How to clean your leather boots

There are two items in my wardrobe I’ll guiltlessly proclaim I never have enough of: coats and boots.

I live in Washington state, and half the year is spent in both, unless you want to be particularly cold and wet. A good pair of boots can take you far, and I’m seeing more and more solid footwear which is great! However, something a little heftier than what people are used to takes more care. I’m a firm believer that a garment is only worth the care you put into it. You could buy the best quality boots, for hundreds or even thousands of dollars, but that price tag and lasting reputation doesn’t equate some kind of magic that keeps them healthy without proper care.

Besides the following photos that guide you in cleaning and conditioning, here’s a few things you can do for your leather boots and shoes to keep them at their best:

-don’t wear the same pair two full days in a row. Leather needs to breathe, and it’s also beneficial for your feet, (unless you’re guided by a pediatrician to wear something specific every day). Of course I’m guilty of breaking this rule, everyone is, so for those times absoloutly do the following:

-have an open spot for your frequently worn footwear to rest, in a well ventilated area. Set them on the floor or on an open shelf after you take them off, keeping them out of the closet for 24 or more hours. This allows them to breathe, and keeps your closet from smelling like stuffy boots.

-NEVER place your leather boots or shoes near a heat source. Heaters, blow dryers, and fireplaces will dry out the leather and cause it to split and crack. To help speed up drying, remove laces, and remove any insoles placed inside.

-regularly use a soft and coarse bristle brush to remove dust, dirt, and other debris. I keep both by the front door, using the soft brush on the upper, and the coarse on the outsole.

-if you get mud on your boots or shoes, allow it to dry completely, then brush it off. Removing excessive mud when it’s wet can just work it into the leather and cause future damage.

The following care guide is for oil tanned top grain leather, and can be applied to similar boots and shoes, but please proceed with caution on your own footwear. Not all shoes and boots are made of the same leather and conditioning can alter the color. Some softer more supple leathers on designer and trendier footwear may need a light moisturizer, a waxy conditioner being too heavy. Otherwise, it’s really very easy, and will keep your boots healthy all season long for years to come ✨

Boots – Custom made packers by Whites Boots ordered via Animal Traffic

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Style and evolution

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This may sound ridiculous, but some time ago while watching a behind the scenes feature on “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” movie (one of my favorites), the costumer, Joanna Johnston discusses the wardrobe of one of the lead characters, Napoleon Solo. She describes his wardrobe as “very considered” and a lightbulb went off.

I started wearing vintage early in my teens, my aunt and sister-in-law wore vintage in the 80’s and 90’s and would give me hand me downs. 1940’s dressing gowns and 50’s circle skirts were part of my dress up closet, and as I reached my teenage years, I would pull from that closet for everyday wear. I came of age in an era where jeans were low, hips were slim, and bras were padded. Hair was straightened and pale girls tanned. I had a Bettie Page figure at 13, big frizzy hair at 11, and the sun gave me headaches (before I had braces I had little vampire teeth which I miss dearly). Vintage just fit me, specifically 1940’s and 1950’s styles. It was easy to wear, I liked the look, and you could still find things in thrift stores. After high school I was offered a job at a local vintage shop, basically because I was there all the time anyway. That’s when I really got into it, coming home with something new every week, and thinking back on it I wish I could’ve bought more (There’s a late 30’s princess coat that’s particularly haunting). Working at a vintage shop allowed me to experiment with style in a way a lot of people have to refrain from. I could basically dress however I wanted, looking like a dust bowl circus performer one day, and a post war housewife the next. I had the freedom, encouragement, and resource to experiment, and it was FUN.

