Aug 31, 2008

Those Fancy Victorian Hair Combs

I have collected these little treats for years. Truth be told, I am not sure what got me started. Maybe it was that they had rhinestones. That could have been all it took. The range of colors and styles in the celluloid combs is certainly such to encourage the collector. And then there’s all the materials: tortoise shell, ivory, horn, metal, well, almost anything including rubber has been used in Victorian and Edwardian combs and hairpins. As I handle these more and more, though it’s the older carved tortoise and horn ones I really admire. Now I am not an expert by any means. And these are hard to date to a specific year as styles would be manufactured for quite a long period. But generally, the styles follow the lines of the design lines of a given period. And of course, they have to complement the hairstyles of the time.

Here’s a few available at for your enjoyment:

early 19th C Large Hand Made Horn Comb
ca 1830s Large Tortoisehell Comb from our private collection
2 Red & Black Celluloid combs, Left is Victorian era, Right is from our archives and is 1920s Art Deco
Black & Clear Celluloid Edwardian Comb with rhinestones
2 Victorian Era Celluloid combs from same pattern, Left is French Ivory with gold paint & stones, Right is clear with soft blue stones

Aug 26, 2008

The Sublime 1920s Cloche, Part Deux

In part one, I showed off eye candy of mostly wide brimmed cloches. Part Deux features more of the truly sleek brimless cloches. These are the real skullcap/helmet types that require short hair. These hats looked great with the really tubular, linear dresses of the later 1920s. And it's a style that still works for modern short hair and the long, lean modern line.

1920s Blue Straw Cloche available at

1920s Brown Velvet Cloche from L.P. Hollander , from our archives
1920s Orange Velvet Cloche with cord work, applique and embroidery from our personal collection
1920s Brown Felt Cloche with Appliqued Petals & feather pom-pom from our archives
1920s Blue Velvet and Grograin Ribbon Cloche from our archives

1920s Unlined Black Openwork Asymmtrical Bruck -Weiss Cloche, also from our archives

Aug 23, 2008

A Tribute to The Sublime 1920s Cloche Hat

What is it about the 1920s Cloche? It's a simple silhouette for hat. Just a very deep crown, rounded or seamed, occasionally square in profile, with 3 brim variations: none, small or an oval wide one. No Philip Treacy theatrics, no fireworks or streamers. And it has even been ridiculed as a helmet rather than a hat.

Yet the simple lines and available space lent themselves to surface ornamentation and asymmetric elegance. And you know how I feel about good line and texture.

The cloche gets reintroduced and rethought with regularity. There's something about a deep crown that women like to wear. And it's not just because it solves bad hair days! They tell me hats are back 'in' - does this mean my love of the 1920s cloche will put me in the fashion forefront for a mo?

Tribute to a Hat Silhouette I Admire, Part One

Black Crepe Wide brim 1920s Cloche from our personal collection
Orange silk 1920s cloche from the Past Perfect Archives
Straw work 1920s Cloche from the Past Perfect Archives
Crepe 1920s Cloche with ruching, available at
early 1920s Liberty of London Cloche with Ostrich plumes, from the Past Perfect Archives

Aug 16, 2008

Decade du Jour: The 1920s

I know I skipped 1900 - 1910, but I’ll come back another day. I’m in a 1920s mood.

It’s not a look for everyone. The straight line from bust to hips does nothing for the hourglass girl or even the busty gal with narrow hips. You will notice when it gets revived, this look is almost always more fitted in the waist than it was originally.

But the look as a whole - simple shift/chemise dresses with plain neckline and long fitted sleeves, or shockingly, no sleeves at all, and with short skirts was such a seismic shift from what came before. And it was Comfortable!! Amazing little dresses that dropped over the head over a simple lightweight slip and elastic girdle if even that, instead of dresses and petticoats and corsets and corset covers and cotton or wool bloomers all with dozens of hooks and snaps and hidden closures that take a road map to figure out. The shift from 1905 to 1925 is amazing. I mean there are 1988 clothes you can still wear in public without looking hopelessly weird and attracting attention. Maybe not the shoulder pads, but still. Believe me, if anyone had walked around in public in 1925 in a 1905 dress, they would have attracted more than stares.

