Friday, March 31, 2017

130 Years of Fashion - Conclusion

Continuing on from yesterday's post about the fashion exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum. Make sure to pour yourself a cup of tea, because this post is a bit lengthy.

The two-piece brown dress and fur hat below is the only outfit I failed to get information on. I hate that I missed it!  The 1968 silk jersey floral print dress was worn by Augusta. It was designed by Averado Bessi and purchased at Bonwit Teller.

I loved that gloves were a part of the exhibit.  In 1949 12 pair of gloves were purchased by Augusta at Le Gant Topaze in Paris for $29.

Since Ellen Roddis eloped during World War II, there was no opportunity for an extended honeymoon, so eight years later [1953] they took a belated honeymoon to Paris. Ellen visited a Parisian dress salon and had the Cocktail Dress below created especially for her. During a 1928 trip to Paris, Mrs. Catherine Roddis purchased a silk chiffon and silk crepe Evening Dress at Adele & Cie.  The receipt was $295.

Mrs. Catherine Roddis' Aunt Jane attended the Paris Exposition in 1878.  While in Paris Jane purchased the elegant silk, velvet and satin black dress with glass beading. 1959 cranberry, textured wool and silk crepe de chine dress with jacket worn by Augusta. It was purchased at one of her favorite shops, Ruth McCulloch. The hat was about 1954. The fabric and color of Augusta's two-piece dress reminded me of a suit I had in 1965 that I had my engagement picture taken in. Unfortunately I wasn't like Augusta - I didn't save mine!  

Not to detract from the Roddis family fashion exhibit, but below is the engagement portrait of me wearing the cranberry textured wool suit that reminded me of Augusta's.  I'm quite sure I didn't pay what Augusta paid, and I can't even recall where I purchased mine.

Now back to the Roddis family...  1945 rayon and cotton Day Dress worn by Augusta.  It was designed by Samuel Kass, and purchased at Martha Weathered's Exclusive Misses Shop in Chicago.   A photo was shown of Augusta wearing the dress in the first class dining room of the R.M.S. Queen Mary.  1948 silk chiffon and lace Dinner Dress designed by David E. Gottlieb, Inc. New York, and worn by Mrs. Catherine Roddis. She was photographed wearing the dress on board the RMS Queen Elizabeth on a 1950 trip to Europe.

1941 Evening Dress of silk gauze, crepe and cotton cording worn by Mrs. Catherine Roddis during a month-long cruise to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  1959 Afternoon Dress made of silk tweed.  Designed by Christian Dior and purchased at Stuarts, Inc. in Boston, MA.  It was worn by Augusta.  She was photographed wearing it on a family Caribbean cruise.

1948 wool crepe Suit worn by Mrs. Catherine Roddis.  It was purchased at Marshall Field & Co. in Chicago.  1954 linen Day Dress worn by Augusta.

1941 Evening Dress made of rayon crepe and silk crepe de chine.  It was purchased for Augusta by her Aunt Frances to wear to balls.  1953 silk dress designed by Nettie Rosenstein, and purchased at Blum's in Chicago.  It was worn by Augusta.

1895 dress worn by Mrs. Sara Roddis [Augusta's grandmother].  In 1910 she had the leg-of-mutton sleeves changed into long fitting sleeves.  By altering the dress she kept up with the fashion and saved money. The dress was made of silk chiffon and white cotton lace. 1905 Walking Suit worn by Mrs. Sara Roddis.  It was made of cotton velveteen and silk braid, and purchased at Franklin Simon & Co. in New York.

1908 dress of silk gauze, chine silk taffeta and gold metallic lace worn by Mrs. Sara Roddis at the wedding reception she hosted for her son, Hamilton, and his wife, Catherine, at her home in Marshfield.  1932 Evening Dress of cotton lace, silk velvet and silk crepe satin worn by Mrs. Catherine Roddis at her 25th Wedding Anniversary.  The Great Depression was underway, so the dress wasn't new.  The family celebrated with a quiet dinner at home.

1974 Evening Dress made of polyester, purchased at Evelyn Barton Brown Boutique located in the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.  It was worn by Augusta.  1920 Mourning Dress of silk crepe and glass beads.  It was worn by Mrs. Sara Roddis when her husband passed.  

1938 Evening Coat of silk velvet with ermine trim worn by Mrs. Catherine Roddis. 1985 wool crepe dress designed by Louis Feraud in West Germany, worn by Augusta.

1923 silver lamé, silk lace, and glass beaded dress by Adair of Paris, worn by Mrs. Catherine Roddis. 1922 Day Dress made of Pongee silk, and linen lace worn by Frances Roddis [Augusta's aunt].

