Friday my grandmother went to an estate sale in town and bought me all sorts of wonderful goodies. I used to go to garage and estate sales a lot with my grandma when she had a space in an antique mall, and on those treasure hunts I found my first pair of gloves, my first Nancy Drew book, and saw how the pros handle such amazing deals. Being a little girl I could get away with a lot. Distract a competitor with a sweet little smile, run up stairs past dealers and pick out all the good stuff before anyone else. My grandma and I were a competitive pair, and I'm hoping to go more often this summer, maybe I can even use that as motivation to learn how to drive.
She said she didn't even get to the sale when it opened, but found these fabulous treasures and so much more she wanted to buy. However she did say one woman that had been there a while had a bunch of vintage lingerie, I think it was a good thing I wasn't there or else I would have tackled her. These dresses are super though, I'm so excited to have a dress with matching bolero, those are difficult to find these days, and I love the fluffy trim. The red candystripe one is in one of my favorite styles, with a wrap-around back and big decorated pockets. Summer can't come soon enough.
Gloves! Gloves are always a wonderful gift, and every one of these are in perfect condition, even the white ones. The lace blouse will make a wonderful layering piece until the warmer weather, and this hat pin is one of the most unique I've seen. I have yet to use my new machine (but did get the bobbin case) so hopefully when I do I can use this rick-rack for something, they're in such fun colors. And one can never have too many rhinestone brooches, and this sweet little one is perfect lapel sized.
Also she got me some beautiful paisley fabric, another blouse, a pair of earrings, and a bunch of pretty silk scarves. Doesn't get much better than a crock pot box full of vintage eye candy.
Thank you Grandma!
Here are excerpts from the 1952 book "How to clean everything" by Alma Chesnut Moorre. Described as and "Encyclopedia of what to use and how to use it" this book seems to have solutions for cleaning or preserving anything in your house, and is especially useful for vintage things that newer cleaning books do not include. I have only used the silk scarf method, so I cannot tell you from experience how well the others work, but feel free to try one out and let me know :)
"The following general instructions are for all kinds of stockings. Wash them by hand as soon as possible after wearing, since perspiration is bad for all types. Remove catchy rings and use warm suds, made with pure soap flakes or detergent. Do not rub soap directly on your stockings, and do not twist, rub or wring them and you may break a delicate thread and cause a run. Instead squeeze them gently through the suds. Rinse in lukewarm water, roll in a turkish towel and pat to remove excess moisture. Ease gently into shape and dry away from heat and sunlight. Rayon stockings require careful handling because the fibers are weak when wet or damp. In shaping them dry, stretch the ankles gently crosswise. Allow them to dry at least thrity-six hours before wearing them. If rayons are not thoroughly dry when they are worn they will stretch and sag and threads will be broken causing runs. Nylons dry so quickly and are so sheer that they are likely to float right off rods and racks with the attendant danger of snagging. To avoid this place a dry towel on the rod and hang the stockings over that."
*There were three different types of plastics that made up various bakelite products, but this one was used for radios.*
"Molded Phenolic maintains it luster, strength and rigidity through repeated washings and under humid service conditions. Alcohol, oils and grease do not affect it. It will not transmit electricity. Trade-marks for molded phenolics are Bakelite, G.E. Phenolic, Indur and Resinox. Wash phenolic plastics with a cloth or sponge wrung of warm suds made with soap or detergent. Do not use scouring powders. Keep them from direct flame to avoid charring. They will not burn."
