Friday, May 30, 2014

My Chronically Vintage Etsy order and a very late (and large) photo update

A while back I ordered a couple of pieces from Chronically Vintage on Etsy, and when they came in last week I was feverishly tearing the package open in anticipation. I ordered two brooches, both very reasonably priced at $15; shipping was about $10, which is more than I would usually be willing to pay, but I know that shipping in Canada isn't cheap.
The items were beautifully packaged in individually wrapped boxes, and she even included a very sweet card thanking me for supporting her shop.
I ordered a gold chrysthanemum brooch and one shaped like a Spanish ship. The detailing on both was exquisite. I don't wear a lot of jewelry, usually just my wooden earrings, and so I was looking for something that I could put on and forget about. Brooches are perfect for that, since they don't touch my skin, and I've actually been eyeing a couple more in her store.
I actually ended up wearing both of them this week. The cardigan + full skirt + brooch formula is clearly working for me right now, because I've done it three days in a row.
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You can't see the ship pin that well in the second photo, but I thought it added a nice little bit of flair.
Overall, I would recommend her Etsy shop very highly. She has a great selection of pieces at very good prices, and she is an absolute joy to deal with. She also sent a couple of extra surprises, which I will have to showcase at a later date.

Last weekend was really busy for me. Saturday I spent most of the day on my bike, zooming around the city to grab brunch with a friend, hit up the Randolph Street Market, and then meeting up with my guy for drinks, gourmet hot dogs, and poutine fries.
My friend Keeley, who is an utter delight, was pretty happy about this homemade box scooter.
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I was pretty happy about all the vintage hats. Also, protip - if you're a really pale girl riding a bike and walking in the sunshine all day, put on some damn sunblock. My chest and shoulders are still pink.
They also had this sweet ass Hello Kitty bike. The blue haired woman crouching behind me is another friend that I ran into at the Market, Autumn. I have some photos of her trying on a really unflattering dress, but I don't imagine she wants me to post them.
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Also loving these vintage tins, typewriters, and luggage. Can I just have everything here?

Sunday, my boyfriend and I headed over to Indiana to visit his family for Memorial Day. They are, honestly, like something out of a fairytale, at least to me. Like, they literally have a three-legged dog named Spot.

It was so idyllic - drinking summer shandies, lounging around in a hammock, and eatting copious amounts of barbeque.
This dress and shoes were my vintage finds from the Market on Saturday. The dress, which is a beautiful toile print, was only $18! I managed to bargain the shoes, which are embossed red leather peep-toed sandals, down to $20 from $25.
After the fire burned down a little bit, Brian and his dad reduced some tree sap from a maple they had tapped in the spring to fresh, homemade maple syrup, which we had on top of our breakfast pancakes.

I would have posted all of this sooner, but I forgot my camera in Indiana. This weekend should be equally packed - I'm going to Maifest tonight to the see Polkaholics, then drinks with friends and an afternoon date with the guy tomorrow, and I'd really like to go see Maleficent on Sunday. I know it's summer because I'm officially going to start running my ass ragged trying to make it out to all of the parties I get invited to.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Body image and vintage clothing

