Sunday, November 20, 2011

I love it when this happens.

I have an overwhelming sens eof curiosity, and it leads me to do strange things. Like the time the ex came in the living room and asked what I was doing. "Translating obituaries from Polish," I said. He just looked at me, shook his head and walked out. I told you I do weird things.

So I play this game sometimes, called Match the Vogue Dress with the pattern. I go to a website -- usually ebay -- search for Vogue Paris Original or Vogue Couturier in the clothing category, then find a dress with one of those tags in it. Then I got searching, to see if I can spot the pattern that matches with the dress. I like a challenge, and it's fun!

So tonight, I found this set. Tres amazing, yes? Gold brocade, in time for the holidays. An opera coat, no less. Well, I took one look at it and knew that I'd seen that pattern before. Yep. It's Vogue Paris Original 1897, by Yves St Laurent, in his post-Mondrian days. I haven't gone so far as to pinpoint the exact year yet (because I'm lazy) but it's Stepford Wife era, if you look at the hair in the illustrations. And if I have a rib or two removed, I might just buy it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Queen of Hats

If you love hats, you should know about Lilly Dache -- she was a legend in her time.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


I love this photo. I think it's from the 1890s, from what I can see of the sleeves and the Gibson girl hair. Can you imagine working in starched whites like this, in the days before air conditioning?

The interesting thing about this photograph is the nurses' caps. Nurse caps are unique to the school from which the nurse graduated, so most likely, not all of these young women graduated together. I suspect that the woman in the darker blouse, third from the left in the back, is at a higher level than the others -- charge nurse, head nurse, or whatever the title was back then -- because of the difference in her uniform. Her cap, of course, would be unique to her school, but her blouse and cuffs are different than the others, too.

Keep in mind that these were the days of nurses in servitude. It wasn't that many years ago when nurses had to rise when a doctor came into the room. Physicians also left their shoes on hospital units, for the nurses to shine. To see these girls so relaxed and seemingly friendly is something unusual to see. Enjoy.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Happy October!

Sorry I've been MIA lately. Long story, but the crux of it is that my house is almost ready to go on the market, and trying to get organized for a move after 18 years of living in the same house is.....well......a challenge at best. Add 30-40,000 sewing patterns to the mix and it becomes almost surreal. :-)

So here we are in October, so I thought I'd show you some great Halloween looks. I love fall (my asthma doesn't), but Halloween is not my favorite holiday. I call it the holiday to punish uncreative parents, because I always had a real challenge coming up with costumes for my two sons and one daughter that would pass their muster.

Not that I'd want my daughter wearing this one, then OR now. It's a little too grown up for a little girl today, and a bit more revealing that my blood pressure can take for my now 20 year old daughter. (Not that I have any say so with her anymore......). That being said, it's a cute concept. It'd be great if you wanted to be Jeannie, from "I Dream of Jeannie." Or Princess Jasmine. It's Butterick 5053, from 1949. Alas, I can't find a copy online.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Who'da Thunk?

The Indianapolis area has long been the Sahara desert of fabric shops. Sure, you can find Joann Fabric, but they just have 1) fleece and 2) quilting cotton. Not exactly interesting stuff. You can see Hobby Lobby, but they're not much better. Calico Corner is ok for quilting cotton, but where is our version of Vogue Fabric? I mean, I went to Chicago to the Vogue Fabric store, and if I hadn't had a deadline to meet, I might still be there. That place is uh-maz-ing.

And so it was that I forayed out into the north side of Indianapolis, to find The French Seam. I had come across them on Facebook a couple of months ago, and had meant to go visit the store, but never had the time. I don't go up that way often, so you know it had to be important to me. Did I mention my aversion to the north side?

Well, it was well worth the trip. Part of why I wanted to go was because I read that they had vintage Vogue patterns for sale. Now that's not someone one sees every day, especially here. I mean, to be able to see and touch the patterns? That's kind of like taking a chocoholic to Hershey, PA. They actually had four books of vintage patterns, mostly Vogues, and they dated back to the 30s. Some of the other patterns were even older. They had some seriously beautiful stuff -- lots of 40s Vogue Couturiers, some Madame Gres, Desses, Christian Dior, Nina Ricci, and much more. Let's just say it was a good thing they were in plastic sleeves, because I may've drooled a little bit. OK, not, but they have some beautiful patterns, and I bought this one. Isn't it amazing?

