Tuesday, March 25, 2008

For The Love of Retro

This is my first attempt at blogging. I'm doing it because I love vintage and retro fashion. Hopefully this space will document my hobby and will be shared with others who have similar interests. What fun is a hobby if one cannot share it?

I have no set expectations as to what exact style or form it will take, or what type of things it will include. It should just evolve as appropriate. As the title suggests, When Ladies Dressed will be a tribute to women from decades past: a time when dressing for our lifestyles was more defined. While the main focus will be on women and their roles back in the day, I'm likely prattle on about fashion, fabric, accessories, films, culture and anything (plant, animal or mineral) that is vintage or retro. (I own lava lamps, donut phones, a Mr. Peanut peanut butter maker, Creepy Crawlers, numerous cookie jars... )

There are likely a few key reasons I've developed these passions. First, I was raised by my grandparents who were frugal, Depression era survivors. I spent a lot of time as a kid in the 70's surrounded by Great Aunts and Uncles. Aunt Estelle (my grandpa's sister) was always smartly dressed and formed quite an impression on me. She took great pride in her appearance, from her perfectly coiffed hair, to the shoes on her feet. This never waivered. The last time I saw her, there she stood, a frail woman in her late 80's dressed in a suit and heels, clutching her matching purse. She had been to the hairdresser the day before.

Our house was a modest three bedroom, brick raised ranch built in 1956 in suburban Chicago. We had gray sculpted carpting, a purple sectional sofa and blonde wood end/coffee tables. Our kitchen housed a chrome legged dinette set. The table top had that formica top, which had a few chips by the time I was a kid. It wasn't damaged enough, though, to warrant throwing out. The chairs were shiny, gray and pink vinyl, trimmed with chrome studs. My grandmother served meals wearing an apron.

Gram was addicted to saving store coupons, receipts and box tops which she would trade in to grocery stores for things like dishes or novelty brand items. Remember the Kool-Aid cups from the 70's? Or the Campbell Soup Kids bowls? Yup, we had those and more.

I had little to say about what I wore and my grandmother had zero fashion sense. I was an overweight child, due to my grandparent's obsession about food (EVERYTHING on the plate had to be eaten, and the portion sizes were huge for a kid). I was pretty darn unattractive, teased and was the subject of fat jokes. I lived vicariously through Barbie and Marcia Brady!

The battle with weight is one that carried on throughout most of my adult life. Now, however, as a 41 year old wife and mother of two, my weight is the best it's ever been. Since slimming down a few years ago, I've fallen in love with clothes. It's not that I completely hated them before, (although sometimes I did) it's more like I've rediscovered them - for myself, rather than for dressing Barbie.

I love sewing clothes. Most of the things I make are from the vintage patterns I collect, or are costumes. They are things I can't really buy in the stores. I'm not a great sewist, but I'm not so bad either. The more I learn, the more I want to learn and improve. Little did I know back in the late 70's when I signed up for the Sewing Badge in Girl Scouts that I'd develop such a passion for this hobby.

These factors and others (I can't write everything at once) undoubtedly have contributed to where I'm at now. Perhaps my status as a full time housewife (or Director of Domestic Affairs, if you like), has drawn me back to the imagery of my youth, giving my vintage/retro self an outlet to emerge.

Thanks for taking a look, thanks for reading and come back any time...

5 comments:

Paula said...

Congrats on starting your own blog! I love the pics you posted of yourself. You look great! I especially love the white gloves. I'm adding your blog to my blog roll.

Bunny said...

Congratulations on your "blogstart". Your writing style makes for an enjoyable read. I will visit often. Oh, all of your garments are super but the blue one is really really sharp.

Frances said...

What a great start you've made! I've always enjoyed seeing your dresses, and can't wait to see more of them!

When Ladies Dressed said...

Thanks so much for your kind comments! It really is fun sharing projects with each other! And Frances, so GREAT of you to stop and look! I hope all is well with you!

Marji said...

love the retrospective of your vintage projects. I hadn't seen all of them.
That white dress is so elegant.