A Vintage Picnic Basket & An Art Deco Ring

The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University is a magical place, but not nearly as magical as the events that transpired there on Sunday.

I woke up and immediately began a scavenger hunt that Anthony organized. He surprised me with flowers and a letter with a Hogwarts wax seal on the back of the envelope. This was the first of seven letters. Each letter corresponded to one of the seven Harry Potter books and led me on a search to find the next.

We have several Harry Potter references throughout the house, including a Slytherin pennant (Anthony is a Slytherin), Luna and Snape’s wands, even our car is named Hedwig, and that’s where the fourth letter led me.

The next letter led me to believe that we were going on a picnic at the arboretum and that he would photograph me, “complaint-free,” for my blog. Not having set my hair the night before, I scrambled to produce a beehive (unsuccessfully), but ended up using a vintage scarf to hide the mess I created.

We really did sit down for a picnic, during which I finally used my vintage picnic basket that Anthony got me for Christmas. It was absolutely lovely. There was slight overcast, so it wasn’t too hot, families were walking their dogs and teaching their kids how to ride a bike. I didn’t think anything could top this.

Once we finished our meal, we moved on to photographs. The spot that we chose was off the beaten path of the arboretum, secluded, serene and breathtaking. Despite getting bitten by something on my leg, this photo shoot was heavenly and I love almost every picture he captured.

I thought the day was over until we pulled into our parking lot and he handed me another letter, playing as if he was unsure of why Harry got an owl in the first place. I was immediately confused as to why he asked this, explaining that first years at Hogwarts get to bring an animal of their choice and that owls deliver mail. This was when he dropped the letter in my lap.

We proceeded to walk down a path that I take quite often to get to one of my favorite coffee shops, but took a detour and stopped at a local restaurant that we love. We made reservations for later that afternoon and headed back towards our apartment.

As we approached a bridge that I love to cross, I saw a mirror standing in the middle of it. The mirror had words across the top that weren’t easy to decipher at first, being broken up into fragments, but after taking a few moments I realized that it said “I show not your face but your heart’s desire.” These are the words on the Mirror of Erised from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Once I figured out what the words meant, Anthony said “you know my heart’s desire” and got on one knee. I didn’t even let him ask me to marry him before slightly hyperventilating and shouting “yes, obviously yes.” To be honest, I don’t even remember not letting him ask me. All I remember is crying with joy as he put the most beautiful ring I’ve ever seen on my finger.

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Pillbox Hats, Cap Sleeves & A Tea Garden

While shooting outside of a small-town luncheonette in western Massachusetts, an older couple approached me and asked “1940’s?” I agreed and proceeded to explain that the 40’s was my favorite era for fashion. The gentleman smiled and told me that he was born in 1940 and although he was a child at the time, he could tell that my outfit was a reproduction of what he had seen growing up. In that moment, I felt both proud and validated that I was doing justice to my favorite decade, but I couldn’t have done it without the Carolyn Dress from Karina Dresses.

Karina Dresses was founded on the idea of creating high-quality dresses that allow women of all sizes to feel beautiful in their own skin. On top of that, they’re made right here in the U.S. They provide a wide-array of styles and patterns that dazzle the senses and ensnare the mind’s creativity for curating an outfit.

The Carolyn is the quintessential 1940’s Cap Sleeve Dress. The cap sleeve was popular during the 1930’s, but when combined with some padding it took on a whole new look the following decade. These new-age deep cap sleeves were generally found on afternoon-style dresses and were traditionally cut in one piece with the bodice of the dress, creating an upside down triangular piece of fabric that lead to the waistline. Nowadays, cap sleeves are almost always attached separately, as are the sleeves on this gorgeous Carolyn Dress in Tea Garden.

The neckline of dresses from the 40’s varied from square to keyhole, sweetheart to slit, and v-neck to round. Skirts were generally a-line and used very little fabric which allowed the light-weight design to flow flawlessly with the body. The Carolyn embodies all of these characteristics with a higher v-neck neckline and a simplistic a-line skirt that comes just below the knees.

