May 31, 2016

Book Giveaway & Review: The House of Worth: Fashion Sketches, 1916-1918 from Dover Publications

These days we're used to seeing and thinking about a whole host of world famous designers and fashion houses. Even if we don't own a single piece from any of them, most folks are at least familiar with a handful of such and we've come to think of their presence as part and parcel to the world of style.

Such was not always the case though and the invention, if you will, of the modern fashion house as we would recognize and acknowledge it today is relatively new. Unquestionably one of the first and most influential early players in this sphere was The House of Worth.

Founded in France in 1858 by Mr. Charles Frederick Worth, a highly regarded and skilled dressmaker who had previously been employed by some of the top tailors in the UK and France, the House of Worth hit the ground running, by offering exquisitely made and deeply beautiful haute couture clothing. As time went on, the company would grow to include ready-to-wear fashions, as well as perfumes.

The House of Worth provided fashions to some of the most affluent, wealthy, powerful - and powerfully dressed - customers in Europe and the world as a whole. From stars of the stage, such as Sarah Bernhardt, Nellie Melba, and Jenny Lind to European royals, old money and new, and those trying to climb the social ladder alike, The House of Worth had an impressive clientele and provided stunning pieces to all of them (including both wedding gowns and costume party ensembles).

In its original iteration, The House of Worth remained in business until 1952 (the brand was revived again after more than four decades of laying dormant, in 1999), with Charles Worth's heirs taking over the company after his death in 1895.

It was under the leadership of Charles' sons, Gasteon-Lucien and Jean-Philippe, that The House of Worth experienced the Edwardian years, and it is the tail end of this very period that the book at the heart of today's post focuses.

The House of Worth: Fashion Sketches, 1916-1918 from Dover Publications is a unique and enchantingly beautiful soft cover book that includes 125 watercolour and ink illustrations, all of which were originally produced by The House of Worth.

That alone would be enough to make any vintage fashion or historical costume fan go weak in the knees, but this book is so very much more. Woven through its many fashion illustration filled pages, one is greeted with an excellently written - and very engaging - historical account of how these drawings (and some accompanying fabric swatches, which are pictured in photographs in this book) came to be in the possession of the Litchfield Historical Society located in Litchfield, Connecticut.

Readers are introduced to the well-to-do ladies, Julia Chester Wells and Mary Perkins Quincy, respectively, who received the drawing as a catalog of sorts that highlighted new offerings at the time, from the House of Worth during the 1910s. Throughout the book, their fascinating lives are opened up to us so as to help us get a better sense of what the typical American House of Worth customer was like back during the brand's heyday.

I've read more books on historical fashions over the years than I could ever count, and can honestly say that this is one of the most unique and appealing approaching to profiling the history of a company, its customers, and its products alike that I've ever had the pleasure of encountering.

The Litchfield Historical Society has done a marvelous job in helping to preserve the history of The House of Worth through these Edwardian era fashion illustrations, just as Dover Publications has done by teaming with them for the creation of this 144 page book, which was published in August 2015.

There is so much to enjoy and admire about the fashions created by The House of Worth. They were pioneers in the field of both haute couture and high end ready-made clothing alike, and unquestionably, they helped to pave the way for many other similar companies, some of who are still in business to this day, that would follow.

If you have even the slightest interest in yesteryear fashion history (and chances are, if you're reading this post, then you definitely do), than The House of Worth: Fashion Sketches, 1916-1918 is for you!

The awesome folks at Dover Publications have very kindly offered a copy of this book to one lucky Chronically Vintage reader. Read on to find out how you can win (they're are plenty of ways to enter and the giveaway is open internationally).

Giveaway details:

This giveaway is for one copy of the soft cover book The House of Worth: Fashion Sketches, 1916-1918 from Dover Publications from Dover Publications. It is open to readers (participants) worldwide and will run from today's date (Tuesday May 31, 2016) until 11:59 PST on Tuesday June 7, 2016.

The winning name will be drawn using Raffle copter's random winner tool once the giveaway has wrapped up and the winner will be contacted via email shortly thereafter. Your book itself will be shipped out to you directly from the fine folks at Dover Publications.

You may enter using however many of the following ten different Rafflecopter methods you desire. The only entry that is mandatory is that you please leave a comment on this post in which you share with me one or more of your favourite elements of Edwardian era fashion.

The more ways that you enter, the greater your odds of winning become. If you have any questions about this book giveaway, please don't hesitate to email me anytime.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Edwardian fashions, be they the simplest of garments or the most elaborate and expensive produced, have always spoken to me, and getting a chance to read The House of Worth: Fashion Sketches, 1916-1918 was a true joy that left me yearning all the more for a time machine (and a Vanderbilt's pocketbook!) to the past.

