JUST DUG THIS UP – A PRETTY NECKLACE OF POLISHED AMBER

Amber, in itself, is a very mysterious substance. Eons old and full of many clues encased in it’s golden depths. Earth historians love it, for many reasons, and the lore regarding its spiritual and medicinal powers will delight any anthropologist or sociologist. However, that’s not significant for our purposes.

Amber jewelry is not commonly found in investigations, though it has appeared in the general marketplace much more often since the fall of the Soviet Union. A lot of amber comes from countries which were previously isolated inside the U.S.S.R. The best example may be Lithuania, which produces Baltic amber (the best type) and can now sell it freely. When I do come across a vintage clue made of amber, it tells me that the owner was likely a traveler and/or shopped in exclusive stores. In the case of this particular piece, though the suspect was probably a traveler, it is much more recently made which is demonstrated by the lobster clasp. Fortunately, my files do contain older specimens in the vault. This one, though, does have the beautiful and sought-after intense color that makes this “stone” powerful and valuable.

MORGANA MARTIN, THE MAGICVINTAGESPY

BLOG: MAGICVINTAGESPY.COM

PRETTY MID-CENTURY AND ANTIQUE COSTUME JEWELRY

Since I’ve veered into the area of accessories a bit, I decided to open the jewelry archived evidence file. It’s a big one, as jewelry pieces are often found at investigation sites. That’s especially true when it comes to mid-century pieces, which were so popular during the 1950’s and 1960’s and considered an essential part of the wardrobe of any well-dressed woman of the time. However, items always appear from years before and after, since women have always loved jewelry and will never stop.

Here’s an assortment of bling that might have been seen on any given day in 1960. All are costume and most are unbranded. These everyday types of clues are not as likely to be the element which makes or breaks a case but agents know better than to leave any stone unturned, and you just never know . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

MORGANA MARTIN, THE MAGICVINTAGESPY

BLOG: MAGICVINTAGESPY.COM

BEAUTIFUL LEATHER PEEP-TOE HEELS FROM THE ICONIC CHANDLER’S LINE

Sifting through the evidence files I found this pair of heels and just have to show them to you. These shoes ring all the bells for design, quality and style that is possible. But, the neatest clue from my perspective is where they were sold. Chandlers shoes were a part of a larger company which which had originated in St. Louis, MO and also owned other vintage brands we would recognize, e.g. Baker’s shoes. However, Chandlers products were considered to be the elite by many women.

In the late 1990’s this company or many of its holdings went bankrupt. Ladies all over the U.S., I’m sure, were heartbroken as they’d depended on Chandlers for fine fashionable footwear since the 1920’s. C’est la vie . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

MORGANA MARTIN, THE MAGICVINTAGESPY

BLOG: MAGICVINTAGESPY.COM

A DISTINCTIVE 1950’s WOOL COAT BY A FAVORITE MAKER – FASHIONBILT

Although, at first glance, this looks like another standard 1950’s winter coat it has several features which set it apart. The fur collar has been dyed in a distinctive pattern. The hip pockets are a very different style, though plenty deep for hands, etc. Also, the fabric, rather than being the usual flat weave, is a boucle’. That’s not frequent on these coats at all, in my experience.

So, the general rules don’t always apply, which makes the sleuthing fascinating. And, I love coming across a favorite brand from back in the day. Fashionbilt consistently made stylish coats for the middleclass market that always impressed me with their design and quality, so these exceptional details are no surprise.

MORGANA MARTIN, THE MAGICVINTAGESPY

BLOG: MAGICVINTAGESPY.COM

BEAUTIFUL 1950’S WOOL COAT IN CLASSIC BLACK

Surprising as it may seem, coats of this type were often more commonly seen in beige, brown and colors than in black. Those alternatives certainly would have been easier to keep looking clean – we all know what lint-magnets black garments are! So, maybe this just became a market-driven issue among the general population. At any rate, it’s true to my sleuthing experience and a clue for the file. However, market characteristics like that can sometimes vary by location or even by year so never ignore a mundane-seeming piece of evidence. That’s especially true when no other signs of its origin can be found.

This particular item, with its de rigueur big sculpted buttons, also has interesting design in back with a big welt seam and a somewhat distinctive collar shape and color, disguised as mink. These little design features are what differentiated one coat from another, as the general style of the time was quite uniform, and can make or break a case whenever witnesses can be found. I guess that’s always true with coats that are built for warmth and outdoor wear. No operative could ask for a better element of disguise while carrying out her daily routine now that our old stand-by, the trench coat, has lost its cover in film noir.

Tomorrow, another example that’s just a pretty fashion piece with no occult interpretations attached. But, you just never know –

MORGANA MARTIN, THE MAGICVINTAGESPY

BLOG: MAGICVINTAGESPY.COM

MORE ICONIC HOME-GROWN DRESSES – THIS TIME FROM THE 1960’S

Here we have something entirely different from the ethnic-inspired Southwestern classic shown yesterday. These dresses above could be found in the closet of almost any career gal or housewife in the early 1960’s. The two on the left were sold by Montgomery Ward and Sears & Roebuck, where many, many women bought their everyday clothing. The dress on the right has a more elevated pedigree though still probably from humble beginnings. It was custom-tailored by an exceptionally-talented seamstress from a more elegant pattern. Whether our heroine constructed this frock in her own home or hired the job out to a local dressmaker, it still carries on the practice of making one’s own (and family’s) wardrobe which was very common at that time.

