Dream Big: The Levi Strauss Story

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JeansAmerica is filled with ‘rags to riches’ stories but not all are as comical as the Levi Strauss story. Necessity truly is the Mother of invention. Just ask Levi Strauss!

Practically the entire world is familiar with the brand of Levi Strauss, but not everyone knows that the name belonged to an actual person who lived back in the 1800’s. Nor does anyone know just how many pairs of jeans were worn before the right ones were finally made to fit perfect.

There’s Gold Out Yonder!

In 1853 Levi Strauss, a German immigrant, set his sights on the California gold rush. He traveled to California from New York with a load of dry goods, mainly fabrics for his brother, and he planned on opening a store out west.
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Scarlett’s Secret: The Return of the Corset

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CorsetFlirtatious and pretty Southern belle, Scarlett O’Hara, didn’t really need a secret to attract men.  But she prided herself on her 17″ inch waist and Rhett Butler certainly liked it!  Scarlett obtained it by urging her nanny, Mammy, to lace her ‘stays’ tighter and tighter.

Bridget Jones in ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’, with more reason to worry about her waistline, also wore a corset.  When her secret was discovered by her handsome boss, Daniel Cleaver, he certainly didn’t raise any objection!  He greeted them with the words, “Hello Mummy,” creating one of the funnier scenes in the movie.

A high bust line, relatively small waist, and curvaceous figure are back in fashion.  Corsets help to achieve this.  Men love these sexy undergarments which are available in all shapes and sizes.  There is probably no sexier lingerie for women than the beautifully shaped and clinging Edwardian corset, which is much more comfortable now than when laces had to be tight.
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Parasols“It will be Summer – eventually.
Ladies – with parasols –
Sauntering Gentlemen – with Canes –
And little Girls – with Dolls”

Emily Dickinson, the famous poet, wrote these lines in the charming Victorian age when wealthy young ladies often used parasols in summer to protect their delicate skin from the sun.  If a lady had fair skin this meant that she didn’t have to work outdoors like the poor so this was considered a sign of privilege.  On the other hand, using an umbrella was a sign that a lady was poor because she couldn’t afford to hire or own a carriage.  ‘Showing off’ by riding in a carriage with the top down whilst holding a parasol was fashionable amongst young Victorian ladies and certainly one way to parade their pretty clothes.
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10 Strange Things About Shoes

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ShoesAre you superstitious? You may say no, but I would bet that you have participated in some of these seemingly innocent rituals. And I wonder if this is any indication why women seem to like to collect shoes… and lots of them?

1. Many people feel very nervous about the 13th of any month falling on a Friday and shoes seem to have been given some magical powers on this particular day. It is thought that if you wear an old pair of shoes on this unlucky day, you will ward off any bad luck that may cross your path. Must remember to tell my Mom this one. There are years when her birthday falls on a Friday the 13th!

2. This superstition is especially for any young girls who might be reading this article. Did you know that the laces in your shoes have also been connected to your love life! If they should become undone accidently, take a quick look around you. It is thought that the young man you are destined to marry is thinking about you at that very moment.
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Zippers: A Long Time in the Making

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ZipperTo get to the point in which zippers are today, there were three major stages in which it had to go through. The first of these started back on August 29, 1893 when the first zipper-like fastener was patented by Whitcomb Judson.

The strange thing about this patent was that at the time, it didn’t even work and he only sold twenty of them. All twenty were sold to the U.S. Postal Service as a way to close their mailbags. In those days it still had a ˜hook and eye’ design, and was called a ˜hookless fastener’.

Twenty years later it was 1913 and a person by the name of Gideon Sundback was attempting to reinvent the hookless fastener. He would perfect his design which he dubbed the ˜separable fastener’ and patent it in 1917.
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The Discovery of Ear Muffs

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EarmuffsChester Greenwood was fifteen years old and lived in Farmington, Maine. Now in winter Maine gets mighty cold and Chester had big ears. The cold made them turn white, then  red, then blue.

One day in 1873, Chester was skating on Abbott’s pond near his grandmother’s house. His ears became so cold that they hurt. Chester headed straight for Grandma’s. Upon his arrival, he found some wire, twisted it and had Grandma sew some insulating material on it. He then asked her to sew black velvet on the inside of the ear piece and some beaver fur on the outside. Grandma obliged.

When Chester returned to the pond, his friends laughed at him. However, long after they had gone home, Chester continued to skate on the pond and his ears were perfectly warm. Chester called his invention, The Greenwood Champion Ear Protector. Soon, all of his friends wanted a pair.
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Jewels of the Orient

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JewelsJade, pearls, cinnabar and Balinese silver-these materials conjure some of the world’s most exotic and breathtaking jewelry.  Formed into a myriad of designs, Oriental jewelry has a style that is reflective of the Far East in both craft and aesthetic.  The following article touches upon some of the most well-known and beloved jewelry of the Orient.

The Chinese have enjoyed a love affair with jade spanning more than seven thousand years.  While it was once anciently used in burial ceremonies, it is now considered “good luck” stone and used in a vast array of jewelry.  Because jade varies in color, it is helpful to know that the most valuable kind is called imperial jade or jadeite and is a beautiful emerald green color.  However, jade may be a milky white to various shades of green.  When purchasing jade jewelry, beware of the massive amounts of fake jade on the market. 

Cloisonne is a technique perfected by the Chinese.  Cloisonne jewelry represents enamel work at its highest level-an art that has created many beautiful jewels.  From bright dragon pendants to simple peony beads, cloisonné is the art of covering an object with metal wires, a base and enamel to create beautiful Oriental designs.
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