Second Hand Shops

Have you visited your local second hand clothing shop lately? If not, you are missing a bet. Oh, I know what you are thinking…. that you wouldn’t want to wear something that someone else has already worn and may be out of style. I think you should take a second look; things are not what you think.

Vintage clothing and used clothing may have a bad reputation of being ratty and out of style. Not the case at all…vintage clothing has become big business, and if you doubt my word, take a moment or two and go to the web site: www.secondhandrosevintage.com. I think you will be greatly surprised. This company has many sites in many states now, and seems to be growing.

The articles of clothing are carefully selected, clean, fashionable, and very wearable. Many people are in auto clubs, museums, historical groups, stage shows, etc., that need period clothing. Designer fashions are greatly sought after, and the prices seem to be right, for the quality of the clothing. Names like Adele Simpson, Edith Head, Lilli Ann and Christian Dior come to mind. These are names to watch for in your hunt.

But, even if you don’t find designer fashions in your quest, take time to look through the racks and racks of second hand clothing. You may be surprised at what you find and at what price you find it at. And, really, do fashions change that much? Do things really go out of style if they are well made and well taken care of? I have many friends who regularly shop second hand clothing stores that come away with great finds for very good prices. You just have to take the time and look carefully and be selective in what you buy, and I bet no one will know the difference. Have fun!

Shelburne Vintage Fashion Show

Another successful vintage fashion show at Shelburne has come and gone. I would like to thank the judges: Gael Boardman, Sandy Lambert, and Jan Sanders. It was not an easy job to choose as all the contestants looked just lovely. Many thanks to Julie Greenia for her superb job of announcing all of the participants. Her costume consisted of a 1950’s black summer dress with ruffled hem accented with brass buttons down the front. Her black hat was trimmed with a black and white polka dotted band and she wore matching polka dotted white gloves.

First place was Lucille Marcoux from Canada, who looked stunning in a white embroidered bodice 1950’s summer dress with an open back, which was accented with a large black straw hat, gloves and white shoes.

Second place was Gene Fodor who sported a British RAF uniform worn in the African Campaign. His rank was that of a squadron leader, sporting a walking stick with war medal, African medal, service medal and security medal. He carried his flying leather helmet with goggles, white scarf, leather gloves and flying jacket. The pants of the uniform are called Bombay Bloomers which on hot days could be turned up and buttoned to make Bermuda shorts. The wing on his right pockets is that of his commercial pilot’s wings.

Third place was Christina (?) in a classic 1950’s navy blue polka dotted bias cut skirt. Accented with a red scalloped edge top and sporting a faux hankerchief and large black buttons at the back. Wearing classic pearls and charm bracelet, all originals at the time. She completes her outfit with a black straw hat, gloves and purse.

Honorable mention goes to Aryn Lamos who wore a black 1920’s wool Jantzen bathing suit with a form fitting skirt and shorts.

Car Show Preparations

Can you believe that we are half way through March, and that in three short months we will be getting our cars out of the winter abode and dusting off the winter grime? At some point winter seems to never be ending, and spring is just around the corner at lot faster than we can think about it.

Car show committees have been working extremely hard to present even better shows for our participation this year. As members of the VAE, we are extremely lucky to have two wonderful car shows each year, along with all the other events to help us enjoy the old car hobby. We are also fortunate to have two fashion shows each year that express and give examples of times gone past.

Last year, there were 17 participants in the Shelburne show, and expectations are even higher this year. The setting on the Ticonderoga is extremely lovely and elegant, and makes any outfit just that much more special. If you haven’t given it much thought, now is the time to start considering just what you might wear for the era that interests you the most. We went from the early 1900’s to the early 70’s and had lots of fun modeling the fashions. The shows would even by nicer if more of the masculine side would participate. After all, the fashion world did include fashion for the man, and was driven by the auto industry to some extent.

If modeling doesn’t appeal to you, how about becoming a judge. I’m sure that there are many of you out there that have a good eye for color and style. Won’t you join us?

Teaching Children to Drive

I’m sure that many of you have far more wonderful and harrowing experiences teaching your children to drive but I would like to tell you ours. Most families seem to go to the nearest shopping centers to let the youngster learn the art of driving a car. Our three daughters had a slightly different training, along with going to the shopping center.

We always seem to have lots and lots of wood to move, both the kind you burn and the kind you build with, and we all had our share of moving it. It’s a great source of conversation when we all get together! One of the ways we moved the endless stacks was with our old one ton Ford truck.

We had a large field that was nice and flat, and was not obstructed with any buildings. We would fill up the old truck, putting the oldest daughter then 12, behind the wheel, and let her “move” the wood. Keeping it in low gear, she had a great time getting that pile of wood from one location to the other. Of course, the move took three times as long, but each one of our three daughters had the opportunity to feel trusted to drive the truck, and we had lots of fun watching.

When it came time for the girls to actually go out on the road, we found that their driving experience behind the wheel of the truck had paid off, and the job of teaching them the rules of the road was far easier. Since the Driving Ed classes were only teaching on automatic cars, we insisted that each daughter learn how to drive a standard shift. They all took that lesson on our 1948 Studebaker column shift car.

