May is nearing its end and summer is rearing to round the bend, ready to brighten - quite literally - our lives once more. At the moment though, we're still enjoying the final weeks of spring and as such, it's time to hop right into May's edition of our fun Meet a Fellow Vintage Blogger ongoing interview post series.
Today I'm deeply honoured to have the opportunity to interview none other than Skye from the bracingly wonderful vintage fashion blog, My Kingdom for a Hat. I've been an ardent follower of Skye's blog since discovering it quite some time ago now and greatly appreciate the wit, intellect, and creative flare that she brings to both her writing and her wardrobe choices.
Skye and I share numerous points in common, from a mad love of shirtwaist dresses (the size of her collections smokes mine out of the water!) and vintage hats, Halloween, great books, writing, sporting crimson hued locks, and so much more.
A fascinating, charismatic woman, Skye's honest opinions, exciting ensembles, and stunning yesteryear hats make following her blog a joy of no small magnitude, and really am pleased as can be that she was keen to take part in this series and share so much about herself with us here this month.
Grab your favourite springtime beverage, pull up a cozy seat and join me in to getting to know more about Skye, as we discuss everything from Flannery O'Connor novels to her love of Maleficent, and of course old school chapeaus in spades, too!
Welcome, Skye! For those who are just having the pleasure of meeting you and your vintage blog, My Kingdom for a Hat, for the first time, could you please tell us when your site launched and what inspired its lovely name?
I made my first post on May 2nd, 2012. It was finals season, so what else would I do, in a fit of procrastinatory pique, but start a blog? I'd been sharing my outfits on Facebook for a few months, and I decided it was time for a proper home. The blog was called Color Me Brazen then, a name I kept for almost a year. I've been My Kingdom for a Hat since March 2013. It's a pun on Shakespeare's, "my kingdom for a horse".
Let’s talk vintage hats then, shall we? What sorts of things draw you to a given hat? How often do you tend to wear one?
I wear a hat - or a headscarf, if it's hot - every day. I'm fondest of pillbox and calot styles. Anything that requires pins, really - I love that unmistakably vintage look. Impracticality delights me. Beads, feathers, veils - bring me form over function, every time.
Do you share my perpetual sense of bewilderment (even though I do fully understand the plethora of reasons why such is the case) over the fact that most people willing gave up the wearing of fashionable hats with nary a hint of protest, and, to your mind, what was the leading cause (or causes) for the demise of this thoroughly marvelous accessory?
I know this one! Western fashion, through the 20th century, was basically a march from style to substance. A hundred years ago, people either made their own clothes or had them tailored. Ready-to-wear garments didn't exist on any meaningful scale until the 1920s.
As they became more common, people's tastes grew progressively more casual, and that's about when we dispensed with hats, gloves, etc. People didn't want to spend time and money on non-functional accessories, and I can't say I blame them! I enjoy the ritual of lacing my corset and pinning on my hat just right, but it's definitely not for everyone.
We share an unfettered passion for shirtwaist dresses. What is it in particular about this deeply classic style of garment that appeals to you?
I'm the laziest seamstress ever, and a full skirt/fitted bodice dress is easiest to sew. But really, I'm just a hedonist. I'm very sensory, and swishing about in several yards of fabric is pure luxury.
As I’m sure inquiring minds may wish to know, how many would you say you own at present?
Oh lord - 50? 60? I did an inventory recently, but I turn over my stock a lot. I'm always sewing new things and selling old ones.
What decades do you find yourself most drawn to from a fashion standpoint? Do these differ from, or jive with, the ones that you yourself currently wear?
I find the 1910s and '20s incredibly interesting. I don't think people fully realize that history isn't a linear trip from oppressive to progressive, and the early 20th century shows us that. Women then had more freedom, in some ways, than women 30 years later! Flappers' fashions would make their granddaughters blush. I mostly wear '40s and '50s, though. As much as I love the Roaring Twenties, I'm not quite comfortable in above-knee skirts.
In addition to awesome vintage hats, what are some “must have” yesteryear accessories in your books?
Curlers! I've almost gotten used to sleeping on them. And gloves, of course, though adapting them for modern day is hard. Ladies of old didn't interact with technology the way we do. Try texting with satin fingertips...
And speaking of things pertaining to books, you’re a passionate writer, can please tell us more about the roll(s) in which writing currently plays in your career and daily life alike?
