Spring Into Floral

It is officially the first day of spring! The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and floral is everywhere! Here at the Historic Clothing and Textiles Collection, we have an abundance of floral patterned clothing and accessories from buttons and hats to paper dresses. One of the most well known designers for the floral season would be Lilly Pulitzer. She was previously mentioned in our women’s history month post, but today we will be solely focused on the designer who got her start at an juice stand.

Lilly Pulitzer

Lilian Lee McKim was born in November of 1931 in Roselyn, New York to a family of wealth. Her schooling was only the best. She attended the highly regarded Miss Porter’s School. As life went on, she met Peter Pulitzer of the Pulitzer Prize family. At the young age of 21, she eloped with him and they took off for Palm Beach. At one point, she became troubled and put herself in a psychiatric hospital where she hoped to receive treatment. However, the doctor told her there was nothing wrong with her. She simply needed something to do. Her solution? Well, her family already owned an Orange crop, so why not just open a juice stand? This idea would actually work. What she started would turn into more than she probably ever imagined.

Lilly Pulitzer- Men’s Golf ensemble, featured in “Sports and Fashion”- 1968-1974

Lilly had a major problem, however. When making juice, the juice from the fruit would get on her clothing. One cannot simply make juice and be seen with a stain on their clothing! Something had to change. She had a seamstress create a dress she designed in order to hide the stains. The fabric was fun, bright, and really attracted attention. It was unlike anything that society had seen before. Women were used to wearing toned down colors, tight dresses, stockings, stilettos, and being up-kept. Lilly had introduced them to a free-spirited way of dressing, a rather bohemian style for the time. The fabric would be light enough to survive the Florida heat, yet loose and somewhat freeing. The style swept the nation. Everyone would soon know the name “Lilly”.


Lilly Pulitzer- light blue/green bathing suit, featured in “Sports and Fashion”-1960-1969

After people took notice of her dresses, her husband placed over 80 dresses in his stores. Little did they know that this business would not only last two years, but still be alive today!  One of the reasons her company truly succeeded was because of her connection to the higher class. She was a socialite and married a Pulitzer, which is the perfect equation for success in the business world. She had connections from Florida to New York. However, the breaking point was probably when Jackie Kennedy wore a pair of her designer pants. After this, there was no going back. The future of fashion was in Lilly’s hands.

Lilly was always noted for being wildly creative, had a big heart, and an even bigger personality. This may be one of the reasons we are still in love with her fashion influence today. Lilly was described at one point as being more of just a truly creative individual rather than a business woman. When the stress of the job became too much, her role ended eventually filing for bankruptcy when the 90’s begged for minimalistic designs. The company moved on to new ownership, however, and Lilly still kept her spirit alive as a creative consultant.

Floral And Pastels

It’s time to dress up for everyone’s spring holiday, Easter! Pastel colors are often thought of when spring pops up. Pastel blues, pinks, yellows, and greens fill the stores with plastic Easter eggs, candy wrappers, and giant stuffed animal bunnies and chicks. But why are these colors so popular this time of year, though?

Easter Parades were once walked by people adorned in your everyday dark-colored clothing. It wasn’t until the 1870s that men, women, and children began to wear lighter, happier colors. Spring is often a sign for renewal and new life. In the Christian world, Easter is a sign for the resurrection, a new beginning. But even nature agrees that it is time to liven up. The trees start to bloom, the birds decide to come back, and the yellow tulips spring up from the ground, telling us that warmer weather is coming. This idea of new life and nature’s blossom is one of the biggest impacts on spring fashion.

Below are images of a from April 1906 poster illustration called “The Smartest Fashions in Easter Hats, Costumes, and Blouses from The Crowell publishing Company.

Easter Bonnets: Don’t Leave Home Without One!

The Easter Bonnet used to be a staple for women’s fashion. They partially received their origins from the Christian custom of buying new clothes after the Lenten season. It was often common to wear your “Sunday best”. However, once again, Spring is seen as a time for new life and rebirth. So, one of the most common symbols of rebirth we can think of in the spring time is the flower coming into full bloom. Wearing hats is also part of the American tradition called “The Easter Parade”, a Fifth Avenue Parade in New York, which emerged in the 1870’s after the Civil War ended. The unorganized event was a symbol of entering a happier life. After church services, crowds would walk down Fifth Avenue. One million attended the event in 1940. Today, it is less of a religious event and more secular one focused around the size and celebration of the Easter season.

Woman’s straw hat with diverse floral arrangement- 1967-1969










Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History month! To celebrate the women’s contribution to not only society but also fashion, today’s blog post will commemorate the past achievements of female designers. Although there have been countless women in fashion worth mentioning, we will be focusing on a few whose designs have made it into our collection.

