Reading about Alvina Krause instructing David Downs about how to draw a picture of her for her Christmas card revealed her philosophy of clothing: high neck, long sleeves, and a blouse worn OUTSIDE the waistband. In short, Edwardian but with the overblouse to disguise a sturdy middle. That’s what I do as well.
Right now I fit loosely into my assortment of clothes bought to wear to work for the City of Portland (1993 - 1999). I worked on the phone, so only had to be passable. I knew that I’d retire back to Montana, so I bought men’s workshirts for tops and bright yardage to make skirts and added dangling earrings I assembled from the many bead shops I visited on lunch hour. Once I ran onto a sale of men’s pleated tuxedo shirts for $5 each. Now I wear cheap gold hoops instead of the beaded earrings and jeans instead of shirts -- except in winter, sweats, the thicker the better. Sometimes I get lonesome for Bob Scriver and wear Dickies khaki, the way anthros used to.
But if I lost another fifty pounds, which I ought to, I would not be able to wear these clothes. These thoughts are brought on because in my continuing search and destroy campaign, I ran across some binders I didn’t know I had. They are marked “looks” and leafing through, I see that they fall into categories. Like AK, I’m influenced by prairie history, but instead of purple I like chambray and denim. Pioneer style, I would like to buy a bolt of each, and, costumer-style, I would make detailed and unique shirts. Like this one. (I think the tear sheet is from the Seventies -- many of them are.)
I would be satisfied to just buy blue denim pearl-snap cowboy shirts and maybe make a few alterations.
I’ve saved a LOT of Ralph Laurenesque cowboy/Indian/mixed pattern examples like this one:
A necessity on the high prairie is a collection of sweaters, jackets and coats. In winter my daily “top” is a t-shirt or thermal shirt, a rough shirt, and a men’s fleece shirt. I love the coats made from blankets like the one below, but it’s possible to find fleece material with similar prints for simple jackets.
The next category is “white billowy stuff with ruffles, lace, clever little touches.” Possibly pale pink. This includes “big shirts,” nightgowns, nice dresses for summer, and a few things that are pleasingly strange. NO wedding dresses.
I intend to wear lots of billowy white when I am old. But until then, I differ from AK by wanting low necks, open collars -- though I like to stand them up. My real issue with getting old is that my hair is thinning out -- ever see Shirley Maclaine without her $1,000 wigs? Gaaaaaaah. So the next category is sort of Russian/Eurasian/Chinese peasant, meaning a lot of turbans and bandannas. Small, bright prints. Quilted material. Interesting closures. Things twisted and knotted.
Country is nice. Pinafores and aprons are fun.
This is a little much, but without the makeup, hair and cat's tails, it would pass.
I could even wear this to preach. The keys are layers, one accent color, big prints mixed with small polka dogs. Tailoring mixed with billows. These recur in what I’ve saved. Also, animal prints and the use of feathers as collars or hems. I have a grouse feather necklace and a pheasant rooster skin in the freezer, just in case.
Of course I love Chanel. In fact, I have a pattern for a Chanel-type jacket, complete with the directions for the little chain sewn into the hem to make it hang right. I would wear such a jacket with jeans. Fresh gardenia, given a chance!
For real dressups, I like this for conservative, and the below for more sexy. I adore the hem. they’re both kind of ironic: pretending to be sober while all the time betraying exuberance. (Ahem.)
Where would I wear this? Oh, to accept an Oscar or something. The opera? I've had to talk half-a-dozen young women out of wearing a bright red dress to their own wedding, for the sake of their mothers.
And if anyone is going to give me flack about not having a thousand words but far too many photos, here’s my response.