It is fall again, and my vintage sweater collection is ready to keep me toasty. I’ve been busy with lots of laundering and mending over the last year, to get everything ready. It isn’t always easy, either, to fit vintage sweaters into modern looks, and I don’t claim to be extra-great at it. Some sweaters, like a simple cream-colored Aran, or a lovely Shetland wool fair isle, will always be fashionable, because they are wardrobe standards. But others, like today’s gray boucle with a cowl neck, straight out of the late 70s or early 80s, can be tricky. It’s so very definitely the era in which it was made; there is nothing even remotely timeless about it. But it is also a flattering shape and an interesting color and texture. Paired with plain bluejeans, it definitely evokes it’s era, but sometimes, with vintage, you just have to embrace it. Meanwhile, a quick search of Anthropologie’s recent crop of sweaters for fall and winter of 2014 give us things like this neutral-colored sweater with a fringe collar and this cowl-neck boucle sweater that both have elements reminiscent of my little vintage cowl. The shapes and textures from the 80s are definitely to be found all over in 2014′s designer sweaters, so I’ll count myself lucky my pretty vintage baby is in-the-moment for it’s debut season. And I’ll count myself extra lucky that this gem came to me via a Goodwill $1-days sale.
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I love vintage clothing, and I love knits, so it should come as no surprise at all that I adore vintage knits. This past season, I worked on my collection of vintage sweaters, focusing on wool. I buy vintage sweaters that most people don’t want because they need repair or are obviously out-dated, and I usually buy them CHEAP. I’d like to focus my Mondays on these sweaters as I get them each washed and repaired. If you do not want to hear a woman wax poetic about knits, these will not be the posts for you.
Let’s start with this ridiculously pink cardigan. This is a mid to late 60s hand knit. If you recognize this from a vintage pattern book, please drop me a note; I’ve been hunting and can’t track it down. Special features include a saddle shoulder and paired cable braids on front and sleeves, with little open breast pockets at the top of each of the front cables. It has no shaping to speak of, and I really don’t know how to style it. Open over a white T-shirt and black jeans? Every time I look at I feel different about the color. Half the time I think it is perfect, the other half I make up my mind to over-dye it with purple. At the very least, I think I will update the buttons.
Now, this is also my first serious attempt at mending a sweater. I’ve fixed seams in the past, and even holes, but never with the intention of the sweater being as good as new. One of my previous attempts was a sweater of my husband’s that was worn a lot during our dog’s younger years, and lots of tooth and toenail snags latter was in the throw-away box. But he thought it was comfy, and lamented that it was ripped to shreds. So I mended it to good-enough, so he could slouch about the house in it. He could never wear it to work again, though. With my vintage sweater collection, the goal is to make the sweaters every bit as wearable as they ever were. This sweater had a hole in the back, and a weirdly crusty stain on one sleeve. After washing, the crusty stain turned into a lightly stained hole, and right over a cable, too. I couldn’t find any yarn quite the same pink, but found something pretty close and did a swiss-darning-style mend on the back to make it as invisible as possible, and then basically just tried to reconstruct as well as possible the damaged cable. It’s in a spot that won’t be noticed, and will most likely be taken for a stain rather than a darn, but my mixed-success was successful enough, I think, and will be even more so after another good blocking.
When I saw the Pantone Spring 2014 fashion color report, I thought it looked a little familiar. So I pulled out a couple of old Simplicity pattern books I have in my stash, and there, on the front of the Simplicity Summer 1959 book:
This look is Simplicity pattern 3014 in a “Far Eastern print” in rayon/silk blend by Fabrex. Of course, the print most reminds me of Islamic & Mediterranean tile-work, which even in the 50′s would not have been considered “Far East”. The mixture of obi, frog closure, kimono sleeve and Turkish-style mosaic print is interesting, though. And if that isn’t Dazzling Blue, Hemlock, Placid Blue and Violet Tulip, then it is pretty darn close.
Later in the book we find:
This look is Simplicity 2961 (which also included a short version) and I think it’s pretty safe to say that’s nearly Celosia Orange there. It illustrates the black and white print and full skirt adorned with a pop of color in the form of a bright “obi”. Included in this issue are also brief instructions and diagrams for constructing these wide sashes to add to your accessory closet. I’ll be exploring these in a later post.
March is here, and that means it’s starting to warm up here in sunny Nebraska. I love a light sweater for spring, and I also love the new/old dolman sleeve trend. It happens to be flattering on me, as well as being handy when you find a lovely vintage sweater and don’t want to look too terribly out of date. Once again, I really don’t know how to style this garment, but I feel like (my winter weight not withstanding) a pair of skinny jeans is the right direction. Perhaps that’s a little too 80′s, though. As always, let me know in the comments if you have any ideas for ways to style this garment.
