I few weekends ago I went to see an exhibit of one of my hometown’s most noted photographers, Charles “Teenie” Harris. He took over 80,000 photos of daily life in Pittsburgh, and chronicled the lives of celebrities that came to visit our fair city from the 1930s on. The exhibit at the Carnegie Museum had the photographs organized by theme – and of course the theme that I was most drawn to was “Style”. Teenie Harris captured images of the Civil Rights movement and rough times before that people had rarely seen. Images of men dressed to the nines and children looking fresh for church. Pictures of couples enjoying social events and pulling out their Sunday’s best for their first opportunity to vote. He archived the lives of African-Americans in Pittsburgh and how the struggle was unable to take away the joys of life. The picture to the left isn’t a Teenie Harris photo. It’s a gorgeous photo of my Grandma Ruby in the 1940s. Not a Pittsburgh great but a great. I loved loved the exhibit, and I think it’s only here for a few more weeks so I would urge everyone in town to take a look. On a day where we are remembering one of the greatest names in the fight for equality and the fight to peace, I thought it appropriate to write about another great name in this fight. Teenie Harris captured the beauty of a very sad time in the history of African-Americans, and this beauty showed a strength in grace that our history books may never talk about. Spirits weren’t broken happiness, joy wasn’t erased by the circumstances. It is an amazing exhibit, very moving and a great perspective of the role that inequality played in the lives of those in Pittsburgh – both big and small. Click here for the photos in the “Style” theme – but take some time to look through them all if you’re not local.
It’s no surprise that fur is a huge cold weather staple, but I feel like the fur fever has reached an all time high this fashion season. Everywhere I look I am seeing someone in a fur vest, a coat with a fur collar, or boots with fur accents. I know that fur brings a moral choice along with a fashion one, but there are plenty of options for those looking to save an animal (and save some money in the mean time). I mentioned in one of my many wish list ramblings that I was on the hound dog hunt for a fur collar. I would have been happy with a faux one from H&M that I had seen earlier in the week, but I was really pining for the vintage real deal. Well I must have also rambled to my mom about it (and she reads my blog – love you mommy!), because one Christmas morning I opened up this:
A vintage 50s silver mink fur collar. A 1950s mink! I opened this lovely on the way to church and could not wait to throw it on with the 1970s royal blue wool dress I decided to wear that morning. I really need to start taking better pictures of these outfits – I’ll add that to my resolution list for the year. This is exactly what I wanted. Besides Christmas morning, I hadn’t worn my mink until I decided to add it to my outfit for New Year’s Eve. Here is a quick in the mirror, cell phone shot of my outfit before we left the house NYE (sorry about the quality):
Tuxedo blazer: Thrifted/Skirt: Urban Outfitters
I was more than happy with the classic touch the mink added to my simple NYE outfit. And remember I mentioned that my mom had a mink collar back in the 60s that her aunts had given her? The one I was willing to go back to NY to find. She isn’t positive where her collar ended up, and we keep talking about how crazy it would be if the one she found for me is the same collar- well here is a picture of my mom rocking her mink: :
This was a perfect vintage gift for me – Mommy always knows exactly what to get me. Think I wouldn’t mind adding a few mor fur/faux fur pieces to my wardrobe eventually – but this collar is keeping me super content for now.
How about you? Any perfect Christmas gifts you want to gush about?
I’ve been watching an obsessive amount of Mad Men lately. What started out as just a means to look at amazing 1960s clothing, has turned in to a full-blown affair that takes me far away from anything productive. Traveling back to this time in fashion has really made me think about how in love with nostalgia I am. How incredible it is to feel completely connected to a time that you in fact were never connected to. I can’t really explain where this love came from. I’m not sure what beyond fashion makes me feel so intrigued and appropriate for life in a time way before my time. But it’s something that transfers to other areas of my life. I want 1940s music in my ears at all times, I want 1960s love, I want 1970s thoughts of life and liberty. Something about these eras just make me feel right, and I think this genuine love comes through very loudly in my feelings towards all things vintage. All of this got me wanting to do another stroll down memory lane and find some photos of my fashion roots. My song of choice lately is “I thought about you” by the fabulous Nancy Wilson. The tone of this song is how I want to feel all of the time, and looking at these pictures brings me to just that place. Here are some of my stylish family in their best of fall fashions. Everything old is new again indeed.
