Wednesday, May 20, 2015

~ emancipation day ~

Today, throughout Florida, people celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation being read, and it was beautiful.  I attended a ceremony and reenactment of the reading downtown at the Knott House, the exact location where it was read 150 years ago.  On every face in the crowd of people was a look of true understanding and appreciation - something that I'm glad to have seen first-hand.

It was so wonderful to run into old friends and make new acquaintances, all under a canopy of oak trees and a mellow blue sky.

I wore my favorite hat (although, as one might point out, I call every hat my favorite), partially because I love it to death, but mostly to keep the sun out of my face, since the afternoon sun turns me into a tomato.

And it's now officially the time of year where jeans are just out of the question (unless you like to have sweaty thighs), so a skirt was my only option.

I spoke to many people today, which not only restored my often-dwindling hope for the human race, but reinforced my strong belief that vintage clothing and vintage accessories can truly start conversations.  It was so heart-warming to have half a dozen people come up to me to ask about my hat and talk about their experiences with (and love for) clothing.  I met people whose kind words will follow me for years and lift me up when I have a bad case of the Blahs.

What a beautiful day.


Friday, May 15, 2015

~ chicka chicka boom boom ~

If you're one of the poor souls who didn't grow up on Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers movies and think that music from the 40s is boring and outdated, then let me catch you up on a bit of history and introduce you to the coolest lady who ever walked this earth in platform shoes and a headdress made out of fruit.

Meet Carmen Miranda.  Now go to google images and drool over all of her amazing costumes.

Carmen Miranda (Maria do Carmo Miranda da Cunha) was born in 1909 in Portugal and moved to Rio de Jeneiro when she was only a baby.  Her father was abusive towards her mother and highly disapproved of Carmen's love for performing, but her mother supported her passionately.  When her sister got sick and was sent away, Carmen started working in a hat shop to help pay for her medical bills - she later opened her own hat shop, which continued until she was discovered in 1929 and by the next year she was the most popular singer in Brazil.  She is widely considered to be the first Brazilian pop star and recorded nearly 300 songs in her career.

If you know her at all, you probably recognize her for her iconic style (fruit headdress, platform shoes, colorful beads, etc.) but she did not adopt this style until 1939.  If you haven't seen her first American film, Down Argentina Way, go watch it now.  Seriously.

She was in 14 American films in total, but also stared in many Brazilian films, though towards the end of her career, many Brazilians felt she was becoming too "Americanized."  Though being the strong woman she was, she responded by recording a song called "Disseram que Voltei Americanizada" (or "They Say I've Come Back Americanized").  After WWII, her career began to dim, as the American people's tastes slowly changed.

Her personal life was wrought was sadness - from an abusive marriage, to a miscarriage, to years of depression and drug use.  When she died after suffering from a heart attack, the Brazilian government declared a national period of mourning. 

My deep love for Carmen Miranda has been festering since I was 8.  I have a clear memory of cleaning my room (which from the years 2000-2006 was a lost cause) and singing to her music at the top of my lungs.  That was the same year I discovered high heels and Revlon lipstick, and all three (as you can clearly see) had a huge impact on my life.

Though I may be quite a bit older and several inches taller (but every bit obsessed with platforms as I was then), I still occasionally pull out my handmade headdress (which took a lot of hot glue and a lot of fake fruit), slap on her greatest hits, and shimmy around my room with a vacuum cleaner in tow.

Oh Carmen, how I love you.  Thank you for being such a big part of my life.


Thursday, May 7, 2015

~ honor flight ~

Last weekend I had the honor (get it?) of attending the welcome home reception for nearly 80 WWII, Vietnam, and Korea veterans after their visit to Washington D.C. with Honor Flight (more information here).

{vintage dress, Miss L Fire shoes}

My grandfather was never able to go on the flight - something that I think he would have loved, despite complaining the whole way there - so attending the welcome home party was a way to honor him, along with the other veterans.

As their plane taxied in, the Tallahassee Swing Band played them the top hits from the 40s.  

What a beautiful night!


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

~ love letter to my legs ~

Yes, you read that title right.  This post is truly one long letter of appreciation addressed to my legs.  And no, I'm not joking.  So, if you're not in the mood for a whole heap of honesty and a solid attempt at body positivity, turn away now.

Ready?  Here we go.

Friends posing on Kirra Beach, 1938.Jersey shore, 1942.

Dear Legs,
     We've been through a lot together, you and I.  I've often taken you for granted, cramming you into too small skinny jeans and mismatched socks, letting half of you go uncovered in an attempt to get rid of a shorts tan (which doesn't work, by the way), and whacking you on the edge of the counter every single time I walk into the kitchen.

You put up with a lot on a daily basis, and for that, I am grateful.  So legs, here's something I've been meaning to say.

I'm sorry for the time I was three and covered every inch of you in Arthur and D.W. bandaids and refused to let anyone remove them for a week.
I'm sorry for cramming you into uncomfortable, sweaty tights, several days a week for 12 years.
I'm sorry for looking at you in the mirror and pinching areas that were too fat for my liking.
I'm sorry for hating your stretchmarks.
I'm sorry for that time in my life when I shaved you every other day, without fail, with nothing but a razor and some cold water.
I'm sorry for all the scars from years of raising kittens, and baby squirrels that fell out of trees during hurricanes.
I'm sorry for all the cuts and bruises from climbing over fences, skinning my knees, and that one time I fell and rolled ten feet down the sidewalk in the rain when I was late to class (though I totally blame my slippery Converse All Stars for that one).
I'm sorry for all the twisted ankles and hurt knees and pulled muscles that I ignored in an attempt to be a "serious dancer who doesn't let pain get in the way."
I'm sorry for hating you when you were muscular, and then hating you when you lost the muscle.
I'm sorry for obsessing over that weird cluster of freckles that you couldn't do a damn thing about.
I'm sorry for thinking you were fat and ugly and that my knees looked like displeased babies.
I'm sorry for hating your cellulite and covering you up so no one would see it.
I'm sorry for all the summers I wore jeans and long skirts so I wouldn't have to look at you and I'm sorry for going running in leggings, so that I wouldn't see you jiggle.