Bonnie Cashin was born on September 28, 1915 to a dressmaker and a inventor. By the time she was eight, Cashin was already creating sketches, and by 16, she began her career as a fashion designer. Cashin became the costume designer for Franchon & Marco, a Los Angeles dance group. Because of her impressive work, the manager of Franchon & Marco persuaded her to attend the Art Students League in New York City. Upon attending the University, she quickly rose to the top becoming the head costume designer for the Roxyettes, today’s Radio City Rockettes, at the age of 19. “The youngest designer to ever hit Broadway” could be read about in the New York Times.

Vera Maxwell- Blue and White Cotton pleated casual dress 1959

Light green wool long-sleeve romper/play-suit c. 1945           

Bonnie Cashin’s achievements also included working for the ever prestigious house of Adler & Adler, working alongside Vera Maxwell and Claire McCardell creating women worker’s civilian defense uniforms, designing for 2oth Century Fox fims such as Give My Regards to Broadway and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, winning the Neiman Marcus and American Designers Coty Award, opening her own studio “Bonnie Cashin Designs”, creating a style for a more independent woman, creating the leather dress, and popularizing women’s sportswear.

Bonnie Cashin- Tan, Pink, black, and white stripe knit hoodie top and matching skirt and belted tan knit vest with an attached change purse 1975

Another notable woman in the world of fashion would be Lilly Pulitzer. She was both a fashion designer and a socialite, often referred to as “the Prep Queen”. This is because of her use of bright colors and floral patterns that could often be seen among high society.

Lilly Pulitzer- Men’s Golf ensemble 1965-1974

Lilly Pulitzer- Two piece light blue/green cotton print swim suit 1964

The story of how Lilly Pulitzer began is a very intriguing one. She was always someone to do a task in her own way. In the 1950s, she eloped with Peter Pulitzer. He was the grandson of Joseph Pulitzer, the creator of the Pulitzer Prize. After moving to Florida with her new husband, she started a juice stand in Palm Beach. This may seem like an odd thing to do, but her new family owned an orange grove in Flordia, which made running a juice stand quite convenient. To avoid the drips and stains of orange juice, she created her own clothing made of bright, fun material that could be resistant to the stain. No apron needed. Her style became so popular that the demand for her designs became greater than that of the juice, and the rest is history.

Today, Lilly Pulitzer is the go-to fashion for vacationers. If you are in the mood for fun, sun, and positive energy, then Lilly Pulitzer is for you. HCTC also features one of her designs currently.




Karl Lagerfeld and His Legacy

Karl Lagerfeld could be described as a man with many talents. He was a creative director, fashion designer, photographer, artist, and self-proclaimed caricaturist. However, he may have been best known for his position in Chanel as creative director from 1983 and Fendi since 1965 until his current death. In his later years, Lagerfeld was easily recognizable with his white hair, black sunglasses, high collars, and fingerless gloves, and outspoken personality. Although he was not highly regarded by everyone, his impact on the world of luxury fashion will not be forgotten any time soon.

Karl Otto Lagerfeld was born on September 10, 1935 in Hamburg, Germany. He reportedly disliked his childhood. His father, Otto Lagerfeld, moved his family and him to a small town. He was different and didn’t to fit in a school wearing his suit and tie. His mother, Elisabeth Lagerfeld, is where he attained his quick-spoken nature. Her words and actions shaped who he would become. While answering his mothers questions, the answer “…had to be quick, and it had to be funny. If I thought of something ten minutes later she would slap me.” Because of his unsettling childhood, he fled to Paris, where he ended up winning a coat design competition that had been sponsored by the International Wool Secretariat. With this recognition, he became the assistant and apprentice of Pierre Balmain, a French fashion designer.

As Lagerfeld worked and studied even more, he became associated with names such as Jean Patou, Tiziano, Chloe, Charles Jourdan, Krizia, and Valentino. His love and expertise for high, luxury fashion flourished. He was recognized and hired by Fendi in 1967 to update their fur line, introducing rabbit, squirrel, and mole pelts. Lagerfeld was never truly admired for his own clothing line, rather, he was recognized for the improvement and modernization of already-existing lines.

About a decade after the death of Coco Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld was hired by the near-death company. With the loss of Coco Chanel, the company had struggled to keep up with the high fashion industry, becoming quite basic and boring. However, with the help of Lagerfeld, the company revamped its way to the top. He introduced the two intertwined C’s, so easily recognizable today and created looks inspired from Coco herself.

Lagerfeld and his team would pace themselves in the shoes of Coco in order to get the best designs possible without her being there for guidance. Her signature looks consisted of simplicity, elegance, nautical, stripes, and an abundance of large faux pearls. Coco was also known as the inventor of the little black dress and made sure to follow her style and not the latest trends.

