Yellow Pumps, Polka Dots, and the Spring Equinox

There may be snow on the ground here in Boston, but it’s officially spring, which means my least favorite season is finally on its way out.

Maybe it’s just me, but during the winter I don’t feel like I can dress as my normal self. I’m covered in multiple layers, which usually consist of either black, white, or red, and my hair gets destroyed by upwards of 55 mph wind before I even set foot in the office.

Fortunately, those days are behind us and we’re heading toward warmer weather, which also means warmer colors!

I’ve only recently discovered that I had been depriving my wardrobe of anything purple for the last six years. Yes, it’s been that long since I’ve owned anything in the royal color. It really came down to nothing ever having caught my eye, until I came across this stunning Darlene Swing Dress from Dolly and Dotty.

The most eye-catching feature of the Darlene Swing Dress is the neckline with its slight off-the-shoulder design and two buttons on the lefthand side. The width of the neckline is shallow enough to conceal any bra straps, but deep enough to display some collarbone- a true staple of the 1950s, in which collarbones and shoulders were scandalously sexy.

The Darlene is made of stretchy cotton allowing the fitted bodice to form to your curves beautifully, while flawlessly flowing into a full circle skirt. The skirt comes down below the knee, even with a thin petticoat underneath, and the fabric is relatively thick, making it perfect for the transition from winter to spring.

The sleeves are truly midcentury, landing about halfway down the arm and boasting the most adorable touch of white around the bottom. The zipper is concealed down the righthand side making it extremely easy to zip up yourself. I’m wearing a UK10, which is my normal UK size. Despite my waist measurement being on the larger side of this size, the dress fits perfectly and I could easily wear it all day (and night) long.

The Darlene Swing Dress is priced extremely reasonable at £39.99 ($50.00), which is along the lines of all of  Dolly and Dotty’s beautiful dresses. It comes in 15 additional fabrics, ranging from polka dots to florals and is available in UK8-24.

So if you’re looking for that perfect seasonal transition dress, look no further than the Darlene Swing Dress from Dolly and Dotty.

Dress: Darlene Retro Full Circle Swing Dress in Purple c/o Dolly and Dotty | Shoes: BDG Suede Kitten Heels in Yellow- Urban Outfitters
 Special thanks to Katie from Dolly and Dotty for this amazing collaborative opportunity.

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Foam Rollers, Pomade, and Middy Cuts

I’ve been talking about cutting my hair for about a month, and on Saturday I finally did it. I wasn’t taking this transformation lightly, either. I drove 45 minutes to Providence, RI for an appointment with the owner of a small, but award winning salon called Suite Tart.

Upon arriving, I knew I had picked the right place. The salon is filled with vintage clocks, photographs, luggage and furniture and the owner, Lulu Locks, is everything I hoped she’d be. Not only was she ecstatic to partake in a vintage haircut, but she knew all of the pinup happenings around New England and happily shared them with me.

Now, on to the haircut (which I could not be happier with)! Lulu and I were on the exact same page: a femme fatale middy cut with a slightly modern twist, for those days that I’m too lazy to set it. As for my set, the first one was a complete failure, but I’m quite proud of my second attempt.

I decided to go with a dry set as my first one was wet and a bit uncontrollable. I used Suavecita Grooming Spray before rolling in order to make sure that my curls actually took shape. The grooming spray smells fantastic, having the same scent as their pomade, and made my hair just wet enough to set within a few hours.

Since I have Bettie bangs, I don’t roll the crown of my head like most gals do. I simply roll along the sides of my head, tie it all up in a vintage scarf and call it a day.

When removing foam rollers, I untwist the hair instead of just pulling the roller out. This ensures that my hair stays in smooth ringlets with tamed ends. With my rollers out, I reached for my Suavecita Teasing Brush. The bristles are soft, yet firm, so they don’t hurt while teasing. I run through all of my curls, from base to tip, making sure that I achieve lots of volume.

Once I look like I’ve been electrocuted, I start applying a small amount of Suavecita Pomade (clearly I have an obsession with Suavecita). When I say a small amount, I mean the size of a pea. A little bit of this goes a long way! I use this to smooth down my hair and help shape my curls.

In order to create those iconic curls in the front, I used an old Denman paddle brush that I’ve had since high school. Yes, it’s so good that I kept it for almost a decade. Perhaps I should get a new one, though. The paddle brush has around 12 rows of bristles, but ideally you want somewhere between 7-9 for your brush out, such as this brush.

After finishing my brush out and obtaining the shape I wanted, I placed two alligator clips above each of my ears for about 20 minutes to make sure the sides  of my hair stay down.

