Right now, Spring couldn’t seem further away. We had to cancel this weekend’s Tennessee trip due to snow, and to make matters even worse I somehow managed to catch my second cold of 2013. So basically I’m stuck in the house on a surprisingly sunny day (knock on wood, Atlanta), looking at spring collections and wishing that our summer family beach trip could come a whole lot sooner.
Anyhow, I like Dace’s new collection a lot . . . Pale spring colors and neutrals, straight skirts and button-ups. I like how it approaches ’80s valley girl without going all the way—the light pinks and greens, the high ponytails, some of the skirts I didn’t show here because, well, they’re too ’80s for me. But as in every Dace collection there are a bunch of pieces I could imagine wearing all the time because they’re so simple and would go with just about everything.
Right now I’m really into the arts and crafts section at our city library. I started in the knitting section, went through all the weird ’70s/’80s sweater books I could find, and then migrated over to the fiber arts row. I love it. There are weaving books, rug-making books, macramé books, just about all of them old, most of them super hippie (Family Creative Workshop!!). Some of the projects in them look funny and a little too ’70s retro (macramé owl wall-hangings?), but once in a while you might come across something you’d see in a store today.
The other day Lauren and I were talking about necklace-hunting online and how we might as well just make our own. It’s cheaper, for sure. Weirdly enough it’s also fun. I made one out of rope and a curved piece of brass I found on Etsy—I dyed the rope with food coloring (probably not the best idea, but it was all I had on hand), aiming for grey but getting purple instead. I like the necklace Lauren made a lot more. It’s simple and the colors are so much better (not purple). Also, she made her own beads!
I’ve been looking for weird necklaces at the thrift stores to wear and also to take apart so that I can use the beads/strange ceramic pieces in necklaces of my own. But I also want to try my hand at making a macramé necklace. Last summer I had some really ’70s-inspired WWAKE necklaces on my wishlist, but they went on sale and sold out before I knew it. How hard could it be to make a version of my own?
Photos: 1. WWAKE necklaces sold at Anaise last summer . . . . 2. Cold Picnic.
Dress: thrift store
Bag: vintage, via Etsy
Sunglasses: Karen Walker
I like going to the thrift stores these days because I can find weird things like this. It’s home-sewn (probably made back in the ’90s) and looks to be a sweater hacked short and turned into a dress that was originally so long that it must have hit at the ankles. It was weird, so I bought it and shortened it, and it’s still weird.
All the best things we’ve bought lately have been from thrift stores. Everything from a faux silk black, dolman sleeved blouse, to a real silk pale green skirt that I need to take to a tailor still; from ’70s hippie house books to the old, rusted-out industrial-style table that Drew got for a few dollars at the Value Village. I used to go to thrift stores on shop-sourcing missions, looking at clothes and then getting the hell out, but now I take my time, going through the books, un-stacking old records (what’s with all the Lawrence Welk?), walking through the housewares aisle to find a basket I can put my knitting into so I don’t have to leave it sprawled out on the coffee table like I usually do.
Other things on my wishlist: an ’80s cape-coat (kind of like the one I found a few years ago, but different so I don’t wear the same coat all winter long), silk blouses, skirts that go past the knee, flat-ish Ferragamos to replace the ones I’ve just about broken, Pendleton blankets (Drew’s uncle finds them at thrift stores all the time, but I’ve had no luck), old travel books, ’80s art teacher necklaces, more ugly-weird dresses.
Photos by Drew
How this book passed me by until now is beyond me. It came out in 2007, back when my obsession with the 1930s was still going strong. Back then I was knitting up sweaters from ’30s patterns with tiny, carpal tunnel-inducing gauges while watching Busby Berkeley movies for fashion inspiration. I liked the cute stuff mostly: bows, polka dots, crazy collars, puffed sleeves. Basically I wanted to be Ruby Keeler, only with Joan Blondell’s tough-talking, shade-throwing attitude. I still want to be more like her.
I quit trying to dress like Ruby Keeler though. Mostly because I was getting older—the bows and puffed sleeves weren’t looking so cute when I was pushing 30. Also I got bored. I wanted something new, and started gravitating towards the simple stuff that didn’t have all the trimmings. I kept watching ’30s movies (all those pre-codes and gangster flicks and Astaire/Rogers musicals: how could I not?), but not really for fashion inspiration anymore.
But then I saw photos by the Seeberger brothers. They were French fashion photographers in the first half of the last century who took photos of people at society events, basically early street style photographers. I checked out Elegance: The Seeberger Brothers and the Birth of Fashion Photography from the library and read about how the brothers started out in the early 1900s, taking photos at horse races and at the beaches of Deauville for the society and fashion pages of French magazines. They’d take photos of stars, society women, and models, who were often planted at the big events by smart designers. In the process, the Seebergers documented the changes in fashion throughout the years. There are the frilly Edwardians and the Chanel flappers, and then there are the ’30s clotheshorses, who are my favorites by far.
They look the most modern to me, even more modern than the women in the Seebergers’ later photographs. Their clothes are so simple—straight lines and perfect cuts, no details or pieces of jewelry that aren’t necessary. The few photographs of women in puffed sleeves and extra trimmings get a side eye from one of the book’s authors: “Women in frilly, frothy dresses and great broad-brimmed hats seemed to inhabit a permanent garden party in search of a bygone era.” I don’t even want to know what he’d say about poor Ruby Keeler.