Wednesday, September 1, 2010

1 September 1956 “Casual Clothes 1956 and Make Your Own Oil Cloth”

I had intended a longer post today, but I now have my new tenants moving in tomorrow (the 2nd) and therefore took an opportunity this morning to go to the house.
I decided to take most of my lovely hydrangea plants from there. It is silly my making it lovely for people only to have them trash the place nor not care a fig for the yard. I dug up and brought home five large (5-7’ tall) hydrangea bushes. Of course today it was almost 90 degrees, while last week we were in the 70’s, my sill luck. But, I have brought them home and they are in various tubs filled with water, getting their strength back. I shall wait for cooler days this weekend and post Hurricane Earl to dig up their new home. I am going to take them and some of my other bushes here and make a nice hedgerow.
Therefore, I thought some photo’s of people here in 1956 in their ‘casual clothes’ would be fun:
56jerseyfamily I really do just love candid shots such as this New Jersey family from this year .(Thanks to Shorpy for phot0.) Just that intimate moment. It is very enlightening to see what the generations are wearing. Grandmother looks rather fine in her homemade shawl. I wonder how odd this modern world seems to a woman who wore corsets and long skirts as a girl and was probably courted in a Surry with the ‘fringe on top’. The mother is comfortable in her dungarees, so we can assume this was a day ‘at home’. The other woman is most likely a sister I would imagine. I see many women, when relaxing at home or possibly cleaning, wear rolled ‘bobby socks’ and loafers or bucks or saddle shoes. The metal legged matching end tables are placed between their sectional sofa and I really love the fabric on the curtains.
dinnerprayer I am not sure if this was staged, although I can’t imagine who would be taking the photo while the family is at prayer. I love it for all the kitchen items. I am a sucker for red in a kitchen. We notice, however, that though it is a warm summer and most likely NOT air conditioned ( I see the screen door in the back) this family is dressed comfortably and nice for dinner.
I think that pattern on their table cloth (which I am sure is oil cloth) is fun. You cannot buy actual oil cloth today, at least I have not found a source. They have a product now they call oil cloth which is actually cotton covered in PVC and it is similar in many ways and I have some of it for sale in the store HERE. It is easy to trim and make table cloths, aprons, and placemats.
I also really want to have the authentic cloth as it was actually very ‘green’:
Originally, oilcloth was made of sturdy, natural fiber fabrics such as cotton duck, linen or cotton canvas which had been treated with a linseed oil based coating. Often it was dyed, painted or printed prior to the oil treatment, or sometimes colored designs were added during the treatment process. Oilcloth was commonly used in years past for tablecloths and picnic cloths because it was durable and relatively waterproof.
I found this site that gives you directions to make your own. I really want to try this, especially as you can then make any design you like! If I do try this, I promise to photo the process and give a tutorial. I have some fun ideas. HERE are the instructions.
1956casual I also like to see photos like this, because it lets us see how one might be dressed on a casual day in 1956.  I see no stockings. Lovely low comfortable sandals. Nice comfy linen and cotton. Now I think this group looks quite cool and comfortable. What I notice is if this were today the man would most likely be either in jeans or those horrid long wide short pants or long shorts not sure which they are meant to be, some bright white and neon puffy sneaker/trainer, a shirt with something printed on it. And the ladies either too showy, or skinny jeans and printed tops. I am sure there would also be a plethora of baseball caps, also imprinted with insignia of some sort. That is the main thing I notice here in 1956, the LACK of emblems, images and imprints on clothing. We are walking billboards and a hodgepodge of images all over us. Simple easy to care for yet sturdy clothing seems as old fashioned in 2010 as a horse drawn carriage. If we did an inventory of our wardrobes, I wonder how many items would be imprinted with logos, brand names, sports teams, bands etc?
casual1956 This casual group look comfortable. I am sure this is not how they would go out, but relaxing at home. Mother is even in slacks, though not dungarees. And her simple little button up sweater looks sweet with a little tie. I think another obvious difference here compared to today is look at Father. He is wearing trousers, belted and a nice button down shirt. Son is in a t-shirt (no images or band name) dungarees rolled and converse sneakers. Today, dad would be dressed like son. Jeans, Tshirt, maybe even ‘baggy too low’ jeans. And while then son would dress like father for going out or to church or school, today, father would copy son in his ‘cool’ attire for most anything. We can see it is not very hard to dress ‘vintage’ and be casual and comfortable, but we are loathe to let go of our jeans and our printed items! I wonder why that is? It certainly cannot be comfort, because how is it more comfortable to have images on clothing than not? I also think light cotton or linen loose fitting trousers are more comfortable and also cooler than jeans on a summer day. Do you find yourself emulating your child rather than they wanting to be ‘like mummy and daddy’ and dress up?
casualcouple55 Now here is a cool couple (cool as comfortable not hep). The young lady is wearing quite short shorts but they are nice and high waisted. Her sleeveless top looks fresh and pretty. Her hair is done and she sports darling comfortable flats. The young man is wearing a nice jersey collard top with a t-shirt under it. (My hubby always wears an undershirt even under shirts such as this in the summer. I see so many people who just wear the one shirt.) They look nice and NO insignia/printing.
It goes on and on like that. No ads or images or sports teams or bands. Everything is so emblazoned with artwork today. Even children’s bedspreads, backpacks, anything is often covered with their favorite character or toy. There were occasional Howdy Doody items here in 1956, but not in the way they are today.
Now, I am not necessarily saying it is bad, but isn’t it rather odd? Are we so used to images and ads that wearing them is normal? I thought of the scene in Back to the Future when the main character’s mother as a young girl in the 1950’s thinks his name is ‘Calvin’ because his underpants say “Calvin Klein”. Everything is branded.
Do you know what else gets branded? Cattle. Something to think about.
Well, until tomorrow then, Happy Homemaking.


