Tuesday, September 29, 2015

How to wear vintage for the 40+ year-old woman, part V

Maybe you are the sort of person who jumps into the deep end of the pool head first, but if you like to test the water, this post is especially for you.

Some 40+ women are intimidated at the thought of wearing vintage. There is the care of the garment, the size, the but will it work for me?

Get off to a good start

If you are over 40 and aren’t currently wearing vintage, consider adding one or two wonderfully easy things first. I have written a lot about getting started with vintage, and I can guarantee you will be happy in adding vintage to your style if you start with a few easy pieces and keep growing your wearable collection along with your style. This is not necessarily age-specific; many people find it hard to make the first move in adding vintage fashion to their wardrobes and would be off to a good start with a few winning pieces.

The easiest place to start? Jewelry...a brooch for instance. Everybody can wear a vintage brooch. A few suggestions for the 40+ woman:

Think of impact. Cluster a group of brooches of like kind or color; pin one in an unexpected way such as in your hair, on your bag or on the shoulder of your jacket; bring a different era into your normal mix with an art deco or modernist piece.

Image via Hikari note on Tumblr

The artful crafter Julie Arkell so perfectly shows off her style with accessories; she resembles one of her delightful creations!

And speaking of Julie’s style, another great vintage choice is a sweater. The fit is relatively easy, the quality for the money is likely to be vastly superior to a new sweater, and there are many styles from which to choose.

A handbag is another great first choice. There are so many wonderful vintage bag styles...don’t be surprised if you end up collecting them (speaking from experience)!

Image via MyZestyLiving
And whether it is a brooch, a coat, a bag, a sweater—by all means express your style, think bold, and mix it up.

My blog series with lots of tips on getting started with vintage (for every age) is indexed here.

Next time: The fit bit

See the previous posts in this series:
Part I Quit acting like you have something to lose
Part II Pin your style
Part III Be bold
Part IV Mix it up

Saturday, September 26, 2015

How to wear vintage for the 40+ year-old woman, part IV

There is nothing wrong with wearing head-to-toe vintage straight out of another era if you like—there are those who do this, love it, and are exceptionally good at it. However, my suggestion for a woman just getting started at vintage or trying to find the best way to incorporate it into her wardrobe? 

Mix it up

Mix eras, styles, colors, patterns, high and low fashion. This takes some thought, experimentation, taste and knowledge, all of which can be honed.

About what to mix in. Slow fashion trumps fast fashion for many reasons. I think as we age we get to the point where considering that fact is somewhere between good thinking and a moral imperative. Vintage and 2nd-hand clothing should be a major consideration, along with ethically- and sustainably-produced new items.

When you mix vintage things up, consider matching certain elements:

• Color across eras

• Patterns that relate to one another

• Era but in an unexpected way

• Textural combinations that work across decades

• Timeless elements

I have already suggested Pinterest as a free and fun platform for exploring style ideas. I have just started (old dog, new tricks!) using Polyvore to bring items together into collages. This is another interesting way to see how things juxtapose.

Here are a few decade mash ups of vintage items currently available online to illustrate my taste in mixing. Enjoy finding your own way with the concept!

Next time: Get off to a good start

See the previous posts in this series:
Part I Quit acting like you have something to lose
Part II Pin your style
Part III Be bold

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

How to wear vintage for the 40+ year-old woman, part III

You’re 40+ and you have the will and some ideas about what vintage you’d like to wear. Is it as simple as wear what you want? Maybe. Some women have an intuitive sense of style and know how to adapt looks and trends to suit themselves.

But some women stick in a groove that worked for them when they were in their 30s or younger. Some women never felt they found their groove.

Here’s one of my suggestions:

Be bold

Some things happen to us physically as we age, and instead of dwelling on these as losses, we might consider them simply as changes. Our hair color and texture, our skin quality, our vision, our gait, and our proportions—all may transition. The sharp brush strokes of our eyebrows will probably loosen up, and our hair may seem less smooth. Our color palette may become more muted. 

In many cases I think women hang onto makeup, hairstyles and fashions that worked best for them when they were younger, not taking into account the changes. If there are some things missing in how a 40+ woman presents herself, they might well be definition and intensity. Not everyone is Iris Apfel (a walking work of fashion art!) but everyone needs a few sharp focal points.