I think there’s a thing that happens now where we don’t have any one single point or event where we enter into adulthood. Adolescence is muddled and extended, we no longer marry and 20 (lol except I did), have children at 22, and/or have a secure and established career at 30. Years ago I was sent a copy of Wife Dressing and every time I bring it up people roll their eyes. Despite my insistence it has valid advice, people can’t get past that dated title. Of course there’s some old-fashioned attitudes and advice, but there’s great guidance as well. One thing I do want acknowledge is the dated aspect. This book was largely intended for adult women, those who were wives, or wanted to look as put together as a wife. Marriage was the point where women crossed the threshold into adulthood, and that’s when you shed your literal adolescent layers and worked to look like a functioning member of adult society. We’re in a new era where not only do we have no turning point into adulthood, but we’re not expected to. Which of course gives the freedom to dress as you please without limit, but I know many who struggle in their late 20’s/early 30’s trying to figure out their style which no longer coincides with what they felt was right in their teens and twenties.

Which brings me back to Napoleon Solo. Looking at his clothing and style, I think Joanna Johnston succeeded in her intent. His wardrobe is considered. I took that one sentence and applied it to my own wardrobe. I felt I didn’t need to experiment so widely, I wanted to continue wearing vintage but in a way that was more refined and fit my real life needs. I really considered what I needed, for my lifestyle (not the lifestyle of “one day”), for the climate I live in, and for the amount of time and effort I’m willing to put into the care of my wardrobe. I’m fortunate to have the time, patience, and know how to care properly for a “small” vintage closet, and I wanted to take advantage of that. Quality and comfort are my top priorities, and after years of trying out just about everything in my path I know what garments are worth restoring and what feels right and comfortable on my figure. I am very selective of colors, if you look at my wardrobe as a whole, it looks cohesive, which is intentional. I no longer shop outfit by outfit, but buy things that round out my wardrobe. I am highly selective of color, and now prefer texture and detail over print. Glamour isn’t important to me but drama is. I think extensively of what my wardrobe needs, I consider every aspect of an item when I find it, and take care in dressing each day. Once I’m dressed, the whole thing is out of my mind, I don’t want my outfit to be a distraction, but an enhancement to my day. I don’t fidget with ill fitting clothes, I don’t worry where I step because of inappropriate shoes, and I don’t feel uncomfortable halfway through the day because I picked something restricting.

I know a lot of people just really love a lot of styles, but are feeling lost as to what is truly your style. This takes honesty with yourself which I think is a roadblock for many, and it takes time! Refining your style isn’t something that happens overnight, it’s a process. It certainly has been a process for me, nearly two decades of experimenting with fashion (please encourage the youth around you to have freedom in self expression in their clothing), brought me to the place I am now. I know what I like. Decidedly. I’m selective to the point people think it’s a bit much (“so what if it’s burgundy and not red?”) but at the end of the day knowing what you want and not settling for anything less is powerful. As far as wearing a wide range of eras including modern, for a time I greatly wanted to be dedicated to one era as some people are, and I tried, but it just doesn’t work for me. Some days I wear jeans and a t-shirt, which meet my same standards as vintage. I don’t have much modern, but what I do have is worthwhile, and thinking about it as just another era in my wardrobe is helpful. I like what I like, no matter when it’s from.

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Never has witchcraft looked so unappealing, and it’s fantastic.

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is arguably one of the most anticipated shows Netflix has released, thanks to the success of the CWs Riverdale, perhaps of the same universe. The executive producers of Riverdale originally intended Sabrina to air with Riverdale on the CW, but thankfully Netflix got hold of it. It’s safe to say much of the content wouldn’t have made it in the show were it not for being written for an alternative Netflix audience.

It was clear that the show would be a darker version than the popular “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” thanks to it’s inspiration from the new comic book series. Both Sabrina and Riverdale are based on these darker tales. I read the first few issues when it came out but was largely going into the series without much expectation, but much anticipation. Witches are IN right now, a symbol of feminine power during what often seems like a hopelessly patriarchal society, many from all walks of life are seeking the type of control and rebellion that witchcraft in it’s most general definition, can offer.

I do wonder however, how appealing it seems to some after watching CAOS. Not too far into the show I found Witchcraft to be about as appealing as Catholicism.

The organized religion aspect in CAOS might look obvious from the get go for anyone raised in a western faith, but it took me a bit. The self-righteous Aunt who puts the higher power above all, pushing you to dedicate yourself fully. The women who worship blindly, and question nothing. The men who are leaders in the faith but have darker secrets lying dormant. And the teenager who is questioning everything, tearing that world apart.

