Sundresses in the Rain

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It is lilac season again! I’ve never lived in a place with so many lilacs before, so it is very nice to experience this year two hedges just bursting with lilac blooms. Are the lilacs blooming where you live? Or are they already done and gone? (Alberta’s spring comes slowly!) This is a photo heavy post I warn you, simply because the lilacs are so beautiful, I couldn’t narrow the photos down. . .

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It is so strange how quickly the weather can change, as earlier this week the temperatures were +30 (celcius) and now for the next few days we have hit a rainy spot. So, what do you wear when it is Spring, but you look out your window and it’s raining? Why your sundresses, of course! Dressing as though it is the sunniest, warmest day does wonders to improving a cloudy day. (This is my scientific hypothesis of course!) Do you ever dress contrary to what the weather demands?

image of trenchcoat lilacs and umbrella the artyologistOk I concede, I did wear a coat when I went out! But the rain did stop long enough for these pictures.

image of seersucker dress and lilacs

So, this seersucker dress is one that I got a nice little kick in the pants to finish, because of my Me Made May challenge. I was looking at my closet at the beginning of the month thinking, “wow, I don’t actually have that many me made garments at the moment”, and then I saw this one sitting in my mending pile, (yes… pile) as it had been sitting there for months just begging to be fixed.

I sewed this dress last summer and spent an extreme amount of time on it, even hand picking the zipper in place, and meticulously sewing the lace waistband in place, because the seersucker was a bit of a pain to work with. The lace piece that I used for the accent detail was the perfect shade of grey/brown and it matched the stripe in the seersucker perfectly. It was wonderful, but I only got to appreciate it once, as when I washed the dress the colour washed out of the lace and faded to a disgusting shade of yellow 🙁

image of lace waistband before after the artyologistJust gross.

Now, that feeling of accomplishment you get when you finish a dress and it is hanging proudly in your closet is one of the nicest feelings, but that was very abruptly replaced with the horrible feeling of having to redo something. And if there is one thing I hate, it is redoing something I have already finished- especially when it was perfect the way it was. So, alas, what to do? I didn’t have any other coordinating lace in that width, and the waistband looked so bland without any accent. I wasn’t sure what would be the best option with the least amount of deconstructive work (I really didn’t want to take the dress completely apart), and then my mom suggested that I edge the waistband in narrow lace, and tada! It worked!

image of seersucker dress waistband the artyologist

Whew, a dress saved, and just in time to wear it out into a rainshower! Ah well, the rain won’t last, although I actually do love a good stretch of rain, and goodness we need it, but for now, when I wear my sundress in the rain, I’ll be singing in the rain 🙂

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Life Springs Forth

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Ahh. . . this time of year. The flowering trees, tulips, lilacs. The air filled with the sweet floral scents and beauty wherever you look. One day the earth is sepia toned; tired with the dead of winter. Then, over the course of a few days, the trees start to get fuzzy cattails, and then leaves slowly uncurl. The plant shoots poke their heads out of the ground and then suddenly before you quite realize it, you look outside and the world is green and vibrant and fresh and alive! I suppose that spring flowers are so beautiful, simply because they are so welcomed after winter. Those elegant flowering plum trees, the sweet scented lilac bushes, the graceful tulips, the exotically shaped irises, the cheerful johnny-jump-ups and of course everywhere the mild hum of the busy bees as they go about their work once more. Today, I am so happy that Spring is here once more!

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Today Brought to You by the 1920’s

image of 1920's vintage finger waves, the artyologist

Some days you get up and you just have to do 1920’s finger waves.

Well, actually back up a bit to a week ago to when I was getting my hair trimmed, and my stylist asked me whether I had ever tried finger waves before, since I like vintage styles, and she thought that my hair would be long enough now to do them. I have tried them, a few times before when my hair was bobbed, (see photographic evidence below), and the news that my hair is now long enough to DO something with, was a great revelation!

image of 1920's finger waves, the artyologist

So, I decided to try finger waves again, and I was very surprised when they actually turned out nicely, considering that I haven’t had practice with them for over two years! Finger waves are tricky, but so worth it when they turn out. My hairdresser told me that to graduate from hairdressing school you actually have to be able to style finger waves, but she was so bad at it she faked it with a curling iron! 🙂 That’s OK though, as that would be more like a Marcel wave, which was also of the era, and no one would probably know the difference anyway, except all of us vintage lovers.

image of 1920's finger waves in progress clips, the artyologist

I could only get two waves, and they turned out rather like an Eton crop, since my hair is still rather short, but they lasted fairly well, as I got two days out of them. (That may have also had something to do with the amount of hairspray I used. . . )

Of course a hairstyle like this just demands a dark, smoky eye and a small red rosebud lip too. Well, it was rather fun to style my hair again in a period appropriate style, and I have clips in my hair right now too, since the last go was so fun, I thought I’d try it again!

