Monday, July 6, 2020

When I Started to Wear Vintage . . .

When I started to wear vintage, or "vintage" it was a dress that I had made myself from a reprinted Butterick pattern. The fabric was a pink cotton with a small print. The dress was my first retro style dress EVER! and I had no vintage or vintage inspired hats, shoes, gloves, bags, hair skills or jewelry. Squat nothing. There was only one vintage shop (it was super small! and later it would close but more on that later . . .) in my area and there were a few antique malls that had vintage goods but were all out of my price range. My knowledge was limited to the stuff I saw on Pinterest or Google images. When I started to wear vintage I had no muse, no inspiring person to follow, and no one I knew who was interested in vintage. I was totally solo. Looing back on my early vintage wearing days they were so exciting. . . It was all so new and different. It as like a whole new world was opening up for me. When I started to wear vintage my self confidence grew. My sewing skills sharpened. My hair and make up skills improved vastly. If I only knew then what I know now who knows. Back, back maybe almost 10 years ago,   I never would have guessed I would have such a collection of original pieces. I never would have guessed I would have hair skills, be able to have gloves to match every outfit. I would not have guessed I would be where I am today . . . I definitely would not have predicted I would have a blog and followers!!! It's amazing what the future can hold.
2015 or 2014  - 
My first home made vintage evening gown. 

Taken in 2015 - One of my earliest vintage looks!
2016 - separates! 
I was really attracted to vintage because I just fell in love with the look. It was something I did not even know was a thing until I saw it and kept digging for more. The more I looked the more I loved it. At first I thought these looks were completely unobtainable until I stopped in to my local fabric and pattern shop. I was flipping through the pattern books (there was a sale) and I found the Butterick re prints of vintage patterns. It was at that moment I bought one and got to work. Looking back on it, that dress was terrible. The fit was awful and it was far from flattering. Part of it was my fabric choice I will confess but I was a real beginner with sewing then too. I had much to learn.
I do not have that dress anymore - I got rid of it a long time ago. The pattern? I still have it believe it or not. Will I sew it up again? Absolutely not!! That was maybe all of 10 years ago. When I started I had pretty much nothing but that awful pink monstrosity but I was proud as punch over it. Armed with my one and only dress I wanted more, much more, but I knew I needed to educate myself more. That's when fate must have stepped in . . . What helped me train my eye was a small and cute book by Naomi Thompson titled Style Me Vintage. I found it in a small vintage/ antiques shop in my town. I still remember the little brick building painted mint green. Inside was not much but there were some vintage metal cabinets, tables and chairs. Picnic baskets and plaid thermos sat on the shelves with wool blankets rolled up beside them . .  .  The further one wandered into the store the more goodies one saw . . .The back half of the store was devoted to clothing and it was a beautiful sight for me. The store had been there a long time, way before I was into vintage but I had not given the place much thought before. Well, as you can imagine it had my attention now.
2017 - My vintage is getting better. . .. 
2017 . . . My vintage is getting way better! 
2018 - Not too Shabby. . . . 

2018 . . . Not too Shabby at all . . . 
2019 - Getting more adventurous by mixing and matching my suits. 

2019 - Bold colors and more fun!

2020 - Color coordinated accessories. 

Looking back on it, that was a lovely store but I could not afford to shop there at the time. I was just an admirer and nothing more. When I was able to buy something from them it was when they were closing up shop. Everything was priced to move - 50% off and I bought a brown wool sweater. It was $3.00 and I could afford that then. I still have that sweater and I wear it often. Its one of my favorites. The building is not there anymore. It was torn down many years ago and if I ever want to revisit it, I must do so in my dreams.

That book, Style Me Vintage, is still one of my favorite books and it's the reason I'm writing this post too! I was organizing my books last month and looking at it remined me of when I got into vintage for the first time. I figured it would be a really fun post!

