April 30, 2009

Busy, but not too busy to stop and smell the vintage roses

Good morning, you beautiful vintage lovers you!

Just a quick post at the moment to say that I'm rushing around this week at Tasmanian Devil speed, but that I will try to post as often as I can. Darling hubby is jetting off soon on an overseas business trip and there are about 5, 934, 278 things to do before he sets foot on the plane, most of which I'm taking care of for him this week (organizational extrodinare that I am ;D).

I have oodles of topics to chat about though, such as the fun I had shopping yesterday (ok, I know I was supposed to be at the mall on hubby's behalf, but can you blame a gal for snapping up a few pieces for herself? I think not!), that I've been honoured with a marvelously kind award from my lovely new friend Just a Gal, my spin on adding vintage flare to the act/chore of paying bills, and a bundle of awesome images that have gotten my vintage motor running this week.

Busy as I am today, I'm going to make a point of remembering to stop and smell the roses...or at least look at a few vintage images of them, pausing for a few moments to admire something gorgeous really does help revive the body, mind and spirit.

{Pretty vintage postcard sourced from cgoulao’s Flickr stream.}

April 28, 2009

The nostalgia and joy of collecting vintage books

Old books have always fascinated me. Perhaps my interest in them was first sparked by my mother’s extensive collection of original Nancy Drew titles (which I read voraciously, often by moonlight when I was a wee little thing), perhaps it came from the fact that reading was encouraged and fostered in my home. Whatever first planted the bookworm bug in me, I have loved reading and vintage books for as long as I can recall.

As a child I had a rather odd (for someone my age at the time, I mean) assortment of medical books that ranged from 50 to 100+ years old. It wasn’t the largest collection, but at one point I must have had at least eight or nine heavy duty, hard cover medical text books (at that stage in my life I was interested in going into a career in medicine) of the very sort that would have once sat on a doctor’s shelf. Many of these books were lovingly given to me by elderly neighbours, one of whom had been a nurse for many years.

It wasn’t just medical tomes that caught my eye though. I’ve always scoured second hand book shops, garage sales, flea markets and library sales (when libraries sell of their old books) for literary treasures. Though sadly at one point in my life I had to sell off most of my book collection to help raise funds to move overseas, I still have the wonderful memories of the times I spent sifting through stacks upon stacks of books, some older, some newer, endless piles of inexpensive paperbacks and microwave cookery books (seriously, why is there such a glut of microwave cookbooks almost anywhere retro and vintage books are sold?), to find an early printing of a Steinbeck or Hemingway novel.

There is something almost transcendent about holding an older book in your hand, its paper often yellowed as if dipped in tea by the passing years, a slightly musty smell emanating from each page, its typesetting done up in a classy, concisely sized font. As you flip through the pages of any book that’s lived with someone else before, it’s hard not to catch yourself wondering what sort of memories that book would have to tell, if it were alive and able to speak. Did it cross over on an ocean liner, ride around in the back of an old roadster, sit beside someone on a Hawaiian vacation, provide a moment of respite for a weary WW2 factory worker? What thoughts did those who owned the book before you think as they absorbed its knowledge or tale, how did what they read shape or impact their lives – and what impression will it leave on your own?

There is indeed something marvelous and valuable about vintage and antique books; their worth lies not only in their age and content, but in the place in time when they were first released into the annals of history to which they will forever belong. It is this essence of time and distant place, that I feel weaves itself through so much of my love of vintage. When I don a 40s inspired outfit, a pair of 50s heels or a 30s hairstyle, I am reaching somewhere deep into my soul to connect with a world that I while I did not experience firsthand, I can sense I belong to.

{A stylishly well dressed literature fan from a 1941 Vogue spread. Photo found via myvintagevogue’s Flickr stream.}

If you’re a fellow bibliophile, what memories and thoughts do vintage books invoke in you?

April 27, 2009

Monday Muses {April 27th}

While Gene Kelly was happy to be singing in the rain, I can’t say as though I’m quite as chipper as he was about the moisture that Mother Nature has been throwing our way for the past several days. I don’t hate rain, not at all – in fact, to me falling asleep to sound of raining softly hitting a roof is one of the single most serene and soothing noises on earth – but given the very short springs that tend to come Ontario’s way (blink and you’re apt to miss spring entirely, and instead be left wondering how you went from -30°C to +30°C over night), it would be rather nice if we could have a few weeks that were neither plagued by snow/rain or suffocating humidity.

