Fashions with a Dual Personality, 1942

“Like a clever woman, every really good costume has at least two faces.”

In the April 1942 issue of the Ladies’ Home Journal, we find an article presented by the then-Fashion Editor of the Journal, Wilhela Cushman. The article was entitled “Your Favorite Has a Dual Personality,” and the drawings are credited to “Luza.” Cushman was a long-time editor of the Journal, from the mid-1930′s up until the 1960′s, so most likely we’ll be coming across other examples of her work in future blog entries.

Here, she offers us four different looks so that the reader can choose her favorite. The common ground is that all four of these looks can be worn in two different ways just by a change of accessories.


Four examples of vintage 1942 fashion found in the Ladies Home Journal magazine.

Here is the explanation for the top outfit in the scan above:

“If you love frills, your favorite will be the navy-blue crepe bolero dress – inspiration to the most practiced chameleon.”

And concerning the outfit on the bottom:

“If you like your suits simple and your colors strong, this purple one offers you the chance of a springtime. Doll it up with a muff and hat of violets, from Braagaard.”


Four examples of vintage 1942 fashion found in the Ladies Home Journal magazine.

Top outfit:

“All things to all women – a simple silk dress and wool jacket, converted again and again to her own purposes by her own sweet will.”

Bottom outfit:

“If you simply love a long coat to wear with many dresses, your favorite can be this sophisticated green over a printed dress.”

I love looking at all the gloves, hats, bags, shoes, sweaters, jewelry, and jackets that the article shows us to change each outfit around a bit. I think my favorites would have to be the wonderful costume jewelry, like the poodle and the butterfly which I would be more than happy to wear now! Regardless, there is a lot to see and appreciate here for any vintage fashion lover.


Lux Toilet Soap and Movie Stars, 1929

“9 out of 10 screen stars guard their skin this way…”


A vintage ad for Lux soap from 1929,  featuring popular movie stars of the time.

This ad for Lux Toilet Soap comes from the June 1929 issue of Woman’s Home Companion magazine. Several bold claims are made in this ad – the first is the big headline in the center of the page:

“9 out of 10 screen stars guard their skin this way…”

And then, a bit further down, we have this:

“Directors and screen stars know so well that lovely skin is the most magnetic of all charms. And in Hollywood, among the 451 important actresses, including all stars, 442 (98%) use Lux Toilet Soap to keep their skin lovely.”

Naturally, I assumed this was all advertising speak and most likely not true, or at the least a definite stretching of whatever truth was at the core of the claim. So I did some research on Lux Toilet Soap and found a fascinating story centering around their Hollywood ads.

According to a book called The Erotic History of Advertising, by Tom Reichert (Prometheus Books, 2003), Lux bar soap originated as being similar to fine French soaps, but at a much lower price point. While French soaps ranged in price from fifty cents to two dollars, Lux cost just 10 cents a bar (a fact that you can see at the bottom of the ad above). Still, though, there was a concern that consumers would still find the soap too expensive. Thus the following excerpt from a 1925 letter from the Lever Brothers president, Francis A. Countway:

“I feel that we must throw more glamour around our new product to justify the price in the consumer’s mind of 9 cents to 10 cents per cake which she which she will have to pay.” (Reichert, page 118)

Thus the campaign, of which you see an example in the above ad, was born. Hollywood stars definitely represented glamour, and who wouldn’t want to use the same soap as these beautiful actresses? Reichert goes on to say (p. 119) that “By some means, perhaps by salesmen, it was discovered that the vast majority of movie stars did indeed use Lux Toilet Soap.”

Although it may be true that many stars did use Lux soap, that didn’t mean they would just automatically choose to appear in the ads. Negotiations had to be done behind the scenes, and according to another book, Hollywood and Broadcasting: From Radio to Cable by Michele Hilmes

(University of Illinois Press, 1999), it was the Hollywood Bureau Head for the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency who could take the credit for the multitude of actresses to be found in these ads. His name was Danny Danker, and according to Hilmes,

“‘Making the right friends and doing favors for them with the flair of an Irish politician, Danker succeeded partly by sheer personality, and later on by pointing out to picture players that Lux testimonials meant free national advertising. Finally it became fashionable for actresses to sign exclusive releases for Lux.’” Whether or not this is strictly true, the fact does remain that Lux, via Danker, was singularly adept at obtaining these endorsements.” (p. 89)

For an example of Hollywood notables who appeared in ads for Lux, we can look at those who are found in the ad shown here. First, Aileen Pringle, “Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer star,”  is in the big photo at the top. In the lower left side we have Fay Wray, an actress with Paramount (known to us, of course, for her role in King Kong), and the lower right shows Jacqueline Logan from Pathé. But not only actresses are represented. Although there is no picture of him, Malcom St. Clair, a movie director for Paramount, states that “Exquisite skin is woman’s most compelling charm.”

