Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Rerun: Cheap Chic Does Vintage Shopping (1975): NEW EDITION 2015

Good afternoon, folks!

I have a report back from the estate sales that were cooking up for you later in the week, but I wanted to jump in and tell you about a book the kind people at Three Rivers Press sent me the other day. Folks, CHEAP CHIC IS BACK IN PRINT after forty years!

It's not a usual occurrence here at my blog to accept promotional material from the wide world ...not because I stand on principle or anything about receiving free stuff (I hope I never get that la-di-da), but because really, how am I going to convincingly write about how dental strips or prescription eyeglasses I don't want or instant tea has changed my life when I have all this other, actually-interesting-to-my-life stuff to show you. And as I'm not a fashion blogger, I don't get offers for the cute stuff at all (if someone wants to write a book about how to get free crinolines and vintage brooches and circle skirts, I would be happy to read that book and absorb its lessons). So as you can imagine, when I saw the words "Cheap Chic Reissue" show up in a subject heading on my email, you could have knocked me over with a feather. "Cheap Chic by Caterine Millinaire?" I thought to myself with guarded excitement. Someone in their PR department had seen a blog I did on the book waaaay back in 2012 (can you believe it's been that long? I can remember writing it!) and contacted me about putting out the good word about the new edition, published earlier this month. Would I like a copy of the book and would I mind doing a blog post about said book, etc, etc.

Ola Hudson: costume designer, intimate of David Bowie, SLASH'S MOM, and just one of the many famous seventies' fashionistas in the book!
Well, heck yes I would like to have a copy of the book! And you should too-- it's a facisimile copy of the 1975 vintage fashion bible I talk about in the post below. The only reason I did not already own a copy of the book owed to its staggering used price...this updated copy from the 80s, for example, still runs $60 at best. And if you think I was kidding, even my-real-dad Tim Gunn mentions in his new forward to the book how he wishes he'd bought a copy when it was originally published for $5.95 instead of the many-times-more-than-that price he paid for it on Ebay later. You lucky little ducks, though, can get your mitts on this book for $16. It's chockful of photos and style tips from incredible 1970's people wearing even more incredible 1900's-1960's clothes...a time capsule of the beginning of vintage fashion wearing as we know it. I was so worried I wouldn't be able to borrow the book from Interlibrary loan again that I took photos of practically every page at the time, a few of which are used in the post below-- happily for me, however, I now have a copy of this vintage fashion bible sitting in a place of pride on my shelf, to revisit and commit to memory at my leisure! So thank you Three Rivers Press for my copy, and if you're out there reading in cyberland, check out the website for the book to grab yourself a copy here, I think you'll be glad you did.
They took the words right out of my mouth!
And without further adieu, an amuse-bouche of the blog post I did on the book, to revisit while perusing my new copy. I still feel the same about all of these outfits! :D

Talk to you soon!

This post originally appeared on She Was a Bird December 11, 2012.

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. that's cool that even Slashes mom is in it. She seemed really cool. I will have to check that book out.

    1. It's definitely worth checking out! I now have this and a couple other must-have seventies' style bibles all next to each other for when I need a pick-me-up in the wardrobe department, haha.

  2. THAT'S AMAZING! That picture of Cher is everything and more. Her hair is just the perfect amount of windblown. What a perfect freebie! I always get weird offers. I know people are constantly trying to get me to do reviews of medical supplies to which I say, "WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO READ IT!" Like seriously, people want me to do catheter reviews...which is weird because I don't use them and even if I did...what a terrible post topic. I do shameslessly do my glasses reviews, but as long as they keep sending me eyewear...I will be their minion.

    1. Cher = the beginning and the end of the discussion in my book. <3 My favorites are the ones where they want me to write something about sunblock or cooking green and offer to "possibly put my post on their Pinterest board". Me: Uh, let's just not and say we did, I've got a post about a bunch of stuff I bought that is way more pressing than ways to prepare kale to me right now." I don't blame you about the glasses, my prescription is so high and my head's so big that I have trouble getting glasses to fit with a professional on hand to help me out or else I would be on that bandwagon, no lie.



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