Sunday, April 29, 2012

Vintage for the Plus Size Girl

If you are anything like me, you have a passion for fashion and a love of vintage clothing. I love when I come upon a fantastic piece and can dream about the woman who wore it and where she was going. I will admit, SOME of that passion banks to a smoulder when I realize that the piece will have to be sold because I am your average girl with extra curves, like a vast majority of "real sized" women today. Ah, but never fear, my dear; if you traipse through the aisle of thrift shops or cruise the internet stores for great items to add to your collection of fine vintage wear, never fear, I am going to give you volumptuos misses a few tips on how to purchase pieces that will flatter your curves just as you see on your fellow smaller vintage loving divas!

1: KNOW YOUR TRUE SIZE. - Clearly, this sounds like a no brainer, but for many they understand the basics i.e, "size 14-16" or "XL". Take the time to grab a vinyl tape measure and get your true measurements. This ensures that you are buying vintage garments that you will be able to fit properly. The further you go in clothing history, you will find that in the forties, around war time, many women made their own clothers and thus you will not have a sizing label to let you know if you found yourself a fitted winner.  Here is a great 2 minute tutorial I found for basic measuring: . I would only add that for we plus sized divas, to measure your upper arm as well. I cannot tell you how many heart breaks I have saved myself by knowing this measurement, hahaha! I have fleshy arms, so if I see a piece I'm interested in on Etsy, etc., I simply send a message asking the seller to give me a measurement on the upper arm of the sleeve (the circumference) and they are usually able to respond with an aproximate measurement. I say aproximate because most sellers usually measure garments by laying them flat then doubling the measurment. As a rule of thumb I always bank that the measurment may be off by up to one half inch or so.

2. INVEST IN SHAPEWEAR: Dresses from the 1940s and 50s and 60s  were often labeled with vantiy sizes, which were the use of smaller number sizing than the actual average size of the dress wearer. This practice is why some people think that Marilyn Monroe was a modern day size fourteen (she was not; without the use of vanity sizing, Marilyn was a size 8.) During that day and age, while corsets were not in wide practice shapewear was common place and thus when clothing was taolored to fit or even purchased off the rack, it was frequently done with the knowledge that shape wear would be used to pull in the waist, perk up the bust and smooth the sillhouette in general. When purchasing your vintage clothing, know your measurments with your shapewear garments on as well, as you will no doubt be using them if you are shopping for a killer wiggle dress or slim fitting 1940s day dress. Spanx , Body Magic and the like are popular body smoothing/reshaping tools that will help get those awesome sillhouettes we saw in movies and advertisments back then.

3. KNOW YOUR BODY TYPE: I love you and you love me, so lets' be real; we all have a body type whether its pear shaped, Coke bottle, Top heavy; we know if we suffer from muffin top even while standing in our panties, so know what LOOKS good on you! The celebration of curves cannot happen if we present them in dresses that accentuate our flaws and dont' celebrate our curves, which is true of all sizes. For us, however, the wrong dress can change us from "Brick House" to "Out House" in the length of time it takes to zip up our dress so be careful! If you are pear shaped (thinner on top and then spread out on the bottom, rockabilly styles, with full skirts and a blouse with a chunky belt will be a great look for you. If the use of shapewear can pull your lower half in to mostly porportionate sizing, but you have large arms, try a pencil skirt with a HIGH waist and a blouse with cardigan for a pulled together look. If you are volumptuous all over, and shapewear can define your curves and smooth ot the silhouette, then celebrate your entire body by wearing a sexy fifties wiggle dress. Remember there is a fine line between concealing and HIDING your form; that's how we got the sad invention of the tent dress, HA!

4. CONSIDER FASHION REPRODUCTIONS: There will be times when no matter how hard we look, we may not find the perfectly sized wiggle dress, or the poodle skirt of our dreams. Luckily, there are amazing companies out there that have heard the voices of our plus sized vintage divas and have answered the calls with gorgeous fun plays on vintage styles! HellBunny is a fantastic manufacturer of rockabilly and alternative clothing that offer a GREAT selection for the plus sized vintage enthusiast! While my heart is with true vintage, you WILL find me wearing Helly Bunny repros because they are amazing well made pieces that add fun and spice to my wardrobe, along with the fact that you don't always want to hunt for an entire day looking for that one amazing find. I strongly suggest that you check them out.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Buying Vintage Online - Things to Know Before Making your Purchase

When it comes to purchasing apparel on line, nothing is more heartbreaking than waiting all week long for your new dress, just to have it delivered and it doesn't fit, the color is completely different, or it is, overall, simply less than what you were expecting. Well, double that disappointment when you find that your virtually one of a kind vintage dress isn't "The One".  To keep you from that heartache, especially if you are new to vintage, I'm going to give you a few tricks of the vintage trade to decrease the chances of ordering a vintage dud.