February’s vintage look isn’t really a look. I found this adorable shades-of-gray dress from the early 1960s, and it fits me like a dream. But I have NO earthly idea how to style it. I like the bright shoes, but I don’t know if red is the color. Perhaps a blue or turquoise would be better? I need more shoes. (Don’t tell my husband I said that.)
Ideas for how to style this dress? Leave me a comment!
The first Monday of every month features an outfit from my own wardrobe. Every outfit either incorporates vintage pieces or is inspired by a vintage look. January’s look features my outfit for my husband’s office Christmas party. The skirt is a beautiful vintage tomato red wool tweed, and I was lucky to find the wrap, which doesn’t actually match, but coordinates really well.
Disclaimer: I am NOT a fashionista. In fact, I do a lot of blundering as far as dressing myself is concerned. However, I do have a very good eye for materials, and over the course of the last few years have managed to add some really lovely vintage pieces to my wardrobe. I don’t know how often I’m successful in wearing them, but I love them. Let me know in the comments if you think there’s a way I could better style any of my vintage pieces.
I’ve worn essentially the same hair-style since high school. Some people might argue that there’s a HUGE difference between short, mid-length and long, style-wise. But if, no matter what length the hair is, you have it the same length all over, parted down the middle and curly, well. Length doesn’t matter so much. I’ve passed the point in my life where I want something super easy that just does what it does without any help from me. I want a style. But I have to admit, I’m a little afraid. Having a style involves upkeep, both daily from me and monthly at least to keep bangs short, color bright, ends neat, etc. So I need to know, do I have what it takes? And can I wiggle around setting aside money for a cut and color, or even just a cut, every month? I am fairly sure I could manage the latter, but I’m not so sure about the former.
At the moment, I’m madly and deeply in love with the blue-banged style by Lisa Shepherd seen at left. I love the cut so much, and I am completely surprised to discover how much I want bangs, which I haven’t worn since a disastrous incident in junior high when the twins thought I needed bangs and that bangs couldn’t be that hard to make. That’s been more than two decades. Perhaps it’s time to give them another go. But then again, we all know how much I enjoy being a red-head, and there are some gorgeous rich reds out there. I’m so confused!
This beautiful piece is by an artist, Helen Grant, who was regularly featured on the cover and inside Needlecraft Magazines from the early part of the century. It pictures matching mother and daughter dress styles, the patterns of which could be purchased by mail order. It is beautifully done, sweet and so characteristic of the time period. I think it would make a lovely embroidered item, decorations for stationary, or even framed art. Click on the picture to get a larger version.
Ruth and Ruthie
Ruth was my mother’s mother. She was a beautiful Bavarian woman, dignified and aristocratic, with refined tastes. She spent her childhood in the elegant environs of Nuremburg, Germany, the only child of wealthy parents. WWII changed many things about her life and her lifestyle. The years following saw her in love, the wife of a rancher in Wyoming, and just a handful of years more saw her a widow struggling to raise her three children in a somewhat inhospitable clime. But she did not lose her appreciation of fine and beautiful things, and that appreciation and recognition were gifts she passed to her children. Like most women of her generation, my Oma crocheted and knit. Many photos from her youth feature gorgeous and skillfully-wrought knits, and in her later years, when she was no longer able to handle her needles or hook, she was still inspired by luxurious yarns and fibers, beautiful colorways and the craftsmanship of knitting.
For our first Monday’s child, in honor of that love of beauty and elegance, I’m resurrecting my very first knitting pattern; a bolero jacket. Inspired by a photo from a Norwegian knitting magazine, I designed and knitted the jacket for myself out of Joann’s Sensations Licorice in a beautiful red colorway, and I wore it twice. The second time, my Aunt Marge told me my Oma would love it, so I slipped it off and gave it to her to take to Oma with my love. At that time, Oma was wheelchair-bound due to advanced MS and was often chilly. Sweaters either were too bulky and got bunched in the chair behind her or were too light to keep her warm. She loved the jacket and was delighted that I had learned to knit. She asked for another in shades of blue and green to compliment the other half of her wardrobe, and I knitted it for my Knitting Olympics project in 2006. My Oma passed away two days after Christmas in 2007 and the original red wool jacket was not found among her things, but my Knitting Olympics version in blues and greens was returned to me. Wearing it is like getting a hug from Oma. In her honor, I’ve named the bolero jacket Ruth. The modification for a shrug is Ruthie