January 30, 2016

Turn any day into a celebration with Mid-Winter Carnival Marble Cake

It's safe to say that for most folks, especially in the Western World, January through to March is not exactly bustling with holidays. The biggest exception to that statement for many is Valentine's Day, but even there, that celebration of all things romantic doesn't usually hold the same gravitas or widespread communal merriment of days like Christmas, Easter, the 4th of July (or Canada Day on this side of the 49th), Halloween, and Thanksgiving.

In these dark, long, icicle bedecked months of winter you'd think that there would be celebrations right, left and center, but alas, in most societies there is not. A point that has always rather perplexed me, a lover of holidays and happy times.

That isn't to say these slate grey months are completely devoid of festivities, they're not - we have the cute and meaningful alike, from Groundhog's Day (which shares a date with the traditional observations of Candlemas) on February 2nd to Mardi Gras, which falls on the 9th next month, to St. Patrick's Day on March 17th, as winter - on paper at least - gets ready to hightail it out of town once more.

Still, even with these and a small number of  other observances (such as the traditional Pagan celebration of Imbolic at the beginning of February), winter calls for every excuse we can find to liven up this often bleak and ridiculously cold chapter of the calendar.

As vintage loving folks, I think we're especially adapt at celebrating life in general. We do so with our fashion joys, our adoration of the past, the toe tapping music so many of us delight in, the vibrancy and fun of the many ways we weave history into the present, and of course with our delightful old school recipes. We're a merry bunch in general and we're well suited to weather, quite literally, these lengthy, frozen months.

Today's recipe from 1947 for Mid-Winter Carnival Cake is a wonderful way to liven up and make a feast out of nearly any meal, be it for one of winter's few holidays/special days or otherwise. At its heart it is really a classic marble cake and thus works splendidly for a wide array of events or everyday meals alike.

{A traditional and much loved dessert for generations now, marble cake is a snap to whip up, always draws cheers, and can be frosted (or not) with a huge range of icings and/or sauces. Vintage Betty Crocker cake recipe ad image source.}

Marble cake is an age old classic that many people adore (myself and Tony both very much included, in fact, it's one of his favourite desserts), that has the added bonus of looking impressive, while being really quite simple to whip up.

One can always tint the white/yellow part of the cake with food colouring, if so desired, to fit a given holiday/special occasion or swap out the chocolate for another flavouring of choice such as cinnamon, orange, strawberry, coffee, or almond - and it takes, I find, wonderfully to being made (either from scratch or store bought mixes) in gluten-free form.

We often like our marble cake un-frosted, with just a little dusting (pretty stencil pattern optional) of icing (powdered) sugar and/or a scoop of ice cream on top. Given the time of the year however, I'd be more apt to reach for hot fudge, warmed up butterscotch, or a straight-from-the-stove top strawberry, raspberry, peach, pineapple, or winter fruit compote instead of ice cream though.

Given the chocolate in this beloved dessert, it's a natural shoe in for Valentine's Day, but really does suit a wide array of celebrations, very much including a random Tuesday night where you need something sweet and toothsome to help make the week more enjoyable.

Lengthy though mid-winter may be, there are ways to spice it up and delicious, budget-friendly old school recipes like this tasty vintage marble cake can go a very long way on that front. So why not bust out the mixing bowls and give this fantastic dessert a spin?

January 27, 2016

Meet Nora: The powerfully stylish vintage fashion blogger behind Nora Finds

Happiness squeal! For the first Meet a Fellow Vintage Blogger post of 2016 I'm giddy with excitement to announce that this month's interviewee is none other than the one and only Nora from the beloved vintage fashion and lifestyle blog Nora Finds.

For many in our vintage adoring circle, Nora needs no introduction. Her eye-catching, decidedly chic sense of style, love of colour in her outfits, frequent blog posts (and comments on other peoples' sites), strong social media presence, and joie de vivre shine through in all that she does and have helped to establish her as one of best known vintage bloggers on the block.

Last year Nora and her husband packed up their lives and moved half way across the world from sunny Australia to the history rich nation of England, where they now call London home.

Nora and I have known each other online for years now and have developed an even deeper friendship over the past year or so thanks to many wonderful messages back and forth. As such, I feel all the more honoured to have had the opportunity to interview and get to know this smart, stylish lady better.

Whether you've been following Nora's blog since its debut five years ago, are meeting for the first time today, or fall somewhere in between, read on to find about more about what drives Nora's immense passion for mid-century styles, how she's taking to life in the UK, what her dream companies to work with would be, and oodles more!

Your blog is elegantly titled simply "Nora Finds" can you share with us more about what inspired that moniker?

When I first started the blog I wasn’t quite sure where I was going with it. I knew I wanted to “find” my style, “find” bargains, and “find” inspirations from other bloggers. In a sense, the blog is a visual scrapbook to document all these finds. I also wanted a name that will allow for changes or improvement so I picked something quite simple.

