Glossary – Scroop

Remember when Rhett Butler comments on Mammy’s new red taffeta petticoat when he hears it rustling? That sound is called ‘Scroop’ and is the distinct crisp, scraping sound made by silk taffeta. The sound is achieved by the silk being treated with a dilute acid that hardens the protein filaments. The sound is also achieved in rayon taffeta by using a similar treatment that hardens cellulose filaments.

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Canadian Fashion Connection -Trans Canada Airline Stewardess Uniform

Lucile Garner (right) with fellow stewardess, 1938

In 1938 Lucile Garner became Trans Canada Airline’s (renamed Air Canada in 1965) first female employee. Like their American counterparts, Canadian stewardesses had to be  trained as nurses, but also single, meet strict height and weight requirements, and be between the age of 21 and 26 to start (the mandatory age to retire was 32.)

As a stewardess, her job included a wide variety of responsibilities, from monitoring weather patterns and handling radio communications, to serving suitable food during flights and calming passengers. “Oh, yes, they were all scared to death.” she said in a 2012 interview. “They used to say, “Oh, I love flying!” but, really, they were just trying to be brave about it.”


Lucile in the navy uniform, c. 1940

Garner also helped a Vancouver tailor to design the stewardess uniform.  The business suit style, with a two-button jacket and centre front pleat skirt, was made up in a beige wool gabardine to match the colour of the plane’s interior, and was accessorized with a brick red handkerchief, red blouse, brown tie and shoes as well as a beige wedge cap with red flash. None of the stewardesses liked the colour, but navy blue was reserved for pilots until 1939 when a navy blue option for stewardesses was offered.

Lucile remained a stewardess for TCA until 1941 before switching to Yukon Southern Air Transport (later renamed Canadian Pacific Airlines), but left the industry in 1943 to marry.  Garner lived until the age of 102, passing in 2013.

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Patent Fashions – Dress Sheilds

The earliest examples of dress shields I have found in garments date from the early 1890s. However, Elizabeth Emerson on a chat group I follow (Fashion Historians United) found a reference to them being a new idea in 1863 when Godey’s Lady’s Book wrote about them:

The New Dress “Shields”

Ladies who perspire freely, and thus so soon destroy light silk, and other dresses, by discoloring them under the arms, will find complete protection by using our light and convenient ‘Shields,” made of a new material, and perfectly adapted to their use. They can be applied in an instant and taken in and out without any trouble, and add no encumbrance, which can be inconvenient or disagreeable to the most fastidious… the cost is so trifling, only twenty-five cents per pair…will save a dress worth as many dollars, it is worth while to employ it in these days of poor goods and high prices. Is it not so?

I couldn’t find any patents for these first examples, but there were plenty afterwards, starting in the 1870s:

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Fashion Humour

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That time Chanel went to Hollywood…

Garbo and Chanel, publicity meeting, March 1931

On January 19, 1931, the New York Times reported film producer Samuel Goldwyn’s announcement: “After more than three years of constant effort, I have at last persuaded Madame Gabrielle Chanel, fashion dictator, to go to Hollywood to co-operate with me on the vexing question of film fashions.”

Chanel’s resistance to work in Hollywood was quashed by the realities of the Depression that had dramatically reduced the number of orders being placed with her atelier. The lure of a million-dollar contract and a studio with over a hundred workers at her command was too appealing to turn down. The New York Times outlined the deal: “She will reorganize the dressmaking department of United Artist studios and anticipate fashions six months ahead, solving thereby the eternal problem of keeping gowns up to date…Thus, Madame Chanel may reveal the secret of all impending changes and the American women will be enabled to see the latest Paris fashions, perhaps, at times, before Paris itself knows them.”

Madge Evans in suit by Chanel, 1931

Chanel arrived in Hollywood in March 1931, in the middle of production of Eddie Cantor’s Palmy Days (1931). She created a few garments, mostly for the star Barbara Weeks, including four versions of the same dress with small differences so that the dress looked its best from different angles and positions.

