30 September 2008

Art Explorer: Philip Curtis

In moving from a small rural community to a huge metropolitan city like Phoenix, I expected to be overwhelmed with museum and cultural options. That didn't really happen. The metro Phoenix area is still young in some ways, still finding its feet and deciding what sort of identity it wants to adopt. Given that, the museum options are sometimes lacking. The Phoenix Museum of Art has all sorts of interesting pieces that I adore, but it takes no time at all to make it through the exhibits. The are two things that really keep me going back to the museum: their fashion exhibits (closed this last time) and their Philip Curtis room. Curtis was an American surrealist artist who founded the Phoenix Art Center, what is today the museum. He worked on his art out of a studio in Scottsdale until his death in 2000. His work is simply gorgeous and often depicts American sideshow circuses and barren desert landscapes.

I could spend all day in that room at the Art Museum so I wanted to create a look based on a painting by Curtis. The title of the piece that inspired this look is "Parasols by the Shore."

Outfit consists of:

Chocolate and cream Italian style umbrella. Available at Umbrella Heaven for 18.99 pounds.

1980s 14k gold leaf and frond engraved bracelet. Available at The Marlene Harris Collection for $250.

Brown wool felt floppy hat. Available at Forever 21 for $13.80.

1980s brown wool Escada skirt with a 29" waist. Available at vintagetrends.com for $75.

White cotton blouse from Marc by Marc Jacobs 2007 collection.

1880s coral cameo mounted on 10k gold. Available at The Marlene Harris Collection for $375.

Linen colored leather Jennica pump by RSVP. Available at zappos.com for $65.

Aqua blue leatherette oversized bag. Available at fashion junkee for $58.

29 September 2008

Imagined Travel: Caribbean Cruise

Clearly I'm just dying to travel since most of my posts are these Imagined Travel ones. It's been a few months since I really traveled so I can't wait to get out there again. I like to think of myself as relatively adventurous so the idea of a cruise never seemed exciting to me. All that time on a boat with the same people sounds way too stifling. At the moment though, I wouldn't mind some relaxing water and tropical breezes, kicking back with a good book and plenty of sunscreen. I don't know if I'll ever take a cruise, but I know plenty of people do each year. I'm imagining here a Caribbean Cruise. Peak season is all year round so even though summer has faded here in the States, beachy warmth is still occurring out there on the water.

PS. Today's picks are far from wallet friendly, but I couldn't help myself.

Outfit consists of:
Black zebra beach towel. Available at Debenhams for 5.40 pounds.

Tape cassette plastic tote. Available at Fred Flare for $16.

Vintage inspired tiger and smoke sunglasses. Available at House of Sunglasses for $9.99.

Vintage Rudi Gernreich wool polka dot bathing suit, size 10. Available at Archive Vintage for $298.

Black and gold snake print Bernardo sandal. Available at Urban Outfitters for $59.99.

Flame Diane von Furstenberg cotton knit tube dress. Available at net-a-porter for $365.

Gold mesh Art Nouveau purse by Evans. Available at Antique Peek for $240.

Givenchy key necklace. Available at Archive Vintage for $298.

27 September 2008

Imagined Travel: Ireland

This time imagined travel takes us to Ireland. It's one of my potential honeymoon destinations so I actually might don an outfit like this in the near future. Even though we haven't settled on where we're going, I like to be prepared for every potential outcome. It's part of my personality actually. Any time I apply for a job in a different city I thoroughly research the area, including my two personal favorite daydreaming arenas: real estate and restaurants. In any case since I may or may not go to Ireland, I thought I'd better have an outfit idea ready.

Outfit consists of:

1940s silk Suzy Perette dress including raffia belt with a 36" bust and 30" waist. Available at Ballyhoo Vintage for $215.

Polaroid one step 600 instant camera. Available used through Amazon for $28.

Plaid printed coat. Out of stock through Forever 21.

14 karat gold "I am of Ireland" ring. Available at dvb for $615, silver available for $99.

Yellow leather Steve Madden peep toe wedge. Available through zappos.com for $71.96.

Brown leather Tory Burch clutch. Available at Bluefly for $255.

14 karat gold knot earrings with white cultured pearls. Available at pippin bass for $250.

26 September 2008

A Find From Every Era Friday

Since I've been traveling, I haven't been able to do Friday finds since the first time. The last few weeks the news has been dominated by the economic crisis which makes shopping a bit nerve racking. How can we spend money on clothes when everything is so out of control? Luckily I've been perusing the internet looking for some great stuff at great prices so we can continue shopping but with an eye toward a bargain. So here are my current picks. I hope you like them!


