The Four Seasons of Vintage

June Gloom

1970s Arissa Made in France jacket with vintage Celine bag

1970s Arissa Made in France faux fur with vintage Celine purse

Two new vintage items have come into my life recently, and except for writing this now, I haven’t spent any time second-guessing them. As I am not an impulse buyer, it’s a mystery to me how these objects happened so easily into my possession. When it comes to shopping, I have always adhered to a strict method, one which generally involves thinking long and hard about what I need before committing to a purchase. My process entails visiting the shoes or the bag or the garment in question at least two times, and then calculating how many items in my wardrobe the prospective object would reasonably coordinate with. Wary of the surge of emotion common to that initial moment of seeing, I’m rarely convinced by my first impressions. It’s happened on more than one occasion that I’ve gone back for a second meeting with an item only to discover I was wrong: it really wasn’t my style after all, or the piece that had obsessed me, now leaves me feeling cold.

I seldom doubt my hunches when I’m called upon by either friend or stranger to weigh in on a potential purchase. But even with the best of intentions there are bound to be flaws; my method tends to break down around vacations when I’m away from home. Feeling the pressure to make a decision on the spot, I have both followed through and walked away only to experience the same outcome: gnawing regret for my impulsiveness.

Though I would hate to think I’ve given up on mindful reflection, I’m thankful to the coup de foudre that brought a vintage Celine purse and a faux Mongolian lamb jacket into my life. Within the short span of two weeks, reason overturned, I embraced the surge of love at first sight, purchasing the items without hesitation; so far, I couldn’t be more pleased with the results. Both pieces are perfect for chasing away the chill and melancholy of a Los Angeles’ June gloom that has settled early over the city this year.

 

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Essays and Musings

Dearly Beloved

Vintage Thierry Mugler dusty rose ensemble

Vintage Thierry Mugler dusty rose ensemble

A few summers ago a stylish older acquaintance took me out to tea at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills and then invited me over to visit her closets. I got to look through a lifetime’s worth of vintage dresses, jackets, coats, feather boas, and boots. After I tried on some items she had pulled from a deep corner of one of her neatly organized walk-in closets, I came away with two vintage pieces by Thierry Mugler – a lipstick pink bolero jacket and a dusty rose ensemble: a jacket, with signature Mugler snaps, and a pair of matching short shorts. Despite never having worn the shorts, I regularly wear the jacket with casual pants and the bolero over sleeveless dresses. That afternoon ranks high in my memory for its treasure hunt aspect as much as it does for its display of generosity. I had never before seen such well-manicured closets; impressed by the experience, I vowed from that day on to cultivate the habit of regularly cleaning out my closet.

Even for someone who takes pride in having an edited wardrobe, it’s not an easy thing to dispose of one’s belongings; everything entering a closet puts down roots. Women’s fashion magazines are full of advice about getting organized for such a chore. Their recommendations usually break down into categories: items you’ve never worn and/or have forgotten owning, small sizes that you hope one day to fit into, trendy items in outlandish colors or prints, nostalgic pieces such as concert t-shirts or the cutoff shorts you cheerfully wore in your youth, and the bridesmaid dresses you were obliged to buy. Invariably, the verdict comes in in favor of dispensing with these groupings.

I’ve added over the years to the above categories the following shorthand criteria: selling the clothes I’ve grown out of, gifting others to friends, and passing along items to Goodwill. In a matter of hours, having satisfactorily completed the job of sorting, I could bask in my success at maintaining a functional wardrobe. Knowing what to store for future use is the most challenging aspect of closet cleaning. It’s difficult to part with a pair of shoes, once cherished, that have long since begun gathering dust, when you don’t know if in subsequent years you will want to wear them. Objects with purely sentimental value are far easier to handle, as they take hold of you, stubbornly defying every attempt to remove them with their continued promise of happiness.

