A Visit to The Foundation

In making my Dixie Cousins costume, I came to the realization that the undergarment I was planning on wearing was just not working out, and I felt that a true underbust corset would be better suited towards my needs, as well, as, heck, I just wanted one.  So I returned to The Foundation: From Billie to Bettie, where I purchased my first steel boned corset last year.

I really can’t express how much I not only love this store, but how thankful I am that Portland has such a store.  Tami, the owner, is extremely knowledgeable, helpful, and as sweet as could be.  She’s also a kick! Did you get a load of her fab 1964 Chrysler New Yorker parked out front? Her shop is stocked with bullet bras, modern bras, a-lines, girdles, all-in-ones, garter belts, panties, corsets, flouncy crinolines, and of course, stockings.  Her corsets range from the practical to the fantastic, including some stellar steampunk inspired ones.

The Foundation also has a photo studio! You can work with their photographer, who is exceptional! Her work is scattered throughout the shop.  I greatly admired the work she did of Tami especially.  They have a host of goodies for one to play dress up, and find their inner pin-up.  You can also rent the studio space too! Bring in your own camera equipment and rent for as little as three hours or for the whole day! How fabulous is that?

Sadly, Tami didn’t have my size in the style of corset I wanted, but she was able to order it for me! And it will be here shortly! I can’t wait! But I did find a few treasures to tide me over. I purchased a fabulous Rago six-point girdle, and a pair of Birkshire stockings, a brand I haven’t tried before, and I’m really excited to take them for a test drive.  To top things off, both Rago (who has been in the foundation business since for over 65 years) and Berkshire items are made in the US!

I also heard from a little birdie that The Foundation will be having an amazing Small Business Saturday deal!  Spend $50 and get 10% off your order, spend $100 and get 20% off, or $150 and get 25% off! So it’s time to either splurge for yourself, or get something special for your significant other, or even for that best friend of yours!  For more info, please visit The Foundation’s Facebook page.

15 Vintage Essentials

Awhile ago I was contacted by a reader who recently noticed a fashion trend, 15 essentials for your wardrobe.  She liked this idea, but felt that the contemporary trends didn’t help her in building up her vintage wardrobe, so she suggested the idea to me!

Just remember, not every piece has to be vintage! Several pieces I have included in this list are on the hard to find side, so repro is a perfectly acceptable solution!  For the most part, I am focusing on the 1940s, 50s and 60s and attempted to cover a wide range so you can have all of your bases covered.  So here we go!

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Traveling Vintage

When vintage is all you own, traveling can be a bit of a burden in a way. Between getting folds in garments, worrying about damage on the road, not to mention all of the other travel anxieties, it can get a little hectic.

Your Suitcase

I travel using vintage luggage.  This is for a handful of reasons.  First they look awesome.  Secondly, if you are flying and you check your luggage, your suitcase will be much easier to spot when it comes out onto the carousel.  Additionally, hard suitcases prevent any extra pressure put on your clothes (causing more wrinkling) by other people’s bags being placed on top of your suitcases in travel.  And if you’re fearful of bed bugs, you really may want to travel with a vintage suitcase.  Bed bugs may find a new home for themselves (and thus possibly follow you home) in the crevasses of an upholstered suitcase, where as they will not with a hard suitcase.  I currently own a medium sized suitcase (which fits the carry-on size restrictions), a small day suitcase, a round hatbox and a train case.  However, for most trips I only take the medium sized suitcase and the train case.

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The Foundation

Recently my dear friend Angelica introduced me to what has become one of my new favorite shops in town. The Foundation: From Billie to Bettie. It’s a little shop located at 4831 SE Davision here in Portland that sells everything (and more) that I included in my Vintage Must Have Foundations Series (Read more on bullet bras, girdles, seamed stockings, slips, and crinolines).

If you’re a Portland gal who has ever been hesitant to purchase a bullet bra off the internet, then The Foundation is the place to go! Not only does the shop carry the What Katie Did bras, but a selection of new-old stock 1960s bras, all in addition to more modern bras.  When I walked in I felt like a kid in a candy store. Corsets, garters, stockings, girdles, bras, crinolines! Even pasties and tiny burlesque hats!  There is a wide array of shape-wear available, including vintage inspired Rago girdles.  There is also a large selection of stockings, crinolines of varying lengths, and steel boned corsets! Since I’ve been dying to own a steel boned corset since I was a freshman in high school, I went ahead and purchased one, along with a few bras.

