Category Archives: 1980s

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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Black Legends in Blackglama

I never understood the wording of these once ubiquitous ads for mink coats.  The people pictured in the ads were contemporary celebrities—legends in their own time.  To underscore that fact, their names were never mentioned in the photo.  Surely they … Continue reading

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Arlene Dahl’s War on Pants, 1967

I wonder if Arlene Dahl, film star of the forties and fifties, was ever embarrassed by her anti-feminist manifesto, Always Ask a Man. Written in 1967, in the early years of second wave feminism, it is all about performing for … Continue reading

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A Public Service Announcement, 1986

Well, it’s voting day in the US.  Inspired by Two Nerdy History Girls, I decided to take a look at the history of the League of Women Voters.  There’s so much to see on the extensive website for the organization.  … Continue reading

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Do You Have a Signature Piece?

Georgia O’Keeffe did.  Part of her self styling for photographs was a whimsical pin made for her by Alexander Calder in 1934.  It spelled out her initials, “OK.” However, she usually wore it vertically so that looked more abstract.  Unless … Continue reading

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Shirley Chisholm–Unbought, Unbossed

Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005) was a trailblazer.  In 1968, she became the first African American woman elected to the House of Representative. Four years later, at the age of 48, she ran for president. Her slogan was “Unbought, Unbossed,” perhaps one … Continue reading

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