Non-White Wedding Gowns

There’s a common misconception out there that wedding dresses are white to represent virginity or purity. This belief is so firmly held that I have even gotten into arguments about it. This is actually a big load of crap. Historically, many colors were worn at weddings, with each color meaning something different. Until the early 20th century, more often than not brides just wore their best dress. There are tons of pictures documenting this. White actually became popular when Queen Victoria wore it for her own wedding. This was a status symbol, because white can get dirty so easily it showed that she had enough money to buy a dress she would only wear once. Well obviously, I mean she was the queen after all. Royalty being the rock stars of their day, this set what is probably the biggest and longest running fashion fad in history, to the point that we don’t even know why we do it anymore and the idea of doing anything else is confusing to everyone.

If you’ve ever had to shop for a wedding dress, you may be familiar with something they call “white blindness.” So many white dresses after a while tend to all blend together until nothing seems to be working out and you just want to be done with the whole business. But not all of us like white. Not all of us look good in white. Some of us wear white just because we buy into this odd superstition that not wearing it will make people think we’re whores. This is kind of screwed up, isn’t it? White in the sense that people think we wear white for virginity doesn’t even work in today’s world. Almost ever.

When I was shopping for my wedding dress I originally wanted a blue one. Because there seemed to be no such thing as a blue wedding dress, I did what many Offbeat Brides do and looked for a bridesmaid’s dress or prom dress instead. I guess it made sense, they all thought I was looking for a prom dress anyway because I married young and looked even younger. This was only the beginning of my big wedding dress fiasco in that all of these dresses were silly and disgusting and cost more than my rent. Just no.

In the end I opted for a white dress not so much because it was white but because I saw it on ebay and loved it. I would have loved it just as much if it had been green. But I was reassured by the fact that it was white only because my wedding was turning out to be such a failure that at least something could go “right.” At least something about it would be normal, and I needed a comfort like that. Well, the dress sucked anyway. Damn you eBay.

Slowly, finally, things seem to be changing now. There’s a bit of a growing niche market now for pink wedding dresses, and I’m so excited about this you have no idea. Finally a group of girls who are probably more pressured to conform than anyone else in western society are starting to think outside the box. Yes! Pink is lovely! It makes for a fantastic wedding dress color! In fact I plan on wearing pink to my vow renewal next year.

I hope this is only the beginning. Let’s see some red, blue, green, yellow, even black. I once saw pictures of a girl who wore black on her wedding day and livened up her look by carrying a rainbow of balloons instead of a flower bouquet. How cool is that? It was so beautiful.

Women are not all the same. We’re beyond the point of all following the lead of a lady who died over a hundred years ago just because magazines seem to think we should. We have a lot more personality than this. Weddings are about the couple, not how well they can copy and paste a bunch of tired ideas. And seriously, most of us aren’t virgins. And we’re not fooling anyone. Well, maybe I did.

They still thought we were going to prom.

For real though

For real though

Style Quotes

A lot of very wise things have been said about fashion and style over the years, and I’ve enjoyed them so much I just had to share them.
“Vain trifles as they seem, clothes…change our view of the world and the world’s view of us.”
Virginia Woolf

“Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.”
Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900)

“Fashion fades, only style remains the same.”
Coco Chanel

“The economic logic of fashion depends on making the old-fashioned look absurd.”
John Berger

“Fashion is something that goes in one year and out the other.”

“Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.”
Bette Midler

“I base my fashion taste on what doesn’t itch.”
Gilda Radner (1946 – 1989)

“Wit should be heard from your mouth not read off your breasts.”
Karen Homer

“Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.”
Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862), “Walden”, 1854

“The greatest beauty in a female is that which is most simple and at the same time gracefully adapted to exhibit the natural beauty of the female form.”
George Pope Morris

“Fashion is the science of appearances, and it inspires one with the desire to seem rather than to be.”
Michel de Montaigne (1533 – 1592)

“Old clothes are old friends.”
Coco Chanel

“Fashion can be bought. Style one must possess.”
Edna Woolman Chase

“Understatement has a chic denied to over-emphasis.”
Arthur Bauman

“Fashion is general. Style is individual.”
Edna Woolman Chase

“Fashion is not something that only exists in clothes… it has something to do with ideas, with the way we live, with what happens around us.”
Coco Chanel

“Never despise fashion. It’s what we have instead of God.”
Malcolm Bradbury

“It is [every woman’s] right to ignore the dictates of fashion and dress in a manner that is becoming to her own character and personality.”
Lillie Langtry

“If at first you don’t succeed, failure may be your style.”
Quentin Crisp

“‘If skirts get any shorter,’ said the flapper with a sob, ‘there’ll be two more cheeks to powder, and one more place to bob.”
James Laver

“Never offend people with style when you can offend them with substance.”
Sam Brown, Washington Post, 1977

“Suitability is half the secret of being well-dressed.”

