choo choo

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An alarming – or not so, depending on your opinion of humanity – number of people seem to believe that if you’re dressed old-timey in public, then you necessarily appreciate other old-timey aspects of life as well. Including but not limited to casual sexual harassment.

I wore this outfit to brunch on Sunday morning in White River Junction, when the fellow behind me at the counter decided that grabbing my waist and elbow would be an appropriate way to compliment me. “Oh you look so elegant, are you in a play, you dress like my mother’s generation…” Yick. I sincerely hope you didn’t greet your mother and her friends with casual ass pats.

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When you dress distinctively, you sort of become public property. You’re a walking museum exhibit. Especially when you dress in vintage: you remind people of their collective history. Nostalgia brings out the talkers. In some respects, I expect this. If I’m going to call attention to myself, I should be able to accept questions and (sincere, non-sexual) compliments with grace. But? Even in an actual museum, you don’t touch the exhibits. That goes double when said exhibit is an actual human.

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But there’s a silver lining here. If women like me have to deal with unwanted touching, then there’s no way in hell that skimpier-dressed women are “asking for it”. Am I also “asking for it” by wearing your grandma’s hat and gloves? Nonsense. To people with no respect for boundaries, it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing. They’ll find some excuse.

So if anyone ever says you “shouldn’t have worn that dress” if you didn’t want to be groped or catcalled? Show them this post.

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Dress: ’40s vintage, via War’s End Shop

Hat: vintage, via Gem’s Vintage Gems

Gloves: vintage, via Mainly Vintage in White River Junction (featured in an upcoming post!)

Boyfriend: price on request

Everything else: thrifted

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fellow traveler

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There are three things in today’s hopper:

Starting off, the first of several posts on my visit to the olde-timey paradise that is White River Junction, Vermont. Josh and I spent this past weekend there for our third (!) anniversary, and if it isn’t a vintage girl’s heaven? Then heaven doesn’t exist. More on that later this week!

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This novelty-print dress, purchased from a local brick-and-mortar vintage store and packed away for the trip. A village print to visit a village, because I have to be obnoxiously meta wherever I go. Even better? The dress has not one but two vintage twins on Etsy. That second one is more of a fraternal twin or maybe even a regular sibling, but still! Kristina should buy one and we can blog them together. (Speaking of whom, today is her birthday! Go give her some love.)

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You have no idea how long I’ve been sitting on this. No idea. I didn’t want to say a word until everything was finalized and I was holding my byline in my hands, in case it all turned out to be some horrible mistake. But I’ve pinched myself a hundred times and it’s still real: as of today, 04/27/16, one of my short stories has been published in Yale’s Letters Journal. Their mission:

LETTERS  promotes writers and visual artists whose
 work concerns matters of
religion and spirituality. The journal publishes poetry, short fiction, nonfiction, and
visual arts by people of all faiths and those whose faith is lost or yet to be
discovered. With word and image, we gesture toward mystery;
we break the feedback loop of self. LETTERS  is produced by students
from Yale University’s Institute of Sacred Music and Yale Divinity School.

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My co-contributors include Claire Beynon, who has her own Wikipedia page, and Christine Hemp, who teaches at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. Letters is a big. deal. I still can’t believe I’m being published alongside someone who teaches writing. At Iowa.

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You can read Letters free online here. The good stuff starts on page 38.

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southern belle style | a call to writers!

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It’s 36 degrees and – ugh – snowing today, so I’m sharing these photos I shot last week when the mercury was at least twice as high. Spring will shortly resume its regularly scheduled ascent, so I’m only a little grouchy, but still. Gross.

But I’m feeling like a Kentucky Derby belle in this dress from Sartorial Matters. I’d had it on layaway for months, paying it off little by little, and it finally arrived just in time for…snow. Yay. I’m very much looking forward to wearing it this summer, though. Soft, breathable cotton, and pockets! Deep ones at that.

I got the hat for $5 at a synagogue thrift shop. The volunteer at the register told me it had been his grandmother’s. He was in his 50s or so, so she must be at least a hundred. I suspect said grandmother bought it later in life, though – the condition is practically mint, too good to be really ancient.

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And now for something completely different:

I’ve maintained my writing blog, Beginning Our Dissent, for over a year now. I’ve got 203 followers; my most popular post has 223 likes and reblogs. It’s time to climb the ladder. I am officially launching a same-named magazine, to which I encourage anyone and everyone to contribute!

