Tag Archives: guest post

Guest Post at The Hourglass Files

To read today’s post you’ll need to head over to The Hourglass Files, where I’ve written a guest post for Jacqueline WayneGuite.  It’s all about shopping for vintage clothing and textiles in antique malls, so you do not want to miss it!

You certainly recall Jacqueline, as she was the writer of a post here last week in which she made us all envious with her job as collection manager for a historic clothing collection.

So I have the day off from blogging, and you’d think I’d be out hiking or shopping or doing something fun, right?  Well, instead I’m dealing with a scraper – a website that takes what it wants at will and copies and pastes the content of others on their own blog.  Considering that I have a generous copyright policy where I do not mind if people use my content and photos, this is especially irritating.  It’s usually fairly easy to get the site to take down the stolen material, but it just takes some legwork and attention to detail.  For some reason, scraper sites don’t have contact info, and they rarely allow for reader comments.  Wonder why???

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Filed under Shopping

A Light-hearted Look at the Surrealist Hat.

The great thing about having a blog is that all kinds of wonderful learning opportunities find their way into my email inbox.  The problem is that I’m located about 600 miles away from most of them, and I can’t just hop onto a plane whenever I want to attend a lecture in NYC.  I do, however, have friends in such places, and one, Monica Murgia, attended a recent lecture on Surrealistic hats, given by Dilys Blum.  Her report:
Thanks to The Vintage Traveler, I attended a talk on Surrealist Hats by Dilys Blum.  (That’s her above, with Monica)  Blum is a costume and textile curator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  She divulged her  fascinating research on the topic, complete with a feast for the eyes.  I was dazzled by over 120 images, illustrating the origins and legacy of Surrealism.  Here are some of the highlights:
La Revolution Surrealiste: This French magazine was dedicated to Surrealist art and design.  The magazine published 12 issues from 1924 to 1929.  While the magazine initially was concerned only with fine and decorative arts, it laid the groundwork for surrealist images and how they would be photographed in fashion. It was also a forum for disseminating scandalous and revolutionary ideas, as well as reproductions of surrealist art.  Contributors included Man Ray and Rene Magritte.   (Photo montage by Magritte. Title of image is Je ne vois pas la [femme] cachée dans la forêt”.  Image courtesy of musee-magritte-museum.be)

Wigs & Surrealism: Surrealist headwear wasn’t limited to hats.  Wigs played a major role in the movement.  Elsa Schiaparelli, the surrealist couturiere of the time period, was one of the first to make surrealist wigs.  She commissioned many of these by Antoine.

Antoine, born Antek Cierplikowski, became the first celebrity hairdresser.  He started his career in Paris around 1901, and quickly became a trendsetter for his avant-guard styles.  He was the first to dye women’s hair lilac or blue, and also introduced hairstyles that used bold streaks of blond on dark hair.  (Very Surrealist, don’t you agree?)

In 1931, Schiaperelli was photographed by Man Ray in a wig by Antoine.  (Image is courtesy of sfmoma.org)   Schiaperelli loved the wig so much, she had several comissioned.  She wore a blond version for skiing, and a silver for vacationing.

You may see the parallel in Jean Paul Gaultier’s Fall 2006 collection.  The hats were made of hair. ( Image courtesy of coolspotters.com)

A Head of Roses:  A prominent motif in Dali’s paintings were figures with heads of roses. Such works include:
Necrophiliac Springtime
 Woman with a Head of Roses
Dali’s cover for Vogue in December 1938.

These images inspired a series of Bonwit Teller displays and publicity photos of a phantome woman with a head of roses hat.  This hat completely obscured the face, in accordance with Dali’s paintings. (Image: A scan image from the book Happy Times. Image by Jerome Zerbe.  Photo Courtesy of wandernvisuals.com)

Dali also collaborated with Sheila Legge to promote the International Surrealist Exhibition in London of 1936.  Legge, a fellow surrealist artist, appeared as The Phantom of Sex Appeal.   Legge is dressed in a white satin dress, wearing a hat with roses and ladybirds.  (photo  courtesy of manchesterconfidential.co.uk)

Surely Phillip Traecy’s Butterfly hat for Alexander McQueen’s FW2006 bears a striking similarity to the version worn by Legge.  (Photo courtesy of wicked-halo.com)

Clearly, hats can fit the category of “art to wear”. And what better way to pay homage to an artist than to wear something in his or her honor? I was left wondering if this idea was what inspired Philip Tracey to create this hat , which resembles Dali’s mustache.

photo by Philippe Halsman

That really made me want to be there!  My thanks to Monica for sharing this with us.

And ironically, I got a notice from Jillian at the Bard Graduate Center.  They will be having a fantastic book sale:

On December 8th through the 11th, and the 15th through the 18th, we will be featuring a 70% discount on many of our current and extensive backlist of BGC Gallery Publications, including:  Knoll Textiles,  Shaker Design,  Marimekko: Fabrics,  Fashion,  Architecture,  and The Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory.   This sale is a great compliment to our two current exhibits, Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones and American Christmas Cards, 1900-1960, now showing at our gallery. We are also selling copies of the accompanying book to American Christmas Cards, which has just been featured on Amazon’s Top Ten Hot New Releases in Graphic Design.

