Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Growing Old Graciously, Advice From 1928

When reading my collection of Fashion Service Magazines from the 1920s and '30s, I get the impression that the women writing the articles were offering advice on how to live life, to "play the game" as they put it, with the best you could bring to it. Not really being stuffy about it, but earnestly encouraging their readers to have fun and enjoy life, to keep learning new things, to dress appropriately, work hard, and present yourself with dignity.

Growing older doesn't have to be drab and dreary, of course. We're lucky to live in a time when we can feel free to express ourselves in whatever style we're comfortable with.

There's an awkward in-between age, though, when you're no longer a girl but not ready to dress like your grandmother, where you no longer have the nice firm outlines of face and figure that you used to and your old style doesn't work well anymore. It's confusing - who are you now?  The older I get, the more I prefer simplicity of clothing and hair, stylish but comfortable. Wonder if that qualifies for Ms. Ellison's criteria for aging "graciously", and gracefully?

Growing Old Graciously, advice from Fashion Service Magazine, August, 1928

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Book Premiums Offered For Subscriptions, Needlecraft Magazine, 1932

It's fun to buy something and then find it later in one of my vintage magazines. My women's novel collection started many years ago, and I'm always on the lookout for interesting titles. When I saw this page of books offered as premiums if you submitted subscription orders to Needlecraft magazine, of course I had to check the shelves to see how many I had.  

Needlecraft magazine, August, 1932

These books are listed above, but I also have others by the same authors. When browsing bookshelves at thrift stores or book sales, it's easy to spot the ones from the teens through '30s because they're all the same size, and have similarly textured covers.
Some of the books are better than others, of course; better written, or with a more interesting story. But they're fun to read, and I can often get through one book in an afternoon. It's also an interesting way to learn about the language of the time, especially the slang phrases. One thing is constant though, whether it's 1919, 1932, or 2017: the stories of hope and love, struggle and success, are common to all people in all times. We're not really so different from our grandparents after all.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Our 1936 Wards Sideboard

A few years after we married, we were given this Art Deco style sideboard that had belonged to my husband's family. Because we didn't have room for it in our small house at that time, it was put into storage. Finally, though, we moved into a larger house with a dining room where we could enjoy not only the sideboard, but the vintage dining room table and chairs that had been passed on to us from other family members.

We never really knew how old it was until, at an antique show, I found a Wards Fall & Winter, 1936-1937 catalog. Browsing through it one day, voila! - there was our sideboard!  Well, close enough. The handles are different, and the wood grain veneer on the doors, but otherwise, everything about it is pretty much the same: the shape of the top edges, the grooves in the legs, etc. 

Our pretty Art Deco sideboard, c. 1936, from the Wards catalog

This single wall in our dining room is actually a darkish pumpkin color, more like the color along the right side of the picture. But in the afternoon sun, the wall takes on a brighter, more luminous color, so cheerful. In the fall and winter, when I light the candles, it makes the room seem warm and welcoming. I know a lot of people don't like orange, but it was an experiment that we ended up loving. Orange is supposed to help stimulate the appetite, too, so it's perfect for a dining room.

Sideboard from Wards catalog, Fall & Winter, 1936-1937
Dining room furniture from Wards catalog, Fall & Winter, 1936-1937
 We also have two of the side chairs, which are, unfortunately, in poor condition. I'd love to have the china cabinet as well.
It's been such a pleasure to have the sideboard to decorate for the seasons. Soon it'll be time to get out the autumn decorations - the perfect season for our pumpkin-colored dining room!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Pretty Summer Frocks To Sew, 1932

In the 1930s movies I've watched, the clothing was so attractive and feminine. I'm thinking especially of Myrna Loy in the 'Thin Man' movies, and Claudette Colbert with Clark Gable in 'It Happened One Night'.  Such lovely, elegant ladies. The natural waistline silhouettes were more flattering to all figures, it seems, than the straight, boyish, low-waisted dresses of just a few years earlier. These are fairly simple, but have enough details to be stylish.

Woman's Home Companion magazine (July, 1932) offered these patterns at a cost of 25¢ for the dresses, 15¢ for the children's clothes.

Summer dresses with belted waists, Woman's Home Companion, July, 1932

Fabric recommendations for summer dresses, July, 1932

Children's summer clothes,  and dress for mature woman

The children's clothing is cute, and looks easy to care for. I do like ironing, but thank goodness we've moved on from having to iron all the clothing for everyone in the family.   

The dress for the "woman after fifty" is very pretty, and would look good on younger women as well, I think. She looks as if she's on her way to a pleasant lunch with friends, and maybe a little shopping afterward, perhaps for a new hat.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Traveling in Style

Because we've been spending our summer working on house and yard projects, we haven't taken more than a few day trips. They've been fun, but a longer journey would be nice, too - something to actually get out the suitcases for! Maybe next year.
I've never been on a train, but in the 1930s, train travel was pretty common, as were ship voyages. Even a short trip was an event to dress up for, to look forward to, and to enjoy. This luggage ad shows some very nice pieces that one would be proud to travel with. From 'Your Thrift Guide Magazine', July, 1931.  

