Trying to put my thoughts & ideas down somewhere and give another outlet to my creativity. It's all connected, so I can't say it's a blog about just this or just that. Dolls. Fashion. Art. A little bit on travel, whatever... let's take it wherever it goes...


New finds, vintage style in Denver and styles better left forgotten

So, I'm back. That holiday, though not much more than a week, was certainly hard earned. Skiing was fun as always, and we certainly never before have had a week with such good or warm weather - what a difference a month can make. So far, we only ever skied in Colorado in February, but never this late, in Mid-March.
Having a whole, and extremely sunny, beautiful day to drive from Breckenridge down to Denver, and one more half day before we actually needed to be at the airport, meant plenty of time, and some very interesting discoveries in the Mile High City. We took the GPS-enabled iPod, but that didn't want to work, so it was back to reading maps for me. However, the map we picked up at a gas station in Frisco, where we had breakfast (it was time to at least once try one of those fast food breakfasts that make you shudder even reading them on the sign *lol*), proved not to be so bad, though it had about the size of a blanket, I kid you not. In short, we did a lot of driving around the city, but without the wrong turns and slight feeling of being lost of other times. In exchange for that, we made some interesting discoveries.
First off was the vintage shop. Short last-minute online research pointed me to Boss Vintage on South Broadway, which seemed to be a pleasant area with quirky looking small businesses and unusual old houses. And it was certainly worth the visit! I had feared it might be a bit on the expensive side, but prices turned out to be reasonable, and things sorted nicely e.g. suits, skirts, sweaters, dresses, cocktail dresses, and then divided by decade. So I went straight for the day dresses and went through the 30s, 40s and 50s. What was remarkable was that I saw a lot of store labels from Denver, so they seem to source a lot of stuff locally, which I find very recommendable. Also, the tags has measurments listed, so it was easy to pick things that I had a fair chance of being able to wear. I was also looking for bright colors, and that requirement was easily fulfilled with what I bought in the end:
A late 40s/early 50s cusper - a dress "Styled by Claire Tiffany" of heavy kelly green crepe, albeit with some color fading at the shoulders/sleeves, but still too beautiful to miss. It also features a cute embroidered collar:
Next up is a pumpkin orange slender 50s dress with a big collar:The labe inside is from Neusteters department store. As it turns out, this used to be one of those classic department stores that were around forever. Like so many others, it doesn't exist anymore, but the building is still there. Nowadays, it is on the pedestrian-only part of downtown 16th Street, 16th Street Mall. And I am pretty sure I have walked by that building a few times already in my life. We certainly did this time, before our usual dinner at Hard Rock Café. More on the history and the building can be read here. Well, I think it's a cool idea to have a vintage "souvenir" from one's trips.
Last but not least, I also found a beautiful slip:Saturday morning started beautifully sunny, as we made our way across the city again, this time on the hunt for some original Cowboy Cut jeans by Wrangler. They're not that easy to get, as stores like Wal-Mart carry only the "normal" Wrangler models. For Cowboy Cut and such things, you need a western shop. Dad found one online, which turned out to be a small Mexican shop (should have seen the shirts, suits and boots they had - oh, the bling!), complete with the TV on with a (albeit English) soccer game on. Driving out there, we followed Colfax Avenue straight across downtown and further on. Just at the eastern end of downtown, where some great old-fashioned looking theaters are, we came across Tom's Diner. You can't miss it, it's right there and the mid-century modern look certainly grabs your eyes. So, we stopped there for breakfast. It looks amazing outside, but inside it's even better! You can catch a look here. It's that crazy, kitschy ca. mid-50s to early 60s "modern" look, made sunny and fun with a lot of yellow and orange. The food was what you'd expect at a diner, but good. I just sat there an marveled. What a cool place!
Further along Colfax Avenue, after passing by the State Capitol's golden cupola gleaming in the sun, the road was lined with car dealers, garages - and old motels, gas stations, bars, diners. And I mean the real thing - those with those incredible 50s neon signs. Some motels looked nice, for some the term "run down" would be an endearment, and of some nothing was left but the neon signs. I'd love to drive through there at night and see how many still light up. I mean, they're cool anyway, but not as cool as when you see them at night! Check out Colfax Avenue's official website, there's small photo show at the bottom of the page (below the Youtube videos), that shows some of the signs. I admit, I was too busy looking to even think of taking pictures (which is difficult anyway out of a driving car and while keeping an eye on the map).The downside is, as I have read on several websites now, that a lot of these motels nowadays are used as permanent residences, by people who can't afford or find an apartment - and thus live in these motels under conditions that are near unimaginable. It's the same story as in so many other places. Colfax Avenue/Highway 40 once was Denver's "Main Street" (as I said, it goes straight through downtown, passing the Capitol, the Civic Center, the Mint and the Convention Center), until in 1964 Interstate 70 opened further north, and Colfax lost it's importance. That also explains the many motels I guess.
Going back to Breckenridge for a bit, I noticed a trend on the slopes that I don't know if I should find it interesting - or downright scary! I noticed a lot of neon colors (or dayglo), especially with boarders. Snowboards with wild designs first caught my eyes, but some boarders too were wearing suits with neon color elements. Okay, I loved my neon green Völkl skis, and I think they would right now have been the coolest thing to have on that mountain, judging by what I saw. But ski/board suits with neon color elements? I saw it the first time 'round and I don't think I want to see it repeated... ;-). Besides the "new" neon-inspired suits, I did spot one neon-colored atrocity that looked like it had been the "real thing". If the wearer was simply wearing what she bought 20 years ago and still deemed alright, or she might have bought this intentionally second hand, I cannot say - the way she looked age-wise I guess it could've been either case. But the utmost, absolute, most unbelievable fashion faux-pas I spotted on the slopes in Keystone was... THE NEON PINK STIRRUP PANTS! Gratefully, the wearer combined them with a black jacket, and at least she was slender, but still... How can anyone do that? Of course, I asked myself again... second-hand leftover from back in the day, or new (which is a thought that makes me shudder, really!). She was definitely too young to have worn them back in the 80s or very early 90s. That also reminds me, while looking through the blogs I'm reading /keeping an eye on, the Couture Allure's blog has a wonderful "Awful 80s" series that will make anyone laugh who remembers this. The latest instalment had me in stitches! I was a kid who loved to look at mail-order catalogs, so I do remember some of this stuff, even though I was too young then to care too much about fashion per se. Read the comments too, they'll make you laugh all over again. I just hope those stretch lace catsuit had an opening in a certain... ahm... strategic place...!

