Fashion in Song – Sweater Girl (1949)

Written and performed by Ruth Wallis, a cabaret singer who produced her own record label for her songs because they were too risque for most record companies!

Loretta’s a sweater girl now,
Loretta’s a better girl now,
How did she steal away, each fella’s heart?
She’s got two outstanding reasons –
she’s cute and she’s smart

Loretta, Loretta, what she does for a sweater,
Loretta is a sweater girl now.

Loretta is really a ‘wow’,
Loretta is ‘in’ there and how,
A shepherd from Denver let out with a peep
The wool looks better on Loretta than it did on the sheep.
A mountaineer who climbs just for danger and thrills,
Said he’d rather do his climbing up in them thar hills.

Loretta, Loretta, what she does for a sweater,
Loretta is a sweater girl now.

The feller’s all liked her too much,
So she hollered look, but don’t touch,
A guy at the circus who was selling balloons,
Saw Loretta and decided that balloons were for goons.
A bookie from Miami who stopped for a chat,
Said that he’d like to grab a daily double like that!

Loretta, Loretta, what she does for a sweater,
Loretta is a sweater girl now.

Loretta is really a hit, Though she stretches a point quite a bit,
When she says that she could get much more than her share,
But she says her sweater will not stand the wear and the tear.
The fellas all whisper when she walks in the breeze,
She’s got an ice cream cone figure, two scoops, if you please.

Loretta, Loretta, what she does for a sweater,
Loretta is a sweater girl now.

A bombardier threw up his cap,
And said with targets like those on my map,
The army air corps tried to make a three point landing
But it was no good, cause she insisted on standing.
Whenever she passes by, the navy boys squeal,
Then they lie awake at night and wonder, can it be real?
She looks pretty in a midi, but ‘d better sweater,
So Loretta’s a sweater girl, she hates to advertise,
Especially if a girl has got the merchandise,
Since Loretta, put on a sweater, she’s the biggest thing in town

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Life imitating Art… Summer of ’69

The cover of August 22, 1969 LIFE magazine and my sister Chris in Vancouver, B.C. around the same time.

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Dress Codes in the news — again

Last year’s kerfuffle over leggings worn on air flights, has now shifted to rompers. American Airlines threatened to kick this woman and her son off a flight between Jamaica and Miami unless she covered up. The alternative was to wear a blanket as she boarded the plane. She took the blanket option, but is now calling American Airlines to task over the incident. The airlines has a vague ‘inappropriate dress’ clause on their agreement with passengers but needs to be more specific if it expects to enforce a dress code without accusations of racism, sizism, etc. Keeping in mind this flight was in summer, and between Jamaica and Miami. I suspect most passengers were not wearing much more than this.

The outfit in question…
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Patent Fashions – Cantilevered Soles

The heeless pump style were invented by Romeo Griffi in 1958. That same year Griffi filed patents in Italy, England and the U.S. for his cantilevered sole idea. The style was designed to relieve the normal shock to the leg and spine incurred from walking in high heels by shifting the wearer’s weight from the heel to the ball of the foot. The American patent was granted on November 8, 1960.

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Gerald McCann, 1931- 2019

Gerald McCann c. 1964 (11 November, 1931 – 26 June, 2019)

English born Gerald McCann trained at the Royal College of Art, graduating in 1953. He designed for Marks & Spencer as well as upmarket manufacturer Harry B. Popper, whose clothes were worn by the queen herself. In 1955, McCann was also asked to help design clothes for a new boutique run by his friend Alexander Plunket Greene’s girlfriend Mary Quant. 

In 1963, after a decade of designing clothes for other brands, McCann started his own business on Upper Grosvenor Street in Mayfair. His clothes, made in London, supplied boutiques as well as stores like Harrods and were bought by celebrities like Julie Christie, Jean Shrimpton, and Susannah York. In the late 1960s, he began designing for the American Butterick pattern company and his British appeal quickly spread across the Atlantic where Bloomingdales opened a Gerald McCann department. In 1974 McCann moved to New York where he designed under the Larry Levine label on Seventh Avenue. The clothes were sold across the U.S. through stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman.