To the left is a short black wool crepe Chanel dress created by Karl Lagerfeld. Coco Chanel was known for her faux pearls and pockets in her dresses. With this dress, Lagerfeld kept her style alive by sewing pearls onto the dress and adding pockets.  To the left is another design by Lagerfeld created at the turn of the twentieth to twenty-first century. It is both a sign of the past and look to the future. The outside is has an acetate iridescent finish, a modern and futuristic look. However, on the back we see Lagerfeld uses a smocking technique. This technique was especially popular in the mid-twentieth century, specifically among young girl’s dresses. Overall, this unique trench-style coat is both leaving the past behind while saying hello to the new century.

Black History Month: Ruth Ella Moore

We are currently celebrating Black History Month. The Historic Costume & Textiles Collection was the recipient of a donation of several garments made by a talented seamstress who also had a larger claim to fame. Dr. Ruth Ella Moore was an alumna of The Ohio State University and the first African American woman to earn a PhD in the natural sciences.

Image of Ruth Ella Moore in cap and gown circa 1926

Born in 1903 in Columbus, Ohio, to William E. and Margaret Moore, Ruth Ella Moore was the daughter of an accomplished artist. Her mother had graduated from the Columbus State College of Art and Design. She had encouraged Ruth from a young age to pursue a higher degree of education. Ruth and her two older brothers, Donovan L and William E. Moore, were educated in the public schools in Columbus, Ohio. Ruth Moore attended the Ohio State University for both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. In 1925, she graduated from the university and then went on to receive a Masters of Science Degree in 1927. She continued to further her education by earning her PhD in bacteriology from the Ohio State University.

After receiving her doctorate in 1933, she officially became the first African American woman to earn a graduate degree in the natural sciences. Howard University quickly hired her in 1940 as an assistant professor in the medical college, where she would stay until her retirement in 1973. Throughout her time at Howard, she managed to move up as chairperson for the Bacteriology Department, became associate professor, and conducted research in bacteriology. Moore was also a member of the American Association of Science, American Society of Immunology, American Society of Microbiology, and the American Public Health Association. She earned two additional honorary degrees as well. They included a doctorate in Literature from Oberlin College and a Doctor of Philosophy from Gettysburg University in 1973.


Besides being a well known scientist, Ruth Ella Moore was also a seamstress. She received a love of fashion and an elegant, classic style from her mother, the artist. Moore was known to sew much of what she wore. In fact, she made a great majority of her entire wardrobe without having any type of degree in clothing design and construction. Keeping with the latest style and fashion, she was known to carefully select her patterns and materials for crafting the outfits. Several of her garments were featured in The Sewer’s Art: Quality, Fashion and Economy, in 2009. Ruth Ella Moore died July 19, 1994.


Ruth Ella Moore garments from The Sewer’s Art:

Dr. Moore made her garments for all occasions, from day to evening wear, and tailored to draped constructions.


Two piece woman’s off white long sleeve jacket and black skirt, suit. The jacket has two black triangular inset sections below the shoulders and a black-notched collar. Five, large covered buttons form the front closure.

The black and white color scheme is carried over into the asymmetrical hat, pieced with black and white felt swirling shapes. It’s stand-up style is reminiscent of the crowns worn by Nefertiti in ancient Egypt.

This red-violet velvet floor length evening dress is part of an ensemble. Cut on the bias grain, it’s bodice has gathered inset sections at the side-fronts. Not shown in the picture is the second piece to the ensemble, a long green velvet jacket with padded and extended shoulders and a shaped hemline.


A long taffeta dress with pink, blue, yellow, and green floral pattern has short draped sleeves with gathering at their sides. The draped bodice molds the body to the hips where it joins the floor length circular, four-piece skirt on a shaped line. The seam below the V-shaped neckline confines the fullness at center-front.


Sports & Fashion Exhibit:

One of Ruth Ella Moore’s swimsuits is currently on display in HCTC’s Sports & Fashion exhibition. It is not certain if she crafted the bathing suit herself or if it was bought ready-made. It has no manufacturers’ labels and dates from the 1930s either during the years she was pursuing her PhD or shortly thereafter.