Your site launched in 2011. Congratulations on five exciting years of blogging! What are some of the key transformations that your blog has experienced over the years?

The blog originally focused on fashion and finding my style and soon enough I did actually learn that I wanted to commit to vintage fashion. So the key transformation to the blog is it went from general fashion to exclusively vintage and vintage-style fashion.

With the continual rise of social media and microblogging, fewer and fewer vintage adoring folks are still blogging (either regularly or point blank). It's both refreshingly and inspiring that you're amongst the devoted group of us who are still doing as much at present. What are the key reasons why you've opted to do so (to keep blogging, that is)?

I have noticed this change as well and I am quite saddened by it! I love social media because I can easily find other vintage lovers from all over the world. But the blog is my first love and as you know I am quite a chatty person so social media aren’t quite enough for me to express myself.

My love of vintage stems from my love of history and stories behind every piece so the blog is dedicated to telling stories and connecting with people who want to know about me and my outfits.

Your blog is heavily (and beautifully!) fashion focused, but that certainly isn't the only topic that you cover on Nora Finds. For those who may be new to your blog, can you please highlight some of the other types of subjects that you've delved into over the years?

It is rare that I talk about non-fashion topics, but I have occasionally discussed mental health issues, bullying, and multiculturalism. I only speak about topics I have experiences with but I am passionate about encouraging others to talk about things they have gone through.

Speaking of style, how would describe your present fashion sense?

Vintage and practical.

What are some of the biggest changes in the vintage fashion world that jump out you personally over the course of the past five years?

Vintage is definitely at the height of its popularity, but I notice that vintage-inspired designs are possibly more popular than genuine vintage clothes. I guess accessibility and price mean that more people can adopt the vintage lifestyle without actually wearing vintage.

Your ensembles are always exciting, dynamic and chock-a-block full of great details. What are some of your favourite ways to take an outfit from merely nice/pretty to head-turningly-awesome?

I don’t wear a lot of accessories but I love my earrings and my hats. I think I always try to embellish my short hair and it always make my outfits extra vintage.

Are there any colour pairings or combos that you return to time and time again?

Brown and green. I discovered that green is the color that never fails to make me happy. And I guess it is my way to blend with the nature.

You've had the joy and honour of working with a wide array of vintage, repro, and similar fashion brands over the years, are there any such collaborations that really stand out in your mind and if so, why?

My most exciting collaboration is with the milliner Tanith Rowan. To be able to get a custom-made hat to match one of my favorite dresses is just amazing. As a vintage lover who often spends hours and hours trawling the internet for the perfect hat I have to admit that I am now a convert. The time and effort I spend can easily be diverted towards designing the perfect hat with Tanith.

Can you share with us some brands that you'd love to work with in such a capacity, but that you haven't yet?

I would love to work with Christian Lacroix and Schiaparelli. Hey, if I was going to dream I better dream big, right?! Hehehe, I’d love to work with Emmy Design, Pin Up Girl Clothing, Daisy Dapper and Lena Hoschek.

How important is social media to you in the context of your blog?

Social media is definitely important for my blog. It helps me reach more vintage lovers from all over the world, and even though only a small percentage of these people end up on my blog it is still worth doing. For me the social media complement my blog but they will never replace it.

Where to do you see the vintage fashion world going in the next few years (e.g., trends, preferences for certain decades, a continual rise of pinup style brands, etc)?

I think 50s style will still be the most popular, and 40s fashion will follow right behind. The 1920s fashion will hopefully be less costume-y and more genuine. There will definitely be more and more vintage-inspired brands and hopefully they can better harmonize different styles of vintage (New Look meets pin up, or WWII meets steampunk). 

You and your husband recently relocated to England all the way from Australia. Having been in that country for a few months now, what are you finding to be some of the most striking differences between the vintage scene in each country?

The most striking difference is the large number of vintage events here in UK. In Australia we probably have less than 10 events per year but here you have several vintage fairs on one weekend and many vintage events all across the country that you are spoiled for choice.

England is the world's undisputed capital of vintage style and I can imagine that has been awesome getting to emerge yourself in such. What are some of the ways that you've been doing so thus far?

I have to admit that I haven’t done enough to immerse myself in the vintage scene. Unfortunately the husband isn’t into vintage and I've yet to make many vintage friends, so I am still too intimidated to go to the big events. I definitely have visited some vintage markets and met up with some ladies from a vintage forum. These events are much smaller so I can combat my social anxiety and get to know people properly.

Any vintage (or repro) shops or events in particular that you'd really like to visit/attend that you haven't done so yet?

I would love to go to Twinwood and Goodwood Revival one day, as well as Viva Las Vegas! I’m not sure when that will be, but one day!

And last, but certainly not least, can you please give us a taster of what folks can look forward to on Nora Finds throughout 2016?

