The more vintage clothes I see, the more curious I get about the labeling practices of our grandmothers' generation. Nowadays, a ready-to-wear garment usually has two labels: a brand tag that says who was responsible for its production (GAP, Lord & Taylor, or the like), and a care tag that says what it's made of and how to launder it. Sometimes they're clustered together; other times the care tag is in the side seam.
Vintage clothes, however, often have more tags, and in different places. I'll show you two examples from my own wardrobe.
Finally, the mystery tag: "Styled by Heidi". What does "styled by" mean? Is Heidi the alterationist who made the French jacket fit a Wilkes Barre lady? Or the person who paired the wool jacket with the fur collar? The fur is a separate piece merely tacked onto the jacket's ordinary lapel:
This next wool skirt has four labels! Two in the back waistband, one in the front waistband, and one in the side seam of the lining. The front two are similar to the back two of the jacket: one saying who designed it (Gordon of Philadelphia) and the other saying who sold it (Four Seasons Boutique of Erie). (This one made its own way to the West Coast, where I bought it in a vintage shop in Portland, OR in 2019!)
MY OWN LABEL?
Sometimes, when I'm particularly proud of a piece, or when I make something for someone else, I think it would be nice to sign my work by putting a custom tag in there. They aren't hard to get... you can find companies online that'll make them for you in small batches or bulk. But so far I haven't gone that route.
What might a Karen Roy tag say? Not "Robes de Coeur"... that's my blog name, but it's not ideal for a tag for several reasons. For one thing, I'm pretty sure it's bad French! I like it, but it's cutesy for a label. For another thing, it's feminine, and what if I want to put it in menswear? And it's about dresses, so what if I want to put it in a hat? It's too specific to be applied to my varied makes. I could do a tag that just said "Karen Roy - PDX". PDX is the abbreviation for Portland, Oregon (a reference to its airport code... Portlanders are amazingly fond of their airport). I like the idea of putting the city there, for people in the future to trace its travels, as I can trace my coat from France to Wilkes Barre! That's interesting trivia to a clothing geek like me.
But for right now, my workmanship is signature enough, as I try to get better with each project and expand my skills!
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