Friday, March 30, 2012

Photo Friday: Weekend Pass Edition

I'm sorry I missed you kids and cadettes yesterday-- I've had a phantom fever that won't stop! Managed to watch the menacingly toned, great-until-the-last-fifteen-minutes horror flick Parents (expect a post next week), in between hours of dreamless sleep and demanding sugar free Popsicles and diet Sprite Zero from my Florence Nightingale of a bab (thanks, Matthew, for not mercy killing me as I requested). I'm back at work today, but still have an out of body experience like POV on the world. And what better state of mind to be in to write a Photo Friday post, right? Right. Let's get to the business of perusing other people's photos, shall we?


These photos were bought in a bunch from an estate sale out in Crieve Hall a year or two ago-- amongst a literal shoebox full of snaps, I tried to single out all the ones from this particular vacation two girls took to see one's enlisted man boyfriend (Dan). I imagine Pauline (left) and Ruby (right) both putting together an overnight bag of their cutest outfits and heading out to the encampment!

Here's Ruby in the ocean. I like how she obviously still has on her red lipstick and her hair is carefully done up in a kerchief. No dunkings for this permanent!


Here's Pauline in the same ocean, except with a stone cold, short-shorts cutie in tow! I love that he's marked as "?" on the labeling... I think these pictures must have been from Ruby's collection, because the notations seem to favor her memory over Pauline's. Think about Ruby years later going over each photo with a captioning ink pen to make sure she remember what was what. Pauline is too skinny! And "?" is too hunky...look at those deepset, writer-in-the-1920's type eyes. Too bad they didn't get his name!


The back of this one says "Norfolk, VA--Went to see Dan Brown. Pauline Irving and I went". Maybe it's my sickness eyes, but I can't tell if this one with the army-man is Ruby or Pauline. Either way, that peplum'd dress top, checked skirt, and twisted pearl necklace is for the win! Also, the man in the uniform isn't too bad looking, huh? I always have a little smile to myself when I see shorter men (5'7'' and below) in uniform, because I think of my poor 6'2'' WWII enthusiast dad going through pair after pair of woolen 1940's uniform pants at flea markets in the 70's, trying like heck to find some that didn't make him look like he'd borrowed styling tips from Jughead. He never did succeed. Pauvre. Were there no Gary Cooper, long and lean men in the service in those days? Who knows.


Here, the labeling is a little less ambiguous. Ruby and Dan, what a pair! The back says "Grant Park-- 'Sweet Hearts', 'Soldier Pals'." Could that be any cuter? I want to know how they got from Norfolk, VA to Grant Park (presumably the one in Chicago?). Do you think it was the same trip or two separate ones?


Last but not least, I think this is Ruby again, stretched out in a provocative, Rita Hayworth style pose as several long shadows cast across the frame. Think they were Pauline and one of the boys?

I think that's all I'm able to dish out this morning, but tell me what you think about Ruby and Pauline and Dan! Do you have any WWII sweetheart pics amongst your collection? Do you ever scrape through the barrels of photos at estate sales looking for pictures with a narrative? Let a girl know!

Have a fabulous weekend, and I'll see you on the other side of it. :) Hopefully with no fever brain!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Return of the Magnificent Magnavox! (Guest Post at Owl Really)

Good morning!


Guess what, guess what? I did my very first guest post today! Jamie, a fellow vintage-o-phile and Tennessean over at Owl Really, asked me to write about/share photos of my favorite secondhand find. How could I *not* choose the Magnificent Magnavox? I can't walk through the living room without giving it a wink.

In looking for a specific date for the guy, I found these Magnavox ads dating from late 1957-1958. He's the same age as Caroline Kennedy!


The ad below came from the magazine above. See! I told you they were the same age!


I've noticed that none of the advertisements I found had the EXACT same one, but I'm thinking "select from a variety of styles and fine woods" meant you could get them built to suit, to an extent. And the mahogany finish and little hairpin legs on my model suit me FINE! According to the Inflation Calculator: "What cost $389.50 in 1958 would cost $2903.21 in 2010. " GOOD. NIGHT!


