Archive | August, 2012

Vintage Cowboy Boots 101

27 Aug

As we approach September and college football season (Go Frogs!), we thought it was a good time to give you a do’s and don’ts guide to wearing cowboy boots. We’ve heard a lot of nasty rumors lately about cowboy boots being paired with everything from yoga gear to Nike shorts. While I love the fact that some girls think that their cowboy boots are the most comfortable shoes in their closet, it saddens me that they are losing their rank on the fashion totem pole by being worn with athletic gear. So, read up and then go look in your closet to discover the vast possibilities in your wardrobe that will give new life to your favorite Tony Lamas.

DO: Jeans—the obvious no-brainer choice. Whether they are skinny jeans tucked in to show off  that fancy TCU Horned Frog inlay or tucked out (yes, that is a real term) boot cut jeans that give that pointy toe something to peek out of, jeans are the easiest and most conservative option to pair with your cowboy boots. And for those of you outside of the great state of Texas, don’t be shy about wearing those boots in Washington DC, or Seattle, or NYC. We’ve sold many a pair of boots to Yankees who are not willing to settle for the “fashion” cowboy boots you see in stores these days. What a better souvenir from your visit to the great state of Texas than a pair of authentic TEXAS made cowboy boots?

DO: Dresses/skirts—the uniform of the 15-25 year old. OK, yes, I admit. I am not 25 and I do wear my cowboy boots with dresses. So, the trend may have STARTED with this age group, but like anything else, trends migrate to those older and younger. And as long as you didn’t wear the trend the first time around, it’s OK to wear it the second time around. You will typically see this trend at its finest at any college football game in Texas. I have my suspicions that it has also spread to other states in the South, and will be able to confirm that when my new college freshman daughter reports back about the reactions she got when wearing her garnet and red snakeskin cowboy boots to her first Gamecocks football game. She’ll either fit right in, or they will know she’s from Texas. Either way, I see it as a win/win. So, the trend may have started with this young crowd, but rodeo queens were wearing their elaborate cowboy boots with full riding skirts way before anyone thought to do it with a cute little babydoll dress. Why else would bootmakers put so much time and effort in to fancy inlays and stitching just to have them be covered up by jeans? Some boots were made to be shown off and there’s no better way to do it than with a cute dress or skirt.

DO: Denim cut-offs—the Daisy Duke phenomenon. Ahh yes, Daisy Duke. Introduced to us in the 80s by Catherine Bach, and revived in 2005 by Jessica Simpson, she was tough when she needed to be and a Southern Belle when, well, the rest of the time. Although I’m not a fan of the cowboy boots with cut-offs look, I can see its appeal. It’s hotter than a stolen tamale here in the summer and we do not believe in putting our boots away just because it’s a bit warmish. So, jeans are too hot, skirts/dresses are too fancy, the next best alternative is cut-offs. Probably a trend best reserved for that age group I mentioned above. I’m sure not brave enough to pull it off!

DO: Wedding dresses—seriously. Probably only in Texas, but I’ll welcome any challenge to that assumption, will you see brides and entire wedding parties wearing cowboy boots with their dresses. One of my favorite customers asked us last year to outfit her entire wedding party in cowboy boots. It was a ranch wedding, and I think we hunted for boots for her bridesmaids, groomsmen, parents, cousins, etc for 6 months in order to get her exactly what she wanted. The result was more than we could have ever asked for, and we were proud to be a part of it. So, be bold! If you just can’t make yourself wear boots down the aisle (or, mom has a different opinion about that subject), then fling off those Jimmy Choo’s once the “I dos” are said, and slip in to your comfy boots for the reception. Trust me, by the time the Cotton Eyed Joe comes around, your feet will love you for it.Courtesy of Meegan Weaver Photography

DON’T: Nike shorts/yoga pants/athletic gear. Like I said above, I love that y’all think that your cowboy boots are the most comfortable shoes in your closet and can be thrown on with anything. But please, don’t. They deserve a little respect. I’m still not even a fan of Nike shorts with Sperrys, but I digress. Athletic shoes with athletic gear. Done.

DON’T: Dress pants. Thankfully, we haven’t seen this yet, so we are gonna kill that rat before it ever gets in the dog food.

DON’T: Cocktail dresses. Unless the specified dress of the party is “Western Chic”, “Cowgirl Cocktail”, or “Texas Classy”, I don’t care how blingy your boots are or how much money you spent on them, take this opportunity to hightail it to Neiman’s and buy yourself that fabulous pair of Manolo’s you have had your eyes on. After all, a girl can’t live on cowboy boots alone.

