I’m Dreaming of an Garish, Ugly and Very KNIT Christmas..

November 18th, 2013

This post brought to you by Ugly Clothing Online, LLC. All opinions are 100% mine.

Photo compliments of UglySweater,com(At left: Flamingos..Santa Claus quotations…Why? Why NOT?) The countdown is on!

No…not THAT countdown. No one fear reminder of how many shopping days until a certain event.

The countdown to order, scrounge or otherwise suss out your annual Ugly Christmas sweater is on if you are the type to festoon yourself like a Thanksgiving Day parade float, but only on your upper half. It is only office-appropriate if one's bottom half can remain in sensible shoes -or  a 1 1/2 inch heel for the ladies – and dark slacks. Matching leggings or elf stockings are a little much paired with Ugly Sweaters.

A few years ago, my cousin brought his fiancee around to visit the family form out of state. Since she lived all of her life in a warm climate, she did not experience the total sorround of novelty knitwear around the holidays, so she was specially gifted with an odd Christmas sweater complete with cowboys, Christmas trees and sombreros. They were supposed to be cowboy hats, but the knitter had lost scale perspective.

The entire affair makes certain VintageGents and Gentettes politely cover their faces partially with a handkercheif square to feign a slight cough or debris near their monocles to hide their silent weeping. The only way to justify it is to classify western cowboys with sombreros as naive folk art. Highwayman.

Regardless  – is it faux pas to wear an Ugly Christmas Sweater two years in a row…or two days within the holiday period? The etiquette itself is a bit puzzling and uncharted.

What are your sweater plans this year? Or do you plan?

(Photo compliment of, or apologizes from UglySweater.com)


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…And We’re Back!

September 25th, 2013

Picture 7It is so good to see you again, my darlings (Said in a Cary Grant way…not an Eva Gabor way!) I have been away with a terrible bug…a terrible virus. In fact it was just that…a virus. Confident in a strong immunity and even stronger php skills, the ‘Daily and all of the Gents and Gent-ettes at the VintageGent martini bar thought the walls of Jericho were impervious to such trifles…er…snifles. Regardless, the BIG ONE it.

While there may be a random piece of bacteria that needs to be seriously defragged with something stronger than cod liver oil and black strap molasses,  VintageGent’s Menswear Daily is back. So, instead of a big kiss – blow us a kiss on your hankie, a one armed manly guy hug…or…

…Maybe just stay tuned.

What’s on your mind?

Derek Cardigan: Horn Rims are Hip…Apparently

June 13th, 2013

This post brought to you by Coastal.com. All opinions are 100% mine.

There are a few ways of scoring a pair of vintage Designer Eyeglasses  to complete a look, whether you are seeking specs for a theater or film production, or you just like a vintage look. Sifting through the bins at thrift stores might be one option, but one has to hope to find someone willing to grind the right prescription down to size. That, honestly is the greatest challenge with "found glasses."

Another alternative is to find a shop that specializes in vintage frames. They'll want a pretty penny, but you'll get the right correction for your Anisometropia.

The most popular alternative is to find vintage inspired or repopped glasses.

Hipsters and retro reenactors are finding  Derek Cardigan Eyeglasses a darling of the spec set. The line features a number of vintage-inspired frames, including full or partial horn rims. If your look is more 1960s librarin or Malcom X, there is something in the collection for you. Sometimes I am surprised that thick horn rims are now as popular as they are. In "my day," the Windsor was an acceptable and expected retro choice that never really went away, but the trend ten, fifteen years ago was to minimize the frames as to not obscure the visage – wire frames, half frames and even virtually invisible frames factored in the mix. 

For some reason, the look only carries off on the very young. Unless you are famous and can get away with anything you want, if you wore it the first time around, you might look a bit dated. Oh the irony.

The verdict? If you want to emulate the same look that Alicia Keys sported in her latest video, you can do so for in the neighborhood of $100 rather than several hundred dollars. Bonus.


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Viva Las Vegas! But Only If You Can Get a Room!

June 12th, 2013

This post brought to you by Southwest Airlines Vacations. All opinions are 100% mine.

Ah, Vegas. Did you know you can still dine at several restaurants and bars where the likes of the Rat Pack claimed as their own? You can reserve their private booth, or even the one claimed by Marilyn Monroe at the Golden Steer. The decor has even stayed relatively static over the past 50+ years. Do I see a vintage-style photo shoot in your future?

