Sorry Her Lot Who Loves Too Well

Sorry Her Lot Who Loves Too Well

Since I'm talking at O'Reilly's Tools of Change for Publishing conference today (I'm the last speaker), I figured I should post something book-related … so I went back to the Google Book Search well, and found this gem:

She was very simply dressed; nothing of the grande dame, en toilette de soir, about her as she received her friends. Her dark-colored gown was high nearly to the neck, with sleeves reaching to the elbow, a single row of beautiful lace falling back from the statuesque throat, and over the shapely arms. A rich cream "rose de Provence" was her only ornament. She looked dark and shadowy, yet brilliant, —with that soft brilliancy with which the flowers gleam, as they nestle in their dark-green foliage, beneath the moonlight of an Eastern night.

It's from Sorry Her Lot Who Loves Too Well by Maria Grant (1879) and I think I may have to download it and read the whole thing, just so I can understand this line:

Donna has been a Gentianella (I will not have her called a bluestocking) for years; and she could tell you astonishing things! Why, she is regularly scientific!

What's a Gentianella, that it would be contrasted with bluestocking?

The title of the book is from HMS Pinafore, btw, which I didn't know until I googled it (I'm a Penzance person, myself). And the image is from Nineteenth-Century Fashions: A Compendium. Go forth and explore.

On the Watch List

Butterick 5156

Another Erin (aka sent me this image, of a pattern she bought recently. Isn't this just too glorious?

When I find this in my size, this will form the basis for my steampunk/yesterday's-tomorrows spaceship captainatrix costume. I'll make it in two-tone gray with a red tie, and pair it with a jaunty hat and white gloves (with gauntlets). My all-female crew and I will pilot our space dirigible, the Jean Batten, calmly and effortlessly on the trans-Venusian run, with resupply stops at Moonbase Delta.

And when the Jovians finally go beyond just saber-rattling and actually make a military play for control of the asteroid belt, it'll be me and my gals who will, armed with very, very shiny ray guns, force them back into their atmosphere.

But first, of course, I have to find this in my size …

Questions for, and Answers from, Meg Cabot

ebay item 8305987417

So recently I was offered a chance to read & review Queen of Babble, by Meg Cabot. Somehow (probably due to living under a rock, or at least below grade for the past decade) I managed to miss the phenomenon that is Meg Cabot, but I'm clued in now, and will probably be wolfing down her other books in short order, as I enjoyed Queen of Babble immensely.

As part of the publicity-industrial complex, I've also been given the opportunity to ask Meg some questions (on your behalf, dear readers) — here they are, with her answers. Doesn't Meg sound like someone you'd love to go vintage shopping with?

Q. I love Lizzie's clothes in the book, especially the Lilly Pulitzer bathing suit and the Anne Fogarty linen dress. Are they based on real dresses you've had (or wished you had)?

First of all…love your site! It’s so adorable.

Okay, in answer to your question…I have a dear friend who is nuts for anything Lilly and I have to admit, she has passed the addiction on to me. I live in Key West, Florida, though, so everything is Lilly all the time here. My poor friend lives in Indiana and has to restrict her Lilly wearing to summer only, or she’d freeze to death. I do have about five Lilly bathing suits.

The Anne Fogarty dress was pure lust … I saw it online and fell in love with (it was way too small for me) but since my character worked in a vintage shop, I figured it was possible she could have snagged one like it at a discount in her own size at some point.

Q. Can you tell me a story about a dress that "got away"?

Oh! Well, yes, my mom’s prom dress. It wasn’t designer–she made it herself, my mom’s a fantastic seamstress–but I’ve seen photos, and it was this gorgeous off-the-shoulder pale blue chiffon number with a full skirt and crinoline, and pretty fake flowers between the boobs.

When I asked her what happened to it, she just shrugged like, “Why would I keep my old prom dress?” I have ALL my old prom dresses … and I didn’t even MAKE them! UGH! I still get depressed when I think about it. She gave it to Goodwill or something. Some lucky girl out there has my mom’s now vintage gorgeous handmade prom dress.

Q. What are you obsessed with, clothing-wise?

Jeans. I have yet to find a pair of jeans that actually look good on me. And I am 40. It’s so sad. I know I should just give up but I can’t. They have to be out there somewhere, right? But they all look terrible on me. Bootcut, stretch, you name it. But sometimes you just CAN’T wear a skirt [When? — Ed.], and khakis, slacks, and cords look even worse on me. Don’t even talk to me about leggings. I’m just not a “pants” person.

Oh, great looking jeans…where are you????

Q. In the book, Lizzie dislikes low-rise jeans (and I don't blame her). If you could make one fashion-y thing disappear from the earth tomorrow, what would it be?

Anything with a designer’s name on it in large letters. Really, my hatred for all things Juicy borders on the pathological. I don’t mind if, for instance, Diane von Furstenberg is written in small writing subtly somewhere in the print of a dress, or the word Prada is on a buckle.

But I will not buy anything Juicy, or a Louis Vuitton bag with LV all over it, or Gucci or Chanel sunglasses with the giant G or CC (well, okay, not that I would buy these things anyway because they’re too expensive, but let’s say I was going to splurge) or even a scarf by these designers because the brand logo is so huge on them, it’s like you’re a walking advertisement for a product!

