While I wouldn’t say no to mere cash, I must say that I do rather like this cashmere sweater. (I didn’t get it as a Christmas present though.) I got it a few years ago from the thrift shop, and I didn’t ever have anything to wear it with, as it has quite a brown undertone, and so it sat forlornly on my shelf. I thought that when I wore it last Sunday, it was the first time, and so I made a pronouncement to that effect to my mom and sister, who immediately said that, yes I had worn it before, and the last time I wore it, I had said the exact same thing. Well, apparently I don’t recall my outfits, so I don’t know if this was the second, or third or maybe the tenth time I’ve worn it. However it is the first time it is appearing on the blog, so at least there is that first!
This is also the first time this wool skirt has appeared on the blog. Actually, now that I think about it- this wool scarf too. And these fishnet tights. I think that’s all.
The reason this skirt has not shown up before, is because I didn’t finish sewing it until December 30 at 11:00 at night, so I could wear it the next day. I sewed the majority of the skirt back in October, but then never finished hemming it. Hems are such a bother aren’t they? So, on December 30, I sat down and finished hemming the skirt. And then the next day, I didn’t even end up wearing it! But that’s OK, because I’ve worn it a few times since, and it really is the best addition to my wardrobe. (And if I hadn’t finished it then, it might still be in my sewing pile!)
I hated sewing with this material (100% wool, they said, but it has a bit of stretch, so I’m not sure), but the finished garment is wonderful. It has the perfect amount of drape in the skirt and it hangs nicely. That accursed little bit of stretch makes it actually quite comfortable. It’s black, so it goes with 75% of everything in my wardrobe. And looks good both with or without a petticoat- exactly my kind of skirt. It’s funny, I never sewed a circle skirt until this past June, because I was always afraid that they wouldn’t be flattering. But, since that first one, I’ve now made two more, and am planning for another- they are actually the perfect kind of skirt for me, and I can’t get enough of them!
As for the rest of the outfit, the reason I am wearing two different hats, is because I walked to church wearing the beret, and then changed into the hat once I got there. It is small enough that it fit in my large purse, and that way my ears didn’t freeze, because obviously it has no warmth! (If you interested, I did a guest post on how I embellished this hat, on Chronically Vintage, right here.)
And, a note about this scarf; I was selling my artwork at a farmer’s market in December, and the lady beside me was selling beautiful knitwear. I started looking at her table, and none of the pieces she had were the right colour/style etc. and then she pulled this wool scarf out (she hadn’t put it out on the table yet) and it was The One. I’ve been wanting a wide blanket scarf like this for a while; the sort of thing you can pull over your head when it’s windy. Anyways, I’ve been wearing it quite a bit lately, because it has been so cold. It was definitely a good investment. Although, I do seem to have this bad habit- I go to these markets to sell, and yet I seem to come home with things. . .
Have you ever been unsure of a certain style of garment, but once you try it, it turns out to be the best thing ever?
(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.
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! 😉
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.
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!
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?
Sometimes life changes in the blink of an eye. When I first wrote this post, it was shortly after I had met Jessica. I wanted to write while the meeting was still “fresh in my mind” and before I forgot anything. Then, Jessica and I discussed back and forth as to when to publish the photos. We decided on publishing them on the same day in early November. This was in mid-September. And then, in October, as many of you already know and I mentioned before, Jessica lost almost everything that she owns, in an arson fire, on October 13th, 2016. In one day it went from excitement over wanting to post these pictures, to the shock of realizing that everything she owned was. . . gone. It is always hard to hear of someone suffering from a tragedy of any kind, but even more so when you know the person whom it happens to. It’s been eight months now, since Jessica and I had this lovely blogger meetup last September, and seven months since the tragic fire, and we have decided that it is now time to share the photos here on my blog. Since Jessica has made the difficult decision to now retire her blog, I hope that you enjoy this post, which I consider to be from both of us.