Depending on what source you're looking at, between 70 and 90% of women in America express dissatisfaction with their bodies. Many of them turn to fad diets, body-shaping garments, or even cosmetic surgery in order to change their appearance. It seems like every week, there's some tabloid cover with a smiling celebrity celebrating their weight loss, or cruel speculation about how someone's gained weight and now no one loves her.
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I usually feel like I have a pretty positive body image. I've always been a fairly confident person, and my body type is considered acceptable, even desirable, by society's standards - tall and fit, with a small waist and a big butt. I know, intellectually, that I have nothing to complain about. No one discriminates against me on the basis of my size. People don't make comments about what I eat, and it's wholly unremarkable if I exercise in public. No one's ever told me that "some guys are into women like me," as if I could only ever appeal to a niche market.
It can be uncomfortable to talk about how I think of my body because, as a thin person, no one really wants to hear me complain. I want to be clear that I'm not trolling for compliments, and I'm not trying to ask for anyone's sympathy. I fully acknowledge that any issues that I have are relatively minor, but I think they're issues that a lot of women have, and I think it's important to talk about them, particularly in the context of blogging.
The world of fashion is populated by thin women. This is just a statement of fact, and is not intended to denigrate them in any way. There is a very particular body type in fashion (at least in high fashion; I will get to pinup and retro styles in a bit) - tall, slim hipped, small breasted, with the long, slender limbs of a gazelle. Toned, but not muscular, and very lean. That's the typical model body type, and the most popular fashion bloggers tend to look to have the same look. Not as tall, perhaps, and maybe a bit softer and rounder, but it's still all about slender, graceful bodies that the clothes can hug and hang off of just so. Of course, it's also unusual for anyone to acknowledge how difficult it can be to maintain that body type. I'm sure that for some people it's natural, but most people have to be on a pretty strict diet to get to and maintain a size two. There's even an Instagram account called You Did Not Eat That, which capitalizes on the phenomena of very slender fashion and lifestyle bloggers posing coyly with macaroons, slices of pizza, giant burgers, and ice cream cones mere inches of their lips.
Although others usually see me as a relatively thin person, it can be hard for me not to zero in on what I think is wrong with my body when I look in the mirror. I said before that I usually feel pretty good about myself, but sometimes if I haven't been eating well or am just going through a rough patch emotionally, I look in the mirror and all I can see are legs like tree trunks, flabby thighs, and cellulite. My boobs look too small, my ass looks too big, and where the hell did these bingo wings come from? My weight rarely flucuates by more than five pounds either way, but the way that I see myself can vary widely from day to day.
When I take photos for outfit posts, I'm always conscious of how I pose. Hands of hips to make my waist and arms look slimmer, head tilted to elongate my neck, up on tip-toe if I'm not already wearing heels to make my legs look longer and slimmer. I try very hard to be conscious of any bias that I might have, and that includes being biased against heavier people; still, I work very hard to make sure that I, myself, look as thin as possible. I'll take photo after photo trying to get everything just right.
I don't wear pants that often, and I almost never post photos of myself in them, mostly because I really don't like the way my hips and legs look in them.
I have mixed feelings about the influence that the vintage fashion world has had on me. On the one hand, size acceptance seems to be one of the core tenets of the scene, and the body types that you see are far more diverse than in mainstream fashion. The message that women of all sizes are beautiful is widely distributed, and popular clothing brands work to make sure that they can accomodate a variety of sizes. Practically speaking, there's also greater acceptance of using undergarments to reshape your body. Don't like your waist? Wear a corset! Don't like your ass? Girdle, she wrote. It's kind of refreshing to hear that you don't have to achieve physical perfection all on your own - just go out and buy this thing to put on under your clothing and problem solved. Vintage fashion generally acknowledges the articfice involved in nipping waists and cantilevering breasts, which creates more realistic expectations.
On the other hand, much of the media that we draw inspiration from features women who are almost as slim as today's fashion models, and if you prefer to buy vintage rather than reproduction, good luck finding larger sizes. I'm often annoyed by how much cheaper really beautiful items can be in very small sizes. I'll stumble across something on Etsy and think, "Oh my god, that dress is amazing! And it's only $60? And it's... 32-24-32. *sigh*" It just makes me think that I'm a medium now, and that's ok, but what if I were a small? Or better yet, an extra-small?
I've never had an actual eating disorder, although I am prone to disordered eating. It's gotten better, but there was a time, not that long ago, when I would count every calorie, obsess over how much I was working out, feel extreme guilt if I slipped up a little bit, and then have a down moment and eat until it was painful. On a couple of occasions, I would take laxatives afterwards to "get the food out of my system," as I thought about it. It's behavior that I recognize now was deeply unhealthy, and could have led to something much worse. I have to be careful about how I think about dieting and exercise and my body, because even though I recognize how terrible some of my choices were, I still find myself falling into that mindset sometimes.
I'm going to keep blogging, and I imagine I'm only going to become more deeply immersed in the world of vintage fashion as time goes on. I want this blog to be successful, so I'm probably going to continue to take dozens of photos every time I want to post an outfit to make sure that I'm presenting the best possible version of myself and my clothes. I want to be honest, though, about how I feel about myself, and the struggles that I have had and continue to have with my weight and with my self-image. I would feel like a fraud and like I'm doing a massive disservice both to myself and those of you who read this by doing anything else.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Memorial Day

