Wednesday, July 23, 2014

30s Fashion & Laura Ashbrenner

Several months ago, I happened to be in The Dalles, OR with a friend. We were driving out to Maryhill Museum, but stopped there to snoop about in some antique stores. He found a small pile of 30s fashion drawings (not originals, just quality copies), and I snapped em up in a heartbeat.

If it were up to me, I would know every little bit about everything I own. I would know who originally owned a dress, where someone bought something, if they saved up for it, and how they felt about it. I would know what their name was, where they lived, who they married, if they were happy (and then, what was their secret?)

Luckily, the artist who painted these signed her work! And gosh, she sounds like the kind of lady I'd like to ask some questions. Laura Ashbrenner, born 1915. As far as I can tell, is still living in the Dalles. She was married to her husband, Edgar, for 76 years. They both grew up in my hometown of Vancouver, WA before moving to the Dalles. He passed last December - at the age of 105! I'm guessing these ending up in the local antique store as a result of some estate cleaning. Everyone should read this interview with her husband from last year, celebrating his 105th. (There is even a photo of them on their wedding day!) I'll warn you, the article is so adorable it hurts.

A couple were dated - 1935. However, I'd bet money the ones to follow were done at a later time, based on the styles. I want to say '38, but perhaps up to '40.

Aren't they fabulous? I wish I could see more of her work, she kept painting throughout her entire life. And her husband framed most of them (omg.) There are a few of her watercolors on an estate website from a couple years ago, and there is currently one of her pieces up on eBay! So talented.

If by an off chance any of her family sees this - thank you. It's an honor to have ended up with a snippet of your family history, and they will be framed & treasured.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Beach Outfit & Floppy Hats

Headed to a vintage beach party in a bit, sitting here in a playsuit & a sun hat.... realized I'm going to have to take off the hat to sit in the car! Sometimes vintage can be hilariously impractical. (Don't even ask me how I'll use the facilities while wearing a 40s playsuit that buttons down the back. Haven't figured that one out yet.)

So in that vein, here's my outfit, and this article on impractical floppy hats, from 1941.

Onto more impractical but pretty...

Feminine Floppy Hats, This Season’s Sensation, Get Masculine Approval

Big brims which flop in the breeze, halolike cartwheels, and countless other versions of the pretty picture hat are giving a new look to smart city streets this spring. Unlike some feminine headgear of recent years, these floppy hats cause masculine heads to turn and nod in approval.

Every spring an attempt is made to get women into big hats. Last year milliners plugged the big sailor. The lines were harsh and its succedd short-lived. This year hats are flattering and feminine. Typical are those on the cover and on this page. They shade the eyes, shorten long noses, lengthen round faces, balance wide hips and offset full bosoms. They have veils and hatpins to anchor them in the wind. They may interfere with a man’s work and play, but men will cheerfully suffer such minor inconveniences for something which will make a plain girl glamorous and a pretty girl irresistible. 

Now you see her and now you don’t in this enormous hat with rippling brim of yellow and blue felt which dips in front and in back, is shoulder width.

Velvet bows and wine veiling add soft touches to this hat of green milan

 Cluster of grapes, veil and broad brim make this a true picture hat

Off with the wind is the fate of most big hats unless fastened by veils and pins. Peggy Tippett keeps her hat from rolling in the dust by grabbing colored streamers.

In light breezes this hat made of pampas straw with crocheted edge is safe. To further insure it in a big wind it has a gadget which changes shape of hat. 

In strong wind, the brim may be pulled back by means of little cord. Brim pulled back offers no resistance to the wind and floppy hat becomes off-the-face bonnet.

 In crowded elevator big hat gets tall men in the neck, short men in the eye. A little genial co-operative head bending and slight shoulder twisting readily solves problem.
On the dance floor big hat discourages the cheek-to-cheek position and bow is troublesome. Back at table, hat’s nuisance value is overlooked in interest of prettiness.

Amorous swain ably demonstrates how to circumvent the big-hat hazard. Even the most willing girl feels better about the whole thing if she’s sure her hat is safe.

While I'm not terribly impressed by these hats (well... maybe the grape one...) I'm pretty into their commentary. And I'd be pretty ok if a guy held my hat on while smooching me. Love love love. 


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Fancy Pants

I basically can't get enough pants in my life right now.
A lot of you are probably thinking, "Uhh, ok... they are just pants." I realize why you'd think that. However, it's been yeaaaars since I've worn pants on the regular. It had gotten to the point where putting them on made me feel vastly uncomfortable. So this is new.

Partially, I suppose it is related to getting my dive bar summer job back, and quitting the burlesque theatre I'd been at. I really don't need to be sloshing beer all over 40s dresses, right? And while it was fun dressing up for the burlesque place, the obligation wears thin quickly. Also, no more bachelorette parties! As it turns out, being sickly polite to huge groups of drunk sorority types isn't exactly my forte. Who'd have thought.

Here are some pants pictures I've found inspiring lately....

These are family photos from the early 50s. These gals are killing it, especially their color palettes.

Jumping back a bit in time, here's these slacks from 1942.
(This article included the sentence, "women are breaking out in a rash of pants." Oh my.)

So smitten with all of that! 
I suppose this outfit is more in the vein of the 50s photos, but I am certainly keeping my eyes peeled for 40s style slacks.

In conclusion: yay, pants!


50s jeans: Lucky Vintage
40s - 50s blouse: Le Frock
Unsigned 30s - 40s Miriam Haskell dress clip: Red Light

Photos (of me) courtesy of Jaynie Healy