Suitcases and travel trunk from the 1930s.
Wardrobe trunk with sturdy hangers, and suitcase with silk lining.  


The Gladstone bag on the left is very similar to this vintage one I have. I don't think it's the same brand, since I can't see a name on it, but this type of bag probably had common features, no matter who manufactured it.

Vintage Gladstone bag

If you were going on a longer trip, this roomy, sturdy wardrobe trunk would have been ideal. It even includes a built-in ironing board! And it was insured, too.

These pieces seem to be very well made, and were probably mid range in price, since the magazine was directed at people who needed to get the most from their dollars, and couldn't afford top-of-the-line anything.  However, if you were still going to travel but had less to spend, here's another option from the same magazine.  
 I can picture a young woman heading off to college for the first time with such high hopes, having carefully saved up her hard-earned dollars. She's bought a presentable, value-priced suitcase, packed her small wardrobe, which she hoped would be correct, and been brought to the station by her proud, loving family. 
Ok, I admit it - I've read a lot of 1920s/1930s girls' novels. But travel can be exciting, and one thing is still true: you never know what wonderful things might happen. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Sparrows I Have Known

We've lived in our house for many, many years. In that time, we've fed and watered a lot of birds, but my favorites are the sparrows. They're here year-round, and have become just like family, since so many generations have shared our yard. I've come to know what the sounds of their chirping mean, whether they're just lazily talking to each other, courting, or the more frantic chirps that mean a hawk has perched on the arbor, watching them as they cluster for safety in the deep heart of the forsythia bush.  The sound of birds in the yard is to me one of the most comforting, homey sounds there is.

It's been so hot this summer that they've been extra appreciative of the fountain by our deck where they can drink and bathe in the shade. This picture is from a few years ago when we were re-doing the yard and had taken out the pond. I put a shallow dish of water out for them instead, and they took full advantage of it! Even in the winter, when we set out the heated watering dish for them, they'll take baths. 

I have a set of books called The Nature Library, from 1917/1926. In the book on birds is this pretty picture, and a nice description of why the sparrow is such a welcome neighbor.
Male and female sparrows, one of my favorite birds

Length - 6 to 6.5 inches

Soon it'll be time for the migrations to start. It's always exciting to see who visits our yard on their way south - my bird book is dogeared from all the sightings I've noted over the years. But thank goodness for the little sparrows who are like true friends: there to cheer you and comfort you no matter what the weather.

New Dresses For Back To School, 1929

Fashion Service Magazine, August 1929
A few months before the Depression started, a girl could probably expect to have at least a couple of new dresses to start school with, maybe more if her mother could make them herself. The Woman's Institute not only instructed women in sewing techniques, they also sold patterns and fabric, as well. The patterns for these school dresses (and little boy's suit) cost 15¢ each.

Dropped waist school dresses for pre-teen girls, and little boy's suit, Fashion Service Magazine, August, 1929
These dresses have many of the same features of adult clothing: the dropped waist, pleated skirt, overlapped front, and narrow sleeves. Even the hats for little girls looked a lot like their mother's. They could easily be remade into a more current style the next year by raising the waist, changing the bodice, or adding a different collar.
School dress with pleated skirt for a young girl, floral frock for her little sister, Fashion Service, August, 1929

My maternal grandmother would have been 14 at the time these patterns came out, so she likely wore dresses similar to the two biggest girls in the drawing. I mostly remember her wearing house dresses, so it's fun to think of her as a teen girl and what styles she would have liked.

Here are the descriptions of the clothing, sewing and fabric suggestions.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Millinery Fashions for Fall and Winter, 1924 - 1925

One of the things I like most about fashions from the early '20s is the variety of hats. It's incredible to me that there were so many ways to design a hat.  Many women apparently only had a Sunday/dressy hat, and one for every day, but it's easy to see why women would've spent a lot of money on pretty hats if they could afford to. It was one of those accessories that could make you feel beautiful and well-dressed.

The hats in these illustrations were designed and drawn by Alice Seipp for Fashion Service Fashion Book for Autumn & Winter, 1924-25.

Hats for autumn and winter, Fashion Service, 1924-1925



Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Healthful Beauty circa 1907

Reading old health manuals is informative - and often pretty funny. A lot of the ingredients included in the recipes for creams and such aren't available today, and sound awfully harsh, even if they were. Thankfully, we now have a wide range of safe toiletries to suit most needs.

Here, from the pages of 'Home and Health, A Household Manual' © 1907, are a few interesting suggestions for improving your health and appearance.

Overland car ad, April 1923
What this section doesn't say is that option #2 is also a pretty good birth control method.  :-)

West Electric Hair Curler Company ad, April 1923
West Electric Hair Curler Company ad, April 1923
One thing that strikes me about so many of these articles and ads is how current the information sounds. Almost a hundred years later (good grief!), we read very similar advice, and see comparable ads in modern magazines and books, and of course, the internet.  It really puts proof to the adage that "there's nothing new under the sun."