And here we have the final look. I’m no expert, but I’m very happy with this set. If you have any questions, or tips for me, feel free to reach out! I would love to learn new techniques to perfect my middy!

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Black, White, and Vintage Bakelite

When I was 16, I wouldn’t walk out of the house without several large bangles on. As the years went by, I became less and less enticed by accessories that led me to stand out. Fast forward ten years later, and chunky bangles are back on my arm.

I’ve always found true bakelite bangles to be rather expensive. The price can range anywhere from $20 to several thousands, and you’re lucky if you find anything for under $50. But sometimes luck is on your side.

Bakelite jewelry was most popular during the Art Deco period (1910-1940s). The bangles were not meant to be expensive. They were intended as costume jewelry, giving those without expendable income the ability to own quality pieces.

The height of Bakelite’s popularity was towards the later half of the Art Deco period (1930-1940s). The pieces were available in major department stores, like Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as high-end designers, such as Chanel. It was made in several different color varieties, but green, red, white and brown were the most popular. Over time these colors have faded, particularly white, which turns into a cream or tan brown.

Since Bakelite is a form of plastic, it was used for numerous things aside from jewelry, such as toys and electronic components. In the early 1940s, however, many companies stopped using it as the demand for products designated for World War II increased. By the end of the war, Bakelite had become obsolete, but much of it has gained more value than when it was originally created.

Because of it’s current popularity, there are a lot of “bakelite” bangles that are actually “fakelite.” Fortunately, there’s a way to test if your jewelry is true bakelite plastic. Because real bakelite cannot melt or burn, placing a match up to the plastic will indicate whether it’s real (has no sign of damage) or fake (melts or burns).

Truth be told, I’m too nervous to test mine. I’d rather live under the illusion that these are true bakelite, than find out they’re actually fakelite. So if you’re fortunate enough to find bakelite for a reasonable price, such as most of the beauties from Brighter Bakelite, don’t hesitate to grab it and flaunt it.

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Fairy Pink, Roses & Polka Dots, and the Return of Winter

I’ve apparently been lulled into a false sense of spring, so much so that I pulled my favorite floral frock from the back of my closet, only to have to put away again.

The Emma 1950s Dress from Hell Bunny is a robust mid-century housewife reproduction. The eye-catching design features pink and yellow roses, white polka dots, and several rows of buttons down the front.

The wide collar creates the illusion that the dress wraps around the bodice and secures with the use of the buttons, when in fact, it zips up the back. With the help of the adjustable belt and full, a-line skirt, the dress creates a flatteringly small waist.

Although the skirt itself is quote voluminous, I wanted to add an extra bit of poof, so I made sure to wear a petticoat underneath.

The weather this weekend put me in such a spring-time mindset that I finally wore my Kate Spade Mother of Pearl Clip-On Earrings. I’ve had these sitting in my jewelry dish for months now, but didn’t feel inspired enough to show them off, mainly because winter is positively dreary.

Additionally, I’ve never fully trusted clip-on earrings. My ears have been pierced since I was a little girl, so I’ve never experienced anything other true earrings. I have to say, though, these babies grip your ears. After wearing them for a few hours I have no doubt that they will stay on all day long.

And once again I’m wearing my Ione in Fairy Pink from B.A.I.T. Footwear. I think I need an intervention or possibly just need to buy some more shoes, but look at how perfectly the fairy pink matches the pink roses on the Emma dress! I couldn’t pass up this pairing.

The Emma 1950s Dress is made out of 98% cotton and is machine washable, although you may want to air dry it. It’s available in US XS-XL, but I find that it runs slightly large, so check your measurements before ordering.

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A Cabbage Rose, Vintage Houndstooth, and the Beginning of Spring

It looks like winter is finally coming to an end and what could be more symbolic of the coming of spring than flowers?

My boyfriend, Anthony, bought me this jaw-dropping hair flower for Christmas from Sophisticated Lady Hair Flowers, and I can already tell its opened the door to a quick obsession with hair accessories.

That being said, I generally stay away from large accessories, as I’m a bit shy and don’t like drawing too much attention to myself (this coming from someone who dresses like she’s living in a different century is ironic, I know).

But the second I placed this cabbage rose in my hair, I was hooked.

In addition to the eye-catching rose is a white hydrangea, blue millinery berries, and a dark blue rhododendron. This unique mix of berries and flowers, some of which I had never heard of, makes this a stand-out piece that’s sure to draw attention.

This floral masterpiece sits securely in your hair with the help of a large alligator clip attached to it’s base, which only adds to the quality of Sophisticated Lady’s pieces. These are some of the most realistic hair flowers I’ve seen in production, some of which are even made with real silk.