Back then, the folks at home only heard about the elegance and little was heard about the things that happened in Vegas that stayed in Vegas. Hardly anymore. Every poor decision is immediately broadcast to everyone on Facebook faster than you can say "Lipstick? What lipstick? That's…um…grease gun residue. Or laundry crayon." Does that make us more accountable and less likely to fall out of line? Unfortunately, no. One's hope is for that drunken rant to go viral, not to clean up one's act. Sad.

At any rate, if you still want to go to Vegas to attend a convention, to get your pampadour pomaded for Viva Las Vegas or enjoy the ironic architecture because you are NOT there to immerse yourself in debauchry of course, Southwest Vacations has a variety of Las Vegas Vacations packages to save you some cash. Typical savings include $100 off hotel rates, plus an additional 25% off at the Quad, Bally's and Rio All Suite, or $100 off plus a $20 food and beverage credit at the Exc alibur.

Just to let you know, the Orleans hotel for Viva Las Vegas Weekend – the weekend of April 17th – is already sold out with others to follow. While the hotels listed above might not have an official VLV shuttle to events, the savings is definitely worth a look if you actually WANT a room and don't want to sleep in the rumble seat. You'll be too stiff to do any dancing later.

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Late Breaking News: Own Captain Kangaroo’s Jacket

May 21st, 2013


This just in…

Bob “Captain Kangaroo” Keeshan’s memorabilia is up on the online auction block. Unfortunately, the bidding frenzy ends tonight, with some items ending momentarily. We are late on the take, but didn’t want to miss this opportunity to tip our hats for any last minute history collectors. With a screen-worn conductor hat AND examples of Keeshan’s screen worn red jacket, as well as his earlier blue jacket from the early seasons, pop culture intersects with fashion.

For the record, the Captain wore a size 40, and the coat was tailored by Chipp of New York & New Haven, a favorite of President Kennedy.

From the auction catalog:

Iconic Bob Keeshan screen-worn Captain Kangaroo red jacket from 1971, the first year the Captain wore red. Keeshan’s lovable character was dressed in a navy blue suit from the show’s creation in 1955 until 1971. Fire-engine red single-breasted jacket was custom made for Keeshan by John F. Kennedy’s tailor, Chipp of New York & New Haven. Chipp label is sewn into an interior pocket and is typed ”Robert Keeshan / 4/2/71”. Features brass buttons, charcoal grey lining and white braided cord trim along the edges of lapels and pockets. Approximately size 40. Dulling to white trim and buttons, else near fine.

The current bid, last we checked is at $2,363.

View the complete catalog HERE.

Vintage Redo: Would you Wood Panel?

May 21st, 2013

Picture 9When tackling a vintage home restoration, many wish to sweep the existence of wood paneling under the rug and disavow any knowledge of knotty pine, or more likely, the midnight chocolate hue that sidedished a healthy crop of tri-color shag.

I, on the other hand, find great nostalgia in knotty pine, golden but showing hints of orange as the polyurethane patina baked in the sun. Maybe it is because I have memories of visiting a cottage frequently in my youth with knotty pine walls, dotted gunpowder horns and family photos. Don’t forget the cuckoo clock and the small entry table from the “old house” half the guests were too young to remember.

Regrettably and somewhat predictably, dark paneling brings back memories of stale cigarette cologne overpowering the smell of jiffy pop on the open fire. The “other old house” in the family. It was a turn of the century beauty with parlors and marbled mantels. For some reason, it was a good idea to give the den a modern update…circa 1969. The sample in the photo at upper left is a bit lighter than the den in question, but the feeling of mass quantity at a low price is well conveyed.

If you have a love-hate or a hate-hate with wood panels, but want to bring a home back to its original character, 0r feel strongly compelled to by correctness or guilt, there are some choices in contemporary wallcoverings that will vaguely hint at the idea without recreating the sights and smells of a misplaced bachelor pad. You can choose actual wood panels, or something a bit more like a wallpaper that gives a very convincing effect. Just stick to the walls, okay. Any matching ceiling scheme can make anyone claustrophobic, no matter how inspired or unique the wall cover is.

Ready for Your Close Up?

