A History of the MARC Fashion Committee

Compiled by Julie Kluttz

Edited by Marilyn Krenger


Prior to 1991, MARC did not have a formal committee to oversee its fashion activities.  Mickie Parr had arranged for seminars, conducted the MARC fashion shows and written articles for the MARC Model “A” News.  When she gave up that position, it left a void for persons interested in the fashion aspects of MARC.

Nick Markes decided MARC needed a formal committee to research era fashion.  He and his wife, Mary, sent letters out in early 1991, asking for anyone interested in being on a Fashion Committee to submit a letter to the MARC office.  Mary has been on the committee since its inception in April 1991.  She has served as Secretary from the beginning through today.


The first official meeting of the MARC Fashion Standards Committee met in Dearborn, Michigan on April 20, 1991.  Members who had been selected from written applications were Karen Keeley, who was elected as Chairperson and Mary Markes, who volunteered to act as Secretary.  The other five members were Mary Pat Riker, Betty Klafta, Julie Kluttz, Ethel Sellers and Vince Scalabrino.

At that meeting, it was decided that the purpose of the Committee was to take charge of fashion judging, checking on needs for the annual membership and national meets and researching and compiling the Fashion Judging Standards.

The Committee was off and running!  Bear in mind there were no laptop computers and home computers were rare.  There were black and white copy machines in libraries and businesses, but no scanners.

The goal of the Committee was to revise the prior Fashion Guidelines to send to membership and national host committees for the MARC meets.   This information would let them know exactly what was expected of them during judging, seminars and fashion shows.  The Fashion Committee would be writing and illustrating articles for the MARC Model “A” News.  They would also be responsible for writing introductions to each area of the Fashion Standards.   It was also up to them to create each area by using illustrations from primary sources with written descriptions to go with each illustration.

Karen Keeley was knowledgeable in the area and knew what was required giving instruction about the illustration process.  Each shoe, dress, hat, piece of jewelry, glove and every other illustration had to be cut out, placed on the page with tape, leaving room for a description underneath.  The illustration had to have the description source typed under each picture.  But that was just the beginning – think of the time it took to copy an illustration, reduce or enlarge it to fit the page, cut it out and reference it for the Fashion Standards!

As most members of the Committee were active collectible and antique hunters, they started turning up fashion magazines and era clothing in antique malls, stores and flea markets.   Era Sears Roebuck, Montgomery Wards and other mail order catalogs were advertised for sale in “Antique Week.”  Nick Markes purchased these catalogs and started the MARC Fashion Library at MARC headquarters.  Another member found a tailor’s book with fabric swatches and drawings of proper men’s attire and that was purchased for the library.  In the ensuing years, the Committee bought era dress patterns from several sources.  They realized early on that reproduction garments would provide a way to enjoy era clothing without putting extra wear on fragile era garments.

It became evident that era clothing could be found in antique and collectible malls and stores.  The Committee spent many hours at their meetings looking at hats, dresses, patterns, purses, jewelry, etc., to decide what was era and what was not.  As their knowledge from research increased, they became a more valuable source for the members.  All of the sewing patterns put into the library were marked era, so if a pattern was copied and sold, the purchaser could be assured the style was era.

As they began adding to their knowledge, it was decided that the Committee would try to do an article for every issue of the MARC Model “A” News.

Another avenue to pass on the acquired knowledge was through seminars.  In the past, the host committee for the membership and national meets would find someone to do a fashion seminar.  However, as the Committee became more knowledgeable, they felt that these seminars might be confusing, as what was presented sometimes conflicted with the new research.  After several years it was decided to have the Fashion Committee sponsor all seminars.  The seminars became a great source of information and let MARC members know what the Committee was learning.  Seminars became more sophisticated as the Committee learned more and they were enthusiastically attended.  Eventually a swap and sale was added at the end of each seminar.  Attendees were encouraged to bring items to the Committee for an “Era or Not” time after the seminars.  They were also encouraged to participate in the Fashion Show even if they did not have a complete outfit for judging.

In 1994, at the MARC-MAFCA World Meet, Karen Keeley, Mary Markes, Chris de Socarras, Julie Kluttz and Callie Bartlett were judges with Karen acting as Chief Judge.  Two judges were at each station and their scores were averaged.  This was a first for the relatively new judges.

The Committee was meeting three times a year – at the membership meet in the spring, at the national meet in June or July and a two-day meeting at MARC Headquarters in November.  This schedule is still maintained today.

In 1995, a decision was made to bring out the new Standards in sections and final editing was in the process for sections near completion.  In 1997, the standards for the Meet Guidelines were completed.  The Women’s Hosiery Standards compiled and research by Julie Kluttz was finished.  Marian Heirholzer had completed the Women’s Shoes and Accessories Standards.

Patterns had been purchased from several sources and Cindy Sierk was investigating having them copied for sale.  At the 1998 National Meet in Jacksonville, seven dress patterns were ready for sale.