Chanel then went to work on creating thirty outfits for Ina Claire, Joan Blondell, and Madge Evans who were playing gold diggers in The Greeks Had A Word For Them (released February 13, 1932). The film was set in the late 1920s, so Chanel created contemporary looks with a nostalgic flair – not something fashion was doing at the time.

Her next job was to create gowns for Gloria Swanson in Tonight or Never (1931) which was released two months before The Greeks Had A Word For Them.  This was a frustrating experience for both women as Chanel had to contend with Swanson’s unplanned pregnancy during filming. Swanson’s shape had changed in the six weeks between fittings, requiring Swanson to wear a girdle that ended at her knees in order to fit Chanel’s gowns.

With her contract fulfilled, Chanel collected her million dollar cheque and left Hollywood in a huff, never saying anything nice about the experience for the rest of her life.

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Canadian Fashion Connection – The Golden Lion, 1847 – 1898

English-born Robert Walker moved to York (Toronto) in 1829 and by 1836 was operating a dry goods store on King street. By 1847 he had built a stone-fronted store and two years later adopted a golden lion as its symbol. The business was successful and became known for its men’s ready-to-wear. In 1866/67 the store underwent an expansion to open up floor space and bring in more natural light; a 12-foot-high stone lion was added to the top of the building prompting the business to become better known as The Golden Lion.  Robert Walker and Sons, (The Golden Lion) was considered the largest retail business in Ontario in the late 1860s. The store was remodelled and expanded again in 1892, but then went into decline, closing in 1898. In 1901 the lion was removed and the store demolished to make way for Victoria street and the King Edward Hotel. The image below was taken in late 1872 or early 1873.

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Glossary – Shivviness

Shivviness (SHIV•ee•ness)
The uncomfortable feeling created by wearing new or rough underwear. From the old Yorkshire word ‘shive’ for coarse wool or linen.

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Fashion as song – Union label (1978)

Written by Paula Green and Malcolm Dodds, 1975:

Look for the union label
when you are buying that coat, dress or blouse.

Remember somewhere our union’s sewing,
our wages going to feed the kids, and run the house.

We work hard, but who’s complaining?
Thanks to the I.L.G. we’re paying our way!

So always look for the union label,
it says we’re able to make it in the U.S.A.!

And a slightly jazzier version from 1981:

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Fashion in Song – Raspberry Beret (1985)

I tried posting this fashion song when Prince died, but I couldn’t find it online anywhere…  Raspberry Beret was the first single released from Prince’s 1985 album ‘Around the World in a Day’

I was working part time in a five-and-dime
My boss was Mr. McGee
He told me several times that he didn’t like my kind
‘Cause I was a bit too leisurely

Seems that I was busy doing something close to nothing
But different than the day before
That’s when I saw her, ooh, I saw her
She walked in through the out door, out door

She wore a
Raspberry beret
The kind you find in a second hand store
Raspberry beret
And if it was warm she wouldn’t wear much more
Raspberry beret
I think I love her

Built like she was
She had the nerve to ask me
If I planned to do her any harm
So, look here
I put her on the back of my bike
And we went riding
Down by old man Johnson’s farm

I said now, overcast days never turned me on
But something about the clouds and her mixed
She wasn’t to bright
But I could tell when she kissed me
She knew how to get her kicks

She wore a
Raspberry beret
The kind you find in a second hand store
Raspberry beret
And if it was warm she wouldn’t wear much more
Raspberry beret
I think I love her

The rain sounds so cool when it hits the barn roof
And the horses wonder who you are
Thunder drowns out what the lightning sees
You feel like a movie star

They say the first time ain’t the greatest
But I tell ya
If I had the chance to do it all again
I wouldn’t change a stroke
‘Cause baby I’m the most
With a girl as fine as she was then

The kind you find (The kind you find)
The kind you find (In a second hand store)
Oh no no
(Raspberry beret)
(And if it was warm)
Where have all the raspberry women gone?
Yeah (Raspberry beret)

I think I, I think I, I think I love her

No no no
No no no (The kind you find)
(In a second hand store)
(Raspberry beret)
Tell me
Where have all the raspberry women gone? (And if it was warm she)
(Wouldn’t wear much more)
(Raspberry beret)

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Fashion Humour

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