Add to that that they have some wonderful fabrics -- and not just cotton, and I don't remember seeing any fleece. Did you know that Jay McCarroll has designed some cotton fabric? Well, I didn't, and some of them are beautiful. But there are plenty of other pretty fabrics and interesting patterns (no run of the mill stuff here), many of which simply demand you to stop and touch them, and get the creative juices flowing. They also have lots of interesting notions -- check out othe Italian buttons, and some of the other ones that are seriously large enough to hold a small appetizer on. And the best thing was, my dad -- an artist in crewel -- needed a needle threader, and they were not only happy to find him one, but also showed him how to use it. I haven't checked with him to see how he likes the newfangled design of the one he bought, but I did appreciate them showing it to us. I may have to go back and get one for myself.....

Check out their website to see what all they offer -- there's no online store, but they do have their contests and their events listed. I love their contest ideas. Talk about jogging the creativity button! And they plan to offer sewing classes in the not too distant future. I may just have to clear my calendar for that one.

If you want to visit, they are located in the Clearwater Shoppes, on 82nd St. They are located across the street from Babies R Us, on the south side of East 82nd Street. The actual address is 3909 E 82nd Street. And if you are a knitter, there is also a knitting store in the same strip mall. I wonder if they have room for a vintage pattern store.....................

Anywho, go see them. They are friendly, the displays are beautiful, the prices are right, and it's a breath of fresh air to the Indianapolis sewing community. Vive The French Seam!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

If the shoe fits

then you can wear some of these cute 1941 shoes. Don't you love the photo? Remember when people dressed to the nines to get on an airline flight?


I was born too late.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Little Bunny Frou-Frou

Have you read this fun 1968 Playboy Bunny manual? It's a fascinating read, that's for sure.

When I first came across this 1969 ad for the Playboy Club, I thought that the lady in front was a Bunny Mother. Then I realized that the ad is actually for Manpower. The text says that the Playboy Club was looking for someone with experience in typing labels, with a typing speed of at least 60 words per minute. They skipped over some younger candidates for Mrs. Sally Feldman, age 57, who flew through the labels in no time flat.

Maybe her next job was as Bunny Mother.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

May their first child be a masculine one

I was looking for a certain photo of a wedding, and came across this one. Isn't it beautiful? Now, I'm not 100% positive that it's from 1933, like I was looking for, having been in a hurry -- I'm going out to door to parents' night at my son's school, but I love it.

I'm just not sure that the bride intended to have the lamp create a pair of antlers for her, but then again, no Sicilian can ever refuse a request on his daughter's wedding day.

See the entire family album, full of lovely wedding dresses over the years, by clicking here.

Friday, August 26, 2011

When she says it, she means it.....

Denisebrain is one of my favorite vintage sellers, for many reasons.

1. Maggie models her own stuff, and her obvious love of vintage fashion jumps out in every photo. She is amazing.

2. Her stock is amazing. She finds some of the most beautiful things ever.

3. She accessorizes for the photos to perfection. Tres chic!

4. I've bought from her, and her customer service is great. Which leads me to.....

5. When she says it, she means it She has this hat titled as "40s Vintage BEST Purple Tilt Hat with Big Bow & Veil. Well, guess what? She's right, because this is just about the BEST hat I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot of hats. I love it to my toes! Now, I love hats of all kinds, and I have NO idea where I'd wear this one, but someone needs to snap it up quickly, so I quit wondering when I'd have occasion to wear it, because I would snap it up in a minute if I could.

This also begs the question -- where has this hat been? A hat this fabulous has history behind it that HAS to be interesting. What do you think?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mary, Mary

I found this photo online, and fell in love with it. It is of Mary Lees Davis, and was taken in 1876, when she was 16. She wasn't particularly famous, but was born into some privilege, as she was sent to boarding school, had French lessons and music lessons, as was typical for girls of some means in that day.

