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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Happy Birthday Clara Bow-Vintage Style Icon (and Dog Lover!)




Monday, July 29th,  marks the 108th anniversary of the birth of Clara Bow, a 1920s style icon and the most blue collar of the flapper actress triumvirate, consisting of Louise Brooks, Colleen Moore, and Clara, that dominated the American film industry in the 1920s.  Clara represented the regular girl as  flapper and she generally played working class girls whose heart of gold, charm and infectious enthusiasm won the hearts of wealthier and more debonair men.  Bow's real origins where like those of her film characters, decidedly working class.  In fact when she began appearing in talkies her strong Brooklyn accent gave her trouble.

Clara grew up in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn and had a difficult childhood caring for her mother who suffered fro various physical and mental ailments and moving regularly as her father looked for work.  In 1921 Clara won a fame and fortune contest which lead to a small part in a film and began the start of her acting career.    However, it was in 1927 when she appeared in It, playing Betty Lou Spence a vivacious department store sales girl who falls in love with, and wins the heart of, the stores wealthy and handsome owner.  The film was wildly popular breaking box office records and garnering critical praise.   Clara Bow entered that national lexicon as the first "it girl."  Below is a scene from the film showing Bow getting ready for a date with her wealthy suitor.  The entire film is available for instant viewing on netflix.




Despite becoming a major star Clara Bow was not as enamored by Hollywood glamour as many of her costars.   She had a relatively modest home and even filled one room with dirt so her dog would have a play area, (I love a girl who spoils her dog!), and she often preferred to spend time with everyday people rather then big stars. Though Clara Bow was a gifted actress, she championed a more natural performance style then many of her silent film star compatriots, and a box office success, her too trusting and impulsive nature lead her to be plagued by scandal.    She married actor Rex Bell and retired from acting in 1933 moving to a ranch where she raised her two sons. Sadly she was plagued by physical and mental ailments similar to those that had troubled her mother for the rest of her life, she died in 1960.






Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Old Fashioned Dessert-Blueberry Boy Bait




In the contest for vintage desserts with cute names, there is only one real contender: Blueberry Boy Bait, and July, being national blueberry month, is the perfect time to make it.   There are a  bunch of versions of the recipe on the internet, I used the Smitten Kitchen one since it has a generous helping of butter and blueberries and cinnamon. Yum. If you click on the Smitten Kitchen link it will take you to this very easy and very old fashioned recipe.


Blueberry Boy Bait was developed by a 15 year old girl in 1954 when she entered the junior division on the Pillsbury Bake Off contest and one second prize.  It would seem that the first prize winners creation has been lost to the ages, but Blueberry Boy Bait helped no doubt by its adorable name has survived.  You can imagine the cake being served at a party full of young mid century teens,  like in the advertisement below.




Sunday, July 21, 2013

Short Suits-Lovely Summer Fashion on Poirot

I recently discovered the long running (1989-2013) Brittish TV Show Poirot based on the famous Agatha Christie novels.   I'm still working my way through the entire series, but I'm already a major fan.  The show is set in the 1930s and the attention to detail in the sets and costumes is amazing.   I am often so distracted by the gorgeous outfits that I loose track of the mystery.   Poirot seems to be eternally on vacation at country houses and resorts and some of the best outfits are the summery dresses and short suit sets.   I particularly love these summery outfits from Triangle At Rhodes, Season 1 and The Case of the Missing Will, Season 5. I took the pictures with my phone so they are not of very good quality, my apologies.

 I love how her dress, belt, gloves and hat are so coordinated.  The gloves in particular are gorgeous.

Its so cute how the madras hat and top match.




I really like the red buttons and stitching on this cream short suit, so stylish!
 
These two may be the best dressed couple in all the Poirot episodes I've seen, quite an achievement.

I'm already day dreaming about having some Poirot inspired short suits copies for myself for next summer.




Thursday, July 18, 2013

Collectables: Vintage Barettes

Lots of vintage lovers collect jewelry from Victorian necklaces to Art Deco earings to Bakelite bangles.  My personal vintage jewelry favorite is the humble barrette.  Barrettes have a lot going for them from a collecting stand point, they are pretty inexpensive to collect and they are plentiful since they were manufactured in large quantities.  My collection is still small, since I only recently started collecting barrettes, but I am hoping to keep expanding it.  I particularly like pre-1960s barrettes, and I'm partial to anything with dogs on it.  So far these are my favorite barrettes.



 I got them from the lovely Etsy shop Rose Bud Cottage which has all kinds of gorgeous vintage hair accessories.  I took some not very good selfies of the barrettes in my fairly unruly hair.  If like me you are not adept at styling hair and are eternally in awe of the elaborate vintage hair styles shown on style blogs and you tube then barrettes give you a chance to easily add a little vintage flair to your locks.






Another vintage barrette source on Etsy is Sophie's Hats and More.  This shop has a lot of barrettes and hair clips made from recycled vintage jewelry.  I got this yellow barrette made from a broken Bakelite flower.



 I like how something damaged was given new life in this barrette. 

