Closing a Chapter

I have decided to bring this blog to an end. It has become an expense and chore to keep up, rather than a joyful outlet.

I will be going through this blog and reposting the ‘best of’ posts on the Fashion History Museum’s website blog, so anything with well-researched history or Canadian design info, as well as any popular blogs that spawned great feedback or conversation will be moved to their new home.

I started this blog on October 26, 2008, and after my host accidentally erased the entire site in December 2010 I started over again after retrieving what I could from the ashes of cached articles. I am a big believer in the 12 year cycle, and now, at the age of 60, I feel like I have come to the end of a chapter in my life and the start of a new one. The pandemic has helped all of us take stock of our lives and I am now focussed on, more than anything else, ensuring that the museum’s future is secure beyond my lifetime.

So, thank-you readers, whoever you may be. I was flattered when designers commented on the blogs I wrote about them – and that happened a lot! I am also grateful to those who supplied personal histories about extinct brands or forgotten retailers – you added a lot to this blog. It has been fun but it’s time to go. Thank-you.

a pre-pandemic shot when I could still get a haircut!

Jessica McClintock (1930 – 2021)

Jessica McClintock, 2007 (Joanne Ho-Young Lee/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images)

The 1970s prom dress owes its look to one designer – Jessica McClintock. In 1967 Eleanor Bailey and Carol Miller established Gunne Sax – a boutique line of junior wear in San Francisco. The name was an amalgamation of ‘Gunny Sack’ (a burlap bag), and ‘sex’.  Despite early success for their line of mod-inspired dresses, the two partners had a falling out and in 1969 Carol Miller left and Bailey sold the business to 39 year old Jessica McClintock. 

McClintock’s look was very different – but her hippy-inspired granny-gowns with laced bodices and flounced skirts that resembled a combination of Medieval maiden and saloon girl were an instant success. The dresses became a standard of 1970s proms and weddings. Hillary Clinton wore a Gunne Sax wedding dress when she married Bill Clinton in 1975. 

As the romantically styled calico gypsy/prairie dresses fell from favour in the late 1970s, Jessica McClintock’s style became more mature, and her name became the new label for the company. McClintock worked until her retirement in 2013, building the brand to include perfumes, accessories, bedding, furniture, and lighting. The brand was licensed and remains active with her son Scott managing the label. McClintock died February 16, 2021.

The New York Times wrote a very nice obit with more info.

Fashion in Song: Sister Susie’s Sewing Shirts for Soldiers (1914)

This World War I song is about Susie who sews shirts for soldiers, but her shirts aren’t very popular with the soldiers. The music was written by Herman Darewski, and the lyrics were by R.P. Weston. When the song was performed as singalongs for soldiers, the tongue-twisting verse was sung faster than last to induce laughter.

Sister Susie’s Sewing Shirts For Soldiers
Sister Susie’s sewing in the kitchen on a “Singer”,
There’s miles and miles of flannel on the floor
And up the stairs,
And father says it’s rotten getting mixed up with the cotton,
And sitting on the needles that she leaves upon the chairs.

And should you knock at our street door
Ma whispers, “Come inside.”
Then when you ask where Susie is,
She says with loving pride:

(fast) CHORUS
“Sister Susie’s sewing shirts for soldiers
Such skill at sewing shirts
Our shy young sister Susie shows!

Some soldiers send epistles,
Say they’d sooner sleep in thistles
Than the saucy, soft, short shirts for soldiers sister Susie sews.”

Piles and piles and piles of shirts she sends out to the soldiers,
And sailors won’t be jealous when they see them,
Not at all.
And when we say her stitching will set all the soldiers itching,
She says our soldiers fight best when their back’s against the wall.

And little brother Gussie, he who lisps when he says “yes”,
Says “Where’s the cotton gone from off my kite?
Oh, I can gueth!”


I forgot to tell you that our sister Susie’s married,
And when she isn’t sewing shirts
She’s sewing other things.
Then little sister Molly says,
“Oh, sister’s bought a dolly.
She’s making all the clothes for it
With pretty bows and strings.”

Says Susie:
“Don’t be silly”
As she blushes and she sighs.
Then mother smiles and whispers with a twinkle in her eyes:

(fastest) REPEAT CHORUS[4]

My blog may disappear….