A faith that is today viewed in a passing glance as a female-centric, independent practice, is turned into just another organized religion, in service to a male power but followed largely by women of lesser power. Sabrina’s constant questioning is not just mirroring the common case of the American teen questioning the faith they’re raised in, but also a stand against a misogynistic community.

The women in the faith have powers, but are still subjected to the same horrors that us non-witches have endured (or know someone who has). A spell doesn’t seem to save you if your predator knows one too. Even Sabrina’s mortal peers make up a familiar cast of characters, teens who are grappling with not just being part of a new world, but shaping it, through their own choices that pull away from their relatives and/or ancestors. Sabrina and her friends are generation Z, inheriting a mess of a world and having to not just mend it, but progress it. The boy who struggles with his family’s past, and is still trying to find where to fit in. The teen who was born female but doesn’t find identity there, and actually finds comfort in a long gone ancestor who was ahead of their time. The girl who is coming to terms with a genetic condition rapidly approaching and what that will mean for her adult life.

Where Riverdale is in a familiar looking world, it somehow seems more of a fantasy than CAOS. Even her witch peers who could’ve been appealing to most as one dimensional props of that world, show their lives are not so black and white. Her close friends aren’t just sidekicks, they have their own stories, both independent of Sabrina and intertwined. Yes Sabrina is the core of the series, but it’s hardly just about her.

I think that’s what makes this show interesting, and what will keep it going for seasons to come.

1905 mourning millinery

I picked up this little book at a very odd estate sale a few weeks ago. At one point in my life I was going to become a milliner (one of many careers that passed through my mind but never came to be) so I still have a soft spot for the craft. This gem is from 1905, when large wire framed hats were en Vogue for fashionable ladies, and morning was still practiced at the tail end of the Victorian era. During much of the 19th century morning was somewhat of a cultural obsession in the western world. So of course there’s a chapter in this booklet on mourning millinery, with what cords and veils to use, and which style is age appropriate. There’s even a paragraph on morning hat bands for men, with correct sizing and pleating.

I also included a few pages at the front of the book, much like today’s fashion magazines the advertisements are in the front, and these are works of art in their own right. Enjoy!

Jupiter Ascending

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My love for this movie knows no bounds. It’s kind of indescribable??? Amazingly this story is not based on a comic book, young adult novel, cartoon, or is a reboot of something that came out 20 years ago. It’s the brainchild of the Wachowski sisters and their worldbuidling talents, where family drama is taken to new heights and the fate of earth is treated like an estate inheritance.

Mila Kunis plays an average young woman who is going through the motions of life and dreams too often of a better one. She’s thrown into an intergalactic royal sibling rivalry, where she’s not just in the middle of it, she’s the cause of it. A cast of characters guide her through the story, most notably a human/canine hybrid with space rollerblades played by Channing Tatum.

This sounds like a kind of fanfic fueled story my friends and I would have jotted down in a composition book in 6th grade, and that’s exactly why I’m obsessed with it. Our little clique spent slumber parties watching Lord of The Rings and Star Wars endlessly, neither of which catered to teenage girls, but we didn’t care or realize, it was all great fantasy. To have a sci-fi film that actually centered around a young woman would’ve been spectacular, and now more than ever I realize how important that is. After years of envying male heroes there’s finally one in a modern space odyssey that’s both real and spectacular.

Visually it’s a feast, with costume changes for dinner and the space DMV, and massive space ships against starry backdrops. There’s a few Sense8 actors as supporting characters, and even an Oscar winner as the primary villain.

So here are some of my favorite shots from Jupiter Ascending, my dream come true.

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1939 outerwear

1939 has long been my favorite year of fashion, I’ll save another post for the reasons for it, but I know many of you feel the same way so I thought I’d share these images. A friend of mine let me borrow her fall/winter 1939 Montgomery Ward’s catalog, and I’ve been pouring over the pages with envy, especially the outerwear! I took some snaps of the pages, of course they’re not as quality as a scan, but I just had to share. Enjoy!