“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say and not giving a damn.”
Gore Vidal (1925 – )

“Women who wear black lead colorful lives.”
-Neiman Marcus Advertisement

“The dress must not hang on the body but follow its lines. It must accompany its wearer and when a woman smiles, her dress should smile with her”
Madeleine Vionner

“No elegance is possible without perfume.”
Coco Chanel

“There are three things a woman ought to look: straight as a dart, supple as a snake, and proud as a tiger-lily.”
Elinor Glyn

“When I free my body from its clothes, from all their buttons, belts and laces, it seems to me that my soul takes a deeper, freer breath.”
August Strindberg

Basic 40s and 50s Curl Sets

I love sharing my little revelations with you guys, so since I finally got two basic curl sets figured out I thought I should write a tutorial. I’m going to show you a good basic 40s set, and a basic 50s set. The difference is that the 40s set has more volume on the bottom half and generally lies smooth over the crown, where the 50s set has more volume all over. Though they seem to be so similar you could easily interchange them and hardly anybody would know the difference. Depending on your hair, one could turn out looking like the other.
I’m going to show you the setting patterns for rollers since most of us are not quite skilled enough in the art of pin curls, but if you are they’re easily converted. You’ll have more and smaller curls but the directions will be the same. These are great beginner sets; they don’t involve a bunch of different layers going in opposite directions, and with practice they can easily be done in 10-15 minutes. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll be showing you my own hair after being set by the diagrams I’ve made (though I take no credit for designing them. Chances are a bazillion people before me have done the same ones). The celebrities hair have of course not been done using my diagrams, but it was probably set in a similar way and they do a better job of showing the difference between the decades, and an idealized look at how these should turn out. Now don’t forget your end papers and setting lotion! Ready?

Let’s start with the 40s set.



Veronica Lake, who’s hair is even longer than my own.

Gene Tierney, with a more traditional length.

This set is rolled only up to your ears, excepting the bang area which goes right up to the scalp, so the long curl will help frame your face. All curls will be going down, but you can tilt the ones in front towards your face if you like. You can do this in as many rows as you like, but for normal to fine hair and using rollers one can easily be enough. I prefer to have the curls done in an even row(s) all around the head, so that when you brush it out it creates nice uniform waves, but as every day 40s hair tends to be a little fluffier this isn’t so necessary. This is in fact an excellent set to try doing with pin curls.

You probably won’t need this.

When your hair is set, it might actually look pretty cute. If you come out with kinks in the top, you can use a flat iron or curling iron to smooth it out. Keep in mind that sponge rollers with their plastic clasps do tend to create kinks more than others, so I’m not partial to them. But you can use whatever you’re most comfortable with. I’m loyal to my pillow rollers, and when they’re not available I rag roll with whatever I can find. There’s a how-to video on this at the bottom of the article. Here’s the 40s set done with strips of paper towels. It needed to be brushed again, so don’t mind the ringlets and crazy flyaways.

And now here’s the 50s set.

Damn, I got that on the first try! I wish I could say the same for the second and third tries. We’re all learning together. You might find that this looks similar to the 40s set, however it’s rolled right up to the scalp which creates more volume all over. You can see the difference a lot better on shorter hair.

Elizabeth Taylor’s shorter hair demonstrates the volume starting right from the crown, as opposed to the more bottom-heavy look of the 40s.

Again, keep in mind that your hair cut affects the final look, so you might not have those face framing curls from the pictures. And if your hair is longer like mine, the weight might keep the crown looking smooth and 40s no matter what. That doesn’t mean it won’t look good, just go with what you have and make it yours.

My crappy drawing is a rough guide to how the curls should be positioned. Hopefully it’s not TOO crappy to understand.

As you can see, there are about 4 curls going down the center of the head; the front one going forward and the others going back. The second one can go towards what will be the thick side of your part, but I find it difficult for some reason and unnecessary. Then you’ll have two on each side going down.

