Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Australian Home Journal, 1938

Spring "frocks", available as patterns from The Australian Home Journal in September 1938. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Stitchcraft, 1951

Summer is very definitely over in the Southern Hemisphere, so what could be more snuggly appropriate than this picture of a hand-knitted jacket from the fifties?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

"70s Fashion Fiascos" by Maureen Valdes Marsh

Or to give it its full title: 70s Fashion Fiascos: Studio 54 to Saturday Night Fever: Your Guide to the Funky, Flashy Looks of the 1970s, Where Disco Never Dies and Denim Never Fades.

With a title like that you'd expect this book to be only 112 pages of mockery and polyester.  However it is definitely more than that.  Maureen Valdes Marsh covers the trends of the 70s - from mini-skirts to granny dresses, from leisure suits to pants suits - with a light and humorous touch, but conveys a wealth of information about the social and sartorial trends of the decade as well.  For instance, how many people have heard of a "pants in"?  Or understand the role of nurses in making trousers acceptable wear for women in the workplace?

The author is a collector of vintage catalogs and fashion magazines, so the book is lavishly illustrated with pictures from contemporary American mail order catalogs such as Sears, J.C. Penney, Montgomery Ward and Aldens. 

(Published by Collectors Press, 2006.  ISBN 9781933112268)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Skylark Original Fashions, 1967

Here is another pants suit, dating from a few years earlier than the 1970 version I posted earlier.  Made in rayon, this costume was described as "the In Outfit" in the Skylark Original Fashions catalogue, and the advertisers claimed (rather optimistically) that it could be worn "anywhere".  However the catalogue also listed a matching skirt which could be used to make "presto" changes, indicating that trouser suits for women were sometimes more fashionable than acceptable in 1967.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

McCall Style News, 1947

The publisher describes this early post-war evening dress as stunning, and it certainly is that.  The model looks as if she has just stepped out of a 1940s Hollyood film noir.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Style Pattern Book, 1970

By the late 1960s the miniskirt had shrunk until the fashionable length barely skimmed the tops of women's thighs.  Not unnaturally, many women found this unflattering and embarrassing - but as the "midi-skirt" was considered old-fashioned and dowdy, what could they wear instead?  The answer was the pants suit, seen here in one of its early incarnations as a tunic with trousers.  In length and style the tunics weren't too different from the dresses of the era - and in fact could be worn as dresses on occasion.  There are stories from this period, perhaps apocryphal, of pant-suited women being refused admittance to venues such as restaurants, but managing to conform to the establishments' dress-codes by whipping off their offending trousers and wearing only the top halves of their outfits instead.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Vogue (US), 1940

Sadly this magazine is not in very good condition - pages have been cut out and someone has doodled over it in pencil.

By 1940 trousers for women were acceptable in limited circumstances - on the beach, for example, or for gardening.  During the war years women started wearing them in more public settings as they engaged in more traditionally masculine occupations and feminine fripperies such as stockings became harder to get.  The model on the cover of this issue of American Vogue still wears "slacks" in a peacetime garden setting, while across the Atlantic women were starting to wear them for war work.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Weldon's Ladies Journal, March 1911

Fresh from France via eBay - a package of six issues of Weldon's Ladies Journal from 1911.  Here we have the first issue, which is exactly 100 years old:

The front cover illustrates the free patterns given away with the issue: a coat and skirt, a matron's bodice, a cycling skirt, "blue serge knicker[bocker]s for a boy" and a lady's camisole and knickers.

And on the back cover: "Artistic Fashions for the Spring Season" - available as patterns from Weldon's.  Note the narrow skirts and the wide hats - possible THE distinguishing fashion features of the period.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Flair, 1963

This dress is right up to the minute with its body-skimming lines and dropped waistline.  Notice that the model is carrying, but not wearing a hat - no doubt because she was afraid it would mess up her bouffant hair-do!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

La Mode, 1923

This French weekly was published on cheap paper (you can see the discolouration in the scan) but still manages to be very stylish.  The very chic and feminine model on the cover appears to be dressed for a garden party in a picture hat and a slightly bouffant skirt.