Story N˚ 25: Vintage for Easter

When I started thinking of my array of floral dresses that I choose from for Easter Sunday, I remembered a dress I haven’t worn in years.  In fact, I couldn’t remember if I still had it, and if I had altered it or not.  Sometimes, I start chopping up a dress to make into a skirt or top, and then get distracted and find it mangled years later.  And I usually can’t remember what I was going to make it into.  I know I have thought of how to alter this particular dress many times.  When I went to look for it, I couldn’t remember if it had gotten chopped or not.  I was a little worried.

This dress is the first truly vintage piece I ever bought.  I was in high school, late 1980’s. One summer when we were visiting family in Salt Lake City, my sister and I who were already thrift shoppers, found ourselves in a vintage shop.  I’m sure I didn’t understand the difference back then between thrift and vintage except for price; all I knew was we were surrounded by great clothing.  This green and white floral print must be rayon, and I think the tag read circa 1930’s, maybe early ’40’s.  It looks handmade, although the buttonholes and buttons look commercial.  I honestly don’t know how it has lasted this long in my rambunctious wardrobe.  It is worn out and yellowed in some places, but the rayon is strong and still drapes beautifully.

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Note the grosgrain ribbon running through the crenellated tabs and on the buttons.
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Do you look inside of clothing to examine the stitching?  I do.

I wore it constantly in Florida where dresses are great for the heat.  I remember my high school art history teacher, Dr. Earles, complemented me on it.  My first year of college, I wore it with no socks and men’s dress shoes. I’m talking early-grunge, so this was ultra feminine. I remember one late summer evening I went to visit a guy in his dorm.  I had a new haircut, my vintage dress and no shoes on. I knew he liked green, and was hoping he liked the dress, that is, liked me in the dress. The kiss didn’t happen till later that semester, but I’d like to think the dress had something to do with it.

I would also wear it to the university’s performing arts center, where I volunteered as an usher with my best friend so we could see the play or opera or symphony for free.  This was an easy dress for such occasions.

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I realize I haven’t worn this dress for decades. The dress does have a homely, hausfrau look to it from here. I don’t remember it that way. Maybe that’s why I didn’t wear it for so long. I found it at the bottom of a pile of clothes (one I keep for sentimental reasons); it wasn’t cut up at all!  I’m glad my past self had the sense not to change it.  But I want to freshen it some way, maybe wear it again this summer.  For now, it will be my Easter dress, maybe with a shorter skirt and cap sleeves.

Happy Easter

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Story N˚ 16: This is Scary!

The fur industry is scary.  I’m not talking about fur used by indigenous peoples for warmth; I’m talking about fur for fashion.  Apparently, there is no way to do this humanely.  I was looking at a few anti-fur/animal rights sites for just a moment and I am sick to my stomach.  A few years ago, I got through the documentary, Earthlings (trailer link), but not without crying my eyes out.  I haven’t been the same since.  Fashion is just one of the ways we abuse animals, but the fur industry is unconscionable.  Here is an article that gives information on “ethical fur“, but I don’t know how animals bred in cages just for their pelts can be truly ethical.  I will have to do more research on the topic…

In the meantime, I am in favor of using what is already in existence.  There is a lot of fur already in circulation.  There are many opinions on the subject of fur, but I value the tradition of passing on clothing.   I received a Persian lamb swing coat that my great Aunt Norma had made for her in the 1950’s.  It’s a lovely piece in my vintage collection and so well crafted.

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I added some Halloween flair, Miss Havisham style.

My story of this coat:  I was working at that suburban fabric store that wiped out all other fashion fabric stores in my area in the 90’s, and continues to dominates home sewing commerce.  I was in charge of restocking fabrics and so I often got to help customers with their ideas and projects as I worked the floor.  Around December, a woman wanted to make a dressy coat for a company party.  We looked at patterns, fabrics and talked styles.  As she described the coat she wanted, my swing coat came to mind.  I was shy about offering it, because she would have thought me crazy to lend my coat to a stranger.  But the idea kept surfacing, so I finally said that she was describing a coat I have in my closet, and she was welcome to wear it to the party.  She jumped at the offer!  She wasn’t a seamstress and couldn’t afford to buy something fancy.  I brought her the coat- she loved it, wore it to the party and then returned it with a small gift.  It was one of the best clothing exchanges I have experienced.

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Fine stitch work, beautiful label…
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My great aunt’s initials, I love the personal touch