Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Mad Hatter!

I've flipped my lid...for hats! I've always been a closet hat lover. I've owned and worn a few in my younger days. I think it's a genetic disorder that I inherited from my Grandmother. There are tales of Gram buying hats, hauling them home and promptly ripping them to bits and restyling them to her liking. Go Gram! I saw this lot on Etsy and could not control myself!

In the first row, the red/cream/taupe number (far right) is a maybe.
In the second row, #2 (rust) is a maybe, #3 taupe beret is WHY I had to have the lot!
In the top row, the two straw hats and the little cap that sits atop them are strong contenders and the red cap looks interesting.

The rest? Who knows. I'm definitely open to trying them on and maybe attempting to fix a few up (replace veils, etc). The turbans...uh, I don't think they are my style but they'd look cool displayed. ;)

PS Do you know where the expression Mad Hatter comes from? I heard that beaver fur hats had to be treated with some powder stuff that turned out to be quite toxic, causing the wearer to go bonkers as he was slowly poisoned. Ah, the price of fashion!

PSS I heard from the seller. Turns out she struggled with the decision to destash these hats because they had been inherited from her Mom who had collected them in the 1980's. She finally decided they deserved a home where somebody would appreciate them. The strange thing is that I was prompted to purchase them because of my Grandmother and the sentiment I feel for things she might have owned. Isn't it funny how an encounter as chance as an Etsy transaction can connect us?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Embracing the Inner Betty...

Yes, I am refering to Mrs. Donald Draper (or is that Mrs. Dick Whittman?...or maybe neither depending on how season 3 is going).

I've been looking back at season 1 of Mad Men and catching up with season 2. As I almost never watch TV, I'll have to wait for season 3 to be released on DVD. The nice thing about watching a series on DVD is that you can go back, pause and replay to scrutinize the details.

I have been nuts about Betty's ugly coffee cups for a while. It's the shape really, more than the color that grabs me. I finally broke down and purchased some. That set off a chain reaction. I really wanted to know more about how the women of the era functioned. What did they do all day? How did they keep their homes? What did they make for dinner? You get glimpses of Betty's days...cutting shelf paper in a house coat, marketing in heels, running around after children in slips and pin curls, casseroles and roasts served with a smile and a cigarette. Take away the whole underlying infidelity story line and the double standard by which some men chose to live, the whole housewife thing is rather appealing to me! Me! ...a true, blue single gal. What's happening here???? My inner Betty is breaking out! Rather than stuff her back in, I'm going to embrace her and see what she and I can do. (The advantage we modern gals have is that we can pick and choose what we incorporate and still leave the house and satisfy ourselves with outside interests!)

To help us, uh make that me, I've ordered a few helpers. They focus more to the mid 1950's than Betty's late 50's/early 60's life. I figured her style of wifeliness was cultivated a bit earlier than where the show picks up. So, here we go...guides for midcentury domesticity:

Friday, January 22, 2010

Vintage Kitty!

I thought of a lot of titles for this blog. "Crazy Cat Lady" "OMG...I Must Be Out of My Mind" "Throw Away Kitty" The first two are dead-on accurate, lol. The last sounded a bit harsh. I got to thinking how some sellers consider anything pre-owned, passed around or tossed away as "vintage". Hey, with that loose a definition, I figured it could apply to kitty cats too!

Meet Evair, aka Evie!

She's a DLH (domestic long hair) blue smoke kitty who is maybe 5-7 months old. She may appear ginormous in the photo, but she weighed all of 4.2 lbs at her wellness check a week ago. Her face is so teeny tiny and her legs are short making her tres petite. I took her name from the French word for winter, "Hiver" (pronounced ee-vair). Her fur is a wintery, cool blue-grey so I thought it suited her and the nickname "Evie" will always remind me of the moment we met.

I work as Client Services for an emergency vet hospital. I was pulling the overnight shift on New Years Eve into New Years Day. We got a call close to midnight from a local police officer saying he had three kittens in his car, all were very friendly but one wasn't doing so well. Now, if animals are considered stable, the police have instructions to use their key to the SPCA run and drop them off for staff to find in the morning. Since one kitten's status sounded questionable, we advised the officer to bring all three to our hospital. We figured we could check out the sick kitty and always take the healthy ones to the shelter at a later date.

When the officer arrived, he entered without the kittens. He told me a fella was plowing snow in the parking lot of a grocery store and found the three kittens in a box outside the store doors. Typical "dump" scenario. I guess they figure somebody would find them when they opened the store in the morning. Great plan unless they freeze to death, wander away, get attacked or hit by a car in the meantime. Quell idiots! Anyway, the officer went out to his car and came back with two boxes. One box had two larger blue DLH's just shivering together. The second box had a petite kitty with her legs splayed out behind her. I was really worried she was a hit-by-car and if her back was injured, well...not good.

