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Archive for the ‘Mom’s Closet’ Category

Just a reminder for local readers that the Shadelands Ranch Summer Market in Walnut Creek is coming up fast – Sunday, July 31, open from 10am to 3pm.

A few goodies I’ll be selling: This charming summer dress has a 1920s feel and would be a great choice for Gatsby Summer Afternoon! The handbag is a Koret, circa 1960s. One can never have too many summer hats and this straw wide brim is a classic. The colorful scarf on my mannequin is vintage 70s.

Forty vendors will be selling their handmade and vintage wares. The museum will also have for sale items from their archives – vintage and antique clothing, accessories, and home décor items.

I’m offering vintage jewelry, scarves, handkerchiefs, hats, handbags, dolls, collectable perfume bottles, some clothing, and other small goodies. Joining me is Paula Dodd Aiello, costumer and seamstress from Sew Becoming. She will have costumes and accessories, clothing, and items for the home.

There will be food vendors, shade under the trees, and tours of the museum (if you haven’t been inside of the Shadelands mansion, it’s a fun travel back in local history).

Also please note that all the money that I make from sales will go to Brightfocus Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports research for cures for Macular Degeneration. As I have mentioned before my mother suffered with MD, an eye disease that slowly robs people of their vision. The last years of her life she was nearly blind. My donation will be in her memory.

So come out for a sunny Sunday afternoon and please stop by our booth (#53) to say hello.

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Summer at Tiffany (Harper Collins Publishers, 2007) is a memoir by Marjorie Hart, music professor, celloist, and former chairman of the Fine Arts Department at the University of San Diego. Memoirs are often about an interesting slice of a person’s life and this one tells the story of Ms. Hart’s (née Jacobson) summer in 1945 when she and her best friend, Marty, both students at University of Iowa, traveled to New York City to work for the summer.

Initially the two pals thought they would have it made working in the Big Apple. Through sorority sister connections they had a place to stay for the summer and they had heard that getting “shopgirl” jobs was a cinch. After much convincing of their families to let them go, Marjorie and Marty dressed in their best and boarded the train headed for adventure. But upon arrival, they discovered getting a job wasn’t a cinch after all. They were turned away from all the best stores – Lord & Taylor, Bonwit Teller, Sacks Fifth Avenue and others. Marjorie asks herself “What was this wild rumor that finding a job in Manhattan was easy?”

Indeed it was no easy task, but once again connections played a role in helping our two heroines land positions as pages at the one and only Tiffany jewelry store on 5th Avenue and E. 57the Street. Wait, it gets better – they are the first women to ever work on the sales floor (WWII is raging and all the men are abroad fighting) AND they are outfitted in custom Tiffany blue shirtwaist dresses topped with leather messenger bags to carry the treasures upstairs to either the credit department or the repair department. And so the summer of adventure beings – dinner dates with servicemen, a trip to the ocean, a brush with Elizabeth Taylor, VJ Day in Times Square.

I have to say, crazy at it sounds, it took me some time to warm up to Summer at Tiffany. I started reading it back when it was first published, but I soon put it down. Although well written and lively, I just couldn’t get into it. Fast forward to earlier this year when I was looking for a lighthearted book to read to my mother. I had been reading to Mom for a few years since she could no longer see due to the eye disease Macular Degeneration. I thought this book might appeal to Mom for the era and the jewelry, however, to be honest, I suspect that by then she wasn’t really connecting to much of anything; she just liked the sound of my voice.

This time around I really enjoyed Marjorie and Marty and all the details of Tiffany and how it operated back in the day. I followed with interest Marjorie’s youthful romance with a young gentleman in the Navy and I enjoyed the humorous misadventures that she got into – like the time a strand of pearls broke and ended up on the elevator floor. What I particularly appreciated about the book was its unaffected tone and the transportation back to a more charming time when women dressed up for dates and wrote letters to their families “back home.”

I enjoyed the book so much I kind of savored it, reading it slowly to linger just a bit longer in Marjorie’s world. I read the next to the last chapter the last afternoon I spent with my mother. She was awake, talking and aware, and I was completely unaware that that would be the last time I read to her.

After she died, I brought the book home and it sat on my desk for weeks. I just couldn’t bring myself to read that last chapter. Somehow, for me, coming to the end of the book was to step further away from those days that I sat with my mother reading to her. The End meant the end for us too.

Once I was ready, I did read that last chapter and I read it aloud. Instead of making me feel more apart from my mother, the act of reading aloud helped me to feel connected. I like to think that Mom was listening from wherever she might be now.

Summer at Tiffany is a delightful visit back in time and just the right read for a sunny afternoon under an umbrella in the garden, perhaps sipping a lemonade or a cocktail. (Maybe you’d like to share it with your mom.)

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The Shadelands Ranch Museum Summer Market in Walnut Creek is back for a second year on Sunday, July 31st, 10am to 3pm. The Market offers vintage and antique goodies as well as handmade items from 40 local vendors and this year I am one of those vendors. Also available will be items from the museum’s archives, including clothing, accessories, and home décor pieces. (Last year there was quite a lot of Edwardian and Art Deco dresses.)