When that little brick building went down there went the one and only vintage store in my hometown. It would be a few years since there would be a another one. By the time the second vintage store came to town I was sporting more of my home made dresses - all made from the Butterick reprints and a couple from true vintage patterns. . . But mostly those re prints. That vintage store was a dream come true and at the time my financial position was much better. I remember the first time I was in there I was so excited I didn't buy anything . . . I just had to soak it all in first. The second time I was there I was a buyer. I bought my first 50s petticoat, a knitted 80s does 40s sweater and  a makeup compact. I still have all three of those items. The compact goes with me wherever I go. Has ever since I bought it. . . That was almost 8 years ago.  The third time was my last time. The owner was closing the doors for good. Then I bought a lot . . It was my last chance. I bought shoes, sweaters, a coat, gloves, and a hat. I went nuts. I still have the sweaters and gloves but the rest of the items are now with my friends and others. . . My style had changed a great deal between then and now.
Once that store closed I was pretty sad but when a door closes, a window opens. . .. Around the time her store was closing the antique malls close to my home had a few vintage vendors who were kicking up their vintage game. That was good news to me . .. .Most of the stuff was out of my price range at the time but that was ok . . .Why? Because I knew sales happened at these particular places often and I could negotiate. And wait.  Long story short I  very slowly and gradually negotiated, sweet talked, and waited my way to my first complete vintage wardrobe. It took a really long time but eventually I had a nice collection of fur stoles, hats, and shoes. They really made my home made dresses look better.

I had always been a haunt of local barn, garage, estate, and yard sales. . . Once year I hit the jackpot at a barn sale and bought a whole large box of gloves. Almost 15 pairs for a few dollars along with bits of jewelry, some vintage dress patterns (true vintage patterns!!!!!!!)  and a few slips. Later Another yard sale while on holiday with the folks where I scored another amazing pattern lot and well  . . . .I guess you can fill in the gaps from there. One piece here, one piece there my collection grew. Sometimes I was super lucky and a friend would gift me pieces. . .One winter I was beyond lucky. A friend connected me with a relative of hers who had a huge vintage collection. The collection needed to be downsized and I was gifted my first true vintage suits and coat. I still own each and every suit and the coat. I was given a few hats then too.

When I started to wear vintage my first few looks were not put together. They were random. Most of the time I was wearing only one vintage item and the rest was modern. For the most part my early looks were a hot mess, I admit it. I have come a really, really long way. For anyone getting into vintage I want you to know that it takes time. Lots of time. It takes even more effort and looking and diligence and stubbornness too. One thing that I learned is that sometimes the best vintage is the stuff that you do not find but what finds you. Some of my best pieces came my way by pure chance.

One thing that really helped me along the way to sharpen my styling skills was the internet. One summer I was looking for inspiration and I found all sorts of vintage fashion/ sewing/ beauty blogs. I still follow them today and they are still a huge source of inspiration. I don't know what my style would be like today if I had not found them. It was so exciting when I found those blogs. It showed I was not alone in my vintage adventures.

As my collection of clothing grew so did my hair dressing skills. When I started to wear vintage I could not do a period hair style to save my skin. My hair was thin and greasy which was really hard to tame. I could not curl my hair either no matter how hard I tried. Until one night . . . .One night I was poking around online and I came across the art of pin curling. I was really fascinated by this art of curling ones hair with bobby pins and I gave it a try. What was the worse that could happen. . .Well, long story short once I started to pin curl my hair there was no going back. It was the first curling method that worked for me and it still is the only one. The foundation for most 40s styles was curled hair and now I had a method of curling. That really changed the game for me and I have not looked back. Lipstick . . .When I started to get into make up, I was only wearing a red lip stick and tha was it. Actually it was only last year that I was into face powders, rouge and the rest. I guess it's never to late.
Underpinnings. . . . When I started to get into vintage under things it was only modern nylons. That was all that I had availible to me. Gradually that changed. I was buying seamed stockings in antique shops and holding them up with rubber bands. . Yeppers. That's how I started to wear my stockings! I remember when I bought my first stockings. It was from an antique mall in northern Michigan. I remember walking up to the front desk to pay for some earrings I found when the lady working the register asked me if I found everything alright. I told her that I was looking for vintage underthings but did not see any. Well that opened the flood gates. All of a sudden the lady got a spark of joy over her face and guided me to a large wardrobe at the front of the store. She opened the drawers and piece by piece granny panties, girdles, ancient corsets, slips and more came flying out. She was so excited to encounter someone like me who was interested in buying old underthings! I remember she help up a pair of large panties and just outside the window an old man was passing by. He turned his head and low and behold he saw the  panties! The look on his face was priceless. The undies turned out to be too big for me but I bought a box of NOS stockings. . .I still have those stockings. I do not wear them as often as I used to but they  were my first and are so precious to me now. . .Along with that day when me and the shop lady flashed that old man with panties in the window.

