Thursday, August 27, 2015

Turn Around to See the Back View: early 1930's Fashion

1930 dress
1930's dress
1930's fashion
1930 vintage fashion

Fashion during the 1930's was cut with diagonal bias seam lines to be smooth and slinky. The back view of a dress was often its best feature. These illustrations are from an old scrap book of mine, so I can't give you the exact dates, however most are from the early half of this decade. Fashion illustrations like these are just a peek into the wide range of back views seen during that era.

If you are dating a vintage dress that seems to be from this time period, check out the back, that may help determine what decade it is from even more than the front view. And if you are going to sew as dress anytime soon, why not consider adding some back interest to your project, that could make it something special.

Throwback Thursday: this was originally posted on May 24, 2011

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Vintage Esprit: 1981 Summer Sarongs and Sun Dresses

Vintage fashion does seem to reoccur in many ways.  In the early 80's, there was a strong trend towards 40's and 50's style revivals. Designed by Susie Tompkins for Esprit, this 1981 group of tropical print summer sarongs and sun dresses is from the summer 1981 collection. Adaptions of sarong skirts, fashion bras, and strappy or strapless Hawaiian style beach dresses like these were wildly popular at that time.

Part of a marketing style for Esprit, this group of models was shot on location at Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey, in Florida.

The two Hawaiian print dresses above are from Esprit's summer 1980 collection.  They both have a halter tie neckline with shirred elastic back to make the fit better and are styled with a hint at 40's Hollywood glamour.

from: Esprit, the Making of an Image, by Helene Robertson, 1985, with photos by Oliviero Toscani.
also: read more about Esprit in my first blog post last week, August 19, 2015

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Wedding Gowns from the 1940's and 1950's

Vintage wedding gowns from the 1940's WWII era through the late 1950's show a remarkable diversity.  From simple, smooth silhouettes to textured laces and ruffles, wedding during the second half of the 20th century reflected current fashion, the bride's personal style and budget.  The dresses shown here were part of an exhibition in 2013 of gowns worn by local women and shown at the Pasadena Historical Museum, Pasadena, CA.

The satin gown above was designed and sewn in 1944 by Seamstress Auntie Nui of slipper satin. It was worn by Chiyoi Marumoto Ogawa, one of the young women who were married in the WWII Japanese concentration camps in California during the war. This dressmaker went on to provide many more gowns for the brides in the camp, as well as in Pasadena after the war. Like many wedding dresses worn during the war era, it is a simple dress with long sleeves and flattering shirred bodice that was typical of the draping from the 1940's.

The post war years saw an explosion in marriages as the GIs returned home again. While the expense of a wedding gown was often beyond the budget of many young couples, wedding gowns grew in importance. Often one gown would be shared by many brides. From 1948, this gown by bridal designer William Cahill of Beverly Hills shows what the best in wedding gowns looked like. Of shiny slipper satin, the neckline is framed in a lace bertha collar. Like most gowns of this time, it has modest long sleeves suitable for wearing in church. This dress was worn by bride Jane Campbell Wells of Pasadena.

Of special local interest, this gown was the first bridal ensemble sold at Bullock's department store in Pasadena when it opened in 1948.

This curvy 1952 Cahill gown of nylon lace and tulle was paired with a small, fitted lace skull cap that had a veil attached. It has many features similar to crinoline gowns of the mid-1800's. The silhouette has a dramatic shirred "V" neckline and the classic "New Look" hourglass full skirt. The ensemble was worn by bride Marilyn Hubbard Roberts.

In 1955, the Governor of California's daughter Carolyn Knight Weedman wore this William Cahill gown for her wedding in the governor's mansion, Sacramento. It shows alencon lace, satin, and silk chiffon. The lace bodice with Elizabethan collar is fitted, with long sleeves and an hourglass silhouette that has a dropped waistline with a slight curve in front. To create the ballerina length skirt (which Cahill was famous for designing), there were four layers of fabric: silk chiffon with decorative stitching (top layer), nylon netting nylon bobbin net, and ribbed acetate (slip layer).

This dramatic debutant dress from 1958 has a draped skirt and textured bodice.  Designed by Cahill, it shows how far formal gowns evolved in just a few years. The gown of silk taffeta has a draped bubble skirt with train in back. The bodice is textured with layers of fabric flower petals and dips low in the back. It was worn by Janet Curci who wore a silk and tulle, beaded gown for her wedding later in 1962.

Throwback Thursday: this article was originally posted on Sept. 11, 2013.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Vintage Summer Fashions from Esprit: 1980's Sportswear from California

In the summer of 1980, Esprit (of San Francisco) designed by Susie Tompkins, launched a summer collection that embodied both American chic and sportwear. Using traditional Levi styling (a nod to the original San Francisco apparel company) this fashion group showcased bright primary colors, sexy 'short shorts', tube tops and skinny belts. A bit of a 1950's influenced design, these outfits captured the leading edge for wearable, young sportswear fashions.

In 1979, Esprit began to have their four collections per year photographed in a signature style that would brand Esprit as a young, trendy line with spirit and fun attitude. Olivero Toscani, a leading fashion photographer, was brought in by Doug and Susie Tompkins, the co-owners and Esprit designers, to create this new look. The model group layout you see here is part of the brand's style during the 80's when it was at the top of its game.

The following images are also part of this group. You'll notice the leggy look, 50's influences and bold young attitude of the models who wear 'natural' makeup and simple hair styles.

from: Esprit, the making of an Image, 1985, by Helene Robertson
look next week (August 26) for another post on Esprit fashions from the 80's

Tuesday, August 18, 2015



20% off everything in my shops: PintuckStyle, PintuckSew and Silverthorne-Nye

Maybe you need something!

Until Midnight Tuesday, August 25
(pardon the odd dates, but I'm off on vacation for 2 weeks after that)


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