  1. You're right: we are walking billboards these days. Maybe we need to wear other peoples' names for self-esteem??

  2. I always went to great lengths to make sure my children were not walking billboards when they were young, I also tried to avoid all those nasty images they put on small boys t shirts. It's not easy but it can be done with a mixture of homemade and carefully selected bought clothes. I guess I taught my children it was bad taste to walk around with a brand name shouting out from your clothes because now as teenagers and young adults they still avoid those ugly clothes and are quite stylish and individualistic young people.

  3. I grew up in the 50's and we NEVER ever wore logos. That is something that came out in the 80' or 90's. I can't stand it and never ever bought anything for my son with logos either. Now he travels the world for his job and he seems to like to buy tee-shirts from other countries that proclaim were he's been. But he's 40 this year and can do whatever he wants. sigh...

  4. I can't stand things with brand names emblazoned all over them. However, I do have a nice little "collection" of fun t-shirts with things on them. The one I'm wearing right now has a lovely screenprinted design of flamingos wading in a tidal pool type of thing with palm trees off to the side. I have a Phantom of the Opera t-shirt too, and one with Chip and Dale on it.

    I'm a sucker for Disney's The Little Mermaid. It's my favorite Disney movie. Have four TLM t-shirts, TLM keychains, figurines, dolls. All sorts of stuff. Even have the t-shirt with the Broadway musical logo on it. Bought it when I went to see the musical.

    The Vermont Country Store sells real oilcloth tablecloths. You really need to have a look at their site! They sell a lot of stuff that's vintage. Even have a full range of 1950's penny candy.

  5. Mary-good point.
    Jenny-good for you! What I tend to notice today are young parents (and maybe it is different in the USA as opposed to Australia)t'shirts with band names etc father in baggy jeans, underpants showing, tennisshoes, baseball cap ON indoors, mother similiar or low rise track suit, far too short jean skirts and again, emblam, labels etc and then of course, baby in gap T little trainers (which they can't eve walk). I believe in the 50's small children had one or maybe two pair of well made leather shoes because babies and toddlers grow so fast. But now with the cheap cost and throwaway mentality the 'fashion look' is more important even though I think the old fashioned baby shoe is both cute and reliable and could even be worn by the child's future children (if they didn't get bronzed of course!)
    It is that same thing I notice: So many MORE clothes out there and more people buying them all the time and spending more and yet looking horrible compared to the few well made and cared for clothes of the past. But, that is just my opinion and personal taste. Though, it is true that many people love looking at old photos and much of that is due to the style while pictures from the mid 70's on are usually the same thing, maybe hair is different and jean width, but other than that, one long stream of logo-ed Tshirts, jeans and shorts and trainers.

  6. Rachel-I checked and the 'oilcloth' that the Vermont country Store sells is the modern vinyl pvc variety. It even says so in the definition:
    "Made of real fabric, with the weight and drape of real cloth, our oilcloth’s laminated vinyl finish wipes clean and will never crack or peel." So, for me, not sure we need more petroleum based products.
    See, for me I just never really liked pictures of things that I like on me. If that makes any sense. And, I won't even go down the 'Disney road' because I know we would disagree and I would hate that. For me, the over production of items with images of characters sort of makes me sad, because I always picture the factories in china or India pumping out all these smiling happy characters( that Disney basically stole and then changed the copyright and trademark laws to protect their stolen product) and the sad little children working 16 hour days making products that usually end up in the garbage or the back of an American child's closet under piles of other plastic toys and too many clothes. Please don't be offended, but that is how I feel. I certainly think there are some lovely t-shirt designs out there, but they are just not for me. See, to me, at least since 1955, I have begun to see how in 1950 we might have had less things to buy which cost us more (except housing was lower and wagers higher) but it was made in our country by us. But, again, please don't think I am mad or too critical, but it is how I feel.

