How to Wear Those “Problem Garments”

How to Wear Those "Problem Garments", the artyologist, vintage shirtwaist dress

(OK, I seriously just spent about an hour trying to come up with a better blog title than this, but this is the best I can come up with. And now that it’s 11:00 pm, I’m going to say that’s good enough. And goodnight!)

I had every intention of taking this turquoise shirtwaist dress out of my closet and selling it. But I thought I should do one photo shoot with it before it was gone forever. And then I saw these photos and . . . decided that I will be keeping this dress after all! I found it in a thrift shop two years ago and it fits like a dream. I think it is an original 1950’s dress, although it could have been made later perhaps too, and I believe it is a home-sew, as there is no tag.

How to Wear Those "Problem Garments", the artyologist, walking in a wheat field

So, why would I want to get rid of this dress?

Well, I have owned it for a few years, and I have worn it perhaps. . . five times. I never reach for it when I go to get dressed, and almost every time I wear it, I don’t like how I have styled it (which is why it hasn’t appeared on the blog before). It just never seems to work with anything. Since my wardrobe is full of warm neutral tones, a vibrant dress like this one stands out like a sore thumb. Especially since I’m trying to create a more “cohesive wardrobe”.

So how do you reconcile those “problem” garments you have, which don’t seem to go with anything or work with the rest of your closet? Here are some tips I literally just invented right now while looking at these photos (and trying to decipher why this outfit “worked” this time around), but the tips worked for me when I wore this problem dress, so maybe they’ll help you too! 😉

How to Wear Those "Problem Garments", the artyologist, vintage turquoise shirtwaist dress

Resist the temptation to over-accessorize.

I think one of the hallmarks of vintage style is the accessories. While modern girls would call a t-shirt, jeans and a scarf an ensemble, vintage girls won’t consider it complete until you’ve got a hat, purse, gloves, stockings, shoes, necklace, earrings, scarf, ring, and parasol. OK, maybe not all of those things at once, but you see what I mean! The problem comes in when you are trying to accessorize a problem garment, and none of your regular accessories match very well. This is when paring down the number of accessories might be a good idea. I always tried to pair this shirtwaist with a matching purse, belt, shoes, hat, jewellery and . . . I discovered that it is just too much. Nothing seemed to “go” and the style of this dress actually works well with a relatively small number of accessories. And I don’t have to worry about looking overdone. My accessories choices for this outfit consisted only of brown laceup shoes, a cognac belt, and (though you can’t even see them in the photos) my pearl earrings. Simple, and definitely not overdone.

How to Wear Those "Problem Garments", the artyologist, vintage shirtwaist dress, details

Try sticking with one accent colour, or shades of the same colour.

This time I chose my brown lace up flats and a cognac belt. Keeping the accessories to one neutral colour, and shades within a hue, allows the dress to stand out. The dress is bright and it doesn’t need more colour to go with it. Of course, I could have chosen a bright colour such as fuchsia, which would look amazing with this turquoise colour, but that would not have been very “me”. Choosing brown accessories made this bright outfit not feel like too much of a deviation from my regular style. Conversely, if you are wearing a neutral outfit and are having trouble choosing what to pair with it, try one brighter colour such as mint green or royal blue. The effect is just as striking, and never overdone. And it is very “vintage” in style as well, as in past eras women were very fond of coordinating outfits!

How to Wear Those "Problem Garments", the artyologist, jumping for joy

Wear what you love, even if it doesn’t “fit” the rest of your wardrobe. 

Part of the reason of why I wanted to get rid of this dress, I fully admit, is because it doesn’t go with the rest of my wardrobe. I would seriously love to have a picture perfect wardrobe, where everything blends seamlessly on a garment rack and you don’t have clashing pieces getting in the way when you want to take an instagram photo. 😉 However, I do have a few pieces that “clash” and kind of highjack that plan, because I don’t want to get rid of them. When I think about it logically though, why do all of my clothes need to match? If I love something, why can’t I keep it? Of course I should keep it! Wear what you love, regardless of whether it goes with the rest of your wardrobe. Having a cohesive wardrobe is a great goal, and is one that I am still working towards with my new purchases, but for the garments I already own, there is no reason to get rid of everything. And if I want to take an instagram photo, I can just take the clashing dress out of the closet, can’t I? 😉

Before you give up, take a photo first.

