For a vegetarian, I really like leather. In fact, I’d say I like leather a lot even for a meat eater. Especially for shoes. I really love leather shoes. And purses. And wallets. And boots… oh lordy. Especially boots. I have a boot problem (damn you, eBay!). I like to buy nice leather boots and then maintain them, rather than go out and buy a new pair every year after the previous crap pair falls to pieces and are so poorly made they cannot be repaired. Having a good cobbler is essential for when zippers go, heals wear away, and holes show up in soles (I like Conti’s here in Calgary). For more day-to-day care, waterproofing and homemade leather balm help maintain the leather.
Ever since I saw the BBC’s 5-hour Pride & Prejudice miniseries when I was 9 or so, I’ve been enamored with gowns from the regency era. They’re so beautifully simple, yet incredibly flattering. I especially love how versatile they are. The waist is just under the bust, but after that, there are a lot of variables that can be played with. Add another skirt—make it short, long, longer, or shorter. Add another bodice. Long sleeves, short sleeves, or both. Drawstring neckline or not. That list right there gives enough possibilities for an entire wardrobe.
The miniseries shows a lot of muted colours; beige, white, pale yellow, and baby blue, with some brightly coloured overcoats. It turns out, though, that the era was nowhere near as muted. The only reason we think it was is because all the extant samples are all faded out.
My grandmother has the most stunning collection of vintage gowns and shoes. Old photos show a woman more beautiful than Marilyn Monroe (in my humble opinion), with a wardrobe to match. When she was about my age, she was in a Marimba band with four friends. They performed all over the USA and Canada, including two presidential inaugurations and the Ed Sullivan Show. Google has digitized versions of Billboard magazine going way back, and if you search them you can find several mentions of them. Fortunately for me, my grandma has an incredible talent for holding onto things for decades, and I’ve ended up with a beautiful, and only slightly musty, collection of 50’s era gowns, suits, and jewellery.
Today, I’ll be highlighting the dress she wore on the Ed Sullivan Show. It’s a beautiful gown now, though by all reports it was much nicer fifty years ago. According to my grandma, The Marimba Co-eds bought most of their dresses at the Kansas City American Royal, but these ones (and the matching shoes) in New York City.