While I'm Thinking About Fall Fashion Magazines

The arrival of the fall fashion magazines has always been my signal to think about fall clothes, even when I've lived in places like Florida and North Carolina where, in August, fall is just a hazy promise. (In Chicago August was a reasonable time to think about fall, so that you wouldn't be caught out on that first crisp day in mid-September; here in the Bay Area it may be a chilly August but September is likely to feel more like summer than fall.)

If I were better at fashion blogging (see last week's post) I would have a giant post with five gazillion images all laid out in the format of "my must-haves for fall!" in which any three of them would add up to more than a month's rent in any reasonable place. But since I'm crap at fashion blogging, I just have a random list, like those you might find in the bottom of your handbag after a trip to the grocery store.

Mine is:

— olive anorak/parka/long jacket?

— full pleated skirts? pencil skirts with bag pockets?

— wool/denim/twill Heidis with long-sleeved tees/vest sweaters, tights, boots?

— boots??

— shirtdresses?

Does that list make any sense? For fall I'm feeling two palettes: one mustard, olive, maroon or burgundy, with a caramel leather or camel coat (both of which I have, thankfully); the other (more towards winter) with dark and light gray, pale blue, black, with maybe pale yellow or chartreuse or even teal again. The limiting factors here are travel: I don't want to have half a week's clothes in each palette so that I have to pack two coats and two pairs of boots! 

I plan on riding my bike a good bit, so full skirts for days in the office, with a long anorak to keep the wind out; Heidis with boots for travel and meetings. I may be too goofy, round, and short to pull off the "multiple-long-layers over a shortish skirt, tights, and boots" look, but I can give it a try. 

"Boots" has two question marks after it because I have five pairs that I love and hardly ever wear. Plus one pair at the cobbler's being stretched. Why don't I wear them? I need to figure this out before I buy another pair, although this one is CALLING ME (only in black, please). 

And I do have a couple of shirtdress patterns that really, really need to be made up. They just look at me with those puppy-dog eyes whenever I open their box … but they would be for California wear only, too lightweight for travel to cold places. 

I believe the Heidis are self-explanatory … 

What does your fall list look like? Also — what's NOT on your list? I think I'm almost done buying vintage leather jackets (after the completely impractical robin's-egg-blue one I grabbed last week), boots (see above), tights in weird colors (have a box full), and hats, because I splurged on a couple Kangols last year (although I'm always tempted by cheap berets) … 

Dear Miss Magnin


This dress has a Miss Magnin label in it, according to Holly at Lucitebox Vintage (where it is on sale). I think I like Miss Magnin. I think she has a sense of humor, smiles at babies on the street (I think that you should always smile at babies on the street) and would let you know if you had lipstick on your teeth. I think she would meet you for coffee and let you complain about your first-world problems and then make you laugh about them.

And if she did it wearing this dress, then so much the better! Midriff band, geometric print, pockets … oh yes, Miss Magnin and I would be great friends. Does anyone know if she’s on Facebook?


Oh, sure!


I've been thinking about skirts lately, and came across this one from Jen at MOMSPatterns. It's got SIXTEEN GORES! And it recommends PLAIDS! There is not a single alternate reality across the multiverse where I have the time, the patience, or the number of pins necessary to match a plaid across SIXTEEN GORES. 

In fact, the reason that the plaid example here is oddly truncated is because the model's HEAD FELL OFF while she was completing the skirt. And she's just an illustration! Imagine what would happen to a real person.

I recommend you to to MOMSPatterns to look at this pattern and marvel, and then click around to take advantage of her sale – 
you can save 25% using coupon code 'costumes' through midnight (EST) on Sunday (August 29, 2010). The sale is good on ALL
items, even patterns in the sale section



If This Fits You, This Is Your Lucky Day

This dress deserves to have the internetism completely spelled out: Oh. My. God.


It's a 1950s olive pinstripe velveteen dress, any one of which adjectives would normally have me reaching for the "buy" button. Sadly, it's not my size (it's B36/W28), but if it's yours, you can find it here.

Here's what Robin (the seller) has to say about the designer of the dress, Mildred Orrick:

"I consider Mildred Orrick to be one of the secret weapons of ‘50s fashion. I think she was responsible for the best work under the Anne Fogarty label, throughout the mid-50s, AND she took over for Claire McCardell’s label when McCardell died in 1957. Her work is much rarer than both of those labels and just as great in design and quality. I'd also compare her to Tina Leser and Nettie Rosenstein."

Looking at the dress, I believe it! 

What's more, it has pockets. I TOLD you this was your lucky day … 

Welcome to Wednesday


I thought that I had seen (and purchased!) every single vintage pattern with these lines but I either missed this one, or it has been erased from my memory by a team of top-notch dream-infiltrators led by a harried Leonardo DeCaprio. 

I'm not sure about the tame woolly caterpillars around the neck and sleeves of the gingham version, but since they don't seem terribly hairy maybe it means that the weather will be nice enough to wear this all winter. Right? 

I do wish I knew what both the models in this picture are eyeballing. From their eyelines, it's up on a platform or pedestal, and it's also something they don't want to look at head-on. My money is on a nude model who is also in the artist's studio where they are being drawn. What do you think?