*Most silk garments should be taken to a professional cleaner, but most scarves can be washed by hand using this method*
"Synthetic detergents are much better for silk because silks are damaged by alkalines, and even the purest soap is likely to be alkaline in reaction. In hand laundering silks do not rub the fabric but squeeze and work in about in the suds in cool or lukewarm water. Rubbing is likely to break the fibers and dull the finish. Rinse carefully in water of the same temperature, then remove excess moisture by squeezing and patting it between dry towels. Do not wrinkle silks more than Necessary. Wrinkles, especially those caused by an extractor are difficult to remove. No not hand silks in the sun or place them near any source of heat. But do dry them as quickly as possible. Rapid drying in front of an electric fan prevents formation of watermarks, and aids in retaining the glossy finish. Exquisite bits of sheer silks, especially those inclined to run are sometimes dried by shaking them gently until of the proper dampness for ironing. Silks should be uniformaly damp when they are pressed. Iron them before they have dried completely for best results. (If allowed to dry, dampening may cause water spots.)If they are too wet when ironed, the material will be stiff and papery. Use warm (never hot) iron and press on the wrong side, preferably with a piece of clean cheesecloth protection the fabric. "
"Keep them will brushed and they will be damaged less if caught in the rain. To clean them, wipe with a cloth dipped in warm suds, made with a synthetic detergent or soap. Rinse with a cloth wrung out of plain water. Do not get a straw hat too wet or it may shrink. Limp straws can be stiffened by brushing them over with a light coat of sheer shellac, diluted with an equal amount of alcohol. To brighten color and renew the gloss of dark straws, rub them with a dark cloth dampened with denatured alcohol, diluted with one quarter the amount of water, then polish them lightly with a piece of dark colored velvet."
"You can keep felt hats neatly brushed and you can remove surface dirt with a clean rubber sponge. For a beauty treatment steam the hat gently, using the tip of your steam iron or the spout of a teakettle. Steam the crown first, turning the hat slowly until the surface has been covered, then brush it lightly in the direction of the nap. Steam the brim and brush it. Do not get the hat too wet or it will shrink."
"Veils that have lost their oomph can be restored with gum arabic solution. Dip limp veils in the solution, spread them on a towel and press them carefully with a warm iron. Another method is to press them between two pieces of waxed paper.
Today was another day at The Urban Eccentric, and Sam suggested I wear this 1940s suit I've had for a few months but never worn. When I was searching for a suit I was looking everywhere but at work, and while arranging racks one day I came across it, right under my nose all that time I was looking. This one was considered a "man tailored" suit like this picture from a 1945-46 Sears catalogue. The term always confused me, and seemed putting off, because I thought it meant more of a boxy, masculine style. It actually means that the suit was the quality of a mans, well structured and from the same type of fabric. During the war women would take the suits of their husbands and brothers and re-structure them for themselves.This suit fits me very well, and I especially love the pocket detail on this jacket and on others from the era, we always seem to steal things from the boys and make it better :)
Here's a great bird hat photo, I was glad it wasn't raining or windy so I could wear it, but did need the fur collar to keep warm without a coat. On windy days bird hat flies away...
Today I spent the afternoon with my friend Ellery, and what a lovely and chilly day it was. It looked like spring, there was even this little crocus on her lawn opening up to the sun. I opened up my suitcase full of spring dresses and pulled out this blue monogrammed shirtdress. Paired with a wool cardigan and matching petticoat gave it a little more warmth, along with a trench coat for walking around, but still too cold for the other 30s and 50s sundresses. Sigh.
We stopped by the Discovery thrift shop where there was this sliding glass cabinet perfect for hats, but I have no room and no money for such a fancy display. I did however find a red rectangular scarf for bows and a monogrammed scarf with a "G" on it I've seen and wanted in the old 40s Sears catalogues. I don't know what the "G" stands for, Ellery says "Gangsta'" I say "Gerbil". I think we are both right.
This weekend I will be posting excerpts from the "How to clean everything" book. If you would like to know how to clean something circa 1952, submit your question here
So far I have stockings, silk scarves, a bakelite radio, and straw and felt hats as well as veils.
When people who collect hats come into the shop I work at, wearing a sweatshirt and tennis shoes, I have the urge to grab all the really great ones and hide them in the back until they leave. Because I know that the hats they buy will only be hidden away in a hatbox, or set on display to collect dust. A woman who came in today was especially irksome in her collectors attitude, wanting a discount on a $12.00 40s feathered hat because she insisted it was dirty and she would have to pay to get it cleaned. It was not dirty, and $12.00 was most definitely low enough for such a gem, so I declined. She still got it but didn't want a bag for it, she wanted a hatbox, since her giant dog in her truck would trample all over it. I told her we sell them, but maybe she could just wear it home and that way no harm would come to it. She looks at me disgusted and says "I can't wear it until it gets cleaned."
