Friday, March 28, 2014

The Dior "Bar" Suit: A Neiman Marcus Copy

There's no look more iconic than the Dior "Bar" suit of 1947.  The exaggerated silhouette and free use of fabric galvanized a fashion industry that had faced strict wartime rationing, and ushered in the post-World War II era.

Christian Dior, "Bar" suit,Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
The look was widely copied, and this Christmas, my brother gave me a suit jacket that's very clearly modeled on the "Bar" suit.

The label, which indicates it was made for Neiman Marcus' flagship store in Dallas, is of the style used in the post-war 1940s, meaning the jacket must have been made shortly after Dior's groundbreaking debut.  I've said it before, I'll say it again, vintage labels are a godsend, and so is the Vintage Fashion Guild.

Beyond being just a terrific guild for a vintage clothing hound, it means a lot to me-- it's from the same store my brother and I went to when I visited him in Dallas.  I love having pieces created in the same city in which I've found them, so on many levels, I'm so thrilled to have this jacket.

To mimic the "Bar" suit silhouette, I paired it with a long wool Pendleton skirt, and added a crinoline underneath to give it just a little volume.  The hat--from the same place as the suit jacket!--is also from Neiman Marcus' Dallas store, made only a few years after the jacket.

I wanted to photograph this so much earlier, but man, the holidays are not the time to try and fit into a Dior-inspired suit--especially since I don't have a waist cincher.  As it is, I took these right after a breakfast of French toast.  ...I've had better ideas.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Cambridge Vintage: Oona's Experienced Clothing

I tell you what, this winter just won't quit. My blogging schedule's gotten off a little, partly because of the weather-- between the cold and the wind, it's been really hard to get photos, or to even want to go outside for photos.  But this past weekend I bundled up and went to visit one of my oldest friends in my old stamping grounds of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and made a few stops at some of my favorite vintage spots.

A lot has changed since I lived in Cambridge, including the vintage scene-- one of the best stores around closed, and another one went the route of modern clothing consignment-- so I was relieved when I arrived at Oona's Experienced Clothing.  

Circa 2010, Oona's was a small shop packed to the gills with clothing that ran the gamut, in terms of quality, and the experience bordered on overwhelming.  Since then, the owner's given Oona a complete makeover: it's spacious, beautifully decorated, and features a much more carefully curated selection of clothing, from vintage to modern. The prices are beyond reasonable--my finds, below, put me back about $50 total!

Beautiful mural outside the store's entrance
Accessories and perfume
Dresses and HATS!
Oona's has a huge men's collection.

I will now be on the lookout for one of these glove stands, as my gloves are
currently housed in a shoe organizer. Not very ladylike.
My finds! Two hats--a 60s turban-esque pillbox, an equestrian-themed
topper, and a really pretty Italian mosaic brooch.
One store I never actually visited while I lived in Cambridge was the Garment District. It's a two-story affair, with clothing by the pound in the lower level, and sorted modern and vintage above. I have never been brave enough to wade into a by-the-pound store, so I went right upstairs.  Though there was a very large selection of clothes, I was a little disappointed by how damaged a lot of the stock was-- dresses rarely came with their belts, and were often threadbare--but I will say there were definitely beautiful items to be found.  Case in point: a Ship 'n Shore blouse I found, with tags!

In fact, the tag is the only reason I'm making a point of posting this blouse, and you'll see why below:

It's a bubble tag! Finding New Old Stock with tags attached is always such a thrill, and I'm really happy to have found a Ship 'n Shore in particular. I've had one of their blouses for about three years now, and I can attest, it is indeed unconditionally washable!

What's the best NOS item you've found, or hope to find one day?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Luck o' the Irish: Revenge of the Tacky Sweater

In keeping with the theme from last post, Things On Loan from My Girlfriend, I present this terrific sweater, which Kate brought to Providence specifically so I could wear/photograph it on St Patrick's Day.  Had I been ahead of the game, I would've worn it *before* the day and posted photos on the 17th, but alas, between the poor weather and all the sewing on my mind, I am anything but ahead of the game right now.

Actually not Irish, but an older American-made sweater.
I suppose the Irish probably don't festoon their own sweaters with shamrocks...
If you've followed my blog for a few months now, you might have seen my sequin-filled series tribute to the holiday season, The Twelve Days of Christmas Sweaters.  I was just short of giddy at getting to revisit the holiday sweater spirit with this gem. I hesitate a little to call it "tacky," both because it was a gift to Kate from one of her very dear relatives (all of whom are Irish), and because I think, if it actually fit, it'd be just plain charming.  There's something about a sweater being oversize that makes it hard to take seriously.