What I love about this era is the design process and aesthetic that found ways to take the simplest silhouette and find endless variations to make it unique and interesting. Pin tucks, pleats, beads, lace, embroidery, drawn work, you name it, it was used. And any period that made the most of printed chiffon, metallic lamé and cut velvet has a lot going for it.

A gallery from our archives and current offering at

Extenuated Elegance:
L. a Red velvet ca 1923 Harry Collins Evening Gown & R., an early 1920s Gold Brocade with Beaded Chiffon Tunic, both from our archives
Artistic Graphics:
Ca. 1922 Green & Gold Silk Chiffon Beaded Dress & Coat Set, possibly French, from our archives

Surface Texture:
L. ca 1921 Pumpkin Linen Day Dress with Drawnwork, & R. ca 1923 Brown Brocade and Chiffon Dress , both from our archives

Painterly Art Deco Pattern:
a 1924 Red, Black & Grey Silk Crepe, @

Left - Subtle Embroidery:
Mid 1920s Cream Silk Embroidered Dress & Coat

Right - End of the Decade Complexity
late 1920s Red Crepe Day Dress with Godets & Dagged Collar, both

Tubular Elegance:
Ca 1926 Cream Silk Beaded & Fringed Dance Dress, St. Louis label, from our archives

Art Deco Pattern
Black Cut Velvet Evening Dress

Aug 12, 2008

My Grandmother’s Shoes

She was stylish. She was not a typical sweet little old lady. In the days when no one went on cruises, she went on many, all over the world. She played in golf tournaments, had dinner at country and private clubs. She went to shows in New York in the 1950s, saw Billy Rose revues, heard Paul Robeson sing and Horowitz play at Carnegie Hall. She smoked and drank martinis. She baked Pennsylvania Dutch shoe fly pie and Lady Baltimore cakes and served cold asparagus salad with Alaskan King crab for Thanksgiving once.

When she died, most of her clothes weren’t wearable - too many ciggie burns and dinner stains. My mother salvaged the beaded trims.

I have these shoes for a long time, though. Small size, which is why my sister and I didn’t wear them out. Very Cool, silk DeLiso Debs. Hardly sensible shoes. Not even classic shoes. I always wondered what on earth she had worn with them.

And then I looked closely at a photo I have had for years and years. And that my parents had before that. It’s my grandmother with her husband and sister. She’s the redhead on the left.
Look at the shoes.

That’s what she wore with them! A really great print party dress. I wish I had it still. Sadly, it is long gone. I don’t believe I ever saw it. We did have a linen suit and a draped grey chiffon dress (who knows, maybe a Chapman!), both long gone to friends or theatres, plus a red chiffon Emma Domb dress with a tear.

But I do still have this cocktail dress with embroidered daisies:

Like I said, stylish.

Aug 5, 2008

Tuesday Night Vintage Round Up!

Git along lil’ vintage doggies!

The 1960s have been on my mind. It’s a decade I lived through and mainly remember for the turmoil. And clothing I coudn't wear well. As a result I have avoided it all for awhile, but I must admit, in retrospect, it’s growing on me. Sleek stuff some of this, with great details. Plus fun accessories.

Let's subtitle this post: Clothes I Wish I Had Gotten to Wear in The 1960s

So let’s see what’s out there:

From :

Wonderfully simple Geoffrey Beene. Love the texture contrast. Love the belt. If only I could have been this person in 1968.....

From :

Stunning metallic mini by Paraphenalia from a choice vintage clothing site. It’s all lovely. Come to think of it, I think I did have the cheap knock off version of this dress.

And from our own

A trio of my favorite 1960s cream dresses - long or short, beaded, rhinestone or plain. It's the cream thing.