I had a shopping post all lined up and ready to go yesterday, filled with red, white, and blue clothing and accessories. And then I couldn't post it, because it just seemed so frivolous. I'm all about frivolity, I really am, but sometimes I just can't be flippant or light-hearted.
My father passed away a few years ago. He was a Vietnam vet, and although he never talked much about the experience, I know that it was something that he felt pretty deeply. I remember asking him once, when I was young and didn't really know what I was asking, if he'd ever killed someone. He got really quiet and wouldn't answer me, and later my mom sat me down and told me how he didn't like thinking about the war, or what had happened when he was over there.
My dad was a life-long smoker, and his doctors had warned him for years that his lungs were not in good shape. He ended up with emphysema and congestive heart failure, and he passed away at the age of 67. Although it was never proven, we thought he might have been exposed to Agent Orange, like a lot of Vietnam vets were, which sped him on his way.
It took me by surprise how difficult yesterday was. I think it was a combination of a few things - my boyfriend's father reminds me a bit of my dad, plain-spoken, mustachioed, and handy with tools. He did a flag burning ceremony, and something about it reminded me of my dad's funeral.
It's hard to think about all of the things that he has missed, and will miss, in my life. He'll never see me get married, he'll never help me make a decision about buying my first home, he'll never hold any children that I might have. My dad was a trucker, a natural storyteller, a man who never met a stranger. He always wore cowboy boots and a cowboy hat, and he loved twangy old country music. When he got older, he liked to watch cooking shows. The only thing he'd ever really cook on the stove was chili, and after he started watching Emeril, he'd stand at the stove and go "Bam! Bam!" as he added the seasoning. If you weren't paying attention, he'd do it again, because the man was a total ham. In retrospect, there's a lot that I don't know about my dad, and it makes me sad that I'll never get a chance to ask him. He lived an interesting life, and I wish that I could know more about it.
You never really get done with grief, not completely. I was pretty wrecked when he died, red-eyed from crying and chain-smoking because, somehow, that made me feel closer to him. I would think about how people always said that we looked alike, and how I would climb up in his lap when I was little and he would let me have just a tiny sip of his drink. He wasn't the sort of man who would tell me that he loved me very often, but he was always there for me when I needed him. It's funny how the days that are supposed to remind me of him don't really hit me - his birthday and Christmas and Father's Day can all pass without a twinge. But show me a grill and a flag and a man with a moustache, and suddenly I'm in the nearest bathroom, wiping off my streaked mascara and wondering where that just came from.
Memorial Day is, for most people, a chance to take a three-day weekend, drink and grill, maybe go to the beach and get your summer started. I love that part of it, and for the most part that was my weekend too. I think it's important, though, to acknowledge all of the other meanings that the holiday may have.

Friday, May 23, 2014

And the winner is....

Last week I posted about a major haircut that I was planning. I cited a few vintage hair icons that I was inspired by - Audrey Hepburn, Jean Seberg, Louise Brooks. Some other fantastic suggestions were offered as well, like Sherilyn Fenn from Twin Peaks. It was actually a really tough decision, because there are so many pros and cons to all of the different styles. A really short pixie cut is striking and dramatic, but doesn't offer a lot of versatility; a bob would give me a bit more to play with, and would be easier to grow out, but it seems like everyone has one these days.
After some consultation with my stylist, Emily from Barbara & Barbara here in Chicago, I decided to just say screw it. It's only hair, after all.
So, my winning style inspiration is....

