Saturday, June 30, 2012

Paisley Park

Why can't more things be paisley? It seems like it would be very easy to make a fresh and modern paisley — not just the colors, but the shapes. A smooth, sprightly, whimsical paisley — can't Jonathan Adler do something with that? I wouldn't buy it if he did — I'm not in the market for $68 coasters, no matter how cool they look — but maybe he (we? call me, Jonny) could spark a paisley renaissance.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Shady Lane

Shady Lane evokes a vague sense memory for me. Every time I wear it, I flash back to a mystery time when I was riding in the back of a pickup truck, feeling the sun on my face and arms. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Filthy Martini

When I bought Filthy Martini, it was a huge shapeless dress with long sleeves and cuffs. Now it looks like this:

It's a pretty good argument for getting things tailored when you need to. Filthy Martini cost $12 in (probably?) 2002, it probably cost about $30 to get it tailored, and I've worn it about a billion times since then (one hundred million times a year), so the amortization on that works out to $0.000000042 per wear. Definitely worth it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

O Modaction

After the Parisian misadventure described in Earthly Delights, I did another study abroad program there, for my MA. I don't really remember any details about any of the classes I took (though I did have one professor who could, if you read him a line from Madame Bovary, recite the rest of the page from memory), but I do remember going to lots and lots of mod parties. And I wore a dedicated dress.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Earthly Delights

When I was doing my undergrad study abroad program in France, we were encouraged to take classes within the Parisian university system. This was at first thrilling (real classes! with real French people!), then terrifying (I once snapped out of a daydream when I heard the professor say, "Well, let's ask the American. Are they?" I said, "Excuse me?" He elaborated, "Are executions public in the United States?"), then, oddly, a sign of just how much we were being coddled (our French grades were translated, and by that I mean inflated, into their American equivalents).

Funny how the same facial expression can convey excitement, horrified amusement and disbelief at how determined private colleges are to give everyone A's.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Audrey One

Dear Readers, I have another dress that I really need your input on.

The top half is cute, right? Pretty color, lavender piping and shoulder accents. They're like feminine epaulets. Epaulettes, if you will.

But there's something weird about the shape of Audrey One.

Summer Leaves

Whenever I visit Washington, DC, I make it a priority to visit Polly Sue's in Takoma Park. (Luckily for me, it's just a few blocks from my aunt's house, so it doesn't require overmuch planning and can be Priority #3 or 4, slotted in between brunches.) I've gotten a few amazing pieces there—Summer Leaves is the first one I'm posting about, but trust me, when I get to Coquelicot, Charlie Chevron Brown Chevron Garden Chevron Party and LSDelicious, you'll be on the first Bolt Bus down there, assuming of course that you live in a city with Bolt Bus service to DC.

Friday, June 22, 2012


I am not a Maxxinista, if that word doesn't make you gag. (On the subject of made-up advertising words: a good friend of mine is friends with a French guy who augmented his English vocabulary by watching tv. She had to explain to him that "comcastic" is not actually a word. Is one sentence in too soon for a digression? I hope not. Keep reading!)

In other words, I am not usually one to stalk the aisles of designer discount stores, hoping for a bargain. But Prismatic has sort of made a convert out of me.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Moebius (Dressopotamia Giveaway!)

It's just a couple of weeks old, but I have gotten such a positive response to Dressopotamia that I want to give something back to my readers, and I don't have much in abundance besides adorable dresses.

So: Moebius.

From certain angles, Moebius looks like a regular dress. Sort of.

Cloud Cuckooland

Cloud Cuckooland is one of those pieces, the awesomeness of which leaps to the eye.

Monday, June 18, 2012

In Bloom

A few years ago, a dear friend of mine went to Montreal and all I got was this incredible dress.

I know, right? (Note: I definitely encourage this sort of behavior.) I went to Montreal myself a while later in the hopes that lightning would strike twice, but I couldn't even find any vintage shops, let alone one with red polyester evening gowns.

Phony Joanie

You knew this was coming: let's talk Mad Men.

Friday, June 15, 2012

What Big Teeth

I cut a wide swath through vintage shops; if I have doubts, I tend to buy the item anyway, unless it's ridiculously expensive. No regrets! Sometimes I just know that the piece will be perfect with some alterations—and I am always right. Unless I am planning to do my own alterations, in which case the garment languishes in my "sewing box" indefinitely.


Bananas are the perfect snack fruit; they lack the disadvantages of other fruits, like pre-fruital fruit washing (apples, berries), post-fruital hand washing (oranges) or the need for knives (mangos, kiwis) or non-disposable plastic clamshells (the sadly lackluster fruit salad available at your better bodegas). The only problem with bananas is eating them in public.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Raspberry Ripple

Sometimes a dress is really just a dress.


All clothes are costumes, when you get right down to it. That's the idea behind the advice "dress for the job you want," as well as "beware of all enterprises that require new clothes" (Thoreau). So why pretend? Can't we just wear costumes every day?

And wigs? Can we wear wigs every day?

Spies are tricky, and so is Spy. I bet you think you know what the back of Spy looks like, don't you?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Strongest Link

I do love a fitted frock, but sometimes you just want to wear a dress that you could fit a circus under, you know?

Strongest Link's vertically oriented print...

Sunny Flowers

I saw this post on Facebook a few days ago, and it made me a little sad.

"No one will ever understand your crazy family like your cousins do, even if you haven't talked to them much lately. Share this if you have the best cousins in the world..."

Don't get me wrong, I love my cousins (heart you, Elle!)!  Cousins are great! But whoever wrote this clearly doesn't have siblings. I just wrote and erased about half a dozen sentences on how much my sisters mean to me—but they know.

