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Archive for the ‘Vintage’ Category

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Manolo Blahnik, 1974

… everything that he did was to do with expressing himself. It was really only from his interest and passion that he dressed like that. He didn’t look like anyone else at that time because it was the time of hippies … and there he was like a creature from a completely different century. 

Penelope Tree, British former fashion model and friend of Manolo Blahnik.

This quote is from an interview with Ms. Tree in the documentary film, Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards.  She worked with Blahnik in London back in his early career. He initially wanted to be a fashion designer, but when he showed his illustrations to then US Vogue editor, Diana Vreeland, she encouraged him to design shoes.

Evidently. Blahnik liked his clothes and he was very particular. A man of taste, he insisted on well-tailored suits made of quality fabric in unique patterns. As Ms. Tree points out, he was wearing suits and more tailored clothing in an era when trends called for t-shirts and jeans. Today he’s still a dapper fella, sporting suits and bow ties.

I love a fashionable rebel!

 

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Jerry Garcia’s vintage top hat, c.1969. 

Let’s celebrate the freedom to sport our own individual style.

OverDressedforLife wishes one and all a happy and safe Independence Day!

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Gloria Vanderbilt and her jeans, mid-1970s. 

All art, from the paintings on the walls of cave dwellers to art created today, is autobiographical because it comes from the secret place in the soul where imagination resides. 

Gloria Vanderbilt (1924-2019), American heiress, designer, author, artist.

The great-great-granddaughter of a railroad magnate, Gloria was an only child and very wealthy. Her father died when she was just a baby and her mother left her with nannies while she traveled the world spending her daughter’s money. Gloria’s aunt sued for custody and the press thrived on that for weeks, calling the 10-year old, “a poor little rich girl.” That attention sealed her fate as a non-Hollywood celebrity. After her aunt won custody of Gloria, the two lived together in a New York City mansion.

Fast forward to three marriages and many creative endeavors including model, artist, author, poet, and what she might be best known for –  fashion designer, specifically women’s jeans. In the 1970s a clothing manufacturer signed Gloria to market their jeans, which were specifically cut for women’s figures. Hers was the first “designer jean” complete with the Vanderbilt signature on the back rear pocket. The deal was a big success and grew into Gloria Vanderbilt Apparel Corporation, which was eventually sold to the Jones Apparel Group in 2002.

Any American woman alive in the 1970s probably sported a pair of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans.

RIP, Gloria.

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Lesley Warren from Salon 1757.

I’m a regular at Salon 1757 in North Berkeley where Kit Cullinane has been keeping my hair looking its bobbed best since 2006. On a recent visit to the salon I thought stylist Leslie Warren was looking particularly Berkeley chic.

It’s the pants that make the outfit. Lesley tells me she found them in the Juniors Department at Nordstrom in Seattle. (It’s always smart to look in Juniors.)  The detailing along the sides is a current trend and turns otherwise simple pants into something interesting. The shoes are just the right Berkeley quirky and the low heel is perfect with the shorter hem-length of the pants. Lesley punches up the all black look with a colorful scarf. And of course her full bouncy red hair tops it all off nicely. I also really like her subtle cat-eye glasses.

 

 

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It’s all in the detail.

Berkeley has always had its own unique style. Part European or Asian, part hippie, part DIY. Think non-structured silhouettes, Dansko clogs, shades of black and gray, geometric patterns, texture, natural fabrics (linen is a favorite), layering, and sometimes a touch of vintage.

Thank you, Lesley! I’ll be seeing you again in the salon.

 

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qKBCeTOLKJwC… as luxury became available to the mass market, the more luxury became devalued. It was a sign of status not to have an expensive bag, but a new expensive bag every season. The notion that luxury items endure was abolished. Status came from being able to discard luxury goods as if they were high street. What was left of real worth was either the difficult to obtain (the Hermes waiting list) or the ostentatiously, obtrusively flashy, such as Cate Blanchett’s $100,000 stolen bag with the black pave diamonds.  

Linda Grant, British author. Quote from The Thoughtful Dresser: The Art of Adornment, the Pleasure of Shopping and Why Clothes Matter, (Scribner, 2010).

