About Joyatri

Avid thrifter and vintage clothes wearer. Love 1960s and early 1970s styles. Partial to Art Nouveau, Pre-Raphaelite, Victorian, Renaissance and Medieval art. Former art historian. Current packrat. On a continual quest for good-looking, comfortable vegan shoes. Bhangra dancer since 2002. Fascinated by all things Indian. Vegan and animal advocate. 

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Words I like:

"She was dressed, as usual, in an odd assortment of clothes, most of which had belonged to other people." 

Excellent Women by Barbara Pym (1913-1980)

 

 

“I said "Somebody should do something about that." Then I realized I am somebody.”

 Lily Tomlin

 

 

 

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Entries in 1940s (2)

Wednesday
May082013

Silents at the seaside

Greetings from the U.K.!

After a hectic few days of giving my apartment a good scrubbing in preparation for the house-sitter and trying on all of my clothes in order to figure out what to pack, I flew to London.

My luggage containing all the clothes I’ll need for the changeable weather of the U.K. and enough accessories to keep me from getting bored for two months.

The day after I arrived and before I really knew where I was, my boyfriend A. whisked me off to Aldeburgh on the Suffolk coast for a silent film festival. As I’ve reported in previous posts, A. is quite a silent film buff and I’m learning to be one too.

The cinema there was built in 1919, screening many a silent film in its first decade.

We saw quintessentially English, sea-side themed films based on the early 20th-century stories by W.W. Jacobs. Of course, they were accompanied by live music.

© 1928 Collection George Eastman House The highlight of the weekend was a screening of the American film, Beggars of Life (1928), “a rollicking saga of hobos on the lam” starring the captivating Louise Brooks. In keeping with the era and location, the music was provided by silent film accompanist par excellence Neil Brand and the U.K. skiffle band, The Dodge Brothers (which includes Mark Kermode, a film critic and TV presenter). I had doubts about Americana music played by a group of Brits (although one member is an American now living in the U.K.), but their performance was amazing and their music ranged from soulful to exciting (to accompany the chase and train crash scenes). If you haven’t seen silent films -- the musicians pretty much make up the score as they watch the film. So Brandt’s piano playing set the tone and The Dodge Brothers had to follow along.

After the screening A. and I -- being the only attendees who had specially come to Aldeburgh for the festival -- were invited to a small after-party for the band and festival organizers.

Graves of Benjamin Britten and his partner Peter Pears. Aldeburgh is best known as the home of the composer Benjamin Britten and it hosts numerous music festivals, including one founded by Britten himself. Other than the festival, it didn't seem like there’s a lot going on there, which it turns out is its appeal for those with holiday homes. It’s also incredibly expensive and does not have a train station, which helps keep the riff-raff out. On Sundays and bank holidays, we found out that there isn’t even bus service in or out of the town, so we ended up having to take a taxi to the nearest train station, then changing three times to get back to London.

Shingle beach, self-catering cottages, 16th Moot Hall, ’Snooks,’ a memorial to a veterinarian couple. Me in my element at a car boot sale, our B & B, a wicker fence lining the footpath, my boot finds.We did enjoy the picturesque views and the laid-back atmosphere. Our B & B was on the top floor of a 19th c. former convent. We took a walk along a footpath that led us through a churchyard and cemetery. Other than the films and the after party, a high point was getting to a car boot sale on Sunday morning (the charity shops in town were crazy-expensive), where I scored 1965 and 1969 issues of Queen magazine.

1940s frock coat, thrifted, Goodwill, Cambridge. Clogs, thrifted, Goodwill, Cambridge, and painted by me. Hat, thrifted, Goodwill, Cambridge, embellished by me. 1960s sunglasses, purchased at Dollar-A-Pound, Cambridge 20+ years ago. 1930s Bakelite brooch I’ve had for decades. 1960s scarf, purchased at Mr. Bird Vintage Fair, Birmingham. Bangles purchased in India.  I spent the weekend looking out-of-place amidst all the tourists in their t-shirts, shorts and sandals. Yeah, it was sunny but there was a nippy breeze. My boyfriend commented that I looked like I had an aversion to the sun. My one concession to summer was the straw hat and sunglasses. It’s not like I was following the tradition of older women wearing street clothes at the seaside, I just feel cold more than others. And we spent four or more hours each day inside a dark theater and not romping on the beach.

