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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!)

Dare to Compare Hair

That’s it.  I hate T.C.  Not only is she tall, slim, and shapely but now she has MY hair!

I was playing around with this really nice 1940s astrakhan bolero jacket – getting ready to list it – when I thought it would be fun to make up an all mix and match vintage outfit.   I picked out an 80s suede skirt, a 50s nylon blouse, the bolero, and a gold tone multi chain vintage necklace.  That’s when it happened.  She wasn’t really rockin the outfit with that hair.

Vintage 40s Astrakhan Bolero, 50s Nylon Blouse, 80s Suede Skirt

Vintage 40s Astrakhan Bolero, 50s Nylon Blouse, 80s Suede Skirt

This is T.C.'s usual 'do

This is T.C.’s usual ‘do

T.C.'s Borrowed 'Do

T.C.’s Borrowed ‘Do

So I grabbed Lana’s hair. (She didn’t say anything, but I know she was UNHAPPY.  After all, she’s the one with the GOOD hair and her attitude shows she knows it!)  Then I put it on T.C. and the brat looks pretty good!  (Shhhh … better than Lana.  She has a buffalo head.)



No female is ever happy with her hair.  If it’s straight, we want curls, if it’s curly we want waves.  If it’s brown we want blonde.  At some point in the last 10 years my own hair has become schizophrenic.  For most of my life it has been straight as a stick.  Of course, the 1980s brought us Big Hair.  I came by mine by getting perms every 6 months or so.

But I digress.  The point is  —  now that I see Lana’s hair on T.C. – I want my hair to do that!  I’m the same calico color but … Of course, I also want my body to do that tall, slim, and shapely thing, too!  Oh well, joke’s on her — I have both my thumbs!

Lana and Heady in their "everyday" 'dos

Lana and Heady in their “everyday” ‘dos


Migration Patterns of Vintage Costume Jewelry

I noticed an interesting phenomenon a couple mornings ago as I was putting together the jewelry I wanted to wear that day.  It moves.

Some years ago as I was sorting through my mom’s old costume jewelry – and my grandma’s because Mom had it until I inherited it – I kept finding things like earrings in Grandma’s jewelry box and the matching necklace in Mom’s.  At the time, I thought it was interesting to see the types of costume jewelry Mom liked well enough to move it into her own jewelry box.  It was fun to match up the sets again

Vintage 40s 50s Costume Jewelry

Vintage 40s 50s Costume Jewelry

and then I started to wear them.

Over time, I’ve pretty much tried to keep Grandma’s costume jewelry in her jewelry box and M

om’s in hers.  And of course, mine in my jewelry box.  There’s an interesting difference among all three of our jewelry boxes.

Vintage 50s 60s 70s Costume Jewelry

Vintage 50s 60s 70s Costume Jewelry

Grandma wore mostly pastels and she had a lot of bracelets.  Most of her jewelry dates to the 1940s and 1950s.  (Can you believe she gave me that sparkly blue set to PLAY with?)

On the other hand, Mom wore mostly fall colors and pins, and her jewelry mostly dates from the early 1960s through the 1970s. (Lots of Sarah Coventry there, which probably explains part of why I’m so drawn to it.)

They also had two sets and two brooches that were identical except for color (the earrings are a bit different).  I was surprised the blue was in Mom’s jewelry and not in Grandma’s.

Vintage Costume Jewelry 3

Vintage Costume Jewelry 3

I would include a photo of my jewelry, which dates from the 1970s with a big gap to post 2001, but really, until post 2001 when I really became interested in vintage costume jewelry – mine is, let’s face it, boring crap. LOL

And then it hit me.  My jewelry box is beginning to sprout some of their jewelry inside!  Some moved from Grandma’s, then it moved to Mom’s and now it’s in mine.  I’d say that’s absolute proof that vintage jewelry IS truly timeless!  AND migratory.

Now, go raid your mom’s jewelry box!  (with her permission, of course!)

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