Eventually I discovered What Katie Did from Style Me Vintage (there was a source list in the back) and I bought my first garter belt. You know, to replace the rubber bands. Then I bought some of thir stockings, girdles, and bras.  Today I have quite a collection of both true vintage and reproduction underthings! 10 years ago I would not have guessed that one! Same with my hats, shoes, and hand bags. I have come a really long way in my vintage hoard. I still remember and still have many of my first pieces. I doubt I will ever part with them because they just go with everything. That and I guess I'm kind of attached to them too.

Vintage is a journey. One filled with twists and turns and unexpected bumps along the way. One thing that I have learned is that you do not find vintage, it finds you. At least the best pieces and the ones that count. Buying online has helped my collection grow for sure but the best stuff is what I have found in the wild . … . No, not in the woods swinging from the tree tops but at estate sales, antique malls, and the like. Well, there you have it. A bit about my vintage journey. .. What's yours?

Monday, June 29, 2020

Of Moss & Cranberry

A great thing about vintage fashion were the vibrant color combinations. Some are pretty far fetched to me while others are so inventive and imaginative. One color combination that has caught my fancy is moss green and cranberry red. I am in love with it and it was only possible because of my quest to achieve matching accessory sets . . starting with burgundy/ cranberry/ dark red. If you would like to read more about my accessory quest you can read more about it here. For right now, I can scratch wine red pumps and hat to match off my list. Whoo hoo!

  • burgundy/ wine red pumps with hat to match 
  • white pumps 
  • green pumps/ sandal or strappy 
  • green hand bag 
  • green belt (s) 
  • yellow pumps 
  • yellow hand bag 
  • tan pumps 
  • tan hand bag 
  • two tones hand bags? 
  • pink shoes and hand bags?? 
  • blues? light or medium 
So more about these accessories, yes? So to start, I already had a couple wine red hand bags (not photographed here) so I found myself  needing the shoes and hat to match. I found the shoes first from B.A.I.T. footwear  and decided to give them a try. I had heard of BAIT footwear before but this was one of my first purchases. The other buy was a pair of green croc pumps with a 40s vibe which you will on here eventually. As a whole, I am really impressed with these pumps. I thought they were so cute.

To go with the shoes, I needed a hat! The hat was a bit harder to find but I scrolled through Etsy for awhile and eventually I found it. it was more than I really wanted to pay but it was also the only 40s hat I could find that was in the color I wanted and not outlandishly priced. I rolled the dice and bought it. Needless to say I was quite happy when it arrived. I think the shape of the hat reminds me of the one worn by the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland. Once I had the shoes and hat I immediately realized I had a floral corsage to really complete the set. The corsage was made from NOS millinery flowers. I love this outfit, so fun and so wild and yet still very period correct for the 40s. The suit is my 1946 suit which you can read more about here when I first wore it. 

I suspect this now totally complete accessory set will get a lot of wear with my other suits so don't be surprised if you see it in here again in the future. I know already a suit that will pair will with this accessory set - my striped jacket suit and maybe even my dark brown chocolate suit as well. Oh before I let you go, how great looking is that lipstick? It's Wild Orchid from Besame. I bought it a long time ago and I think it is just the most perfect match to the accessoreis. I would say that is the ultimate bonus. Of how much fun it is to dress in vintage . . . . 