April 26th, 2013

Picture 9(At left: Makeup mirror? Marquee? Nope. Read on…)

I once saw an on air announcer at a restaurant between shows, and the amount of orange makeup not so well blended in beyond his jawline was startling – akin to a bizarre farmer’s tan…that is if you were farming on Mars. Maybe on air he looked fine, but in “real life,” he looked like he had sprayed the tan on a bit too enthusiastically. Later I learned in my days of hanging snow cradles from the theater ceiling for the most magical Christmas Carols and Wizard of Ozes, stage and screen makeup need not be orange.

Nowadays, many correspondents appear on TV or “Google Hangout” via webcam. What if you need to appear on Skype and don’t want anyone to come to the automatic conclusion that you are coming to them live from your parents’ smelly basement? Alternatively, you don’t want anyone to think you actually LIVE in your parents’ furnace room.

Apparently. ChatLight is a Skype light that illuminates your visage into something to behold…or at least something to actually see.


Picture 7Picture 12
Take that – potential blind date dating prospect, or cross country perspective new employer! The “campfire chin flashlight” effect is a thing of the past. Remember – if you are dressed to the nines above the waist, no one will see your Crocs. That was always the first rule of the newscaster’s desk, as long as you didn’t have to double as the weather reporter. Now put down that laptop and go on a proper date. Save the chat light for talking to your brother who is expeditioning at the South Pole, and not for the young lady or gentleman that lives in walking distance to your computer.

Sleek and Modern Blends (Spotlessly!)

April 16th, 2013

This post brought to you by Moen, Incorporated. All opinions are 100% mine.

The individual hot/cold water handles (with “H” and “C” on them, to boot) add a lot of charm to a vintage-inspired or restored home. If installed in the kitchen or utility room over the bathroom, however, getting just the right chemistry of volume from the cold side and heat from the hot side is an art and a science.

If your home doesn’t already have such “charm,” going sleek and modern and clean often works equally well with some midcentury or retro decors. If the faucet is on an island, or in an equally prominent place, the biggest factor is the spots that gleam in the sunshine.  I myself frequently call on a friend with this very problem.  The early evening sun shines like a laser beam a la the map room in Raiders of the Lost Ark and only seeks out the water spots and chocolate finger prints on the back of the faucet neck.

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The Kiran Spot Resist one-handle pulldown kitchen faucet (available at Lowe’s) has a nifty treatment on its stainless steel that resists spots and smudges. The only real negative about stainless is the finger prints. When I saw the new stainless in the store, I was amazed that my shoe polish stained hands did not make a lasting impression.

So, the kitchen is not authentic 1952 or 1937, but the sleek look is a long way from the utilitarian standard issue budget spigot.

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For more information and design tips, follow @Moen on Twitter or “Like” them on Facebook.

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Welcome Guests…But Not For Too Long

April 8th, 2013

sheratonDream of a sumptious suite for your guests? Dream of it being in an entire other wing of your house where an attendant appears and disappears to wait on their needs, so the guests do not adhere to the seafood rule (you know the one – guests and fish stink after three days.) Well, I can’t help with the latter, but the former is a possibility, even if your home office gets a temporary conversion and you don’t have an extra carriage house apartment.

comfortinnIf you are reluctant to have guests because they just won’t leave, what about treating them to small luxuries that imply that your pad is as well-appointed as the Waldorf Astoria, but once that one guest shampoo has exhausted itself, it is time to go. I was surprised, but one can actually pursue a Hotel Supply Online ** and find such marvels as a suitcase valet, or better yet, a case full of your favorite hotel shampoos and soaps (**There is a metro Atlanta Hotel Supply company – PeachSuite.com – in particular if you want to order 144 of them at a pop).  No more dirty mitts on your soap on a rope.

The Hotel Bar Supplies and the luxurious luggage valet say “welcome” and the tiny little shampoo bottles say “but only for a week.” The other little bottles? Oh, those are for the host. They need a comforting salve occasionally.

I gest, just slightly.

How do you strike a balance between pampered luxury for your guests and making them long for home after three days or a week? Or do you like rolling out the welcome mat for months at a time?

Falling and Golfing

April 1st, 2013

Vintage postcard Photo Credit: RipeTheSkull on Flickr

Ever find a vintage post card and wonder if the scenery still exists as pictured back then?