Karina Dresses is known as “the original easy dress” and for good reason! Not only is this dress the perfect 1940’s replica, it’s also indescribably comfortable, proving that you don’t have to sacrifice comfort for style. Their dresses are made from breathable microfiber that provides an incredible amount of stretch and never wrinkles. Yes, you read that right, it never wrinkles (and I put this baby to the test, leaving it crumbled up in an overnight bag). Because of this amazing fabric, the Carolyn is machine washable and can be hung up to dry. Who knew such a gorgeous gown could require so little maintenance!

Karina Dresses come in US sizes XS-XXL. Each size has a range of measurements, for example I’m wearing the S/M, which corresponds to a 34-38 bust and a 27-31 waist. If you’re unsure which size would work for you, try their Best Fit Size Guide!

The Carolyn is priced at $108, as are all of Karina Dresses fabulous frocks, and in my opinion they’re worth every penny. I have never owned such comfortable dresses that require so little care and am consistently blown away by the quality of their products. The prints are beautiful, and the designs are extremely flattering and versatile.

So if you’re looking for that perfect afternoon Hollywood glam gown, look no further than the Carolyn Dress from Karina Dresses. And don’t forget to check out all of their other designs, including their signature line: Karina Signature.

Dress: Carolyn Dress in Tea Garden c/o Karina Dresses | Shoes: Swing Along Heel in Noir- Modcloth | Hat and Bangles: Vintage- Etsy

Dying to get your hands on a gown of your own? I’ve partnered with Karina Dresses to bring you the chance to win one dress of your choice! You can enter the contest here! Best of luck, dolls!

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A Starfish, Retro Sunnies, and Tug Boats

It’s hard to believe that summer is just around the corner. I’ve always loved spring, but I’ve obtained some of my fondest memories during summer, such as walking along the boardwalks of my childhood beach in New York and surfing in the warm ocean waters of Florida. While I don’t get to partake in too many water-front activities here in Boston, I figured I’d welcome this glorious season with an homage to my childhood in the form of an ocean-themed outfit.

And what better garment could I possibly have chosen as the center of this outfit than the Jenny Skirt in Mary Blair Green Boat Border Print from Pinup Girl Clothing.

I discovered Pinup Girl Clothing before I was comfortable enough dressing as the pinup I’ve always wanted to be, so I dreamily stalked their site for some time. I finally made my first purchase last year  and instantly knew this was the beginning of a love affair.

I stuck with their blouses for a while, but had my eyes set on the Jenny skirts. After purchasing my first one back in October it’s been hard for me to even consider buying any other skirt.

The design behind the Jenny is a conglomeration of several vintage designs from the 1950s, the most notable being the circle skirt. These were cut from a large piece of fabric in the shape of a very thick doughnut and were considered to be the least bulky of all of the “full skirts.” This pattern made it easy for the fabric to drape flawlessly over the hips and swing freely while walking or dancing.

The other notable inspiration for the Jenny comes from the gathered skirts of the mid-century. These skirts were made from large triangular pieces of fabric that were gathered into the waistband, creating a tight waistline and full hips. The waistband was generally bulky, which gave girls with smaller hips the illusion that they had vivacious curves.

The Jenny incorporates both styles flawlessly with a neatly gathered waistline and a length just below the knee. Made from cotton sateen it’s both sturdy and moderately light, allowing for a petticoat underneath for extra volume (but it’s not necessary) without feeling overwhelmed by fabric. And the best part? Pockets! You can never go wrong with a skirt that has pockets.

The Jenny retails for $98-104 depending on the pattern and is available in XS-4X. Their items tend to range in size, so always check their size chart. For reference, I am wearing a M, which is generally my size in Pinup Girl Clothing, but sometimes I need a L depending on the garment.

I realize that this may come off as a big ticket item for some, but the quality of their pieces is second to none and will last years if treated properly. If you’re a pinup on a budget, sign up for their newsletter; they’ll often hold flash sales or larger U.S. holiday sales throughout the year. As for me, I’ll be anxiously awaiting the delivery of my recently purchased Jenny.