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Building A Collection of 40s Working Wear

For some, everyday vintage can be a sharp blouse and a skirt, others a trim cotton day dress. For me, my real everyday vintage really ought to be denim pants, rugged blouses, and overalls that I can pull on.  However, those pieces are not always the most fun to wear (but they are surprisingly fun to make, and easy too! So easy!). For my average everyday working life I wear 40s style jeans and lots of cotton blouses and lots of plain modern long sleeves t shirts. I started to build a vintage style working wardrobe a couple of years ago to compliment my other vintage and to replace my modern stuff that I had worn through. So how did I start with building my own vintage 40s work wear that I have now been actually able to wear and still work in changing tires, changing oil, ripping out weeds, and doing much more? Keep reading and I will happily tell you all the (not too gory) details.  . . .
Some of my 40s work wear from the 2018 blueberry season.
pants and blouse from 40s patterns
Another light working outfit with a bit nicer blouse and denim pants.
Blouse and pants from 40s patterns. 

To start, I took some serious inventory of what I had that could work, what I wanted, what I needed, and what was actually available in the market in terms of patterns, fabrics, and even ready to wear with prices. When I looked through my closet, I started with two pairs of wool slacks and lots of rather plain cotton blouses in some really wild vintage prints. I also had some sweaters that were o.k. for a 40s look. In the 2017 season, I was able to wear those wool slacks and cotton blouses at work and had no problems really for when I was working with the customers in our "little store" at the main barn. Unfortunately, those wool slacks and cotton blouse were no match for the field work. I needed and wanted something more rugged.  . . .  So far, what I did have was some nice blouses really that would truly work for me. . That was all. Not too great a start but we all have to start somewhere.

An early crack at 40s "working wear" with
wool slacks and a colorful printed blouse.
Great for light work in the "store" but not in the filed.  
Once the 2017 season was done, I did a little shopping and a little research on what I could do to build up my dream wardrobe of 40s working wear. . .I was fortunate enough to purchase a Simplicity pattern, a re print of a pair of vintage "Rosie the Riveter" style overalls. The timing of the release of this
Re printed Simplicity pattern.
The pattern which I made my first
 40s working wear from.  . . .
pattern could not have been more perfect and it just must have been a sign. I bought that pattern and the materials for it right away and had a pair of those denim coveralls whipped up in no time flat. They turned out a little too snug but the denim had some serious stretch to it I later learned and am not too worried about their wear ability. There, a pair of denim overalls! Check!

Later over the winter, I figured that I could not live with only my cotton blouses and one pair of overalls. . I needed more (much more). To continue my building, I pulled out a Folk Wear pattern from a friend that was for a pair of 40s trousers and whipped up two pairs of slacks. . .One pair from a really good denim and another from a brown bull cotton (like a denim but not. . . It's a rugged cotton). After cutting those out, I had enough left over for something else. But, two pairs of pants? Check and check!!

From my Der Goldene Schnitt Pattern books (1940 and 1941), there are pairs of overalls. They are illustrated as a unisex pair and the pattern for the men and women is identical. I was rather apprehensive about these I will admit and I actually put off making them for a long time. . .A couple of months actually until I decided that gosh darnnit now is the time. So, I made up my pattern, compared it to my pants patterns to ensure the crotch would fit and eventually I had a pair of Lutterloh overalls! Woo hoo. They turned out really big and the straight legged pants was really baggy on me so I do have to take them in quite a bit but still, I did it and I now have two pairs of overalls all together. An American pair and a German pair. Not to bad eh? Check and Semi Check!

Over the winter, I had made up for myself: two pairs of overalls, two pairs of pants and I still had all the blouses I had previously made. Not too bad a start for building a collection a 40s working wear now is it? Like I already said, it is a start and I am by no means finished. Farm wear gets dirty fast and a fresh pair of anything is a blessing no matter how you dice it. I have some left over denim yet that I think will be just enough for another pair of pants and I plan to buy more too to make as many a possible as the modern denim I have is getting pretty old anyway and will have to be replaced sooner or later (but it all had a good run, those are almost 10 years old!). Other items that would not hurt to be had are maybe some jackets and a coat but I have a nice military surplus camo coat I wear in the winter that has served me quite faithfully and I am sure it will continue to do so.
Once I was in the 2018 blueberry season, I had a really good set of 40s working wear and I was getting a lot of compliments on it too. People were getting a kick out of it.
I don't have too many pictures of my working wear because when I'm wearing it I am working . Not too much time for pictures to be honest. And when my day is done I am too tired to get the camera and tri pod out . . .So you will have to live what I have here. My working wear is not too fancy and I have it down to a formula. Jeans and blouse and sweater.
O.k. Hair . . . For hair I keep it super simple and will normally wrap my head in a scarf. It allows my hair to be kept out of the way  and it also hides my hair when I do not set it the night before. I will roll my hair up at the back of my head as well. As long as it is confined I am happy because it makes my life simple and keeps bees out of it too. . . But that is another story.
Tada! My working wear. I know LOTS of you have been asking me about my working wear over the years and I hope this was the post you all have been waiting for. I guess I can say it has been a really long time coming. In fact, the majority of the post was in the draft folder for over a year (opps). Well, better late than never. Anyways . . I have to go back to work. Take care out there!

