Friday, October 23, 2009

When Vintage Gets Personal: Joyce's Highschool Sweater


What really excites me about antiques and vintage clothing is the way they make me feel connected to the past. When I put on a wacky 80s prom dress, I think about the girl who picked it out 30 years ago and what her prom was like, who her date was, if she lost her virginity that night... Old hand mirrors and dolls from the turn of the century make me think of life as a little girl back then. Was it her favorite doll? What did she name it? What did she grow up to be and when did the doll pass from her possession? Usually the answers to these questions are left up to the imagination, but in some special cases an imprint of the individual is left behind. I love finding a book with a ticket stub in it or a personal note written on the inside cover.

I enjoy rooting through the boxes of old photographs in antique stores too, and on some level I feel sorry for the people in those pictures. I feel like they are lost in a way, with no record of who they were, where they were being photographed, or why their pictures are in this bin and not in a descendant's photo album somewhere. I also wonder: Will pictures of me someday end up in an unmarked box like this to either be thrown away or taken home by some stranger? As you can tell by the layout of my blog, I really cherish old photographs of my family. I hope when I'm gone, someone will cherish my photographs and the stories passed down about me.

Now get ready for the crazy part: I truly feel compelled to "rescue" these kinds of items from their unwanted anonymity. It depresses me to think that things that were once loved can end up forgotten and detached from their past. Like this box!


I found it at a thrift store outside Atlanta. When I opened it and saw the note on the inside, I absolutely had to adopt it.

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Poor Patty! What could have happened that this personalized gift from 1984 would end up on a junk shelf in 2009? Did Patty and her sister have a falling out? Did her sister die and the box got tossed out after the estate sale? Either way, you kind of have to laugh at the irony of finding a box inscribed "sisters forever" in an anonymous Value Village.


These Laura mugs are also from a thrift store. There is a small copyright dating them at 1976 and they look it! I like imagining Laura as a hip flower child, sipping tea form her psychedelic mugs in some kitschy, colorful apartment.


And then there's Joyce. I found her sweater in an antique store in NC and immediately had to snatch it up for the shop. When I was cleaning and examining it later, I noticed her little name tag pinned to the inside.


She also sewed up the sides to make a more snug fit. I was going to remove her not-so-professional alterations, but for some reason I just can't! More of my superstitious weirdness, but I feel like when I found the sweater, I found a piece of Joyce. To me, this little letterman sweater contains an imprint of a 1960s southern high school cheerleader, who smoked cigarettes behind the bleachers and kissed boys in backseats, and checked her hair in her compact mirror and ditched class with her friends. I'm responsible for her now and removing her name tag and alterations would somehow make her vanish completely! Is that crazy? Either way, I think she was a fun girl because I get this fun vibe whenever I put on her shirt.

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I really do feel like used clothing has a story to tell and deserves to be loved and remembered. Maybe that's why I'm so sentimental about the things I sell on etsy. Maybe this is creepy, but I always ask the buyers to send in a picture of themselves wearing the garment. Consider it like an adoption follow-up; I want proof that the relocated item has found a happy loving home across the country. It gives me tremendous piece of mind! I was so elated when one of my buyers actually did send a picture of herself in the dress she bought. Thank you, Heather!! (Psst. She also has a cute inexpensive etsy shop!)


Monday, October 5, 2009

Fashion Undead or OFF WITH ITS HEAD?

If you're still out there, sorry for the radio silence! My mind has been brimming with post ideas, unfortunately my schedule and camera have not been so cooperative. So I thought I'd do another one of these features to get back into the swing of things and see if anyone is still interested! 

Today's featured item is kind of a tribute to the last breath of Summer:
The Funky and Fabulous (or Frumpy and Fugly?) High-Waisted Denim Shorts!


Usually I'm neutral or unsure about the clothes I put in Fashion Undead, but this week I have to admit I am biased in favor of these 80's shorts! I've worn them myself several times and always feel super giddy and fun when I have them on and ready for summer mischief. I actually had to wrestle with myself a bit to put them into the etsy shop, convinced that they would be scooped up instantly. Not so. In fact, no one so much as "hearts" them! This combined with the lukewarm responses of my friends and family whenever I say "Don't you love my shorts?" has got me reevaluating their awesomeness. 

They are obviously kind of dorky. The biker-short length with the lace, the high-waistedness with the pleats, let's just say it doesn't contribute to a sex-kitten silhouette. But am I the only one that thinks there's something kind of appealing about the dorkiness? They remind me of something a character from the Baby-Sitter's Club would wear while riding her bike in a safe, well-manicured suburb in 1989.

But of course the point of all this isn't to try and convert everyone into 80's shorts lovers, but to find out the opinions of all the varied stylish ladies and gents of the blogiverse! Do these shorts deserve a sentimental place in the denim history museum? Or should they be banished into an unmarked box in the basement for another 20 years?

Fashion Undead or Off with their HEAD?? (Please visit these shorts at Chictopia to participate in the poll if you are so inclined).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Responsible School Girl Outfits

I want to apologize for the radio silence on my end, but as the title suggests, it is now that time of year when I must shed my summer frivolity and become a responsible school girl. That combined with an internet crisis at my apartment made it difficult for me to blog and to comment on other blogs. (I've never been as consistent and frequent of a blogger as some of the other amazing dedicated ladies out there, and I hate to say I'm going to become even less active as the semester consumes me). Thank you to everyone who wrote me to ask where I was! I am so touched people worried about my well being! Your comments, no school on Tuesdays, and a shiny new internet cable bring me here today.

