la marseillaise

The biggest reason for my absence these past few months? I went to France!

No, I did not eat macarons in Paris (they’re overrated anyway); I didn’t take a selfie with the Mona Lisa. I’m not that kind of blogger. I did wear a lot of berets, but that’s just practical for late March on the Iberian coast. And I ate my weight in bread, because of course. But my main raison de voyager was visiting my dear friend Amelia, who is working on her Ph.D in Toulon.

Now, anyone who’s vaguely academe-adjacent knows she couldn’t possibly entertain me for an entire week, so I spent the first half of my trip living out a personal dream. I stayed for three days in the Basque Country, home of an ancient culture and what is probably my favorite living language. I spent three days wandering the 12th-century town of Bayonne, eating gateau Basque and butchering simple vocabulary. It doesn’t take long to fall in love with the Basque coast. Someday I’ll return to be seduced by Bilbao and Donostia.

After three days, I took the train to meet Amelia in Marseille, which was an altogether different world. Marseille is like nowhere else I’ve ever been. San Francisco meets the Mediterranean meets pure je ne sais quoi. There were brand-new clubs abutting ancient fortresses. There was a rather nasty run-in with white nationalists and a much more pleasant one with Russian sailors (yes, really). And, of course, there was my best friend, whose love for France in general and Marseille in particular is undeniably catching.

I took hundreds of photos, most of which still need sorting. For now, enjoy these, taken in and around the Basilica at the very peak of the city.

 

she lives!

I’ll spare you the whole groveling non-pology. It’s always a little weird when bloggers do that, as though the world’s been champing at the bit for their return. Y’all surived while I took a hiatus, and you’ll continue surviving if I take another.

Honestly, I don’t have a reason other than this winter was too damn much. Taking oufit pictures was just about the last thing I felt like doing, even though I’ve braved the wind in years past. Youthful invincibility wearing off, maybe? I am, after all, turning a whole twenty-four years old next month.

But it’s (finally) spring, and I (finally) feel up to spending more than a hot minute outdoors. I’ve got some gorgeous deco rayons to photograph and quite a backlog of projects to share. Until then, enjoy some shots from last month of the 1950s Edith Windsor suit I’ve been living in all winter. One of my best eBay finds ever. It works equally well with feathered bonnets and slouchy berets, and it’s a rare suit that can accomplish such a thing!

redwool

Lately I’ve been trying to find a middle ground in my wardrobe. For the longest time I was completely bimodal: Deco Dame or sweatpants-and-stained-tee. I had almost no vintage-appropriate casual wear. This year I’m trying to change that.

Y’all know I love my feathers and lace, but I also love an element of surprise. Dressing to the max every day removes that possibility, leaving me nowhere to go but done. No way of topping myself. I attended a friend of a friend’s wedding recently and realized: I was exactly as fancy as usual. And that just won’t do. Especially since I’m getting married myself this year: how can I wow anyone if I already pull out all the stops every day? To more charitably paraphrase Calvin & Hobbes: always underpromise and overdeliver.

So I’ve been making a solid effort to don day dresses most of the time and keep my evening ones where they belong. Thanks to Old Gold‘s ongoing vintage purge, I’ve nabbed some really gorgeous, solid pieces at nigh-impossible prices. Thanks to three missing buttons, this woolen beauty went for $25. Tell me again how wearing vintage is so expensive?

I know fortune cookies everywhere tell you to eat dessert first, but I think life’s more fun with something to look forward to.

sharpsuiter

This suit was one of my best purchases of 2017. Flashy rayon dresses are great, obviously, but a black suit is something my wardrobe had been missing for years. This one fills that niche with aplomb. The details are a dream all their own: the peplum, the buttons, the luscious dolman sleeves. It’s the more sedate, more adult side of midcentury, which I’m leaning toward lately. Art Deco is still my happy place, but I’m finding that a few ’50s notes are not unwelcome.

Over Christmas I dug my old knitting bag out of my parents’ attic. I hadn’t knit in at least seven years, but muscles don’t forget. I’ve been knitting like mad ever since, and one of the results is this little neck wrap. I’m still pinching myself that I found a yarn to match my hat and gloves exactly. Pantone be damned; burgundy is definitely my color of the year.

My beloved carpetbag has finally given up the ghost. I repaired it one too many times; the material simply disintegrated. I’ve rebounded with a new one from Wish.com, which is actually pretty well made for $28. The color goes with everything, and I really like the shape. I’m fond of medical bags and more masculine caryalls generally; this one has lovely echoes of that.

Finally, my second article for Racked went up this week: “1860s Hipsters Loved Old-Timey Clothes Too“. The cyclical nature of history is one of my favorite things to write about, and I really enjoyed covering the aesthetic dress movement. I’ve got another article in the hopper for next month, too. Racked is a joy to work for.

