Saturday, July 31, 2010

big flea photos

dc big flea, july 2010

I think I can say, definitively, that I got some good ones.

dc big flea, july 2010dc big flea, july 2010

If this is karma for giving my old photos back to the rightful owners, I gotta do some more good deeds.

dc big flea, july 2010 dc big flea, july 2010

You can see the rest here.

Friday, July 30, 2010

oh right, big flea

I almost forgot about Big Flea, jeez. I don't have good pictures of the jewelry I got (a brooch and a string of glass pearls-- I love the patina old glass pearls get) and I haven't scanned the old photos yet, but I can at least share the clothes!

DC Big flea haul DC Big flea haul

The blue dress doesn't look like much on the hanger, but it's the perfect shade, it fits just right and it's got great details, like little pleats on the shoulders. With a pretty brooch and a belt (maybe red?) it'll be perfect. The shirtdress looks really good with the brooch I got-- I suspect it's going to get a lot of wear.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

more cold comfort, and the '30s in color

Oh, Internet. I missed you. You too, air conditioning. We just got the electricity back on, after having it out since Sunday's big thunderstorm, so I'm catching up on everything I've missed.

I spend a lot of my electricity-free time reading, and one of the books I finished was Stella Gibbons' novel, Cold Comfort Farm. I'd talked about the movie, which is charming, but the book was really interesting too. The plot wasn't really changed at all for the movie, which I appreciate, but there is one big difference: Cold Comfort Farm, the novel, is science fiction.

No, seriously! There's a note at the beginning that says it takes place "in the near future," and it's full of random little details that Stella Gibbons thought would be part of life in the late 40s/early 50s, though the book was published in 1932. For instance, Flora makes calls on a videophone, people are constantly catching airplanes from place to place and owning private planes, and at one point a character thinks about how the train system isn't as good anymore, now that so many people drive or fly. And yet most of the details of daily life are what you'd expect of a novel from the 30's-- the farm doesn't have an indoor bathroom, for instance. It's very odd, and sort of charming.

Unrelatedly, I've been browsing this amazing collection of FSA color photos, taken in rural parts of America during the Depression. They're totally gorgeous, and speak for themselves: check it out! I picked out a couple of my favorites; possibly this is the wrong reaction to have, but holy crap I love those floral prints. The full set has a lot more in the way of farming and industrial images, I should note.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Cold Comfort Farm

Lately I've been finding myself drawn to fiction from the interwar years-- especially the '30s. I'm working my way through Dorothy Sayers' Peter Wimsey mystery novels (my favorites, so far, are all the ones with Harriet in them!), and once they're done, next on the list are two books that have been made into movies. Shamefully, while I've seen the movie versions of both Cold Comfort Farm and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, I haven't read the books yet. But they're on the list!

Cold Comfort Farm is about a young woman named Flora Poste, an aspiring novelist who goes to live with her country relatives on the grounds that, first of all, it'll make good fodder for a story, and second, she can probably improve their dreary lives. She is correct on both counts, even though she is kind of a nitwit. I say this in the fondest possible way; it's just that everyone in this movie is a nitwit, and no exceptions are made for the protagonist.

Flora spend the movie wearing a series of cute, tweedy outfits, fixing everyone's lives for them, and avoiding the amorous attentions of Stephen Fry. I approve of the outfits, but I am a little confused about why anyone would want to avoid Stephen Fry.

It's a sweet, charming movie-- not spectacular, but funny and totally worth watching.


coldcomfort1 coldcomfort3

'30s fashion is really interesting to me. It feels very much like a transition period, and you can follow the movement from the drop-waisted, boyish silhouette of the '20s to the higher waist and broader shoulders of the war years. I'm sort of on the fence about the formalwear-- it can be really good, but sometimes not to my taste at all. But the separates and daywear are fantastic. Here's some Flora-ish outfits, courtesy of Etsy:

1.vintagebutterfly94 2. staretvintage 3. DearGolden

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

old photos

I love, love love old photos, and up until recently have had what I think is a pretty impressive collection of them. I lucked into a giant suitcase full of snapshots at a flea market a few years ago, and since then have not really been able to justify purchasing more.


Aren't they lovely? The whole collection-- at least 600 pictures-- all belonged to the same family. There was a little bit of information about the people in the photos-- not much, but just enough to do a little research. So every year or so, in a desultory sort of way, I would plug the names I had into Google and see what turned up.

