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Vintage Style In A Modern World

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Gail Carriger Has Fun with Accessories ~ Purses

Many of us, Fashionable Reader, have more purses than we can use. Which is to say, you can really only carry one purse at a time. With the possible exception of the cute tiny purse necklace from ModCloth.
Gail Carriger Has Fun with Accessories ~ Purses
However, as I like to say to those who object to my shoe collection (why do you need so many, you can only wear one pair?) why do you need so many TV channels? You can only watch one at a time.
My purse collection is inferior to my shoes. But then again it's harder to switch between them. I have only about 15, most of them clutches, less than half vintage, and my day bag which I use all the time. Nevertheless, I love them each in their own special way. And I do invest in leather, it just lasts so much better, although it's much harder to keep clean.
Gail Carriger Has Fun with Accessories ~ Purses
 Small evening bag inherited from my Great Grandmother.
Gail Carriger Has Fun with Accessories ~ Purses
 Long clutch from Marshalls, $30.
Gail Carriger Has Fun with Accessories ~ Purses
Vintage brown day bag from Hubba Hubba $36

DIY with Gail Carriger: Repairing Vintage Felt Hats

I haven't done a DIY post in a while, Fashionable Reader. Partly this is due to the fact that many of my projects got donated or put into storage when I moved (as did my dressmaker's dummy).

But I did go into a mending phase recently where I decided some of my vintage hats needed help and repairs, thought you might like to see what I did . . .

Cream hat, 1940s, beret style, felt, repaired & cleaned

DIY with Gail Carriger: Repairing Vintage Felt Hats
Cream felt hat bought at Bon Marche Thrift Store in Sonoma for $15, original state.

DIY with Gail Carriger: Repairing Vintage Felt Hats
Cleaned with lint brush, old netting removed.
Brim stuffed and reenforced with tissue and sew back together.

DIY with Gail Carriger: Repairing Vintage Felt Hats
 All decoration removed.
DIY with Gail Carriger: Repairing Vintage Felt Hats
 Tried it with new netting, didn't like it.
DIY with Gail Carriger: Repairing Vintage Felt Hats
Finished product, added teapot pin.


Navy hat, 1940's beret style, velvet repaired & cleaned

DIY with Gail Carriger: Repairing Vintage Felt Hats
Navy velvet hat bought at Bon Marche Thrift Store in Sonoma for $15, original state.

DIY with Gail Carriger: Repairing Vintage Felt Hats
 Roset detail, cleaned, flattened and sewed down.

DIY with Gail Carriger: Repairing Vintage Felt Hats
DIY with Gail Carriger: Repairing Vintage Felt Hats
Interior stuffed and repaired.

DIY with Gail Carriger: Repairing Vintage Felt Hats
Navy hat, final product. Haven't had a chance to wear it yet, I just don't wear a lot of navy. Soon, I hope.


I do have a blog planned at some point discussing felt hats in general, how to keep and maintain them. I do hope hats are something that interest you, fashionable readers. I certainly adore them. I wear them for most of my events and I wish I wore them more often. 

Pork Pie Hats Plus a DIY Hat Reconditioning with Gail Carriger

Pork Pie Hats Plus a DIY Hat Reconditioning with Gail Carriger
 At Literary Orange in 2011 with the Brothers K

I bought this wonderful pork pie hat from my usual source for lovely cheap hats: The Bon Marche thrift store in Sonoma, CA. This tiny tucked-away hole-in-the-wall thrift store seems to have one or two people who donate a great deal of vintage, often only in need of a good cleaning and a little TLC. I got this black pork pie hat for $7!

Pork Pie Hats Plus a DIY Hat Reconditioning with Gail Carriger

Pork pies are so called because of their close resemblance to the self-same delicious food item.

Pork Pie Hats Plus a DIY Hat Reconditioning with Gail Carriger
Pork Pie Hats Plus a DIY Hat Reconditioning with Gail Carriger
Halston hat ca. 1957 via The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

 They made their big splash in the 1940s and carried on through the 50s and even the 60s. They came smaller ~ perching on top of the head to the front tuna-can size (pill box), and bigger ~ sitting around and to the back of the head, and slightly squished and off to one side like a beret.

