In Lincoln, RI, the town where I was born and raised, a gorgeous mansion called Hearthside House graces Great Road. I have so many memories of being driven to ballet class and always passing this house. My friend and I would always comment, "Wouldn't you love to live in that house?!" Now, I have the privilege of being a part of this wonderful team who cares for and supports Hearthside House with various events, such as the Downton Abbey Tea. I have had the pleasure of participating in these special teas for the past 2 years. On Saturday, May 13, I presented "Accessories of Downton Abbey," where I moved from room-to-room where participants were enjoying their tea, and showed my collection of accessories from 1910-1920s. I had help from several docents, as it was difficult to carry all of the accessories to each room without a little help! I was asked to display these items in the house's beautiful library, which can be seen in the pictures above and below.
Included in this display were fans, bags, hat pins, shoes, gloves, stockings, a parasol, and a button hook. Patrons love to see the real thing, especially after hearing the history of these items and how the characters from Downton Abbey may have used them. Following the tea (there were 2 seatings that afternoon), guests could tour the house, and many stopped by the library to view the accessories more closely. Despite the inclement weather of wind and rain, the teas were a success!
Built in 1810, Hearthside House is an example of early 19th C. Federal style architecture. The mansion was built by Stephen Hopkins Smith and, although he never lived in the house, members of his family did reside there for a time. The house has such an interesting history, so be sure to visit and tour the home during one of their special events, such as the upcoming 1904 World's Fair, which takes place on Sunday, July 23. Hearthside House was the model for the RI building at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, so this wonderful event is a terrific way to enjoy an afternoon of historic-related activities and is an opportunity to view both the house and the magnificent grounds. Be sure to check it out!
So, fellow history of fashion buffs, until next time!
Hello Dear Friends!
I'm afraid I haven't posted in quite awhile, due to an illness but there's nothing stopping me now! I'd like to resume my blog with a recap of a wonderful event I had the privilege of attending. On Saturday, May 6, the Dennis-Yarmouth Women's Group had a fundraiser, entitled "The Fabulous Fifties." They had asked me to do a fashion era presentation about this wonderful, fashionable decade. A few of the many women who attended had their 1950s wedding gowns on display, including the wedding pictures of each of them. It was incredible! Other women had clothing and accessories on exhibit, one of which was a handmade poodle skirt! As I always do when presenting any era, I display items from that time period for all to enjoy. A beautiful luncheon was served before the festivities began, and they included a raffle of some pretty fabulous prizes!
One of my favorite parts was the opportunity to dress in one of my '50s ensembles. Pictured, you'll see a lovely dress, sweater, and hat from the era, as well as a demi-parure, which is a necklace and bracelet set. In this time period, it was common for women to wear "sets" of jewelry, such as a necklace, earrings and brooch. What cannot be seen in the photo was a sparkly petticoat from the fifties, which I wore under the dress, of course. My shoes were modern Aerosoles (also unseen), but certainly could pass for a 1950s pair.
One of the best things about the '50s, in my humble opinion, is the way ladies matched their accessories to their outfits so that they may have worn a hat, shoes, gloves and bag of the same color. This is something we rarely see today, and I feel that we've lost a good bit of elegance in our dress as a result. For this reason, my fashion era presentations are all the more enjoyable to myself and to my audience when dressing up is encouraged! I am fortunate that my husband and I own Nostalgia Antiques & Collectibles, since the store is the perfect setting to play dress up! Customers sometimes come to the store with fabulous outfits, so it's anybody's game. It's also terrific when customers bring in vintage items that I can purchase and use in my presentations. This has been a great addition to my store experience!
I hope that my readers and event attendees will be inspired to find their own personal style in dress. Simply wearing a vintage sweater or blouse, for example, really adds pizzazz to any contemporary outfit. Since we really no longer have a strict fashion code, we need to find our own way of dressing authentically. It should be fun to get dressed every day, and it will be once you find the perfect mix of vintage and modern clothing and accessories. Start out slowly, if you must, but experiment with your look and make a statement with your style! Until next time, practice putting together your own unique outfits and surprise yourself and everyone you know. Most of all, have fun!
