fashion history

A Fashion Moment With McCall’s Treasury of Needlecraft: Dressy Sweaters

a fashion moment with McCall's Treasury of Needlecraft, Dressy Sweaters, the artyologist

I think that it is about high time there was another peek into the McCall’s Treasury of Needlecraft, don’t you? It has been quite a while since the last edition, back in July, where I shared knitted and crocheted dresses. This time around, we are delving into “Dressy Sweaters”.

By this I mean, not your average knitwear, which is usually intended for warmth (although style is always important as well!). These knits I share with you today are all just a bit fancier- either with intricate patterns, beading or other pretty details. Some of them are not specifically intended for evening wear, but look a little bit more elegant due to how they are styled, and what they are paired with, while some of them are intended for evening wear. We don’t usually think of knitted and crocheted garments for evening, but when they are made out of more delicate materials, they are the perfect option for fancier occasions, especially when the weather begins to turn cooler.

I hope you enjoy these lovely pieces!  Which are your favourites?

beaded sweater, fashion moment with McCalls treasury of needlecraft, the artyologist

This needs to be in my wardrobe. Like, right now. This is one of the most beautiful cardigans I have ever seen, and it is definitely worthy of being worn with a bridal ensemble as shown here. Or with anything for that matter, as it would make any outfit incredible!

two-ladies, fashion moment with mccalls treasury of needlecraft the artyologist

Two outfits finished off perfectly with the addition of a belt.

fashion moment with mccall's treasury of needlcraft, dressy sweaters

You could definitely wear this beautiful jacket in place of a blazer. It looks so polished.

McCall's Treasury of Needlecraft, the artyologist, two elegant ladies

When in doubt, add a muff. And beading. And gloves. And impeccable hair. Ok, I’ll stop now.

portrait, dressy sweaters, fashion moment, mccall's treasury of needlecraft, the artyologist

Not only in love with her top, but her topper as well! Do you think it’s a beret? Or a hat with a folded up brim? It’s hard to tell!

knitwear, dressy sweaters, the artyologist, fashion moment

I’m gonna guess the lady on the right is wearing a bullet bra. . . 

dressy-sweater, the artyologist, mccalls treasury of needlecraft

What appears to be another bridal ensemble.The question we are all asking ourselves though is . . . seriously, what is with the guy in the background??

ribbon dressy sweater, the artyologist

And last, but not least, this “handsome mandarin jacket” is made of ribbon yarn. It gives an interesting texture, and also a pretty and elegant sheen, don’t you think?

A Fashion Moment With Creative Hands

A Fashion Moment with Creative Hands, the artyologist

“The Prettiest Suit in Town”

It is time for another Fashion Moment, and today I bring you Creative Hands. My dad found these books for me several years ago, and they are, hands down, my favourite sewing books.

These books were published by “Greystone”, in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s but I haven’t been able to find much else about them. They were originally published in part as “Golden Hands”, which is I think a much more interesting (hilarious?) title. Anyways, if you ever find the Creative Hands series in a thrift store or second hand shop- snap them up!

A Fashion Moment with Creative Hands, the artyologist, stripes and vests

There are twenty-two volumes which are, in their own words, “The complete knitting, dressmaking and needlecraft guide.” The books start out with basics of such a variety of skills like embroidery, sewing, knitting, crocheting, lacemaking, (and more!) and practical tips such as building a wardrobe and how to care for your garments. Also scattered throughout are the “Collectors Pieces”, which are showcases of intricate works of textile art, throughout history and current (at the time of printing). Like a school course, you start in book one, learning the beginner steps of each craft, and as you work through the books, you build upon the techniques to become proficient in all of the textile arts. I haven’t worked through the books in chronological order, as I have decided that I will never be a knitter or a crocheter, but I have picked up many invaluable techniques in the dressmaking and embroidery sections, and found ample entertainment while looking through the pictures of the some the hilarious fashions “you can make yourself”!

So, today, on the second day of fall (how fitting) I share with you, some knitwear (and crochetwear -ok never mind, that’s not even a word…) of the 1960’s and 1970’s, just in time for the cooler weather headed our way!

What do you think of these garments? Would you wear any of them? My favourite is this brown sweater with frog fastenings.

A Fashion Moment with Creative Hands, the artyologist, how to make frog closures

Make your own frog closures! And what a gorgeous (and cozy looking) sweater/coat for fall time.

A Fashion Moment with Creative Hands, the artyologist, two tan knitwear

A Fashion Moment with Creative Hands, the artyologist, blue vest

Love the scarf addition, and belt for a layered look. (And the Gibson style hair!)