The black laquer version, with a interesting black-and-gold marbled top. I thought this one had been painted, but apparently it's original! Also, I want this apartment. If I "have to" marry Don Draper to do it, that's ok, too.

Come see pictures and words by your proud little vintage community participant out at Owl Really by clicking the photo or link below. And don't forget to look around while you're at it. You wouldn't believe the neat things Jamie picks up here, there, and everywhere!


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Forstmann Woolens (1950-1956)

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Well, the weather's turned balmy around these parts. And ain't I glum about it!

With temperatures in the upper 70s, I really wish I'd taken better advantage of the real span of my winter wardrobe when I had the chance! So many furs and wool coats, and yet, you fellow clotheshorses know how it is when you've spent thirty minutes planning your wardrobe and somehow just grab whatever warm thing can cover it until you get to your destination. I never wore any of my wraps! Not one. Late March, and it's sandal and skirt weather, for sure. However, if it was still coat weather, you know what kind of coat I would wish to be a-wearin? A Forstmann Woolens coat! "Forst" sure! Are you familiar with the brand?

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I came across these cheery ads in early to mid fifties' Life magazine. I reverse-chide myself sometimes for not breaking down and e-bay-buying some of the forties' and fifties' department store catalogs after which my heart lusts, but here, we have the catalog experience right inside the cover of one of my favorite popular periodical publications. I love the contrasting swaths of material in the background of each ad, making sure you can see the texture of the cloth as well as its use. Do you see how most of the women in the photos wear a coat-on-top-of-a-coat on top of whatever they're wearing underneath? I hope these were shot in winter, or that the studio was really well airconditioned, because it seems like under those bright lights, you'd be hard-pressed not to sweat off pancake makeup so carefully applied. Still! How crisp and cool the models look in their outerwear.

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I think these two, and the white coat at the very top, are my favorite ensembles. I would never think to put together cobalt, mustard, and blue gingham check together, especially with a fur stole over all, but how SMART is this woman's outfit? It looks like something my beloved Joan Crawford would wear (my on of my highest celebrity sartorial compliments, up there with "That looks like something Stevie Nicks would wear"). At right, though the white hat is a little "much", I am now obsessed with the idea of incorporating floral accents into my outfit. Also, the draping of the skirt is interesting. Also, I would be so happy in this color green with white. Also, lemme get that 22 inch wasp waist to complete the image. ((sighs)) A girl can dream, can't she?

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With vintage clothes, I've noticed over the years that good winter coats and evening wear are two things you're most likely to find in a closet bereft of any other decade-decadent clothing selections. Why? People spend a lot of money on these items! In the pre-TJ Maxx/Forever 21 era, and especially back in the 50's and 60's, I feel like women were more likely to buy a coat or cocktail dress and figuratively drive either 'til the wheels fell off. Because if you spent a week's pay on a really high quality, really beautiful coat, you'd keep it for sixty years, too!

Another thing about wearing-other-people's-clothes-especially-coats is the time capsule factor. A few months ago, my mother was going through a downstairs coat closet and found some old things I "might like to have" (read: "of which she might like to divest her downstairs coat closet"). One was a long brocade coat I clapped eyes on and went "Well, that's GOT to be from 1998". Sure enough, inside the coat were a receipt and a movie ticket from that millennial era, shoved into a pocket and long forgot about until this far flung future date. I've found 1960's life savers (no, really), concert ticket stubs, spare buttons, even a single clip-on costume jewelry earring (and you know it drove that woman CRAZY not to be able to find its match)... it's funny how you hang the coat up in the winter of one year, and might not pick it up again until the winter of several years have past.

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Are you a vintage coat hoarder? I must honestly have an entire adult closetful of 50's and 60's coats. And yet, if I came across any one of these numbers today at a reasonable price, danged if I wouldn't buy it without hesitation! It's an illness. Which ensemble would you be most likely to wear? Are you fitted-coat girl, or do you prefer the A-lines of some of these dress overcoats? Did you miss your opportunity to wear as many winter items as you would like due to our insaaaaane global warming winter/spring? Let a girl know!

Til next time.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hotpoint Appliance ads (1955)

It's the candiest eye candy I think I've ever laid eyes on. Lemme at 'em!

GUYS. I WANT PINK APPLIANCES. And this kitchen. Wholesale, lock stock, I'll take everything. Look at the wealth of convenience and style taking place in this 1955 Hotpoint ad. It's the actual living end! See how the fabric on the stool's seat matches the bright red kitchen curtains and countertop! How the yellow inlaid linoleum eagle harmonizes its circlet of matching stars with similar points along the very top edge of the wall! How you could park a city bus in the sheer square footage of the place! This kitchen.... I could make a lot of hedgehog-shaped-cheese balls for company in this kitchen. I could bake a lot of meatloaves.

Do you, like me, suffer from hardcore well-appointed kitchen envy?

Sunburst clock and mint green/pale yellow/ red color scheme? I got my eye on you.

It's not that there's anything particularly wrong with my kitchen. I have one of those totally straightforward, medium sized 50's houses' kitchens that runs along the back of the house in a straight shot to the dining area. On days when Bab and I have managed to keep the no dishwasher dishload under control and refrain from leaving large plastic sacks of Goodwill acquisitions on the counter, it actually seems kind of airy. But when I see kitchens like these, the size of a middle school gym, I can't lie and say I wouldn't appreciate the room to break into a musical number (or at least serve hors d'oeurves right off the counter) if I so saw fit.

While the mauve isn't my first color choice, see how there's a cherry blossom panel broken up by the stove's range hood? I am SO into that...

I really envy the 60's homesteader couples who would pick out a plot of land in suburbia, after having spent their early marriage in a reasonably small 1920's house in town, and just build the whole kit and caboodle house from the ground up. Can you imagine a housewife, exulting in her husband's recent promotion and the family's checkbook's concomitant growth, looking over blueprints and saying "Oh, make it twice as big as that! I want to have the BIGGEST KITCHEN ON THE BLOCK." I remember a pop up video factoid from the Shawn Colvin video for "Sunny Came Home" saying something about women spending x amount of waking hours , in their lives, in the kitchen, more so than any other room in the house, so why shouldn't it be a room to put all other rooms to shame?

I can't quite make out the pattern on that black day dress, but that doesn't keep me from wanting it.

Many times, in the course of estate sale shopping, I manage to casing the built-in features of fifties' houses. What I weirdly covet the most? Number one: built in stoves/built in appliances of any kind predating the year 1970. Gosh, they're fancy! Sometimes I just look at Retro Renovation and drool. I know they'd be a pain in the neck to have serviced or replaced, but this is dream shopping, and in my dream world, everything is brand new and never malfunctions. Number two: a curved counter end-cap, with little shelves to keep mixing bowls and other kitchen knickknacks and necessaries. Guess what? The above kitchen has BOTH. It's almost unfair!

Going back to the appliances point, however, I've found vintage replica stoves and refrigerators that seem to cost as much as a good used car (unacceptable) and real vintage stoves which are reasonably priced, but would put me in mortal fear of leaving the house to go to work, just in case the house burns down while I'm away (I have that fear enough with freaking new appliances... think of how nervous I would be with style superior but safety inferior vintage ones!). I wasn't always as worried about this as I am now. I was working as a substitute at a high school where a 1950's refrigerator someone had put in the break room started to breathe black, billowy smoke in the middle of a work day and had to be taken out. Vintage lover's trauma! That thing was the size and spectacle of a early 50's Cadillac (to whom it was probably a contemporary), but what good is an appliance if you can't turn your back on it for five seconds without it causing a catastrophe? What's a MCM lovin' girl to do?

This is a laundry room, but I just had to show you guys three things: the indoor sun-room type thing at stage right, the red Eames-y chair, and that long clear plastic sliding door shelf that looks like something from the Holodeck. I love them!

An extremely low-fi pic below will show you what I'm talking about in terms of my woefully "real-life" kitchen. Donna Reed would not cook in this place! But I do. We're thinking about putting in black and white tile linoleum to match the painted cabinets. What do you think? Retro hit or miss? Would a green or yellow to match the table set work better, given the removal of the (cheery, but clashing) red and white curtains? I'm reviewing the situation...