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From my Craigslist ad:

Fledgling magazine seeks writers of all stripes and experience levels willing to share their unconventional ideas. From our website:

Beginning Our Dissent is a marketplace of ideas in microcosm. Six times a year, we present the best, the newest, the most seductive in unpopular opinions.

Want to write for us? It’s easy. Bring me something you’ve gotten flak for. Bring me axes to grind and grains to flail against. Bring me ideas so dangerous you can only publish them anonymously. You had me at “I think”.

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Shoot me an email at beginning.our.dissent@gmail.com to pitch an idea! Any and all experience levels welcome, so long as you abide by our writers’ guidelines.

I’m really excited about this, and I’d love for it to become something. This is where you come in: any shares, forwards, and general tip-offs would be much, much appreciated. Everyone has an axe to grind, after all. Let’s chop something down.

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Dress: ’50s vintage, via Sartorial Matters

Hat & gloves: vintage, thrifted

Belt, shoes, & socks: thrifted

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the best little hair day in texas

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So I didn’t get dressed today intending to take pictures.  I blogged this dress pretty recently, and I’m admittedly not wearing it here in a particularly new or interesting way. But today is the day I’ve finally mastered proper vintage hair, and that necessitates a blog post no matter what I’m wearing.

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I curled my hair last night, as I’ve grown accustomed to doing. But it was different this time – something about the way I set it just worked. I kept that front curl in place without any spray at all! With my new hat (only $9!) from Bos & Ruby Vintage, I’m feeling the WAC thing hardcore. While my dress collection is New Look to a fault, my taste in hats and hairdos definitely leans more ’40s. The ’50s were whimsical, but something about wartime headwear –  wartime fashion in general, I think – had this palpable romance to it.

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I’m not sure how who in the Great Beyond I pleased to get my hair like this, and I’m not sure I can ever do it again. I photographed it from every angle, though. Here’s hoping muscle memory will do the rest.

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Dress: vintage, via eBay

Hat: Bos & Ruby Vintage

Gloves, belt, shoes, & brooch: thrifted

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dotty

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I think this might be my favorite warm-weather dress. It was last year’s birthday present to myself; little did I know it would so perfectly predict the year to come. It’s taken me through the last throes of my old ~kooky~ aesthetic and into vintage kitsch & cheer.  I feel like a barefoot housewife, bundling her hair in a scarf and heading out to soak up garden sun.

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Dress: ’50s vintage, via eBay

Hat: vintage, thrifted

Belt & shoes: thrifted

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the blues

bluecurlsII bluecurlsVIIIThis was the first vintage hat I ever bought. Twenty bucks at a neighborhood thrift joint, and I was a goner: there was no turning back.  It languished in my Etsy shop for over a year before I saw sense and tucked it back into my personal collection. I’d love to wear it more often, but a piece like this – real fur, guys – demands center stage in whatever outfit it’s lucky enough to complete. A plaid dress from Lucky Dry Goods, plus matching belt & necklace for a pop of kitsch, was just the thing.

As my style evolves toward elegance, my taste in hats grows somehow bolder. A simple day dress, a standout coat, and a veritable monster atop my head? 20 ccs of that, please.

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Hat & gloves: vintage, thrifted

Dress: ’50s vintage, via Lucky Dry Goods on Etsy

Coat: ’40s vintage, via Calendar Girl Vintage on Etsy

Necklace, belt, & shoes: thrifted

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i learned to sew and all i got was this lousy dress

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About two weeks ago, I woke up, took a look in the mirror, and said to myself, “self, it is absolutely disgraceful that you don’t know how to sew.”

Of course, my internal monologue is much harsher than warranted. I do know how to sew. I’m a whiz at hemming, tailoring, and making things out of other things. I’ve upcycled lots of thrifted clothes. But I had never, at the time of my self-beratement, made something out of nothing. Never a whole garment entirely from scratch. And I decided, all at once, that I could not in good conscience call myself a vintage lifestyler without that particular skill.  Housewives of old would laugh me out of town if I confessed I’d never made a dress!