{A sweetly flirtatious pin-up model has fun in the rain, in this image I discovered through Photobucket.}

Still, as the old expression we all know by heart goes, April showers bring May flowers, and I am gleeful about the thought of seeing new blooms again soon.

All the rain lately though has shifted my colour mood into the arena of greys and blues, some sombre, others blissfully cheery. In the latter category I would most certainly place the incredibly gorgeous, flat-out amazing outfit that the beautiful Super Kawaii Mama recently wore for Easter. Not only is that full skirt and tattoo inspired necklace too cool for words, her fire engine red crinoline quite literally has me going weak in the knees! That, my vintage dears, is one heck of a stellar outfit!

However, if you were venturing out on a blustery day in such pretty attire, you would definitely want to come prepared with an umbrella and perhaps a hat, such as any one of three these wildly fashionable ladies are gracefully wearing (if you look carefully the hat on the right even appears to have some sort of see-through plastic/cellophane – or other material – on it which might have helped to make it more weather resistant).

{Image served up via
myvintagevogue's inspirational hotbed of a Flickr stream.}

If however you’re more in the mood to snuggle inside your nest on a drizzly day, why not whip up something crafty, homemade or otherwise yummy in one of esty artisan Boojiboo’s incredibly charming umbrella print, vintage inspired aprons! (They’re also available in a bounty of other vintage themed prints and styles; this particular design sells for $28.75US)

Alternatively I always find it so relaxing to cuddle up with a classic mid-twentieth century read on a stormy day, such as Richard Llewllyn’s How Green Was My Valley (the 1941 movie version of which I also highly recommend) or Christopher Morley’s Kitty Foyle (which also went on to be adapted into a movie; it stared Ginger Rogers and coined a new name for a popular style of dress at the time featuring a dark body and sleeves with white or light coloured cuffs and a collar, the Kitty Foyle dress).

{The always wonderful Ginger Rogers in sporting a Kitty Foyle dress in the movie of the same name. Found amongst the many movie themed pages of a75’s Flickr stream.}

As the week begins anew and seven crisp days of possibility lay ahead of us, I hope that the rain will soon go its separate way and leave me with a touch of balmy weather before my city does its Amazon rain forest impression. In case it doesn’t though, I’ll just have to take my wardrobe cue from the images in this Polyvore set I whipped up, and give singing in the rain the old college try :)

{Rainy Day Blues.}

April 26, 2009

Pretty Link Roundup {April 26th}

In a sense it’s been one of those week, not the full-blown kind that tends to peak in a complete and utter breakdown or late night Chinese food/cold pizza/vat of ice cream binge, but just sort of strange. As I mentioned yesterday, darling hubby and I had plans to go get our income taxes done, well no sooner had we got our shoes on as a massive wind and lighting storm blew through Toronto.

{Bracing for a down pour in a 1941 edition of Life magazine. Found via the awesome pages of myvintagevogue’s Flickr stream.}

As the afternoon temperatures climbed up to 25°C and the air become increasingly muggy, I remarked that I thought a storm was on the horizon, little did I know it would be one complete with winds up to 115km an hour! While the gusts shook our building something fierce, the whole ordeal was fairly short-lived and by the time the sun set for the day, it was merely raining, the air almost as still as a sleeping kitten. The sudden storm (and desire not to get swept right off our feet!) means that the unexpectedly delayed taxes will have (understatement) to get done in the next couple of days.

Aside from the pesky taxes I’m feeling quite organized at the moment, as I’ve complied a to-do list broken down over the next four weeks leading up to a (much anticipated) visit from some of my relatives who hail from the other side of the country. Seeing long-term tasks that can get done ahead of time (buying more dishware, for example) and last minute ones (shopping for perishables, an extra through vacuuming of the whole apartment) laid out over a month is a handy trick I’ve employed many times in my life when something big/important hung on the horizon.

{Ever so slightly Hitchcockian – but very well organized woman of the house – care of housewives on Flickr.}

I can’t help but wonder then if this first edition of “Pretty Link Roundup” (a henceforth weekly – or thereabouts – post of fantastic vintage related links that have recently caught my eye and that I think will be equally interesting to my lovely readers) is peppered with housekeeping and beauty care tips because I’m subconsciously focusing on these kinds of elements more than usual in my own life right now.