Being the retrophiles that I know you are, how do you feel about serving 1950's kitchen realness? Is your place up to snuff in terms of period accuracy, or do you leave the main 50's decorating to the items that won't catch fire in the night? What mid century kitchen item would you love to find a new old stock still in the box version at some daydream of an estate sale? I'd love to know!

Til next time.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Photo Friday: Ominous Edition

Hi there!

I have a rare day off today so I'll probably be spending most of it running across the county tracking down the bibelots and baubles that make up the bread and butter of this blog (how'dya like THAT for alliteration? I am goooood...).

However! I thought, in the interest of continuing my photo Friday postings, I would share with you a couple from the "other" pile. These pictures aren't connected to any of others of a set, but bought solely for the entertainment factor of "What is going on in this picture?" In this case, I think any of these would be a great jumping off point for a David Lynch picture. Ominous? Ohhh, we got your ominous right here!


Above, a dead ringer for Zelda Fitzgerald (I'm always looking for little Zelda clones, but this one looks just like her, I swear!) watches with pensive hand poised on hip as her also-all-in-ivory clad companion walks towards the homemade trailer in the background. So little of pre-WWII photos I've seen are not "specifically posed" that I was interested to see a rare, candid shot of everyday life. Do you think the light colored clothing and foliage mean summer, possible in the South? Has something already gone wrong or is something about to? Or do you just think this was momentary break-camp moment before the travelers moved on to their next vacation destination? I can't tell! And is the suspense killing me! I love the look of "Well, what do we do now?" on the woman's face.


Ok, the conflict is pretty obvious in this one. As the man stands, Gary Cooper-like, in the flooded front porch of his flooded house just before of his flooded front yard, the water is all the way up to his knees! Can you imagine the "Ok, now take a picture of me in all this mess" conversation that must have preceded the shutter clicking? Who's taking the picture? Where did the water end up knee deep? On the back, the words "At home" have been written with a line under the second word. Do you love it? You know you love it.

Last but not least (these estate sales aren't going to go to themselves, y'all! I told you I only had a minute):


"At Lookout Mountain", the caption on the back reads. Mister! Mister, be careful so close to that edge! The tiny shadow under his shoe, the perfect hang of his pant leg, and above all that big, white, nothingness over the side of wall... doesn't it look just exactly like an art print? I love finding photos like this that look like scenes from movies, only ones no one outside the man's family ever saw. Was he a handsome guy when he turned back around? What was the view over the side of Lookout Mountain like in the mid 1940's? Why can't pictures taken on my phone look this epic?

Like I said, I have places to be a baubles to buy. Do you have any clues or conjectures as to what's going on in the ominous triad I've presented to you? What's going on just off camera or behind the lens?

Have a great weekend! We'll see you on the other side!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Plastics (March 1940)


Good morning! It's almost photo Friday, but to get us through this dreary Thursday morning in Nashville, I thought I might share with you guys a little pop of C-O-L-O-R. These technicolor dream products are from a 1940 Life magazine spread on the rising popularity of this new thing called plastics. You may remember my post a couple weeks ago about Andy Warhol's personal collection of early plastic and celluloid... THIS is the kind of wildly colorful, beautifully simple stuff he was picking up for next to nothing and hoarding in his upper East side townhouse in the 70's. Lucky. MAN!

This table setting not only incorporates the kelly green, mustard yellow, and coral colors that I associate with a lot of color sequences in 1940's movies, but happens to have a scales-of-justice (or in this case, scales-of-fruit) centerpiece. We like, we like! The scales and the candlesticks are made of lightweight, unbreakable Lucite. So, when you're having the Bickersons over to dinner, and table setting pieces start flying, you don't even have to worry about them causing damage to each other OR the pieces themselves! Try that with crystal, and you're going to end up on Dateline. The dishes and glasses are made of the happily named "Beetleware", knife and fork handles are Catalin, and the mats are hand painted Plastacele. Have any of you heard of these things before? I'll have to look them up sometime.