It might seem silly, but when you look at a photo of your outfit, you’ll be able to see what is going wrong with your outfit. Perhaps in real life those pinks look like they go well together, but when you look at a photo, you’ll realize that you should really pair the dress with blue, for a knockout look. Or, maybe you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you see a photo of your outfit, and you see everything that is going right with it! Perhaps you thought that your outfit was really unflattering, but when you saw a photograph, you realized that it actually fit you quite well, and you just needed to step away from the critical three-way mirror! And maybe, like me, you’ll take a photo and realize that it’s not the dress that is the problem, it’s that all of the pairings you tried before were not working because you simply needed to get rid of half of the accessories!

I think that by following these tips, this dress will see more use; I’ve already worn it once since these photos were taken! And I hope they can help you too with your “problem garments”.

Do you have any “problem garments”? How do you decide what to pair with them? Also, I don’t tend to wear very many brights, so what do you wear with bright colours?

How to Wear Those "Problem Garments", the artyologist, wheat

How to Wear Those "Problem Garments", the artyologist, wheat field and thistles

How to Wear Those "Problem Garments", the artyologist, harvest time in alberta

How to Wear Those "Problem Garments", the artyologist, vintage shirtwaist

How to Wear Those "Problem Garments", the artyologist, collar detail vintage shirtwaist dress

The Artyologist Shop, September Update

hens and chicks, the artyologist shop

This shop update is looooooong overdue, and I don’t have as many new pieces to share as I would like to. However, I have added a couple of watercolours and several photographs to my Artyologist shop this month, so I thought I ought to share them!

Also, you might have noticed already, I have now updated my shop tabs in the upper menu and sidebar of the blog. Now, if you click on “art shop” (or the pictures in the sidebar) you will be taken to my Art Shop page. Once on this page, you will see images of each item I have for sale, and when you click on the image you will be taken directly to the Society 6 page for that item. 🙂 I hope to be adding more pieces very soon, and I will update the page each time I have added a new piece of art! And as for the new pieces I mentioned in the beginning, read on!

I did the watercolour and pen above, “Hens and Chicks” last Fall. It is available as a giclée print, either framed or unframed. I also thought that this piece lent itself well to being a good stationery design so it is also available as greeting cards, in case wall art isn’t your thing. And I have also made it available as a fun phone case! 🙂 It is available for several different iPhone and Samsung phones.

hens-and-chicks,-cards-and-case, the artyologist shop

The other watercolour and ink I have is “Alfalfa Bouquet“. I posted this one on my Instagram, with no plans of adding it to the shop right away, and then had several lovely people ask me to add it, so here it is! It is available as an art print, framed print, phone case or cards.

alfalfa-bouquet,-blog-post, the artyologist shop

I have also now added some of my photography. I have a sort of series going on currently, as all of the pieces are of abandoned buildings. They are available as prints, framed prints or canvases.

Hidden Door, framed print

hidden-door-framed, the artyologist shop

The Tithe Barn, canvas print

the-tithe-barn-canvas, the artyologist shop

Architectural Contradiction, framed print

architectural-contradiction-framed, the artyologist shop

The Homestead, art print

the-homestead-print, the artyologist shop

Heritage, art print (ps. this is the door in the abandoned homestead above)

heritage-art-print, the artyologist shop

Well, that’s all for a shop update for now! I am working on a new piece, and hope to add it “soon”. 😉 Also, one other thing to note is that Society 6 often has sales and free shipping offers, so if you are interested in purchasing a piece from me (in which case, thank-you so much!!!) then I would suggest checking to see if they have a promo going on. 🙂

I hope you all have a lovely Friday and weekend!

