Kittens and Pom-Poms And A Three Day Weekend Friday: A Guest Blog

Poet and teacher Nicole Henares is a huge fan of vintage and pinup fashion. She recently reviewed a Pinup Girl Clothing Mary Blair kitten print Heidi dress (size L) with flair! You can explore her other amazing work at

Nicole’s kitty Heidi

Love: A good fabric, a delightful print. I have found a name, a cartoon character – Miss Frizzle.  Except I do not have a magic school bus, or a pet iguana on my shoulder. I am a high school English teacher with three cats, The Empurress Velvet, and the boys, the bards of meow who purr in iambic pentameter – William Shakespurr and Mister Edgar Allan Paw. One of my students asked me today if the print on my dress was sushi?  The print is not sushi, it is Mary Blair’s kittens drinking from a bowl.  Honestly, I wish I had gone down a size in this dress, but with a belt and a camisole it works.  The belt it came with it didn’t have any grommets so I went instead with a wide buckled patton leather  belt and an old Betsey Johsnon capped sleeve cropped sweater with little pom-pom ties at the top.  Honestly, between the pom-poms and the kittens, good grief. However, on a Friday before a three day weekend I need pom poms and Mary Blair’s kittens. Shakespurr eyed the pom-poms when I got dressed.  “Forget about it,” I told him.  Though Velvet is the one who has been known to attack pom-poms:  many years ago I had a poncho with the most adorable pom-poms, until…..


Fashion & Style Influences: Mary Blair at Pinup Girl Clothing

Mary Blair train border print skirt.

I always tell people that my basic style descends from a combination of Bettie Page (e.g. the bangs), film costume designer Edith Head (e.g. bangs, Mexican and gypsy skirts), and artist Mary Blair. It’s an odd mix, but it begins to make sense if you know me fairly well and think on it for a few moments. You may be aware that my signature hair accessory is a black grosgrain ribbon, something I picked up years ago from photos of Blair. I’m also a huge fan of the colors and shapes she incorporated into her artwork and designs for everything from Disney films and theme park attractions (It’s a Small World!) to advertisements to fashion.

Mary Blair at work, with pony tail and bangs.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when Pinup Girl Clothing announced that they would be adapting some of Blair’s (non-Disney, of course) art to fabrics for a special “Magic of Mary Blair” collection, but I ended up ordering and enjoying several of the pieces. Most items from the collection are existing Pinup Girl Clothing staple pieces, like the popular gathered Jenny skirt and Ella dress, that feature commercial illustrations by Blair. Some of the art comes from textile prints (like the parasols) and others from things like advertisements (e.g. the kittens). They are all constructed from PUG’s favorite cotton sateen fabrics, which look and wear well in casual settings. Continue reading

Heart of Haute Eden Floral Erika set – Perfect for summer!

Heart of Haute Erika set in Eden floral print

Summer school is over and I finally have some time to blog pose for oversaturated selfies! Because hot summer weather lasts forever until November here in my part of NorCal, I figured it was time to bust out some of my recent purchases.

I’ve been eyeing the black-background Eden floral pieces at Heart of Haute for months (coupon code available via the link!), but none of the options really spoke to me until I saw this two-piece  Erika set on sale at Pinup Girl Clothing. As far as I know, this was a special set sold only at PUG, but there are other pretty styles available in the same colorful, summery Eden print fabric. The Elizabeth dress and the Elaine dress are available now via Heart of Haute’s website. If you want a skirt and top set similar to the Erika, you can find the Delilah Gypsy skirt and Delilah halter top in a similar print with a blue background. Continue reading

Jane Austen’s Emma is almost 200!

Gwyneth Paltrow as Emma (1996 Miramax adaptation).

It’s hard to believe that December will mark the 200th anniversary of Emma‘s publication. The recent lead up’s been pretty interesting, including a modern retelling of the novel by Alexander McCall Smith and Pemberley Digital’s multimedia Emma Approved adaptation, which wrapped last year. Various organizations, including the Bay Area English Regency Society in the San Francisco Bay Area, are organizing celebrations commemorating the event. Even though it’s not popular on the same level as, say, Pride & Prejudice, people love Emma because it has a little something for everyone.

Before writing Emma, Jane Austen once expressed, “I am going to take a heroine whom no-one but myself will much like” (James Edward Austen-Leigh’s Memoir of Jane Austen, p. 158). Most believe that the author was at least half-joking when she said this, as Emma Woodhouse is often a great favorite among readers. The character aside, however, the story itself is simply brilliant. Part romance, part comedy, part drama, and part “detective novel,” adapters for stage and screen have lots of choice when it comes to direction and focus. If the depth and texture of the novel has a limitation, it’s in the fact that most adaptations can’t do justice to everything it offers (not even the long miniseries versions).