I have some plans for the blog but the main thing is to include more lifestyle and travel posts. I want to highlight some vintage-inspired product and graphic designers, and showcase some vintage shops and vintage-related traveling posts. I really want the blog to showcase more of who I am and what I love.

You can connect with Nora on the following sites:

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

Thank you so much for the awesome interview, Nora, and for the continual source of inspiration that you, your blog, and your terrific fashion sense impart to the vintage community day in and day out. It was such a treat getting to know you even better!

Next up, in the month of love, as things stand now, it looks like we'll be hopping back in our swanky mid-century jet and bee lining it back to the good, ol' U-S-of-A to chat with another devoted vintage fan, avid blogger, massive pet lover, and classic cinema buff who I'm equally excited to learn more about - as I bet you are, too!

January 25, 2016

A Venetian in Vancouver

Outfit details

Grey felt beret: eBay
Black circular shaped rhinestone earrings: Either Payless or Claire's
C. 1930s/1940s dark cream faux pearl multi-strand necklace: Thrifted (Value Village - similar necklaces currently available in my Etsy shop)
Vintage style black rosette trimmed knit top: Thrifted
C. 1950s white gloves: Unknown, had for years (possibly a gift or from eBay)
C. 1980s does 1950s caramel brown wide belt: Thrifted (Value Village)
Vintage bangle bracelets: Assorted sources
1950s Venetian novelty print skirt: Awesome gift from a dear friend
C. 1950s grey kiss lock handbag: Running Rabbits Studio
Opaque black tights: Ardene
White faux leather pumps: Payless
Lip colour: MAC Russian Red

Photography by Tony Cangiano

A 1950s Venetian novelty print skirt, that is. :)

Throughout the course of my life I have lived in places with populations as large as a multiple millions and as tiny as just a few hundred. Most, not surprisingly, have fallen in between. Fittingly, then one might say, I have always felt like I was both a city girl and a country lass. I can make my home almost equally happy in either place, but when I'm away from one for a while, I do start to miss it strongly and pounce at the chance to return, if only for a few days.

As many of you know, Tony and I had a chance to do just that on a business trip to Vancouver at the end of this past fall. Most days Tony was one busy chap, putting in 10 - 12+ hour workdays, which left little time to explore together and, given the time of the year, no daylight during those wonderful times we did have.

On two days however, we were able to get in a decent amount of bopping about the city together during daylight hours and this is the second of the two (see the first here) outfit shoots that we were able to do while in The Big Smoke, as this stunning oceanfront city is sometimes called.

One thing that has struck me in the years since I first became a fashion blogger is just what an incredible wealth of phosholos (aka, photo shoot locations) there is to be had in large cities. I know that might sound glaring obvious, and it in many respects it is, but when you live in a relatively small town in an area with only a couple locations in the whole region of 100,000 or more people, you almost forget just what a staggering wealth of possible photo shot spots a larger city dishes up day in and day out.

As I - and some days, we - explored Vancouver's bustling, vibrant streets and myriad diverse neighborhoods, I was struck by how I could live in that city for a hundred lifetimes, vintage fashion blogging through all of them (natch! :)), and likely never exhaust all the possible places to take photos in. The same, no doubt, is true of most large cities the world over, especially if, as many in Canada are, they're mere moments away from breathtaking natural landscapes as well.

Tony is a huge fan of urban fashion photography, however the types of mid-century ensembles I typically wear rarely lend themselves particularly well to such, especially if the buildings and other sights in the background are glaringly modern.

So, when a chance to shot in such a setting arises, understandably, he pounces on the opportunity - and if we can find a location that meets his desire for gritty, energetic city backdrops and mine for ones that still look at least vaguely old school, we both come out as very happy campers.

We hit upon just that in the cement clad back alley behind our hotel one nippy, but delightfully sunny, afternoon. There was nothing exceptional about this back alley, save for the fact that it was situated in the heart of downtown Vancouver, which in and of itself, made it quite exciting for folks like us who presently reside in an Okanagan town of about 30,000 people and far fewer such urban backdrops.

The temperature was right around freezing that day (though the sunlight helped it to feel a touch toastier), so warm clothes were a must.

I opted for this truly fantastic 1950s Venetian novelty print skirt, which a treasured vintage loving friend gave me a while back (as she knows I'm always on the hunt for Italian themed vintage clothing to sport in a fashionable nod to Tony's homeland), as it is made from a thick, almost flannel like material that suits fall and winter superbly (not to mention the fact that it depicts one of the most famous cities in the world and thus seems especially fitting to sport while shooting in another stunning metropolis).

With it I paired a vintage style scoop neck black knit top with delight fabric rosettes around the neckline, as well as one of my favourite c. 1980s does 1950s belts, black opaque tights (for warmth), a classic grey beret, white vintage gloves, my sweet little grey 50s handbag, white pumps (court shoes), and jewelry (a blend of old and vintage appropriate modern) that pulled from the colours in my novelty print skirt.

On top of being nice and cozy, this outfit was wonderfully comfortable for a day of sightseeing, shopping, and general inner city exploring.

