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...and Old Lace

   
I liked dressing up long before I found the SCA.  A friend of my father's always said I would be an opera singer, because I liked dressing up so much as a child.

(Also because I was fat, but we'll pass that quickly by.)

I didn't dress goth throughout high school, I dressed vintage - elbow-length blouses with wrist-length lace, swirly skirts, and scarves. 

(The year I flirted with neon and became its bitch will not be mentioned again, dammit.)

I just loved dressing up - and when I wasn't making costumes, I was messing around with and collecting vintage.  By the time I was in college, I had an awesome vintage collection - and I gave it all away because I was moving back to the US, and couldn't afford to bring it.

I hope it got well loved.

But since I've settled down (somewhat), I have had the time to rebuild my collection.  I'm not going to show you all of it today, just a few highlights.  My apologies for the terrible layout - I don't have a dress form, so hanging them is the only way I can presently show them off.

The oldest piece is one Bob bought for me in Portobello Market, in London.  It is possibly 1860s, but has no provenance.  A lot of the design details seem right, and the colour and construction seem right, but who knows?  Anyway, my purple day dress:

   

Some of the details ae quite pretty - and it's in very good condition, with only a tiny amount of sun fading on the top of the bodice.

   

I love fringe.  Sadly, the dress is a tiny bit too narrow at the waist for me -I need a really good 19th century corset that reduces me about 4 inches, and it would fit perfectly.

But that's a rather fancy piece - most of my stuff is not nearly so highbrow - I'm not a collector by any means.  I'm not a snob, I love crazy clothes, and I have a total thing for thrift stores, which is where I found these next treasures:

     

The first one is a tulle prom gown from the 1960s, complete with shrug and purse - less than $3, and since I don't care whether it fits or not, the fact that it's a size 0 doesn't matter.  The other three are from the 1970s - a heart prom dress (with ruffles!), a scarf dress (made from - honest to God - silk scarves) (it was a fashion, what can I tell you?), and a classic, yet timeless (since that bustline came back in the 1990s) (but not the pattern) summer party dress.  The red dress and the flowered dress still have their price tags, which is an enormous help in dating them.

I love that scarf dress.  Once I find a real 1970s tie dress, I'll have the set.

I always keep an eye open in the antique stores I visit for the second or third-tier vintage stuff that sells cheap, because no "real" collector wants it (if it's stained, torn, or altered, and under 150 years old, it's pretty worthless). I've found some pretty great stuff that way, such as this 1900s tea dress:

   

Yes, it's wilted and stained, but what awesome details!  I love the sleeves.  Sometimes it's just about the ideas and the delight you get from looking at the little stuff.

Speaking of the little stuff, here are some details on some of my other pieces that make my heart sing:


The silk satin roses on the back of the tea dress.

 
The neckline and back detailing on a 1960's evening gown.



The crazy bodice ruffles on the red ruffle dress ("it looks like Valentine's Day threw up all over it", my apprentice said).

 
The gorgeous lining details on a fabulous 1950s swing coat.

   
1960s cocktail dress styling at its finest - matching jacket and belt included.

I love my clothes, but my obsession with dressing up (I also lend my clothes to close friends) has meant that my collection has outgrown its home (which kind of explains why the monster now lives in the Master Bedroom closet):



I need more space.

But let's not think about that -  instead, feast your eyes on some fabulous holiday picks from the 1950s:

 
I bought them for the one skull pick - and who puts skull picks on their food, anyway?  I assume the same people that label their wine bottles "poison" at parties - but they're all quite awesome.



The Baby Jesus will take care of all your holiday buffet needs, amirite?

Totally.




 

Comments

( 22 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
trystbat
Dec. 1st, 2008 09:52 pm (UTC)
Lovely!!!

Of course, you have to serve the Jesus pick with pork sausages. Just seems right to me....
attack_laurel
Dec. 1st, 2008 09:53 pm (UTC)
I was going to make a "Baby Jesus wants to hold your weiner" joke, but I figured I'd be struck by lightning. :)
trystbat
Dec. 1st, 2008 09:54 pm (UTC)
If we haven't been struck by lightening yet, someone's not paying attention :-D
midnightpeapod
Dec. 2nd, 2008 02:25 am (UTC)
Hilarious!
(Deleted comment)
attack_laurel
Dec. 2nd, 2008 11:06 am (UTC)
Heh - I bought all the Martha Stewart Halloween stuff on sale - including "poison" labels for wine bottles. I plan to put them to good use. :)

christianet
Dec. 1st, 2008 09:58 pm (UTC)
You'd love my grandmother's wedding dress. She was an immigrant Italian flapper bride. She sewed it herself out of white silk taffeta. I have just the overdress, which tied simply at the waist with a ribbon. Unfortunately, it spent the last 30 years or so balled up in a plastic shopping bag at the bottom of closet; my aunt and uncle gave it to me, along with some delicate "trousseau" caps that she sewed herself out of silk, and a lot of vintage lace still on the cardboard reels. So the silk is very distressed and has ripped along the fold lines. I need to get some acid-free paper for it and box it up. I'd love to sew the rips, but I don't know if it would do any good.
attack_laurel
Dec. 2nd, 2008 11:10 am (UTC)
Don't bother to sew the rips - it's unlikely you'd be able to fix them and not hurt the silk further. Once silk starts going, it's pretty much impossible to mend. The lace, on the other hand, should be good for years.

You should pack it flat, with acid-free tissue paper under the silk, so that it doesn't sit in sharp folds - that will prevent it from deteriorating further. There are also professional clothing conservators - if you're interested (and want to pay the money).