I love her clothing. This photo was taken at Stourbridge, her boarding school. Her hair was what grabbed my attention, as she wears her hair long and fairly straight, which isn't seen often in photos of this era. She almost looks like she has a Bump-It in. Usually hair of this era is seen pulled back into a bun. If it was worn down, it was usually in ringlets -- can you imagine creating those curls with a curling iron heated over the stove? (Remember Meg's burnt hair in Little Women? It was published in the late 1860s, but there are still commonalities with the 1870s.) The drama it would create in a teenaged girl is unfathomable. I wonder if this is all her hair, as extensions were common in the 1870s. (Again, remember Jo selling her hair in Little Women?)

The draped apron-type front was fairly standard for daywear of this time, as was the ruffled flounce seen near the bottom of the skirt. 1876 was fairly late for bustles -- they were pretty much gone by then -- but it almost looks like there is a small bustle in the back of the skirt. A couple of years later, you would see a much narrower, almost column-like silhouette. The button front dress was also common, as seen here. There are just so many things here that are standard in the dress, but the hair is very different that what you usually see. Perhaps Miss Mary had her own style.

I imagine her with beautiful chestnut hair, and the dress in blue.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sometimes you just want to see more..........

I was looking for an image of a celebrity with a July 25th birthday to post on the Facebook Group, and found this lovely photo of Dorothy Dickson. She had the privilege of starring in silent films, being pals with the Queen Mum, and cheering up untold numbers of people with her popularization of "Look for the Silver Lining."

She's beautiful, yes? And really, I just want to see her dress, because I imagine it's pretty spectacular. It's from 1927. I imagine it in pale yellow, with accents in green. Either way, it's gorgeous.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

In honor of American's independence, I thought I'd share a beautiful picture of one of my favorite British-born icons, Liz Taylor.

Don't ask me what she has to do with Independence Day, but it's a beautiful picture, nonetheless.

Circa 1955

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Weddings are a thing of beauty

Since her son got married today, let us celebrate by looking at the beautiful Princess Grace of Monaco, truly one of the most beautiful women to grace our planet, and seemingly an amazing woman as well.

::pause, regroup, and get breath back::

This dress is so iconic that it seems like lately, everyone has been shouting "she has a dress just like Grace Kelly's" from the rooftop. I blogged about this some time back, when they compared Nicole Ritchie's dress to it. Not even close. Others have questioned whether Catherine, Dutchess of Cambridge, aka "she who will be queen" did the same thing, and again, I'm just not seeing it. Nay, this dress stands on its own, as does the one who wore it.

::sighs, and looks again at her loveliness::

I will, however, say thank you to the Dutchess, as well as the now Princess of Monaco, Charlene, for bringing back necklines, as the strapless fixation has driven me wild for some time now. Thank you, royals, from the bottom of my heart

Sunday, June 26, 2011

On a personal note.......

To see how I spent last night, click here. I am sad beyond belief.

It is said that in Victorian photos, an empty chair symbolized a child who had died. I don't know how common photos with the family pet were, but I do know that for my Timmy, we would likely have to symbolize him in absentiae with chocolate, because he loved the stuff.

And so, in honor of my big dog Timmy, here's a photo from the Gibson Girl era, complete with big dog. Photo is likely around 1914. Give your pet a hug today. You never know if it will be the last one.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Victorian goodness

I found this photo in an antiques store a few years back and I love it for more than one reason, but mainly because the woman on the right looks just like Ellen Degeneres. Hilarious, yes?

I'm dating this around 1895, unless someone tells me otherwise. The two ladies are cousins, according to the written information on the back. I think it's interesting how differently they are dressed -- the one on the right is not as tightly bound, has a shorter skirt, and taut hair pulled by with hairpins of some sort. The fabric of her suit seems to be heavier and more rich.

The one on the right is dressed more fitted, with a floral at the waist, what looks like soutache braid trim, and curls, curls, curls. Can you imagine what it took to get that hair done back then? And without hairspray, how easily all that work would be lost, if the weather took a turn?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

I love this photo

The hat is fantastic. I wish I could read what the sash says.

