March 31, 2012

So many delightfully lovely gifts this month

It's hard to believe that today marks the last day of the month that official kick starts spring. To say it's been a hectic time on this end would be an understatement. Yet, my days have been filled with the kind of activity that I'd dreamed of for years.

Moving across the country, setting up a new home, unpacking my belongings once more on the soil of my home province, purchasing our first car, spending time with family, and beginning a truly fantastic new chapter in our lives.

Over the past few weeks we've been making a lot of purchases - both big and small - for the house, however we've also been showered generously recently with presents from loved ones.

In what I think is a first here on Chronically Vintage, I'd like to take a moment today to share some of the immensely sweet gifts that I've received from relatives - and my darling husband - this month. Most are vintage or vintage appropriate, the others are just too darn adorable not blog about.



Late last autumn, as some of you may recall (from this post), my parents embarked on a trip through parts of the west and Midwest United States. Along their journey they (unbeknownst to me at the time) were keeping an eagle eye out for vintage items that they thought I might enjoy. Their efforts were not in vain, let me tell you, as I adore the awesome selection of treasures they so thoughtfully picked up for me during their travels.

This magazine, a 1937 copy of Woman's Home Companion is the oldest item they brought back. Let me tell you, it is in incredibly good condition considering that it's 75 years old. I get the feeling that it was read all of once and then tucked away in a very safe, dry environment for the next seven decades. From the vibrant, captivating cover art to the many interesting articles and ads inside, this magazine is a complete gem.




Knowing how much I like vintage sewing patterns, my folks picked this charming 1950s Simplicity (4492) apron one up while bopping around the States. It looks really easy and will definitely get put to good use once I get a sewing machine.




My mother and I have both always had a love for classic silhouettes, so when she spotted this enchantingly lovely one at an antique store (I'd peg it to be Civil War revival - in the wake of Gone with the Wind - from the 1940s), she said that she knew it just had to come home with her.




It's rather amazing, you know, I wildly adore both Halloween and all things vintage, and yet I don't own any All Hallows Eve pieces that are older than early 80s. Though not technically vintage, this deeply beautiful set of hand-blown glass ornaments looks every bit the part, and is amongst the most special and beloved presents that my parents brought from their trip.

I absolutely must get myself a little black Halloween tree now, as I need someplace from which to dangle these endlessly cute, old-fashioned looking Halloween glass decorations.




Knowing that I'm always on the prowl for vintage ladies magazines, when my maternal grandma (who came to visit the Thursday before last) found this 1969 copy of Woman's Own in her basement, she lovingly brought it with her to give to me.

As it's starting to really fall apart and crumble, for the time being I've got it nestled in a large manila envelope, but I think the best course of action would be to scan it from cover-to-cover one day to preserve it, as I don't suspect it will hang in there for too many more years.




This tremendously cute set of Russian nesting doll measuring cups (which I'd secretly been coveting for months) is proof positive that my wonderful little sister knows my tastes to a tee. Though entirely modern, there's something about nearly any type of matryoshka that lends it such an appealing, cheerful old world charm. I love these measuring cups so much that I've given them pride-of-place on a tiny display shelf in my kitchen.




Remember the aforementioned description of some gifts being super adorable? Well this utterly precious pink plush piggy- a recent gift from my husband - is precisely what I had in mind when I typed those words. I love cute, I love pink, I love animals - so naturally I adore this marvelously darling toy.




As avid readers might remember, I'm very allergic to nickel, which means that a lot of costume and less expensive jewelry is permanently off limits to me. Luckily however, I can wear certain metals, including sterling silver, so when I saw this deeply sweet cherry charm silver necklace a few days ago - and swooned on the spot over it - Tony bought it for me right then and there. Majorly thoughtful, you bet.

Now, after a lifetime of wanting one, I have a very vintage appropriate cherry necklace - that won't bother my skin one bit - to wear whenever my heart desires.




Ok, this one isn't technically a gift from someone else, but rather one I bought at Walmart recently for our new bedroom. I adored the flowing font, shabby chic paint job, and meaningful message (which I like to believe will - knock wood! - ring true for Tony and I now that we're living in B.C.), so I simply had to adorn our walls with it.

Be they "what I wore" wardrobe snaps, photos such as these of recent gifts (or purchases), or images of other day-to-day happenings, I want to share more visuals (especially vintage related ones) of my life with all of you.

I'm always tackling my perpetual shyness, and I feel strongly that posting about such things is a really positive step forward in that regard. You get to peer into my world and life, and mine in turn gets blessed by your comments and how I feel (really good) after I share with all of you.

Here's to everything fabulous and exciting that April holds in store – from delicious chocolate Easter bunnies to exhilarating storm clouds - for each of us, dear friends!


March 29, 2012

Vintage clothing for chronically ill and special needs individuals

Before jumping into the heart of today's post, I want to take a moment and preface this topic somewhat by briefly sharing some of my personal experiences on this subject with all of you.

A decade ago, mere weeks after my 18th birthday, I became extremely ill very rapidly with a series of severe, often debilitating chronic medical conditions. As the years went on, other additional medical issues appeared, too, bringing the current total to over a dozen different chronic conditions.