1970s does 1940s dress, purchased at Spitalfields Market, London. Tights, retail. Clogs, thrifted and painted by me. 1940s necklace I’ve owned for decades.As above with thrifted straw hat with new ribbon and made-by-me fabric flower. I also made a red herringbone hatband that I wore the previous day. You can watch The Dodge Brothers and Neil Brand do a sound check for Beggars of Life.

After the film, The Dodge Brothers played this song, "No. 9." Here they perform it at The Royal Albert Hall.

Do go see Beggars of Life if the opportunity arises.

Tuesday
Mar122013

Austere tea party, anyone?

In honor of Woman’s History Month, a local vegan café held a Ladies Tea Brunch this past Sunday. When I read that hats and tea party attire were mandatory, I reserved a spot right away. Seeing as we just had a few feet of snow (and I had just watched two episodes of Land Girls on Hulu), I opted for the sober colors and warm fabrics of the 1940s.

First I had to revive this red velvet cap that I used to wear all the time in the 1980s. I removed the ratty netting and the ornamental buttons that were missing rhinestones. I then steamed and pressed it on to a mannequin head to get its shape back.

That accomplished, it was time to check on the dress, a donkey-brown wool number from the early 40s, again something I bought in the 80s and haven’t worn since.

I love the details: the gathers on the top and the pin tucks in the lower part of the sleeve, the tiny gold studs on the shoulders and triangular pockets, the gathered bodice and flared skirt.

And, ta-dah!

The dress, hat, brooch on hat, necklace, gloves, and shoes are original 1940s. I've owned all of them for decades, except for the shoes, which are a recent acquistion.

The bag was made in India and purchased on the street in New York in the 1990s. I just tucked the handle inside to use it as a clutch. The stockings are the wrong color, but I was relying on what I already owned. The eyeglasses are new prescription ones, for which the jury is still out. They did work well with this outfit though.

I had worn this 1940s coat to the point of near disintegration in the 1980s and have been on the verge of throwing it out many times. I’m glad I hadn’t. It needed a few repairs to make it wearable for an afternoon, though. I teamed it with a scarf bought new in the 1980s.

The 1940s shoes were recently thrifted from Goodwill.

The label inside reads “Wilbur Coon.”

Wilbur Barry Coon (1870-1926) and a partner began making baby shoes in 1891 in Rochester, New York. By 1912, Coon had struck out on his own and founded what was to be a phenomenally successful company manufacturing babies, children’s and women’s shoes. After his death, his son Wilbur Levis Coon took over the business. The company sold shoes under their own label to more than 6,000 retailers. An online search has turned up ads for Wilbur Coon shoes from the 1920s to 1940s, but I haven’t found any information that would indicate when the company went out of business.

I have a hard time finding shoes that are comfortable. Turns out that comfort and fit were the two major selling points of Wilbur Coon shoes. One of their slogans was “A Made-to-Measure Fit in Ready-to-Wear Shoes. Sizes 1 to 11. Widths AAA to EEE.” According to a newspaper ad from 1935, there were special in-store fitting days (probably with a traveling rep from the company) and 149 sizes were available.

As you see from all the numbers inside the fit measurements were fairly complicated.

from The Pittsburgh Press, October 30, 1930  The baby’s foot is a perfect foot. And you don’t find foot troubles in adults in tribes that live barefooted. Foot troubles come from shoes that don’t fit.

The fault is only partly yours. Most shoes are made to fit the foot at two points only – length and ball. That method is as old as shoe-making. But, why keep on wearing a two-point shoe on a five-point foot? Wilbur Coon Shoes are made to fit all five points – length, ball, instep, waist, heel?

Another sizing innovation (although I don’t know if it originated with Wilbur Coon shoes) is that samples in children’s sizes were made in clear vinyl so one could actually see if the shoe fit properlyt.  A pair sold on Etsy recently.

There are a number of advertising postcards for the company here.

I wish shoe companies offered a similar level of customization in sizing. With 149 different sizes, I was lucky to find a pair that fits as well as they do. The Wilbur Coon shoes I see currently for sale online are listed at anywhere from $40 to $169, so I was even more fortunate to find mine for 10 bucks.

The shoes alone deserve to be linked to Ta-dah! Tuesday.