Fashion in Song – Have you Seen Miss Molly’s New Hat? (1938)

This song was sung in Spanish by the actress Rosita Serrano in the 1938 German film Es Luechten die Sterne (The Stars Shine). The story behind the comic song comes as the result of a pancake falling out a window onto Molly’s head, and is mistaken for a new hat style. Here is a loose translation of the text in English:

Have you seen Miss Molly's 
new hat yet?
Oh, it's so chic. Oh, it's so beautiful.
But it's not a hat, it's a chapeau.
It's only available in Paris - and nowhere else.
 
Silver Molly
Wow, the rumba
With a hat, yes
 
She bought it yesterday in Paris
The mania returned
Because of your mania, your mania, your mania...
 
Silver Molly
No, no, don’t think about love anymore
 
From her land that rubber
Heaven saw the flower
No, no, no, don’t think about l'amor
Don’t think about love
 

Fashion in Song – Button Up Your Overcoat (1928)

Although the title is about clothing, the song is about taking care of yourself, and buttoning up you overcoat against getting cold. Originally written and published in 1928, it was used in the Broadway musical Follow Thru in 1929 starring Jack Haley and Zelda O’Neal who reprised the song for the 1930 technicolour film version, released September 27, 1930, seen here:

Listen, big boy
Now that you got me made
Goodness, but I’m afraid
Somethin’s gonna happen to you

Listen, big boy
You gotta be hooked, and how
I would die if I should lose you now

Button up your overcoat
When the wind is free
Take good care of yourself
You belong to me

Eat an apple every day
Get to bed by three
Oh, take good care of yourself
You belong to me

Be careful crossing streets, ooh, ooh
Cut out sweets, ooh, ooh
Lay off meat, ooh, ooh
You’ll get a pain and ruin your tum-tum

Wear your flannel underwear
When you climb a tree
Oh, take good care of yourself
You belong to me

Button up your overcoat
When the wind is free
Oh, take good care of yourself
You belong to me
Boop-boop-a-doop

When you sass a traffic cop
Use diplomacy
Just take good care of yourself
You belong to me…

Fashion in Song – Absolutely Not (2001)

Canadian singer songwriter Deborah Cox’ hit that recognizes the power of clothes was released on the Dr. Doolitte 2 (2001) soundtrack, with a dance version becoming a hit later the same year.

Always waitin’ for someone
To make me happy, pick me up
I realize that someone is me
What you call life, that ain’t livin’

Bless the child that’s got his own
It’s my season, now I stand alone
Just thought that I would let you know
Some things you just can’t control

Should I wear my hair in a ponytail?
Should I dress myself up in Chanel?
Do I measure me by what you think?
Absolutely not, absolutely not

If I go to work in a mini-skirt
Am I givin’ you the right to flirt?
I won’t compromise my point of view
Absolutely not, absolutely not

Told myself I won’t complain
But some things have got to change
Not gon’ be a victim of
All your social push and shove

Right or wrong, you judge the same
My picture never fit your frame
What you thought, you’ll never know
You can’t see me with your mind closed

Should I wear my hair in a ponytail?
Should I dress myself up in Chanel?
Do I measure me by what you think?
Absolutely not, absolutely not

If I go to work in a mini-skirt
Am I givin’ you the right to flirt?
I won’t compromise my point of view
Absolutely not

Now I see, that life means more to me
More than fancy clothes, more than you’ll ever know
All the ugly words that I heard you say
Made me stronger everyday
Now I live my life for me

Go to work in a mini-skirt
Am I givin’ you the right to flirt?
I won’t compromise my point of view
Absolutely, absolutely not

Should I wear my hair in a ponytail?
Should I dress myself up in Chanel?
Do I measure me by what you think?
Absolutely not, absolutely not

If I go to work in a mini-skirt
Am I givin’ you the right to flirt?
I won’t compromise my point of view
Absolutely not, absolutely not

Should I wear my hair in a ponytail?
Should I dress myself up in Chanel?
Do I measure me by what you think?
Absolutely not

All my ladies say
Oh, ooh
Woah, oh, ooh

Fashion in Song: The Revolutionary Costume for Today – 2007

Oh, hi. Thank heaven you’re here.
You look absolutely terrific, honestly.
(Mother wanted me to come out in a kimono so we had quite a fight…)

(Singing)
The best kind of clothes for a protest pose
Is this ensemble of pantyhose
Pulled over the shorts, worn under the skirt
That doubles as a cape.

To reveal you in capri pants
You fashion out of ski pants,
In a jersey knit designed to fit
The contour of your shape.
Then cinch it with a cord from the drape.

And that’s the revolutionary costume for today.
To show the polo riders, in khakis and topsiders,
Just what a revolutionary costume has to say.
It can’t be ordered from L.L. Bean.
There’s more to living than kelly green.
And that’s the revolution, I mean.

Da da da da dum…

(Speaking)
Just listen to this: The Hamptons Bee, July, 1972:
“The elderly bed-ridden aunt of former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy,
Mrs. Edith Bouvier Beale…”

My very own mother, can you imagine?

“…and her adult daughter, Miss Edie Beale,
a former debutante once known as Body Beautiful Beale…”

They called me Body Beautiul Beale, it’s true –
that was my whaddyacallit, my uh … sobriquet.

