dotted swiss cotton/dacron blend in a girly pinafore with bikini pants by Ladybug. Sold for $23.00 (about $150.00 in today's dollar).

Pleats, pleats, and more pleats form a swim dress by Rose Marie Reid in a dacron/nylon blend. Sold for $30.00 (about $196.00 in today's dollar).

All hair ornaments are by Sant Angelo.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bare Midriffs - 1960

Believe it or not, summer is coming and with it comes hot, hot weather. Are you ready to show more skin? Have you been toning those arms and doing your crunches? Have you sloughed off that dry winter skin with a body scrub or loofa? Have you had a pedicure? It's time!

Here for inspiration are some bare midriff clothes for sandal weather from 1960.

Short sleeve button front midriff top with matching full skirt by Cabana worn with a 4-strand bead necklace and a straw hat.

Ingenious separates by Cabana. The long dress is worn as a skirt by slipping the bodice off the arms and allowing them to drape as pockets. The bra-top transforms into a belt with the dress to keep the bodice from revealing too much. I wish I had a picture of this worn as a dress! Worn with a beaded necklace that has ethnic flair and thong sandals.

At left: Pink cotton seersucker dress with a halter top that ties at the neck and back by Sportwhirl.
At right: Blue gingham check midriff top and full skirt by Junior Sophisticates.

Wrap style bra top with a matching full skirt by Robert Sloane worn with gold hoop earrings.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sweet Shoes from 1949

I don't mean sweet like candy. I mean suh-weeeeeet, like don't they make you drool?

deliso debs shoes, 1949, polka dotsDeLiso Debs polka dot linen shoes in two styles could be purchased with the matching Lennox handbag.

Cobblers wedges came in kid suede or leather in lots of colors. My favs!

White wedges in flat, low, and high heels by Fortunet.

Three styles of black leather pumps from Matrix Shoes.

Pandora suede pumps exclusively for the Famous-Barr department store in St. Louis. Love the rosette on the vamp!

UPDATE! Thanks to Deja Pseu for pointing out Re-Mix Vintage Shoes where you can buy reproduction styles from the past. And thanks to Fleur de Guerre for introducing me to Rocket Originals, who also make fabulous reproduction shoes and clothing in the UK!!!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

New at Couture Allure - Vintage Dresses and Evening Gowns

I love this stunning early 1960's evening gown by French couturier Bob Bugnand. Never heard of him? Read the listing for more information about this important designer.

One of my favorite 1950's bombshell dresses ever! Silk taffeta. Strapless shelf bust. Nude lace bustier. Big poufy drape at the hip. What's not to love?

This gorgeous red crepe evening gown from the 1940's is an Original by Olga. Crystal beads go all the way around the bodice.

Another company you may have never heard of, Design Thai was based in Bankok and produced hand-screened prints on resort and loungewear sold in high end department stores like Bergdorf Goodman and I. Magnin. This 1970's full length cotton dress can be worn by the pool or by the bar.

This 1960's wiggle dress by Mardi Gras is fashioned from a black and white cotton floral print. In a fun twist, the bodice is completely covered in matching black and white sequins.

Like the Design Thai dress, this 1960's suit also has an Asian pattern woven in red, pink, and green wool. I love the vibrant colors!

Vintage Roadshow - Links of the Week

Glamoursplash looks at swimsuits used for all kinds of advertising.

Here's Looking Like You, Kid gives you 40 lashes -- 1940's eyelashes, that is!

Debutante Clothing goes vintage shopping in her own closet.

Couture Allure shows how to wear summer whites with dresses from 1960 as inspiration.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Weekend Eye Candy - 1963 Gold Swimsuit

Horst, Vogue 1963Rose Marie Reid fashioned this dramatic 2 piece swimsuit of gold colored cotton woven with lastex and lurex gilt threads. Photo by Horst for Vogue magazine.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I Want This Dress

After my rant on Monday about my experience at the mall, I not at all surprised that General Growth Properties, second largest mall operator in the US, has filed for bankruptcy. Judging by your response to that post, I am not alone in disliking "The Shopping Mall". The retail industry is in for a bumpy ride over the next couple of years, and we are going to see many stores disappear. Hopefully, the retailers that are left will recognize that we want a better experience when we shop. Enough said - stepping off the soapbox and moving on.

I want this dress. Everything about it is perfect - the color, the drape, the long sash tie, and the fact that it looks timeless. Care to guess when it was made? Looks modern doesn't it? Go ahead, guess.

Of course, you know this blog does not feature modern clothing, so you won't be able to run to the dreaded mall and buy it today. If you could, you would find it made of polyester dreck, or maybe cheap silk if you're lucky. But, my friends, this dress is infinitely better than that. It is made of wool chiffon, a high-end, very lightweight wool with a crepe weave. Did you know that lightweight wool is very comfortable to wear in the summer? Because it is a natural fiber, it breathes and keeps you cool - unlike polyester, which will make you feel like you are wearing a sweat box. Wool drapes beautifully, resists wrinkles, and won't give you a problem with static cling. I really want this dress.

Did you guess? It was made in 1963 by Oleg Cassini Young America. If anyone out there ever finds this dress, please send it to me. I covet this dress. I need this dress. I must have this dress.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Soft 70's Hand-Painted Prints

As fashion trended away from the structured lines of 1960's Mod, we find a move toward softer, more feminine lines with lots of loose, flowing fabrics, ruffles, and draping. Many women were either going bra-less or wearing a soft knit "barely there" bra with these fashions. Shown here - gorgeous hand-painted prints from 1975. As always, click the photos for a larger view.

halston evening pyjama, 1975Halston's 3 piece evening pyjama in silk chiffon. The tunic, pants, and cape are hand-painted with yellow flowers. Sold for $950.00 (about $3,856.00 in today's dollar)

bill blass, evening pyjama, 1975Bill Blass uses a hand-painted design on a silk crepe tunic and matches it with silk crepe de Chine pyjama pants. Sold for $620.00 (about $2,517.00 in today's dollar).

zandra rhodes, evening dress, 1975Zandra Rhodes was famous for her use of her own hand-painted prints. Here a peach design on cream silk chiffon floats over a layer of cream jersey. The one-shoulder dress has a handkerchief hem. Sold for $895.00 (about $3,630.00 in today's dollar).

holly's harp, evening pyjama, 1975Holly's Harp creates a tiered silk chiffon evening coat to wear over a pistachio matte jersey camisole and long skirt. Sold for $645.00 (about $2,620.00 in today's dollar).

oscar de la renta, evening gown, 1975Oscar de la Renta offered this one-shoulder dress in bias cut silk chiffon with a hand-painted draped shawl wrap that tied at the shoulder. Sold for $615.00 (about $2,500.00 in today's dollar).

One other note - you can see clearly in these photos a make-up trend from the mid 70's. Dark bronzer or blush was used to sculpt a dramatic cheekbone. Blush was applied from the hairline down under the cheekbone and right to the apple of the cheek.

From the same time period, Couture Allure offers this gorgeous hand-painted silk evening dress by American designer Pauline Trigere.