I am always writing. When I don't have pen and paper, I'm texting myself story ideas. When I don't have my phone, I'm whispering them under my breath, trying to commit them to memory. It's in my blood. I taught myself to read and write when I was four, and I wouldn't even know how to stop. I finished three novels before I graduated from high school, and I desperately wanted to be a teen author. Sometimes I judge myself for having missed the chance - and then I remember I'm only 22. Such an old fart, right?
Right now I work as an office manager, and I write and edit all official company literature. In high school, I was copy editor - their youngest ever- for my town's monthly newspaper. I've written for online magazines and for local community theater. I spend an embarrassing amount of time arguing politics on the internet - I'm actually trying to turn my political blog into a quarterly magazine. In April, I had a short story published in one of Yale's literary journals. I have a few more coming out this summer, and I'm hoping to publish my short-story collection within the next couple of years.
Oh, and the fanfiction. So much fanfiction. I freely admit to being one of Those Girls.
It’s an oldie, but a goodie all the same: Who (past or present), from the arts and literary world, would be seated at your fantasy dinner party?
Louise Brooks, first of all. She was the OG flapper. The real thing, not just for the movies. I've heard she read Schopenhauer on set, which appeals to the snob in me. Eleanor Audley, who played Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty, and Angelina Jolie, who played her in the 2014 remake. Gregory Maguire, Stephen Sondheim. Ayn Rand, because I love arguments over dinner. And Oscar Wilde, in case the party started lagging.
Would you describe yourself as a bookworm?
Definitely! Though "books" is putting it broadly. I read mostly longform journalism lately, plus short stories on writers' forums online. The last book I read was Flapper by Joshua Zeitz, a social history of the Jazz Age (J’s note: I own and have read that book as well; it’s excellent!).
What are some of your favourite vintage/classic literature titles?
I was a Latin major, so my definition of "vintage titles" might be skewed! I love Ovid and Catullus. Their work has a crassness people don't expect from the ancients. But people have always been just people, and I love that. There's a famous bit of Roman graffiti that reads "on April 19th, I made bread". So #relatable.
To go a little more recent - I'm a big Flannery O'Connor fan. Everything That Rises Must Converge has been a big influence on my own writing. And as of last year, my all-time favorite book is officially vintage. Wicked was published in 1995. I love retold fairy tales, and Gregory Maguire was my introduction to the genre.
Aside from your beautiful wardrobe, what are some ways in which you inject vintage into your life?
My house is almost 100 years old, which I love. And I buy most of my housewares second hand. My partner and I are slowly amassing antique furniture, including one beautiful but very uncomfortable couch. We're involved with lots of historical reenactment events - Renn Faires, etc. And I make flower wines, which makes me feel positively medieval.
Like myself, you adore the past, but wouldn’t want to permanently live there, if such were possible. However, are there any elements of the decades you hold most dear that you wish were still more prevalent in today’s society?
The self-sufficiency. I rely on modern convenience as much as anyone else, but I make a point of knowing how to cook, sew, shovel a driveway, etc. It's important to know I could take total care of myself, even if I don't currently have to. I'm from New England: blizzard survival skills are a must.
There is an immense allure and undeniable beauty to vintage fashion, which accounts, in part, for its popularity and appreciation to this very day. To your mind, are there elements of 21st that may be looked back upon with similar reverence and appreciation, or will we continue to hold the “golden era” of fashion in high esteem, but not be anywhere near as keen to rekindle today’s looks in another, say, fifty to eighty years? (Not that the two couldn’t, of course, cohabitation in the sartorial world then, too.)
I honestly don't know! Today's fashions are less their own thing and more a remix of the past. We have more access to other eras and cultures than ever before; the lines are more blurred. 2016's "look" is much more eclectic than 1916's. If anything, I think today's renditions of vintage styles will go down in history. "2010s does '50s" will be the "'80s does '50s" of thirty years from now.
How far back in time does your passion for vintage fashions stretch? Were there any defining experiences in particular that cemented such for you?
I've always loved costumey clothes. I was a theater geek; I wore cloaks and sparkly shoes to school well into my teens. I went thrifting all the time, and I took pride in the fact that I would wear anything. When I was about 18, I fell in love with the "vintage dresses and colorful tights" ModCloth aesthetic. I walked around like a total hipster for a couple of years until I started craving more elegance. Now I wear vintage as it was supposed to be worn: the whole corset and caboodle. It feels right - even more so when I get asked if I'm in a play.
At this point in your life, how would describe your personal style?
"Walking anachronism". I love straight-up vintage; forget the "modern twist". If I don't look like your grandma in her prime, I'm not feeling my best.
