While I enjoy the latest fads to walk down the run way, readers know we have a special place in the left breast pocket for vintage goods. Another love is products made right here in the USA. It is easy to find artisan made clothing and items from one-off independent designers, but every day staples get to be a challenge, especially if the T-shirts with “American” in their name, notably still made here, are out of your size range. Clothing, except for plus size pants, which can be made to specific measurements, is difficult to merely just make bigger. In other items, darts, pleats and the overall design must be reimagined.
Blouse House is one of the rare plus size clothiers that manufacture their garments in the US, offering a range of plus size tops, dresses and pants in sizes up to 7x. The styles are fairly conservative. You won’t see any body bearing pinup fashions here, but you will fine staples appropriate for the office as well as patterned tops and swimwear.
Fashion Tips for Sizes 3x and Up:
- Go up a size if the bust, waist or hips are too large for the garment measurements, even if the garment fits perfectly elsewhere. Take the garment in an inch or two at the areas of smaller measurement to avoid volumes of extra fabric. If it is the right measurements but the button pulls very slightly in the bust and the darts don’t lay at the right spot, the brassiere could be the wrong size rather than the shirt
- Plus size tunics are more forgiving in the bust and stomach. To carry off the look without looking like you are wearing a tent, the sleeves must be tailored to fit. Hem up cuffs, move a button, or even take the garment in at the shoulder seam. A detailed collar such as a mandarin collar often flatters more than a wide round neckline.
- Horizontal stripes are universally shunned, although a thin pinstripe that does not appear until the viewer is close does not distort the body. A bold woman can pull off wide bold stripes if it absolutely fits a flamboyant personality, but not on top AND bottom…that goes for anyone of any size.
- Even if you are plus sized, don’t fool yourself that you don’t have a basic body shape. Not all plus size women are apple shaped. Follow other fit recommendations for hourglass, apple or pear figures and look for those cuts. A tunic that hangs from the bust may equalize an apple figure or a very straight figure, but does not flatter an hourglass-shaped woman. To create shape, creatively use layers or belts or choose garments with a tailored waist.
(At left: Messenger Bag? “Murse”? Either way, if it’s leather, it is apparently not “vegan.” Even if it was vegan-approved, I would not eat it either way.)
Merchants of vintage and brand-spanking newly manufactured ladies handbags and men’s valises have used the term “vegan” to describe a satchel for some time now. Actually, if I could be so bold as to say that it started with small online sellers and was adopted by the big guns later, but I have no documented proof. It is just a foggy recollection. So…what IS this “vegan purse” thing now that some of you are scrambling around for that perfect gift for the gal in your life? Okay, I guess there are some guys who carry messenger bags that some would refer to as a “Murse,” or “Manbag,” but for those of you who do, you probably won’t get one for Christmas because you already have one and its really hard to pin a murse-less male down if he really wants to clean out his pockets and do so. If you peg wrong, it could be anywhere form offensive to pulled out only on airline travels to collecting dust. I digress.
Apparently, a “Vegan” bag contains no animal byproducts, such as leather, fur, bone or whale baleen. In fact, it goes as far as to not contain any animal products that don’t harm the animal to take, such as wool, angora (which is sort of like wool), shedded peacock feathers and any chemical made with eggs as an ingredient. Before we get into a debate about unborn baby chickens, if the eggs are not fertilized, there is no baby chicken in there. Chickens lay eggs regardless of a rooster being present. It takes two to put a chicken in the oven…I mean…a bun in the oven. So, in other words, it could be a PVC purse, otherwise affectionately known as “pleather.” Somehow “leatherette” doesn’t seem to have surfaced since 1983. It could also consist of cotton, bamboo fiber, hard plastic, rubber or the like. Now, even though many link “vegan” to “environmentalist,” many vegan bags contain highly manufactured materials to avoid wool and leather.
