Tag Archives: vintage fashion

A Vintage, Viking Lady

17 Jul

It’s no secret that I’m a little obsessed with vintage. Since my current fascinations have turned from my wardrobe to my soon-to-be little girl’s wardrobe, my gears have switched for the moment. Nothing fits me and I’ve resorted to finally buying maternity clothes. In order to satisfy my fashion cravings, I’ve gone on the hunt for little girl clothes, beyond that Carter’s brand, quintessential, pink crap that every other little girl wears, and sometimes wears badly. I thought we talked about this people!

I have this favorite store of mine in Minneapolis that I HAVE to go to every time we pass through. Last stop, they were closed, andI didn’t feel like waiting around or coming back. It had been a long trip. This vintage store known as Blacklist Vintage is easily one of the most organized vintage stores I’ve visited besides our own. The best part about this place, they sometimes carry vintage kids clothes. There isn’t always a lot to choose from, and its mostly girl things, but every once in awhile you find the perfect petticoat, or sundress. Even better, they are usually around $20 a piece. I once found the most perfect navy blue winter coat with brass buttons. It was about a one year old size and in amazing condition. Unfortunately, that day I’d also found a bag I just had to have, lost my mind, and left with it. I’ve been kicking myself ever since.

Finding vintage kids clothes is like hunting for gold in the desert. I don’t remember the gold rush being mentioned in the Nevada desert, so I imagine it’d be a pointless search. For some reason, vintage kids clothes are almost nonexistent. I’ve only ever run into that one shop that had a regular display for the wee ones. Kalen hit the jackpot a few months ago when she went to Miami and found some girls sundresses, but those lasted about a minute, as you can imagine. What’s the saying? Snatched up like hot cakes.

I’ve recently been introduced what I’m sure will be the death of my bank account: Janie and Jack. While taking the kids to the mall for some fun indoor activities, my friend and I wandered into one last week. She calls this store, ‘the one my mother in-law shops at, where my daughter can’t wear a single thing’! I loved this. I didn’t realize what it meant until I saw the $45 cream silk blouse. Yep, couldn’t ever wear that for more than the click of shutter. Heck, I’m 31 and I can’t be trusted to wear white, or silk, or a blouse without guaranteeing I’ll crave pasta with marinara that day. Upon further inspection, the prices were not unreasonable, but definitely reserved for a special occasion. However, then there is the clearance rack! I found the most adorable spring coat, that was very vintage-y looking, with the big buttons and rounded shoulder cut. It reminded me of something from the 50’s. I also found they carried girls shorts that have a cuff on the leg, giving them an adorable shape on those skinny little girly legs, all little girls have. It reminded me of hot pants from the 40’s, but I could be totally off on this. I’ve also been planning a forties inspired kids shoot, and found the perfect outfit for my little 6 year old, aka my son’s newest girlfriend. She will look like a tiny, Great Gatsby lady, minus the cocktails.

It’s tough out there, trying to find look for your kid that isn’t like every other kid’s look. When it comes to boys, they are easy. Girls are a whole new ballpark. I’d like her to have a style all her own that all the little girls in her Gymboree class aspire to. I’d also like her to not show up to her first one year birthday party in the same outfit as another attendee. Talk about self esteem killer. Can’t even talk yet and she’s already running to hide in the bathroom from the embarrassment. I’ll have to make sure I bring a backup outfit for just such an emergency. I would love to find another shop, maybe not so far from home, that carried vintage kids clothes so I could add to her “collection”. Believe me, this tiny tot’s closet is already a collection of who’s who, and ‘where did you get that?’ I’m already jealous.

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A Kalen Review: Schiaparelli and Prada

6 Jun

One of the destinations on our list this summer is NYC (well, really, when isn’t it?) to see the new exhibit at the Costume Institute at the MET. Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations opened May 10 with the annual Met Ball Gala. Considered to the be the ultimate Red Carpet event for the fashion industry, the Met Ball Gala brings out the who’s who of the fashion and entertainment world. We’ll talk more about the Gala in a later post, but for the moment I want to dive in a little deeper to the seemingly odd pairing of Schiaparelli and Prada.


Elsa Schiaparelli began her career in Paris in 1928 with a single item; a black sweater with a trompe d’oeil bow.

She opened her first workroom specializing in sport attire to be worn for golf, tennis, etc. In 1930, she added an atelier to design couture and evening wear and began the most successful decade of her career. Her clothing was very much influenced by the art of her day; Cubism in the early 30s with clean, architectural lines, and Surrealism in the later 30s with whimsical buttons, creative fabrics and abstract accessories (insect necklace, anyone?).

