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Art Deco Beauty in Vintage Jewelry – Natty Creations Scarf Holder

I love Art Deco … anything and everything Art Deco! From architecture to fashion to vehicles … I just love it!

It reflects back to a time when “progress” was the be all – end all. Everything was meant to be faster, streamlined to get there quickly. As always, humankind over-did it and now humankind is trying to find a way to slow. it. down. NOW!

Another thing I love is finding something new and different – to me, anyway. I’m a research-aholic. So when I came across this incredibly pretty, at first glance – brooch, I was thrilled to discover that it wasn’t just a brooch. First, I thought it might be a hair barrette. That is, until I decided that big, long pin stem on the back would probably cause just a little bit of discomfort as it pierced through one’s scalp. Definitely not a barrette.

1930s Natty Creations Scarf Holder

1930s Natty Creations Scarf Holder

The fun part is that it is signed Natty Creations and the patent number is stamped onto the back. A little bit of searching and I found the patent, filed on December 29, 1936 by Nat Levy. It’s officially called a “scarf holder”.

1930s Natty Creations Scarf Clip Brooch Patent Full Pg 11140

1930s Natty Creations Scarf Clip Brooch Patent Full Pg 11140

Pin it to the front of your jacket or blouse, then the two leaves are on springs so fold those over the top of your scarf and the whole thing stays neatly in place and won’t slide off! Pretty nifty, I’d say! Especially when the scarf holder is a beautiful brooch set with sparkling crystal clear rhinestones and ruby red glass baguettes!

1930s Natty Creations Rhinestone and Red Baguette Scarf Holder

1930s Natty Creations Rhinestone and Red Baguette Scarf Holder

While it was easy enough to find the patent information, I wasn’t able to find much about Nat Levy. According to The Magic of Mandle by Lucille Tempesta and Marcia Brown, Nat Levy and Urie Mandle became partners in around 1938 forming the Urie Mandle Corporation to make costume jewelry. Nat Levy, based on the date of the patent, obviously was making jewelry under the name “Natty Creations” prior to joining Mandle. The Urie Mandle Corporation is said to have been extremely successful but not long-lived. The company closed sometime during World War II, according to Researching Costume Jewelry.

I’m going to keep my eyes peeled for more information about Nat Levy. It seems a shame that the creator of this practical and beautiful piece of jewelry seems to have disappeared into the pages of time. If you have more info about Mr. Levy, please be sure to leave a comment!

Ironing a Housecoat the 1940s Way

(3/1/2016 — the original video that was in this post has disappeared. This is very similar)

Wow! Talk about a new invention that didn’t make it. Ironrite? Actually, it apparently did.

It definitely looks less tiring, just sitting there and feeding fabric into the machine. What strikes me is that we never see her ironing the ruffles. I like my ruffles crisp and fluffy, not smashed flat as it appears this machine would make them. I could be, and most likely AM wrong about that, because there are collectors today that do know how to use the machine and say it makes wonderful pant creases and such. Homemakers in the ‘40s often used large linen tablecloths that are a bear to iron, as well as bed sheets – no permanent press! It must have been a godsend!

Back in the day, (don’t you love that expression – so vague…) doing the laundry was a whole lot more than throwing some clothing into the washing machine with a little soap and softener, then coming back about a half hour later and moving everything to a dryer, followed by hanging up or folding to be put away. I’ll bet that at least a third of all households today don’t even have an iron or ironing board. Yet we still hate doing laundry. The next time you get your grump on when it’s laundry day, just be thankful no one has handed you a rock and sent you down to the river. (I can’t fathom how that would get your clothing clean – what if the river is muddy, dry, full of fish … ??)

One last thing I love in this video – the house dress aka The Housecoat! The similarities are striking, but this one doesn’t have ruffles to iron!

1930s/ 1940s Hostess Dress

1930s/ 1940s Hostess Dress

Researching Vintage Fashion Leads To ….

It’s a good thing I love research!  Not a day goes by that I don’t need to do some research – style, date, labels, materials – the basics.

The best part is when I run across something that fascinates me – usually having little or nothing to do with the original subject, like this video that is a remix of several decades of Chanel fashion.  It’s kind of an odd video, a bit grainy and with a lot of strange background noises, complete with breaking glass (!) but the fashions are wonderful!  Toward the end are some close ups of gorgeous costume jewelry. You’ll see a dress where the fabric design has large leaves – oh, how I wish the film was in color! Then there are several Chanel suits, again – how I wish I could see the colors!

