Sunday, January 30, 2011

Failed Resolutions, Etsy Love, and The Aqua Velva Man

It's January 30 already, and the coldest month of the year for Minnesotans is almost over! Yay! 

So, I'm curious... How are y'all doing on those New Year's resolutions that you shared at the beginning of the month?

I'm afraid that I'm not doing too well with my "Social Butterfly" goal - or my goal of losing 10 lbs. by March.

I feel a bit like the plump lady in this 1920's cartoon from The New Yorker...

It's not that I truly "wish to be alone."  I just haven't managed to find a way to fit in an active social life along with the two main after-work activities which suck up enormous amounts of my time:  blogging (and reading/commenting on other blogs) and selling on eBay & Etsy.

Those of you who have full time jobs AND blog AND sell in a shop AND manage to have a social life too - PLEASE tell me how you do it?

I feel like I'm always trying to wear too many hats at once, and it's not a pretty sight...

I'm a bit of a perfectionist (just a wee bit) and it pains me that I'm not able to devote the time necessary to looking marvelous in each of the hats that I'm wearing. 

So I'm often tempted to just say - the hell with it! - and let them all topple over and fall to the ground.  (You perfectionists out there - and I know there are plenty in BlogLand - you know what I'm talking about, don't you?)

Hey, thanks for letting me blow off a little steam.  I don't mean to be so negative.  Actually, there are some Things In My Life That Are Going Well Right Now...

1) I'm LOVING being an empty nester.  I was lonely for about 10 minutes - and after I got that out of my system, I have just been really truly enjoying my FREEDOM.

2) Etsy, Etsy, Etsy...How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...  Oh, how I adore selling on Etsy!  It's the best thing since sliced bread.  It's a perfect companion to eBay for me - and I want to thank all of you for nudging me to start selling there.

3) I've been graced with some lovely blog awards recently (thank you La Dama, Piroska, and Lady Cherry!) and am having fun coming up with a little list of bloggers that I'd like to pass the awards on to.  I'm a big procrastinator, though, so don't hold your breath for that.  In the meantime, take a peek at Lady Cherry's clever awards post:  A Night At the BLOscars.  She's so witty!

4) I've been doing the online dating thing for the past month, and...  Wait a minute, how did this slip into my list of things that are going well?  Online dating - Ugh!   To be honest, I have been a big fan of online dating in the past and have even had some success with it (short-term, obviously) - but lately the crop of interesting men seems to have dwindled.  Maybe it's just me - guess my heart isn't in it. 

Or maybe it's just that I'm still looking for this man...

"Ice Blue" Aqua Velva ad - Look magazine - December 11, 1956

I keep forgetting that the Aqua Velva Man has aged a bit.
And so have I. 

Happy Sunday!  Hope you enjoy the rest of your week.  I promise to put on my Blog Reading hat and find some time to stop by and visit soon!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sears Roebuck 1938 Catalog...Glorious Colors "Good Enough To Eat"

Last week I promised you that my next post would bring you some SPRING - and I am a woman of my word!  

The Sears Roebuck 1938 Spring & Summer Catalog is bursting with glorious colors, prints and springtime fashions. 

Silk Print fabrics are featured above...and a variety of Rayon textures & weaves are pictured below...

Look at all of the varieties of "Celanese Rayon":  Sharkella, Sharkskin, Faconne, Pebble Crepe, Crepe Romaine, Satin Crepe...and "Sweet As Sugar"!  Wouldn't it be fun to have a few samples of each - so that when you came across a vintage dress you could say with confidence, "Aha! This must be Sharkella!"

Have any of you started a collection of vintage fabric samples?  Finding different samples would be challenge enough - but I would think that figuring out exactly what it is that you've got would be much trickier!  

Another fun research project:  identifying what colors & color names were popular, year by year...

These two "Ice Cream Color" dresses were photographed in black & white...

...but they came in four ice cream shades: "Pistache" (Lido Aqua 901); "Strawberry" (Pink 525); "Vanilla" (White); and "Lemon Ice" (Maize 705)

Isn't that long zipper in the second dress fun? It begins at the neckline and goes all the way down to the hemline!

The first dress not only comes in four ice cream shades, but also two choices of fabric: Celanese Rayon Sharkella and "Star-Shan," a shantung effect spun rayon.

That year - 1938 - Sears included a Color Chart in the back of the book - so that a potential buyer would know what the clothing color names looked like:

These six "Mediterranean" colors highlighted in the corner of the chart were hot that year...
And these are the four "ice cream" colors available in the dresses above:

basic "Vanilla" (white), and...

"Pistache" (Lido Aqua 901)

"Strawberry" (Pink 525)

...and "Lemon Ice" (Maize 705)
I'm not sure I'd find a bowl of ice cream in those colors all that appealing - but the fashions are certainly yummy!

