Archive | January, 2012

Here’s Lookin at You….Ingrid.

31 Jan

Continuing with our theme of fashion icons of the past, we stop and bask in the glow that was Ingrid Bergman. She was a Swedish actress who made black and white look vibrant. Ingrid Bergman gained popularity in Hollywood in the 40’s and 50’s, and is most known for her role of Isla in Casablanca, and for being the mother of actress Isabella Rossellini. Ingrid’s style and mark on the fashion world can be described as Jackie O, before Jackie was Jackie O. In her earlier years, she was revered as a woman of her time, wife, mother, saintly even. Having made a shift in her public persona after her affair with Roberto Rossellini, she took on a much more controversial role as, what one Senator of Colorado called, “a powerful influence of evil”. A bit harsh in my opinion. Glass house people, glass house.

Her style, on the other hand, won over many women of her time and carries on into the fashion world of today. She was never lude, never too busty, and didn’t show a little too much leg. Her style was demure, classic even, very “Charlotte” if we are comparing to a Sex and the City character. According to Pas Un Autre, “In 1947 Christian Dior introduced the New Look collection – a ‘make do and mend’ approach to fashion that didn’t comprise ideals of beauty, femininity and luxury. Ingrid Bergman was a life long fan of Dior – her fitted suits, pencil skirts, subtle accessories, and a slightly androgynous charm helped define the era”. She was famous for her boxy jackets, A line dresses and their modest tea length, and wide-legged trousers. She pulled off a suit in a way a woman had never pulled off a suit before. Her style was feminine with a masculine touch about her. Maybe it was just her personality as a “tough broad” trying to scream it’s way through. Her medium hair length was also one that was admired. Having hair not too long and not too short gave her a wide range of styles to play with, and still made it easy to maintain. Her vintage finger waves are still one of my favorites. Wavy and yet still so put together. I’ve yet to accomplish this myself, but she did it effortlessly. Need something else to admire?… She never wore a lot of makeup. That’s right. Natural beauty was her gift. Many actresses of her time wore thick stage, or pancake makeup. She refused to wear such makeup and stayed true to herself, literally. She never wore much on her face, and let her natural beauty shine through. Like I’ve said before, everything in moderation ladies.

Perhaps she was a woman the world wasn’t ready for. She sure did shake things up for her time and possibly pave the way for those that came after her. She is definitely a legend that lives on, a style that cannot ever be perfectly duplicated. For now we’ll settle for basking in the glow of the silver screen, multiple oscar winning actress that was, is, and always will be, Miss Ingrid Bergman.

The Week of Marilyn

24 Jan

I feel like we can’t talk vintage without talking about fashion icons. There were so many rare beauties that left their mark on this world. So for the next few weeks I will be walking us through some of the monumental fashion icons from the mid 20th century.

Starting on a high note, one of my personal favorites, and I do have a few, is the fabulous Miss Norma Jean herself, Marilyn Monroe.

I recently saw a great movie with my husband. I would say it was great. He would say, OH MY GOSH, that was painful. Ladies let this be a warning. If your husband owes you one, just know, you will enjoy My Week with Marilyn, your man will most likely not.

I love biographical movies. It’s an addiction I fear. I think what I love most about them is that they give me a little bit more of an idea of what a person was, or how someone else saw them. Marilyn has always been one of those iconic fashion icons. You will always hear a curvy woman relish in the fact that Marilyn was a size 14. In modern terms though, that means she was a 5/6. She was definitely iconic, and definitely one of kind. Many women have come after her, but they have all paled in comparision to the “Some Like it Hot” actress herself.

   So one has to wonder, what was all the hype about? Why was she such an admired                      and revered woman?

A woman who would’ve been 85 years old this year, who’s life was ended at the prime    age of 36, became a sensation, and what was refered to as “machine” in Hollywood.  Everything she touched turned to gold. It didn’t hurt that she was remarkably beautiful. Between her platinum blonde hair, light, child-like eyes, perfect skin, and strategically placed mole, she complimented everyone’s senses. Both men and women fell head over heels in love with her. Her small waist, large breasts, and vivacious curves made women want to be her and men want to be with her. Most vintage styles were modeled after her, during her prime. In season 3 of Mad Men, the men reference Marilyn as being a type for the everyday modern woman. They say “ You are either a Jackie or a Marilyn,” referring of course the beautiful and always stylish Jackie O as well. There was definitive line between the two: the sexy, steamboat, blonde bombshell, or the ever classy, stylish, proper, First Lady. Marilyn embodied a sex symbol in every way, but had the personality of what Colin Clarke referred to as ‘an innocent child in a world of bright lights.’ She was lovable, and she played the part of “Marilyn” so well. In “My Week with Marilyn”, she claims, according to the diaries the movie is based on, that everyone expects her to be Marilyn, and when they find out that she’s not her, they are disappointed, and she doesn’t know who to be for everyone.