Some great ways to consider going bolder with vintage:

  • Hats on to you. A face-framing vintage hat or headscarf can create definition. Hats in general can be great friends, protecting your skin from the sun, balancing your features and lending an aura of mystery and intrigue. They shouldn’t be overlooked by younger women either!

worldfamilybiza.com promotion; Gitte Lee via Advanced StyleBeatrix Ost via Advanced Style; Dry Goods Diary

  • To see and be seen. Sharp vintage sunglasses or glasses can be an immediate appearance pick-me-up. I personally think I look better with my vintage glasses on (modern prescription in vintage frames) than I do without.

Tziporah Salamon via Refinery 29; Pearl E. Gates via Advanced Style; Linda Rodin via The Coveteur; Richelle Jones via Advanced Style

  • Come through with flying colors. Strong hues and texture can be very distinctive. And don’t forget black and white when considering intensity.

Elisa Nalin via Street PeeperJane Forth via Idiosyncratic Fashionistas; unnamed woman via Advanced Style

  • Get out the ornaments. Statement jewelry shows a fearless commitment to one’s style and can showcase a collection that you have every right to flaunt. The definition and enhancement is clearly there too.

Sarah via Advanced Style; unnamed woman via Advanced StyleDaphne Guinness via Splenderosa

  • Old is bold. Vintage clothing and accessories are inherently strong; I mean, it takes a certain amount of guts and attitude to wear something that others aren’t wearing. 

What vintage do you wear to add distinction and intensity to your looks?

Next time: Mix it up

See the previous posts in this series:
Part I Quit acting like you have something to lose
Part II Pin your style

Saturday, September 19, 2015

How to wear vintage for the 40+ year-old woman, part II

So you are 40+ and have the guts, motivation and desire to wear vintage fashion. Where do you get the inspiration to make it your own? The best answer I know is: Yourself.

Pin your style

This is fun, free and a great way to explore your own creative thinking.

If you have always given thought to your style, wonderful! Keep doing so, and keep looking around, finding fresh inspirations. By the ages of 40, 50, 60 and 70 many women have been busy being mothers, partners, co-workers, caretakers—thinking lots about others’ needs. It may have been awhile since they even considered their style. Style is not within the purview of young women alone, in fact, young women can get away without style more easily. 

Try pinning ideas on a Pinterest board or physically pinning images on a bulletin board, or into a scrapbook. Sometimes you don’t know what you like until you cluster a number of images together. Sometimes the images will beget new ideas of what your style is becoming. Sometimes when you don’t know what the heck to wear that day you can take one look at your board and get a great idea. 

Keep doing this, perhaps each season or at least twice a year, because style is not something that should be completely immutable and without reaction to what’s going on in your life and the world. Stay in touch with modern fashion trends but pin the vintage examples that inspire you even more. Look for images of women wearing vintage in a way that really works for you. Don’t copy, just get the gist.

I’m quite addicted to Pinterest, and if you’d like to see my style inspiration boards:

Now it’s your turn: Show us your Pinterest boards or a photo of your scrapbook pages!

Next: Be bold

See the previous post in this series:

Part I Quit acting like you have something to lose

Thursday, September 17, 2015

How to wear vintage for the 40+ year-old woman, part I

Many a woman who got into vintage wearing while much younger has now reached her 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. A woman over 40 may just now be considering getting into wearing vintage. Are there any rules for wearing vintage at 40+ years of age? These are some of my thoughts.

In her 40s in the 1950s

40 is the new...something else. No way is the 1950s-era middle-aged woman stereotype the norm. Being “appropriate” was never before such a vague concept.

Younger women color their hair grey while older women color their’s pink. Many factors blur the edges between young and old, and more than anything your age is a state of mind and what you make of it. That said, with many years of wearing, observing and selling vintage fashion under my (vintage) belt, I can offer some advice for those of us who are somewhere around 40 and up, starting with:

Quit acting like you have something to lose

There are times in your life when you will want to play a certain role that your clothing will costume. If you take a job interview at a law office, you probably know to wear something professional and somewhat conservative; a funeral is not the time to break out your colorful party dress; overly slinky isn’t right for most mothers-of-the-grooms or brides.

By the time you reach midlife, you are starting to have fewer things to costume for, and yet many women continue to dress themselves as if they will be judged by someone who can make a great difference. By all means wear something appropriate, but do consider the ways in which you have paid your dues and are where you want to be. Don’t just be appropriate.

How does this intersect with vintage fashion? I have heard and seen the results of a mindset that considers vintage fine for young women, but not women who are middle-aged and older—that it is “playing dress up.”