A Fashion Moment with Creative Hands, the artyologist, pink and tan knitwear

Another coat/cardigan with frog closures- it must be a trend!

1965 Fashion: Terylene Goes On Holiday

1965 Fashion: Terylene Goes on Holiday, the artyologist

There are exciting sunny days to look forward to, and how easy it is to look our best in summertime when there is a wealth of gay, prettily patterned fabrics to choose from. We have selected our favourites from Cavendish’s extensive Terylene range- fabrics that wash like a dream, are easy to pack, shed their creases and need little ironing. For home dressmakers there are five patterns that make the most of Terylene’s marvellous qualities.

Today’s Fashion Moment is brought to you by this Woman and Home magazine from May 1965.

(Sorry for being terribly out of season! We don’t have sunny days ahead, but I really wanted to post these while it’s still summer, before the calendar flips from August to September, and we start to turn our thoughts to colder days. Except, of course, for my readers from the Southern hemisphere; in which case- Happy Springtime! These are right on time for you!)

1965 Fashion: Terylene Goes on Holiday, the artyologist, Woman and Home Cover

Have you ever read any vintage magazines? I found a few of these British “Woman and Home” 1960’s magazines at the thrift store a few years ago. Sometimes vintage magazines are great, and the fashion is often wonderful (or amusing if nothing else), but often the “self help” and advice is just Terrible. Yes, with a capital “T”. This magazine’s target audience, as far as I can tell, is the 30-something housewife, who is trying to keep up appearances with the neighbours, raise two neat and tidy children who dress in adorable clothes, remain fashionably attired herself, and above all keep her “youthful bloom” from fading, because if her husband starts fooling around with the secretary, who really could blame him? (But don’t worry, because with Melody hair dye, you can cover your grey hair, and keep your husband at home where he belongs.) Seriously, it is very depressing. But, then again, I find most modern “advice” columns to be pretty bad too.

Fortunately, I was not looking for advice when I picked up these magazines- I was after the 1960’s fashion columns! There are not many photo spreads, but there are enough to be interesting. (There are also some great advertisements, one of which I shared back in February!) I thought you all might like to see the fashion photos, so today I am sharing a column about the new “Terylene” fabric. Here are the rest of the magazine captions, and some lovely pictures to inspire you to 1960’s fashion greatness!

1965 Fashion: Terylene Goes on Holiday Woman and Home Magazine, the artyologist

For late afternoon wear, a “special” dress that is so appealing because of its relaxed and unruffled charm in a cool turquoise printed pique voile. (The colour is so off- it looks cerulean!)

1965 Fashion: Terylene Goes on Holiday, the artyologist, Woman and Home

For lazing in the sun, the ever popular shirtwaister brought right up to date in a dreamy lavender, pink and brown Terylene lawn, with a permanently pleated skirt and short raglan sleeves. And, an elegant yet comfortable two piece for carefree travelling in Terylene and viscose which has an easy fitting bloused top and a detachable ring collar in a toning abstract design. 

1965 Fashion: Terylene Goes on Holiday, the artyologist, Woman and Home

For the beach, a dazzling white two piece in Terylene and viscose, worn under a stunning beach shirt in filmy transparent pique voile. And, to offset a newly acquired sun-tan, a deliberately simple sheath in yellow and green printed crepe with the back revealing a deep slashed V trimmed with frills.

1965 Fashion: Terylene Goes on Holiday Woman and Home Magazine Beach Suit, the artyologist

1965 Fashion: Woman and Home, Terylene Goes on Vacation, the artyologist

And this one was not from the Terylene article, but I thought I’d include it, as it fit in nicely: Prettiest 4-ply cardigan with well-styled favourite raglan sleeves. A contrast colour picks out the focal points- delicate bands of pattern and fancy borders.

I absolutely love the first image, of the ruffled V back sundress. It would be so perfect for the sunny summer days. Which outfit here is your favourite? Would you wear any of these? And have you ever heard of Terylene before? (I hadn’t!)