I took the boxes to treatment and said, "Hey Dr. Sprague, could we please not have to euthanize anybody tonight?" Dr. Sprague said, "I'll do my best" and started examining the kittens. (btw We affectionately call Dr. S "the cat whisperer". Owners come in telling us we will have to use gloves to handle their fractious cat and 20 minutes later Kitty Kujo is draped over Dr. S's shoulder while he's reviewing bloodwork in the lab. It's a GIFT!) The techs started heating up IV fluid bags to bring their body temps up and getting a cage ready with food and blankets and a litter box. I sat at the desk biting my nails and wondering about that little kitty. As I waited, the info came out little by female, seems strong and healthy...a male, looking good...finally the pipsqueak, a GIRL and other than being a lot thinner and smaller than her siblings, she was just fine. Hoorah!

Now, if it's not evident to the reader, let me explain. From the moment I looked in that box, I was drawn to the pipsqueak. I don't do Boy kitties, only girls. It's just seemed to work that way for me. So, when the word came out she was a girl, I was pretty must toast. :) The official hospital policy is that all strays are remanded to the SPCA where they can be legally adopted out. This protects the animal and the practice. I was on the phone the next morning telling their shelter manager that pipsqueak had a home, that I put an ID band around her neck with my name and number and to CALL ME IMMEDIATELY when they got her. I also told them that I would run a snap test for FeLV (feline leukemia) and FIV (feline aids) at our hospital and indicate the results on her ID collar. She tested NEGATIVE on both counts.

We quickly had a home lined up for the other female pending FeLV/FIV results. Here's where the size 8 Springolator drops. She tested a weak positive for FeLV. Now, typically if one sibling is exposed to the disease, they all are. I had no clue this was going on and was hounding the shelter only to find none of the kittens had arrived. I went in to work and all three were still in residence. Our wonderful, compassionate practice manager juggled policy to protect the kittens. She was concerned that a weak positive in one kitten might prompt the shelter to destroy them all. This isn't done because they are cruel but because FeLV is contageous and they don't have resources to quarantine kittens for months on end pending a retest.

The news hit me like a brick wall. I have other kits in my life and bringing home an FeLV cat really wasn't an option. But, I wasn't ready to give up. I talked to our doctors and I did my own reading. What I learned was that snap tests can be wrong and all three kits should be retested. Our head doctor felt retesting now was superflous because FeLV tests should be run 3-6 months after last known exposure. Additionally, if a cat is "exposed" to the FeLV virus, they can show a weak positive while their bodies attempt to fight the virus. Some cats, a lot of cats with strong immune systems can fight the virus, it never takes hold in the red cells and bone marrow and they will test negative at a later date, will never manifest the disease and will never carry it nor pass it to any other cat. Very, very rarely there a latent carrier pops up. This is a kitty who never tests positive, never shows signs themselves, but is actually infected and serves as a carrier, infecting other cats. I really had to review the risks and it was starting to look like a broken heart was immenent!

Time to regroup. Our house is unusual because it had been converted to 1st and 2nd story apartments decades ago. We have always occupied the 2nd floor and so have our kitties. When we bought the house and started renovating back to a single dwelling, we installed a glass interior door between the floors specifically so our cats could get spooked and run outside. That meant I could actually bring home Evair, quarantine her completely and entirely away from our long time resident felines and wait out the 3 months necessary for retesting. Once we hit that mark, I will have the ELISA snap test redone which will show possible exposure. But, I will also have an IFA test sent out. IFA is more involved and doesn't pick up simple exposure but actually flouresces any affected red cells, meaning the virus is in the bone marrow. Naturally, I'm hopeful for Evair to test negative. She is beyond sweet and deserves a long and happy life of laziness, toys, food and ridiculous amounts of creature comforts! If we do get bad news, then decisions will have to be made. It is possible to maintain an FeLV cat until such time as the disease interferes with quality of life. It just means a bit more effort to continue our very strict quarantine. Ah well...whatever it takes!

BTW The boy kitty was neutered and went home to the friend of one of our vet techs where he is an only kitty and can safely wait out his quarantine. The other girl went to a vet tech's mom's house where she is being fostered until she can be retested. All three kittens were very unique in their overly loving, pleasing purrsonalities. It truly saved their lives and made everyone bend rules and policies to give them the chance they need and deserve!

Peace out and remember, when faced with a lost little soul...If not me, who? If not now, when?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sweet Success...a 1950's Coat

I have two 50's shirtwaist dresses that just sort of fell in my lap as BIN on Ebay. I have a green velvet 50's holiday dress that was a fight to the finish, ie bidding war and may end up requiring me to remove a rib if I ever want to zip it completely...but that's another story. So far, it's been beginners luck or newbie tenacity (with frivolous disregard for financial limitations). Never have I truly worked for a find. Never that is, until today. This blog is about a coat, which is probably pretty boring to most of you. But, as a newbie, I promised to tell you about my journey and this one was an experience.

