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Archive for the ‘Fashion’ Category

I’m probably in the minority on this one, but I didn’t care much for Lady Gaga’s Inauguration … hmm, what should I call it? Outfit? Costume? Skirt and top? Ball gown?

Whatever we call the Schiaparelli brand ensemble, it was inappropriate for the occasion. Or at least half of it was.

Hear me out.

I know that Lady Gaga likes a grand entrance. She likes outrageous costumes and I think that’s fine for one of her concerts but for the Inauguration of the United States President, tailored pieces are more appropriate than oversized skirts.

I thought the navy jacket and large gilded dove brooch were spot on; her lovely voice and updated, heartfelt rendition of The Star Spangle Banner were stunning, and she looked beautiful. However, the skirt, made of layers of red silk faille, was too voluminous, it took up too much room and looked awkward on that crowded platform.

A skirt like that would be just the thing for the opening night of the opera, the Costume Institute Gala, the Inaugural Ball had there been one. Any formal nighttime event with ample space where its fullness can spread and fill and be completely seen and enjoyed.

Ballgowns (that’s what this was) are not for daytime events. I would have preferred a pencil skirt, perhaps in the same navy fabric as the jacket or in red for a more splashy Lady Gaga look. To keep with her quirkiness, some fabulous vintage shoes – 40s slingbacks or Oxfords with a heel – and a pair of gloves with red embroidered tips as a nod to the original Schiaparelli.

Still, as I said Lady Gaga looked lovely (waist up) and I really appreciated hearing her sing our national anthem with such heart.

Agree? Disagree? I welcome any polite comments from ODFL readers.

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We live surrounded by cloth. We are swaddled in it at birth and shrouds are drawn over our faces at death. And yet there persists a stubborn belief that clothing and cloth are frivolous subjects – unworthy of serious notice – despite their overwhelming importance to human evolution.

Kassia St. Clair, British journalist and author.

This is, in part, a quote by Ms. St. Clair from the inside jacket of her book The Golden Thread: How Fabric Change History (Liveright Publishing).

I’ve started off the new year with this book, dipping back into non-fiction after reading quite a lot of fiction in Pandemic 2020. Having taken a textiles class in 2017, some of the information in this book is a welcome refresher, but I’m learning new things too! Such as the Vikings used wool to fashion their ships’ sails. I’m looking forward to the chapter on lace and I’m very intrigued by “Rayon’s Dark Past.”

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Watching on television the Biden/Harris Inauguration, I enjoyed the style parade: shades of blue and purple, long coats, dress suits, and pantsuits. There were gloves on everyone, usually color coordinated or black. No hats on this cold winter day, but long windswept hair instead.

Ella Emhoff’s handbag looks vintage to me.

It was all very nice and very expected. Then, something unexpected – my eyes widened when the camera followed a tall woman descending the inside stairs. “Who is that?” I actually said out loud, admiring her unique inauguration choice of a brown and tan tweed coat with sparkly amber colored stones sprinkled around the shoulders and a pointed white collar. I also liked her practical yet chic headband.

It turns out the young lady is Ella Emhoff, Harris’ stepdaughter and the coat is a Miu Miu design. Now she’s all over the fashion press, #NewStyleIcon.

But there’s something I noticed that others have not and that would be her handbag, which looks to be VINTAGE. Overtaken by the coat, no one is talking about the handbag. Is it vintage? I can’t say for sure, however, the short handle, the shape of the bag, the frame and clasp plus it looks to be made of fabric, tells me it’s vintage (could be 30s-50s) or at least it’s vintage inspired. Either way, what a charming touch!

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I think the new mode for the decade is to just miss the gala. If it’s a charity, send the check, get dressed up, and stay in.

Isaac Mizrahi, American fashion designer.

On Wednesday, January 20, 2021 Joe Biden will become the 46th President of the United States and Kamala Harris will become our 49th vice-president. There is much to celebrate but in the midst of a pandemic and the need for extra security, Inauguration Day festivities will be scaled-down with fewer attendees and a virtual parade. Most likely there won’t be the usual galas. Following the swearing-in ceremony (11am EST) President Biden will address the country from the United States Capitol.

I know we’re all hoping for a safe and smooth transition.

The evening before the Inauguration at 5:30 EST there will be a lighting ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool to honor the more than 375,000 Americans who have lost their lives to Covid-19. The entire nation is invited to light up buildings and ring bells in a (much needed) moment of “unity and remembrance.”

We are encouraged to celebrate Inauguration Day safely at home. I intend to take Mr. Mizrahi’s advice and stay in, dress up for the occasion, and make out a check to my favorite charity. That seems like a fitting way to start anew with our new leader.

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I was inspired by stylist Bella McFadden to sift through my closet and do some of my own 90s styling. Using a skirt of that era, I put together an outfit that I actually remember wearing to a family dinner, circa 1997. Then I thought about how someone like Ms. McFadden might take the same skirt and create an outfit for today adding other 90s pieces but creating a completely different look.

