Tour of the Costume Box: Scarves and Other Lady Things

October 17, 2011

Halloween Countdown: 14 days

My dearest granny, who didn’t so much teach me to sew as model it in such a way that I osmosed it, believes she once had a Completely Original Thought.  When she tells the story of her Completely Original Thought, I must hold my tongue instead of saying that I don’t think there is any such thing, and why do you care so much anyway, Gran?–because that is not the point.  The point, the moral, the ironic twist (once she has fully conveyed the grandeur of her Completely Original Thought) . . . is that Granny can’t be SURE she had a Completely Original Thought because on the way to write it down she forgot it.

Next she tells the story of her Really Important Thought About Everything–though not so important as the Completely Original one–the gist of which she can repeat, but which doesn’t convey its full profundity:

“Scale doesn’t matter.”

I am here with Goldilocks to say otherwise.

Surely we can all agree that in a world scaled to humanoid bears, some things are too big for us? Others, weirdly, may be too small.  Some are just right, but only by accident–which isn’t at all the same thing as being just right on purpose.  I know my granny wasn’t talking about chairs or porridge bowls or purses; my point is that scale always matters when you forced to live on someone else’s scale instead of your own, which is what children do, and which is probably why they like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  I think it also explains their fascination with the miniature.  I know it explains mine.

What you want to notice in this picture is the small bamboo and silk fan with a gold case (eBay), and that the small beaded satin evening bag (Goodwill) constructed in exactly the same manner as what would have been a much larger handbag in the 1950’s–perfectly scaled for a six-year-old!

Though of less interest, I will also tell that you that the dainty antique linen handkerchief trimmed with net lace is one of many to come to me from my great-grandmother–I am less attached to the ones like too small to blow my nose on.  And I must have bought these stretchy ivory gloves at St. Vincent De Paul when I was fifteen.  Am I right that these are the sorts of ladylike things you would keep in your 1950’s handbag?

While we’re on the subject, I’ll just toss this shawl out on the table.

What do you think?  Fringy black lace shawls–ladylike or floozie-eqsue?

Never mind.  Into the box it goes.  Now here are some scarves, so pretty!  Let me tell you how I got them.

Some vendor at the antique mall bought up all the clothes at an estate sale.  It was easy to see that everything in the stall had belonged to the same woman and that she had loved her clothes and had good taste and plenty of money all her life.  The ranks of immaculate gowns and tailored suits and coats went from the 1930’s through the 1960’s, and there were scarves and hats and gloves in staggering quantity as well.  I wish I had bought more scarves; they were marvelous and they were cheap, cheap, cheap!  Most of the ones here were made in Japan: three of those those crinkly sheer nylon squares everyone used to wear to protect their hair-dos, a long flame-red scarf of silk/poly georgette, slithery lightweight black silk crepe, and my favorite: an incredibly fine black silk with silhouettes of rose leaves.  Yesterday I walked by the same antique mall and saw that it had gone out of business.  Darn.

The textured yellow silk scarf with a print of playing Japanese girls was from Goodwill, however, not the good lady who so thoughtfully declined to be buried with her wardrobe.

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10 Responses to “Tour of the Costume Box: Scarves and Other Lady Things”


  1. […] our tour of a costume box, I bring you Scarves and Other Lady Things here at my weaving […]

  2. zibilee Says:

    So many fine things, and those scarves are just beautiful and wonderful. I love the very vivid colors! Thanks for sharing this!

  3. Cally Says:

    Ladylike if you’re Spanish and floozie-esque for the rest of us, perhaps? I’m sure your nieces will find their own way to wear it. I love your dressing up box project, and I agree about scale too. (We were fortunate in that my father’s old college gown was short on him but a full-length wizard’s robe on us)

    • trapunto Says:

      I’m sure they will. And I’m glad to know I was on track with the projected play-value of a wizard robe! Was it the kind that was meant to be short, or just a mistake?

      • Cally Says:

        It was meant to be short on him – the everyday kind of college gown, for wearing to dinner and so on when he was a student. That’s “everyday” in a rather specialised sense, I guess, but I’m sure you know what I mean! We wore it to death as wizards and witches. In fact, the more tattered it got, the more desirably evil the effect…

  4. Jeanne Says:

    As an almost-six-foot-tall woman who has recently been shopping for an evening gown, I am here to shout loudly that scale very definitely does matter. I’ve been able to find dresses that go down to my ankles, but it is much harder to find ones with straps long enough to go over my shoulders and a waistline that can even be worn as more of an empire waist.

    • trapunto Says:

      Having to shop for a one-time-event evening gown on top of everything else! That is just adding insult to injury. I once made someone very happy by having a pair of black strappy sandals that happened to fit them and not me, sparing them the shopping mall on the day of a vocal performance.

      Empire waists come to my real waist, but I know what you’re talking about!


  5. I love that fan!

    I had to wear a dress one day in my first job, and it didn’t scale well at all.

    • trapunto Says:

      Fans are so fun. They are like Eeyore’s Useful Pot of the costume box. Open them up. Close them. Open them up. Close them.


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