Here are four more dresses in the Sears 1938 Spring/Summer Catalog - and these were photographed in Glorious Color!

I've said this before...  I enjoy the colorful "vintage" language used in the catalog descriptions just as much as the vintage fashions.

The dress above is shown in one of the ice cream colors - Lemon Ice (Maize 705).  Can you imagine this two-piece dress for just $2.98!  And it came with a scarf too!

Buttons & Bows, Flowers & Lace, all in one perky dress!  It makes me smile...

More bows and buttons in this "corselet" dress!  I like the Wine and Aqua color contrast.

The first dress in the black & white "ice cream" photo above was available in "Star-Shan."  Well, this dress fabric is called "Sun-Shan"!  I love the names they gave to fabrics back then...

Here's a full length illustration of each of the four dresses modeled above - plus another view of the hats.  Which dress do you like best? 

I'm partial to the first one in Lemon Ice. And I want the whole outfit - 2-piece dress, scarf, striped purse & hat!  I'm going to fill out that Sears order form right now...

Isn't it fun to dream?

Monday, January 17, 2011

One last vintage coat...then Winter gets the boot!

Early last month, when I was still starry-eyed over all the beautiful snow we'd been getting in Minnesota, I posted a few of my 9 vintage coats with a promise to share more of them soon. 

Well, even though Minnesota winters last forever, my excitement over the cold & snow and wool sweaters & coats faded very quickly.  We've had 52 inches of snow in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area so far this season, with another 25" or so expected to fall between now and April - and I've had more than enough of this white stuff for one year! 

But before I give Winter the boot...let me just show you one more fabulous vintage coat that I found...

I'm acting a little giddy modeling this coat partly because I'm seeing sunlight shining through my kitchen windows after a long streak of dreary, overcast days!

What intrigued me most about the coat were the unusual fur-trimmed bell sleeves, which gives it a bit of a Victorian look.

The fur on the sleeves and collar is so soft and cozy.  I believe that it's  mouton fur - which is "a high-grade lambskin that’s specially processed to mimic the density and radiance of sheared beaver or mink fur." Most commonly mouton fur was dyed to a chocolate brown, like my coat - but it was also dyed in other shades, including white.

One thing I don't like about the sleeves is that they are oddly about an inch too short, as you can see in my photos. I'm pretty sure that I don't have unusually long arms, so I don't get it.  

Was this look intentional? maybe to show off gloves? - or was this coat simply meant for a much shorter woman (I'm 5 ft. 5 in.)?  I know that the trend in the mid-to-late 50's was to push long coat sleeves up on the arm to three-quarter's length.  But that doesn't make much sense with this style.  Any thoughts?

Okay, enough about the flaws!  Back to why I adore this coat..   I love the double-button detail.  The buttons match the chocolate brown coat perfectly, and have pretty gold lucite centers.

I've mentioned this before - I think that vintage clothing labels are so beautiful!  And this coat has three lovely labels:  "Friess Original", "Forstmann 100% Virgin Wool", and "Brucewood - Maurice L Rothschild - Young-Quinlan Co."

There's a wonderful guide to clothing labels on the Vintage Fashion Guild site, which is a big help in dating vintage clothing. The guide includes quite an extensive A-Z list of label samples, and my "Forstmann 100% Virgin Wool" label was noted as being found on an early 1950's dress.

Do you think this coat looks early 1950's? Or possibly late 1940's?  

In paging through my Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogs from the 40's through the 50's, I didn't find any coats with a similar sleeve design - and just one coat in a 1950-51 Ward's catalog with a mouton collar of the very same shape. Maybe this shouldn't be a surprise, though. The Young-Quinlan Department Store sold a lot of higher-end designer fashions, and these sleeves might have been too unusual for the average Sears and Ward's customer.

Back of card: Young Quinlan, 901 Nicollet Mall, combines the decor of old world elegance with the most famous names in apparel for both men and women. This Twin Cities landmark also offers a gourmet galley, exquisite home furnishings gift shop and the well-known Fountain Room restaurant.

Here is an early 1960s postcard of the Young-Quinlan building, erected in downtown Minneapolis in 1926.  (Postcard courtesy of  Remembering Great American Department Stores.)

The building is still there, but the Young Quinlan department store, where my coat was originally purchased in the 50's, sadly went out of business in 1985 after a 59-year run.  The store's founder Elizabeth Quinlan (1863-1947) had been in the retail fashion business since the 1890's. She was the first merchant to sell ready-to-wear clothing west of the Mississippi. A fascinating woman, The Saturday Evening Post did a four-page spread on her in 1927, and in the mid-1930's Fortune magazine named her one of the country's top businesswomen.

Here's a pert little Mabel Ellsworth brown hat, ca. 1940's, that would probably have gotten Miss Quinlan's approval.  Isn't it sweet?  This was another estate sale find this past summer.