I'm sorry for caring more about what you look like, than how you feel.  I'm sorry for last week when I decided against wearing that dress because it showed my knees.  And I'm sorry for setting impossibly high expectations that even the strongest of legs would fall short of.

So even though it might take me a while, and I might have to re-read this post several times to encourage myself, I'm hoping to make up for my 19 years of bad behavior.  No more Jergen's self tanner, no more laziness, and no more leg-envy.  Let's begin, shall we?


Thursday, April 23, 2015

~ the nineteen twenties ~

I'm often struck by a feeling of homesickness when listening to music or watching a movie from the 1920s.  Perhaps this connection I feel to the past is due to the fact that I was brought up on old black and whites and jazz records.  Or perhaps it's due to the multitude of stories that my grandparents would tell me when I was little.  Or perhaps it's due to the fact that I've been reincarnated and I was once a teenaged showgirl living in Paris (I'm only slightly joking).  But despite the reason, I find myself undeniably drawn to the past as though I'm attached to it by a string.  I watch old movies, I collect old clothes, I listen to old music, and I listen intently to stories from the past.  And I count myself very lucky to live in a time when my fascination is not only allowed, but accepted.

Some days I feel more homesick than others, and on those days I drop everything and play dress up (that's what adults do, right?).

Personally, I think there's no better way to spend a morning than in a velvet opera cape from the 20s and ten pounds of beads.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

~ middle, middle age ~

As adulthood quickly creeps up on me, ignoring my deliberate attempts to delay its eventual grasp (that bastard), I am suddenly facing the horrifying realization that I must figure out what I want to do and (even more horrifying) who I want to be.

Just to set things straight, I have never felt young.  I was probably the only ten year old who would rather spend the half an hour before bed attempting to set her hair in pin curls than watching TV.  Sometimes I speak of "youths" as though I'm not included in that classification.  My idea of a perfect night is a hot cup of tea, my floral robe, 25 pillows, and any movie with Myrna Loy.  The only thing I hate more than arugula is a typical college party.

Let's face it.  I'm an old lady.  An old lady who doesn't have to do her own taxes and wouldn't know a credit card statement if it bit her on the ear.  (and an old lady who fully recognizes her own privilege and is unbelievably grateful for it)

Now.  I have three choices when faced with such a task as growing up.  1. I could run and hide and forge my ID to make myself 19 forever (which has some obvious flaws).  2. I could learn the things an adult must know and walk confidently in the direction of my future (which is obviously designed for someone way more organized and optimistic than myself).  Or 3. I could take things a day at a time and slowly prepare myself, one task at a time (like throwing out six years worth of notes and tackling The Junk Drawer).  A fourth option would of course be to marry rich and never work a day in my life, but that thought makes me slightly nauseous and more than a bit depressed.  So being a competent adult it is!

It's no secret to those who know me well that change is both the thing I dread and the thing I crave the most, so I look upon this next phase of my life with mixed emotions.  Of course, the opportunity to add a new layer to myself and find my place in the world is something I am very grateful for, but at the same time, to say I'm not scared shitless would be an incredibly bad lie.  Leaving the things I have come to feel comfortable with, the people I love, and the grocery store I could navigate while blindfolded, all of which I am so lucky to have, is a really big puddle to jump over.

But soon enough, adult life will be my norm.  I'll get excited over buying laundry detergent,  and the "youths" I complain about will actually be younger than me.

Gone will be the days of sleeping in, waking up to homemade biscuits, and running to an adult when the vacuum cleaner eats a pair of tights and then catches on fire.  I will be the adult.  Youths will run to me with smoking vacuum cleaners.  And that my friends, is a scary, scary thought.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

~ the scarf queens ~

Though the verdict is still out on how long I can go without washing my hair (because I am a very lazy person and I have a LOT of hair - i.e. hair washing is a major production and will only be done when absolute necessary), the verdict has definitely come back in regards to headscarves and I'm pleased to say they have passed with flying colors!  Blue ones, red one, white ones, floral ones, plaid ones, striped ones - you name it, I've tried it.  And thanks to my grandmother who was meticulous in her treatment towards her clothes and accessories, I have enough scarves (in perfect condition) to last me a lifetime of bad hair days, lazy hair days, rainy days, and just plain blah days!

Now here are a few Scarf Queens that deserve your attention.

Such a wonderful, classic 1940s scarf and rolled bang hairstyle.

1940′s Snood; ***I love snoods, they are so beautiful, especially the lacey ones...  :D(Not actually a dress but love the dotted scarf) Photograph by Victor Keppler for a lipstick advertisement, c. 1943.

1941 street fashion - woman at the horse races in Paris (how she's styled her head scarf is amazing!). #vintage #1940s #fashionThis was a huge change to the workforce as women “began to take over ‘male’ jobs and gained confidence in themselves.” (“World War Glamour…”, Glamour Daze). It was asked of women to “play active roles in the industrial workforce, while maintaining morale by keeping up a feminine appearance.” (Walford). This was quite difficult as “Women in factories often wore shapeless jumpsuits and kept their hair pinned up under a scarf tied about their head into a turban.”

Headscarves are such an elegant alternative to hats when keeping the chill of one's ears of a winter eve.

One of each, please.