Friday, June 24, 2011

The Clothes Off My Back (7)

It has been a long, lo-o-o-ong time since I've posted anything about clothes! I keep buyin' 'em, and I keep wearin' 'em. Whenever that vintage clothing divining rod gives a shiver, I run off in all directions, hot on the trail of another nipped waist dream of a dress. And have I worn some doozies of late.

Let it be known, and shown, that it is impossible for me to take professional looking photos of myself. This is DIY, you all! Or MYBDI ("make your Bab do it"). (:

This first dress was worn to a Ba'hai square dance some months ago. That's right, a Ba'hai square dance. I hadn't been to a Ba'hai function or a square dance before (Babu's mom Deb is a follower, and wasn't it a great idea to put a square dance together for any occasion!), but it was totally awesome. And hard work! But, as you little social butterflies probably know, the hardest part of going out for an evening is assembling the ensemble. Especially when there's a theme involved. I wore this "Sears Fashion" tagged, sky blue sixties' square dance dress with white and silver rick rack, picked up at Goodwill yeeeeeears ago, which I've stubbornly worn to not-very-countrified outings ever since. After the pictures were taken, I had another thought and added a fluffy black skirt under the dress, which plumped the (voluminous) skirt and added an inch or so black band to the bottom to match the belt. Major hit. Matthew wore a K-mart brand yellow checked shirt (the same one from the New Years' pictures, if you take it back a bit), and we looked quite the sixties' square dancin' duo, if I do say so myself. Great fun.

Vain thing that I am, I love to see myself in triplicate! Here's an early 70's/late 60's Henry Lee tagged dress on the left, with a neat "girl-reporter" ish look to it. I wore it with a blazer to accent the bow in the front, and I think we lost that night at trivia, held at a local wing joint, but at least me and the mister were well turned out. In the middle, another square dancing style dress (I can't get enough of them!) from the Rivergate Goodwill. I thought it was a child's dress to begin with, but when I tried it on, and it fit so well, I figured it was maybe just a vintage petite? Which, owing to a short-ish torso, I can sometimes pull off.I love the strange use of the two fabrics. Inside, the tag is one of those "A Special Creation from_________"... but I can't remember off the top of my name who the maker was. Whoever she is, thanks a lot, lady! Your "creation" still looks great forty years later! To the right, a black suit dress that, miraculously, fits me, in spite of a tight pencil skirted silhouette. The bag is a "souvenir of Cyprus Falls", according to a tag in the lining, though, other than the straw material, I don't know what makes it very tourist-oriented? Maybe a vacation is the perfect time to splurge on breezy looking accessories. The flower corsage is one of a set made by a fan for a band Matthew toured with about the time we were dating. This pink one was matched to an electric blue suit he wore onstage with Nudie-style appliques of sharks and rhinestones throughout. That's ironic Nashville, you guys. It was too gorgeous, but I totally snagged the corsage from it. ONE burst of over the top flowers just brightens up an entire outfit.

Me and an old friend in Missouri. The dress is a great, sleeveless a-line skirted thing from Goodwill... you can't see it much but be assured, it's one of my favorites. Also, please note the man in the far right, who didn't know his photograph was being taken.

Three more the middle, a green formal dress from an estate sale in the Cloisters area ($3, half price day)...the coat was black, which explains the black stocking feet. At right, a cotton summer dress with a diamonds and polka dots pattern that I think came from a junk store in Alabama, sometime in college.

And for the kicker?

On the left, a super, super sixties' dress from a shop in Hawaii, that came me via a storage unit sale in Hermitage... and was part of a hail that was the very highlight of my year in estate sale shopping. I came to this craigslist advertised sale with low expectations, but my interest was piqued by the throwaway line "Vintage clothing 1950-1970" amongst the descriptions of toasters, cds, and sweaters. Pulling into the parking lot, we saw two or three card tables full of knickknacks, nothing older than the 90's, and a mostly empty storage unit. "Nothing much is for sale in there," the lady running the sale said as we peeked into the unit. Crestfallen, we were about to leave when I got up my gumption and asked "Did somebody already come and buy all the vintage clothes, or do you have any left?" in my least disappointed, most nonchalant voice.

"Oh those," the lady said, squinting at me from under her white sun visor. "You know, I didn't ever get those out. You can come look at them if you want to, though."

