VERY RARE FIND: A HAND-TAILORED GARDEN PARTY DRESS FROM THE 1920’S OR BEFORE

The pictures are yellowed because of low light at the time of the photograph. However, you can see the exceptional detail in the design of this frock. The true color is a creamy white, with beaded embellishments depicting leaves and flowers. It’s rather intricate to put on, too, with panels that fold over but I finally figured it out. Can you imagine the time it took to fashion this garment by hand – but many women, before the 1950’s, did almost all their sewing that way and had very limited choices with regard to anything they could purchase ready-made.

And to think that now our landfills are overflowing with cheap polyester clothing that is discarded in a few weeks (if it lasts that long). Thank goodness that we can still come across clues like this one . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

MORGANA MARTIN, THE MAGICVINTAGESPY

BLOG: MAGICVINTAGESPY.COM

A 1930’S BLACK CREPE COCKTAIL SHEATH WITH ART DECO EMBELLISHMENTS

Worthy of Ayn Rand and such a fabulous example of a Deco design. Black crepe that drapes beautifully is always the go-to but these metal studs covering the fabric are pure Art Deco of the late 1930’s. The high-rise neckline is not often seen. The shoulders are augmented not with pads but with little fabric wedges that extend them just a bit. A side metal zipper and neckline opening complete the sleek and streamlined silhouette. Like so many fitted frocks of that era, this baby goes on over your head.

Unfortunately, the fit of this dress doesn’t do a thing for me even though it’s my size but it looks great on Stella. I guess that’s why she found the right career. At any rate, it’s a perfect sophisticated disguise for any cocktail party or elite dinner. So many of those occasions take place amongst members of high society and the ruling class the world over – perfect for collecting intelligence. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

MORGANA MARTIN, THE MAGICVINTAGESPY

BLOG: MAGICVINTAGESPY.COM

SILKY BOUDOIR GOWN FROM FRANCE – VIA MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY

Found in the historic city of Montevideo, capital of Uruguay, this at-home dress may have seen a lot of intrigue. From the pre- and wartime 1930’s – 1940’s, it came from France to the home of a well-to-do woman who had the means to buy her wardrobe from there. Apparently, French-made garments and accessories were favorites of Uruguayan women in Society; at least, until they became unavailable. Some pieces may have remained accessible from occupied France, but probably only to the most elite.

It makes me wonder if clandestine activities may have taken place in order to procure these goods for those who could pay . . . .

MORGANA MARTIN, THE MAGICVINTAGESPY

BLOG: MAGICVINTAGESPY.COM

MID-CENTRY DRESSY DAY FROCKS COMMONLY SEEN IN ANY SUBURBAN WOMAN’S 1960 CLOSET

The thing that makes these dresses special is that they were SO iconic of that time. The whole U.S. nation and much of the world was enthralled by the Kennedys and women wanted to follow Jacqueline’s fashion style. Dresses like this, with elegant, body-skimming lines were a hallmark of her wardrobe as First Lady. Naturally, designers and manufacturers capitalized on this in the marketplace. It’s a phenomenon that has taken place during almost every presidency, but this one became legendary and we all know why . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

MORGANA MARTIN, THE MAGICVINTAGESPY

BLOG: MAGICVINTAGESPY.COM

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