Unfortunately, my mannequin looks much better in it than I do, so I'll probably be selling it next year after I've squeezed every last bit of enjoyment from it...

Ta Da!  So that's it - we're done with Winter now...

From this point on, even if it's 10 degrees below zero outside, in this blog it's going to start feeling like Spring...

...beginning with a song from the 1945 film musical, State Fair:  Rodgers & Hammerstein's "It Might As Well Be Spring."  The song won the Academy Award for Best Original Song that year.

Shirley Jones in Oklahoma - photo by J. R. Eyerman

In this 1950's video clip from The Danny Thomas Show, it's sung by the lovely and talented Shirley Jones.

I grew up knowing Shirley Jones as Keith, Laurie and Danny Partridge's mom in the early 1970's Partridge Family television show.  But before that, she had an amazing career as singer and actress, starring in the wonderful film musicals Oklahoma (1955), Carousel (1956) and The Music Man (1962).

Happy (it might as well be) Spring!  Enjoy...

It Might As Well Be Spring

Lyrics by: Oscar Hammerstein II
Music by: Richard Rodgers
From the Film: State Fair 1945

I'm as restless as a willow in a windstorm, I'm as jumpy as a puppet on a string
I'd say that I had spring fever, but I know it isn't spring
I am starry eyed and vaguely discontented, like a nightingale without a song to sing
O why should I have spring fever, when it isn't even spring

I keep wishing I were somewhere else, walking down a strange new street
Hearing words that I've never heard from a man I've yet to meet
I'm as busy as spider spinning daydreams, spinning spinning daydreams
I'm as giddy as a baby on a swing

I haven't seen a crocus or a rosebud, or a robin on the wing
But I feel so gay in a melancholy way, that it might as well be spring.
It might as well be spring.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Voices From the Past: Iva Swift's 1883 Autograph Book

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while have probably figured out that it's impossible to pin me down into one particular era. 

I may appear to be a 1940's vintage fashion blog for a few posts, and then suddenly I've moved into 1950's films or 1960's advertisements, and then back to the 1920's for a bit more fashion and music, and then into the 1930's for some closeups of my "scary" doll collection.  (Scary dolls?  You're all crazy - I think they're adorable.)

And now with this post, I've just jumped back 60 years in one week - from 1940's catalog fashion to 1880's schoolgirl poetry and art.

I apologize for my blog's multiple personalities. I hope I'm not too schizophrenic for you.  But I did warn you in my "About Me" that I would be sharing with you "my passion for vintage advertising & clothing and other intriguing finds from the Victorian era through the 1960's."   And that covers an awful lot of territory!

At this point, I'm too much in love with everything vintage to be willing to focus on just one era or subject.  So fasten your seat belts - it's going to continue to be a bumpy ride...

...beginning with today's look at this fantastic 1883 Victorian Autograph Book that I found at an estate sale this past summer.

I've had the pleasure of owning this Victorian autograph book for about 8 months now, so I've decided that it's time to pass it on to a new owner.

(It's up for auction on eBay right now if you'd like to take a peek.)

I love the name - Miss Iva Swift.  She sounds like she belongs in a Victorian novel.

The book is filled with more than 50 charming little poems and quotes...

Hiram Hill (another great name!) got fancy by adding a tiny red dot under each of his letters.

Emma Templeton wasn't very creative with her note to Iva, but she added a frame around her words so that she won't be forgotten... 

Others added artwork.  Isn't this girl with the daisy sweet?  The author wrote this little poem:

"Let me see,
One - two - three;
I don't care what the daisy says,
I'm bound to be married one of these days."

Christmas 1883 - James A. Butler

Was this James' way of flirting with Iva?  Cute...

Iva's piano teacher coudn't resist another opportunity to remind her to practice! 

Some of the artwork got pretty fancy.  Like this scenic view...

Here's my favorite - an owl reading to two cats on a park bench - drawn by Iva's teacher, Jeanie Blair.

I love the birds with the red and black flourishes in the photo above.  The poem is rather quirky, though:

"Be plain in dress My dear
And sober in your diet.
In short my deary:  Kiss me and be quiet."

- Yours truly. P.A.S.

Is P.A.S. another suitor of Iva's?  These young men certainly have an interesting way of showing their affections.

And finally, here's a fun little poem of B's from one of Iva's teachers, Edwin A. Sawyer...

I thought that this wise and clever poem was well worth the effort of typing out:

"B patient, loving, good and kind;
B quick to hear, B quick to mind;
B earnest in the cause of right;
B brave for truth and shed its light;
A blessing B to all around
And you'll B blest, as all have found.
To you may such B's always cling,
A swarm of B's that never sting."

Good advice for all of us - don't you think?

Hope these next days will B happy and productive ones for you.  B good! - but not too good...
- Susan
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