The lighting in these photos - despite looking as though it could easily have been created with a Photoshop action or two - is completely natural. It was soft and hazy and still had the faintest feeling of autumn to it (back home in Penticton, nearly five hours north of Vancouver, we had already parted ways with such gentle, warm light by that point in the year).

A back alley might not seem like the most exciting place to shoot in, but with the symphony of urban sounds tickling our ears from every direction and this sublime sunlight radiating down as we stood surrounded by towering city buildings, it was precisely that and we both agreed that shoot was one of our favourites in a long time.

I’m not sure when I'll get back to Vancouver - or any major city, for that matter - again, but I truly love knowing that whenever it happens, there will a million and one wonderful photo shoot locations just waiting for Tony and I to point our lens at them.

January 22, 2016

Out with the old, in with the new!

Hard as it may to believe, 2016 is already more than half a month old and as such I thought now - with the marvelous hubbub of the holiday season over for most folks - was a good time to delve further into some points that I made in my recent Think Big, Dream Big post that kicked off January here.

Towards the end of that entry, I mentioned that I was planning to retire certain ongoing blog posts that had grown, to my mind - and based on post read and/or comment numbers, those of my audience as well - somewhat stagnant.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, the blogging world - both inside and out of the vintage sphere - has changed a great deal in recent years. In general, far beyond the realm of my site alone, posts and topics that once garnered scads of attention, may barely catch a passing glance, whereas others (such as outfit posts, DIY tutorials, and food related entries) have only grown in popularity.

Though I do, and will always, blog for the sake of the immense pleasure and fulfillment that doing so brings me, it would be foolhardy of me to pour precious hours - each of which is worth its weight in gold amidst my ridiculously busy schedule - into posts that aren't garnering a lot of love any more and which, to be perfectly honest, in some cases I've grown a bit bored with (writing) myself, too.

As keen observers may have noticed already, towards the end of 2015, rather organically (aka, it wasn't a deliberately calculated move), I stopped capping off the end of each month with the usual Vintage Link Love entry that had been wrapping up most months for the previous couple of years. It was an enjoyable series and I know there are some die-hard fans of it here (thank you, each!), but it just wasn’t lighting my writing fires a great deal any more.

At present, I don't plan to wrap up the end of every month with a particular ongoing post series, instead, for now, it will be open to any and all topics. Perhaps one day another "end of the month" post will arise, but again, for now, nothing of that nature is in place.

I've also decided that I'm going to evolve the 25 Vintage Deals Under $100 post series into a similar entry that will continue to focus on a given theme each time around, but which won't be restricted solely by price point (or number of entries) and which may appear here at somewhat more random (aka, not strictly monthly) intervals. I know that a lot of you enjoy shopping, and learning of new sellers/online stores from, such posts, so the general concept is certainly not vanishing.

{Granted I won't be donning an acid green unitard to do so in, but I will be sweeping out some of the old post series from my blog and ushering in some new/revised ones, as well as a greater degree of "wherever the wind blows" entries on a wide array of topics here this year. Vintage Matico advertisement image source.}

After many of loyal service, so to speak, the time has come to retire my monthly Flickr Favourites post as well. I still adore, and will avidly source inspiration and blog post images alike from, Flickr, but this is another series that has experienced a sharp drop in reader interest and which I feel has run its natural course, too.

It's been quite a few months now since my last Vintage Fashionista Friday post (see here for an example of a VFF post from 2014). I haven't decided yet if this series will be be resuscitated for 2016 or not. I'm really on the fence about it. What are your feelings as to this particular ongoing post?

Less common reoccurring posts, such as Saturday Snapshots and Adventures in Vintage Advertising are staying put, appearing, as they long have, here every now and then, when the mood or inspiration for such strikes.

If we delve far back in the annals of Chronically Vintage history, there have been some other post series, too, but these have been the main ones for a few years now and those others are already long retired in my books (that isn't to say that one couldn't come back again some day, but I have no immediate plans for such).

These post series, though a fun and decent sized part of my site, were certainly not all of what I shared here and you won't be lacking for exciting entries as we continue along through 2016. In fact, it is my sincere hope and desire that by making these sorts of changes, I'll be able to bring you even more content that you not only enjoy, but eagerly look forward to.

On that front, you can plan for plenty of "what I wore" outfit posts, oodles of vintage fashion related entries, lots of vintage recipe posts, some musings from my daily life, travel related posts as the occasion trip occurs, lots more new editions to the popular "Meet a fellow vintage blogger" interview series, history related pieces, the occasional handy vintage related how-to, various YouTube videos that I create, holiday season happenings, and a smattering of this, that and the other thing that I get the desire to write about - in conjunction, of course, with the series discussed above that will be remaining/appearing here this year.