Well, I finally got somewhere, and contacted a member of the family. Her sister called me on Friday, and it looks like I'm giving the photos back tomorrow. Of course, I feel like it's the right thing to do-- this is her family history, and I could tell how thrilled she was to learn they hadn't been lost for good. But it *is* a little bit of a wrench, and I'm going to miss them.


Here's the fun part, though: when I told my mom about this, she produced a giant trove of family photos I'd never seen before in my life! All these amazing snaps of my grandmother and great-aunt traveling in Europe in the '50s, and a whole album of my great-grandparents in the 1920s. And she asked me if I wanted to scan them, so she could make photobooks for the rest of the family! I totally believe in karma now.

So now I have another amazing heap of old photos to work through, and this time the people in them are related to me!

august 1952, album 3

Of course, since I'm giving up the bulk of my vintage photo collection, I'm totally justified in buying new ones at Big Flea.

Big Flea!

DC Big Flea is coming up this weekend, and I am v. v. excited. Big Flea is a GIANT antiques-and-vintage flea market, held 3-4 times a year in Chantilly, VA (which is not, actually, very close to DC, but we'll let it pass.) There's a lot of furniture and too-fancy-for-my-budget stuff, but there's also always a handful of booths with vintage clothes, and that is why I go.

Here's my haul from last year (plz excuse blurriness):
my haul from the DC Big Flea
'40s dress and jacket, '50s shirtdress, two '40s-ish cut-paper silhouettes, and a clip-on bow tie that I wear in my hair. (If you haven't tried it, clip-on bow ties make GREAT hairbows.)

I'm planning to wear that dress-and-jacket set to Dragoncon, a big science fiction convention in Atlanta that I go to every year (My nerdy activities are multifarious, I know). The plan is to wear the dress and '40s hair with a gas mask and a fake gash on the back of my hand. Any guesses as to what the costume is?

Monday, July 19, 2010

exciting news: I have an ass.

So I decided to stop dithering and start a blog. Mostly because I keep buying pretty, pretty things and would like to share this fact with more people, but also because sometimes I have Thoughts! about Important Things! And while I might not actually be able to take myself seriously, hence the exclamation points, I still like writing them down.

For instance, today I was thinking about the fact that if you have, say, hips that are 42 inches around, it is difficult to find vintage clothes that fit. Even if you're small enough on top to fit into things, only full skirts will fit most of the time. I'm not, actually, plus size-- in the upper range of straight sizes, yes, but most of that's down to height and an inconveniently large pelvis. But I still get frustrated, because sometimes it seems that all vintage blogs everywhere are run by women with waists I could put my hands around. (I have large hands. But still.) And I want the pretties, too.

There are good reasons for the dearth of vintage, especially from the 30s-50s, in smaller sizes-- people were smaller on average back then, larger clothes were frequently cut down to fit successively smaller people, most women wore body-shaping foundation garments that let them fit into the clothes Nature didn't intend them to wear unaided. But what it comes down to is that I have a goddamn difficult time finding cute vintage to wear, and that is distressing, because I don't want to have to buy a girdle.

I have a small section of my garment rack (there's not enough room in my closet, so I have a supplemental garment rack. What?) devoted to "should I ever lose 15 pounds, I will wear these." This is probably mildly unhealthy of me. The dresses are awfully pretty, though.

So, what are our solutions, as bigger-than-average wearers of vintage? Well, there's learning to sew. This may also entail learning to regrade patterns, because of course most extant vintage patterns are for smaller sizes too. There's buying repro instead of vintage, which has a lot of advantages. Repro clothes come in a wide range of sizes, and you can safely chuck them in the washing machine. But they're also frequently more expensive than vintage-- I can reasonably expect to get a cute, wearable vintage day dress for under $40, while a similar repro dress may cost twice as much.

Mostly, though, it seems like the answer is to keep being diligent and do a lot of digging. Hit your thrifts and local vintage stores regularly, develop a critical eye for plus-size clothes that might be cut down to fit you, and carry a tape measure EVERYWHERE. I'm totally not kidding about that last one; knowing my measurements and carrying a tape measure means that, if I do find the dress I want and can't try it on, I don't have to just eyeball it and hope for the best. Instead, I can which out my tape measure and find out absolutely for sure that the dress I want is three inches too small in the waist. Sigh.

As a consolation, have some pretty clothes that should actually fit a modern size 10-12, and that are actually available for purchase from assorted Etsy sellers!

1. Factorygirl82 2. biretu

3. Reneesance 4. 1stlove