During the war, her atelier closed and the house reopened in 1945. Schiaparelli’s post war designs were still artistically influenced; they lacked the humor and novelty of her pre-war collections.

Miuccia Prada took over the family leather business in 1978. Becoming famous for nylon bags and backpacks in the 1980s, Prada launched their ready –to-wear collection in 1989.

While other designers in the late 80’s were designing lines that were short, sexy and flirty; Prada came on the scene showing clean lines, luxurious fabrics and basic colors and the fashion world took notice.

By the 1990’s, Prada was a leading force in the fashion world producing simple, classic styles in luxurious fabrics and neutral colors. In 1995, Miuccia Prada won the Designer of the Year award by the Council for Fashion Designers of America.

Today, Miuccia Prada is known as one of fashion’s most intellectual talents. She plays with fabrics and colors; pairing the opulent with the every day, and creating color schemes only she could dream up. Yet luxury and high quality continue to be the core of the brand.

So, two driven female designers breaking the mold and innovating fashion, one in the 1930’s and one in the 1990’s. Elsa and Miuccia were bound together by their love of opulent fabrics, clean lines and impeccable detailing. Creatively, their influences were vastly different. Elsa looked to the art of her time and was not afraid to take risks in quirkiness. Miuccia was driven by technology and manipulation of fabrics and sought to innovate while always maintaining her high standards. If you look at the images from the Met Museum website, it is uncanny how similar their styles were. There is no evidence that Miuccia was influenced by Schiaparelli, but undoubtedly, she was familiar with her. It is a conversation that I for one, would love to be a fly on the wall to witness. If you find yourself in NYC this summer, make a point to drag whoever it is that you are with to this exhibit. There are very few female designers past or present as influential in the fashion world as Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada. If we are lucky enough to make it there ourselves, we’ll be sure to give a full report!

‘Put a Brooch On it!’

22 May

According to Google, the brooch is the most coveted piece of jewelry, worldwide. Most people take them for granted today, however it never goes unnoticed when I wear one with an outfit. So why don’t more people wear them here? Is there some part of the country where woman still don these wonderful pieces of fashion? One of my favorite vintage shops in Minneapolis carries a slew of vintage pins, brooches, even those funny tag line ones from the eighties. Remember the days you covered your backpack in pins with funny saying, until the adult figureheads figured out you were making those snarky comments to them, via Jansport. So much for self expression in the schools.

Brooches and pins haven’t always been as much fun, or fancy. The origin of the brooch dates back to the loin cloth. Yes, I said it…the loin cloth. Obviously those cave men needed something to keep their boys from always making an appearance. And remember those kilt wearing Scots…well, imagine trying to make 9 yards of fabric stay put on your body with out a fastener in sight. I’m pretty sure they encountered the same problem those cave men did. The definition of a brooch is actually just a pin with a clutch back. It wasn’t until the 18th century that people found a way to make the brooch a fashionable item. It was the era of the gem that had brooches donned with diamonds, pearls, and other precious gems, hence the brooch we think of today.


Brooches were wildly familiar in the 50’s and 60’s, and almost always seen on a secretary with her work attire. Some are fancy and flashy, others meaningful. Don’t think that brooch bouquets are a new item either. Made popular again by Miranda Lambert, in her nuptials to Blake Shelton, they gained momentum and are currently offered by many designers, pre made. I even carried one in my wedding, but I made my own since I felt like it would mean more.
While I still feel the brooch is ever present in our daily lives, I still think it just gets dealt a crappy hand. Some think the brooch is just something your grandmother used to wear. Let’s not forget though, Grandma was one flashy and fashionable lady. In a world of fashion where everything old is new again, and there is no original thought in anything these days, why not bring back something as fabulous as the brooch. I’ve also seen the brooch worn as a hair piece, or barrette. But a brooch on a plain handbag and jazz it up. Instead of just tying your scarf, clip a brooch on to keep it together, and give you a looser, less uptight look. On a wedding budget? A brooch bouquet is a perfect solution, and even better, it won’t die in two days. You’ll have a wedding keepsake that will last your lifetime, and your children’s. There are so many reasons to own brooches, and so many uses for them. They are a fabulous piece of jewelry that can take your style up a few notches, and then some. Like I said, any time I add a brooch to my outfit, it never goes unnoticed. The brooch definitely falls in the hat category for me, as in I hear people say all the time, ‘Why don’t people wear hats anymore?’ I happen to think if you like something, you wear it. It doesn’t matter if people just don’t do that any more. You do it. And you look great doing it. That’s all that matters.