The term that is new to me in personal accessories that carry stuff is “vegetarian.” How can there be a vegetarian handbag or suitcase? They don’t eat. Unless they really do, when they go bump in the night. Or maybe they get filled with bed bugs and they walk across the floor themselves just like ants may carry a branch together. Eww. That’s unpleasant like the amount of spackle that went into Jack Lord’s hair. “Vegetarian” bags do not contain leather, but they can contain any form of wool. If any bag-making material had dairy products in it, which I challenge you to find, they could have that too.
So, if the gal (we would suppose it was a gal) on your list is vegan or vegetarian, do some investigation and see if it extends to her accessory choices. Some folks are vegetarian of vegan due to health or food sensitivities and wear leather shoes, etcetera, but some may not. Hopefully, your recipient will be gracious. And doesn’t eat it.fashion tips, gift ideas, ladieswear, modern fashion | Comment (0)
This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of BH Cosmetics. All opinions are 100% mine.
Depending on how you look at it, the VintageGent-ette prefers old classic favorites or gets into a rut when it comes to cosmetics.
“I had an incident as a teenager. I somehow thought that my complexion and hair color mimicked the jet haired porcelain combination of Liz Taylor, but I was a little off. I blame the Clarion computer for allowing me to ‘self assess’ my hair and skin color. The truth is, I wanted purple lipstick.
After that major fashion incident, not realized until photos were taken with me made up like this, I was afraid to try color again, hence the five years of milking a tube of Raisin colored lipstick from the makeup counter at Penneys. It was a sort of ‘just darker than my natural lip color’ color that you would think I didn’t have any lipstick on. After I milked that tube for five years, they discontinued it, and I went through a red lipstick/black eyeliner Hollywood starlet phase. But then again, you have to have the ‘right red.’
Now, I am hesitant to try new colors of lipstick and eyeshadow because of the money you have to sink into it. If I change my look, I am $40 in the hole once you add the lip pencils, eye pencils and then I might not even like it. Of course, that’s only at the drug store. At the makeup counter, that could be $200 so I better darn well like it. I don’t mind spending money if I like it…but how will I know? The store lighting is so different.”
BH cosmetics has full palates of 120 and 88 eyeshadow colors, plus a lip color collection as well. For under $30, all sorts of looks can be experimented with to settle on a signature color or to change looks from day to night to costume ball. The lip palates are under $20.00, incidentally. They are highly pigmented, so a little goes a very long way. This also works well if you happen to work in the theater and need to help costume actors. Of course, use a disposable applicators after each dunk in the makeup, or if its a long run, you may want to consider getting a palette for each of the female or principals or magical characters, such as fairies and woodsprites and alien beings regardless of gender that may need their share of blue and green eyeshadow to bring out their gills.costumes, fashion tips, ladieswear | Comment (0)
I used to wear glasses when I was ten to twelve years old. All optical shops were the same. You got in, and for the “special” you got very unattractive frames. To get anything cool costs an arm and a leg. Forget the ads that encouraged people to buy multiple pairs so they can change “with their mood.” Most people do not live their lives like the imaginary people the models portray in fashion magazines. They don’t have one pair of studious looking eyeglasses, sport glasses, and sparkling ones for going out. You either stuck out a sore thumb at the grocery store with flashy glasses, or looked like you were going to play racquet ball at the theater because you couldn’t choose both.
I reading about Zenni Optical in an Examiner Article. I have heard the name before, as I have read about their “too good to be true” $8.00 frame deal before. Apparently, its NOT too good to be true. The price is not a “come on.” There are extra charges for bifocals and such, however. Shipping is typically $4.95. What does this mean for retro fashionistas like us? Zenni has several retro inspired styles, but for purists, you can drop big bucks into a pair of authentic 1950s Buddy Hollys or horn rims, or 80s Wayfarers, but stock up at Zenni for your everyday kick around glasses. That’s a different and economical way to preserve history!
The big drawback of Zenni is the several weeks it takes to receive your glasses, and the fact that they are made in China. The quality is there, but on principle, I am not sure about that for myself. Of course, some of the glasses at my local optometrist are also made in China, but there have to be some that are not as well. There is always a little quirk or a trade off, isn’t there?
Until Next Time…
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A non-ode to the wire hanger.
