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The Dress That Didn’t Get Away

The Dress That Didn't Get Away- The Artyologist, 1920's style gingham dress

Do you ever get rid of things and then later regret it? (Do I ever ask redundant questions?) Ok, seriously, I am sure that 99.9% of the population has at some point in their life gotten rid of something and then regretted it afterwards. I personally have done this so many times in my life that I have lost count. My family can attest to this, as I am a menace when I get into a cleaning and de-cluttering frenzy! Cleaning and de-cluttering is great for my well being at the time, but a little while later, (sometimes as quickly as the minute I drop it off at the thrift store) I start to think about those things I parted with a little too hastily. Perhaps this is a clue into how attached I am to my things (which is not a good thing). The best article I ever read on Apartment Therapy talked about the concept of an “outbox”. Have you heard of it before? The concept is that you can place anything in the outbox while its “fate is being decided”. Once you have left it in the outbox for at least one week you can either decide to: take the item back out and keep it, leave it in for another week if you are undecided, or simply get rid of it. This was a huge help to me, as I can then think about the results of my organizing before I commit to them permanently.

The Dress That Didn't Get Away- the artyologist, 1920's style gingham dress

This gingham dress was a very fortunate result of not getting rid of something. I picked this dress up at a second hand shop a few years ago. It is from the 1970’s (I think), as the style is slightly reminiscent of that era, and the fabric is a poly/cotton blend (as gingham’s usually are. To this I ask- why? Why are all gingham fabrics poly/cotton??? But I digress. . . ) However, even though this dress is not very old, it masquerades wonderfully as the 1920’s! The 1920’s is not an era I find myself gravitating to very often, as I just don’t have the figure for the drop waist style. (Though I absolutely love the fashions from the era, and have mentioned several times before how much I want to bring more of the 1920’s into my wardrobe!) This dress is the perfect solution because, even though it has a drop waist, it also has a tie belt, which brings the silhouette in just enough to be flattering, while remaining very 1920’s in style. I also love the fact that it is a large gingham, as you can never go wrong with gingham in my book! The simple, pleated style of the dress, and the casual fabric really makes me think that this is the sort of thing that a sportswoman of the 20’s would wear, paired with some thick stockings and a knitted vest (jumper if you are in the UK), to go play golf.

So, why did I (attempt) to get rid of this dress when it is practically perfect in every way? Well, here is the strangest thing- it got a black grease stain right on the front, in one of the white squares, that was very noticeable. I wore it a lot to my old job in a flooring store, where I didn’t mind if it got damaged more than it already was, but after a while I just got tired of wearing a dress with such a noticeable stain. So, I decided to take it out of my closet. However, I didn’t get rid of it completely, but packed it in with my costumes, as it is such a perfect 1920’s style dress. I had kind of forgotten about it, but then a couple of weeks ago, decided to go and dig it out, as I kind of missed it, and I thought I could just overlook the stain. As I started pressing the pleats back into shape I searched . . . and searched . . . and searched, but I could not find the stain. It actually faded and disappeared over the span of the last year! I did finally find a small, pale mark, where the original stain was, but you can barely make it out even if you look for it.

So there. That was a happy story for you, on why you should not always get rid of things, but instead pack them away for a year, and then take them out again and love them all over again!

Outfit Details:

Gingham dress: Thrifted Vintage

Shoes: Earthies, from a few years ago

Cardigan: Kersch

Scarf: Thrifted

Ring: Bauxo

Earrings: Vintage, from my Mom

Purse: Can’t remember!

Cloche Hat: Andre Canadian Hat

The Dress That Didn't Get Away- The Artyologist, 1920's gingham and cloche hat

The Dress That Didn't Get Away- the artyologist

As my sister and I were taking these photos, a flock of cranes flew overhead!

The Dress That Didn't Get Away- the artyologist, 1920's gingham

The Dress That Didn't Get Away- the artyologist, gingham dress 1920's style

The gingham Dress That Didn't Get Away- the artyologist, vintage modern mix

The Dress That Didn't Get Away- the artyologist

These earrings, from my mom, are the craziest. If you look closely, you’ll see that one earring is the cutout, and the other is the area around it, so they are artfully mismatched!