* Once long ago in a time of VCRs, Doritos that only came one flavour to a package, and non-skinny jeans, there was a world without Google. While that notion might seem impossible for some technophiles to wrap their heads around, it’s true, and is a subject that Clever Nettle covered recently in a post called Life Before Google, which sports some absolutely wonderful vintage drawings of secretaries at work.

* If you're like me (cursed with extremely sensitive skin and a general sensitivity to harsh chemicals) and are always looking for inexpensive ways to make your own household cleaning products, you’ll definitely love this simple recipe for Homemade Powdered Laundry Soap from the pages of Betty Boogie’s blog.

* Many of us who adore doing our make-up in the styles of our favourite vintage eras know that false eyelashes can be a huge boon when it comes to achieving certain looks, but they can also be downright intimidating if you haven’t put them on before or haven’t mastered the art yet. If you feel like you need a crash – or a refresher – course, head on over the MissRedLips’s and read through her handy, straight forward post How to Put on False Lashes like a Pro.

* Who doesn’t love vintage hairstyles? They have the power to take even a modern outfit and instantly transform your look into something inspired by fabulous past. Paired with vintage clothes an old school 'do can truly make you look like you just stepped out of a 1950s Vogue spread. Sometimes though, the hairdos we love the most also take quite a while to style – time that you might not have to spare every morning. Enter a lovely look from The Mysterious Life of the Metropolitan Housewife’s Atomic Mama in her article Fast hair for the vintage girl.

* If you hit thrift stores, flea markets, yard sales or charity shops with any kind of regularity, chances are you’ve not only amassed an amazing wardrobe, but also brought home some unique and charming household items. Hunting down those prized pieces you’re lusting after or fondly remembering the ones that decked out your grandmother’s house can both be fun ways to get your vintage vibe on, as the lovely Alana of Alana’s Vintage Collecting Blog touches on in her recent post, Collecting Vintage Collectibles.

* Sometimes when you get those awesome vintage items home you’re not quite sure what to do with them though. For some terrific inspiration check out the recent Queens of Vintage Post Five ways to reuse vintage items in the home.

* Do you have a fantasy vintage kitchen in your mind’s eye? Perhaps one complete with an aquamarine refrigerator or an authentic black and white checkerboard floor. I think I have about twenty different fantasy kitchens that I’d be pleased as punch to call my own :D And yet I keep encountering new images of vintage kitchens to add to the wish list, such as the cheerful red, white and yellow one in this 1946 ad from Found in Mom’s Basement, an excellent blog devoted to a diverse array of vintage and retro advertisements.

* Speaking of kitchens, when was the last time you saw a modern (as in newly built) kitchen sink with a drainboard...go on, ponder for a while, click on over to your favourite home decor blogs, I’ll wait ;D It’s been a while now hasn’t it? Like so many functional, convenient elements of household design I can’t really fathom why drainboards all but vanished, they were immensely handy and (the metal ones) also looked quite lovely when hit by a sparkling ray of sunlight. I would adore a kitchen with drainboards and according to Retro Renovation, I’m not alone (yeeeh!), as they have a recent article (complete with gorgeous kitchen design illustrations) all about Vintage 40s and 50 kitchen drainboard sinks.

* Ok, this one doesn’t really have much to do with vintage topics, but it was simply too unbelievably cute not share. Seriously, save or bookmark this photo and come back to it anytime you’ve had one of those days/weeks/months. One look at that astronomically happy puppy face and your own mood is sure to perk right up!

{Manicured red nails? Check. To-die-for fashion sense? Check. Ability to make washing dishes look ridiculously glamorous? Check and double check! Dreft dish soap ad via Umpqua’s Flickr stream.}

So there we have it, my darlings, a delightful assortment of links chocked full of vintagey goodness for your reading pleasure! I hope you all have a marvelous, safe and joyful week ahead – and remember to tune in tomorrow for Monday’s Muses.

April 25, 2009

Filing taxes and thinking of Susan Hayward

Happy Saturday, dear vintage lovers!

The temps here are climbing (24°C already!) and it’s shaping up to be a lovely day, well aside from the fact that assuming I can drag darling hubby away from work related tasks, we simply must go file our (2008) income taxes. I’ve never left it so close to the must-file-before date before (and leaving it for so long goes against every fiber in my punctual, generally on "top of things the moment they need to be done" body), but hubby was waiting for some documents that took their sweet time to arrive in the mail. As they've shown up, we can now proceed with the cross-you-fingers-and-pray task of filing one’s taxes and hoping to the moon and back that we don’t owe anything.

