Tag Archives: purses

Van Raalte Hat Veils “Make a Plain Face Pretty,” 1917

Van Raalte Veil Advertisement, Delineator, June 1917

Van Raalte Veil Advertisement, Delineator, June 1917

The Van Raalte Company is probably better known today for its gloves, stockings, and underwear, but hat veiling was one of its first products. In 1915, Zealie Van Raalte applied for a patent on his special hat veil which had an opening for the crown of the hat, and “which can be readily and quickly secured to the hat with the least possible delay and trouble in securing the correct adjustment, and which is detachable or removable at all times.” Dollhouse Bettie has written a fine series of illustrated articles on the history of the company. Click Here.

“A Veil Makes a Plain Face Pretty…”

Images and Text from an Ad for Van Raalte Veils, May, 1917

Images and Text from an Ad for Van Raalte Veils, May, 1917

“A veil makes a plain face pretty — every face more attractive. The subtle witchery of the veil has enhanced miladi’s charms since the earliest years — and there were never such becoming veils as the Spring collection of Van Raalte Veils.” According to Dollhouse Bettie, the first Van Raalte plant opened in 1917, so this is a very early advertisement, one of a series that ran in Butterick’s Delineator magazine that year. “The Cherry Blossom” and “The Shirley” veils are shown drawn tightly over the face. (“The Vision” seems to stop above the chin and gives me the impression of a tribal tattoo!) Perhaps not coincidentally, hats with veils appeared on some of the pattern ilustrations in the same issue:

A Veiled hat shown with Butterick fashions, May 1917.

A veiled hat shown with Butterick fashions, May 1917.

A veiled hat shown with Butterick fashions, May 1917.

A hat and veil shown with Butterick fashions, May 1917.

A Veiled hat shown with Butterick fashions, May 1917.

A eiled hat shown with Butterick fashions, May 1917.

Two of these illustrations seem to show the same hat, which has a veil similar, but not identical to, Van Raalte’s “Shirley.”two simillar hats and veils

I often see the same hat used repeatedly over several months in Delineator pattern illustrations. Apparently the illustrators worked from live models who were accessorized from a stock of hats, purses, boas, etc.

The “Winsome” Veil

Van Raalte Veils Ad, June, 1917

Van Raalte Veils Ad, June, 1917

“A white veil makes the fairest face seem fairer — and gives a fashionable touch to the Spring or Summer costume.  [Suntans were not yet in fashion in 1917.] Since this veil slips over the hat and exposes the crown, it may be one of Van Raalte’s patented veils, or it may be tied behind the hat. Note the model’s lips — lip rouge was becoming acceptable on ‘nice’ women.

A veiled hat illustrated in Delineator, March 1917.

A veiled hat illustrated in Delineator, March 1917.

I love the way the handbag echoes the colors of the jewels on the hat. [The hat does not have a brown feather — that is part of the fur worn by an adjacent model.]

Long Veils

Ad for Van Raalte Veiling, Delineator, April 1917

Ad for Van Raalte Veiling, Delineator, April 1917

A veil this long was versatile and could be tied in place behind the hat, and (if the hat was not too big) even used to secure the hat on windy days. Riding in carriages or the open cars of 1917 often required something stronger than a hatpin to keep your hat from blowing off. [Henry Ford refused to make a ‘closed car’ until 1927, when the Model A was introduced to compete with the more comfortable cars being produced by his competitors.]

Van Raalte Veils could be identified by their small paper label:

Van Raalte Label

Van Raalte Label




Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Hats, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Vintage Accessories

Two Whiting and Davis Mesh Bags, 1924

Whiting and Davis Gift Bags (Purses) 

Whiting & Davis Christmas Ad, December 1924

Whiting & Davis Christmas Ad, December 1924

The number of surviving enameled mesh bags by Whiting and Davis amazes me, as does the variety of designs and vivid colors. No wonder they are collectors’ items! Two ads from The Delineator magazine, 1924, one a Christmas ad, and one from May, suggest giving Whiting and Davis bags as presents. Those were the only months when Whiting and Davis ran ads in the magazine.