And for those of you who have ever wanted to bring out your inner pin-up girl, shop owner, Tami has teamed up with Tammy Kravitz, a photographer who does classic boudoir and pin-up photos in their portrait studio.

Proprietress Tami is a wonderful gal who doesn’t just cater to the specialty market of bullet bras and corsets, but she also sells beautiful contemporary slips, sleepwear sets and panties. So there’s something for the vintage gal as well as the modern woman.  She was also very nice and patient with me when I was trying on my corset. She explained the best way to loosen the laces, how to properly fasten the front, and tighten the back.  The Foundation is open Wednesday through Sunday, twelve to seven.

What this all brings me to is a new series I am starting on bullet bras.  There are a few out there, and most with mixed reviews, so I figured I’d throw in my two-cents on various ones on the market.  So tune into tomorrow for the first in my new Bullet Bra Review Series!

Sizzling Vintage

This past weekend brought one of my favorite events of the year…the summer antique show at the Portland Expo Center.  Hosted by Palmer Wirfs, the summer Expo has over a thousand dealers selling various items ranging from fine furnishings from the turn-of-the-century to vintage clothing to collectable toys.

I attended all three days of the show this go’round, including day one with Rhiannon of Garb-Oh Vintage (and my latest sponsor I might add!) and we bumped into Lulu of Lulu’s Vintage, day two with my dad, and day three with Patrick and my friend Angelina who had never been before.

My pocket book full of cash, I walked up and down the aisles on the hunt.  While many things caught my eye, I ultimately walked home with bags full of vintage clothing (a few pieces for me and a few for the shop) including an amazing two piece sailor style outfit, a few dresses, blouses and even a girdle, bullet bra and multiple pairs of fully-fashioned stockings!  These are all things I’m keeping for myself…you’ll have to peek into The Atomic Hideaway Portland location near the end of the week to see if there’s anything you need!

I also scored some stellar anti-LBJ/war buttons (I believe I will soon need to do an entry regarding this collection of buttons), a celluloid reindeer brooch, and a two foot aluminum Christmas tree (which makes it the 16th one between myself and my dad…I think…)

I also snatched up a fantastic birthday present for a friend, but I’m keeping that under wraps…

There are quite a few more antique shows between now and the next Expo, which is in October, that I’m greatly looking forward to attending.

Stay tuned to my Twitter, Facebook or Etsy to see items when they are listed!

Vintage Must Have: Girdle

In the last segment of my “Vintage Must Have” series I tackled bullet bras. Now let’s go a little further south and discuss girdles.  The girdle was the mid-century answer to the corset. And while it can take a few inches off your waist, I find them more necessary for holding up my stockings and can aid in saving your vintage.

So, how does wearing a girdle help save your vintage?  Many of us modern gals who grew up wearing pants, and thus believe we walk just like we’re wearing pants when in other garments, but that isn’t always the case regarding vintage.  You may find yourself wearing pencil skirts or dresses with slim cut skirts.  If you attempt to walk as if you’re wearing pants in such garments, you run the risk of tearing the garment, which is no fun.  Because a girdle is tight it will naturally will limit your stride, they are perfect for wearing with the slimmer cut items and reduce the risk of damage to your precious vintage.  Not to mention it will automatically give you that Joan wiggle walk.

While there are a few variations on the girdle (panty girdles and all-in-one girdles), my favorite is the open bottom girdle.

The open bottom girdle comes in two types.  The first is one that slips on, but has hook and eyes as well as a zipper for final fastenings.

The other is more like a tight mini skirt that you wiggle your way into.

I have run across vintage girdles everywhere from thrift stores to estate sales to the finest vintage clothing stores.  Girdles are also available on Etsy.  However if wearing what was once someone else’s foundation garment isn’t your gig, you can find new girdles to purchase on-line.  Secrets in Lace offers up some beautiful girdles including ones with leopard print panels! And who doesn’t love a little leopard print?  What Katie Did also offers a small selection of various girdles.

For more on vintage foundations…
Vintage Must Have: Bullet Bra
Vintage Must Have: Seamed Stockings
Vintage Must Have: Slip