Here are my maternal great aunts, Dorothy and Vandella, in the late 1930s. I am loving both of their knee-length wool coats in this picture. I recently stumbled upon a great cream knee-length wool coat for the great price of absolutely free. It’s so perfectly cold weather and I can’t wait for it to cool down so I can step out in it. I also love the clutches that both of my aunts are toting in this picture. Classic and simple. To top it all off, my aunt on the right is rocking a great hat with a brooch embellishment on the front. You can still find many vintage options just like this in eBay auctions, although many vintage vendors may try to charge you an arm and a leg. I found both my knee-length wool jackets and 1940s hat at estate and yard sales. Pick up your local paper and see what estate sales are going on in your area. I always find the best gems at these sales. Can’t help but selfishly think someone should have saved all of these clothes. Didn’t they ever hear the saying “history repeats itself”??
Now here is the man who taught me everything I love about men’s fashion – my daddy. I have heard endless stories about how he was quite the ladies man and trendsetter since childhood. And knowing him as an adult, I am convinced that all of the stories are true. My dad is giving you perfect 70s in this picture. Camel brown leather is still such a fall staple, and he tops is off with a classic wool hat. Hats are to my daddy what shoes are to me - closets full of them, and never feels guilty about adding one to the collection. And even with his Burt Reynolds ‘stache he is perfect autumn styling in this picture. So much about what I love about style comes from the care my parents took in how they presented themselves while I was growing up. Had to throw this one of my papa in too. He is killing it with the patterned wool peacoat and the gray newsboy cap. This was late 70s, maybe even early 80s. Behind him is the house I grew up in and honestly not much looks different, including my daddy. Both of my parents set such a high bar for what “dressing well” looked like, and how it wasn’t about following the latest trends, it was about presenting yourself to the world looking your best. Material things weren’t given much value in my household, but being and giving your best was – and this carried through to how you walked out of the house looking every day. To this day, this man does not leave the house until he is looking clean. Apple doesn’t fall far from the fashion tree.
So there is our fashion lesson from days or yore for fall trends. Wool jackets, sharp leather and great headwear are everything. Keep it classic and as always good fit is super important. So add that to the list of things your (or my) parents taught you, before the ones about being nice and cleaning your plate.
It’s Friday!! — Everyone enjoy your weekend, do some shopping and then tell me all about the goods.
Personal style is all about a feeling. Each outfit has an intention and putting pieces together gives you a chance to let your outsides match your insides. My outfit today made me feel just like the dainty damsel in distress from old cartoons like Dudley Do Right. Those of you who follow me on twitter know that I was very excited to wear my new to me Anne Taylor light peach lacy top today. Lace is such a perfect emotion fabric – always makes me feel very lady like, with a little sexy thrown in for fun. When deciding to wear my latest thrift store find, I originally thought to pair it was a solid brown 80s Liz Claiborne pencil skirt. I figured it would be a nice structured compliment to the soft lace. But that seemed too expected to me, and I always like to push myself out of a fashion comfort zone. So I instead chose to pair it with something a bit more busy. This is an early 80s Evelyn de Jonge floral skirt that I found at my favorite neighborhood thrift store for $5.00 (same place that I found the top last weekend for $3.00). I felt instant girly when I put these two pieces together. The first word that popped into my head was “lovely”. I almost didn’t get this skirt. To be honest, it’s like a size too small for where it falls on my waist – but you should know by now that I will usually find a way to make a vintage piece work. Fortunately, leaving the top button open and folding it over the belt worked just fine to give me some breathing room and give the skirt a more casual feel, as well as give the lace some space to shine. As you can see, I was super happy with how this ensemble came together. And as you can also see, I am a native Pittsburgher and the Steelers game was religiously blaring in the background of my parent’s apartment-but clearly I had other things on my mind. I am very glad that I decided to skip the safe outfit and try something a little risky with these mixed prints and textures. My intention was classic feminine, and I think that’s exactly what I got. So that’s my style advice for you – think about what makes sense and then do one step past that. Think a black and white patterns looks best with black pants? Go that extra step and put on a pair of colored cords on instead. Or go an extra step and put on something brown. Fashion is so fun and style really is all about choices. So don’t stay stuck in what you’ve always done, try something new. In the words of the great (and often cooky) Coco Chanel, “Fashion fades, only style remains the same”. At the end of the day, it really has zero to do with the pieces of clothing you have on, mannequins wear clothes too. It has everything to do with how you wear it, the confidence you give and how you allow each piece to tell a story about who you are.