Sadly, such isn't possible, but we can immerse ourselves in the history of such care of marvelous books like this, and I truly want to thank Dover Publications for teaming up with my blog to offer a copy of this terrific title to my readers (as well, they've very kindly extended a 25% off coupon code, WFBJ, which you can use on their website to save 25% off on all orders until the end of June).

Many sincere thanks, and best of luck as well, to each and every one of you who take part in this fun vintage fashion book giveaway!

May 29, 2016

25 fabulous vintage rose fashions and accessories for the sunny months

At the moment Morticia Addams would be very proud of me, for you see, the three tiny roses bushes that call our wee speck of a front yard home are currently bloom-less. They have imposing thorns and richly vibrant green leaves, but their heads have all been nibbled off by our local deer.

While I do adore seeing roses in front of our home, I'm not upset at these majestic creatures for turning our yard into a salad bar. They need to eat and I feel fortunate to be able to provide them with a snack.

I realize that this attitude is not shared by all those in our town - which has been absolutely teaming with wild deer for many years now - but I appreciate these beautiful animals and love that they feel comfortable to come so very close to our house (the roses flank our outside walls).

Still, I was looking forward to seeing some red and pink blooms this month, and so to get my springtime rose fix on, I thought it would be oodles of fun to round up some of the most eye-catching and enjoyable vintage rose related fashions and accessories that have crossed my path online lately and share them here with all of you.

Roses are, hands down, my favourite flower ever. Their timeless romance, powerful beauty, and sublime scent - coupled with their rich history - all combine to create a flower that speaks to my poetic heart and soul alike, while also making for a very frequent player in my yesteryear wardrobe.

Small or big, lifelike or more abstract, sweet or sensual, I cannot get enough of roses and know that many of you feel the same way about this classic flower (which grows in over 150 different species the world over), too.

Given that roses are really popping to life again in many parts of the world right now, this cheerful Sunday morning seemed like an ideal time to shine the spotlight on vintage - and a small number of lovely vintage reproduction/inspired – wearables featuring such.

{Created with a vintage image found here}

1. One of the most recent items of vintage clothing to hit the shelves of my Etsy shop, this delightfully pretty dark navy blue and white 1950s rose print sundress is all the more unique because it was designed, back in the day for taller women and indeed, still suits such ladies especially well. Fits up to a 40 - 42 inch bust/32 inch waist. $65.00 from Chronically Vintage.

2. There is just something about the union of pastel roses and alluring black netting that makes my heart skip a beat, and this stunning 1930s tilt hat combines them with such stylish perfection. $70.00 from High Hat Couture.

3. Beat the heat in chic style when you slip on this gorgeous ocean + sunshine hued pair of c. 1970s does 1950s shorts that feature a marvelous floral print that includes lust roses. Fits up to a 24" waist/36" hips. $33.05 from Vera Mode.

l 4. If, like me, you go weak in the knees for rose print scarves, then chances are you're bound to adore this good sized, sophisticated vintage number in shades of cream, dusty pink, burgundy, green and lavender that measures in 30 inches x 30 inches (making it the perfect size for all kinds for 1940s style headwraps and turbans!). $19.99 from Blue Velvet Vintage.

5. In the mood for a timeless piece of rose themed jewelry with an ethereal, fairly tale-like quality to its design that will go with a million and one different outfits? May I suggest this beautiful mid-century reversed carved clear plastic and gold tone metal pendant necklace. $22.00 from Chronically Vintage.

6. Cute, fun and incredibly summery, this darling bright pink rose short sleeved mid-century vintage shirt (love the scalloped hem!) would be fabulous with everything from white capris to a high waisted pencil skirt, and will surely garner compliments aplenty each time you wear it. Fits up to a 39 inch bust/34 inch waist. On sale at the time of writing for $37.00 from The Best Vintage Clothing.

7. Ideal for weddings, Mother's or Father's Day, birthday parties, swing dancing the night away, or stylish everyday attire, this beautiful c. 1930s - 1940s hand painted men's necktie is an excellent way for chaps to weave more vintage roses into their wardrobe, too. $39.00 from Pontiac Dry Goods.

8. Short sleeves, a flattering cut, darling tie at the neck, and immensely lovely colours call 1940s style Grable Tea Dress home and would make for such a lovely spring or summertime frock, especially if you have an event or two that you need to dress up for in the coming months. Available in modern ladies UK sizes 8 to 24. £99.00 from The House of Foxy.