(at left: “Automatic Drawing: Coat Hangers IV” by Ellsworth Kelly)
Vintage wooden hangers
Pros: They have great provenance, often with the name of the tailors or hotel destination imprinted in some way on them. They lend an air of authenticity to any vintage coatrack or closet.
Cons: The acid content of the wood can be very high, so has the potential to damage garments being stored for the season, collected for later, or otherwise not in high rotation.
Use Them: For items that receive heavy rotation in your wardrobe. Put them in the front hall/guest closet. Guests usually have their coats their for an evening or just a week at a time, and the extra touch might impress them!
Plastic “Crystal Hangers”
Pros: Plastic is a smooth, relatively sanitary material. Storage on a plastic hanger won’t contribute to the deterioration of an item, as long as hung correctly
Cons: They do break if stepped on by accident! They are sometimes wide so not for use with children’s or some ladies clothing with very narrow shoulders.
Fabric Covered Hangers
Pros: The padding is gentle on clothing
Cons: If the fabric is not clean or has been just stored for awhile itself, it can trap
dustmites, or more so absorb/retransfer garment odors. There are scented available as well, but watch for acide content.
Use For: These are great for garment transport of delicate items such as antique garments, wedding gowns, and the like. These are also apropriate for garments that will be in rotation, or to match a decor, but to know when to clean, or replace them.
Pros: You can retrieve your keys sitting on your car seat if you leave your car windwo cracked open but lock your keys in your car. They are lightweight. They are free from your drycleaners with a clearning.
Cons: They can puncture clothing, and can cause rust spots.
Use them: To bring your clothes home from the cleaners and then take them off. But, BEWARE – they multiply like rabbits!
Yes its true…
They arrive at least in groups of 3-5 every week from the drycleaner. There are a few that are kept with the shirts, but the rest just end up in the worst places.
I, at first, just left them hung up, empty, in the closet. Then they started taking up too much room. So I had to move them aside. I put them on the chair in the bedroom, thinking that I would think of something to do with them. They quickly spread out. Then I gathered them up and put them in a paper bag. I hate to clog up a landfill and throw them away. I kept one “just in case”. If I am ever walking down the street and drop my keys down a drain, I can take a wire hanger, bend it oragami style and suddenly, I am MacGyver. Only, he would have been able to do it with a twist tie and a gum wrapper. Since I no longer live in one of America’s major cities like I used to and have to learn to leave that mindset behind…there just is less of a possibility of something like that happening anyhow.
I cannot see myself fashioning them into hangers for wind chimes. I could stretch them out, drive out to a farm and replace a barbed wire fence with hanger wire. But that might not be a good idea either. It would certainly be dangerous. Or i could twist them into a hook and be really lazy and never reach over to pick another thing off of the ground again. And then there is the wire candelabra idea. Those the candles would slowly dip south by the flimsiness of it all. And who needs 105 candelabras of questionable fire code compliance? For the time being, I will just sit and contemplate my bag o’ hangers.
And by the way, the drycleaner won’t take them back. They will have been USED and they wouldn’t have come with those paper sleeves on them (which actually, our drycleaner doesn’t even use. They like the hangers au natural with a cumbersome cardboard insert popped between them and the garment.
You never know, they could finally make it to the garage this time, so they are out of site. Until I go out in the garage that is. But I can’t do that. Then they would be rusty. And NOBODY would want them then!
I stumbled across a site where people have a wire hanger exchange. At the moment there is someone in New York that actually WANTS them in large quantity. I don’t know if this unassuming soul knew what they were in for when they dispatched the request. They may just end up with a U-Haul’s worth from my state.
Until Next Time,
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I just rediscovered this great blog about everything cufflinks. Up until reading this, I thought I knew enough to hold my own on the topic, but I stand corrected. Cufflinks are an essential item to think about when it comes to vintage fashion, but sometimes a guy just doesn’t know where to start, or a gal wants to figure out what pair she should choose for her guy without it ending up being unworn in the bottom of the drawer. Of course, with all of the french cuffs in fashion, it is perfectly acceptable for women to wear them as well.