Suit: ’50s, eBay

Hat: ’30s, eBay

Purse: Wish.com

Stole: made by me

Brooch & gloves: gifted

Shoes: thrifted

2017 best in show

All I’ve got to say, folks, is what a banner bloody year it was.

Yes, I follow the news. We’re all watching the same dumpster fire. But the personal isn’t always political; I’m proof positive of that. 2017 was formative for me in so many ways. Personally, professionally, academically, creatively — I got that much closer to my final form. This year I started museum school and finished my first semester with a perfect 4.0. I wrote my first article for Racked (which was touted in the New York Times!). I taught historical sewing at the Heritage Winooski Mill Museum and was featured in my local paper for it. I drafted a Belle Epoque walking suit and wore it to lecture at the Springfield Steampunk Festival. I got engaged!

This year was filled with feathers and rayons and fabulous brooches. With museums and Manhattans and the cutest ring you’ve ever seen. I’m hoping, in 2018, for more of the same and then some. Without further ado, here are my top ten outfits of the past year.

me-made may: gatsby’s garden antiquarian’s creed

been a while (crocodile) matching bricks & deco drama

red in suit and claw pajaminated

the medieval museologist springing forward, sliding back

oatmeal, burgundy, & life latelymary poppins & platonic ideals

 

ringing in

I shot these photos at least three weeks ago, with every intention of pairing them with some vaguely holiday-ish copy. And then my intentions just sort of…withered. I’ve mentioned this before, and I find it holds truer every year: Christmas is a private affair. Halloween is all effusion all the time, holiday cheer bursting from every cranny. Totus floreo, say those randy Romans. Christmas not so much. Christmas is floating in a dream of brandy while you double-fist cookies by the fire. Christmas is not performative. At least not for me. I had a wonderful holiday with my nearest and dearest, and I was happy to check out of the blogosphere.

Here’s the latest, and perhaps loudest, member of my ’40s rayon family. Olive isn’t usually my color, but those sleeves and that peplum more than won me over. Next time I’ll blog it without the collar and show off the neckline details, because oof. They don’t make ’em like that anymore.

I spent New Year’s with friends down in Boston. City driving notwithstanding, I love traveling on December 31st. I love waking up in a new place on the first day of the year. If I’m superstitious, and I’m decidedly superstitious, then it’s a nice way to start things off. If the rest of the year is a dumpster fire, at least I’ll have the memories.

Dress: ’40s, eBay

Collar & coat: ’50s, The Getup Vintage

Brooch: The Vault Collective

Everything else: thrifted

oatmeal, burgundy, & life lately

Something cosmic, I can’t help but feel, knows what December means. In the past few weeks I’ve had a flurry of successes unprecedented by the rest of the year, like I’ve hit some metaphysical deductible and the dividends are cashing out. It’s a pretty good time to be me. This Deco delight is one of my favorite outfits in a long time, so it’s a fitting backdrop for sharing my recent spoils.

First, my exhibit design final came together beautifully! Technically I only had to do an outline, but I’m nothing if not #extra: I staged a whole exhibit anyway. “Shifts of Theseus: Bringing Historical Fashion from Two Dimensions to Three”. I’m planning a post about it later this month, but for now I’ll leave you with this Instagram preview. Need I even say I was heartbroken to take it down?

Second, my debut piece for Racked ran earlier this month. “The Complicated History of Hoop Skirts: This Difficult-to-Wear Skirt Helped to Break Down Class Barriers“. I first encountered this bit of social history in preparing my panel for the Springfield Steampunk Festival, and it fascinated me. I ended up writing about it for my first museum studies paper, which then became this article. The mid-19th century isn’t my usual era, but I hope I did it justice nonetheless. Also — Racked is a delight to work with, and I’m not getting paid to say so. Prompt returns and insightful editing shouldn’t be so rare in this industry, but as long as they are, I’ll praise them to high hell. Positive reinforcement and all.

I also have two articles for Vintage Dancer coming out sometime in January. They’re both about trends of the 1960s — again, not my usual era, but surprisingly fun to write.

Finally, on the pulpier side of things, one of my short stories will be published in Aphotic Realm‘s online magazine. I heard the news Thanksgiving morning, and I’ve been constantly refreshing the page ever since. I’m pretty sure Comcast has decided I’m a bot, but there’s no way I can feign insouciance about this! Getting fiction published is way, way more difficult than nonfiction, so this really means a lot. I’ll be screeching about it as sure as it’s up; stay tuned for that as well.

Keep an eye out in the next couple weeks for my exhibit post and my Best of 2017!

Coat: probably ’50s, The Getup Vintage

Dress: ’40s, Atelier Fayette

Hat: ’30s, eBay

Everything else: thrifted