A Spin around the Abbey

20 Aug

Downton Abbey has been in my Netflix queue ever since a good friend asked me if I was watching it a few months ago. Knowing how much I loved period movies and TV shows, she told me I should definitely check out season one that had just been released on video. I had heard about it and knew it had won an Emmy or something, but her recommendation was all I needed to make it a “must see”. If you are unfamiliar with the PBS series, Season One begins in 1914 on a country estate in rural England. It is a drama about an aristocratic English family and their sometimes overwhelming number of household staff. Think Pride and Prejudice set 100 years later and at Pemberley rather than Longbourne. (If that sentence means nothing to you, stop reading this blog immediately and go watch the Keira Knightley version of the movie. And not the edited for TV version either, it leaves too much out.)

Lord Grantham, the Earl of the estate, resides at Downton Abbey with his wife and 3 daughters; not a fortuitous situation for the family in early 20th century England. The major story line centers around the future heir to the title as well as the estate, but there are enough side stories regarding the lives of the daughters, maids, footmen, kitchen staff, etc to make things interesting. One of my favorite characters is the youngest daughter, Sybil. As the youngest, she knows she stands last in line for marriage and pretty much has to take whatever is offered to her. Sybil, however, is not one to allow her future to be dictated to her. She is interested in politics, especially the growing women’s suffrage movement and determined to make a life for herself beyond that of a daughter and wife. While her oldest sister is adamant about not marrying someone who her parents select for her and makes sure her parents know of her determination; Sybil is the quiet baby of the family, and much more discreet about her rebellion. Secretly helping a housemaid find a job as a secretary one minute, while she sweetly kisses her father on the cheek as she requests the use of the carriage the next. In a recent episode, it is Sybil’s turn to go to the dressmaker for a new “frock” (love that word!). She complains that there is nothing new to have made, fashions are boring, she is sick of wearing corsets, and on and on. You can almost see in her, the evolution of modern dress and the desire to not only express herself but to have fun with fashion.

I have to say that the costumes on the show are exquisite. Every day suits and riding costumes are classic, tailored skirts, blouses and jackets worn with the perfect hat to complete the ensemble. But in an era when everyone of stature “dressed for dinner”, it is the evening gowns that are the most breathtaking. Layers of silk chiffon in brilliant colors, embroidery, brocades, and lace adorn ethereal empire waist gowns that float around the sumptuous drawing room. There is a definite distinction among women of different ages in regards to the dress, as the grandmother is clearly still in her comfort zone of stuffy, high collar Victorian dress.

Lady Sybil sees her turn for a new frock as her opportunity to express herself, and isn’t that what a new dress or pair of shoes should do for all of us? Even growing up in an affluent family where we assume money was not an issue, the selection of a new frock was a big deal. It had to be perfect. It had to represent who she was as a young woman and who she aspired to be. Her last new one was possibly 3 years ago when she was a young teen. This was her prom dress. The dress of her future. When the time comes for the big “reveal”, Sybil is painstakingly dressed by her maid with minute detail given to every aspect of her appearance. She keeps the entire family, including her Countess granny, waiting to go in to dinner until she makes her debut. And while Granny is shocked by the final product, Sybil beams and makes a grand sweeping curtsy to her speechless family.
I often feel sad that we do not have occasion to dress up anymore; to enjoy the time spent selecting a frock and the perfect shoes and accessories to complete the ensemble. We have lost the joy of dressing in beautiful fabrics and impeccably constructed garments. We opt for ease, comfort and practicality and think nothing about throwing on a dress that “will do”. I think that is why one of the many things I love about vintage clothing is that it allows us to go back to a time when women were more intentional about what they put on. Don’t get me wrong, as I sit in a car driving cross country for 12 hours, I’m glad I didn’t have to put on my corset, stockings, dress, jacket, hat and gloves before I lft the hotel. But what I would give for an opportunity to wear a peacock blue silk chiffon harem pantsuit!

20120820-204221.jpgFor more info on Edwardian clothing, click here.

All images courtesy of

Highlights from Mrs. V’s Trunk Show

13 Aug

We hosted a trunk show this week for our dear friend Margot from Mrs. V’s Vintage. Margot and I go way back to our Pier 1 days together. I actually hired Margot to work for me as a Merchandiser and then sadly had to lay her off 7 months later when the company took a different direction. Lucky for me, we are still friends. She has a real job as a teacher, but she inherited her passion for thrifting and antiquing from her mom and has created a lovely side project which is Mrs. V’s Vintage. She has an amazing eye for cool, trendy, eclectic mid-century housewares and décor and we were thrilled to give her a little corner of our store to showcase her treasures. Here are some of my favorites:



When I was a kid, Fisher Price play houses initiated you in to make believe play. Whereas girls now start playing Barbies early, like at age 3 or 4, we did not have Barbies until age 7 or 8. Fisher Price play houses came in several formats and you could use the furniture interchangeably. There was a Tudor doll house, a school house, a house boat, and my personal favorite, the A frame. From the plank “wood” floor to the decal rag rug, the A frame screams 1975. It even has a WORKING dinner bell on the back porch!