It's been awhile, with the holidays and the chaos of the season, but I'm back on track! As many of you may agree, I adore the new series, Victoria, on PBS. Not only are the costumes and sets to die for, Jenna Coleman's interpretation of Victoria is charming. In 1837, when Queen Victoria was crowned, the giant sleeves of the era were beginning to "deflate," the fullness moving down towards the elbow. The neckline remained quite wide, and the skirts were beginning to fill out in preparation for the enormous skirt widths of the 1850s.
With Victoria coming to the throne at such a young age, perhaps her clothing and accessories helped her to feel older and more sophisticated, especially since so many of those around her considered her to be too young to rule a nation. But, rule she did for 64 years!
Of course, it's well known that the love of her life and husband, Albert, died quite young, and Victoria mourned him for the rest of her life. Supposedly, she would lay out his clothes every evening, as if he would be dressing the next morning. It must have been so difficult to carry on the responsibilities of ruling the country without the support of Albert at her side. Nevertheless, Victoria became a well-respected queen, beloved by her people, and did indeed rule the nation until her death in 1901. In fact, on February 2, 1901, a proclamation for a day of mourning for Queen Victoria was announced in Toronto.
Those of you who are familiar with my Spirits of Fashion "Era Presentations" will be happy to know that I will be featuring a new talk that will cover all of the Victorian period, from the 1830s through the end of the 19th Century. Although I have previously focused on the Civil War Period and The Gilded Age, this will be the first time I'll include all of Victoria's reigning years. This new presentation will feature a great deal of variety in clothing and accessories as well as plenty of videos to enjoy. I have recently acquired some wonderful pieces from the Victorian and Edwardian era that are just waiting to be seen and enjoyed. Until next time, catch up on the episodes of Victoria and savor the opulence and beauty of a time gone by.
This will be a very short post, due to the craziness of holiday time, but I didn't want December to go by without one more post for the year. As a magazine lover since puberty, I want to acknowledge the amazing 150 year anniversary of Harper's Bazaar. The magazine itself contains a wonderful article on this topic in the December/January issue. In a nutshell, Harper's Bazar (with only one "a" initially) was founded by Harper & Brothers publishing. On the cover of its inaugural issure in November 1867, the magazine was described as "a repository of fashion, pleasure, and instruction." Who wouldn't want to own a magazine claiming such wonderful things? These early editions featured fashions from Germany and Paris, and were in a newspaper format. I still enjoy the variety of Harper's Bazaar's monthly features which, although much different from those earliest issues, still brings me the pleasure of fashion and "instruction."
Initially a weekly publication, Harper's Bazar became a monthly magazine in 1901. The "a" in Harper's Bazaar was added after 1929. So many famous names are associated with this magazine, including Mary Louise Booth, who was named the first editor in 1867. Many legendary names followed hers, including Carmel Snow, Diana Vreeland, photographer Richard Avedon, and Erte. The first cover that appeared in color was on the Thanksgiving edition of 1894. Erte, an illustrator, had his first cover on the January 1915 issue.
Today, America's first fashion magazine, Harper's Bazaar is a reflection of our times and is a tribute to 150 years of an evolving publication that has stood the test of time. I still prefer to read the hard copy of magazines, as I like to touch and smell the vivid pages, enjoying their glossiness. I sincerely hope that the publishers will continue to provide us with the option of purchasing this colorful magazine monthly without being forced to use a digital device. Happy Reading!
I know this is a crazy busy time of year, and sometimes the last things we want to think about are good posture, good manners, and impeccable grooming. I came across a book this morning at Nostalgia, which was published in 1951. The book is entitiled: "Sally Young's Home Book of Beauty and Charm" by Sally Young. Think about what the culture of 1951 would have entailed. Although some women worked outside of the home, many women were housewives and "stay-at-home" moms. The emphasis was not only on taking good care of your family, but you had better look good while doing it! Now, I know that nowadays it is difficult to get through a day without looking totally spent and washed out by day's end, but the women of the '50s were trained to look as beautiful in the home as they did outside the home. Consider these lines from the book,
"We have no statistics on how many husbands rush off
to a day's work without breakfast. But we'll bet a dollar
to a doughnut we know who's to blame. His little helpmate -
that glamour girl who became a scarecrow after he married her.
You can't blame the poor man for losing his appetite if he
has to face a drab, sleepy-eyed, hair-in-curlers woman over
the breakfast table. No secretary ever looks like that to him."