Ruth Ella Moore

Ruth Ella Moore

Ruth Ella Moore (1903-1994)


The Future of Fashion Told by the Past

Making predictions for the future is like trying to pierce a veil; we can keep jabbing at the possibilities, but predictions do not often yield realistic results. This can be seen in our modern age of uncertainty, as well as in the past. Such an example can be seen in the “Past Dictates of Fashion,” an article by Cromwell Q. Snyder, a “Vestamentorum Doctor,” which is a fancy man’s lingo for a “fashion doctor”. In this article written in 1893, Snyder predicts the future of fashion over the next 100 years, ending with 1990. His predictions may seem laughable, but the logic behind the influence of each decade is not as far-fetched as his designs. Perhaps he missed the mark on the streamlined designs we’ve come to know of the 20th century, but the lunacy of his designs expresses the uncertainty and evolving nature of the human condition as well as fashion.
We begin this epic with the present: 1893. Besides the cuffed pants this image is accurate of current styles. More curious is the dramatic change that will occur in the next 10 years at the turn of the century. Snyder credits his predictions through the “immutable laws of fashion.” Snyder believes fashion is a whim, a sort of shuttlecock for the weak-minded of both sexes, bound and rebound by social influence.

Certainly, all prejudice aside, this does hold some truth. We can trace the trends of fashion in the 20th century with the trends in the political, economic, and social environment. In regards to this article, people were not putting on whacky hats and adorning their pantaloons to be perceived as ridiculous, but to express the social expectations and movements of the predicted future. Additionally, Snyder thinks that fashion is cyclical in a sense, which is why most of his designs draw from earlier centuries, particularly the Renaissance and Tudor Era. According to Snyder, the new century, at its birth, saw black relegated to the past and the affection for color will return with a fierce vengeance. Men will wear purple and blues, while the women will range from pink to green to everything in between. For men, we can see a bit of gender-bending, as accessories such as silk bows can be worn on different parts of the body, such as the shoes or wrists, as flashy haberdashery becomes the new status quo.

As for women, female costume seems to have always been regulated by the same waves and rules which governed male costume, but in a different degree. Women would find new freedom of expression through hat-ware, while the accentuation of the waist remains steadfast throughout female fashion. Indeed, some of these costumes are quite scandalous, with the 1920’s presenting alarmingly short skirts that show off a woman’s calves (a trend we see in reality for 1920). The designs labeled 1920’s are embodied around the idea of novelty and the desire to find new ways to push the fashion envelope. As for the male model on the left, we are told that the upper portion was of crimson plush, and the lower part of a delicate pink, with white stockings and orange boots. Though it may seemed inspired by a French clown or a court jester, this outfit expresses the future interpretation of masculinity in fashion. Meaning, less black and more bravery when it comes to the color palette.
Moving forward, we see a cyclical revival during the 1930’s to combat the novelty of the 1920’s. Women accentuated past fashions with over-sized bonnets and bows, while crinoline is used to create large skirts. Though we still see the fashion of the future with the combination of these ageless styles with new, daring patterns such as polka dots and pin stripes. Men will look even farther back, reviving trends common for the Tudor period.
Interestingly enough, as we move towards the 1940’s, we see a revolution paralleled to that of the feminist rise during the WWII era. In Snyder’s future, trousers seem to have been adopted by the women at the same time that they were discarded by the men. The prosperity of the female cannot be defined by the rising and falling of skirts, so pants are the logical next step. Additionally, we begin to see a strong Oriental influence in Snyder’s designs, particularly in the adornment of tunics and inflated, untailored pants. However, since pushback is only natural, we see a colonial fashion revival as we move into the 1950’s.


The 1950’s sparked a revolution in fashion for both men and women, causing a throwback to the “glory days” of England. We can see influences from the Tudor and Imperialist Eras with cloaks, heeled shoes for men and women, as well as lace collars. Today we may see these items as inherently feminine, but in Snyder’s vision, the men were the only ones stern enough to enforce such a brave trend. In this society, masculinity is flaunted by the man’s ability to wear flashy clothing and still look masculine. Like a contest with oneself, it is a constant struggle to one-up yourself with even more daring and colorful clothing. It also demonstrates and equality of the sexes in a way, as competition in fashion was no longer reserved just for wealthy women, but was a possibility for the common man and woman as fashion between men and women became more similar and comparable to one another.

The examples provided for 1960 differ from previous because they depicted working men, rather than fashionistas of the future age. The policeman shown in the drawing for 1960 seems to have a very easy time of it, for no man’s person can be considered in danger from the mob with officers to protect them that habitually offer as many spikes and accessories as this policeman’s head displays. We may likewise suspect the military gentleman depicted in the image for 1965. It is not customary in the present day for army officers to affect umbrellas, but seventy years hence it may be found necessary to protect one’s head-dress. As government officials, it seems only logical to keep the trend of revival going, nodding to the renaissance era. This renaissance style is will begin trending in the 1960’s during the rebirth of society, Snyder predicts. This age of rebirth continues into the 1970’s as we see a turn for the better. Though, none of us are likely to be caught dead wearing neckties of this magnitude. We see a return to the streamlined trouser, as well as a new, feminine spin to the tail coat with its long, exaggerated train perfect for strutting it on the runway or to the grocery store. There is even a militaristic aspect to these suits, but with an edge of hilarity common of our new age.