Top: American Apparel | Brooch: Ocean Wish Brooch– Erstwilder | Skirt: Jenny Skirt in Mary Blair Green Boat Border Print- Pinup Girl Clothing

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Spring Fever, Asymmetry, and a 1940s Pencil Dress

With the passing of “Wiggle Week,” I had been contemplating branching out into the world of body-forming gowns. I’ve never been one to wear things that show every detail of my figure, but I’ve seen so many lovely gals fearlessly flaunting their fabulous forms and figured I’d join the flock. And what better way to start my wiggle collection then with this stunning Majken Minty Asymmetrical Pencil Dress from Miss Candyfloss.

Miss Candyfloss is a Swedish company that focuses on reproducing styles from the 1940s and 1950s. Their goal is to create timeless pieces that translate well into today’s world of fashion, incorporating both the class and seductiveness of midcentury and modern styles. All of their garments are made in Europe under fair trade conditions: nothing is mass produced, which ensures the quality of each piece, and maintains good working conditions with higher salaries.

As you may very well know, I’m a sucker for anything 1940s so when it came time to find a wiggle, the Majken Minty Asymmetrical Pencil Dress was first on my list.

The first thing that stood out to me was the neckline. Asymmetrical buttons were wildly popular during the later half of the 40s and were generally incorporated into full or half button-down gowns. The buttons were usually placed on the left-hand side of the dress, which you see here on the Majken, and were either black or white in order to stand out from the fabric.

The bodice of the Majken is cut to perfection. The gown hugs the hips, while highlighting a cinched waist through it’s matching belt, which was typical of dresses throughout the 40s. Skirts were tusually a-line with a slight flare towards the very bottom. You would occasionally see pleating on the skirt, but it was limited to a small percentage of the fabric. Here you can see pleating on the bottom-half of the back of the skirt, allowing for more room while walking.

Miss Candyfloss’s gowns are immaculately constructed out of impressively stretchy polyethylene and elastane. I simply cannot emphasize the quality of this dress. The design itself is sheer perfection in that it forms to each and every curve, creating a tantalizing silhouette from every direction.

One of the things I love most about Miss Candyfloss is that they’re a size inclusive brand, making each of their items in sizes XS-3X. For reference, I am wearing a size S, although I’m generally a M in most brands, and it fits like a glove.

Miss Candyfloss’s dresses range in price from €75-115 (about $84-128), which is phenomenal for the quality. They also design gorgeous skirts and blouses, and have a full sale section for the pinup on a budget. Shipping to the U.S. is about $6, which is one of the best international rates I’ve found, and takes anywhere from 5-14 business days.

Despite the fact that I am generally very self-conscious while wearing tighter articles of clothing, I feel absolutely radiant in this dress. Despite the fact that you can see the occasional roll along my side, I feel like a goddess in this dress. I’m truly convinced that this is the type of gown every woman should have in her closet: one that makes her feel incredibly sexy in her own skin.

Dress: Majken Minty Asymmetrical Pencil Dress c/o Miss Candyfloss | Shoes: Brown Leather Lace Up Oxfords- Office
Special thanks to Noemi from Miss Candyfloss for this swell opportunity.

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April Showers Bring May Flowers and 1950s Summer Dresses

It’s finally starting to feel like spring here in Boston and nothing means spring more than florals. I’ve been slowly building my botanical wardrobe in preparation and couldn’t pass up this gorgeous vibrant floral ‘Audrey’ swing dress from Lindy Bop.

I’ve featured Lindy Bop in several of my previous posts (you can find the most recent one here) and there’s a very simple reason: they’re fabulous! Lindy Bop offers one of the widest arrays of vintage reproductions for budget-conscious pinups. Their collection includes flattering 40s frocks, eye-catching 50s novelty prints, and sophisticated 60s suits, making it the perfect one-stop shop for all of your midcentury needs.