It's very important to me that this blog stays fresh, relevant and dynamic and I hope that these post series changes will go a long way on that front in 2016 and beyond. I truly welcome your impute here on these culled choices and new additions, and hope that these decisions will only help my blog to grow and flourish further, even in the face of an ever changing blogging world and a continually greater degree of social media posting dominance.

After all, who amongst us is is better suited to be "online old school" than us vintage bloggers?

January 20, 2016

Ten rapid fire questions with mid-century vintage reproduction designer Franzi Schlupski from Prettie Lanes

It's safe to say that the vintage reproduction and vintage inspired garment industry has grown in absolute leaps and bounds since I first began this blog in the early days of 2009. Back then, in-the-know vintage lifestyle folks could probably name most of the small handful of companies on the market and frequently owned pieces from most of them.

Jump ahead seven years and this arena is now a continually growing industry unto itself, with new brands emerging often around the world, with  some, as is the natural course of things, that sadly aren't able to make a go of it in the long run.

While variety is the spice of life and it's fantastic that we have so many shopping options these days, as the market has grown, so too has the range of brands that while vintage inspired, are not exactly (truly) period appropriate in their designs.

It's awesome to have a mix of different versions and interpretations of vintage styles, but sometimes one wants a straight up vintage reproduction garment that is virtually indistinguishable from the real deal. Enter Prettie Lanes, a Swiss based one woman company that is dedicated to precisely that.

Opened less than a year ago, Prettie Lanes is helmed by Franziski Schlupski, a talented seamstress and vintage adoring lady currently based in Switzerland (but originally from Germany) who custom makes each and every order that her online shop receives.

Franzi, as she often goes by, contacted me recently regarding becoming a blog sponsor, and we've been chatting like old friends ever since.

Though I haven't (yet) had the pleasure of wearing or seeing any of her gorgeous creations in person, I was so struck by the authentic sophisticated mid-century look, attention to detail, and craftsmanship that goes into each of Franzi's vintage reproduction pieces that I knew right I away I wanted to share about her brand with all of you.

A good many of my readers, like myself, enjoy (at least for some of their outfits) the more authentic looking side of the repro world and Franzi's offerings have nailed that to an absolute tee (even employing vintage sewing techniques into the designs of her garments).

Read on to learn more about this fascinating lady, her stunning vintage style garments, what inspires her and why she named her company as she did.

1. Can you please tell us what inspired you to launch your company, (full name) Franziski Schlupski Prettie Lanes, and call it as you did?

I started sewing when I was 11 years old and haven't stopped since then. Over the years more and more people were asking about my clothing and I realized the interest of others into my own designs and at one point - I moved to Switzerland in the meanwhile (I am German) - I just thought- 'when if not now?!'. This is where my 1.5 year-long journey of preparing the launch of my label started.

It took me quite a long way to design and construct the website, source for materials, create the designs and the patterns ... But on 15th April 2015, when I officially opened the online shop - I admit that I was proud to see what I alone had created over all that time :). My 'baby' had finally been born! *Laughing*. Why 'Prettie Lanes'? Take a walk down memory lane and always look pretty! ;P Authenticity and appealing designs are key components of my brand.

{The Boucle Dress in Cream – as seen in Prettie Lane’s graphic above - shown with the Boucle Jacket in Cream}

2. How do you pick the designs that you ultimately create?

To be honest- I simply create what I personally would like to wear <3 No rules. Just a huge love for the mid-century era that leads me in my design process. :)

{The Floral Wrap Dress}

3. Each of your products is made-to-order. Can you share more of the details about that process?

All of my designs are available in my online shop and can be ordered in sizes S-XL or made-to-measure, if so desired. As soon as an order is placed, the garments are handmade by me within 5-12 business days.

Payments are welcome via PayPal or pre-payment. However, that said, I doing my best to create an inventory of some garments that I'll be taking with me when I visit various (vintage related) festivals this year *yaaaay!*.

{Piquè Cotton Dress in Creme}

4. What in your background (e.g., a love of vintage) inspired to launch your company?

See my reply to question #1. :)

{Classic Cigarette Pants in Cherry}

5. Do you plan to ever offer pre-made garments and if so, will a range of different sizes for the same style (garment) be available?

Let's just say - stay tuned! :P But for sure, there would be several sizes available, like one can choose from already with my made-to-order garments.

{Piquè Cotton Dress in Powder Blue}

6. Your pieces are incredibly authentic looking. What steps do you take to ensure this is the case?

Thank you so much! I would say my three general steps are 1. the authentic designs (i.e. classic skirt lengths, contemporary colors, waist accentuating designs) , 2. the contemporary materials (i.e. metal zipper, rayon tape, self-covered buttons, mainly cotton, rayon, wool fabrics) and 3. the sewing techniques (i.e. hand sewn hem, blind stitching, hand-crocheted belt loops, and in general a lot of hand sewing).

Plus as a finishing touch, I also offer true vintage accessories, like brooches or gloves, on my site so that customers can find a perfect (accessory) match at the same time that they order a garment from me.