After the 1970’s, only two images remain. Perhaps Snyder’s imagination grew tired, but this did not keep him from holding back on these last two designs. All that can be said of the male figure from 1984 is the continuation of accessories for men, which seem to grow larger and larger as the century goes on. However, the women of the 1980’s show a new kind of silhouette that contours women’s bodies, something that has been absent from the collection until now. This emergence of bodycon was seen prior to 1980 in reality, but Snyder’s expectation is still significant in his interpretation of the future of females and their rights. Additionally, we again see the common theme of revived haberdashery, combining styles from three different centuries into one grotesquely amazing hat.
The final image brings us into the 1990’s and thus, the end of the century. The male design is clearly influenced by the East, marking the beginning of the global age. Snyder predicted that as time continues, fashion will become more and more cohesive globally. Trends will go beyond the bounds of country and will be found in different corners of the world. The man in the photo is quite pensive as he thinks intensely and puffs on his pipe, but we can only guess if he knew what he looked like he might be thinking a little less about the state of the global economy and more about his reputation in fashion.
At the end of the article Snyder notes his general prediction and logic for the future of fashion: “The 17th century is famous as the brown century; the 18th is with us the yellow century; and the 19th we term the black century. I am asked my opinion of the 20th century. It is motley. It has seen the apotheosis of color. Yet in worshiping color we do not confound the order of things. As is the 20th, so was the 15th.” From a glance, Snyder’s predictions look like a French clown’s dreamscape, but in reality this circus of fashion is based on logical claims about the future. The idea that fashion is often recycled with a combination of current, revolutionary ideals is not a new one, but it goes to show the difficulty in applying theory to practice and predictions to reality.

February: The Month of Red

February is the month of red. Valentines Day, Chinese New year, and heart health month are all focused around this very particular color. Why is it so popular? What is its meaning behind each of the celebrations? How has the color impacted the fashion world as well?

Valentine’s Day is full of big red, heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, stuffed bears with red and pink bows, and vibrant red roses. In the case of this holiday, red can be seen as a symbol of love and a way of expressing it. The holiday became big in the 1840s after the exchange of valentine cards and gifts began. Soon after, February 14th became a major consumer holiday. Today, over 20 million dollars is spent on Valentine’s Day alone. According to science, red has a psychological effect on our minds. It makes us appear to be more confident and happier.  The color is also associated with beating hearts and the rushing of blood. When attraction occurs, chemical reactions take place, causing the heart to pump faster and our face to turn a rosy red.

The other holiday in February is Chinese New Year. There are two color of the Chinese New Year: Red and Gold. However, today we will focus on red only. It stands for happiness and good fortune in the forth coming year. One tradition is to place red signs or paint on doors and windows before the holiday takes place. Red also helps to scare away any spirits in the Chinese culture. So, they will have fire, which color symbol is red, and dress completely in red to keep the spirits away. It is also very common to pass out red envelopes, also called “Lai See”. They are given to young single individuals, employees, and children and filled with money of an even number. An even number is for good luck, but an odd number would signify a funeral, which would not quite a symbol of good luck.

The American Heart Association created an initiative called “Go Red for Women” in order to increase the awareness of heart health in women. With this movement, it is more than wearing red or learning about heart health. It is about women taking control of their life and  health and creating an incentive for women everywhere to take their own life’s health into consideration. Why red? Well once again, red is often associated with the color of our beating heart.

Red has also made it in the heart of fashion everywhere. It is a sign of elegance and sophistication and is perhaps the largest used color in all of fashion and cinema. Unforgettable actresses like Elizabeth Taylor or Sophia Loren made it even more popular in the mid 20th century. It was even the favorite color of the ever so famous designer – Arnold Scaasi.

The Historic Clothing and Textile Collection here at Ohio State has several pieces within storage worthy of showcasing this February.

To the right a red Christian Dior wool tweed dress from 1961. Christian Dior talked about the color red. “A very energetic and beneficial color. It is the color of life. I love red and i think it suits almost every complexion. It is good for any time, too. There is definitely red for everyone.”


To the left is red polkda dot dress form 1953-1959. It is a silk shantung zip front dress with white circle dot and stiff non-woven underlying in full circle gored skirt.





1987 red Arnold Scaasi cocktail dress. Red was Scaasi’s Favorite color.


