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Clothing of 1939: A further sampling from The Met Museum

I’m enamored with fashion from 1939, as you can tell if you have read my blog for a few months. Here are few more items dated 1939 from The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum.

Silk dress, Madeleine Vionnet

Silk and metallic dress, Madeleine Vionnet

Silk velvet jacket, Madame Grès (Alix Barton)

Silk dress “Le Gaulois,” Elizabeth Hawes

Silk dress “The Moonstone,” Elizabeth Hawes

Clay and metal sunglasses, Marcel Rochas

Silk dress “La Sirène,” Charles James

Search 1939 on this blog to see some other great pieces from that great year in fashion.



Innovative clothing of 1939: Elsa Schiaparelli

In my occasional series on clothing of 1939, I am showing some items that surprise me at their modernity. See Can you name the vintages? for the work of some designers that seems astonishingly new to this day. In previous blogs I showed some ca. 1939 work by Steven Arpad and by Claire McCardell. One of the most interesting designers just prior to WWII is undoubtedly Elsa Schiaparelli. Here are a few of the Metropolitan Museum's Schiaparellis, dated 1939.

Wool and silk suit

Wool and silk coat

Silk evening blouse

Silk evening pumps
Silk evening ensemble
Cotton seed packet dress

Music dress and gloves manufactured by the House of Lesage

Silk evening dress

In the mid to late 30s, Schiaparelli collaborated with Jean Cocteau and Salvador Dali to create some now iconic surrealist fashions...well worth a blog all their own.



Innovative clothing of 1939: Claire McCardell

In my occasional series on clothing of 1939, I am showing some items that surprise me at their modernity. See Can you name the vintages? for the work of some designers that seems astonishingly new today. The shoes and shoe prototypes of Steven Arpad came first.

Next, a strikingly simple long red cotton coat. It was designed by Claire McCardell in 1939-40 and meant to pair with this plaid silk dress.

I love Claire McCardell and counted the reasons why in a previous blog (Claire McCardell, always new). Here are some more of her 1939 items found in the Metropolitan Museum Collection Database.

Wool dress and coat by McCardell for Townley Frocks

Evening dress of silk and wool by McCardell for Townley Frocks

Wool evening dress by McCardell 1939-40

Silk evening dress by McCardell for Hattie Carnegie, 1939

These rayon lounging pajamas are McCardell's work too, dated 1938.

If you want to see the work of McCardell housed at the Metropolitan Museum, visit their collection database. No matter what year you search, McCardell seems modern.


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Innovative clothing of 1939: Steven Arpad

Evening shoes, House of Balenciaga, Steven Arpad designer

A month ago I started a small exploration of fashion in 1939 (A great year in clothing; 1939 continued). I am often surprised by the innovation that took place that year. It seems ahead of its time.

A few days ago I posted a few 1939 clothing examples from the The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum Collection Database. Louise was right, the items look much more modern than they are, including this shoe prototype by the French designer Steven Arpad.

Among the other Arpads dated 1939 in the collection:

These were manufactured by Delman

Search Steven Arpad at The Met Museum website to see all 74 of the items in this group (very worthwhile!).

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1939 continued

With the late 30s on my mind I was looking through my inventory for items to offer this week and I suddenly recalled having this venerable beauty:

Listed now here

With its cotton gauze fabric, Deco-style wavy stripes, and flowing skirt, this dress is a wonderful example of its era.

Care to play Lisa Fonssagrives and model the dress on the Eiffel Tower? (Please hold on tight...)


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A great year in clothing

Quick, when was this photo taken?

If at first glance you thought 1970s, I'm right there with you. The actual date is 1939, it's a slip dress designed by Charles Armour. The dress was made of gingham, and worn with an organdy jacket.

The photo, found in New York Fashion: The Evolution of American Style, sent me looking for clothing from 1939, especially evening dresses of daywear fabrics like cotton and wool, or daywear prints like stripes and plaids.

Further inspiration:

Lisa Fonssagrives on the Eiffel Tower by Erwin Blumenfeld, 1939, found online at with a cherry on top

This magnificent 1930s striped dress can be found at Sheila Cook Textiles

I love this cotton 30s lace gown found at Poppy's Vintage Clothing

You could make your own from a 1939 reproduction pattern found at Eva Dress:

and maybe a vintage inspired plaid

There is so much more to love about the year 1939 in clothing, from trouser dressing to surrealism, and I hope to explore the year more in future posts.

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