This quote reminds me of a recent trip to the Dollar Store. I was standing in the checkout line behind a woman who was dressed in unbranded shorts and sneakers. Dangling from her wrist was a thin Louis Vutton  pouch. As we stood together in this slow-moving line, I began to wonder if it was the real thing or a fake. Would this woman spend over $600 on a small piece of luxury? Would a woman who can afford such a splurge bother waiting in a long line at the Dollar Store?

louis-vuitton-daily-pouch-monogram-small-leather-goods--M62048_PM2_Front viewThese days who knows. Maybe it was a gift. Or she saved up. Or she bought it second hand. Or maybe she’s loaded and enjoys bargains like the rest of us, so she’s willing to shop at the Dollar Store.

Lucky for me, since I can’t afford it anyway, I’ve never been attracted to branded luxury. Although I appreciate the quality of a Chanel or a Hermes or a Louis Vutton, I prefer my own monogram. Plus, I’m not going to spend that kind of money on something that someone else might assume is a fake. Ms. Grant is right, luxury has been devalued. What used to be aspirational is now achievable.

I find luxury in quality and uniqueness. I don’t want what everybody else has – real or fake.

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Wearable Art by Kaisik Wong featuring metallic checkered fabric. Photo: Wong Family.

You need a certain confidence to carry off a major piece of clothing so that you are wearing it, instead of it wearing you. 

Melissa Leventon, curator, professor of fashion history, principal at Curatrix Group.

This quote is from an episode of the PBS show Craft in America, which features craft in California. Quite a bit of time is spent on wearable art and wearable artists based in California. Ms. Leventon spoke to this subject.

When any garment is its own thing, whether that be wearable art or a vintage piece, even something off the rack, it can be challenging to wear. What makes it its own thing might be a particular color, an unusual silhouette, or a funky fabric. I say, tailored clothing is hard work. A pencil skirt shortens your stride. A fitted jacket limits your arm mobility. How about stilettos? To pull those off you better step gracefully. Hats? I love them but often you can’t just plop on a hat and not expect to rise to the occasion. (If nothing else you’re going to have to respond to nice people commenting/complimenting you, so there’s no hiding beneath a hat.)

 

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Ensemble designed by Louise Brown. My mother pulled it off.

My mother has a dress and coat outfit that was designed by my grandmother back in the 1960s. Oh my gosh, I can only imagine what a task it is to wear that piece. For starters the dress is made of plaid wool and has 62 buttons. Small ones up the back and along the sleeves. It’s fitted and therefore, requires foundation garments. Then there’s the burnt orange wool coat, which is large and boxy and has no shape. The combination is actually quite fantastic, but you have to be up for it, or as Ms. Leventon says, it’s going to wear you.

Even just everyday items of clothing that are comfortable, still might require some energy. I was recently reading a middle-grade novel (The First Rule of Punk, by Celia Perez) in which the 12-year-old protagonist is the new girl in school. She’s into punk music (no one her age knows anything about punk) and all things edgy so she decides to show up for her first day dressed in ripped jeans, a t-shirt with something punk on it and … heavy black eyeliner circling her eyes. OK, we know where this is going. She was immediately labeled a “weirdo.” But she made those sartorial choices and she stood up in them with confidence, like any good heroine would.

When I don my vintage clothing, I know that part of the look is going to be me and my attitude. I have to stand a little straighter, move a little more precisely, wear my ensemble with intent and confidence. Otherwise, it’s not going to have the right effect and for sure it won’t feel right.

 

 

 

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If you want a pair of cowboy boots or anything else western style, Christesen’s Tack Room in Downtown Pleasanton has got you covered. I have never seen so many variations on a theme! But I must admit that I don’t frequent tack shops.

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This place feels very small town, old-school in a most charming way. It’s large and stocks Western and English riding attire for men, women, and children: jackets, pants, shirts galore (long and short sleeve), and hats. I don’t think you need to ride a horse to sport the look. or incorporate one piece. That could make for some very interesting fashion.

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Christesen’s Tack Room stocks many brands including Pendleton.

I’m attracted to western style shirts, which would be cute paired with a pencil skirt and rakish vintage hat. How about cowboy boots with crop pants?

A classic cowboy boot must have a tall shaft but there is what’s called a roper, which has a shorter boot shaft. I have a pair of shoes by Guess from the 90s. In black suede they have the classic cowboy boot look with a pointy toe and swirly cutouts but no shaft. They hit just below the ankle. I call them my “faux cowboy boots” and it turns out they’re great for Irish Set Dancing. (The dancing is long gone from my life but not those faux cowboy boots.)

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I enjoy adding unexpected pieces of clothing to my usual style and western wear is a great way to really get creative.

Christesen’s Tack Room is located at 633 Main Street, Pleasanton, CA. 925-846-2169.

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