Click here to go to the ebay listing. (It's not mine.)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Workin' it out.

Thanks, everyone, for your kind thoughts. It means a lot to me, and it's always nice to see that people are reading. :-)

I started hitting the gym in January, right before all the drama broke out in full. Needless to say, there is a treadmill out there that cringes when it sees me coming, because I've lost 26 pounds since then (which is almost 12 Kg, for those of you forward thinking countries who are metric). I slowed down lately, because I've been painting the house -- which should be a workout, but my scale says no. It's been stuck at 26 lbs for over a week now, which happens, I know, but I decided to ramp it up and went back to the gym tonight. I always feel great after a workout.

So while I was on the treadmill, I was wondering what the ladies of yesteryear wore to work out. I went looking, and here's what I found:

1908-1909 basketball photo:

1920s gym class. It's a far cry from Jane Fonda. I love it.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


You may've been wondering where I wandered off to, so let me take a moment to explain some personal stuff. If you just want the pretties, skip down the the end and I won't be offended.

In January, my husband moved out, informing me that he never loved me. Funny that it took him 26 years to figure that out, but some people are slow learners, I guess. I found myself in the the throes of (initially) unwanted divorce proceedings, which are ongoing. (Not something I would ever recommend to anyone!) I have spent 2011 sorting out things with the house and the kids, besides having my full time job and part time business. Needless to say, some things have gone by the wayside. Those things are slowly being added back, so hopefully you will see me here more, now that tihngs are (hopefully) settling down to a (new) normal rhythm. I'm bouncing back, and am loving life, despite the bumps it's handed me.

And I am luckier than a lot of women. I can support myself, I have great support from many, many family and friends, and my kids remain the light of my life. I count myself as blessed.

So I went looking around to see who is the most divorced celebrity, and found that it's most likely Lana Turner, who counted eight marriages -- seven, if you take into account that she married one man twice -- seven divorces, and annulment. Add to that mix, one dead boyfriend, stabbed to death by her daughter, while defending her, and that makes for one complicated love life.

Like I said, I count myself blessed. Plus, Lana got to wear wonderful clothes like this:

From "The Postman Always Rings Twice," 1946. Costumes were by Irene, who was one of the most iconic costume designers of the period. I'd LOVE to have this jacket, please.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Where is Dovima when you need her?

If you have never seen a Charles James gown in person, you have missed a religious experience. I saw the Butterfly Dress a couple of years ago at Chic Chicago, and was I ever blown away.

So what was the big deal when Marisa Tomei wore a Charles James dress to the Oscars this year? She was not treated well by the press, and even Parsons entered the fray with this article. I'm not sure that I don't agree with them, but not because of how she looked.

Charles James is museum material. It's not just the outright rarety of finding one -- he made so few garments that they are one of the truly, truly rare treasures in vintage fashion. It's the fact that mere mortals should not own them.

How could you store it properly? Granted, if you follow the links in the Parsons article, it points you to another article that shows how the dresses retain their shape on a hanger. But do they belong on a hanger? Textiles are delicate creatures. Heck, I wouldn't even keep a vintage Dior myself, and they are much more common finds. Charles James' gowns are typically silk and tulle creations -- and those are some of the most delicate fabrics God ever made. Only a museum can properly care for something sent from the gods.

As for Ms. Tomei's posture or carriage, yes, perhaps she is too short. She definitely isn't taking full advantage of her cosmetics to set the dress off properly. She doesn't have the haughtiness of the period in which the dress was made, true. (I never thought of haughtiness as an accessory, but I think this dress requires it.) But I will say that Ms. Tomei did a great job of bringing attention to a designer that most of us would love to study.

I just hope the dress went to a museum afterward.

Photo: Charles James' Four Leaf Clover dress, 1953.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Did someone say hats?

Easter's almost here, so I thought you'd enjoy a video of vintage photos, all featuring hats. It's inspiration for the Easter Parade.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Marsha, Marsha, Marsha............

I am fairly certain that my sister wore this dress in 1976, when she was crowned Prom Queen at our high school in Missouri.

