Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Cheap Chic Does Vintage Shopping (1975)

Good morning!

I once again prevailed upon the better nature of Interlibrary Loan to get into my glad hands a copy of Cheap Chic, a 1975 vintage style guide by Caterine Milinaire and Carol Troy, and gee oh gee, is it a lot of fun! And outrageously expensive on Amazon (yeeks!). The book covers everything from wardrobe basics to style advice from the likes of Yves Saint Laurent and Diana Vreeland themselves-- it's like desk reference for understanding the pulse of eccentric and/or stylish dresser of the mid-seventies'. Which chapter did I flip to first? The vintage clothes buying section, obviously. There's some hits and some clunkers, and lucky for you, I scanned in the best of them!

First off, how. CUTE. IS. THIS. GAL. See her Garbo-heavy-lidded-makeup? Her candy box of a Victorian hat? Her black gloves and fur stole? Like, like, and like.

I didn't know what to expect from this chapter as most of the preceding fifty pages was dead set on me spending a hundred 1975 dollars ($412.25 in 2011!!) on European boots, citing as "The money you save on cabs and buses will pay for the next pair!". 1975 Cheap Chic, I am not a Gothamite, nor do I have four hundred dollars to shell out on boots, even IF I "put away $5 [2011: $20] a week" until I can afford them. Get real (though now I'm kind of daydreaming about the perfect pair of YSL boots...which are around $1,000 these days, FYI). But, as this chapter opens, the authors remind us "everyone is discovering it feels good to wear expensive clothes, especially when someone else paid for them the first time out". Ain't it the truth!

The above picture, and this jazzy secondhand store snap, made me think, aw! Yes! This is going to be neat! Then I ran into Paul Ruscha. Awww, maaaaan:

Paul....Ruscha. Oh, Paul, Paul, Paul Ruscha. What in the name of decency is happening here. I would be upset enough if it was just that you own a full-length monkey fur coat which you chose to wear with mylar contacts (?) and a hair/mustache combination that might send a shudder of dread through even the most hirsute Doobie Brother. But no! You've also invented the "pant leg snood" (bottom left), and don't think it escaped my notice that it's pinned with a freakin' 1940's figural arrow brooch you...you...((stamps feet)). I guess "some style" is better than "no style", but I just feel like these outfits are plain perversions of real chic! You have all the elements to use in a first-rate wardrobe, but  you chose to use them for evil instead of good! I forgive you, though, as this 2005 gallery snap of you at one of your exhibitions is in front of a whole wall of Kennedy-iana, and you look like a better looking version of a fifty year old Bee Gee. The seventies' were a weird time. 

I wish they'd included a photo of Lesley instead. Listen to the description!

Don Loper at GOODWILL?! And I.Magnin at a THRIFT SHOP. You all are killin' me with this mess. Now, $2 is more like $8 in now money, but OH MY GOD THAT DOES NOT MAKE ME FEEL ANY BETTER.

 Susan Doukas breaks the rule about "only buy[ing] things that fit perfectly" because it's supposedly tricky to tailor vintage clothes by buying something that fits imperfectly and successfully having it tailored down to size.  This book is full of contradictions. Can you believe the beautiful lapels and pocket details on that jacket? "You can do really well if you have a little taste and not much money, especially if you look for beautiful things with a sense of humor," Doukas says, and she took the words right out of my mouth! The described closet collection of Lauren Bacall esque gowns mixed with bowling and service uniform shirts is giving me an envy headache.

There's a whole story about her apartment and her longtime lover in a 2011 NYT profile of rooftop gardeners...at 65, she still sounds like a pip!

Tasha at By Gum, By Golly! just did a post on her unbelievably cute reindeer sweater... the one below, left, looks just like the one in the vintage Canada travel ad she compared hers to in the same entry. PLUS Valentina's day job is as a "production assistant and receptionist" on the Cher show. ON THE CHER SHOW. Life is unfair to me, at all times. While Ingrid Boulting looks more fresh-scrubbed than mysterious on the right, check out the amazing photos I found of her modeling career on this blog. Shades of Delphine Seyrig (one of my highest compliments for blonde European women of the 1970's). Just think of finding a jacket like this at Goodwill! I know it can still happen (mainly because I believe in it, right? And think of the crazy things you've found from time to time, I tell myself consolingly), but for example, a much less cute version is on Etsy right now for $300. AND SOMEONE WILL BUY IT. Ugh. Bid time return.

I never understand the seventies' with regard to vintage clothes for men. Seriously. It's not that hard. And yet somehow, everyone ends up looking like a less chic version of Bryan Ferry on a bad day. What is happening with the guy on the left? Don't even get me started about the guy on the right! And the man at bottom center...are you trying out for a Dead or Alive cover band. WHAT IS YOUR DAMAGE. Again, I seriously advocate the "fun" of dress up and wearing crazy outfits (look at me), but there just have to be some rules to keep you from looking like you've escaped either an asylum or a dinner theater production.

Now this, I not-so-secretly love. Polka dots on a shawl collared tuxedo, front curl in the middle of the forehead, paint splattered shoes, huge (topless?! I now notice?!?) deco painting in the background...Duggie Fields is doin' all right. He's still rockin' the curl, too, almost forty years later! There's a great article on his paintings and personal style here. This is a case of "it's a lot, but it actually looks like it's something he's chosen to wear, rather than a lost bet".

What do you think about some of these out-there seventies' vintage looks? What's the most jealousy-inducing story you've heard of hidden vintage treasure unearthed for pennies? Had you heard of any of these eccentric dressers before? I hadn't. Let's chat!

Have a great Tuesday, and I'll see you tomorrow!


  1. oh my gosh i can't get over the trouser leg snood!
    and that freaking tiger jacket! i NEED IT

    1. I'm hitting the Dec flea market extra hard with this post in mind! I need that arrow pin and that monkey fur jacket like killmenow.



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