I’ve got everything sorted, paper clipped (with pink clips) and ready to head out the door for when we hoof it over to the tax ma. Still even being as prepared than a Girl Scout doesn’t make the task of doing your taxes any more glamorous.

And glamorous is how one should feel on a Saturday afternoon, if you ask me. It’s a day for relaxing and pampering, painting your nails (perhaps in any one of the beautiful shades from OPI’s La Collection De France), setting, curling or blowing out your hair (as per your own look), reading glossy magazines or a really good book, and perhaps dressing up for a smashing night out on the town. If I was headed to just such an event, one that called for panache and grace, I would try my darnedest to emulate the insatiable style and jaw-dropping beauty of one of my favourite silver screen actresses, the timeless, auburn haired Susan Hayward.

{Image found via myvintagevogue's sublime Flickr stream - which I hugely recommended bookmarking.}

I'm not sure what film that photo is from (if anyone does, please let me know, I'd love to watch it!), but my stars, just look at her, that plunging yet still classier-than-can be neckline, those layers of organza draped nonchalantly over her arm, that head of superbly well coiffed hair, it all adds up to pure vintage elegance. I fear though that I would look just a wee bit over-dressed if I sauntered into the tax man's office decked out to the nines like that - than again, it might not hurt ;)

April 24, 2009

Dreaming of highways and cars and vintage suitcases {Found on Flickr}

The open road is an incredible place. At times lonesome, others crowded and frazzled. It calls and whispers, beckons and tempts, it is the beginning and the end.

After a week of heavy grey skies I awoke at 7:30 this morning to a stream of pale sunlight. Nostalgic light, the kind that takes you back to childhood summers and makes you long to go running to the nearest beach – or to head out for a weekend trip somewhere, anywhere.

But alas, I do not have a car and it’s far too soon to contemplate toe dipping – unless I want hypothermia. Instead I’ll live out my desire to heed the call of the road via Flickr images that invoke a very vintage feeling of driving, traveling and looking gorgeously well-dressed for the warmer months.

{Hitting the open road, vintage style}

1. Crystal Cove 2005, 2. round and round we go, 3. May 1954 Seventeen, 4. Vintage 1940's shoes and battered suitcase, 5. Nina, 6. 7.29.08, 7. 1950s lemon yellow dress, 8. Bird watching, 9. March 1955 Vogue, 10. The Vintage Suitcase, 11. DSC_0269 copy, 12. Florida Fashions of Orlando, 13. iso vintage suitcases {Click on a link to see a larger version of a particular image and/or for photographer information}

Whether you are parking it at home or heading out onto the highway, I hope that all my lovely readers have a marvelous weekend!


Ooohh, this a week of wonderful firsts for me! On Monday I tried my hand at Polyvore for the first time, and today I’ve begun playing around on Big Huge Labs. Both are proving to be oodles of fun!

April 23, 2009

Cultivating a garden of vintage style

Before going any further with this post, I must preface it by saying that I am not an expert on matters of gardening! While I had the fun of helping my parents and grandparents around their gardens as a youngster, I’ve never planted or tended to a garden of my own (as I haven’t had the good fortune to live anywhere with a private yard as an adult yet).

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the notion of making do or going without may soon become the de facto motto again – and if you ask me, not a moment too soon. Should you happen to have a yard of your own that you’re free to modify (aka, not one that’s governed by your landlord, if applicable) or access to a green space such as a community garden plot, I think that it’s high time us vintage lovers brought the idea of a home garden back into vogue.

For you see, there was an age once long ago before it became all the rage to line your yard with rock gardens, mammoth stone barbeques, and outdoor furniture that costs as much as its under-a-roof counterparts, when people actually tended the land – instead of just giving it a manicure and a hefty dose of keeping-up-with-the-Jones swagger. I’m all for anything and anyone looking lovely, but there is a lot to be said for practicality...remember practicality? It’s the opposite of just about everything the 30 years or so have been composed of.

The world has seen hard times before, and so long as we pull through these dark days, no doubt it will again sometime down the road, but that doesn't mean you have to toss in the towel entirely. In the past people often helped put food on their table and save money by growing and or making as many of their foods as possible. Perhaps the best example of this frugal, healthy step was the widespread adoption of Victory Gardens during WW2. With many foods and everyday items suddenly rationed, civilians turned to the soil around their homes to stretch their menus and help ensure they had nutritional meals. If you have the land and incentive, there's no reason why you can't try your hand at doing the same thing now.