I never was able to find out if there was an actual list of the 451 important actresses in Hollywood, but at least most of my curiosity about the ad was satisfied!

In 1929, a cake of Lux Toilet Soap cost 10 cents.


1920′s Invitations – Roaring 20s Style!

The 1920′s seem to be an era that never loses its appeal – the glamour and elegance of that time is still reflected in much of our art today. I’ve found a selection of beautiful invitations that clearly show the influence of the 1920′s – some of them even feature actual vintage 20′s illustrations. Some are wedding invitations and others will work for any occasion. Take a look and see if you find something that would be perfect for your next party!

1920's Gatsby Invite1920′s Gatsby Invite

1920's Party Invitation1920′s Party Invitation

1920's Great Gatsby Wedding Invitations1920′s Great Gatsby Wedding Invitations

Chic Art Deco 1920's Bride & Groom Wedding Custom InvitationsChic Art Deco 1920′s Bride & Groom Wedding Custom Invitations

Peacock and Lady Custom InvitesPeacock and Lady Custom Invites

Roaring 20s Twenties Art Deco Wedding InvitationRoaring 20s Twenties Art Deco Wedding Invitation

1929 Party Invitations1929 Party Invitations

Lou Wears a Tutu InvitesLou Wears a Tutu Invites

1920's Themed Wedding R.S.V.P. Cards Invite1920′s Themed Wedding R.S.V.P. Cards Invite

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New Lamps for Old, 1928

“Nothing could be more charming and restful than the soft moonlight glow of frosted paper. The diffusion of light is almost perfect; one can look directly at an electric light bulb behind this paper with no feeling of glare.”


Vintage 1920s art deco lamps made of frosted paper and ivorine.


This article, and wonderful illustrations that accompany it, are from the December 1928 issue of Woman’s Home Companion magazine. All of the lamps were designed and painted by L.V. Carroll. I love the art deco look of these lamps; they all scream 1920′s to me. I am including here a transcription of most of it. It seems that the lamps were made of frosted paper as well as ivorine (imitation ivory).

“Frosted paper, a practically non-inflammable material imported from France, is so lovely in its light effect and texture that no further decoration is required. It can be used with lamps and fixtures of any period, yet is so new that it will fit into the most modern of modernistic interiors with the advantage of being distinctly  “different.” In delightful combination of the shades illustrated ivorene has been used, which has a soft warm amber glow when it is illuminated.”

“Both frosted paper and ivorene are easy materials to work with and can be bent or folded into almost any shape and form of lampshade. The fixtures that the artist has experimented with are of the simplest construction. With a little ingenuity and ability with carpenters’ tools anyone can make them by following the patterns and directions which are offered below. The electric fittings can be bought at any electrical store.”


Coffee Pudding and Fluffy Coffee Dessert Sauce, 1923

“Cook has an afternoon out each week, and certainly every homemaker should be able to join a club or participate in some pleasure that takes her away as often as this. Surely the preparation of the evening meal need not prevent your having an ‘afternoon off,’ if you will do a little intelligent planning and prepare as much as possible in the morning.”

Yes, in the early 1920′s, it was not uncommon for a family to have a cook, and/or a maid, as an employee to help around the house.

Recipe for Coffee Pudding and Fluffy Coffee Dessert Sauce, 1923

The menu from this February 1923 issue of the Women’s Home Companion magazine features a menu with your choice of three “30 minute meals”. Where today these fast meals are usually needed in order to put a quick dinner on the table after either a day full of work and commuting, or taking care of the children and house on one’s own, (or even simply preferring not to spend too much time in the kitchen), 90-odd years ago the recipes were being offered as a way for the housewife to deal with having no household help to assist with the cooking on one day a week.