Oh and if you are keen to try them yourself, here is the finger wave tutorial I used, except I did not pin curl my hair first and did it straight from wet.

image of finger waves 1920's vintage, the artyologist

The Lifesaving Powers of Vintage Turbans

the artyologist image of vintage turbans

I have recently discovered the magic of vintage turbans. Of course I have always been aware of them, but I never wore turbans up until about a year ago, and when I started wearing them, they were actually more like headscarf headbands. The first time I wore a turban, I was absolutely sure that it was outrageous and that everyone was staring at my head. Actually, they probably were staring at my head, but that’s OK because vintage turbans are fabulous!

So what exactly is a turban, and where did they come from?

A turban is a “head covering consisting of a long piece of fabric wrapped around the head”. (According to Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion) This kind of head covering originated in ancient times, in the Middle East. In fact the word “tulip” is actually derived from the Persian word “Dulband”, because it resembles the complicated wrapping of the headpiece. The earliest known record of the turban’s existence is 2600 BC in Mesopotamia. Originally they were worn for practical purposes, but they soon became a religious head covering in the ancient Moorish/Sarracenic cultures and are still worn today in many religions. Thus, Middle Eastern cultures view the turban not as a fashion statement, but as a religious symbol. When wearing a turban, for this reason, one must be culturally respectful by wearing it in such a way that it won’t disparage someone’s religious beliefs . (I would liken this to the scandal that surfaced a few years ago when certain fashion houses dressed their models in Native American Plains Indian headdresses of feathers, when headdresses are a strictly religious head covering in Native American culture, so it is extremely insensitive to use it as a fashion piece. Does this mean that we can’t wear feathers? Does this mean that if we are not Native American, we can’t wear any Native American fashions? No, but it does mean that we need to be respectful, and wear it in a way that doesn’t belittle someone else’s culture.)

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So back to the turban. The turban was introduced to Europe in the 15th century because of trade with the Turkish-Ottoman empire, and this led to the rise of the Renaissance and the fad for “Eastern” inspired fashions. The turban didn’t rise in popularity however until the 18th century, where it was worn mainly by the ladies of the aristocracy. This was an era largely influenced by the East and the style carried over into the next century: the Romantic Period of the 1814-1840.

As that era ended, and the Victorian era began, the turban all but disappeared and would not be seen for almost another hundred years, when it again rose in popularity in the 1920’s. In the 1920’s, Western culture again looked to the “Exotic East” for inspiration. Events such as the 1922 discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb, led to the rise of fascination with the far reaching nations of Egypt, India, China, Russia and many other Eastern cultures. The turban was again a popular accessory with an exotic origin, and it became extremely popular with the “Bright Young Things” of the era. By this time, turbans varied, and the shape was not necessarily even a full wrap, as there are many pictures of women wearing them as an open topped headwrap. They were often worn low on the head, sometimes almost obscuring the eyes in the same style of the cloche hat.

1920's turban

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Image of Doris Kenyon, source

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Image of Dorothy Sebastian, source

By the 1930’s, turbans were here to stay, and became very popular for everyday wear, sports wear, as well as evening wear, depending on the fabric used. The 1930’s style headwear was up and away from the face, thus turbans were also worn back from the face.  Sometimes they were pre-shaped and sewn rather than tied into place.

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Greta Garbo, via

The 1940’s is one of the most recognizable era’s of the popularity of the turban. It is in this era where turbans were one of the most famous and widely worn items. Because of WWII, the effect that rationing was having on fabric supply, and the fact that many fashion houses had shut down, hats were scarce. Creative ways of wrapping headscarves ensured that a lady always had a headcovering to match her outfit. Many of the publications of this era show different ways of wrapping, to create different looks. It is in this era that headwraps reached outrageous proportions, and often flowers, bows, fruit. . . all kinds of embellishments were added. If you think that your headwrap is large and outrageous today, it’s probably got nothing on the wraps worn by women at this time! Even though going hatless was more common in this time period, for most women, that simply wasn’t an option, as no respectable lady would leave the house without hat, gloves and heels. Just because there was a war on, didn’t mean an end to civility!