Information about visiting the Gallery can be found at    Bard Graduate Center:  Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture  18 West 86th Street, New York, NY 10024


Filed under Museums

Monica D. Murgia – A Guest Perspective on Vintage Shopping

Variety is the spice of life, is it not, so today I’m mixing things up with a guest post from Monica Murgia.  Monica is one of those happy internet finds, another kindred spirit with which to chat on twitter and to admire her own lovely blog, Monica D. Murgia. As she posted there:

“As a fashion lover and professor of fashion history, it’s no surprise that I have a passion for vintage.  It’s a logical progression that since my working hours are dedicated  to looking at art, fashion, and interiors from past eras that my enthusiasm for history often spills over into my free time.  I’m an avid eBay shopper.  American Pickers is my favorite show.  Digging through flea markets and thrift stores is my idea of a modern-day treasure hunt. ”

So a big thanks to a fellow treasure hunter and vintage fashion fan, Monica:

My real love of vintage began long before I even knew what vintage was.  Both my mother and grandmother were avid vintage shoppers.  They took me to countless auctions, rummage sales, estate sales, and thrift stores.  Some of this was because they had seen harsher economic times when they were children.  When forced to be thrifty, they were really surprised to see that there was an almost limitless supply of garments and accessories that had either never been used or worn a handful of times.

As a child, I was absolutely bored out of my mind as my mom would comb through racks of garments in search of that one, pristine piece.  So, like any antsy child who’s mother is occupied, I’d wander around and amuse myself close by.  These semi-supervised vintage extravaganzas served as my initiation to become a fashion connoisseur.

Picture of me as a child in front of mirror, trying on a jumper

As my indifference grew to interest, I learned from the expert: my mom.  She trained me how to identify good quality fabrics, interesting silhouettes, and unique accessories.  Of course the journey was filled with trials and errors. Not everything I purchased was good.  But as time progressed, finding vintage that worked for me became easier.

Picture of my mom holding me.  She looks like the 1980s poster girl! 

The Vintage Traveler is focused on all of Lizzie’s amazing finds, which I love!  So I was delighted to share a few of mine, along with my strategies for vintage shopping:

1) Enter with an open mind.  This is a general rule of thumb for any shopping trip.  It seems that whenever you are looking for something specific, you can’t find it.  You box yourself in by looking for one idea, and loose the ability to find alternatives.  Going to an estate sale, vintage boutique, or thrift store is unpredictable.  There is simply no way of knowing what is there.  It can be hit or miss.  So the more flexible you are with your approach, the happier (and more successful) you will be.

2) If you like it, pick it up. Go through the store or sale, and gather everything that catches your eye.  It’s much easier to edit your treasures down once they are in the same place.  But if you don’t snatch it off the rack or shelf immediately, chances are it won’t be there when you’ve made up your mind.

3) Evaluate the quality of the item.   Always look for stains, holes, tears, missing buttons, and odors.  Tears and holes can be fixed, but you need to think about how much it will cost to repair the item.  Also check to see if zippers function.  Other things to evaluate are fabric content and fit.  Is the fabric a good quality? Is the fit flattering?  How does the color look on you?  I found an jacket in a gorgeous shade of yellow that just spoke to me.  The buttons were intact, but there were a few small holes along the seam.  I was able to hand-stitch the areas back together easily.  It was fully lined, and made in America from English wool.  Which leads me to my next tip . . .

4) Read labels.  Check the garment to look for distinguishing labels.  Some garments might be homemade, which is always a nice find.  Finding an old Made in America union label is also a treat.   But once in a while, you’ll come across something you’ve never heard of.  This happened to me several weeks ago.  I found a stunning dress, and the label said Futurama Modes.  It was a ready-to-wear line made in Paris, but I still haven’t uncovered anything about the brand.  Now I have a great dress and a research project.  What fun!

5) Ask around.  Once you start shopping vintage, you’ll surely get hooked.  Start asking around about good boutiques, expos, and stores.  A little internet research goes a long way.  That’s how I found Cheeky Vintage in Houston.  And I found two lovely dresses there.  One is blue with a tiki and floral print and has a matching bolero.  The other is white with pink roses.  Every time I wear it, I feel like Charlotte York from Sex in the City.  If you are traveling, read up on the area and plan vintage shopping into your itinerary. Or consult The Vintage Traveler for some good recommendations!


Filed under Collecting, Shopping

Women’s Golf Apparel Guest Article

I’ve said this before, but maybe now is the right time for repetition.  I do not play golf.  My husband adores the game, but I’ve just never warmed to it.

I do, however love vintage golf clothing, especially those great golf frocks from the 1920s and early 30s. Golf wasn’t like tennis where you had to have a special dress.  It was very similar to street wear, with some modifications thrown in to help the golfer swing her arms.

About two months ago I was asked by Kristen at Women’s Golf Apparel to write an article on the history of women’s golf wear.  I love assignments like that one, as it made me take the time and do some close evaluating of vintage books and magazines and the images of women golfers in them.  See, I said it was a great gig!

Anyway, you can check out the finished product and read the very nice things Kirsten wrote about me!

Illustration is a Martha West ad, 1937


Posted by Sam Varney:

hello, this is my first visit to your blog, which absolutely fascinating!! Do you know what Burberry did to the sleeve design of the Free-Stroke coat to achieve the better movement. Many Thanks Sam 

Thursday, July 8th 2010 @ 6:23 AM

Posted by Lizzie:

Sam, thanks so much for the kind words. I’m glad you are enjoting The vintage Traveler. 

To answer your question, no I do not know exactly what Burberry did to the sleeve design, but this passage from Elizabeth Ewing’s History of 20th century Fashion give some insight:

“The pivot sleeve, unlike any other design of the time, permitted ‘perfect arm swing, upward, backward and foreward movements being equally well provided for.'”

My guess is that the sleeves were not completely attached to the bodice of the jacket, which would have been like semi-loose sleeves under a vest. I’m just guessing, though.

Thursday, July 8th 2010 @ 11:38 AM

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Filed under Sportswear, Summer Sports, Vintage Clothing