Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Idea, May 1903 (#3)

And so we come to the end of another year.  Since it's the Southern summer, and the weather has at last decided to warm up, I bring you - bathing costumes from 1903! 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Fashion in Photographs, 1860-1880 by Miles Lambert

This book was published in 1991, and alas is no longer in print.  (One of the few problems I have with Batsford is that their publications never seem to stay in print for long.)  However if you can find a copy of it secondhand, I would recommend it.

Its contents are as stated on the cover - fashions as they appear in photographs from 1860 to 1880.  The book draws on the National Portrait Gallery in London as its source, so the pictures are heavily biased toward the rich and the famous - but then again, so are most histories of fashion.  This one at least gives the reader some idea how the clothes of the era actually looked when worn, rather than how they appeared in idealised fashion plates.  (But watch out for re-touched photographs - people tampered with images long before the invention of Photoshop!)

The book is divided by decade, and further subdivided into "Men", "Women" and "Groups".  Each photograph has a lengthy caption that tells you something about the sitters, and describes the clothes they are wearing.  The author quotes extensively from contemporary periodicals in order to demonstrate how the fashion advice of the era translated into actual garments.

I've just one bone to pick - the book seems to be slanted toward the 1860s, with much more space and many more examples being given to the former decade than the latter.  Either this bias is built into the National Portrait Gallery's collections, or Mr Lambert was more interested in the 1860s than the 1870s.  Whatever the reason, it gives Fashion in Photographs a lopsided feel, and under-represents an interesting era in dress.

Published: London: Batsford, 1991.
ISBN 07134 6392 9

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

McCalls, February 1914

Merry Christmas everyone!

The caption to this picture describes these costumes as "Advanced In Appearance, But Really Conservative In Cut".   Clearly the fashions that were coming in during the 1910s made some women uneasy - which is fair enough, because here we see the beginning of a fashion revolution.   The most obvious change is the lack of conspicuous corsetry (though women did in fact wear figure moulding "foundation garments" well into the 1960s).   For nearly a century women had given themselves artificial "hour-glass" figures by wearing tightly-laced corsets.  By 1914, however, this had given way to a more "natural" look - albeit a youthful one which older women had to work to maintain!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The "National" Money Saving Style Book, Spring & Summer 1921

This catalogue is a recent acquisition, chock full of delightful illustrations!   Unfortunately I can't scan as many of them as I would like without damaging the binding, so I'm limited in what I can share with you.

The National Suit and Cloak Company chose to put a fairly simple checked gingham "tub dress" on the cover of its 1921 summer catalogue.  Its lines are typical of the early twenties - loose fitting, but with the waist at its natural level and drapery around the hips.  The look was rather fussier than what came later, and probably distinctly unflattering to the middle aged!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Madame Weigel's Journal of Fashion, June 1934

The above picture is captioned - rather quaintly - as "Lady's and Maid's Tunic, in Two Styles".  The description continues:
Tunics now play a very important part in the world of fashion.  They are equally popular for day or evening wear.  The long-sleeved tunic has a pleated girdle at the waist.  The shorter tunic is made with sleeve cowls.  Both may be made in velvet, lame, satin, etc.

"Madame" Weigel - actually Johanna Weigel and her husband Oscar - started selling their own dressmaking patterns in Melbourne in the late 1870s.   Before coming to Australia Johanna had been a designer for McCall's in New York, and her experience there gave her the style and professionalism she brought to the Weigel's brand.  Oscar and Johanna launched their Journal of Fashion in 1880 as a showcase for their patterns, and the magazine continued at least until the early 1950s.    Weigel's remained in business producing patterns for home dressmakers until the end of the 1960s.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Vogue First-of-the-Month Collection, December 1946

A 'One-piece dress and jacket,"Easy-to-Make"', courtesy of Vogue Patterns.  Interestingly, this is clearly a summer dress - though it appears on the cover of a catalogue published in the U.S.A. in the middle of the northern winter.  Perhaps Vogue intended it to be made by those lucky souls who could afford to holiday in warmer climes - or perhaps it was aimed at slow amateur dressmakers who would need six months lead time to be ready for summer!