Always Classic, Always New… American Fashion Part 1
SOME SILHOUETTES OF THE 1940’S
As we begin the Randolph Street Market 2023 season celebrating its 20th Anniversary I’m starting a series of exclusive blog posts on American Fashion which began in the 1940’s! Of course, we had excellent fashion prior to WWII but truly came onto the world stage immediately following WWII when American Sportswear Designers started to make their mark. Think Claire McCardell, Anne Fogerty, Bonnie Cashin,Tina Leser, etc. Why did this happen… many reasons…
• Women were in the workplace as never before, the men were at War
• The fashion and fabric supply chain was not available from Europe
• The atmosphere was ripe for creativity
For this post I’m highlighting the shirtdress, stylish and practical then…modern now…with Claire McCardell and Anne Fogarty. I’m also featuring some other 1940’s silhouettes worn at this years New York City Easter Parade that spoke to me in showing how to wear vintage perfectly!
Some vintage shirt dresses….
The 1940’s worn in 2023…
Claire McCardell, (1905-1958), considered the Queen of American Sportswear
From the Love To Know blog…
“Claire McCardell was one of the most influential women’s sportswear designers of the twentieth century. Best known for her contributions to the “American look,” she was inspired by the active lifestyle of American women. Known for casual sportswear, shirtwaist dresses, and wool jersey sheaths, as well as practical leisure clothing and swimwear, which she liked to refer to as “playclothes,” McCardell designed for working women who wanted stylish, well-made clothing in washable fabrics that were easily cared for.”
A designer, a winner of many awards and honored with extraordinary press.
Claire McCardell wearing Claire McCardell
Christian Dior created a fashion revolution with his 1947 The New Look
While in the States…Claire McCardell created fashion that was just as important….American Sportswear for the New American woman!
One of McCardell’s signature garments….the Popover Dress…a different interpretation of the shirtwaist…
Anne Fogarty (1919-1980)
A quote from her… “I feel that the greatest contribution I have made to sportswear is that of femininity.”
The following is from my nenasnotes blog posted on November 25, 2016….
“Anne Fogarty was one of the group of female creators who made American fashion important via their creative designs. The stars were Claire McCardell, Bonnie Cashin, and Anne Fogarty who appealed to a modern post-war clientele. There were, of course, the higher priced designs of Norman Norell, Pauline Trigere, etc. that were almost Couture in look and cost. These innovative women put the American look on the International map. I was fortunate, once again, to have worked with both Bonnie Cashin (I will write several posts on her, a profile on her Biographer, Stephanie Lake, and her book and my personal experiences with her in upcoming posts), and Anne Fogarty, who I am profiling here. I did not, unfortunately, have the opportunity to work with Claire McCardell, but am a huge admirer of her creativity.”
Some additional bio info on her…. “Well known for her petticoated dresses, which whirled her to fame and the Fashion Critics’ Award in 1951, the Neiman-Marcus Award in 1952 and numerous citations since. Designer Fogarty had been toiling on New York’s Seventh Avenue since 1940, first as a model and, as a designer. In 1957 she signed a contract with Saks Fifth Avenue to design exclusively for their stores in 14 cities”, nenas note…including Chicago where I met her in the late 1950’s and worked with her on fashion presentations. She received The Sports Illustrated in 1960 in Chicago, quite an event!
Anne Fogarty several of her signature looks….first photo, below, Anne Fogarty wearing Anne Fogarty
The Fogarty signature garments the shirtdress with very full skirts…
The best of the Chicago Department Stores…Marshall Field & Company, Carson Pirie Scott, Goldblatt’s, Lytton’s, Wiebolt’s…to name a few, were the places to go to see the newest American Designer collections. I’ll do more on Chicago’s Department Store History in upcoming posts….look for their own labels as well.