Charles Kleibacker silk taffeta dress. 1980-1984


















Manoharan, Thulaise.(2016). Retrieved from

Hoylen, Julie. Retrieved from



Leopard Skins and Prints: The Good and the Bad


Thoughts on Leopard skins and prints have been wide spread since the early 20th century. It has either been a highly valued, luxurious and sophisticated item among the upper class or a rather trashy sign. It has been worn by president’s wives, royalty, and even rock stars.

Leopard skin coats and other clothing and accessory items became especially popular in the 1920s after movie stars like Joan Crawford strutted through Hollywood movies in the skin. One fashion designer of the time, Christian Dior, kept the trend going for the most glamorous of women. He was quoted, ” If you are fair and sweet, don’t wear it.” In the 1950s and 60s, this gave way to the idea that a woman who wore leopard was a trophy wife. In other words, the print represented a rather “undomesticated” woman.

The print that was once seen as sophisticated now became a trashy symbol. It made itself into a racy Hollywood catalog, Fredericks of Hollywood. When the 1970s and 80s rolled around, it evolved even further into a must have piece for rock and roll performers and fans everywhere, however as a print and not a skin. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 kept leopards from being slaughtered for their skin.

As time went on, leopard print became popular among women for representing not only their feminine sexuality, but also a more powerful symbol for them not so much being a predator, but them not being a prey in society. The leopard stood for independence, power, and courage, making an ideal symbol.

The Historic Clothing and Textiles collection is home to many clothing items such as hats, coats, bags, and shoes that have the leopard print or skin, as well a snow leopard long sleeve coat for women dating back to 1965-1975.

These shoes to the left are dated from 1965-1970. They are leopard fur skin pumps with a square toe and chunky heel.








Ringing The New Year In Style

Christmas has come and gone, the presents have been opened, the laughter has been shared, and now it is time to ring in the new year. We have turned from red and green to sparkling silver and gold.

The celebration of the new year began over four millennia ago in Babylon. Babylonians chimed in the new year in march with the first new moon following the vernal equinox. Every year, a new king would be renewed or his throne would stay in place. It was a process on history to reach the calendar we have today. The Roman Calendar originally had 10 months and 304 days. Numa Pompilius, a king in the eighth century, added Januarius and Februarius. However, Julius Caesar changed it to the Julian Calendar when he saw that the stars and moons were not aligning. Astronomers and mathematicians were called to fix this problem and eventually his calendar, which resembles the modern Gregorian calendar that we use today. January 1st became the official start of the new year to honor Janus, the Roman god of new beginnings. For medieval European Christians, the official date became January 1st for a different reason. It followed and preceded certain religious holidays such as December 25, the birth of Jesus, and arch 25, the Feast of the Annunciation.

While the Romans celebrated the new year with sacrifices to their god, Janus, and decorating their homes in laurel branches, today’s celebrations look different. The celebration vary in different parts of the world in present date. For example, the people of Spain eat 12 grapes in the moments before the new year. In the United States, the biggest celebration is in Times Square, New York. The music, fireworks, and dropping of the ball all are all part of the celebration. Millions of people watch this moment on TV. It has been a tradition ever since 1907. What you wear on new years is dependent on how you plan to celebrate. Some occasions call for black tie when a dinner with family only calls for a casual fit.

Here are two dresses perfect for ringing in the new year. To the left is a ladies short feathered evening dress. The aqua tulle is accompanied by a slightly fitted straight silhouette. It has a high rounded neckline and is sleeveless with bias banding. the entire dress is hand beaded and embroidered with aqua and gold metallic thread with tiny seed pearls, various shaped crystal bugle beads, small gold balls, clusters of iridescent rhinestones and flower heads. The aqua feathers ae applied on the beading creating a glimmer shimmering affect. The dress ranges from 1964-1965 and was designed by Pierre Balmain in in Paris, France.

Pierre Balmain was born on March 18, 1914 in Paris, France. his father was a drapery salesman and died when Pierre was only seven years old, and his mother owned a fashion boutique with her sisters. He founded his company, Balmain, in 1947. His post-war looks were very feminine for the day, making his designs stand out. He loved richly embroidered fabrics, nipped in waists, and long, fuller skirts. He said dressmaking was “the architecture in movement.”


The next dress is a long pink silk dress with gold an silver sparkles. It ranges from 1980-1989. the creator is unknown, but the dress is perfect for new years because of its silver and gold sparkles.




RESOURCES: Editors. (February 16, 2010). New Year’s. Lasted updated September 12, 2018. Accessed on December 10, 2018.


