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Entries in 1920s (100)

Tuesday
Mar262019

Fashion Follows Sailor Suit

Late last spring, just as the warmer weather was beginning in Melbourne, I amused myself (and my work colleagues) by adopting a nautical theme for a week. I have long loved stripes – a nautical staple – and the classic colour combination of blue, red, and white which I very often choose to wear, nautical theme or not.

Traditional sailor suits … influenced the design of the new bathing suits and other clothing …

Nautical fashion has for many decades been popular for the warmer seasons, with its obvious link to seaside activities. The fashion first took off in the mid nineteenth century, when ‘sportswear for the new woman’ first started being produced. Traditional sailor suits, ie, naval uniforms with flap collars, stripes and bellbottoms, influenced the design of the new bathing suits and other clothing designed for regattas, yachting, boating and seaside promenading.

Coco Chanel in the interwar periodFrench sailors; the marinière or tricot rayé (striped sweater) is a cotton long-armed shirt with horizontal blue and white stripes, characteristically worn by quartermasters and seamen in the French navy.Coco Chanel was another enormous influence after adopting the sailor-collared top (as opposed to Breton striped tees) worn by the local fishermen and sailors in the resort town of Deauville, where she opened her first store on the coast of France in 1913. At the same time, ‘Middy’ blouses, inspired by the uniform of midshipmen were worn by school children for gym activities; by the 1920s they were a huge women’s fashion trend.

1920s middy shirtFashion in the decades after followed suit, adopting the look not just for sportswear, but for daywear, and to the present day we are still wearing nautical influenced garments (although it still seems chiefly only for daytime). Every nautical motif once can think of has been deployed by fashion designers in both blatant and subtle iterations, from the triumvirate of the three most popular colours of blue, red and white; stripes and flag graphics; middy tops and sailor collars; neckties and pussy bows; every type of nautical hat – boaters, fisherman and sailor caps; high-waisted bellbottoms; to naval trim such as gold buttons and braid, and rope, anchor and sailboat motifs. 

It’s fun, it’s sporty and casual, easy and breezy, and denotes summertime and carefree holidays so very particularly – no wonder nautical fashion has remained popular!

Click through to view my gallery of all my nautical looks of the week, and keep scrolling for nautical looks throughout the decades.

Read more about nautical Fashion

Stories on nautical fashion by Vintage Dancer and Blue Velvet Vintage are worth a read – both include some great images from different eras.

Genealogy Lady has written a short history on the middy blouse.

Frenchly reveals that Coco Chanel did not make Breton stripes a thing!

For seaside fashion of the nineteenth century, visit Mimi Matthews.

Nautical fashions through the decades

Victorian era, c 1890sEdwardian wool bathing suit1920s swimsuit1930s nautical daywear fashions1940s dress (LIFE magazine)1950s1960s1970sMarch 1982February 1992, Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington wearing Ralph Lauren on Vogue's coverLes Indes galantes collection, Lascar dress, Haute couture, spring/summer 2000, Jean-Paul GaultierZuhair Murad, RTW Spring 2016All images found on Pinterest unless otherwise indicated with direct links.

Sunday
Dec232018

What I Actually Wore #0146

Serial #: 0146
Date: 22/09/2012
Weather: 21°C / 70°F
Time Allowed: 20 minutes

I had recently seen the 1927 Clara Bow film Wings, and I had been much struck how in one of the earlier scenes, the actress had worn her scarf tucked into the belt around her waist. That was a nifty idea to emulate, I decided. This day I was going to see a film, and decided the time was ripe for a Clara Bow homage.

My outfit wasn’t exactly the same as hers, but close enough, with slim fitting cardigan and straight skirt. The neutral beige and tan complement the turquoise blue tints of my skirt, silk scarf, jewellery, and sunglasses. About half the items I am wearing are second hand, with the beret and the clutch being the oldest in my possession.

I like this outfit, and would probably happily wear it now – and could, as I still actually have all these items, except for the socks which wore out, and the cardigan, which I deemed too girlish in style.