So if you’re looking for ways to welcome in spring, look no further than Sophisticated Lady Hair Flowers. The shop contains over 100 different arrangements ranging from orchids to lilies, all of which are drop dead gorgeous.

Prices range from $7 to $22 USD and each item is shipped from Germany.

Blouse: Pinup Girl Clothing Voodoo Vixen Top in White | Skirt: Vintage 1960s Black & White Houndstooth Pencil Skirt from Coldfish Vintage | Shoes: Modcloth Swing Along Heel in Noir | Brooch: Luxulite Blue Baubles 1940s/50s Lucite Christmas Ornament Brooch

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The BBRBF Book Club: An Antique Scarf, Golden Age Hoops, and Bette Davis

Hello and welcome to another edition of The BBRBF Book Club! Our book this month is The Bette Davis Club by Jane Lotter and just like Bette Davis herself, it’s full of sass and drama.

Here is a plot summary from Goodreads:

The morning of her niece’s wedding, Margo Just drinks a double martini and contemplates the many mistakes she’s made in her fifty-odd years of life. Spending three decades in love with a wonderful but unattainable man is pretty high up on her list of missteps, as is a long line of unsuccessful love affairs accompanied by a seemingly endless supply of delicious cocktails.

When the young bride flees—taking with her a family heirloom and leaving behind six hundred bewildered guests—her mother offers Margo fifty grand to retrieve her spoiled brat of a daughter and the invaluable property she stole. So, together with the bride’s jilted and justifiably crabby fiancé, Margo sets out in a borrowed 1955 red MG on a cross-country chase. Along the way, none of what she discovers will be quite what she expected. But it might be exactly what she’s been seeking all along.

If you’ve been following my BBRBF Book Club reviews, you’ve probably noticed that I’m not hard to please. I have a tendency to find a connection with at least one character, or at least one trait of one character, perhaps a bit too easily.

On that note, I chose this book initially based off of the title. Bette Davis has been one of my favorite actresses for as long as I can remember. My mom introduced me to her films at a young age and I grew to admire the combination of strength and vulnerability within the characters she played, particularly when I was going through the tumultuous teenage years in which strength and vulnerability are constantly at war. For that reason I felt a connection to her, and consequently a connection to Margo Just.

Margo has been handed the short end of the stick in several ways: being shipped off to an English boarding school as a girl when her father passed, never obtaining an inheritance because she was the product of another woman, falling in love with a man twice her age who’s sexuality is questionable, continuing to dedicate her life to him even after she abandoned him at the alter, and solidifying her membership in the Bette Davis club- described as a club for those hopelessly enamored by unobtainable romantic interests, as most of Bette Davis’ characters were.

Margo has obtained a failing architectural salvage company from her former fiance, one in which she refuses to sell anything due to it’s emotional connection to Finn. She’s a borderline alcoholic who picked up smoking after years of quitting. She’s stuck in the past, is a virtual mess, and all of this is brought even further into the light when she flies to California for her niece’s wedding at what was once her former home/father’s estate.

When her niece, Georgia, runs away, Margo is asked by her half-sister, Charlotte (who inherited everything from their Hollywood screen-writing father) to retrieve her spoiled daughter, and the two scripts written by their father that she stole, for a considerable sum of money. Having lost her apartment in New York and accruing considerable debt from her business, Margo has no choice but to accept.

Her adventure begins in her father’s 1955 red MG roadster, one of the few of her father’s belongings that Margo truly admires (and had no idea still existed). She longs to drive it, but does not have a license, so the abandoned groom, Tully-who is old enough to be Georgia’s father- goes along for the ride. Throughout their journey you see their relationship evolve from one of disdain to one of romance.

The events that unfold are quite unbelievable ranging from purchasing Georgia’s hocked wedding dress for $25,000, entering a predominantly lesbian dancing contest in order to break into Georgia’s hotel room, visiting a dollhouse exhibit in Chicago for research pertaining to Tully’s upcoming book, and almost getting run off the road by the drug smuggling finance of Georgia’s best friend for stealing the scripts from their apartment.

I mean, if you want adventure, this book has got adventure.

But it also provides some insight into human behavior. Specifically, human behaviors that we all exhibit in some way or another. For me, the most relevant behavior was Margo’s obsession with the past. This is something I’ve struggled with it since college. I even have a tattoo (from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, no less) that states “it does not to to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

And yet, I do it all the time. I harbor over the idea that if I had just told someone about my depression in high school, and not passed it off as if it were just a phase, or if I had tried harder to overcome it, maybe I could have done better in school, gotten into a better college, not have had to rely on scholarships from the music department and actually majored in something else. Maybe if I had stopped focusing on the negative aspects of my college- which, in retrospect, there were none- I would have realized that I could handle a double major, focused on biology and set myself up for success as a prospective veterinarian.