This is an early 1900s corset cover with a 36" bust and 26" waist. I know what you may be thinking, what do I need a corset cover for? Who wears corsets these days? But picture it as more like a camisole and picture it with a pencil skirt in plaid for example. Picture a cozy and bright cardigan on the top cinched (or not depending on your style) with a patterned skinny belt. What I love about this top is the exquisite detailing. It's not like you're going to find something like this at your local Wal-Mart, yet it's at a Wal-Mart comparable price with ebay seller peggysvintage for a current bid of just $9.99.


This purse fascinates me. I saw one recently at an antique store, but it was a bit out of my price range. Basically it looks impossible at first. You wonder how you would get anything in there. But as soon as you pop the top open, the bag expands. I've heard this is called a tango purse which makes sense since you could secure this to your wrist and keep dancing. Though dance moves have changed, the need to find something to do with your purse while dancing hasn't which makes this lovely buy awfully useful. This one is by Whiting and Davis and is available at ebay seller rosecrk for a starting of just $9.99.

If you like pattern, you'll love this floral print dress. The colors are vibrant and fresh and will make you long for spring all winter. Since the pattern is so bold, I'd put it with neutral toned accessories and shoes just so that you don't blind your friends. The description by Ballyhoo Vintage says this is a cocktail dress, but I'd be tempted to wear this anywhere special. This dress measures 40" at the bust and 36" at the waist and is for sale for $95.


Who could resist owning a dress in this beautiful blue? If I hadn't banned myself from ever buying wool (I get hives just thinking about it) none of you would stand a chance bidding on this dress on ebay. Maybe if I wore...no, no it's not my size...but....You can see how tempted I am. **sigh** I'll just have to live with telling you about it. This would be perfect for work. All your coworkers will sigh with envy too. It's available at Violetville Vintage and its measurements are 42-32-46. Its starting bid is $34.99.


As we all know by now (I hope), I have a great love of animal print. I also have a great love of flattering dresses. The picture above is the deadly combination of both. You think it's just a simple yet pretty dress until you work your way down to that peep of zebra print. Wow! Occasionally there's a cocktail or holiday party one has to attend for work and wouldn't it be lovely to be remembered as the girl who wore that amazing dress rather than the one who had too many martinis? I'd personally keep the shoes and any accessories to this dress black so that it's really that shot of zebra print that stands out. You can get this silk dress (measurements 36-26-36) over at Vintage Martini for $85.


The seller of this gorgeous top says the pattern looks like equal signs. Some might say it's a broken check. Whatever the case is, this pattern makes me happy. I love the way they paired this for a casual weekend look, but it would look equally (haha!) pretty as a work top. During a tipsy economy we all need multi-functional pieces in our wardrobes. I'd pair this with some bright accessories, I naturally head toward red, but a kelly green or electric blue would really make this outfit pop. This versatile top (bust measurement of 38") is at etsy seller Tialey Vintage for just $28.


I can't get over how much I love this top. This is how a piece of clothing reminds us that an era had some pretty wonderful ideas. I can't think of a place I wouldn't wear this accordion pleated blouse. It could go to work or out casually or even on a whirl around some nighttime hot spots. With jeans or a skirt or even over the top of the right dress. It's as versatile as a cardigan but much sexier. I think it would look best with a very simple cami or tank so that the emphasis is on the lines of this top. Pairing it with a longer bold necklace like the one featured in the picture calls attention to the neckline. This top with a 40" bust and 31.5" waist can be found at etsy seller Planetclairevintage for $32.

The Urban Collection says this polyester Joni Blair top would be great with a pencil skirt or with skinny jeans as they've done here. I happen to agree and think pairing it with a skirt could easily take this shirt to the workplace. It's great in that it's sexy but not overtly so, and for ladies who want to call attention to their waists this would be extremely flattering. Really someone should be wearing this beauty. It's got a 35" bust and costs a very wallet friendly $22.

I know I said previously that I wasn't ready to consider the 1990s as vintage. Perhaps it's because I'm not fully comfortable with the era I grew up in being termed vintage. Nonetheless, this cute B.B. Club cotton blazer top forced me to include it on this week's list. It recalls 1940s and 1950s fashion, but its asymmetrical hem updates it. Not to mention the gorgeous colors in the fabric. I'd button this up on an early fall day to have lunch with my mom or wear it to work with a nice fitted pant and some yummy raspberry colored heels. This top has a 34/36" bust and is for sale at VintageTrends.com for $45.