With food costs continuing to rise faster than you can clip coupons and seemingly endless news stories about contaminants and harmful bacteria popping up in many everyday foods, there is something wonderful and reassuring about the idea of starting (and hopefully maintaining) your own garden. As I began this post by saying, I’m not a guru of such matters though, so instead I will point you towards an excellent UBC link called A Beginner’s Guide to Vegetable Gardening, and also suggest that you contact local garden centres and/or talk to anyone you know who has a vegetable/fruit garden before jumping into planting, if you do not have any prior gardening experience. Libraries (yes, they still ;) ) are also a fantastic place to source books on all matter of gardening related topics, from berries to begonias, mint to mulch.

While I may not be able to tell you how best to aerate your soil, I can certainly suggest some lovely ways to help both you and your garden – whether it’s an acre or a few pots on a sunny balcony – look wonderfully vintage.

-Garden Antqs Vintage : A fantastic blog devoted to the anything and everything that can help give your garden a wonderful vintage, antique, shabby chic look.

-Old Garden Tools: To quote this site’s homepage, “Old Garden Tools shows a large and extensive collection of vintage and antique garden tools and gardening ephemera.”

-Jon Fox Antiques: Online antiques shop with an extensive selection of old tools, everything from lawn edgers to trowels.

-The Cottage Garden Heirloom Seed and Plant Nursery: If you’re gardening vintage style, why not try your hand at planting heirloom varieties (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heirloom_plant ) of your favourite fruits and vegetables, this Canadian site has an extensive catalogue to pick from.

-Heirloom Plants and Seeds: Looking for even more heirloom plant sellers? This directory list numerous seed/plant sellers.

-City Gardening: A short Environment of Canada page about city gardening.

Want to rock a vintage look while in the garden? Reach for gingham and plaid patterned shirts in cotton and poplin, linen can also work well in warmer months. On your legs opt for dark denim and khaki, classic Wellington boots have been around since the 19th century and work wonderfully in muddy and/or wet environments. On warmer dry days reach for simple sandals, canvas deck-style shoes or even old fashioned wooden gardening clogs. Ensure that you wear a wide brimmed hat (straw is a timeless summer look) – and don’t hesitate to take one modern step and remember to apply sunscreen before heading out in the sun (a sunburn is never in style, no matter what decade!).

For more ideas and inspirations check out this Polyvore collection I whipped together. It features a lovely blond pin-up gardening in a pale blue and white gingham bathing suit pouring water from a watering can into a glass, a bottle of (what I’m guessing is) brandy or cointreau at her ankles. If you’re craving a copy of this print for your own walls, it can be picked up in various sizes here.

{How to Grow a Pin-Up Garden, created by yours truly.}

Are you a vintage lover who has a garden? I’d absolutely enjoy hearing about your gardening experiences and any ideas that you may have to help vintage gardens and gardening inspired styles flourish.

{Vintage seed package uploaded by chicks57 on Flickr.}

April 22, 2009

Celebrating Earth Day the vintage way

“Make do or go without”, chances are that at some point in your life you’ve heard some iteration of that old axiom, behind which lies a great deal of wisdom. In this age (or what was until very recently a prevalent and rampant age) of seemingly endless consumerism, it appears that the mantra to get by with, or reuse, what you already have is all too often forgotten.

Today, the 22nd of April, is Earth Day, one brief day amongst 364 other siblings, in which people from around the world are encouraged to think about, and raise awareness of, issues that are affecting the health and wellbeing of our planet. Certainly one of which is the incredibly alarming rate at which garbage (trash) is building on our little rock of a planet.

Thankfully, as lovers of antiques and vintage pieces, many of us are already taking a wonderful step in helping to reduce the amount of waste that makes its way into the landfill, simply by doing what we love! Every time you buy thrift, second hand or otherwise previously loved items you’re giving new life to an old(er) piece and potentially saving it from ending up in the bin. While at the very same time cutting down on (what I call) “first hand” consumerism, which can often generate a lot of its own trash due to packing, wrapping, bags, tags and any number of other steps and products it took to get that item to the store that you bought it from in the first place.