As one might expect, this altered the course of my life drastically, yet I've always been a "glass half full kind of gal" and have striven to consistently retain as much of who I was before becoming sick, while at the same time accepting life as it gets thrown at me, and trying to make the best of every situation.

In 2004 I founded (and continue to run) a leading patient-to-patient website called IC Advice, which is dedicated to helping those who share one of my conditions (interstitial cystitis), for which I've written many medical articles, recipes, and other types of useful literature.

A few years ago (before my own health declined further and I had to step back from this particular role) I also ran a chronic illness support group, speaking to and peer counselling hundreds of people whose lives had also been affected by ongoing health problems.

Though there are bright moments and promises of hope when dealing with the subject of chronic illness, the cold, hard truth is that it often not the most cheerful of subjects, and there is nothing Pollyanna about coping, struggling, and living day in and day out with the permanent shadow of health issues tagging along with you through every breath and step you take.

Whether online or in person, one thing that I have always enjoyed however is helping others find ways - even seemingly tiny, simple ways - in which to bring any possible degree of ease, help, and control back into one or more areas of their lives.

For many (though certainly not all, it truly varies depending on what medical issues a person is contending with) with chronic health problems, what we choose to wear can have a notable impact on how our bodies feel and where our pain levels are at.

While it is understandably beyond the scope of one blog post to discuss and address all of the possible considerations that need to be made when it comes to the topic of clothing that works well for people with medical/special needs, I have tried to cover general topics within this article which I hope will apply to a broad range of individuals and their own unique circumstances.

Though the age old saying "it hurts to be beautiful" can indeed ring true sometimes, for those who are already in constant pain and/or have limited mobility, vision problems, impaired motor skills, or any other issue that affects their ability to toss on whatever they want to wear in the morning without giving it a second though, getting dressed (and then wearing clothing for a part, or all of, the day) can already be a vexing and/or painful situation.

Some of the most common points that arise when trying to find clothing that accommodates medical and special needs are as follows:

-Ease of wear: How easy or difficult is it to put on, and take off, a garment. Will assistance be needed or can one dress themselves on their own?

-Garment weight: For those with many different conditions ranging from fibromyalgia to neuralgia, something as seemingly simple as the weight of an item of clothing (and/or whole outfit) can be more than enough to elevate their levels of discomfort.

-Garment strictness: How tight or loose is an item of clothing? In some cases, excess fabric can be a negative (such as if you're using certain types of mobility devices), yet in others tight clothing (much as with garment weight) can aggravate certain health problems (for many with gastrointestinal problems - and believe me when I say I speak from experience here - tight waistbands, for example, can be extremely uncomfortable and can even increase our symptoms sometimes).

-Fabric/materials used: It is not uncommon for those with medical/special needs to have highly sensitive skin and/or to be more acutely aware of the textures and temperatures against their skin. Generally speaking, natural, breathable fabrics such as cotton, wool (if not allergic/sensitive), silk, and bamboo are the first types of fabrics you my want to reach for, followed by soft (to-the-touch) manmade materials and natural/manmade blends (such as poly-cotton).

-Fastenings: Whether buttons, snaps, hooks, zippers, ties, shoe laces, or buckles, fastenings can really pose a problem for those with certain medical issues. Garments (and shoes) that can easily be slipped, comfortably wrap tied, or fastened with velcro can be much easier to get on and off.

-Alterations: Almost all of us, if we want out clothing to fit as best as possibly can, will have one or more garments altered over the course of our lifetime. This is not only normal, but highly recommended, if you want to look your most presentable. However some medical conditions and situations require altering/tailoring that goes beyond merely hemming a skirt or moving the buttons on a blazer.

Everything from the use of a wheelchair to an ostomy pouching system, a tracheotomy to the loss of one or more limbs can significantly impact a person's ability to comfortably wear an item of clothing right off the rack. When buying clothing that will require alteration, try to find pieces with enough fabric allowance to permit for the tailoring required.

-Is seated/laying down dressing required: Much as with ease of wear, ease of putting on and taking off a garment can be impacted by the position in which a person needs to be in order to get dressed. Though stockings might be easy for some people to put on while sitting down, imagine trying to do up a row of buttons running down the back of a dress while you were sitting or laying down. Not the simplest of tasks, let me assure you!

Items of clothing that can easily be slipped or fastened on (without pinching, tugging, or excessively rubbing the skin) while in various positions are often the best way to go if you know that you standing to dress is not going to be possible.

-Sizing: When we think of the term "clothing size" we often think about the tiny number printed on a garment's tag, however sizing goes beyond merely a number and can extend to the amount of fabric that a garment contains and how well it covers an individual.

Someone who's on their feet most of the day might think nothing of wearing a cropped sweater that just barely touches their waistband, however if you're going to be sitting, laying down, and/or transferred between positions throughout the day, you'll likely want a garment that covers your skin and ensures your dignity is maintained at all times.

In such cases, clothing that is slightly longer (think hip length blouses/shirts instead of waist length ones and pants/skirts/dresses with longer hems may be the way to go.

-Laundering required: As someone with super sensitive skin, I can tell you that I almost never buy garments (be they vintage or modern) that require dry cleaning (the chemicals used by many drycleaners do not agree with me). Whenever possible, I try to buy clothing that can be put in the washer and dryer (or, hung to dry after washing).