The easiest way to go about this is to start with your hair parted deeply to whichever side you prefer, about over the arch of your eyebrow. Grab the section above your ear on the thin side and curl it down, or angled slightly forward if you like. Then grab a section of similar size behind it and curl it down as well, trying to get it to the same level. Then you can do the two curls on the top of your head, separated by another symmetrical parting over the other eyebrow. Curl the other side to match the first, and finally separate what’s left in the back into two curls going downward. Like before, if you have more hair or you’re using smaller rollers or pin curls, you’ll have more curls but they’ll still be going the same way. When you’re done you’ll look incredibly silly. Cover with a Rosie bandanna.

Make sure to brush this one out slowly and against your hand to keep it as smooth as possible, and shape the curls so they blend together. Hopefully you come out with a winner!

Like this!

I hope I explained these well enough. If you have any questions let me know. I’m going to finalize this by showing you a video that explains rag rolling quite well, since it’s incredibly useful if you don’t have any rollers handy and it’s something a lot of people have trouble with. It’s not half as hard as you might think. Good luck, guys!

The Vintage Era Broken Down

When you enjoy dressing vintage, you come to know a few things about what was in style in every decade, sometimes even each part of a decade. When you’re a person like this, you can make a reference to the 20s, get a response such as “oh, you mean Marilyn Monroe?” and not know whether to laugh or cry. In fact at a recent history inspired event someone said to me “I wasn’t sure if you were WWII or Titanic.” Putting aside the fact that either way it sounds like I looked like an epic disaster, if someone had been on the Titanic looking like I did it would have meant they got there in a time machine. Don’t get me wrong, she was a very sweet lady. But it’s common. I don’t expect the average person to be able to tell the difference between 1870s style and 1880s style, but we only just recently got out of the 20th century. It’s a very near part of our history, and its fashion has a major impact on what we wear today. How can you do 50s if you don’t really know what the 50s looked like?
Even if you don’t take style queues from the past, it can be extremely interesting to track its progress. And one thing I love doing is watching old movies and trying to guess their year or the year they were based on by the clothes they wore. I’m getting sort of good at it – I can usually guess within 3 years.

I was going to try explaining each decade typically considered part of the vintage era, but then realized there were way too many intricacies to do this properly. It would be too complicated and I would probably get it wrong somewhere along the way. In fact when I see a vintage outfit, I don’t find myself mentally deconstructing it in order to tell what decade it’s from, it’s simply recognizable. So here is a compilation of pictures, to help you become more familiar with the look of each decade and what makes it unique.





Early 1960’s

The History Of Jazz

Obviously fashion is a major staple of this blog, but it’s by far not the only thing that interests me. That’s why I really want to write a review here for the fascinating book The History of Jazz by Ted Gioia. Put simply, it is so amazing as to be almost necessary if you have any interest in music or popular/American culture at all.
I have to admit that for the most part I was not exactly entertained, by the book itself anyway. It reads very much like something you would read in college, and while not written to be over the heads of most readers, it does contain a fair amount of admittedly beautiful description that will only be familiar to people with some knowledge of music theory, something I myself do not have. Another (good) thing that contributed to me taking SO DAMN LONG to finish it is that it’s overflowing with descriptions of amazing artists and songs that you can’t help but stop and check out on Youtube so that you can hear them for yourself. Indeed I found Youtube to be an expectedly necessary companion, because without it you just can’t grasp exactly what this book is trying to say, and it becomes dry, at times almost meaningless.
So in the end it’s not the entertainment value lying in this book that I found so valuable – indeed I would rather listen to jazz than read about it – but the incredible treasure chest of information held within. My mind was blown from the very first chapter from the amazing things I was learning, as well as all the music I had heard before but am just now getting a real appreciation for. This book is invaluable, and absolutely worth the trip, even if you personally find it a lengthy one.
Now I’d like to share with you some of my own Youtube finds of incredible jazz music, much of it thanks to this book. I also highly recommend checking out the Ken Burns Jazz series.

