Riding the Stage

When I wrote about Laurence and Sylvian visiting I mentioned buying a skirt that was similar to the one I wore when out with them, well recently arrived! And I couldn’t wait to wear it!

Whereas my previous skirt featured wagons headed west, this one has stagecoaches. Not only is this another wonderful addition to my western skirt collection, but it also evokes imagery of the of Knott’s Berry Farm and the early days of Disneyland. Knott’s still has a stagecoach you can ride, while the one at Disneyland is long gone (you can view lots of vintage photographs of the attraction, as well as many others, on Daveland).

One thing I really love about the vintage community is how we kind of shop for each other. It’s not uncommon for us to tag one another on Instagram when we see something someone might be interested in, or to text a friend when we are out shopping and see something that seems like it should be in their wardrobe. This skirt is a prime example of that wonderful camaraderie that exists in our community. I might not have come across this skirt if Joanna of Diving Moments hadn’t have spotted it and sent me the link! So thank you very much, Joanna!

Jacket: Red Light, I think…
Blouse: Thrifted
Skirt: Mystique Vintage
Shoes: Miss L Fire
Horse Hair Clip: Antique Alley, Portland, Oregon
Purse: Thrifted by my dad!
Cowboy Boot Earrings: Gift
Cowboy Hat & Boots Brooch: Expo
Root Beer Bakelite Bangle: Retro Rejuvenation, Coburg, Oregon

Go for Launch

Last night Patrick and I got a pleasant mid-week treat, one of our favorite bands, The Phenomenauts, who I’ve blogged about before, rolled into town for an evening of space themed rockabilly. I never get tired of seeing these guys. They always put on a great show, complete with lasers, fire extinguishers and a toilet paper gun…blower…thing…Oh just scroll, you’ll see it.

I seriously can’t recommend them enough if you dig rock n roll. They’re still touring, currently with The Creepshow, who also put on a fantastic show. Check their Facebook pages for tour dates!

While last time I saw The Phenomenauts I wore my own take on their uniform, I opted for a more casual rockabilly look, mainly because that uniform was also uncomfortable. It’s time for a re-do soon. But here’s a quick snap after the show and rockin’ out.

Hope your week is treating you well!

Phenomoeauts Jacket: Phenomenauts concert, circa 2009
Brian Setzer Rockabilly Riot Tee: Brian Setzer concert, circa 2011
Switchblade Stiletto Skirt: Naked City, Portland, Oregon
Hair Tie (which has little neon green bats on it!): Tini’s Ties
Belt: Nordstorm
Boots: Buffalo Exchange, Portland, Oregon

A Visitor from France

Last week I had the absolute delight of meeting up with French vintage blogger Laurence and her husband, Sylvain, of Lost in the 50s, as they were doing a bit of shopping here in America prior to Viva Las Vegas. If you aren’t familiar with Laurence’s blog, you must visit it! As she and her husband are the best dressed couple in the blogesphere! Their period perfect 1950s styling is stunning and the couple are beyond adorable.

As we do not have a car here in Portland, Laurence and Sylvian were kind enough to pick me up in their rental car I was delighted when Laurence handed me French candies and a Jessica Rabbit pin from Disneyland Paris! How sweet is she!? We spent the entire day visiting many of Portland’s fine vintage clothing stores, trying on goodies left and right, chatting with the shop owners and teetering our way back to the car with bags full of treasures. Over the course of the day we visited nearly every vintage clothing shop I recommend those visiting the Rose City before ending the day at The Driftwood Room for dinner and cocktails.

I must admit, with each and every visitor I have the pleasure of shopping with, I fail miserably at taking photos! So while I had my camera on me, I didn’t take any photos of consequence. I chalk it up to having too much fun looking around and chatting with Laurence and Sylvain. So today you’ll have to settle for just my outfit.