If hand washing if hard or impossible for whatever reason (i.e., arthritic hands/wrists), again, you may want to strive for a closet full of clothing that you can confidently clean in the washing machine.

-Price: While the cost of a garment is usually a deciding factor for all but those with the deepest pockets, it would be naive to skirt around the fact that people who contend with chronic health problems or have special medical needs sometimes live off of a reduced/lower incomes. Some struggle to make the barest of ends meet on a disability or pension income, while others may have had to take a cut in pay due to scaling back their hours at work (to try to accommodate their health) or to switch jobs/careers entirely.

As such, it's just good old-fashioned common sense to try and make your clothing dollars stretch as far as possible in most situations. This doesn't necessary mean buying the cheapest items of clothing by any means though, as it is often wiser to invest a little more (when possible) in a better quality garment that stands to last considerably longer, and give you more value in the long run for your money, than a cheaper version of the same piece.

-Minimizing frustration: No one wants to feel like they are unable to do a seemingly easy task. Feeling powerless in the face of your closet is a truly disheartening sensation and one that, ideally, none of us should ever have to face. The truth however is that medical problems/special needs can often greatly hinder our ability to wear certain cuts and styles of clothing any longer.

Instead of throwing in the towel however and resorting to a life of shapeless, style-less garments, first pinpoint where your difficulties with getting dressed lie and see if there are clothing options out there that will allow you to continue dressing in a way that makes you - and your health concerns - happy.



The points above apply to all clothing in general, whether it's vintage, reproduction, vintage inspired, vintage appropriate, or modern. As someone who's range of motion, pain levels, and mobility are affected by my health problems every day, I can tell you that is possible to have a predominately vintage wardrobe that accommodates my medical needs, yet which from the outside does not look different from most other (vintage clothing loving) people's closets.

While some days - the days you're much more likely to see photographs of me on - I'm able to get dressed on my own, style my hair, do my make-up and venture out into public, there are many, many more days for which such things are not possible.

Whether I'm having a rare "good day", availing of my wheelchair for an outing, am at home tucked up on the couch doing blog post research, or on bed rest, I've learned that there are garments that work really well for me in a variety of situations. They do so because they're stylish, comfortable, made of skin-friendly materials, and because I know they're easy to wash and wear time and time again.

There is an age old quandary of comfort vs style that persist throughout the fashion world. However, it is a something of a misconception to think that comfort and style are two entirely separate entities. Garments such as sweat pants and slouchy sweaters may spring to mind when you think of comfortable clothing, but they are absolutely, by no means, the only kinds of comfy clothing out there.

If you buy pieces that fit well from the get go (or that you have tailored to fit properly), which take the points above into consideration, and which you feel happy and confident when wearing, finding comfortable clothing is often possible.

With the points outlined above in mind, and drawing on my own personal experience and well as many discussions over the years with fellow chronic illness/special needs people on this topic, I'm delighted to share ten of my favourite vintage/vintage appropriate wardrobe staples with you.

Again, please bear in mind that each individual who needs to adapt how they dress based on their health/disabilities/special needs, will differ in what they're able to wear. These pieces are ones amongst which I think most people should be able to find a few options or at least use these garments as an inspirational jumping off point for others that will better suit their own circumstances.

 

~ Cardigan sweaters ~


{1950s cream wool buttonless cardigan with muted green floral embroidery; size large. Available for $30.00 CND from etsy seller Ma Ptite Chouette.}

Perhaps more than any other category of clothing in my whole wardrobe, my cardigan collection gets the most play. Being on the petite side (I'm 5'2"), longer/boxier cardigans can overwhelm my shape, so I tend to veer towards one that are relatively fitted, but not quite skin-tight (for the sake of comfort). Being allergic to wool, I like to opt for cotton cardis, as well as ones that are made from cotton blends and certain synthetic fabrics, such as rayon. Though I do button them up sometimes, more often I wear my cardigans open over a blouse, top, or dress.

Not only do they instantly add a layer of interest to an outfit, but they have the perk of being both timelessly lovely and perfect for keeping warm on cooler days and when the AC is blasting come summertime. I genuinely believe that there is a cardigan out there that can work for almost everyone on the planet, no matter what conditions you're accommodating.



~ Shirtwaist dresses ~

 


{1950s Key Windsor tan cotton shirtwaist dress; 38" bust/29.5" waist. Available for $45.00 from etsy seller JanesVintage.}

Another absolute closet workhorse for me is shirtwaist dresses. Such garments (so long as you buy them in your size) often offer generous amounts of fabric through the bust area, tapper at the waist (which is sometimes elasticized), and then flare out into a fuller skirt at the bottom.

As their name implies, many shirtwaist dresses (also know as "shirt dresses") do have one or more buttons running up the front,. However, depending on the garment, if buttons are a concern, you may be able to swap them out and/or sew up the button holes (thus turning the buttons into purely decorative elements), and run a line of velcro up the front to easily keep the dress closed (while making it much more comfortable to get on and off).

Shirtwaist dresses were very popular (especially as daywear) during the 1950s, though their history dates further back, with the name originally referring to (women's) blouses that were constructed like (men's) shirts. Shirtwaist dresses came back into vogue during the 1980s, with many styles produced then mimicking or taking style cues from their earlier mid-century predecessors.