Pork Pie Hats Plus a DIY Hat Reconditioning with Gail Carriger
Pork Pie Hats Plus a DIY Hat Reconditioning with Gail Carriger

When I first purchased my little baby, she needed some help. Here's what I did.

Pork Pie Hats Plus a DIY Hat Reconditioning with Gail Carriger
The original.

Pork Pie Hats Plus a DIY Hat Reconditioning with Gail Carriger
Decorations removed and cleaned thoroughly with a lint brush.

Pork Pie Hats Plus a DIY Hat Reconditioning with Gail Carriger
Added black velvet ribbon band. Pinned ot hold properly in place.

Pork Pie Hats Plus a DIY Hat Reconditioning with Gail Carriger
Adhered using the trusty glue gun.

Pork Pie Hats Plus a DIY Hat Reconditioning with Gail Carriger
Existing, ribbon folded down and fixed with pins, before also being glued (back or side) depending on how I wear the hat.

Pork Pie Hats Plus a DIY Hat Reconditioning with Gail Carriger
Inside reenforced with a rolled tissue paper, to help it hold it's shape.

Pok pies then . . .

Pork Pie Hats Plus a DIY Hat Reconditioning with Gail Carriger
Cristobal Balenciaga hat ca. 1964 via The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

All About Oxfords! DIY Bonus ~ Going Spectator Style with Gail Carriger

All About Oxfords! DIY Bonus ~ Going Spectator Style with Gail Carriger
Oxfords  1895-1905  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Oxfords happen to be my all time favorite way to wear flats. Although, as you will see, the humble oxford comes in all shapes and sizes these days. You have so many glorious options!

All About Oxfords! DIY Bonus ~ Going Spectator Style with Gail Carriger
 My collection of plain flat oxfords. Cream (BP Nordstrom Rack $50), black patent, and tobacco brown (both from Marshalls on super-sale last week $10. Score!)

All About Oxfords! DIY Bonus ~ Going Spectator Style with Gail Carriger All About Oxfords! DIY Bonus ~ Going Spectator Style with Gail Carriger All About Oxfords! DIY Bonus ~ Going Spectator Style with Gail Carriger
Sporting my favorite cream oxfords three different ways.

I realized, because men's style shoes use men's terminology, I was lacking knowledge on the subject of oxfords versus spectators versus wingtips. So I did some research.

Despite the terminology I use above and elsewhere in this blog, oxford is technically a specific cut of men's shoe with enclosed lacing, like so . . .
Classic Men's Oxford and a Women's Oxford Pump in Grey by Aerosole

Sometimes called balmorals and originally quite plain, the (temporally) later style bluchers or derbys were the ones that had open lacing, like so . . .
Women's Derby Peep Toe Stiletto in Red

In modern times we mostly call all of the above oxfords regardless of lacing technique. Such shoes often also have a piece of leather stitched over the toe section making them oxford caps.

Wingtip is the American term for brogue style mens shoe with the classic W pattern over the cap toe.

Men's Oxford Wingtip and a Women's Derby Wingtip in Distressed Brown by Me Too

Thus you can have a wingtip oxford, although a plain oxford is considered more formal. However, you can also have a wingtip loafer with no lacing at all.

All About Oxfords! DIY Bonus ~ Going Spectator Style with Gail Carriger
 1944 Wingtip Spectator Derbys

Spectator is a term used for any shoe with two colors/textures in blocks following the cut of the shoe, whether tonal or contrasting, for men or women. I happen to be a huge fan of this style of shoe. I have no idea why, I just am.

Derby Wingtip Spectator open-toe Pump in tones of grey. Spectator mary jane pump w/ strap in textures of black


Wingtip Spectator Pump in Black & White, Oxford Wingtip Spectator Stiletto Platform in Tones of Brown, Derby Spectator Pump in Distressed Cream & Black

Spectators appeared first on men's oxfords in England in the late 1860s, but had their heyday in the 1930s. I put Lord Akeldama in a pair of black and white spectators in one scene in my books (1870s setting) and Alexia is quite shocked by him wearing such a shoe. For women, they were probably most popular in the 1940s and 1950s.

