What is it about Chic Jack’s Vintage Clothing that keeps customers coming back? It’s the uniqueness and quality of our clothing and, of course, our knowledgeable and friendly staff! But we sell much more than clothing and a tremendous array of accessories for both men and women … We sell history! Check out the decades pages, shown at left, to get a taste of the fashion, history and unique shopping experience that awaits you!
The ’20s sparked both a fashion and social revolution. As the stock market soared, so did spirits and hemlines. Gone were the very staid fashions of the Victorian era. Talking movies, jazz clubs and rolled down stockings — showing flashes of newly revealed rouged kneecaps — were now the order of the day. With a sense of victory from winning the right to vote, ladies danced the night away in silk velvet frocks with dropped waistlines and often plunging necklines. In the wee hours, they donned their silk brocade shawl-collared coats and accessorized with intricately beaded evening bags.
It was a feel-good time. Any boy could grow up to be President, any girl could be the next big Hollywood star, and fashions reflected this. Luxurious fabrics became more accessible to the middle class, and we saw the birth of rayon.
Entrepreneurial businesses boomed, leading to more leisure time — and leisure clothing. On the golf course, it was “knickers” and fine linens or cotton sweaters for men. And no well-dressed lad would take his best girl on a picnic unless he was sporting his boater. Yes, it was a magical time … until the bottom dropped out of the American stock market, and the world economy plunged.
Dark, hungry days of tent cities, breadlines and soup kitchens replaced the soaring spirits of the previous decade. Hollywood wanted to do its part to lift America’s spirits by ushering in the “Golden Age of Hollywood.” For a few pennies, one could sit in a darkened theater and laugh or be transported to a place devoid of the harsh realities of life. Jean Harlow, the first blonde bombshell, with her clinging, plunging satins, was never lovelier. Hemlines were lowered again, but so were necklines. Laces and satins and rich velvets adorned the screen. Cunning wool jerseys that hugged lovely curves showed that beauty still existed in the world, and no one was hungry.
Of course, no one was really unhappy, as there was always a happy ending. Besides, if the girl always got Clark Gable or Jimmy Stewart, or Robert Taylor — dapper in their wool gabardine pleated pants and short fitted tweeds — how could anyone really be sad? We also see for the first time, thanks to Katherine Hepburn, pants becoming more popular for women.
The years that spanned World War II spawned both a patriotic fervor and feverish innovation. Food at home was rationed so that our boys overseas could be fed. Everyone collected scrap metal for the war effort and planted a vegetable “victory garden.”
Women willingly did without silk stockings and underwear so that parachutes could be made for our troops. Just as our military-industrial plants were revving up to supply the war effort, ever-inventive Americans found new ways to re-invent fashion and invent new fabrics. Rayon, an extremely versatile plant-based fiber, was manufactured to look and feel like silk. Cunning little cotton anklets were worn with platform shoes. Women joined the workforce while wearing tight-waisted business suits with shoulder pads and peplums. “Rosie the Riveter” types, who replaced their men in the factories, wore high-waisted, wide-legged pants, saddle shoes or jumpers. Mouton furs and whimsical hats were the rage, as were puffy-sleeved cotton dresses for women.
For movie stars and men who were not outfitted by Uncle Sam, pleated pants, wide ties, tweed coats, and double-breasted suits sporting wide-notched lapels were in vogue. White linen suits were always a fabulous look, as were wide-brimmed hats, plaid shirts, flannels, wools, rayons and unconstructed jackets.
James Dean, Elvis, Marlon Brando, and “I like Ike.” The war was over and, once again, a feeling of prosperity was felt in the land. But something else was brewing, to be sure. This was the beginning of a rebellious movement among the country’s youth that would come to a head in the mid to late ’60s. The war generation’s tastes in clothing ran to more glamorous, yet conservative, fashions. Mom loved her sweater sets with Peter Pan collars. Her neck was always adorned with the little pearl necklace. She usually coupled the “twin set” with either a slim hobble or circle skirt for daywear. Playwear might include the forerunner of our Capri pants: “pedal pushers.”