Jean Seberg circa Breathless.

Although obviously the real winner is me, because I look fucking fabulous.

It's easy to get attached to hair. I've basically been growing mine out from a pixie for the past few years, and it's felt like hard work. It was so exciting to see it get longer and longer, and it was fun to experiment with all of the different styles and shapes that I could do with it. Victory rolls and vampy waves and beehives and bouffants. I'm going to miss having access to those styles for a little while, but the great thing about hair is that it grows back.
It's kind of a pain in the ass to grow out a pixie cut, and there's always this weird, mullet-y stage that makes you want to just chop it all off again, and there are times when you just hate what's going on with your head and need all the of bobby pins and head bands and scarfs and hats, but in a weird way I'm looking forward to all that. I'm going to enjoy the crop for a little while, but I'm excited about the challenges of growing it out gracefully.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Links to love

1. Kudos To This Portrait Series For Not Erasing LGBTQ Identities While Proving They’re Just Like You
The Self Evident Truths Project is a massive photography project that aims to capture the portraits of 10,000 individuals on the LGBTQ spectrum. The photos manage to capture a little something of their queer identities while also making them human and relatable. There's also a stories section on their website, some of which are uplifting, some of which are heartbreaking. 

2. Why you should fight your judgemental side eye during shorts season
I stumbled across this article shortly after I wrote my post from yesterday, and I cannot agree with it more. Maybe you don't want to rock a pair of "janties," but demeaning other women who do serves no purpose other than to police and shame them. 

3. A tropical breeze dress
I am loving this homemade dress on my fellow vintage blogger Tasha from By Gum, By Golly. I've been dying over tropical prints lately (anyone want to buy me something pretty by Alfred Shaheen?), and this makes me want to learn how to sew my own clothes.

4. Oscar in the utility belt: 9 actors who won Academy Awards after playing comic-book characters
For a long time it felt like there was a bit of a genre ghetto in Hollywood. You could be a serious actor who did "real" movies, or you could be a B-level actor who did action/sci-fi/fantasy. With the explosion of comic book movies in the late 90s, the names started to get bigger. Bigger budget genre flicks = bigger names = bigger profits (usually). Right now, it seems like comic book movies, particularly in the Marvel Universe, are the best place to spot talented actors.

5. The Ryno prepares to charge
I think I want one.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Modesty is not a virtue

I've already done one post about reactions that I get when I'm dressed in vintage (basically, "great job conforming to traditional gender roles!", which, just, eww), and in the post I mentioned that there is another reaction that I get that I also hate. "It's nice to see a woman who covers up a little bit more. I hate how much skin women show these days. It's so slutty."
It always kind of surprises me when people actually say things like that. I will admit that most of people that I talk to on a regular basis fit firmly into the progressive, feminist school of thought, where it's understood that a woman's appearance is not a reflection of her character, and that enjoying consensual sex is not a moral failing. Those beliefs are so much a part of my world view that to hear anything else seems ludicrous. My instinctive reaction is to assume that they must be joking; people don't seriously believe this stuff, do they?
While I fully support every woman's right to be comfortable in what she's wearing, whether it's a pair of shorts and a crop top or a burqa, I hate the idea of modesty. Modesty, as a physical concept, is applied almost exclusively to women. Either their sexy, sinful bodies encourage men to lust after them and must be covered up, or their bodies must be covered up because... um, *mumble mumble* self respect. Even when it's not couched in terms of a woman's responsibility for a man's response to her, it still intrinsically links a woman's worth to the amount of skin that she shows. The idea that a woman who respects herself can dress any way that makes her feel good isn't even entertained.
The issue that I have with this "compliment" is the same one that I have with the other one - I don't want other people to project their assumptions onto my body. I don't dress the way that I dress (relatively covered up, most of the time) because I feel the need to hide my body away, but because it's comfortable for me. I'm not wearing my full-skirted, 1950s dress in opposition to another woman's bodycon mini. The only statement that I'm making is "I like this."
What I find really damaging about this attitude is that it comes, most often, from other women, and it's depressing how often it crops up. Even when it's not explicitly stated that way, seeing vintage loving women say that they hate mini skirts or booty shorts or other kinds of revealing clothing has the tacit message that covering up is better, and that they are better because that's what they do. It's a wonderful thing to take pride in yourself and in your appearance, but you don't have to look down on other people to do it.
The term "rape culture" has gained a lot of traction in the past few years, and I see this as an aspect of it. Women police other women's sexuality, and their perceived expression of it, because it makes them feel safe. Modesty and its enforcement is protection from the ills of the world. If you're good, if you cover up, if your sexuality is kept under wraps, then you can't be raped or abused. That's why you see the kind of vicious slut-shaming that is so distressingly common after something like Steubenville - the victims have to be made into the kind of girls who are "asking for it." If they're not, then other women have to face the scary fact that it could happen to any one of them.
I don't consider modesty a virtue. A virtue is something that improves the world - kindness, patience, generosity, compassion. It has nothing to do with how you look or what you wear.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Under the Skin