A Blue Christmas

Feeling blue? As Christmas rolls around, we are normally filled with Christmas cheer, joyous music, and street lights lit up with red and green décor as far as the eye can see. However, the recognition of blue during December is often forgotten. Blue is a symbol for both the Christian and Jewish tradition around December. Have you ever heard the song “Blue Christmas” by Elvis Presley? It is a pretty popular Christmas song from the late 1950s. Elvis brought us Christmas from a different viewpoint. A sad, depressing one; quite the opposite of what we picture Christmas to look like. Blue is also a symbolic color for the Jewish holiday, Hanukkah. Blue is a part of the Israeli flag. The blue stripes on their flag are also the color found on a tallitot, which are Jewish prayer shawls worn for special occasions such as Jewish weddings, in synagogues, and bar mitzvahs.

So why is blue relevant at Christmas time? Blue often evokes a feeling of sadness and just simply joylessness. We hear it in songs like Elvis’s blue Christmas, but this can be a real feeling for many people around Christmas time, especially in the cold winter. In the mid 1990s, many Christian congregations began to hold another service in addition to the four main Advent services. It takes place in the late Advent season, around the 21st. It is a form of worship for those dealing with sadness, depression, loss, etc. Everything is not always well. In the mid 1990s, the Protestant church adapted this and literally calls it “Blue Christmas”.  The special service is actually helping spread the love of Christmas. They are said to help save lives every year because they are a place for the poor in spirit to go.

In honor of today’s “Blue Christmas” and the overall talk of blue in December, we are going to be focusing on a few fashionable ensembles that are blue, of course.

A close up of a Malcom Starr coat sleeve. The company was well known for the simplistic style, yet elaborated beaded and sequined additions.

To the right is a Malcolm Starr light blue wool short evening dress and coat with a silver braid along with beading on the dress neckline and coat sleeves. It ranges in date from 1965-1970 and actually originates from Hong Kong. The designer, Malcolm Starr, was made popular in the 1960s and 1970s because of his evening dresses. What made them special? He usually stuck with a very simple design, however there would always be very detailed beading and sequin work, making it attractive to the eye. As well as evening dresses, the company was well known for suit jackets and coats. Our featured Malcolm Starr is a great example of his finest work.



Next up is a royal blue wool knit cardigan that would fall slightly below the waist. The neckline, closure, and sleeves have six rows of gold sequins giving quite the sparkle. The lower half is a royal blue silk chiffon with a woven-in angular pattern. The blouse is a sleeveless silk crepe. On the front of the blouse, it has rows of 5 rows of gold sequins. It dates back to 1980 and was made by the designer, Adolfo. The story if Adolfo Sardina is a very interesting one. He actually got his start in Paris, like many other famous designers such as Scaasi. Adolfo was an apprentice to the very famous Balenciaga. He was admired from all around, but was mainly persuaded to leave Paris for New York.  He worked for Emme in 1953, and two years later won his first Coty Award. The Coty Award is “Coty American fashion Critics’ Award”, which started in 1942 under the company Coty. In 1962, he opened his own business. His confidence and determination paid it forward because in 1969 he received another Coty Award. This one was special, however. His “head to toe” designs were admired greatly. he had developed his own theory that if he could design a hat well, then he could do anything. The same was true for men’s clothing. By 1976 he was producing men’s clothing for Leon of Paris, and then in 1977 got nominated once again for a Coty Award.

Adolfo truly believed in fashion from “head to toe”. He came out with even more than just a gown or a hat. He introduced swimwear, luggage, shirts,  neckwear, boy pants, men’s slacks, and even more beyond that.

He mentioned, “A person can look put together without appearing too rigid or too extravagant…If people are astute enough to combine different clothes with flair and style, they can create their own fashion. We all must maintain the freedom to show off individuality. Fashion should be revolutionary, but always in the direction of good taste.” His love for fashion and good taste went hand in hand, that is one ting that made his work so special.

If you’re feeling sad this Christmas, just know that there’s always a place for you to go. “Blue Christmas” is a term many people can sing about in a song, but it is an actual part of life and there is always hope. So, spread the love this Christmas season no matter who you are, and don’t forget to help other people out. On a happy note, we were able to showcase some of the best work by designer Adolfo and the company Malcolm Starr. Both were special in there own way. Malcolm Starr made simplistic styles stand out with elaborate beading and sequinning and Adolfo used his love of fashion from “head to toe” to create a sense of good taste in clothing.


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A Charles Dickens Christmas


Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol entered the hearts of many in 1843. It was a story of a selfish man who was able to see the evil of his ways and in turn became good. Redemption is a key theme throughout the entire novella. The story shows that no matter who you are, we are all the same. Because of Dickens’ upbringing he was fully able to understand the situation which the poor faced in England during the nineteenth century. The wealthy people were enlightened after reading his work. Dickens’ work opened people up to the idea that class is only defined by your wealth and not who you are as a person.