We are all about anything having to do with cocktails, and who doesn’t need “a guide to pink elephants”? Dated 1952, these drink recipe cards are “alcohol resistant” (brilliant!!) and provide not only 200 recipes but a guide to the perfect type of glass for every drink.

It’s probably the Scot in me that can never resist a tartan, or the sound of bagpipes for that matter, but this plaid picnic set has to be one of the cutest things ever. The thermos will keep your Baileys and coffee nice and warm and since there is only one mug, you don’t even have to share!

Back in the day when there was ONE phone in the house and you had to reserve a time slot to talk to your sweetie, you might have sat in a chair like this in the corner of the kitchen. It was in the kitchen so your mother could keep half an ear on your phone conversation while she was cleaning up after dinner. I love the printed vinyl upholstery that looks like the night sky. Even in the 50’s they had a thing for metallics!

For more great finds from Mrs. V, check out her etsy shop here:

And you can “Like” her on Facebook here:

Flea Market Adventures

6 Aug

I have a friend at church whose daughter Lauren is going in to the 6th grade. She is cute and freckly and you can see the emerging fashionista in her with her copper metallic Sperry’s, friendship bracelets and hair bows. She also apparently loves to shop and when my daughter told her recently about our trips to the Flea Market on Sunday afternoons she thought there could be no better way to spend a Sunday. So, even though it is August, and 847 degrees by 10am, I decided yesterday that we’d brave the heat and go check out our favorite Sunday afternoon shopping sites. We invited Lauren to go with us and before I could get the words out of my mouth, she was nodding and grinning bigger than Christmas. I told her to dress cool and bring water and we’d come by and pick her up after church.

Flea Markets are one of my most favorite places to shop for the store. You just never know what you will find. The Cattle Barn Flea Market has its regular tenants, so at the least you can count on a few great jewelry booths and know the $5 parking fee wasn’t a total waste. But aside from the tried and true vendors we always stop at, it’s worth the time to roam the aisles looking for treasures. Our first stop was at Sue’s, the biggest jewelry booth at the Market. Lauren thought she had died and gone to accessory heaven. She has her $5 bin, her $3 bin and then the major fabulousness locked up in jewelry cases across the aisle. I try really hard not to look in those because I usually can’t afford her prices. We dug in the $3 and $5 bins and through the cufflinks and found some good stuff.

My 14 year old daughter that went with me is in a “I want to redo my room” stage. I swear, I think I hear that every 8 months. It seems every third time she opens her mouth to speak, the words that come out are, “I saw this thing on Pinterest…” and now she is all Martha Stewart. Regularly I’ll get texts during the day with random supply lists for her latest project. Thank you Pinterest and Craft Wars for creating a DIYer with a list of projects I now have to fund. In any case, she was looking for anything she could repurpose in her new and improved room. She came across an antique cylinder shaped tin grater on a “50% OFF” table that she thought she could spray paint and use as an earring holder. Pretty clever, I thought. However, it was still tagged $20, and even at 50% off that was more than she wanted to pay.


We proceeded on our hunt and came across a booth with some vintage clothing on a rack. I start flipping through and the owner of the booth came over and said that all the clothing was $2. $2?!?! It’s probably all crap, I thought. But no! Some seriously good pieces! It got even better when we found the $.50 boxes of belts and scarves. We cleaned up there, spending a whole $16 and filling our tote bag. Lauren snagged a cross necklace for $2 at another booth, and as we were now sweaty messes, we made our way to the exit. Allison still had the grater on her mind so I asked her how much she wanted to pay for it. $8, she said. Then go over there and tell him that is all you have. She shyly walked up to the booth owner and he told her it was 50% off the $20, so $10. She showed him her money and said all she had was $8. He held out his hand to take the money and the grater was hers. It is now expertly spray painted and holding the vast collection of earrings we bought at our next stop.

As we got in to the car, we told Lauren we were going to Junker Val’s. She sweetly asked if it was air conditioned and we assured her it was. Junker Val is antique/junk dealer who recently opened a shop on Bluebonnet Circle. She is only open Fri-Sun, and it is a treasure trove of all of her estate and junking finds. The biggest draw, for us anyway, is her $10 and under jewelry table. Again, Lauren’s eyes lit up like fireworks. She planted herself in front of that table and it was a good hour later before her I finally had to drag her and Allison away. Finding matching earring sets was highly rewarding and Allison left with 4 or 5 sets. Lauren got 2 bracelets and I found some great cuff links and an awesome turquoise cuff bracelet. All in all, a highly successful day. I promised Lauren we would do it again soon, but maybe wait until it got a bit cooler.