Saturday I finally saw Under the Skin, the new film starring Scarlett Johansson. I almost didn't end up writing this review, largely because it is just so very, very strange; it's difficult to really even be articulate about the events of the film, and even now, a couple of days later, I'm not sure what I saw or how I feel about it.
Film Review Under the Skin
There isn't actually a lot that happens in the movie. Scarlett Johansson's unnamed alien drives around Glasgow, picking up lonely men and luring them back to her abode. There, to the sounds of spare, pulsating synths, she slowly strips, leading them deeper and deeper into her room, black and empty, the floor reflecting their forms like a mirror. As the men disrobe, they begin to sink into the surface of the floor. The imagery is like a nightmare; they sink like stones and then float beneath the surface, weightless, until some unknown force drains them, leaving only empty skin drifting in the water like a ghost, or a wisp of smoke.
A change seems to occur when she is trying to seduce a new victim on the a rocky beach. He spots a couple drowning and dashing off, trying (and failing) to save them. When he makes it back to the beach, exhausted and half-drowned himself, she hits him over the head with a rock and drags him off. He is not seen again, and outwardly she is unmoved. However, she can't finish the job with her next victim, a young man with facial deformities. After she gives him to the room, there is a scene where she spends several long moments staring into a mirror, and the raw emotion on her face marks her internal change. Up until now, she's been utterly unreadable, expressionless except when she's chatting up her victims. She lets him go, and then takes off herself.
She isn't the only alien on the planet. There is another one, a man, who seems to watch her and clean up after her if there is any trace left of her victims. It turns out he is one of four, and when she runs, they pursue her. They, too, are like something out of a nightmare. There's something relentless about the way their motorcycles eat up the road, and the way the will sometimes stop and seem to scent the air reminded me a bit of a hunting hound.
She looks for safety in increasingly remote areas, leaving the city for a rural town, where a man takes her in and gives her shelter, and then for a forest, where a logger attacks her. The further she gets from the city, the more human she seems. For the first time you see fear in her, vulnerability, sadness. It seems like she tries to make a connection with the man who tries to help her, even offering him her body, which she had formerly only used to lure in her victims. It seems, however, that she is not equipped to consummate the act.
The scenes that were the most dynamic, and the most thematically interesting to me, where the ones in the forest. All throughout the movie, she has been the predator, the one using smiles and questions to bring in her prey. When she encounters the logger in the forest, he mirrors her earlier behavior, acting friendly and helpful, just slightly too familiar for the circumstances. The moments between when she meets him and when he attacks are are some of the tensest in the film. She is now prey, but it doesn't seem as if she senses the same thing that we do.
There are certain motifs that run through the film - the masks that people wear, the relationship between predator and prey, coming to grips with our emotions and needs and how that conflicts with our duties - but it's hard to ascribe meaning to it as a whole. I don't know if it's meant to have a meaning or a moral, although some things make me think that it does. Her emotional awakening, if you want to call it that, comes from an encounter with a man who looks monstrous, but is deeply sensitive and lonely. After she has a terrible and violent encounter with another man, who is monstrous on the inside, her inner monster is revealed. I don't really know what it's supposed to mean, but it clearly means something. 
It is a deeply unsettling film. After I left the theater, I couldn't really even form complete thoughts for a while. I felt like I was an alien myself, or as if I'd been jarred out of reality and had to find my way back. In that way, I guess I would say that it's a very successful film, although I honestly couldn't tell you if I actually liked it or not.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Great Britton, A Stripteuse With Brains

