I come from a long line of Marys. My Mother, Mary Lynn and her Mother, Mary Emeline Carmichael until she married my grandfather Ray Bolger and took his name. They were married on June 26th 1938 in San Jose, California in a Catholic church. While my Grandmother was keen on having grandchildren, she didn’t care for the name much and we always called her Nani. Nani was clearly possessed by the spirit of Mary Queen of Scots. The paper clipping (read to me over the phone by Uncle Bill) states she was wearing a Mary Stewart tiara. The curved head piece is covered with tulle from which a curved elbow length veil falls in a soft ripple. The center is trimmed with wax orange blossoms quite popular at the time as evidenced by many 1930s and 40s veils.
They were married in the Sacred Heart in a nuptial mass. The Reverand Thomas O’Kane, a family friend of Los Altos married them and a few decades later by coincidence the very same Reverend O’Kane married my Uncle Bill and Aunt Midge.
Nani’s dress was a simple slip of princess seamed silk satin in white with a tremendous lace jacket to top things off. The jacket featured many charming details including dramatic leg of mutton sleeves with pointed hems, a Peter Pan collar and a front closure of a million tiny buttons and loops. Being Catholic, she carried a prayer book trailing ribbons and an exquisite shower of white orchids and lilies of the valley.
Sadly, Nani didn’t have the foresight for vintage. She packed her wedding dress into a box and left it on the top shelf in her closet. Around age 5, my Mother found out there was a wedding dress in the closet and she begged and begged to see it. Nani would pull it down and show it to her. Repeatedly. Eventually my Mother talked Nani into letting her try it on despite it being too big, she just HAD to see how the train fell in back. As the years past my Mother and Uncle Bill had a stage in the attic complete with curtains that could be drawn and Nani’s dress became a costume and lived out it’s life in that hot uninsulated attic. So the lesson to learn this Wedding Dress Wednesday is: Don’t let children play with your wedding dress.
More snapshots of 1938 wedding guests to follow in the morning. My friend Blaire just opened Hale Pele and I fear I may have imbibed too much to manage adding photos.
Becki Jane, a local facebook fan of AlexSandra’s Vintage Emporium contacted me earlier this year asking if I would be interested in purchasing her Mother Julie’s wedding dress. Julie was married in 1960 and her dress bears the International Ladies Garment Worker’s Union label that dates to the 1955-1963 period, further verifying Becki Jane’s story. I’m always happy to have a look at garments available for sale and this dress was no let down. Taffeta lined cupcake dress features a Chantilly lace bodice with pointed hem sleeves and a long lace peplum over layers and layers of tulle.
People frequently ask where I get my inventory, and while the short answer is often, “From dead people” my favorite way to do it is to obtain clothing and accessories from the original owners or most often, from their daughters. I think being a Mother/Daughter business draws daughters to us as Mother Dear and I lovingly launder, repair and find new homes for their own beloved Mother’s things. The added bonus is getting the provenance and stories of these garments straight from the source. Becki Jane was kind enough to share a photo of her Mother wearing this wedding dress.
This dress clearly embodies the Camelot Era of the very early 1960s. I like the charming bridesmaids and the lone junior bridesmaid’s dresses featuring lightly gathered skirts with Chantilly lace peplums that were clearly inspired by the brides gown topped with simple high necked sleeveless bodices. I’m fairly certain that the bridemaids are wearing large taffeta bows in their hair much like the ones later popularized by Sally Rogers on the Dick Van Dyke Show. One of the bridesmaids is sporting my own Mother Dear’s 1960s prom hairdo as seen here.
The bodice of Julie’s wedding dress is rather unusual. While the taffeta lining is cut in a sweetheart shape as were many dresses of the period, I have never seen one that features a lace overlay that curves UP. A sprinkling of aurora borealis sequins eliminates the need of a necklace, though that didn’t stop us from wrapping a choker from the 1930s (available here) around Tara’s neck.
Enjoy these photos of the dress and visit the Etsy listing for more details. Remember, it takes an awfully long time to properly set up vintage wedding dress shots.
My Mother gradated from St. Mary’s Catholic High School in 1960. She wore the same dress for prom, baccalaureate and graduation. My Grandfather, Ray Bolger owned a mens clothing store at the time. As Saks Fifth Avenue and I. Magnin were moving into town, local seamstresses who did custom made clothing were short of work and being pushed out by The Man and mass produced clothing. Charlott Fleischer was a seamstress that my Grandfather knew and often gave quick turn around work that their on site tailor, Mr. Casassa didn’t have time to do. She was also given the task of making Mother Dear’s prom dress.
It began as a simple sheath dress of eyelet organdy over a buttery yellow taffeta lining. Just two side seams with a metal Talon zipper and a heavily darted bodice and skirt. The side seams are expertly finished and slit 6 inches up each side seam. The scalloped edge is perfectly positioned so that when the slit lies flat, the flower and scallop are perfectly matched. It measures 33-24-36, once again proving you can have a tiny waist, but you can’t have boobs too! For prom, my Mother asked that a tiered skirt also be made to be worn over the sheath so she could have a full skirted party dress for that occasion. She attended with her long time beau, Bernie Albers (pictured above) and wore only the simple pearl bracelet that was among the many pieces of gold and pearl jewelry he gave her over their courtship.
Later she wore just the sheath to baccalaureate with a creamy, unlined eyelet bolero that was added to the ensemble as the custom made process progressed. I still have all the pieces of this fine ensemble and have featured them in a Mother's Day vintage fashion show in the recent past as pictured above and below.
The grosgrain ribbon trimmed inner waistline of this dress hides the accurate label: Dresses of Distinction by Charlott Fleischer Veinna-Portland.