You may notice that there is a lot of pork on the menu (shown in the image to the left). That was intentional:

“The three menus on this page are based on a ‘first cousin’ to cold ham. A fresh shoulder of pork does not cost as much as a ham and it may be utilized in many different ways. Unless the family is very large, one shoulder, weighing from five to seven pounds, will provide steaks for one meal, the meat for the bean and cabbage soup for one meal, and the creamed pork for the third meal. There may even be a little more meat left, which can be used for a mock chicken salad, if combined with chopped celery or cabbage and salad dressing.”

However, the pork recipes supplied here are fairly common and similar to recipes that can be found easily today. To me, the dessert recipes stand out as particularly interesting and unlike what you may see in the present time.

Vintage recipe for Coffee Pudding and Fluffy Coffee Dessert Sauce, 1923

I’ll be presenting here the recipes for “Coffee Cabinet Pudding,” and “Fluffy Coffee Sauce.” Although coffee is possibly more popular now than ever, it’s rare to see it in the incarnations here. For one thing, the gelatin found in so many vintage recipes but often neglected today is found here, in the pudding, and creates a molded dessert. For another, I’ve never seen a dessert sauce that combines coffee with egg whites (although of course various types of egg coffee do exist as a drink). These two recipes are ones I will most likely never try, but I must admit a certain curiosity.

The recipes are a little hard to read so I’ve transcribed them here:

Coffee Cabinet Pudding

2 cups milk
3 tablespoons ground coffee
1 tablespoon granulated gelatin
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup almonds
Lady fingers

Scald the milk with ground coffee and gelatin. When gelatin is dissolved, strain through cheesecloth into the egg yolks mixed with the sugar and salt. Return to double boiler and stir and cook until a coating is formed on the spoon. Cool, and add vanilla. Cover the almonds with boiling water. Remove skins, cut in shreds, and brown carefully in the oven. Sprinkle a mold with almonds and cover carefully with custard. When firm, add a layer of lady fingers, cover with custard, and sprinkle with almonds. Repeat until all the custard is used. Chill, remove from mold, and serve with Fluffy Coffee Sauce.

Fluffy Coffee Sauce

1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 egg whites
1/4 cup strong coffee

Beat egg whites until stiff, and continue beating while adding the powdered sugar and the coffee.


Clothes for the Girl at the Difficult Age, 1913

“Most girls between fourteen and eighteen years old have trouble choosing just the right patterns in order to have becoming clothes.”

Clothes for the girl at the difficult age, meaning a teenager, from 1913

This is how the article, titled “Clothes for the Girl at the Difficult Age”, begins. It is from the September 1913 issue of Ladies’ Home Journal, so just in time for back to school that year! The article is credited to “the Fashion Editors,” and drawings are by A.M. Cooper. “The designs illustrated on this page have been carefully selected to help the tall, slender girl, as well as her shorter sister, who is probably stout also.”

For the illustration at the top of this entry, this is how the magazine describes the outfits:

“A Double Skirt effect is permissible if the upper portion comes well below the hips, like No. 7894, which is made with a two-piece skirt and a drop-shoulder, tunic blouse.
The short double-skirt effects, especially the plainted ones, like No. 7892, are attractive for the tall girl.”

Now onto the rest of the fashions:

Clothes for the girl at the difficult age, meaning a teenager, from 1913

“A box coat made by pattern No. 7896 will prove becoming to any young girl… The broad belt of No. 7896 adds a new touch, and the large patch pockets are both decorative and practical. Greater comfort in walking is obtained in these coats than in the full-length ones. The hat (No. 7217) – patterns for which come in one size – may be of the same material as the coat.”

Clothes for the girl at the difficult age, meaning a teenager, from 1913

“Those who are not tall will do well to choose the longer lines, like those shown in No. 7888.”

Clothes for the girl at the difficult age, meaning a teenager, from 1913

“The flounced skirts are also a good choice for her dressy flocks. An attractive example of this style is shown in No. 7886, made of shadow lace flouncing.”

Clothes for the girl at the difficult age, meaning a teenager, from 1913

“A box coat made by pattern No. 7896 will prove becoming to any young girl, as will also the blouse coat No. 7907.


Have You Grown Up Yet? A Quiz from 1942

“How Old Are You?
“You may turn out to be an old fogy of eighteen or a jitterbug of eighty.”

So begins the short article that I found in the April 1942 issue of Ladies’ Home Journal. The main point of the article is this curious quiz entitled “Have You Grown Up Yet? ” The quiz is below, so get your pencils ready; but first, here are the instructions:

Answer every question either “Yes” or “No”.  On your paper,  make one “Yes” column  and give yourself 5 points for every “Yes”. In a separate “No” column, give yourself 5 points for every “No.” Then see what your total is for each answer.