She was teensy - about 90 lbs - and always dated the cutest boys in the school. She was also the student council president. And, although she played strings, she had to march in band in order to get a grade, so she just marched, sans instrument (it's hard to march with a string bass, especially when you are 5'1" and 90 lbs). She was the only band member who spent her whole time marching simply waving at people. She's a nut.

So yep, this dress is one that made it hard for me to follow my larger than life big (tiny) sister. But that's ok, because we moved the next year, and no one at the new school knew that I was the sister of an over-achieving Munchkin. I love her death, though, and still tease her about the fact that I can probably rest my chin on the top of her head.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Happy Belated St Paddy's!

And what better way to say it than with the beautiful Irish lass, Maureen O'Hara? I don't know what year the photo is from, but it's 40s at its best. She is breathtaking. This is a prime example of vintage photography, where the lighting sets off the beauty, and the simplicity of the clothing doesn't detract from the subject. She is simply gorgeous.

And look what I found: a book that I MUST have. Movie-Star Portraits of the Forties. Can you imagine how beautiful that must be? Buy it here.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A lady isn't dressed.........

Unless her legs are too. I wish I knew who the model was.

From my friend Tina, at What-I-Found Sewing patterns.

Monday, February 28, 2011

RIP, Jane Russell

This lady was not only beautiful, but she lived a LIFE.

RIP, Jane. You are an icon.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The late 1940s in Film (then)

Fashion change in the late 40s, after war rationing was over, so comparing early 40s swing dresses to late 40s New Look is like comparing apples and oranges. And who better than Bette Davis to watch when you want to see some examples of period fashion? She was amazing, and June Bride is a fun one to watch.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Madonna of the Screen

I came across this beautiful picture of actress Alice Joyce, and it intrigued me. She is beautiful, isn't she? They called her the Madonna of the Screen, and her photos reflect that. She also had the unusual distinction of leaving movies not once, but twice, in order to raise her children, and still coming back and having a successful career. That's almost unheard of for women in film today.

The photo, left, is from 1913 - the year she won a poll for most popular film actress - and I love it. Check out her website here to see more beautiful photos of her.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The wartime 1940s in film (now)

When it comes to the wartime 40s in modern film, there is no other than The Notebook. It shows junior dresses, fabulous suits, a wedding dress, and a swimsuit that is just adorable. The story is sweet, too.

Oh yeah, and it has Ryan Gosling, who I love.

Watch it and do like I do - wish for the wardrobe to be delivered to your front door.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The wartime 1940s in film (then)

There is no other film that depicts the 40s better than "The Women," and just about any vintage fashion lover will tell you that. The costumes are by the amazing Gilbert Adrian, and let me tell you, they are fabulous.

You can skip the Meg Ryan version from what? 2008? It doesn't deserve to share the name with the original. You may, on the other hand, watch this one repeatedly.

The End.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The 1930s in film (now)

Here are my two favorite modern movies, featuring 30s clothing. Here's why:
1. O Brother, Where Art Thou features TONS of menswear, which is not always prominently displayed in film. You see everything from the jail uniforms to fancier suits. You won't see much women's wear till near the end, but it's there -- be patient -- and it's daywear, which you also don't see too often. Film tends to lean toward showing the fancier wares of the 30s, so it's refreshing to see the daily stuff. The movie is just plain hilarious, and that my alternate husband is the star. Don't put it on mute though -- the script is hysterical! ("Do not. seek. the treasure.") If you've not seen it, your assignment is to watch it. Now.

2. Atonement. ::sigh:: I've posted about this movie before, I believe, and it is still one of my ultimate favorites. The costuming is to. die. for. You will see just about everything 30s in this one: evening gowns, sundresses, nurse uniforms, military uniforms, children's clothing, swimwear, you name it. The green dress is, of course, iconic, though it is, as I've mentioned before, two pieces, not just one. But my favorite dress is the one Kiera wears in the drawing room scene when her brother first arrives home. Watch this one. Many times. But wear a bib. It will bring out the drool

Monday, January 24, 2011

The 1930s in film (then)

The Oscar nominations are going to be announced tomorrow, so I thought we'd spend some time talking about movies. By the way, Colin Firth WILL win the Oscar this year, and you should see The King's Speech. Immediately. And Helena Bonham Carter plays the Queen Mother, and has wonderful clothes, of course. But I digress.

