Pictured Above: Sacony advertisement featuring members of the Rockettes in acetate dresses made for petites (Life, 1953)
While The Boy's mother explored my Etsy stock yesterday, she asked me a question for which I (rather embarrassingly) had no solid answer: When did petite sizing first appear?
As a certifiable pocket person, a professional historian, and a vintage clothing dealer, I decided it was practically my duty to know this. After significantly more virtual digging in the University archives and collections than I had anticipated, I came upon a few New York Times articles from the mid-1920s that satisfied my mission. The richest of these artifacts is excerpted for your pleasure below. Viva la little women!
10:13 a.m.: arrive at 'better' neighborhood post office; note circuitous Soviet-style breadline snaking out of main lobby and into parking lot
10:14 a.m.: issue knowing, half-smile to woman immediately ahead; pray she doesn't want to talk; prepare self to convincingly say 'Sorry, my English ist ganz schlecht' in best German accent
10:18 a.m.: check watch; curse post office
10:22 a.m.: inhale deeply; resist urge to vomit from smell of Ax Body Spray suddenly filling room
10:25 a.m.: re-check tape-job, return address labels, customs forms, and delivery confirmation tags; quickly make edits before someone sees pen and/or tape
10:26 a.m.: begin uncontrollably tapping foot; accidentally walk into woman ahead while dreaming up Halloween costumes for dog
10:27 a.m.: spy teller windows for first time; note that 4 of 6 windows unmanned; curse post office; remind self that privatization of social services runs counters to ideals
10:28 a.m.: observe as man with blue tooth ear clip approaches window, flips envelope at teller and smugly proclaims, "I don't need insurance. Just make sure it gets there"; roll eyes at no one in particular
10:33 a.m.: curse self for not investing in USPS scale with postage printer thing yet
10:35 a.m.: consider alternate transportation options in the event that hastily-locked bike has been stolen
10:38 a.m.: icily stare at woman with untaped, unaddressed priority mail box; bet self $20 she needs it overnighted to an APO in Tehran
10:42 a.m.: win bet, lose shit
10:45 a.m.: finally approach window; request that largest package be shipped parcel; explain to teller what 'parcel' is; condescendingly explain why contents cannot 'just be put into a medium flat rate box'
10:49 a.m.: quickly ascend from 9th circle of hell; repress experience; repeat in three days' time
Every year I challenge The Boy to dress up as Jacque Lacan's 'mirror phase' for Halloween, and every year The Boy rebuffs me by asking whether we have all the requisite parts for my infamous "Who Farted?" costume. (In case you're wondering, these parts include a can of hairspray, a boot polish kit and a t-shirt with the words 'who' and 'farted' written across it. I know. I am as embarrassed as you are, Gentle Reader.)
Well this year I've concocted four perfect costumes for The Boy, all of which satisfy his inclination as a philosopher to dress as a concept rather than a thing each Halloween. The first such costume (pictured below) might look like reality TV star-turned-unemployed playboy Jon Gosselin, but is, in fact, 'folly' in its material form. Similarly, the costume on the top right is not, as you may have first thought, Lady Gaga, but what I suspect 'desperation' might look like were we to de-abstract it from the conceptual realm. 'Regret' looks quite a lot like John "I love the Working Class" Edwards (no big surprise there), while 'perfection' is practically the spitting image of snarktastic The Soup host Joel McHale.
I have yet to present The Boy with these ideas, but I am secretly pulling for Desperation. The Boy has a great set of gams.
Today's (late edition) swoon features a spectrum of rich browns designed both to inspire your toasty winter wardrobe, and to balance out the garish neons blighting my blog from the previous post. Please enjoy.
Pictured Above: Vintage Italian Leather Platform Granny Shoes via Pineapplemint
I seriously vacillated over whether or not to post these photos because I'm quite sure that the interwebs aren't chomping at the bit to see how a practically perimenopausal woman such as myself might style a hip statement necklace, but since it is such a lovely piece, and since Clare of Between Laundry Days was so generous to offer it in her budding shop's maiden giveaway (for which I was the lucky winner!), I decided--as must be quite obvious--to post them anyway.
