That’s Sew 1950’s

Welcome back, style enthusiasts. Just as a disclaimer, this week is going to be a little bit different than what I’ve been doing because I’m going to be talking about altering vintage clothes. I have the foundation for a gorgeous look, so keep coming back to see the completed outfit. With that in mind, welcome to post number 3.

Now that Halloween weekends 1 and 2 have passed, it’s time to start thinking about the holiday season. I don’t know about you, but although I adore the Christmas season, I can’t get into the spirit until Thanksgiving has passed. That being said, there are some December goings-on that I can’t procrastinate thinking about. For example, I started cranking out scarves and hats for my friends and family on Wednesday when I was really sick. I also have to start shopping for school secret Santa events and preparing for my December capstone project presentation. A capstone is basically the college version of a senior project. For mine, I wrote a play and am directing a staged reading of it that will be performed in early December. I based my play on Alfred Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder, so it takes place in the 1950’s. The reason I’m telling you all of this is that I have a very specific outfit that I’m working on for my capstone performance and the base of it all is this dress.

tea length dress

This is the first piece of clothing I’m sharing on here that I did not get from a thrift store. I actually got this dress at the theater I interned at in Harrisburg over the summer. They were renovating their entire space and needed to get rid of things that had accumulated and sat over the years, so we interns helped organize a prop and costume sale in early June. While we were organizing rooms full of costumes, our boss said to let her know if we saw anything we wanted to take. I was too nervous to ask for this dress, so I hung it up with the other dresses and decided to get it if it was there at the sale that weekend. As you might’ve guessed, it was. I got the dress, a black fascinator, and  a pair of vintage oxford shoes for me and I found a suede jacket for my boyfriend. How much did I pay for all of that, you ask? My boss bagged all my things, gave me a smile, and said, “one dollar”. All I have to say is that if anyone ever says that hard work doesn’t pay off, that person is very wrong.

Once I got back to my Airbnb from the sale, I tried the dress on and saw that it had all sorts of surprises. First of all, on closer inspection, I learned that this dress was not a 1950’s-style dress originally. Judging by the hem in the lower layer of the skirt, the dress was at least five or six inches longer, which leads me to believe that this was originally a prairie-style dress that was altered in the theatre’s costume shop for a specific production.

hem on skirt

Another part of this dress that proves my theory are the button holes on the inside of the dress. There aren’t any buttons attached any more, but there are only two buttonholes and they stop sooner than you would think, so I am led to believe that this prairie dress was altered a lot on top to create this Sleeping Beauty-style neckline. 

Did I mention I am living for this neckline?

neckline of dress

Other than the metamorphosis of the dress, I saw that is desperately needed some TLC. There were a couple holes on the seam near the side zipper and a few small holes on the seams of the waist and bust areas. Also, the dress was just the tiniest bit too small. It was just snug enough that the zipper wouldn’t close. It’s something I knew I could fix, though, because I firmly believe that you should make your clothes work for you rather than agonizing over the fit of the clothes you find in a store. I didn’t have my sewing things with me at the time, so I had to wait until I came back home to get to altering my new 1950’s dress. 

Once I got home, I had to pack everything to go back to school, so I didn’t actually get to start altering the dress until I got moved into my dorm. I started by messaging my Aunt Kay, who is a seamstress of over 30 years, and asking her how to take a dress out. Once I mentioned that it has a side zipper, she was doubtful that I could alter the dress because she said “side zippers are from the devil”. She had a point. Side zippers are so very awkward. Does anyone prefer side zippers to back zippers? Anyway, I turned the dress inside out and realized that it had been taken in before, so there was extra fabric I could play with. So instead of making a new skirt panel, I ended up ripping the seams on the sides of the dress and re-sewing those seams using a quarter of an inch of the extra fabric on each side.

inside out dress

After that, I repaired the small holes in the dress and altered the waistband. You can see the waistband is elastic, but there was a strip of white fabric on top of it that hindered the elastic from stretching, so I took that out. Once that was done, I tried on my dress, holding my breath. Would it fit? Would it look good? Would it be comfortable?

dress waistband

It turned out that the dress fits me so well, I don’t even need to bother using the side zipper. I can just slide the dress on over my head and it fits like a glove. The only change I want to make in the future is to alter the neckline so that the cut will be a little lower and I can expose more of my collarbone. The neckline is fine now, but I think it could use a little more drama. For all intents and purposes though, the dress is complete. Now all I need to do is work on styling it for my 1950’s capstone.