Last July, when I posted pictures from a photoshoot my friend and I did, all dressed up in 1950’s outfits, I received a lovely comment on the post from Jessica, of the blog Chronically Vintage. She said that the post made her wish that “we lived nearby and could team up for a shared outfit shoot of our own” and that if she was ever out my way, or I was out hers, “it would be a blast to try and make that happen.” The thought had occurred to me as well, but even though it sounded like a fun thing to do, and despite the fact that we both live in Canada- we still don’t live that close to each other! I didn’t pin my hopes on such a thing happening. Fast forward a few months, though, and sometimes wishes do come true, in the form of my first ever blogger meetup!
A few weeks after that post, I received an email in my inbox from Jessica detailing her plans to visit Edmonton in September for a holiday. She so kindly asked if I wanted to meet up with her during her trip, since I live fairly close to the city, and it could make our plans of meeting in-person one day, a reality. Of course my answer was a resounding “Yes!”, and so a plan was made. It just so happened that I was going to be travelling through Edmonton at the same time she would be in the city, so we decided to have our blogger meet up that day. Originally, I had suggested meeting at the Old Strathcona Antique Mall, but as she had already planned to visit there with another friend, an alternate plan was made for us to meet at Rowena on Whyte Ave, the storefront of the Retro Glam online shop, and after we were finished there to continue up Whyte Ave and pop into any other stores we came across. We also stopped in at The Junque Cellar, which is, basically like it sounds, a vintage/junk store in a cellar. Well, I guess it’s a basement, but same difference. 😉
I love to go shopping at the best of times, but to go shopping for an afternoon, with a fellow vintage lover is really the best thing ever. Unfortunately, I didn’t find anything to buy (seriously, what is with the sizing of some things!? Everything went from too big, to too small!) but it was still so much fun to browse. We did discover that we have a lot in common, and it was really nice to put a face with a name, or well, maybe a person with the blog. You know what I mean. 😉 When we were finished shopping, we found a picnic table by some trees, to sit outside in the lovely fall sunshine and exchange some gifts. Jessica, remembering that in the past I have mentioned that I don’t own very many true vintage pieces, gave me the beautiful beaded necklace pictured here (it was so pretty I couldn’t wait to put it on, and the colour was perfect for my outfit!) and also a gold brooch of an artist’s palette (since my blog is called “The Artyologist”.) How completely special that, not only did she give me a gift, she gave me something so personally tailored! Jessica is such a sweet lady, and I am so honoured to have been able to meet her in person.
After we were done, we were able to make that wish of a few months ago a reality, with a photoshoot by her husband Tony. We took the photos in this walkway behind the Historic Train Station on Whyte Ave and Gateway, which is now a restaurant. As we were waiting for Tony to arrive, we saw only one person walk by, and thought that it would be a nice background for photos. Of course, as soon as he arrived, it suddenly turned into Grand Central Station, and everyone and their dog decided to walk through. It made for some lag time, but in the end we got these lovely pictures!
We didn’t plan our outfits to coordinate either, but I guess that vintage minds think alike! The colours of our outfits compliment one another splendidly, and are a perfect summer-to-fall transition. This day we were out and about, was a perfect early fall day, with the sun shining, but a crisp breeze on the air to remind us of the changing seasons.
It was a wonderful afternoon spent together, and it was also my first ever blogger meetup. Since then, Jessica and I have exchanged many emails back and forth, and I am truly thankful to have been able to meet her in person as well. This was my first time meeting up with Jessica- but hopefully it will not be the last!
In one of the later season’s of Foyle’s War, (a British crime drama set in the 1940’s, which I highly recommend, by the way, if you enjoy murder mysteries and period wartime dramas) there was an episode where the character of Sam is seen discussing shoes with a coworker. Her coworker had recently purchased a pair of “coupon busters”, which were an ingenious pair of shoes that came with detachable heel covers and shoe clips. The heels and clips could transform the single pair of shoes into three different pairs, simply by removing the sensibly shaped heel cover, which made the shoe appropriate for office wear, to reveal the more sensuously curved heel which was perfect for evening. Adding a shoe clip to the toe created yet another fashionable look.