Enjoy, and please note the hilariously aged camera that I use. In case you're wondering, it's digital. Barely.
Boy's Shrunken Blazer: Thrifted
Deep V-Neck Gray T-Shirt: F21 (so embarrassing, right?!)
A recent post over at the slammin' Afresh Vintage reminded me of fashion wunderkind und 'muse du jour' Tavi Gevinson...WHO IS 13 YEARS OLD. ALLEGEDLY. While it's somewhat comforting to know that Cory Kennedy's throne has been usurped (and by a significantly more precocious and articulate tweener), I can't help but feel like the mushrooming 'Tavi phenomenon' is the super-hipster-avant version of Toddlers & Tiaras.
Somebody check Tavi for an ironic gold-front flipper, please. STAT.
Although I often jest about Oakland's notorious and very serious crime problem, there's nowhere else I'd rather live (Montreal, Berlin and Amsterdam notwithstanding, OF COURSE).
Well, yesterday The Boy escorted Sassy Mae outside to take care of some business, and returned with four gorgeous succulents of mysterious origin in tow. It seems someone left them on our porch steps, right next to our freshly worked--but as yet under-populated--garden plots. I think I'm going to leave my unfinished dissertation on the steps tonight and hope for the best!
Pictured Above: A needed gift from a stranger, discovered on our porch steps
If you're like me, Gentle Reader, you've probably wondered what happens to all of the unsold clothing and accessories that line the aisles of your favorite thrift stores. And if you're like me still more, you probably thought that such items found their way to local shelters and non-profits or recycleries where they could be used by folks for whom even 'thrift' is too expensive.
Well, like me, you would have been terribly wrong.
Pictured Above: Children in the South African country of Zimbabwe model t-shirts that once graced the racks of major American thrift stores like Goodwill and the Salvation Army. In 2002, these thrift stores collectively took in $59.3 million selling their bales of unsold clothing to transnational exporters who then sold those same bales at a significant profit to poor Africans so that they could peddle them at local markets.
In fact, these items actually end up in Africa--and not as part of some warm and fuzzy philanthropic venture. As the fantastic 2001 documentary T-Shirt Travels details, many donated items never even make it out of the receiving room and into your local thrift shops. Instead, they are immediately graded, baled and sold to transnational exporters who sell the bales to hopeful entrepreneurs in rural African communities. Because American and European castoffs are cheaper than the garments produced by African manufacturers, the continent's clothing and textiles industry has literally vanished (as have the associated jobs and revenue streams). As seems to be the case in so many different scenarios, the elimination of so-called 'artificial' trade barriers has failed to help stimulate the African economies, and instead made them that much more reliant on those countries that once lorded over their land and their people.
Welcome to the height of 'soft' colonialism, my friends.
In this, the second installment in our unanticipated series on easy DIY Halloween costumes built around 'statement' headbands, I show you how to transform yourself into a vintage medium in the throws of ectoplasmic transmission.
Pictured Above: Ectoplasmic extrusions from a variety of orifices c. 1920s
As you may already know, Gentle Reader, Patricia Arquette was not the first 'medium' to capture the cultural imaginary, and the writers of Ghostbusters did not invent ectoplasm. In fact, both of these ideas date back to the late 19th century, or what most recognize as the apex of the American Spiritualist Movement.
In this curious Victorian era phenomenon that would marry magic, religion and technology, members of the spirit world began to make themselves known to their living counterparts by way of various earthly mediums. In many instances, this medium was a camera (whose extra-sensitive 'eye' could purportedly register ghostly apparitions in ways that the human eye could not). But once word got around that such spirits were likely the result of post-productive tampering by corrupt photographers and not actual supernatural activity, the Spiritualist Movement found itself reverting back to the practice of using human mediums.