On another note, since the weather has been warming up constantly this week, I have given my brown 1930s dress an outing. Getting in and out of it takes some artistic talent, as the only opening are the buttons down the front, but it is actually quite comfortable - and I think it looks great. The skirt is just long and tight enough that it gives that slightly wiggly feeling...
For a 50's feeling, I have last week received a cute 50s cashmere sweater from Past Perfect Vintage, which looks great with my black wide cotton skirt from Lindex. Scarf's from the dollar store, Blythe doll earrings and pearl bracelets are my own creation.It also looks quite nice with slim jeans and the nice pumps from the Caritas shop:
Ok, the Lana-Turner-pointy-bra isn't there, but I still feel a bit "Sweater Girl"-like when I wear it;-).


Scarf of the month, Oscar rag and more....

So, late to the party... but anyway. My comments on the Oscars... what can I say? Good show, but somehow it's not one that will stay in my mind - it just didn't stand out. Great dresses, but no ultimate standout (neither good or bad), good presentation but nothing that stood out either... On that point: Anne Hathaway certainly is super cute and talented, but I would have wished her to have a better partner - and one with more charisma! It seemed to me that James Franco was just standing there and reading off the teleprompter. My suggestion: let Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway do it together next year *g*. After all, their little "story" ain't finished yet, what with how she poked him in her little song-and-dance interlude. I certainly had a good laugh about that! Otherwise laughing had me Kirk Douglas. Hard to understand, yes, but he just about stole the show. Also adore Dame Helen Mirren - her dress choices are always impeccable, and in general she always looks so much better than many of her much younger colleagues. Her presentation was great too - and her French accent so impeccable (as it happens, I have ITV on right now and just saw her on some morning show - adore her even more now!) . Also adored Sandra Bullock's dress - and her presentation too. It just showed that even if you have a given text that comes off a teleprompter, if you've got what it takes, you can make it sound so much more personal - and utterly more believable and natural. Kevin Spacey floored me too - couldn't he have sung a little more *g*? I have an inkling he'd be a great choice to present the show too. On a last note - THAT vintage 1950s Charles James dress that Marisa Tomei wore! I adore it, though the dress would have earned more glamourous make-up and hair. Not that I'm saying Marisa's not beautiful - I find she's a very beautiful person - but a dress like that needs a bit more "ooomph". Still, kudos to her for wearing it!

On another note, here's something I've been wanting to show for some time. While surfing etsy some time ago, I came across this incredible custom-made cocktail dress, which resulted in my having a massive déjà-vu! Back when I was a kid, there was a line of Barbie dresses each year that had just some "party"-name. Basically, it was short party or cocktail dresses, from the over-the-top to the classy. In the US they were mostly called "Dinner Date Fashions" - though I don't think anybody in reality would have worn them just to a dinner date - they were definitely mostly more glamourous and party-like. And there was one dress that certainly looks almost identical to this one! This is ca. 1991:
Sadly, I don't have it, but I have the one on the right to it in the pic. I just wondered for the moment if this was an accident or maybe if this designer had taken her inspiration from Barbie?