VERY. IMPRESSED. With this bed. At first, you'd think the photo above shows two different twin beds, but in fact, they are one and the same. Thanks to the magic of Plexiglass and specially made light rods, the edges of the headboard and footboard can change color depending on your mood. That's right; this is essentially a mood ring bed. Could you die? "Note how the color follows contour," the caption reads. Oh, I'm notin'. Santa, if you're reading, please add "Neon Dream Bed" to my Christmas list.

Here's a whole calvacade of materials made out of plastic:

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More Catalin in the handles at left ("Will not rot! Will not crack like wood does!" the caption boasts. The strainer at left and the phone at right are both made of Tenite, "the delight of decorators, because it can be made in unlimited colors".

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These cannisters are made of celluloid, in the popular, cheery red of forties' kitchens across the nation. The salt and pepper shaker is made of Beetle and Makalot. Check out how the single piece contains both salt and pepper, dispensing your choice by pressing the handle down at either side. Cle-e-e-ver.

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Two of my favorite things, contextless medical supplies and jewels, are also made of popular plastics.


Look at the table pedestal! I don't know why we couldn't have skipped the orthodontics in full color. Everybody knows what color teeth are. We couldn't do these chairs in color? Still, I'm mesmerized by the shape of the chair at right's rattan frame, and can only daydream about the colorful plastic strips that make up the caning.

State of the art clothespins! State of the art baby-eatingware! The name of the latter is "Baby Dyner". Which sounds like a metal song from the 80's along the lines of "Holy Diver". Think about it.

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Ok, I am SERIOUSLY freaking out about this next one. For you midcentury rockabilly ghouls, you can (awesomely enough) combine your love of early plastics and graveyards with this Bakelite coffin. Ya heard right-- it's a BAKELITE. COFFIN. "Wormproof," reads the caption. "OHMYGAWD," reads the writer. While I understand its superiority to wood in terms of sealant-properties, wouldn't this thing crack all to pieces under the earth's pressure/movement over time? Not trying to be morbid, but is this really a good idea? Also, what colors does it come in, please.


Last but not least, interchangable Lucite heels for women."They will not scuff and come in various colors". Can I get an amen.

"There's a great future in plastics..."

Do you have any plastic collecting tips or stories? If you do collect, what's your favorite piece? Which one of these would you like to run into in a lonely, 50% discounted antique mall booth?

After this, I'm rarin' to get some cute little pieces off Etsy or SOMEWHERE. How can I live my life without the combined convenience and colorfulness of some of these items?

Read the article in its original issue HERE.

Til next time!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

LANZ Originals (1940's-1970's)

Source, source (Do you see what I see, Mabel?!)

How're you fixed for Lanz Originals?

I've been seeing more and more of these cropping up in my vintage rounds and I'm telling you, I'm kind of in love. Do you like folk prints, feminine silhouettes, and cute little added details like removable straps and frontpieces? ((pause)) Don't lie!

According to the Vintage Fashion Guild website (a MUST USE for clothing retrophiles), Lanz started as an Austrian folk-wear label in the early 1920's, gaining international popularity from tourists bringing the colorful costumes used in music festivals home with them as souvenirs. Founder Josef Lanz himself followed his creations to America in the 1930's to create Austrain-inspired readywear for a US audience.
By the 1940's, Nornie and Werner Scharff owned the American rights to the company (then separate from its European sister label) and are responsible for most of the examples you'll see below. And what do we see....

Buy 'em here, here, and here

More folk-inspired, cute, pretty little ditties to wear out on a summer's day-date. Pair any of these with huge Jackie O sunglasses and a slung over shoulder satchel and you're ready to grab coffee at one of those downtown places that boast outdoor wrought iron furniture. Many of the early to mid 70's designs feature strawberries, little folksy flowers, and other items to make you feel like you could easily join the Sunshine Family in their sartorial splendor. I actually have a sundress in a denim-type color from their label, with a strawberry motif, that I purchased IN SPITE of its wildly narrow, almost concave waist measurements in the hopes that it will some day fit me. These things are too cute to pass up! I'm always surprised to find a button where I wouldn't have thought to put a button, a bust flattering tie-back where I wouldn't have thought to put a tie-back, etc, etc.

