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Entries in 1940s (95)

Monday
Dec102018

The Sweeter Side of Yellow

What’s in a name? I declare, a yellow by any other name is still distilled with sunshine. Some might argue that, more properly, this shade of acid yellow would be described as chartreuse, a shade of green with a yellowish tinge that takes its name from the aromatic French liqueur. Chartreuse is distilled alcohol aged with 130 herbs, plants and flowers, and varies in colour from green to yellow, with the latter variety being milder and sweeter. This hat is definitely on the sweeter side of chartreuse.

This was a hat I spotted on Etsy and drooled over for quite some time before I finally succumbed to temptation and bought it from the shop Mel’s Vanity. It is vintage 1940s, and is a kind of elongated boater, trimmed in sumptuous silk ribbon, with roses above and below the brims. Yes, brims plural. I love that it has four layers! I have never seen such an extravagant feature in any hat before.

There is also the remnants of a very beautiful taupe-coloured, patterned silk veil which is unfortunately very deteriorated. This is the main reason I have not yet worn the hat out – that, and the fact the hat arrived in the winter, which clearly meant it had to await warm weather. But I haven’t yet discovered any replacement netting of equal beauty, and I can’t bring myself to snip off the existing remnants. Maybe I will just wear it tucked up.

The hat has two small combs inside which are obviously meant to fix it to an up-do, and in the 40s it was probably worn atop a victory roll, and tilted forward. Unfortunately achieving that effect is impossible with my short hair. Regardless, it looks so pretty, and different from every angle, which you can see in the pictures below – I particularly love the bow under the brim at the back. Bring on the sunshine!

Click image for larger version

Photos: October 2018

Friday
Nov302018

My Spectacular Sunglasses

I have often talked about accessories, and how they add the finishing touch to an outfit. What is even better, is a vintage accessory. You just can’t beat it for uniqueness, whether hat, glove, scarf or sunglasses – they add a certain je ne sais quoi to a look – or authenticity. You can tell the real deal a mile off. It’s in the quality of the materials and manufacturing; it’s an old adage but true: they just don’t make them the way they used to. And for something like a pair of sunglasses that you will likely wear every day, you want to really love it.

I am a bit of a fiend for sunglasses (and here you thought it was just hats) and have quite a collection, a few designer and lots of cheapies. Over the last year I determined that it was past time I ventured into the vintage sunglasses game.

Quite quickly, I stumbled across my first pair: 1930s tortoiseshell celluloid (above), with lenses that had an olive tinge. I found those in an op shop, and miraculously they came with their original leather case. Gold text on the front flap, partially scratched off, proclaims in swooping script the name of J. B. R. Burgess, with the tail of the final ‘s’ forming a swoosh underlining the name. In a small serif font underneath it is inscribed ‘Culwulla CHBR’ Castlereagh St, Sydney. Presumably it belonged to someone living in this building, Culwulla Chambers, which was built in 1912 and hailed as Sydney’s first ‘skyscraper’ standing 50 metres high.

The next pair of sunglasses I bought were 1940s wire-framed shades (below), with dark lenses and flexible arms. I found these on eBay, from a seller who had boxes of deadstock. Donning them took a bit of getting used used to – I was quite clumsy at first with slipping them around my ears. What a classic pair of sunglasses! I’ve always loved aviators, but these are even better.

The third pair took a little longer to land in my lap. I knew I wanted a pair of light-coloured celluloid frames, but these are extremely rare in Melbourne. I had been keeping my eye on a 40s pair with pale peachy pink round frames (my holy grail of sunglasses) on Etsy, but they were very expensive; I kept on putting my money towards vintage hats, my true love. Then one day I found another pair of deadstock 40s sunnies (top), these ones cream-coloured. The Dutch seller had two pairs, and I snaffled one of them at half the price of the pink ones, and was very pleased. (Tragically, a short time later, someone else snatched the pink ones out from under me, and the second pair of cream ones also sold.)

I call my reading glasses ‘my spectaculars’, but this trio really are. I adore them all. Though three is plenty to keep me going for now, I don’t think my adventures in vintage sunglasses has ended just yet – I still want my rose-coloured glasses!

Fashion Notes:

The dress is vintage 1940s, bought from Birthday Life Vintage earlier this year, the beret is by Australian brand Mimco, bought in a thrift store, and the earrings are vintage 50s, also bought in a thrift store.

Photos: November 2018

Tuesday
Nov202018

Apple of My Eye

Anyone ever watched the slow disintegration and decay of an apple core? It slowly turns brown, and eventually withers up into a bit of detritus. That’s kinda what happened to my old iMac, finally. The other week I tried to post a story, and I couldn’t even access the writing pane (what a pain). And today I was eating a Pink Lady apple and looked down at it to find half a wormhole. True story; not a metaphor.

Anyway, fortunately I already had a new iMac sitting in a box on my loungeroom floor, waiting for me to get off my lazy ass and set it up. Circumstance forced me into action last week, and I’ve spent days downloading new software, transferring data from the old dinosaur, deleting monstrously ugly fonts (the worms in this Garden of Eden) and the like. And oh how I love my new iMac! It connects to the internet and does stuff.