I don’t know if coupon busters were a real invention in wartime Britain, as a way for women to stretch their rationing coupons, allowing them to purchase one pair of shoes, instead of three separate pairs, or not. I couldn’t find any information about them at all. I think that coupon busters are rather a clever idea though, and it really is too bad that they are not being made today. Even though we don’t have to worry about rationing coupons today, I would love to be able to transform one pair of shoes into three, wouldn’t you?
Although a manufactured shoe like this is not readily available, there is, however, an easy way to transform the look of your shoes, and that is by wearing shoe clips. Shoe clips are one of those accessories that have wavered in and out of fashion throughout the years. Shoe buckles were very popular in the 18th century, not just for function, but fashion as well. In the 1950’s shoe clips rose in popularity with the invention of proper shoe clip hardware. My mom had shoe clips in the 1980’s, and I remember a few years ago they were a trend again. However, they are not a common thing to see for the most part. I really don’t know why, as they are so fun and versatile, and can transform your shoes into a completely new look. I personally think they make your shoes look like “princess shoes”- don’t princesses always seem to have big bows and what-have-you on the toes of their shoes?
I have been wanting to find shoe clips for years, at least five years now, as I got these coral flower decorations with the express intent of attaching them to shoe clips. However, apparently shoe clip hardware is an impossible thing to want, and I could never find any for sale. I put the flowers aside and forgot about them, until recently, when I found them again in my craft stash, and got the idea to look online to see if shoe clip hardware was available. Sure enough, on Amazon I found a pack of ten pairs of clips! Score! I immediately pulled out the flowers, and set to work creating several different pairs of shoe clips. I mean, I do have ten sets of clips now, so I can make a lot of pairs of shoe clips. At this rate, I’ll never have to wear the same pair of shoes again! 😉
I thought that since shoe clips are such a versatile accessory to change up the look of your shoe, I would demonstrate with two pairs of shoes. Shoe clips work best on open, classic style shoes that don’t already have too many details, straps or embellishments, and they work equally well on heeled or flat shoes. Here you can see how shoe clips transform the look of the shoes and lend themselves well to any occasion.
First up are these navy peep toe pumps. I wear these shoes a lot as navy is such a versatile colour, and this pair is so comfortable. They are a plain and serviceable shoe, so you’ll see how much they change just by adding some clips.
Round pom-pom flowers turn these into statement shoes. These are Cinderella shoes for sure- don’t they look like something the Disney princess would wear?
Did you know you can also use clip-on earrings as shoe clips? You have to be careful with which ones you use- I have some pairs which have too weak of a clasp, or come up too high above the edge of the shoe, but some pairs clip on rather nicely to add some sparkle. Both of these, the brown and the green are clip-on earrings I seldom wear, but I think they work rather nicely to dress up the shoes. Clip-on earrings are also much easier to find than proper shoe clips.
These are true shoe clips which I found at an antique sale. They add just the right amount of sweetness, sparkle and vintage flair. Vintage stores and sales can be a good place to look to find real shoe clips.
Now here are my black pumps: they have a band across the toe which has sparkly gems on it, but you’ll see that they still work rather well with shoe clips, because of the open shape of the shoe.
Here are the coral coloured flowers. I absolutely love the shape of these as they are very “princessey” too. Unfortunately I have very few clothes that go well with the colour, so that is definitely something I’ll have to change!
I think that bows work really well for a vintage look. Bows were a very popular shoe decoration in the 1940’s, and they have a very classic look about them. Bows that are the same colour as the shoe, work very well for daywear as they look like part of the shoe.
The last set of shoe clips are these ribbon flowers I made. They add a nice splash of colour, yet are small enough to be discreet.