Author Adwin Ang suggests that there are 10 Common Mistakes that are made when wearing cufflinks, from appropriateness for the occasion to storage. (Just a hint: Don’t put your cufflinks on before the shirt is on, don’t wear clown cufflinks to a wedding, and don’t just toss them in a drawer.)fashion tips | Comments (3)
Here are some miscellaneous fitting tips from here and there. There are many different preferences out there as far as lapels, colors, and shapes. Sensibilities also changed from fashion era to fashion era. These tips will make a suit look like it fits you well, whether you are looking for a suit off the rack, or are looking for something more historical. Sometimes the difference between looking “dated” and looking like you have great taste and prefer vintage clothing are tips to keep in mind like these.
- When buying a slim fit suit or skinny pants, tailor the hem to have little or no break. Having a break makes a sleek line appear ill fitting or baggy. Save the break for pants with a standard or wider leg.
- “Long” sizes are meant for gents who are 6′ 3″ and taller. There are many men who are 5’10″ to 6’2″ who just assume they are a long, just because they are not a short. Standard suits are meant to accommodate you, just make sure to order the correct inseam length. That will do it. If you order a long that you don’t need, the jacket will hang down too long.
- The tip of your tie should not hang lower than your belt. While the tie has rested everywhere from the stomach to below the belt in various times, having the tie land here will bring you into the modern era. The exception would be those wide, art deco ties. They are meant to be worn a bit shorter, but tying them longer would bring the look more up to date.
- Your jacket should reveal 1/4″ of the collar of your dress shirt in the back. This is so when you sit or shift around, your suit won’t ride up over it.
- Watch the gap. There should not be a gap in the back between the neck and the shoulders. This means the jacket is too big. They say you should try on the sizes until you find the one that is a slightly uncomfortable, then try the next size up. This works if you start larger and gradually go down. You won’t always have this luxury of unlimited sizes with vintage suits but in modern suits it will work better.
This spring, many designers are offering suiting pieces in cotton. They are bypassing linen and silk/cotton blends and going just for the source material. Cotton has recently been touted as the ecologically sound choice in fabric. It is sustainable, one doesn’t have to use harsh drycleaning methods on it, and it does not require the use of animals. However, I offer that I have owned many cotton items with a “Dry Clean Only” tag hanging on to the inside of the collar or pocket for dear life.
Truth be told, when a garment says Dry Clean, versus Dry Clean Only, it means radically different things. A clothing or textile maker is required to suggest at least one washing method for a garment. When you see “Dry Clean,” it is merely a suggestion. You may get optimum durability out of a garment by drycleaning it, but the manufacturer is surely not suggesting the trousers will cease to be if you should try a home cleaning kit or Woolite. When a tag says Dry Clean ONLY, this typically means that it is the only thing a person not in the top 10 of textile experts in the world should do to it without shrinking or otherwise shattering its soul.
Will the latest selections of formal and business wear be a college student’s dream? In otherwords, can you toss the trouser, jacket, and vest in the big barrel at the laundromat? My best assessment is a big fat NO. I venture that the garments are going to still require or at least suggest drycleaning as the preferred mode of cleaning. Afterall, it is not a faux pas to wear a sport coat more than once, providing that you have proper garments underneath and are not barechested. However, it is indeed a faux pas to have the garment rolling around on the floor, somewhere underneath the dog and a bag of Cheetos for a week before the next outing. Surely, your companions of choice will be able to immediately guess that you did not go on a globe trotting adventure, but merely are a slacker.
Keep your eyes open for cotton suits this spring and summer. They are not just for the Bahamas any more. In fact, sometimes you won’t be able to assess the fabric content unless you are so close to it, that you will be construed as rude or a bit too friendly to the wearer.fashion tips, modern fashion | Comment (0)
Batik has come and gone in the past few decades as a trend. It appeared on quite buttoned up shirts and swim trunks during the midcentury tiki heyday. In the late 60s and the 70s, it showed up on more free flowing, bohemian garments. Batik is back, but this traditional method of fabric dying has never really gone away.