My original outfit includes a silk blouse by Kiss of the Wolf and a velvet quilted jacket with a mandarin collar. By then I was already in the habit of including vintage touches (1930s-60s), which I believe make any outfit much more interesting – in this case the 1940s shoes and handbag with a Lucite handle. I wore two strands of pearls, one in cream and one in grey, which matches the grey buttons on the blouse. The large Victorian jet ring is a favorite of mine that I wear more now than I did then. The bracelet is a 1930s faux pearl cuff. Adding the vintage pieces and wearing a simple jacket makes this outfit almost timeless. Almost. The skirt gives it away.

I had fun putting together a 90s retro outfit using the same skirt and other pieces I have in my wardrobe which date from that era. Back in the day, I would not have worn those shoes nor the fancy fishnets with that skirt but I was thinking Bella McFadden and what she might have done with the same pieces.

I layered the simple t-shirt with a camisole and added a couple of silver chains for a mix and match look. I pulled my hair up for a touch of quirky and those sunglasses are Anne Klein II from Macy’s. I’m not much of a belt person but this woven leather belt adds some needed edge as does the crossbody purse. Of course if I’m going to sport this ensemble today, I need a mask.

So there we have two completely different looks using the same skirt. It’s all down to the styling!

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If you’re feeling down internally, make yourself look bomb externally. Whenever I’m like so bummed, I will make sure my outfit is extra on point that day so that I feel really good.

Bella McFadden (AKA Internet Girl), stylist and fashion retailer on Depop.

Depop is a shopping/resale app based out of London. Ms. McFadden is an internet sensation, having done quite well on Depop reselling and restyling thrift store finds (she buys a lot of quirky new stuff, too). She says she’s the number one seller in North America. She also offers what she calls “bundles” or basically a styling service. (Reminds me of Stitch Fix but for clients all about thrift clothes and specifically interested in 90s/Y2K style.) Click here to see on Youtube how Ms. McFadden puts together her bundles.

I agree with Ms. McFadden’s sentiment. We’re all feeling a little bleak after pandemic year 2020, but I can’t think of a better way to lift the spirits than to plan a stellar outfit and wear it!

Check back on Wednesday for a little surprise inspired by Ms. McFadden.

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For our final vintage handbag of the series I present this lovely gold mesh evening bag by Whiting and Davis.

Most vintage enthusiasts have a Whiting and Davis in their collection and mine came to me from my grandmother. It’s in such excellent condition I can hardly believe it dates from the 1930s.

The Whiting and Davis plant in MA, c.1920.

Whiting and Davis was the leading manufacturer of mesh handbags after the company patented mesh making machines in 1912. Located in Norfolk, MA the main American plant designed and constructed dozens of different patterns from painted mesh to enamel to silver or gold plate.

In 1966 the company sold but it’s still around today, still making mesh bags that sell at high-end stores for upwards of $200.

My gold Whiting and Davis mesh evening bag was the perfect choice for the ADSC 2016 Preservation Ball.

I often sport my vintage W&D at Art Deco evening events such as the ADSC Preservation Ball. I look forward to using it again, hopefully later this year.

And with that, we are at the end of The Twelve Days of Vintage Handbags. I hope readers have enjoyed the holiday series as much as I have. There will be another one next season. Hmm … what will it be? Stay with us this year and find out.

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This lovely Corde’ handbag is one of several that I own. Popular in the 1940s, Corde’ bags were made from rows of gimp (cord used for trim in clothing and furniture) stitched in interesting patterns to fabric backing. The inside label says “A Genuine Corde’ Registered Trademark. Made in England.”

I add a tulle bow for festive holiday outings.

A gift from my mother, I don’t save this handbag for just vintage events; I use it often for special occasions and evenings out. It holds quite a lot and the handle is just long enough to slip over my shoulder, which updates the look.

Tomorrow we come to the final day of The Twelve Days of Vintage Handbags. Don’t miss it!

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This one was among my first and best purchases while I was still a college student. At that time there was a vintage shop called Emporium located on Campus Corner near the university. My friend and I would go in regularly and I also tended to stop by on my way home from classes. I was pretty broke in college so I had to be careful but, when I saw this clutch I didn’t hesitate. I don’t even recall how much I paid but I do remember that this shop was very reasonable with their pricing.

The bag is from the 1920s, made of leather with whip stitching on the edges and gold metal inserts. Inside there are several different size pockets, including one just the right size for business cards. (There are still a few of my cards tucked into that pocket as I had a small business making brooches and bolos out of vintage buttons and watch faces.) It expands to hold surprisingly quite a lot and I really like the option of using the strap at the top. It was and still is in excellent condition.

I used it often back then for evenings out to plays (I reviewed plays and movies for the college newspaper) or dinner. It was just the right touch to make an outfit pop.

We are rolling along and tomorrow is day eleven. What will our handbag be? Come back to find out.

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Another fabric handbag, this time a clutch in brown with swipes of black. I spotted this bag at the now defunct Vintage Fashion Expo – a vintage sale held twice a year in San Francisco (oh how I miss the Fashion Expo). I instantly fell in love with the unusual curve at the bottom of this bag, which is just perfect for holding. The shape and fabric remind me of mid-century furniture.

A classic 1950s handbag, I often wear it with a brown full skirt dress that I bought at the same time from the same dealer. This is my go-to autumn party outfit. Parties? Remember those?

Remember to stop back tomorrow for another vintage handbag.

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