Actually, while it is retired from my wardrobe, the cardigan is still in my possession, buried in my darning basket after some moths chewed on the end of its self-tie-belt. Here I have set aside the thin belt it comes with anyway, and worn a wider perforated leather belt. (Oddly, the previous owner of the belt scraped off the brand name, though they left the words “genuine leather”.) Recently I pulled a blouse out of a culling bag and started wearing it again, so there’s no saying that I wouldn’t don this cardigan and suddenly decide I like it!

While I generally like 1920s style, though it’s not my favourite era, I think I prefer this less obvious, slimmer silhouette to the typical loose-fitting dropwaist.

Items:

Top: Kookaï
Cardigan: Nanette Lepore
Skirt: La Gonda, vintage 60s
Hat: vintage 90s
Sunglasses: MinkPink
Scarf: thrifted
Belt: thrifted
Bag: vintage 70s
Socks: Philippe Matignon
Shoes: John Lewis Women
Earrings: hand made by me
Ring: souvenir

Photos: October 2013

Monday
Jul162018

What I Actually Wore #0140

Serial #: 0140
Date:
17/08/2013
Weather:
3.3°C / 38°F
Time Allowed:
15 minutes

This evening I was going out to the Astor Theatre, an Art Deco cinema, to see (aptly) the very enjoyable Clara Bow film Wings of 1927. And in fact my choice of outfit was in response to a story I had written that day in homage to Coco Chanel.

I never wear all black, but I almost did this evening, except for my favourite white leather trench coat and white beret. The outfit, otherwise, was chosen for warmth, as the apparent temperature was a chilly 3.3°.

I wear a cowl neck jumper with a tank top underneath for warmth, along with wide-leg wool pants, another wardrobe staple of mine. All my accessories, apart from the aforementioned hat, are also black – except for my tan socks, and one of my bauble earrings. I had deliberately worn one black onyx, one silver, but my notes say I was disappointed that no one noticed!

I still really like this outfit and would definitely wear it today, except I think a few of the items were retired after becoming worn out. Most sadly, the trench coat became so worn it looked grey and dirty and I tearfully donated it to the Salvation Army. But years ago I’d had the foresight to hunt down another 70s white leather coat on Etsy that is almost as nice. It is cut more along princess lines with a flaring skirt, and that is what I don’t like as much. Amusingly, the hat is one I bought in the early 90s, and have owned ever since – it has become vintage since then – and suddenly I feel old!

The shoes have since been replaced by similar patent heels – coincidentally by the same brand, both of which I found in thrift stores, and the French socks became holey and retired to the sock afterlife (le trashcan). The trousers, hat and gloves I certainly still own, and I think the bag is packed away in my closet somewhere too. Perhaps this time I should do an homage to my own homage to Coco?

Items:

Jumper: David Lawrence
Pants:
Ming
Socks:
Philippe Matignon
Hat:
boutique, vintage 90s
Gloves:
Faith
Coat:
Leda Spain by Gropper, vintage 70s
Earrings:
handmade
Bag:
vintage 60s
Shoes:
Scooter

Photo: October 2013

Tuesday
Aug152017

Animal Prints Through the Decades

Model in leopard-print bikini featuring lacing on the sides, 1955Animal prints have been perennially popular through the last century or so, as you can see scrolling through these images, taken from Style Book – Fashionable Inspirations, by Elizabeth Walker (Flammarion 2010). Real pelts, a symbol of wealth and luxury, were once insouciently worn without any consideration for animal conservation; now prints are worn purely for fashion’s sake – from the beach in Wilma Flintstone style togs, to stepping out in Cannes in glittering sequins.

Most of these fashion images show animal prints only, and mostly faux fur, although there are a very few showing genuine fur, including one eye-opening and rather grim archival image of two women casually shopping for pelts in the 1940s in Africa.

Cheetah and leopard are reminiscent of spots, and although I love graphic stripes too, not even Lauren Bacall (my favourite actress of her era) in a zebra print can reconcile me to the look of it.

(Click on the images for larger versions.)