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IMG_9414rev1941 Vogue turbans, via

the artyologist image of vogue magazine february 15 1941

Simple headscarves were also common for women at this time, as they kept women’s hair contained for the war work they were performing, like in the famous “Rosie the Riveter” poster.

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The 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s saw the popularity of the turbans continue, although the silhouette changed a bit. The 1950’s turbans were often smaller and “tidier” than the previous era, and were often preformed, like a hat. The turbans of the 1960’s were rounder, in keeping with the popular round pillbox shape of the era. The turbans of the 1970’s were headwraps rather than full tied turbans, and were often tied front to back, being bohemian in style, as were many of the fashions of the time.

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1970s wrap

In modern history, from the 1920’s to the 1970’s the turban was a popular choice for everyday wear, only falling out of fashion in the 1980’s alongside hats for everyday wear. Now, 30 years later, Western culture is very much a “hatless” culture. I think that many people are afraid to wear hats and headwear, simply because we aren’t used to wearing them anymore, or seeing ourselves in them, thus we have nothing to compare ourselves to. Many people say that “hats don’t suit my face”, but I think this is incorrect. There are different styles of hats and headwear that suit everyone’s face. I think the reason people think that hats and headwraps don’t suit them, is simply because they aren’t currently “in style”, and they’ve never tried wearing them. And I get it- until I became interested in vintage fashion, the thought of wearing a turban in public, was a scary thought! 🙂

the artyologist image of vintage headwrap

So coming from a vintage turban tying newbie (all the history aside) there are so many great reasons why you might try a vintage style turban.

  1. It’s fun. I mean, how can you wear a bow on your head and not be happy? It’s a GIANT BOW!
  2. Vintage turbans instantly add vintage style to an otherwise era ambiguous ensemble.
  3. You can tie turbans in all manner of styles to create a look from practically any era, including historical costuming, such as the 18th century.
  4. They are a great alternative to hats. If you, like me, don’t have a large collection of hats; scarves and wraps are a great headpiece to finish off an outfit.
  5. You can use either a scarf, or a piece of material. Yarn dyed, rather than stamped fabric is best, so that the pattern goes through the material. That way the “wrong” side of the fabric won’t show when you wrap it.
  6. You can add brooches, flowers, bows, fruit. . . whatever you want, to coordinate with any outfit. And no matter what you add to your turban, it probably won’t be as crazily fun as the turbans they wore in the 1940’s!
  7. They cover up bad hair. (Like when you accidentally dye your hair green. Not that we have experience with that . . .)
  8. On days when you are too lazy to style your hair; cover it up. All you have to worry about is (maybe) your bangs if you have them.
  9. Recognize that every time you tie one, it will be unique and different. When you tie one on the day you aren’t going out, it will look perfect, and the day you are going somewhere special you will fight with it every step of the way. Do not fear bobby pins- use them as the lifeline they are to secure your wrap!
  10. It takes a bit of bravery to wear a headwrap if you have never done so before, but as someone who was always a bit too scared to try it, I can testify that it’s a lot of fun! And especially as I am growing out my pixie haircut now, I feel like turbans are going to be a common sight in the days to come. As I said, “the lifesaving powers of vintage turbans”. 😉

the artyologist vintage turbans

Well, that was my short history on the turban. Of course this is from a European point of view, as that is the extent of the knowledge I have on the subject. And, of course there is so much that I haven’t even covered at all! If you want to learn more about turbans, or the history of other hats and headdress, the two books I have read on the subject are, “The Mode in Hats and Headdress” by R. Turner Wilcox, which is a fabulous book about headdress from ancient times up to the 1950’s, and the other is “Hats and Headwear around the World” by Beverly Chico, which I have only read small sections of. Another person who is super in the know about turbans, and has inspired me is Emileigh of Flashback Summer.

So, do you think you’ll try a headwrap? And, did you learn anything new about turbans you didn’t know before?