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Posts Tagged ‘vintage fashion’

Betye Saar, Harper’s Bazaar.

It seemed like the rule without it being a rule, starting with my sister and me when we were teenagers, that if you want something new to wear, then you had to make it. And I think that theme carried into our adult lives. Even if you find something, then you still take up a hem or add something to make it your own.

Betye Saar, American artist.

This quote is from a conversation with Ms. Saar and her three daughters in Harper’s Bazaar, May 2021.

Ms. Saar has been creating art since the early 1960s and she’s known for prints, collages, and installations that often include found objects.

Making your own clothes is very rewarding. First of all, it’s creative. Also, when you have taken the time and energy to make something you are much more invested in it. There’s no instant gratification, but instead a sense of accomplishment. The best part is that whatever you have created, it’s one of a kind.

I’m also a big fan of changing a new item in some small or big way to make it yours. I do that by changing buttons and I often add a brooch to hats as well as handbags. I also change things for practical reasons, such as taking up the hem on a dress or adding patch pockets to a cardigan sweater. (Who can stand a sweater without pockets?)

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Image curtesy of Shadelands Ranch Museum.

ODFL locals, are you looking for a summer excursion? Want to stay close to home? The Shadelands Ranch Museum in Walnut Creek has just the thing – Summer Market & Barn Sale on Sunday, August 15, 9-4. It’s an outside market selling handcrafted items, and vintage and antique treasures. There will also be food and informational vendors. As a fundraiser, the museum will sell donated vintage/antique items. The house will be open for tours – one of the last opportunities to view the Fashions Through the Years exhibit.

Grab your best summer hat and stop by the Shadelands Ranch Museum, 2660 Ygnacio Valley Road, Walnut Creek.

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Gatsby Summer Afternoon at Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate. Photo: Aiello

Diana Brito is this year’s Gatsby Summer Afternoon Chair. As a long time member of the Art Deco Society of California, she joined the board in 2019 and hit the ground running, working hard to make sure everyone this year has a good time.

Diana kindly agreed to a Q&A with ODFL.

  1. When was your first Gatsby Summer Afternoon and what do you remember most about the day?

My first Gatsby was in 2016. What I remember most fondly was that it took me away from my normally hectic life. I loved that I was able to step into a different time and place. The afternoon was warm and sunny, the grounds were brilliant green, the house looked like a sparkling jewel, and the guests were all so lovely (those flowy dresses and parasols were ethereal). Everyone seemed to move at a slower pace. It was like I had stepped into a dream, or Jay Gatsby’s estate for an afternoon soiree. I didn’t want to go home that day.

2. As a seasoned planner of Gatsby Summer Afternoon, you know the day backwards and forward. What can returning attendees expect to be the same?

The most important thing that our guests have asked about was the dancing. Our guests love to dance, and those that do not dance enjoy watching or tapping along. We are thrilled the Royal Society Jazz Orchestra will be joining us again this year. We are excited to bring back our Charleston Dance and Vintage Auto contests, the beautiful display of vintage autos, the wonderful Decobelles dance troupe, and of course visiting with old friends, and welcoming new ones.

3. What new ideas can we look forward to?

Meet Up:
There will be “New Guest and New Member” Meet-Up so new guests have an opportunity to
meet one another (seasoned Gatsby aficionados are also welcome), make new friends, learn about the Art Deco Society and the history of the Gatsby Summer Afternoon.

The Great Gatsby Reading:
We are planning a salon style reading of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby. A wonderful opportunity to hear guests read and discuss the novel.

Sponsored Tickets:
I think that the most important change this year is that we have initiated “partially sponsored” tickets available for those who might need one. This began with one of our members who graciously gave us the seed money to start this program. Since her generous donation, others have donated through Eventbrite. I am touched by our donors’ kindness.

We know this past year has been financially difficult for many and we want to help our members, and non-members, who are finding our ticket prices less than affordable. To request a partially sponsored ticket, all someone needs to do is complete a few questions and send it to us. All information remains confidential. (Check the ASDC website for more information.)