Yes, I will be out there too, sharing a booth with Paula Dodd Aiello from Sew Becoming.

These past few months I have been sorting through my collection and my mother’s collection of vintage jewelry and other small items. I will have vintage earrings, brooches, pendants, silver bracelets, and Bakelite bangles. I have a few vintage clothing pieces, hats, handbags, scarves, handkerchiefs, collectable perfume bottles, and dolls. Beads and buttons, too. Paula will have vintage clothing and costume pieces, as well some cool items for the home.

Vintage jewelry from my collection and my mother’s.

There will be a couple of food vendors, lots of shade under the trees, and the Shadelands Museum will be open for tours. What a lovely Sunday afternoon outing. If you’re in the area, please come by and say hello.

Shadelands Ranch Museum Summer Market, Sunday, July 31st, 10-3. 2660 Ygnacio Valley Road in Walnut Creek.

NOTE: Our booth number is 53 and is under the name Mom’s Closet. We take cash only.

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No one loves you like your mom. Pictured: My mother with me and my brothers – Jimmy in the front and Marshall in the back.

Cindy Marshall died on Wednesday, April 27, 2022.

My mother lived, as she would say, a multifaceted life. She was a woman of style, good manners, and a quirky sense of humor. An only child, she was born in a small town in Pennsylvania, but grew up in many places, including China, where her father was an officer in the Navy. After her parents divorced when Mom was ten years old, she and her mother moved to San Francisco. I think she was lonely in those early days; she told me she spent that first cold and foggy summer in SF by herself inside their apartment listening to Flash Gordon on the radio and making paper dolls from images in fashion magazines.

Classical music and opera were important to my mother. She learned about both from her father and when she was in high school she studied voice hoping one day to sing opera. She had a lovely voice, good for operettas, but she thought not strong enough for opera so she gave it up (it was the big stuff or nothing). Still, she’d sing to herself up until the very end of her life. (In fact she was singing along with a Michael Feinstein CD while I sat with her just days before she passed.)

A bit of a loner, Mom followed her own sense of style. In the 1950s, Marin County housewives were wearing shirtwaist dresses with full skirts and shoes with heels, but not my mother. She sported slacks and desert boots, and for a diaper bag she used a bowling ball bag. “It was more interesting,” she told me. That was the era of luncheons, cocktail parties, and evenings out for dinner and dancing. Mom loved all that and had the appropriate attire for every occasion, usually purchased from her favorite department store, I. Magnin. Sometimes she made her clothing, although, she said she didn’t like working with sewing machines and preferred to sew by hand. She was also an avid knitter and once knitted an entire dress.

Mom had three children – Marshall, Jimmy, and me. One of the tragedies in Mom’s life was the loss of her two boys, both of whom left us way too young. It weighed her down with sadness, but she had an admirable inner strength and I know that she also took comfort in our small surviving family.

When I started school, Mom went to work, out of necessity as a divorced single mother but I think also to get back into the wider world. She managed a dentist’s office for many years and then switched to jewelry sales, which was her forte. She worked at Shreve & Co. and then Zales, and eventually she started her own antique jewelry business. Around that time she also reclaimed her maiden name, grew her hair long, went blonde, and shifted from structured handbags to the more fashionable shoulder bags.

There is much to say about my mother. (And I say it in a mother/daughter memoir that I am working on – and one day may even finish.) She was an elegant, complex woman who spent much of her life searching for answers to the big questions. Sometimes when she pondered life, she’d say “What’s this all about?” We weren’t always on the same page, but we were close and we spent a lot of time together. I miss that already. She has always been there, always on my side, always backing me up. Life is a little lonelier now.

My father died just before Father’s Day in 1984 and I still have the card I had planned to give to him. Now, my mother has left just before Mother’s Day 2022. Life is strange.

While I sort through this loss, it’s hard for me to focus. Even fashion, my usual place of joy, feels empty to me. For that reason, I am going to take a break from ODFL. I hope that readers will bear with me and still be there when I return. In the meantime there’s ten plus years of archives to revisit. Also, take a peek at Mom’s Closet (tab at the top), which has posts all about my mother, who inspired this blog.

Rest in peace, Mom. We love you!

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Chanel slingbacks.

When it comes to my own style I am very much a uniform dresser. Shoe-wise, it’s kind of what your grandma would wear, which is why I was drawn to these Chanel slingbacks. I purchased them five years ago at the brand’s SoHo store in New York and saved up all my money to do so. I’m not a heels person. They always make me feel overdressed and not in my own skin. But I needed one classic shoe that I could have forever and would look nice with everything.

Maggie Holladay, furniture designer and founder of Claude Home.

I found this quote in the December 2021 issue of Harper’s Bazaar.

Chanel slingback shoes sell for $925. That sounds like a lot, but for a quality classic shoe that one can wear forever with everything (almost) it’s not that bad. There’s much about this quote that I like –

1. The fact that Ms. Holladay saved up to buy her shoes. Saving up for something special, waiting, thinking about it, planning the big trip to the store when you can finally pay and take it home – that’s what I call a treat and a memorable one. Slipping out the credit card? Too easy. Not memorable. I once saved for a Coach handbag. It was a present to myself after my first year of graduate school. I still have that bag, of course, and it reminds me of a very important accomplishment. I could have whipped out the credit card, sure, but that wouldn’t have been as much fun. Instant gratification is overrated.

