No tags :(

Share it

1970s sketch ad


The English author James Laver wrote things I’ve never heard of: the novel-turned- musical Nymph Errant (1933) and poems like A Stitch In Time and Love’s Progress. When he wasn’t writing fiction, Laver was a curator at the Victoria & Albert Museum who supplemented his income by writing magazine articles among other things.

It was his work as a fashion historian that brought him to my attention. Evidently, his background as an art curator made him a fanatic about accurately dating fashion images. And that’s how, in 1937, he came to co-host a TV program called Clothes Line, the first ever to cover fashion history. That same year, he published this composite of the entire fashion cycle:

Laver’s Law
Indecent – 10 years before its time
Shameless – 5 years before its time
Daring – 1 year before its time
Smart – current fashion
Dowdy – 1 year after its time
Hideous – 10 years after its time
Ridiculous – 20 years after its time
Amusing – 30 years after its time
Quaint – 50 years after its time
Charming – 70 years after its time
Romantic – 100 years after its time
Beautiful – 150 years after its time

Where would vintage fashion fit in Laver’s Law?

Has there ever been a time such as now, where we can style ourselves in vintage clothes and still hit Laver’s sweet spot––Smart? Here’s the conundrum: history has to become old before we can long to revisit it! Could we be the first generation to dig out our grandmother’s dresses and make them seem chic again?

In Laver’s Amusing category, check out this sketch for an L. Strauss ad, which appeared in the Indianapolis Star in 1974. Fashionistas, in those days, clothing ads were nothing like today’s four-color sale bills. Newspaper printing presses were still sort of primitive by today’s standards and many stores relied on sketches like this to show their wares.

When I found this ad in a Lafayette, Indiana antique shop, I time-traveled back to my freshman year of college. In my printing technology class, I learned to set type using letterpress type and Linotype machines—the predecessors to offset lithography printing and computerized typesetting. Yes, I’m that old!

Two fabulous fashion illustrators

Vintage clothes and vinyl records have made a strong comeback. But unless you count the occasional J. Peterman catalog, fashion illustrations haven’t been used to sell clothes since the late 1970s.

If you want to see some really great fashion illustrations, check out the work of: 1) my friend Jan Graham-McMillen at Fort Smith Stylista and 2) my wannabe friend Anne Bray at SpyGirl. Both are extremely talented artists and writers!

Where have all the fashion illustrators gone? And what are they doing now? Who is your favorite fashion illustrator/blogger?

Life is short. Wear the good stuff.