I think a lot about the women who wore the vintage clothes I have. There’s a 1930s maid uniform that fits me perfectly that came to me stark white. I tried to dye it black but it turned out blue-grey, which is fine by me. I imagined the life of the woman who was probably underpaid and overworked who wore it- it wasn’t deadstock, so somebody must have worn it, somebody my size, 80+ years ago. Knowing how hard being a maid still is, how you’re more likely to be sexually harassed, taken advantage of, and be invisible, makes me hope that whoever wore this uniform found better prospects for themselves.
Yesterday this sheer blue dream came in the mail. She’s perfectly imperfect, and if you love vintage clothes you know that part of the joy is discovering the personality and quirks of your clothes. They’ve lived too, right? They’ve been on living, breathing bodies, bodies that sweat and wear perfume and spill coffee and get mud on hems. Previous owners wore these clothes to go to parties, work, on dates, maybe experienced heartbreak in them- the imagination can go wild, and that’s partially why I love these clothes. What occasions did the previous owner find herself in while wearing this dress? One of my favorite films of all time is “His Girl Friday” (1940), in which the incredible Rosalind Russell delivers sharp barbs at a mile a minute, witty and confident and beautiful portraying a toughened newspaper writer (the title of this blog posts is from the movie). This dress makes me think of those fast-talking, sharp women, who hold cigarettes in alluring ways and set their hair and wear nice lipstick. Maybe, through some weird osmosis, some of that perceived grace and cleverness will come to me!
There are other dresses I’ve got that make me feel this way. There’s a late 1930’s black velvet number that is sumptuous, very uncasual, and intimidating. I’ll wear to breakfast because I can. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on it, all from other women, mostly because I think we see each other dressing for ourselves, and recognize the joys of doing so. The dress is not sexy, it’s a bit scary- no showy neckline, no high hem, something that I fall into spells thinking about. What was the previous owner like? I own enough vintage dresses that surely somebody who was quite a wench owned one of them!
While I’m here, here are some of my favorite online vintage shops. Know your measurements before buying vintage (waist, bust, hips, and shoulders)! It makes the process pretty painless and super fun. There is also a decent amount of plus-size clothing out there these days, because even back in the day not all of us had 24″ waists! Don’t be discouraged by your size, it can be harder to find but larger clothing is out there!
Strange Desires– she has an eBay store but you can also DM her on her Instagram. She finds the most gorgeous and also interesting pieces, from hand-knit wonders to liquid silk dresses.
August Anne Vintage– I found Kate’s store after finding her Instagram after finding her now-defunct fashion blog (the internet is WEIRD y’all). She works really hard to find these pieces and if you’re into romance, whimsy, and also quietly-cool-girl vibes she’ll have something for you
Thief Island Vintage- Ella somehow finds the COOLEST and sturdiest pieces! I’ve got two dresses from her, both outrageous and delightful and loud.
Guermantes Vintage– If I ever randomly get thousands of dollars of fun money I’m spending it in her shop ASAP. She finds museum-quality gorgeous lame, cocoon flapper coats, 1930s satin evening gowns, the kind of clothes that make you cry because you don’t have $800 to drop on some scandalous beach pajamas!
And with that, I’m back to applying for jobs! Wish me luck!