Wednesday, September 30, 2009


A pair of ww1 bell bottoms with their 13 buttons representing the 13 original colonies.
Detail of the adjustable laced back .
Detail of the standard rough chambray lining still found up to the mid 30's.
Detail of the scarf's loop and the adjustable waist.The jumper had to be worn "blousing" over the pants.
Hand sewn star on the collar....
This typical ww1 rating badge,tells us the sailor was a 1st class aviation machinist's mate.Gotta love the cross stitching on the patch.
Larger view of the ww1 enlisted man dress blue jumper.
WW1 cabinet style picture of an US navy sailor proudly wearing his blues .Note the jumper "bloused" over the pants as per regulation.

There's very little literature published on the US navy uniforms in comparaison to the army and marine corps .That's probably because of that lack of information on the subject,that in some ways ,the navy uniforms are the most misrepresented items on EBAY .You'll find an amazing amount of 1960's or later uniforms passed as ww2 or earlier.Most of the time,an over zealous uninformed vendor,will come up with a nice story in oder to make a quick sale .Sad isn't it !?? Well !! i'll just say that nowadays you've got no excuses .we've got the internet and it just takes a little curiosity and research to improve your knowledge.So don't take everything for granted specially when you hear things such as :"i've got it from a guy,who's got it from a vet's widow..." Just do your homework and you might learn a little something and feel better along the way .
Today i'll try to give you some pointers on ,how to tell a ww1 enlisted man navy dress blue uniform,from it's ww2 counterpart .Few names come to mind such as :Cracker jack ,jumpers, middy top and so on....We'll start with the most obvious.
ww1 jumpers are made of a lighter weight wool flannel.You can actually see the twill in the fabric.ww2 ones are way thicker and made of melton wool .ww1 jumpers are of a much bluer shade than the ww2 which are darker and almost black.The ww1 jumper has a small piece of wool or cotton ,sewn to the front at the V of the collar for the scarf to be looped around ,then tied.That detail disappeared in ww2 .ww1 jumpers don't have any tags.The ww2 blues will have a rectangular "Naval Clothing Factory"tag sewn under the collar.Another easy way to tell them apart will be the rating badges on the left sleeves.During ww1 the jumpers had the eagle on the patch facing to the wearer's back.this changed in 1940,when all eagles had to face the front .Another easy detail to spot,will be the stars on the collar .ww1 stars are always hand sewn .ww2 stars on NCF issued uniforms are machine stitched .As for the pants it's a no brainer.The inside lining of the ww1 bell bottoms are lined with a "gros grain" chambray fabric and this,up to the late 30's .
That's all for today ...and good hunting

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


For shirts ,suspenders,jacket or pants, here is a small sample of the ever growing collection.The right buttons will make your average chambray shirt,shine above the rest and make it more desirable to hardcore collectors. 

Like the mascot on the hood of a vintage car,work cloth's buttons have always been for collectors,an easy way to identify and date a piece from afar.They were like seals for numerous and obscure brands ,coming in a wide variety of shapes,forms and materials.Neglected for a long time by buttons collectors in general ,they're nowadays highly thought after by wannabe designers and copy cats in search of inspiration .The rarer the better of course.  


A small variety of the most popular fabrics available by the yard at your local "dry goods store" back in the days ....
"The fabrics of our lifes".From left to right:Herringbone twill ,Wabash Stifel stripes,stripped twill and standard 8oz denim.Some are 70 years old .

Over years of collecting,i've often came across "period" fabric samples.They sometimes came by the bulk,if lucky,but more commonly by small swatches .whenever possible,i've always tried to get them,as they might come handy when one wants to repair dungarees ,a shirt or just a beaten up pair of overalls.Even if denim has always been people's #1 choice,work clothes manufacturers,have since the beginning,tried to attract more costumers by expending their line and bringing a wider choice and variety of fabrics to their products.It was most definitely the way to go. Along the way,they were creating trends in the industry.Hickory stripes ,wabash Stifel stripes,duck canvas, black twill ...Were among people's favorites      

Thursday, September 17, 2009


An example from the LIFE magazine's archives 
Detail from the overalls and quite a statement for a brand:"strong & reliable"
Classic "square" shaped pockets on the bid
Today's combination from the golden era: hickory stripe and denim.......

It's clear by now,that the heydays of the work wear industry were in the 40's and 50's .Two decades that have seen major improvements and developments of fabrics and patterns among others . Creativity and demand for that kind of garment were at their pick,boosted by WW2.From the most famous to the more obscure ,every brand had a common goal:being a part of the war effort and satisfy the most discriminating and demanding costumer ....The American worker.Special features and functional details were plentiful,ranging from extra tool pockets,chin straps,removable and adjustable buttons.The list goes on and on .The fabric of choice!!?? well.....denim of course!.Even if i've always praised the beauty of the faded fabric,i've decided to avoid showcasing here the obvious "the complete look".So today,i'd rather go with a mix of hickory stripped overalls and a 10oz blanket lined jacket .Both from the same brand and era and both widely available in the 40's through the Sears and Roebuck catalogue for the amount of around $3 for both ......

