Friday 14 January 2011

The plaid skirt

Can't resist showing off one my newest purchases, a plaid skirt that arrived in the post this week.
The label is Boreva Sportswear, a company that activated in the US in the 40s (from my research) and also later (going by what others are saying). I was so intrigued by the skirt that I submitted pics to the knowledgeable ladies at the Fedora Lounge for advise as to its dating. They agreed that it is most likely a 50's skirt, which is very much in line with the dating of the seller herself. Apparently, had the skirt been any older than that, there would have been a lot more care put into matching the plaid, and perhaps creating an interesting effect such as bias cut for areas like the waist band.
The reason behind my enquiries was the design of  the skirt, so similar I thought to the ones in the pic bellow from a 30s magazine. Check it out! Isn't that amazing?

Anyhow, while slightly disappointed it has failed the examination by the experienced eye of the Fedora Lounge members, I know how difficult it is to actually come across 30's separates, so I hadn't raised my hopes too high. It just goes to show how muuuuuuuuuuch more I have yet to learn about vintage clothing before I will be able to date things with accuracy. Not having any sewing notions doesn't get you very far! Also, I could really do with some good books and catalogs in order to improve my knowledge, as I have been relying only on my ever growing on line image collection, which means the information I have is inaccurate to some extent, incomplete, and definitely unstructured.

Moving on, I will still try and incorporate this skirt in a 30's look. At the end of the day the fun comes from being creative with one's wardrobe rather than too corseted by rules and considerations of the kind: "well, if this doesn't have a 1935 label, tough, I will not have it!". And I've lent myself to far more scandalous fakery with my dickeys, or incorporating a lot more more recent vintage and for that matter modern clothing into my wardrobe to shy away from this skirt now :). 
Sadly, I don't seem to be very lucky with plaid. Not long ago I had to sell on a very pretty jacket  in similar colors (real 30's this time) because the sleeves were too short. I never seem to win these days, but I will not be beaten by plaid, do you hear me?!...


  1. Well if it is 50’s , then it has a very 30’s look to it! I love the colours. Loving the little lacy coral cardigan too really picks up the colour in your gorgeous skirt. I’m actually trying to find a pattern to knit something very similar, but maybe with long sleeves- no luck yet! Looking splendid Miss! Tups x

  2. Lovely skirt, 1930s or not! I've had the opportunity to examine several mid 30s skirts (both as solo separates and as part of suits I acquired for my shop) and here are some things I've noticed that may help you on your quest to find the "real mccoy"

    1) they closed with hooks and eyes or very small toothed TALON zippers (metal)
    2) interestingly, not one of them had any lining at all in them
    3) as shown in the image from the catalogue, they are meant to be worn high at the natural waist and the length is such that they hit at mid calf (not below it).. I'll have to double check the exact measurement, as the length depends on height of wearer
    4) Some of the skirt had kick pleats and/or a slight tulip shape, rather than straight columnar (though some do)
    5) contrary to what the Fedora Lounge folks might have suggested, both the plaid mid-30s skirts I have had in my midst had places where the pattern did not quite perfectly match up: why? both were handmade by novice sewers. If the skirt was storebought, labels can give a clue (storebought items from the USA made between 1933-35 should often have an NRA label inside, for example).
    6) in the case of two of the 30s skirts I found, the colour scheme right away drew my attention to them. Catalogue descriptions can help when colour photographs are absent.
    7) I'll have to go back and double check, but most of the 30s skirts I've acquired didn't not have the lovely defined waistband yours does.
    I'm not an expert, but these are just some observations I've made. I still think you have a lovely garment here! The real 30s ones usually have moth bites and other issues anyway!

  3. It's lovely anyway! I love it with the bright red too...I've been obsessed with long plaid skirts lately, though I'm no connoisseur, so most are pretty 70's-ish! I have a couple of 30's dresses, but they're so delicate I feel guilty wearing them...

  4. I'd peg that as a 50's skirt too (although I take no issue with you wearing it as a 30's look!)...first off, if the company didn't exist until the 40's, that's pretty hard evidence. But you can also look at the label itself for clues- each period will have popular sizes, shapes, fonts and graphics that can help date the garment.

    The Baroness mentioned looking at the color and closures for clues. I don't have any evidence for this, but to me that teal color looks more 50's than thirties. I like the idea of reading catalogs for learning popular colors/combinations. And in addition to looking at the zipper, the style and material of the buttons can give a clue.

    Also, if your garment give a fabric content, that can be a great help - synthetics were just becoming mainstream in the 30's-50's, and if your garment has any you can research when it was first used commercially. (Rayon, Nylon, Dacron etc.) Was fabric content listed on tags prior to the late 40's/50's? Not sure if I've seen it...will have to research that...

    And unfortunately, I've found that if a garment could be from different eras, it's usually the later one. :(

    If you don't have them, the Dover books "Everyday Fashions of the (20's/30's/40's/50's) as pictured in the Sears Catalog" give a good snapshot, and are more affordable than buying actual catalogs. Many libraries have these books, too.

    Sorry to blather on - I like your skirt, and I got started on the puzzle and couldn't stop! :)

  5. That skirt is absolutely gorgeous! Even for the 1950's, I think it's an incredible find.

    I enjoyed reading Beth's and Jill's comments. It's nice to have blogging friends that really know their stuff, isn't it?

  6. Wow, now there some useful info! Thank you so much ladies!
    Baroness, bizarrely enough this has some of the characteristics you mention: metal zipper (although I would say the teeth are not that fine), also no lining.
    I think it is meant to be worn higher on the waist than appears on me, and it also hits me at 1/3 down the leg in spite of looking longer in the pics - perhaps it would ride higher and be more curve hugging on someone with bigger waist and hips measurements therefore looking more in keeping with a 50's silhouette?! This bit it's quite confusing, since it seems to fit me well, doesn't hang like a too big garment, yet it loos different than it did on the mannequin.
    In terms of shape it is not straight, but slightly flared when laid flat on a surface.

    Beth, thank you also very much for your input.
    It doesn't have a content label but I am sure it is 100% wool as it feels like it and also smells like sheep when ironed. :) I love that!

    The graphics of the label have been described By a reputed Fedora Lounge member as typical of the late 50's.

    And yes, I do believe it's time to get some catalogs for all that precious color scheme info and not only. I meant to buy the Dover books for a while now, and will do so to have a starting point. Like you say, some catalogs tend to be on the expensive side.

    Anyway thank you all for you lovely and very very helpful comments! Sarsaparilla's comments says it all.