24 September 2008

Imagined Excursion: The Fair

Meghan over at transletics asked me to create an outfit for the fair. I did ask when and where this fair was, but I couldn't wait to get started on a new outfit. So since I'm impatient, I decided this fair took place in the fall and while occurring on a nice day, had the chances of being a bit chill toward evening. I also wanted it to be cute yet comfortable. After all, you can't really be wearing heels as you race your way to the cotton candy or the tractor pull.

Outfit consists of:

1970s floral print nylon blouse with a 38" bust. Available at VintageTrends.com for $23.

Red leather flats by Stuart Weitzman. Available at Bluefly for $129.

Red leather envelope clutch. Available at retrodelic for $79.

Trouser legged jeans. Available at American Eagle for $29.95.

Stone cable cashmere cardigan by Magaschoni. Available at Bluefly for $268.

Cream poly flower ring. Available at Forever 21 for $3.80.

Questionable Fashion: Capes

My very first vintage obsession was with coats. Living in an area that spends long periods of the winter in the below zero range encourages an healthy love of all things warm. I can't tell you how many coats I own, but I would say it's at least twenty. After moving to Arizona I had no more need for heavy wool coats, especially of the fully lined variety. Yet I couldn't give any of them up, so for the moment they're safely stored away waiting for my return.

In my coat buying days, I frequently came across capes or cloaks and was tempted by them. But no one I knew owned a cape, no one walking around town had one on either. I resisted and passed up many of my ebay watch items. Now I wonder if a fear of not fitting in held me back or being likened to other cape wearing characters such as Little Red Riding Hood, Sherlock Holmes, and Dracula. So my questions are, would that actually be a bad thing and can the cape work?

Little Red Riding Hood:

Vintage finds:

1970s hooded red wool cape, S-L. Available at ebay seller Apocalypse Vintage with a starting bid of $9.99.

1960s J.C. Macy red wool cape, S-XL. Available at ebay seller Time's Up Vintage with a starting bid of $39.99 and a Buy Now of $129.99.

Sherlock Holmes:

Vintage finds:

1960s gray and mocha plaid cape, XS-M. Available at ebay seller mama stone vintage with a current bid of $16.50.

1960s black and white woven wool or wool blend houndstooth cape. Available at ebay seller Love Spy Vintage with a current bid of $26.49 and a Buy Now of $149.99.


Vintage finds:

1950s cropped black bolero cape, XS-M. Available at ebay seller thriftwares with a current bid of $51.

1980s Ariel Bloom black mid-weight wool cape. Available at ebay seller hipster's Playground Vintage with a current bid of $14.99.

So what do you think? Yay or nay to the cape?

PS. Just for clarification, I say yay! I only have to move some place cold again.

23 September 2008

Imagined Travel

My one is traveling through Vermont as we speak taking in the mountains and trees. I'm jealous. I wish I could be in the car with him stopping off at an orchard for some sugar coated donuts and a cup of hot apple cider. I also wish I was wearing this outfit as well....

Outfit consists of:

1970s acrylic pullover with a 36 inch bust. Available at VintageTrends.com for $48.

Wood ring created by Simply Wood Rings, average cost of $160-395.

1970s Jane Shilton leather bag. Available at Posh Vintage for $145.

Dark rinse skinny jeans. Available at Charlotte Russe for $29.99.

Ivory lace trimmed cami. Available at Forever 21 for $8.80.

Brown leather boots with knit cuff by Missoni. Available at Bluefly for $475.

22 September 2008

Oh I kill myself

I'm all alone in my apartment laughing hysterically. The cats are giving me that pointed, ears back look. None to fear kitties. I will recover. But everyone has to go try out Yearbook Yourself. It lets you take a photo of yourself and meld it with old year book photos. Since I've been at this for awhile now, you get to see the full collection of my favorites. Sorry that they're not super perfectly aligned and that I'm a bit squinty eyed. It's the only photo that I have without much hair in my face.

I graduated in 2000, and I'm not sure we had hair like this. Although actually I do now recall my bangs having a bit more curl to them then was strictly necessary.

I think I made my face too big here, but in any case this is the year I started high school. I remember pretty much nothing from that era. I'm certain, though, that a lot of girls looked like this even though it's a year too late for My So Called Life stylishness.

I was two that year. I thankfully missed the amount of effort that would have gone into creating this.

I kind of like this look on me. It's like Heidi met Shirley Temple met girl just dying to embrace her hippie brethren.


I swear I had this haircut at some point, except it was 1999, not 1972.

One of my aunt's totally had this haircut. Come to think of it, the year probably was 1968.

As someone with extremely thick hair, I sometimes wish we still lived in a time when thick hair was necessary to becoming the cool chick.