4. What do you think makes Gatsby Summer Afternoon unique in the world of period events?

The Art Deco Society is a Historic Preservation organization that focuses on the Art Deco Era and celebrates the music, art, architecture, fashion, literature, and modern culture of the time. Gatsby Summer Afternoon founder Laurie Gordon had an idea to create an event that celebrated the beauty of the era. Perhaps what makes this event so unique is that it has been in existence for 36 years. It is important to note, Gatsby Summer Afternoon is not a historic reenactment, but a celebration of a moment in time from a fictional novel. Our guests love to play along.

5. Last year Gatsby Summer Afternoon was cancelled due to the pandemic. Covid is still a concern – will there be some protocols in place? Are masks required?

We were relieved and disappointed to have to cancel our 2020 event, not only for COVID reasons, but should we have gone forward with 2020, we would have had to cancel Gatsby Summer Afternoon 2 days before the event due to the intense air quality in the Bay Area. Yes, Gatsby was scheduled on the week our skies turned orange.

For us to move forward this year, the City of Oakland Parks Department has asked that all our guests be masked, unless eating or performing on stage. Our guests are asked to picnic at a distance, create pathways around the vintage vehicles, and that our restrooms and transportation must be sanitized. While we know that this is more than most outdoor events do, we gladly agreed as the health, safety and welfare of all of our guests is important to us.

6. What are some tips for anyone new to Gatsby Summer Afternoon?

First of all, welcome! We love our new guests and want you to know we are happy you are joining us.

I would suggest that a new guest come to our “How to Gatsby” event on August 15th to learn how to pull together an outfit, and your picnic. There will be a presentation, cocktails, and small vendors selling picnic gear and fashion.

There is a misconception that you are only allowed to wear vintage, and while we appreciate vintage, we believe that our guests can pull together looks that are inspired by the era. We encourage everyone to do what is most comfortable for them whether that be vintage, vintage inspired, sew your own outfit, or make do with that you have. Be creative.

We do encourage our guests to save their sequins and fringe for other events as this is a daytime picnic, and of course wearing sneakers, flip flops, t-shirts, cut-offs of other casual modern clothing is not in keeping with our theme. There will be no Costume Closet this year, so guests should come dressed to Gatsby Summer Afternoon.

Finally, consider joining the New Guest/New Member meet up at Gatsby Summer Afternoon.

Diana, your new ideas are great! I particularly like the Meet Up event. As longtime ADSC members and picnic site judges, my partner and I always try to make an extra effort toward new attendees to help them feel welcomed. Also, the COVID protocols are so important to keep people safe. A big Thank You to you, Diana and the ADSC Board.

The How to Gatsby: A Get-Ready Guide to an Elegant Art Deco Afternoon (presentation and sale) is set for Sunday, August 15th, 2-6 at the Alameda Naval Air Museum.

The 36th Annual Gatsby Summer Afternoon is happening Sunday, September 12, 2021, 1pm-6pm at Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate in Oakland, CA.

Note: I believe that Gatsby Summer Afternoon tickets this year will not be available at the gate, so make sure to purchase in advance.

For tickets and more information click here.

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Dressed up in white flannels I went over to his lawn a little after seven, and wandered around rather ill at ease among swirls and eddies of people I didn’t know.

Nick Carraway, fictional character in The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

It’s that time of year again, time for Gatsby Summer Afternoon! Presented by the Art Deco Society of California, Gatsby Summer Afternoon is coming up on Sunday, September 12, 2021 and once again in person at Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate in Oakland, after going virtual last year due to the pandemic.

Come back to ODFL tomorrow and get the latest scoop with this year’s event chair, Diana Brito.

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Like Esther in the novel The Bell Jar and perhaps author Sylvia Plath too, I’m also impressed with the idea of matching handbag dress/skirt/anything. Although, I know it’s a little too “put together” these days, that does not stop me.

I have two skirts with matching handbags that I made myself. One I made last year with a matching mask as well. I like the “matchy-matchy” look because it’s unexpected and the repetition of pattern and color appeals to me.