1940-45 silk and rayon dress with cotton bouclé cape.  Golf was Hamilton's favorite sport, and Catherine often joined him on the golf course.   Pictured below was one of Catherine's sporty dresses that she wore after she had finished the game.  1959 slubbed rayon Cocktail Dress with silk satin cummerbund worn by Augusta.  It could be dressed up or down depending on the occasion and was first popularized by Coco Chanel.

1948 cotton lace and silk chiffon Cocktail dress purchased at Frances Brewster in Vero Beach, Florida.  The Afternoon or Cocktail Hat was dated about 1953.  Both were worn by Augusta.  She loved the theater in NYC, and probably wore it there.

Two 1920 and 1922 cotton linen childhood dresses probably worn by Augusta and her sister Ellen, made by their mother, Mrs. Catherine Roddis.  1920 linen Boy's Suit worn by Wm. Henry Roddis II [Augusta's brother] also probably made by Mrs. Roddis.

There was a video to watch at the end of the exhibit and this question was asked:

[I'll answer that question at the end of this post.]

After the exhibit my girlfriend and I went to the Dearborn Inn for lunch.  We both ordered Reuben sandwiches and Sweet Potato fries.  Yum!

[Sandy and Me]

To answer the question asked at the exhibit, I've saved very little of my clothing from years past. My mother lovingly kept the dress I was christened in, and my daughter, Lori, and granddaughter, Tiffany, wore it too.  Despite it's age, it's still in good condition, but I'm not sure if Tiffany will keep the tradition going when little Evelyn arrives.

[Me, Lori, and Tiffany]

I still have my wedding gown.  It's yellowed with age and improper storage, but I can't bring myself to part with it.  For many years I saved the two-piece light green dress that I wore when I left on my honeymoon, but I finally parted with it. 

I've kept all three dresses that I wore to each of my children's weddings for sentimental reasons. The shoes, purses, gloves, and hair pieces are long gone, and the first two dresses from 1988 and 1992 no longer fit.  I can, however, still wear the dress from my youngest son's wedding in 2004, and have worn it to numerous tea events.  It didn't appear as though Mrs. Roddis or Augusta gained a pound throughout their entire adult lives! 

I also have my mother's wedding gown from 1939.  The photo below was taken on their 70th Wedding Anniversary.  

These are the only "old" garments I've kept.  I don't have a large attic like the Roddis family had, and since basements usually aren't a good place for clothes storage, whenever my garments went out of style, I got tired of them, or I "outgrew" them, they went to charity, consignment shops or garage sales.  I'm certain no one will want them after I'm gone.  In the case of the Roddis family, they had beautiful designer and high-end garments to provide a elegant glimpse of fashions from years-gone-by.  

So now I'm posing the same question to everyone reading this post that the Henry Ford Museum asked exhibit attendees. I seldom ask for feedback, so I hope you'll respond. Have you saved most of your clothes for posterity, or just certain significant garments? 

Styles have changed a lot in recent years and fashions are very casual now.  Most women don't want to get dressed up to wear dresses anymore.

Please share your comments and thoughts. I'll be looking forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

130 Years of Fashion at Henry Ford Museum

Yesterday was a beautiful spring day in Michigan.  I met my girlfriend at 10:00 a.m. at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn to view the exhibit 130 years of Fashion and Lives of an Entrepreneurial Family.  The family was the successful upper-middle-class Hamilton Roddis family.

Because I love history I couldn't wait to get home to read up on the Roddis family.

I discovered Catherine Prindle married Hamilton Roddis and they had six children.  They lived in a large beautiful home in Marshfield, Wisconsin where Hamilton was President of Roddis Veneer Company [a lumber company] founded by his father Wm. Roddis in 1897.

Below is the Roddis three-story Dutch Colonial revival style home built in 1914.

The last of the six children to live in the house until her death was Augusta.  She was born in the house in 1916, and passed away there in 2011 at age 94.  Many of the dresses on display were Augusta's - she was definitely a fashion diva.  Fortunately, she felt garments provided a lens to the past, and saved the beautiful garments in the exhibit.


Following Augusta's death, her niece, Jane Bradbury, who studied textiles in college, knew her aunt had carefully stored some dresses in the attic, and wanted to document what she thought was a small collection.  When she opened the attic door, she  found a treasure trove of historical garments that dated to the years before the Civil War.  No one - not even family heirs knew the garments existed.  There were over 300 pieces of clothing from every decade starting from 1900 and a few exquisite dresses from 1856 and 1880.

They were in pristine condition, with accessories such as hat, shoes, and gloves, along with receipts from where they were purchased, and events where they were worn.

