Tag Archive | 1940s

A Birthday Tribute to Film Noir Legend, Jane Greer


Jane Greer

Jane Greer was born Bettejane Greer on Sept. 9 1924 in Washington DC and she came into this world destined for success.

Groomed from childhood to feel at home in the spotlight, she took  part in childhood beauty contests and talent shows. At 15 she was afflicted with Bell’s Palsy, which paralyzed one side of her face. But Jane worked tirelessly on facial exercises and was able to overcome her disability.  She was a very determined young lady! Left  high school in her senior year to sing in club bands,  continued to model and dreamed of a career in acting. At age 18  she was chosen to model the army’s new WAC uniform which was featured in Life Magazine. There she caught the eye of Howard Hughes. Hughes was captivated and had little trouble convincing the aspiring actress to come to Los Angeles. There her screen career began. Hughes was an unbalanced man, emboldened by wealth and driven by jealous obsession. When Greer made it clear to him that she intended to have a life of her own he retaliated both emotionally and professionally. Their struggle was bitter and it hindered her career but she was eventually able to sever the ties.

Despite the road blocks that Hughes threw her way, Jane Greer managed to become an accomplished actress. The 1940s brought us some of Hollywood’s most powerful female screen characters and none is more riveting than the part she played as Kathie Moffat in Out of the Past (1947).  In this acclaimed film noir, Greer masterfully reveals the cold dark heart of her character while the audience remains mesmerized by her beguiling beauty and poised demeanor. Greer was a dedicated professional who understood the nuances of facial expression. RKO promoted her as “the woman with the Mona Lisa smile.”

Jane Greer as Kathie Moffat Out of the Past (1947)

Jane Greer as Kathie Moffat- Out of the Past (1947)

Her Kathie was never over the top… a whisper of a smile as she worked her charms, soft beseeching eyes while she boldly lied and, most frightening of all, that cold glint of excitement just before she pulls the trigger. Pure genius! The camera loved her polished glamour. She had a drop dead figure that made everything she wore seem fit for a fashion magazine.  Edward Stevenson, Hollywood costume designer for films such as Citizen Cane, It’s a Wonderful Life and a favorite designer of Lucille Ball,  created Greer’s wardrobe for  Out of the Past and The Big Steal.

Her opening scene outfit for Out of the Past was elegant innocence… The cut of the dress skimmed the actresses form, modestly highlighting every curve.  It had a sweetheart decollete and youthful capped sleeves. She wore a matching portrait hat set back on the head. No hint of the lethal character to come. In The Big Steal (1949), Greer plays Joan Graham, a gutsy gal in pursuit of a thieving boyfriend. On the theater poster she wields a pistol, dressed in a bombshell halter gown which Stevenson designed to show off her pin up curves. Certainly not a dame to be messed with!

Jane Greer publcity photo-Out of the Past

Jane Greer publcity photo-Out of the Past

Jane Greer-The Big Steal (1949)

Jane Greer-The Big Steal (1949)

Greer is best known for her 1940s film characters. However her acting career, although not prolific, continued into the 90s. Outside of her profession she lead a full life. In 1942 she married Rudy Vallee but they divorced just one year later. In 1947 she married Edward Lasker. With him she had three sons. She found great joy in raising her children and later became dedicated to charity work. Time was kind to Ms. Greer, she remained a beauty all her days and will forever hold a place of honor in film noir.

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Birthday Tribute to Betty Grable-The Girl with the Million Dollar Legs

The Girl With the Million Dollar Legs - Betty Grable

Betty Grable 12/18/16 – 07/02/73


“There are two reasons why I am successful in show business and I am standing on both of them.” Betty Grable

Elizabeth Ruth “Betty” Grable, born December 18, 1916 in St. Louis, Missouri, started off in showbiz at the urging of her stern ‘stage mom’ who was determined to have a daughter in the limelight. Her early work as a chorus girl no doubt helped to develop her trademark shapely legs. She worked her way up to being one of the top stars of her time and also one of the most famous pin-up girls in history.  Betty emerged as America’s sweetheart with a lead role in Down Argentine Way(1940) with Carmen Miranda. And she went on to appear in many other films,  including  Moon over Miami, Mother Wore Tights , Springtime in the Rockies, Four Jills and a Jeep, I Wake Up Screaming and How to Marry a Millionaire.