I have to admit that while I love burlesque, I don't actually know all that much about it. Dita von Teese was my gateway to the art form, and from there I learned about Bettie Page and Gypsy Rose Lee, and Chicago-area neo-burlesque stars like Michelle L'Amour and Red Hot Annie. Lately I've been really interested in learning about the burlesque dancers of yesteryear; there are so many amazing women from the first half of the 20th century who did this when it was still a really shocking, rebellious thing to do. That's not to say that there isn't still an element of that today, but neo-burlesque is immensely popular, and the biggest stars, like Dita, wear couture, walk red carpets, and are generally considered fit for public consumption, at least when they have their clothes on.
Dita, front row at Paris Fashion Week with Aaron Paul and Harry Styles.
Sherry Britton might already be familiar to some of you, but she's someone that I only read about recently.
Born in New Jersey in 1918, she became a star in the 30s and 40s, performing in burlesque theaters in Times Square and mere blocks from the White House when she moved to D.C. after burlesque was banned in New York. FDR made her an honorary brigadier general for her role in entertaining the troops during WWII. After the decline in popularity of burlesque in the 50s, she moved on to doing plays, although she was banned from the 1964 World's Fair because she was still considered "too risque."
I saw this photo and literally thought, "hot damn." Can we invent time travel soon so I can meet her?
Britton was also an incredibly intelligent woman. With a MENSA level IQ, she graduated from high school early, and later in life graduated magna cum laude from Fordham University with a degree in pre-law.
With her combination of brains, beauty, and wit, she could have done just about anything. Instead of settling down and living an ordinary life, she risked censure and even arrest by bucking societal norms to become a burlesque star.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Links to Love

1. Want to Know if Your Food is Genetically Modified?
To quote somewhat at length:
"Though opposition to GMOs has its roots in the liberal environmental movement, an increasing number of environmental writers and thinkers have begun to take the industry’s side in the debate, pointing to an overwhelming scientific consensus—based on hundreds of independent, non-industry-funded, peer-reviewed, long-range studies—that GMOs are safe. The scariest recent study, which claimed that GMOs caused tumors in rats, was the work of a rogue laboratory in France whose findings have been widely debunked. The National Academy of Sciences, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, the U.K.’s Royal Society, the European Commission, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest have all sought to weigh GMOs’ purported risks, and found that there is no evidence they are dangerous."
I've already made my feelings about GMOs pretty clear,  but I was really fascinated by this article from The Atlantic. It's a long read, but it's really worth the time.

2. A Taxonomy of Carbonated Waters
Summer's almost upon us, and L.V. Anderson from Slate tackles this most important of issues - what's the difference between various kinds of fizzy bubble water?

3. Women in Space (part 1)
This review of women in space based sci-fi added several new entries to my reading list. I've already read more fantasy than sci-fi, but lately I've really been drawn to science fiction. It tends to be such a male dominated genre, though, that it's nice to have a list of novels to check out that actually have women in them. 

4. The Hollow Cat Eye: A Customized Twist on a Classic Look
Much as I love a classic cat eye, sometimes you just have to switch things up a little bit. This xoVain tutorial gives a few different ideas for how to mix things up with your beauty routine.