Women who worked outside of the home were advised to wear suits and to own at least 1 suit for winter, one for summer. She was told to add variety with sweaters, blouses, and accessories. Now, this isn't all that different from today's professional dress, except that the styles have changed and the rules have been relaxed. Personally, having studied and practiced image consulting and personal styling, I do know that looking one's best influences behavior, self-esteem, and enhances general well-being. I'm not saying that we can't wear sweatpants at home, especially after working a long day, but studies have shown that when we dress the part, we're more likely to act the part. In other words, if I want to get anything done after work, I'd better not change out of my work clothes first! Similarly, studies show that casual dressing on the job can lead to poor performance, less focus, and a desire to leave the job early! Casual Fridays have indeed become casual everyday for many workplaces, and it often shows in reduced productivity. I love to be comfortable, but I just can't get used to pajamas and slippers outside the home, which I see as a lack of respect for self and for others. I know that we have come a long way since 1951, but there is something to be said about an attractive wardrobe, good grooming, good posture, and impeccable manners. This goes for men as well as for women. I see the casual emphasis of today as a lowering of standards in our society, and a big part of me longs for the stricter standards of the past. That said, let's all try a little harder to emulate some of those glamorous women (and men) from our past - we'll look and feel all the better for it.
Happy Holidays, Dear Readers!
At this time of year, when holiday festivities are gearing up, I have more of a profound sense of Nostalgia than at any other time of year. When I think of long ago Christmases, I always remember the excitement of the holiday preparations, the decorations, the bright colors and lights, and the mystery of presents to come. Now, I long for that simpler time, when the importance of family came first and time seemed to stand still. Along with these memories, I can picture my relatives dressed so festively and looking glamorous, while preparing and serving meals, toasting one another, and opening gifts. These ads from the 1950s bring me right back to those golden days...
How do you not feel the holiday spirit looking at this vintage Christmas card? The nostalgia is almost painful!
And, although, everyone who knows me knows that I don't cook very much, the appeal of a vintage Christmas apron almost begs me to cook up a meal!
Lastly, the bright red "scarlet" vintage heels in this ad make me long for the time when shoes, bags, and gloves had to match and when attention to every detail was of the utmost importance. As I continue to contemplate how to incorporate more vintage into my daily life, I will be sure to refer to ads such as these for inspiration. Happy Holidays, Everyone!
It’s been awhile since I last posted, but we’ve been quite busy getting ready to launch our Nostalgia Online Store which, I’m happy to say, has finally launched! You can check it out at www.nostalgiaprovidence.com. We also have a lovely new local website for Nostalgia at www.nostalgiaprov.com. There, you can see Spirits of Fashion presentation descriptions and videos. Check it out!
Speaking of presentations, I had the pleasure to speak at Seekonk Library in MA this past Wednesday evening, and the topic was “Fashion & the First Lady.” Although I had a small audience, they were lovely and very enthusiastic! I thought that with the upcoming election, there may have been a larger attendance, but the number of guests is never really important to me; it’s all about a shared interest and passion.
In the interest of time, I needed to limit the topic to a few first ladies, trying to focus on those most influential in fashion. Of course, Jackie Kennedy was one of the most celebrated fashion icons of the 1960s. She held herself with elegance and grace and never failed to show us her impeccable taste in clothing and accessories. Oleg Cassini was her main designer, and there is an interesting video on YouTube that promotes his book. You can find that video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCOaBGJmdKQ
In addition to Jackie, however, other former first ladies made an impact culturally and sartorially. For instance, Dolley Madison was quite the fashion plate when she was First Lady to James Madison. She had a penchant for European style, especially French fashion. The column-like, Empire waist gowns that were popular during her time in the White House (1809-17) were embraced and worn by Dolley, despite the lack of modesty in the plunging neckline of the time. In fact, she continued to wear this style long after her White House tenure. Her favorite headdress was the turban and, although she ordered expensive ones from Paris, Dolley was not criticized for it, as she was so well-loved. Dolley can be considered the first American “fashion icon.”
Another interesting former First Lady, Harriet Lane Johnston, was actually President James Buchanan’s niece. When her uncle was a diplomat for Britain, Harriet accompanied him. She became enamored of European fashions, especially since she spent time at Queen Victoria’s court. When she became the official hostess during Buchanan’s tenure in the White House (late 1850s), the style included wide hoop skirts, aided in their width by the newly developed “cage crinoline,” a much lighter alternative to layers of heavy petticoats. Like her predecessor Dolley, Harriet favored Parisian gowns with a deep décolletage. Her beauty and intelligence won the hearts of many during her time as White House hostess.
Finally, I must mention First Lady Michelle Obama. This lovely woman has shown, in my opinion, beautiful taste in clothing and accessories during her eight years in the White House. Recently featured in the October 2016 issue of InStyle Magazine, her fashion choices flatter her figure and coloring, and she always displays elegance in her style. Below, Michelle announces the movie, Argo, as Oscar winner. She looked beautiful, indeed.
In last week’s blog, I talked about authentic style.
I promised that I would add to that in this week’s post by talking a little bit about health and wellness. Before my husband and I opened our store, Nostalgia, and prior to my adventures with Spirits of Fashion, I worked for a time with style and wellness. Through my company, StyleWell, I focused on helping others to look and feel their best. My background as a Registered Dietitian has equipped me for this challenge in so many ways. Although I no longer work with patients, I still enjoy helping others to be the best they can be. I became a certified Style Coach a few years ago and, although I love focusing on authentic and personal style, I believe that a big part of being stylish is feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy and fit.
I think that women over 40 are particularly vulnerable in their quest for looking and feeling great. As we age, we run into so many physical issues that seem to prevent us from doing things we used to love to do. This may include exercise, as some of us have a harder time putting in the effort it takes to keep up the fitness level of our youth. For some of us, our diets change too, due to hormonal fluctuations that seem to create monstrous cravings. You know what I mean, ladies! But as belly fat grew and hot flashes raged, I looked for ways to battle these mysterious changes. Along with these issues, I also noticed that I was having digestive problems and discomfort more often, especially after consuming meals that included lots of starchy foods. Fortunately, I came across a book called “The Virgin Diet” by JJ Virgin. This book gave me a new perspective on health and diet. Working as a traditionally trained dietitian for so many years, what I was reading in JJ’s book was the opposite of what I used to tell patients. Back in the ’80s and ’90s, it was all about consuming less fat and eating more carbohydrates (they formed the bottom portion of the food pyramid, after all!). This way of eating was no longer working for me.
What I discovered in The Virgin Diet was a way to figure out which foods were the culprits in my distress. Once I tried this elimination diet as best I could (I AM human!), I not only lost the extra weight that plagued me since the onset of menopause, but I stopped having the symptoms that went along with it. I, like many women, thought that we were doomed to this hormonal fate, but this does not need to be the case. The scary changes I made in my diet were well worth the effort. Of course, the gluten-free, dairy-free path has become extremely popular in the past few years and food companies are trying to meet that consumer need. The bottom line is, ladies, that as a friend said to me once, “We are NOT going down!!”
What does this have to do with fashion and style? For me, the better I feel, the better I dress and the more I care about my personal style. I put more effort into it. It’s as if one positive change leads to another, and that goes for diet, exercise, and adorning the self. Speaking of exercise, think of it as an investment in health. I don’t always feel like doing it, but I pay a price if I don’t do it. I find that the physical benefits and the clarity of mind that come with a workout make the effort worthwhile every time. That said, I hope I have inspired women out there and given them hope that aging doesn’t necessarily mean the end of looking and feeling fabulous!
If you need help in this venture, please contact me with diet, exercise or style questions, and I’ll be happy to assist you!
Hello Dear Friends,
This week, I’ve been thinking about the transition from summer clothing to fall and winter styles. Because Autumn has always been my favorite time of year, I’ve always looked forward to the September issues of the fashion magazines, such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and InStyle. In addition, beautiful home decorating magazines like Victoria and Romantic Homes offer gorgeous images inside the covers of their Fall issues. As usual, the latest fashions shown in these magazines always feature many retro styles in clothing, accessories, and home decoration. Loving vintage fashion does not lessen my excitement in seeing these historic nods to eras like the 1940s or 1970s in current sartorial suggestions for the season. For example, the September issue of StyleWatch had a page of menswear-inspired shoes for women, similar to this image from styledrops.com. At Nostalgia, we often sell vintage men’s shoes to young ladies looking for the latest trend in a very affordable, very well made vintage pair. Foot sizes for women have changed in recent years, allowing for these girls to now wear vintage men’s styles.