 Betty Grable’s iconic WWII pin-up photo

Most Famous Pin-up Photo - Betty Grable

Betty Grable’s iconic WWII pin-up photo.

And her iconic pin-up photo shot by Frank Polowny in 1943 became a favorite of WWII soldiers. LIFE magazine named this shot as one of the top 100 photographs that changed the world.  Not only was it a major morale booster for numerous servicemen in  WWII,  it was also the inspiration for Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Magazine!  Her all-American girl next door good looks and sweet disposition helped Betty to become the highest paid celebrity from 1943 to 1951. (TIME Magazine)

Betty Grable, the famous legs and some fabulous 1940s shoes! Source Fanpix

Betty Grable-Legs-Shoes

Betty Grable and a lovely collection of 1940s shoes!

Betty in an amazing pink gown worn in Springtime in the Rockies (1942)
Source Johanna Ost blog

Betty Grable-Springtime in the Rockies

Betty Grable-Springtime in the Rockies


Betty Grable in a publicity shot for ‘How to Marry a Millionaire’. 1953

Betty Grable publicity shot 1953

Betty Grable in a publicity shot for ‘How to Marry a Millionaire’. 1953

Some lucky fellow applying cold cream to Betty Grable’s famous gams in LIFE Magazine. June 1943


Ms. Grable’s legs were insured for a million dollars by her studio.

Betty Grable famous legs LIFE Magazine

Gentleman  applying cold cream to Betty Grable’s famous legs  in LIFE Magazine. June 1943

 Her classic, girl next door, pin-up style still inspires vintage loving gals the world over till this day. Red lips, her fabulous hairstyles with their victory rolls and swirling updos, sassy poses and legs for miles! Today, on her birthday,  we remember the original pin-up queen – Betty Grable.

Do you have a favorite Betty Grable movie?


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1948 Coty Holiday Gift Ad Featuring Glamorous Traina Norell Evening Gown


Coty, famous worldwide cosmetics manufacturer, was founded in Paris in 1904 and is still in operation today. During the 1940s they established the Coty American Fashion Critics Award to help  promote and encourage American fashion designers. One of the first designers to receive this prestigious award was Norman Norell, the designing half of the Traina Norell clothing label.

I discovered this festive holiday Coty Cosmetics ad from 1948, featuring a most glamorous and elegant red evening gown design by the talented Mr Norell. The ad, titled So Very Christmas,  showcases Coty gift sets, which include perfume and makeup ensembles in the classic fragrances  of Paris, Emeraude, L’Origan and L’Aimant.   I love the vintage packaging, especially the little carillon bells housing three different bottles of perfume. Adorable!  And the gown, well heck, who wouldn’t love to have something like that to wear for a grand holiday party?


coty ad traina norell dress dec 1948

1948 Coty Christmas Ad featuring glamorous Traina Norell red evening gown

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1940’s Shoe Styles- Peep Toes, Ankle Straps and Platforms, Oh My!


One of my favorite eras for shoes is the 1940s.  And out of all the shoe styles in the 40’s I really love  peep toe platform heels, a style that is,  fortunately,  still popular  till this day.  Though that sexy  peep toe,  slingback platform sandal that one thinks of as an  iconic 40’s look   really started in the  1930s.  Back in the late 30s because stockings had reinforced toes and heels, many thought this shoe style would never last because it looked unsightly with the stockings. And going barelegged back then, except at the beach, was considered improper.  But women loved this new look, so eventually stocking manufacturers designed sheer hose to work with this new more open style of shoe.  As far as platforms, they really gained in popularity in the mid 40s when Carmen Miranda made them famous as part of her flamboyant signature look.

Here’s an ad for fabulous platform shoes with cutout detail and what is described as “ankle fascination”!  Came in gray, blue, brown, black and white suede for 26.95 a pair. I would have wanted every color!