CARDINAL RULE OF VINTAGE PURCHASING- Know your MEASUREMENTS. Take the time to measure your bust, waist and hips. These measurements are usually the most important to know. If your numbers are an exact match or an inch or so smaller than the seller has indicated, then you most likely have a winner. Most sellers, myself included, will give you the measurements of the dress instead of a generalized size (S,M,L) for many reasons. For example in the 1940s, many dresses were still being made at home or by a neighborhood seamstress. Thus the measurements differ quite a bit from dress to dress.  If you are purchasing a suit, wedding dress, our blouse , knowing your shoulder width and arm length measurements become just as important. Here is the proper way to take your measurements:

KNOW YOUR VINTAGE TERMINOLOGY: While this is simply a good idea in general and you will no doubt learn your lingo the more you shop, when you're purchasing off of sites such as Ebay or Etsy, knowing your vintage terminology will save you time and frustration and get you just where you want to be. Remember, the seller uses vintage lingo to describe their items and to appeal to the mass majority of vintage enthusiasts will post their items accordingly. Here are some terms and definitions that will help you to identify clothing by type and era:

Flapper-   No doubt if you are over the age of fourteen, you have seen some version of this style dress. The flapper dress is a shapeless , usually thin strapped "sack" style dress that usually stops at the knees. This dress was popular in the twenties, when the corseted prim and proper mode of dress was no longer desired by the women who wore them. They were more than their bodies, and as such the flapper style dress was born. These dresses were all the rage and became more refined, daring and decorative as time went on. The fringed flapper dress is a well known example of this. Popular from the 20's to the 30's and can , depending on the seller, be listed under "antique" apparel. Some tag words you might use in searching for this type of dress in Ebay or Etsy would be 1920s, 20s, Antique, Pre WWII.

Rockabilly- This word usually indicates the 1950s. The emergence of rock and roll, coupled with country music, is what we know today as Rockabilly (they simply called it "hillbilly" in the 50s). Rockabilly subculture brought about fashion that offered a wide variety of styling, but with a few basic fashion templates to follow. Full circle skirts (aka "poodle skirt") , high waisted pencil skirts, "cigarette pants" (slim fitted pant; think cropped skinny jean), halter dress with sweet heart necklines all fit into this category. In women over twenty, you would find the same full skirts, but you might also see boat necked bodices, and demure cardigans (every age). With older women, their "rockabilly" still followed the fashion template, but you might see a sequined bodice for evening wear. Some search words you might use when shopping online would be Rockabilly, 1950s, 50s, circle skirt, day dress (use in conjunction with coordinating year, as many dresses are described this way by the seller).

Wiggle Dress- Around the mid 1950's, the wiggle dress made its way to the scene. This sexy form fitting dress celebrated the female form; to see walking, talking hourglasses was not uncommon then (heehee!). The TRUE wiggle dress or skirt by definition means that the hem of the dress is cut more narrow than the waist of the dress , thus keeping the knees closer together and shortening your steps, creating a "wiggle" effect. In fact, while the full circle skirt was still popular, and many women went to the store to pick out their dress patterns, many of those patterns came with a full skirt option or a slim skirt option (wiggle) to create two remarkably different looks. The necklines were often pretty demure, although there were clearly exceptions to the rule. The wiggle dress was popular during the mid fifties into the early 60's before the a-line dress became popular. Some search words that will help you locate your perfect wiggle dress on sites like Ebay or Etsy would be: pinup, bombshell, 1950s 50s, wiggle, sheath (some sellers  use this terminology, but I find, more often than not, it does not represent a true wiggle dress, but in the interest of fairness, blah, blah...) Here's a stunning wiggle dress in my Ebay store you might like to own!:

Mod- Mod represents the emergence of less form fitting clothing, with waistlines less on display and usually only prominent with the assistance of a belt. This trend was actually started on the streets on London, with the young generation purchasing more clothing for themselves than in past decades. Fashion houses paid attention and created a look that is mimicked in some way shape or form every year.  A-Line dresses were the soup du jour , ranging anywhere from long (maxi) to short (mini). The Mini skirt, which reached amazingly tiny proportions were typical front he early to mid sixties. While waist lines weren't prominent, the sixties weren't slouchy; the women's clothing included a tailored look; sever masculine, narrow cut shirts and maybe a pair of your boyfriends jeans (yes, that's where "boyfriend jeans" came from) could be your look, then maybe later you could throw on a micro mini and give your parents the blues! Some words you might try are Mod, mod mini, mod maxi, a line dress, 1960s 60s, 60s color block dress/ mini/ maxi.

Next Week we'll talk more in depth 1940s terminology, Disco era of the Seventies and the Punk look of the eighties, as well as tell- tale signs to identify what year your vintage find comes from if you're out and about shopping.  We welcome questions and LOVE suggested topics, so drop a line! We'd love to chat!

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