Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Vintage Potpourri

Hey everyone!  It's been an incredibly busy week-- I started taking my very first sewing class, I got and trained for a part-time holiday retail gig (I roll 3+ jobs deep, guys), went to two markets, and I'm getting set to go visit my brother in Dallas starting tomorrow evening.  Needless to say, it's been hectic, and while I have every hope of one day making 2-3 posts a week, I think until the holidays are over, I'll probably have to stick with one weekly.  The good news is, I'm hoping to have my Queer Vintage/Vintage Queer: Marlene Dietrich post up either this coming week or the next-- I'm reading books and watching films as quickly as I can--and, the new retail job gave me an idea as well.  In the meantime, I'm excited about what's coming up, I just have to get the time to make it all happen!  

This week, since I only got a little bit of a number of things accomplished, I thought I'd do a sort of Vintage Potpourri post--a little bit of an outfit, a little bit of wardrobe management, and a really spectacular market find.  It's picture-heavy, so get ready!

First Up:
So thanks to my busy week, the only time I found to do an outfit shoot was yesterday morning, before work.  Guys, it did not go well.  Between busy carpets, bad lighting, and figuring out where to prop up my camera, it was a straight-up mess.  Here's the best I've got:

This rug is great, except for when it's stealing my thunder.
 If this is the best, I leave it to your imagination as to what the worst looked like.  It's a shame, because I really love this dress-- it's a 1950s cotton dress with a great amount of fullness in the skirt, and a wonderful allover texture to the fabric:

This fabric is really fantastic.  It has a heft to it that makes it perfect for colder days.

I'm pretty undecided over black tights in a vintage ensemble, and I'm not convinced it works here.  I thought I'd give it a try, though, particularly since, when running late, they're easier than stockings.  I also only seem to be able to find wool tights in black or grey, so I'll have to get used to it.  They do go with the hat, though, and check it out--

I bought this hat in Baltimore, and it just happens to come from an actual milliner in Baltimore!

 Look who learned how to use hatpins?

I'm so proud, guys.

That in and of itself is a victory.  And don't worry.  After seeing the photos, I immediately--as in later that day--went out and got a tripod.  Amateur hour is over.  Or, you know.  At least slowly coming to a close.

Next at bat:

Though I'm liking New York so far, one of the most notoriously challenging aspects of living here is the lack of storage.  Like most people here, I have a very small closet, which makes it difficult to figure out how best to store not only clothes, but various vintage paraphernalia--stockings, collars, gloves, etc.  I'm a pretty visual person, and I like to be able to see all my options.  (The poor intern who shares my desk at work would corroborate my need to see everything I have all at once.)  It's just not possible here, though, and I know I'm missing out on outfit combinations, simply because I can't actually see them together--things are in hatboxes, suitcases, shoe boxes, shelves, anywhere I can find a little space.  So, I'm trying out an app called CollageIt (free version), which allows you to, you guessed it, create collages from your photos--something I haven't figured out in iPhoto.  So I created a photo catalogue of most of the pieces I own, and am starting to use CollageIt to see my options:

I pretty much wore this outfit yesterday, actually.  It's working already!
There are some drawbacks so far--the collages can only be saved with CollageIt's own file extension (which can't be previewed, but has to be fully opened for viewing), and have to be individually exported in .jpg format, which is a pain.  It also doesn't seem possible to size the photos within the collage , hence the giant shoes in the first collage, and the white space in the second.  But it's at least getting me to look at what I already have in combinations.

And finally, the Find:
This weekend I went to two markets-- the Antiques Garage Flea Market in Chelsea, and the Greenflea Market on the Upper West Side.  My intention was only to go to the former, and to write about it, but of course, I forgot my camera.  While I was there, though, I found and purchased an amazing photo album.  I've recently started collecting photos, which I choose partially by hair inspiration (I love my signature 1930s waves, but I'd like to be able to achieve some variety), and partly just on instinct.  I've only acquired a few, and just one at a time.  I'd only begun considering trying to find a whole album when I arrived at the Garage and immediately found this gorgeous gal on the left.  Instinct told me to buy it  despite its slightly hefty price tag; I'm not totally sure yet why I needed to have it, but it spoke to me-- so we'll see.  
The albums: on the left, the one from Greenflea, and on the right, from Antiques Garage. Isn't the detail on the right incredible?