The Dress That Didn't Get Away- the artyologist, oxford shoes

The Dress That Didn't Get Away- the artyologist, 1920's style cloche

The Gingham Dress That Didn't Get Away- the artyologist

Vogue Does Fall Fashion

Vogue Does Autumn, the artyologist

Have you ever won anything in a contest before? I recently won the most ridiculous thing ever. On Instagram, my sister tagged me in a giveaway that Blanche Macdonald Centre (which is a beauty school) was hosting. The prize was a copy of Grace Coddington’s book “Grace: 30 Years of Fashion at Vogue”, so even though I doubted that I would win it, I entered, because the book looked amazing. (Grace Coddington is the creative director at Vogue magazine.) When the school contacted me, to tell me that I had won the giveaway, I was so confused at first, and then shocked! This book is a really unique and exciting look at Vogue’s photo spreads over the first 30 years of her work there. (from the 1970’s to 2002, when it was first published).

I sat myself down almost the minute it arrived to page through it and ooh and ahh over the swoon worthy pages of fashion spreads. So many of the styles and photographs included in the book are so timeless that although they were taken in the 1970’s and the 1990’s, you really can’t define when they were taken simply by looking at the photograph. Some of the photos look as though they could have been taken in 1930, or 1950. That is one of the things that I love about classic fashion- it never really goes out of style. I think that many of us vintage lovers can relate to that! Anyways, that was a little aside there. That wasn’t what I was planning to say at all. Now back on track: What I was going to say is that I was so inspired by some of the photos, that I decided to try for a Vogue look for my next photo shoot.

Some of the key characteristics of fashion spreads, and the reasons why I love looking at haute couture photos, is because they tend to have such a dramatic look to them. They are an art form. Sometimes the focus of the photography isn’t even on the fashions or garments at all, but instead on creating a beautiful image. The photos often tell a story, whether it is a general theme, or, as I learned by reading the book, sometimes an actual story told through the photographs. (Such as, “A movie star from New York hires a taxi driver to take her to Hollywood. They fall in love somewhere around Palm Springs.” That was a sweet one featured in the book.) Often fashion shoots are a juxtaposition of disparate ideas. Floaty, dreamy, romantic fabrics that would look at home in a woodcutters cottage, are instead taken with a harsh and decaying, industrial backdrop. A sweet and innocent outfit, has a sinister edge to it. Pretty pieces are styled to look almost overdone. Unrealistic clothing is shown, that you could never actually wear in real life for reasons of practicality. Desolate, barren areas, devoid of life, and harsh shadows all work together to create an artistic and impactful image that really stays with you.

Vogue Does Autumn Fashion, the artyologist

I decided to take a couple of these ideas, and incorporate them into my photos. I used the harsh, bright, midday light to give a dramatic feel, and took advantage of the “desolate” field right next to us. (Oops- now you know it isn’t really desolate! This is actually the same field from my last outfit post, but after they harvested it.) I thought that it would be a perfect background for this dressier, more tailored outfit I wore to church a couple of weeks ago. The outfit contrasts more with this background, than if I had been wearing a casual “prairie” look. I don’t have a story behind these photos though, so I guess I’m not quite ready to be a part of the creative team at Vogue, but it was quite fun to do anyways!

I guess the only real story behind these photos is that it marks the momentous occasion of my first fall outfit! This is one of my favourite autumn hued 1940’s style dresses (actually it is from the 80’s/90’s, but works perfectly as a vintage styled piece), that I have been dying to wear since last spring when I put it away, and I was also so excited to bust this velvet blazer out of the wardrobe again. Paired with a black straw hat (as winter time is a’coming, and I’m not sure how many more times I’ll wear straw this year. I mean, technically I could wear straw in the middle of blizzard if I wanted to, but it is nicer to wear more winter appropriate wool etc.) and of course, my favourite black Mary Jane shoes that go with everything, and my new/old medallion ring I got at a the thrift store last month. And of course, you can’t forget the bouquet of wild oats (which are weeds here, by the way), to complete the look.

I am really looking forward to this season, and am so excited to wear all the sweaters, coloured tights, wool skirts, and darker hued clothes that I haven’t worn in months. How about you? Are you looking forward to fall fashion? Also, do you enjoy looking at haute couture fashion photography?