It has of course also been time for another scarf to be unwrapped. This time, it's a light mixture of milk coffee and and sunny yellow, perfect for the approaching spring:
Being out shopping yesterday, it certainly was clear that spring was everywhere - at least when it comes to fashion. Took a short peak into H&M - bought a few cute earrings and got a "H&M Magazine". Not that it is a great revelation. As for the current trends they're showing big-time, it's nothing that I feel like wearing. All too pastel-y, preppy, has been there before... That boho-hippie-70s rock chic-look is not exactly my favourite vintage look, and I have already been through one hippie revival before, thank you. And high-waisted jeans? Not for me either. And that 80s to early 90s-revival with washed-out jeans? To be honest, those "soft colors" are not my "thing" either, as well as those carrot shaped pants. And "romantic" cropped crotcheted tops? Gee, I had that 15 years ago. Ok, I have that romantic lace-edged shift that I showed last time - but I know I will combine it with popping colors or black, not with with more soft colors. Look at that shot of me ca. 1994 - just the colors remind me of what I saw in H&M yesterday:
Not something I want to revisit. As for all the flower prints - it's ok if they're on black background, but please not on beige, off-white or light blue, and please not that mille fleurs-tiny print. Been there, done it, don't want to do it again. I had already seen so much in that vain last year in Australia and in New Zealand. I walked into some shops and thought I had walked into a catalog from my teens. I do like rose or flower prints, but all the items I have bought since are on a black background, which is ok with me, like my skater dress from Sports Girl, which still remains a favourite and it's also not so small printed), or the overall from POP that I just bought:

On another note, the magazine also features an article about individual style - citing people like Lady Gaga, Anna Piaggi or Anna Dello Russo. As much as I like the idea of individual style, it's easy to cite celebs or well-known bloggers who have endless resources to buy and wear out-of-this-world things. Couldn't they have shown some more "normal" people who do unusual styles? I mean, the above-mentioned people are all over the fashion mags and blogs anyway - no getting away from them! Or they could have been shown how their clothes could be customized combined in an unusual way for example? Ok, there is one shot that shows a pair of cut-off leather pants and a jacket customized with safety pins, but the comment is written in such tiny letters that most people probably won't see it.
There's also an article on vintage fashion in the mag - that too, nice idea, but... yes, they mention VFG member Posh Girl Vintage, but they certainly could have mentioned among the online resources for example Etsy, and not just Ebay, or even the VFG, which is such a great resource on anything vintage... I just got the sinking feeling that this was another fast but not over thoroughly researched article to jump on the bus before it's gone. Ok, it certainly is good to bring it to the brains of the "normal" H&M-shoppers, but I would certainly have liked to see it better written - and with more pictures of actual vintage fashion.

Speaking of overalls (or playsuits or rompers as they were called in another time), they too seem to be a trend this year - and one that I do like. *g* I recently bought this super cute little 50s playsuit from Miss Martys vintage (sorry - can't really but it on my manni):
Had to take it in on the top a lil' bit, but at the bottom it fits nicely, it's also easy to wash & iron - perfect for summer! All it needs is a broad black belt like the one I showed in my last post with the white lacy dress. And then I found the sweet little overall that I already showed above, which is pretty much the same shape from the waist down, with relatively wide legs. Still fits nicely though.

While shopping for a birthday present, I also hit the big bookstore - Orell Füssli. They recently closed their Krauthammer store - a bookshop specialising in art, design, architecture etc. that they had bought up a few years ago. Now their main shop has a Krauthammer department. That may sound nice, but it's too bad that the big specialised store is gone which of course has the even better selection. Browsed through some interesting and beautiful books, but still... it's wayyy too small! Looks great, but if you look at the actual selection - it's pretty small! On a positive note, they featured both shoe books by Jonathan Walford prominently - though in the German translation.

From my new year's trip to Vienna, I had also brought this cute kelly green 1970s dress - just right for St. Patrick's Day:
It's home sewn, and not overly expertly at that, but still, it's sweet. And it has an even sweeter secret underneath, on it's lining:Anyway, it needed a new zip and it had one small hole. This is the kind of work that I like to do in front of the TV - ripping out a 50cm zip that was sewn in by machine is not something you do in 2 minutes, and basting the new one in and sewing the lining back on to it by hand isn't either. Ok, can't do it watching a movie, but for watching some documentary or crime drama, that's just fine by me *g*. Now, it only needs to go to the dry cleanears' and it will be as good as new!