Book Review: Goddess, The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe

I don’t normally read books this long, not because I can’t handle them but it’s hard for something to keep my attention for that long. Indeed this book lost my attention towards the end and I put it off for the following FIVE months before I finished it. I hadn’t even realized it had been that long, but it certainly explains why I so rarely venture into a book over 400 pages.
In the end, I did it because I was fascinated by the subject matter, Marilyn Monroe. She’s a one-dimensional icon, and she was a very 3-dimensional enigmatic human being. This book does a lot to scratch under the surface of her life and her psyche.
The most interesting part was one I had to wait for, in which new information and theories are given regarding her mysterious death. It goes beyond what we’ve all been hearing our whole lives and reveals some truly shocking statements from those involved, all extremely well supported with extensive research. But I won’t spoil it for you.
Above all what we learn in this book is that Marilyn Monroe was human. She had problems just as normal as the worst of us, and lead a life that was in reality far from glamorous.
It’s one of the many secrets in this book, that no matter who you are or your station in life, you’re still just human. We all have our dark and troubled sides, and we all put on a face for the camera. So maybe this is why we feel we can maybe be just as beautiful as glamorous as she was, because in many ways we already are.

The Trends of Trends

We all know that styles change over the years, over the decades, and over the centuries. We get tired of certain styles and get anxious to try out new and more innovative ones all the time. But have you ever wondered WHY certain things go in and out of style? Have you ever looked to the styles of the past and saw the reasons behind them? I’ve noticed a few trends about trends, and I’m finding them very interesting.

Big shoulder pads. Of course you’re thinking about the 80s now, the “power suit” that so represents this time. This however wasn’t the first time big shoulders were in. Before that it was in the 1940s, when big shoulders were in style partially to balance out elaborate hairstyles. Sound familiar? The other reason they were in was because at that time women were entering the work force en masse because of the war, something that can also be said for the 80s version of the phenomenon, minus the war of course. On a simplistic level, you could say that whenever women start going to work in droves, large shouldered silhouettes will appear. On a deeper level, this leads us to explore how fashion becomes an expression of our desire to be seen as men’s equals in the work force.

So, feminism and women’s rights has an influence on fashion, right? Let’s look at another example. In the 1950s it was generally considered that a woman’s place was in the home. This was a time of full swing skirts and feminine details. Later, in the 1960s, the sexual revolution began, and so did the era of the mini skirt, and the end of the girdle era. Jeans became popular for more than just the most casual of situations. Unisex hairstyles appeared. While I’m tempted to say that feminism killed glamour, it’s certainly a more complex issue than that. Let me only suggest that we can have both.

The 60s and 70s saw a huge change in clothes, and in its simplest terms you could describe this as rebellion. It was rebellion from what was previously expected and even required, and part of a huge social change. That wasn’t the first time social and style revolutions happened either. Think about the regency period. Before that, in the 18th century elaborate court clothes signified wealth and rank. Women wore huge panniers, men and women alike wore Big Hair, and there was no shortage of extremes.

Once the American Revolution, and even more so the French Revolution hit, these styles became representative of a dated monarchy. To dress this way pretty much meant you thought you were better than everybody else. Now this was a time of equals, and again, of rebellion. The regency period saw a return to simple silhouettes reminiscent of ancient Greece, and the older generation complained that women were running around “in their nightgowns”.

This happened again on a smaller scale during the recent recession. Anyone seen dressed ultra glamorous and ultra expensive was seen as being insensitive to those suffering from unemployment. Celebrities in particular were a target just as the royalty of the 18th century was. The word “recessionista” came into use, and being thrifty was finally something to be proud of.

So now it’s easy to see how major social change will influence a major change in fashion, and one fashion extreme will often lead us to the other end of the spectrum. There are many more examples. 80s glam vs. early 90s grunge, the Victorian age vs. the flapper style of the 1920s, and the simplicity of the Regency period vs. the poof of the 1840s. I could go on, if I did my research.
It’s fascinating, isn’t it? I want to go further into explaining the styles of the 20s through the 50s in another article, but for now it’s interesting to think about the social reasons why we wear what we do. There’s certainly a lot more to do with it than simply what we think looks good at one time or another. Of course we can’t really have an opinion about what looks good without there being some sort of reason behind it. Fashion really does say a lot about who we are in the world.