I guess the important part is that we knew who she was and is for us.  She represented an independent woman, a female powerhouse in a man’s world. She knew how to use her sex appeal and apply it to her success. She knew how to dress the part, and be the person we wanted to see on screen. An amazing method actress, she became the parts she played, and we love her for it. Her style was sexy, but never over the top. She had curves that make any woman jealous. She was sexy, but never trashy. She was a temptress, but also innocent. She was definitely one of a kind. Many women have tried, but failed, to duplicate her. From Madonna’s 80’s look, to Anna Nicole Smith’s curves, to Christina Aguilera’s red lips, she lives on through the years. Often imitated. Never duplicated. Or at least never to this kind of perfection.
16 Jan

In honor of the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo opening this weekend, we figured we’d give you a leg up, (hahahha, I crack myself up), on your “boot” knowledge. Boots are in high demand these days, although if you’ve lived in Texas as long as I have, I don’t believe they are ever NOT in demand. However, being one that likes to go against the grain, I didn’t actually own a pair of boots until I turned 27. The first pair I bought were Justins, brown and pink, of course. I had to get the helpful knowledge of the sales lady on how to know if they “fit” right. Something most people don’t know right off hand, a cowboy boot is supposed to be tight around the arch and loose in the heel. There is a certain sound to a perfect fit, and when you hear it you know it. It’s a softly forced “CLOP”, or at least that’s how I’d describe it. This sound is usually followed with an “ahhh” by the wearer.  Everytime I hear it in the store, I know that’s the one.

Boots have definitely changed over the years, and once again we can look back to our ancestors, the immigrants to America, for the styles we know and love today. It was the German and English immigrants in the 1800’s that were responsible for bringing over the European styles and adopting them into the making of the original cowboy boots. While now we wear them for style, they were first made for function. The heel of the boot was made to fit and help a rider stay in his or her stirrups. Most boots were made from a straight wooden form, forcing the wearer to break them in to his or her left and right foot. Cowboys were known for standing in water troughs and then letting the boots dry on their feet in order to attain the perfect fit. It wasn’t until 1815 that the unique Wellington-style boot was introduced, in that it produced a left foot and a right foot, and a piece by piece construction that is similar to today’s style. Boot makers like Hyer and Justin first got their start repairing boots for working cowboys.

Much like today, boots gained popularity through movies and movie stars donning the fancy footwear. During World War II though, boots wear made under certain restrictions that were placed on boot makers because of shortages and rations. Boots wear made in either brown or black, and couldn’t have more than 8-10 inch tops. This is where the name for shorter boots, “Pee -Wees”, came from originally. Basically, nothing fancy was allowed. Even Toebugs were outlawed. Now at this point you may be asking yourself, what is a toebug? And please, don’t Google. The internet is a scary place to wander. A Toebug, in cowboy boots terms is the stitching on the toe part of the boot as demonstrated by this picture here.

Thank you for the demonstration.

Back to the toebug situation: Leave it to a woman to never settle for bland. Enid Justin, founding owner of Nocona boots, was the first to challenge the law and say that stitching on the toe was essential to the boot for strength and flexibility, and therefore mandatory in functionality. Good job Enid. Stylish women everywhere salute you!

“Pee Wee” boots were also popular with the ladies in the 40’s because the boot showed more of the calf, and had a certain sex appeal to them. But it wasn’t until after World War II that the industry started making up for lost time with some of the most outrageous and fun styles in its history. This includes our fabulous pair made for the bicentennial in 1976 seen here.Fast Forward to the 1980’s and John Travolta in a little movie called “Urban Cowboy”. I dare say, this sparked a BOOM in the boot and western wear business. Again, leave it to the celebrities.
So back to John Travolta, and the time when he was a “sex symbol”. I know, hard to remember, but it happened. So between the time the movie came out and 1982, this boot BOOM soon faded to a BUST. Boot makers found themselves stuck with unsold “fashionable” boots. I think we’ve seen this first-hand, with what is known as “old-new stock”. Every once in awhile we come across a pair of vintage boots that have never been worn, and have been collecting dust in a warehouse somewhere until someone decides to sell them wholesale just to clean out their inventory. We like that. Someone’s loss is always someone else’s gain. We are the Queens of closet-cleaner-outers.

You may be asking yourself at this point, how does she know all of this?!?!  Working at  the store and for Kalen I’ve learned QUITE a lot more than I ever bargained for as far of boots go. The rest of my knowledge comes from a handsome little gem of a book called “Cowboy Boots: The Art & Sole” by Jennifer June…and of course my best friend Google. We have two great books in the store that even if you just peruse for the pictures, they are both quite amazing.