Each daughter also had their general maintenance training in the driveway with Dad, learning how to change a tire, check the oil, water and battery. The girls are all good drivers, and now can drive just about anything their husbands set in front of them.

Model A Ford Winter Driving

All this cold weather that we’ve been having makes me very thankful for the winter clothing that we now have.

My grandmother told many stories of her driving adventures in the winter months. For some unknown reason my grandfather never got his drivers license until later in life. He was employed as a foreman for the Missisquoi Pulp Mill in Sheldon Springs Vermont, which was 8 miles from their home.

One particularly cold winter, much like we are experiencing this winter, my grandmother had the dubious job of driving him to work mornings. She had a 1928 Model A Ford Roadster, with no heat! Eight miles one way is a long ways to go with no heat in sub zero weather.

As you can imagine, the trip to Sheldon Springs was no piece of cake, and the return trip back was pure misery. Gram had on the standard mode of fashion for the day…dress, stockings, shoes stuffed in stadium boots, and a wool coat with fur collar and gloves. Wool coats were heavy, but didn’t offer much warmth at times. Grandfather wore long-johns, wool pants, flannel shirt, wool socks, wool jacket, wool cap and gloves.

Fingers nearly frozen, it was impossible to grip the wheel, so she stuck her arms through the steering wheel to steer the car, managing to get home before she became a block of ice. Fashion be darned, that one experience was enough for Gram. She started wearing a pair of men’s pants, socks, flannel shirt, and made a pair of three finger mittens from sheep’s skin that would allow her to grip the wheel better.

That very next spring the Model A was traded for a closed car with a heater. If Gram was going to be on the road, she was going to be warm!

Aprons

The picture in my mind that speaks volumes of home is my mother working in the kitchen. Her attire consisted of a simple dress, low shoes and of course an apron. When thinking of fashion one does not think of a simple item such as an apron as fashionable or even an accessory.

The word “apron” comes from an old French word “napperon” meaning cloth. Appearing in the Middle Ages as a piece of cloth that was tied around the ladies skirt to protect the clothing while eating. Later servants started using the “nappe” with a small bib top to protect their clothing while working, which was simply pinned to the dress. From that time forward it evolved to what is consided an artform and very collectable today.

This simple garment started out as an example in proficiency of needlework with no consideration of being an art form, and is considered extraordinary art by extraordinary women today. Adding grace, warmth and beauty to our lives, most of these women completed their work while wearing a variety of aprons.

Aprons seem to carry a host of nostalgic memories of a simpler time. Mom seemed to have the perfect apron for every situation. There were aprons for cleaning, baking, wash day, and when company came to call.

I especially liked the one for washday as it meant going outside and running through the lines of clean smelling clothes and sheets. That apron was made of white linen with a wide band of red rick-rack, and a uniquely large pocket that held the clothes pins.

The 1947 Ward’s catalog shows a variety of aprons priced from 59 cents to $2.98. and an 1872 Bazaar magazine shows a diagram of an apron pattern for 25 cents. Aprons come in many styles, materials and variety of handy work. To the avid collector, prices can range from a few dollars to as much as $75.00 depending on the condition and age.

So, when you are completing that perfect vintage outfit don’t rule out the vintage accessories of an apron.

Fashion Quiz

Some fashion questions:

  1. In the last half of the nineteenth century, the fashion style was named for what Queen?
  2. In the late nineteenth century, what was a skirt made with straight panels called?
  3. What fine art influenced the dress designs and color of courier Paul Poiret in the teens?
  4. What style of fashion did Gabrielle Chanel introduce in the twenties
  5. Hollywood was the primary fashion inspiration for which decades?
  6. Name three fabrics that were popular for thirties clothing.
  7. Why did the fashions of the forties have regulation length jackets, without pockets or detail?
  8. What is the proper way to store vintage pieces?
  9. What constitutes the fashion called the “New Look” and why was it given that name?
  10. Who was Jackie Kennedy’s exclusive designer in the sixties?

(Scroll down for answers below)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Queen Victoria
  2. A gored skirt
  3. Fauvism and Ballet Russes
  4. Uncluttered clothing and the little black dres
  5. 1930s and 1940s
  6. Silk, satin, organdy, eyelet, pique, gingham, corduroy, knits, wool, velvets, crepe, Lastex, rayons
  7. World War II manufacturing restrictions
  8. The best way to store them is with acid-free tissue and acid-free covered boxes
  9. Christian Dior’s soft shoulders, small waist and full midcalf skirt
  10. Oleg Cassini

VAE 50th Anniversary Book

Have you bought your copy of the VAE 50th Anniversary Book yet? If not, you’re missing out on an extremely interesting book of information on your club and it’s members. There is still time, and the book would made an excellent gift to someone. This is Vermont history in the making.

If you turn to the very last page, you will see some wonderful pictures of the Skinner family. Especially interesting is the picture of Phyllis who is decked out in her Easter finery. Her attire speaks volumes about the 40’s style.