I was thinking about movies that are representative of their era, fashion-wise, and wanted to start with Vogues of 1938. This is not a well known movie. It's not even that great, but it does show up on TCM from time to time, and the clothing is to die for. There are multiple fashion shows in it, including a bridal show. You can watch it with the TV on mute and still enjoy every minute of it. I think I've even done that, to be honest. It's a beautiful movie.

Tomorrow, my favorite modern renditions of the 1930s.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Watch your step!

Now, how much fun does THIS look like? A customer of mine recently had a link to this website in her email, so I had to check it out. Turns out the site is for a group called Watch Your Step, who book vintage dance performances around the Boulder, Colorado area. They do all sorts of dances from the ragtime era on, and perform in full period costume.

The joy on their faces is obvious. Check out their scrapbook for lots more photos and a video. Enjoy!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Always the bridesmaid....

This is a fascinating pattern envelope to me. Two ladies, fashionably dressed, with major differences. If I was her sister, I'd be pretty peeved at the lady on the left. Look at her stylish dress, when compared with the woman on the right.

CRAZY wonderful hat, cuter gloves -- what length is that? They are longer than your typical short gloves, but I don't know if there is a name for that length. And the print on that dress? Spectacular.

Lady on the right looks stylish, but to me, there is no comparison. She speaks "always the bridesmaid, never the bride" to me. She definitely needs to take some style lessons from her sister.

Let's speculate about their shoes. If I were the girl on the left, I'd have red peeptoe pumps. On the right, it's probably something black, but navy would be better.

From 1947.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Dear God,

Could you please make me ONE IOTA as fabulous at my age as Carmen is at the age of 76?

I can't say it better than the guys at TLo, who have not only posted a wonderful salute to her, but a gorgeous gallery of her photos.

Enjoy. Click here and bow in her presence.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

And so it grows.....

Now this one is REALLY interesting. Reading the description, it sounds like it's either/or: either you can wear it and just look stylish, OR you can wear it as a maternity dress, because it's adjustable like that.

How cool is that? Sadly, it's sold, but a great example of 1930s maternity-wear.

Haven't been able to track down a 1920s maternity style yet, so if someone has one, leave a comment and I'll post it tomorrow.

Monday, January 10, 2011

What the turn of the century mama would wear

Lovely, isn't it? This is a pre-1910 maternity tea gown, and I just think it's gorgeous. I love everything about it, and would wear it even without a baby bump. I'd like it in several colors, too, please.

The only problem for me would be the sleeves, which I would constantly be dipping into my chicken velvet soup. I'm perplexed about shoes, however. I'm curious to see what shoes a lady-in-waiting would wear with this. Ideas?

I had thought about posting a turn of the century 2000s maternity dress to compare with this one, but decided it would just be too depressing. Let's just gaze upon this one for a while.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

More with the mommy-wear

The last post showed a maternity dress that didn't look maternity, and a couple of people wondered whether it was, indeed for mommy-to-be.

Yes, it was.

Remember, in yesteryear, ladies sewed a lot of their own clothing. People didn't have the more extensive wardrobes that we have today, as evidenced by my own house: built in 1930, the closets are TINY. Frugality also meant that they needed multi-purpose clothes. They didn't have the same access to stores that we had, and transportation was different. This pattern is from 1942, in the height of fabric rationing, so embellishments were done with darts and gathers instead of buttons and frippery.

Hence, the maternity wear you saw last time, as well as this time: adjustable dresses that could be wrapped or tied, adjusting according to need. I even had a maternity corset once that came, complete in box, with instructions on how to adjust the laces for each month of the pregnancy. It was fascinating to look at.

Tomorrow, I will post a photo of a 1910s maternity dress, just for basis of comparison. It's interesting to see how maternity clothing has evolved.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The unfairness of life........

is that, in 1945, this was a maternity dress. Sure beats those tight belly tops of today, doesn't it?