{Classic Cigarette Pants in Navy}

7. On average, in US dollars, what is the average price point of one of your creations?

As Swiss Francs and US Dollar are pretty equal these days, you could almost convert prices at a 1:1 rate. The usual price for a dress is $272.00, but prices start at $199.00.

Skirts, trousers and jackets are priced between $157.00-183.00. All are, of course, limited edition designs help ensure that you are unlikely to encounter someone else wearing the same outfit. :)

{Wool Jacket in Dark Red shown with the Wool Skirt in Dark Red}

8. What are your favourite decades personally? Do they differ from the ones that you're currently offering clothing in the styles of?

I adore all things mid-century! ♥ In my shop, I make sure to always offer pieces that I love and can confidently stand behind.

{Wool Jacket in Navy shown with the Wool Skirt in Navy}

9. What are a few fun facts about yourself, the super talented lady behind Prettie Lanes, that you'd like to share with the vintage community?

First of all- thank you so much for these lovely words *blushing*! I am a 'granny's-closet-rifler', 'vintage-treasure-hunter' and a 'lover-of-any-signs-of-ageing-on-vintage-stuff-because-it-shows-its-history'. I never 'learned' sewing.

I found the love of my life more than 10 years ago. I am a dog lover. By accident, I've stitched so often with a needle into my fingers that I fear I someday I might not even realize when that happens anymore *giggling*.

{Classic Cigarette Pants in Dusty Blue}

10. And last, but not least, what can folks look forward to from your brand throughout 2016 and beyond?

Hopefully, I can make it to some festivals, but either way stay tuned for my new designs that coming soon, as well as some improvements in shipping costs I am currently working on for my customers, and I am happy to keep you posted via Facebook and Instagram.

Thank you, Jessica for this lovely interview. ♥

{Knit Dress in Black/Gold}

{All images used throughout this post care of Prettie Lanes.}

♥ ♥ ♥

Even without having worn any of Franzi's offerings, I can tell that there is something truly special about them. They look as though they just stepped out of the pages the leading fashion magazines of the 1950s. They're the sorts of things starlets and stylish everyday women alike would have gone weak in the knees fore back in the day and which, no doubt, an abundance of us in the vintage world will do so for right here and now in 2016 (and beyond).

It takes a lot of work, effort, time, dedication and gumption to launch your own repro brand, especially one where each and every order is custom made on the spot, and I have an immense amount of respect for Franzi and everything that she is doing.

Her designs are incredibly timeless, strikingly beautiful and well worth the investment. I can sense that they're the kinds of pieces that one would treasure for many, many years to come and that could also help to fill certain gaps in one's wardrobe, especially if you find authentic 1940s and 1950s suits, dresses, skirts and pants hard to find in your size.

Franzi is a joy to chat with, friendly as the day is long, and always eager to hear from potential customers, so if you want to get in contact before you order from her, that's a-okay.

Pretties Lanes might be the new kid on the vintage reproduction block, but with the kind of superb tailoring, breathtaking designs and great customer service that they offer, I don't doubt it will be long before they too have firmly established themselves as a household name in the vintage reproduction world.

January 18, 2016

Book Review and Giveaway: Fashion Victims: The Dangers of Dress Past and Present from Bloomsbury

With an attention grabbing name like "Fashion Victims" one might expect a book boasting such a moniker to perhaps be a snarky take on street style, haute couture show addicts, or current day wardrobe "fails". Alas, I'm pleased to say, it very little to do directly with any of those things - at least not as we might picture them in the 21st century.

Allow me to explain. You see, Fashion Victims: The Dangers of Dress Past and Present - a 256 page volume by author Alison Matthews David, that was published by Bloomsbury last year - is a detailed, intelligently written look at some of the most perilous aspects of clothing over the past three centuries (plus the occasional mention of an earlier period), with a particular emphasis on wearables from the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

Most of us are familiar with the risks that such garments as corsets and extremely wide hoop skirts posed to their wearers (and in the case of the latter, sometimes, tragically those around them, too), but the hazards of fashion in decades and centuries past goes far, far deeper. In this fascinating book, Ms. Matthews David does an excellent job of exploring seven such wardrobe risk in particular, as well as the roles they played on mainstream culture and the collective psyche at the time that they were most prevelantly a very real problem/risk.

After an engaging introduction, the author jumps straight into exploring the hand that diseased/germ infested materials, toxic (manufacturing) techniques, poisonous pigments, dangerous dyes, potentially deadly clothes (as in those that could easy strange and entangle their wearers), inflammatory fabrics, and explosive fakes (think early plastics and faux silks such as rayon) each played in the lives of everyday people and the well-to-do alike.

Each topic is articulately presented, with no shortage of photos and/or illustrations, and one instantly senses that the author - herself an Associate Professor at the School of Fashion Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario - not only knows the subject matter well, but that she spent a good deal of time researching and really getting to the material she was covering.

