Tuesday, May 27, 2008


So I took a little break from the No Buy this weekend. Hold your fire, friends, there will be an explanation coming later. I did it in a very controlled way, you'll be glad to hear, by visiting a couple of my favorite vintage dealers who I knew would be having Memorial Day discounts. And sure enough, I scored some serious gold.

Nugget #1:

Bronze/black iridescent waisted sheath.

I've added an alligator patent belt and my black patent Miu Miu mary janes. At first I thought it wanted the Blahnik Dianamus sandals, but I think the mary janes are better. I really love the long sleeves on this dress but I'm going to shorten them, for a few reasons. First and most importantly, overall they're a little big but the wrists are tiny -- so tiny I can barely get my hands through them and I have relatively small paws. What this does is cause the sleeves to sort of bunch up instead of hang, and since the shoulders of this dress fit a tiny bit loosely on me, it's throwing the whole thing out of whack. I haven't decided how short to go -- I think I'll start with below the elbow and see how that works.

Great v-neckline in the back, which I have cleverly disguised by hunching my shoulders. Sorry!

I so adore this fabric, which is that wonderful (although slightly scratchy) iridescent taffeta from the 60's. As a blue-eyed redhead, this rust-brown-bronze is really good on me, but I almost never wear it. Why? you ask. Well, because I live in Austin, and burnt orange and white are the school colors of the University of Texas, which is located here and a HUGE part of life in this city. There's nothing wrong with being a fan of UT per se, but usually when someone is wearing burnt orange or rust-colored clothing here in Austin, there is a Longhorn insignia printed or embroidered on it somewhere. And there is a LOT of it. At any given time in Austin, probably a good 10 - 15% of the population is wearing some sort of UT logo'd clothing and frankly, I'm good & sick of looking at it. It's fine to support your team, but I do not believe it should dictate your fashion choices, and I do not care to be mistaken for someone on her way to a tailgate party. I think that in this dress that won't be a problem.

Nugget #2:

Oh, this thing is amazing. It's a suit -- waisted sheath dress and perfect (perfect!) little short jacket made of the most beautiful patterned silk.

Shown here with a gold patent belt and my gold & crystal Blahnik Priscas. Florals are huge this summer, and there are a lot of dresses in this silhouette (Roland Mouret's influence, I think. People are still crazy for those Moon & Galaxy dresses. And don't forget the whole "Mad Men" phenomenon -- remember the Michael Kors fall show I posted about?), so this thing, 50 years or so after its birth, is right on point. I would also like to add that the jacket is going to be a great stand-alone piece. It will be very, very adorable with a pair of my new wide-legged trouser jeans and some sassy heels. And of course, one of the loveliest things about it (and everything I'm showing you here) is that it's lined. Because back then they put linings in dresses, even dresses that weren't spectacularly expensive couture pieces. (This one doesn't have a label, but from its construction I'd say it's high-ish end department store or custom-tailored.)

The lining of the dress is a layer of superfine silk organza. It's exquisite. There's not a single raw edge on the thing, every seam is pinked at the very least. The jacket has a regular charmeuse lining, so it's heavier.

Please note the bound buttonholes. Just gorgeous. It's next to impossible to find a bound buttonhole anymore, even in designer clothing. Just one more sign of the decline and fall of the human race, if you ask me.

Nugget #3 (probably my favorite):

Blue/green brocade waisted shift dress with a wide square neckline. The color of this is so unbelievable -- completely saturated peacock blue & green iridescent brocade worked in a floral pattern. Gaw-juss. I'm wearing it here with my Pedro Garcia rose-gold Noa pumps. I'm not sure about these shoes, the dress may want the blue sequined Armanis, but I haven't decided yet. The Noas are great, but they are such a retro shape themselves (I described them as "very Angie Dickinson running around in Vegas with the Rat Pack." The ever-trenchant Plumcake agreed, stating that she could "imagine them thrown over Frank Sinatra's shoulders." I'll leave you with that visual.) that they may make the whole outfit authentic to the point of costume-y. They are so deliciously sparkly, however...

(Thirty-two pounds later, baby still got back.)

All three of these dresses fit me really well, and what's unusual about them is that they all fit me lengthwise in the torso. I'm pretty long-waisted, and my most common issue with vintage clothes is that the bodices are too short -- the waist seams hit me around the middle of my ribcage. All three of these dresses are perfect -- the narrowest parts of the dresses coincide with the narrowest part of me. Since I bought all of these from the same dealer and they're all a similar style, I'm wondering if maybe they were all made for the same woman. I have a call out to the dealer in hopes that she can tell me a little about where she got them -- they may have all come from the same estate sale, for instance.

The other question I have about the blue dress has to do with these elastic straps that are sewn on the inside of the neckline at the very top of the bodice:

One of them has an eye from a hook & eye attached to the bottom, the other one looks like it had one but it's fallen off. I can't quite figure out where these straps are supposed to hook into -- I can't find any mateless hooks anywhere in the inside of the bodice, they must also be missing. I suspect it's some kind of contraption whose purpose is to keep the very wide neckline from falling off the shoulder, but I'm not sure how. (If anyone is familiar with this sort of thing, please let me know. I'm dying to understand this little mystery.) I'm going to hem all of the dresses, as well, just an inch or two so that they hit me just at the bottom of my knee.