This is the exact reason I get so selfish about my hats. I won an amazing 30s hat on ebay the other day (with an actual bird on it!) and was so set in winning it because I just know that chances are, no one is going to actually wear the hat as much as I will. I love hats. They frame the face. They make a statement. They are the finishing touch on an outfit. Unlike todays accessories most women swoon over, like bags and shoes, hats are much more affordable because no one wears them anymore. There is not much of a demand, and while I have seen some over the top styles go for a lot on ebay, really I can find a wonderful hat for under $20 and without it my outfit is not nearly as exiting. The one I got the other day I only paid $30.00 for, and seriously, its way more fabulous than any designer bag out there.
I urge you to try out a hat. Start small if you want. A little black pillbox, or fascinator. Soon enough you may find yourself spotting hats everywhere, and seeing just how inexpensive they are. And if you come into the shop where I work, I will greet you with a smile because you will look fabulous in your darling little hat :)
I'm finally back on track and did a photo shoot last night of new items for Etsy. I'll be listing all week, these are just a few items going in the shop. And I'll be putting some of the older things half price, so if you've had your eye on something, it may be on sale!
I've been refraining from obsessing too much with the 30s, since it's incredibly difficult to find clothing and accessories from that era in America. It's such an overlooked decade because of the great depression, most frocks were worn until they could be worn no more, or crafty women reworked the fabric into children's clothes or aprons. While I applaud those women for their thrifty set of mind, I am also sad to know that as time goes on, 30s clothing becomes more and more rare.
I have one amazing 1930s dress that looks just perfect, but I am reluctant to wear it since it is so perfect and made of silk. I'd hate to be the one who ruined a rarity. But I wold like to take this interest farther, so I'm now on the search for 30s dress patterns, that way I can wear them without worry. Meanwhile this outfit is my attempt at a late 30s look, the big neck bow being my inspiration since I am constantly coming across old photos with that look, but always thought I needed a specific blouse for it. Then I realized I could just tie a long silk scarf under the collar, so now I'm going to obsess over long silk scarves. These things are so versatile.
Oh and this hat is spectacular. It's my mothers and has been sitting on display for much too long. I finally created an outfit to wear it with, and think I would be much less fabulous without it :)
Skirt-The Urban Eccentric
Hat and shoes-Mothers.
Purse-Discovery thrift shop.
Gloves and scarf-Who knows...
I was so excited to find this suit last year at Magpie, not only because it's gorgeous, but also it is very similar to Amy Adams late 30s dress in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. It's the first time I've had a chance to wear it, since it's more of a spring suit, but I just love the color and drape of the wool. If only I had a matching hat, but I think the black one I have is quite similar, dont you? If you haven't seen the movie yet, I recommend it, the costumes are fabulous, and I just adore Amy Adams. I think I'm stalking her film wardrobes, since I also did a photoshoot last summer in the spirit of Enchanted.
Spider brooch-The Urban Eccentric
Purse-Discovery thrift shop.
I got to wear my kitty sweater for the first time today, which just happened to match these 20s style shoes I bought at work weeks ago. I also picked up a 40s snood from a collection my boss Chris got the other day. I had never worn one before although always wanted to, even if they do remind most people of lunch ladies. I now know that slick strait hair does not get along well with le snood, so next time I'll wear it on a second day of rag curls.
It was a really beautiful day, blue skies and warm(er) weather. Maybe tomorrow will be just as nice.
On the way to work, as always, I went to the Discovery thrift shop. I refrained from buying a 40s tablecloth (I don't have a table) as pretty as it was, and spent 40 cents on some kitchen utensils instead. I've decided I'm going to collect silverware with initials or hotel names on them for married life, they seem to be the only kind I like. Sam will like them too, I'm just sure of it :)
A very cool monogramed Pedleton at work, if you haven't learned how to monogram yet, what are you waiting for? Instructions here
So, here's what I want you to do. If you don't know how to clean something, or are curious to know how it was cleaned in the 1950s, just comment with what you want to know and I will do a post in a week with the answers.