Anyway, I have zero qualms about looking slightly tacky myself, so I pulled this shamrock-laced sweater on while Kate and I ran some errands.  Note to self: if you visit a store called "Just Fabric," they're going to sell, uh, just... fabric. Oops.

Sweater Victory.
We took some very quick photos before heading off to cap our day with a drink at an Irish pub. 
Mmm. Smithwick's. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Tuxalicious: 1930s Tuxedo Pants

I sincerely hope you're not tired of seeing me in menswear, because as spake immortal Miley Cyrus, "We can't stop, and we won't stop."

These pants are on loan from my girlfriend, who wore them in a production of Father of the Bride many years ago in summer stock. And by "on loan," I mean they're mine, forever.

The NRA label dates the pants to 1933-1935, which is a terrifically specific period--I think the smallest window of any label I've come across.  They haven't reached old age without a few battle scars--moths got to them, I'm assuming while in costume storage, and the stripes down the sides have seen better days.  I've patched up the bigger holes, and I may look at trying to cover the bald spots on the stripes with some new ribbon (without disturbing the original).  I haven't been able to mend every small hole, as there's just too many, but as with people, sometimes it's better to just accept and love vintage clothing as-is.

Evidence these pants lived in a costume shop-- a slightly hurried alteration!
The stripe's a little worn at the pockets

I'm actually thrilled to have tux pants from the '30s, regardless of their condition, and to have them with suspenders? Forget about it.

I'm actually not thrilled with this photo, but I realized I totally blanked on getting a shot of the back of the suspenders, and they're visible here in the glass reflection.
*I'm not convinced the suspenders are original--I suspect the pants were taken in a couple inches, and I wonder whether, in bringing the sides together, two buttons were lost, aka they were originally fitted for two separate suspenders. Any thoughts are welcome!

It's windy out there!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Delineator: August 1928

I love flipping through old magazines.  You catch snatches of antiquated writing styles, ads for cosmetic products that probably wouldn't pass current FDA standards, and of course, you get a glimpse of the hot new fashions your great-grandma might've worn.  

I found this copy of The Delineator, from August 1928, and am loving every page.  A publication of Butterick, The Delineator ran from 1869 (under the name The Metropolitan Monthly) until 1939, sharing fashion spreads and recipes, hawking sewing patterns, and publishing short stories and poetry by the likes of Edith Wharton and L. Frank Baum.  In fact, this latter feature causes me a little bit of heartache when I read the magazine-- in September 1928, the magazine says, in addition to an in-depth fashion review (it would be the September Issue, after all), the issue would feature the first installment of a new Wharton novel. One month short! Just kill me.

As it stands, though, the August issue is chock-full of great fashion plates and advertisements-- check it out!

Ms. Marie Beynon Ray, a major Francophile, writes that because Paris itself is devoted to beauty and exclusivity, it's the natural home of fashion, whereas the States, being devoted to practicality and mass production, can only emulate or inspire fashion. With sketches like these, it's hard to argue:

Someone had the idea of doing an ABC's of cruising.  After all, it was the Golden Age of ocean liners:

It reads:
A is the Alphabet boarding the ship
They have promised to write an account of the trip.

B is for "Bon Voyage," which every one knows is
The French "Goodbye," when you say it with posies.

C is the Captain, the king of the Boat,
Not elected (thank Heaven) by popular vote.

D's the Deck-steward, with tactful financing,
He will give you a chair where the view is entrancing.

E is the Electrical Horse in the Gym,
It won't take you far, but 'twill keep you in trim.


The fashion spreads are really in-depth, and show smaller reverse images of the views shown. Since it's a Butterick publication, the dresses, coats, etc. all correspond to available patterns, whose fabric requirements and sizings are described below each sketch.

As I try to learn more about sewing and costuming, these layouts and descriptions are priceless.

From an article, "Hemlines and Necklines in the New Mode":

And a few ads!

I found this last ad really interesting, in terms of fabric history. I'm not an expert on fabric timelines, so I really love reading this article detailing the uses of the new miracle fabric:

What's your favorite source of vintage inspiration?