Moonlight Mood 1947 platform shoes

Moonlight Mood 1947 platform shoes

And how about a pair of red cobra skin heels with a matching bag?  1947 Ad for WalkOver shoes from the George Keith co , a maker of high quality shoes in Brockton Mass.

Red cobra platform shoes 1947

Red cobra platform shoes 1947

1947 Ad for Lattice shoes “cut out to be smart”!  Pannettes by the Avon Shoe co., New York City

1947 pannettes platform sandals

Lattice high heel platform sandals-1947 ad

And you could order these beauties by mail in red, green, brown and black.  Oooo, I would so love to have  a green pair.  1948 “High Spirits” shoes. Love the name!

Cute little matching bag too.

1948 ad High Spirits by Mary Jane Shoes in faux alligator

1948 ad High Spirits by Mary Jane Shoes in faux alligator

Genuine 1940s peep toe  platform shoes are getting harder to come by. But I was lucky to acquire a couple of lovely pairs that were just listed on the site.

Click on images for more information.

1940s red leather peep toe platform sandals

1940s red leather peep toe platform sandals

1940s black satin dressy  peep toe platform heels

1940s black satin dressy peep toe platform heels



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Peplum Trend-Now and Then


The definition of a peplum from the Oxford dictionary-“a short gathered or pleated strip of fabric attached at the waist of a woman’s jacket, dress, or blouse to create a hanging frill or flounce” .   The description really doesn’t do it justice though because there are  a myriad of  configurations of this flirty style element.  And they all  take a garment to a whole new level of  femininity.   As evidenced by the spring and fall 2012 collections, many designers are resurrecting the peplum, which was very much in vogue back in the 1940s.   Of course I think this is actually one of those classic looks  that never really goes out of style.  It really flatters many figures by emphasizing the hourglass silhouette.

NOW -Here are some current looks from the runways.

Top left to right- Jason Wu, next two Alexander McQueen spring 2012
Bottom left to right- Zac Posen, next two Lanvin fall 2012

peplum 2012 designer collections

Peplum Trend in the 2012 designer collections

 THEN- And here are  what peplum fashions looked like  back in the 1940s

peplum dress  lucien lelong 47 vogue

Vogue 1947 Peplum dress by Lucien Lelong

Mollie Parnis peplum dress Vogue 1947

Mollie Parnis peplum dress Vogue 1947

peplum jacket Paris Collections 1946

1943 Peplum Jacket- Fashion illustration of Schiaparelli and Madeleine Vramant designs.

paris couture collections la femme chic 1942

1942 Fashion illustration of peplum dresses from the Paris couture collections

And here are a couple of  cute peplum blouses we recently added to the website.   Pair with a pencil skirt for a fabulous femme fatale 40s look!

Black polka dot peplum top

Black polka dot peplum top with sash

Blue chiffon wrap style peplum top

Blue chiffon wrap style peplum top

What do you think? Is the peplum look for you?


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Home Fashions-May 1945 Ladies Home Journal


Here’s a peek into what was happening on the home fashions front in May of 1945.

This ad is for Crane Co, manufacturers of  plumbing fixtures and steel cabinets. Many ads like this mention the new products and technologies to look forward to once the second World War was over.  Then companies could switch back to manufacturing for the general public, instead of for the military.

“And of course you’ll want a modern sink and storage cabinets selected from the Crane Line of tomorrow. This line-which promises the last word in styling and step saving efficiency-will be available as soon as regulations permit it’s manufacture.”

cinderella kitchen ladies home journal may 1945

Cinderella kitchen- Ladies Home Journal May 1945

This ad is for Meyercord Wall Borders, which were a very popular way to spruce up a room back in the 40s.  I just love the graphics, especially the bubble dancers, blue morning glories, and the berry festival.   I never see modern wallpaper borders that are this adorable. The Meyercord company made some fabulous decals as well. Sometimes you can still find unused ones online.  Original borders are harder to come by, but they are out there, like this gorgeous chartreuse drape pattern border for sale on etsy.

meyercord wallpaper border ad May 1945

Meyercord wallpaper border ad May 1945

Actress Merle Oberon says “To keep fresh and alluring, I prize my Serta, perfect sleeper” If only it was that easy! Love the gown and the shoes though. This mattress and box spring cost 39.50!   Ad also says “Make victory complete, buy more war bonds.”

