The Mob Museum

Patrick and I are finally home from our road trip to Idaho! Why Idaho? Well, my grandfather on my mom’s side passed away, so we went for his services, but I figured if we had to go, why not make the best of it, and do a road trip?

The first stop on our trip was Las Vegas (not counting the abandoned waterpark in my last post), and we crammed a lot into our two night stay, so I have lots to share with you! And we will start with the Mob Museum.

Very fittingly located in an old Las Vegas courthouse, the Mob Museum was on my list last time I was in Vegas, but didn’t get around to it. The museum offers a chronology of the history of the mob in the United States, as well as the history of law enforcement’s way of combatting the mob, but with a strong focus on Las Vegas, and a nice general history of Vegas.

At the very end of the museum was a small room showcasing vintage fashion from the late 1910s through the early 1930s, with some absolutely stunning pieces! So if you’re more in this for the fashion, just scroll to the end!

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Dressing Downton

Earlier in the week, myself, Patrick, and a friend went to Anaheim’s Muzeo as they were hosting the touring exhibit, Dressing Downton, which features the costumes of British show Downton Abbey. As a fan of the show and vintage fashion, I leaped at the opportunity to visit! If you’re unfamiliar with the show, it chronicles the life and times of the fictional Crowley family, and their estate, Downton Abbey in the Yorkshire countryside, along with those who they employ, from 1912 through I believe 1923, so a great deal changes both in lifestyle and fashion.

For the visit, I went with a simple adventurer chic look with Egyptian revival jewelry, as seriously I don’t do the Edwardian period or the 20s really. My 20s garments consist of more gowns, nothing for a casual afternoon at a museum. So, this is about as close as I get sometimes.

Continue reading for images from the exhibit.

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Mid-November

It’s still hard for me to believe it’s mid-November, and that Thanksgiving next week. And with that comes thoughts of Christmas, so over the weekend Patrick and I went out to do a bit of shopping at the antique malls near us. I can honestly tell you I’m clinging to fall color palettes like crazy. I have so many ensembles that aren’t getting worn, let alone photographed for the blog! But, luckily we snagged the camera before stepping out the door so I can share this one with you!

Also over the weekend Patrick and I went to Universal Studios, so don’t be surprised if you spy a post about that soon!

Outfit
Blouse: Thrifted
Gauchos: West of Texas, Redlands, California
Shoes: Miss L Fire
Earrings: Antique Alley, Portland, Oregon
Anubis kartush pendent, and bracelet: From by dad
Scarab pendent: Expo, I think… I’ve seriously had it since I was like 12 or so.
Scarab ring: Antique Mall of Treasures, Orange, California
Scarf: The Clothes Horse, Eugene, Oregon
Purse: The Original Tiki Marketplace

The Hollyhock House

Today Patrick and I visited another incredibly icon of Los Angeles architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House.

Originally designed as a residence for oil heiress Aline Barnsdall, the Hollyhock House house began construction in 1919, and was completed in 1921, and was Wright’s second ever project in California. It included a water feature that ran through the house, around the fireplace, and the rooftop was designed as a patio living space, with staircases going up outside, but each of these unique and innovated features played into the house never being used as a residence. Soon after completion, Barnsdall viewed the house as too costly to maintain and donated the house to the city of Los Angeles in 1927, however only if it was given a fifteen year lease to the California Art Club.

Over the years it has been used as an art gallery, and in 2007 became a National History Landmark. Recently went under a massive restoration, and was reopened to the public just this year. And I know what you’re thinking, the house has a temple like quality about it, right? It may be fun to know that the house was as a temple in the 1989 B-movie Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death. You can watch the trailer and see shots of the Hollyhock House here.

Sadly, but understandably, they do not allow photographs inside, which is spectacular. The Hollyhock House is open Thursdays through Sundays, 11 am to 3 pm, and costs only $7 per person for a self-guided tour, though there are volunteers inside to provide you with more information. You can also learn more by visiting their website.

Outfit
Blouse: Thrifted
Pants (yes, they are pants!), Shoes & Bangles: Buffalo Exchange
Hat: Slone Vintage, Burbank, California
Necklace: Rummage sale, Portland, Oregon
Ring: Found by my dad
Purse: Actually a folio from Tanner Leather Goods, Portland, Oregon

The Old LA Zoo

As already established. I’m a lover of abandoned buildings. I love the spookiness that is created when nature begins to reclaim man-made structures, and it is this that sparked my interest in visiting the old Los Angeles Zoo at Griffith Park, which we went to after our turn about the Merry-Go-Round.