 

Looking at these suits brought to mind the wonderful pink and green linen and wool suit dress in my shop.  I have several wonderful pieces from the estate of a woman whose husband owned a local department store that closed in 1961.  Other that a couple of dresses, including the Mingolini – Guggenheim dress, it looks like she had most of her clothing made for her.  The pink and green dress has a lot of the same lines as the Chanel suits, specifically the slightly lower than natural waistline and boxy jacket.  I always felt this lady must have been quite tall because the skirts of her dresses are fairly long but, as you can see in the video, the style is a bit longer.  (I’m short, so one of the first things I notice about any garment is how much I’m going to have to shorten a skirt to wear it!)

What’s in a name: Housecoat, House Dress, Dressing Robe, or Bathrobe?

One of the many things I find so enjoyable about vintage fashion is coming across something I’ve never seen before and then learning about it.  Of course, part of that comes from needing to know as much as possible about an item in order to properly describe and sell it.  But really, I enjoy placing vintage clothing in its context.  It’s really amazing how understanding the clothing people wore at different periods in time tells one so much about HOW life was lived.  It’s history, yes, but with everyday people in their everyday lives.  I could yap on this subject forever but I’d never get to the point I was originally trying to make.

1930s/ 1940s Hostess Dress

1930s/ 1940s Hostess Dress

My latest “whatzit” is a delightful late 1930s / early 1940s house dress.  To be honest, when I first laid eyes on it I thought it was just Depression era cotton fabric yardage.  That is, until I discovered the metal zipper down the front that led from the bodice with the poufy sleeves and scoop neckline to the billowing bias cut full-length skirt.

To say I was stymied, is an understatement.  To my modern eyes and modern mindset, this looks to me to be almost an evening gown.  But in cotton calico?  With a metal zipper at center front?  And it’s so simply constructed that it could easily have been homemade except for the size tag and the manufacturer’s label – Modely.

Putting on my Sherlock Holmes detective hat and secret decoder ring, I made a list of things I knew about the dress:  1)  Cotton fabric in Depression era colors and pattern.  2)  Large metal zipper on cotton twill.  3)  Bias cut fabric in the voluminous skirt.  4)  Label.

Numbers 1,2, and 3 all scream 1930s to me.  An internet search brought absolutely nothing on the manufacturer.  I tried searching on 1930s dress, 1930s fashion, 1930s gown … some similarities but the cotton fabric kept tripping me up.

After exhausting my own resources, a quick turn of my decoder ring (aka a yelp for help from my buddies at the Vintage Fashion Guild)  brought me loads of information once I knew what this item is actually called!  It’s a house dress from 1939 – 1941, sometimes called a housecoat.  Proper terminology really helps, especially with internet searches.

Now after doing more research, it occurs to me that the words “house dress” bring the image to mind of an old, cotton, rumbled, frumpy dress that some old auntie wore around the house while cleaning and doing laundry.  Something I would not be caught dead wearing.  And the word “housecoat” makes me think of a shapeless, quilted nylon knee-length piece of “lingerie” (bathrobe) that covers up jammies and goes nicely with  those vile, bristle hair rollers with the pink plastic picks sticking out everywhere.You know, the hair rollers from h*ll.(Have you ever tried to SLEEP in those things??!!) Ok, so maybe I come from a family of hillbillies but also, I’m thinking of things I saw back in the 60s and 70s.

Obviously, the meaning of the words “house dress” and “housecoat” in the early 1940s has changed.  A page from a Sears Catalog from 1934 is titled “House Wear and Uniforms” and includes a “house frock” (a cute gingham dress) and aprons as well as nurse and waitress uniforms.  The house dress, at that time, was still nice enough that one could have a friend over for a cup of coffee, clean house, and run to the grocery without having to change to a day dress in order to be seen in public.  (This reminds me of a Letter to the Editor of our local newspaper that made a comment about how it’s nice that people wear their pajama pants anywhere now, especially when they get “dressed up to go to Walmart”.  Oooookay.  But I digress.)

After some thinking, I’ve been wishing for something to wear around the house in the evening that isn’t as frumpy as my nightshirt and bunny slippers.  I think I just might sew one of these pretty little frocks for myself – this one isn’t quite my size, or a color that could ever conceivably look attractive anywhere near my body.  It’s time to feel just a bit more feminine and fancy at home, in my house dress.  I might even ditch the bunny slippers.

Nooo … let’s get real!

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