2. Uniform dressing. My mother did this and I tend toward it too, although I always add an accessory. My mother favored skirts and button-down shirts for her daily wear with perhaps knee socks and flat shoes if she was staying home or sheer stockings and a low heels if she was running errands. Skirts and t-shirts, or sweaters are my daily go-to as well. It’s nice to have several outfits already created that you can just pull out, dress, and go.

3. Investment in a classic. Buy one quality thing and wear it forever. One pair of classic shoes for special or professional occasions. One wool winter coat. One hardy suit (maybe two). You get the picture. Quality over quantity.

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Pearls go with everything and can go anywhere. They’re not too much and not too little but everything you’d ask for in a piece of jewelry.

Cindy Marshall, retired antique jewelry dealer and my mother.

Mom comes out with these little gems every so often. We were chatting on the phone and I mentioned that I’d been wearing her pearl bracelet that she had passed on to me years ago. I hadn’t worn it much, saving it for special occasions until my recent pull toward pearls inspired me to wear this bracelet every day, just because I like it.

It seems I’m not the only person drawn to pearls lately. Fashion designer Marc Jacobs told Harper’s Bazaar that after years of wanting, he finally bought himself a strand of pearls for Christmas last year. He says that the pearls are like a good luck charm and bring him joy during the pandemic. I recently interviewed a jeweler about trends and pearls are on the list. She told me that young women, influenced by the young British royals, are buying pearls.

I suspect that women are also inspired by another fan of pearls – Vice President Kamala Harris, who has made pearls her signature. Single strands, double strands, layered, mixed with gold and even diamonds, Vice President Harris loves her pearls. (I love that fact that she sports her pearls with her other favorite accessory – Converse sneakers.)

I agree with my mother that pearls are now an every day choice that go with everything. I like pearls with t-shirts. Or layers of pearls peeking out from underneath a blouse. Or a long strand on a lightweight sweater. Pearls are fun to play with and they don’t have to be real; faux pearls can be as lovely and lustrous as the real thing. And by the way, pearl is the birthstone for June.

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My mother once told me that her best friend from her younger days went through a phase of using paper shopping bags as handbags. Not just any old paper bag! No, one from I. Magnin or Saks Fifth Avenue. How intriguing. She could afford to shop at high end department stores, but she couldn’t afford a purse?

I love the irony and I wonder if that was her intention.

Mom thought that perhaps her BF couldn’t afford the expensive purse she wanted. But having good taste, she wasn’t going to settle for less, so, to be quirky or humorous she used the paper bags she got for buying a lipstick or stockings at the the best department stores in Downtown, San Francisco.

Fast forward to now and paper shopping bags are all the rage for reuse. I see it frequently – sturdy bags used for the gym, carting around kids stuff, used as totes to take to work or on a day out. I use some of my bag collection to carry packages to the post office and they’re perfect for packing a lunch.

These days in California and elsewhere (but not NY) customers have to pay for a bag and that’s a good thing for the environment and a good opportunity to reuse some of the shopping bags we already have. Maybe even carry a really nice one as your handbag. Why not?

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I have many of my late mother’s dresses from the 70s. Some are unraveling, but I feel close to her when I wear them around my house. There’s a red floral one that reminds me of summers in Oklahoma.

Sherri McMullen – boutique owner.

Originally from Oklahoma, Ms. McMullen owns the fashion boutique McMullen, located in downtown Oakland. Offering luxury clothing by designers from around the world, McMullen has been named among the top American boutiques by Vogue and Women’s Wear Daily.

I also own much of my mother’s clothing from the 50s to the 70s and I can relate to what Ms. McMullen is saying. These vintage pieces of fashion are woven with memories and images that connect us to our past. I think that’s of great value.

Sunday, May 9th is Mother’s Day. ODFL wishes all the moms out there a very happy day!

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The classic 2.55 handbag by Chanel.

I inherited my Chanel 2.55 bag from my mother, who herself had been gifted it. Whenever I wear it I’m wearing her history. I know it sounds like an inflated idea, but our attachments to objects and the paths they’ve all taken are real.

Lucy Chadwick, Gallery Director of Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in New York.

The iconic Chanel 2.55 handbag was named after the date of its creation – February 1955. At the time it had unique features including quilted leather and a chain shoulder strap. Since the original hit the shelves, there have been many interpretations and spins on the original design but like a true classic, it has never gone out of style.

I have a little tan leather clutch bag with a kiss closure that belonged to my mother. I remember it was always kept in her dresser drawer and it didn’t come out to be carried but instead held important little things like her old driver’s licenses. She just recently gave it to me and I have considered using it but, I don’t want to disturb the contents. Now it sits in my dresser drawer.

So, I agree with Ms. Chadwick that objects carry the history of their owners.

Coming up later this week it’s all about handbags on OverDressedforLife. Stay tuned.

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From afar we wish all mothers a very Happy Mother’s Day.

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