Saturday, August 30, 2014

5 Investments for a Great Vintage Wardrobe

When you first discover vintage fashion, it's easy to go a bit shopping happy! You want to fill your closet with all the things so every piece of vintage that fits you, every vintage bangle and brooch found thrifting, and every hat and pair of gloves found at yard sales ended up coming home with you. Now don't get me wrong, this is a great way to get started, but at some point in time, you need to start investing in more expensive quality pieces that will last you years.

1. Underpinnings

If you are not wearing the correct underwear, you'll never achieve that perfect period look. Plus, there's nothing that makes a girl feel more fabulous than pretty underthings. Whether it's a bullet bra, seamed stockings, a girdle or a luxurious slip, these little things really go a long way. Plus you'll wear them loads, so the cost per wear of even a more expensive piece is much less than that evening gown you wear once a year.

2. Coat

Another thing you'll wear loads is your winter coat. Unless you live some place where it doesn't get that chilly! A well made coat will cost you but the reward of cozy glamor all winter is worth it!

3. Footwear

Feet are one of the more overlooked aspects of a vintage look (perhaps because there are so many cute modern shoes). But shoe shapes have really changed since the midcentury and those little details really add or detract from that perfect vintage look. Invest in repro footwear or search out modern shoes with great details like tiny peep toes.

4. Basic Separates

Sometimes I go shopping for separ- Oh, looky, pretty dress! It is so easy to get distracted by pretty dress that we forget about separates. But since I've focused on adding more separates to my wardrobe, I've really discovered how amazing they are! If you are on a limited budget, start with items you can't make yourself or are hard to find vintage, such as pants or suits. Choosing solid colors over prints will make your wardrobe budget go further.

5. A Great Statement Piece

On the opposite end of the spectrum, every girl deserves at least one great statement pieces that says "Hey look at me! I'm fabulous!" Because, guess what- you are fabulous! This piece could be a hat, a novelty print skirt or that perfect little black dress. It just needs to make you feel as amazing as you are!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Let's get classy!

There's something so classy about the red and black color combination! You really can't go wrong with it. So when I picked up this darling red and black dress I just knew it would go great with some black accessories.

I know I have an odd figure so it's amazing to find a vintage dress that fits me so well! It could still use a few tweaks but it fits well enough that I'd rather keep the original integrity of the dress.

It's so much fun to breathe life into this dress again. The light cotton and whimsical ruffles suggest a casual air but I thought the graceful length called for a more dressy look.

Belt, hat and gloves: Vintage
Necklace: from my hubby's grandmother
Crinoline: Amazon
Shoes: Payless

I felt so elegant in this dress today! Plus it's cotton and sleeveless so it was quite comfortable in the heat. 

I don't usually wear red lippy when it's so hot and humid out because with lip liner, it's just so heavy and high maintenance but I knew this dress was just screaming for red!

What are your favorite accessories for when you want to look classy?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Just Another Pixie Grow Out: Month Three

I'm still growing out my pixie! Check out my progress and see if those biotin pills are doing any good.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Warming Up

The title of this post refers not only to the recent heat wave but also to the opening of the Ohio Renaissance Festival this coming weekend! This year my hubby and I are the official photographers so we are going to be there a lot. Not going to lie though, he'll be doing most of the picture taking and I'll be doing most of the looking fabulous.

Anyways, Saturday was the dress rehearsal and we attended to photograph the street cast in costume.

Originally, I wanted to go in costume but after a few weeks of gorgeous, almost fall like weather, Ohio decided that summer must be here now. It was hot and wicked humid. So I decided to rock my playsuit instead.

We got a sneak peak at some of the new things for this year and it's going to be great! It's also going to be our last year since we're moving to Florida. I'd really love to do a meet up with some of you all this year!

Sometimes, I make funky faces...

So, if you are going to the Ohio Renaissance Festival or you think you might, I'm doing an email list to organize meet ups! You can email me at to get on the list. I'll be emailing out once a week or so to let you all know what day's I'll be at the faire and we can talk about meet ups.

Huzzah for the Renaissance Festival!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A look back

Sometimes an event occurs and photos are taken, but for whatever reason, they don't make it up on the blog! I've got quite a backlog from several modeling events I did this summer. These photographs were taken at a historic home right near my old college!

