vintage style

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

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

Photo Shoots with Friends

photo shoots with friends, chantelle-and-i, the artyologist

This post is coming to you pre-scheduled as I am on a holiday this week with friends, one of whom is my dear friend Chantelle, who is pictured in these photos today. I decided it would be a perfect time to share these photos, which I got back in June when I visited her, as they are too special to not post at all despite the lateness of them!

It is a bit of a tradition that when my friend Chantelle and I get together, we do a photo shoot- we did this even in my pre-blogging days. (Maybe sometime I will share some of those old pictures. . .) Sometimes our photo shoots are themed, and usually the theme is some kind of vintage style, because that is what I have for “costumes”. As in, it is a costume for her, and regular clothing for me 😉 We’ve done “model”, “wedding dresses”, “1940’s” and last year we did “1950’s“. This time, we didn’t have any theme planned- and as I was traveling, I didn’t bring extras in my suitcase. However, while I was visiting, I found this great straw hat at the thrift shop and Chantelle was able to borrow this lovely blue topper, so we figured that was good enough.

photo shoots with friends, the artyologist, chantelle-hat-detail

The photos of both of us were taken with self timer and, as I didn’t have my tripod with me, we precariously balanced a pile of wood on top of a kitchen stool and placed the camera on top! It was a bit dangerous for the camera, and we had no way of knowing where we were in the frame, so the results were a bit interesting. Somehow we still managed to end up with these lovely shots though- and even with me running back and forth, I managed to not look too disheveled!

photo shoots with friends, the artyologist, chantelle-and-i-standing

I’ve shown both this skirt and shirt together before, but why mess with a good thing, right? I am not above repeating an outfit if it worked out well the first time. And, I wasn’t kidding last week when I said I have worn this skirt too many times to count. I even brought it on my trip this week, so I might be wearing it as we speak 🙂 However it is nice to share my new hat, especially since I have worn it a few times now. Sometimes, like in the case of this hat, thrifting can be very rewarding. I saw a hat very similar to this one, with an asymmetrical brim, and green ribbon and accent, for sale online, but it was quite expensive. It was a justifiable price, for a handcrafted piece of millinery, but I am so glad I found this secondhand one instead!

photo shoots with friends, the artyologist, hat-detail-nicole

photo shoots with friends, the artyologist, chantelle-adjusting-hat

photo shoots with friends, the artyologist, nicole-spinning-skirt

photo shoots with friends, the artyologist, chantelle-portrait-1

photo shoots with friends, the artyologist, wildflowers-and-nicole

photo shoots with friends, the artyologist, chantelle

She looks like she should be going to a Royal Wedding. 🙂

nicole straw hat, photo shoots with friends, the artyologist

And because you can’t have any photoshoot without silly ones. . .

photo shoots with friends, the artyologist, chantelle-and-i-being-creepy

I didn’t realize I was so far away from Chantelle in this picture, and instead of hugging her, I am just creepily/awkwardly putting my hand on her shoulder! It doesn’t help that I have that strange expression either. . .

photo shoots with friends, the artyologist, chantelle-and-i-snobby

These expressions, above, are just too funny. . .

photo shoots with friends, the artyologist, chantelle-and-i-laughing

Do you enjoy doing photo shoots together when you meet up with friends? Have you ever been looking for something in a shop or online, only to find something similar in a thrift shop?

Crossing Over to the “Solid Separates” Side

Crossing Over to the Solid Separates Side, the artyologist, blog feature image

For the longest time I have had a “fear” of solid coloured garments. OK, I don’t actually run screaming when I see them, but I am always afraid that they will be too boring. Prints, no doubt about it, are fun and come in everything imaginable- from novelty prints featuring pineapples, to more classic stripes or dots. I have an abundance of patterns and colours in my wardrobe (and a weakness for a good floral pattern). For dresses, which are basically an entire outfit in one, it doesn’t matter much. But when you start trying to pair separates together, this can cause some problems when you look into your closet and see clashing stripes, florals, polkadots and geometrics staring back at you.

Crossing Over to the Solid Separates Side, the artyologist, tree at sunset, cream coloured cotton skirt

So, here are three reasons why solid separates are great additions to your wardrobe; and are anything but boring if, like me, you are afraid of them!

1. They go with everything. I can’t tell you how many times I have worn my solid black t-shirts or my tan “Roman Holiday” skirt. They coordinate with patterns and they coordinate with other solids, as pictured here. A good neutral basic, such as beige, black or navy, will go with almost every colour. The options for mix and matching are endless. And solids don’t automatically mean they have to be neutral colours either- you can have just as much versatility with bright colours.

2. They are classic and “vintage”. Of course people have worn prints all through history- as soon as they discovered ways to dye, paint, embroider and weave patterns into fabric. However, looking through vintage images shows a lot of solid coloured garments. I think this is because of the simple fact that they are so versatile. Clothing cost more in the past, and good quality clothing costs more today, so investing in a solid coloured skirt is often a better investment than a print, which will only coordinate with a few other pieces in your wardrobe. Solid coloured garments also recede and allow your accessories and patterns to shine. Vintage style is made of accessories- whether it’s hats, gloves, purses or shoes- so it’s nice to let them take centre stage every once in a while.

Crossing Over to the Solid Separates Side, the artyologist, cream coloured skirt and penny loafers

3. Solids don’t “date” as quickly and you don’t get as tired of them as quickly as prints. Although vintage/ vintage-inspired patterns and prints could be considered already “dated”, when you have pull out your hummingbird printed dress for the umpteenth time, it gets a bit boring. As much as I love my patterned garments, I do get a bit tired of them, if I wear them too often. Because they are more bold, I remember them more, and I feel like “I just wore that”, even if it has been a while. And although probably no one else notices, I do hate wearing the exact same thing too many times in a row. With solid coloured separates, you can wear them over and over, and each time change your garment pairing and accessories for a completely new look.

Crossing Over to the Solid Separates Side, the artyologist, necklace-detail

I’m working on creating a more cohesive wardrobe palette, and this cream skirt I picked up a few weeks ago at the thrift store is a perfect example of versatile solid separates. It goes with nearly every colour I own, except a clashing colour of cream. I paired the skirt here with a solid black t-shirt, a belt, and simple jewellery for an “everyday” dressed down look, but the next time I wear it, I will style it with one of my patterned tops for a different look.

I think that slowly I am crossing over to the “dark side” of solid separates. . . how about you? Are you a prints and patterns person, or are you drawn to solids? And, how do you mix and match your clothing to keep it feeling fresh?

Crossing Over to the Solid Separates Side, the artyologist, portrait-and-tree-at-sunset

Crossing Over to the Solid Separates Side, the artyologist, everyday vintage blogger photo

This is my “oh I just happen to be nicely posed and you have a 50 mm lens pointed at me” blogger photo.

Crossing Over to the Solid Separates Side, the artyologist, tree-silhouette

Crossing Over to the Solid Separates Side, the artyologist, belt-detail

Crossing Over to the Solid Separates Side, the artyologist, shadows-on-bushes

My sister and I at sunset

Crossing Over to the Solid Separates Side, the artyologist, orange-hair

Now I know what I would look like with orange-red hair! 🙂

Crossing Over to the Solid Separates Side, the artyologist, everyday outfit walking away

Crossing Over to the Solid Separates Side, the artyologist, field