Vintage When the Going Gets Tough

As an authentic vintage hopeful, the goal of my dressing vintage isn’t to look the part of a particular fashion or style aesthetic. “Vintage,” to me (as the term is so personal and subjective), does not mean pin-up, retro, rockabilly, or even vintage-inspired, though at the moment I often come closer to the latter than anything.
(As a side note, I plan on writing a blog post on the difference between these aesthetics in the near future.)

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Rather, my intention is to take a solid step back in time: I try my darndest to wear authentic vintage styles and sport an authentic vintage beauty look because of my intense admiration for the years past. Obviously that includes wearing dresses or shoes in 1950s style, for example, but occasionally it comprises an embodiment of the vintage mindset. While I certainly don’t have any desire for a time when women were considered secondary to men, when their employment opportunities were scarce and underpaid, or when a woman in higher education was a rather rare thing, there are many aspects of vintage female life that could be desirable – and relevant – for our modern times.

I’ve always admired the elegance and social grace of the years past. For this moment, however, I’m not considering that kind of quality, ones that signify a well-dressed or well-bred woman more than anything else. Instead, I’m talking about how women in the past, when push came to shove, were not afraid to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty – both metaphorically and literally. During World War II, life became extremely tough for entire populations regardless of gender or age. With rationing and a severe lack of resources and manpower came a push to actively and inventively participate in bettering one’s own life and, in turn, the outcome of society as a whole.

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Women were vital to the war effort, both across seas and on the home front. In an instant, the stereotypical female role was turned on its head – women worked in military, agriculture, industry, and business positions, to name only a few. Society, and women in particular, adapted to the new requirements demanded by their country in war, and together they excelled.

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My particular favorite image is that of the Land Girl in the Women’s Land Army: civilian organizations created to encourage women to take up vacancies in vital agricultural jobs after men went off to war. Present in Britain since World War I, and later created in other Allied countries such as the United States and Australia, women were directly responsible for the sustenance of their country – an inspiring and powerful thought.

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On a similar thread, women at home were encouraged whenever possible to start their own Victory Gardens – to grow their own food, and therefore take some of the burden off of the government to provide when its resources were desperately low and to supplement when ration points got low.

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Women could have simultaneously worked vacant jobs, raised their children, and personally provided food for themselves and their family, on top of maintaining a 1940s aesthetic – certainly more time-consuming than the modern day ponytail-and-yoga-pants ensemble that many wear during busy times. As noted in D-Day, women “became proficient cooks and housekeepers, managed the finances, learned to fix the car, worked in a defense plant, and wrote letters to their soldier husbands that were consistently upbeat.” That’s a hell of a lot of daily responsibility, but they succeeded with flying colors and looked good doing it. It’s women like these that are most inspiring to keep on goin’ strong when life gives you lemons: roll up your sleeves and hand squeeze those lemons into some sweet (and authentic!) lemonade.

My lemon at the moment is an exceptionally difficult statistics class required in order for me to graduate after four years of college. Only one more class and I get my degree – though that sounds much easier than it is in reality. I’ve found my motivation fading as the material accelerates and I struggle to understand the increasingly complicated concepts: a common theme, I’m sure, but one that I wasn’t familiar with while studying topics I adored in my major of choice. Combine that with the fact that I haven’t formally worked on math for five years, and the challenge is quite evident.

I’ve been chastising myself for not updating Instagram or this blog, for failing to take outfit photos, for going back on my intentions and my promises for future content – when in reality, like those 1940s women, I’ve got bigger fish to fry. My nails, usually extremely manicured and red-tipped, are currently in an embarrassingly short, chipped state. When I let those go, you really know how tough things are on my own “home front.”

On this blog, I devoted a day to posting eBay finds for y’all and another for showcasing a new me-made garment each week. This week, I’ve failed at both of those, and it’s not the first time. Failure is not something I’m accustomed to, and it’s not something I’m proud of. I’ve come to realize, however, that sometimes it isn’t possible to do everything. In quintessential forties attitude, I must make do and mend.

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Women were encouraged to refashion or repair their old, worn clothing rather than buying (or in my case, sewing) completely new garments. I’ve interpreted that to mean that while I may not be able to realistically sew a brand new clothing item each week, I can find inventive ways to repurpose or mix-and-match what I already have. I’d love a larger vintage wardrobe, but right now, it just ain’t gonna happen. Little money and little time are certainly a formidable combination.

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I guess this is my way of explaining away my absence in the social media realm lately. When I do post, I’m sure it will be of clothing or outfits that I’ve already showcased before – but that’s okay. The type of blog that features “hauls” or posts frequent professional photoshoots of expensive reproduction brands is exactly what I was reacting to when I created The Homemade Pinup, after all. The Homemade Pinup was, in essence, my answer to what can arguably be considered a commodity-driven, instant gratification, disposable view of fashion.

My intention is not to say that women who have blogs like that are wrong – for all I know, they have likely worked extremely hard for the money to purchase these beauties – but their image is not one I’m familiar with on a personal level. So my goal has always been to be completely real and realistic – to show others out there that there are people like you who don’t or can’t purchase pricy brands or who are unable to get a new dress every week (or even every other week, or every month!). Despite that, a vintage aesthetic is entirely possible and is made even more authentic for the struggle. Just like our foremothers, all it requires of us is a little inventiveness and a lot of grit.

What do you do to maintain your vintage ideals when the going gets tough? I intend to keep up my vintage hair and makeup aesthetic, while finding new ways to incorporate the well-loved but still lovely pieces in my wardrobe. I’d love to hear your suggestions and thoughts – Lord knows I could use all the help I can get! Let’s think of it as the Women’s Fashion Army 😉

Until next time,
Lauren || The Homemade Pinup || General of the #WomensFashionArmy

P.S. Hashtag that. Seriously. I think I would die of happiness if we made that a thing!

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Me Made Monday: {Pique-nique} Skirt

Today my Me Made Monday offering is one of which I am particularly proud! I named this special skirt “Pique-Nique” after one of my favorite words I learned in French class, not only because I love it but because English seemed far too ordinary for such a fabulous and fun skirt as this. I’m sure y’all realize that it’s pronounced just as it looks, which happens to be exactly how it is in English but call me a sucker for flair, if nothing else!

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The {Pique-nique} Skirt is made from vintage fabric (I think meant for upholstery), a vintage metal zipper, and even some vintage thread – simply because I was too lazy to wind my own bobbin and found a red one in the supplies that came with my 1970 sewing machine 🙂 She is a full circle, which is delightfully swingy as always, but I feel that my use of several couture techniques rocketed up the quality of this one far above my previous two circle skirts.

Rather than my usual left-hand zipper and right-hand pocket, I decided to go for two pockets – because a lady can never have too much convenient storage. In an effort to use up some relatively unsavory synthetic fabric leftover from my high school prom dress (it’s been taking up space in my sewing storage since 2011!), I made the pockets from a bright red fabric rather than matching the print. It really does lend a fun bit of whimsy to this skirt to see the red peek out when I use the pockets. See below. Obviously, using the fun red pockets was wearing off on my mood 🙂

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I also used that red fabric to create a very wide facing to finish the hem, which by far is the most beautifully elegant way to finish a circle skirt. Though it’s quite time consuming – I turned and stitched the facing by hand so as not to see so many obvious thread pricks – the results are without compare. My boyfriend, who took these photos for me, noted that he feels this is my best skirt yet and looks of professional quality. That’s the goal, isn’t it? Who wants a homemade dress that looks obviously homemade? So I’m pleased as punch, and I’m sure you can tell. This skirt is such a joy to wear.

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The making, however, wasn’t without its mishaps. When cutting for the zipper, I didn’t take into account that a lapped zipper won’t lay flat in the fabric without a seam without some serious thought. I solved it by sewing a false seam down the center back, which worked wonderfully. Later, I sewed the buttonhole vertically rather than horizontally – TWICE – but the third time was a charm when I took a friend’s advice and butted the two edges up evenly with hooks and eyes. So all’s well that ends well. Ahh, I love a cleanly finished garment!

DSCF0542Unfortunately, the only glimpse of the red facing is in the above photo with my love, who was sick as a dog but still indulged me with a picnic and a photo. It really does look delightful when it peeks out! I think whenever I wear this skirt, I’ll be a bit happier simply because of the thought and detail that I included. It’s all in the little things, isn’t it?

I’m sure I’ll be “pique-nique-ing” plenty in this sensational skirt in the future. The use of such a thick fabric makes it drape in such a lovely way that I don’t even want to include a petticoat. Not only that, but I’ve been realizing since watching more and more vintage television (Leave it to Beaver!) that ladies didn’t necessarily wear the full, full skirts in daily life. At all! And my goal in dressing vintage is to look the authentic part, so my pettis will be kept aside for mainly formal and special events.

What is your intention or goal when you dress vintage? Be sure to tag your own garments on Instragram with #memademonday and @thehomemadepinup, and drop your blog link down below in the comments if you participate. I’d love to feature your Me Made Monday beauties each week as well!

Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time,
Lauren || The Homemade Pinup

Weekly e-Bay Round-Up: Week of 07/12

Hello dollies! I’m back to a regular schedule here at the blog after my friend left after her weeklong stay. I found some really fun pieces at some great prices, though they may go up, of course.

As always, and for those of you who may not have been to the blog before, the eBay listings below are ones that I have searched out for this week. They are not my own listings, but a way of possibly making the hunt for vintage a little easier. I hope you enjoy, and please comment below if you’d like to see anything specific! I tried to keep things light and airy for summer in this week’s post.

I am thinking of listing my own vintage for next week, and including them in next week’s post. I don’t often go for self-promotion, but I’m working on saving up money to start sewing circle skirts and novelty appliqué skirts as a business! I’d really appreciate any support with that, so my auctions could be a way of raising a little more money. Let me know if y’all would be interested! Enjoy this week’s shopping!

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50s I Miller Brown Leather peep toe sling back heels size 7: $5 + $7 shipping, auction ends Monday 5:29pm

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Vtg 40s Saks Fifth Avenue Sheer White Nylon Womens Fitted Short Sleeve Blouse: $7.99 + $2.65 shipping, bust 40″, auction ends Tuesday 9:37am

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Vintage Pearl Collar/Necklace with Beading: $6 BIN + $6 shipping

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Vtg Pair Cloisonne Butterfly Floral Enamel Hair Combs: $7.99 ($12.99 BIN) + $2.50 shipping, auction ends Wednesday 6:30pm
I’ve always wanted vintage hair combs, but was never too successful in my search. I’ve been inspired by the ones that Nurse Jenny wears in Call the Midwife to search smarter, and lo and behold! There they have been hiding all along. This lovely cloisonne pair are quite charming.

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Vtg 1940’s Black Suede and Mesh Peep Toe Strappy Heels *Size 8.5 ~ UK 39: $12 + $6.10 shipping, auction ends today 7pm

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GREAT VINTAGE YELLOW SUMMER SAILOR DRESS IN GREAT CONDITION- S OR XS: $11.61 + $4.90 shipping, auction ends Saturday 5:53am

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VINTAGE GENUINE test BAKELITE CHERRY RED MARLED DACHSHUND LENGTHY DOG PIN BROOCH: $10 + $4.25 shipping, auction ends next Sunday, 10:46am
I love this whimsical little pooch!

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Vintage Open Weave Linen Blend Cap Sleeve Top/Sweater-Light Beige$6.45 BIN + $5.40, bust 38″, auction ends 7/25 at 9:06am
This neckline has a very The Original Badgirl vibe!

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1950s BOBBY LOU High Waist Black Cotton Nautical Shorts-XS S$1.04 + $3.14shipping, waist 24″, auction ends Tuesday 5:28pm
Someone please buy these shorts, they are so cool!

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Very Pretty Vintage WICKER PURSE$13.35 + FREE shipping, auction ends Saturday 10:37am

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Until next time,
Lauren || The Homemade Pinup

Me Made Monday: “Ray of Sunshine” Dress and Vintage Reception

Hello dolls! As promised, my Me Made Monday contribution is coming a day late, since I couldn’t resist the opportunity to include photos taken at Disneyland in my newest creation. This dress was originally supposed to be the one I graduated in, as yellow is one of my school’s colors, but my sewing machine chose to revolt and conk out when I was about halfway through. Oh, well. Sometimes the sewing fates decide things for you.

In an attempt to make do and reuse (so forties), helping the environment as well as my currently limited budget, I remade a dress of mine that I completed back in 2011 (!!!). It was certainly not my best work, as I was still learning then, and was showing its age as well as its lack of style. I always felt the dress lacked a certain panache or detail; additionally, it had too short a skirt for my current taste, so apart it came! Here’s how it used to look…

tumblr_lklattQlSQ1qzm4qr tumblr_lkfsviKwtk1qzm4qrIt was originally sleeveless, though even then I covered the bodice with a sweater since the neckline didn’t turn out how I intended. (Also, I couldn’t resist including the latter photo. I’m wearing a pair of gloves my grandmother gave me, that her father gave her in the forties! Aren’t they divine?)

My new dress is constructed from Simplicity 1459, a delightful reprint from a sixties original. I may do a review of this pattern in the future, if y’all would like that! I think I’ll be using it again; the three-quarter sleeve option looks incredibly similar to PUG’s Birdie dress!

IMG_0262 IMG_0273The white collar and skirt panel were done by necessity – I simply didn’t have enough fabric leftover from the last dress to do otherwise – but I think they added so much more charm to this number! Additionally, gingham skirts with a thick white border are quite authentic and I think the effect is darling.

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And CHECK OUT how identical the below dress is to my own dress! Such an exciting find to run across a period photo that closely matches your in-progress piece.fe645b16fbe87a2a453f7a411f56e9caMontgomery Ward, 1959

The reception of vintage is unlike anything else, I’ve noticed. People respond incredibly well to these classic fashions, from young children to mothers and fathers and grandparents alike. I think there is something incredibly relatable to vintage era dresses, as they can be demure, sweet, sexy, adorable, and more all within the same outfit – a very hard thing to achieve, particularly within the limits of modern fashion.

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My close friend Rachel (who dressed in her own handmade gingham dress, hers from a forties pattern) and I received a great amount of attention, all positive! Young girls stared or pointed, several adults noted how they thought we looked lovely, and a few people even mistook us for cast members, which was the second best compliment, I think. The first? The Evil Queen herself (from Snow White) repeatedly called me a “ray of sunshine” (in a begrudging voice 😉 ) in this dress, which delighted the inner child in me! I think I have a new favorite face character at Disneyland – she was too fabulous. She whispered to me with narrowed eyes how my hair reminded her of that of another “fair maiden” (her name for me) that she knew. Disney goals achieved. Though my smirk isn’t nearly as epic as hers.

IMG_0305 IMG_0303 IMG_0306 IMG_0307Vintage has an effect unlike any other, and while I don’t sew for the attention, it certainly validates my efforts when complete strangers stop me to mention how much they love my garments.

What is your favorite compliment you’ve received while wearing vintage?

Until next time,

Lauren || The Homemade Pinup

Patriotism: America the Beautiful

Sometimes I find that American patriotism is not met with the most positive of reactions. I was raised in a family extremely proud of our roots, of our successes thanks to the U. S. of A. On top of that, several family members have served in the military, devoting their lives to serve their country and protect its citizens, so I never understood being ashamed of the place where I was born and raised. And those of you who have visited and read my blog before may remember my quick comment about the USN future of my boyfriend – I am no stranger to strong servitude devotion to America, sometimes extending beyond personal desires (hello, multiple military moves – my future looms ahead). DSCF0479

I’ll admit that I wasn’t always such a constant fan of this country, though. Oddly enough, it took an extended time outside of America for me to appreciate it! I was outrageously excited to leave the States and spend months living in Ireland for my study abroad semester, eager to experience a new place and expand my horizons outside of America’s borders. I had lived twenty-one years within the state of California and was quite done with American culture, American accents, American ways. My first trip outside of the US was one that lasted five months, so I absolutely got my wishes!

I didn’t anticipate how much I would miss, however. The most ridiculous things brought heavy nostalgia: colors, foods (burgers!), even American money. I’m completely serious – euros are small, colorful, almost sterile compared to U.S. notes. The bills remind me of Monopoly money! U.S. dollars, on the other hand, are green and dingy, with their own distinctive smell and feel. Missing something like that may sound odd and gross, but the currency of this country suddenly seemed just as gritty as its people – industrious and not afraid to get dirty. Using foreign money on a daily basis made me realize just how far away I was from everything that I had grown up with.

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Living abroad also forced me to acknowledge my country’s shortcomings in a very real way, beyond the petty complaints of daily life. America is certainly not a perfect country, but very few places – if any place – is perfect. I also learned not to waste too much time comparing such a huge country with smaller, progressive European countries that are often smaller than a single state in the USA. It’s hard to expect the same rate of progress in a place that has such a phenomenally large amount of people from a vast range of cultures. In my mind, that is one of the reasons why it takes so much time to enact real, worthwhile change in America – nothing beyond brainwashing is going to convince all people in all 50 states to agree on the same opinion all at once – but it’s also one of the reasons that makes America so great. We are completely free to believe anything and everything we wish, even if those beliefs may seem crazy to other people!

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And after realizing the shortcomings of other countries as well as my own while abroad, I’ll frankly take those in America, thank you very much! After such an amazing ruling by the Supreme Court on gay marriage recently, I think this is the proudest I’ve ever been to live in my country. And there ain’t nothin’ wrong with that, in my opinion.

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Plus, patriotism is SO vintage. And I’m all for authenticity 😉

Are you proud of your country? I’d love to see your 4th of July fashion, so link me below!

Until next time,
Lauren | The Homemade Pinup