I brought my vow renewal dress for wedding shots! Will and I did a 5 year vow renewal on the beach near were we will be moving to back in May. I made this great late 40s dress to wear there.

But as with most wedding dresses, there aren't a lot of opportunities to wear it! So I pulled it out for this shoot to wear again.

I also brought some more casual outfits to wear around the grounds. It was very pretty there.

I think my favorite place to shoot was on the front porch with all of the gorgeous flowers!

Photography: Photography by Jenna

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Story of a Vintage Dress

Every vintage garment tells a story. Each piece is a tangible link to another person, connecting us to them across time. We become part of their story and they become part of ours.

There was a woman who wore this dress. Did she make it herself? Why did she add it to her wardrobe? Did she have a special event in mind or was she just treating herself to a new frock? What did she do with her life? Was she a high school senior trying to impress a boy or a mom of two trying to keep up with a hectic schedule?

 She was a neat and tidy seamstress. Each seam is finished cleanly and pressed.

But she also added a line of ruffles around the neckline so I think it's safe to say that she wasn't afraid of a bit of whimsy.

She was a confident woman who wasn't afraid to pair patterned buttons with a loudly patterned dress. I'm afraid I would have chosen a rather plain black button for this project!

But those buttons are just decorative and the dress actually closes with snaps! I wonder why she chose this method. Was it suggested by the pattern? Did she hate making button holes? Perhaps her machine didn't have a button hole function.

She made clever use of the selvages of the fabric on the facing of the bodice and on the skirt side seams. The woven selvage won't fray and doesn't need any special finishing techniques.

From the size of this dress, I can say she was rather curvy, long waisted and likely tall. She also must have loved the fashionable bullet bra as the darts go quite high on the bodice!

 When I wear this dress, I'll think about this seamstress. Where she wore the dress. What things it has seen. And I'll add a few more chapters on to the story of this dress' life.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Care and Keeping of Vintage Purses

Owning vintage means extra time caring for and maintaining our treasures! In today's video, I'll share with you how I care for my vintage purse collection and give you some tips on increasing the life of your vintage purses.

Monday, August 18, 2014

HSF#15: The Great Outdoors

This Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge was all about outdoorsy activities-hiking, swimming, and playing all varieties of lady like sports. All things I don't care for. So this one was quite a challenge just to think of something to do for the challenge!

Since my idea of a good outdoor event is being warm and bored, I thought I'd make some outer wear. I've wanted to make a fitted English gown for quite some time and I had already stashed some wool for the project so I got to work.

This was my first time using a pattern drafted from the Tudor Tailor. It was actually easier than I thought it would be. The fitting was a bit different because I don't usually sew for over a corseted figure so I couldn't use my standby alterations. In the end, I'm quite happy with the fit.

The Challenge: The Great Outdoors
Fabric: 3.5 yds wool ($7), 2 yds black linen ($16), 1 yd orange linen ($5), 2/3 yd black silk cotton (free-left overs), 3/4 yd cotton velvet ($6)
Pattern: Fitted English Gown from the Tudor Tailor
Year: mid to late 1500s
Notions: hooks and eyes ($2)
How historically accurate is it? I feel like I did really well on the fabric with the linen and wool. The velvet wouldn't have been cotton in period and there shouldn't be any cotton in my silk but it was a leftover piece from another project that I thought would look smashing on the inside of the collar. I followed the construction suggested by the Tudor Tailor but I did machine sew most of it. Their construction method wouldn't work with the hand sewing method I'm familiar with so I decided to play it safe and machine sew the first one.
Hours to complete: heaps and heaps
First worn: Just for pictures but I will be wearing it to the Ohio Renaissance Festival which is technically outside....
Total cost: $36 (woot woot! I got some amazing deals on fabric for this project!)

 This is the first time I've ever come close to wearing the period appropriate number of layers. It's definitely a lot! I could still use another petticoat and maybe a hat but other than that, I'm looking good.

We did have to take these photos early in the morning when it was chilly, but even inside it wasn't as hot as I expected it to be with all of those layers and wool. All the same, I'm hoping for a chilly faire season so I can wear this a lot!

Also making their costuming debut are my American Duchess Stratfords. So pretty! :D It's amazing how much of a difference proper footwear makes to any look whether historical or vintage.

