HAVING FUN WITH ERA FASHIONS By Julie Klutz
Fashions and fashion-related activities have always been a part of the fun at MARC Meets. The fashions featured at these meets are from the years 1928 – 1931, the four years the Model A Ford was in production.
Membership meets usually feature a fashion seminar and Fashion swap sessions. At the national meets, in addition to seminars and sales, there is Fashion Judging and a Fashion Show.
Fashion judging is divided into several categories, such as Adult daytime, Adult evening or Formal, Junior (age 12 – 18), Children and Specialty. The Specialty category includes various sporting attire, uniforms, sleep and lounge wear, wedding clothes and so forth.
For judging, a person tries to acquire a complete ensemble of original clothing that is appropriate to the category. That includes the main garment which determines the category; coordinated apparel (neck-tie, coat, underclothing, furs, etc) to complete the main garment; accessories such as handbags, jewelry, etc; hair-do or headgear (hats or hair ornaments); shoes and stockings, including garters. Sometimes it takes years to acquire a complete ensemble that goes together. And it takes much research to date the fashions and find the right accessories.
The clothes are judged for year, fit, condition, and appropriateness. A 150 point score sheet is used. If the main garment is not era (the years 1928-1931), the judges explain to the participant and they are not judged. If there is a question of era or non-era, the participant is encouraged to show documentation in the form of a magazine, photo or pattern from the era. Sometimes documentation is the fact that the outfit was worn by a family member for a particular function that could be dated, such as a wedding, graduation, trip.etc.
Since clothing 85 years old is becoming harder and harder to find in wearable condition, MARC has another judging class which is Reproduction. In the reproduction category, the main garment should be made from an original pattern or from a pattern cut from an original garment. The garment should be made of materials available in the years 1928-1931. About the only synthetic material available in those years was rayon. The garment should be constructed in the same manner as original clothing, i.e., no zippers, no facings in ladies’ dresses (most edges were bound in bias) and no zigzag stitching. Studying original clothing for construction techniques is very helpful.
After a main garment is selected, underclothing will need to be bought or sewn to achieve the look of the times. Cotton slips, garter belts and tap pants can still be purchased or fine undergarments can be made of silk. Original and reproduction patterns are available.
Hats can be made, copying originals and occasionally new hats can be found that offer the right silhouette and can be decorated to achieve the desired look of the late 20’s and early 30’s.
If one is getting into the reproduction class, never pass up a shoe catalog or large shoe warehouse where one can see many types of shoes. Many high fashion shoes mimic fashions of years gone by, so it is possible to find shoes with the right look. The heel, toe, etc. will not be exactly like originals, but in the reproduction class, you look for the nearest thing with the most similarities.
Hats, handbags, and shoes made in the later 30’s may still look like era and be acceptable in the reproduction class. Nylon stockings instead of silk are acceptable in reproduction if they have seams and similar heel treatments. The reproduction class requires just as much or more research and ingenuity to put an ensemble together as when one is doing an original costume. Both take study and research to do well.
If you are just starting in the vintage clothing fun, don’t be discouraged by the preceding – that is what fashion shows and seminars are for. If you want to learn, then attend seminars and swap sessions and talk to fashion judges and participants. We are all eager to share our knowledge and tell you how much fun it is. You can appear in fashion shows without a complete, perfect outfit – just wear what you have found. Someone who sees you may have the shoes or hat you have been searching for.
MARC Fashion Committee has a complete set of Fashion Standards and is constantly doing research and sharing knowledge through workshops, magazine articles and one-on-one help.
You can never tell how much fun you can have with your car and the appropriate fashions. It can add a whole new aspect to the great hobby we all enjoy.