Monday, January 21, 2013

Book Review: "What Shall I Wear" by Claire McCardell

Claire McCardell's classic book What Shall I Wear? originally written in 1956, was republished by Overlook Press in November 2012.  I was offered a free copy of the book to review for you and have completely enjoyed reading it during my travels this month.

Claire McCardell

As you probably know, Claire McCardell was one of America's most famous designers of easy, wearable dresses and sportswear in the 1940s and 50s.  Her clothing is still relevant today and is not only highly collectible, but completely wearable as part of a modern wardrobe.

What Shall I Wear? gives the modern reader a delightful view of fashion and dressing from the perspective of 1956.  Just as McCardell's designs are wearable today, her advice is, for the most part, pertinent for the modern woman.  When reading the book, you will need to dismiss (with a smile) certain references that were the norm in 1956, such as gloves being a necessity or the maximum 60 pounds of luggage allowed for airplane travel.  At the same time, I urge you to take note of the attitude towards purchasing pieces for your wardrobe that is as far from today's "fast fashion" approach as can be.  McCardell's advice, "Plan to keep what you buy.", is something I truly believe we should aspire to as responsible world citizens today.

Here are a few more gems of wisdom from the book:

"Don't try to live up to Fashion.  First of all, stay firmly you.  And if Fashion seems to be saying something that isn't right for you, ignore it."

"Ask yourself about color....I suspect you can wear more variety than you think....Texture affects color.  Turquoise in satin and turquoise in jersey are two entirely different stories.  In a shiny fabric, color may be too bright, too hard to live up to.  In a dull fabric it is softer, may seem an entirely different color even though it has been put into the same dye pot."

"I believe firmly that any woman who loves clothes is going to be a collector....Certain clothes will stay in her wardrobe for years......You will bless the ageless clothes in your collection.  They are the backbone of any closet, things you can depend on when you need them."

To me, this is the essence of why we love vintage clothing.  It was designed and made to be worn for years and years.  Those vintage garments we search out and add to our wardrobes are purchased to become part of our closet collections, and are still working half a century or more later.  You will find the same to be true of almost all of the advice dispensed in "What Shall I Wear" by Claire McCardell.  This is truly a charming and delightful read that will cause you to think about your wardrobe from a classic perspective, one we need to rediscover and recapture today.

You can order your own copy of "What Shall I Wear" by clicking the link.  It will take you directly to the book on Amazon.  Enjoy!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Postage Woes

The U.S. Postal Service is implementing a price increase this month, and it's a doozy.  In all the years I've been shipping vintage around the world, I have never seen such a major price increase hit all at once.  Those of you who order from overseas will be especially hard hit.  And I am very sorry about that.  Increased shipping costs will affect us all and there is no way to avoid them.  Here at Couture Allure, we haven't raised our shipping charges since 2010, but I cannot absorb the increases this time. It pains me to announce this, but our shipping prices have been increased as of today.  I have held the line as tightly as possible for you, but I know you will notice the difference.  Unfortunately, it is unavoidable.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Sweet Separates, 1955

I've talked many times in the past about my love for coordinating separates from the 50s and you've heard me complain that companies no longer do this.  Just take a look at these sweet separates from 1955.  I don't know who the manufacturer is, as this is just a random image I found online.  But look!  The little running people are cut out from the print and appliqued onto the solid pink blouse.  You could wear the print blouse with the print skirt and it would look like a dress.  And the pink shoes are just perfect!  I want.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Kane-Weill, New York Dress Manufacturer

Lloyd Weill on vacation in Boca Raton
Kane-Weill.  The name automatically brings to mind fabulous dresses from the 1950s.  There is very little information about the company available, but here are a few tidbits I've been able to find.

The Weill portion of the company name comes from owner Lloyd Weill.  I have not been able to find out if there was ever a Mr. Kane, but it makes sense that there would be.  The company was in existence as early as the 1940s and was still in business in the mid 1960s, though under a different name.

Lloyd Weill was known for his singing voice and would often offer up a few tunes before his fashion shows.  He was great friends with designer Herbert Sondheim. Weill and Sondheim's son Stephen would often pair up and entertain at parties with Lloyd singing accompanied by Stephen on the piano.

Kane-Weill dresses were often featured in full page ads in the high fashion magazines of the time, even though their garments had a lower price point than many that graced the pages of Vogue and Bazaar.

By 1958, the name of the company had changed to Lloyd Weill and they continued to make mid-priced but high quality dresses into the 60s.

If anyone has further information about the company, please leave a comment here or contact me directly.  Thank you!





1958, the name has changed to Lloyd Weill