(Etsy listings here, here , and here)

There seem to be two camps of Lanz originals available through your regular Etsy or Ebay shopping rounds... one is comprised of the 70s boho items I was telling you about, and the other of 1980's, floral pieces with the same amount of workmanship, yet less woodsy/suited for outdoor festivals and more Moonlighting/suited for dinner-with-friends. I'm still crazy about the floral dress at left on the above set...check out the pert little bow on the belt, and the diagonal slash of teal/pink/black... spices things up a bit, right? The dress flanking the wedding dress to the right, has a wham-bam combo of bright, aquamarine cornflowers exploding down from the bodice onto a violet background. And the wedding dress... well, heck, how I am not going to like a little "Little House on the Prairie Weeding Eleganza" number as such? Answer: I can't. It's so cute.

Oh! I almost forgot! Camp #3: attention, vintage campers, I almost forgot about one of the most important subcategories! And you were gonna let me. ((tsks))

(See their Etsy listings here and here)

I think these two beauties are probably from the still-Austrian-owned time period of Lanz. Look at the dainty, alpine patterns on these shirtwaist pieces!! I canNOT get over the little red cap detail on the left, which marks the even littler little head of the Swiss Miss in the pattern. Click on either of them to get a better look at the dainty WONDERS that are going on in the print. My heart heeds the siren's call of it, but my pocket can't bear the burden. Le sigh. You really have no idea how happy I would be in either one of these.

(See listings here, here)

One more possibly earlier print to the left, and an example of a 1980's does 1950's plaid jumper with cute-as-a-button...wait for it...button detailing! I have a similarly plaid dress, except in a forest green color, that features a removable front-piece that is attached by three buttons to either shoulder. With it on, it looks like a high-necked, pinafore style dress with a large bow in the back. With it off, it looks like a v-necked dress with button details on the shoulders. HOW. FABULOUS. I wish all my dresses had such Transformers-like super powers. I'd show it to you, but it's somewhere in the attic with the heavy-winter clothes. Tant pis.

(See the dress at left's listing here and the expired listing here)

Last but not least, my Lantz MVP's!! The dress on the right has all the swagger of a Bowie worn, Yamamoto designed pant-jumper, but contained in a single safe dress. See how the lines make it look like two legs, but it's all one piece? I'm a fan. Sadly, as you can see from the caption above, the dress on the right is actually an expired ebay listing but OH MY GOD ARE YOU LOOKING AT IT. AAAAND in my size. If it hadn't sold several months ago, you know I would be somewhere taking out a bank loan, right this moment, to secure this Hansel-and-Gretel print maxi sundress as my very own. I don't know if I've seen a dress more suited to my personal taste in my life. But maybe it's twin will find me some day?

((detail...which I look at while crooning Roy Orbison's "Crying" to myself. Next time around, man!))

Nowadays, Lanz of Salzburg is still a brand, but seems to mainly do flannel, full length nightgowns. Boooo! Bring back the Alpine prints for ready wear, please!

You can see me in my very own Lanz (which I happen to be wearing today, as well! Can you tell where the inspirado for this post came from) on this blast-from-the-past last year blog edition of "The Clothes off My Back" by clicking HERE. It's the black one with the white lace collar. I've been wearing this guy since 2001, and we're still in style!

Do you have any dirndl-y, alpine themed, cute as pie pieces hiding out in your closet? What kind of a mood puts you in the frame of mind to wear your cutest elegant-little-girl ensemble? Are you now or have you ever been a Lanz fan? Do you know someone who could hook me up with that freakin Hansel and Gretel dress? Do tell!

Further reading:

LANZ company history from the aforementioned Vintage Fashion Guild website

This article from Life magazine mentions Betty Betz, 1940's/50's teen advice columnist, marrying Josef Franz and wearing his designs/designing some of her own for Lanz. Wow!

Til next time.


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