9. Deeply beautiful and wonderfully feminine looking, these sophisticated Frattagini heels feature pink and red embroidered flowers, that look a lot like roses, atop an eveningwear perfect black background and would be an ideal pair for date nights, weddings, Valentine's Day, anniversaries, or anytime love is in the air! Labelled as being a vintage size narrow 7.5. $35.00 from SCD Vintage.

10. Rose of nearly all colours pair gorgeous with aqua hues, but pink ones tend to shine there in particular. The two marry wonderfully in this elegant c. 1940s - 1950s round wreath shaped guilloche enamel brooch, whose shape and design would make it a great piece to pin to a hat or bag, in addition to your favourite garments, that is. $15.00 from Chronically Vintage.

11. Short sleeves, an alluringly dark colour palette, and a tie waist are just some of the perks of this immensely elegant 1960s Draped Silk Chiffon Rose Print Cocktail Dress, which would suit everything from cocktail parties to christenings, weddings to birthday bashes spectacularly. Fits up to a 38" bust/28" waist. $85.00 from Blue Velvet Vintage.

12. Few colours are more ideally suited to summertime than fuchsia pink, and when they combine with roses - as they do in this charming pair of c. 1940s - 1950s reverse carved lucite screw back earrings - the pair becomes a serious fashion powerhouse. $15.00 from Chronically Vintage.

13. Rock roses at the beach care of this chic 1960s maillot swimsuit, which stars hefty sized red ones in spades and channels such an awesome Med Men-esque vibe in the process. Fits up to a 38 inch bust (max)/29 inch waist (max). $72.00 from Small Earth Vintage.

14. I am in love with the design, cut and pattern of this romantically pretty 1950s rose print blouse, which would look fantastic with linen suits, breezy skirts, denim peddle pushers, and oodles more. Listed as being a size XS, exact measurements not provided. $36.06 from Human Sea Vintage.

15. Honestly, I'm still scratching my head over how I could bring myself to list (aka, not keep for myself :)) this strikingly beautiful c. 1980s does 1950s style dark rose print pleated skirt (which is made from a great lightweight rayon that suits spring and summertime excellently), but that I did and I'm sure that whoever purchases it will love it every bit as much as I do. Fits up to a 28 inch waist/free hips. $32.00 from Chronically Vintage.

16. Roses and weddings go together like summer and ice cream, so if you're tying the knot soon or know someone who is, you may be interested in the gorgeous line of handmade vintage inspired rose garters - including this romantic latte hued one - that Bobbins and Bombshells currently has available in their shop. This particular style sells for $30.00 and is lovely enough to use a bedroom or vanity table decor piece long after your big day has wrapped up.

17. Versatile and beautiful, this romantic mid-century vintage pink millinery flower brooch (it does up with a tiny safety pin on the back) would be wonderful worn as a corsage at a wedding, for church, garden parties, mid-afternoon teas, and so much more. Pin it to your clothing, hat, belt or sash, purse, jacket - the sky is the limit, or use it as part of your wedding, party or home decor, if so desired. $10.00 from Chronically Vintage.

18. I'm a perpetual girly-girl who loves the colour pink and roses alike, so when the two combine in a vintage garment like this breathtaking 1930s short sleeve floral print dress, it's all I can do to keep my knees from buckling under me. Fits up to a 35 inch bust/26 inch waist. $134.00 from Topanga Hidden Treasures.

19. Perfect for spring and summer, this goes-with-anything vintage raffia handbag with millinery roses and lily of the valley flowers is such a sweet, romantic purse that will look amazing with all sorts of sundresses, flowy skirts, and cute playsuits alike. On sale at the time of writing for $28.00 from Vintage Goodness 1.

20. A breeze to dress up or down, partner with a huge range of vintage, modern and even wedding ensembles, this classy vintage cream plastic stretch bead bracelet is the kind of fun, versatile piece of costume jewelry that will never go out of style. $15.00 from Chronically Vintage.

21. Sometimes you're in the mood for roses but don't want to look like a walking garden from head-to-toe. Enter this charmingly sweet + fun Sherry Rockabilly Diner Dress in White/Black, which boasts a lovely little red rose on below each point of its collar. Available in modern ladies UK sizes 6 to 24. £34.99 from Dolly & Dotty.

22. With a rose-like flower, perpetually stylish design, and a marriage of gold tone metal and a clear rhinestone, this charmingly fun vintage inspired finger ring is just the ticket if you wish to add a subtle dose of rose themed loveliness to any vintage or modern look. $19.46 from Mon Carrousel.