I have always loved finding garments like this with their original innocent-looking labels or all the evidence of handcrafting that custom-made disguises will reveal. Sometimes they are the most intriguing. After this little breath of Spring, we may return to some beautiful winter coats tomorrow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

MORGANA MARTIN, THE MAGICVINTAGESPY

BLOG: MAGICVINTAGESPY.COM

FABULOUS COTTON DRESS FROM THE U.S. SOUTHWEST – CIRCA 1940’S TO 1950’S

How about a little break from the coats right now? I promise, there will be more coming. 2 piece dresses like this were all the rage in the early mid-century and many women who lived in the Southwest United States or had the leisure to travel there had a dress like this hanging in their closet. The color combos varied across the spectrum and this black and gray one is somewhat unusual.

What I love even more than the ease and comfort of the lightweight cotton and circle skirt freedom are the design elements of the garments made in that era. The blouse closes with a side zipper from waist to near the underarm on the left – a feature rarely seen. There’s also a side zip just below that, on the left side. 3/4 sleeves and a high neckline make it very easy to wear and also provide some sun protection. Not surprising that would have been important in the Southwestern states. Women living there often wore these dresses everyday, just as women in the northern states wore their cotton shirtwaist frocks.

Yes, it was a very middle-class thing, but so much of the best-loved and iconic true vintage wardrobe was just that. Perfect for the agent who takes care not to leave a trail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

MORGANA MARTIN, THE MAGICVINTAGESPY

BLOG: MAGICVINTAGESPY.COM

HERE’S THE SWEETEST POST-WAR EARLY SPRING COAT THERE IS!

Don’t you love those great big buttons, dyed a pale mauve to match the lining of this coat? Also, those sweet bows on each sleeve and Peter Pan collar, paired with the always-necessary and convenient hip pockets – good design that makes this a wonderful true vintage garment. The wool shell is a rather loosely-woven fabric that provides warmth, but not enough for the weather we’re having now. But, just wait . . . . . . . . . . . it’s almost February and warmer days aren’t far away.

Always love the cut of swing coats, as you can tell. Some are much more flared than others, but all are classic and comfortable over whatever is worn underneath. That’s especially important in a 3-season item like this one, when temps may vary a great deal while the season is changing. Over a dress, sweater or even a suit underneath, the coat will still fit well. What could be more practical when disguises may have to be changed frequently . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

MORGANA MARTIN, THE MAGICVINTAGESPY

BLOG: MAGICVINTAGESPY.COM

LET’S GO UPTOWN AGAIN IN A BEAUTIFUL 1950’S CASHMERE(?) COAT WITH MINK COLLAR

Our investigator is a quick-change artiest, no? Never would she be suspected of having spent last evening in a dance hall, being thrown over the heads and through the legs of downtown boys and laughing all the way. Nope, this lady’s got a pedigree even though she’s not associated with any old family name.

The only identification remaining is a Union Garment Workers tag. But, we know that some powerful force (maybe old money?) was pulling the strings behind the factory that put her together. Not only is the style perfectly classic but the materials leave little question about their quality. Though not top-of-the-line, the wool shell, which feels for all the world like cashmere, is beautiful and soft. The perfect lining, which could be silk, is like a caress against the skin. Sturdy, stylish buttons and practical pockets make the tailoring elegant. The careful attachment of the fur collar, which can easily be removed and replaced whenever the coat is cleaned, shows that this is a high-quality design.

Therefore, our investigator can travel in the environs of high society. Later on, we’ll probably see disguises which would allow her to actually breach the gates of Fifth Avenue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

MORGANA MARTIN, THE MAGICVINTAGESPY

BLOG: MAGICVINTAGESPY.COM

SING, SING, SING AND SWING, SWING, SWING. A COUPLE OF 1940’S SKIRTS FOR THE DANCE HALL

Sifting through the archives is so much fun. These photos look very much alike, but they’re actually two versions of the same style – made for swing dancing and the jitterbug. Gotta have freedom of movement! At least one was sewn at home. I wouldn’t be surprised if most gals had at least one skirt or dress like this during the wartime 1940’s and many had been swingin’ since the ’20’s. So interesting to note that they are both made from a heavy twill fabric which will keep the skirt very much in place as long as your body is upright. Being off your feet dressed in a clingy fabric can lead to some embarrassing situations and a difficult recovery. Still, it would be a disguise challenge, even at a popular venue with great opportunity to blend in with the crowd – stick to the Lindy or there’s no place to conceal your espionage tools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

MORGANA MARTIN, THE MAGICVINTAGESPY

BLOG: MAGICVINTAGESPY.COM