I wanted an everyday coat that would accommodate my 50's skirts. My eyes were literally twitching from scrolling through coat searches on Etsy and Ebay. Most of what was described as 50's just didn't feel right. The collars were too "out there" stylized and the hemlines were semi-fitted, straight or tapered in. Now how could that be right for full 50's skirts? I threw the question over to the ladies at the Fedora Lounge and Lauren (aka "Go To The Source" I imagine it's what a Vintage Loving Yoda might tell young vintage Jedi) gave me a link to search vintage coat patterns on Wiki . She added that McCall (see yesterday's blog about my new love affair with McCall's Magazine, lol) patterns are dated and serve as great reference tools to confirm accuracy in sellers descriptions. She was also dead on that most 60's coats are described as 50's, 50's as 40's and 40's as 30's. I spent the next few hours going through a ton of McCall patterns and found two that appealed to me.

Armed with a visual, I redid my searches but instead of looking for 50's coats, I searched for 40's coats...swing, tent, A-line, you name it, I searched it. I finally hit upon one that was interesting. The style seemed close to the pattern guides I had. The color wasn't fantabulous, but I did say "everyday" which nondescript brown certainly lends itself to. The material had a trade name for faux cashmere which left me wondering. Was I right? Could this really be a 1950's coat, in a faux material hiding out in a 40's listing? Time to research!

I Googled the label "Kashmoor by Country Tweeds" (moment of silent prayer in thanks giving to inventors of Google) A summary of an FTC complaint came up. It basically said that Country Tweeds tweaked some laboratory findings in an effort to build confidence in their wholesale buyers after switching cashmere suppliers. The case states they had done business with Einiger Mills until 1958 and then sought a new supplier. Score! The label in the coat also said Einiger Mills, so it must be pre 1958 prior to supplier change. Okay, good to know, but I was still shakey about this "Kashmoor" stuff. Googled some more and found a 1957 advertising award for the 1956 campaign "Country Tweeds Coats for the Wide, Wide World". (see it here ) Getting warmer! A second verification that I'm in the 50's. But, that still leaves the pesky thought of "Kashmoor" and if it's legit. For a lark, I ran an Ebay search and within seconds, the Angels of Vintage were singing!!!! YES! DIRECT HIT!!! A c1952 print ad!!! The coat is a little different but close to the one I was considering. The ad explains just what "Kashmoor" is and shows the suggested retail of $85 which I think is pretty high for the 50's. So, with the price of the vintage coat with shipping at less than the original retail, I felt pretty fantastic about purchasing.

...and I cannot describe how wonderful it is to have learned something in the process! To be sure, the process is even more exhilarating than the find. Thanks Lauren and all vintage people for sharing your knowledge! This newbie sure appreciates it.

The Inspiration...

The Consideration...

The Vindication...

"Kashmoor by Country Tweeds An artists masterpiece...perfect in every detail...soft and warm, yet feather-light...Country Tweeds impeccable styling is combined with Eigniger Mills wonder-wearing wool-nylon fabric and Mil???'s "insulated" lining to give you the season's ??? ??? casual...$85"

PS I may blow what I saved on the original retail just to buy the ad so I can read it all! LOL Alas...still a newbie!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

My new tattoo?

I recently read Lauren's (of ) list of likes and dislikes. One of the major points I took away was "Go to the source" for vintage inspiration. So, since I have a birthday coming (like a freight train, lol) I decided to get a tattoo that says GO TO THE SOURCE.

Just kidding!

I did decide to bday gift myself some resources by purchasing a few late 50's magazines. I'm hoping they will broaden my views of 50's fashion. I'd really like to learn more about line and mixing seperates which has always been a challenge for me. The adverts will simply be icing on my ephemoral birthday cake! I love old ads and plan to savor each and every page of printed past once my mags arrive. Regretably, we used to have a ton of old Life magazines in our attic. I remember sitting in the hot attic reading when I was supposed to be helping to clean out the "junk". Boo hoo! Why did we think they were junk????

I also gave myself a c1950 book entitled "Look Younger Live Longer" by Gayelord Houser. It features beauty/diet recipes and chapters like "Refuse to be Tired" (if it works, that alone was worth the price of admission!), "Diet Can Make You Beautiful", "Don't Be Too Thin" (Ha! Little did they know Twiggy was just a decade away. snigger). Should be a fun read and possibly informative considering this info was pre Botox and pre Subway. Then again, it was also pre Dangerous Trans Fats too so we may have to take it with a grain of salt and common sense. I'll try to share once it arrives with the caveat that it's for "entertainment purposes" only.

If anyone else is having a birthday...Happy Birthday! May your year be filled with health, happiness, love and killer vintage buys. (Uh, I originally typed killer vintage GUYS...well, whichever you'd prefer!)