My favorite style from Lindy Bop is called the ‘Audrey’ Swing Dress, which closely mimics the classic 1950s summer dress. One of the defining features of the summer dress was bare shoulders, exposing more arm than ever before. Patterns consisted of Hawaiian prints, or images of sunny vacations, solidifying the “tiki print” as a 1950s design staple.

The ‘Audrey’ showcases the boatneck neckline, figure hugging bodice and full circle skirt of the original 50s summer dress. The skirt comes down just below the knee, even with a thin petticoat underneath, making it work appropriate (as are most, if not all of Lindy Bop’s garments). The belt is thinner than what you would find on a vintage summer dress, which would probably measure about 2″ in width, but I prefer thinner belts.

The Audrey comes in several fabrics, but the vibrant floral swing dress is made from a  stretchy, light-weight cotton that’s machine washable on cold. The dress is fully lined, which is typical of a Lindy Bop gown- a small detail, but one that goes a long way in my book.

Being extremely size inclusive, Lindy Bop garments come in US sizes XS-6XL and UK sizes 8-26. For reference, I’m wearing a US S, which is my typical size for Lindy Bop dresses, although I’m generally a M in other brands (my measurements are 36-28-38). Their clothing tends to range in size, and they’ve recently begun adding measurements specific to each garment, so I highly recommend checking the size chart before ordering.

I just so happened to grab this floral beauty on sale for $16, but Lindy Bop’s Audrey swing dresses generally range in price from $39 to $46 (insert shocked emoji here). Like I said, they’re perfect for the pinup gal on a budget. Shipping within the U.S. is $7 and free when you spend over $125. For those of you across the pond, Lindy Bop has a U.K. site that offers £3 shipping within the U.K. and free shipping when you spend over £70.

Over the past year and a half I have purchased at least 10 dresses from Lindy Bop, and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. They offer the most wallet-friendly pinup clothes on the market and consistently impress with their unique patterns. Be on the look out for their sales, which they hold quite often, because when they have a sale it’s even more of a bargain than you could imagine. They offer up to 70% off of their already affordable pieces, so be sure to snag all of your favorites before someone else does (trust me, their dresses go fast). As for me, I’ll be stalking their site on a regular basis.

Dress: ‘Audrey” Vibrant Floral Print 50’s Style Swing Dress- Lindy Bop | Shoes: Swing Along Heel in Noir- Modcloth

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The BBRBF Book Club: Red, Blue, and the Lasso of Truth

Hello and welcome to another edition of the BBRBF Book Club! It’s been a while since I’ve posted a review and the reason is because I couldn’t quite bring myself to write about our last book; in fact, it was a struggle to even finish the book. That’s not to say it wasn’t good, it just hit too close to home in regards to medical conditions.

Fortunately, this month’s book focuses on one of my favorite comic book characters: Wonder Woman. Here is the plot summary of The Secret History of Wonder Woman by  Jill Lepore:

A riveting work of historical detection revealing that the origin of one of the world’s most iconic superheroes hides within it a fascinating family story—and a crucial history of twentieth-century feminism.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman is a tour de force of intellectual and cultural history. Wonder Woman, Lepore argues, is the missing link in the history of the struggle for women’s rights—a chain of events that begins with the women’s suffrage campaigns of the early 1900s and ends with the troubled place of feminism a century later.

If there’s one thing that I can say I’m without a doubt passionate about, it’s women’s rights, so when I saw the opportunity to read about one of the most historically powerful, albeit fictional, women I was overjoyed. Wonder Woman was inspired by several influential figures throughout the women’s suffrage movement, including Sadie Holloway and Margaret Sanger, a famous birth control activist.

Interestingly enough, the creator of Wonder Woman, William Moulton Marston, was a bit of a misogynist despite being a committed feminist (weird, I know). He simultaneously lived and fathered children with two women, while participating in “cult of female sexual power” sex parties that were organized by his aunt. Perhaps misogynist isn’t the correct word, because his wife and lovers all willing participated in these sorts of events, instead let’s just emphasize the fact that he believed in “free love” outside of the restrictions of marriage (as did his wife, Sadie Holloway).