Brocade is showing this Fall, and I always enjoy seeing that fashion as it harkens back to some of my favorite time periods in historic dress, such as the Renaissance and the Victorian era. In fact, brocade and other sumptuous fabrics have become quite timeless and are seen every Autumn in some way, shape, or form, often extended to accessories like shoes and handbags.
This Ralph Lauren jacket, for example could be worn with almost anything vintage or current and still remain stylish and elegant for years to come.
This brings me to the theme of this post. The wearer must not simply follow fashion, he/she must create style based upon mood, personality, preference, and self-image. That said, I find that many people (women especially!) fear expressing themselves through their fashion choices. Now, this is less common with younger folks, but for those of us over 40, we may feel intimidated to show any side of ourselves that may be different from what is believed to be “acceptable” in terms of style. I will admit that, owning a store that includes vintage fashion and accessories makes it much easier to experiment with style and with different periods, but everyone can and should have fun getting dressed every day. This is the magic of developing one’s own personal style.
How can I start, you might ask? Take baby steps if you must, but make a change in your shopping and buying habits if you feel that you are in a “style rut.” The following steps can help to get you started on small, but significant changes.
It’s been awhile since my last post, but we’ve been busy at Nostalgia preparing for the launch of our new website and our online store! Yes, that’s right, we shall be ready within the coming month to surprise you with a wide variety of all things vintage and vintage-inspired. Below is just a sampling of the merchandise that we will offer at Nostalgia Online. Computer terminals set up in the store will be available to allow customers to shop while browsing at Nostalgia, but customers will also be able to order from the comfort of their own home.
Although in the brick & mortar store, we sell mostly authentic antique and vintage items, many customers have shown an interest in antique- and vintage-inspired pieces, which have the great look of the old, but are new items. The good news about these wonderful gems is that they may be obtained by the click of a mouse. For example, shortly after the arrival of 2 table and chair sets similar to the green set above, both of these sold within a few days! Obviously, some customers do not mind if the item is a true vintage piece or not, as long as it gives them the look that they want.
Along these same lines, I can say that I feel the same way about styling my wardrobe. Although I adore “real” antique and vintage clothing from various eras, I also enjoy mixing vintage-inspired pieces with the real thing or with basic, staple clothing items and accessories. As an example, the image below is of me channeling a 1940s look. None of the items are old, but all are inspired by the glamourous ’40s. The dress was purchased from a Nostalgia vendor and is a fairly recent style designed to resemble a 1940s silhouette. The snood is one of 4 that I ordered new from an online vendor and, lastly, the shoes are from the J Peterman catalog. I have so much fun getting dressed in the morning, and I am very fortunate to be working in a creative fielf that allows for dressing “outside of the box!” I encourage all of you out there to have fun with fashion and experiment like crazy. Personalstyle needs to evolve, just as our personalities and lifestyles tend to evolve and change over time. Our online store will eventually have offerings of vintage- and antique-inspired fashions and accessories to complement the home décor and other lifestyle pieces at Nostalgia Online.
When I hold my fashion era presentations at libraries, historical societies, and other venues, I often dress the part using reproduction clothing and accessories from catalogs such as Victorian Trading Company and Pyramid Collection. These offerings allow me to feel as if I am dressed in the clothing of the era I am representing, without compromising the integrity of delicate and fragile antique pieces. That said, I had fun putting together this outfit for my “Fashions of the Gilded Age” presentation at Warwick Public Library.
The blouse is a repro Victorian piece from Nostalgia, the skirt is only a few years old and was purchased at a boutique on Newbury St. in Boston. The shoes are repro booties from Victorian Trading Co., and my bun is a faux ponytail wrapped and pinned. The earrings are Victorian style, but are less than one year old. I felt comfortable presenting in this ensemble, invoking the spirit of The Gilded Age. Try to incorporate vintage pieces with newer items, and you will create a personal style that is authentic to YOU. If you need help getting started, please contact me at 401-480-2903 for a consultation. Happy Styling!