Harem Pants: A Most Interesting and Scandalous History

Harem Pants: A Most Interesting and Scandalous History The Artyologist

Harem pants have got to be one of the most interesting and comfortable garments ever invented, and honestly I don’t know why they are not more popular in Western fashion. Most commonly known as “harem pants” in the West, they can also go by the names “genie pants”, “elephant pants”, “Aladdin pants”, “parachute pants”, “Sarouel pants”, “Thai pants”, “pantaloons”, and “bloomers” (And I am sure the list goes on. . . ) The true name for these pants, which are “extremely full, puffed Turkish-style pants, very full at the waist and gathered at the ankle”*, is “Salvar” or “Shalwar”. These are simply the Turkish and Persian words for “pants”. (Other languages also use the word “shalwar” for this style of garment, with variations on spelling.)

Harem pants are one of those distinctly “exotic” garments we encounter very little in the Western world. Even the name “Harem Pants” conjures up images of foreign, glamorous and outrageous fashions. Yet in much of the world- the Middle East, African, and Asian cultures- these pants are still worn daily by both men and women as a practical and comfortable everyday garment. When my brother was traveling in Nepal, he saw many people wearing this style of pant, and even purchased a pair like the ones I have, only in red. This style of pant is alive and well, yet despite the fact that this fashion has been around for ages, much like the Turban, which I shared about in my post here, it has only been sporadically and minimally popular in the West.

Three Persian Ladies in Traditional DresdsThree Persian Ladies, Source

Originating in ancient Persia about 2,000 years ago (as we don’t have any records to substantiate the fashion before then) these trousers were everyday clothes for both men and women. They are thought to have developed from the man’s dhoti, which was a skirt/tunic tied and wrapped into a trouser shape, eventually evolving into a true trouser like garment. There is very little evidence of what women wore in ancient Persian/Middle Eastern cultures, as there are no records depicting women in artwork of the time. While we do have some record of what men were wearing, one of the earliest records of women’s fashions is from 5th century BC, in which a Queen is depicted wearing trousers and a long tunic. Interestingly enough, women are also shown wearing more fitted and “modern” styled trousers underneath long tunics at home. However, whenever women left their homes, they did not wear the more revealing trousers, instead wearing baggy ankle length trousers, long tunics and shawls over their upper body and head. The combination of these trousers, and the large mantle effectively concealed the body, and maintained modesty. Up until the last century, this remained the standard outfit of Middle Eastern women.

arabian moorish clothing, the artyologistFrom Mode In Costume, by R. Turner Wilcox

Algerian Lady in Traditional DressAlgerian Lady in Traditional Dress, Source

Costume of Persian Women's FashionTraditional Persian Clothing, Source

However, the Western fashion world went in a completely different direction from the East- both literally and figuratively 🙂 Although Europe had much the same ideology of feminine “modesty”, this manifested itself in a different way. Rather than baggy pants, women instead wore skirts and dresses. Although they varied in length, style and shape, the one thing they had in common was that they never showed or revealed the shape of the leg, rather concealing it, lest it be revealed (heaven forbid!) that women had these two appendages on the lower half of their bodies! Although some fashions could hardly be called modest (the low cut bodices of the 18th century, or the tightly laced Victorian silhouette, for example), by not revealing the leg, they were considered “proper” and modest by society. Trousers, Breeches, Pants, all generally the same garment, by different names, were firmly a man’s garment throughout the next centuries of Western fashion.

Costume for Idame in the Orphan of China18th Century Costume from “The Orphan of China”, Source

Although there are several examples of blowsy pants depicted in fashion plates of the late 1700’s, pants for women do not seem to have burst onto the scene until the mid 19th century. However, I can’t seem to find much out about the pants of the 1700’s, and it appears that they were “fancy dress” costumes, or stage costumes, rather than actual garments women of the day were wearing. (If you know more about harem pants in this era, please do let me know, as I’d love to find out more about this era!) Of course, throughout the centuries, women have dressed as men, whenever circumstances behooved them too, but the key was that it was done incognito.. If women dressed as men, they were disguising themselves as men, and this remained the norm up until the 19th century, when things were suddenly going to change in women’s fashion.

Image of Amelia BloomersAmelia Bloomer’s Turkish Dress, Source

In 1851, Amelia Bloomer, who was a women’s rights activist, burst onto the European world stage in a “Turkish Dress”. The was a Victorian styled Turkish outfit consisting of a short dress with baggy shalwar pants underneath. Amelia Bloomer was an advocate for this outfit, reasoning that it would provide women with ease of movement, ability to excercise, freedom from restrictive corseting, hoop skirts, petticoats etc, and would also prevent the germs, dirt and mire that collected on the trailing skirts of the time from being dragged into the home. This style, she argued, was successfully being worn by women of Asian and Middle Eastern countries. Unfortunately, the style did not pick up as she hoped, and was dismissed by many as to leading to the downfall and decay of society if it was to become mainstream. However, the style of pants were popular enough, even if dismissed at the time as extreme, to be immortalized as “bloomers” after her name. Some women did choose to wear this style of pants at the time, although it was more for practical and social reasons than for fashion. In the later Victorian years, these pants were adapted into “bicycling bloomers”, and were actually thought to be more modest an alternative than bicycling in a long skirt (which could also be dangerous!) However, despite the fact that 50 years or so had passed, they were still not thought to be fashionable, and were instead regarded as much too scandalous.