Highlands, North Carolina, came to be because two men drew two lines on a map: One from Savannah, Georgia, to Chicago, and the other one from New York City to New Orleans. They saw the intersection and said: “Tarnations, we need to put a town there.” Not really, at least not the Yosemite Sam-like exclamation and not really because it is merely legend. Maybe it was just dumb luck that its the home of Cullasaja Falls – on foot, its the place for swimming and rappelling. Nearby Bridal Veil falls is the only falls you can drive a car under if you wanted to.

Either way, that is exactly where Highlands, North Carolina is, and most of the time, a great-uncle of mine is scratching for some NC Golf Near Highlands rather than near Hilton Head, and that’s why I found out about it in the first place. It is not a johnny come lately, as in the 1930s, it was a bustling golf town where legendary golfer Bobby Jones came with all of his friends.

The town predates Jones, et al, as in the late 19th century, shops and a post office were well established. Of course, the post card has nothing to do with golf fashions, but rather the natural splendor of the area.

Have you been to the area lately? Is the artist’s rendition fairly accurate, or has it been forever altered by the view of revelers and caution signs?



Does any Eames come with that Apartment?

March 8th, 2013

This post brought to you by apartments.com. All opinions are 100% mine.

It’s stressful when a closetful of suits from the 40s, a mannequin, a dog and a collection of antique writng implements relocates. craigslist is helpful, but sometimes a bit too freewheeling when you are in a bind. For corporate rental properties, and landlords who are not on their first trip to the rodeo often use apartments.com. (The site which also dishes out tips on Twitter at @aptscom You can’t amend your search criteria to include cedar-lined closets, but if you dig enough, you just might find a freeweeling curiosity like this one:

Losing apartment to eviction, $2,500 can make it yours! One bedroom apartment with additional sleeping annex, elevator, cable, part-time security, close to D train at 155th Street, western exposure with lots of windows and views! $2,500 stops the eviction and $800 per month pays the rent. I am out of the country until March 2014, neighbor has the key and can arrange showing on your schedule. There is some furniture along with dishes, etc. You can keep or discard no problem; only my papers and mail need to be stored.

Hmmm…Can I ask if any vintage textiles or Stickleyor Eames  is being “left behind?”  Would that be considered poaching? That is just what Matilda the mannequin and the climate-controlled leather bound volumes need. – an inherited evicting landlord! Sign me up!

I balk at referring to anything from 1997 as “vintage.” However, 1997 to the world of consumer websites is indeed that. “Antique” might be 1988-1994. Geocities, anyone? Surpsingly, Apartments.com has been around that long, first as an exclusively Chicago-based service, and then launching nationally.

Have you used the site lately? If not, have you used the Android or iPad or iPhone App (they have one!)

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Crystals or Rhinestones?

March 2nd, 2013

In the 30s, 40s and 50s, rhinestones were a natural costume jewels alternative when you wanted a lot of sparkle, but didn’t want to invest in precious stones. A woman, or a really sparkly cowboy, could own an entire wardrobe of items to suit the mood.


Crystals a la Union Jack from Shamballa Jewellery

The disadvantage is the foil backing used on many rhinestone pieces. Cleaning is not only a bear, but it could damage the piece irreparably if that is the case.

Although rhinestones are still going strong, crystals are what modern fashion plates use for an element of sparkle. Just like anything else, there is a high and low price point. Sometimes the larger and clearer crystals, just like diamonds, go for more, but most of the time it is also quality of the other elements of the piece and the artistry of the piece.

Do you wear crystals, ladies or rhinestone cowboys, or do does nothing still say flash like a glove full, belt full or wrist full of rhinestones?

Sauce on the Water

February 21st, 2013

Switching the subject from pea coats to an equally sea worthy subject, and continuing on the subject of yachts as the 40s and 50s cinema equivalent to a modern desirable dude having a motorcycle, yachts have been an aspirational sign of the “good life” in time gone by. Do you notice a theme in the following ads, aside from two out of three ads featuring perfectly coiffed and pomade aided hair?

carlingsyachtPicture 12

Picture 16

Do you need another moment?

All of the previous ads do not show a prominently featured davit crane anywhere to lower the dinghy or the pram and rescue drunk people from the water. No, that’s not it.