Modern Girl Goes Vintage

Modern Girl Goes Vintage, the artyologist

This is the sort of outfit I would imagine a “modern” girl wearing, if she were trying to dress in a vintage style. Or the sort of thing that Vogue magazine would style, if they were doing a series on classic styles of the past. It has a sort-of vintage feeling, with the full skirted silhouette, the structured handbag, the classic button down shirt, and even to some extent the head wrap, but at the same time, it feels very inauthentically “vintage”. The style of the shirt, with the contrast placket, the geometrically patterned silk scarf from India, the feather earrings and the strappy sandals, all expose it as a modern ensemble that is pretending to be vintage.

Modern Girl Goes Vintage, the artyologist, feather earrings

I have come to realize in the past year or so, especially since starting my blog, that I am not a diehard vintage wearer. It sounds kind of bad when I say it like that (especially since this is supposed to be a “vintage” blog, after all) but I think it is completely true of where my style has evolved to. A few years ago, I did the whole vintage thing- every outfit was easily recognizable as a specific era. I wore hats to coordinate with every outfit, and always made sure that my purse and shoes matched. Even when I worked in a hardware store, I would wear 1940’s workwear inspired ensembles, and styled my hair to coordinate. However, in the past year or so, I have started drifting away from that.

Margaret of Denise Brain Vintage recently featured me in a post on her blog, about different kinds of vintage wearers. You should hop over and read both of her posts, here and here, as they are very good reads. When I read her post; I had a revelation! She had completely hit the nail on the head! Her description of my vintage style was spot on correct! (are there any other analogies I can use here? . . .) But really, isn’t it funny how someone else can see so clearly what you haven’t been able to successfully articulate yourself?

I have come to discover, that while I absolutely love styles of the past, and have ever since I was a child, I will never be that person who is always dressed head to toe vintage. Sometimes I just happen to dress in all vintage, or vintage inspired and you can pick out a discernible era, but the majority of the time, I feel most comfortable in clothing that nods towards vintage, but isn’t necessarily representative of one entire era or look. I’ll easily throw a 1960’s pillbox hat, with a 1950’s skirt, and a modern shoe. Or a 1950’s skirt, with a t-shirt, loafers and no hat or hair accessory. Almost everything I wear could be described as “classic”, but I don’t necessarily pair things together that “should” go together. Sometimes I put things together and discover that it was an absolute failure.

I want fashion to be fun.

Modern Girl Goes Vintage, the artyologist, navy blue and tan skirt

While I admire those who wear vintage, or vintage inspired looks, like the “time travelers” mentioned in Margaret’s post, I am not 100% comfortable wearing that. I don’t feel like me when I do. Instead I feel trapped in a box, being forced to choose between vintage and modern, instead of happily marrying them together like I am wont to. And, this doesn’t mean that I don’t love vintage- I do!

I love fashion, both vintage and modern, but my main concern with choosing an item should not be whether it is vintage, and fits into the “vintage aesthetic”. It should be whether I personally love it. I used to buy things just because they were old, without truly thinking about whether I actually liked them. (and then I ended up with a lot of things in my wardrobe that I didn’t actually like.) There is a lot of terribly ugly vintage out there, and just because something is old does not mean that it is instantly valuable. It might be valuable to someone else who appreciates it, but that doesn’t mean it is valuable to me. There is also a lot of vintage and reproduction that is quite nice. . . for someone else. Just because everyone else likes something doesn’t mean you should too.

Modern Girl Goes Vintage, the artyologist, brown leather purse

I guess the main point of what I want to say is, at the end of the day: fashion should be fun. What is fun for you, is not necessarily what is fun for everyone else. But, if you choose to wear what you love, without worrying about where it falls on the “vintage spectrum” it will end up being great. Or at least you’ll be very happy with it! If your closet is full of things that you love and enjoy wearing, whatever “era” they are, you can grab anything out of your closet and be pleased with it.