The zoo opened in 1912, but most of the structures that are visible today were built in the 1930s by County Relief workers and Works Progress Administration crews (gotta love the ol’ WPA!). In 1965 the zoo moved to its current location, which is still within Griffith Park, just two miles from its original location. When the zoo moved all habitats and cages were left behind, vacant. Over the years portions of the area have been overrun by taggers, but the main, larger structures have remained free of being defaced (or frequently get cleaned), and the place used as a filming location for movies and television shows from time to time. Today, these structures also play a historical role in understanding the development of zoology.

This place is pretty amazing, and extremely interesting and I look forward to visiting again, perhaps when we return to another area of Griffith Park as there is so much to see and do there.

Outfit
Blouse: Jet Rag, Los Angeles, California
Pink Jeans: Old Glory Antique Mall, Vancouver, Washington
Mocassins: Minnetonka
Purse: Found by my dad
Scarf: ???
Bangles: Here and there
Robin Hood Pin: Disneyland

Pinspired

While perusing Pinterest one day I came upon this photograph of Russian model Natalia Vodianova…

It was one of the first pins I pinned to my “Adventurer Style” board (a small, but incredibly inspiring board for me), and planted the seed that I needed to get my hands on a chiffon or gauze draped pith helmet. Not long after pinning this photo, I recalled the marvelous costumes of Nicole Kidman in Australia.

While all of Kidman’s costumes in Baz Luhrmann’s film were amazing, this one also highlighted the need for me to own a chiffon draped pith helmet, and this too was added to my board. Then last month I came across this image…

Not only did it feature yet another pith helmet (or at least a hat with similar pith helmet lines) dripping with fabric, the look of the woman was exactly the direction I wanted to go with portions of my wardrobe! I thought “My god! Who is this woman?” Thankfully the pinner offered the caption of “Adele Blanc-Sec” and from that I came upon the IMDb page for the French film The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec and a quick check at Netflix meant that the evening was spent watching what proved to be not only a beautiful film to watch, but a hilarious one at that. And further cemented the notion of my need for a pith helmet with chiffon.

Not long after watching Miss Blanc-Sec tromp through Egypt, talk with mummies and ride a pterodactyl (yes, you read right, ride a pterodactyl) I scored a pith helmet in the style I wanted, sans chiffon, at Antique Alley! And a quick trip to Fabric Depot remedied the lack of chiffon.

I am fully prepared to live in this outfit for summer. The gauzy top is pure heaven, and the linen skirt I made for a 20s themed party awhile back is so breathable, and worth the pain of the fact it wrinkles when you look at it wrong. I’ve been spending a lot more time when at thrift stores and Buffalo Exchange in looking through blouses and skirts. It takes more patience to look at items and think “Does this work for a certain look” instead of focusing on the age of the item, and I think it’s opening a lot more doors for me to think creatively with my wardrobe.

How about you? Have you ever been inspired to seek out specific pieces that you’ve seen on Pinterest?

Outfit
Pith Helmet: Antique Alley, Portland, Oregon
Blouse, Belt, Bangles & Necklace: Buffalo Exchange, Portland, Oregon
Skirt: Made by me, McCall 7153
Tights: Nordstorm Rack
Shoes: Red Light, Portland, Oregon
Purse: Don’t remember
Ring: From my dad

Victorian Secrets

A few weeks ago an article had been floating about the interwebs.  It was an article about a woman who wears Victorian garb as many of us vintage gals rock the 40s and 50s.  I was so intrigued, having an interest in the Victorian era in addition to the mid-20th century.  The woman, Sarah Chrisman, mentioned how wearing her corset every day for a year reduced her by waist ten inches, improved her posture and reduced her migraines.  As a migraine suffer myself I was enthralled by the notion of a corset curing migraines, yes, more so than the trimming of the waist! I was even more excited when I read that she had recently written a book about her transformation as a daily corset wearer, and promptly purchased it!

Chrisman’s book, Victorian Secrets: What a Corset Taught Me about the Past, the Present, and Myself, is an insightful look into how today’s society looks upon the corset, and those who dress differently.  Always interested in the Victorian era, Chrisman had collected clothing of the period, and when her 29th birthday arrived, her husband, Gabriel, gave her a corset.  Initially she wasn’t happy with the gift, but as she looked at her corseted figure in the mirror, she was enthralled, quickly wanting to wear her corset as much as possible.  Wearing the garment lead Chrisman to do research about corsets, and quickly learned that much of what she had heard about the corset were pure myth, and as she began to get a smaller waist, her wardrobe slowly transformed to become more in line with what women of the Victorian era wore.