  Of course if you frequent flea markets that would also be an excellent source for vintage Barrettes, and it most certainly would not be hard to recycle broken vintage jewelry into new barrettes with the help of a hot glue gun and a plain clip.  Whatever vintage jewelry you collect its fun to think about who might have owned your treasure previously and to cherish a little piece of history all your own.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Happy Birthday Ginger-Vintage Style Icon Ginger Rogers

Tuesday, marks the 102nd anniversary of the birth of one of most stylish ladies of the 1930s.   Ginger Rogers was born Virginia Katherine McMath on July 16, 1911.  Ginger's entertainment career started when she won a Charleston dance contest as age 14 and formed the Vaudeville troupe  Ginger and the Redheads with the two runners up, Ginger Rogers was a red head early in her career before adopting her famous platinum mane.

 Ginger's first big movie was Gold Diggers of 1933  in which she sang We're In The Money in a gold coin bikini.
 Rogers is of course best known for the Astaire and Rogers films and while I think Astaire is actually my favorite of the pair in both style and performance, Rogers's costumes are 1930s perfection, a great mix of elegance and whimsy and she is always very funny.   Like Astaire and his famous top hat, white tie, and tails Ginger is forever connected with her over the top evening dresses like this famous feathered number from Top Hat.

Image Source
 I personally prefer her day wear, perfect examples of 1930s wit and whimsy, she always looked very comfortable and happy in her clothes.  Here are some of my favorite Ginger Looks from around the web:














Ginger style can still be found in stores today.  I think this yellow and navy polka dotted dress I got on sale from Anthropologie last year has a bit of a Ginger feel to it.   


Friday, July 12, 2013

See Beautiful-The Jazz Age Lawn Party

Today is the See Beautiful blog hop.  Every second Friday bloggers post on how they see beauty in their  lives.  I've always loved vintage things, particularly anything from the 1920s and 1930s.  I was introduced to this era by my late father who loved the Fred Astaire films and the works of PG Wodehouse. On June 15, my husband and I attended the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island, a beautiful event were attendees can dress in era appropriate clothing, listen to jazz music from the Dreamland orchestra, dance the Charleston, shop for vintage wears, and eat era appropriate food.   Its a beautiful day for sure and for a vintage lover like myself nearly as good as a trip in a time machine:

To get to the event you take the Governor's Island ferry which is free, it is a nice short ride.



 The Event is quite popular and there are long lines so you really should buy your tickets in advance, which is what I do, and go early.  The Island is  beautiful and this year the weather was absolutely perfect.




 We got to the event early with the first ferry load of party attendees so there was plenty of space on the lawn.   You can see that most, but not all, of the attendees dress up.  Its like a trip back in time.









I was lucky enough to have a really nice dress from Time Machine Vintage for the event.  She custom made it for me based on a picture I sent her.  Its a little more 1930s then 20s, but then that is my favorite era.   My shoes are from Mod Cloth and my 1930s crochet purse is from Dena's Vintage Closet on Etsy.  I got my hat from Anthropologie with a gift certificate from lovely friend Pat.  With the exception of my wedding dress, this was definitely my favorite outfit ever and very comfortable too!

There are lots of stands with lovely vintage wares.
 There were tables loaded with gorgeous vintage gloves, many of them too tiny for even my relatively small hands but I did buy a beautiful beaded navy blue 1950s pair for not very much money.

                                      Tables of Vintage Jewelry.

         This mint green dresser set was particularly beautiful, but pricey.
 I was sorely tempted by these hand made straw boaters in men's and women's sizes, maybe if I go the second staging of the event in August (they have it then too).




The vintage dresses where from all eras, but the twenties ones at this stand where particularly pretty.


There was a section with vintage cars, complete with era appropriate gangers, on display as well.

Most of the attendees had great outfits, but my particular favorite was this Edwardian lace dress.


 One group of men were dressed in vintage military uniforms.
 Boaters and parasols were very popular, excellent vintage sun protection. I bought my parasol from one of the stands.

John did not opt to dress up but he was a sport about going.  I was so excited to finally get a picture of us together, though I was sad that I somehow lost our ticket to get a vintage moon picture after I paid for it!  I guess there is always next year.


There is food at the event and elderflower cocktails from St. Germain's liquor, but you can also bring your own picnic food.  Since we got there early we found plenty of space on the lawn for our blanket.


The best picnic set by far was this one:

Honestly it was much nicer then most peoples dining rooms.  I just wonder how they carried it all.

Lots of people go to the event to dance to period appropriate music of Michael Aranella and his Dreamland Orchestra:
I loved the striped shirt, red neckerchiefs, and straw boaters on the band.
 I don't dance but it was fun to watch the packed dance floor:

 The street fashion photographer Bill Cunningham was there.  He was zipping around the dance floor in his signature blue jacket, its almost impossible to believe he is 84 years old.

He is such a fascinating character.  There is a great documentary about him, Bill Cunningham-New York that is available for instant view on Netflix, its all about how he has zipped around the city on his bicycle for the last 50 years photographing outfits on ordinary and famous New Yorkers. Even my husband who has little interest in fashion loved it.

By the time we left at 1:30, the event was packed as you can see from the crowds behind me in the picture. 


We were probably the first to leave since I wanted to get back to the dogs.  The one flaw with this event is that are no dogs allowed on Governor's Island, which is really too bad because I know my dogs could totally rock the jazz age fashions.


The boat ride back was nice too.  It was neat to see modern Manhattan in the background after the beautiful trip back in time.

I really have to thank Sid's mom and dad for telling me about this event last year.  Now its pretty much my favorite part of the New York City summer.


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