By Mary Davis
The name Amelia Earhart conjures up images of a daredevil aviatrix, and we ponder what happened to her when her plane disappeared. But there is more to her story than flying and tragedy. As tomorrow, July 24th, is her birthday, I thought it fitting to give her some attention. However, I didn’t want to do the same ol’ same ol’.
Did you know she was a fashion designer for a short stint? A very short stint.
Yep, in 1933, she developed clothing for an active lifestyle. She planned to use her line to help finance her aviation endeavors. It wasn’t as big of a leap from flying to fashion as one might think. She was no stranger to sewing. Before this foray into the rag trade, she had stitched some of her own clothes as a teenager. Because flight suits were designed for men and didn’t fit her well, she had also crafted a practical flying suit to better fit the female form in 1929.
It is thought that the idea of her own clothing line was prompted by her husband, George Putnam, publicist and publisher. The couple had attended a fashion show in February of 1933. Earhart talked to the designer about functional “active living” clothing.
Nowadays, numerous famous people have clothing lines, but Earhart may have been the first one to attempt a celebrity fashion brand. Like so many things in her life, she was the first.
She ended up not working with the designer she originally talked with. Instead, with a sewing machine and one seamstress, she created a line in her living room apartment. Her fashions launched late in 1933, and a flurry of publicity ensued early in 1934.
Her line didn’t consist of full outfits purchased as one (as was usual of the day) but of separates: dresses, skirts, tops, trousers, outerwear, and more. Not only could a woman choose a different sized top and bottom to fit her figure, these individual pieces could be combined into twenty-five different ensembles. This made her the first to popularize this idea of separates in clothing. Earhart’s blouses had longer tails than were typical of the day so they would stay tucked in.
She, also, chose some unconventional fabrics like parachute silk and textiles used for airplane wings. In keeping with her aviation inspired line, she had propeller shaped buttons on some of her flying themed garments.
Her clothing line debuted in 30 department stores across the country. For women who couldn’t afford the ready-made garments, her patterns were sold through Women’s Home Companion magazine. Though her designs were moderately priced, they, unfortunately, didn’t fly off the racks, due in a large part to the Great Depression and were pulled from the shelves soon after takeoff.
Surprisingly, with all these mix and match separates, there was no bomber jacket in the line. Oversight? Or intentional?
From tarmac runway to fashion runway, Amelia Earhart seems to have done it all.
If she hadn’t perished on that fateful flight around the world in 1937, what else would she have accomplished?
MRS. WITHERSPOON GOES TO WAR (Heroines of WWII series)
2023 SELAH Award Finalist
Margaret “Peggy” Witherspoon is a thirty-four-year-old widow, mother of two daughters, an excellent pilot, and very patriotic. She joins the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots). As she performs various tasks like ferry aircraft, transporting cargo, and being an airplane mechanic, she meets and develops feelings for her supervisor Army Air Corp Major Howie Berg. When Peggy learns of U.S. soldiers being held captive in Cuba, she, Major Berg, and two fellow WASPs devise an unsanctioned mission to rescue them. With Cuba being an ally in the war, they must be careful not to ignite an international incident. Order HERE!
MARY DAVIS, bestselling, award-winning novelist, has over thirty titles in both historical and contemporary themes. Her latest release is THE LADY’S MISSION. Her other novels include THE DÉBUTANTE'S SECRET (Quilting Circle Book 4) THE DAMSEL’S INTENT (The Quilting Circle Book 3) is a SELAH Award Winner. Some of her other recent titles include; THE WIDOW'S PLIGHT, THE DAUGHTER'S PREDICAMENT, “Zola’s Cross-Country Adventure” in The MISSAdventure Brides Collection, Prodigal Daughters Amish series, "Holly and Ivy" in A Bouquet of Brides Collection, and "Bygones" in Thimbles and Threads. She is a member of ACFW and active in critique groups.
Mary lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of thirty-seven years and one cat. She has three adult children and three incredibly adorable grandchildren. Find her online at: Books2Read Newsletter Blog FB FB Readers Group Amazon GoodReads BookBub
~Who Knew?: Women in History by Sarah Herman