Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dan River Fabrics Families (1959-1960)

Good morning!

Well, I'm pleased to say that it was finally fine enough weather yesterday for me to step out of the house in the yellow plaid dress I got at the flea market month-before-last. As much as I love my wardrobe staple of black tights, it can limit the kind of outfits you can wear without looking like a dancer from a Belle Epoque can-can chorus (sometimes a desirable comparison...sometimes not). Also, static cling is the bane of my living existence, so I'm happy to let loose with my bare little shins and enjoy the temperate climate!

With bright colors and pretty plaids in mind, I was pleased as punch to see these family groupings from Dan River Fabrics. Now, normally, the ads I've seen for the Virginia-based textile manufacturer have been for cotton sheets in the early fifties', a raven-haired fashion model draped across fresh linens. However! Towards the end of the decade, Dan River highlighted the bright, popping plaids and color-ific fabrics in clothing choices, especially in well-dressed family settings. Let's take a look!

Here, a dead ringer for Andy Griffith stands as the pater familias of this mid century clan. How about his lipstick red loafers? They match the outfit beautifully, but would the average, non-frat dad member of today's society make a similar shoe choice? I think not. Ditto on the long-legged son to the right... shorts so short! Still, I applaud the tiny jabs at variety the clothing designers made within the framework of very traditional clothes-- example, the seated boy's red highlights at collar, pocket, and sleeve cuffs, against the plaid background. Alternately, how about the short-short kid's plaid highlights against a white background? Also, please let me have that pool. It is spring, soon to be summer! I need a pool!

This picture looked boring at first but then I realized the wife's ensemble is a jumpsuit. A JUMPSUIT. In 1959! I wonder how revolutionary or not this was at the time, if it's just weird to my eyes because I associate the garment with Studio 57 and polyester. I am stone cold in love with the ruffles at the fitted bodice, the green ribbon of a belt, the pockets, and those wide legged pants! I guess it could be two parts, blouse and pants, but I'm thinking it's probably one. Also! I have never found one not ONE jumpsuit made with proportional provisions tall people. I know I probably have no business wearing one in the first place, but seriously, they should not be one length/size fits all! I hate to be left out.

Also, here's some antebellum homeowner's chicness in the next panel (ye GODS I wish I lived in a haunted old house that looked like something out of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, just saying): 

Also, let's take a look at the woman of the house's gorgeous, GORGEOUS ensemble. Gingham, just like I like! Random black bows! Matching cape/opera coat? Black necklace tied into a sort of bolero with pearls? I'm going to need to get all Google zoom on this so I can properly examine the composition there, but let me say that I LOVE that.

Here's the copy from this first trio of advertisements:

Do you love the little special fonts for "winkl-shed" and "dri-don"? You should.

LOOK. AT THE CAMERAS. Plaid Pappy is carrying a Kodak movie camera, and little Plaid Son a plain film camera, and I am just jealous all over. This kid, compared to poor Short Shorts, looks TOTALLY like a tiny man in an almost identical ensemble to his dad's. How about the little girl's matching red knee socks and the mom's white gloves? This is, by the way, the only  photo that actually includes a location.

This family may the best from just an MCM standpoint. Look at the dad's Mondrian style windbreaker, and the little girl's black tights and beret! Oh, we just the love the whole thing. I wish capes would make half the comeback they deserve.

Last but not least, even though they don't say where this family is, I'm guessing the United Nations? I only ever think of this place in the context of the movie North by Northwest, which was actually shot that same year! I remember something about Hitchcock and his crew not being able to take footage of the front of the building (it was during the Cold War, after all) and secreting a camera in a parked van across the street. Slick, Hitch! I wonder if Dan River used similarly sly techniques to get this winning photograph. Do you see the Western Wear style detail on the man's coat? The woman's lined jacket and leather gloves, the little boy's almost tuxedo-like coat, and the little gal's whole outfit. SO CUTE!

Well, that's all the new for today. What summer-ish clothes have you broken out for the good weather? Are you a big fan of bold prints and colors, or do you prefer a slightly more laid back color palette in your day to day dress? Which of these ensembles would you like to recreate?

Have a great Thursday, and I'll see you tomorrow for Photo Friday!


  1. Wow, that's a jumpsuit alright!

    Nice collection of well-dressed families! I love all the different patterns and how they all go together. I think I like the gingham patterns the best. All those skirts and dresses are reminding me to break out mine for the summer!

    1. Haha, I'd still wear it!

      So much plaid! And summer's finally here!!

  2. Good God, I would wear the little girl's outfit from that last photo RIGHT NOW!!! Right down to her perfect t-strap mary janes! This is why baby boomers always wax so nostalgic about their childhoods in the 50's -- when small children were dressed like 2010's fashion plates.

    1. Oh, I know, right?! I love the little girl's outfit best of all. I love hearing older people complain about what their parents made them wear in the fifties (the dotted swiss itched! I had to wear shiny patent leather shoes! etc etc) because they always describe things I wish I could wear, haha! :)



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