Vintage Hair Part 1 – The Haircut

There’s nothing like vintage hair to complete the look of a cute and sexy vintage dress. I’ve always been really low-maintenance with my hair. It’s really fine and doesn’t like to cooperate. As far as vintage hair goes I actually really love the 1930s short bob with finger waves look, but I refuse to get a haircut that short, so I’m learning a lot lately about styles from the 40s and 50s. I’d like to pass on what I’m learning to you.
There are three basic elements to the 40s and 50s style; the haircut, curls, and rolls. These go from easiest to hardest respectively. In this article I’m going to focus on Step 1, the cut, which is the easiest since the stylist would be doing that for you.
Since there was a war going on, 1940s hair tended to be short, rarely past the shoulders. Women showed their support by keeping their hair off the collar as women working jobs in the service. THE haircut of the 1940s was the middy, and most modern haircuts are based from it. This is basically just a cut with layers, a requirement for showing off vintage and rockabilly curls, and a true 40s middy comes in 3 lengths, the longest of which is only 6 inches at its longest point. Rita Hayworth was an exception with a 10 inch version. This looks like rocker hair when worn straight, but it’s the very best cut for curling up into adorable vintage styles. The middy was invented for the versatility required for a number of 1940s hairstyles.
Here are a couple videos by Lisa Freemont Street about the middy and how to style it. She has the very best videos about vintage hair, and has taught me virtually everything I know about how to achieve it. You don’t need to have this exact haircut of course, anything with layers will do. But it’s always valuable to know where the roots (ahem) of a style come from. Enjoy the videos!

Girdle Zone

Being heavily into corsets, I’ve never been particularly interested in girdles. I guess I’ve just always thought of them as a lesser kind of corset, a “corset light”, if you will. Nevertheless the thought of getting one has crossed my mind. Not everyone wants to be bound down to 20 inches at all times, but that hourglass shape is incredibly addicting nonetheless. I just don’t feel right without it.
So it was when I was browsing a message board dedicated to vintage lifestyles and clothing that I found mention of this website, Girdle Zone. I had to have a look.
This site is a lot bigger than I would ever have thought a site about girdles could be. But the fact is there is a lot to do with history, romance, politics, and our senses of self as women that’s all tied up in girdles and the way we perceive them among other notable kinds of underwear. I was immediately fascinated by all the psychology that goes into girdles, and I was pleased to see that they really do hold just as much mental power over us as corsets do.
So you may find that a girdle is a powerful and extremely pleasurable and sexy expression of your femininity, a protective exo-skeleton that grants a feeling of power, or you may feel that you associate them with a repressed pre-feminist time. Either way, you can’t look into the subject without having some sort of emotional reaction. I’ll let you decide for yourselves how you feel about these charged garments.

Book Review – Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution

One thing that never fails to fascinate me about clothes is how very political they are. Just by examining an outfit you can tell a lot about what was going on in the world at the time it was worn, and about the person who wore it. Fashion is influenced by a huge array of world events and social changes, and fashion has the power to influence world events and social changes right back.
Far from superficial this book is a fascinating argument of how fashion played a huge role in the way Marie Antoinette played the game of politics, how she was viewed, and eventually even how it largely contributed to the events of the French revolution. From the way her identity was literally stripped from her on her first day in France, to the way she wielded political power in the face of failing to become a mother, right until her very sad end when she was reduced to nothing, and on her very last day of life the way she painted a picture of everything she had represented, from a vain queen who lived in excess to an immortal martyr with a shattered heart. This book is amazing and will give you a whole new perspective on these things we call clothes. It’s definitely a must-read for anyone interested in fashion, history, politics, and incredibly compelling people.

From Publishers Weekly
At Versailles, where even the daily rouging of the Dauphine’s cheeks was a highly ritualized and politicized affair, and where obedience to protocol could brook no infringement, 14-year-old Marie Antoinette’s refusal to wear her whalebone corset threatened the Bourbon-Hapsburg alliance. As this prodigiously researched, deliciously detailed study (perfectly timed for the fall release of Sofia Coppola’s movie) of the doomed royal’s fashion statements demonstrates, her masculine equestrian garb, ostentatious costumes for masked balls, high Parisian hairdos and faux country-girl gear were bold bids for political power and personal freedom in a suffocating realm where a queen was merely a breeder and living symbol of her spouse’s glorious reign. An iconic trendsetter whose styles were copied by prostitutes and aristocrats alike, Marie Antoinette was blamed for France’s moral decay and financial bankruptcy, the blurring of class lines and callousness toward the poor. When many of her aristocratic contemporaries donned tricolor ribbons and jewelry set with stones from the Bastille’s demolished walls as pro-revolutionary emblems, a defiant Marie Antoinette reintroduced her most opulent jewels into her daily costume. The generously illustrated history by Weber (Terror and Its Discontents) posits that the queen’s fashion obsession wasn’t about narcissism and frivolity but self-assertion; even at the guillotine she controlled her image with a radiantly white ensemble. (Oct. 1)