Amelia Bloomer CostumeMid 19th Century, Amelia Bloomer. Source

House of Worth Fancy DressHouse of Worth, c. 1870. Source

Bicycling CostumeLate Victorian Women’s Cycling Bloomers. Source

Enter Paul Poiret.

Poiret, whose designs were most popular from 1904-1924, would finally introduce the harem pant to the Western world, not for practical or social reasons, but for fashion alone. (although the timing was certainly influenced by the culture). Poiret was greatly inspired by Oriental, Persian, and Eastern styles, and these played heavily into his collections. His collections were made up of kimonos, turbans, tunics, flamboyant embroidery, eye makeup, ornate jewelry, and finally in 1911, the arrival of the long awaited “Harem Skirt”, as it was first called. Poiret’s harem pants arrived at a time of women’s rights advancements in history, (this was right around the peak of the woman’s suffrage movement) and they became popular with the more progressive ladies of the time willing to “shock” polite society. Even the name “Harem Pants” was designed to stand out as modern and exotic.  Poiret’s One Thousand and Second Night Ball (inspired by the 1001 Arabian Nights stories) was a place to show off his collections, and harem pants along with hobble skirts and lampshade tunics, were the most desired styles of the time.

Poiret's Harem Pants 1002 NightOne of Poiret’s 1002nd Night Inspired Garments, Source

Although harem pants didn’t end up “taking off” as they were, they instead became a bit of a stepping stone to women’s wearing pants of any kind. The blowsy and full modest shape of the trousers, allowed society to get used to the idea that women actually possess legs, and by the time World War One was over, women were wearing pants for fashion, not just for practicality. Although the popularity of harem pants died out in the 1920’s, we see other styles of trousers rising to take their place in women’s fashion. Interestingly enough, the garment that was designed to conceal the body in the East, was destined to reveal it in the West.

Harem Pants Girl Illustration

vintage_1910s_pretty_edwardian_jupe_culotte_fashion

1910's Harem Pants

Poiret's 1911 Harem PantsSource

Harem pants would fade out of style after the 1920’s. They didn’t see much success in the 1940’s or 1950’s, as the fashion sensibilities of those eras was a tightly corseted “ladylike” silhouette. The blowsy, flowy exotic pants, didn’t quite fit that image. I have, however seen one example of a harem skirt dress, designed by Jaques Fath in 1952. The “Canasta” dress was made of turquoise chiffon although, unfortunately, the pictures are in black and white.  The tightly fitted bodice of this garment is very “of the era”, while the loose billowy culottes have the appearance of a skirt, rather like a puffball skirt.

Jacques Fath Canasta DressJacques Fath’s Canasta Dress, Source

Harem pants were to be resurrected in the 1960’s and 70’s, with the “global” inspired craze that again swooped through fashion at the time, bringing kaftans, turbans, peasant styles, tunics and other ethnic garments back into style. Although they never reached fashion heights, the harem pants of the 1960’s, were reinvented in the form of “harem pyjamas” which were either sewn as a one piece, like below, or paired with a short tunic, or oriental style bolero. They were often worn as loungewear.

1960's Harem PyjamasSource

Harem Pants 1960'sSource

In the 1980’s and 90’s, harem pants again became popular, this time with street culture, since the loose fit of the pants were perfect for hip-hop dance. Several rappers such as MC Hammer famously wore them while performing, thus they became known as “hammer pants”.

1990's Harem Hammer PantsSource

Harem pants today are still a controversial fashion item in the West. We hardly see them in European and American wardrobes, and yet they are such a versatile and unique garment. They have faded in and out of fashion throughout the past century, but have never really caught on.  In my personal opinion, the pants that have been released in recent years have not retained that exotic and elegant air, and have instead come across as shapeless, baggy, stretched out, dropped crotch garments which are as far as possible from fashionable as can be. Sorry to be so derisive, but harem pants of the past, and harem pants, or more correctly shalwar, of the East today, are so beautiful and unique, that it seems a shame that they should be reinvented in such a bad way. However, even the more traditional style of harem pant- blowsy and drapey- is rarely seen in Western fashion.  It is kind of funny when you think about it: that one of the oldest garments- predating even the “dress” as we know it- is largely considered too avant garde for Western fashion. I do appreciate the fact that the 21st century allows me, as a woman to choose what I want to wear, whether it is a skirt, a dress, fitted pants – or more unconventional styles like harem pants!

