Friday, August 21, 2015

1930s Daywear: Fashion in Real Life

I've had this skirt for a while but hadn't worn it because I was planning to hem it at knee-length. I wanted it to look like a skirt from the 1940s or the 1970s. But, lately, I've been really into mid-1930s style so I dragged this midi-length skirt out of my closet for an outfit that alludes to a 1930s day look. Now, I don't think I'll ever hem it!

After the high hems and low waists of the 1920s, hemlines lowered and waistlines (usually accented with a thin belt) raised back up in the 1930s, creating a look that I think is generally more flattering to an adult woman's figure.

As I looked for images from the 30s to illustrate this point, I found that plaid was also popular at the time, making my skirt choice even more appropriate for the look that was my goal.

Shoes and sunglasses: Aldo; Skirt: Tutu ; Shirt: INC ; Earrings, dress-clips, belt, and bracelet: vintage

I'm not sure why, but fashion magazines are constantly telling short women how to look taller, as if it's a foregone conclusion that we all hate being short. One of the pieces of advice that is repeated over and over again is ...

... never ever wear midi-length skirts.

But I have no problem with being and looking short. I think it's cute. Beau finds my stature positively adorable. At least once a day, he comes up and gives me a hug, saying with delight, "You're just little!"

Bebe Daniels
In the 1920s and 30s, many movie stars were very petite but this never stopped costume designers from putting them in "midi" skirts and dresses for casual, day-wear looks. I'm really not sure when the myth that tall women are more attractive started but it's silly. Being "just little" is just as good as being tall.

I mean look at this gal! Isn't she adorable?
And do notice her puffed sleeves too.

Little puffed sleeves were quite popular in the 30s and I had that in mind when putting together my outfit, though these sleeves aren't as puffed as I'd like.

Something like these would be better.

But look at the one young woman's sunglasses.

Mine aren't exactly as they would have been in the 30s, but they're pretty close. (They're actually more of an early 1990s look, and I wore them thusly here.)

I've read that sunglasses only became stylish in the 1930s. Isn't that something? They're such a great way to look cool, it's a wonder it wasn't done earlier. 

I find that they provide a great contrast with my super white skin, instantly creating the illusion that it is clear and porcelain even when it isn't.

Plus, they're darned practical on a super bright day like this one. The light was not particularly flattering, but my back was hurting badly and I was not going to wait around for better lighting.


The earrings are authentic to the 1930s. A friend of mine who is in her 70s gave them to me. They were given to her by her auntie, who had worn them in her own youth, so this places them smack in the right period for my own look. They're screw back earrings, which I find a lot of bother, but there are certain earrings that are worth that bother.

The dress clips were another exciting addition to my outfit. I'd ordered them on Etsy a few months earlier but the woman who ran the shop had been in an accident and wasn't able to get orders out for quite a while. (She's okay now.) When they arrived, I was pretty happy.

I've written about dress clips before, here and here, for example. They're very versatile and were worn a lot in the 1930s and 40s, but could be spotted even later than that.

My passion for dress-clips is probably partly spawned by their obscurity. They're hard to find, especially still in a pair, and few people even know what they are. So, naturally, I love them. I'm like that. I like to learn about new things, especially things about which others know little or nothing, and I love the hunt for obscure ephemera from the past.

Speaking of obscurity, check out this stylish, possibly lesbian couple, one of whom is sporting dress clips. We don't get to see very many images like these, do we? This couple intrigues me like crazy. They're often posted on LGBT, Pinterest boards because they look like they're in love. Who were they? What is their story? If anyone knows, please do tell me!

Though we couldn't call these two exactly chic, they certainly are stylish. They also illustrate another reality of the day: just as with today, the real public was never as thin or as coiffed as those on the silver screen.

One of Foncie's Photos
Everyday folk never looked like people do in the magazines, but they still enjoyed wearing the fashions of the day, regardless of their age or size. The hemline, the hat, the laced shoes, the thin belt, the dress clips, the brooch: this woman has it all going on and she looks lovely.

Older, more ample of bottom, thicker... It's all good, isn't it?

Foncie's Photo
Take the two older women with their backs to the camera here in 1938. They look good to me. How about you? 

The images these women were given as the ideal of feminine beauty were just as unrealistic then as they are today. How unrealistic is this illustration? It's insane! Nobody in the history of ever looked like this.

Nor would they want to! My God, these women look ten feet tall! Even thin women have more curves than these illustrations.

Curvier is lovelier. 

Foncie's Photo
... little (or big) bellies and all.

I will keep explaining this to myself -- and you -- till we all grasp that it really is true. 

Foncie's Photo
Another great staple of the 1930s was the laced shoe, worn with dresses and skirts. Younger women often wore them with small heels, while older women, like the one on the right, wore them flat and comfortable. My maternal grandmother, who was a young woman in the 1930s, wore lace-ups with her skirts till the day she died. 

If it's good enough for the grandmothers of the world, it's good enough for me.

Though my outfit wasn't completely period accurate, I did try to pose for photographs in settings that at least evoked the 1930s. Thus my insistence that Beau included the remnants of the tiles on this shop entrance.

Thus my posing here.

We do have some of the original tile work in this neighbourhood and I've often posed in front of it. I wish we had more!

This tile work isn't original but at least someone made an effort to harmonize it with the rest of the block. So often, that is not the case.