So that leads us to today and the epic question of pointy toe or round, high top or shorty, colorful or neutral, and leather or exotic skin. Whatever your preference, always remember, boots are not like heels ladies! You need to make sure above all, they fit, and they ARE comfortable. Vintage boots are always the best because someone else has done the work of breaking them in for you. And as any fashionista knows,breaking in shoes…hardest WORK EVER!

Welcome to Bess & Evie’s Store Blog!

9 Jan

Welcome to Bess & Evie’s Vintage NEW store blog! We have come across so many great store finds, and heard so many wonderful stories, we thought we’d pass along these gems to our customers. Since this is our first blog posting, we thought we’d start with the basics:

Top Ten Things You Need to Know About Vintage!

     10. Size doesn’t matter.

That’s right! You read that correctly. Vintage sizes are very deceiving, and therefore invalid. Vintage sizes began at a 6, and went up from there. A 6 can be closely described as a modern 2. I cannot remember where I read this, and I couldn’t find it on Google last I looked, but it was Neiman Marcus who first changed the mold on this. In one brilliant seasonal launch, they decided to start listing their sizes beginning at a 2. I call this brilliant because any woman knows that being able to brag to her friends about now fitting into a “smaller” size is better than fat-free chocolate cake. Other stores followed suit of course and that is why we have the size range we do now.

ALSO, body types are much different now than they were back then. Something may be listed as “your size” but still may not fit. Something may be listed as a smaller size and fits you to a T. Your best bet is to try it on! Our store motto, therefore…Try it on, you never know till you try!

      9. You have to be willing to show a little skin!

There is nothing wrong with showing off your vintage alligator bag, or your sea turtle cowboy boots. They are awesome, they are vintage, and they’ve been dead a LONG time. I’m sure their ancestors don’t mind you getting some enjoyment out of them. Someone might as well! And they’re pretty, so that makes them a good enough reason for me.


     8. Vintage fur is ok. Well, at least in our book it is!

Back to my previous statement. It, whatever it may be, has been dead a really, LONG time. Many celebrities have been spotted wearing SPOTS.  Just the other day I saw Tori Spelling wearing a Cheetah coat.   “It’s Vintage,” she explained. So that makes it ok? Yes it does. And isn’t it   better to wear that coat than have it sitting in a landfill somewhere? I could rationalize you all day long, but plain and simple, if you love it, wear it.   If you don’t, don’t. Just don’t let it keep you up at night!

     7. Hats are back in style…yes, they are!

More than once I’ve heard customers in the store saying “I wish hats would come back in style.” I was never aware they ever went out! Gone are the days of men wearing fedoras to work, and most women don’t wear hats in church anymore. Both are a shame by the way. However, some people still agree it a necessary accessory to an outfit. If you plan on wearing a hat, commit to it. Wear it with pride, and wear it all day. You are going to have to, no one likes hat-hair. I particulary like to wear a hat when I’m having a bad hair day, or when it is windy out, or when it’s cold. Some believers still insist on wearing a hat in church, as to not offend God with their bare heads. It is seen as a sign of respect. And with so many great hats out there, why not! Come to the hat-side, Luke.

     6. Wearing something no one else will have, is just plain FUN!

No one likes to be that girl at the party that is wearing the same dress that other girl at the party is wearing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this injustice happen. No one likes a copycat. I remember once in 8th grade, my friend Jean had this awesome purse. I told my mom about it and she went out and got me the same purse. Oh was Jean MAD. I couldn’t imagine why. Then we became teenagers. Ok Jean, I get it. You were right. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…yea, not for women. So here’s the rub: there are a ton of malls out there for convenient shopping. All the malls pretty much have all the same stores. How can you expect to NOT run into your fashion doppleganger out there?!?!?

When you buy vintage, you are almost 100% guaranteeing you will not find your duplicate out there. Sure, we’ve seen a few things come through the store that have been similar to a previous item we had before, but not often. I would bet any amount of money that my grandmother owned half the purses made between 1950-1980. Where are they now? Who knows. She had a garage sale before she moved down to Florida and sold everything. Every once in a while I’ll see something come through the store that she had, or something similar. It’s bound to happen. However, I’d bet on the odds of you being the only one at the party wearing that Neiman Marcus black, velvet dress, adorned with rhinestones, circa 1963. And if you happen to meet someone else in a similar dress, make a friend. She OBVIOUSLY has great taste!

     5. Head to toe vintage is hard to do.

Unless you are a perfect size, and by perfect I mean you have been in cryogenic sleep since the 60’s, it is highly unlikely you will be able to find an entire vintage outfit that fits you. I know a few out there. Some people find a look, and commit. I’m not one of those people, unfortunately. I have a modern shaped body that is made possible by eating out all the time and being addicted to Mexican food. My rule of thumb is to wear at least one vintage piece with each outfit. This may be a ring, a necklace, a jacket, vintage boots, or a hat. It depends on my mood. Just because I love vintage doesn’t mean I have to adorn myself in head to toe in order to show the world my personal style preference. I also make it a rule not to wear vintage around my son. The kid is a spiller. Everything is moderation, people.

