In the early 1980s I had a weekend job at a vintage clothing store. One of my tasks was to change the front window display every week. It was a small window – really only large enough for one mannequin, but I was apparently good at display because almost every Saturday morning after I had finished the window, two or three customers would ask to try what was on the mannequin. It was very frustrating.
Very often I would create outfits from things that weren’t even garments or that could be worn the way I was showing them. One weekend I put a gold lace peignoir backwards over a piece of black satin that acted like a slip, tucked the bottom under a 1950s butterfly print circle skirt, wrapped a turquoise belt around the waist and stuck cowboy boots underneath with the ankles wrapped in various 1960s gold chain necklaces and belts. The overall look was very chic – sort of Cyndi Lauper goes west. We must have had five people ask about that outfit, and one woman was so adamant that she offered to pay double the ticket price for the various pieces if she could have it for that evening. I felt guilty because she was buying a look – one that I had invented but that wasn’t real without a lot of sewing. I should have been congratulating myself for being such a good stylist, but that word was not used much outside of hair salons in the 1980s.
So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised when I found this amazing Claire McCardell red and black polka-dot jacket on Couture Allure today that appears on the cover of the May 1954 issue of Harper’s Bazaar, except that it doesn’t appear as a jacket. A stylist, probably Diana Vreeland herself, looked at the McCardell jacket and thought it would be more effective for the cover of the magazine if worn backwards, and I think Vreeland might have been right!
The moral of this story is that in fashion, not everything is as it seems or was meant to appear.