Have you ever stopped to think about how many of the words we use daily are actually military terms that have sifted down into everyday use? Words such as ‘khaki”, which now means a dull greenish tan colour, but originated from the Persian word for “dust” that was used to describe the uniforms of the soldiers stationed in the Middle East. Or the word “alarm” which originally came from the Italian phrase “all’ arme!” meaning “to arms!” The phrase “top brass” refers to a person of authority. There is debate about where the term came from, but it most likely originated because of the brass insignias officers wear to denote rank. Or even the term “navy blue”, which again hearkens back to the colour of the uniforms worn by the British Navy.
This all may seem rather unrelated to anything, but I started thinking about this when I wrote a note to myself to remember this outfit. I wrote: “Navy Dress/ Red Coat” which immediately called to mind, of course, the Navy and the Red Coats, (a slang term for the British Army). Completely by accident, this outfit I wore last week is even rather military inspired. The buttoned red velvet jacket, the fluffy navy blue hat, and even the touches of brass jewellery. I’ve got a bit of both the Army and the Navy showing through in this outfit, so of course a military/exploration inspired photo shoot was in order. There’s nothing I love better than a good theme. 😉 I wish I’d had a flag I could have posed with, to mark the territory I conquered, but as I didn’t, you’ll have to make believe with the walking stick I grabbed off of an obliging dead tree, the binoculars I used to spy out enemy territory, and this decrepit old bunker I have claimed as mine. All done while being fashionably attired of course. 😉
I am not into Halloween. As in spooky, gory, creepy, dark and scary. However, I do love candy, and I do love costumes. I mean, I love to dress up any day of the year- so give me any excuse to dress up “officially” and I am there!
For the past few years, I have hosted costume parties, and this is the first year that I haven’t in three years. Even though I didn’t have a chance to dress up in a costume and go out this year, I didn’t want the opportunity to pass, without dressing up in some kind of costume. My sister and I have been wanting to do a 1920’s photo shoot for a while now, and since I recently got my hair shaped into a bob, it seemed the perfect time to dress up in these costumes and take some photos. We decided that a black and white faded palette, gloomy clouds, and some barren tree branches would be the perfect backdrop, and create the right mood. The “costumes” were pulled from our wardrobes, and dress up bin, of course. 🙂
I have also now decided that those flappers were right about so much- it is amazingly fun to wear strands of pearls, stacks of bracelets, sparkles, dark makeup and furs. Of course, not every person in the 1920’s dressed this way- but it is “iconic’ for a reason, right? Honestly, if I had lived in the 1920’s I am 99% sure that I would have been a Plain Jane, wearing prim and proper dresses, and I never would have dreamed of going to the speakeasy, in my knee length fringed dress, dancing the night away. Considering that I don’t do any of those things today. . . But, I do love to dress up in the 1920’s flapper styles, even if they are not historically accurate, and more “inspired by” the era. Nora, of Nora Finds, recently said on her instagram, that in a few years it will be the 20’s again, so we should “bring back the beaded flapper dresses and finger waves”. I wholeheartedly agree!
What do you think? If you lived in the 1920’s would you have worn the knee length dresses and bling, and been a flapper? Or would you have been a prim and proper lady, who stayed at home and behaved herself?
On a side note, I am not one to spot family resemblances very easily, but when my Gramma saw these pictures, she said that I looked like her when she was young, and Sarah looked like her mother, our Great-Grandmother. I guess we do have a family resemblance- even if I can’t pick it out 🙂
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.
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?
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
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.”
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.
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.