This month I’m highlighting two of our extraordinary RSM vendors and asked them why they do vintage…be sure to visit their Instagram accounts and more importantly visit them along with the rest of the amazing lineup Sally Schwartz has assembled for her 20th Anniversary season of RSM! Always remember to buy what you like when you see it, you are almost always looking at a unique one of a kind item…don’t hesitate!
LISA GALVAN SHYTOWNGIRL VINTAGE INSTAGRAM @shytowngirlvintage
in her booth at RSM, featuring a blue ribbon selection, a classic plaid coat and dress ensemble…think of all the ways you can style it! Photos courtesy of Lisa.
Lisa gives us a brief overview of her passion…
“Vintage collecting has been in my blood since an early age as a young girl going to estate sales with my mom. Back then I collected Avon bottles and my mom collected depression glass. I love Mid Century design in general, but my love for vintage clothing came from my grandma who owned a clothing boutique, Marion Lee Fashions, on the north side of Chicago for nearly 30 years. My daughter has become my assistant in all aspects of my business and is the fourth generation interested in vintage! It’s a great passion to pass down!”
From Marshall Field’s…manufacturer, Swirl Neat N’ Tidy…love the print from the 1940’s.
From Whitehall Knitting Shop this navy textured knit dress with beaded trim, 1940’s.
“My favorite decade for vintage fashion is the 1960s, but I have an appreciation for the evolution of fashion design throughout the 20th century and into the new millennium. You can pretty much divide the 1960s in half stylistically, the first half being more conservative, and the second being wildly experimental and fun. That second half of the 60s with the introduction of mod and psychedelic styles never stops fascinating me. Many of the pieces I select come from the late 60s-early 70s, but we feature pieces from all decades of the 20th century up to the millennium. Good, classic pieces never go out of style, so shopping vintage is a great way to source unique pieces for your wardrobe while also practicing sustainable living.”
NORINE CLAFFEY OF WINI & I
Photos courtesy of Norine
“During the 1940s, men’s fashion stopped progressing from the 1930s. Due to the start of World War II in 1939, men typically adorned their military uniforms. However, men began to wear suits that were colorful, baggy, and paired with a long jacket.
Women’s fashion was defined by a “clean and slim silhouette”, almost military-style like. Due to the war, New York City became the center of the fashion world. Many of the materials typically used for womenswear (satin, leather, wool), was needed to make military uniforms and parachutes for soldiers. Thus, people turned to cotton and nylon as materials became far more scarce. Skirts became shorter and tighter and patterns were a thing of the past as more women opted to wear plain and practical colors. People began to dress far more casually to outings and formal events.”
“Currently I’m looking for more 60’s & 70’s pieces & going for a more timeless look….pieces that could easily work into a gal’s wardrobe. I encourage individual style that incorporates different eras & styles to create a more personal look for the individual. I look for a lot of higher end, designer pieces but I always try & keep an open mind to anything that’s great or a great example of a particular era. But, the 1960’s is probably my favorite! I just love the spirit & the newfound liberation of the era that is so well reflected in the style of the time. I love the silhouettes, the colors, prints & exuberance of the era. But, I don’t like to be tied down to any one look as I love to many different looks, textures, colors & prints. That’s the fun of fashion and most particularly vintage fashion!!”
A great example of the always classically timeless shirtwaist dress in a flattering pastel print.
“This dress below is most definitely from the 1940’s and a fantastic example of a classic 40’s silhouette. It is a blush color silk satin w/ black velvet trim. The buttons have a rhinestone center. It’s absolutely gorgeous & in fantastic condition.”
LYDIA PARKER OF CONFETTI CO. VINTAGE will be featured in upcoming posts
INSTAGRAM @confettivintage … be sure to visit her eclectic booth as well.
All photos found on Pinterest photo credits unknown unless otherwise noted. Copy exclusive to the Randolph Street Market Newsletter.
EXCLUSIVE FOR THE RANDOLPH STREET MARKET BY NENA IVON, Nena’s Notes