     4. Accessorize, but not in excess.

A perfect segue into our 4th thing you must know about vintage. As Kalen puts it, you don’t wanna walk around looking like you just stepped out of Xanadu, and we wouldn’t let you. Some people make it work, and good for them. We salute you. Coco Chanel was famous for saying ‘take off the last thing that you put on’. Moderation. There is such a thing as too much. Too much wine, too much chocolate, too much gossip, too much Facebook. Everything needs to be in moderation. Before you know it you’ve had too much wine and chocolate and now you’re on Facebook all the time gossiping about that neighbor woman and suddenly things really start to hit the fan. Pace yourselves ladies.

I bump into this woman quite often in the Starbucks near where I live. I called her the quintesenntial Dallas/Fort Worth woman, or QDFWW for short. QDFWW is always dressed, head to toe, in access. Her hair starts about two feet above her head, she has long dangly earrings, her makeup begins an inch away from her face, she has on a statement necklace that is usually saying ‘I love Jesus, and my plunging neckline.’ She has bracelets on both arms, and they are big, loud, and dangly. She is never without a belt, and it’s sparkly too. There is a short skirt involved, usually with capri length tights underneath, or tights with a design on them, and knee high boots, with a heel. And, no I’m not quite done yet, a ring on every finger, sometimes two or three on one finger. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE this woman!!!! She puts her style out there and she commits. You cannot hate on someone like that. She is who she is and that’s the way it is. I’ve always wanted to take her picture because people never believe me when I talk about her, but I can be shy, especially before coffee.

     3. 90’s is NOT vintage!

Some people are bag snobs. Some people are label snobs. Me, I’m a guacamole snob. However, I also hate it when people say, I have this vintage purse, it’s from the 90’s. ARRRGGGGHHHHHHH! Nothing will drive me more crazy than you being wrong about something you don’t know you are wrong about. The 90’s was not a top notch, pinnacle of fashion decade. It would be best to be buried along with some of those horrific 80’s trends. I’m not saying the 70’s was perfect, even some things in the 60’s should stay in the 60’s. But let’s be clear: If I am old enough to remember wearing something, it’s not vintage…yet. I’m only 31, and while my husband tells me I’m getting old, I firmly stand in the belief I am not. Let stick to the old rule of 25 years or older being considered vintage. There. Now some of those 80’s trends some people are heck-bent on bringing back, they can have and be valided.

     2. Vintage is always in style.

While I think the Kardashians are beautiful women, and definitely ambitious and driven, I do not believe I have to see them wear something in order for it to be worn. Celebrities are people too, and yes, they sometimes make fashion mistakes. While the “idea” of vintage has become more mainstream, it’s always been in style. Just like recycling and drinking wine after the kids go to bed, some things never go out of style.


     1. Vintage boots just FEEL better!

You may think this is something we just say to sell boots, but it’s the truth. Just before Christmas I had an elderly gentleman come into the store with his family. He was visiting for the holidays from Kentucky. While the women immediately made the bee line to our boot wall, he hung back and muddled around. I asked him if he was looking for anything in particular and he confessed to me that he’s never been able to wear cowboy boots. He’s always loved them, but they always hurt his feet. I asked if he had ever worn a vintage pair. He explained to me that HE was vintage. We laughed and he said he wasn’t sure what I meant, and asked if I meant someone else wore them before. I explained that yes someone else had worn them before, most likely, but that because they were worn in already, someone else’s foot had done all the work for him. He said he’d have to see this for himself. I grabbed him a few pair, and while the ladies were still working their way through about 20 pairs, this gentleman fell in love with a black lizard pair that he said ‘felt like they were made just for (him)’. I felt like I had made a believer out of him. I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s like the comfort of coming home, but vintage boots just feel better. If worn in correctly, and to a foot that is just like yours, they are like butter. Not to mention that a vintage pair of boots is another accessory no one else will have a twin to.

I’m sure there is much more I could go on about, but I figured I’d break you in slowly. As I said, everything in moderation.

While we are super excited about our new blog for the store, we’d like to take                                                                           a moment to bring recognition to an event that affected our store recently. One of our beloved customers and friends lost her battle with breast cancer last week. We first met Kim on her many trips to our store with her daughter Margaux. First a great customer, and then becoming a great friend, we will miss seeing Kim’s face in the store, and her family is in our thoughts and prayers. Breast cancer is something that is close to our hearts because both of Kalen’s grandmothers, for whom the store is named after, suffered from the horrible disease. We hope and pray that there comes an end to breast cancer. In the meantime please remember to donate to causes that support research and efforts to find a cure.