I bought a few things myself, including a spectacular Zuni made turquoise, onyx and mother of pearl inlay ring of a thunderbird that is off to the jewelers to be resized and I can’t wait to get back! I have fallen head over heels in love with turquoise and can’t get enough of it! Speaking of things I can’t get enough of, I just got another skirt, similar to the one I’m wearing here, from Etsy seller Mystique Vintage. I can thank the ever elegant Joanna of Dividing Moments for spotting it and sending me the link! It just arrived today and I am currently in the process of letting the hem down, as the hem on it was a little on the short side for me. I predict it won’t be too long before it finds its way on the blog!

Blazer: Don’t remember!
Sweater (borrowed from a sweater set): Buffalo Exchange, Portland, Oregon
Skirt & Bangles: Retro Rejuvenation, Coburg, Oregon
Covered Wagon Pin: Plucky Maidens Junk Fest
Bakelite Ring: Hattie’s, Portland, Oregon
Stockings: Coffee by What Katie Did
Shoes: Payless, like six years ago!
Corde Purse: Red Light, Portland, Oregon


Preface: Please note that I am fully aware that I have readers from all over the globe and the topic of the garment trade is a global issue, however, in this review I will be discussing the damage that has been done to the United States’ textile industry. I may use the term “your”, “ours”, “us”, “we”, etc. referring to the United States and its citizens.

I like to consider myself a good shopper. I’m not just talking about deals here. I’m also talking about how I shop and where the items I’m buying come from. In high school I took Financial Math, a course that discussed real-life applications of math, including taxes and credit cards, and we watched the documentary Walmart: The High Cost of Low Prices (which you can watch in its entirety on YouTube) and I swore off Walmart then and there. Then in college I took a sociology course where we watched a documentary about the garment industry (the title of which escapes me right now) and I was horrified. Sure, I had heard about sweatshop conditions, especially when Oregon’s own Nike was put on the hot seat in the 90s. But I wasn’t totally aware of the awful conditions garment workers were in. After seeing the documentary I became frantic about checking my clothing labels. Thankfully this information wave hit during a time when I was already beginning to shift my wardrobe to being all vintage and second-hand, so the transition to stop buying new wasn’t very difficult. All of this said, I didn’t really feel a need to read Elizabeth L. Cline’s Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion when it was published in 2012, but when an article came up on Facebook last week discussing what happens some of the clothing we donate (hint: it doesn’t all go out on the floor!) I felt compelled to learn more about the garment industry and of course it is always good to arm yourself with statistics when the topic of fast fashion comes up.

When I began Overdressed, I wasn’t five pages in before I knew it was a book I felt every person should read. Cline’s writing is so easy to read, and conversational and full of interview quotes from lawyers to designers to garment factory workers. She discusses how she came about to write this book, informing us of her own closet dilemma and the issues of quality. My mouth dropped when I read the following statistic: “The United States now makes 2 percent of the clothing its consumers purchase, down from about 50 percent in 1990.” Um. What!? In an era where the US is so concerned about the economy, and where their food comes from, I am constantly shocked at how few people care about where their clothing comes from, and ya know what, a terrifying 41 percent of our clothing comes from China. And it’s visible, and when sifting through clothing at places like Buffalo Exchange or Goodwill I see “Made in China” the most often and it is heartbreaking.  In 1996 there were 624,000 people employed in the textile industry in America, today (or as of 2012) that number has plummeted to 120,000. To make matters worse, in 2010 America imported $364 billion worth of products from China, and costing the United States about 2.8 million jobs. Think about that. I firmly believe we vote with our dollar, and right now, China owns us and it is damaging to our economy and our livelihoods.

In the early part of the 20th century, Americans became appalled by factory conditions, especially when the 1911 Triangle Fire thrust it into the spotlight, but today, as our textile industry has shifted overseas, labor conditions for our clothing is something many just don’t think about, and to make matters worse, as Cline explains, the companies that many buy from don’t seem to care either, and state they have no legal responsibility over the conditions of the factories that make their goods. Today all consumers seem to think about is how cheaply can they get the latest fashions. And, as noted in the paperback’s afterward, since the initial publication of Overdressed, Bangladesh has seen several devastating events occur, including the fire in April of 2013 that killed over 1,100 workers.

