I recently had the good fortune to renew an old online acquaintance with Debbie, who has a remarkable vintage fashion collection. Someday I may have the opportunity to show you more of Deb's collection but for now, it's plenty to feast your eyes on her collection of 1950s Lady and the Tramp and Si and Am skirts. She has 21 (!).
These skirts were homemade from cotton printed in 1955. The fabric was licensed by Disney, originally sold at J.C. Penney, and coincided with the release of Disney's Lady and the Tramp animated feature-length film. Although the skirts are now coveted and highly valued, Debbie told me that the fabric was originally just 59 cents per yard. From the yardage, the seamstress would cut out the flaring panels and sew them together to create her skirt.
The seamstress had to add her own waistband, so the skirts can have waistbands that slightly differ from the skirt colors. The number of panels vary and so do the lengths as the skirts were hemmed and sized for girls and women both. Debbie even has a Lady and the Tramp skirt in which every bit is embellished with hand-sewn decorations. The "dog" skirts can be found in red, black and turquoise; the "cat" skirts are in pink, black and brown. She loves to wear these on trips to the Disney parks.
Debbie lets her great nieces share her skirts, and when they match at Disney, they are "just too much fun to be ignored."
I've only met Debbie online, but she has impressed me so much with her joyful spirit. Now 63, she has no trouble donning the Disney mouse ears and taking a twirl with Pluto!
In her mid-50s, Deb took on the important task of raising of her 9-year old great niece; she has worked as a court reporter for the State of Nevada Public Utilities Commission for almost 44 years. Debbie isn't a woman of leisure, so when she gets to "play" she does so with gusto!
She and her significant other Rick attend car shows together with their vintage autos. Women she knows are bored going to the car shows, but she loves the shows, thoroughly knows their cars and makes a big deal of wearing her vintage finery for these events. Debbie not only dresses up, she brings along dolls with clothing custom-made to match her vintage fashions. She says that the children especially love the dolls!
Debbie's vintage collection focuses on her favorite time in fashion, 1947-57, the Dior era. She has couture items, a Hawaiian collection, Hollywood costumes. More that leaves me in awe: She has so many vintage pairs of shoes that she can't count them all. She has over 350 vintage hats.
In case it wasn't already apparent, Debbie, even in her 60s, is a bit of a bombshell. She has the figure to wear vintage well and the savoir faire to pull it off. Most of all, it is obvious that she is having fun. She says "these skirts make me so incredibly happy!" There is not a stuffy bone in Debbie's body.
While Debbie's favorite of the skirts is the red Lady and the Tramp, I am partial to the pink Si and Am skirt. When I saw this great photo, I had to let her know how big a smile it put on my face.
She told me there is a story to go with this photo:
That trip we were in Disneyland with 4 adult couples, and when I walked into Disneyland I saw Minnie. Rick asked me if I wanted my photo taken with her—because he KNOWS I adore photos with the characters—but she had a very long line of guests, and I didn’t want to hold everyone up in my group to get a photo. As I was walking towards Main Street someone tapped me on the shoulder...and it was Minnie. She had left her line and run over to me, and she pointed at my skirt, put her hands on her heart, swayed back and forth, turned me around towards Rick for a photo, put her hands on her heart again, and ran back to her line. I was absolutely on Cloud 9...my Disney Magic Moment!
So many people admire her skirts at Disney, and so many of the Disney character performers show their appreciation at seeing these. What a wonderful use of Debbie's collection, bringing such pleasure to herself and others!
All photos courtesy of Debra Bartgis.