And yeah. That's what I look like when I clean. Doesn't everyone?
Today I got to wear my red cape and leopard muff for the first time, and boy did I get some looks on my way to work. Especially from one sour lady driving by, you'd have thought I was flipping her the bird by the look on her face. But it was very warm, and even had neat pockets inside I didn't see before. On my way to work I stopped at the Discovery thrift shop and got a bunch of jewelry for my shop and a pretty sparrow pin for myself. I've been looking for one forever, I guess it's just my week to find what I've been wanting.
My friend and co-worker Jen stopped by and looked darling, I just love that coat, and snatched up a matching hat before leaving. Her mom was sweet enough to snap a picture, we look like Christmas!
Cape and muff-Buffalo Exchange
Blue shoes, and boater hats.
I've never actually been one to wear a boater, for summer I prefer the really wide brim hats, or fun florals. However these hats have appeared on so many runways for the spring season they are hard to ignore. I think the attraction is not only the hat itself, but how it is worn: tilted and forward. Much different from the traditional way of wearing it on top of the head, and ever so eye catching.
The other stand out accessory are deep sky blue shoes. Worn with all kinds of outfits and colors, they really have a fresh impact on footwear, more daring than navy. Colorful shoes in general are always so much more exciting than black, and I will always remember a scene in the film 'Chocolat" when Viannes daughter is angry at her mother because the children at school tease her for being different. She exclaims "Why cant you wear black shoes like all the other mothers!"
Louboutin like shoes from Rerun
I think everyone needs more color in their shoe wardrobe. Yes black goes with pretty much everything, and there are some really exciting styles out there, but that is precisely why daring colored shoes are less seen, and more appreciated.
If asked what my favorite color is, I'll usually insist on having two: Pink and red. However, reviewing my posts I seem to be drawn to red in many things I choose to surround myself with. At the shop I work at there are often times where people will buy multiple items all in the same color, and not take note of it until I say something. Sometimes it's not their favorite color, but rather the color they are drawn to that day depending on the mood they are set in. I've also experienced this in shopping, as I'm sure many have, where I pick one color over another because it feels more right. In lighter moods I gravitate towards pinks and yellows, even though I know yellow looks horrible on me. Serious moods have me trying on black and gray things, which are often taken out of my closet not too long after a purchase because they are too "practical".
Red though is a whole other story. I can be drawn to red in any mood or situation and find that if I do not apply red lipstick when going out, I feel much less confident and more blended in with the world. Red lips demand attention, if I am speaking to you, you will listen. If I smile, so will you. Red lips can turn your day around, if you are having a bad hair day, feel invisible, or find yourself needing a pick me up in the middle of a workday. I have a few favorites, including "Lady Bug" and "Chili" by M.A.C., and "Red Velvet" by Chanel.
What's your favorite red?
I have a list of items in my mind that I am always searching for. I can never settle for something ok, even if finding exactly what I want takes years. With some items it has taken years, but it definitely pays off finding that perfect something I've waited for. Usually between the time I decide I want it, and the time I actually get it, I'll come across mediocre versions that I could settle for if I want it now, but if I am just a bit more patient I know I will find exactly what I want. Sometimes it has to do with price, I'll find what I'm looking for in an item but not in price, or it will be one little detail that just throws me off. These things have stayed in my closet much longer than impulse buys, and are so much more exciting to find and to wear. This winter I found a number of items I've been searching for, including my blue striped pants, Michael Kors bag, and brown loafers.
Funny enough after seeing Confessions of a Shopaholic last night, I had the urge to sort out my closet. I think seeing such fabulous clothes makes me realize I should only keep things I wear often and let go of the so-so items to get amazing ones. It's on ongoing process.
So I took a bag of clothes to Buffalo Exchange (A different location this time, so much better than the other) and was thrilled to find two items I've been searching for. A great red wool Pendleton cape ($21.00), and a leopard print muff ($12.00) with a built in pouch to serve as a purse.
Also bought this great black mandarin dress with fabulous buttons. I seem to have a little collection of mandarin dresses building up, since I just love how they look. The real ones never fit me, but the 50s imitation designs fit like a glove.