While sweatshops are discussed in detailed, Cline’s book isn’t an expose on the sweatshops that blanket Asia, but is in fact a book about the garment industry and fashion as a whole. There is discussion of the environmental impact of textile production, especially that of synthetic fibers, legal issues regarding fast-fashion companies ripping off designs and the history of the garment industry in America. Cline interviewed countless people for the book and their insight helps bring Cline’s statistics to life as it showcases the impact fast-fashion has all over the world.  But it is not just those who are active in the fashion industry whose quotes are scattered throughout Overdressed. Cline also interviews shoppers, especially those of fast-fashion. I was disgusted when a shopper expressed that an H&M blazer was “good quality” and later admitted “I like really trendy stuff that’s in this spring, and next spring will probably be out…That’s why I won’t invest a lot of money in one thing.” A friend of this shopper confirmed the same mentality, “I don’t want to pay so much to buy one shirt because the style is going to change.” Fashion changes so rapidly that shoppers no longer view fashion and clothing as an investment, something they will wear for years, but rather as a brief encounter for a few months.

An interesting topic Cline discusses is one that never really crossed my mind much, and that is what happens to our donated clothing once it’s been dropped off on the doorsteps of thrift stores. I had always assumed it went out on the floor, unless it was too damaged it went into the trash. But there is in fact a huge industry around these cast-offs. Garments that are not good enough to be put out on the floor go to textile recycling centers, such as Trans-Americas Trading Co., who then “grade” the clothing and sort them into items that can still be used as clothing, or so terrible that it is then sold off to fiber buyers who break down the clothing so it can be used in various products, including carpet padding and insulation, while another portion goes to the rag industry.  One life of used clothing that I did not know about was the market in sub-Saharan Africa, in which bales of clothing are taken there and resold.

One of the running themes in Overdressed is that of quality. As quality continues to decrease, as does the average person’s knowledge of what to do with damaged clothing. And that is one of the brutal environmental issues. People now treat clothing as disposable, mainly because the quality of the clothing in most stores today is so poor and the trends so fast that repairing something seems so silly. Why learn how to sew so you can fix something, which will take time and effort, when you can go to the store and buy another and maybe find something else as well? The lack of sewing in general is another topic Cline talks about a great deal, and shares her first sewing experiences and how happy owning her own sewing machine has made her, and that she is now able to make her off-the-rack clothes fit better and make her own things from scratch.

Much comparison is made between the current views toward the food industry (shopping locally, trade-free, organically, etc.) and the fashion industry. Many people care about where their food came from, and check food labels, but don’t give a second glance to their clothing labels, and Cline offers glimmers of hope that a fashion revolution is on the horizon. She also offers advice on how to move away from fast fashion, and it’s simple, it’s something many of us (and with this I mean us vintage girls!) are already doing – develop your own style. Work on what looks good on you, what you really like, and buy well made pieces and care for your garments well.

I can’t recommend Overdressed enough! If you wear clothes you need to read it! You can buy Overdressed, including Kindle editions, on Amazon. To learn more about Elizabeth Cline and view a shopping guide of places she recommends visit her website.


Walk Like an Egyptian

First, I really want to thank all of you who commented with such kind words of support regarding my last post. Your comments always mean a great deal to me. Today’s post kind of highlights one of the directions I really want to go with my wardrobe more; adventurer style.

As stated before, I’ve always had a love affair with ancient Egypt, and Egyptian Revival jewelry is a weak point for me when out antiquing, but it is often pricey.  Right now my collection of Egyptian Revival is small, and consists of a mix of 1920s and 60s pieces (as there was another Egyptian Revival after the release of the Elizabeth Taylor film Cleopatra), but the plan is for that to change. By choosing to part with some of my more average pieces of clothing I hope to take funds from those and put them towards Egyptian Revival, in addition to Western/Mexican and unique, super atomic 50s garments.