For shoes, I decided on these low, red heels. They aren’t quite the kitten heels of the 1950’s, but they’re the closest thing I have and I love wearing them. 

red heels

Here they are with the dress. They don’t look exactly the same shade of red because for some reason the dress looks more purple than red in this lighting, but the dress will work well with these heels.

One thing I need to find or buy for this look is a petticoat to  make the skirt puff out a little more. I really wish petticoats could be worn in everyday life nowadays, but I guess they just aren’t in vogue right now. At the same time, there’s nothing really stopping anyone from wearing them on a regular basis either. 

I’m also thinking of adding a pearl necklace to this look, but I would have to have my mom send it to me from home. I don’t normally travel with my pearl necklace because it was handed down to me from my Grammie, so it’s the real deal and very special to me. What else do you think would make this look? Let me know in the comments below if you have any ideas.

Although this look is not yet complete, this is what I have so far. I’m extremely excited to get my accessories together and post about the final outfit.

I really like the way this dress feels and how it fits. It makes me feel very feminine and the fit of the skirt is perfect for twirling. Now that I think of it, this dress would pair very well with my red baking apron. If that wouldn’t make me look like a 1950’s housewife, I don’t know what would. I’m not saying that I would prefer to live in the 1950’s, but I really dig the aesthetic of the time. Sometimes I want to wear torn-up jeans and a leather jacket, but other times I want to wear a classy dress and heels and curl my hair. I see style as a fluid spectrum that way. 

black and white picture

As I said earlier, this post was a little different than what I normally do. I’ll be posting again featuring the complete version of this look with accessories, makeup, and how you can try to recreate the look for yourself. I hope you enjoyed this slightly different installment of The Vintage Millennial.

P.S. If you’re also a novice tailor and want to know how to let a dress in, Rain Blanken of The Spruce Crafts is a great resource. If you’re a visual learner like me, Rain has you taken care of with step-by-step instructions with pictures. I didn’t end up following this process because of the structure of the dress I got, but definitely use this guide if you need to properly let out a dress. If you end up completing a project like this, I’d love to see how it turns out. Let me know in the comments how it goes in the comments!

Until next time!

Rainy Days and ’70s Fringe

Welcome back, fellow style enthusiasts.

This week, I’m going to take you back to the 1970s. I’m very excited to show you this outfit because I’ve been waiting for just the right moment to break out the central piece of it. Before I get to the good stuff though, I need to give you a little context.

Over the summer, I interned at a regional theatre in Harrisburg, PA. To be honest, I was working more hours than I ever had before while making almost no money, but I had never enjoyed a job more. That’s probably because all my previous jobs had nothing to do with my career path and were all those “character building” jobs many of us millennials know all too well. 

While I was in Harrisburg, I stayed at an Airbnb suite (much cheaper than an apartment for 3 months!) in walking distance from the downtown area. The older couple who were my hosts were very kind and chill, but they had one rule that they imposed: no guests under any circumstances. It was their house and I needed a place to stay, so I accepted their terms. It was tough going for a little while though because I wanted to have my co-workers over to hang out every now and again, or even have family visit. I also don’t have a car so I couldn’t visit other people outside of work unless I went with them somewhere. What I’m getting at is that I often spent my weekends by myself, and I needed things to do. I got extra market research done, read some books, started some crochet projects, and then I finally realized that I needed to get out of the house. So, I looked up “shopping near me” on Google and Ubered to the nearest complex with a Salvation Army. If I couldn’t find anything I liked there, at least there was a Starbucks nearby. 

When I got to the store, I was taken aback by how gigantic it was. I was used to my hometown’s modest Salvation Army, and this one was probably twice the size. There was a huge book and movie section, which always makes me happy, but after a while I needed to see the clothes. There had to have been 15-17 aisles of clothes in this store, and I, of course, made a beeline for the dresses. I found a gorgeous rust-colored one with a high, angular collar and black buttons on the collar and waist. Then, I wandered around looking through the other racks. I wasn’t really planning on buying a jacket, but I walked through that section just for kicks and I saw mostly denim and leather jackets, which I certainly don’t need any more of. Then, I saw a touch of fringe peeking out from behind a denim jacket and i pulled out this gorgeous suede fringe jacket.