Outfit Details:

Black Velvet Jacket: Hand me down from a coworker

1980’s does 1940’s dress: Thrifted 

Black and Gold Belt: Vintage, Gift from my mom

Shoes: Miz Mooz, This style doesn’t appear to be available anymore, but they have other similar styles

Hat: Vintage

Ring: Thrifted

Earrings: Several years old

Vogue Does Autumn Fashion, the artyologist

Vogue Does Autumn Fashion, the artyologist

Vogue Does Autumn Fashion, the artyologist

Vogue Does Autumn Fashion, the artyologist

Vogue Does Autumn Fashion, the artyologist

Vogue Does Autumn Fashion, the artyologist

Vogue Does Autumn Fashion, the artyologist

Not Always Vintage: Finding Freedom in Your Style

I'm Not Always Vintage in Style, the artyologist

I honestly love each and every one of the clothes in my closet. I routinely evaluate what I have, and if there is anything that I don’t like anymore, out it goes. Life is really too short to wear clothes you don’t love! I’ve been wearing vintage style for several years now, (as I have mentioned before- sorry for being a broken record) and I would say that most of the clothes I have are vintage inspired, though I do have some “hold overs” from my pre-vintage days, which are still hanging in my closet because I like them.

Sometimes I just really love certain things, even if they are not “vintage” in style. I absolutely love fashion, and am inspired by so many different things. I love to watch the runway shows of designers like Valentino and Zac Posen (although both of those designers do tend to have more romantic styles anyways). I read the blogs of several non-vintage fashion and sewing bloggers, because I am interested in fashion as a whole, not just the vintage niche. I am always inspired by cultural and ethnic fashions around the globe. I read Vogue occasionally, and find their editorials to be so interesting and beautiful, even if I wouldn’t wear the clothes they choose. And in all of these fashion interests, I love to seek out the vintage details and inspirations in those things, whether they are a silhouette, a fabric choice or a special little detail.

You can often pick out the details inspired by past eras in the fashions we see on the runways and the stores today. Even the 1950’s styles, if you look closely, drew a lot of inspiration from the 1800’s with the corseted/waist cinched silhouettes, full skirts, and sometimes even floor length skirts that give more of a historical look. The 1930’s was another era that took inspiration from previous eras, with the rise of the “southern belle” style that gained popularity with the release of the movie “Gone with the Wind”.

However, when it comes right down to it- a lot of the fashions we see around us, just don’t fit into the 21st century idea of “vintage” which generally encompasses the years of the early 1900’s to the 1970’s (although technically the 1980’s and 1990’s are now vintage, though I wouldn’t class them as such in my mind, but I leave that up to you to debate over!) Fashion is constantly evolving though, so it just makes sense that we would be inspired by a wide variety of fashion styles, not only vintage styles.

Sometimes I think that, because I like vintage styles, I have to wear them all the time. I have to “vintageify” every outfit I wear, and always ensure that the period details are correct. But lately, I have come to realize the obvious: there is no need to feel that because you love vintage style you can’t branch out and wear other styles too. The fashion police aren’t holding you to a specific style 24/7!

In fact, I believe that if you love each and every garment you own, even if it doesn’t fit into a specific “style niche”, it will be an expression of your own unique style.

For me, the majority of my wardrobe takes cues from eras past, but sometimes, along comes something that just doesn’t fit in with the rest of my wardrobe. This African Dutch wax dress is one such garment.

Not Always Vintage In Style, the artyologist

This dress is not really vintage in style. Well, it does have a bit of a “prairie” style (hence the wheat field background for these photos!) but the African fabric print totally turns the “prairie” look on its head. It doesn’t look very vintage to me at all- and yet, it is still feminine in it’s shape and pattern. I like it because it is fun, bold, ethnic and colourful. I picked it up at the thrift store a few years ago, and when I got it, the entire bodice was smocked with elastic, including the sleeves. Some of the elastic had broken over time, and it got to a point where it was too unraveled to wear, so I unpicked the entire thing to redo it. I pressed the pieces, and discovered that it had not been cut from a pattern originally, but was actually draped and cut in place, which left some very wonky and crooked pieces! There was a lot of fabric, though, so I was able to recut a new peasant style bodice, smock the waist, and gather the top edge and sleeves with elastic.

Every time I wear this dress, I think to myself, “I could really use a whole bunch more of these” (though I haven’t sewn them yet!!), as this dress is now my go-to for days when I want to be comfortable, or just run around in fields getting my hem “6 inches deep in mud”. I love the long length of this dress, and it is so fun to wear a casual long dress, rather than saving long dresses only for fancy occasions. Because seriously most of us just don’t have enough occasions to wear a dressy chiffon and satin floor length dress, but we definitely do have enough occasions to wear a cotton floor length dress!