I wore this the other day when I visited with Sarah at Simply Vintage to do some trade for the stunning black lurex Estevez I mentioned in the last post (I’m not sure when I’ll take that beauty for a spin, but when I do, you’ll see it!).  This outfit is an odd, but fun mix that I really enjoyed putting together.  The outfit actually started with the open knit tights I found at the Nordstorm Rack (as I have learned that place is good to score Minnetonkas cheap!) as the pattern reminded me of the reed imagery you see in some ancient Egyptian works of art.  The rest just fell together.  The blouse is from the 1960s, while the skit is made from a 1940s pattern, and the jacket is actually from the 70s! But it just came together to create a unique look at evokes the Egyptian Revival of the 1920s and 30s without being 100 percent period perfect.

Jacket: The Clothes Horse, Eugene, Oregon
Blouse: Retro Rejuvenation, Coburg, Oregon
Skirt: Made by me, McCall 7153
Belt: Buckle from Brownsville Antique Fair, Brownsville, Oregon, belt replaced using ribbon from Fabric Depot
Tights: Nordstorm Rack
Shoes: Miz Mooz, Johnny Sole, Portland, Oregon
Earrings: AlexSandra’s Vintage Emporium, Portland, Oregon
Bangles: Buffalo Exchange
Ring: “Stole” from my dad
Purse: Don’t remember…

Wardrobe Woes

Talk about a lack of blogging lately. But it’s for good reason, well, several reasons actually.  First off, the weather. It has been raining nearly every day since we got back from California, including all of last week, which was a busy one too, including two send-offs to some very good friends who are off on adventures.  I really don’t like photographing inside, as we must rely on natural light for decent lighting, and our place is small, offering few decent areas to shoot.  Meanwhile I’m facing some wardrobe woes.  First our closet is packed. And I mean packed. Before today, I had just under two inches of wiggle room in which to shift my clothing in our main closet when I want to get dressed.  My “good vintage” closet, the one which houses my fancier duds, is brutally packed, as is our coat closet and I’m just becoming frustrated.  Secondly, there is certainly a shift in what I’m wearing. More often than not, I am pulling out my western and Mexican inspired pieces before contemplating another look when I get dressed each day.  These pieces make me happy.  And I think clothing should make you happy.  So, over the last few days I have pulled out every single piece of clothing I own, as well as hats and purses and sifting through them, selecting items to get rid of.

Unlike many vintage loving girls, who will put up a standing rack or decorate their walls with their hats and purses, I want all of my clothing in a closet.  Now, if I had a dedicated dressing room, that would be a different thing, but when it’s a bedroom, it all has to go in the closet.  Our apartment is small, and we like books and art, and these things take up room, and I’ll be honest, I like my books and art and prefer them, as they make for a more beautiful setting in which to live.  All of this plays into how much clothing I can have.

My large amount of clothing means I rotate my wardrobe for spring/summer and the fall/winter, shoving out-of-season items in tubs under the bed and in our suitcases, though items must be removed and placed into neat piles when we do go on a trip.  The seasonal change over is a grueling process, as Oregon is known of have erratic weather during spring, and often I will do a partial change out.

Today I completed going through all of my clothing and have hauled bags to Buffalo Exchange, created piles of items to go into my space at Antique Alley, and filled bags to be taken to some of the nicer vintage shops around town. While our coat closet is still rather full, my purses are much better organized (coats and purses share the same closet), my “good vintage” closet is slightly less full, and our regular closet is significantly less full with hats much more organized, and many of the dresser drawers are better off.

Over the last few years I have enjoyed creating period perfect ensembles, but that has really begun to take a toll on me. Not only am I feeling some of the things Solanah of Vixen Vintage was feeling not so long ago, with creepers and their creepy comments (I walk and take transit everywhere so, trust me, I get a lot of creepers talking to me) but I am beginning to dislike the stress and slight lack of creativity that recreating period accurate outfits comes with. Furthermore, the blogesphere and Instagram are full of vintage girls, as is Portland, and it has begun to feel like a competition for who can have the best novelty print, who can have the best tilt topper, etc. and it makes me depressed.  Right now I feel a need to focus on myself and my personal style, what makes me happy and learn to live with what I have, what I want for myself and my style, and not let what others have alter my feelings.