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So I scoured my apartment for scraps of fabric and started researching patterns. With the help of several video tutorials, I fixed my sewing machine (bobbins, how do they work??). And I turned the classic Aspie hyperfocus to my advantage: I measured and cut and stitched for over twenty hours, breaking only to sleep. Even then, I dreamed about sewing. I haven’t known such single-minded fixation on one task, such live-and-breathe devotion, in so long. Much as I roll my eyes at “things were better back then!” rhetoric, I think this is one area in which the past actually was better. Modernity is so full of distractions. A generation ago, you didn’t have fifty tabs open. It was that much easier to pick a task and stick with it. I miss that. I try to avoid being too plugged in – I don’t even have a smartphone – but it’s encroaching on me more than I’d like.

Anyway!

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I bought and printed a pattern-drafting booklet from an Etsy shop called Embonpoint Vintage. I was not impressed. The system was advertised as “so easy a child could do it”, but I found it counterintuitive and poorly written. More than once, the sample diagram directly contradicted the written instructions. I messaged the shop owner for help, but she never replied. I paid $9 for that &%*(& booklet, and I would not do so again.

After another internet sweep, I settled on Leena’s.com, which I happily recommend. It’s precise, thorough, and, best of all, free. With Leena’s instructions, it took me about three hours to draft a custom-fitted bodice pattern. This system truly is “so easy a child could do it”. It’s literally connect-the-dots with your own measurements.

Please note, though, that Leena’s.com is a Finnish site, so all measurements are given in centimeters. If you’re used to imperial units, remember to double-check your conversions.

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The skirt was painfully easy: just cut and gather. I spent a good hour cutting the border print into segments and alternating them with the main print, and I love how it came out. Speaking of – this fabric, guys! I thrifted six yards of it for $4. Fabric-print fabric. Delightfully meta. I’d like to shake the hand of whatever sorry smartass designed it.

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So here’s my first creation! Twenty hours and two thoroughly needle-bitten hands later, I’m a bona fide vintage lifestyler. My new dress is a perfect match for my favorite hat, and I’m digging the vaguely medieval bodice shape. It’s a rare dress that can take you from a vintage expo to a Renn faire.

I already have two more dresses cut out and ready to stitch together.  So if you’ve got any fabric taking up space, you know where to drop it off.

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grey

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A remixed outfit while I shuck off the last of a bad chest cold. For almost a week I hacked, coughed, and shivered, and I’m finally feeling like a person again. This outfit is Easy Mode: something to throw on when you wake up late and you’re out of ideas. This cardigan’s become a staple, the blue hat’s a favorite, and I am almost ashamed of how often I wear this grey dress. It really does go with everything, though. It’s starred in eight posts so far, more than any other dress I own:

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Clockwise from top left: one | two | three | four | five | six | seven

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There’s something awesome in the hopper for tomorrow, though, so don’t forget about me!

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malco maiden

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Today in “words I never thought I’d say”: this petticoat is too full.

Well – not too full period. Obviously there’s no such thing. Too full, though, for what turned out to be the majority of my dresses. Only true circle skirts will do: no halves, no three-quarters, no gathered-waist approximations. I have maybe…four dresses able to accommodate this monstrous pouf. Honestly, though? I think it’s worth it.

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After reading Miss Hero Holliday‘s review guide, I was itching for a new petticoat. Literally itching: my only halfway decent petticoat was a thrifted Leg Avenue number made of scratchy nylon mesh. Our Miss Hero gave Malco Modes a 10 out of 10 for comfort, immediately piquing my interest. Then I saw that a) the company has been around for 50+ years and b) their products are 100% American-made. Sold! I’m especially pleased that they’re such an old company. Petticoats are one of the few things I resign myself to buying new, so it’s nice to find a company with a vintage legacy.

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I’m wearing the Malco Modes Jennifer petticoat in ruby red. It is every bit as soft as it looks. In a pinch, I could ball it up and use it as a pillow. Its coverage is excellent – I could wear it as a skirt in its own right, and I probably will. The waist is a little too big. Size L stretches from 27″ to 50″; at 32.5″, I could have even worn the small. I wanted the extra two inches of length that come with the large, though, and in the end I think it’s a fair trade.

And the Jennifer isn’t even the fullest petticoat they make. I’m almost scared to attempt the Michelle

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1940s patio dress: thrifted

Hat: vintage, thrifted

Shoes & belt: old

Petticoat: Jennifer by Malco Modes

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