Like Margo, I occasionally allow my regret to sneak up and take hold.

While in Chicago, Tully is faced with the prospect of his relationship with Georgia being over. This fear is confirmed by the fact that he has not heard from her since the night before the wedding. As he accepts his defeat, after almost being pummeled on the highway, he and Margo decide to head to New York.

With the screenplays in hand, Margo confers with her friends Dottie and Veronica on the value of the works. It is determined that one of the scripts, a television show finale, is worth millions while the other, co-written by the Orson Welles (another one of my favorite actors), is worth maybe a few thousand.

As Margo contemplates the monetary value versus the emotional value of her father’s screenplay, Georgia knocks on her door. It turns out that she and her mother are communicating once more, she plans on marrying an English rock star, and has come to acquire her wedding dress.

In the end, which felt kind of rushed, Margo goes to AA, her and Charlotte finally connect, Tully makes arrangements to sell the profitable screenplay and he and Margo fall in love.

Despite this extremely stereotypical ending, I loved the book, and am apparently a complete sucker for romance.

For my inspired outfit, I wanted to capture the look of Margo in her father’s 1955 MG. I wanted to stick to the theme of red, white and black, so I chose this Lindy Bop ‘Audrey’ Red Check Swing Dress with my B.A.I.T. Footwear Emmie in Black. To capture that classic 1950’s look, I accessorized with my Hollywood Golden Age Glamour Girl 1950s Style Drop Hoop Earrings by Luxulite and a vintage head scarf from my local antiques shop: Streamline Antiques.

We’ve welcomed two new members to the book club, so don’t foget to check out what all the gals thought of The Bette Davis Club: Kristina (The Eyre Effect), Sara (In a Nutshell), Kat (The Miss Information Blog), Noelle (The Classy Junk), Laci (Laci Fay), and Justyna (Hazel & Honey).

Stay tuned next month for our review of The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko by Scott Stambach.

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Pinks, Reds, Harlequin, and Flower Beds

Everyone’s favorite holiday is right around the corner: Valentine’s Day! Ok, so most people actually hate it, and I used to be one of them. That is, when I didn’t have a Valentine.

Now that I’ve been with Anthony for over four years, Valentine’s Day is just another day. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting flowers and stuffed animals, but actual Valentine’s Day is so commercialized and I’d prefer a quiet night in with a home-cooked meal and warm chocolate chip cookies. I’m clearly not a high-maintenance broad.

That being said, I love holiday-themed outfits, and you’ll definitely catch me wearing one of these to work on Tuesday.

This first outfit consists of a vintage sweater that I found in this amazing shop called The Garment District. They sell second hand vintage and modern-day clothes at amazing prices. On Fridays they dump a huge pile of clothes on the warehouse floor to rummage through. Yes, I know, it sounds extremely primitive, but this sweater ended up costing me $0.25, so it was worth it.

The skirt, which is one of my favorites that I pined over for a long time, is from Pinup Girl Clothing. This Jenny Skirt in 1950s Harlequin Print goes with everything in my closet and has pockets! I will never get over the thrill of pockets.

And the shoes (yet another item I’ve longed for)! The Ione in Fairy Pink are from B.A.I.T. Footwear and if I can get my hands on every colorway I will! They definitely take some breaking in, but they’re worth every second of it.

Now on to outfit number two:

This is the Marnie Dress from Tatyana. I splurged on it last year for my birthday and have only worn it twice. Every time I see it in my closet I wonder why I bought it, until I put it on. I don’t know how I constantly become disillusioned by the beauty of this dress. It’s designed after a true 1950’s dress with a sweetheart neckline, full circle skirt, and dare I say it: pockets!

The Cropped Cardigan in White is from Pinup Girl Clothing. I have three of these in several different colors and I cannot wait to get my hands on more of them!

They are unbelievably comfortable, stretchy, and absolutely essential basics for ones wardrobe. Not to mention, they have the cutest three button detail down the front, and can even be worn alone as tops (if you don’t mind a little cleavage, that is).

I had to wear the Ione in Fairy Pink from B.A.I.T. Footwear for this outfit, as well. I mean, look at them. Could there be a more perfect shoe for Valentine’s Day-themed looks?

I hope you found some inspiration in these outfits, or at least a little joy. If anything, look at Valentine’s Day as just another occasion to dress up in red, white, and pink. As for me, I’ll be laying on the couch probably watching Food Network.

Which outfit do you prefer? I’m leaning towards the second one.

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