  7. Oh, and real oilcloth is duck or heavy cotton or canvas treated with linseed oil, which is a natural product not petroleum to make vinyl or pc. That is what old oilcloth is and you cannot get it now unless you make it yourself.

  8. I feel bad now that I said that about Disney, I think it might have been rude on my part. I do honestly have some issue with the company as a whole, but I don't want to come off 'holier than thou' or impolite, so do accept my apology.

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  10. Ok...I know I am WIDE enough to be a billboard....I just don't WANT to be one :-)

  11. I absolutely loathe t-shirts with commercial stuff all over them. My mother keeps sending my son t-shirts with characters on them, including things he had never even heard of. I let him wear them for trips to the playground and so on but that's it. He has some shirts with pictures on them but it's stuff like pictures of fire trucks and a few slogan type shirts such as "100% good 10% of the time" which is maybe a wee bit tacky but it's not overtly offensive (some of them are downright sexual and nasty) and it was only a couple of bucks at the outlets.

    I agree with you on the Disney shirts. Sorry Rachel but they're tacky on little kids and super tacky on adults. My hubby bought me an Eeyore shirt once while on a business trip to Florida. No clue what he was thinking but I don't think I've ever left the house wearing it, not even to run out to the car. It's covered in paint splatters too now. I think shirts like that make a very poor impression, especially considering that they're mostly baggy unisex type shirts that don't flatter anyone.

  12. For what it's worth, I have pictures of my family from the 50's and 60's while they are saying grace before a meal.

  13. Rhonda-That is what is so sad, is most people just buy them because they are around and cheap. But, of course as we all now know, things are cheap because of all the various circumstances that have now lead to our not having our old beloved downtowns of the 1950's but instead sprawlmart with cheap clothes made in communist china. I am sure there are many WWII veterans spinning in their graves to know how almost everything in American houses are made by american companies IN communist china. Sad, indeed.
    I am sure Rachel will not be offended we all like different things. I am sure she may find some of the things I do odd or silly.
    Harper-Oh, that is good to know, so that photo might very well be a family shot and not one staged.

  14. I had an Aunt who passed away a few years ago - she was in her 90s. She made all of her clothes on her Mother's sewing machine. I remember one of her sons gave her a fleece jacket that had a logo on it. She wore the jacket for warmth when tending to her garden, but she put a piece of masking tape over the logo -- "Why should I do their advertising for them", she said.

  15. anon-sounds as if that aunt was a very smart woman; Well said, indeed.

  16. Our family has a beef with those license plate covers sporting the dealership's name. Sometimes the dealer's name appears on the car itself, too.

    When I looked at the prayer photo, I wondered about such a clean kitchen a mealtime. But, maybe that's me. I've never learned the "clean as you go" motto.

  17. Kris7-that is true. That is why I am glad we have a dining room separate from our kitchen, which is closed off from the rest of the house ( a small ell on the back) because I make dinner, set the table, and then pop the dishes in the sink to soak. It does not look clean, believe me. Then I just address it after dinner when there are all the plates and such to do as well. Much easier. That is why if I ever get around to doing our kitchen over I want a small breakfast nook off to the side, so while sitting in it, you would not see the kitchen. I like to enjoy what I have made and linger if I like over coffee or drinks and not be reminded of the dirty dishes until it is time to actually do them.

  18. Some logo shirts are truly tacky. I'm not even 30 yet and look a lot younger than my 28, so I can still pull it off. My mom doesn't wear shirts like that. The ones I have are not baggy or unisex, so that helps a little.

    My SIL loves Eeyore. I don't understand why.

    I also very proudly wear my Nancy Drew t-shirts. Two of them bear the convention logos for the cons I've been to. They're all silhouette type logos, based on the original orange silhouette that was on the cover of the books. My very favorite one is a collage of different pics of Nancy off the dust jackets with some of the funnier sayings from the books. For all of those the image is on the back of the shirt. I'm proud to advertise that I'm a Nancy Drew collector. I've had some great conversations with people because of those shirts. When the collage wears out, I'm going to turn it into a pillow!

  19. So many of my friends have broken down the wall between their kitchen and dinningroom, to create one large 'country kitchen." They see me as hopelessly old-fashioned for loving my forming dining room and built-in china cabinet. We eat our breakfast and lunch at the kitchen table, but for dinner every night we (my husband, son (7), daughter (6), daughter (4)) dine at the dining room table with our formal dishes and place settings. Why have the good china if you do not use it? The children are looking forward to fall and winter when he dine by candle light - it really sets the mood/tone for the evening.