McCann returned to Britain in the early 1990s, and while he doesn’t retain the same kind of fame his peers Mary Quant and Jean Muir do, at the time his work was seen as equally important to the young styled British Chelsea look. A retrospective of his work in the 1960s was showcased in an exhibition in Leeds in 2016.

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Fashion in Song – Fancy (2010)

I can never decide whether I should include these types of contemporary songs in the Fashion in Song blogs. I admit I am not a rap fan because I don’t think it’s music – I consider it spoken word. The problem is the lyrics often use excessive vulgarities and express an inappropriate objectification of women. It seems that everything we aren’t supposed to say in real-time conversation is fine if you rap about it. However, I guess it’s only fair to say that since opera, song has been a way to say things you can’t otherwise say. It’s just that it’s not subtle anymore. Anyway, I will post this song, but I doubt I will include every rap song that mentions fashion in it…

Fancy, by Drake, released 2010

Chorus:

Oh, you fancy, huh? 
Oh, you fancy, huh?
Oh, you fancy, huh?
Oh, you fancy, huh?
Nails done, hair done, everything did
Nails done, hair done, everything did
Oh, you fancy, huh?
Oh, you fancy, huh?
You, you fancy huh? 
Oh, you fancy, huh?
Nails done, hair done, everything did, uh
Nails done, hair done, everything did


Oh, you fancy, huh?You getting ready so I know we gon’ be here awhile
In the bathroom flat irons and nail files
Spending hours in salons on your hairstyles
In the mall steady racking up the air miles
Hit the gym, step on the scales, stare at the number
You say you droppin’ 10 pounds preparin’ for summer
And you don’t do it for the man, men never notice
You just do it for yourself, you the fucking coldest
Intelligent too, ooh you’re my sweetheart
I’ve always liked my women book and street smart
Long as they got a little class like half days
And the confidence to overlook my past ways
Time heals all and heels hurt to walk in
But they go with the clutch that you carry your lip gloss in
And look, I really think that nobody does it better
I love the way you put it together, uh

chorus

Well, aren’t you a breath of fresh air?
From all these superficial gold digging bitches in here
They get a baller, think that they ain’t got to pick a career
Guess they plan on sucking dicks until some millions appear
Like “Voilà!” You do it right he might just buy you a car
Now she play these suckers just like B.o.B play the guitar
Now here you are with your girls having drinks at the bar
I say I’m buying, you decline, that is kinda bizarre
Independent with the demeanor of an R&B singer (check)
Naked ring finger, M3 Beamer (check, check)
Champagne Range, triple-white Jag
Closet full of brand new clothes and handbags
Alexander McQueen, Prada, Gucci, Chanel
D&G, BCBG, Versace, Louis and Bebe
You ain’t needy, greedy or easy as these other breezy’s
Who fuck for bottles of Riesling and bowls of baked ziti

chorus

Atlanta girls, let me see your hands (yeah)
Wave ’em at them bitches hating on you with their friends (come on)
Girl you got it, let ’em know that everything big
Nails done hair done, everything big
And my NY girls, let me see your hands (woo)
Wave ’em at them bitches hating on you with their friends (come on)
Girl you got it, let ’em know that everything big
Nails done hair done, everything big
And my LA girls, let me see your hands
Wave ’em at them bitches hating on you with their friends (come on)
Girl you got it, let ’em know everything big
Nails done hair done, everything big
And my TO girls, let me see your hands
Wave ’em at them bitches hating on you with their friends (yeah)
Girl you got it, let ’em know that everything big
Nails done, hair done, nails done, hair done
Say go Cinderella, go Cinderella
Orgasm blush, lipstick and concealer
Devil in a tight dress, girl you a killer
And ain’t nobody realer, and ain’t nobody realer, go
Go, go, go, go, go, go, go (showtime)
Go, go, go, go, go (as we proceed)