Luckily for fans of this classic type of frock, shirtwaist dresses are generally easy to come by and are available in a broad range of colours and fabrics. To date etsy has yielded the biggest cache of vintage shirtwaist dresses for me, followed in second place by eBay.



~ Elastic waist/slip on skirts ~ 


{Aqua and white polka dot Fro-Yo Enjoyment elastic waist skirt, in sizes S-L. $54.99 from ModCloth.com.}

Lest you conjure up images of the bottom half of a painfully matronly skirt suit, let me redirect your thoughts to ones of stylish 1940s and 50s skirts in cuts as varied as pencil to poodle, high waisted to Dior worthy circle. Over the years, many skirts have been produced which had elastic waists or which could be slipped on and done up with just one fastener, (often) thanks to the material they were being made from having a degree of stretch to it.

Slip-on skirts often allow one to bypass contending with zippers, rows of buttons, or hook and eye fasteners and yet can (and do!) look every bit as lovely as those which stay put thanks to such items. They can be dressed up or down, as your heart desires, and are often marvelous options for work and slightly more formal wear.

 

~ Silk (or similar material) scarves ~


{1940s/50s pink and aqua rolled edge, floral print silk scarf; 28" square. Available for $22.50 from etsy seller Trunk Gypsies.}

Not only are they lightweight, gorgeously smooth on the skin, and available in a truly countless array of colours and patterns, but silk scarves can easily be one of the most versatile items in your wardrobe.

You can wear them around your neck, draped over your shoulders, as a belt (if they're long enough), tied to a purse handle as a stylish decoration, around your wrist as a bracelet, and put to use in lots of different ways on your head (from 1940s inspired Rosie style headscarves to looped around a youthful 50s inspired ponytail) - to name but a few ways.



~ Shrugs and bolero jackets ~


{Black 3/4 sleeve acrylic/rayon/spandex blend shrug cover-up, in sizs S/M, M/L, and L/XL. $32.00 from Red Dress Shoppe.}

Similar in some ways to a cardigan in the sense that they're often fitted, cropped lightweight toppers, shrugs and bolero jackets are pieces that I reach for time and time again. Many are free of buttons/zippers/fasteners, made from comfortable materials, and are instantly evocative of the mid-twentieth century. I have knit shrugs in various neutral hues (black, navy, grey, white) and am cultivating a budding bolero jacket collection, the star of which so far is a chipper tomato red number from the late 50s or very early 60s.

These wardrobe gems are perfect for adding a layer of warmth and style to many looks, and are often all it takes to elevate a day ensemble to a more night time appropriate outfit. If you're not too keen on showing your upper arms either, they (along with cardigans) are amongst the best ways to easily wear strapless/short sleeve dresses without feeling conscious about exposing your bare skin.



~ Overalls/dungarees ~


{Custom made 1940s style factory girl overalls; sizing to order. Available for $96.00 from etsy seller Time Machine Vintage.}

Even though I usually tend to sport skirts and dresses, there are times when life is best suited to wearing pants. If the occasion is a more causal natured one, I love reaching for a pair of reproduction overalls (dungarees).

Free of a tight waistband (usually) - which is especially nice if you're sitting or reclining for longer periods of time - this classic farmer's garment offers plenty of coverage, the ease and durability of denim (or another sturdy fabric such as twill), plus a timelessly fun style that serves us vintage loving gals so well.



~ Camisoles ~


{1950s/60s nylon and lace camisole with embroidery; approximate size 34/36 C bust. Available for $34.99 from etsy seller Jewels4Pandas.}

While I've never been one to wear them as a garment all on their own (aka, as a top unto themselves), I don camisoles more days than not as a layering piece, often with a hint of their lace or edging intentionally showing around my neckline.

Most camisoles are very comfortable, weigh next to nothing, provide added modesty/coverage, and are fairly easy to put on, so long as you're to raise your arms above your shoulders. Vintage camisoles from the 20-50s are relatively easy to find, however many modern day styles do a great job of being thoroughly vintage appropriate as well and can blend in seamlessly with your older garments.



~ Wraps/stoles ~

 


{Ivory mink faux fur stole wrap; size fits up to a large. Available from etsy seller Old Into New Couture.}

Whenever you're in the mood to channel your inner glamour girl - or go full on diva - a wrap or stole is one of the quickest and most effective ways to do just that. Generally free of sleeves and (often) fasteners, these long, continuous pieces of fabric/fur/faux fur look beautiful wrapped around your arms and torso as a means of helping to keep cold weather at bay and look pin-up girl stylish at the same time.

Vintage wraps and stoles (especially velvet and fur ones) are not too tricky to come by, though they can sometimes fetch a pretty penny. Thankfully plenty of modern sellers offer timeless stoles and wraps that any old school Hollywood starlet would have been delighted to wear.

If you're looking for wraps in classic colours and cuts, check formal and bridal wear shops in your area, as most carry such garments or can easily bring them in for you.