Don’t Tell Mom…I may be a Hipster.

9 Apr

My best friend called me a Hipster a few weeks ago. It has obviously had a resounding affect on me, as I’m blogging about it weeks later. Her definition of a Hipster was someone who didn’t like something every one else liked. She said it was because I shop at resale, vintage, and thrift stores. I frequent flea markets, and quite recently Canton, which I’m currently obsessed over now. Thank you East Texas. And because I liked Adele WAY before anyone else did, and now that the whole world is Adele obsessed, I couldn’t care less. So this got me thinking…what is a Hipster, really? If I went by my best friend’s definition, and I try not most days, I’d have to say with shame that I am a Hipster. But before dive into self loathing and start wearing a fanny pack to be “ironic” let me research this term “Hipster” just a little more.

If Aline’s definition of Hipster is correct, then my mother might’ve been the first one. Dare I say I’ve turned into my mother…? Nope, I will not admit this as of yet. According to my good friend, Google, a Hipster is someone who follows the latest trends and fashions. Well, that makes almost every girl in the free world one then. However, according to my distant cousin, Urban Dictionary:

“Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20’s and 30’s that value independent thinking, counter culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie- rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter.”

Oh dear God, it is not looking good for me right now, and I know many of you are starting to feel the same. Or at least I hope you are. However I have to say, perhaps this all has to do with the way I was raised. I thought that it was important to have independent thought, not go-with-the-flow, and appreciate intelligence and creativity. I certain appreciate intelligence in my friends, otherwise, the conversation is quite dull. Urban Dictionary goes on to say that while “Hipsterism is really a state of mind, it is also often intertwined with distinct fashion sensibilities. Hipsters reject the culturally ignorant attitudes of mainstream consumers, and are often seen wearing vintage and thrift store inspired fashions, tight fitting jeans, old school sneakers…” From this I have to conclude that while Hipsters do not like to look like every one else, they all dress alike…? The article later concludes that they all dress in a fashion depicted in that of Urban Outfitters and American Apparel ads. They also reject the stereotypical male/female archetypes that society portrays as “good-looking”. And while stores like Old Navy, The Gap, and American Eagle now carry “worn-style” jeans, they are simply following a path that Hipsters have carved out before them from wearing thrift store clothing that is worn that way, because it was worn that way.

I have to wonder now, what will the Hipsters of tomorrow be wearing, since everyone is going to start wearing what Hipsters wear? Are the outfits going to become more and more outrageous as time goes on, simply to avoid finding a look-alike crossing their path? As a woman, there is truly nothing worse in this world, or at least to me, as walking down the street to my favorite restaurant, glowing about how awesome I look in my new ensemble and coming upon another girl wearing the same thing. Thank you Forever 21 for making this happen more often than not. Even as most recently we’ve had girls come in the store looking for vintage prom dresses. After all, it would be the end all be all if a girl showed up to your prom in YOUR dress.

So it looks like the world is going the way of the Hipster after all. I don’t think this is such a bad thing. I may have to say that as I may unwillingly admit I do fall under this category sometimes. When I am not taking my kid to school early in the morning, not going grocery shopping, and not going to or from the gym, I tend to dress myself according to my own standards that may not match up with everyone elses’. A girl likes to look her best, and not like someone else’s best. Good luck to all you fellow Hipsters out there! I’m sorry to bring such news to you on this rainy Monday. Take pride in who you are, and please don’t forget to appreciate intelligence, Hipster or not!

The Five Vintage MUST haves!

6 Mar

Every woman who loves shoes has her rabbit to chase. Christian Loubiton, Prada, Jimmy Choo. We all have that one pair in mind that we say ‘When I hit the lotto, I’m totally buying that (insert designer name here) that cost more than my rent!’ For vintage lovers, there are MANY rabbits we chase. Kalen is determined to own a vintage Chanel purse. I’m after a vintage Louis Vuitton purse, and at least one thing worn by someone famous in the 50’s or 60’s. So for this week I decided to introduce the top 5 things every vintage lover should own at some point in their vintage loving lives:

  1. A Vintage Fur!

Oh yeah, I said it! A FUR! Call PETA on me or whatever but everyone should own a piece of fashion history. Let’s face it, the animal has been dead longer than my grandmother has been alive. It’s not doing anyone any justice by being ignored, or not worn for “ethical” reasons. What’s not ethic is letting that beauty go to waste! I bought a Mink Stole for my wedding. I love that thing. It’s so soft, of course, and it even smells all vintage-y and good. I wore it on out over my wedding dress on our way home and got many compliments. It’s old Mink. His family doesn’t miss him anymore. They are all long gone too. But maybe not made of coats, God willing.