How could I resist kittens on a cardigan?
Since I traded clothes I only spent $16.00 on all four items, which I think is pretty darn peachy. There were other items I considered, but I didn't want to go too much over the trade limit, and the ones I have are great finds. I would have taken pictures but the dressing rooms are much smaller than the other store, and for some reason a group of girls decided to stand in front of the big dressing room mirror while they tried to convince their friend the jeans she was trying on did not make her derier look fat.
I got a new sewing machine! It's one that has been sitting at the thrift store I frequent, and just this week marked down from $40 to $20. What a steal. The machine is built into a table and can fold under for space saving. It also has a knee pedal instead of a foot pedal which will get some getting used to, but I really like the lack of twisting wire on the floor. After dusting it and setting up my own little space, it feels so nice and inviting, I even hung up some 1940s pictures and needlepoint I bought earlier in the week, I'll have to take pictures of those too.
I'd love to sit right down and tackle the basket of repairs I have, but its missing its little bobbin holder. I hope it wont need any sort of special one, I just plan on taking ones I see from the hopeless sewing machines at the bins, and if that doesn't work I'll need to search around for one. Meanwhile it just looks so pretty, and sounds ever so smooth.
If anyone has an idea when this is from (I'll do some research soon) I'd love to hear what you think. My guess is 1940s, but is in such good condition its hard to tell.
Yesterday Sam and I went to get our car fixed in Hazel Dell, a part of town neither of us are very find of. It was snowing but we had an hour to wait (After that hour it turned out something else was wrong and they needed it another day. Boo.) and Sam had the wonderful idea of walking somewhere. In the snow. We made it next door to a lighting store, which turned out to be much more exciting than anticipated, but I think it was his company that made it so. There really are some neat vintage replica lighting fixtures, and I even found this adorable pink retro fan.
Sam found this great antique telephone style bath and shower faucet. How cool is that?
After Sam had the wonderful idea of walking in the snow, I had the equally wonderful idea of getting Popsicles. Brrrr!
This light is for Ellery.
Spring is soooooo close. And yet it snowed today, so it is also nowhere in sight. Its difficult to wear hats with this weather, they get blown off even with hatpins, or just plain get wet. To replace a lovely hat are clips and combs, something I've been collecting and wearing during this hat-hating weather. Bows of course are a must, and remind me of Sally in the Dick Van Dyke show who wore an adorable bow in her hair every day. It always made her office outfit more cheerful and lighthearted. Combs and barrettes have also worked their way into my little collection, of various shapes and sizes. There are some cute ones on Etsy, and I always see really elaborate ones at antique shops. Combs seem really underused now, which is unfortunate since they can make a dull hair day look really put together. They also are an easy 1940s look with hair down if ever you want the look but don't have the time to spend on something so elaborate.
Flower clip-Victorian Bustle
Others are from thrift stores.
I just wanted to say a big thank you to all my blog readers and commenters. I really appreciate all the lovely things you say, and getting to share some of the colorful aspects of my life makes those normal days a little more exciting. I've also found some amazing blogs from the comments you leave, since I'm terrible at going out and searching for them, its so nice to have people with the same interests as I do introduce themselves to me, and also opening my mind to styles and ideas I would have never noticed if it weren't for you.
I don't live in a place that holds fashion high, and often am complimented for simply wearing a skirt. This used to frustrate me, as I would see so many strangers around me not bothering to put any effort into their appearance. As much as I don't want to be mainstream, I also craved the knowledge that there would be more people out there who also enjoyed getting dressed, and were inspired by things other people never saw. People who appreciate old fashioned pretty things, like old lockets with sweethearts photos still in it, a carved glass button, or maybe simply just a pair of stockings with seams up the back. Whether you surround yourself with things like this, or are inspired by them, thank you everyone for hanging around my little blog, and sharing yours :)
I'm at Sam's families house just as much as my own. Sometimes he's home, sometimes he's at work, but either way his family is always so fun and inviting there's never a dull moment. Tonight his mother Lisa pulled me aside for some assistance with a 1940s style photo shoot she has tomorrow. The big effect to get down was lighting, and we looked at old Hollywood portraits with dramatic contrast to achieve just the right effect. So I sat there in Sam's Led Zeppelin t-shirt, with my unstyled hair and makeup worn off and click-click went the camera. She worked on the above one in in photoshop and I must say worked wonders. Too bad I don't look like that every night.