Well, I guess I now know what hair cut would make me look overly masculine....or maybe it's this woman's stronger jawline....either way...

21 September 2008

Vintage Search: Sookie Stackhouse's halter dress

Okay so posting the opening credits of HBO's True Blood is completely gratuitous in regards to this posting. I simply love the gritty, dark images and the swampy feel of Jace Everett's song "Bad Things." At the moment I can listen to this song over and over.

But really what I'm writing about is my current vintage search. Every once and awhile I become obsessed by something I must have. It can be a general thing like an embroidered top or a beaded sweater. Sometimes though it's heartrendingly specific. HBO's new series features the lovely Anna Paquin dressed in a lot of vintage inspired sundresses. As someone who lives in the searing heat of the southwest I know that sundresses can be a life saver on days that are too hot to move. True Blood is only on its third episode as of today, but in all of the previews I keep seeing Anna Paquin's character Sookie Stackhouse being carried by a vampire. She's wearing a gorgeous red and white halter dress. It's in the picture below. It's the best picture I could find and even though it's blocked by a bar table you can sort of see how lovely it is.

So what I'm on the hunt for is a halter topped sundress with a sweetheart neckline in red and white. I'd prefer the floral print to be a bit bolder, but really I'm not picky. Or at least I can tell myself that. The hunt for the perfect summer outing dress begins now.

20 September 2008

Going to the chapel

While the months of June and July seem packed with weddings to attend, the actual height of the wedding season is considered to be from May through September. But the planning stage begins, for the most part, a year or more in advance. Being engaged apparently means being flooded with time schedules informing me at what time I need to complete each task. Most of the items outlined seem unnecessary for a frugal or uncomplicated bride, but these lists sometimes include useful information. The wedding planning task can be daunting, but there's one thing that I of course truly became excited about, buying the dress. Buying a vintage wedding gown can be a bit of a different process. While some traditional wedding stores carry vintage dresses (see Sewly Yours & Once Upon a Bride in Burlington VT) most of these dresses can only be found online or by scouring the racks at vintage clothing and thrift stores. This often means that vintage dress buyers don't have the same experience of trying on multiple gowns. Many brides don't stop to consider the vintage wedding dress, perhaps envisioning froths of degraded lace, puffed sleeves, and high necklines, but the truth is there's some beautiful dresses out there.

Current wisdom states that a wedding dress is a one time use garment. The idea of keeping a wedding dress for a future child is now also out of fashion. I do whole-heartedly advocate for the donation of wedding gowns and other formal dresses to women in need (see the amazing organizations Brides Against Breast Cancer and The Bridal Garden for wedding gown donation; see The Glass Slipper Project, The Ruby Room, Operation Fairy Dust, and The Fairy Godmother Project for prom and formal wear donations). While there's the growing Trash the Dress movement which creates some admittedly stunning photographs of brides well, trashing their dresses, the donation route seems to be the better path to head down in terms of feeling great about what you've just done. Still, I sometimes wish I had a passed on dress from my mother or grandmothers. None were the wedding dress type, in fact if I remember correctly my mother wore a pink mini skirt suit ensemble to her court house elopement.

Left to my own devices, I've already purchased a dress. In an uncharacteristic move, I ended up buying a much more "bridal" dress that wasn't vintage. It's a gorgeous Christos gown I got at a deep discount and certainly has a vintage tone to it. Although I love the dress, I am second guessing my decision. Is it the right one? Should I have waited to find a vintage gown? At the same time, I know it will work. But still, I can't seem to break myself from the habit of dress shopping. So here's some things that I wish I would have bought:

Early 1930s Maison Doucet gown constructed out of beige lace. Available at Antique Dress for $1,885.

1950s fully lined chiffon dress with streamers. Available at Posh Girl Vintage for $325.

Late 1960s/early 1970s polyester lace dress. Available at etsy seller GoodEye for $165.

1950s Ceil Chapman dress with open work lace waist lined with brown. Available at ebay store Mission to Mod for a starting bid of $299.99 and a Buy Now of $650.

19 September 2008

Film Inspiration: Fur

I'm only halfway through watching the film Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus and already I had to take a moment to obsess over the wonderful wardrobing in the piece. Nicole Kidman is an actress who I always believe is stunningly beautiful, but she looks particularly fetching in 1950s day dresses. Perhaps it's because these dresses are rather flattering to the female form. They are, at the moment, my favorite vintage purchases. The film itself is deeply engaging and while a fictional glimpse at photographer Diane Arbus' life and work gives a inspirational look at the fringe revealed and the "ugly" turned beautiful.

So here's a look at Fur for some shopping/lusting inspiration.