Today, there are designs that sort of take over the entire garment, and there are some that are much more subtle. They compell you to query incredulously, “Wow, is that batik?” I was perusing the virtual shelves of an online Batik store, and that is exactly what I thought. My grade school art teacher, with her batik caftans and shell necklaces, did not cross my mind at any time.
As the Batik blog mentions:
“Batik is a Malay word which refers to traditional wax-resist dye method used on cloth.”
As batik is a process rather than a set design, many motifs can be imagined up, and not just the large, all encompasing prints that usually come to mind. The shoes, at left, take on a slightly exotic feel. In contrast, the green shirt, shown below, comes off as an all over printed pattern. The shirt at right is a little out of the ordinary due to the “color way.”
Ready to become a batik braniac by learning more about fabric care, the dying process, and modern batik wares? Click to read the batik blog.
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Dan, one of our faithful readers, was asking me the other day about multi-pocket pants. Back when the whole safari/explorer look was everywhere, more than a few khakis and shirts were in the stores with the additional pockets. Some were for looks, but some were actually functionally. Nowadays, the only real choice if you are looking for function is the local outdoor/fishing store.
I just found that LA Police Gear carries a lot of 5.11 Tactical pants and shorts with extra pockets, both hidden and obvious. They are especially good for travel, or whenever you don’t want to wear a jacket to carry the extra things you need when you are going to be out all day. You can spare your vintage clothing from the messy business of horse back riding, motorcycle ridng, and hiking, and can buy a few pairs of those instead. Right now they are only $24.99, so grab them while you can!
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Party and function invites abound this time of year. What does the dress code actually mean? With the casualization of things these days, if you follow these rules, you will never be over or under dressed. This is generally the rule of thumb for those secret codes. Some people interpret each one slightly differently, but following these guidelines you won’t be embarrassingly underdressed.
White Tie: Men wear white tuxedo jackets. Vests are also traditionally expected. Tails and gloves are not required but very acceptable. For the lady, floor length gowns are the norm. Think Cinderella’s Ball or Fred and Ginger.
Black Tie: Tuxedos for men, formal gowns, cocktail dresses, or formal seperates for women.
Black Tie Optional: Tuxedos or dark suits for men. Women can wear cocktail dresses, suits, or gowns.
Semi-Formal: This used to be classified as “After Five.” Suits for him with matching pieces, cocktail dress or suit for her. Also called Informal.
Business Formal: Same as Semi-Formal, but the difference for women, is that her clothing should be more conservative or tailored rather than revealing.
Creative Black Tie: Dressy, but without the etiquette restrictions of black tie. For example, colored tuxedos/tuxedo jackets would be apropriate here, as well as forgoing the tie. Hats acceptable. Use your imagination. Anything Bjork has ever worn to an awards show falls under this category…I guess.
Dressy Casual: Sport coat and slacks for him, or dress pants and dress shirt. For her, dressy pants or a skirt. No jeans, cut offs, sweats. or Tshirts.
Casual: Anything goes. Jeans, shorts, etc.
Oh, yeah, and a friend I had in the 90s (female) put “Sexy Jeans” as the dress attire on her invites. I asked what the heck that was. She said jeans and heels and form fitting or lacey tops for the gals. And get the hair done. Men should wear dark jeans and dark colored dress shirts or satin shirts. Well, everyone pretty much looked like they dressed normally everyday except the women wore full makeup instead of looking like they just ran out of the house to get the mail. The guys just had no holes in their jeans and tucked their shirts in. I guess either no one “got” her concept or her concept was something in her own mind that didn’t translate well. She should have just said “Clubwear” but with jeans and don’t wear anything you wouldn’t want to be seen in by the neighbor’s eight year old kid.fashion tips | Comment (1)
Contrast collars are back. I guess they never officially went away, as men who really liked them seemed to always be able to find them. Take hockey commentator Don Cherry, for example, he has been sporting very high tight colors and very startched white collars for years. He must have his own custom tailor. However, big names are now producing them again as parts of their lines. It seems to me that “contrast collar” or “contrast color collar” was always a misnomer. You see, I have really never seen a contrasting color collar in anything but white. If they were truly contrasting, you would see other colors as well. Beige on Navy?