Monday, June 22, 2020

Faux Vintage Vs. Real Vintage

For a longtime the only vintage I would wear was what I made myself using vintage patterns, fabrics, and notions and gradually I got into wearing the real deal. . .It was not until 2019 that I really got into wearing ready made faux vintage. A great example would be the clothes off of  Vivian of Holloway, What Katie Did or Royal Vintage Shoes. This year I was a long time admirer of Vivian of Holloway and Royal Vintage (now called American Duchess) and I decided that I would stop looking and start buying. I bought a dress, sweater, and a few accessories from Vivian of Holloway to give them a try and I was not disappointed.  One of reasons why I wanted to give this business a try was because they had a lot of stuff that really did look like it was true vintage and I was impressed. The pieces were incredibly well made but used a mixture of vintage and modern techniques. Fibers were all modern but they made use of textures and colors that were very vintage. The one dress I bought from Vivian was the Lana dress in Gold Mink and I chose this one because I liked it and I had a dress like it in black. My black version was a true vintage piece and I could then compare the two dresses side by side. .. You see aside from the color and a few other details, on the surface these dresses looked almost identical.
Faux vintage dress 
faux vintage sweater and jewelry set
slacks made by me with a repro. pattern
A reason why I was really interested in faux vintage was because I encounter a lot of people who love the look of vintage but are very afraid to wear real vintage. The reasons to not wear true vintage are vast . . . cannot find it ones size, cannot find wearable clothes, cannot find affordable vintage, etc. . . There are lots of reasons that are all valid. True vintage is also fragile . . .which means that there are some occasions where it should not be worn. . .Kind of a bummer when one want to wear that vintage look all the time. .  . .Well fear not because these faux vintage goods are quite good and are a great alternative to real vintage.For me, I was interested in faux and ready made vintage inspired pieces for  a few reasons. The biggest one was that I was really curious about it. That and there are times I would love to buy a dress. . .That's it, just buy a dress. a vast majority of my stuff is what I have made myself or else true vintage. I wanted an alternative and I wanted to have some more pretty dresses. . . that simple.

When my Lana dress (from Vivian of Holloway)  arrived I did have to take it in to make it fit well and once I had given it a wear I was really happy with it. It looked vintage as a whole and the color and fabric texture was super close to my true vintage counterpart. The look was authentic and so was the fit. the cut of the clothes and the colorings run to true to true to real vintage pieces. I will say I am not sure if I got lucky in this department or not because there's a lot of "vintage style" clothing out there that does not look nor feel vintage at all. . . I say that because of a friend's experience. She ordered a dress from ModCloth and was far from impressed and really wanted to send it back.  According to her the picture and description looked great but sadly the product was not so! Thankfully she said it was on sale and did not spend too much on it. So, if you are afraid to wear vintage because of the fragile quality of old clothes these faux vintage clothes are well made and will certainly last you a good long time (if from a quality source).
The faux vintage brands out there, and there are many, are mostly based out of the UK which I find to be really interesting . . .   Of course, with these brands you get what you pay for which means they are expensive. .  . And I am not talking about the shipping costs. . .A sweater will run you almost $60 bucks and a dress well over $100. These items are not cheap but neither are the cost of materials and the cost of labor.  If you are looking to an alternative to vintage, then mass produced faux vintage is an option but be aware you are going to pay for it. . Thankfully you are buying an item that will last you a long time (possibly longer than a true vintage piece would last!).
true vintage jacket, skirt, hat, shoes,
bag, scarf, jewelry

true vintage dress, jewelry, shoes
true vintage dress, gloves, shoes, bag, jewelry
So far, like said before, I was really impressed with these faux vintage pieces and may be buying more. One draw back to these pieces are that they are not too terribly unique. These are new made pieces made in multiple styles and in mass quantity (or close to it) so what you are  wearing many, many others are wearing too. True vintage is one of a kind for the most part and I think that is part of its beauty. You will seldom encounter someone wearing the same outfit as you.