Now, in my forties, burdened by the decision of what to disperse and what to keep, I find myself clinging to the items in my closet. This may in large measure be due to the fact that after years of being so careful about the things I have kept and the things I have disposed of, I’ve finally reached a point where each object has been so thoughtfully considered that the idea of letting go strikes me as impossible. It’s likely that there are people who don’t regularly clean out their closets and regard such an undertaking as cold hearted. How could anyone ever part with something that in the face of all reason they had at one time so desired?

In thinking it over, I can’t say I have ever regretted the things I’ve disposed of. Rather, it’s happened on more than one occasion that I’ve felt remorse over what I did not acquire. To me, regret lies in what we haven’t allowed ourselves to experience first hand, or what we haven’t given ourselves the freedom to know.

Parting with certain wardrobe items is akin to setting off on an unfamiliar path, one less encumbered by the past. I’m usually happy to see my things go to another home. I like to think I’m giving my possessions a chance to live on in a new setting, as my beloved Mugler jackets have come to experience an afterlife of sorts since arriving in my closet, one memorable summer afternoon.

Vintage Thierry Mugler jacket

Vintage Thierry Mugler bolero jacket

 

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Weekend Style Inspiration

Goth Glamour

I’ve always loved Victorian tailoring and style: long sweeping silhouettes, black, scarlet, velvet, leather, and seam details. My appreciation for the look may be in large part due to my other love: the nineteenth century novel. Though Goth’s origins can be found in the Victorian cult of mourning, the look has been transformed over the decades by various designers into what I would categorize as a glamorous or excessive minimalism. Here are some of my favorite contemporary interpretations that take this tailoring from traditional to modern vintage chic.

image Sartorialist

image Sartorialist

image Phil Oh

image Phil Oh

via whowhatwear

via whowhatwear

image Phil Oh

image Phil Oh

Alexander McQueen; FIT Gothic: Dark Glamour, 2009

Alexander McQueen; Gothic: Dark Glamour, 2009 FIT Exhibition

Yohji Yamamoto Fall Ready-to-Wear 2008

Yohji Yamamoto, Fall Ready-to-Wear 2008

Siouxsie and The Banshees

Siouxsie and the Banshees

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kasia

Lorde; image Phil Oh

Lorde; image Phil Oh

image Sartorialist

image Sartorialist

Carine Roitfeld

Carine Roitfeld

 

 

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Personal Style

Megan

Megan is a sales associate at Stella McCartney in Los Angeles. She’s a tall brunette who radiates an unexpected charm that’s equal measure rock chick glamour and girl next-door sweetness. On a recent sunny afternoon, we sat down in the garden behind the store and chatted about style.

FullSizeRender[3]What do you find glamorous?

A good mood.

Who are your favorite designers?

Stella McCartney. It’s shocking that more designers aren’t taking a stand against animal cruelty and inhumane practices like she has. It is an honor and a privilege to work for such a mindful and revolutionary brand.

How would you describe your style?

Artful, classic, experimental, and fun!

What scent/perfume do you wear?

Byredo’s Bal d’Afrique.

Is there anything in your wardrobe that you are purely emotionally attached to?

Everything and nothing. I have become less attached to the clothes I’ve collected along the way. But I can’t part with pieces I have inherited from my Dad, like his vintage Porsche sunglasses, or beautiful items I’ve discovered while living and traveling abroad: the Sonia Rykiel silk embroidered jacket I found in Paris, a sterling silver ring I purchased in the south of France, and my first Doc Martens boots my brother bought me in New York City, circa 1991.

Who are your style icons?

My Mom. She’s beautiful, tall, and carries herself in such an elegant way. I am also drawn to musicians who have incredible visual charisma like Poison Ivy of The Cramps, who I saw back in Omaha, Nebraska in the 1990s, Patti Smith, and Debbie Harry, who I saw perform in Lawrence, Kansas in 1996 at the Nova Convention Revisited.

What have you learned about style over the years?

Style is personal; for me, it is always evolving. I love the art of dressing and observing how others compose their looks. I’ve always enjoyed taking photos and making drawings, maybe in an effort to preserve and remember how we live, how we decorate our lives.

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