Monday, February 28, 2011

McCall Style News, 1933

1933, and fashion has gone to women's shoulders.  McCall obtains the broad-shouldered effect in these two patterns for summer dresses by draping the short sleeves to achieve a "cape" effect.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Woman and Beauty, 1954 and The Art of Being a Well Dressed Wife, 1959

Many women virtually ignore hats in their wardrobes, a tendency to be mourned.  Historically and romantically, hats have been a symbol of a woman, yet today men wear more hats than women - which is a deplorable situation.

Don't shun hats.  They are a difficult part of the wardrobe, but worth perfecting.  The cliche about a woman buying a hat to cheer her up couldn't be truer.  A hat can buoy your emotions as well as your looks.  Since every wardrobe must have basic headwear for church, community affairs, and extremes of cold and hot weather, don't take the first hat that comes along or least conspicuous one as a 'necessary evil'.  Develop your own hat stylishness as a means of expressing your own individualism.

Anne Fogarty, The Art of Being a Well Dressed Wife (1959)

I found a reprint of Anne Fogarty's treatise on "wife dressing" on Friday, and since then have been enjoying browsing her advice on dressing the part of the perfect helpmate, 1950s style.  A few years before she penned the words above deploring the demise of the hat Woman and Beauty published this delightful millinery confection on its cover.  However, both Fogarty and the magazine were fighting a losing battle: the hat slid from favour for everyday wear and now mostly appears on the racecourse on in extreme weather.  I know at least one person who was young in the late fifties who was heartily glad to see it go!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Girl's Own Paper, September 1884

In our large sketch by the seaside our artist has taken a portion of the beach at Ramsgate as a background for his figures, and everyone looks thoroughly comfortable, as if their holiday was a real one, not a sham.
The fashion column in The Girl's Own Paper was called "Dress: In Season and In Reason", but to modern eyes these dresses look neither reasonable nor comfortable wear for the beach!  From left to right the main figures are wearing a "coloured batiste with Venetian embroidery", "a black lace dress, made up over grey silk" and "one of the new tunics with a puffed front".

Monday, February 21, 2011

Flair, 1958

"This mid-20th century has given us so many new fabrics that weigh almost nothing, that one woman should be able to pack enough clothes into a 45lb. luggage allowance to for the entire round-the-world air trip."
Headed "Australian Fashions and Where To Buy Them", Flair heralded the post-war consumer society.  Among the things available to consumers were a whole range of new easy-to-care for synthetic fabrics and cheaper air travel.  The fifties, however, was a decade which still laid down strict rules as to what could be worn where and when - so Flair steps into the breach here to suggest ways to make the most of an airline luggage allowance.  This issue of the magazine also contains advice on getting passports and visas for the novice traveller.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Vogue (British edition) 1946

Photographed by Cecil Beaton, this sophisticated fuschia evening dress was designed by Peter Russell for the London Designers' Collections for Export.  This put it out of reach even for most readers of Vogue - clothes like this were designed strictly for export to help Britain's precarious balance of payments.  Meanwhile at home clothing was still tightly rationed and designs regulated.  Luxury wear like this would have been the stuff of dreams only.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Australian Home Journal, 1926

The Australian Home Journal was founded in 1894, and until the early sixties promoted its own brand of paper dress patterns which it sold through the mail.  I picked up this issue, published in 1926, in a local collectibles shop.  Though the cover is slightly soiled the inside is in beautiful condition, containing features on fashion and dressmaking as well as short stories, recipes and advice columns.  The picture above illustrates the sleek, almost severe, styles of the mid-1920s, in a version the average home-dressmaker could make for herself.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Vogue Pattern Book, 1963

This quintessentially sixties fashion is described as a "patio dress" (actually a long pair of culottes) designed for casual summer evening wear.  It is an example of the move towards more informal styles during the decade.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Distinction, 1970

The magazine is called Distinction, and the model on the cover certainly looks distinguished in her coat and skirt outfit by Nina Ricci.

Inside the magazine is full of straightforward fashion reportage but not much glamour: it contains lots of almost documentary-style black and white pictures with descriptive captions.   This makes Distinction a fascinating resource for the fashion historian, but alas! it was in its final years in 1970.  The magazine which carefully spelled out what was "in" and what was "out" became pointless in the chaotic "do you own thing" fashion world of the 1970s and eventually folded.

Friday, February 11, 2011

"Floral Frocks" by Rosemary Harden and Jo Turney

In the middle of last century almost every woman had a floral shirtwaist frock in their wardrobe.    Floral Frocks: A Celebration of the Floral Printed Dress from 1900 to the Present Day covers the rise and fall of this garment through the 20th century, with a particular emphasis on the years between the late 1920s and mid-1960s.  It summarizes the styles that were fashionable through the century as well as changes in textile design and clothing manufacture in this era.

What makes this book a particular pleasure to read, however, is the fact that the authors are interested in the floral frock as it was worn by ordinary women in work and play.  Floral Frocks is thus more than a history of fashionable design.  It is filled with snapshots and anecdotes from the original wearers of these dresses, making it a fascinating oral and social history of the mid-20th century.

The second (and smaller) part of the book covers the late 1960s through to today, and is rather more theoretical in its approach - and thus less appealing than the first part.  It still manages to cover some interesting material, however!

(Woodbridge, Suffolk : Antique Collectors' Club, c2007.  ISBN: 9781851495382)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Stitchcraft, 1940

There's no date on this magazine, but by my calculations it was published in October 1940.  It's hard to believe these two elegant card players were living in the middle of the Blitz!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Farmer's catalogue, Spring-Summer 1951-1952

Farmer's was a Sydney department store.  The dress the model on the cover is wearing was made of screen-printed English cotton.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Stitchcraft, 1937

Though my efforts at knitting usually result in a tangled waste of wool, I have a rather large collection of these little craft magazines.  This is mainly due to the wonderfully stylish photographs on the cover and inside.  Of course Stitchcraft was published by Conde Nast (publishers of Vogue), so it's no wonder it has a touch of class!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Lana Lobell catalog, 1968

The phrase "generation gap" was coined in the 1960s, and it was as true of fashion as any other element of the decade.

By 1968 modes were being set by the very young and the very radical, and the clothes worn by the not-so-young and more conservative tend to be overlooked in the histories of the era.  This catalogue is aimed at such consumers.  The clothes depicted within follow the trends without being extreme.  On the cover the models wear modishly short, but not thigh-baring, skirts.  Confusingly, though, they also wear hats and gloves, items soon to be worn only by the elderly or in the most formal of situations.