Do you usually have a feeling or intention connected to your outfits? Style strategies that you use to keep your wardrobe double the freshness, double the fun?
Enjoy your weekend! And see you back on Monday (hopefully with some more headway made on this e-store. I’m trying, I’m trying).
Welcome back gorgeous people! Hope everyone had a great weekend and got some rest for another work week. I spent some time with my family at the pool today. And as I was getting dressed to head out I started to think about how much of my everyday life is influenced by things that were “before my time”. It’s no secret that I’m a pretty old soul, but I have really been thinking lately about how influential each era has been in many (if not all) of my style choices. Everything old really is new again, and I love every minute of it. Those of you who follow me on twitter know just how much of my thoughts during the day are consumed with vintage and fashion. It really plays a role in most things that make me happy about my day. So jump on in my time machine, and we’ll take a stroll back to times when fashion was great, music was at it’s best and no one was wearing Baby Phat or Apple Bottoms (ie., the good old days).
I have been doing a lot of what I like to call “decade dressing”. I often wake up and have an old picture of my mom or grandmother in mind as I’m deciding on what to wear for the day. Something about capturing the soul of an era in one outfit makes me super excited to be out and about on a normal work day. Well I found some of the pictures that I take in to fashion consideration, and I wanted to share them with you all. Here is a picture of my great aunts Theresa and Ida (first and second on the left) and my maternal Grandma (Ruby) on the far right, taken in the early 1940s. I love every single thing about this picture. The cat-eye sunglasses, the strapless rompers, the ankle strap heels. So in love. And notice how my Aunt Theresa and Aunt Ida belted their outfits to give a great shape and accent their middles. You see that great style is hereditary *brushes shoulders off*.
Here is a picture of my maternal grandparents taken in 1964. Fellas, notice the fly ribboned hat my Papa is wearing? Looks like a great accessory was as essential 47 years ago as it is today. He is also rocking the skinny tie – which I may or may not endorse for a style choice today. I’ve seen them done in a great way so far be it from me to yuck your yum about it. And ladies, my Grandma Ruby is styling and profiling in the timeless little black dress and simple small clutch. I never got a chance to meet her, but every picture I find of her lets me know they we were for sure cut from the same cloth. She always had on a classic pulled together look – even in pictures I’ve seen of her on the beach or riding bikes. I found a vintage Anne Taylor Loft simple black dress at thrift store that looks just like the dresses I have seen her in. I like to pair it with black patent leather heels and a small black clutch to revisit that sophisticated and chic look I always see my Grandma pull of in pictures. I’m sure we would’ve been having diva-off’s every time we were together.
And here is my favorite picture of all. This is my number one style icon – my mommy. Here she is in 1976 – exactly 10 years before the crazy stylish mess that is me came in to her life. Many of you who have seen me rocking my modern bell bottom, tucked in floral top and wedges can see how much I use this picture as inspiration. My mom was (and still is) one of the best dressers I’ve ever seen. Her style has always been very timeless, and I really wish that she would’ve saved all of her clothes for the daughter she didn’t know she’d have. It is always a good day when I step out looking like an old picture of my mom – and even though it makes every grandpa think that I look like their first girlfriend, I love 70s style enough to endure the old man hollas. I picked these three pictures because they really do embody my three style era loves – 40s, 60s and 70s. And these pictures give you a good reason why I loved these times so much. When people used to dress no matter where they were going, and style really was about how it made you feel and what it told the rest of the world about who you are. *Sigh* Why they never teach us this stuff in history class is beyond me.
So what do you think about taking inspiration from old photos? Think the looks are too outdated? Or can we still learn a thing or two from the olden days?
I hope you all liked my stroll down memory lane. I have tons more photos I’d like to share so give me some feedback on how you liked the post. I’ll spend some more time in my family house basement searching for some muses.