I spoke with Phyllis about her outfit, and interestingly enough, Les remembered more about the colors. She is wearing a dress with a matching hat, short swing jacket with a Peter Pan collar, white gloves, and MaryJane shoes.

The lack of a purse makes me guess that it is in the car. It’s lots of fun to guess the colors of her dress and jacket, and the first person that can guess the correct colors will receive a VAE 50th Anniversary Mug from me as a gift.

When I asked Phyllis if her stockings had a seam in the back of them, she told me a story about a friend who went shopping at Filene’s.

There was a great sale going on for nylon stockings. She couldn’t wait to get home to try them on. Much to her dismay, she realized why they were such a good buy … the stockings had been made with the seam in front!

The thing I disliked the most about nylon stockings, is the fact that they never seemed to stay up properly, and the garter belts were very uncomfortable.

We have a much better deal today with pantyhose. And ladies, did you realize that your pantyhose might someday come in handy to keep your car on the road?

In an emergency they will make a great belt for your cars engine if it should break. It wouldn’t be the first time that an article of clothing or hairpin came in handy, and saved the day getting an engine running again.

Auto Design & Fashion Design

Fashion design is greatly influenced by the automobile and the automobile has been greatly influenced by fashion design. One of the greatest designers was Raymond Loewy, 1893 – 1987, who is called the “Father of Design” it was his influence that started the American Institute of Industrial Design, and whose influence is still felt today with a strong presence on the international scene in the Loewy Group.

Raymond Loewy came to this country from France, and with a young family to support, started out as a window dresser for many of the top stores in New York City. From that point he started illustrating clothing, and many of his fashions made top magazines such as Vogue.

You have seen his designs, many of which are still present today such as the Shell logo. This design became so well recognized that Shell eventually removed its name from the logo. Another very recognizable design is the Lucky Strike packaging along with the Greyhound Bus, S-1 locomotive, Exxon logo, Coca-Cola bottle and many household utensils such as toasters and the Coldspot refrigerator that he designed for Sears Roebuck. He also designed the interior of Air Force One for President Kennedy, and was the designer for the interiors of Saturn I and Saturn V and Skylab. Things we all take for granted today.

Of course, my very favorite design was the Studebaker Avanti. This four-seater sports coupe went from design to production in 18 months and was meant to compete with the Corvette and to help save a dying auto producer. The design was way ahead of anything the other producers were doing, but the price was a little more than the average person’s wages could support, and was only produced for two years 1963 and 1964 under the Studebaker name.

So the next time you pick up a fashion magazine, stop and think that just maybe that illustrator may have a wonderful career designing other things that make our life easier and beautiful.

The 50s (Part II)

Near the end of the decade there were two entirely different silhouettes. Dior designed the “Sack” dress, which later became the chemise, a no-waisted dress that was short and narrow at the hem. In 1958 Yves Saint Laurent produced the second, the trapeze dress, with narrow shoulders, no waist and a triangle shape.

In 1955 Roger Vivier, working with Dior, designed the stiletto heel, a much higher and slimmer look in high heels. The very slim high heel consisted of metal reinforcement and a very pointed toe. Fantastic designs appeared with embroidery, feathers, lace, beading, rhinestones, satin and even fur.

Marilyn Monroe and Jane Mansfield perpetuated this look, along the with eye shadow, penciled eyebrows and short haircuts. Many women wore half hats with their suits and cocktail outfits. Short veils on flowered hats and novelty beach hats were popular, as were turbans.

Handbags consisted of the Wilardy Lucite box, clutch bags were made of a variety of fabrics including alligator, lizard and snakeskin. Novelty designed included the three-dimensional straw animals and fish.

Menswear took on a conservative look. The “Mr. T” silhouette with narrow lapels and soft construction. Men chose gray or blue flannel suits worn with pinpoint collared shirts with narrow small-knotted stripe or solid ties. The all Dacron or rayon suit appeared and was worn year round. Hats had tapered crowns and narrow brims.

For the casual look, the fifties man had many choices. The Eisenhower jacket was a waist-length blouse styled jacket with slant pockets, zipper closure in many color variations. Madras sport jackets & polo shirts were popular as were Bermuda shorts in native prints. Colorful tapered resort slacks, Hawaiian shirts and the Ivy League look with button down collared shirts in a variety of fabrics and colors became very fashionable.

For the first time the style conscious American teenager had fashions designed especially for them. Rock N Roll star Elvis Presley and actor James Dean influenced teen fads from haircuts, to suede shoes and felt skirts.

Girls wore sweaters buttoned backwards and accented them with costume jewelry scatter pins. Cinch belts, bobbi socks, cuffed jeans and hair set in rollers. Boys wore pink shirts, khaki pants, leather jackets and greased hair. Beaches, drive-in movies and soda fountains were the new centers for teenage activity. The fifties led the way to the upcoming “youth explosion” of the sixties.

Are you ready? The Shelburne Fashion Show is just weeks away, and I am hoping to have an even bigger venue than last year. What a wonderful job you all did! Got a friend with an old car? Invite them to not only participate in the car show but also in the fashion show. We have a lot of fun and the best reward is seeing all the smiles.

(Missed Part I? Read it here…)