~ Crinolines/pettiskirts ~


{White net petticoat crinoline; one size fit all, 27" length. Available for £40.00 for UK seller 20th Century Foxy.}

At first you might not think that crinolines would have made it onto a list like this, yet I've found that they are in fact one of the easiest, most comfortable (if you find the material of your crinoline be a bit scratchy, try wearing a slip or pair of stockings underneath to create a layer between the crinoline and your skin), and quickest ways I know of to inject a huge hit of 1950s style into an outfit.

Most crinolines (be they vintage or modern) have elasticized waists that allow for easy of movement and also possible fluctuations in body weight, and are also relatively light (we're not talking old-fashioned hop skirts here, just airy yards of tulle and/or chiffon).

I tend to like crinolines with a moderate/medium amount of poof to them, and which fall in the 26" to 28" range (if you're taller or shorter than me however, you may want to look for ones that are in turn a little longer or shorter in length). Often times I'll partner one of my crinis with a fuller skirted shirtwaist dress and a cardigan for an instant 1950s look that is wonderfully versatile (and comfortable) all year long.


~ Slip-on Flats ~


{Vintage Schiaparelli pastel pink leather ballet flats; shoe size 5 1/2. Available from etsy seller Magical Bee.}

Whether you pair them with cigarette pants, breezy sundresses, circle skirts, or sailor shorts, there's no limit to ways you can have fun with classic ballet inspired flats. Not only are they stylish, but slip-on flats are one of the easiest shoes to wear when walking or standing for long periods of time.

While it can sometimes take a little work to find a pair of flats that fit you to a tee, when you do, they're s comfy as a glove. In fact, I adore one pair of my (cotton, flexible soled) flats so much that when I need to pack a bag for an overnight hospital stay, I take them with me instead of slippers.

Be they vintage (1950s versions abound thanks to the rise in popularity this style of shoe saw after stars like Audrey Hepburn started wearing them on screen) or modern, flats are easy to find in all manner of price points, colours, and styles. From classic black to alluring leopard print, flats remain one of the best and most accommodating footwear choices I've ever encountered.

Many years ago, as soon as I knew that my health had taken a nose dive for which (baring cures being found for various conditions) I would never be able to pull back up from again, I vowed that I would not let my love of vintage fashion take a back seat to my medical problems.

Through trial and error, alterations, and with plenty of determination, I've been able to find a myriad of fantastic garments, accessories, and shoes that work for my own set of health parameters. Was it always easy? No, not at all, but even the most uncomfortable garment that I experimented with was still fun in a sense, because it helped fuel my sartorial fires and made me glad that I was keeping my passion for wearing vintage clothing going strong.

Over time, like most of us yesteryear loving folks, I've sourced wardrobe items from second hand shops, thrift and consignments stores; department, big box, boutique and specialty shops, as well as many pieces from online sources (especially etsy).

When I've been uncertain as to if a garment or pair of shoes would work for me once I got home and actually tried it/them on (or when my order arrived in the mail), I've verified about the store/seller's return policy beforehand and only purchased when I was comfortable with said policy.

Not only does the internet allow one to shop from the comfort of home, aside from teaming with vintage/reproduction clothing sellers, it is also a superb place to find sites that specialize in providing adaptive/hospital patient/nursing home/post surgical/home care/disabled/special needs clothing and footwear.

Though the garments on such sites are typically modern in styling, amongst their offerings you can often find classic staples like tailored blouses, camisoles and undergarments, comfy yet elegant footwear, and perpetually appealing outerwear.

Another important clothing option that more than merits mentioning is that of sewing your own garments. This is an avenue which I've not really ventured down yet, however if circumstances permit, I would like to do so one day.

Not everyone is physically able to sew their own clothing, yet some individuals with chronic health/special needs are, and if you fall into that camp, then you may find that tailoring a garment to your measurements and requirements right off the bat makes putting together your wardrobe considerably easier and less stressful.

If you're not able to (or have no desire to) sew yourself, another option is to commission someone else with the appropriate sewing skills to make garments (such as one created from a vintage sewing pattern) for you. If you're extra lucky, you might even have a talented sewer in the family who's willing and able to create clothing for you for free or at cost. Don't be shy to ask if you think such is the case, you'll never know unless you do.

It is my profound hope that this article will be of help and inspiration to many others out there like myself who both love vintage clothing and who are facing ongoing health problems that impact the wardrobe choices you make.

I welcome your questions and thoughts on this topic, whether in the comment section of this post or privately by email, and would absolutely love to know about the vintage/repro/vintage appropriate garments that you've found work best for you and your own health considerations.

From one chronically ill vintage fashionista to all others out there, remember, you are not alone and that you can always find a way to be as stylish as your heart desires! 


March 26, 2012

Sometimes black and blue can be a very good thing

When it comes to fashion, that is.

Like many of us, my wardrobe has a decent sized chunk of black pieces in it, but I'm certainly not a colour shy person and can happily report that you'll find also veritable rainbow of hues on my hangers, too.

Perhaps it harkens back to the colours of my little brother's nursery when he was a wee newborn whippersnapper, or perhaps it's the association with a clear sky. Whatever the reason I've always been a big fan of shades that fall on the pale to bright baby blue side of the spectrum.

There's something so fresh, upbeat and timeless about a chipper, feminine shade of blue, so when I spied the 1950s skirt (in the images below) earlier this year (while in the midst of shopping to fill in some of my wardrobe gaps) on etsy, I just knew it was destined for my closet.