Marston’s exposure to suffragist culture led him to depict Wonder Woman as bound by chains in many editions of the comic; this being a common theme throughout suffragist imagery and publications. His goal was to make her the heroine of a new age in which women ruled. He, in fact, believed that the day would come when women would lead, as opposed to men (I, myself, wouldn’t mind seeing this some day).

After Marston’s death, at the young age of 54, his publishers ignored his original intent of keeping her as a “Progressive Era feminist” and began depicting Wonder Woman as a traditional housewife. Having been turned over to a new writer, she would be characterized as a babysitter or even a fashion model.

Despite these later depictions of her after Marston’s death, Wonder Woman has remained the greatest female superhero of all time. She’s extremely strong and agile, beautiful, cunning and intelligent and a symbol of empowerment to women everywhere. I highly recommend reading this book, as it goes into much further detail as to the people and events that inspired her. As for me, I’ll be anxiously awaiting the new Wonder Woman film coming out this summer.

And, as always, don’t forget to check out all of the other fabulous book clubbers’ opinions and inspired outfits: Sara (In a Nutshell), Kat (The Miss Information Blog), Kristina (The Eyre Effect), Noelle (The Classy Junk), Laci (Laci Fay), and Justyna (Hazel & Honey)!

Next month we will be reviewing Caraval by  Stephanie Garber, so stick around!

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Classic Necklines, 1940s Slang, and a Dolled Up Dame

To me, there is nothing more beautiful than the draping of a 1940’s dress over the female form. Designers at that time seem to have catered their gowns towards women of all shapes and sizes, ensuring that every dame could feel dolled up. This philosophy has persisted through the ages within the vintage-reproduction world, particularly within one of my favorite online boutiques: Doll Me Up.

Doll Me Up is a one-stop shop for some of the most popular 1940’s and 1950’s reproduction clothing brands, such as Hell Bunny, Voodoo Vixen and Lindy Bop. They’re wide selection makes it easy for gals to explore styles from different decades and find what they like best. Being completely enamored by the 1940’s, I couldn’t take my eyes off of the Ashcroft Dress.

The most eye-catching feature of the Ashcroft is the keyhole neckline that’s iconic of the 1940’s. The signature keyhole was made by cutting a triangular piece of fabric from the chest-area, ensuring that the point of the triangle was facing up. The remaining fabric, just below the neck, was fitted against the collarbones and either secured by a string or left loose. The Ashcroft took a more modern spin and secured the two pieces of fabric with an adorably detailed button.

The sleeves showcase another classic 1940’s design: the length of a straight sleeve with the flow of a cap sleeve. The bodice secures around each curve with seven gorgeous buttons, while the skirt flows out into the quintessential A-line. Tie the whole look together with a vibrant coral sash that matches perfectly with the tiny floral detail decorating the fabric.

The Ashcroft is made from a light-weight polyester that’s machine washable. While the bodice is lined, the skirt is not which gives the dress the ability to flow flawlessly in the breeze (one of my favorite traits of the dress).

Doll Me Up refers to any size above a medium as “lovely,” which plays into their theme of size-inclusive beauty. The Ashcroft is available from US XS to 4X Lovely. I’m wearing a size M, which is my normal size, and it fits like a glove.

The Ashcroft retails for $87.99 and comes in two prints: the one pictured and the Ivory Beauty Print, each one more beautiful than the last. Shipping starts at $5.99 within the U.S., $8.99 internationally, and free for orders over $150.

The Ashcroft incorporates all of the most popular styles of the 1940’s into one stunning piece. It’s gorgeous design makes it perfect for any occasion and work appropriate with some pinup flare. So if, like me, you’re keen on becoming a 1940’s dreamboat, then look no further than the Ashcroft from Doll Me Up.

Dress: Ashcroft Dress c/o Doll Me Up | Shoes: Brown Leather Lace Up Oxfords- Office
Special thanks to Krista from Doll Me Up for this swinging opportunity.

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