And case you would like to make some shoe clips for yourself, here is how:
I used a pre-made flower for these, but some of the others I made from scratch. Attach your decoration to a felt disk, either by sewing or gluing it on. Once it is attached, you can then sew your shoe clip onto the felt. Attach it near the top of the disk, so the decoration will sit lower on the shoe. Clip them onto your shoes and enjoy! I got my shoe clip hardware off of Amazon- if you search “shoe clip blank” it should bring some up for you. I am sure there are other places that sell shoe clip blanks as well, I just purchased them from Amazon because I live in a rural area which apparently doesn’t see much demand for shoe clips and the stores didn’t carry them! 🙂
One note of caution I do have, is that depending on the material of your shoe, metal clips may leave indentations or marks. If you have soft leather, or suede like I do, you may want to put some kind of “padding’ in between the clip and the shoe to keep it from getting ruined.
So, have you ever worn shoe clips? What do you think of them? And, would you want a pair of “coupon busters”?
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! When thinking of what I wanted to post for this Valentine’s Day, I immediately thought of lockets. (Actually my sister suggested that I write a post about lockets quite a while ago, and I hadn’t gotten around to doing it yet, so here it is now!) Lockets are one of those very sentimental and romantic pieces of jewellery, and I can’t think of any better piece of fashion history to delve into on Valentine’s Day, than the history of lockets!
When we think of lockets, we instantly think of romance, and sweethearts separated by circumstance with only a small token left behind as a remembrance of each other. This is very true that lockets are a sentimental piece of jewellery, but their origins are actually not as romantic as you might think and sweethearts were not the first to own and exchange lockets.
A locket is by definition “a small case usually of precious metal that has space for a memento and that is worn typically suspended from a chain or necklace / a thin chain necklace with a gold or silver disk which opens to reveal a picture of loved one, or lock of hair”. Although lockets are typically worn as a necklace, there are also many examples of locket rings and locket brooches.
No one really knows when lockets were invented, but it is thought that they evolved from the amulets and pendants of ancient times and the Middle Ages. Pendants had been popular for a long time before lockets appeared on the scene, and many pendants had cameos on them or other special engravings and symbols (some of which were supposed to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck to the wearer). The first lockets often served purposes far removed from “love” and “sentimentality”. Some of the earliest ones held herbs or medicine for the wearer, some held perfume to help mask odours arising from less-than-thorough hygiene and some (owned by people of questionable morals) even held poison! You never know when you might just need a handy supply of poison to get rid of someone, I guess. . .
Lockets did quickly evolve into mementos though, and one of the earliest known examples of a locket with a picture in it, is the locket ring of Queen Elizabeth I. This ring, dating from 1575, was very precious to her, (my preciousssss!) and contained a portrait of herself on one side and her mother Anne Boleyn on the other. She is said to have never taken it off; it was removed only after she died.
In 1649, many supporters of Charles I wore lockets containing his portrait or locks of his hair after his execution, as a sign of mourning for him. These lockets were worn secretly and, though not romantic in nature, were nevertheless cherished pieces to the wearers. During this century, lockets became a way to remember someone special who had died, and often contained a lock of their hair, or a miniature portrait. The lockets of the 17th century were enclosed, and the hair or portrait was concealed inside the piece, which gave the lockets a sense of secrecy and privacy, as only the wearer knew what was inside. At this time, lockets were extremely expensive and often made of precious metals and gems; thus they were worn mainly by the wealthy.
