As I was flipping through an archive.org scanned copy of Sixty years of fashion: 1900-1960, the evolution of women's styles in America, I was struck by the thought that I've reached a point in my vintage wearing/collecting career where there are items which I actually stop myself from buying due to unsuitability for my wardrobe. This has not always been the case! I know, you're going-- "Lisa, you bought a dashiki and seventies' prom maxi dress and a button up shirt that would offend Paul Lynde for its loudness last time you were in full Goodwill swing...you lie like a rug!" but it's true! There are actually some things I look at and might ooh or aw towards, but do not buy. While they're exceptions to every rule (see the dress on my mannequin in yesterday's post, which is embellished with feathers and made for someone about a buck oh five and five foot nothing, but I HAD TO HAVE IT), here are some things you might not have known that I might not buy, haha!
Things on my vintage embargo list, as illustrated by excerpts from the aforementioned book:
1) Cloche or fitted hats
It has taken me almost twenty eight years to finally come to terms with the fact that I will never be able to wear about 80% of the vintage hats that exist on planet earth. Maybe, unseen by telescopic satellite, there's a tribe of six foot tall, watermelon-headed Venutians our scientists have yet to discover, all wearing the latest Jean Patou caps from 1939, but by Godfrey, lonely old oversized me here on terra firma cannot smash/crush/pin the better part of hats to my head in such a way that doesn't evoke comparisons to the fat-guy-in-a-little-coat. I know I need somewhere to keep all these brains, but it's frustrating to pat hat after hat down on my head in a hopeful, but essentially useless, gesture of faith. So, unless it's a tiny tilted cap like the 1931 model in the lower right hand corner, or a wide brimmed type that can sit high on the head, I don't even look at the kind of cloche or fitted hats at estate sales anymore (and don't even get me STARTED on vintage shoes!).
2) Animal fur with heads-still-attached
I think we talked about this in an earlier blog-- while I have no compunctions whatsoever about digging around in some recently deceased person's attic for thirties' chinaware or old movie star magazines, like it was nothing, humming a happy tune among the exoskeletons of spiders and dust older than I am... if my delicate, over-sized hands touch fur, it had better not have its ever-loving head still attached to it. Because I will FREAK. OUT. I tried to try on a gorgeous, and I mean GORGEOUS, Marlene Dietrich style grey fox fur at a Southern Sisters sale once, that I think was priced around $30. "I could easily seduce Gary Cooper with these foxes to pave the way! Glamour ITSELF!" My little cinephile's heart cried out for it. However, as the glass eyes of the formerly-living-animal caught mine, I had a shudder of revulsion that was so foreign to me it took me a minute to figure out from whence it had came. Was it primal fear of what had once been a dangerous animal up close? Was it grossed-out-ed-ness at the thought of some dead fox lying around all Hannibal Lecterized in the name of fashion? No, it was probably the fact that I realized, simultaneously, that the catch for the stole was ONE OF THE DAMN THINGS PAWS. With a little clip inserted on what would have been its palm. Yuck! A thousand times yuck!
Fur trim? Fine. Fur stole? Extra good. Fur stole with head-- NO. NO. NO. NO.
This problem has plagued me since high school! I remember vividly the makeshift, particle board dressing rooms at the Salvation Army on Gallatin Road (a former HG Hills I think, it's now Young's Fashion, see here) and the teenage anguish of trying to fit my dramatically pear shaped body into innumerable Jackie-O style sixties' suits. Imagine a pale green boucle suit like what Tippi Hedren wore in The Birds. The top is gapingly big and a little too short, considering the overall length, and the skirt IMPOSSIBLY small. On the aformentioned 5'', 100 lb person, this would cute because of the way the oversized-ness on top would drape nearly over the fitted skirt (see the 1954 model above). But no-o-o-o-ot on me. I look best in the Dior New Look style full-skirt, tiny waist, fitted jacket, or in fitted jackets with A-line skirts. I don't even try on suit sets like the aformentioned sixties' Chanel-style anymore, unless the jacket is appropriately teeny and/or fur collared, because the skirt is just a waste of money and time.
PS: My favorite outfit in this book? Not sure if I'm suited towards this one or not, but I love everything about it:
Look at the enormous bag! The booties! The turtleneck that becomes a cowl!
While I love every one of these looks (minus the dead-look the stole is still giving me, through its illustrated little beady eyes...I said I was sorry for trying that one fox on!), it's funny how I can eyeball items now that I'm almost in my thirties' that I would have had the optimism/lack of sense to try to wiggle into in my teens' and early twenties'. I feel like I almost might be developing a sense of style and what fits my body after lo, these many years of casting lots in the form of hangers in the dressing room.
Do you have any hard or fast shopping rules when it comes to either vintage clothes or knickknacks? Have you declared war on even ONE MORE such-and-such collectible into your house? How did you come to decide you had to put your foot down against this or that thing-to-buy?
That's all for today, but I'll see you back here tomorrow. Til then!