Monday, September 14, 2009


The colorful USCG6 on D DAY wearing their M1 helmets with  their "unofficial" skull&cross bones insignia
A close up of the M1 helmet with grey stripe characteristc of D DAY USN shore parties
Detail showing the clasp closure and a set of navy dog tags and chain
The famous and short lived 1943 winter blue deck jacket ......

What is NAVY-ISM!!?? ....well,it's just a term invented about a year ago,by the writers of "FREE&EASY " the Japanese modern day "bible" for the vintage enthusiast .NAVY-ISM characterizes and focuses on Japanese's renewed interest for nautical collectables.Navy is an area often neglected,as opposed to the rough wear one.A navy-ism fanatic may collect ww2 denim deck pants or jumpers , duffle bags,pea coats and so on .... the list is long and the"field" surprisingly large and varied in accessories.So,as a collector myself and as we're talking about forgotten fields of the hobby, i've decided to showcase on today's blog,a branch of the Navy,unjustly overlooked : the UNITED STATES COAST GUARDS and their characteristic garment of choice during ww2:the 1943 winter blue deck jacket.During the spring of 44 prior to the onset operation OVERLORD president Roosevelt ordered the coast guards to provide  search & rescue craft to the the time ,the USCG had a fleet of 83 wooden boats . they were sent to England and modified there to be ready for the up coming D DAY .They were nicknamed cutters .That "matchbox flotilla"was assigned to each of the invasion areas.The cutters and their crew carried out the task of saving lives under heavy enemy fire ,rescuing survivors in the sea and ferrying wounded back to larger ships to receive medical treatment.On D DAY the USCG saved more than 400 souls .In normandy on 90% of the period pictures,you'll see USCG's personnel wearing the 1943 blue deck jacket easily identified by its clasp closure and patch pockets . Nowadays,this jacket is highly desirable and extremely hard to find in any condition,as its existence was quite short .The 1943 was superseded a year after by the more common and cheaper to produce N1 jacket we all know.  

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

All The Cats Join In


Monday, September 7, 2009

LABOR DAY... the hardest working pair

During the great depression and of course Roosevelt's NEW DEAL,worker's favorite tool was without a doubt his beloved denims.It seams normal,on that labor day,to pay tribute to what was and still is a big part of America's history: denim. Confortable,cheap,but built to last a life time,work clothes were everywhere and news brands started to appear on the market like a "blue tide o wave". Some will expend and stay forever on the map,others will just disappear with people's interest or be bought over. Even if built to last ,denims were considered as "disposable"by some or were worn up to the last thread.a decent example from that era,is nowadays harder to come by. The irony,is that it can fetch an incredible amount of money on the vintage market,that i'm sure,its original owner might have enjoyed immensely back then. Levi's,with it's famous 501xx,was of course among the competitors willing to fight for a peace of the cake.Even if mostly represented on the west coast,Levi's was already a legend at the time .Today i've chosen to feature a pair of XX from that era. The typical goodies,as :belt loops,back strap, crotch rivet ,leather patch,exposed back pocket rivets,allowed me to date them from 1922/1933.They're also made of Cone mills denim,so most likely from around 1927 when Levi's started an almost exclusive partnership with Cone.  

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Strait from the archives .another example of the infamous stormy kromer.mother and son during the great depression .


Under,the earliest example i've found in an old 1919 Montgomery Ward catalogue.Above another example but 25 years later from Sears in 1944.Same great hat but for 12c more........scandalous !!
my railroader displayed on my old wabash loco jacket.....

The railroader's hat has been a staple of the american clothing industry for almost 90 years .Traces of it can be found as far as 1919,featured in the pages of catalogues such as Montgomery Ward and Sears.The hat hasn't changed over the years and was originally mad of solid or plaided Melton wool,even canvas sometimes.the legend says that a railroad engineer and former baseball player,by the name of "stormy" Kromer,came up with the idea/design. Tired of loosing his hats while in the open cockpit of his locomotive,Stormy asked his wife to modify one of his old baseball hats by sewing ear flaps .The "stromy kromer" was born .It's a perfect and versatile hat. Looking great with either a mackinaw coat, a leather jacket or chore jacket . Today the Stormy Kromer is still made true to its original design ,continuing to protect all those who wear one ......

Wednesday, September 2, 2009



An ad from HUNTING ANNUAL dating from 1956.A glod mine for vintage clothing enthusiasts. Packed with great ads and pictures for references on period brands.....
A close up reveals a little trick i've learned from a ww2 vet.A knot in the middle of your laces will keep them even for ever and save you time.You won't have to "aline" them ever again ........

I'm please to see,that some of the best American brands,are back on the map and a new generation of enthusiasts is enjoying and praising them....RED WING is one of them and easier to get nowadays then few years back.As it's one of my favorite brand too,i've decided to pay my respects to"Ol' faithful" pair of RED WING boots.I've bought them 20 years ago from a dead stock dating from the 60's.Rain ,snow,mud,you name it.They've seen it all .I just use a brush and mink oil to keep them "afloat"that's all. Still got a lot of life in them .Another 10 years perhaps!!?