Suede fringe jacket

I tried it on and it was a little snug in the upper-arm area,but otherwise it fit great and was incredibly flattering in the waist area. It had no tears or stains and it was $4 total. It seemed almost too good to be true, but I got it with the dress I picked out and got a vanilla cold brew from Starbucks to celebrate.

Fast forward to yesterday, a rainy, but not unbearably cold November day. I just got out of my first class, went to the gym, and came back to my dorm. I had an important outreach meeting in a few hours for the Student Theatre Company and I wanted to look put together, but still fun. I decided to pair my fringe jacket with a white t-shirt with a gorgeous lace-up detail and a checked-pattern miniskirt with pleats and buttons all down the front. I love this t-shirt with the jacket because the lace-up detailing is also a reference to 1970’s fashion. The miniskirt, on the other hand, is more of a 1960’s mod fashion reference. All the same, the neutral tones of the shirt and skirt don’t take away from the statement fringe on the jacket, so it all blends together nicely.

Fringe jacket, t-shirt, and miniskirt

Because of the weather outside, I also added these black tights I found at Target over the summer just to add a layer of warmth and a detail that would give the outfit a little more polish and maturity. These were only $8 and they don’t rip nearly as easily as the ones I’ve purchased from WalMart.

black tights

Just like last time, I decided to pair a bootie with this outfit. Booties are without a doubt one of my favorite types of shoes because they’re comfortable while still having a substantial heel (which I love because I’m only 5’2 and need all the height I can get). I got these gray booties from Charlotte Russe last winter while they were on sale. I have wide feet, so I had to go up a couple sizes, but these are super comfortable and pretty high-quality as well. 

jacket, t-shirt, miniskirt, and gray booties

Next comes makeup; here are all the things I used to create this look. I don’t like spending a lot of money on makeup, but I’ve found that I can do pretty well for myself using the drugstore brands and products from the on-sale section at Ulta.

makeup

The first thing I used is this huge eyeshadow palette. I got it as a gift from my friends, who said they got it from Ulta. I adore all the color options in this palette, but for this look, I just applied a sparkly pink shade to the inner corners of my eyes to the middle of my eyelids and a tan on the outer edges.

eye shadow palette

Next, I used the NYX pencil lip liner to line my lower eyelids. Yes, I know it’s a lip pencil, but it works very well for this purpose, so that’s what I do. Sometimes you have to break the rules a little. Then, I used my Physician’s Formula liquid liner on my upper eyelids. To reference the popular makeup looks of the 1960’s, I made my lines as thin as humanly possible to create the illusion of thick lashes. 

To add to this illusion, I used another retro technique. I took my Maybelline Lash Sensational mascara and used the wand vertically instead of horizontally. The key is to try to accentuate each individual eyelash, to the best of your ability. This technique should make your lashes pop and create the illusion of thick lashes and big eyes. 

mascara demonstration

Next, I applied my Ulta rainbow highlighter to my cheekbones and applied my L’Oreal Infallibles Petal Potion lipstick. The rainbow highlighter is my absolute favorite and I thought I had lost it forever until I had to dig through my makeup for Halloween, and there it was, lying right in front of me. Sometimes it really is the little things that bring us joy. This shade of lipstick is also one of my favorites because I always get compliments on the color and L’Oreal Infallibles last a really long time. If you eat something greasy, you might need to re-apply a little of it, but I always have to use lip scrub to get it all off, so you know this is strong stuff. Altogether, this is the final product:

complete makeup look

My hair was still out of control from when I pin-curled and teased it over the weekend, so I put it in a simple, low braid. Because my hair was still so volumized, it actually made my braid look full. 

braided hairstyle

For jewelry, I wore a purple ring to reference the mood ring craze of the 1970’s. Because there is a lot going on in most of my outfit, I just wore stud earrings in my first and second holes.

I have to say, I think the whole look came together well.

Want to create this look for yourself? I got both the t-shirt and miniskirt from American Eagle. Seeing as American Eagle now replaced their summer clothing with their winter collection, I found some alternatives. I found this white lace-up t-shirt at Kohl’s on clearance for $13.50 (or $10.80 if you use the code AUTUMN20). I also found this plaid miniskirt from Forever 21 for $14.99.

Kohl's white t-shirt
Plaid skirt

As for the fringe jacket, I found a few similar options. I love the one I found because it is longer in the front than in the back, which helps create the illusion of a slimmer waist. You can use any fringe jacket for this look to work. If you prefer something with a zipper or buttons, go for it. If you want a jacket that fits you snugly or loosely, it doesn’t matter as long as you’re comfortable. I would suggest a looser jacket to counterbalance the tighter t-shirt and skirt. I found these similar options from Mercari and Shein. The jacket from Mercari is $25 and the jacket from Shein is $27. Also, don’t feel like you have to stick with tan; if you want to experiment with color, you can try finding a black, white or pink fringe jacket as well.

tan fringe jacket
tan fringe jacket

I got the booties at Charlotte Russe before my local store closed. However, Charlotte Russe announced that will be making a comeback. I looked on their website and they didn’t have any gray booties left, but after doing a little research, I found this gray pair of booties at Kohl’s on sale for $39.99 (or $31.99 if you use that sale code I mentioned earlier). Again if you want to play with color and aren’t into gray booties, then I suggest black because the most noticeable part of this outfit should be the jacket. Any more flashy pieces will come across as tacky. If you want a black shoe, you can easily use a trusty pair of combat boots or a bootie like this pair from Target for $29.99.

Kohl's gray booties
Target black bootie

And with that, I hereby send you all off into the world to create your own rainy-day fall looks. If you try to re-create this look or my last one, tell me about it in the comments below. I’m excited to hear about your experiences with this.

See you next week!

Autumnal Edginess

Post 1, here we go. Before I get started, I need to get something off my chest; what is with this weather recently? It is the very end of October and it went into the high 60’s/low 70’s yesterday evening. How is that possible? I’m located in the greater Pittsburgh area, so maybe I’m not used to things around here. Back home, in Northeast PA, we would’ve already had our first snowstorm by now. I’m not complaining; I love warm weather. Warm weather means shorts, sundresses, and tank tops, all things I enjoy. Even if, in late October, I can only wear a pair of shorts for a few hours while it’s still nice enough outside to do so, you can bet I’m going to do it. 

This brings me to today’s entry. While it was nice outside yesterday in the late afternoon, I only had a few minutes to come back to my dorm and change after my back-to-back classes and meetings from 9am-5pm. I had to get to the black box theater for 6:30 to set up chairs for a Halloween show I’m directing. Last night was our dress rehearsal, so it was the last night to iron out any kinks in the show. I needed to wear something that made me feel like a more confident and elevated version of myself, but what? 

Plaid shorts and black bodysuit

I checked the weather and it was 70 degrees, and it would stay in the 60’s until much later that night, so that meant shorts were an option. How could I pass up this opportunity? I grabbed my navy plaid shorts and started to work. Since my shorts have a bow in the front that I wanted exposed, I paired it with a plain black bodysuit. So far, so good. I wanted a jacket to layer on top in case I got cold in the theater or in case I ended up working late and left rehearsal when the temperature dropped drastically. I tried on my jean jacket and felt a little too preppy. My leather jacket would be too hot to wear outside, and a hoodie wouldn’t be dressy enough. I flipped through my outerwear and took a good, long look at my unworn thrifted military jacket. 

green army jacket

I got this jacket over the summer when I visited my boyfriend in Pittsburgh. He’s gotten me more into thrifting since we started dating and on that particular day in late July, he took me to one of his favorite thrift stores. We found some nice stuff for both of us while we wandered through the aisles, and after accumulating a heap of clothes for each of us, we started to wander over to the fitting rooms. I was walking quickly ahead of him so I wouldn’t drop all my stuff, and he called out to me, “Wait a minute, Look at this.”. I turned and he pulled out this jacket from the rack. It was cool and edgy in a way that I normally don’t dress. I humored him and tried it on, and it was surprisingly flattering and comfortable. I didn’t end up getting a whole lot from that store, but I got that jacket for a mere $6!