“…are living on Long Island in a garbage-ridden, filthy 28-room house with 52 cats,
fleas, cobwebs, and virtually no plumbing.
After vociferous complaints from neighbors,
the Board of Health took legal action against the reclusive pair.”

Why, it’s the most disgusting, atrocious thing ever to happen in America!

(Singing)
You fight City Hall with a Persian shawl
That used to hang on the bedroom wall,
Pinned under the chin, adorned with a pin
And pulled into a twist.

Reinvent the objet trouve,
Make a poncho from a duvet,
Then you can be with cousin Lee
On Mr. Blackwell’s list.
The full-length velvet glove hides the fist.

And that’s the revolutionary costume for today.
Subvert the CrisCraft boaters, those Nixon-Agnew voters.
Armies of conformity are headed right your way.
To make a statement you need not be
In Boston Harbor upending tea.
And that’s a Revolution, to me.

Staunch!
There’s nothin’ worse, I tell ya,
Staunch!
S-T-A-U-N-C-H.
Staunch women, we just don’t weaken.
A little known fact to the fascist pack
Who comes here for antiquin’.

Da da da da dum…

(Speaking)
Honestly, they can get you in East Hampton for wearing red shoes on a Thursday ?
and all that sort of thing.
I don’t know whether you know that ? I mean, do you know that?
They can get you for almost anything ? it’s a mean, nasty, Republican town.

(Singing)
The best kind of shoes to express bold views
Are strapless mules in assertive hues
Like fuscia or peach, except on the beach,
In which case you wear flats.

When I stood before the nation
At Jack’s inauguration,
In a high-heeled pump, I got the jump
on Jackie’s pillbox hat.
Just watch it where you step with the cat!

And that’s the revolutionary costume pour du jour.
You mix ‘n’ match and, Presto!
A fashion manifesto.
That’s why a revolutionary costume’s de rigeur.
The rhododendrons are hiding spies,
The pussy willows have beady eyes.
Binoculars through the privet hedge,
They peek at you through the window ledge with guile!

We’re in a Revolution!
So win the Revolution with style!

Da da da da dum.

Patent Fashions – Sweater clip

The spring clip used on the back to hold a sweater in place over your shoulders are especially designed to hold firm but not snag the knit. The original design, (1,981,740) patented in 1934, was just a jaw and tended to bunch and snag the material. This improved patent (2.853,761) was applied for in October 1957 and granted in September 1958.

Fashion in Song The Bird on Nellie’s Hat (1907)

A vaudeville song written and composed by Arthur J. Lamb & Alfred Solman in 1907 and popularized by Helen Trix.

Every Saturday, Willie got his pay. Then he’d call for Nell
Trousers neatly pressed and nice white vest
Button-hole bouquet as well
On Nellie’s little hat, there was a little bird
That little bird knew lots of things, it did upon my word
And in its quiet way, it had a lot to say
As the lovers strolled along.

Refrain:I’ll be your little honey, I will promise that!’
Said Nellie as she rolled her dreamy eyes
‘It’s a shame to take the money’ said the bird on Nellie’s hat
‘Last night she said the same to Johnny Wise’
Then to Nellie, Willie whispered as they fondly kissed
‘I’ll bet you were never kissed like that!’
‘Well he don’t know Nellie like I do!’
Said the saucy little bird on Nellie’s hat.

In a shady nook, by a quiet brook, Nell and Willie fish
Lips together meet in kisses sweet
Love is such a dainty dish
Then Nellie said to Will such pretty things galore
But everything that Nellie said that bird had heard before
And as he took her hand and said, ‘Oh ain’t it grand’
Nellie winked the other eye.

Refrain: Now I haven’t caught a fish, what do you think of that?’
Said Nellie with a most bewitching look
‘You can bet she knows her business!’ said the bird on Nellie’s hat
‘And Willie’s the fish she’s going to hook’
‘Oh its twelve o’ clock’ said Willie as he took her home
‘I’ll bet you’re never out as late as that!’
‘Well he don’t know Nellie like I do!’
Said the saucy little bird on Nellie’s hat.

Autumn came along, loves young dream all wrong, Will went round to call
Servant with a grin said, ‘She’s not in!
Nellie’s gone away, that’s all!’
Poor Willie’s heart was broke; his life seemed all in vain
Until upon Fifth Avenue he met his Nell again
Said he, ‘We meet once more!’ Said she, Love’s dream is o’er!
But we can be real good friends.’

Refrain:And I’ll keep your presents, honey, just for old time’s sake’
Said Nellie as she rolled her dreamy eyes
‘She has fixed him good and plenty’ said the bird on Nellie’s hat
Oh Willie, Willie, when will you be wise!’
Well, but how about the diamond engagement ring?
‘Of course,’ said Willie, ‘You’ll return me that!’
‘Well he don’t know Nellie like I do!’
Said the saucy little bird on Nellie’s hat.

More dry cleaner bags

Nowadays the dry cleaner bags I get are always clear, but until the 1980s they were usually printed with advertising. Even though the bags are flimsy and disposable, we often get donations come to the museum in old dry cleaner bags that feature colourful advertising and interesting graphics. I used to just throw them out without thinking twice, but then I realized that if we don’t document them, nobody will remember, so I now photograph all the bags that come in with donations and then thrown them out (they tend to be brittle or sticky, and filthy, so not keepable). A few years ago I photographed a mid 1960s bag that had a statement about not letting your child play with them – but these ones have no such warnings: