Friday File

Happy Friday! What are you up to this weekend? We are moving tomorrow, and I can’t wait. We’ve been living among boxes for the past week, which has not been easy. The movers are coming in the late afternoon. Wish us luck!

And now some interesting links.

I need to add this book on the history of manicures to my bookshelf.

The August cover of Marie Claire is too cool. I kind of want to get my hands on an issue.

Some Ikea stores are advertising rescue dogs throughout their showrooms with life-size cardboard models. Such a cute idea.

This survey of scientists, most of whom work in the field, shows a high percentage of sexual abuse, especially for female students or postdocs. #yesallwomen

Back in the 19th century, doctors warned women about the dangers of “bicycle face.” Seriously.

I’m looking forward to exploring The Museum at FIT’s new website for its current exhibition Exposed: A History of Lingerie.

Vintage Bathing Caps

Bathing caps in the 1950s could be pretty whimsical, and this video clip of a swimming cap fashion show from the British Pathe is pretty amusing. Enjoy!

New Issue of Dress

One of the best perks to membership in the Costume Society of America is a subscription to the journal Dress. It comes out twice per year, and this year’s first issue arrived at my office about a month ago. Since life has been so busy, I was finally able to sit down with it yesterday.

This issue is dedicated to Charlotte Jirousek, who was to be the new editor of Dress. Sadly she passed away before the publication went to print. Charlotte was an expert of Turkish dress and textiles, and she leaves a great legacy in this area of research. Following Charlotte, Christina Bates, curator at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, will take over as editor.

This issue is fabulous. I already read a piece about Grace Coolidge and her wardrobe by Valija Evalds and one about fashion exhibition by my good friend Michal Lynn Shumate. There are still articles about the Panama’s Kuna women’s mola blouses, gypsy or gitana dress, the evolution of midriff exposure in the early 20th century, and a number of book and exhibition reviews to read.

I know a few of my readers are Costume Society of America members, so have you read the new issue yet? Any favorite articles?

Fall Fashion Exhibition at the Met

Exciting news came out of the Metropolitan Museum of Art yesterday. Its Costume Institute announced that it will offer the first fall fashion exhibition in seven years in the new Anna Wintour Costume Center!


mourning ensemble, 1870-1872 and veil, c. 1875, photo by Karin Willis, from Metropolitan Museum of Art

The exhibition is called Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire, and will focus on on women’s mourning fashions of the 19th and early 20th centuries. About 30 ensembles are expected to be on exhibit contextualized with fashion plates, jewelry, accessories, photographs, and daguerreotypes. The show will run October 21, 2014 through February 1, 2015.

It’s exciting news that the Met is returning to a two-exhibition-a-year schedule. Also, this show, which will be thematic and organized chronologically, sounds as if it may be more scholarly in nature than the blockbuster summer exhibitions the Costume Institute normally produces. Can’t wait to hear more about it!

The Calash


calash, 18th century, from Metropolitan Museum of Art

In the second half of the 1700s, women’s hairstyles grew to be very elaborate in extreme sizes. The most fashionable and wealthy women were known to sport extravagant coifs. But women were still expected to wear hats for protection and modesty. For outdoor use, the calash was introduced.

The calash was a style of bonnet or hood designed to accommodate the large hairdos, without damaging them. Supported by semi-hoops, the calash was made of fabric and looked like a French carriage. It was worn through the mid 19th century.


calash, 19th century, from Museum of Fine Arts Boston


calash, c. 1820, from Metropolitan Museum of Art


calash, mid 19th century, from Museum of Fine Arts Boston

As you might expect with such an odd-looking, oversized accessory, the calash was ripe for satire. Cartoonists took aim in their illustrations.




The cartoons were exaggerations, meant to mock women for their fashionable choices in hairstyles and hats. But what did the calash actually look like in real life? The photos below reveal a more accurate proportion.


The above photos were taken in the late 19th century, many decades after the calash went out of fashion. The best guess is that the woman pictured is dressed up in historical 1820s fashions, specifically for the photograph. Even though the hat and dress are in essence a costume, it is still a great look at what the calash actually looked like on a woman.

Clovers in Fashion

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! In honor of the holiday, I rounded up some cool examples of clovers in fashion design. Enjoy and Erin go Bragh!








Friday File

My parents are coming into town this weekend, and I’m looking forward to their visit. I’m taking them to Publican, a meat-centric restaurant with communal tables. All week I’ve been excited to get oysters!

I’m trying to fend off getting sick too. This has been a bad winter for my health. Stay warm, healthy, and have a great weekend!

And now here are this week’s links:


Solon and Emma Borglum in the Artist's Paris Studio, c. 1899, from Metropolitan Museum of Art, courtesy of Peter H. Hassrick

I had no idea cowboy artists in Paris were a thing during the late Victorian era.

Great blog post by the Ryerson Fashion Research Collection on the shirt-waist, a blouse women wore at the turn of the century.

I think libraries are awesome, and so is this piece proclaiming their hipness.

My colleague and former boss, Karen Herbaugh of the American Textile History Museum, was interviewed about wearing pajamas in public alongside Clinton Kelly. Karen shared her historical point of view, while Clinton brought his What Not To Wear-trademark assessment.

I was fascinated by this piece in The Atlantic called “The Death of the Cool Feminist Smoker.”

I’m not sure I understand normcore. Do you get it?

I’m trying to figure out how I can see the traveling exhibition of Dr. Seuss’ hats.

Friday File

One of the cool parts of my job is going to vintage fashion auctions. A few weeks ago I bid at Augusta Auctions in New York by telephone and won a stunning 1916 dress for my fashion study collection. My heart was beating so hard and fast, especially when my telephone proxy said I won. It’s a euphoric high. Yesterday, I went to a local auction, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, and was not as lucky. You win some, you lose some I guess.

Here’s a few links from the week:

Did you hear that Pantone’s 2014 “Color of the Year” is radiant orchid? Christina Brinkley of The Wall Street Journal explains how Pantone comes up with their color of the year.

Fall in love with a Charles James’ Hipster dress in the Met’s preview video for the Costume Institute exhibition this summer.

Do you know when to use historic vs. historical? I’ll be honest, I didn’t know there was a difference until I read this.

I can’t wait to read this biography/memoir of Vivienne Westwood. “Vivienne is wonderfully candid. I sat there with my jaw on the table for a lot of it. Especially about what went on in the 1970s, ” Ian Kelly, the book’s co-author, said.

Have a great weekend! And don’t forget to enter my Laurel Denise 2014 planner giveaway!