Sunday, February 28, 2010

Every Day Will Count

Thank you all so very much for your heartfelt thoughts, prayers, and words of condolence over the past week. The loss of my dear sister has been devastating to me and my entire family. Your words meant a lot.

My sister Barbara was 5 years younger than me, which disproves the theory "Older is wiser", as she taught me many life lessons through the years. Barbara taught me how important it is to define your dreams and then go and get them for yourself. She taught me that it was OK to pursue being happy with my life. She taught me to take care of myself first, so I could be the best mom possible for my children. She taught me what it means to be a friend through her ability to listen and care. She taught me what it means to be a sister through her love for me, Pam, Becky and Brenda. She taught me what it means to be a daughter through her abiding love and respect for our parents. She taught me what it means to be a mother through her willingness to do anything for her children. She taught me what it means to be an aunt through her caring for all her nieces and nephews.

Barbara's passing has left a rift in my family that will never be filled. I wish that I had spoken with her in the week before she died and told her how much I loved her. As it is, I must believe that she knows it somehow.

Please reach out to someone in your family today and tell them that you love them. You never know if it will be your last chance.

During the past week, I found the following passage written by Barbara in her journal. It was written sometime in 2000, the year she turned 39. It was read at her memorial service on Thursday, and I want to share it with you here.

"What can I say, but be true to you and you will never disappoint yourself.
Try to treat your children as you would see your perfect self behave.
Don't sell yourself short. Amazing things can happen - even at 39.
If you were to know that you would have your last year on earth - how would you live your life?
Don't settle.
Know that every day will count.
Go surf, ride the bike with the kids, plant a tree, put a fence in, put a hot tub in.
Try to make a difference for your children."

Rest in peace now, my beautiful sister. I love you.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sad Times

Dear friends,

Tragedy has struck my family today with the sudden death of my younger sister Barbara. I will not be posting here for the next several days while I mourn this loss which leaves a large and empty space in my heart.

Thank you,

Weekend Eye Candy - Christian Dior 1948

The perfect hat for spring, this 1948 cartwheel of pink feathers is by Christian Dior. Wide hats like this were worn to balance the new fuller skirts that had just been introduced the year before.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Welcome Fab Over 50!

You've heard me mention the upcoming Fab Over 50 website a few times in the last several months. The inspiration of Geri Brin, Fab Over 50 is a site that celebrates women of style and substance who just happen to be living the best years of their lives.

Today, I am extremely honored to tell you that Couture Allure Vintage Fashion has been chosen as the exclusive vintage clothing website to be featured at Fab Over 50. Couture Allure offers the web's finest selection of classic vintage clothing, clothing that appeals to fashionable women of all ages, including my sisterhood of fabulous women over 50 all over the world. I am very proud that Couture Allure is included among the list of outstanding shops that are recommended by Fab Over 50. Thank you, Geri!

The Fab Over 50 website launched last night. If, like me, you've been anxiously anticipating being part of this vibrant community, your wait is over. Go take a look at Fab Over 50 and register as a member today!

Giveaway #8 Winner!

The winner of the 1960 book "Interior Decoration" is Lucite Box! Congratulations, Holly. I'll be in touch via e-mail so I can ship your book.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Going Braless - 1973

One would think by looking at an issue of Vogue from 1973, that we women let it all hang out. I can remember going without a bra when wearing a darker colored shirt or sweater that didn't allow things to show through, but I never wore my blouses unbuttoned to the waist. And I didn't go braless when wearing t-shirts or other garments made from thinner fabrics. While these photos are titillating, they don't represent the everyday woman of the time, but that is often true of images in Vogue.

St. Laurent Rive Gauche pink silk crepe de chine blouse, unbuttoned and untied. Sold for $135 in 1973 (about $693 in today's dollar).

St. Laurent Rive Gauche black silk jersey blouse, unbuttoned, and skirt. Set sold for $355 in 1973 (about $1822 in today's dollar).

Missoni rayon knit blouse, unbuttoned, with elastic waist was available in white or navy.

Black poly/rayon crepe tunic, unbuttoned, and wide leg pant pyjama by Leonard Fashion. Set sold for $300 in 1973 (about $1540 in today's dollar).

Blassport black wool gabardine one-button suit worn with nothing underneath. Sold for $200 in 1973 (about $1027 in today's dollar).

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Top Hit" Scarves by Baar & Beards

I love it when I have one of those serendipitous moments while perusing a vintage magazine.

Last week, I listed this vintage silk scarf. It's by Baar & Beards, a relatively well-known scarf company from the 1940s and 50s. This particular scarf is sheer silk chiffon with a print of bearded iris, and what look like daffodils and cherry blossoms with a border of hearts and clovers.

The label says "a 'Top Hit' fashion". At the time, I wondered what that meant, but I had no clue.

This morning, I was looking through a magazine from 1949, and this ad in the back popped out at me because there was that phrase "Top Hit fashion" again. Turns out, Baar and Beards did a line of scarves inspired by popular "Top Hit" songs. This ad features a scarf design with buttons and bows, which was a smash hit song "Buttons and Bows" sung by Jane Russell in the movie "The Paleface".

Darned if I can figure out what song my scarf is based on, though. If you have an idea, please let me know. I'd love to figure it out!

Here's Jane Russell, Bob Hope, and Roy Rogers singing "Buttons and Bows". Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Jonathan Logan

I am always pleased when I find a 1950s dress with the Jonathan Logan label, because I know that denotes a dress that is well made and has stood the test of time. Jonathan Logan dresses are always stylish and, many times, just down-right adorable. It's no wonder they are so popular with my customers!

Founded in 1944 by David Schwartz in New York's Garment District, by 1962, the company's sales had reached $80 million. Schwartz managed that by going against the norm in the garment industry. He employed 60 salesmen who were on the road, visiting stores to take orders and reporting on styles that were selling well. In this way, the company was able to react quickly and pull slow-sellers from the line, while stepping up production on styles that were hot.

Schwartz insisted on staying in the Junior market because, though only 20% of the country's women wore Junior sizes, those women bought 35% of all clothes.

In 1962, the company had 28 manufacturing plants all over the U.S., with a centralized distribution center in New Jersey. It was one of the first to use a Univac computer to sort orders. And it owned a C46 transport aircraft to fly fabrics and finished goods between the manufacturing plants and the distribution center.

Schwartz also owned the Butte Knit, Youth Guild, and Junior Accent labels, and began the Bleeker Street line in 1966 to appeal to the Mod generation.

Please note: Biographical information about Jonathan Logan is copyright of Couture Allure and may not be copied without permission.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Look of Suits - 1962

It's 1962, and women's suits look very different from just a few years earlier. Jackets are shorter and boxier. Skirts are also shorter and slim-cut, often with a few tiny gathers over the hips. Many suits consist of a dress with matching jacket. But they're all elegant and supremely lady-like.

Maurice Rentner suit in red, white, and navy. The wool suit comes with a white cotton pique blouse decorated with the same ribbon that edges the jacket. Hat by Emme.

Frank Gallant wool tweed in a mix of black, brown, and white belted and buttoned in leather. Sold for $190 in 1962 (about $1350 in today's dollar). Hat by Mr. John.

Branell linen and wool blend tweed in pale beige with black silk binding and buttons. Sold for $185 in 1962 (about $1314 in today's dollar). Hat by Mr. John.

Travilla white wool boucle flecked with orange suit with an orange silk chiffon blouse. Hat by Sally Victor. Jewelry by Cadoro.

Marquise diagonal worsted wool in sandy beige with a buff-color silk blouse. Straw breton hat by Mr. John. Sold for $215 in 1962 (about $1527 in today's dollar). Hat by Mr. John.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

New at Couture Allure - Vintage Designer Dresses and Evening Gowns

This week, I've added a few pieces to the site from important designers. If you want up-to-the-minute reports about What's New at Couture Allure, become a fan on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, where I always post about new items immediately after they're added to the site.

1950s Bonnie Cashin Cotton Dress - a museum piece from very early in her career

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Weekend Eye Candy - Balenciaga 1950

Embroidered black tulle over a nude lining embellished with a huge red taffeta bow. Balenciaga, May 1950. Click the photo to see a larger view.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Couture Allure Giveaway #8

Today's giveaway is for a copy of the book "House & Garden's Complete Guide to Interior Decoration" from 1960. This is a large coffee-table size book with 320 pages of incredible home decorating ideas filled with mid-century modern furniture. The dust jacket has some tears and curling at the edges, but otherwise, the book is in excellent condition.

I know, I know - it's not clothes. But if you love vintage fashion, I have an inkling that you'll love this book too. I mean, a leopard rug? Come on - you know you love it.

How do you enter to win? Simple! Visit my website, and pick your favorite item for sale. Leave a comment here with a link to that item and you're entered! OR become a new fan of Couture Allure on Facebook, come back here and leave a comment that you've done so. Do both, and you're entered twice! The winner will be drawn on Friday, February 19th. Please note: If your Blogger profile does not include your email address, please leave it in your comment so I have a way to contact you. The book will be shipped via Media Mail in the U.S. and Global Priority Mail outside the U.S. It is important to note - if you live outside the U.S., I will need to ask you to pay the postage costs, which could be as much as $47.00 depending upon where in the world you live.