The first matchy-matchy that caught my eye was way back when I was maybe four-years-old; my mother had a summer outfit – a red and white gingham dress and a light blue coat with the same gingham fabric lining. I remember that outfit so well and the matching part has inspired me ever since.

How about other matches? My sis-in-law made for me a matching cap and cross-body bag (thanks, Lori). I have a beautiful bespoke outfit – 1920s style coat with a matching skirt and a blouse that matches the lining of the coat.

There are many ways to match: hat with handbag, handbag with shoes, dress with lining of coat, hat with jacket. How about socks with scarf? OK, now I’m getting silly.

Matchy-matchy gets a bad rap as does any look that’s too put together because being fashionable is supposed to also be effortless. Hmm, how does that work?

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Sylvia Plath

Her college was so fashion conscious, she said, that all the girls had pocketbook covers made out of the same material as their dresses, so each time they changed their clothes they had a matching pocketbook. This kind of detail impressed me. It suggested a whole life of marvelous, elaborate decadence that attracted me like a magnet.

Esther Greenwood – fictional character from The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath (1932-1963).

I imagine many of ODFL readers are familiar with this book. Published in 1963 under a pseudonym, The Bell Jar is the fictionalized story of Ms. Plath’s time in early 1950s New York City where she worked as one of the guest editors of Mademoiselle magazine, although, in the book the magazine name was changed along with the names of central characters. Known for her poetry, this was Ms. Plath’s only novel. She died in 1963 of suicide.

Check back tomorrow for more on matching accessories.

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Last week I dressed in some of my vintage favorites and headed over to Shadelands Ranch Museum in Walnut Creek to see their current exhibit: Fashion Through the Years.

Graduation dress.

Shadelands Ranch Museum is the Colonial Revival house built by Hiram Penniman in 1903 and now it’s home to the Walnut Creek Historical Society. The “ranch” was actually a fruit and nut farm owned and run by Mr. Penniman who had previously lived in Oakland with his wife and children. The story goes that to entice his wife, Carrie, to move to the boonies known as Walnut Creek, he built this grand two-story house. This is just the beginning of the Penniman/Shadelands story, but visitors can take the house tour and hear the whole tale from knowledgeable docents.

Edwardian day dress.

During the pandemic, the museum was closed but staff took advantage of the quiet time by going through all the stuff the museum had accumulated over the years, including donations of clothing. It soon became obvious that an exhibit of these frocks was in order.

On now through August 31, 2021 Fashion Through the Years displays in every room of the house fashions from the Victorian era to the 1980s as well as accessories such as handbags, gloves, and jewelry; all of it donated to the museum by generous local residents. The displays are such that we can get up close to study the fabrics and construction, although of course no touching!

Cotton ensemble with lace detail.

Among my favorites is an Edwardian day dress, a white cotton ensemble with lace detailing, and a lovely graduation dress from the early 1900s. There is much to see in the exhibit and more to learn about Shadelands Ranch Museum. I highly recommend this to ODFL locals looking for a summer excursion close to home. (Masks are required.)

Shadelands Ranch Museum is located at 2660 Ygnacio Valley Road, Walnut Creek and is open Wednesdays and Sundays, 1-4; sometimes they’re closed for special events. Check the website.

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Image: Harper’s Bazaar.

I always wanted one. For me the Birkin bag was the ultimate luxury item, and I knew I would never get bored of it. I convinced myself that I really needed one and thought I would eventually pass it on to my daughter.

Suzanne Koller, Austrian born stylist and fashion director of M Le Magazine du Monde.

This is a quote from an article in Harper’s Bazaar, March 2021.

In 1984 fashion model and singer Jane Birkin was on a flight from Paris to London when her basket bag flopped over, spilling its contents on the floor. The gentleman sitting next to Ms. Birkin, Jean-Louis Dumas, at the time the executive chairman of Hermès, noticed and he and his seatmate had a chat about the difficulties of finding a handbag large enough to carry all that the busy model and mother needed on any given day. Mr. Dumas immediately started sketching and voila, the Birkin bag was born.

Hermès asked if they could name the bag after Ms. Birkin and she agreed. Apparently she receives an annual royalty for the use of her name and she donates that money to charity.

