Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fashionable Sixties Tent Dresses Are Back...But Shorter

Hip Mini Moos Moos Have Returned

Are you sitting down? The Tent style dress is hot this season. But let me be frank with you... today's loose fitting Moo Moo styles are more "top" and not so much "bottom". They are dress-ettes! There is very little "dress" in the "dress". Today's retro chicks look a lot different than your mom looked in the 50s when she wore her Tent Style Moo Moo. Or back in the sixties when the style was still blousy but shorter. Young gals today have added a new twist to comfortable......Mini Moo Moos with a lot of leg showing. Guess that leaves me OUT this fashion season.

Mini Moo Moo Dresses Are Fashionable

Unlike the Mid-century housewife who covered up everything she had to offer with her "tent style" Moo Moo dress...... today's hipsters actually show off everything they have to offer with a very skimpy version of the Moo Moo or Tent Style

"Schmatta" Means "Rags" And More......

Back in the day, I remember my father calling some of my mom's Moo Moo Dresses..."schmatta dresses". Schmatta is a Yiddish word which mean's "rag" but also was the term many Jewish immigrants used to refer to the textile industry in New York City during the 40s and 50s and earlier. And "schmatta" referred to all textiles which could be curtains, clothing, dish towels etc.

While the word "schmatta" implies "junk", "cheap" , "garbage" it became a term used to describe the entire textile or fashion industry and was used warmly not as an insult. It was a phrase that those of us that were raised by Yiddish speaking grandparents understood.

"Schmatta": From Rags To Riches

"Schmatta" was more than a simple was a concept that implied how penniless immigrants came to America and were able to turn"rags" to "riches". Recently a friend explained to me that his dad's company dyed the materials that were used to make drapes. He said "my father was in the schmatta business" !

House Dress Or Fashion Statement ?

But "schmatta" was a word also used when women dressed more casually in styles that bordered on "house dress" or were considered "bargain" clothes, not meant for outside the home. Today, young gals are quite "fashionable' when they are wearing the latest Mini Moo Moos in neon colors and psychedelic patterns associated with the Hippie Generation of the 1960s.

Garment Industry Flourishes During the 1940s and 1950s

The Garment industry (district) which flourished during the 1940s and 1950s was centered between Fifth Avenue and Ninth Avenue between 34th to 42nd Street in New York City and now has almost completely vanished. Once 95 per cent of clothing was made in America. Now 95 per cent of what we wear is made abroad. Many young designers and others are trying to Save The Garment Center .

Learn More About The Garment Industry: Rags to Riches To Rags, HBO Documentary

For more information about "schmattas" and the history of The Garment Center watch this wonderful HBO documentary "Schmattas: From Rags To Riches To Rags" ( now on cable). Or read,_Manhattan

Photos courtesy of

C. Dianne Zweig is the author of Hot Kitchen & Home Collectibles of the 30s, 40s, 50s and Hot Cottage Collectibles for Vintage Style Homes. She is also the Editor of an actively growing internet based resource community for people who buy, sell or collect antiques, collectibles and art. You can find Dianne’s fabulous retro and vintage kitchen, home and cottage collectibles at The Collinsville Antiques Company of New Hartford, CT, a 22,000 feet antique emporium with an in-house retro cafĂ©.To read more articles by C. Dianne Zweig click on this link: C. Dianne Zweig’s Blog Kitsch ‘n Stuff Email me at dianne@cdiannezweig.comVisit my website, CDianneZweig.comDianne is a member of:The American Society of Journalists and AuthorsThe Authors Guild, Inc.


  1. well you have just confirmed my theory that if you wore something the first time it was in fashion you definitely shouldn't wear it the second go round!

  2. Gosh, I was a day ahead of the second person to have made a tent dress as a Sophomore in HS! It was short, and if you even moved a speck, it showed everything! Now you can wear leggings under them. A good thing!

  3. Yeah I do remember those, I would like to make some, but add about 6 inches to the bottom, giggles, hugs Barbara from

  4. Hi Dianne!!
    Yes...Its so fun to meet other Kitschy gals thru the web, and see all the funny things inspire them! ;-)..Like these dresses!!..So funny..I have scads of these patterns, and thought how nice and cool to make some up for summer!..another trend I couldn't help but notice while at the high school last night...Balloon dresses!!!!Remember those from the 80's?? ;-D..(those that are gathered at the hem)..but again..much shorter, and much lighter weight they look more like deflated balloons!..hee,hee!! ;-D