I’m not here to preach or go into the ideologies of environmentalism at great length though, instead I think that there is scarcely a better day than Earth Day to celebrate the wondrous fact that by buying and/or salvaging (a pilfering of Great Aunt Ida’s attic, anyone?) vintage and second hand pieces we are by default living greener lives and doing our part to help Mother Earth.

Like many folks I’ve been totting home my shopping (everything from bakery goods to Value Village finds) in reusable bags for the past few years. I love this practise and don’t plan to ever give it up. But I’ve been thinking lately that some of my reusable totes and bags are a little on the dull (and threadbare) side, and that sooner or later I might want to spruce up my shopping bag wardrobe with some awesome sacks that pay homage to my love of vintage. While that might mean buying new, I feel that a onetime purchase that saves countless plastic bags from ending up at a city dump somewhere is a worthwhile buy.

Four such bags that have really caught my eye lately are the following gems:

{An absolutely, utterly perfect message – priced at $15.99US – for anyone who adores vintage – and if you’re reading this blog, chances are that includes you! From a fabulous Toronto based online vintage shop by the name of Some Like Vintage, who also offers up items such as tees, hoodies, hats, pet food bowls, wall clocks, aprons, beer steins, thongs and bumper stickers with the same slogan in their Cafe Press shop.}

{Available in several delightful vintage and pin-up themed prints, this 16x18 inch tote crafted by Fussy Gussy on Etsy retails for $28US and is sure to strike a chord with lovers of vintage art.}

{Decked out in immensely lovely vintage tattoo inspired art – including a darling pair of swallows – this pretty and functional cotton tote bag from Dot Com Gift Shop, priced at £5.95 (UK pounds), is sure to appeal to the fancy of many a vintage shopper. However, do note though that at this time, Dot Com Gift Shop does not appear to be shipping outside of Europe.}

{Looking wonderfully and inconspicuously like a darling clutch, this bag – by Etsy crafter, Betty Bubble – actually unbuttons into a reusable tote bag that’s covered in country-sweet red and white gingham on the outside and adorable cherries on the inside. At a $12.99US each, this is an excellent vintage inspired buy from those of us (myself included!) on a budget.}

I’d be a very happy camper if I was hauling my flea market finds home any one of these stylish fabric bags any day!

Do you partake of reusable shopping bags? If so, what are some of the ones you’ve found that put a smile on your face? I’d love to hear what other vintage fans are using (and/or doing) to look both old school and green at the same time.

April 21, 2009

Queens of Vintage launches social network

The utterly fantastic vintage, fashion, and interior design website Queens of Vintage, whose updates I joyfully receive everyday in my inbox, delivered some awesome news today: they’ve kicked off a vintage social networking site.

For those of us who live, breath and wear vintage as much as humanly possible, the notion of mingling with like-minded souls couldn’t be more appealing. I’ve just joined up (under the user name “Jessica”, I think this is the first time in history I’ve ever been able to register for a site so early on that I was able to simply use my first name as my user name, giving me a whole other reason to madly love this new network), and am in the process of scoping things out.

It looks like the QoV folks have designed this network really well; features include a forum (with budding user groups), a photo section, blogs and member pages. The site is easy to navigate and I’m happy to report that forum already seems to be a buzz with lovely gals chatting about all manner of things vintage.

I’m off to go join in the discussion, but wanted to let others in on this cooler-than-a-thrift-store-sale news right away in the hopes of doing my own little part to help QoV’s new network blossom! :)

Thoughts on vintage gloves

When you hear the word gloves, what’s the first thing that pops into your mind? Michael Jackson, OJ, perhaps Ralphie and his mitts on a string in the movie Christmas Story? Or is your vision of hand socks a little more gentile, more ballroom dancing and First Communion style than pop culture icon?

While gloves in some form or another have been in use since at least the time of the ancient Romans, they are little seen today when not being employed as a means of protecting or warming the hands – or as part of a very formal outfit such as a wedding or prom dress. Once though they were an important element of many people’s everyday wardrobe, a trend that continued well into the twenty first century, only declining as the over-all style of day-to-day clothing became more causal. (I’ve theorized – and my one of my elderly relatives concurs – that the wearing of gloves as common item of clothing went out of style only slightly before the everyday/commonplace wearing of hats did in the 1960s.)