Now get ready, there are some strange questions here:

Take this strange vintage quiz from 1942 and see if you are an old fogy or a jitterbug!

Ok, now, the instructions go on to say that

The “No” score represents emotional maturity and the “Yes” score emotional immaturity. A high “No” score should send you a bouquet, but a high “Yes” score should make you take a careful personal inventory.

At this point, I feel I have to re-read some of the questions.

1. Do you tint or dye your hair? Covering your gray apparently shows that you are actually not as mature as you think.
14. Do you have an emotional reaction to any of these words: Communist; strike; adultery; divorce; false teeth? This confuses me. You can’t hear about divorce or adultery, for instance, and feel any type of emotion, and still be a mature adult?
And the best of all:
4. Do you disapprove of Mrs. Roosevelt? I still don’t understand how that made it into the quiz, other than to assume that the author supports Mrs. Roosevelt!

But just for fun, now that you do have your final score, there is one further step to take:

Compare your score with your actual age to find out how far you are lagging behind or how far ahead of yourself you are.

So, if you are thirty years old, but ended up with an 80 in the “Yes” column, you have 50 years of maturity to catch up on!

Okay, so maybe the quiz does not make a lot of sense, but it’s still fun to step back into the concerns of another time and to see how differently we viewed things. After all, there are tons of online quizzes around when you’re ready to come back!


John Philip Sousa’s Spaghetti and Meatballs, 1907

“One of the favorite viands of John Philip Sousa, the eminent bandmaster and composer, is a dish that is not unfamiliar to lovers of the Italian cuisine. This is a most refined kind of meat-balls called “polentas”, and it is safe to say that those who once partake of them will always recall the experience with delight.”

Today we will have the pleasure of enjoying a recipe said to be one of Sousa’s own. It’s a basic spaghetti and meatball recipe, and I found it in the February 1907 issue of the Delineator magazine. I was confused, however, by the fact that the meatballs here are called “polentas” – so naturally I assumed that some type of cornmeal would be one of the ingredients. It turns out though to be a fairly straightforward, old-fashioned beef meatball recipe, with not a drop of polenta in sight.

John Philip Sousa's 1907 recipe for spaghetti and meatballs

I set out to see if there was any precedence for calling Italian meatballs “polentas”, and unfortunately I couldn’t find anything else other than this recipe. But my research did lead me to something else interesting – several other websites also containing Sousa’s version of spaghetti and meatballs. The interesting thing was, though, that it seems his recipe was published in “The Stag Cook Book: Written for Men By Men”, but there the meatballs were called “Pelotas A La Portuguese” (Sousa’s father was of Portuguese ancestry). So I don’t know if it was merely a simple error on the part of Delineator magazine, or an attempt to make the recipe name sound more Italian – “polenta” rather than “pelotas” – especially since the Delineator version claims this as an Italian dish.

Another thing is that so far the 1907 Delineator is the earliest mention of Sousa’s recipe being published that I have been able to find. According to another very helpful website, the recipe was published in the Chicago Herald on July 23, 1916, and then again in the Stag Cook Book in 1922. Of interest is that the quantities of ingredients in the meatballs seemed to have changed a little in each version – just 2 tablespoons of grated stale bread in 1907, and either one or two cups of bread crumbs in other versions. The sauce also varies; the 1907 version adds lard to the spaghetti sauce which is missing elsewhere. I’m curious if this was the result of Sousa “tinkering” with his recipe through the years, or if the recipe was changed on the part of the publishers.

I am going to transcribe Sousa’s “Polentas” recipe here, along with his instructions for the sauce and the spaghetti, exactly as published in the Delineator in 1907.

POLENTAS, recipe by John Philip Sousa 1907


To prepare these, the cook must take a pound of prime round steak, and, having removed any bits of bone and all stringy pieces, the meat must be put through the chopping machine – not to be cut into ordinarily small pieces, but to be chopped until it has assumed the consistency of a perfect mince. One egg is then added, with two tablespoonfuls of stale bread grated, one small onion grated, four sprigs of parsley finely chopped, and the necessary seasoning of salt and pepper. This mixture is then rolled into balls, each containing about a teaspoonful and a half of the paste.