Despite the very somber nature of the topics explored within, I didn't find Fashion Victims to be an overly heavy or grisly read. That isn't to say of course that the facts and (in some cases) theories put forth aren't gruesome at times, for they certainly are, but rather that that tone and pace of the book was such that it was an enjoyable read that I got through quickly. In fact, I fully expect I will reread this book multiple times over the years.

Whether one is a passionate historian, collector of yesteryear garb, vintage fan, and/or avid historical costumer, there is a great deal of information to be gleaned and taken to heart in this book. Case in point, and without spilling the beans too much on one chapter, I will never look at – or touch - early fur hats the same way again!

Frequently when we hear about the risks involved in many areas of clothing production and wear in centuries past, we then proceed to think, often erroneously, that we're beyond such dangers nowadays. And while it is true, thankfully, that we now know of the often catastrophic risks posed by certain chemicals, dyes, materials, germs, and even garment styles themselves, as the author astutely touches (including in her final summary chapter), we are by no means immune to hazards and life threatening problems in today's fashion world either.

Each year I read a substantial number of fashion related books, most of which are historically centered, and I can honestly tell you that this one had me on the edge of my seat. While I was already familiar with much of the subject matter, in nearly every instance, I learned more about a particular topic than I was aware of prior to picking up this book and I walked away feeling both well informed and like I'd just had a very eye-opening read.

Quick in tone, lively in spirit (again, relative to the subject matter), and well laid out, Fashion Victims: The Dangers of Dress Past and Present is a book that I wholeheartedly believe deserves a place on the bookshelf of anyone with even so much as a passing interest in the history of clothing.

As such, I'm delighted to let you know that Bloomsbury - who very kindly furnished me with my own copy (thank you so much!) - has offered one lucky Chronically Vintage reader a chance to win their very own copy of Fashion Victims by Alison Matthews David.

Giveaway details:

This giveaway, which is open to readers worldwide, is for one copy of the book Fashion Victims: The Dangers of Dress Past and Present, which will be provided to the winner directly from its publisher, Bloomsbury .

The giveaway will run from today's date (Monday January 18th) until 11:59 PST on Monday January 25, 2016, with the winner being drawn and contacted via email (as well as possibly announced on social media) shortly thereafter.

If you've like to enter, please feel free to do with as many of the following Rafflecopter options as you desire.

The only one that is mandatory for entry is that you leave a comment on this post, the rest are entirely optional. The more that you enter, the greater your odds of winning.

Should you happen to have any questions about this giveaway, drop me an email and I'll be happy to answer them as best I can for you.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

♥ ♥ ♥

Fashion Victims: The Dangers of Dress Past and Present is not only a smartly written, in-depth and deeply interesting book, it is also an important work of historical research and sobering account of some of the very real, very deadly dangers that have lurked - and continue, in certain cases, to reside - in our closets and places of clothing manufacturing alike.
I hope that the winner of this giveaway enjoys, and learns from, their copy as much as I did and want to sincerely thank the good people at Bloomsbury for sponsoring this wonderful book giveaway.
Best of luck to all those who enter!

January 15, 2016

Tell me how you store your stud earrings

The better part of three years ago, I wrote a post called How I store my stud earrings in which I shared a dead simple (and incredibly budget friendly) way to organize your (pierced ear style) stud and similar smaller sized earrings.

Then as now, I adore and stand behind that storage method, but as time as gone on and my stud earring collection has grown all the more (thanks in no small part to Claire's continuing, much to my delight, to expand their selection of nickel-free earring options - now, if we could only convince them to produce other types of nickel-free jewelry, like necklaces and bracelets, too! But I digress...), I've found that that approach doesn't really work for me anymore.

At least not if I'm trying to corral all of my stud earrings onto one single piece of material (too heavy/cumbersome, hard to store folded neatly in a small drawer in our en suite powder room, etc).

Last year I decided to go hunting for an alternative solution and hoped that I had found it in earring books, which I bought a few of from an overseas seller on eBay (they're virtually, if not entirely, identical looking to these ones that are available for about the same price on Amazon). I'd known about these types of handy storage books for a few years now and had really, really been itching to give them a go.

While they do certainly work well (especially for tiny sized, not-too-bulky earrings) and look pretty when lined up on a shelf, counter, dresser top or the like, if, like me, your earring collection consists of several dozen pairs, it can be tricky to organize them in the long term in a way that works well for you - or so I’ve found.

Often when I bought a new pair, I'd have to spend quite a lot of time rearranging my earrings as I like to keep similar styles together so as to easy find the ones I’m looking for when putting an outfit together (this is especially important with my collection spaced out across multiple books) and this hassle (relatively speaking, of course) just isn’t doing it for me.

I'm not talking down this storage method, or my previous one, in the slightest and both will work particularly nicely if your collection is on the small to moderate side, as well as if you're not as dead set on having them all continually perfectly arranged by themed/colour/etc in earring books at all times.