My favorite part of this outfit is probably the decorated pocket slits. Since I did black velvet on navy blue wool, they don't show up to well in the photo but you can see them in the Lucas de Heere sketch c. 1570 on the lady on the left.

I got to wear a lot of previous challenge items with this outfit- bodied petticoat (#12 shape and support),  apron (#13 under $10), and the sleeves (#18 from 2013 remake, reuse and refashion).

Silly photo time! :D

Saturday, August 16, 2014

I'll take you to the zoo

Ah, the zoo! A place full of childhood memories. And lions and tigers and bears, oh my! The hubby and I decided to seize the opportunity for one last summer outing before school starts up again! (Yup, one school I teach at starts Monday. Eeep!)

 Going to the zoo is one of the things on my Ohio bucket list so that's where we decided to venture. Having been to the Cincinnati Zoo many times, we decided to check out the Columbus Zoo instead.

And what should we spy first but those Floridian birds- flamingos! I think perhaps I'll have to get some flamingos to put in the yard when we get to Florida.

Penguins are always high on my to see list at any zoo or aquarium. I actually got to pet one one time at the Cincinnati Zoo. It was awesome although they do smell a bit fishy.

 It was quite busy on the day we went so finding an empty spot to take outfit photos was a bit of a challenge but we did find a couple spots with some obliging greenery.

 Lorikeets kissing! I love getting to go into the lorikeet enclosure. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, they were rather tired of people so we just had to admire them from afar.

I had quite a time trying to pick out an outfit for the zoo. I think most of my problem was that I really wanted it to be fall already but was still going to warm up during the day. So I threw together a classic 50s outfit with my largest crinoline for extra fun factor.

Blouse: Advance 8511
Skirt: me-made
Purse: Pinup Girl Clothing
Shoes: Payless
Earrings: Sparkle Lux

One cool thing they have at this zoo is a feed the giraffe station but the line was super long so we skipped it and went to watch this elephant take a bath instead. So cute!

 I got a lot of looks and comments on my outfit while I was out and about. Little girls especially loved the poofy skirt. In fact, my husband said that he's sure they'd think I was a princess if I was wearing a tiara. He better watch out because I might just take him up on that idea.

There were quite a few baby animals on exhibit while we were there including this kangaroo joey. You could actually walk around in the kangaroo enclosure but no petting was allowed. They look so fluffy!

By the end of the day, I was tired, tired, tired. It was only about 3 pm when we finished up the zoo but we wanted to eat dinner in Columbus before going home so we had to brain storm ideas to fill a few hours. My hubby came up with the brilliant idea of looking for a vintage shop and patiently waited around for an hour and a half while I shopped. (But I let him pick an Irish pub for dinner so I think we're even).

 I did end up picking up a few things but that is a post for another day. What's your favorite animal to see at the zoo? If you couldn't guess mine from the photos I selected for this post, it's definitely all of the feathered residents!

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Ring Toss Dress

The 1930s fever has officially set in! I don't actually have a lot of 30s style pieces in my wardrobe so I quickly whipped up this dress to wear this weekend.

The pattern is Past Pattern 9122 c. 1934-1935 which I've actually had in my stash for a while. Originally, I purchased it to refashion a 70s does 30s dress into a bit more 30s but the refashioned dress didn't wow me. I'm pretty sure it never even made it onto the blog.

I also had this great ring print rayon in my stash. I had bought it to make a blouse but decided it was too sheer to wear unlined so it never got made into anything. I'm not sure how 30s rings are (but they loved polka dots) but I did like the idea of a printed top with solid skirt so I picked up some blue cotton broadcloth for the skirt.

I almost didn't finish this dress a couple of times. It really needs a fabric with more drape for the skirt. I had planned on buying linen for the skirt but all they had was navy and I felt it was too dark. I should have listened to the fabric!

Also, I cut the skirt out with way too much ease in the hips and it made me look very wide. I removed 2" of ease from the hips and down which gave a much better (and more flattering) shape. The 30s skirts skimmed over the hips and that's a bit difficult look to get when you are very curvy!

But I did finish it and I'm quite happy with how the dress turned out!

To finish off the outfit, I added crochet gloves, a parasol and some finger waves!