Made of sturdy leather, the Birkin is a constructed carryall bag in rectangular shape with a flap. Its simplicity and versatility is its signature.

It takes Hermès craftspeople 15 to 20 hours to make each Birkin bag and every bag is made by one person. Add the design process (the design has slightly altered over the years), cutting and dyeing the leather, and we’re talking two years from prototype to finished product. Some Birkins are custom made with particular leathers and hardware. It takes time but quality always does. And the Birkin gives back, in that it will stand the test of time in style and wear. It’s an investment piece meant not to sit in the closet but to use every day. Some people use it as their gym bag, others throw groceries into their Birkin.

The Berkin can cost upwards of $15,000 and there’s a waiting list. If you’re not a celebrity, it’s a long wait. But that’s all part of the Birkin mojo.

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Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Not all vintage needs to be professionally cleaned. Many articles can be hand washed, and some can even go in the washing machine, although I almost never use a drier for my vintage. Hand-washable vintage includes simple cotton or linen dresses, skirts, and blouses; woolen sweaters (even cashmere); and knitwear that is unlined. Because vintage lingerie was made to be easily laundered at home, most is hand-washable, even silks and rayon.

Melody Fortier, a vintage clothing dealer and author of The Little Guide to Vintage Shopping: Insider Tips, Helpful Hints, Hip Shops (Quirk Books, 2009).

I have a confession – I love to hand wash. I like the hands-on cleaning, the smell of Woolite, and I particularly like hanging the clothing outside in the sun and fresh air. At the end of each season, I pile up the staples: sweaters, blouses, scarves, etc. and put them in my mending/washing cotton bag. I do any needed mending first and then off to the laundry room sink I go for some meditative hand washing.

As much as I enjoy this domestic task, it is now a luxury because we here in California are in the midst of a serious drought. Year after year since around 2010 we have had little to no rain. A ridge of high pressure just off the coast is to blame. It sits there sometimes for weeks blocking all the rain storms that we should get. It’s depressing.

It takes a lot of water to hand wash, so I fill up the tub less than half full and wash only what absolutely cannot go in the machine. To help keep my vintage (and all my clothing) fresh after a day of wear, I hang it in the bathroom or laundry room and air it out for a day or two. Often I’ll open a window and let the air circulate.

It never hurts to take good care of our clothing.

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White buttons.
Yellow buttons,
The end result.

Visiting NY in fall 2019 (my last trip before the pandemic) I bought a vintage dress from Leroy’s Place, a must see art gallery in Park Slope, Brooklyn that offers original artwork, unique gifts, and a select array of clothing, including vintage. By the way, Leroy’s Place is a fun destination for kids – they love the friendly monster puppets, interactive installations, and all around fun to be had.

(Full disclosure, Leroy’s Place is owned by my niece.)

So, the dress came back with me and recently while I pondered what to wear at home as the weather heated up, I remembered the charming cotton dress and pulled it out. What a good choice for a “housedress.” But there was one thing bugging me – the buttons. Plain white didn’t do it. The grey dress needed pop. I often change buttons on new-to-me clothing, sometimes to perk it up, sometimes just to make it mine. I have a big collection of buttons and out they came. I considered going with black carved glass buttons as that would be elegant but also a bit dull for summer. Silver mother of pearl buttons were also in play but then, the yellow glass buttons caught my eye. Nice color for summer and certainly an unexpected choice against the grey. Yellow it is!

I changed the buttons and realized the yellow was so distinctive that the dress needed another yellow embellishment to tie the whole thing together. I love thinking about this stuff!

Initially I thought a big yellow flower but I couldn’t find one. Embroidering something came to mind, like my initial in yellow but, that felt too Laverne & Shirley. No. More buttons? No. I ventured out to do a little shopping and found a sunflower patch and a package of small yellow flowers. I bought both but soon decided on the small flowers – floating on one shoulder.

Now I’m ready for warm weekends on the patio, enjoying a good book and an afternoon cocktail. Pimm’s and Lemonade anyone?

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