"neon" - color in fashion (1934)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Sun Jan 9 21:23:32 UTC 2005

* neon, a. 'of or resembling a neon light, esp. in being brilliantly
coloured; bright, gaudy, glowing' (OED3 1961)

-- in fashion, apparently first used in "neon blue":

1934 _Los Angeles Times_ 9 Oct. II8 (advt.) Jodelle's daring combination
of black with civil war days sash and bow of neon blue velvet.

1935 _Los Angeles Times_ 20 Jul. II12 (advt.) Playsuits with action pleats
in the sleeves, the back and the trouser legs -- made of that famous fugi
silk that tubs and wears -- dark brown -- neon blue -- natural.

1935 _Los Angeles Times_ 9 Aug 9. II10 (advt.) Velvet dinner dresses that
have a versatile way of going other places! -- neon blue, black or
dubonnet velvet.

1936 _Coshocton Tribune_ (Ohio) 22 Oct. 11 (advt.) Dress sketched is of
crepe -- with wide front panel of Neon Blue -- the rest of the dress is
black -- molded together with lacings.

1937 _Edwardsville Intelligencer_ (Illinois) 9 Nov. 3/1 The bridesmaid
wore a floor length dress of neon blue transparent velvet with silver
accessories and a silver coronet in her hair.

-- generic use in fashion:

1938 _New York Times_ 10 Feb. 9 (advt.) Saks Fifth Avenue presents a
fashion show ... featuring neon colors.

1938 _Chicago Tribune_ 10 Apr. A2 (advt.) All-silk pure dye triple sheer
blouses ... Neon 7-color stripes.

1941 _New York Times_ 16 Oct. 8 (advt.) Neutral or neon wool dresses to
illuminate dark coats.

* neon-bright (OED3 1958)

1938 _Chicago Tribune_ 7 Feb. 18 (advt.) Pure dye crepes in over
seventy-five colors that range from such deliciously delicate shades as
ivory and cornsilk yellow to neon bright colors.

1940 _Los Angeles Times_ 1 Nov. 3 (advt.) Waltzing in marquisette,
threaded with silver, swaying to a rumba in jersey, very covered-up, or
candle-slim in crepe with a neon-bright panel.

1941 _New York Times_ 16 Oct. 8 (advt.) The neon-bright purple wool dress,
buttoned (like a slim coat) with plastic chrysanthemums.

1941 _Los Angeles Times_ 2 Nov. IV5 (advt.) There and in our Wilshire shop
you will find all the exciting 1942 resort fashions...the huge flower
prints, the great swathes of neon-bright color everywhere.

--Ben Zimmer

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