  1. An Alligator Bag!

The same goes for an alligator bag as the fur, except that lets be serious, we could use less animals that want to eat us in the world, right? Ever been chased by a mink or a rabbit, probably not. Ever been chased by an alligator? Not yet, but that’s because when I went to school in Florida they taught you how to out run one, just in case you ever did. I come prepared. Alligator bags are eclectic, they are always in style. They just LOOK amazing and a pleasing to the touch too. I could go on forever about an alligator bag, but just trust me, you need one in your life. I wandered around Minneapolis one Sunday in November and was lucky enough to run across a vintage Pierre Cardin Rattlesnake skin clutch. It was $12. I take that darn thing everywhere. When people are like ‘Oh my gosh I love your bag’, I say ‘Yea you do!’ We did have this amazing green lizard bag over Christmas that I just fell in love with too. Unfortunately it’s cheating on me with it’s new owner somewhere in the metroplex. I miss you Lizzy!

  1. Vintage Jewelry!

I am not picky here, you just need to own some vintage jewelry. Jewelry is just not made the same way it used to be. Vintage jewelry doesn’t fall apart after washing your hands in the sink, and it doesn’t turn your skin green. It actually has a weight to it. Yeah! I know! It’s mostly costume jewelry, but the good kind. The kind you can pass down, or you get passed down. It lasts generations, and most likely wasn’t made in China. There is nothing cooler than having a piece that you can brag about, and that no one else will be wearing because they sell thousands of them at Forever 21. What’s worse than showing up wearing the same dress as another girl at a party? Having someone say ‘Oh I love your necklace, I have it too. Forever 21, right?’ Trust me NO one stays 21 forever, and they definitely should not.

4.     One Vintage “staple” Dress

If you are lucky enough to be a size where vintage will fit you, make sure you get yourself a “staple” dress. A staple dress is a dress you can wear on more than one occasion that always looks good on you and everyone will envy. I have never had more looks and/or compliments than when I go out to eat with my husband wearing a dress from the store. Sure, he wears a collared shirt and jeans, but I always like to look my best. I don’t want him taking me out in public and being ashamed to be seen with me. Certain colors always look good on certain people. Certain cuts are the same way. A vintage dress that fits, thats remarkable, and probably one in a million. I’m not blessed with the most perfect shape and rarely do I find a vintage dress that fits me perfectly, but every once in awhile I do. And I buy it. End of story.

  1. And finally…(insert drum noise here)…Vintage Cowboy Boots!

I am sure I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it over and over and over until you completely agree. Vintage Cowboy boots are by far THE best thing to happen to the world since we found out that Snookie is pregnant and we get to make jokes for the next 9 months. The best part about vintage boots are the comfort. My mom hates cowboy boots. I’m not sure why, they pinch her feet or something, I can’t remember. She used to have a great pair of burgundy Wranglers. I thought they were awesome. She gave them away. Had she held on to them, by now they would’ve been considered vintage and have fit ME perfectly. Sometimes the story comes back to what’s best for me. I bought my first pair of cowboy boots almost 2 years ago. They are Tony Lama, 70’s, ostrich. They are amazing, and sooooooooo comfortable. Why? Because who ever owned them before me did all the leg work, literally. They are already worn in and fit my feet like a teddy bear hugging a baby seal all day long. I have since converted my best friend into wanting cowboy boots. She’s a hard sale. She’s picky, she doesn’t know how they are supposed to fit, and she’s against a skin of any sort. She’s a weird one, but I still love her. She got the bug recently because I got her friend a pair first, and she’s a little jealous. Buy your first pair of vintage cowboy boots and you’ll be addicted too. Or better yet, watch someone else buy a pair, and the bug will hit you.

Whoever or wherever you are in your vintage journey, just know the pleasure is in the hunt. So happy hunting you savvy vintage lovers. But remember, if you come between me and my dream Louis Vuitton Bag out there, just back away slowly.

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.