  20. I loved the last picture with the man in the polo style shirt and with t-shirt under it. My husband wears a t-shirt under his work uniform (he is a paramedic) and got into the habit of always wearing one. There are two great benefits to the humble white t-shirt as an undergarment. First, it makes the outer garment hang nicely just like a slip does for our dresses and second, it is a protective barrier for the outer garment against antiperspirant staining. I replace my husbands t-shirts regularly but his outer garments last much, much longer. This one thing allows me to purchase higher quality fabrics in my husband's wardrobe because I will not need to replace as often. One little extra thing I do is that I began ironing his t-shirts when I had left them in the clothes basket too long once and they became too wrinkly to wear. I have ironed them ever since because he appreciates the way they hang ( I use the smallest amount of spray starch to just give them a little body).

    Not one of my family regularly wears clothing with logos on it. I have three daughters and we have trained them that fashion should draw the attention of the viewer to your face and not another part of the body. So no tshirts with printing across the chest and no pants with words across the seat. The only time we do wear a shirt with a logo is if we are marching in a parade for a particular person or business. We make sure that those shirts are quite loose and we wear other clothing beneath it.

  21. Keeping you in my thoughts & prayers with Earl.

    I have so many friends and family on the cape, so I'm following closely!

  22. When I look at the first photo I can't help but think of my home town paper. We would have a shot like like that to show the generations. The girl on the end my be twenty, her mom forty, and Grandma 60's.The twenty year old has the new baby.The caption will read" Four generations of "Smiths" got together over the holiday weekend. Sarah has a new baby girl. "This is a common article in our paper.
    The t shirts I hate are the rude and crude ones, (some advertising a crab shack.)etc
    I have an older house I love having a kitchen and a dinning room.

  23. We are on close watch with Earl. I am hoping it won't be another Bob.

  24. I hate those pants with the words across the rear end! They're so tacky.

  25. Rachel-very true. I think if you told a 1950's person that in the future people would wear words across the seat of their pants they would laugh and not believe you.
    Mrs. Tailleur-I also like this separation. A few years back when hubby and I owned land and were going to build our house (never came off bad architect long story) I designed my house with a kitchen closed off from the house (in an ell) with a swinging door. My architect said reale value dictates an open kitchen. No thanks I said. the kitchen was to be large and have its own service porch etc like an old house would. That is what a real country kitchen would have and room for a table, but a dining room is just important to me especially now the way we live.

  26. 50sgal,
    Check out this company. They advertise oilcloth, as well s lots of other good things.

  27. SpinnakerSu-It is the same thing! I don't know why these companies keep advertising "oil cloth" when all they have is vinyl coated cloth it is NOT the same thing. The vinyl coated is not only NOT vintage but also just ONE MORE petroleum product, we really need more of those. REAL oil cloth is linseed oil on cloth (cotton, duck, canvas) It might crack over time, but it is VERY long wearing and is the actual vintage item. So far I have not found ONE source for the real deal but I did post a simple 'how to'. You could even find a nice heavy outdoor fabric with a pattern you like and put layers of linseed oil over that and ta=dah Duck cloth! The store does seem to have some cute things, though, but their 'oil cloth' is a no go for me.

  28. Love the branded cattle reference,so true:)
    I only have 2 things that have words/adds on them & they are both for organisations that prevent cruelty to animals so i don't think that's the same as Gap or Nike for example,or do you class that in the same category?Just asking your opinion not picking an argument :)

  29. Well, I have a friend who has every one of her political leanings plastered all over the back of her car, this often leads to 'discussions' or such from strangers. I guess for me, I just am not the one to 'advertise' my politics if that makes any sense. I am not even sure I would wear a political button unless I was at a rally, for example. I am not saying it was true for all of 1950's but it seemed people were less 'in your face' you know what I mean? I guess i figure a bag or shirt that says what I already believe is not going to make anyone who doesn't share that belief change their mind, but simply puts me in a 'group' so I can be judged by others based on what they think of that group rather it is true or not It does not help the cause but really just serves to say, "Hey look at me this is how I think, you wanna make trouble?" I am not saying that is what you are saying, but sometimes it has that sort of 'in your face' statement that I have come to shy away from in the 'modern world'. I know my outfits get stares, but it doesn't tell anyone my beliefs or agenda, and people don't know where to 'put me' so then they have to meet me and know me at face value or not really be able to judge me so easily. I think anyone can wear whatever they like on their clothes and bags etc, But I just want people to think 'WHY" am I doing it? Does it help the cause, or does it make me feel good? That's all, no argument here. And that is just my opinion which is certainly not worth any more than yours, but is how I feel. Hope that answers the question.


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