Like these on Michelle Dockery who plays Lady Mary Crawley on Downton Abbey. Doesn't she look divine in a hat? And aren't these hats perfection?
So I guess it's not surprising that an important event on my yearly shopping calendar is the Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show held every November. Fall (my favourite time of year, for fashion, at least) and vintage ... together. What could be better?
The Vintage Clothing Show is more than just shopping, you know. It's an event. You don't go just to buy; you go to look and admire, and oooh and ahhh at the treasures on display.
You go to dream about parties where this red and white dress might have been worn. Or imagine who might have owned this teal coat and what their story might be.
I wouldn't necessarily purchase these heavy suitcases for travel, although I'd love to own that black and tan one... just to look at. I wonder what tales these cases could tell of their journeys, tales of love and heartbreak and leaving and coming home again. When I taught creative writing, I used to have a stash of old buttons, and postcards, and trinkets purchased at antique stores and flea markets. The students would select a collection of three or four items and use them try to "build a life" for a fictional character. It was great fun. As you can see, in a way, I'm still doing it.
So imagine: November 1, a crisp fall afternoon. Dressed in jeans, and a soft, white turtleneck sweater (recently acquired from Vince) and wrapped in a gorgeous, emerald green tweed jacket, a long emerald and teal scarf wound around my neck...with one of my favourite vintage brooches pinned onto my jacket... I set off.
Sigh.... truth be told... I didn't... set off. Sidelined by a killer sinus headache, I missed the show this year.
And although I mourned the fact that I missed out on the mingling and admiring and dreaming part... I was kind of glad that I wasn't tempted to do any shopping. I have come home with quite a number of vintage wares over the years already. More wares than I can wear, actually, if you'll excuse the pun.
These are my vintage brooches. Well, most of them. I love the art deco triangle and the bow tie. The black moon with the rhinestones is one I wear a lot. And the baby blue brooch from the 50's is one of my absolute favourites. Really, though, I love them all.
These are some of the vintage bracelets I've collected over the years. The gold child's bracelet on the left is the first vintage purchase I ever made. My wrist is very small, so it was a perfect fit. I don't know if the cream and tortoise shell one is Bakelite or celluloid or what... but I've loved it for many years.
But much as I love old jewellry... my passion is for vintage hats.
Like the handmade one on the left, which I bought in the 80's. That leopard skin band is real... and hand stitched onto the brown felt with big, loopy, obviously unprofessional stitches. I'm intrigued by the idea of this hat and how it came to be. Did someone, somehow, come to own a strip of leopard skin and knew it must become a hat? I wore it once, years ago, to a poetry reading in downtown Ottawa. In my hat, and a camel coat and big gold earrings, I felt splendid...chic and...well... unique. I guess I must have looked unique, too, considering some of the odd looks I received. And I remember thinking..."Come on! If you can't look quirky at a poetry reading, where can you?"
The brown beret from the 40's is more my everyday style. I've worn it quite a bit. I love the Bakelite pin it came with. This hat makes me feel like I should be wearing a tweed skirt suit and sensible oxfords...and be on my way to roll bandages...or something.
This burgundy stunner is my out and out best hat. How I wish I had the nerve to wear it somewhere. I bought it at an antique fair one summer. My friend and I were trying on hats at a booth, and soon, we were surrounded by a small group of elderly ladies who ooohed and ahhhhed at each hat, eventually deciding that I must buy this one. So I did.
I've never forgotten what fun that was. And now when I'm at the Vintage Clothing Show I always stop and admire when someone else tries on a hat or coat or dress. I can't tell you how many times I've said exactly the same thing to other shoppers as those ladies said to me. "You can't go home without that, you know."
Since I was a child, I've always been enamored with the past. I love antiques, and old photographs and historical fiction and costume dramas, like Downton Abbey. I'm not sure why.
It's not as if I have illusions that life was better seventy or eighty or a hundred years ago. But it's as if I have this urge to know what it was really like back then. To know what the banks of the Saint John River looked like when my mum swam there as a girl. To hear the sound of the horses on the streets of downtown Fredericton when my stepfather went to town with his father. To meet my grandmother and her sisters when they were girls, riding to the dances in Perth-Andover in their horse and buggy. According to Grammy, the fun never started until the Everett girls arrived. Hmmm... I wonder what they wore to those dances....
Okay. Enough. I have to snap out of this daydream.
I've things to do. Outfits to plan. Like what to wear tomorrow to go from skating, to lunch with a friend, to drinks with the girls after work... without coming home to change.
And if I should wear one of my very vintage-y hats.
Are you a very vintage-y kind of person? Do tell.