Okay, sorry, I just ranted. But you asked! I have to go drink some water to calm down now.

Q. I am always looking for an excuse to use the word 'bathos.' Were there any words you wanted to use in the book that you couldn't work in? Do you have favorite words in general?

Okay, back. Wow, bathos is good. I don’t think I’ve ever used that in a sentence (true confession: I had to go look it up). That is quite a word!

I can’t think of any favorite words. I guess I like them all. But “princess” has always had a tendency to leap out at me — also “queen”…! I can’t think why… 😉

Q. I loved Lizzie's "reading" of Luke's clothes on the train. Do you do a similar party trick?

I’m not as good at it as Lizzie! She can do it on the spot and it probably took me multiple days to write that scene. Plus Lizzie doesn’t misjudge people based on their clothes, and I do. I made the BIG mistake of judging my husband by how he was dressed at the party where I met him. I instantly dismissed him as a boring preppy (he does dress preppy … but he’s not boring, and he is actually a rebel at heart).

Years later I met him again and realized my mistake. If you had told me that day that I’d end up married to him, I’d never have believed you (also, I probably would have killed myself … but then I was sixteen and a bit drama-prone)! But it’s probably just as well since I got to kiss all those frogs in between before finding my handsome prince (he would totally throw up if he saw I wrote that) ….

Q. Lizzie lost 30 pounds in three months before the book begins. How realistic do you think that is?

Well, with Atkins and daily aerobic exercise it’s possible, but of course in the sequel out at the end of this month, Queen of Babble in the Big City, Lizzie has gained it all back as she begins to eat normally again (actually, she gains a lot of it back in France, as soon as she starts eating bread). Hmmm. French bread.

Oh, sorry. I got distracted.

I actually lost that much weight that fast myself on Atkins once. But, like Lizzie, promptly put 20 pounds back on. But bread is so worth it.

And, like Lizzie, I find you can always wear Spanx to squeeze into those special somethings (and let out the waist a little).

Q. Was there a dress you wanted to work into the story, but couldn't?

Ha! That’s what sequels are for!

Actually, in Queen of Babble in the Big City, Lizzie gets a job as a vintage wedding gown restorer in New York City, so I was able to squeeze in tons more dresses for her (and wedding gowns). And I’m working on the third and final book in the series, which will be out next year, Queen of Babble Gets H
, in which, as the title suggest, Lizzie plans her own wedding … so there’s lots more “research” to do. If you can call it research when you get to spend all day looking up vintage dresses and wedding gowns online! It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it!

Thanks for the opportunity to be interviewed on your site! It was really fun!


just fyi …

I think I have mentioned here that I'm running this conference, but I don't know if I mentioned that I'm also blogging about it on my OTHER blog, Dictionary Evangelist.

So if I don't manage to post here tomorrow, that's because I'm busily posting over there. Don't worry, I'll come back …. but in the meantime, feel free to check out Something Completely Different!

Oh, and enjoy this eye candy, courtesy Nora Needles … click on the image to visit the eBay auction.

mailorder 9414

Y'all Are Too Nice To Me

alphabet fabric

Seriously. You leave me nice comments, you send me fun links, and now you buy me fabric. Anna at BootyVintage saw this amazing fabric on eBay, noticed that it was "BuyItNow", decided that no one but me deserved to own it, and bought it right there on the spot!

I *am* the luckiest woman on the planet, dontcha know?

Of course I paypal-ed her posthaste, and soon this amazing fabric will indeed be mine, all mine. Fabric I did not even know existed, and is my favorite color green, to boot (so many alphabet fabrics are pale blue and pale pink, for the nursery).

So now I just have to find a pattern that will let me put a giant "e" right at the center front, and I will have achieved alphabet-dress nirvana.

Oh, and this dress? Arrived MONDAY. Not that I've had time to do much more than gaze lovingly at it in stolen moments …

name that (dress) tune

ebay item 8305987417

Reader Rebecca has written in to ask for help identifying a song about a dress (she found me through this post, I bet).

She says:

I heard the song on the Thistle and Shamrock NPR show years ago. The story of the song seemed to be a girl asking her mother what dress she should wear, and the mother offering various reasons why she shouldn't. I believe in the last verse they come back to the dress from the first verse, and realizing that there's nothing else to wear, the girl and mother finally agree.

She's already googled the heck out of it … anyone know it out of their actual heads?

(The image is just a random piece of sheet music from eBay … not the song being hunted.)

quite possibly perfect

advance 6702

Okay, so I bought another pattern from ebay seller tarna. I really couldn't resist this one … could you?

Every summer I end up making the same pattern three or four or five times … last year it was The Duro; this year it may be this pattern. It just looks so perfect — the sweetheart neckline and the pockets are exactly right. I don't like the deep vee in the back but I can fix that easily by filling in the top and retracing the facing. This would be so easy to make, and even easier to wear. Throw a cardigan over it (I probably won't make the bolero) and it could go anywhere.

I have this lovely limp grass-green cotton open-weave that this will be stunning in, and some red floral, and some stripey pink seersucker, and maybe this will even be worth of the blue art-deco-y fabric I bought in China. Heck, if it turns out to be The Pattern of Summer 2007 I might even use the green Chaiken cotton satin I bought ages ago and have never been able to bring myself to cut into.

So: prepare yourselves. If this goes well you'll be seeing a lot of it.