In an attempt to redeem my potential market post, I also went to Greenflea.  I'd never been before, and I'm not sure why, but I'm glad I did-- it's huge.  It covers the playground of PS 334, and even extends inside the school.  


Very creative display.  Also, the longer I look at this photo, the more I realize I'm an idiot for not looking into that sheer black number.  Ugh.

A view of the appropriated cafeteria
I got a little nervous about asking permission to photograph vendors' wares, so I ended up just doing the oh-so-mature Rapid Paparazzi Shot here.  I'm sure no one noticed.

Though the market has, like all NYC markets, its fare share of rando vendors (I'm looking at you, dog coat seller), it had tons of clothes, and even more antiques and collectibles, which were mostly located inside.  I have to admit, I didn't take any time to look through the clothing--something's been pulling me away from collecting clothes recently.  Maybe it's because, thanks to sewing classes, I'm hoping I'll be able to create my own?  Or maybe I just finally realized I don't need more clothes right now.  

In any case, what I got pulled towards was another photo vendor, who had boxes on boxes on boxes of old photos, priced at a dollar each.  Rummaging through the bins, I found he also had a few albums.  I picked up one, and fell in love.  The vendor wanted twice what I had with me, though, so I did the traditional walk-around, and watched it out of the corner of my eye. When I felt my heart seizing like a jealous girlfriend any time someone rifled through it, I realized I had to at least give it a shot.  I went back, and just told the vendor what I honestly had on me.  I don't know if it was the hopeful desperation in my eyes or the way I was clutching the book, but he looked through the album again, spotted the three photos I'd picked out as a consolation, in case he declined, and asked if I wanted those, too.  I said I didn't remotely expect to get all of that for what I had, but he looked at them and said, "You have a great eye for detail.  It's a deal."  He said he appreciated the photos, but had so many of them and never could sort through them.  I can't emphasize enough that I do not recommend lowballing a dealer, but in this case, I think he knew they'd be going to a good home.  Or that I'd cry if he said no.

I need to find out ASAP how to best preserve the photos.  They're displayed on crumbling black paper, and while I'm hoping to figure out how to display them in their original covers, I'm assuming the priority now is getting them on acid-free paper.  (Any advice on this is very, very welcome).

These will be scanned eventually, but since I want to proceed with caution, here are photos of some of my favorites--from the hundreds of stunning, stunning photos the albums contain.

This is actually the one that prompted the remark about an eye for detail-- I adore the way the woman kicks up her heel.  It's a perfect embodiment of the zeitgeist of the Roaring 20s.

From the Greenflea album:

This trio is so chic I can hardly stand it.

This beautiful woman's photograph alone is worth every cent.  Every single cent.

Did I score a photo of a vintage lesbian couple???  Well, not super likely.  But I can dream, and, you know... who's to say they aren't?

From the Antiques Garage album: 

This woman is adorable, and I like how well her sweater sets off her necklace.

This album is filled with newspaper clippings of wedding and engagement announcements.  I wonder whether these hold the key to why I knew I needed to own it? 
The woman on the left is my spirit animal.

I hope you liked the mishmash of subjects here-- I'm aiming to settle into one topic at a time in the future, but this seemed to both reflect the last week, and to make the most of what it brought!  Have a fantastic week, and I'll see you next Wednesday!


  1. Love that dress! And I hear ya on black tights. It's hard for me too and I wear them more out of a need to keep warm than anything else.

    And what fabulous photos!


    1. Thank you!
      I know, I keep thinking I should just wear trousers instead of dresses, but that might make winter bleaker than it needs to be!
      I'm so happy I found these albums, I'm hoping I can scan then for later posts. Passerby kept muttering about other people's old photos being creepy, but I like that I'm giving them a home. It's giving their memories new life, I think.

      Anyway, I hope you're loving Vancouver--I can't wait to read about it!