23. Talk about a major vintage fashion wishlist item for me right here. This swoon worthily fantastic 1950s hand painted Mexican rose print taffeta circle skirt is the sort of glamorous vintage rose themed garment that will never cease to turn heads and garner scores of Instagram likes, to boot! This skirt is 27.5 inches long and fits up to a 30" waist. On sale at the time of writing for $149.00 from The Best Vintage Clothing.

24. Sometimes you need a vintage piece of rose themed jewelry that will go with everything in your closet, and this elegant, good sized c. 1950s - 1960s lustrous gold tone metal brooch does just that superbly. $16.00 from Chronically Vintage.

25. Vibrantly hued roses + hydrangeas on the same ruffle sleeve, sweetheart neckline 1940s sundress...seriously, I can't even. Smile Someone please pass the smelling salts, pronto! Fits up to a 37 inch bust/30 inch waist. $98.00 from Garb-Oh Vintage.

*Bonus 26th item* Plus, if you're looking for an immensely elegant way to hang up some of your vintage floral themed fashions, accessories or jewelry, may I suggest this terrific trio of old school brass rose shaped hooks from Wise Apple Vintage, that I am beyond in love with. $48.00 for all three matching brass rose hooks.

{To learn more about a specific item or image featured in today's post, please click on the link in the text below it to be taken to its respective source.}

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Are you keen on rose themed fashions? Which of these beautiful vintage and vintage inspired offerings appeal to you the most?

I cannot remember a time when roses didn't speak to me. I gravitated towards them in gardens as a small child, watched them provide a gorgeously scented backdrop for much of my youth, carried a blood red verging on burgundy bouquet of them down the aisle, and have spent a lifetime cultivating quite a collection of roses for my home decor and closet alike. I know that these ageless flowers will always stir something strong and wonderful deep in my spirit and I love them all the more for that.

Fortunately, even if the deer get to your roses, too, or you otherwise do not have any around your own home, you can always bring a bevy of these magnificent blooms into your house via pieces like the vintage charmers featured in today's post.

Interestingly, I've found, even those who often say they aren't fans of floral prints/imagery, often have a soft spot for roses. They're intriguing, subtly mysterious, immensely pretty flowers that play a roll in many events throughout our lives.

It's hard not to adore them, and harder still to leave your wardrobe completely rose-less. And really, why would you want to when so many stunning wearable iterations of this classic flower have been created over the years?

May 26, 2016

Meet Skye: Passionate writer, devoted shirtwaist dress fan, and epic vintage hat lover!

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 Tumblr blog: Beginning Our Dissent

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!

May 24, 2016

Sunny weather fashions on a cloudy day care of The J. Peterman Company

Outfit details

C.late 1930s/early 1940s red straw hat: Frugal Frocks
Silver tone metal and imitation turquoise rhinestone earrings: Claire's
Teal blue cropped cardigan: Thrifted
Vintage aqua coloured plastic maple leaf brooch: Broesj
Short Sleeve 1947 Dress: c/o The J. Peterman Company
Light aqua coloured plastic bangle bracelets: Claire's (I think; had for years)
c. 1950s/1960s red plastic twisted bangle bracelet: eBay
Natural Straw Tote With Flowers: c/o The J. Peterman Company
Red patent faux leather pumps: Payless
Lip colour: MAC Russian Red
Nail colour: Sally Hansen Mellow Yellow

Photography by Tony Cangiano

If the name J. Peterman Company sounds familiar, say circa a couple of decades ago, but you can't quite place it, there's a very good chance that you're remembering it from the roll this real life brand played in the wildly popular sitcom series Seinfeld.

For part of that show’s run, the character of Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) worked for The J. Peterman Company and no doubt many, especially those outside of the States, thought that it was a fictional brand, created as part of the show's plot.

I can't recall precisely when I learned that such was not the case and that the J. Peterman Company was indeed a real life, fresh and blood (or at least fabric and buttons) brand, but it was a good many years ago now and the fact that they were such has always delighted me - just as their inventory of elegant goods, coupled with what has to be the most appealing online catalog I've ever seen, does as well.

The J. Peterman Company was founded nearly three decades ago now, back in 1987, when I was a mere slip of a child. It was launched by a dynamic chap named, as one might imagine, John Peterman, who on top of being a minor league ball player, was a passionate entrepreneur who wished to tap into the vogue, at the time, for high end safari and travel related styles.

From the very get-go, the company has been embed with a sense of whimsy and history, while also being firmly grounded in the here and now.