All of this, combined with reading Overdressed (review to come soon!) has lead me to really decide to seek out a unique wardrobe that is filled with quality pieces. I stopped shopping at fast fashion stores in college, opting for second-hand and vintage shops instead, but even then items that had issues have worked their way into my closet.  Vintage comes with its own set of problems, including a constant repairs pile, and I’m getting better at inspecting items before taking them up to the register.  I also need to look at clothing in the long term.  Some of the items I was getting rid of I’ve had for a year or less, and for me that is too quick of a turnaround.  So from now on I really need to aim at buying pieces that I think will last me at least two years.  Western themed clothing has certainly stood the test of item for me, as I have western wear that I’ve had for seven years!  But I also want to seek out the truly unique and higher end vintage items that will be nothing short of amazing.

I’m looking forward to exchanging all of the items I no longer wish to own for items that are really me, and I’ve already done that a bit. I traded several items already at Simply Vintage and took home a 50s two-piece cowgirl set as well as a stunning, Viva worthy, black lurex dress by Estevez.  These are the types of items I want to fill my closet.  I hope I made it clear that I am not saying goodbye to vintage. Not one bit. I can’t imagine buying new all the time!  In fact, buying new is kind of difficult for me.  I just felt a need to share with you where I’m coming from lately. Why you’re seeing so much western, why you’re bound to see some 70s rocker stuff in the future, and why you’ll see a few items a little more frequently.

Miner 49er

As highlighted in our visit to Sutter’s Mill, my passion for the west continues into the history of the gold rush, and our recent travels through gold rush country influenced my wardrobe choices today as we ran did some much needed grocery shopping and errand running

I found this mining themed skirt featuring shovels, picks, pans, sieves, gold dust and pouches when searching “vintage novelty print” on Etsy, one of the most dangerous things one can do.  Some of my favorite road trip memories, including this last road trip, are driving through some of California’s gold rush towns.  Sutter Creek and Senora are just downright adorable, and I adore the tiny town of Mariposa where some of my family lives.  And while it doesn’t take place in California, but rather in the Dakotas, I am a big fan of the show Deadwood, which revolves around the gold rush in the Black Hills.  So I just had to have this little beauty to add to my growing western themed skirt collection.  A few days after the skirt arrived in the post I found myself looking at cowboy brooches on Etsy (another incredibly dangerous thing!) and then happened upon this gold miner! I’d like to think it was all just meant to be. Believe me, I considered wearing this outfit to Sutter’s Mill, but the extremely early start we had that day left me wanting to just wear a t-shirt and jeans. Maybe this outfit will get its day in true gold rush town one day.

Even though the Pendleton’s 49′er has nothing to do with the gold rush (it was named that because it was released in 1949), I couldn’t help paring it with the skirt ensemble, besides, the colors worked perfectly! This 49′er though happens to be a knock-off, for which there were many.  It’s funny, for living in Oregon I actually don’t own a true Pendleton 49′er.

It’s good to be home after such a long trip, and I was glad when the sun decided to show its face and warm up Portland today, allowing for a lightweight jacket such as a 49′er.  It’s really rough coming home to grey clouds and rain after days in the California sunshine.  Meanwhile I’m trying to find homes for some of the purchases we made during our trip, as well try to get back into my normal routine of things, including listing on Etsy.  I hope you all are having a lovely weekend!

Fake ’49er by Western Star: Local rummage sale
Blouse: Living Threads, Portland, Oregon
Skirt: Trove Vintage Boutique
Boots: Buffalo Exchange, Portland, Oregon
Purse: Retro Rejuvenation, Coburg, Oregon
Earrings: Don’t remember…
Miner Brooch: Thrift Pop