Here is one from one of my first photo shoots with her with the same dramatic lighting effect.
One of my favorites is of Veronica Lake. Seriously.
Today was one of those days where you just really don't feel like getting out of your pajamas, but if you must you must. And so I wore my new pants, and bundled up (It looked like it would rain), and was walking to work when who should I see halfway there but my darling Sam, coming to meet me. It's those nice little things that make the rest of the day go well.
This mural behind me was painted a few summers ago by some local artists and is one of my favorites. We have a lot of cool murals downtown but this one is sepia colored and made to mock a vintage photograph of the street 60 years ago, it even has the scalloped frame boarder. Cute huh?
Pants-Marc Jacobs, Buffalo Exchange
Coat-Charles David, Nordstrom
Today was another trip to Portland, and it was a little chilly. Brrr. We went to Powells books and I browsed through the fashion section on the search for that glove book, with no luck. There were only a few books that really interested me, since far to many of them are t-shirt, sneaker, or "How to dress" books, and far to little of the ones I want. Only one little book on Paul Poiret, a thin selection on Chanel, and of course, no glove books whatsoever. A few hat books, but nothing in my price range. There is an adorable little Dior book I always eye when I'm there, but I can never bring myself to pay $20 for it. I don't know why, it's worth it, but I guess when I think I can get a dress instead, that just makes more sense. I also looked at some bread baking books, since I'd like to start making homemade bread. I always want to browse the actual novel section, I'd love to get into some designer biographies, but I have so many other books to read it would seem pointless. After the book store we went to the vintage store Magpie, one of my favorites in Portland. Last time we went Sam found a suit, which are hard to find that fit him well. Today he found another one that was three piece, just what he's been looking for. I also found an amazing 50s pink lace suit with rhinestone buttons and and a big satin bow in the back. Fit like a glove. Sigh.
Tomorrow Sam our friend Anna and I are going to Portland for a trip to Powells books. I know, I was totally there the other day, but trust me there's tons to look at. When I was at the Art Institute I checked out a book from the library all about gloves. It was so good and informative, from the 1940s or 50s I think, and ever since then I've been searching for it to buy. I wrote down the title somewhere...but thats just it. It's somewhere, and not right here. Don't you hate it when that happens?
I mean, look at that picture. Its a wizard being accompanied by a unicorn and a dragon, with a rainbow emerging from a lighting crystal ball. Can you handle all of that?
Really I love the bins, as smelly and dirty as it is. Because it's like a treasure hunt, and the thrill of finding something underneath all of that garbage is pretty satisfying. Basically I dig through junk so you don't have to :)
Skirt-The Urban Eccentric
Today my mother had a hair appointment in Portland and afterward we went to Powells books and Buffalo Exchange. I cleaned off my bookshelf the other day, so I traded in some books for store credit, although they didn't take my textbooks, which was a little disappointing, but I guess I did get them over a year ago,so they're outdated. Buffalo Exchange had less vintage than ever, but the prices have improved (I got Marc Jacobs pants for $20!).
Kitty skirt-Dewberry Vintage.
Dressing room pictures:
Too big, and missing a button...
Adorable details, terrible color on me.
This modern one was cute, but too straight at the bodice. This is why I buy vintage, it actually fits.
This dress was so cool, and I wish I would have purchased it. I don't have any long dresses for daytime (Although I do have a butterfly halter jumpsuit that kind of looks like a dress, but that much awesomeness needs a post of its own).
I ended up getting a vintage bustier to add to my collection, and pair of Marc Jacobs striped pants. I've been looking for a good pair or striped pants for a while because they look so much better than blue jeans, but are still just as comfortable. Look at how the stripes match up with the leg and the pocket, a mark of a well made garment.