Category Archives: 1980s

Hearts on their Sleeves–The Terno in Los Angeles

In what contexts do immigrants wear their native dress?  For Filipina women, the most distinctive item of clothing is the terno—a dress or set of matching separates with a much extended, wing-like upper sleeve, as seen in the picture above. … Continue reading

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Barbara Carrasco’s Censored Mural

California has the reputation of a progressive blue state, but that hasn’t always been the case.  As recently as 1981, the Los Angeles Community Rehabilitation Agency commissioned mural artist Barbara Carrasco to create a work to commemorate the 200th anniversary … Continue reading

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Dancing at the Senior Center, 1980

When did older women decide to give up dresses and turn to pants as their basic mode of dress?  The answer surely depends in part on location.  The City of Commerce, where this photo was taken, is in Southern California … Continue reading

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Marcella in Milan, 1981

Marcella could be a tourist from anywhere, but the writing on the back of this photo has a distinctly American look.  And would a European tourist be wearing what is essentially a pair sweatpants in Italy’s fashion capital?  Perhaps European … Continue reading

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A Faith Ringgold Retrospective

Aren’t there times when you wished you lived in New York City?  I wish I were there now to see the Faith Ringgold retrospective at the New Museum.  It is the first comprehensive US retrospective of her work, beginning with … Continue reading

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Book Review–Bill Cunningham: On the Street

Bill Cunningham, the famous fashion photographer, liked to claim that he wasn’t a photographer at all.  Instead he was a columnist who wrote with pictures.  There is something to this statement.  The story goes that he first documented what he … Continue reading

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Mae Reeves, Queen of Hats

You might know the names of famous black fashion designers—Ann Lowe is having a moment on sewing sites right now.  But how about black milliners?  One the biggest names in that field is Mae Reeves (1912-2016), who ran an extremely … Continue reading

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Lucy’s Navy Blue Polka Dot Dress

In her memoir Don’t Sing at the Table (2010), the best-selling author Adriana Trigiani tells a wonderful fashion anecdote from her childhood.  When she was about eleven, in the late seventies, she noticed that her maternal grandmother, Lucy, only had … Continue reading

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Twins, 1984

The artist and photographer Roz Leibowitz found a treasure trove of photos on ebay documenting the lives of twin sisters from the 1930s to the 1990s.  I found the story of the collection in American Photo Magazine and then discovered … Continue reading

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The End of Half Sizes

The special category of half sizes, designed for shorter women with a “mature figure,” had about a seventy year history in American retail.  Although I’ve seen references in earlier years, it became an established concept in 1910s.  By the 1920s, … Continue reading

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