Outfits of the Season: A very vintage autumn!

1920s Dress
Embroidery detail: 1920s cotton dress

When the 100+ degree weather finally subsides, I suddenly remember why fall is awesome:

  1. I don’t have to run the AC at night
  2. Halloween is coming
  3. Christmas isn’t far behind it
  4. I can wear nifty dark colors and heavier, fluffier, more luxurious fabrics

I just so happen to have a crap-ton of spiffy fall fashions from some of my favorite vintage purveyors.

First up is a beautiful charcoal-gray 1950s day dress I got from Relic Vintage in San Francisco. It has an adorable white collar, mock-buttoned bodice yoke, and  tres moderne fabric print. I’m still in the process of unpacking after my move, so excuse the boxes. 😛

Acetate 1950s Dress
Acetate 1950s Dress.

It’s powerfully cute, very autumn, and best of all – it’s deadstock! It came to me unworn with the tags still attached. Vintage size 20, made of “Celanese acetate – the beauty fiber,” as the hangtag boasts:

Acetate Tag
“The beauty fiber”? Okay, no argument here!
Acetate Tag
You have to dryclean it. Quelle surprise! In all seriousness, though, it does keep its shape extremely well; no petticoat required.

Here’s another swing-skirted beauty, this time from Sneaky Tiki in Long Beach. This one comes with an “Elinor Gay Original” label and a curious crinoline layer that lines the skirt – and nearly the entire back – of the dress. The bodice is a soft sweater knit with a rhinestone-trimmed neckline and crisp acetate skirt. This one could be my Christmas Eve dress!

Elinor Gay Dress
It’s an “Elinor Gay Original”!
Elinor Gay Dress
Neckline details…and my utterly wrecked, post-workday hair.

Up next is my new (old) embellished Mexican tourist skirt from the 1950s. I’ve wanted one of these for a long, long time, but I could never find one that fit my waist, sported a design that I really liked, and remained in good condition. I discovered this one on Etsy and fell in lurrrrve!

Mexican Skirt
1950s Mexican skirt: sequins and hand-painted Philodendron leaves.

Here’s another shot of the skirt, combined with hair flowers, hair fruit, and my kick-butt new Deco-era Bakelite bracelets, purchased on Sunday at the Vintage Fashion Expo in San Francisco!

Mexican Skirt and Bakelite
Mexican skirt and neato Bakelite bracelets!
Black, red, and black Bakelite bangles!
Black, red, and black Bakelite bangles!

To go with the 1930s-40s theme presented by the Bakelite, here’s a beautiful two-piece, 1940s lace gown from Relic Vintage. The slip features a layered georgette hem and an I. Magnin label, while the overdress has an intricate lace bodice and gathered georgette skirt.

1940s I. Magnin Dress
Slip from I. Magnin lace dress ensemble.
I. Magnin Dress
I. Magnin lace overdress.
I. Magnin Dress
I. Magnin lace overdress.

It’s an honor for me to own a beautiful piece presented by one of San Francisco’s iconic Union Square department stores, during its midcentury heyday. After the flagship’s closure in 1995, I purchased an I. Magnin logo flag at the store’s fixture sale to commemorate my many happy afternoons trying on Armani and Dior. While I still admire my flag, I love this beautiful dress even more.  <3

While I’m still on the subject of San Francisco and the 1940s, I should show you a special gift from my San Francisco native father – my grandma Sally’s black crepe 1940s cocktail dress! It has a tasteful, metallic-beaded bell applique on one shoulder, cute ’40s cap sleeves, a full, gathered skirt, and a narrow sash. It’s factory-made, but it has no label.

Sally's Dress
My grandmother’s dress! Forgive my ugly feet!

My grandmother wore this dress before 1943, the year my dad’s arrival rendered the dress too small for her to wear! Now, Sally and I have (well, had, in her case) very different body types; she was a classic inverted triangle, with big boobs, narrow hips, and lean legs, while I’m a pear. My historical issue with clothing has been hip fit or – less often now that I have boobs – a roomy bust; not super-tiny waists. This dress fits perfectly in every respect except the waist, which is two inches too small for me. While that’s kind of a bummer, I thought it was kind of funny that the bust and hips weren’t the problems this time, especially considering how stacked my grandmother was.

Last on the docket for today is really a summer dress, but since I purchased it less than a week ago at La Rosa and it is vintage, I figured it deserved sharing here. 😛

1920s Dress
1920s Cotton dress. Yes, my whole head looks like crap.

It’s an amazing hand-embroidered, cotton dress from the 1920s, amazing not simply because of its condition, but because it actually fits me and doesn’t look utterly ridiculous. The straight lines of the 1920s shift-dress aesthetic are typically all wrong for my curvy body, but this thing’s different; it practically has panniers pleated into the hip area!

Anyway, I think it works. I’m completely unmade up in these shots and I’m not wearing a slip, but you get the idea…

1920s Dress
1920s dress!


5 Replies to “Outfits of the Season: A very vintage autumn!”

  1. Hey Kali, miss you much! Love the black cat costume. I’ll start trying to find a fair to go to. School has me busy most of the time, but would love a get a way day with the girls. You look great, you always do. Take care and God Bless! Cindy

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