(Also, apropos of nothing, Gingham Dress has weirdly modern shoes.)

This pattern is from Sheila at Out of the Ashes, and she's having a sale, starting today (8/25) and continuing through Wednesday, September 1st.  Get 20% off, with coupon code WASHDC. (She's going to be on a trip, thus the sale, but don't worry, she has her laptop with her and will acknowledge all orders …)


Frankly, My Dear …

I think about a dozen of you have emailed me the link to the Ransom Center's restoration project for the dresses from Gone With The Wind — they're hoping to have the dresses restored in time for the 75th anniversary exhibition in 2014. 

Lisa from The Vintage Pattern Library is having a sale to help support the project – 15% off with coupon code SCARLETT. $1 from each purchase will go toward
the restoration project, and Lisa will match every dollar as well! Good
till the end of August, and she will combine shipping from Miss Helene's as
well, if you email her to tell her before you purchase.

Maybe you might get this pattern, in solidarity? (And doesn't the dress seem to match the curtains, in true Tara style?)


Why I Don't Often Post About High Fashion

So I was leafing through one of the ten or so doorstop-sized fashmags I have delivered to my house every August, and saw a really fantastic wool skirt from Marni. "Aha!" I thought. "I can certainly post about this because I love it, it looks vintage-y, and it wouldn't be that hard to make yourself …"

But can I find a reasonable picture of it, short of scanning the actual magazine page? No, I cannot. And I'm not willing to spend hours trawling through runway pictures or visiting dodgy ecommerce sites (some of which PLAY MUSIC ON LOAD, which is quite possibly the most annoying thing you can do on your website, just so you know) just to find a picture of it. 

If I were running a fashion magazine (which obviously I'm not) I would have a blogger index on the magazine's website with thumbnails of images, tagged with both issue date and keywords. Add watermarks if you like, and maybe even offer an affiliate program for linking certain images to online shops — you'd get people linking back to you with credit, I bet. You could even make bloggers apply for access. Does anyone do this? The only thing that I can think even comes close might be Polyvore.

Anyway, this is the best I can do: 

Picture 2

Please ignore the gratuitous almost-cleavage and the truly heinous accessories (although the bag is really cute, in a completely impractical way) and the model's expression, which I think is trying to convey a combination of stern disapproval of the entire goings-on, and suppressed laughter. 

You can't tell from the image but the skirt (if indeed this is the same one) seems to have four gores with a gorgeous pleat right in the center of each gore. It's swingy and modern and vintage-y all at the same time (that description should also tell you why I'm not a fashion writer).

If anyone knows the skirt I'm referring to (can't even find the magazine right now — ANOTHER reason why I'm not a high-fashion blogger) please leave a comment with a better description!


So I was wondering if I've already posted about this dress, or if, because it's camouflage, it has merely blended in with the rest of the blog, and that's why I can't find it:


This is currently my favorite casual Heidi dress, even though the fabric is a bit on the pilly side. Here's a closeup of the bodice — I took this picture after I'd worn the dress about a dozen times, so you might even be able to see the pilling: 


I do think it's a little disturbing, how much I love camouflage as a print. Perhaps it's my knee-jerk Gen X "irony" (in the debased sense of "incongruity") or maybe it's just that I am in love with idea that you need so much technology to ape what are supposed to be organic forms, or that I enjoy the absurdity of making fairly distinctive clothing out of something that was originally intended to make the wearer blend into the background. Whatever it is, I just keep doing it. If you had to categorize my fabric stash, the second-biggest category (after "Liberty," of course!) is "camouflage."

I have pink, blue, bright green, and several colors of brown camo, in addition to this gray, but weirdly enough I can't seem to find what I think would be the ur-color of non-blending camouflage: blaze-orange camouflage. Wouldn't that be awesome? Hunter orange camo! If I had some of that I would probably have to be physically restrained from wearing it twice a week, but that level of absurdity and self-contradiction would make me really happy. So if you see some, let me know, okay?

In A World …


I want to see the movie that this still/pattern image was taken from. Three college friends go to a dinner party thrown by some creepy old dude in a creepy old mansion on the edge of town (on a dare, of course, because in the movies just saying "I dare you!" makes people do all kinds of dumb things). Inevitably, they get separated and have to deal with scary stuff jumping out at them from dark corners. (Anything with that weird chandelier/sconce/creepy mirror in it has to be a horror movie, right?)

In the end, the blonde one dies (she's a bit of a ditz, and the ditz always gets it), the yellow-dress escapes (she looks too sensible to do anything but escape), and the one in the black dress, vacant-eyed, stays with the creepy old dude in the creepy old house (despite the tearful protests of Yellow Dress). Flash forward twenty-five years, and it's a group of male college friends going to a dinner party thrown by creepy old lady … dum dum dum dum … STILL wearing that beehive hairdo and the same Dior dress!

I'm assuming the weird necklace exerts a certain level of mind control. It's the only explanation for it. Bonus points if it's a scarab! 

My question: who plays creepy old dude?