I am having problems with my host (Hostpapa) right now who say I have all sorts of things I need to fix but I am not a techy person. Their request (see below) might as well be written in Chinese because I don’t understand what they are saying… I tried doing some of the things they recommended but nothing worked as the instructions said, and in the process I eliminated about 300 of my subscribers because I thought they were spambots…

I started this blog 12 years ago, and it was simple, and easy… and its not anymore, and its also expensive. This blog costs me $400 per year and every three months there is some issue I have to attend to that isn’t my fault, but it always seems to cost me more money and time to try to fix. Hostpapa has already shut this blog down last week because I didn’t respond to them within 48 hours (BECAUSE I HAVE A REAL LIFE WITH REAL DEADLINES…) So, if this blog disappears, you will know why….

Here is what they said I need to do — if anyone can explain what they are asking me to do in English, let me know.:

Here is the detailed information
***** (100%) Primary Domain: (Hits: 153813 Uniques:
6254) ***
– Hits Per Day —
1 October  9388  |  2 October  9206  |  3 October  10997
4 October  8789  |  5 October  8295  |  6 October  8018
7 October  7944  |  8 October  12037  |  9 October  11177
10 October  7554  |  11 October  12955  |  12 October  11459
13 October  12230  |  14 October  11722  |  15 October  12042

— Top IPs —

— Top Accessed Content/Files —
  48398 /blog/
  24634 /favicon.ico
  13097 /blog//xmlrpc.php
   3821 /robots.txt
   3718 /blog/wp-includes/css/dist/block-library/style.min.css
   3652 /blog/wp-includes/css/dist/block-library/theme.min.css
   3587 /blog/wp-includes/js/wp-emoji-release.min.js
   2520 /cgi-sys/suspendedpage.cgi
   2200 /
   2152 /blog

— Top Bot Hits —


– You should review the top IPs above and filter your traffic and eliminate
malicious requests. Confront the IP list above with known abuser databases at and Block all IPs showing there inside
cPanel – IP Blocker. You can block IPs using this guide:

– For bots, I recommend lowering the frequency for Bing to crawl your websites

– I see a lot of requests to admin-ajax.php which means you’re being affected by
the WordPress Heartbeat api. In order to fix this we suggest you to install the
following plugin : . Here are
the steps:

– I see noticeable requests to wp-cron.php. You can easily control this by
following the steps here:

– There are requests to your xmlrpc.php. If you’re not using any software which
uses xmlrpc.php to connect to your WordPress you can use this plugin to prevent
requests to it:

– Using a caching plugin on your website is one of the best ways to ensure your
website loads faster and uses less resources. I recommend you to install a
caching plugin such as W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache: or

Been a Bit Busy…

It’s been a while since I have added a post because I have been busy pulling together the new exhibition Made in France at the museum. It also looked like the site had been hijacked as many people were getting warning signs that my blog is not a secure site. We are a secure site, but I stopped paying for the https ‘protection’.

Happy 10th Anniversary to me!

I just realized my first blog entry was on October 26, 2008! My host accidentally erased the site in 2010, but I managed to recover most of what had been written, reposted, and kept on going.

The GREAT thing about blogging is that it helps to clear my mind. Once I write something down I can file away the floating pieces of paper, tagged websites, or magazines that clutter my life. I also get some great feedback from people who are related to or used to work for the people or companies I blog about. Sometimes the comments come from people who just know more than I do and their knowledge contributes to the blog.

The BAD thing about blogging is the commitment. A lot of people start blogging every day. As time passes the posts dwindle to once a week, then once a month – they inevitably stop after a couple of years. I have gone through bouts of being too busy or just not into it, but I find I eventually get re-enthused and return to blog again.

On average, I blog three times per week and I have turned down offers to monetize the site because, although I enjoy reading visitor comments, I ultimately write for myself. My style changes – sometimes I write in a chatty article kind of way, sometimes I write factually, like a museum label. This reflects my mood to some degree but also the reason why I am blogging that particular day.

I don’t foresee quitting the blog anytime soon as there always seems to be something to write about. So, here’s to another ten years!

Contemplating the work ahead to install our pop-up exhibition ‘Dressing Toronto’, opening tonight

Housekeeping update re: readers of this blog

I had an open door policy for anyone to sign up here but the internet spoiled that trust and I was being bombarded with countless offers every day for everything from knock off Vuitton purses and ways to make $5,000 per month from home, to promises of a larger penis, or at least a good time with some woman in Russia who saw my picture and thought I looked sexy… So I have cleaned house and removed the 12,000 users. I suspect at least some of those users were not bogus, so if you got thrown out with the spammers, sorry about that.

I am not a techy guy, but I know there is some way to have users prove they are human beings and not spiderbots or heartless advertisers (or a couple of guys in Nigeria who really want me to help some poor widow cash a cheque.) So the next time I find a 9 year old who can help me, I will reinstate a sign-up for this blog. In the meantime, my spam mail has PLUMMETED to (near) nil.