As depressing as it is to say so-long to summer, I can't pretend I haven't been excited about dressing the part for the school year! Nothing helps me get my mind in the right place like the right outfit, so last week I specialized in responsible school girl looks. Here are two I managed to document:
                  Skirt: Swapped                                             Skirt: Hand Made by me :~)
            Glasses and Scarf: Sam Moon                                       Pearls (totally fake): thrifted
Chinese Slippers: China!                                      Flats: Vintage
Bag: Sam Moon                                                Bag: Sam Moon

I know everyone has their little back-to-school resolutions and rituals and I am no exception. Here are the things I've been all about for fall.

My Must Have School Girl Accessories:

Comfortable flats! 
I love heels but they aren't realistic for running around all day and for showing up for my outdoor center job in. I've been living in sensible flats like these, especially my chinese slippers!

New School Bag: 

Every year I treat myself to a new school bag. I love this satchel style one with gold chains, something about the shape and texture just says "no nonsense hot mama" to me, which is a vibe I want to embody as the school year gets tough! I got it at Sam Moon which is this amazing gigantic wholesale accessories warehouse in Dallas. If you're ever there, hit this place UP!!

Up-do's and Pearls: 

My hair is waaaay over grown at this point; in fact, I'm embarassed to report that it may be treading dangerous mullet territory very soon. To counteract this, I have been pinning it up with a million bobby pins and clipping different little bows and barrettes in it. This combined with pearls just makes me feel dang classy and ready to take important notes and meet with influential people!

Other than that, I've just been sure to bring my water bottle and a cardigan with me everywhere. Has anyone else started a nasty old school year? What are your rituals?

Friday, July 31, 2009

How to tie 40s scarf

I didn't even think to include a "how to" on my last post about 40s style scarves, but Eyeliah from Style Symmetry nicely asked me to elaborate so here is  my "tutorial." I'm no vintage hair genius like some people; in fact, I just kind of made this up so I have no idea if this is how they really did it. But it works for me so I might as well share! If you try this out, you might have to play with different scarf sizes and ways to tuck it in but eventually you'll get it and add your own flare too!

Step one: Fold scarf into triangle.

Step two: Put triangle over your messy overgrown backwoods bush of a head, pointy part towards forehead.  I have a small scarf so I am staying behind my ears, but you can also go over your ears which is more authentic.

Step three: Bring other two corners around to front.

Step four: Tie loose ends over triangle point. At this stage, you might need to adjust, maybe pull middle part forward more, or for bigger scarves tuck in the extra fabric on top. You can also pin flaps down.

Step five: Tie ends in a bow or tuck them in along sides. Adjust bangs to your taste, stuff offending loose hairs beneath scarf. With bigger scarves, if the middle part is going too far over your forehead, you can fold it back and hold it in place with a broach or pin.

Step six: Await the emergence of your inner smokin 1940's vixen. Feel fabulous. Do house chores or put rivets in a metal sheet. 

Taa daa!


Thursday, July 23, 2009

40s Factory Inspiration

Let's talk about my hair woes. Although I love the pixie cut, the truth of the matter is that it lacks variety. I miss the days when I could choose different hair styles to suit my mood-- braids, curls, half ponytails, headbands, barretts, hair accessories in general... The nice thing about this haircut is that it looks good messy, a must for lazy people like me, but sometimes I don't feel like being messy. Sometimes I want to look put together and yet still the busy lady I am. 

Which is why I have been borrowing looks from the busy working ladies of the wartime 40s! What better way to hide your hair on off-days while still looking sharp and expressing yourself? It's amazing how wrapping a piece of cloth around your head can slice right through the monotony of seeing your reflection with the same old haircut every day. I'm sure people who know me from flickr have already noticed my newfound devotion to the 40s/50s headscarf turban seeing as I rarely leave the house without one these days. At least I know my friends and coworkers have noticed, as I have been receiving lots of "I Love Lucy" references.


I absolutely love the headscarfs and turbans popularized during and after World War II. Not just for the I Love Lucy washer woman, you can see how chic they could really be in these high fashion photographs. The last picture came from Vogue in 1953, but like so many trends, the headscarf really came into play for practical reasons. 

At the beginning of WWII, women were encouraged to come work in the factories to help fill the labor gap left by enlisted men, and the scarfs were worn simply as a method of keeping hair clean and out of machinery.  I'm sure everyone is familiar with the Rosie the Riveter image, which captured my imagination growing up (particularly the Norman Rockwell painting), and indeed headscarfs like hers became the symbol of the Woman Ordinance Worker (W.O.W) and a source of pride. Check out these other propaganda posters of the time period that inspired contemporary women of the 1940s as well as myself!

But probably most inspiring of all are the real live Rosies that actually populated the factories! These propaganda posters and the amazing color photographs below are from the Library of Congress, which I highly recommend for perusal if you're an old picture lover like me. What would it have been like to go from a shut-away house wife to an empowered figure of strength with a real patriotic duty to fulfill? It must have been exciting. I'm sure the real issue came in trying to send these ladies back to the kitchens once the war was over. How could you ever find pastry baking interesting after building fighter planes?

Not that I have anything on these tough cookies, but I like to think I can channel at least some of their energy and attitude by wearing my fun versions of their serious headgear. To spice it up, I've been adding vintage pins and even made some poor attempts at pincurls, although I don't know how they achieved those amazing fluffy bangs peeking out. 

If you're having a bad hair day, try a turban on for size! I highly recommend some 40's factory Inspiration.

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