Most museums, especially ones that have textile collections, are interested in pieces with a clear provenance - if you type up the history of the dress, and keep it with the actual dress and laces, you might be able someday to give it to a museum (MFA Boston is interested in that sort of thing, I know).
hsifeng
Dec. 1st, 2008 10:07 pm (UTC)
Thanks for letting us 'into your closet'! *grin* Seriously though, I always love looking at other peoples treasures. It's like window shopping for my soul. *chuckle*
mistressrhi
Dec. 1st, 2008 10:08 pm (UTC)
OMG! I owned (and wore) a silk scarf dress (circa 1977) like this! Now, mine was also black on top, but the bodice was bandeau with spaghetti straps!

And yes, I was thin enough back then to actually pull it off... sigh...

Ah, for the good old days...
attack_laurel
Dec. 2nd, 2008 11:14 am (UTC)
Most people pooh-pooh the 1970s for clothing, but I am collecting now, before they move from the thrift to the antique store (sadly, it's already happening - and I've seen some badly mis-labeled pieces with really high price tags).

I've got some great bits, and personally, I love that kind of '70s dress - I wore all sorts of crazy things back then. My dream is to find a similar dress to my favouritest dress from then - a tiered full-length prarie-style flowered dress that could be worn off the shoulder - awesome, it was. I used to pretend I was a Victorian (I know, I know) lady in that dress.
corbaegirl
Dec. 1st, 2008 10:09 pm (UTC)
I lived just outside of Paris when I was 18 and wore a size 0. I assembled a huge collection of 1870's through 1930's clothing (had to buy two extra suitcases coming home just for them. I outgrew them having my daughters, but they still were around when I was hit by a car and lost my ability to earn a living---right after buying a house. I was able to sell them off a few at a time for enough to pay my mortgage until disability kicked in. I still miss a few of them, but I love my house more.
attack_laurel
Dec. 2nd, 2008 11:17 am (UTC)
That's actually a really great story - it's nice to know that some pieces kept you in your house!

I had to give up some truly incredible pieces when I left the UK (hand-embroidered Chinese robes made for the 1900s European market, among other things), but I tell myself they're just clothes, in the end. There are much more important things - and I'd give up my collection in a heartbeat for something more important, like keeping a roof over my head.

It's important to keep one's priorities straight.
corbaegirl
Dec. 2nd, 2008 05:52 pm (UTC)
Especially when the roof is over 100 years old, beautiful, and in a great neighborhood. Oh, and I kept all the family heirlooms, like my great-grandmother's handstitched nightgown, and the Chinese camelhair robe my grandfather bought in Shanghai.
snobahr
Dec. 1st, 2008 10:12 pm (UTC)
My mom-in-law has a bunch of the plastic cake decorations from her baby shower in 1963. They're in a jar in the pantry :) She's also saved a number of holidays pics through the mid-70s.
nicolaa5
Dec. 2nd, 2008 01:11 am (UTC)
Nice stuff! I'm not a common size for vintage, alas, although I did find a few cool men's items back while I was in grad school that did great service, and I made my own 20s dress out of really lovely garnet-coloured silk taffeta.

My dress-up thing (and interest in history) probably dates back to the sixth grade, where we had Shakespeare in the Schools. The woman who ran it had a whole trunk of costumes, and we all performed snippets of plays. I was Hamlet. (I had short hair and was taller than most of the boys. Amusing reverse Elizabethan cross dressing!)

attack_laurel
Dec. 2nd, 2008 11:20 am (UTC)
I remember my lust for really collecting roomsful of stuff was kicked into high gear when I walked into the costume room of a woman who owned an acting school - racks of gorgeous clothes, many very vintage. I did some terrible things to vintage clothes back then - re-making and sewing them into other things (a la Molly Ringwald in Sizteen Candles *shudder*, but I love having racks of clothes to play with (and wear out clubbing).

I have a recurring dream of walking through racks of clothing, searching for ht eright outfit, and never finding it. :)
dream_wind
Dec. 2nd, 2008 01:17 am (UTC)
I love the ruffle dress and the scarf dress. Actually, I'd like to steal the scarf dress.

And happy birthday, too.
isenglass
Dec. 2nd, 2008 01:18 am (UTC)
Do you think if my vintage clothing collection and your vintage clothing collection got together they might make babies? There's never too many vintage pieces. I don't care who you are! I wore a 1950s red tulle ball gown to my prom. Rock on with your vintage self!
matticrafts
Dec. 2nd, 2008 03:45 pm (UTC)
I had managed to collect a decent amount of vintage by 1984 (late 60s/early 70s stuff), starting with my prom dress, which was a melon tulle dress that had been hacked off before I got to it, and a SERIOUSLY SPLENDID green heavy satin skirt that was decorated with yellow and green trim.

Someone -- my mother, I think, but it could've been my stepfather -- neither one realized that they didn't like me very much -- parked the family car on the street, loaded with boxes and one suitcase from moving me all of 23 blocks uptown out of my dorm and back into the family apartment upon my college graduation. The car was broken into. The only thing taken was the large suitcase with all my vintage stuff.

I've never recovered. I didn't realize that until just now.
luveday
Dec. 2nd, 2008 01:45 am (UTC)
lovely collection! I have a very similar coat to your 1950's one, that was my mother's, that my grandmother made for her, and that I still wear regularly. I do, however, need to replace the lining on it.
mellifluous_ink
Dec. 2nd, 2008 05:21 pm (UTC)
Baby Je! XD OMG That almost looked obscene, but then again I'm always looking for the obscene.
( 22 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )

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