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.

4 comments:

  1. I'm with you. Winter totally passed my by. When i was cold, the cold must have slowed my brain down because i had not one good ensamble. Great pictures. I never thought i'd be sad to see winter go... hey by the way, if you like to crochet, check out freevintagecrochet.com they have a whole bunch of hat patterns and im going crazy over them. I'm making like one every 1-2days. they're so cool! Hve a great day,
    Beth

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  2. @Beth: WE COULD NOT POSSIBLY BE MORE PLEASED WITH THAT WEBSITE! Thanks for sharing! I need to take up my afghanin' needles again.

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  3. Oh my, they are all so elegant and lovely! If I could choose just one for myself, I think I would like the periwinkle blue ensemble. Although, the gorgeous canary yellow on the left of the last section is equally lovely along with the gloves and elbow length, cuffed sleeves!
    This post immediately brings to mind the movie "How to Marry a Millionaire". The fashion show portion of the movie is one of my favorites in the film, not to mention the clothes they all seem to have in spite of not really being able to afford their 'own" apartment in the city! Thank for sharing these shots of beauty in fabrics!

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  4. Oh honey, I know what you mean. I never even wore my prettiest winter coat this year! Tragic.

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