Curiously, these mediums were not simply overtaken by a spirit and made to ventriloquize his words. Rather, they actually materialized from one the medium's many orifices (e.g., mouth, ear, eye, vagina) in the form of what became known as 'ectoplasm' (but what looked more like common household staples like gauze and string). These highly orchestrated seances were populated with other believers (or, 'hucksters') and captured on film in order to 'prove' the existence of both ghosts and their communicating vessels. (And, as you might imagine, these vessels were almost always women, who were/are imagined as passive receptors fashioned exclusively for bringing life into the world. This is perhaps why we today think of women as better 'communicators' than men!)
Pictured Above: Two examples of turn-of-the-century 'spirit photography' that would soon be outmoded by photographs depicting supernatural activity during seances
To become a vintage medium, you really just need a life-giving female body, this fantastic headband and a simple old-timey black frock that won't distract from the spirit seeping out of your ear. EASY, and guaranteed to make others squeamish (if only from their embarrassment at having absolutely no knowledge of this great moment in American cultural history).
As I probably need not tell you, Gentle Reader, Tippi Hedren is a favored costume among the five or six women nationwide who thumb their noses at the prevailing hegemon by not dressing up as harlots for Whore-O-Ween. It's a fabulous alternative and a unique option in that it permits its wearer to be at once classically-styled and grotesquely ravaged (while also giving her some degree of credibility among the intelligentsia, who, I hear, love old films).
Well, while reading the always fabulous Kingdom of Style today, I discovered that some clever fellow Etsians have blessedly made all of our Tippi costumes a whole lot easier by mounting a pair of belligerent crows on a headband. GENIUS! I, for one, will be wearing this at many inopportune moments.
The Look (Top L-R):
Handmade Hitchcock-themed Halloween Headpiece via buffalump
Please meet Sassy Mae! Ms. Mae hails from the San Joaquin Valley and enjoys snorting, sleeping and sunbathing. She is two years young and immensely thankful that she doesn't live in a world where dogs ride in large potato sacks precariously attached to the sides of moving vehicles.
Pictured Above: A bad idea via Popular Science c. 1950s
If so, perhaps you could go as the new Chloé collection? It would be a great 'concept' costume; when people inquire about the inspiration behind your homeless person getup, you could laugh condescendingly and reply, "DAHLING, I'm the Chloé Spring 2010 ready-to-wear collection! OBVI."
Pictured Above: Post-apocalyptic androgyny with a touch of 'crazy'
Most 'subversive' Barbie art makes me uncomfortably embarrassed for its usually wide-eyed creator, but this lovely snarling piece by Norwegian artist Are Sundnes just makes me uncomfortable (which I, of course, take great masochistic pleasure in). BEHOLD!:
Pictured above: Barbie of the Undead and the clever 'making of'
I've no way of knowing whether this gem from 1964 found its way into the self-congratulatory Vogueretrospective currently blighting the City of Lights, but I think it rather nicely demonstrates the type of chutzpa that has made Vogue the international 'gold standard' in fashion.
Clearly the magazine understood decades before any other the appeal of second wave feminism and the ease with which its rhetoric about sexual freedom could be co-opted and placed in the service of capital. Clever cropping insinuates the once-shameful act, while the sterile white background and futuristic space hat turn it into something modern (and thus fashionable!).
Who knows where we might be today, Gentle Reader of the female persuasion, without Vogue's courage 50 years ago to turn us all from modest, old timey dames into chic, fellating women?
In case you haven't noticed, we here at HuZzah! love us some color. We also love us some Kate Spade. What we don't like are Kate Spade prices. (We're a bit chintzy like that, you see.) Our low-rent version of KS isn't exactly 'budget,' but it's much less expensive, a bit more sustainable and most likely not made by wage slaves in a Southeast Asian DMZ.