We share many points in common, another of which is an unending love for All Hallows Eve. Can you share more about your passion for such and some ways (if applicable) in which you keep such going strong all throughout the year?
I've been volunteering at haunted houses for a decade (J's note: that is officially awesome!). It's actually how I met my partner of three years. Since 2014, I've been on the production team of the largest haunted event in the county.
I make costumes, help script scenes, and attend your demon-wrangling needs. This year, though, my partner and I are taking time off to experience other local haunts. We're calling it "research and development", though our motives are totally ulterior and we both know it.
Does your love of Halloween factor, in any outwardly discernible way, into your current fashion choices?
I love Halloween in part because it's an excuse to be totally, unabashedly garish. I like to think I'm channeling Hallows' Eve when I wear a corset and petticoat to work. Life's too short not to use the good china!
I also have a pumpkin-patch tattoo down my right side, so I'm always carrying a little autumn spirit around.
Back to blogging, for a moment. What are some things that you’re surprised to see remain largely uncovered (as in, not written about) in the vintage fashion world? Do you feel any compulsion to cover such yourself?
The concept of "classiness" is really loaded, and I want to see more vintage lovers examine it. I see too many fellow bloggers reference eras "when women dressed like ladies" or disparage today's women to elevate the past. There's nothing inherently respectable or not about certain styles of dress. I'm not personally comfortable in clubwear and stiletto heels, but it's not my place to judge women who are. We can celebrate vintage style without the implicit (and sometimes explicit) slut-shaming.
Besides, what's modest today was once revolutionary. Mae West was arrested for public indecency. Bettie Page made freaking fetish porn! In their time, they were no different from the girls we decry as "immodest" today. Even makeup was once considered scandalous.
Are a big social media fan? Any sites/apps you love/loath?
My relationship with social media is begrudging. I've got my blogs, and I use Facebook to talk with friends and browse vintage groups, but that's about it. I know it's pretty much essential these days, but I hate being constantly connected. I loathe "personal branding". I don't even have a smartphone, and I plan on being the last holdout under the age of 80.
So often, I find, that those of us who are heavily immersed in the vintage scene (and/or the wearing of vintage) come to have such almost exclusively represent, to the world, who they are and thus a certainly singularity of interests is perceived, when in relatively, such is very rarely the case.
In an effort to change this, I’m immensely interested in discussing with fellow vintage fans what some of their other passions/goals/dreams are. Any such areas that you wish to share here with us?
I'm obsessed with Maleficent! I love her, always have. I have dolls, posters, t-shirts, even a tissue box with her face on it. Hell, I have a tattoo of her horns on the back of my neck! I'm active in the (unfortunately small) Maleficent fanfiction community online. She's my favorite character of all time, and I counted down the days to her movie in 2014.
And last, but not least, circling back to the earliest questions here, what would be your “take my kingdom, it’s yours!” unicorn of a vintage hat be?
I absolutely love Mode de Lis's lemon hat. Making my own version would be pretty easy, but it's just not the same as finding it in the wild.
Connect with Skye on the following sites:
Her blog: My Kingdom for a Hat
Her Tumblr blog: Beginning Our Dissent
Her Etsy shop: Dressed in the Dark Vintage
Meet the past interviewees who have taken part in this delightful ongoing post series:
February 2015: Emileigh | March 2015: CiCi | April 2015: Helen Mae | May 2015: Esther | June 2015: Ms. Falcon | July 2015: Jessie, and Laurence & Sylvain | August 2015: Holly | September 2015: Rhia | October 2015: Franny | November 2015: Emily | December 2015: Porcelina | January 2016: Nora | February 2016: Kate | March 2016: Carla | April 2016: Jessica E.
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It was a joy to get to know you better, Skye, thank you ever so much for this excellent interview and for sharing your love of the past with us through your blog. I wholeheartedly encourage one and all to pop on over and follow Skye there, if you're not doing so already.
With less than a month to go until summer, the following weeks of (typically!) near perfect, absolutely gorgeous weather will no doubt be full, exciting ones for many of us.
Not too busy though, on this end at least, for June's next Fellow Vintage Blogger interview post, which I'm thrilled to say will see us boarding our fabulous imaginary vintage jet and traversing back to Europe, where I'll chat with one of my oldest and dearest online friends.
Her many passions include such things as knitting, crafting in general, visiting museums, and vintage shopping, so I'm sure we'll have an absolute bevy of things to chat about. I can hardly wait!
Here's to the tail end of spring and all the fun and loveliness it holds in store for each of us, my dears!