In 1998, Chris de Socarras was selected as the new Chairperson after the sudden loss of Karen Keeley.  The Committee was saddened by this loss of a leader who had guided them from the beginning, encouraging and instructing at each step of the way.

At the 2002 Membership Meet at Frankenmuth, Michigan, Esther Meyer started a History Notebook and was researching the Men’s Section.  Mary Markes made an inventory of reference materials in the MARC library.

At the National Meet that year the Reproduction Standards were ready for sale.  Callie Bartlett had one of each pattern that was copied and ready for sale.

In 2001, Cindy Sierk was elected the new Chairperson and remained Chair until 2006.  At this time she was also working on the Major Garment Section for the Standards.

At the 2003, National Meet in Dearborn, Michigan, the seminar was on Reproduction Sewing Techniques.  Julie Kluttz made a display board of original type fabrics.  130 people attended this seminar.  Technology was making the fashion seminars more interesting and informative.

During the 2007 National Meet in Williamsburg, Callie Bartlett resigned as Chairperson and Marilyn Krenger was nominated to assume the duties, pursuant to acceptance of the Board of Directors.

Technology was making an impact on the presentations of the Fashion Committee.  Seminar handouts were improving with the use of actual photos and color images, which could be sent online.  Seminars could include Power-Point presentations.  Most members had scanners by this time, making sending information and pictures back and forth much easier. This also made the photos and illustrations for the Standards sharper.  Cindy revised earlier Standards, using higher quality illustrations.  She was scanning directly from the primary sources obtained from the MARC library and from individuals’ magazine collections.  A fashion article, edited by Ione Norton for accuracy and source identification, was in every edition of the MARC Model “A” News.

Esther and Jack Meyer worked on the Men’s Standards.  Jack devised new judging sheets and was a major contributor to the Fashion By-laws.  The Committee had also come a long way to formalize judging qualifications.  There were set steps to take from Apprentice Judge to Master Judge.  There were lists kept of all judges and the Committee followed their advancement.

According to the By-laws every member on the Committee held a specific position.  Officers for 2008 were Chairperson-Marilyn Krenger, Vice Chairperson-Gail Crane, Chief Judge-Julie Kluttz, Finance and Reproduction-Esther Meyer, Research and Publishing-Cindy Sierk, Secretary-Mary Markes, Seminar Coordinator-Linda Morford and Callie Bartlett, MARC Website and MARC Model “A” News-Esther Ione Norton and Historian-Gail Crane.  Julie Kluttz presented a list of Chief Judge duties and suggested that they become a part of the Committee By-laws.  All these changes allowed the Committee to work more effectively.

At the 2009 National Meet in Merrillville, it was decided to publish a book of fashion articles from the MARC Model “A” News from the past 10 years.  This book would be titled, Passion for Fashion.

As 2010 brought position changes to the Committee, the focus was on publishing the complete set of Fashion Standards.  Everyone worked extremely hard to accomplish this endeavor.  It was a push to achieve years of work in one.

San Diego, California, June 2011 was a RED LETTER DAY!  At long last the complete MARC Fashion Standards and Passion for Fashion were published and on sale! Twenty years of learning, doing, undoing, redoing, tossing out and putting in and finally the Committee has written their book!

A Look Back and A Look to the Future

Honors are due to the 22 members of the MARC Fashion Committee who made the last 20 years of growth possible.  They worked through personal illness, family illness, births of grandchildren, church and community activities and all the worldly demands on one’s time.  They held to the vision of Nick Markes and Karen Keeley.  Some deadlines were missed.  Many things were scrapped or redone.  The learned from mistakes and as their knowledge grew, there were fewer mistakes and more progress.  This was always a GROUP effort.  The Committee worked together cohesively and learned from each other.  As members moved off and on the Committee, they were quickly brought into the loop and took up their assigned duties.

Spouses and significant others must be given praise and thanks.  For years, they have assisted with photography, judging tabulations, ushering, driving and being “toters” of luggage and armloads of vintage clothing.  They have given money for unbudgeted expenses and they have waited patiently for us to finish our business.  They have made friends among themselves, planning activities to keep them busy while the girls made decision after decision—and they never laughed at us in our era hats!  Take that back!  They seldom laughed at us.  Our cloche’ hats are off to them!

Having come from copying, cutting pasting and composing on a typewriter, we have learned not only about our fashions, but have come to understand and use all the technology developed.  The Committee has come to understand and use all the technology developed in the last 20 years, PCs, copiers, scanners, the Internet, CDs, websites and publishing.

And to the ladies of the Committee, hats off for the countless hours, months and years of work that was done without reward except for the friendships, camaraderie, fun and the pride in a job well done.  We are our own support group.

Into the future, we will continue to revise and add to the Standards, as further research is done.  We will try to make our seminars and articles more interesting and helpful to draw more and more Model A families into the fashion art of our great hobby.

We are still a work in progress, growing and learning and most of all, as Karen Keeley told us, “We are HAVING FUN!