All About Oxfords! DIY Bonus ~ Going Spectator Style with Gail Carriger
  My collection of spectators. Clockwise from 12 o'clock: Via Spiga grey & black pumps (gift); Via Spiga black & white stilettos ($50 Nordstrom Rack); BP brown & mushroom flats (dyed by me, see bellow, Nordstrom $50, bought after the cream ones above because I was wearing those so much); unknown brand grey & black flats (Crossroads Trading, Haight Street, SF $15); black & white swing dance shoes that I had soled for street walking when I gave up competitive dance (I have two pairs the other pair is in getting dyed to black & red); and finally Via Spiga black & red stilettos ($50 Nordstrom Rack, they started life brown tones, I had them dyed red and then did the black myself, see DIY bellow.)


 So oxford is the cut, wingtip is the style, and spectator is the color pattern.

Now, this kind-of reverse spectator was wildly popular in the 1950s, the saddle shoe. 

All About Oxfords! DIY Bonus ~ Going Spectator Style with Gail Carriger

And not all spectators have to be wingtips, nor do all wingtips have to be spectators, and neither has to be an oxford. I know, I know, so confusing.

All About Oxfords! DIY Bonus ~ Going Spectator Style with Gail Carriger All About Oxfords! DIY Bonus ~ Going Spectator Style with Gail Carriger All About Oxfords! DIY Bonus ~ Going Spectator Style with Gail Carriger
Wingtip spectator flats that are not oxfords; spectator non-wingtip non-oxford mary jane peep-toe platform stiletto; Hill & Novis in 1935 wingtip derbys.

Some ultra-modern takes on this classic shoe.

All About Oxfords! DIY Bonus ~ Going Spectator Style with Gail Carriger All About Oxfords! DIY Bonus ~ Going Spectator Style with Gail Carriger All About Oxfords! DIY Bonus ~ Going Spectator Style with Gail Carriger All About Oxfords! DIY Bonus ~ Going Spectator Style with Gail Carriger All About Oxfords! DIY Bonus ~ Going Spectator Style with Gail Carriger All About Oxfords! DIY Bonus ~ Going Spectator Style with Gail Carriger
Lace and black spectator oxfords; Lautre brown python spectator platform mary jane pumps; black patent wingtip brogue boots; silver derbys; spatter-painted black and white derbys; and Oscar De La Renta's black & clear spectator derby sandals on the 2012 runway (a new one on me!)

What I love about plain oxfords is because they are menswear they can be tough or cute, retro or modern. You can use them to add a pop of color to an otherwise severe outfit. They are good with tights, socks, nylons or bare legs. They work with maxi-skirts, short skirts, or trousers. They are comfortable for walking long distances, and if you get the right ones, they pack down small and light for travel. Most of them offer more support than a ballet-style flat with more versatility in styling. They are also my airport shoe of choice.
What I like about the pump version is that because of the retro and menswear style you don't have to go with a high heel. In fact, you can pretty much get away with any variation on a heel ~ from stacked to pump to stiletto to small one-incher to hourglass Victoriana. Whatever your heel comfort level you can wear it (and quite probably find it) in an oxford pump.

All About Oxfords! DIY Bonus ~ Going Spectator Style with Gail Carriger All About Oxfords! DIY Bonus ~ Going Spectator Style with Gail Carriger
Some vintage 1940s cuteness.

The DIY section of our presentation.

How to turn plain oxfords into spectators . . .

I have two pairs of shoes I have done this to:

All About Oxfords! DIY Bonus ~ Going Spectator Style with Gail Carriger All About Oxfords! DIY Bonus ~ Going Spectator Style with Gail Carriger

Here's how I do it, with Kiwi shine and a paint brush. This limits me to black and brown on top of whatever base color I already have. (Here's more on dying your own shoes other colors from New Vintage Lady. She appears to order her dye from Spain. I don't know of any other way to get good colored leather dye, so please don't ask me.) If I want a red base, for example, I have a Miracle Shoe Guy who I take the shoes in to, and for $10 or so he dyes them any color I'd like. This is what I did with the red stilettos.