Their catalogs are world famous for their ingenuity - a marriage of beautiful drawings and photographs alike accompany the products contained within - and the descriptive, engaging stories that bring each product all the more to life. The combination of these elements give their catalogs, and website, a novel-like quality that is vastly appealing and still wonderfully unique amongst their peers.

In a way, the J. Peterman Company is hard to sum in a single sentence, and surely that has been part of their appeal and ability to ride out nearly thirty years of epic changes in the fashion world to still remain a strong player in such.

With items, the brand happily refers to as "uncommonly good stuff", sourced from the furthest corners of the globe and chicly curated in their catalog and on their website, there is a great deal to appreciate and delight in when viewing J. Peterman's sophisticated offerings.

The sense of  classicism that pervades the brand's products - which include menswear, women's wear and home goods - lends it an instant vintage inspired feel and indeed, many of their offerings are intentionally created to be vintage reproduction or heavily vintage influenced pieces, which helps to make J. Peterman a brand that should be on any yesteryear fashion fan's radar.

I've long admired the company's offerings and was genuinely surprised and thrilled alike when a representative from J. Peterman contacted me earlier this year to see if I'd be interested in working together.

After lapping up every beautiful illustration and wittily written word in their online catalog, I promptly agreed and had a splendid time selecting two items - the Short Sleeve 1947 Dress and the Natural Straw Tote With Flowers - that you see here in these photos.

My review items were promptly shipped and arrived in no time, tucked into a sturdy cardboard box with beautiful branding and packaging throughout. In fact, the dress arrived in a plastic garment bag and on a good quality hanger, something that I don't believe I've ever received from any other brand that I've shopped from or worked with over the years.

Care is clearly put into each item and order, and there was an unmistakable air of luxury to every element of my my shipment - very much including the fashions themselves.

The Short Sleeve 1947 dress, a lively mid-century cut coupled with a punchy multi-colour oversized plaid pattern, instantly appealed to me, not only for its name, but for the vibrant colours it contained.

I knew, based on the measurements provided in its listing, that this would be a very long (re: maxi length) dress on me and that such was a gamble (my hourglass shaped, 5'2" frame doesn't always take kindly to ankle grazing frocks), but the garment so appealed to me that I decided it was well worth the venture. After, all, I figured, surely Mr. Peterman himself would approve of my sense of worldly daring in this regard.

With the bag, which I also knew would be on the generously sized side of things, I was looking for a piece quite unlike any that I presently own, in terms of its dimensions, and this gorgeous straw tote delivered in spades on that front.

Both items are extremely well made. There's quality, care and top-notch workmanship at play with each, and they have the added bonus of playing together very nicely in the scope of the same outfit.

The weather around these parts has been on the grey, rainy, cloud strewn sky side of things a great deal this month and while a a sunnier setting would have been even more ideal for an ensemble this rich in summertime notes, sometimes one simply has to play the cards their dealt.

Thus, to up the warm weather vibe of both these pieces, Tony and I recently hightailed it to a small strip of beach in the nearby town of Peachland to grab some outfit shoots by the water's edge.

It was quite a nippy afternoon and a coat or jacket would not have been out of the question in the slightest, but I didn't want to obscure this charming frock too much, so I opted instead to partner it with a fitted cropped cardigan, which had the added bonus of allowing the matching sash tie style belt that the dress includes to remain visible.

The Short Sleeve 1947 dress is made from (light to medium weight) 100% cotton of a very good quality, that one senses will hold up extremely well over the years. It was, and is, true to the sizing provided by the company and I certainly appreciate the richness of the colour palette it boasts.

Likewise, the (fully lined) tote bag is a premium piece made from buttery soft straw that has none of the roughness, sharp texture or brittle quality that many beach totes made from this classic material are prone to including.

Both pieces are a joy to wear and suit the roasty-toasty months, that will soon reach us, to a true tee, and sincerely wish to thank the J. Peterman Company for both of these sophisticatedly stylish review pieces.

Aside from the very shopable catalog that the brand provides, those (in the States) who are looking to add some of J. Peterman's wonderful offerings to their own closet, may wish to enter the incredibly generous $5,000 Shopping Spree Sweepstakes that the company is currently holding on their website until October 1, 2016.

Even if Mother Nature isn't ready to slip into her summertime threads quite yet around these parts, my own wardrobe of such received a lovely boast care of these two beautifully made offerings from a brand that channels the past, while also continually looking forward.

And which stands, to date, as undoubtedly one of the finest and most intriguing brands I've ever had the pleasure of working with.