Like this shirt I am wearing here, I saw it at the thrift store and I thought it was pretty. The rayon fabric is nice, and the navy blue with the lighter blue goes surprisingly well with a lot of what I have in my wardrobe. Just because it isn’t a true vintage style, didn’t mean that it wouldn’t work in my wardrobe. I wasn’t going to pass it up, just because it is modern!

So, I guess this post is a bit rambly; it’s just been something I’ve been thinking of lately. Am I going to “give up vintage style”. Nope- and I don’t see myself ever doing so. In fact, I suppose I have been dressing this way for a long time, and I’ve touched on it before too, I just didn’t realize that there was a term for it. But now, thanks to Margaret’s post, I know I’m a proud vintage mixer! 🙂

Do you like to mix modern and vintage? Or do you tend to dress strictly either vintage style or modern style? Maybe you don’t fit into either- hop over to Denise Brain Vintage and read her posts- what kind of “vintage wearer” are you? I’d love to know!

Modern Girl Goes Vintage, the artyologist, vintage style

Modern Girl Goes Vintage, the artyologist, vintage style turban

Modern Girl Goes Vintage, the artyologist, vintage look

Modern Girl Goes Vintage, the artyologist, feather earrings and collar detail

Modern Girl Goes Vintage, the artyologist, 1950's look

Lilacs & A Gingham Dress (Three Months Later)

Lilacs, A Gingham Dress and The Second Post That Almost Wasn't, the artyologist

Well, this post is only. .  . three months late! As you can see from the lilac covered hedge, these photos were taken around the same time as my other lilac post (which also almost wasn’t to be), back in the beginning of June. I fully intended to post these photos at the time, but one thing after another prevented me . . . and then I got busy posting other things, and suddenly summer is almost over and here we are in September!

Lilacs, A Gingham Dress and The Second Post That Almost Wasn't, holding bouquet

But, even though they are three months late, and the backdrop is very unseasonal for North America, the lilacs are just too pretty not to share! So I decided that despite the seasonal confusion, I would post them anyways. But, for those of you who are in the Southern Hemisphere, Spring flowers will be rather timely for you 😉 And, if you swapped out the purple flowers for some Autumn leaves in the background, then this gingham dress would suddenly be perfect for Fall.

Lilacs, A Gingham Dress and The Second Post That Almost Wasn't, feature 2

As much as I love Fall time (Fall is one of my favourite seasons) I can’t deny that these photos make me wistful for Spring again. Look at how green and lush it was! I just can’t get over how vibrant the colours are! I’m looking out my window right now, and the greens have faded, and there is a hint of yellow in the leaves of the trees. Slowly the season is changing; the evenings are getting cooler, the days shorter, and the air feels crisp. Some people find it sad that summer is over, and although I do feel that way sometimes (mainly because the warm months went by so quickly and I didn’t get everything done that I wanted to) I do enjoy each season in its own way.

Well, I suppose I don’t really have much of anything else to say about these photos, and whatever I was going to say at the time has long been forgotten. 😉

Do you live somewhere with four distinct seasons? Do you enjoy one season more than the others? Do you have an outfit you like to wear that works equally well for one season as another?

Lilacs, A Gingham Dress and The Second Post That Almost Wasn't, bouquet of lilacs, the artyologist

Lilacs, A Gingham Dress and The Second Post That Almost Wasn't, beaded vintage necklace

Lilacs, A Gingham Dress and The Second Post That Almost Wasn't, smelling the flowers

Lilacs, A Gingham Dress and The Second Post That Almost Wasn't, holding lilac bouquet, the artyologist

Lilacs, A Gingham Dress and The Second Post That Almost Wasn't, shoes and lilac petals

Lilacs, A Gingham Dress and The Second Post That Almost Wasn't, the artyologist