Private Secretary by Kay Windsor

There I was, scouring the racks of a dusty Salvation Army for the umpteenth time, when to what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a smart little double breasted dress with impeccable 1950s tailoring. I was even more excited to behold the label — “Private Secretary” by Kay Windsor. One of the original 1954 designs! I stuffed it greedily into my cart.

Private Secretary by Kay Windsor

Allow me to elaborate. I am a huge fan of 1950s television. And from 1953 to 1957, CBS broadcast a show called “Private Secretary”, starring Ann Sothern as a devoted secretary to a talent agent. In 1954, the show partnered with with Kay Windsor Frocks to produce a line of Private Secretary dresses. The dresses were advertised in newspapers and departments stores as being “chosen especially for you by Ann Sothern.”

Billboard, Sep. 25, 1954

The line was dubbed “The Look Career Girls Love,” and was very popular with young women who wanted to invest in smart, stylish work-wear. Two other Private Secretary franchises included a line of skirts and sportswear by Ernest Donath, and an eyewear collection by Flairspecs. Ann’s wearing glasses on the show had made them a popular fashion statement of their own for the well-dressed woman.

And here's my dress in a 1954 Montreal Gazette ad!

Here’s my dress in a 1954 Montreal Gazette ad!

New Vedero Fabric

In 1955 the “Private Secretary” line evolved into “Secretary-of-the-month”, presumably as the partnership with the TV show ended. Under the new name, contests were held where participants could win a free Kay Windsor wardrobe — one dress for every month of the year. What a score!

Kay Windsor was bought in 1971 by Vanity Fair, who eventually discontinued the line in 1982.

Vintage Valentines Printable Project!

It seems like Christmas was just yesterday, and yet St. Valentine’s day is coming up quicker than — a jackrabbit… being chased by a wet dog… Or something very quick to that effect. (Remind me to brush up on my similes. And my smilies, while I’m at it. 🙂 😀 +).. no wait…

I always seem to leave my SV’sD preparations until just before the big day (read: a few hours before…), so this year I’ve decided I need to get ready early. Where better to start than with a batch of good old fashioned Valentines?

These vintage cuties come from Flickr user takeabreak‘s awesome collection of public domain vintage ephemera. Feel free to get crafty and print these out for your sweetie, or your little sweeties. Heck, since they’re this adorable, you might even be moved to give one to that woman who’s always taking your spot in yoga class. I mean, you’ve got the whole room, Sheila… ANYWAY. Enjoy.


 

My new favorite fabric — Lurex!

Once the staple of every 1950s and 1960s sci-fi costume designer’s studio, Lurex is making a comeback hard, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s easy to wear, and adds instant textural interest to any outfit. I love wearing oversized lurex tops or knits with incorporated lurex.

1950s Lurex Pullover Blouse

1970s Tie Waist Lurex Sweater

This versatile fabric comes in both thick and sheer weaves, making it suitable for many types of garments.

1970s Two-Piece Party Set by Pearlette Fashions

Your best bet is to go with a classic shape to balance the novelty of this shiny fabric. Try a simple sheath, or structured shift. Remember, a little bit of sparkle goes a long way.

1960s Black and Gold Lurex Maxi Skirt

If you’re looking to stand out from the little black crowd, choose Lurex!

House of Worth Evening Gowns

I came across an awe-inspiring collection of images of the House of Worth’s 19th and 20th century gowns in an online collection at the Met, and just had to share a few of these luscious designs.

Evening Dress, House of Worth (French, 1858–1956), c. 1898

Court Presentation Ensemble
House of Worth (French, 1858–1956), c. 1888

Afternoon Dress, House of Worth (French, 1858–1956), c. 1872

Afternoon Dress, House of Worth (French, 1858-1956), c. 1872

Dress, House of Worth (French, 1858–1956), c. 1880s

Evening Dress, House of Worth (1858-1956), c. 1888

Evening Dress, House of Worth, 1910-1914

From the Met website regarding this dress:

By this time the House of Worth was past its peak of popularity and opted to keep up with the budding Orientalism of the period instead of setting trends of its own. This example, which is an extravaganza of trims and decoration, manages to be fussier than the Orientalist designs of one of Orientalism’s major proponents, Paul Poiret (1879-1944). Although they were not setting trends at this point, this dress indicates the continued elegance and beauty of their gowns.

Sigh!

See all the lovely pieces at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s online exhibit here.

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