Though various boxes of clothing and accessories (so hence the lack of gloves and/or a hat and/or a handbag in these shots) still remain to be unpacked, I've pulled out enough items to have the basis of a good, workable vintage wardrobe while I plug away at getting to the others.

Last Thursday I had the wonderful opportunity of visiting my maternal grandma, Bernice Schill, while she was briefly in town. This was, mind boggling as this fact is (for me), the first time we'd had the pleasure of seeing each other since my wedding back in October 2004, and I wanted to wear something sweet, girly, and not too formal (she was just popping in for a casual afternoon visit), so I decided it was high time I broke out my new (to me) baby blue skirt.

I've always enjoyed pairing pale blue with black, so that's the colour combo I went for with this outfit. Incidentally, I think it's a great set of hues for this time of the year, as we straddle the changing of the seasons - winter with its sombre, dark shades and spring with its airy, gentle colours.





































Outfit details:

Blue hair flower: Ardene
Tiny black ribbon hair bow barrette (worn in the back): Dollar store
Black rhinestone earrings: Payless Shoes
Pearl necklace: Birthday gift from my husband ♥
Black cotton and lace top (worn under cardigan): Suzy Shier
Black cotton dolman sleeve cropped cardigan: Freddies of Pinewood
Faux pearl stretch bracelets: Real Canadian Superstore
Deadstock blue 1950s buckle waist skirt: etsy seller Garnet Vintage
Seamed stockings: eBay
Black pumps: Payless Shoes
Lipstick colour: MAC Russian Red
Photography by Antonio Cangiano


As avid readers may recall from the post about my four fun goals for 2012 back in early January, I vowed to try and share more "what I wore" pictures with all of you once we moved into our new home in British Columbia (while I have technically posted a few outfit images over the last three years, they've been rather few and far between).

Now that we're beginning to settle in and those aforementioned boxes of vintage clothes are getting unpacked, I can begin to make good on my promise - a point which I'm pretty much giddy with excitement about.

These photos were taken in front of our new house (the porch railing needs a paint job, I know; come slightly better weather, it's going to get one), so you can expect to see many others featuring this location as their backdrop over time.

Earlier this month I announced that the mister and I recently purchased our first car ever, and as some of you expressed interest in knowing what kind it was, I couldn't help but include a shot of our gorgeous new four wheeled baby here (it's a Jaguar that Tony found for a truly stellar deal down in the Lower Mainland...yes, I am still pinching myself in disbelief over the fact that we own a Jag!).

I'm constantly, perpetually inspired, impressed, and encouraged by the photos of the outfits that many of you ultra stylish vintage fashionistas post on your blogs, and wholeheartedly hope that from here on out I'll be able to do the same with my fashion shots for you gals, too.

Have a richly beautiful Monday and week ahead, sweet friends!

March 24, 2012

Coining a very handy new term: vintage appropriate

For weeks now, as we've gone about packing and now unpacking our worldly goods, I've been thinking about how much I've wanted to write this specific post and am delighted that I have the time now to do so on this fine, fresh spring morning.

As lovers of the past, we're all well versed with words such as "antique", "vintage", "retro", and "reproduction", and know when and where to use such descriptions appropriately.

There are times however when one comes across an item (be it a chair, skirt, piece or art, bolt of fabric, or what have you) that while not intentionally designed to mimic the look and/or style of something from the past, does in fact do just that.

One example that often springs to mind for me of such a situation is when I'm shopping for cardigan. Basic, button front, classically tailored cardigans can easily be found at scads of stores (and online retailers) that while made very recently, have the appearance of a garment that could very, very easily have been purchased sixty or more years ago.

Yet, in many cases, the manufactures of these cardigans did not set out to make "vintage inspired" or "reproduction" pieces. The fact that their garments do suit the styles and tastes of decades gone by is merely a happy coincidence for those like you and I who delight in filling our homes and wardrobes with the look of yesteryear.

And so, one day a while back, a term for this situation popped into my mind: vintage appropriate.



 

As the description above explains, a vintage appropriate piece is one that unintentionally looks old (or timeless), yet was made recently.

It's an item that you could travel back in time to, say, the 1940s or 50s and buy an extremely similar (if not downright nearly indistinguishable) version of, however the one that you're holding today could likewise be brought back to those decades past and no one would raise an eyebrow (because the piece really mimics the designs of the time).

I find that I use the term vintage appropriate most often when dealing with clothing, though I've also applied it to everything from make-up to home furnishings, sewing notions to Christmas wrapping paper.

To my mind, "vintage appropriate" fills a void in the lexicon of those who embrace the styles and history of the early to mid-twentieth century, as it allows us to easily describe a piece that, while not actually old, looks convincingly as though it could be (even if that wasn't the manufacturer's intent).

The description above is an image that I made, and by all means, if you feel like you can relate to this term and would like to help spread its usage, please feel free to copy, save, or Pin it to your own blog, Flickr stream, Pinterest boards, or anywhere else that you desire (I just ask that you please link back to Chronically Vintage when doing so).

I'd love to hear about some of your favourite vintage appropriate pieces and look forward to sharing some of mine with you in future posts.