Serta Perfect Sleeper Merle Oberon Ad 1945

Serta Perfect Sleeper- Merle Oberon Ad 1945

World War 11 was coming to an end and there would be government approved housing available for our returning servicemen and women via the GI Bill, and in the case of the house showcased in this issue, the California Veterans Welfare Board.  The article , titled “Home for the Veteran” features a design by architect, Mario Corbett, famous for his Northern California Modern style homes.

It’s interesting how he designed the house so that each bedroom opened up to its own individual garden.  I think I would enjoy a little private space for myself like that!

Mario Corbett House Plan-May 1945

Architect Mario Corbett House Plan-May 1945

From the article “here is a typical post war living room fully constructed, furnished and photographed for your immediate inspection. You can see that it is altogether different from the family rooms you are used to seeing”

“If you have been living in tight little rooms, those floor to ceiling windows will be the first things to catch your eye.  They are the kind of luxurious feature we have been seeing only in very expensive modern houses up to now.  After the war, even small houses can have them”

Living Room Mario Corbett Design May 1945

Living Room Mario Corbett Design May 1945

A view of the dining area.  The article states that the newest trend is to paint your ceiling to match your walls.  The color scheme used is turquoise, chartreuse and coral.   Think that’s a great combination, very tropical and cheerful and makes me feel like redecorating!

Dining area-Mario Corbett Design 1945

Dining area-Mario Corbett Design 1945

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The Nostalgic Appeal of Vintage Gift Sets


During the holiday season you’re bound to see mountains of  gift sets displayed at every department store.   Delicious combinations of fragrances, bath products and beauty creams make for the perfect present of pampering.   Though the  packaging tends to be colorful, feminine and glitzy,  most of them don’t entice me to buy.  But that’s because I much prefer the look of packaging from the past!  I just can’t resist any beauty product that’s boxed up to look like something out of an old apothecary or even a Woolworth’s store in the 1950s.

Check out these vintage holiday gift set ads to see what I mean. They’re adorable!

cheramy gift sets ad

1947 Vintage advertisement-Cheramy Perfumer Gift Sets

Coty Holiday Gift Ad

Coty Holiday Gift Ad-1947

shulton holiday gift ad

1950 Vintage Ad-Shulton Holiday Gift Sets

coty gift set ad

2 page 1950 Vintage Ad-Coty Holiday Gift Sets

See what I mean?  But good luck trying to find any of these original sets,especially  intact and in great condition! So I did a little research to see if I could find any modern gift sets that evoke that same warm and fuzzy nostalgic feeling. And here’s what I came up with.   Beautifully packaged in all their vintage girly girl glory!

vintage inspired gift sets

Vintage inspired gift sets

1. Penhalgion Bath and Body  gift sets at Lucky Scents-$60.00

2. Perfect Lil Pinup Pamper Yourself gift set from HH Essentials-$69.00

3. MOR  Cosmetics Pretty in Pink Gift Set at Ron Robinson-$44.00

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Ladies Home Journal-June 1945 Summer Fashions


It’s the merry month of  June and I just happen to have a June 1945 issue of Ladies Home Journal in my possession. So I thought I’d do a few posts featuring some of the content in the magazine so you can see what the trends were  in  fashion, beauty, food and home decor  65 years ago, at a time when World War II was almost, but not quite over.

In 1945 clothing still reflected the rationing of fabrics due to the war effort.    So many styles tended to be on the more conservative side.   But luckily there was no shortage of fabulous accessories to keep women from glamming up their outfits.  There were eyecatching hats, elbow length gloves,  costume jewelry, unique handbags and even hairstyles that incorporated elaborate curls and rolls to spice up your look.

Here is a lovely, understated outfit consisting of a black crepe skirt with a black eyelet peplum blouse. Note the black mesh hat with the spray of daisies trailing down the side designed  by famous milliner,  Lilly Dache.