An elaborate evening out might find the well dressed ’50s matron in slim-fitting bugle-beaded dresses — a la Marilyn Monroe — or elaborate multi-fabric shirtwaists that were made of either taffeta or combinations of velvets, lace and tuille. Cunning little hats, clutch bags, stiletto heels and Persian lamb coats and toppers (short swing coats) were the rage. Men were in their double-breasted suits, wide ties, felt hats, pleated pants and cardigans. By contrast, the kids were getting a bit edgy — no more big-band sound for them. They were rockin’ to the sound of Bill Haley and the Comets, Elvis, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and all the cool cats, while the folks looked on in horror. And the kids’ clothing reflected the change: motorcycle jackets, blue jeans and peg-leg pants were the thing for guys whose heroes were Elvis and Marlon. The girls favored felt poodle skirts, and circle skirts worn atop multiple crinoline, shirt-waist dresses, saddle shoes, loafers (for both guys and gals) and wide cinch belts.
Truly a starkly split decade! The early ’60s still saw the glamour of the ’50s with the installation of Jackie Kennedy as our new First Lady. Chanel, Balenciaga and Oleg Cassini, were just some of the fabulously elegant designers that gained national recognition. Every girl wanted to look and dress like Jackie. But then an invasion took place: a British invasion spearheaded by the Fab Four. The Beatles took this country and, indeed, the world, by storm; with the new style in fashion. Collarless suits, Edwardian suits, narrow pants and skinny ties were the rage for guys. So was long hair. For the first time in centuries, guys wore high-heeled boots, lace and velvet.
For girls, hemlines went up — way up — and kept right on going. The mini skirt was born. Empire-waist dresses were the rage in a way we hadn’t seen since Napoleon and Josephine were an item. Wide-wale corduroys, hip-huggers and everything in polyester, from shirts to the leisure suit, was in vogue. The Vietnam war brought its own changes in fashion and culture: The anti-war movement brought with it military clothing for both guys and gals. The end of the ’60s saw the beginning of more of this paramilitary clothing and bell bottoms, which were once exclusively the domain of the young, became mainstream.
We see a continuation of a fashion and cultural change that saw the release of tremendous creative energy. Hemlines were like hairstyles: fabulously long or incredibly short. Annie Hall’s wardrobe became the one to emulate. Vidal Sassoon became a household word. Rudi Gernreich raised eyebrows with his creation of the topless bathing suit. Psychedelic music gave way to psychedelic patterns for fashion. Macramé, platform shoes, jumpsuits, hotpants, bodysuits, cool boots, and the fashion and cultural influence of India were seen in love beads, buffalo sandals and fabrics. Hukapoo and Nik-Nik shirts were the rage, and, thanks to “Landlubber” jeans, bell bottoms became elephant bells. Denim everything, especially if it was stone washed, always stylish as was anything military. Pucci became a fashion icon, and we “let it all hang out.” And the influence of fashions of Liza, Andy and everyone else at Studio 54 was strong enough to last to this day.
In this decade, we see somewhat of a fashion backlash — sort of a semi-return to elegance. Cottons once again became king, although some polyester still remained so that spandex could have its stretchiness, and rayon had more versatility and strength. It was the era of big hair and big shoulders for women. From the cities to the suburbs, women packed on the shoulder pads for the “Dynasty” look, or tartan and boat shoes for the preppy look.
Hemlines were either at the knee or calf, and leg o’mutton sleeves were seen in dresses and blouses. Skinny jeans and bell-bottoms were out, only to be replace by high-waisted pleated jeans, designer jeans (Sergio Valente, anyone?) and pleated pants, bolo ties and cowboy boots. Guys were always well dressed in their Members Only jackets, small collared shirts and acid-washed jeans. Daring ones even wore colored jeans and parachute pants. For the more elegant look, double-breasted suits and vests were in style, along with an array of much wider ties.
At Chic Jack’s, we take pride in our ability to preserve what amounts to wearable history for our many customers. Shopping in our store, one might find in pristine condition a military frock coat worn by one of Andrew Jackson’s troops during the War of 1812. Coming forward in time, again we find Civil War era military coats and original cotton hoop skirts that were worn by any Scarlett O’Hara of the 1860’s.
The late Victorian era conjures visions of ladies with “leg o’mutton”-sleeved tops and coats, dotted Swiss shirtwaists, and “shimmies”—straw hats with flowing ribbons billowing on a summer breeze. Men of the same era donned their frock coats if they wanted to look well-groomed enough to impress the ladies. This was the era of laces, eyelets and silk velvets … an era of fine metal-mesh wrist purses for the ladies and beaver fur stove-top hats for the men. Come to Chic Jack’s Vintage Clothing and touch history. Try it on, and let your imagination carry you back in time.