In a Brady Bunch, flower-power patterned cardboard trunk, I lifted the lid to, oh, maybe 18 vintage dresses, all semi to full formal, all wrapped in dry cleaning bags, ALL IN ABOUT MY SIZE, and all in seldom to never worn condition. As I took a moment to get over the shock, I kept digging and started calculating. A heavy beaded sheath, an aquamarine chiffon prom dress with heavy bodice draping, a red spaghetti strapped cotton sun dress with a huge bow in the front and huge circle skirt... and again, everything looking like it had walked off a showroom floor. We chatted about how people in the sixties were so much smaller, how her niece, a size four, had recently tried on a wedding dress that belonged to a sister they'd always kidded as the "chubby one", and it hadn't fit her, etc, etc, as I held the dresses up to scrutiny. I am no size four, but owing to the free skirt measurements and my own small-ish waist, I was pretty confident they would fit me.I knew that I wanted everything in the box, but would I be able to afford even one thing? The woman hadn't mentioned prices.

"How much are you asking on these?" I asked.

"I don't know, what would they be worth to you?"she countered.

Hemming, hawwing, I explained that I was a major vintage clothing lover, and just went around buying things for my personal wardrobe, and I didn't really know what she was wanting to get for them, soooo.... price was really up to her. I always make the seller quote a price first, and then try and dicker down from it if it's too high. Because there's absolutely no reason I should pay $10 for something they would've taken $5 for.

"What do you think you could do on them?"

I named a price that ended up getting them for about $4 a dress, she upped it to around $5, and I mentally began making cutbacks in the week's entertainment budget to allow this clothing splurge. The deal was sealed! When I got home, 10 of the dresses fit as if they were made for me, and the other ten, well, hanged if I'm not going to try and diet into them. A long, bugle beaded, Marilyn style dress in red, a skinny black Jackie-O dress with lace overlay, and five or six fitted dresses with dressmaker shop tags from Hawaii. Why the woman who bought them never wore them much, I don't know. I just thank her for the impeccable care she took with them.

Just when you think there's nothing left out there, a diamond in the rough!

Last but not least, whenever I'm not hunting down vintage for myself, I'm dragging home some menswear goodies for my Bab. To the left, a neat, stripey polo paired with skinny jeans and some black tassle slip ons, all from Southern Thrift... to the right, a GREAT 70's, car salesman loud blazer from the Goodwill in Gallatin. Look at the decorative stitching at all the hems! I just love it. He's my little fashion plate. And good natured about it, too.

Anyway, thanks for listening to me gab on and on about myself... next post, more about other people! No less vintage, however. Have any of you had any particularly Ali Baba like yard sale/estate sale finds lately?

Have a fabulous Friday night!


  1. Aww, I'm so jealous of all you city people with estate sales to go to! What amazing bargains you've found!

    Being something of a rick rack and squaredance dress aficionado, I am in love with your blue one!!

  2. Wow, what an awesome story about the Brady Bunch box! I hope you'll at least photograph the ones you still have to 'diet into'. ;)

  3. Gah!!! I love them all!!! Don't you just love when you score great clothes?! (Can't tell you how many outfits I buy that I plan on dieting to fit in to - some things are just too good to pass up!)

  4. You've got such fun clothes! I can't wait to see more from the Brady Bunch box. Now I'm off to see where square dancin' is happenin' 'round here (couldn't be too difficult, it is Kansas). Is it pretty self-explanatory or do I need lessons? I always wanted to have an excuse to wear the poufy skirts.

  5. Thanks, everbody! Definitely going to have to take the boxed items out for a photo shoot. Truth be told, I'm almost too afraid to wear them for fear of ruining their museum-condition quality with my sometimes unpredictable daily wear and tear (did I or did i not get bindery glue on an unsuspecting skirt last week in the midst of work-place related book repair?). But they're made to be worn, right? I'll just have to be extra careful.

    @Lauren: The neatest thing about square dancing (other than getting to wear the dress) was the "caller", who pretty much tells you what to do with every step. So, once you get three or four basic moves down, you just perform them when he tells you to. I love it! So much more organized than regular dancing. It was lots of fun.

  6. Yes, please take some pictures of your awesome finds! By the way, I have given you a blog award; come over and see!

  7. I wish I had soemwhere to go square dancing! I love the middle dress in the first triptych and the cotton one in the second.

    And like what a lucky lady you must have felt, discovering all those vintage dresses at once! Great story!

  8. Love it! Square dancing dresses are one of my favorite funny little niches in fashion. And that green formal one is particularly breathtaking!




Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...