Now. A note on the breaking of the No Buy and the title of this post. I did some hard number crunching over the last few days and realized that my goal of an October trip to Paris is an unrealistic one. XE.com this morning quoted the euro at $1.57. This means that, what with exchange fees and credit card surcharges and all that jazz, for all intents and purposes when you actually spend the euro it's probably at about $1.65. I doubt very much that's going to come down by October -- it's more likely to go up, as a matter of fact, and I can easily see it going to $1.75 or more. When exchange rates are this bad, it makes just walking down the street and breathing in a foreign country heart-stoppingly expensive. Not to mention airfares, which I also think are not going to get any better any time soon. So, as much as it breaks my heart, I have to be a responsible grown-up and shelve this plan for the time being.

After I worked through all of this in my head I had a little cry and then I went for a nice run and I'm mostly at peace with it now, so don't worry about me. And let's not talk about it too much more, because it doesn't much change things and I'm ready to let it go. I will say, though, that the dreamy items above were a direct result of me doing a little consolation shopping to salve my wound. It did the trick and then some, because the total for all three of those dresses? Less than 50 bucks.

All hail the Bargain Queen.

One more thing -- as an additional consolation, I'm planning a nice, fun, three-day weekend to visit some of my nearest & dearest in Dallas next month. Dallas is a far cry from Paris, of course (although not from Paris, TX), but my friends there always treat me comme une princesse and my darling Ms. Jody has promised to call me mon amie all weekend if I desire. While I'm in Dallas, in between the museuming and the retailing and the general swanning about, I though it might be fun to have a meet & greet with whatever Dallas-area readers might be interested. So if anyone reading this in the Dallas Metroplex (a phrase I can't even type with a straight face, let alone say) is interested in getting all swankied up and meeting me for an early-evening Friday cocktail hour, let me know. If there's enough interest, I'll put something together. Right now the most likely date for this would be June 20, although that isn't set in stone. If you think you might like to join me, let me know in the comments or by sending me an e-mail (see "contact" in my profile).

C'est tout pour maintenant. A bientôt!

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Anonymous said...

If you had to break the no-buy, at least you did it beautifully! Three amazing pieces, especially the first one. Such a lovely color on you...

Deja Pseu said...

OMG, those are all heart-stoppingly gorgeous! (And just the kind of thing I'd pounce on in a vintage store if I had your figure.) Great deal, too. Unfortunately all of the vintage stores around here have jacked up prices; you'd be lucky to find one thing for $50, let alone your haul.

So depressing about the euro, as we're committed to October, having purchased our airline tickets a couple of months ago. I'm on a "no buy" saving up for an Hermès Bolide bag, but even with the VAT refund, I may not save any money buying in Paris.

LeeLee said...

Do your share your shopping secrets? I would dearly love to know at which vintage shop you got those dresses. I live close to Austin, and would certainly make the trip to a well-recommended shop.
That rust color dress is amazing, and will look lovely with shorter sleeves and a bold bracelet.

StyleSpy said...

Thanks for the compliments, friends! Deja -- buy your currency NOW -- it's like making an investment!

LeeLee -- absolutely I share, it's my raison d'etre! Currently my favorite place to go vintage shopping is the Austin Antique Mall, which is on the service road for 183 between Burnet & MoPac. It's a little hard to find, tucked behind a Nissan dealership, but it's worth the search. I also highly rec Bitchin' Threads and Amelia's, both on South Lamar. Happy hunting!

LeeLee said...

Thanks so much for the shop info! About the mystery elastic straps. My grandmother had a number of lovely dresses - she was a BBD&O model many years ago - and some of these dresses had bizarre straps. I think you're right that they are meant to keep the shoulders in place. Perhaps they are meant to hook together in the back? If so, it seems more likely that they would have a snap. Perhaps they were meant to hook on to a foundation garment? I've found such things before on custom-tailored vintage pieces. I've always carefully removed them.

HEATHER said...

Gorgeous dresses! Very good shopping and great bargains too!

Robo said...

Oh my goodness gracious, such amazing dresses! Lucky, lucky girl. I wish I could buy vintage, but alas, I have too much of the boobage. Those elastic straps might criss-cross in the back and hook on to something to keep the neckline up? Genius if that's what they are.
And what if you go to Montreal instead of Paris? Not the same, je sais, but still got the French feel, non?

Anonymous said...

All three pieces are just stunning and they fit you very well. Beautiful!

I'm supposed to be going to Paris in October. I am terrified of the exchange rate though. I'm also thinking of postponing the trip. I feel your pain.


Duchesse said...

Indescribably great pieces, and they look perfect on you.
Giveaway prices.

Paris will always be there but these pieces won't!

Sian said...

I love the flowers the best, but on you, the rust coloured dress. Perfect.

Fritinancy said...

Stunning indeed--and those amazing prices make me want to jump on the next flight to Texas. (Who needs Paris?) I'm a long-waisted gal myself, and I *never* find vintage that fits. But even if I could solve the fit problem, I wouldn't have a clue where to wear such clothes. The movies? The gym? My home office? Where do *you* wear vintage?

Belle de Ville said...

Simply stunning. What incredible fashion finds. Why can't dresses be designed like this anymore.

Belle de Ville said...

Oh, and my what a perfect figure you have to wear such dresses.
Envy all around...

Chloe said...

Those little elastic straps sometimes hook around your bra strap, to stop them showing.

Plumcake said...

FYI: Amelia's has moved, it's now on South First Street. Look for the giant globe installation.