Sunny Flowers always makes me think of my sister in Vermont.

One day several years ago, a little package arrived in the mail with no fanfare. Inside was Sunny Flowers, accompanied by—and this is important—a necklace.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Electric Avenue

Electric Avenue has a lot of things going for it.

Lapels! I can never get enough of lapels, as you might guess of someone who loves 1970s style. And the v-neck is cute, though I seem to remember pairing Electric Avenue with a pink crew neck sweater back when I got it, circa 1999.

But let's pull back a little...

Tan Lines

Why buy vintage? It's always easier, and often cheaper, to hit up or (which actually does have some really cute dresses right now, just saying), to know that you always have a while to make up your mind, to wait for sales and stay on trend, to replace dresses with dragging hems or splitting seams instead of repairing them, to buy clothes you can throw in the washing machine without worrying they'll be ruined. (I know most people don't treat their nicest clothes that way, just jeans and t-shirts, but I wear dresses as my casual clothes. It's the New Formality!)

I buy vintage for the thrill of the hunt; to keep beautiful clothes out of landfills; to stay in style by staying out of style; because colors make me happy; because older workmanship lasts longer; because I hate disposable fashion; because the conditions under which today's clothes are produced will make you weep, am I'm not just talking about the labor conditions, but the environmental ones as well.

If a gorgeous dress was produced in the last 10 years, but came to you as a hand-me-down, is it still vintage?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Adventure Garden

In my collection, I have a few pieces that I bought early and wore often. Adventure Garden is one of these; every other picture I have from my early 20s features a guest appearance. (There are two other pieces that I love(d) as much, which will of course get their own posts.)

I was so excited! And I didn't even know how long Adventure Garden would be by my side, or all the cities we'd go to together (Madrid, Berlin, Paris, Prague, Buenos Aires, probably some other places that I don't remember because I didn't get any photos of me and Adventure Garden doing our thing). I was mostly excited because it cost $12 (at SLOW, which was the most amazing place for a young vintage-hunter-in-training right around 2000).

Red Fish Blue Fish

I have a confession to make: not all of my dresses are vintage. Once in a great while, I'll come across something so adorable, so timeless, that I know it would fit right in my closet. Sometimes I get close enough and I already feel like I own it; paying for it and taking it home is a mere formality. Red Fish Blue Fish... was not one of these.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Seven Year Bitch

Have you ever seen The Seven Year Itch? It's one of the more angrifying movies ever made. Remember the first episode of Mad Men, where Peggy Olson shows up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at Sterling Cooper, and all the guys immediately start being gross to her? It's like that, only the people who made it were those guys, and they think this is a totally normal way to behave. It wouldn't be quite so wretched if the movie were just twerpy Tom Ewell trying to get his leg over with Marilyn Monroe, but the opening scene is basically a joke about gang rape (twenty "Indian braves" stalking a young woman walking by herself) and it sets the tone for making my head explode. (Billy Wilder also wrote and directed The Apartment—you win some, you lose some.)

But that dress.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Day and Nightie

No false modesty: I have a lot of winners in my closet. But I also have a few... I don't want to call them losers, because that's mean, and also they are inanimate objects. But they're not quite contenders. Maybe with some alterations, we could see, but they're... junior varsity.

Take Day and Nightie, for instance. I picked this one up back when World of Style Vintage had a storefront on Newark Avenue, along with another piece I'll get to later. In theory, it's right up my alley.

I mean, look at that print, right? Colorful, hand-drawn, varied—a nice mix of organic and somewhat geometric shapes. But when it comes to the cut...

Enter the Dragon

It is a sad paradox, if not the sad paradox, of shopping, that the more money you spend on an article of clothing, the less likely you are to get a lot of wear out of it. The fragile embroidery, the delicate fabric, the intricate stitching: all the elements that justify a higher price turn into reasons to not wear your new lovely garment.

Además, in the age of Facebook, we're all mini-celebs being hounded by paparazzi, except the paparazzi are our nearest and dearest. It's hard to wear the same fancy dress to multiple parties, knowing that everyone you've ever met will see pictures from all of them. Counterpoint: I am reminded of the fashion icon (name escaping me) who claimed she made sure to be photographed in her dresses at least twice, to prove she owned them. I don't worry about this too much.

I own this dress. Take my word for it.

Anyway, in case you're interested, I have hacked through this particular Gordian knot. The solution: embrace formality. If you like to dress up, 'fess up! There is absolutely nothing wrong with being the dressiest person in the room; in fact, if I could express the wrongness in negative numbers, I would.

Case in point: my aunt received a literary prize the other day. Forgive my bragging, but I can't stop kvelling! Not a suuuuper fancy occasion (daytime ceremony), but I had a new dress that I was already worrying wouldn't amortize well.

In a bizarre oversight, I have no photos of me at the ceremony, but it made me feel great to be wearing my newest, nicest duds; it was my way (which is certainly not the only way) of marking the momentousness of the occasion.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


I don't remember exactly where I picked up Mosaic, but a tiny part of my brain wants to say Buenos Aires (which is a Mecca for vintage, but I'll get more into that later). Honestly, I am a little undecided on wrap dresses; I think this is the only piece in my wardrobe that really qualifies. The idea is fabulous: it never doesn't fit, and if you have a small waist, it's a great way to emphasize that. (If you don't have a small waist, you also look stunning in a wrap dress, because you look stunning in everything, darling.) If any readers have a Diane von Furstenberg hanging around that needs a home, I will definitely conduct further research on wraps and report back.


How excited am I to start this blog?

This excited.

Because when I open my closet door every morning, I feel like this: