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Head- to- toe Tips on How to Dress for a Summer Clearance sale

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Photo by Artem Bali on Pexels.com

When I was a kid, my Great Aunt Ella introduced me to the wonders of big city sale shopping. She’d don hat and gloves, prepare her purse with chocolate treats to dole out at intervals, and take me on the streetcar to some of her favourite fashion haunts in Montreal. It was summer in the 60s, and for Auntie Ella, shopping was serious business. We’d spend the day elbowing our way through hoards of like-minded women and girls looking for the best deals and return to the 3rd story flat she shared with two sisters, exhausted but happy, with our multicoloured parcels and hatboxes.

The chocolate thing has stuck with me. Many times that bit of sugar and caffeine has kept me from fainting during an all-day buying spree; but, times have changed since Auntie Ella took me to those 1960’s cathedrals of shopping, and I’ve picked up a few pointers along the way.

Whether you’re shopping for funky vintage at spots like Vintage Soul Geek’s semi-annual garage sale or culling the overstuffed racks at Forever 21 on a 50% off  day, you’ll want to dress for maximum ease, speed, and efficiency for trying stuff on – in the change rooms or right in the aisle. Here’s the Hat Show Lady’s head-to-toe guide to dressing for the occasion:

Go Hatless: Even if the sale is outdoors, this is probably the only time I can be found without a hat. At the type of sale that I’m talking about, where other economy-minded fashionistas jostle and grab for those one-of-a-kind marked down treasures, a hat will get in the way. If you wear one, it may get knocked off, and if you put it down, a precious fashion hat may get crushed, lost, or stolen. Perhaps even sold! You need your hands free to dig for those bargains, so ix-nay on the chapeau.

Abandon the Sunglasses: I know you want to look cool, but you will need clear vision to spot stains, fabric flaws, and colour variations.

Wear Inexpensive Stud Earrings: This is a must if you plan to try the clothes on. As you yank items on and off over your head, an expensive earring can inadvertently slip off in the frenzy and be forever lost. A dangling one can snag a desired garment.

Leave your Lipstick at Home: Just Google how difficult it is to remove a lipstick stain from fabric, and you will see the wisdom of leaving your lips bare.

Wear a Simple Choker: A short collar-style necklace won’t get caught in a garment and will help you visualize the potential of any garment you try on in the mirror.

Dress in a Simple Shift: If you don’t have a dress you can pull on and off over your head without fiddling with zips or buttons, get one. This will save you dressing room time and energy.

Slip-on Shoes are a Must. You don’t want to fiddle with laces or shoe buckles when trying on pants. Again, this is a dressing room time and energy saving tip.

Strap Yourself into a Fanny Pack or Purse that Converts to a Backpack: A traditional handbag will get in the way and risks being stolen if placed on the shop room floor.

Bonus Tip: Pack a snack; if the sale is as good as you hope it is, you will need to keep up your stamina.

What are your marathon shopping tops? Please post them below.

 

The Marvelous Middy

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I love this snap shot taken by one of my great aunts during the 1920s. These girl friends are all sporting variations on the popular middy blouse. Not exactly What They Wore to Roar at an afternoon or evening dance party, but everyday smart-looking skirt, blouse and sweater combinations that were oh so trendy in their day.

What Defines the Style?

The naughty nautical look, stolen from the sailor boys , was epitomized by a cotton or linen hip-length pull-over blouse with V-neck and  collar. Embellishments such as striping, low-riding self-fabric belts, and neckties supplied individuality.

Where Can I See Authentic 1920s Middies? 

In general, costume museums have focused on collecting and exhibiting high-end couture pieces, and we have plenty of those at the Mobile Millinery Museum,  but we are also interested in what everyday women wore everyday.  In addition to the beaded and sequined flapper dresses of the 1920s our What They Wore to Roar travelling exhibit features the lingerie, sleepwear, day dresses and accessories of that iconic decade. Tell us what your vintage fashion interests are; we’d love to know.

 

Continue reading “The Marvelous Middy”

Mobile Millinery Museum Milestone

20th

I can’t believe it’s been 20 years, but here we are, still going strong, meeting great people, reconnecting with old friends and learning more and more about hat history. Our archive of contemporay designer pieces by eminent designers is growing, as is our tremendous collection of historically significant hats, costume, birds, feathers and other accessories.

The travelling archive has presented countless Retrospective Millinery Fashion Shows and themed costume exhibits at hospitals, retirement homes, churches, libraries and service groups from Winnipeg, Manitoba to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and points in between, as well as installations at museums such as Toronto’s Casa Loma, Brockville’s Fulford Place, and the Dundas museum.

Along the way, I’ve written and photographed 5 illustrated books based on the museum’s collection of hats, wedding finery, shoes, lingerie, and children’s clothing. My signature work, 1,000 Hats (Schiffer Books) remains a popular resource for collectors and designers, and my latest book, Darlings of Dress: Children’s Costiume 1860 to 1920 was made available a year ago.

To mark the anniversary, we’re showcasing Canadian Crowns, a millinery fashion show of exceptional vintage and contemporary pieces by Canadian milliners, in addition to their long list of themed fashion exhibits and installations.

With National Hat Day (January 15) only a few days way, the MMM wishes to thank our  many supporters over the past two decades. Here’s our full list of travelling exhibits for 2019:

  • Say Yes to the Wedding Dress Exhibit: As seen in Today’s Bride Magazine and the Hamilton Spectator, this presentation from the Mobile Millinery Museum & Costume Archive features a collection of antique and vintage bridal fashion showcasing iconic wedding gowns from the 1860s to the 1980s. Many of the gowns are featured in the book Accessorizing the Bride; Vintage Bridal Fashion Through the Decades and were included in an exhibit of vintage bridal fashion at Toronto’s Casa Loma in 2001. An ideal presentation for a Valentine’s Day tea or fund raiser.
  • Retrospective Millinery Fashion Show: The Mobile Millinery Museum is home to over 2500 historical hats, half of which are featured in the popular coffee table book, 1,000 Hats. Each is a sartorial treasure evoking feelings of nostalgia and memories of special times. Edith Kennedy of the Uxbridge Historical Museum called our show “fascinating, fun, and entertaining.” The perfect accompaniment to a Mother’s Day tea, Easter or Victoria Day celebration.
  •  Gatsby Garments: What They Wore to Roar: Roll down your stockings, throw on some beads, and scoop some Bees Knees punch as we present Gatsby Garments: What They Wore to Roar. Travel back in time with us to the gin joints and speakeasies, boudoirs and beaches of the roaring twenties, for an intimate look at authentic fashion artefacts from this unique fashion period.
  •  Unsinkable Fashion: An exhibit of authentic Titanic era fashion, much of it as ethereal as the fog that surrounded the fated ship itself.
  • The Sexy Sixties: Feast your eyes on signature pieces from that decade of fashion fun and rebellious flower power.
  • Seventies Sensations:Platform shoes, pantsuits and ponchos  paint a vivd picture of the far-out fashions women wore in this iconic decade.
  • Fall under Autumn’s spell with our Witches’s Tea Party presentation, a celebration of black hats and tea culture. The Witches’ Tea Party collection is a Halloween-themed, witch’s brew of black fashion hats through the decades. This one-hour exhibit is presented in a fashion show format. As with our signature Retrospective Millinery Fashion Show, we invite your staff and/or volunteers to model the hats.

 

10 Ways to Have a Truly Hatty New Year

Hatty New YearFashion hats are back; and if you’re not already in the game, 2019 is the time to get serious about them. Twenty years ago, when I began building the collection which launched the Mobile Millinery Museum —I amassed over 2500 vintage pieces— hats were considered so passé that most people assumed this historic fashion accessory was gone from the fashion scene for good, but like all fashion trends, this one is cyclical.

I predicted then that hats would make a comeback; and now that they have, so, it’s time to celebrate them. Here’s how:

  1. Buy yourself a winter toque. They’re everywhere, and with January sales, you can pick one up for a song.
  2. Celebrate National Hat Day on January 15th. Seriously; unless you’re a January baby, what else is there to look forward to during the post holiday slump?
  3. Pick up a Louise Green original while they’re still available. A little bird told me that she’s retiring. I tried on a handful of her beautiful felt creations when I was last at Beau Chaeau in Niagara-on the-Lake.
  4. Hats are spirit boosters, so, for an insta lift, check out and follow your favourite designer’s Instagram or twitter account.
  5. Host a hat-themed children’s craft session. You’ll be amazed at how creative kids can be with a few dollar store items.
  6. Mark your birthday with a hat-themed birthday cake.This is an easy DIY, but you can also order from a custom baker.
  7. Make regular trips to your local thrift shop. Every now and then a classic vintage chapeau turns up.
  8. Splurge on a fantasy hat that you could face a firing squad in. Then wear the hat! Ask anyone who regularly wears hats how good they can make you feel.
  9. Invite friends in for a tea. Use a vintage floral topper for a centrepiece.
  10. Book a retrospective millinery fashion show with the Mobile Millinery Museum for your church, book club, or women’s group.

10 Ways to Have a Truly Hatty New Year

Hatty New Year

Fashion hats are back; and if you’re not already in the game, 2019 is the time to get serious about them. Twenty years ago, when I began building the collection which launched the Mobile Millinery Museum —I amassed over 2500 vintage pieces— hats were considered so passé that most people assumed this historic fashion accessory was gone from the fashion scene for good, but like all fashion trends, this one is cyclical.