It just so happens that I can combine this love of Apples with my love of hats – this is what I call some kind of serendipitous happenstance! – and give you in homage a velvet and satin 1940s doll hat featuring an APPLE. Yes indeed. (I just pulled that one out of my hat!)

It just so happens that I can combine this love of Apples with my love of hats …

Ahem. I spotted this darling topper on eBay a couple months ago and found it too irresistible not to pluck it out of cyberspace. This type of hat is called either a “doll” or “toy” hat, the main feature being that it is miniature. These little hats were a popular style in the 1940s, and ranged from simple to very decorative, made from many different materials and featuring all kinds of trimmings, with or without half or full face veils.

Toy hats were often worn on a fun, jaunty angle, particularly tilting forward over the forehead, and were attached usually with hatpins. This hat has two tiny combs inside, but I don’t have enough hair to attach them to, so I’m waiting for some wig clips to arrive in the mail and I will sew them inside the crown. And then, she’ll be apples!

Thus, the only logical conclusion we can arrive at is that there are both good apples, and bad apples!

Photo: November 2018

Wednesday
Oct312018

Helloween!

While I don’t – along with many of my compatriots – actually celebrate Halloween, I am getting into the ‘spirit’ of things with this little spooky series of photos taken in the installation 1000 Doors, by Christian Wagstaff and Keith Courtney, at the 2018 Melbourne International Arts Festival.

The ticket for entry was a tiny and quaint brass key, which made me feel a bit like Alice. Laid out like a maze of doors in a house of horrors, the installation was complete with dilapidated walls, crumbling wallpaper, vintage furniture and Bakelite telephones, the smelly carpet of a seedy hotel, and a myriad mysterious vintage photographs littering every surface.

It was a lot of fun to traipse through, and the only thing that would have made it better and spookier was if we had been able to go late at night without the crowds of people – but this was a popular installation and there was no hope of that. For the occasion, I am wearing a vintage 1940s hat, and a Diane von Furstenberg dress bought in a thrift store.

I enjoyed hamming it up a little for these photos, and must confess in the last frame I had in mind Freddy’s tongue from one of the Elm Street nightmares. I was pretty young when I saw that scene, and ran away from the tv shuddering. Answering a telephone is akin to opening the door to the creepy cellar!

Happy Halloween.

Photos: October 2018. With thanks to my friend Rapunzel for taking them.

Monday
Sep242018

Golden Oldies

Have I mentioned anytime, that the 1940s – along with the 30s and 70s – are my favourite eras for fashion? Imagine my joy, diluted over the past year or so, in finding three yellow 1940s dresses! They are all quite different shades of yellow too: pale lemon, rich butter and light chartreuse. Two of them are easy-to-wear day frocks, and one is a full-length evening gown that I have no idea where or when I am going to wear. I feel zero guilt for its purchase however, for all three dresses were extremely inexpensive.

Like the others, this sprigged dress is made from rayon although I’m not sure what the fabric is called (it’s smooth like a dull satin), and like many vintage dresses, it is missing the original belt. I bought it late last year from a thrift store in Bendigo, a country town, when I journeyed there to see the Edith Head fashion exhibition at the Bendigo Art Gallery.

I have worn it with a vintage 30s or 40s velvet ribbon as a sash; the 40s hat I have paired with it is also velvet. I do not know what to call its shape – it’s a kind of halo-turban hybrid! The shoes are modern, but I think they stand in quite well for 40s style shoes. I actually wore this dress a few times last summer, although I used a vintage Victorian cream silk ribbon as a sash. (As most of my summer hats and shoes are still in seasonal storage, I accessorised the dress with rather more wintry items than I would normally.)

When I spotted it in the vintage bazaar, I pounced … completely forgetting that I already had a yellow floral 40s dress!

The second dress also has little puffed and cuffed sleeves, but the buttery yellow top layer is made from chiffon. The splashy floral is very different from the first dress, which is all to the good. When I spotted it in the vintage bazaar, I pounced, overcome with delight in the colour, and completely forgetting that I already had a yellow floral 40s dress! I’m not sure of its age, but the vintage necklace is pressed glass, while the white clip-on earrings are chunky plastic, and probably 40s or 50s. (The shoes are basic neutral stilettos, but come summer I won’t wear them with this dress.)

The most recent purchase is the evening gown, and I was so excited to find it. It is made from a brocade in an unusual combination of white and pale chartreuse. (I must apologise the high speed setting I inadvertently used during this photoshoot has made the pictures overly grainy.) I adore the draped neckline on both the front and back.

It also demanded to be worn with vintage 40s rhinestone jewellery and opera-length gloves! Which, fortuitously, I happen to own. This is not a true parure; I found all the pieces on separate occasions. Both the tiara and necklace need minor repairs, for which a jeweller and their soldering iron will be required.

It also demanded to be worn with vintage 40s rhinestone jewellery and opera-length gloves!

I was very lucky the gown fit me perfectly. I had tried on at the same time a 50s satin brocade ballgown – ALSO in a rich golden yellow! – which lamentably was too small across the back. Tragic.

Still, this is not a bad collection of yellow dresses, is it? And, would you believe, it’s not yet the end of my yellow bonanza – stay tuned for more!

Photos: August 2018