{Not only are they often lightweight and comfortable to wear, but stud style earrings frequently channel a fabulous vintage look and are ideal for yesteryear fashion fans. As such, I've amassed quite a collection of store bought and handmade (by me) pairs of the years and now need your help to find the perfect small space storage solution for them. Vintage image source.}

For now, most of mine remain in books, but this method is just not working as well as I'd like (first world problems, believe me I know ;)) and so I'm once again on the hunt for a suitable storage solution for my stud and similar styles of earrings.

A couple of points that are shaping my search are the fact that space is of an absolute premium in our little home and I need something that will take up a ton of room, as well as that, ideally, I want it to be a method that allows for new pairs to easily be added without having to spend time rearranging a lot of the existing ones over and over again.

I'm not opposed to a wall hanging solution either and have been wondering lately if such an approach (assuming the earrings were easy to get on and off, even in the middle of the board/whatever they were displayed on) might be the way to go.

Before I plunk down any more money and/or bust out the craft supplies though, I wanted to ask all of you, my lovely readers, how you store your own stud earring collection.

Plastic divided craft containers (a possible contender for my needs)? Cute trinket trays (I think my collection is too big for that to be my main storage solution)? Earring trees/similar display methods? Attached to sturdy strips of ribbon/twill/canvas? Something else entirely?

Please do tell, I'd love to hear your own approaches as well as any ideas you might have and will keep you informed as time goes on as to what I opt to decide to use (assuming I hit on the right storage method for my current needs, that is).

Many thanks in advance for your impute, my fellow earring fans!

January 13, 2016

What I wore to meet Canadian author Elinor Florence

Outfit details

1930s/1940s structural black felt hat: Armstrong Antiques
Creamy white carved plastic rose earrings: Claire's
Burgundy corduroy blazer: Suzy Shier
C. 1930s celluloid rose brooch: A fellow vintage seller in Okanagan Falls
1980s does 1940s/50s dark dusty rose shirtwaist dress: eBay
White skinny belt with brass coloured rose shaped buckle: eBay
1940s telephone cord handbag: Armstrong Antiques
C. 1940s/50s creamy white hued gloves: Unknown, had for years (likely eBay or Etsy)
Black seamed nude stockings: eBay
1940s style black faux suede pumps: Walmart
Lip colour: MAC Party Line

Photography by Tony Cangiano

Every cold weather season, I vow to myself that I will wear the classic combination of a dress and a blazer/suit jacket more often, then almost always promptly forget, burying myself in a sea of cardigans, turtlenecks, sweaters, and skirts or trousers + blazers instead. This year though, I've been working especially hard to remember to sport this stylish pairing and kicked off the chilly season by doing so with the outfit snaps above, which were taken on the second to last Saturday in November.

That was a jam packed busy day, let me tell you! Not only was it the day before we headed off to Vancouver for a lovely spur of the moment work related getaway, but that afternoon I also had the great pleasure of going to see my lovely online friend and published novelist Elinor Florence (whom you may remember from this 2014 interview + giveaway post that we shared here on my blog) speak in person at our town's public library.

Elinor let me know well in advance of her speaking date that she would be headed through Penticton to give a presentation on both her book and some of the fascinating Canadian history surrounding the time frame (WW2) that it centers on, and I instantly set about trying to ensure that I could attend.

Luckily my health was in a cooperative mood that day and I was indeed able to make a beeline for the Penticton Public Library on November 21st and watch Elinor give a very, very lovely, informative talk and slide presentation on those very topics (which also included photos and stores about her own childhood and parents in relation to the subject matter at hand).

Elinor's novel (her first to date) is set in the 1940s, so I knew that I wanted an outfit that looked the part and to that end, opted to for the above mentioned dress (in this case a lovely dark dusty rose hued 1980s does 1940s/50s shirtwaist dress) and blazer combo. To that duo, I added a 1930s/40s black felt hat, 1940s telephone cord bag, and a smattering of complimentary accessories.

The talk lasted for about an hour and had a really nice turnout. After she had finished presenting, Elinor set aside a bit of time to sell and sign copies of her fantastic novel, A Bird's Eye View, and to chat with audience members as well.

Once the crowd had largely dissipated, Tony and I made our way over to formally introduce ourselves (Elinor and I had been talking online for the better part of a couple of years, but this was our first in-person meeting) where we shared a few minutes of enjoyable conversation, during which Tony grabbed a few quick cell phone photos to further help commemorate the day (including the two above).

As I've said here before many a time, Penticton is not exactly chock-a-block full of vintage (let alone WW2) related events, for I'm all the more grateful that I had the opportunity to see Elinor's engaging talk and to meet a fellow British Columbia with an unending passion for the past.

Whether here in the Okanagan or in the small East Kootney town of Invermere that Elinor calls home, I really hope that we get a chance to hang out again one day. And if we do, chances are you can bank on another photo filled post like today's following close on its heels. :)