During the Victorian era, lockets became extremely popular and turned into the piece of jewellery we recognize today. There are several reasons the locket became so widespread during this time period. The first reason is that Queen Victoria, who was both extremely admired and copied by the people of the time, had two lockets of her own. One was a locket bracelet given to her by her husband which contained locks of hair from each of their children and the other was a very special locket with a portrait of Albert, which Victoria wore after her dear husband’s death. The Victorians were a very sentimental society, so seeing their Queen so publicly wearing a sign of mourning and love for her husband set off a new “trend” for mourning jewellery. Lockets of this time period contained locks of hair, miniature portraits, and even tiny portraits of a person’s eye. Lockets of previous eras had been worn with the lock of hair concealed, but during the Victorian era, lockets of glass also became popular, so the hair could be seen inside without needing to be opened, and the hair was often plaited or woven to create a design, rather than being hidden away. There was also a rather macabre practice of creating jewellery directly out of the hair of the deceased. (Google it, if you dare!) Am I the only one who finds this a little. . . disturbing? I am totally fine with carrying a lock of hair from the one you love, but why must you create a piece of jewellery that is literally made out of the hair itself??? Anyways, moving right along. . .
Though lockets were often worn as a sign of mourning and remembrance during this time period, we also see them become a token of romantic love. Up until this point in history, lockets were a symbol of love, just not a symbol of only romantic love. The Victorians were a culture obsessed with love and courtship, and a locket was a lovely symbol of promise between lovers. In the USA lockets, sadly, rose in popularity during the Civil War, when soldiers gave them to their sweethearts as a memento in case they didn’t return home.
In previous eras, lockets, as with all jewellery, were very expensive and were owned only by the wealthy, but during the Victorian era they became quite affordable. Because of the Industrial Revolution, and advances in technology and manufacturing, jewellery became easier to manufacture, thus dropping the price to a level that many could afford. Also, with the advent of photography, lockets could now be worn without a lock of hair inside them or a commissioned miniature portrait. Photography was affordable for the masses, and it soon became popular for lovers to wear lockets, with a picture of each person on either side of the locket.
During WWI and WWII, lockets again jumped in popularity as many of the soldiers who fought in the war gave lockets with their pictures to their wives and girlfriends, as soldiers had done years before them. Many of the lockets at this time were very cheaply made, which made them affordable to everyone. They were available everywhere- even being sold at post offices!
After the wars, lockets diminished in popularity overall, though many people of course do still wear them. Today they are seen as a rather traditional type of jewellery, and are often given as gifts for special occasions. I’ve also seen in recent years that glass lockets have come back into style again, though often they don’t contain pictures of loved ones, and instead hold pressed flowers, charms or other pretty tokens. There has also been a resurgence of interest in vintage lockets- and you can find lots of antique ones for sale online and in shops.
Nowadays people don’t wear only lockets as sentimental pieces; instead any piece of jewellery can be a special one- such as a charm bracelet with meaningful and personal charms, or even a simple necklace or ring that was given by someone special. I also think that the reason lockets are not as popular today as they once were, is probably because we are not as “separated” from our loved ones as people of the past were. Before the era of technology, people didn’t have photographs or other ways to keep each other close, so sentimental jewellery pieces like lockets (cameos would be another example) became a common way for loved ones to remember each other. Nowadays, in our era of technology, many of us have an abundance of photos of our loved ones and we also have the “connectedness” that the internet gives us, which was simply not possible before. Still, there is something so special about the thought of wearing a cherished piece close to your heart, isn’t there?
I own this silver oval locket, which was given to me when I was 11 or 12, by my parents. Somewhere along the way it got a dent in the front of it- I’ve no idea how or where that happened, but it is still completely wearable, and though I don’t wear it often, I do love it still.
My sister owns two lockets. The heart shaped one was my mom’s locket which she received as a graduation gift. The silver oval one is one that my mom gave to her.
Even though lockets are not as popular as they once were, I would still say that they hold a rather prominent and special place in history and amongst jewellery collections today, and there is nothing more fitting to wear on Valentine’s Day than a locket or other special piece of jewellery. Do you have a cherished locket or own any other “sentimental” pieces of jewellery? Did you know the history of lockets, or was this new to you- as much of it was to me?
This is not an exhaustive history, of course, so if you want to find out more about the history of lockets here are some of the sources I used: