Alexander McQueen for the First Order

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There was once a time I didn’t have a single black garment in my closet, it was “too harsh”. And red? No way, too bold. White? Absolutely not, what if it gets dirty?

I always knew that when I approached my 30’s my once all over the place vintage style would become more refined. It’s fun to experiment, actually, it’s important, and experimenting knows no age, I just happened to be encouraged to explore my style young. Lately I’ve been feeling a pull towards more simplicity and drama, letting tailoring, texture, and color speak for me instead of prints and period accurate accessories. Black has become my neutral of choice, I find white elegant, and really started taking to red last year after dying my hair back to it’s dark color.

Then, I saw The Last Jedi. Visually stunning, the sets and costumes of the First Order really enchanted me, an unapologetic amount of black and red, with the finial scene on Crait completely taking my breath away. The white and beige landscape exploding with red soil was impossible to take my eyes off of, and from that moment on I knew I needed a lot more red in my wardrobe. I live in the Pacific Northwest, where most people immerse themselves in the earthy surroundings down to wearing gray jackets and living in brown houses. To be that explosion of red in this monotone environment appealed to me very much, I went right from the theater to the store and started my new look.

Today I came across the Holy Grail of lookbooks, the Alexander McQueen pre-fall 2013 collection. Sarah Burton designed these looks for the label, inspired by Anglican worship, which McQueen himself had previously taken inspiration from. But to me? It’s Alexander McQueen for the First Order. And it’s absolute perfection. This collection will continue to inspire my wardrobe choices: the 70’s hemlines, the thick leather belts, the high necks, the capes! Even the slight use of red, though I can see a few pieces switched from neutral to red with ease.

So enjoy, my dream Star Wars wardrobe.

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Agent Carter and women in post-war America

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Agent Carter was a short lived gift that should receive more respect than we give it. With the success of Mad Men, various networks tried and failed to get viewers interested in 20th century costume dramas, in rare form: set in America. America’s refusal to take interest in our own history through entertainment is unfortunate, because it’s just so easy. That’s why Agent Carter is a rare gem, though the general public didn’t seem to think so. The irony is, the show itself could apply it’s most beloved line to itself “I know my value, anyone else’s opinion doesn’t really matter.”

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The show’s first episode portrays Peggy sharing a New York apartment with another young professional woman, and their relationship is friendly, but not based in friendship. The foldout bed in the tiny studio apartment is used in shifts, the women likely found each other because they could work out a sleeping shift that would suit them both. This type of arrangement was hugely popular during WWII, in large cities and especially in cities that had factories and shipyards. These facilities usually operated 24 hours a day, so if you worked the day shift, you could sleep at night while your roommate was working the night shift. A single bed apartment for half the price. This continued in larger cities such as New York after the war, for people trying to make it in the city. One girl could work at a department store, the other at a nightclub, and they might pass each other somewhere in between.

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After Peggy moves from the apartment she is persuaded to apply at “The Griffith” a women’s only complex with strict rules and regulations, the most notable of which: no men past the lobby. These apartments were real, and very popular, though they often operated like large boarding houses, with meals provided. There were lots of options throughout New York history, you could find a boarding house/apartment in a building that only admitted people of your religion, race, marital status, gender, job, etc.

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The Griffith was likely based on The Barbizon, which opened in 1927 as the place for young professional women. 700 rooms for single women, and not a man in sight (above the first floor that is). But not just any woman could rent a room. You had to submit multiple letters of reference, and look, act, and dress like a proper young lady. I haven’t found reference to race, but I think it’s safe to assume that was a factor as well. Your parents could require you to sign in and out each day, and request a chaperone for outings. Stumble back to your room drunk at 1 am? You’ll get “a talking to”. No cooking in your room, in fact no electrical appliances at all. Your seams needed to be straight, your gloves clean, and your lipstick applied. Parents reluctant to release their daughters into the wild of the big city could take comfort in the mother figure who ran the place, accurately portrayed in the show as a no nonsense middle aged woman who seems to have eyes in the back of her head, and the girls virtue as top priority.

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Peggy’s roll in the workplace is so accurately portrayed. It’s largely forgotten that during WWII many American women experienced a kind of independence that wouldn’t be seen again in their lifetime. With most of the able bodied male population in service, women were mobilized for work, earning their own paycheck without question. There were military positions for women, mostly clerk work, and the other major option was factory work. It wasn’t just that it was open to female employees, but many even encouraged it with certain benefits. On site childcare was something that allowed working mothers to have consistency in a busy life, and some of the more organized shipyards even provided pre-made meals for women to take home at the end of their shift to feed their families.

Post-war, if the jobs stuck around, women were pushed out. Some simply got laid off, and some were stripped of the benefits they relied on so they were forced to quit. Removing the childcare some jobs provided was a popular one, pushing women away, and opening up jobs for men returning to the workforce. In the first episode Peggy’s roommate mentions

“They let ten girls go today”

“Did they say why?”

“Because ten more GIs got discharged. I had to show a guy from Canarsie how to use a rivet gun”

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Peggy herself is a fantastic representation of a woman landing a job in her related field, and finding it very different from her war era experiences. Peggy, even without my biased admiration, is obviously the “best man for the job” if you’ll excuse the irony. In Captain America: The First Avenger, Peggy Carter is not simply his sidekick after a time, she is already established in her own right before Steve Rogers even enters the picture. As we learn in the show, she entered into special operations from her job as a code-breaker, an admirable feat in itself. In the movie she’s important enough to be involved in the Super Soldier project, and throughout the film we see she places herself in danger in order to get the job done. Peggy Carter is highly regarded in wartime, with the best of men following her orders, whether she’s supposed to be giving them or not.

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Her roll at the SSR is a different story. She show opens in such a way that leads us to believe she’s still kicking ass and taking names. The shot of her symbolic strut down the sidewalks of New York, in a sea of faceless men in suits, sets us up for a show where Peggy Carter is a clear stand out. We know she co-founded S.H.I.E.L.D, so obviously she doesn’t just stop her career and play house the rest of her life. The jolt of reality comes when she enters the office. A meeting is called, and she’s told to cover the phones while everyone else is in the meeting. She’s called “darling” and “sweetheart” in professional situations. She takes lunch orders, and gets coffee. It’s implied throughout the beginning of show that not only do her co-workers not know she has hand to hand combat and weapons skills, but they try to shield her from the uglier side of the job and violent interrogations. At one point when she voices her informed opinion, she’s told “The war is over, let the professionals decide who’s worth going after.” despite the fact that she too is a professional. The attitude towards women is clear: you had your fun, now go on and let the men work.

Her time with the famed Captain America is turned into nothing more than a fleeting affair with a celebrity, not helped by the popular radio show portraying her as a helpless bimbo. Her relationship with Steve is referred to as a nothing more than a “liaison”. Peggy uses the public view of femininity to her advantage, playing the flirt, the dumb secretary, the assertive nag, the damsel in distress. The world she previously inhabited called for her strong personality, but now few seem to know how to handle that, so she often must resort to playing the part she’s expected to in order to progress. At one point a co-worker says point blank “You’re a woman, no man will ever consider you an equal.” Whatever thoughts ran through Peggy’s head, it’s safe to say Steve Rogers and his unwavering admiration for her and her work was unavoidable.

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In one scene a coded note is being argued over in the office, with two coworkers, her boss, and a professional code breaker. Not until Peggy weighs in is the note decoded, her time at Bletchly overlooked just like the rest of her work. It leads to the next scene where Peggy has to prove her knowledge and experience to go back into the field for a mission. No other agent is questioned, but Peggy has to convince her superiors to let her go. There her fellow agents are introduced to Peggy’s world as she’s known it, where she is not only equal to the revered “Howling Commandos” but the agents learn that the phrase “Do as Peggy says” is the most likely way to assure the job gets done. And it even shows up again in the second season.

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Would Peggy have risked a charge of treason to aid her friend if her job had utilized her to her full potential? Were she respected and able to advance in her career, her skills recognized and rewarded, would she put it all on the line for an illegal assignment? It’s hard to say, but it’s clear in the show that whenever she has a doubt of her unorthodox mission, the professional world around her reminds her just how valuable she is to them. Which is not.

How many women’s stories of that era have been lost to the same conditions as Peggy’s? Incredible women who were pushed aside after the war because of gender or race? Countless women who had challenging and important rolls during the war that have been forgotten, because the post-war era made it difficult or impossible to continue as they were. Pulled from potential careers and independence and essentially forced to return to the way of life that was seeking a husband for financial security. We see Peggy fighting back in a way that is so applicable to issues today no matter who you are or what you’re trying to achieve. In Captain America: Civil War, Sharon Carter quotes her aunt Peggy at her funeral:

“Compromise where you can. Where you can’t, don’t. Even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is something right. Even if the whole world is telling you to move, it is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye, and say ‘No, you move’.” This comes at a critical point for Steve Rogers, and sticks. Even after death Peggy Carter influences those who valued her.

Because when the rest of us ask “What would Captain America do?” Captain America asks “What would Peggy do?”

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The Devil-ish Little Things Museum


Add this to the list of local curiosities not even locals know about. The Devil-ish Little Things Museum is the private collection of Marion Held, a former Hollywood renaissance woman, who has in some way or another made some of your favorite films enjoyable. Her eye for the unusual and macabre is showcased in a refurbished Church in Vancouver Washington, right off the I-5 should you ever find yourself on a road-trip up the west coast.

You enter not quite knowing what to expect. And even knowing what to expect won’t prepare you for what’s inside. You leave assured that whatever you thought you collected is nothing in comparison. Think you collect vintage brooches, pyrex, maybe you have some nice old movie posters? Nope. This is a collection. The rest of us are minimalists.

She has statues and figures galore, jewelry, books, lamps, entire sets of dishes, matchboxes, bottles, vases, and my personal favorite is a little compact puff with a devil head as the handle. Because of course.

I’m sharing the tiniest fraction of what there is to see, and to top it off, she only collects male devils.

“You have to draw the line somewhere”

So yes, after you let it sink in that all this devil treasure exists out there, know that there’s even more to see. Perhaps you could collect she-devils and live in your own little she-devil museum. Paint the walls pink, it’ll be glorious.

The museum is private and available through reservation only. You can see more details here and plan your own Devil-ish little visit.















cold weather layering

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I received a question recently about layering in a stylish way during the cooler months, to sum it up, how to do it?

I’ve lived in Washington state all my life, and layering is pretty much a standard as soon as you can dress yourself, since the weather here can change at the drop of a hat. My neighbors down in California are experiencing the same challenges lately (thank you global warming) and I admit the last time I was down there in January I actually got really cold in the evening!

Now it’s easy to put a big cozy sweater over some leggings and top it with a down coat, but I think a lot of people, especially those inclined towards vintage style, crave something a bit more. Above is a little illustration I did summing up my must have items for the cooler months, read on if you want more detail on my layering choices!

First of all, set those jeans down, just try a few looks without them, I swear you’ll be warmer. You know what I wear in winter? Skirts. People think I’m crazy, but I’m not a bit chilly in below freezing temperatures. The key is not just the skirt itself, but what’s underneath! I have some wool skirts saved up for winter, it’s often so overlooked as a skirt/dress textile, reserved for outerwear. If they’re full, and you like a full skirt look, add a soft nylon petticoat, I get mine from Doris Designs, they’re wonderful insulators. If you like something a bit sleeker, find a nice nylon or silk slip.

Legwear is another chance to layer, I like a bare leg look without the goosebumps, so I’ve found hosiery at 20 denier or higher is opaque enough to keep the chill away with Oroblu fishnets in “sable” over that. They are worth every penny, the quality is superb, and I don’t shave my legs all season and with these two layers you’d never know, it makes you look like you can handle a lot more cold than you can! I mostly wear boots, either knee, or ankle depending on the temperature, and wear wool socks under those, another added layer of warmth!

Having cold wet feet can definitely bring down your mood, and I don’t think comfort and style need to be separated. For something easy, casual, and classic, try a desert boot, they can be worn when it’s warmer, or if you slip them on in autumn/winter, just add some cozy wool socks. Roll or fold thick mid-calf socks over the top of the boots for a nice little cuffed look, with skirts of pants. If you need something more professional for the office, just slip a pair of ballet flats in your handbag or keep some heels at your desk and change into them once you’ve successfully kept your toes warm outside!

If you like wearing pants (and remember, set down the denim!) then cigarette pants are a classic I wear year round. The Martie style from J.Crew is my go to, they come out with various colors all the time, they’re very comfortable, mid-rise, side zipper, and seasonally they make wool styles as well. If you want a true high waist, Vixen by Micheline Pitt makes the style in various colors, for that bombshell look.

If you’re a bit tired of bulky sweaters, or they just become too hot midday, try instead a short sleeved or three quarter length sweater. Something in a finer knit, and if you’re not allergic, in wool or cashmere, they keep your torso warm, and leave your arms a bit more free and cool for when you’re in a heated building. Underneath for extra warmth, a silk or nylon camisole will do the trick.

Coats and jackets are an obvious choice, but have you considered a car coat? A true car coat comes to about mid-thigh, and has a great deal of warmth, with insulation and a style that looks great open or completely buttoned up. I like that they work well with pants or a slim skirt, and are technically casual, but look really polished. You can find them in fine wools, prints, bold colors or neutrals. A quick etsy search is a great place to start browsing.

Silk! It’s the forgotten insulator. Don’t save the luxury for evening-wear or lingerie, use it to stay warm without the bulk of wool. I have a large square silk scarf in my bag at all times, it comes in handy when it rains, or tied around the neck for warmth, and you can find something you really love in colors that suit your wardrobe.

A wool beret and leather gloves are other classics that add to the warmth, and don’t take up a lot of closet or handbag space! I’ve found acrylic knit gloves pretty pointless, and wool can get a bit bulky, so I stick to leather, lined if it’s very cold. A beret is a wonderful accessory that you can also find in such a variety of colors, and can be perched on the head or pulled down over the ears on breezy days. I get all mine from John Helmer, they carry a variety of colors and I prefer the oversized style.

If you still find yourself very cold but don’t want to look like the kid from A Christmas Story, you can get silk long underwear for underneath your wardrobe, these run very large, so size down.

And there you have it! I hope that was helpful and if you have any style questions feel free to ask!

Paolo Sebastian + Disney

No collection has taken by breath away like this one since Dior Spring 2011. I think I could pick three dresses right off the runway and just live in them the rest of my life. I already get stares when I wear a dress of any kind, might as well just go with it.

You can see more of the Disney inspired Paolo Sebastian s/s 2018 show here. Meanwhile, enjoy my ideal wardrobe. Beginning and ending with my absolute favorites.

















Wilhelm’s Memorial Mausoleum


On Memorial day there’s a sort of secret place to explore that most locals don’t even know about. Wilhelm’s Memorial Mausoleum has been operating for over a century, and one day a year they invite the public to explore their expansive grounds and pay respect to those who came before, and admire their final resting place. I learned about this place through a friend the year before, and marked my calendar for 365 days in the future, as I just couldn’t miss this opportunity. She told me there are various rooms corresponding with eras, but nothing could really prepare for just how many room there are. Eight floors built into the side of the hill, you would never guess there’s such a thing if you passed the more or less unassuming building above ground.

First of all, she suggested starting backwards in time, and while I didn’t get the chance to do that, I’d agree. Don’t even step into the chapel area, there’s a preview of the older urns and decor, start from contemporary and watch the modern aesthetic flow into the flowery opulence of the Victorian era. Ask an employee, they’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.

I was with family so we took a tour, which starts in the chapel and goes down into the Victorian rooms. I would also recommend going backwards in time because going straight into the Victorian is a lot to handle! Ten minutes into the tour I got lost. Like literally lost in a mausoleum, I strayed a little too long, and bam, not a living soul in sight. So I wandered for the better part of two hours, just me and my camera, and took in the vast expanse of sights rarely seen. There are eight floors, and as much time as I spent, I didn’t even see it all. The views in and out (wetlands and oaks park in the distance) are mesmerizing, and there are so many twists and turns, it’s not like a straight building in a hill, with staircases vertically aligned, it’s a maze of sorts, I would enter a room and end up on the complete opposite end of the property as I’d imagined. So definitely not recommended for little ones that like to wander off.

These photos are part 1 with more coming soon, and feature the older areas of the mausoleum, and be sure to mark your calendars! It’s not to be missed.