The colour choice of this dress is so vastly different from everything else I own. I don’t actually like orange. As in, it is actually the last colour I would ever choose for anything (unless it is a mustard hued orange). I don’t think I own anything else that is truly orange. (Ok, I just went and checked- and the only other thing is a vintage granny square scarf with a touch of 70’s hued orange in it!) So, it is really strange to me that I have this dress, and yet- I love it! It is one of my favourite dresses, and it is in constant rotation in my wardrobe. This kind of dress is one that speaks for itself. I just add some easy flats, and some jewellery and really that is all it needs. It doesn’t need a hat or a scarf, though of course I could add that if I wanted to. So, does this outfit look very vintage? No, not really. But is it still “me”? Yes, definitely.

Contrasts are OK in fashion. Fashion is always changing, and we ourselves are always changing. What we love one moment, might not be what is inspiring us in the next. That is the nature of fashion, as it always has been. Today, we have the choice and the ability to decide what our own personal style will be! My hope for you is that you won’t ever feel “boxed in” by fashion, but will feel the freedom to dress in a way that makes you feel most like “you”- whatever that may be, and even if it changes day to day.  🙂

So, what garments in your closet don’t really ‘fit” with the rest of your wardrobe? Do you struggle to dress in one style all the time, or do you branch out and try new things? Do you tend to lean towards more true vintage looks, or more modern. . . or neither?

Outfit Details:

Dutch Wax Dress: Thrifted

Necklace: A gift from a friend years ago

Not Always Vintage In Style, the artyologist

Not Always Vintage In Style, the artyologist

Not Always Vintage In Style, the artyologist

Not Always Vintage In Style, the artyologist

ps. I would like to assure everyone that no wheat fields were harmed in the making of this post 🙂 This is our neighbours field, and I did not tramp down an area to stand in- it was already squashed flat from the day before when he was out in the field in his sprayer. Also, I wore this long dress, and boots, to make sure that I wouldn’t get any potential chemicals on myself 🙁 And, in case you have ever wondered what it would be like to run through a field of wheat in a long prairie styled dress, let me assure you that it looks a lot more romantic than the reality actually is. In reality, it is nearly impossible as the wheat is planted so close together, that you actually just end up tripping and stumbling around. Oh, well. The pictures turned out nice! 😉

A Limited Knowledge of Alice’s Wonderland

A Limited Knowledge of Alice's Wonderland, The Artyologist

To be completely honest, I don’t really know anything about Alice in Wonderland. I have never read any of the books by Lewis Carroll, I only watched the Disney movie once when I was a child, (and was promptly scared by it) and have never watched any of the newer versions for the same reason. This quote, pretty much sums up my knowledge of the story:

Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said. “one can’t believe impossible things.”

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

A Limited Knowledge of Alice's Wonderland, The Artyologist

However, despite the fact that I don’t really know anything about the story, I have seen several Alice in Wonderland inspired photo shoots before, and they have always been rather fun and surreal, so I thought it would be fun to do one myself, and I even had a vaguely Alice inspired outfit to wear. (And my sister had a fun saturated setting on her camera that she was wanting to try out.) I actually had to Google “Alice in Wonderland” to see what it all entailed, before I could do the photos. (I also learned, via that search and from snippets of my memory, that the story involves a tea party, talking flowers, a potion and a rabbit with a clock.)

I decided that this most recent sewing project would be a good “Alice” inspired outfit to wear. This is another skirt made with the same technique as my dutch wax, black floral, and recycled bed sheet skirts. (Definitely a tried and true pattern!) I find them to be so versatile for summer, that I decided to make another out of a remnant of denim I’ve had for a few years. I used to have a dress made out of this cute fabric, when I was 12, and the remnant leftover from that dress was so small, I could never squeeze enough fabric out of it to make anything. However a gathered skirt was the perfect choice. There was just enough fabric to get a gathered skirt, suspenders, waistband and a button placket up the front instead of a zipper this time. (Just so they wouldn’t all look exactly the same!) There was only about a 10″ x 6″ square of material left over. Definitely a stash busting project!

With the outfit ready, I added in a potion bottle necklace, a miniature teapot tchotchke, a clock, an oversized teacup, and “talking” pansies. So, here is the result of my limited knowledge of Alice’s Wonderland.

Outfit Details:

Skirt: Sewn by me

Peasant Blouse T-Shirt: Owned it for years

Shoes: Miz Mooz, This style is no longer available, but they have similar styles.

Bottle Necklace: Thrifted

Headband: Handmade, bought from a local boutique

A Limited Knowledge of Alice's Wonderland, The Artyologist

A Limited Knowledge of Alice's Wonderland, The Artyologist

A Limited Knowledge of Alice's Wonderland, The Artyologist

A Limited Knowledge of Alice's Wonderland, The Artyologist

A Limited Knowledge of Alice's Wonderland, The Artyologist