I'm happy to see that the new renters of this space are bringing this granite back to its original shine and splendour. 

This dinner club was not built in the 30s but there is a strong Art Deco influence on its design. 

Just look at the fonts they chose!

Art Deco fonts make me drool. 

I just love them!

Such glamour! Such glitz!

My idea, as I stood in front of the dinner club, was that it was really the 1930s and I was posing in front of my favourite night club, where my Beau and I love to go dancing. Does the illusion work?

I thought particularly of The Cotton Club ... 

... in the day time, when it would inevitably lose some of its glamour and shine and appear more prosaic ...

... as we all do ...

... in the light ... 

... of real life. Reality and real people are more interesting anyway. Aren't they?

(I'm sharing this with Rachel the Hat, Sydney Fashion Hunter, Happiness at Mid Life, Not Dead Yet, and Fashion Should Be Fun.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Don't Forget to Play! The Brooch, the Birds, and the Beauty


As you may know, my last post, was about healing from sexual abuse, and was pretty heavy. In fact, it was very heavy. It was also a lot of work to write! I don't regret it. It had over 600 reads in less than a week so I think the hard work was worth it. But one of the pieces of advice I give in it is to remember to have fun. This post is about that, about a day when I had some fun.
It was actually shaping up to be a tough day. I'd been recovering some new memories about how Smother reacted with rage when I tried to say no to sexual abuse. This morning, I woke up with a sense of dread, knowing that I was going to therapy and would need to talk about Smother's rages and their cause.

Bleh. Just total bleh.

But, before I left the house, these new-to-me, vintage, Weiss earrings arrived in the mail and life started looking up a bit.

Jewelry lover that I am, I'd spent two evenings on Etsy and Ruby Lane, searching for earrings to match my new-to-me, vintage, Weiss brooch. I wasn't sure that the earrings were a match. With the wonderful iridescence of both the brooch and the earrings, these pieces seem to be a different colour every time they're photographed, so there was just no way to tell if they matched until I saw them "in person." I even wrote to the seller and sent her a photo of my brooch, and she couldn't tell either.

I took a chance.

They're a perfect match! It may seem like a small thing. In fact, it is a small thing, but I get a lovely, sparkly happiness from such little things. I consider that one of my great good fortunes: my ability to find joy in small things.

Dress and tights: Mod Cloth; Hat and cape: boutique; Shoes, clutch, earrings, brooches, and bracelet: vintage

Of course, as little time as I had, and as much as I dreaded therapy, I simply had to whip together an outfit to showcase my new demi-parure. I figured this forest green dress, which you have seen before, would go well with its autumn colours.

I then paired them with this gorgeous, vintage bracelet whose colours echo those in the brooch and earrings.

The other day, my insurance company finally approved my long term disability claim and I bought this green brooch to celebrate. When I put it on, Beau was a bit scandalized, saying, "You're double-brooching?!" Sure I was. Why not? Okay, the two brooches don't go together perfectly all that well, but some days just call for double-brooching. To hell with the consequences!

When Beau picked me up after therapy, he was quite resistant to taking photographs for the blog. He just wasn't in the mood. Fair enough. After all, he isn't my personal photographer, not officially anyway. 

He said he'd just take a few photos of my great shoes as I stood over one of my favourite metaphors, the lightning-bolted "KEEP OUT" plate. It's a nice image for a sexual abuse survivor, a nice message to send: "Keep out, abusers, or risk electrocution!"

So I posed my feet perfectly and waited. I didn't realize he'd Beau had changed his mind and was taking a whole bunch of photos of my whole outfit.

When I realized what he was doing, it was somehow very funny to both of us and that's when the day got extra special playful.

I vamped a bit.

I nearly fell over trying to show how my shoes and tights matched the foliage on the wall.

Beau casually pretended that he didn't know his new tattoo would show up in photos. (If you're curious about his tattoo, wait for his upcoming guest post, in which he writes all about it.)

I made funny faces.

And Beau amused himself by photographing his sexy "cleavage": his word, not mine.

I was more amused by the silly double entendre of the Mr. Lube sign with Beau in the foreground.

Who names their shop Mr. Lube?! Someone pretty smart, I guess. It's not a name people easily forget.

Plus, the yellow of the sign matched my tights.

And the swirls in the mural matched the curls in my hair as they blew in the strong wind.

You probably noticed that I'm dressed quite warmly in these photos. It was an uncharacteristically rainy, cold, August day, such a wonderful, blessed respite from this summer's relentless heat. I actually needed my cape and hat. They were not just fashion statements.

I'm sure the cool rain added to our sense of giddiness. Nobody was complaining about the weather. Beau had bad vertigo this week and went to the doctor about it. The doctor says he's seen a lot of that this summer; people here are so unused to extreme heat that their electrolytes are out of balance and they're getting sick! The cool day was most welcome.

Even the birds were huddling together for warmth. I spied this little row of bushtits through our mudroom window. They believed themselves to be perfectly hidden in the thorny branches of our huge rose bush/tree so I was able to take several photos of their little row before they noticed me.

Isn't that the cutest thing you've ever seen?

Despite everything, it was just that kind of a day:

... a playful ...

... we can get through this ...

... don't forget to laugh kind of a day.

A tip of the hat to remembering to play and have fun. It's the stuff of healing.