It is amazing, but not surprising to see the number of boating ads that feature frolicking that involves alcohol. Oh, the glamor – especially if you are featured in the paper for running aground because you ‘ran out of water.’ Yes, that was a true Memorial Day weekend’s excuse.

The proximity of beer to heavy machinery and vehicles is what especially dates some ads off the bat. There has been a code of ethics for responsible marketing of alcohol products since the end of the Prohibition, and over the years the focus has been to prevent the makers of distilled beverages from pitching their wares to minors. Apparently, in the 50s and 60s, it was okay to lollygag on boats as long as it wasn’t appealing to minors

Aside from the light blue denim that goes in and out of trend year by year, but never, ever goes into sore thumb range, clothing for a day on the sea has not changed much over the years – the nautical motifs, the ironic (but then not so) captain hats and sometimes a button down to shield your skin from rays. I almost forgot, if this was an ad from today, you would see the ladies wearing a lot less, but this is a family show.

Do you collect fun or unusual ads? Or did you come here because you noticed the yachts and sailboats and think I’m a dinghy for obstructing the subject?

The Changing Face of the Army Navy Store

February 19th, 2013

Picture 2Back in the era of wearing combat boots and thrifted pea coats daily, the army navy store, like Dave’s New York and others, fulfilled both the x and y coordinates of ruggedness and thrift. Not only were there pea coats and hats, regardless of current style trends, but you could fine canteens galore, bailout bags and even the occasional gas mask. Some at my local establishment were “Very” vintage from wars long ago and made interesting conversation pieces.

Stores did not guarantee that your size would be in stock, but it was fun to look.

What can you find there now?

Many an army navy store, especially online, has morphed from the “you never know what will be there today” format to consistently stocking work clothing by Carharrt and other non-military gear. Rothco now specifically makes military “style” pants and coats to specifically market to the retail public and the traditional Army/Navy store shopper. The “surplus” concept is not the same as it once was. It makes me wonder if the items I saw there during my teen years and twenties were indeed true surplus and overruns, or was the concept falsified.

Army/Navy stores, in a way, have become like outlet stores, in the sense that not all of the items are true authentic leftovers, but that are made just to be leftover. If you look carefully at outlets for Saks and Niemans, you will see some items that are the leftover sizes and last seasons’ goods, but also many items purchased especially for sale at outlet level. Filene’s Basement and Saks off Fifth are indeed run as separate companies and are not just write offs of their flagship stores.

Don’t get me wrong. The traditional Army/Navy store still is a treasure trove of odds and ends.

What were your favorite treasures from the Army/Navy store back in the day? Or is that day still now?

No One “Magic Food” For Fitness

February 19th, 2013

charlesatlasKeep a magic wand. Wave it over the stout ale, vat of Fettuccine Alfredo and the calories magically evaporate. The battle of the bulge doesn’t get any easier. It’s not really about calories in today’s diet world, but carbs and fat. In the 80s, it was all about how much fiber you could back between your mouth and the bottom floor of your stomach. Being “regular” and thin was ideal.

Roll back to the 50s and being thin was not the ideal. A healthy glow, thighs bigger than your wrist, and Charles Atlas and the ladies in beauty ads saying “pish posh” at all of it was pushed in the media. The sure way to the out crowd was protruding ribs. Now, its love/hate. The media chastises runway models with prominent collar bones and ribcages, yet young women aspire to achieve the illusion of “thigh gap,”  which is disturbing.

The ideal of beauty and male handsomeness and fitness keeps changing, but what we never allow ourselves is the honesty to look at our behaviors and hangups and actually work for what is most healthy for our bodies, which may consequently lead to fitness and the body working at its best. (!)

Instead, we continue to want the quickest fix. There is sheer quackery with the number of pills on the market. We also seek the “mystery food” that will change everything. We are not actually willing to eat fresh Pomegranates, but drip it into an energy drink for us or drizzle it on a sundae. Give up plates of noodes? Forget it. We want to buy magical shirataki noodles, made with Glucomannan, so we get all the fiber and none of the carbs to pull up to the trough and eat. Granted, if you are eating noodles, it might be a good substitute, but for goodness sake, don’t look for a magic bullet.

Magic bullets are fun, of course, and provide for some rollicking reading decades down the road. I can imagine my great-nephews and nieces chortling over The Couch Potato Diet.


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