me-made may: medievalist



This dress feels marvelously medieval to me. Something about the square neck and the tapestry design. Like I said last time I blogged it, I feel like it could go straight from a Faire to a fifties fete with barely a change in accessories. Today I played up both aspects.  The scarf and glasses (new, from Zenni Optical) were a nod to the ’50s; my gladiator sandals summoned antiquity.

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If you’re interested in submitting to my new magazine, you have until June 15th! I am willing to allow a day or two of leeway, but I want to have all the essays edited and laid out for the first issue’s publication on August 1st.

Please send all submissions to You may copy/paste them into the body of the text, send an attached Word document, or upload them to Google Drive. Check out the FAQ page here if you have questions. I want to read anything you’ve got!

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Dress: made by me

Shoes: Kmart

Glasses: Zenni Optical


berg & blossoms

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I got this dress for $9 at my favorite local vintage store’s annual liquidation sale. The skirt was much slimmer than I usually prefer, so I’d planned to list it in my Etsy shop…and then I tried it on. I actually – perish the thought – really like it! Something about a straighter-cut silhouette seems mature to me. I love the ’50s, but the decade is tied, in my mind, to teenage culture and the first rumblings of the youthquake. Not really my thing. It’s easier to feel like a society dame, a woman about town, a real matriarch of style in a more sedate ’40s cut. There’s a whimsy to pleats and gathers that I’m not always drawn to.

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The dress’s tag says “Molly Goldberg Original”. A label I’d never heard of, so I went sleuthing. Like many big style names of the day (Toni Todd, etc.), Molly Goldberg was a fictional character – in this case, the radio persona of actress Gertrude Berg. Quoth Berg biographer Glenn D. Smith:

“…Berg went into partnership with the Wentworth Company to produce a line of bargain-basement housedresses. Advertised as ‘America’s best-loved housedresses…for the first time with a label that’s loved and trusted throughout America,’ the ‘Molly Goldberg Original’, sold at Stern’s, Gimbel’s, and Abraham and Strauss in New York, increased sale for the Wentworth Company some 240 percent. ‘[Mrs. Berg] came here the other day to make an appearance in the department,’ a Stern’s executive revealed, ‘and we had a crowd of 600 here to see her. …Her name will sell anything.’

Stepping out of her upstate New York duplex apartment, and her role as a wealthy entrepreneur, Berg was able to demonstrate that Molly was not the only one who could identify with the average woman on the street.”


It’s only fitting, then, that I add the small-town touch. Winooski is officially confirmed for Quaintness Capital of the World, or at least of the Champlain Valley Metropolitan Area. I saw these blooms and couldn’t not pose with them immediately, even though they smell vaguely fishy.  (Which is apparently a common complaint about this variety of pear tree. Huh.)


With a hat and gloves purchased on my trip to White River Junction, my “housewife on a jaunt” look was officially complete.

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Dress: vintage Molly Goldberg Original, via Old Gold

Hat: vintage, via Oodles in White River Junction

Gloves: vintage, via Mainly Vintage 

Pearls & shoes: vintage, thrifted

Belt: thrifted

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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.


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


fellow traveler


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!


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.)


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.


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.





the best little hair day in texas


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.


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.


Dress: vintage, via eBay

Hat: Bos & Ruby Vintage

Gloves, belt, shoes, & brooch: thrifted

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


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.


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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’, 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’ 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.


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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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


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




malco maiden


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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paschal princess


Several weeks ago, I wrote with glee that I had found one of my holy grail vintage items: a nipped-waist New Look suit. I checked it off my “collector goals” list, and since then I’ve been hunting hardcore for the next item down: an authentic ’40s-’50s princess coat.

Guys. You have no idea how few and far between genuine princess coats are. Look up “princess coat large” on Etsy. That’s right – four pages of results, as compared to the usual hundreds. To add insult, most of them aren’t even princess coats. Here is what a princess coat is: a nipped-waist coat with a full skirt. Here is what a princess coat isn’t: a swing coat, a pea coat, an opera coat, a wrap coat, or a trench coat. And yet they make up, oh, 75% of the “princess coats” for sale online. Of the authentic ones, anything really beautiful will invariably be a) hundreds of dollars and b) tiny.

So I’ve been sitting here banging my face against the wall, because this should not be that difficult! It’s not a complicated design. I’m not after authentic Russian mink or hand-stitched couture. Just a coat that, perish the thought, fits over my dresses. I’ve put up with the dreaded petticoat squish for far too long. Not attractive. Not in the least.

And then Calendar Girl Vintage walked into my life…


And at last it is mine. A 1940s princess coat in my exact size, complete with crisp shoulders, wasp waist, and the twirliest skirt you can imagine. For under $150. I still can’t believe it’s real! I am the WWII stewardess of my wildest dreams. This is the kind of coat you pass down to your grandchildren.


I premiered my new coat on Easter Sunday, at my first-ever Latin Mass. Not being Catholic, I felt vaguely blasphemous, but girl’s gotta have Latin. And ecclesiastical Latin is delightful. So crisp and simple – a nice change from Ovid, whose favorite pastime is changing verb endings because “lol why not”.


Coat: vintage, via Calendar Girl Vintage

Hat: vintage, via Gem’s Vintage Gems

Dress: vintage, via brick-and-mortar store

Gloves: vintage, thrifted

Shoes: from Kristina

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