5. Model Co Tan Mousse and Mitt
The reason why I'm featuring this link is less because of the product review, and more because of what the lovely Marianne has to say on the issue of skin tone. This is something that I've noticed myself - the vintage look seems to be a very white look, both demographically speaking (I know many more white people who've embraced the retro aesthetic than people of color) and aesthetically speaking (the beauty standard seems to be very pale skin). I think that there are a lot of reasons behind that, and they're way too complicated to get into in just a paragraph or two, but I have to echo her statement that "...all skin tones are beautiful and let's enjoy them, whatever we have, and paint them, or not paint them, whatever takes our fancy, as we see fit."

6. Silk Mystery Outfit
One of the joys of wearing and collecting vintage clothing is doing the research to try and pinpoint their era and origin. The Vintage Traveler recently purchased this lovely silk outfit, and was trying to place the time period it came from. I've spent plenty of time doing this myself, and it was great to read her working through the various clues that made her conclude that it was, in fact, a 1950s garment.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Can we talk about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for a sec?

I was so ridiculously excited when it was announced that the Avengers were getting a television spinoff, and that Joss Whedon was involved. Multiple nerdgasms right there. I watched the first few episodes, wavering between optimism and disappointment. The quips were there, and some of the plot lines were pretty engaging, but it didn't really gel for me. Skye was annoying, Ward was boring, Fitz and Simmons were cute but very one note, and the charms of Coulson and May weren't enough to keep me interested. Around episode seven or eight, my interest had completely fizzled, and I just stopped watching.
I'd heard that the event of Captain America: The Winter Soldier had shaken things up a bit, and brought some clarity and focus to a struggling show. I already had plenty on my plate in terms of entertainment viewing, though, and for the past couple of weeks I haven't had any internet in my new apartment, so I never really caught up.
We've got some rabbit ears hooked up to our TV, and last night I happened to catch the season finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and while there was some stuff that I probably would have benefited from some background on (who was that dude hanging out with Coulson? Apparently he brings both the noise and the funk. And was Garrett the guy who got dropped into the gravitonium?), but overall, it felt like a vast improvement over the early episodes. Coulson and May were total badasses, Ward's actually pretty sexy now that he's evil, Skye had something to say other than "mumble mumble HACKING," and the scenes with Fitz and Simmons actually made me feel something, despite not being at all invested in them.
And ***spoilers!!*** the scene where the bad guy gets killed and tried to triumphantly come back and then gets promptly blown to smithereens was a total win and was basically just like that one season opener from Buffy with Dracula. 
I read the review for the episode on the AVClub, and they had some quibbles that I didn't really pick up on. I didn't really get what was up with Coulson at the end (although that's some nifty freaking wallpaper, where I buy?). His resurrection was apparently the central mystery of season one, and they had expected some answers, but I didn't really find it necessary. As setup for season two, it worked for me. The reviewer was also not impressed with the dialog, but to me it read as classic Whedon quippiness, which I dug. 
Overall, I'm coming out of this season as a fan, and I'm happy that my faith in The Avengers and in Joss Whedon has been reaffirmed. I do have some catching up to do after I get my internet back on Sunday, so we'll see how I feel after that, but generally I'm  just very excited for the next season.
On a side note, I guess they're doing another series called Agent Carter, about Peggy Carter (Captain America's love interest in the first movie), to which I can only say hell yes. I loved her as a character, and it's also really nice to see a show with a woman at the center. And it's a period piece, so, you know, I'll totally be thinking about how to do my hair like that and how cool the clothes are and man I really need to wear more lipstick. We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Vintage short hair inspiration

I've gone through a lot of hair colors in the past several years. I'm a natural redhead, but I cycle through blonde, black, and red hair on a pretty regular basis. I enjoy changing up my look, having that drastic change where I practically don't recognize myself in the mirror for a little while.
My hair's been blonde before, usually platinum, and I really like the color. I have blonde eyebrows and eyelashes (ultimate ginger kid here), so blonde hair means that I don't have to worry about it if I don't feel like wearing mascara or coloring in my brows all the time. Usually, though, when it's blonde it's also very short, which means the damage doesn't have time to accumulate too much before it gets cut again. Trying to grow it out while also bleaching it is starting to feel like an exercise in futility. My hair's got that gummy texture and fragility that means, unfortunately, that despite how gentle I've tried to be with it, the damage is pretty much irrevocable.
I've spent so long growing my hair out that if feels like a shame to cut it, but it's damaged enough that even if I stop bleaching and go dark again, I'm still going to need a fairly major cut. I do love the look and versatility of longer hair, but I'm not so attached to it that chopping it off will be unduly painful.
My pixie from back in the day, after about six-ish months of growing out.
And the bob it grew out into.