Charles John Huffam Dickens was born on February 7, 1812 in Landport, England. he was the second child of eight born to Elizabeth and John Dickens. His parents were said to be very social people; his mother attended a ball the day he was born. However, his father John found it very hard to pay for entertainment and the necessities of life. His family faced financial hardship during his younger years. At just four months old, his family moved to a smaller house in order to make the financial struggle less of a burden. But eventually his father was placed in debtor’s prison. to make money, Charles Dickens decided to work for a factory, and in return, he never received a formal education. However, despite his lack of education, he was able to wrote 15 novels, edit a journal for 20 years, write 5 novellas, hundreds of short stories, and even campaign for education, children’s rights, and social reforms.

As he grew older, he became increasingly confident. Despite not knowing what he directly wanted to do with his life, he knew he desired to be famous. He was also very interested in theatre. Dickens made it so close to an audition, but missed it due to illness. he went on to write stories and plays. in 1842. he moved to America with his wife. As his works became increasingly plagiarized in America, he set out to give a petition to Congress to make his works safe.

His literary success first came in 1836 with his release of The Paperwick Papers. Then later on in 1843 as his works were becoming gaining attention and fame increasing, he released A Christmas Carol. Not only did it become a classic, heart warming story for Christmas, but, as mentioned above, it touched the hearts of every social class at the time. It opened the eyes of the rich and showed them that the poor were just like them , if even more humble and deserving of a good life. Dickens’ works were revolutionary, making him arguably the greatest writer of the Victorian Era.

His theatrical productions became so well known, that attendees had to be invited, making it the utmost special event, especially when Queen Victoria attended. The two had a great deal of respect for one another. They had even exchanged each other’s autographed works to one another.

Dickens’ novella, A Christmas Carol, has adapted over the years countless times, but most of us remember it for the original adaptation written by Dickens himself. One thing that sticks out are the characters’ costumes. Because of the 18403 time period it was released in, we picture the characters to be wearing the stereotypical top hat with a cane, a somewhat puffy dresses. Well, this mostly fits correctly with the time period, but there are certain things about men and women’s clothing that make it truly 1840s.

A dark brown silk satin damask gown with rose motif. 1840-1849

A woman’s dress tended to have low, sloping shoulders. The bodice of the dress came low on the waist and somewhat looked like a “v”. The sleeves of a dress were bell-shaped and there would be layers upon layers of petticoats underneath the skirt portion of the dress. Women also tended to carry small handbags with them. They were typically white with embroidery or a painted design when women stayed at home, but once they went outside they used green or white tasseled bags. The accessory was made of crocheted linens, the same material used to male their shoes surprisingly. Bonnets as headwear were also popular, and their  hair was typically parted in the middle.

Men’s fashion at the time was greatly influenced by Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria. He cared a great deal for his appearance, was young at the time of marriage to Queen Victoria, and being the husband of England’s number one celebrity didn’t hurt. The suit jacket clenched at the waist and flared out from there, giving them an slight hour glass figure, and some even wore a corset. Shirts were made with a high collar and ties were worn. Men also wore tight waist pants and trousers. Facial hair was very popular during this time also. Most had mustaches and sideburns. Top hair was worn long and was swept to the side. This entire look was very typical of upper class.

Clothing for the poor and clothing for the rich were probably he number one way to tell the difference between socioeconomic class in the Victorian Era. During this time period, men held most of the power. It was “a man’s world.” The wealthy husband would have a beautiful home, good standing in society, and a adoring wife, along with a few children. There were also servants for every job. The woman of the family were given an abundance of opportunities for travel and fine living. Their clothes were made with the best materials. They wore frivolous dresses and had an array to choose from. Everything from bonnets to the petticoats were made to impress. One of the main reasons for such expensive clothing was to directly divide the rich from the working class. The poor woman’s outfit was made of rag cloth, definitely not the most expensive or lavish material  available.

Top hat ~ 1840-1850 It is made with dark brown felt amd has a narrow black petersham edging brim. the side are straight and the brim curves up on either side.

One of the biggest determinants of a man’s class was his hat. A man who had a quality top hat was said to be well off and respectable. It was normally made of silk on a felt base. When the production of top hats began, the felt was normally taken from a beaver. A beaver’s felt would help the hat keep its shape when it rained and was overall more durable. A cheaper alternative was rabbit, but he high social class wanted the best. A top hat like the one pictured is typical of what you may see the notorious Ebenezer Scrooge wear in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. 

If you watch Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol this Christmas, make sure to pay extra attention to what the characters are wearing. A lot can be said about a person by the clothes they wear, this was very prevalent during the Victorian Era. However, with theme is Dickens’ story, we are able to be reminded that class is not what makes us human. We are all capable of good cheer, love, and joy this Christmas season no matter who we are.



“You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!”
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol



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