Since that day, the jacket has been sitting in my closet, unworn. Maybe it’s because I was scared of looking too edgy or maybe it’s because I didn’t know what to wear it with. In any case, I tried the jacket on with my shorts and bodysuit and I was surprised by how much I liked the ensemble. I buttoned two of the middle buttons to give the look some polish, but leave the bow on my shorts exposed. The combination of the shorts with the bow, the  bodysuit, and the jacket balanced out the preppiness of my base with some edge. As an added bonus, the plaid pattern of my shorts with the jacket gave my outfit a punk rock vibe that I normally try to achieve with my combat boots and a denim jacket. All that was left was the accessories.

Since the patches on the jacket and the plaid pattern on my shorts already make a statement, I didn’t feel moved to add much more to the outfit. I left my titanium studs in my second ear piercings and forewent any earrings in the first piercings. On my right wrist, I kept on the bracelet that my boyfriend gave my last summer because it looks like a delicate chain, which adds to the punk rock aesthetic. On my left hand, I put on my class ring because it matches my other silver jewelry and it makes me feel confident and like I have legitimate credibility. 

plaid shorts, bodysuit, army jacket, and black booties

Now for shoes: I confess, I may or may not have a shoe problem. My roommate always makes fun of me for the number of shoes I bought to school, but I think I’m justified. Shoes are the icing on the cake of an outfit. They’re that little extra something that tie an outfit together and determine how dressy the outfit is. Since my event last night was a dress rehearsal, I wanted to be a little dressy, so I chose to wear my velvet booties that taper in at the ankle. I love the chunky heel on them because they are easier to walk in than stilettos. The velvet and the silver hardware add some subtle texture and match my jewelry. Practical, comfortable, and stylish: the Holy Trinity of style in my humble opinion.

I decided to leave my hair in a low and loose ponytail because the outfit all together gave me a punk rock and 1960’s look with the ponytail. When you put a lot of work into an outfit, I believe that less can be more when it comes to hair. It depends on the look you’re going for.

Winged eyeliner

For makeup, I used my sparkly purple liner on my lower eyelids, some subtle brown eye shadow, and some liquid liner on my upper eyelids. I usually like to wing my liner, and I think it worked here.

And there you have it! With an unconventional twist, a basic preppy outfit became a punk rock outfit with a 1960s twist. If you’re curious, I felt awesome in this. I felt like I had the power and confidence to be the authoritative boss lady I needed to be at rehearsal. 

Would I wear this outfit again? Absolutely. One of my actors shared a picture of me on her Instagram story during rehearsal and I shared it to mine. I got a decent amount of compliments, and of course one of them came from my boyfriend. I thanked him for picking out the jacket for me and told him I need to let him pick stuff out for me more often. I guess that’s the moral of this story. Sometimes our loved ones see good things in us that we don’t always see in ourselves. What would happen if we found a way to embody those qualities, even for a little while? It might sound silly, but I think style, self-care, exercise, prayer/meditation, a combination of those things, or whatever makes you feel good can do that. Who would’ve thought that something as simple as a $6 jacket could make you into an elevated version of yourself?

Want to create this look for yourself? Start with a black bodysuit. I used one I bought last spring from American Eagle. It’s sometimes hard to find a good bodysuit that isn’t see-through, and I’ve found American Eagle’s to be reliable and comfortable. Mine has t-shirt sleeves, but you can easily use a long-sleeve or tank-top style. Click here for a tank top version and here for a long-sleeved version. Plus, these bodysuits are on sale right now, so why not take advantage of that?

My shorts were also from American Eagle. They are no longer available online, (but if you really scour the clearance racks, who knows?) but these are on currently on sale at American Eagle and they would both achieve this look. The yellow shorts scream 1960’s to me and the denim ones with the bodysuit and an army jacket would sell the punk aesthetic.

Next is the army jacket. If you can’t thrift one, there are plenty of places to get one. You can purchase one with a camo pattern on it, but I prefer the plain olive green because camo mixed with plaid would be much too busy pattern-wise. Ideally for this look, you’re looking for a plain jacket, perhaps with patches, that is either a little large or tapers in a bit at the waist. Yes, that was a contradiction, but it all depends on how you want to feel. If you get a jacket with no patches at all, you can add your own for a personalized look. For example, this vintage jacket is a little darker and more tailored while this one looks like a looser fit.

To finish off this look, add either black combat boots or black booties. You can even wear black sneakers or Converse. If you want, you can also add black tights if you want a little more coverage. The important thing is that the outfit is comfortable, practical, and and confidence-building for you.

See you next week, fellow self-stylists!

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