I predicted then that hats would make a comeback; and now that they have, it’s time to celebrate them. Here’s how:

  1. Buy yourself a winter toque. They’re everywhere, and with January sales, you can pick one up for a song.
  2. Celebrate National Hat Day on January 15th. Seriously; unless you’re a January baby, what else is there to look forward to during the post holiday slump?
  3. Pick up a Louise Green original while they’re still available. I tried on a handful of her beautiful felt creations when I was last in Beau Chapeau at Niagara-on the-Lake.
  4. Hats are spirit boosters, so, for an insta lift, check out and follow your favourite designer’s Instagram or Twitter account, or send for a copy of 1,000 Hats.
  5. Host a hat-themed children’s craft session. You’ll be amazed at how creative kids can be with a few dollar store items.
  6. Mark your birthday with a hat-themed birthday cake. This is an easy DIY, but you can also order from a custom baker. Inspiration abounds on Pinterest.
  7. Make regular trips to your local thrift shop. Every now and then a classic vintage chapeau turns up.
  8. Splurge on a fantasy hat that you could face a firing squad in. Then wear the hat! Ask anyone who regularly wears hats, how good they can make you feel.
  9. Invite friends in for a tea. Use a vintage floral topper for a centrepiece.
  10. Book a retrospective millinery fashion show with the Mobile Millinery Museum for your church, book club, or women’s group.

 

10 Ways to Have a Truly Hatty New Year

Hatty New Year

Fashion hats are back; and if you’re not already in the game, 2019 is the time to get serious about them. Twenty years ago, when I began building the collection which launched the Mobile Millinery Museum —I amassed over 2500 vintage pieces— hats were considered so passé that most people assumed this historic fashion accessory was gone from the fashion scene for good, but like all fashion trends, this one is cyclical.

I predicted then that hats would make a comeback; and now that they have, it’s time to celebrate them. Here’s how:

  1. Buy yourself a winter toque. They’re everywhere, and with January sales, you can pick one up for a song.
  2. Celebrate National Hat Day on January 15th. Seriously; unless you’re a January baby, what else is there to look forward to during the post holiday slump?
  3. Pick up a Louise Green original while they’re still available. I tried on a handful of her beautiful felt creations when I was last in Beau Chapeau at Niagara-on the-Lake.
  4. Hats are spirit boosters, so, for an insta lift, check out and follow your favourite designer’s Instagram or Twitter account, or send for a copy of 1,000 Hats.
  5. Host a hat-themed children’s craft session. You’ll be amazed at how creative kids can be with a few dollar store items.
  6. Mark your birthday with a hat-themed birthday cake. This is an easy DIY, but you can also order from a custom baker. Inspiration abounds on Pinterest.
  7. Make regular trips to your local thrift shop. Every now and then a classic vintage chapeau turns up.

    20180914_145709
    Edwardian straw widebrim with feather adronment. 
  8. Splurge on a fantasy hat that you could face a firing squad in. Then wear the hat! Ask anyone who regularly wears hats, how good they can make you feel.
  9. Invite friends in for a tea. Use a vintage floral topper for a centrepiece.
  10. Book a retrospective millinery fashion show with the Mobile Millinery Museum for your church, book club, or women’s group.

 

Honouring World War I women with a Unique Fashion Exhibit

November Promo (1)

November 11, 2019 marks a century since the observance of Amistice Day November 11, 1919. Accordingly, the Mobile Millinery Museum is honouring the women who saw their husbands, sons, and sweethearts off to the Great War with an exhibit of Women’s Fashions 1914-1919.

As always, we can’t be everywhere, so enquire now about available dates for this one-hour, interactive presentation.

Secrets Hidden in a 1916 Net Lace Wedding Gown

It’s no secret that I’m into vintage fashion, bigtime! And no matter where and why I travel, I find time to source some special pieces for the Mobile Millinery Museum & Costume Archive. This past July was not different; I picked up some stunning and historically important pieces on my travels which I will blog about later, but waiting for me upon my return, was a 1916 net lace wedding gown donated by Mississauga resident, Jim Spencer.

The dress with its hand crocheted baubles and beautiful star, sunflower, and vine lace motifs tells a tale of three brides. The gown which was first worn by Spencer’s grandmother in 1916 made a second debut at his mother’s wedding in 1945 and was further showcased by her daughter (Spencer’s sister) c. 1970.

A bit of fashion archaeology reveals some basic style changes and alterations: The original Gibson Girl silhouette was altered to more closely represent the princess lines more typical of 1940s styling through the removal of the dress’s original bridal collar and point sleeves. The sleeves are now straight cut with 2 remaining pearl buttons.  The underdress of heavy bridal satin was likely created in the 1940s to replace a weighted silk one more typical of the Edwardian period and likely to have deteriorated over the years. Also, side seams appear to have been let out to accommodate the third bride whose 60’s era fingertip veil was donated with the gown.

The dress now stands ready to entertain audiences as part of our retrospective bridal fashion shows.

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