When I think of gloves my mind first pushes aside thoughts of bone numbingly cold Canadian winters and then falls squarely on images of ridiculously elegant women from 30s through to the 50s. Whether grazing over the elbow as for evening wear or barely reaching the wrist, as many day-to-day styles did, gloves were one a staple item of most women’s wardrobes. They were often sold in lovely boxes and could be found at any department or ladies wear store in a myriad of styles, cuts, fabrics (lace, cotton, leather, satin, etc), and colours so that a woman could always match her gloves to her coat or outfit.

{Example of a beautiful pink satin lined vintage glove box. Photo from Vintage Memories.}

Perhaps it was fact that in Toronto we were hit with snow again in April or maybe it’s that these tough economic times have my mind thinking to Depression era styles, whatever the case maybe I’ve been giving some thought to gloves lately and the wonderful supporting role they once played in any well dressed woman’s outfit until a mere fifty or so years ago. Part of me wonders why the wearing of gloves everyday as an accessory to one’s outfit fell out of style and another understands that the relaxed and unrestrictive clothing of the 1960s and 70s are likely to blame.

{Vintage add featuring a stunningly lovely dressed woman (seriously, wouldn’t you just about die for that form fitting, flared skirt, double row of button adored dress?) wearing white wrist length gloves. Found on the dazzling and very inspirational pages of myvintagevogue’s Flickr stream.}

Whatever led to the abolishment of daily glove wearing, there’s no reason you can’t revive the trend now, if only for yourself. I’ll admit that at the moment I only have one pair of non-winter gloves, a black elbow length pair, and they’re not vintage or even retro. But I want to get more...many more. In dainty knit and supple suede, shimmery satin and crisp cotton. My plan, to keep my eyes firmly peeled on the second hand store and etsy front for excellent deals on vintage gloves (online vintage shops like Vintage Hatbox and Davenport & Co. are definitely also worth checking out). Who knows, maybe I’ll luck out and come across some gloves as lovely as these.

{A rainbow of amazing, softly hued Van Raalte brand gloves circa 1956. Image from Empress Jade’s vintage lingerie blog.}

What are your thoughts on the wearing of gloves in today’s world? Do you love or loath the idea of finishing off your favourite vintage outfits with them?

April 20, 2009

Monday muses {April 20th}

Spring is generally a short-lived love affair in Canada. Like a beautiful stranger it appears one day, just when you think your soul will deteriorate into ashes if you have to face another frighteningly cold morning, caressing your face with its tender warmth, showing you a sort of gentle beauty you had almost forgot existed in a world covered by eighteen inches of snow. But, like many a lover, no matter how much you give your heart to spring, it is gone as quickly as it came. You’ll see it again, but not for many months and by then, you will have had a rather lovely tryst with autumn and almost decided it was your favourite season. Yet while spring is in your life you should dress up for it, embracing the fact that you often have the option of wearing tights or short sleeves, a long skirt or one that barely nips at your knees. It is the season of subtly and grace, before the blistering heat of summer and between the frigid chill of winter.

{ Awaiting May Flowers created by yours truly as my first foray into the world of Polyvore.}

Show darling spring some adoration with vintage – or vintage inspired pieces – in the softest, whispery hues, paired with subtle jewelry and delicate accessories. I certainly will be!

April 18, 2009

Getting to know the new blog on the block

{American D9A Microphone,
(gorgeous) photo by dh2 on Flickr}
“Testing one, two, three...testing. Hi everyone, it’s a pleasure to be here, my name is Jessica, let me tell you a little bit about myself and this blog.”

I never quite know what to say when I start a new blog or site, I’m not exactly a household name and I’m naturally shier than a feral kitten, but I like to take the approach that it’s best to hit the ground with both feet running (though according to the good folks over at Mythbusters, this doesn’t actually get you anywhere faster - but it is after all, a figure of speech).

Technically I posted my first entry last night, but I thought I’d take a moment to chat about what led to this blog’s creation. In reality it wasn’t one singular event, but rather a cumulative lifelong adoration of the past. Of the days before my humble 80s birth, when people still counted hats as part of their daily ensemble and the idea of a woman leaving the house without her hair fully styled was almost unthinkable. When record players ruled the musical roost and cars had more steel in them than a small airplane.

My childhood was not idyllic (though really, whose was?), but it was filled with many incredible elements that I believe helped to foster my undying love of the past, from the annual watching of White Christmas to nights spent listing to tapes of classic radio shows (such Jack Benny and Our Miss Brookes) on my cassette Walkman, to an early exposure to kustom kulture that came due to the fact that the parents of my first grade best friend where madly into vintage hot rods.

