Sunday, May 17, 2015

Walk in the Park

There's few things I love more than a gorgeous day. This winter was especially brutal to us New Englanders so, as soon as it warmed up, Tayla and I wasted no time embracing our spring wardrobes and visiting the Arnold Arboretum

Within its 281 acres, the arboretum boasts thousands of trees, shrubs, and vines from around the world. We went just in time to get a few good whiffs of the lilacs, the most gorgeous smelling blossom known to man.

I brought Scout, my 7-month old Boston Terrier, and matching circle skirt along for the fun. He was unmoved by the lilacs and photography but he did enjoy other aspects of our outing.

Apart from watering the plants and sniffing other dogs, I'm pretty sure the fountain was his favorite part.


Naturally, I couldn't resist wearing what I refer to as my Scout Skirt, a custom-made 50s-inspired circle skirt by the talented Rebecca of Girl in a Whirl. I've always loved the shape of poodle skirts but when I came across Rebecca's work, I was determined to make mine a Boston skirt. This was my first ever custom order so I was a little nervous, but Rebecca was super professional and kind. She was great about sending me fabric samples and mock-ups and making sure the skirt matched up with what I'd imagined. I couldn't be happier with the final product. 

I paired this look with my Marilyn top from Heart of Haute, a yellow flower pin from Bobby's, and a wide red belt.


There's so much I love about this skirt from the full shape of it, to the vibrant shade of blue, to the intricate details on the applique. Tayla and I are also big ric-rac fans so adding the black trim was a must for me and I love the way it compliments the colors in his coat.

These Irregular Choice heels are one of my favorite Buffalo Exchange finds. They're a little impractical for hikes (as I discovered while navigating my way downhill on a rocky path), but surprisingly comfortable otherwise, and just the right contrast for  this outfit.

 After a few hours walking around in the hot sun and being cute, this little guy was was ready for a nice nap in the shade.

Hello everyone, Tayla here! As you can see, our adventure to The Arnold Arboretum was amazing. This was my first time here, and when I looked at their website to see about their events, I was ecstatic to see "Lilac Sunday" was listed for the day of our visit.

Lilacs are my absolute favorite. The color on the other hand, not so much. But of the thousands of flowering plants in the Arboretum, only one, the lilac, is singled out each year for a daylong celebration. There is an entire path between of the different types of lilac trees, and they had guided tours all day long. If you missed it this year I seriously recommend marking your calendar for next May. As Sara mentioned, the scent was absolutely lovely. 

We caught some much needed shade under this beautiful tree. I felt very Alice in Wonderland-like in today's outfit.

If you can believe it, I wore these earrings to my eighth grade semi! I am so glad I kept them this long. The blue, green, and pearl gems are a perfect match for many of my teal colored garments. 

I was a headband addict a few years ago, you would have never seen me without one. As I got older I felt that the accessory was a little childish. Aren't I too old to be wearing a bow on my head? But after cleaning out most of my giant rhinestone flower headbands, I'm glad I kept this simple teal one. It might be a little youthful, but it matched perfectly!

Down the rabbit hole I go. The best thing about this dress is that it looks just as good from the back as it does the front! I absolutely love the repeated print of the water color like flower on the back.

This was my first outing wearing my B.a.i.t. Ida's in precious blue. I was shocked at how comfortable they were after a day of walking around the arboretum. You're going to be seeing a lot of these babies, as they match almost all of my wardrobe!

As sad as it is to admit, I have almost no details on this beautiful dress. I found it at my favorite thrift spot, Savers, and the tag had been cut out. There was also bad hemming done on the skirt, as well as stitching to bring up the shoulders. Luckily all of that could be undone, and I had it professionally hemmed. I love the bright turquoise color and blue and lime flower details. The style and silhouette fit me perfectly.

Another beautiful day out for us! Stay tuned later this week for my next post on my visit to the Canal St Antiques Mall in Lawrence.