The actual real live color wheel suggests that white is not a contrasting color. Orange’s natural contrast is green, yellow’s natural contrast is purple. There is nothing on there to suggest the true contrast of light blue or navy or black is white. So, I propose a renaming of the shirts. I propose they should be called “white collared shirts.” Maybe “shirts with no-color collars would be more apropriate because white collared shirts have white collared shirts and I am not talking about them right now. Someone might get into a debate with me and say, “What are black colored shirts, then? Why are just white collars considered ‘no color.’”
Well, truth be told, when you are using colors with additive qualities, such as paint or dye, rather than things with subtractive qualities like using gels in lighting, white is the lack of color. When you add all the colors together you get a muddy black/brown, so black is closer to “all colors” as the base starts out as white. In lighting, if you have no light, things are black, but if you add a light of every color, add every color gel to a light, you get white when they are all added up. So you see where my argument lies for them being “No Color Collars.” If you were protesting these shirts, you would hold aloft a sign that would say “No No Color Collars,” and it may make people think you don’t understand double negatives that two “No’s” equal YES, so the shirt is saying you are pro COLOR collars.
Whatever side of the color wheel you are loyal to, there are enough choices out there for either wearing shirts that have collars the same color as the rest of the shirt, or “No Color Collars.” However, REAL contrasting collars I am still waiting to be widespread in dress shirts. How about you? Maybe just I want them made to prove they exist, versus me actually buying some for people as presents. So maybe it would not catch on after all?
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I just discovered this older blog entry about everything cufflinks. Up until reading this, I thought I knew enough to hold my own on the topic, but I stand corrected. Cufflinks are an essential item to think about when it comes to vintage fashion, but sometimes a guy just doesn’t know where to start, or a gal wants to figure out what pair she should choose for her guy without it ending up being unworn in the bottom of the drawer.
Author J.M. Anderson recommends:
As a general rule, cuff links should be made of the same color metal as the belt buckle, watch or wedding band that a man wears. If the accessories match, it will lend to the fact that this is a well dressed man who takes the time to coordinate his look.
That makes perfect sense, especially since the wedding band and watch, or at least the wedding band, are going to be something a guy wears every single day and it is worth taking into account.fashion tips | Comment (1)
Here is a trivia question for the garment history buffs out there:
Q. Name the company that first treat wool gabardine to be water repellant.
A. It was Sanyo, a Japanese clothier with a history dating to the 1940s. Sanyo Shokai extended the business by opening New York in 1978 to reach a North American audience.
In some places, fall seems to be taking a pass and winter feels like it is just around the corner. It may seem a little premature according to the calendar, but my woolens are already unpacked and it is time to think about overcoats. If you are looking to buy new so that you don’t ruin your antique or vintage overcoat in the wind and snow, the Sanyo Fashion House is making some very well made and luxurious mens wool coats.
In fact, not only was the company a trailblazer in the beginning, but it is continuing to make innovations. The buttons on the coats are affixed by a special state of the art sewing machine that simulates the back and forth sewing movement of something sewn. It is certainly more stable, but might even fool you into believing no machine was involved. They also have a special windbreaker interlining, at left, that is usually only reserved for police winter uniforms. It retains heat as well as protects against the elements.
On their site, their coats are available for purchase, or you can find a local retailer to see them in person.
The must have shoe for fall and winter is the wing tip? Why is that?
Of course, fashion magazines are touting them, but it is perhaps a return back to the tried and true amidst all the uncertainty out there right now. While not always seen as the hottest trend, wing tips have seldom been seen as inaprorpiate. With the trends being for the past few years to be “dressed down,” sometimes to the extreme, even a small wing tip detail in a more casual color shows that a guy cared just a little bit.
While the well polished wing tip is a classic, distressed, worn in wing tips are being shown on the run way.fashion tips, modern fashion | Comment (1)