If you follow the Advanced Style blog, movie and/or book, you know that there are women and men of a certain age who go all out, dressing each day with careful thought and flair. Whether you go for hot pink, bold jewelry and statement hats, or tweeds, silk scarves and Grace Kelly handbags should be up to you. The way you see yourself is how best to dress yourself. And just as anyone else wearing vintage fashion, you may find the best fitting, best quality, most you items in vintage.

Just one of the many super stylish vintage-wearing women shown in the Advanced Style blog

It doesn’t matter who else is in your life; they either love, respect or appreciate you or they don’t for the right reasons, not because you dress to please them.

Next time: Pin your style

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Monday, September 7, 2015

It's Labor Day—have you looked for the union label?

Thanks to legions of union garment workers, we had a thriving clothing industry in the United States, now essentially off-shored.

The delivery may be out of style in this 1980 ad, but the message still sounds right:

Look for the union label
When you are buying a coat, dress or blouse.
Remember somewhere our union’s sewing
our wages going to feed the kids and run the house,
We work hard but who’s complaining.
Thanks to the I.L.G. we’re paying our way.
So, always look for the union label,
it says we’re able
to make it in the U.S.A.

You can still look for the union label, in vintage clothing.
Just a few of the choices with ILGWU (International Ladies Garment Workers Union) labels at denisebrain this week (click any photo for more on the item):

Another benefit of a union label is its help in dating items. Please visit the Vintage Fashion Guild’s ILGWU page for the scoop on a number of union labels and their dates. 

“Symbol of decency, fair labor standards, the American way of life”

Friday, September 4, 2015

To be or not to be red-lipped

The most recent denisebrain vintage fashion show called for pictures of people’s favorite red lipsticks. If you wear vintage clothing do you need to wear red lipstick? Some thoughts.

I am a horn player, and my lips—their strength and health—are important to my well-being and survival as a musician. I have even considered insuring my lips.

No one plays a brass instrument with lipstick on, and when not playing, what goes on a brass player’s lips simply has to be good for them. I didn’t wear lipstick for many years, only considering soothing balms. Then, way back in 1999, I started denisebrain vintage, and as I started to shoot photos of vintage clothing on myself I felt the urge to add that authentic detail, a red lip.

It wasn’t particularly easy for me to make the jump to wearing lipstick, even just here and there, given my horn playing. I’m always very conscious of my lips and how they feel. But I found myself really loving the look of tinted balms and lipsticks. Now I feel more myself with some color.

Lips, particularly red lips, say “vintage” of a certain era like little else, for less money and less effort than most things. But again, is it necessary?

I would say never.

Some consider a red lip to be anti-feminist “man bait”...just look at some of the vintage ad campaigns used for red lipstick.

Others know that there are some cosmetics that are tested on animals, or contain unhealthy ingredients. They would rather not risk these things.

For me, colorful lips are simply the most exciting thing you can do with your appearance in mere seconds. Lipstick is well known to experience an uptick in sales during a recession. Why? It is a relatively inexpensive pick-me-up. Likewise, it can signal a vintage look quicker and more easily than even seamed stockings or pin curls. It can make you feel put together, pretty, yourself.

Can it make you look costume-y? Yes, it could be part of a full-blown vintage look that appears to have time-travelled out of the past if that’s what you’re after. Or it could be applied in a modern way, worn with modern clothing like a single vintage accessory. You can mix-and-match eras and lip colors for a fresh perspective.

If you don’t need lipstick, don’t like it or want it, there is not the slightest obligation to wear it! It is 2015 and most of us have options. If you want to try lipstick, please do look for the companies that do no animal testing, use safe ingredients and responsible practices in manufacturing. Find a lipstick that feels comfortable, even beneficial, so that if you decide to play the horn, you’ll be ready to go! Enjoy the ritual of finding a color, putting lipstick on and wearing it for yourself, not anyone else. See if you like the reaction you get, see if you feel put together and more yourself or not.

Lipstick isn’t something women have to wear, it is something we are free to wear—part of the art and poetry of fashion, nothing more, nothing less.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that...

You guessed it—BLING! The good news is that bling-y jewelry is really in for fall. The better news is that vintage bling is the best—at the best price—that you will find!

My September theme is a small tribute:

{click to view, sound up}
Some of the vintage rhinestone pieces in my Etsy shop right now
This September, don’t be afraid to sparkle!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

I thank you, the elephants thank you!

This morning I was able to make a donation of $253 to the Elephant Crisis Fund, administered by the World Conservation Network. I could not do that by myself—only with your concern and caring. I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it again: Denisebrain has the best customers!!