So, how short should I go?
I adore Jean Seberg's pixie cut. It's so classic and beautifully androgynous. It might be a nice way to add a little edge to my look, since my style is so extravagantly feminine.
Audrey Hepburn's short cut is a little longer and softer, so it might give me a little more to play with in terms to styles and textures.
Liz's short curls are really cute, and an almost defiantly vintage look. My only concern is that it might veer too close to "grandma" for me to really pull off.
I've already got the Louise Brooks' bitchface down; maybe I need her bob too.
Marion Davies isn't the icon that Louise Brooks is, but I love the waves on this 1920s film star (and William Randolph Hearst's lover). Although I love how striking a pixie cut can be, a bob would give me more options (curly vs. straight) and isn't as difficult to grow out.

So, what do you guys think? Short or shorter? Any other short haired vintage vixens you can recommend to me?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Vintage dressing for transitional weather

I don't know if I'm alone in this, but I find it much easier to wear vintage when it's slightly cooler out than in the heat of summer. Vintage sundresses are comfortable and lovely, but they're not that practical on a bike (the longer skirts get caught up in my wheels and get all gunked up), and I don't really want to get a nice vintage piece all soaked in sweat.
The weather here in Chicago has been doing its thing lately, going from hot to pouring rain to downright chilly, all in the course of a single day. It's hard to dress for that, but there are a few things that help.

1. Layering.
Layers. I know, revolutionary, right? But seriously, a cardigan and a scarf or a lightweight trench coat can make the difference between being miserable and shivering when the weather takes a turn for the cooler, and being comfortable. I am, frankly, nuts about cardigans.
This isn't even all of them. My favorite are my vintage cashmere cardigans, which are super soft and versatile, but JCrew is one of my go-to stores for classic cardigans, and I also really like Forever21 for fun, printed styles.

2. Long sleeved tops with shorts.
I know it probably sounds counterintuitive, but when it's really hot out, I almost always wear long or 3/4 length sleeves. It's actually a little cooler than letting the sun beat down on your bare skin (which isn't very good for you anyway), but it's also warmer if the clouds start to roll in.
It's kind of hard to see my shorts here, but combination of a Breton striped top and high-waisted, printed shorts has a fun, French, pinup kind of feel, and looks great on a lot of different body types.

3. An elastic waistband is your friend.
It can be hard to find authentic vintage pieces with elastic waists, but they're worth keeping an eye out for. You'll see it on some pieces from the 60s and later, and they're fairly common on patio dresses and skirts (you'll sometimes see them labeled as "squaw" dresses) and items meant for square dancing. Wearing a very tight waistband in the heat of summer can be really uncomfortable, especially when sweat starts to collect in it, so something with a bit more give and flexibility can be a lifesaver. I don't always love the look of an elastic waist, so weather permitting I might belt it.
The elastic panels on this 60s sundress make it one of the most comfortable pieces that I own.
I adore the embroidery on this 70s era dress. It also has an elastic waist, although as you can see here, I belted it for a slightly more polished look.

During the cooler months I shoot for a classic, ladylike kind of look, but this summer I'm looking forward to playing around a bit with some pinup style looks. I've spent some time browsing through rompers and playsuits, something I never really thought I'd get into.
I really love this adorable two piece playsuit from VintageRagsAndDigs. The size and fabric are customizable, and I believe it's made using a vintage pattern.

Isn't this 80s does 40s romper to die for? It's on sale from TaraMiSioux on Etsy. I love the classic color and shape, and it looks like it would be really comfortable for biking.