Sara's Outfit Details
Top - Marilyn Top (Heart of Haute)
Skirt - Custom Boston Terrier Circle Skirt (Girl in a Whirl Custom Clothing)
Shoes - Red Heels with Ankle Straps (Irregular Choice)
Brooch - Yellow Flower Brooch (Bobby's)
Purse - 1950s White and Gold Basket Purse (thrifted)

Tayla's Outfit Details
Dress - (Thrifted)
Belt - Pinup Girl Clothing
Shoes - Bait Footwear (Ida's in Precious Blue)
Headband and Earrings - Purchased at Claire's! (circa 1000 years ago)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Why I Love Trashy Diva

When you wear vintage, it's hard to find contemporary brands that compare. I've never been one to lust over certain designers. Call me old-fashioned but I just want a pretty, well-made dress that flatters my body. With that said, I'm also a bit of a nut about fabric choices --I prefer natural fibers like cotton, linen, silk, and rayon. And let's face it, most modern designs feature vintage-inspired prints, and though imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, why wear the copy when you can have the real thing? At least that's what I thought until I discovered the magic of Trashy Diva. 

I chanced Trashy Diva about a year ago when I stumbled my dream dress incarnate, the beaded turquoise Lena, on Instagram. But at the time, I couldn't justify spending $200 on a dress even if it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. I lived to regret that decision when the dress sold out. Flash forward to a few months ago when I bought my first, second, and third Trashy Diva dresses all weeks apart courtesy of the aptly-named Trashy Diva Facebook fanclub, Desperately Seeking Trashy Diva. Each one of them possessed the most flattering, feminine fit I've ever seen outside of vintage, plus natural fabrics, impeccable construction, and exquisite colors and prints. I had found the holy grail of repro designers! Ever since then, I've been hooked.

A bit about the brand, Trashy Diva, founded in 1996, is a New Orleans-based clothing company, founded by owner and designer Candice Gwinn, that specializes in vintage-inspired clothing from 1940-1960 in sizes ranging from 0-24. And while their styles glean inspiration from vintage patterns, their design process involves weeks of thoughtful re-fittings and revisions to create original garments that flatter women of all sizes. 

Another one of my favorite things about Trashy Diva is the prints. This particular dress, from TD's Jade Watercolor collection, is a reflection of the remarkable artistry of their designs. 

What I love about these separates--that's right I said it, I'm not wearing a dress for once-- is that they have the perfect quintessentially 50s look without the fragility of actual 50s tops and skirts. When I wear actual vintage, there's always the fear that if I lift my arms the wrong way, I'll split a seam. Because these separates borrow from vintage patterns but are made with a stretch cotton sateen, I can actually frolic as I see fit and raise my hands in the air, perhaps even wave them like I just don't care. Ayyy-yo! But more than likely, I'll probably just be leisurely leafing through my closet or a good book. 

There you have it, the trifecta of what makes a perfect repro garment: fit, print, and fabric. Vintage lovers know that finding all three in one piece is a rare and special moment--kind of like finding that person who swoons as much as you do over a good floral print. Victor just gets it and completely indulges me when I geek out over Trashy Diva and how it's changed my life. 

He also has one of the most adorable and well-dressed puppies I've ever met--I say "one of" because Scout is currently giving me the stink eye because he has yet to make his blog debut. He's still holding out for Trashy Diva to release their collection of seersucker menswear for the fashion-conscious pup.

Photography by Victor Prizzio. Check out his photos from Bobby's here.

Outfit Details:
Trixie Top (Trashy Diva)
Jade Watercolor Circle Skirt (Trashy Diva)
Cream Cardigan (TJ Maxx)
Mint Green Bow Belt (Modern Millie's)
Jezebel Pump (Chelsea Crew)



Friday, May 1, 2015

Vintage Girls in a Modern World

Please pardon my impromptu blogging hiatus. Between completing my master's degree, student teaching, and beginning my first year of teaching, I had to put this blog on pause for a bit, but I'm happy to say that I plan on returning to the blogosphere in full force. It only took nearly two years and a firm, but supportive nudge from one of my best friends and fellow vintage enthusiast, Tayla, or as she's known on instagram, Vintage Vixen. Tayla will be joining me here as a co-blogger, photographer, and general voice of insight and reason. Together, we'll weigh in on our adventures and experiences scouting for vintage, wearing retro reproductions, trying our hand as vintage vendors, styling with mid-century accessories, and perfecting pinup makeup and hair styles. 