Wishing you all a marvelously lovely first weekend of spring, darling friends!


March 21, 2012

Welcoming spring's return with a delicious 1950s fruit salad pie

With yesterday's long awaited arrival of spring (at least on paper - we had grey skies and a few snowflakes here!), one cannot help but feel a natural sense of rebirth and renewed energy.

Aside perhaps from the rain (which in moderate doses, I rarely mind), there are few elements of this beautiful, gentle season that are not to adore. From the first brave new buds to the return of songbirds, Easter celebrations, sun-kissed picnics, and - to the delight of fashionistas everywhere - the chance to bring our vintage sundresses out of storage once more.

It's also a time for some of the absolute most delectable, bitingly fresh produce of the year and recipes which see a return to lighter fare. Come the tail end of March and into the start of spring I'm always in the mood to whip up airy, inviting recipes such as angel food cakes, sweet and savoury souffl├ęs alike, generously sized garden salads, and cheese puff's with the year's first crop of green onions and chives.

In many spots of the world though, it's still a tad too early for most of the new produce that will soon hit the grocery store and farmer's market shelves though, so while we count down the days until then, it's wonderful to have a slew of spring worthy recipes on hand that can be made with store cupboard staples.

Case in point, this cheerful pale buttercup hued Jiffy Fruited Lemon Pie recipe from 1951. Calling for tinned fruit salad, gingersnap crumbs (you could just as easily use graham cracker or Nilla Wafers crumbs instead), condensed milk, and whipped cream, this is the kind of super easy dessert that one can whip up with a minimum of ingredients and which works for an absolute myriad of springtime engagements, from bridal showers to afternoon tea parties.



{There's just something about custard and pudding based pies - like this silky, delectable 1950s one - that makes them especially well suited to the sweet, beautiful days of spring. Image via Curly-Wurly on Flickr.}

As some of you have no doubt noticed by the fact that it's been over a week since my last post here, things continue to be exceedingly busy on this end. We're in our new house now (hard to believe we've been here for eight days already!), but there is still a great deal of organizing, decorating, and unpacking to do.

Between that and my health (which has taken a real beating from all of the strenuous, and at times stressful, activity this year), I know it will be a little while longer still before I return to a more frequent blog posting schedule.

In the coming weeks I'll be aiming for one post every few days or so, and suspect that a higher (posting) pace will fall into place fairly organically as the hustle and bustle of setting up our hew house subsides as time rolls on.

Here's to the prospect of all that spring - charming gem of an inspiringly lovely season that it is - holds in store for each of us, sweet friends!


March 11, 2012

We've come a long way, baby!

A (slight variation on a) Virginia Slims slogan that was coined in the late 1960s might seem like away a unique to begin a post, but I woke up this morning with those exact words at the forefront of my mind.

Yesterday, March 10th, is an interesting and important date to my husband and I, for it was on that day six years ago exactly, that we left Ireland for Canadian. While I'm Canadian (born and raised) myself, my husband - hailing originally from Italy - is not, and so fulfilling our dream of moving to Canada together for the first time was a monumentous occasion for us.

Though a hefty tome could be written about all that transpired before hand to make such a move possible, and an even thicker volume on everything it took to ensure we could remain here. For the sake of brevity though, I will not go into great detail about such topics.

My husband and I married (by modern standards) fairly young, two years prior to arriving in Canada. I was twenty, he twenty-four. Our wedding was, to say the least, extraordinarily humble and low key with a nearly non-existent budget, taking place just a few months after we met (to say we had a whirlwind courtship would be a substation understatement).

While not lavish, those initial beginnings were more than enough to cement our relationship however, which proved critical in the face of the myriad ordeals life would throw our way in the coming years.

Today however it’s not the trials and tribulations, the hardships or the sleepless night that I wish to focus on per se. No, it is the moments of accomplishment, the milestones and triumphs.

On that frosty day in March when we landed in Toronto six years ago, we each owned a couple of pieces of luggage to our name (having sold or given away our other possessions to help facilitate the cross Atlantic move), and little more.

Our first lodgings in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) left a great deal to be desired, and in those early years it seemed every day was presided over by a cloud of uncertainty pertaining to (my husband's) immigration.

By 2008 however, things had picked up a fair bit. My husband, Tony, received his Canadian Permanent Residency and, come summertime, we were able to move into a better apartment. Though my health (which has already been in decline for several years) took a dramatic nosedive that year, 2008 also saw a major positive milestone when Tony published his first book.

In the ensuing years since then, and some of the ones that proceeded '08, we each launched various websites and blogs (some of which are now important income generators for us), founded businesses, advanced our careers, and grew both as individuals and a couple. Though neither of us were tenderfeet when it came to living in the "grown-up sphere" when we married, the world - and how you opt to handle it - look very different when you 20, 25, or 30.

Last year was an extremely busy one for us for many reasons, not the least of which was because Tony wrote his second book (Technical Blogging: Turn Your Expertise into a Remarkable Online Presence), which - as with his initial book three years prior - I was the first line editor for.

As 2011 wound down, we made put our life under the microscope then whipped it over to the dissecting table, where closer inspection revealed - or helped to further highlight - areas that needed to change and/or improve, one of which was that we felt was that it was time for us to leave Ontario.