In the meantime a sauce must have been prepared after the following recipe: Take a quarter of a peck of ripe tomatoes (or one can of tomatoes), one sweet green pepper from which the seeds have already been extracted, one onion, two bayleaves and one pint of water. These ingredients must boil together for one hour, after which they are pressed through a colander until all substance has percolated through and this is then boiled up one more. One tablespoonful of lard is then added, with pepper and salt as seasoning. Into this sauce the “polentas” are placed, and in it they are permitted to boil gently over a slow fire for fully forty minutes. By this time they have absorbed all the delicious flavors of the sauce, and by having boiled gently they have lost none of their own firmness, being still as smooth and round as they were when they were first put into this savory stew.

They are then served with spaghetti that has been prepared after the following fashion: Boil one pound of spaghetti in two quarts of water, to which one tablespoonful of salt has been added, for twenty minutes. After it has been thoroughly drained, pour over it the tomato sauce in which the “polentas” were boiled, and serve the combination very hot, with a liberal supply of grated Roman cheese on the side.




A Bedroom that Flatters Redheads, 1942

“I’m a redhead and what I wanted for my birthday even more than a new fur coat was a bedroom that would flatter me… Luckily, I had gone first to look at Alexander Smith Carpets and the salesman introduced me to the Alexander Smith Colorama Selector. That’s how I found out that I could wear a pink room… and to think I’d always been afraid of my favorite color!”

Match your hair to your room with the Alexander Smith Colorama Selector, 1942

This ad, which I found in my copy of the April 1942 issue of Ladies’ Home Journal, introduced me to the fun vintage invention called the “Alexander Smith Colorama Selector”. This was a way that women in the 1940′s could create the perfect room for themselves, based on the color of their hair! From what information I have been able to find on the Selector, I’m guessing it was not much more than a simple color guide letting the decorator know which colors best flattered blondes, brunettes, etc., but the thought that women were actually matching their homes to their hair amused me. I suppose drastic changes in hair dye were just not happening in these homes!

I found a few of the colorama selection guide brochures on ebay, so if you are curious just search that site for “Alexander Smith Colorama Selector” and you should be able to locate some.

As far as the changes made to the newly-colored pink bedroom above, a small picture of the dull old room is also provided in the ad:

“Here’s how drab our bedroom looked before. We pushed our beds together under one headboard, painted the walls, treated the two windows as one, dressed up my dressing table, put down new carpet – and presto, look at it now!”

So for any “Blondes – Brunettes – Brown Hair – Redheads – Silver-Gray”, there was a carpet made to flatter you.


Fashion and Your First Job, 1950

“Up to now, you’ve dressed with more haste than care for eight-o’clock classes, and with considerably more care for eight-o’clock dates. Now you’re looking for a job, or you have a job. Your clothes will help you, or let you down.”

Fashions for Work from 1950

The August 1950 issue of the Ladies’ Home Journal magazine contained an article full of stylish fashions for a young woman’s first job (or her job search). I am so impressed by the elegance of the clothing here; everything seems quite timeless and beautiful. The items suggested in the article were based not only on looks, however, but on price – after all, for a young girl just starting out, she most likely did not have a huge budget for clothing. That is why the author makes suggestions such as:

“Use your wits and save your well-earned dollars by having a plan that includes: a suit and a jersey dress in gray to wear with any known color; two or three velvet hats – they cost so little; cotton shirts in white or autumn colors; cotton gloves; a big gold-and-crystal stickpin that goes on beret, bag or collar.”

Fashions for Work from 1950

It’s hard for me to pick a favorite, but I really like the outfit in the top photo, the gray suit with yellow blouse and gloves and a smart red purse; the black two-piece dinner dress in the photo below is also stunning.

Fashions for Work from 1950

The article goes on to say:

“You’ll indicate your fashion knowledge by the cut of your suit – perhaps a box jacket, slim skirt, though walking ease in skirts is always permissible. You’ll remember, or learn, that a jersey dress is the easiest keeper, and a natural for old or new belts and scarves. August weather calls for a silk or rayon-crepe dress, summer weight, fallish color. A black dinner dress is forever the necessary jewel. Your coat for everything can be a bright color – red or bittersweet this year.”

Fashions for Work from 1950

It’s rare that I find a vintage fashion spread without one or two really bad outfits hidden among the others, but this is one of the cases where I actually do like every single choice. Good job, Ladies’ Home Journal!