Introverted and studious, I spent a lot of my youth enveloped in books, loving history and classic literature with a burning passion. Two poodles skirts that had originally been sewn as Halloween costumes (one bright pink with a black record, the other bubble gum and white gingham with a fluffy white poodle) were my favourite clothes to wear at home for several years of my childhood. While watching A League of Our Own (at a real drive-in movie theatre no less!) I became enamoured with the poised, intelligence of Geena Davis’ character and with the fashions on everyone’s hips. To this day the dancing scene at the Suds Bucket club, the Lindy Hop style music blaring as Madonna flies around the dance floor, fills my heart with as much wide-eyed excitement as it did when I was seven.

Though it’s almost cliché to say, I realized very early on that I felt as though I’d been born in the wrong era. As grunge and alternative filled the airwaves I found myself drawn to classic rock, jazz and blues. While classmates ran to the mall for stirrup pants, hair scrunchies and shrunken backpacks, I was blissfully happy to spend my spring and summer weekends scouring yard sales and thrift stores for pleated wool skirts and satiny peach hued slips.

A good chunk of my childhood was spent growing up in a fairly small town, where everyone pretty much dressed and acted alike. Even in high school almost no one veered off the Dawson’s Creek inspired path, save perhaps for a small goth clique and a few Eminem wannabes. We didn’t have a computer when I was growing up (the unfathomable horror, I know ;) ) and so I must admit that I really didn’t know there other people out there who not only loved the music, decor and movies of the mid twentieth century, but who also secretly yearned to dress as though they’d stepped out of a 1940s or 50s photograph every day.

In 2004, at the age of 19, I got my first computer and by about ’06 I’d Googled enough search terms to have discovered that alas I was not alone! Others not only loved what I loved, but took it to new and incredible levels, such as being modern day pin-up models or photographers. Around that time I began to bookmark sites and build up a routinely checked array of pages on everything from vintage fashion and hairstyles to burlesque dancers to check regularly.

Jump ahead to 2009 and I’ve long since stopped feeling self conscious if I go out in red lippy, a pencil skirt and Veronica Lake inspired waves, in fact I’ve embraced my love of, and connection to, the past with vigour. I can’t claim to (at this point in my life) have a house that it kitted out in pure vintage furniture or a wardrobe that’s comprised strictly of fifty year old pieces, but I have learned how to do pin curls, apply a mean swoosh of black eyeliner and where to buy nylons with a seam running up the back. Some days I wear jeans and a tee with bright red lips and smoky eyes hinting at my taste in style, others I go the whole nine yards and, thanks in part to my red locks, end up doing a pretty good job of making Dottie Hinson proud.

As someone who has always been passionate about writing and who also loves to help others who share my own interests, I thought it would be oodles of fun to start a blog devoted to the past, with a focus on the 1930s, 40s and 50s. I haven’t plotted any direct courses for this site, instead I want it to grow organically, as I cover whatever vintage or vintage lifestyle related topics catch my fancy.

On the right-hand side (of this site) I’ve listed a bevy of links that help fuel my passion for the past, and hope that you’ll find them as enjoyable and awe-inspiring as I do. I invite you to follow the feed for Chronically Vintage and to comment on my posts, if you’d like.

I should tell you up front that I have a lot of medical problems (re: chronic illnesses) and as such am not always able to make it onto the computer or to post each day with religious devotion, but I will do my best to post often!

"I’d like to thank everyone for giving me the chance to share about my love of vintage. I can’t wait to fill this blog full of awesome, beautiful and wonderfully fun posts - and to get to know my readers, thank you!”

April 17, 2009

First day of life

Late one Friday night when a good chunk of the world was either asleep or partying like was 1999 (weekends somehow mean even more during these rough times, so you have to rock it with all your heart), a blog devoted to one woman's never-ending love of all things vintage, rockabilly, retro and pin-up style was born.

{Image via MsBlueSky on Flickr, corners nixed thanks to RoundPic}

Weighing in at...well, websites are weightless, but let's just say 5.7 pounds (in honour of the best year for Chevies), Chronically Vintage came into the world with a smile on its face and an Andrews Sisters song in its heart.

Once the blog's mother has grabbed a few winks, set some pin curls and replied her ruby red lipstick, she will definitely write a more thorough introduction post.