As Chrisman’s waist shrank, she began to receive a wide range of comments, from gushingly positive to horrifically negative and some that she just didn’t know how to take! Many people were intrigued by her deep interest in the period that would take her to the lengths to wearing a corset 24/7, but others, mostly women she noted, were appalled, calling the corset a symbol of oppression.  As Chrisman and her husband got deeper into their manner of dress, they began to be invited to events as participants, and were then able to educate, and dispel stereotypes of the Victorian era as depicted in films and crush flat out lies, such as broken bones (which refer not to human bones, but the bones of a corset, originally referring to the fact that the stays were originally made of whale bone).

I enjoyed Chrisman’s comparison of dressing in period clothing to that of being from a different country. She quotes a book which states that “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” How true that is! But unlike foreign countries, which have ambassadors and such, Chrisman notes that “[h]istory has no emissaries.” And I would like to think that historians, and those who choose to dress in a manner from the past can be those emissaries, to become a “[h]istorial ambassador”, and Chrisman and her husband do just that.

Dressing out the norm on a regular basis has its own daily struggles, but sometimes there are special circumstances that can make it even more difficult, and in that case some, like myself, make concessions.  One example is air travel (for more on traveling for the vintage loving gal, read this post).  When the holidays approached, Chrisman had been corseting herself every day since her birthday, and had altered her clothing so much that there were “few clothes left that would fit me without my corset”, and chose to go through with their holiday flights to the east coast in her corset.  The flight to the east coast was met without too much issue, and the TSA apologized for the inconvenience, but between their arrival and their departure, Newark, the same airport they were to fly out of, had a bomb scare (Chrisman’s book, while contemporary, much, including this visit takes place in 2009, post-9/11, but pre-common use of body scanners).  When flying back to their home state of Washington, Chrisman’s corset set off the metal detector and was subjected to a strip search, and feared a body cavity search, but was spared that.  After this case, Chrisman makes no mention of deciding upon different arrangements for future travel, or to select a specific travel wardrobe that does not require her corset.

While Chrisman enjoys the Victorian era, and I myself the mid-20th century, I still found her book extremely easy to relate to.  Dressing out of the past’s closet, regardless of era, is often met with odd comments, many of which I face on a daily basis.  People wonder what you’re doing “all dressed up” or if you’re “in a play”.  Chrisman’s corset and the comments surrounding it were similar to how some react when the topic of girdles is brought up.  Some are quick to bad mouth them while I stand there in one! Then those who lived through the days of seamed stockings inquire why on earth I wear them.  Tired of checking for straight seems, and attaching the garters, they rejoiced when seamless stockings, followed by pantyhose became the norm.  Chrisman also recounts moments of “a special kind of self-torture” when looking at garments on-line that are out of budget, something I’m certainly guilty of!

Victorian Secrets isn’t without issues though.  Chrisman isn’t afraid to describe people physically that she comes in contact with in an negative light, describing a man with “triple chins”, a woman as “dumpy” and as a “crone”.  She also assumes someone’s education based upon their manner of speech, and declared that the person should be “weeded from the gene pool”.  There were other moments I had issue with as well, such as a moment when a hostess’ hair whips through a cake’s frosting, and instead of informing her hostess of the issue, Chrisman instead makes a “mental note” not to eat any of that cake.  While such descriptions of people may add to a fictional story, it comes across as unnecessary and cruel in a memoir which is to focus upon wearing a corset on a daily basis.

Overall, I found Victorian Secrets book a very quick and easy ready, finishing it in just five days (possibly a new record for me!), and could be easily completed in one sitting.  Her style of writing is similar to that of a blog in many respects, but I will admit I did bump into two words I was utterly unfamiliar with and had to look up!  The book is accompanied with images from various catalogs of the turn-of-the-century, Gibson drawings, and photographs of the author herself.  Ultimately I found Chrisman’s mini-memoir to be inspiring, and encouraging.  She has armed herself with numerous sources as she steps outside her front door to quickly thwart those who know only the stereotypes of the period, and has become a Historical Ambassador! I find myself now more eager to speak up for myself when one talks about the annoyances of girdles and/or stockings and other matters of “oppression” with regards to dress.

You can purchase Victorian Secrets on Amazon.

Speaking of corsets and girdles, now is a good time to mention tomorrow is the last day to enter the What Katie Did book giveaway if you haven’t already! It closes tomorrow night and the winner will be announced on Thursday!