The rest, as regular readers of this blog know, is history. Once the decision to move from Ontario to British Columbia was firmly made, we wasted no time in channelling all of attention into that project. In late February we reached our new town in B.C., and this coming week move into our new home (a thoroughly lovely condo on a pristinely peaceful street, which by sheer coincidence alone, I was actually living on at the time back in 2004 when I met Tony - talk about a small world!).



{While online vintage photos of our new home town, Penticton, B.C., seem to be fairly scarce, I've found a few so far, including this charming 1950s postcard feasting a shot of the beach at Okanagan Lake - one of the areas loveliest attractions and ,most popular summertime haunts. Image via Neplains.}

Though many renovations have already taken place, there's much unpacking to do and arranging of belongings so as to create the groundwork of our new home. I'm extremely eager about the prospect of, over time, finding additional pieces - both big and small - to help decorate our home further, especially those of a vintage nature (yard sales and second hand shops, here I come!).

As if these points alone weren't wonderful enough on their own, yesterday, exactly six years to the date from when we hopped off the plane in Toronto, we bought our first car. Another coincidence which certainly did not go unnoticed by either of us.

This incredible step forward is one that I know will only further improve our lives and which will help grant us a new kind of freedom and independence as we settle into life in a picturesque town in the heart of B.C.'s sunny Okanagan Valley.

I don't share these things with all of you to gloat, but instead because I think that it's crucially important for all of us to take stock sometimes of just how far you may have come over the span of a few years (or even a single year sometimes). This, I feel, is especially true if you've juggled both highs and lows in your life, as the darker moments often have the ability to cloud the positives and push them to wayside.

On that late winter day in 2006, I don't honestly recall where I foresaw our lives in six years. At the time, all I could think about was how elated I was to be in Canada again, while at the same time stressed beyond measure about Tony's immigration. Life back then was heavily focused on survival and laying the groundwork for the dreams and goals we believed would form organically as time went on.

One thing you learn as you get older is that life will always throw curveballs your way. No amount of success or money, not the fanciest home, biggest portfolio, fastest car, largest circle of friends or any other achievement can protect you from the unforeseeable. I believe however, that something far greater than any of those things - the inner strength you develop as you age and build up a wealth of different experiences - can truly help make tackling the unpredictable substantially easier.

Where then, one might ask, do I predict our lives to be in another six years? That's an excellent question, and while I'm more certain of the future today than I was in 2006, lacking a crystal ball, I really cannot say. I hope that more great things come our way, that we'll be able to stay in our new house for several years, and that most of the unexpected events that occur will be positive ones.

So, looking back at the last half a dozen years and reflecting on the abundance of changes and accomplishments we've made, as well as where we're at today, I think it's more than safe to say - with a smile on my face - we've come a long way, baby!


March 4, 2012

Absence makes the (blogger's) heart grow fonder

There comes a point - generally around the seven day mark - when, after having not blogged (let alone been on the computer one iota), a gal begins to pine for the internet. At first, after a day or two, or perhaps three, of not flicking on one her monitor, she feels almost as though a sense of freedom has permeated her universe. Days four and five are often ripe with events, findings, and thoughts which suddenly - as if out of the blue - feel as though they would make for the most inspired and delightful of posts.

Come the sixth and seventh days - and beyond - a longing sets in. Yes, there is solace and relaxation in the fact that one gets to unwind (or, perhaps more literally, unplug) for a spell, but then that itch, that yearning which resides in every writer's soul to put thought down on paper (virtual or real world) swims to the surface and leaps from the still waters like a hyperactive dolphin arching towards the heavens.

Or at least, this is how it is - always - for me. No matter the reason, intentionally chosen or thrust upon me, when I'm on a brief hiatus from the realm of blogging and being online, I feel that way. And when I do, I find my passion for blogging is suddenly, captivatingly, renewed (even if I didn't feel like it was waning in the slightest in the first place). A point which I rather adore experiencing.

Life, since we last chatted, dear friends, has been a massive whirlwind of activity, and yet also powerfully serene at times as well. The latter point, no doubt, comes from laying down each night under my mother's roof, at home after so many - too many - years on the long, engrained road of life.

Our new dwelling, gorgeous and begging to be filled with belongings and newly crafted memories, sits patiently still, as do my husband and I, while we await (a tad longer still) the arrival of our worldly goods, on a large truck that has to cross the great, massive width that is Canada.



{In the very near future it will be time to start the great unpacking - from boxes, bags, totes, you name it! Charmingly fun 1950s image via the Life magazine archives.}

I, however, simply had to find a computer, steal a moment (amidst days spent eating gluten-free s'mores for lunch and catching up on reading the many books I'd not had time to read over the past four months, as life became ever more devoted to our move), and pop in to say a cheerful hello from a (peacefully snowy) corner of British Columbia – as well as to thank everyone who left beautiful, encouraging comments on my last post. I adored logging in and feeling positively warm and fuzzy as I read them this evening.

Soon our belongings will arrive, followed by much unpacking, and then a return to the usual ebb and flow of life. Only (s0 much) better.

Happiest, sweetest wishes for an amazing March to you each. We'll connect again soon.