Jane Austen wrote Emma over the period encompassing January 21, 1814 – March 29, 1815. At his request, she dedicated Emma to her most high-profile fan, the Prince Regent. This is a bit strange, considering that she didn’t care much for him, his conduct towards his wife, or his personality in general. He received a special first edition of the novel (one of twelve “presentation” copies issued by the publisher), in three volumes, which is kept at the Royal Library at Windsor Castle. For more on the presentation edition, see this description of Anne Sharp’s copy (Bonhams auction site). Novelist Maria Edgeworth – a favorite of Austen’s – also apparently received a presentation copy of the novel.

First published in December, 1815 (though the frontispiece is dated 1816) by John Murray, Emma was the last work Austen lived to see released. The first edition consisted of 2000 copies. Oddly, the book did not sell well, so the second printing/edition didn’t happen until 1833. For more information on the initial publication of the novel, look here. You will also find opinions on the novel from Austen’s friends and family right here.

For more on Jane Austen’s Emma and its various media adaptations, visit the Emma Adaptations Pages.

Pinup Art by Les Toil and Christine Geasey

Recently, two of my favorite artists created pinup portraits of me! My friends Christine Geasey and Brian (AKA Les Toil, creator of the famous Toil Girls) worked very hard to create some beautiful pinup art! They are available for hire if you are in need of some great custom artwork, pinup or otherwise!

Kali by Christine Geasey.

Brian’s portrait is based in part on a photo set taken by Angela Morales a couple of years ago, and features the late, great Francine Ann, my precious kitty.

Kali by Les Toil.

Kali by Angela Morales.

Fox California Fashion: Classic movies and nifty vintage dresses

One of my favorite things to do in my hometown is wear vintage and reproduction outfits to see classic movies at the historic Fox California Theater, also known as the Bob Hope Theater.

Vintage Emma Domb at Fox Theater.

After a massive restoration conducted in the late 1990s and early 2000s, this gorgeous 1930 theater is a clean, bright, luminous connection to an earlier time. While you might see anyone from George Lopez to Tony Bennett headlining at the Fox, the best attractions are the ones that offer the visitor a connection to the theater’s roots as a mid 20th century movie palace – the monthly Friends of the Fox classic movie events featuring concerts on the 1928 Robert Morton theater organ!

Click for more Fox Theater and more outfit pictures!

Continue reading

In honor of the Oscars, fancy vintage gowns!

I don’t really watch the Academy Awards for the films, the artists, or even the fashion. I watch it for the excitement and the feeling of impending springtime it’s come to represent. It really is a show that brings more than the sum of its parts! In honor of the season, I’m bringing you some of my favorite fancy, mid century vintage gowns, all in spring pinks and greens.

Fancy Spring Gowns!

Green Emma Domb Dress

The first is a beautiful full-length gown by Emma Domb of California. This beautiful spring green tulle dress has beaded floral appliques on the skirt and bodice, making it fancy enough for a red carpet. Continue reading

Style influences: Piero Gherardi and Anita Ekberg, La Dolce Vita

Like most people, I get my style cues from so many different sources I can’t keep track of them all. More, I’m sure a huge proportion of my influences are so subliminal I couldn’t articulate them if I wanted to. That said, the spirit of self-exploration has taken hold and inspired me to try. So with that, I’m presenting my first style influences. Not the first in the chronological sense of my life, but the first I’m bringing to the blog: Piero Gherardi – art, set, and costume designer for many of Federico Fellini’s iconic films – and the luminous Anita Ekberg, one of the talented female stars of my favorite Fellini, La Dolce Vita (1960).

Sylvia’s Fountain Dress from La Dolce Vita at a Cinecitta exhibition on Fellini. Photo by Cassia Afini via Wikimedia.

Since Ekberg just passed away, she’s a logical first choice. The designs that she – and everyone else in La Dolce Vita – wore also happen to be some of my favorite clothes ever. Her strapless velvet gown from the famous Baths of Caracalla and Trevi Fountain scenes is legendary, but I’d love it even if it were 1/1,000,000th as famous as it is. With its sweetheart neckline, carefully-engineered bodice, and sweeping, diaphanous silk underlayers, it’s truly a dream dress. The way Ekberg whirls through the Caracalla scene, it’s almost like the dress has taken on a life of its own.

Sylvia dances at the Baths of Caracalla in La Dolce Vita.

My other favorite Ekberg ensemble from the film includes the off-shoulder, v-neck lace top her character, Sylvia, wears during the press suite scene soon after her arrival in Rome. It’s perfect – just the right balance of structure and femininity, balanced delicately on the pinnacle fulcrum of the best fashion era that ever was or will be – the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Sylvia’s lace top

It helps that Ekberg didn’t have a standard body. While not exactly plus, she had bigger curves than the average actress and looked amazing. This inspired me, as a girl who is nothing if not curvy.