Harem pants two ways- The Artyologist

Oftentimes true harem pants, whether in a Thai Pant style, or gathered harem style, are associated with a more hippy culture, but I think that they can easily be styled for a more vintage look as well. When I wore my pants a week ago, to church, I paired them with a pin tucked blouse so that I would get the 1910’s silhouette, and some sparkly jewelry and headband and black Mary Jane’s. I feel like this conveyed the style, without being too over the top. I did feel a bit out of my element, and yet, it is so fun wearing harem pants. I was serious when I said I don’t know why they haven’t caught on in Western fashion. They are the best combination of skirt and pants: the comfort, looseness and coolness on a hot day, that a skirt gives you, with the ease of pants for working, running, exercising and leaping (even on windy days when you don’t want to accidentally flash the whole world!) I can see why women around the globe wear these daily! So, do you want to give harem pants a try? Here are some tips to keeping you look fabulous as you do!

  • To wear harem pants in a vintage style, look for inspiration from Poiret’s collections of the 1910’s.
  • Tucking your shirt in, will create a more vintage silhouette, rather than wearing an untucked t-shirt, which will give you more of a modern, causal, “earth mother” silhouette. (you know what I mean!)
  • A blousy shirt, either a peasant style top, or any kind of soft drapey shirt, will tuck in nicely, and pair well with the softness of the pants. Make sure that the top is not too bulky or stiff, as the pants will be “big”, and you will end up looking big all over.  It’s like the opposite of wearing a pencil skirt, where a large top is OK because it is balanced out by the slim bottom, here you want a softer or slimmer top to balance out the larger bottom. Details like pin tucking, pleats, buttons, lace, chiffon etc. will evoke a 1910’s style.

harem pants with a vintage style blouse the artyologist

  • A button-up or structured blouse or shirt will play off the drapey pants well, and keep you looking vintage. For a casual look, wear a tie front shirt. This will keep the look structured enough, while also looking a bit “dressed down” without being a t-shirt, which will read as modern.
  • A structured jacket or blazer will work nicely too. I have seen a more modern style of cropped blazer paired with harem pants and it looks fabulous!
  • I also really love the look of the crossover top the model is wearing in the 1960’s image above. It is fitted and elegant, and suits the style of the pants nicely.

harem pants styled with a button up shirt the artyologist

  • Pairing these pants with high heels, will elevate the look (literally- haha) as well as making you look dressed up, rather than dressed down. If you aren’t careful, harem pants can easily look like “I didn’t even try” instead of “I am fabulous”.
  • Pairing the pants with sparkly jewelry, bracelets, earrings, headbands, feathers, cloches, etc. will give you a Poiret 1002nd Night’s look. Be careful of going overboard, as it could look very “costumey” very quickly. But, then again, if you love that more embellished look- I say “go for it!”
  • If you want to try a 1960’s look- pair your pants with a vest or tunic. This would be a really fun look.
  • And most importantly: Be confident! If you are anything like me, you are most likely in the minority with this style of pants, you are out of your comfort zone, and people are probably staring at you, so just walk with confidence knowing you look great- and are in league with many other stylish women both past and present!

So, what do you think- will you try Harem Pants? What do you think of Poiret’s 1002nd Nights style? Do you think we will see a resurgence of this fashion in Western culture?

harem pants with tie front shirt the artyologist

Also, PS: While doing research for this post, I came across this company, Hippie Pants, that sells Thai Pants, which are fair trade too! While I have not personally purchased anything from them, they have some beautiful styles, (this is the style of pants I have, in rayon) and I thought you might like to see where you can get some for yourself – or just simply be inspired 🙂

Want to read more about Harem Pants? Here are the sources I used:

“The Mode in Costume” (book) by R. Turner Wilcox is an invaluable resource for of fashion history.

* This definition is from “Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion” (book), which has definitions of all fashion related terms, and is also quite interesting to read. 

A couple of web articles about harem pants:

Understanding the Difference Between Thai Pants, Harem Pants and Sarouel Pants

The Evolution of Harem Pants