The Linen Closet

Last week, during all the party festivities, I was stirring enchilada sauce and mixing pumpkin-spice-latte cupcakes and I discovered I was very, very good at splattering. Apparently, when the enchilada directions said “simmer the sauce for ten minutes uncovered,” I read, “vigorously boil the enchilada sauce for ten minutes uncovered.” If you’ve never done it, a vigorous boil and a simmer are two very different things. If I had simmered, I’m pretty sure more of the sauce would have stayed in the pot instead of ending up vigorously boiling out onto the stove, my sweater…the wall? (wow), and the floor.

Needless to say, a half-apron for that meal just didn’t cut it. So, I began to think of how I could add a little splatter-safety onto my apron:

After a few shredded patterns, some misplaced darts, too wide of straps, and buttons that weren’t cooperating, I finally got it. My Etsy shop, Vintage Muses, is now offering convertible aprons.
The bottom half hasn’t changed except for a few nifty snaps that the top can simply snap into for some vigorous boiling episodes, and unsnap again if you just feel like wearing the half:

Pretty nifty, yes? My favorite part is that you can have multiple different tops to snap and unsnap and each one can give you an entirely different look.

The top has two darts sewn in and a sweetheart neckline so the typical oversized, straight-across apron-top is a bit more feminine.

The bottom  and top can be purchased separately or, of course, the two together. I’m really looking forward to this new option, and, also looking forward to using some of my custom fabrics I’m creating. There is definitely more to come!

If you’re thinking of doing some vigorous boiling soon for Thanksgiving, don’t do it until you’ve stopped by Vintage Muses first!

Hope you enjoy the new idea,

– <3 A. 

Vintage Finds

I was working a bit of overtime this weekend. I had hoped that I would be able to show you a new idea I’m working on for The Linen Closet but the prototypes didn’t turn out exactly as I wanted so the full reveal will have to wait.

Something I can reveal though is a few recent finds from my favorite vintage store. Vintage stores can be a little scary, but combing through some seriously hideous, 70’s beaded apparel, and some 80’s suits that I don’t think will ever be vintage enough to become attractive again, is usually well worth the effort. More often than not, they are usually full of hidden gems.

vintage plaid and wool skirt

This wool, plaid skirt was perfect for entering the winter months. The best part about vintage stores is the clothing from the 50’s and 60’s was made so well that you can’t even tell the skirt is decades old. I will say though, the women must have been miniatures of modern women because, goodness, the waists are so tiny! A wool skirt in perfect condition for $12.00 was quite the find.

vintage ascot blouseI thought this polka-dot ascot blouse would look lovely with a black pencil skirt. Besides, there’s something about polka dots that I just can’t put back, so it came home with me.

And, at last, my fav:

vintage doris day inspired coat

I fell in love with this coat the moment I saw it. After my first round of glee was over though, I was a bit hesitant to buy it. The color is not enhanced at all, it’s really truly THAT green. I’m definitely not one for neon colors, and usually don’t buy green that often, but I couldn’t get past the tailoring of it and I had to take the plunge:

vintage coat

vintage doris day inspired coatWhat finally convinced me was thinking of Doris Day and her film-wardrobes, always chock-full of brightly colored coats that matched almost any outfit imaginable.

When shopping for outerwear it seems silly to get anything that you can’t wear with everything. So, I usually settle on brown, black, navy blue, or grey. Sometimes though, it’s just fun to be a little outrageous.

It did actually come with a matching dress, but the zipper needs a bit of help from a tailor and (don’t worry) I definitely won’t be wearing them together. Doris Day might be able to pull it off but I’ll stick to making my statements separately.

– <3 A. 

Perfumes of Progress

Since I talked about shoe-emotions yesterday as an easy way to change how you’re feeling about your style-mood without doing a complete closet-swap or spending some serious $$$, I thought this week might be a good one to do a little mini-series on some essential accessories that keep elegance in your everyday.

Even though I love the onset of colder days and the chance to wear fuzzy things, sometimes dressing during the fall and winter months mean feeling a little like Randy from the 1983 classic, “A Christmas Story.”

Even with the best intentions of wearing lovely coats and handsome, tailored things, sometimes being warm means being really not very cute. Pile on layer after layer and soon no one really knows what’s under all that fluff. Despite the gradual decline of gender specificity with the progress of winter however, an essential accessory to keep you girly even beneath the thickest, androgynous hoodie is a little splash of perfume.