chorus

Uh, 5 and a half in boys, ass is off the hook
Cinderella ’bout to lose the glass off her foot
And when I find it is when I find you
And we can do the things we never got the time to
Better late than never but never late is better
They tell me time is money, well we’ll spend it together
I’m down for whatever, you just lead the way
We go to dinner you don’t even look at me to pay
Mature women with more than me were the first to tempt me
And Jason had this girl Tammy with a purple Bentley
How she got it I ain’t never get to ask
I just knew that she was fine like a ticket on the dash
Yeah, but shout out to the homeowners
The girls that got diplomas and enough money to loan us
A little something extra, should we ever need it
If it sounds like you, then let me hear you repeat it

chorus

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Silver Screen to Mainstream

When we were in Chicago a couple of weeks ago we caught a great exhibition at the Chicago History Museum. The exhibition focussed on American fashion in the 1930s and 1940s, especially styles influenced by Hollywood, although there was a good cross section of French couture, high-end Chicago labelled garments, as well as humble frocks made from patterns at home.

Curated by Columbia College professor of fashion design Virginia Heaven, the show consisted of about thirty garments, as well as shoes and accessories. As Chicago was also a centre of the department store catalogue fashion world, there is also emphasis placed on the clothes available during that time from companies like Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward. It’s a great show and will be on until January 2020.

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Early smoking

Self Portrait in Rome, by Horace Vernet, 1832

This painting at the Cleveland Museum of Art struck me because it depicts what I thought must be one of the earliest images of someone smoking a cigarette. The painting by Horace Vernet is entitled Self Portrait in Rome, and was completed in 1832. Turns out that cigarettes were just coming into fashion across Europe at the time and the word ‘cigarette’ had just been coined in France in 1830. However, the earliest known depiction of someone smoking a cigarette appears in the painting La Cometa by Goya from 1788. This makes sense since Goya was Spanish, and cigarettes were invented in Spain where they were called papelate because they used paper to roll the tobacco.

La Cometa, by Francisco Goya, 1788
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German Knitwear Manufacturer Bleyle

I recently found this boy’s knitted suit in an antique mall and was happy to find lots of information about its German manufacturer – Bleyle.

Thirty-five year old Austrian-born Wilhelm Bleyle bought a knitting machine in 1885 to make knitted clothes for his six children. Four years later he founded his yarn shop that offered knitted goods in Stuttgart Germany. He began the enterprise with five knitting machines and eight employees. What he offered that was different from most knitted garments at the time was sewn construction made from knitted pattern pieces. This technique produced a better wearing, easier to make garment suitable for active wear.

Left: Company stamp with image of similar suits as one pictured above, I originally thought the suit was 1920s, but now I wonder if it could be early pre WW1 1910s…

Knitted sailor suits were especially popular for young boys at the time and by 1901, his business moved to a full factory building to produce 12 different styles of sailor suits. Manufacturing branches opened in other cities in 1905 and 1912. In 1913 Wilhelm handed over the company to his sons Max and Fritz, as well as his brother-in-law Arthur Weber. Wilhelm died in 1915.

The best wool stocks were seized by the army in 1914, and Bleyle chose to cease making civilian knitwear in 1916 due to the poor quality of wool allowed for civilian production. The company made uniforms and later in the war was retooled for making armaments. Clothing production was difficult in the postwar German economy, but by 1924, the company was once again producing clothing for children, as well as suits, coats, and sportswear separates for women. 

The company left Bleyle family management in 1939 but still exists today with production centred in Italy.

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When everything had a ‘New Look’…

I thought this 1947 poster we saw at the Halton County Railway Museum was interesting. Even Toronto transit was using the New Look in fashion to sell streetcars and buses!

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