Giveaway #7 Winner!

The winner of the book "1000 Hats" is Sunshine! Congratulations, Sunshine. I'll be in touch via e-mail so I can ship your book.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cute Capelet - 1954

Isn't this adorable? I'm a sucker for great details, and I think this capelet from 1954 has a lot of character. It was featured in an ad for Wiss Pinking Shears, and for 25¢, they would send you the pattern. The pieces are cut with pinking shears so the edges don't ravel, and the seams are accented with buttons. It looks like there are short darts at the neckline to help shape the pieces.

If I was a better pattern maker, this would probably be pretty easy to figure out, but you could also adapt a sewing pattern by just removing the seam allowances at the front and overlapping the seam allowances at the sides. I'd make it in 100% wool felt, not the cheap polyester craft felt you find in most fabric stores.

And, hey! If I've inspired you today, I want to see a picture of your finished project!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Awful 80s Fashion #3

Another installment in our public service posts about how not to dress - I bring you more awful 80s fashion.

Please don't wear sheer teal green pantyhose with teal green shoes. And please don't think your teal green legs look so hot that you need to expose more of them with a shirttail hemmed dress. Please.

UPDATED to add - If you want to see teal tights done right, take at look at Sal's outfit from yesterday at Already Pretty. She contrasts her opaque tights with a slim black skirt and black shoes. Not awful at all!

There's a way to do stripes right. This ain't it.

Better watch out if you live near the water and it's duck hunting season.

Grandma's doilies don't belong on your dress - especially as cuffs on your sleeves.

Plaid pants? Never. I said never! And please get a haircut.

Little embroidered whales on pants? Never. I SAID NEVER!

Only 2 more days to sign up for our latest giveaway - 1000 Hats! The book, not the hats.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Chiffon for Evening - 1963

It's 1963, and silk chiffon is just the thing for evening wear. Silk chiffon is such a romantic fabric. Lighter-than-air, it floats and drifts in subtle waves as you move, catching the eye in an alluring manner.

Frank Starr offered this evening gown in pale tints of coral, blue, or mint green silk chiffon. Sold in 1963 for $160 (about $1122 in today's dollar).

A Saks Fifth Avenue exclusive, this ensemble consisted of a silk shantung shell and jacket over layers of silk chiffon in the skirt. Sold for $225 in 1963 (about $1577 in today's dollar).

We've got drifts of silk chiffon available at Couture Allure. Yards upon yards of green silk chiffon make up this gorgeous evening gown from the early 1960s.

This 1960s evening gown is fashioned of silk chiffon in blue and white. We've attributed this dress to Sarmi.

Monday, February 08, 2010

The Proliferation of Unrealistic Digitally Enhanced Images in Advertising

Back in December, Procter and Gamble was slapped by the British Advertising Standards Authority for misleading the public when they "digitally re-touched" a photograph of Twiggy used in an ad for an Olay product.

A bit much, isn't it? I am of the opinion that the use of Photoshop and other programs to "digitally enhance" or airbrush advertising images to give the impression of perfection is way out of hand and far too prevalent.

Linda Evangelista in a L'Oreal ad and in a live appearance.

Andie MacDowell in a L'Oreal ad and on the Red Carpet.

When did it become unacceptable to show that women have lived rich and fulfilling lives - lives that naturally give us smile lines, larger pores, saggy eyelids, and crow's feet? When will advertisers stop making us feel bad about ourselves by presenting us with impossible to obtain results? I, for one, would prefer to buy products from a company that has the guts to show me natural results without digitally enhancing it's advertising images. And I'm sure I'm not alone.

Take a look at these images of Cheryl Tiegs from 1975. These photos appeared in an issue of Harper's Bazaar magazine as part of a spread about new make-up products. (Pardon the ripples in the paper. The magazine got wet sometime over the years.)

Click to enlarge this photo, and you'll clearly see Chery's pores and tiny lines under her eyes - "faults" which would have been Photoshopped away in a 2010 image.

Click to enlarge and look at those wonderful lines around Chery's eyes - lines that show true joy and laughter.

Click to enlarge and you'll see that, even on the cover, you can see faint lines to the sides of Cheryl's mouth and under her eyes.

Chery's age in these photos? 28. A true and natural 28, not a digitally-enhanced one.