Having a signature scent can be fun. My favorite thing is to have a special perfume I only wear on date nights or special occasions and then some cheaper stuff to have to throw in your purse for the everyday. I am still savoring my last few drops of one of my favorite perfumes that I poured into my vintage perfume bottle. It’s nothing pricey, but I absolutely love it:

For all my fellow Target-lovers, you probably know the British-based company, Soap and Glory, used to happily grace Target’s shelves. But, sadly, they decided to no longer distribute their product across the seas and I have been saving every last drop of mine for only the best of days. I believe Sephora is going to be their new American distributor but I haven’t made it out to check and see if I can resupply.

I had such fun browsing some vintage perfume ads last night, I didn’t realize how much the marketing for perfume had changed. When you think of modern advertisements for the latest celebrity scent, you usually find some provocative ad with a ridiculous title. Some of my favorites that I found were “be devoured,” “be a sinner,” and, the topper: “The Modern Courtesan.” All of them, like this one from Givenchy, were posed as the “new feminine fragrance” and apparently spoke for the mass market of women as something they aspired to. Really though? The modern courtesan?

For 2012, it seems as if the perfume market hasn’t progressed much in the way they see women, or, the way they see what women want. In fact, comparing them to ads from the 1940s and 50s, it seems we may have been traveling the wrong side of the upward moving escalator.

In this 1948 ad for the Yardley perfume line “Bond Street,” the description of the scent reads that it recalls “exquisite ladies and gracious ways. Elegant and romantic, it is a perfume full of excitement and meaning for women who want to be distinguished.” That’s quite different from a courtesan. Last time I checked, despite being clients for the “wealthy and distinguished,” the Merriam-Webster’s first definition for the courtesan is still, “a prostitute.” For me, I’d rather be a “Bond Street” girl from the golden era of elegant glamour rather than a “liberated” woman of the modern malls.

– <3 A. 

Dee-lightfully Sandra

Last night I was trying to dress for a date with a very special man. It wasn’t going so well. Still too warm for sweaters, but too chilly for a dress. Tights and boots entered my head but quickly fled again–too winter just yet I decided. Scarves are hard to eat dinner in, have you noticed? So those were out. Then there was the whole different issue of my hair (or, my arch-nemesis). The front right side of my hair delights in making me exasperated, grumpy, and thoroughly frustrated almost daily. Last night was no exception. Pin it back? I look twelve. Curl it? That looks overdone. Straighten it? That looks even worse. Cut it off? Hmmmm…..

In the midst of my closet chaos and hair meltdown, I thought of a woman who seemed to never have these disasters: the always charming, Sandra Dee.

The Muse: 

You may only know her as the innocent, girlish star of the 1959 movie version of Gidget, or as the inspiration for the mocking songLook at Me, I’m Sandra Dee” in the movie Grease, but beginning in the 1940s she made quite the name for herself first as a model and later as an actress and singer. Whatever your opinion of her, sickeningly sweet or classicly beautiful, you have to admit, the girl’s got style.


Sandra Dee

What I love most is that she dressed so simply: usually a plain sweater, often in a bright color, paired with some outrageous patterned pant. Or, a simple dress with a beautifully tailored coat. Her look is timeless and so easy.

A Modern View: 

These pants from J. Crew are oh-so-Sandra. They weren’t, of course, helping me last night while I tried on combination after failing combination of outfit, but in the future they might come in handy if I am lucky enough to add them to my closet.

Or this jacket from Modcloth could have solved my outfit-issue easily. What else does a coat like this need?

Another find from Modcloth, this little black dress with a twist. Classy and a little retro–but definitively modern:

While watching one of Sandra’s movies a couple of weeks ago, I was entranced by a hat she was wearing while sunbathing at the beach–the hat had built-in sunglasses and I wanted one so very badly:

Such a brilliant idea, and, apparently, Kate Spade thought so too. In her Spring 2012 collection, she offered this little nod to some retro chic:

For all our attempts to be fashion-forward with each passing year, it seems you never can beat a little vintage musing. For your next closet catastrophe, hopefully thinking of Sandra will give you an inspiration.

– <3 A.