Over the years, Tayla and I have bonded over our shared love for feminine details, silhouettes, and prints and we've both had a role in inspiring each other's sense of style. Tayla has a knack for finding and flaunting the most gorgeous, figure-flattering repro dresses and separates that give her the perfect stylistic blend of va-va-voom and vintage chic, thus the alias Vintage Vixen. Through Tayla's influence, I began checking out different repro companies like Pinup Girl Clothing, Bernie Dexter, Collectif, Tatyana (formerly Bettie Page), Trashy Diva, and others. 

On Saturday, when we went out vintage hunting, I opted for my Bernie Dexter Victoria Jewels dress. Between the beautiful shade of sky blue and the intricate 60s-inspired floral print, not to mention the perfect hour-glass 50s fit and subtly sexy bust-line, there's nothing I don't adore about this dress. And that's one of the things I love about repro; designers can blend together the best parts of different decades to create styles with vintage inspiration and modern construction. 

Being a size nine in shoes and possessing not exactly the daintiest of feet, I've always struggled with finding true vintage shoes. It's always pained me to ogle fabulous vintage pumps that would barely accommodate my big toe. Luckily for me, there's a wide array of repro vintage shoe designers like B.a.i.t. Footwear that make adorable and comfortable vintage-inspired shoes for ladies of all sizes. I paired this outfit with my Iones in Precious Blue. 

I also broke out my red vintage cardigan (it's still not quite spring yet in New England), my favorite vintage petticoat from Raspberry Beret, and a fun spring brooch from Luxulite

On Saturday, Tayla and I ventured to the vintage promised land, Bobby from Boston's warehouse, a veritable dreamscape for aspiring fashion time travelers.

On an unassuming Lynn street, with no sign out front to identify it, sits Bobby’s warehouse, an old, ordinary building that would easily escape your gaze or interest if you didn't know to look. It’s a place that doesn’t advertise, doesn’t open it’s doors to the public, but rather, waits for those that seek it out--people like fashion designers and stylists, and you know, your garden-variety obsessive vintage collectors like us. Walking inside is something akin to crossing to magical barrier to platform nine and three-quarters. Housed inside this five-thousand square foot space is Bobby Garnett’s masterpiece, a collection of vintage clothing, accessories, and curios spanning the 30s through 60s, an undertaking reflective of decades of careful curating. Inevitably, photos cannot do our experience justice. We were asked not to photograph individual objects so our photo narrative is a mere glimpse that does not reflect the intricate details that make vintage lovers go wild. They certainly fail to capture the periodic squeals and gasps emanating from the two of us as we explored the racks marveling at the prints, the tailoring, the embroidery, the beading, the lace! Did I mention the prints? Needless to say, we will definitely be donning our spoils in future posts, so, stay tuned!

Yes, that's me absentmindedly combing through at an entire rack of vintage belts and clutching a pair of 40s shoes (in my size!) for dear life while my purse is wide open. Take my money, please!

Buttons, hat boxes, and jackets, oh my! 

Hello everyone, this is Tayla speaking! I must thank Sara for her lovely introduction, and confess to you that she has been the most magical influence in my life when it comes to my style evolution. My love (and obsession) for vintage clothing comes solely from Miss Technicolor Dream Shoes showing me the way.

On our numerous outings thrifting for vintage and antiques, I would always find myself going straight for knick-knacks. Lady head vases? check. Various gorgeous milk glass pieces? check. Metal lighters and cigarette holders? Check! While I found myself ooogling over all the lovely items the antique world has to offer, my red headed companion would throw herself straight into vintage clothing. I started realizing how beautiful some of these garments were, and was a bit jealous at the dresses she was finding!

As a plus size girl in a vintage world, I can tell you what some of you may already know, that finding larger vintage pieces is tough. I never bothered to look at vintage clothing because I figured none of it would fit me, and sadly, sometimes I was right. But the thrill of the hunt has never been so exciting for me. To find a gorgeous dress, and in my size, is exciting alone. Add in the fact that it’s vintage makes it even more amazing! This, coupled with the initiative to get in better shape and lose some weight over the last year has made my vintage lovin dreams come true. I cherish every vintage dress like it is the find of the century, and can not wait to share some of my favorites.

For our outing Saturday I wore this 60's Leo-Danal abstract print green polyester pleated dress. I know what you’re thinking, polyester AND pleating?! But sometimes a beautiful print will consume me, regardless of fabric or decade. This is a simple spring dress that just does the trick.

The upside to polyester is that it gives me some stretch. Finding pieces to fit over my bust line can be very challenging! The pearl buttons up the front and tie bow at the waist are the icing on the cake.

These shoes had no business being paired with my green dress, but lately I have gotten over my obsession to be completely matching. These Sperry flats I found at Savers, and though the photos may tone them down a bit, I assure you they are very HOT pink! Who doesn’t love pink and green? The cute bows and eyelet cut outs are perfect for summer.

All in all, I must admit this is one of my favorite vintage dresses. The lime green mixed with sage, seafoam and white in a crazy swirl/splatter print is just gorgeous. It’s not something I ever thought I would wear until I put it on and found that the print and silhouette suited me perfectly.

A big thank you to my amazingly beautiful friend Sara for letting me in on her blogging world. Words can not express how kind and thoughtful this young lady is, and I am truly blessed to call her one of my closest friends. Cheers to many more of our thrifting adventures!

Sara's Outfit Details
Dress - Bernie Dexter Victoria Jewels
Petticoat - Vintage (Raspberry Beret)
Cardigan - Vintage
Brooche - Luxulite

Tayla's  Outfit Details
Dress - 1960s Abstract Green Pleated Dress (thrifted)
Shoes - Sperrys (thrifted)
Earrings - Painted Green Metal Flower Clip Ons (SoWa)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Sunny Afternoon

For me, one of the most exciting parts of exploring a new area is discovering the go-to vintage and second-hand hotspots. For the past couple weeks, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to live and work in Northampton and of course, poke around all the cute vintage boutiques and thrift stores. And because what fashion class would be complete without some retail therapy, I devoted a day of class to bring my girls along for a trip. (Yes, you heard right--I'm getting paid to go shopping. I told you this was a dream job!)

On one of my personal excursions, I stopped to browse the racks at Retro Genie, and stumbled upon this darling 50s pastel plaid day dress, and instantly swooned at the sight of it. Pastel colors? Check. Ruffles? Check. Gathered circle skirt? Check. Cotton? Check. All my favorite things rolled into the perfect dress for a summer stroll! Another great thing about finding a unique piece in a new setting is that the garment is forever imprinted with associations from that specific place. I look at this dress and I remember sitting on a grassy hill in the town square with a dozen wonderful  girlseating Creamsicle ice cream accessorized with rainbow sprinkles, laughing, and periodically swatting at mosquitoes.  

In a mere few weeks, this place, these girls, my fellow teachers, they've left such a mark on me. We've built forts together, styled toilet paper tea party outfits, decorated cupcakes, gone on scavenger hunts, embraced impromptu dance parties, belted out songs at karaoke night, perfected the art of polka dot nail designs, listened to and performed spoken word poetry, watched live music in the town square, explored art museums, ironed and hot glue-gunned fabric as well as our fingers, bleached and dyed denim and t-shirts, bedazzled collars and hems, designed and painted custom stencils, upcycled 70s maxi dresses, crafted flower crowns and beaded collar necklaces, flaunted our fabulousness on the runway, and swapped spooky stories about the ghost of Sylvia Plath. 

It’s funny, I want to remember everything, I want to document it, and I want to share it, but I feel as though every summary I create of my experience is somehow watered-down and incomplete. Coming to terms with that is frustrating for me because writing is my way of making sense of things. As Flannery O’Connor once said, “I write to discover what I know.” So, it’s hard to have so many thoughts and feelings that transcend a written rendering. But then again, there’s also something really lovely about that, the notion of being a part of something so full-dimensional and singular that pinning it down is nearly impossible. This is a story I will carry with me forever in vivid color. In my clothes, in my notebooks, in the pictures and videos the girls took on my phone, in the emails they send me, and all of my camp artifacts, but most importantly, with me.

This dress will always warmly remind me of my month-long dream job in Northampton and all the people that made that place feel like home. 

Outfit Details:
1950s Pastel Plaid Day Dress ~ Retro Genie (Northampton, MA)
Seychelles Pastel Pink Oxford Pumps ~ Buffalo Exchange
1950s Wicker Purse with Bakelite Handle ~ Cheshire Cat (South Kingstown, RI)
Double Strand Green Pearls ~ a gift from my mother

Photography by Yenny Shim