Model wearing Lilly Dache hat-June 1945

Model wearing Lilly Dache hat-June 1945

The American sportswear industry really took off  in the 1940s due to the fact that designers could no longer depend on Paris for their design inspiration coupled with the fabric rationing and the increasingly casual lifestyle of American women.  All the photos below feature chic, easy care casual  outfits for the summer of ’45.

These first two photos are of Mrs. Howard Hawks, wife of the famous Hollywood  producer. She’s wearing a  lovely halter dress and a stylish shirtwaist dress. Both in rayon jersey.  Mrs. Hawks ended up being named one of the 10 best dressed women of the year in 1947.  She is also responsible for launching Lauren Bacall’s movie career. Upon seeing her picture on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar, she showed her husband who immediately flew Ms. Bacall to Hollywood and cast her opposite Humphrey Bogart in “To Have and Have Not.”   It’s obvious Mrs. Hawks had impeccable taste.

Mrs Howard Hawks wearing a halter dress-1945

Mrs Howard Hawks wearing a halter dress-1945

Mrs Howard Hawks in a striped shirtwaist dress-1945

Mrs Howard Hawks in a striped shirtwaist dress-1945

And for poolside and seaside women often wore playsuits with boy cut shorts or with skirts like the outfit below.  Isn’t this two piece black and white gingham bra top and swim skirt adorable?

Gingham two piece swimsuit-1945

Gingham two piece swimsuit-1945

Novelty prints on cotton and rayon were another way to add interest to sportswear. And with many servicemen coming back from the South Pacific with stories and souveniers,  anything with a tropical or Hawaiian motif became very popular.  Here is actress Ella Raines modelling a halter bra and sarong made from Hollywood pattern #1581.  I would wear this in a heartbeat!

Ella Raines wears tropical print halter top and sarong-1945

Ella Raines wears tropical print halter top and sarong-1945

Stay tuned for beauty 1945 Style!

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Vintage Style Picks-40’s Look High Waist Wide Leg Pants


Finally designers are showing interpretations of the high waisted, wide leg pants that were popular in the 1940s.  And any ex-disco queen will remember this style was also resurrected in the 1970s. I personally feel they’re much more flattering for a wider range of  figures than the ultra low rise pants we’ve been seeing for so long.  So it’s nice to know there are now more options out there.  Since there’s no telling when this trend will come around again, vintage style loving ladies are advised to buy up as many pairs as they can. Especially since authentic vintage ones are nearly impossible to find.

Here are some of my favorites.

Victoria’s Secret high waist pant  now on sale for only $59.50


These pants from Speigel have a V yoke with drop pleating for a very flattering fit.   $49.00


Diane Von Furstenburg  "Kate" pants  $345.00


Fabulous 40s reproduction pants from Revamp Vintage  in black faille crepe $100.00


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Favorite Photos of 40’s Hats


I collect lots of vintage fashion magazines and books for educational purposes,  but especially enjoy looking at the beautiful photos and illustrations. Just thought I’d share some of my favorite pictures of women’s hats from the 1940’s. 

It’s unfortunate that we don’t wear beautiful hats much anymore. I guess it’s because these type of hats look too formal to fit in with our more casual lifestyles.   But people took more care with their appearance back then and hats were masterpieces of design that really completed an outfit, adding the perfect finishing touch of elegance, sophistication and glamour.  Desirable attributes that, in my opinion,  are lacking in our modern day society based on the extreme disregard for personal appearance I witness on a daily basis! 

Paris hats from the Worth and Bruyere collections. Photo from L’Officiel  Magazine Summer 1941


Hats by Lilly Dache and Hattie Carnegie. American Vogue Spring 1942


Hats from the Jean Patou Paris wartime collection L’Officiel Magazine Summer 1941


Christian Dior hat designed by Sygur, French Vogue,  Fall 1947


The next two photos are fashion illustrations of hats from the 1943 Paris spring collection, designs by Gabrielle and Bruyere. La Femme Chic Spring issue 1943



If anyone reading this post ever ventures out wearing lovely vintage hats such as these,  please let us know the reaction you get.

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