Another topic in this realm that I want to talk about is another kind if faux vintage . . .the pieces made at home by home or hobby seamstresses. . . Made from reproduction patterns, fabrics, notions and more these home made pieces can really give true vintage a run for ones money. In some cases it can be hard to tell the difference. Making pieces at home (or having them custom made) can save a lot of money and can yield marvelous results. . . Home made vintage inspired pieces, or reproductions,  can be just as unique as true vintage and can be just as beautiful. Someone raised a really good question - is home made vintage, made from true vintage items, just as vintage as the real deal? To me it is not. . .Pieces made from vintage patterns, fabrics, etc are not vintage. The supplies may be vintage but the end result is , to me, reproduction. The reason why I call it reproduction because of when it was made . . . The end result was made today (or in modern times) and is not really true vintage. Neither are the mass or semi mass produced vintage inspired items . . .They are vintage inspired but not true vintage.
me made dress, vintage accessories 
me made dress, vintage accessories, modern sweater 
me made dress, repro shoes, vintage accessories 

So what are your thoughts on true vintage, mass produced vintage, and home made reproduction pieces? 

Friday, June 19, 2020

Taking a Look at My Vintage Glove Collection

I love my gloves. I wear them often and have a pair of gloves for almost any occasion, event, outfit, place, you name it. I have long gloves, short gloves, and gloves in between. Some gloves have piping, embroidery, beading, are made with two kinds of materials, have ruffles, are plain, etc. etc. etc. To summarize, I have lots of gloves. Glove complete an outfit, tie it together. They are like the icing on the cake. gloves have been a part of a wardrobe for centuries. I believe a long evening glove can make an outfit more glamourous. A brightly colored glove can make any outfit more interesting. A glove matching a whole outfit so chic.
Not too long ago I asked my readers on my FB page what tutorials they would want to see. One of you suggested something on making gloves. Taking that suggestion in hand, I decided to tackle this subject in my own way. You see, I have never made my gloves, nor had a reason to,  because I have been fortunate enough to find mine quite easily. And after a quick Google search I actually found LOTS of glove making tutorials and patterns so add another to the web really does not seem too necessary.

So, if you are looking for content on how to make gloves I highly recommend those. They did a much better job than I ever could. I found content that gave you a pattern and then those that showed you how to make the pattern. . .There was content for all sorts of skill levels. . Not only that but there are also many glove patterns available for purchase at your local sewing shop and online like Esty.  . .. So what is this post all about then if I am not showing you how to make gloves? Well as the title of this post suggests, I am going to show you my collection. You see, I think what makes a vintage glove so great is the details. Once you have your basic glove made you can add in some personality.

Below are some blue gloves . . . The light blue pair to the far left are actually a fine leather and the rest are cloth. The pair second from the right are actually crochet. If you are skilled in crochet then you are in luck, these kinds of glove patterns are not uncommon. These gloves actually show two finds of construction too. Some are sewn on the inside and turned inside out while others have the stitching on the outside. . .Some are using both! To the far right, that pair made use of piping and embroidery. The pair second from the left has embroidered berries on it.

Multi colored! Because my wardrobe is not monochromatic my gloves need to be in all sorts of colors . .. Of course, right? Here are my green gloves, red and yellow.  Some have a little detail stitching on the top even. 

Bead work! If you are so inclined and ambitious, try adding some bead work to your gloves. Some have it just on the wrist edge while some have it all over. . . The choice is all yours. Take a closer look at the pair second from the left - that pair has little flowers stitched in place with a bead center. In the middle the scallops are embroidered and then topped with beads. Your options are nearly endless. 

Neutrals . . .It's hard to beat a neutral. And the details with them here include a little embroidery, piping, and some sewn loops for interest. . .