[The attic]

Jane collaborated with Edward Maeder, a renowned dress historian, and after five years of meticulous research and detailed photos they wrote the book, American Style & Spirit: The Fashions and Lives of the Roddis Family.  It was published by V & A [Victoria and Albert Museum], London in 2016.  There are also adorable paper dolls by Paper Studio Press called Augusta Dresses Up.

Jane donated the majority of the collection to The Henry Ford Museum.   They divided a 60-piece collection into 10 categories filled with vintage attire ranging from everyday to elegant evening dresses.  Follow along on the exhibit with do have your cup of tea, right? ;-)

The oldest dress in the collection was a silk gauze rose pattern print that Jane Prindle Colton [Mrs. Catherine Prindle Roddis' aunt] may have worn to her marriage in 1856.  The rust colored chiffon, silk crepe de chine dress belonged to Hamilton Roddis' sister, Frances.  It is dated 1917.  Frances and Catherine attended college together and she introduced her to Hamiltom [her brother].  It was love at first sight!

Augusta wore the black and white stripped evening gown designed by Gladys Parker in 1934. It was a favorite of hers during her college years at Northwestern University.  The dress on the right belonged to Augusta's sister, Catherine [named after their mother]. The description said: Afternoon Dress from about 1929. "Pickie" as she was nicknamed, could have worn this semi-formal dress to a garden party or Afternoon Tea.

Catherine Prindle's cotton net organza wedding gown to Hamilton Roddis in 1908, and Augusta's sister, Mary's wedding gown in 1929.

Ellen, the youngest of the Roddis children, eloped during World War II and wore the green suit.

Mrs. Catherine Roddis was a talented seamstress and during the depression years made two outfits for her daughter Augusta - the 1938 blue rayon crepe Evening Gown, and the 1934 rayon Day Dress with shirred beaver trim and metal belt.

The 1952 Hollywood inspired, wool gabardine suit was worn by Mrs. Catherine Roddis.  The Day Dress from 1914 was worn by Mrs. Sara Denton Roddis, Hamilton's mother.  It was purchased at Marshall Field & Co.  Many of the family clothes were bought at Marshall Field & Co. or Carson Pirie Scott.

The 1943 hat was worn by Mrs. Catherine Roddis and came from Marshall Field & Co.  It was made of fur felt, silk velvet, and feathers.  The 1950 wool gabardine dress with jacket was also worn by Mrs. Catherine Roddis, and was purchased at Saks Fifth Avenue.

The bronze leather shoes, worn by Mrs. Catherine Roddis, are from 1905-1910 and were from Carson Pirie Scott & Co. in Chicago, Illinois.  One sign said "Dressing up, complete with hat and gloves, as well as lunch in the store's tea room."   "The Perfect Outfit" - Augusta wrote her sister, Ellen, "I shot my wad on one outfit, but I still think it was worth it...I finally got the suit dress that I liked so well in the advertisement in Vogue.  The wool suit with silk braided trim was designed by Gunther Jaeckel.  It was purchased at Russeks on Fifth Ave. in NYC. The silk velvet hat was from Blum's in Chicago.  [Augusta worked for a time in New York City.]

The 1932 evening dress Augusta wore as Prom Queen of the Junior Prom.  The rayon crepe gown cost$19.95 [about $320 today], no small sum during the Depression.   Augusta had the chance to be photographed by Kay Carrington -  Broadway actress with ties to Hollywood. She chose a favorite 1932 evening gown for the portrait - a silk taffeta with a plunging back and large butterfly-shaped bow.  It was a "hand-me-down" from her older sister "Pickie".  

1972 green linen dress with crepe scarf, worn by Augusta, was made by Daniel Brooks and purchased at Frances Heffernan, in Winnetka, Illinois.  The 1953 rayon taffeta, braid and embroidered dress was worn by Mrs. Catherine Roddis and purchased at Roy H. Bjorkman in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  For having six children, look at the tiny waistline!

1955-1958 silk/satin Evening Gown worn by Augusta purchased at Blum's North in Chicago, Illinois. 1958 silk Afternoon or Cocktail Dress with jacket from Ruth McCulloch's in Hubbard Woods, Illinois.

1964 wool boucle suit worn by Augusta.  It was made by Davidow and purchased at Ruth McCulloch's. 1952 linen and embroidery Day Dress worn by Augusta purchased at Ruth McCulloch's. 

I'll stop today's post at this point, and conclude fashions from the exhibit tomorrow.  There were a few men's suits in the exhibit, and while I did photograph them, I won't be including them in my posts.  I thought it was interesting that the exhibit didn't include any ladies' handbags.  As fashion conscious as Augusta and her mother were, I'm sure they had a purse to go with all their outfits.  Coats weren't a part of the exhibit either except for two evening coats which will be in tomorrow's post.