That made me realize that most of these beautiful bags that have survived in perfect condition were probably gift items.  And, at original prices from five to five hundred dollars, they were very nice gifts, indeed. 1924 dec p 90 whiting davis mesh bag adAccording to Farrell-Beck and Gau’s Uplift,  p. 39, “Among women in clerical and business jobs, the annual median wage in the late 1920s was $1,548  [i.e., less than $30 per week.] Weekly paychecks ranged from $6 for an office girl to $40 for a skilled bookkeeper.”  Even a $5 evening bag was a luxury item for most women. And, like many gifts, I suspect that a lot of the most spectacular enameled purses were rarely, if ever, used. It’s hard to coordinate a dazzling bag in elaborate patterns and colors with anything but a solid-colored dress, lovely as the bag may look in its gift box.

Christmas Gift, 1924: A Whiting and Davis Vanity or Utility Mesh Bag

Whiting & Davis Christmas Ad, December 1924

Whiting & Davis Christmas Ad, December 1924

This advertisement, from The Delineator, December 1924, gives prices and describes two different bags: The tiny ‘Delysis’ Vanity Mesh Bag, hanging from the arm of the woman in the illustration, has “two mirrors and separate compartments for rouge, powder, and handkerchief.” 1924 dec whiting davis bag ad xmas delysis1924 dec p 90 big whiting davis mesh bag ad

The ‘Utility’ Mesh bag [left] is “silk lined, with Vanity Mirror.”  Available from “leading jewelers and jewelry departments; $5 to $500.”

Bridal Gift, 1924: A Whiting and Davis Bag in Gold or Silver Soldered Mesh

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

In the May issue of the same magazine, the Whiting and Davis advertisement suggested that their Renaissance Design bag [right] “in shimmering silver or mellow gold” would be an ideal gift for the bride, or as a gift from the bride to her bridesmaids. “Doubly dear to feminine hearts for its smart correctness, as well as its daily usefulness.”

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The Renaissance bag, of “Soldered Mesh” is the ‘chain mail’ type, not the flat, very shiny linked bags which are still made today.

[Note the size in relation to a woman’s hand. Apparently, the woman of 1924 did not have to carry as many objects in her daytime handbag as we do now!]


Filed under 1920s, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Uncategorized, Vintage Accessories

Koret Purses, Aris Gloves, 1934

The Clutch Bag, 1930s

A zippered clutch bag with a Schiaparelli-inspired coat, 1934

A zippered clutch bag with a Schiaparelli-inspired coat, 1934

In his book Zipper,  Robert Friedel explained that in 1923, handbag framers went on strike. With normal handbag production stopped, the manufacturers realized that a purse that closed with a zipper could be made by a seamstress, and would not need a frame.  Men’s tobacco pouches already used zippers; a flat or fold-over purse was a logical development.  Indirectly, the 1923 framers’ strike led to the fashion for clutch purses in the 1930s.

'Envelop' purses, Butterick transfer pattern # 16147, 1931

‘Envelop’ purses, Butterick transfer pattern # 16147, 1931

You could make your own quilted “Envelop” purses from a Butterick craft /embroidery transfer pattern, dated 1931. The fabrics recommended for these Art Deco bags are satin, flat crêpe, taffeta, or, for evening use, velvet. The pattern description doesn’t call for a zipper, but by 1931, according to Friedel, manufactured purses were using 35% of the nation’s zipper supply (p. 174).

Koret Bags for Spring, 1934

The Vintage Traveler has written on the Koret Company’s history  and one of its later designers, Magda Makkay[Koret of California, a sportswear manufacturer, was not connected to the Koret purse company.]  In a 1934 Delineator  article about accessories for Spring, several Koret purses were featured. 1934 march p 17 top rt koret bags - Copy

Above:  “Accessories to wear to a chic luncheon include a string-leather belt with a metal buckle, Stern; a monogrammed [zippered] bag, Koret; and beige suede stitched gloves, Aris.” 1934 march top left delman shoes koret bags p 17Above:  “Town accessories for a tailored suit: a sharply striped silk scarf, Stern Brothers  ; very flat envelop bag of fabric, Koret; perforated suede oxfords, Delman; clip watch.”1934 march p 17 btm rt koret bags btm rt - Copy

Above:  “Vary a tailored suit with this fabric bag, Koret; suede gloves, Aris; and a spotted linen handkerchief and a black enameled cigaret case, both from Stern.”1934 march p 17 btm leftdelman shoes koret bags btm left - Copy

Above:  “For a legal cocktail before dinner wear, with a black town suit, patent pumps with a strip trimming, Delman; and a bag to match, Koret; black suede gloves, Aris; and enameled cigaret case, Stern.” Prohibition had recently ended, in December, 1933, so it was possible to have a ‘legal cocktail’ for the first time in 13 years. The Delman shoe company and Aris gloves are still in business. 1934 april p 70 easterwomen with clutch pursesBoth women are carrying clutch, or ‘envelop’ purses with their Easter outfits, April 1934.  [Butterick pattern illustration from Delineator magazine.]

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Filed under 1930s, A Costumers' Bookshelf, Shoes, Vintage Accessories

Musings, January 2014

1936 january Delineator stitcher and cat

What Do You Call a Person Who Sews?

That’s not the set-up for a joke. Whenever I see the word “sewer,” I have to read the whole sentence before I know whether it’s about stitching or drains.

Tinker, Tailor, Sewer, Seamstress? Stitcher.

There was a time when a man who made clothes for men was called a tailor, and a woman who made clothes for women was called a seamstress. (Or, by some patronizing patrons,  “my little dressmaker,” regardless of her size.)

But in the modern world, jobs are not usually gender related.  I have worked with female tailors and with men who sew dresses.

None of us wants to be called a sewer – because in English, there are two ways to pronounce that word, and one of them has to do with plumbing.

Call Me Stitcher

My last real job before retiring was as a stitcher.

In professional costume shops, the job title for a person who mostly sews is “Stitcher.” I like that word; it’s gender neutral, and it’s accurate.

Besides, it was in a costume shop that I first heard this saying:

“She’s still stitching, but her bobbin ran out years ago.”

Let’s hope it never applies to us!

Other News:

Wedding Dresses 1775 to 2014: Exhibition at the V&A Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum has an upcoming exhibition of Wedding Dresses.  Opening on May 3, 2014 and lasting until  March 15, 2015, the Victoria and Albert Museum will be exhibiting wedding dresses from 1775-2014, including couture gowns and royal wedding dresses. Thanks to The Para-Noir for writing about it. “O, to be in England, now that April’s there …” or coming, eventually….

Great Color Images from The Sears Roebuck Catalog, 1948

What-I-Found has been posting some marvelous winter clothing and accessories from a 1948 Sears catalog, including winter sweaters, gloves, purses, slippers,  & children’s clothing — and a Mickey Mouse scarf.

Earlier posts in December featured a 1934  child’s ski suit (about the same time I was posting a 1940 ski suit for women) and some classic children’s sweaters, including knitting instructions for a snowflake sweater, from 1955.  Thanks to What-I-Found for sharing!

Uplift: The Bra in America

Serendipity at the library: While looking for something else in the fashion shelves, I found Uplift: The Bra in America, by Jane Farrell-Beck and Colleen Gau. [264 pages | 6 1/8 x 9 1/4 | 51 illus. Cloth 2001 | ISBN 978-0-8122-3643-9; Paper 2002 | ISBN 978-0-8122-1835-0 ] — University of Pennsylvania Press. Although it’s not a new book, it looks like a very informative and entertaining one, with lots of illustrations. And the text is searchable at this University of Pennsylvania Press site.  Just browsing through the book, I found an ad for Maiden Form, “The Original Uplift Bra,” dated November, 1927. The authors also showed a 1943 ad for Bali bras, from Vogue magazine,  with Cup Sizes A – B – C – D.  And I learned that the underwire bra, “although offered by elite producers such as Vonny and Andre as early as 1934, … became common only after World War II” because the metal was needed for the war effort.  If you want “the inside story” on brassieres in America, Uplift by Farrell-Beck & Gau might be just your cup … of tea.  I found copies online for as little as one cent.

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Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s-1940s, 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s, A Costumers' Bookshelf, Bras, Children's Vintage styles, Exhibitions & Museums, Musings, Sportswear, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Vintage Accessories