Actress Ava Gardner in leopard print costume, surrounded by swathes of fabric in the same pattern, 1952Woman in zebra-print bikini, 1955Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor draped in leopard fur shawl, at the London Palladium in 1956Model in leopard-print waistcoat with matching muff and cap all in faux fur, London 1951Actress Lauren Bacall sports a zebra print blouse, 1944Model Jackie Collins mixes zebra and leopard prints matching the car interior; outfit by Car Robes, at the Motor Show, London 1956 Model in zebra tabard by furrier Calman Links, Bond Street, London 1965Men's street style in 1956: a dandy accessorises his three-piece suit complete with pocket-square with a cheetah print flat-crowned hatPhotographer Norman Parkinson wearing an extravagant leopard print scarf, 1970Model wearing sequinned leopard-print gown, Christian Dior A/W 1953A woman in a sequinned gown that owes much to the 80s fashion of Dynasty, at the Hotel Carlton during the Cannes Film Festival, France 1998Flapper style with a circular theme in 1925: leopard-skin coat trimmed with fox furA stewardess in the 1971 uniform of National Airlines: faux fur accessorised with a real baby Bengal tiger In Africa in 1947, women shop for leopard pelts

Monday
Aug142017

Spot the Difference

Vintage cheetah print wool fedora by Laura Ashley; vintage leopard print earringsAnimal prints, while they are an acknowledged classic print in the fashion lexicon, have never been something I have gravitated towards. In part it is because my minimalist leanings find the patterns too visually overwhelming and ‘messy’, but it is also because to me they smack of an old-fashioned as opposed to vintage style.

As British Vogue put it in their 100th anniversary June 2016 issue (below), a scent of trophy wife developed in the 1960s, when wealthy and famous women like Sophia Loren and Ursula Andress adopted the signature print.

British Vogue, June 2016

I don’t mind a touch of animal print in accessories, such as hats and shoes – it’s only when a wall of animal print approaches me that I flinch.

It is the great cats that provide inspiration for the most classic of animal prints: leopard and cheetah print are the two most popular in clothing and accessories. They look very similar to one another, so how does one discern between the two?

Cheetah

The cheetah’s coat is yellow-orange or golden, and the oval or circular spots are dark brown or black. This is the pattern used in both of my hats, although the background colours are quite different. The fedora is by Laura Ashley, and the vintage beret of unknown provenance; I suspect both are from the 80s.

Cheetah-inspired print vintage wool beret; the pattern is actually a bit of a hybrid, with some areas that feature shapes that almost form the distinctive rosettes found on a leopard's coat

Leopard

The pattern on the leopard’s coat is more complex, consisting of black or brown spots that cluster together closely, in a pattern that is called a rosette. The fur in the centre of the rosette is usually a deeper colour than the tawny background fur. The rosette pattern provides excellent camouflage for the leopard.

The vintage earrings I am wearing in the first photo show a leopard print, as do the modern heeled sandals by Guess. The shoes are printed pony hair, as in fact are the earrings (although they may be faux).

Leopard print pony-hair and patent leather heels by GuessVery occasionally one sees other animal prints come into fashion – tiger, zebra, giraffe – but their appearance is usually trend driven and fleeting. Too bold and brash, they simply don’t possess the same vintage pedigree; they are the vulgar cousins of the sleeker cheetah and leopard. But the latter are still a bit wild, not for the entirely tamed woman. As Christian Dior put it, “Leopard print requires a kind of femininity which is a little bit sophisticated. If you are fair and sweet, don’t wear it.” Well, there are plenty of blondes who have chosen to wear it, but I’d hazard a guess none of them are sweet.

How to wear animal print

Because animal print is just so bold and statement-making, I prefer it worn against solid block colours, and my choice would be any of the neutrals: black, white, grey, camel. Practically speaking, denim is also a neutral – see Kate Moss in the tearsheet above. Or, if you are a maximalist, and more is more is more, you could pair it with matching boots (see Ursula Andress) or tights and heels like Lola Todd, who I suspect may be wearing genuine fur, which makes it rather bad taste to match it to a live leopard pet! Don’t do that.

Photos: August 2016