But, back to spectatoring.

All About Oxfords! DIY Bonus ~ Going Spectator Style with Gail Carriger

All About Oxfords! DIY Bonus ~ Going Spectator Style with Gail Carriger

The starting shoes, mushroom colored, removed laces and stuffed with tissue paper for protection. I suggest trying first with a pair you don't care about, say from the thrift store, but they do have to be leather, and preferably matt and untreated (with Scotch guard, for example). Plastics are really hard to work with, and I don't. I try to only wear leather shoes for comfort, wear, and smell reasons.

All About Oxfords! DIY Bonus ~ Going Spectator Style with Gail Carriger

All About Oxfords! DIY Bonus ~ Going Spectator Style with Gail Carriger

Because I like the vintage look, I'm not too concerned with getting the dyed section perfectly even. Still, it takes at least three coats to make certain you have no obvious brush marks. As you do one section, the others dry quite fast, so you don't have to wait at all between coats. It took me about an hour to dye the shoes. Here you can see one coat around the laces and two on the wingtip caps. I like to leave the holes but you don't have to, just a personal preference. You have to have a pretty steady hand because if you get dye in the wrong part of the shoe it's hard to clean off. I use a standard small paintbrush which can be washed clean with water. I poor the dye into the cap and just dip in and go for it. I use a baby wipe or wet one to clean any mistakes.

All About Oxfords! DIY Bonus ~ Going Spectator Style with Gail Carriger

All About Oxfords! DIY Bonus ~ Going Spectator Style with Gail Carriger

The final product. For the brown I used Kiwi Scuff Cover Instant Wax Shine in brown. I ordered it off of Amazon for $6, but you might find it at a local craft store. Kiwi also makes a white version which is good for covering scuff marks on my black & white spectators. For black I use Kiwi Honor Guard High Gloss Instant Spit-Shine. It's brilliant and better than their Scuff Cover but only comes in black. I also use it for repairing the scuff marks on my leather jackets. One little bottle has so far lasted me some ten years and I've a good deal of black leather. I suggest leaving the shoes to dry thoroughly overnight before wearing or packing. You can buff them up with a soft cloth if you like.

On care and feeding of your spectators . . .

Generally speaking, I spray all my leather shoes with Scotch Guard (or the equivalent) when I get them home the first time and (after a cleaning) each fall. However, I haven't yet done it with any of the spectators I dyed myself. I'm scared they will spot. But I'm going to have to do it soon, winter is coming. I'll let you know how it goes. It is nice to know I still have the dyes and if anything happens I can just give them a new coat.

Getting Crafty with Gail Carriger: Making a Cute Transport Box

Struggling this morning, Fashionable Reader.

It has been a two tea morning, and look like it might get all the way to three. But you didn't come here to learn ever more of my love affair with tea. You came here for fashion!


Ha, fake out. Well, sort of. We are deviating today into the DIY world. At my recent jaunt to Reno I had an archeology presentation. I wanted to bring teaching samples (bits of ancient pot, a teacup, an ushabti, that kind of thing) not to mention my Power Pointer and the Mac to Video adapter. And I wanted to bring them cute. What better than a polka-dotted box?

Getting Crafty with Gail Carriger: Making a Cute Transport Box

The beginnings of the project. A small box filled with ancient objects and computer accessories, some scrap booking paper, clear tape, glue, Velcro, and grosgrain ribbon for a strap. I also ended up using a stapler, scotch tape, and binder clips.

Getting Crafty with Gail Carriger: Making a Cute Transport Box

Wrapping the box, used the glue and then binder slips and scotch tape for temporary hold.

Getting Crafty with Gail Carriger: Making a Cute Transport Box

Part way through wrapping I added in the ribbon strap, again glue and binder clips.

Getting Crafty with Gail Carriger: Making a Cute Transport Box

Finished with the wrapping then I began to wrap the entire thing in the clear tape. The idea is that the tape does most of the work holding everything together and partly waterproofs the box. More the better.

Getting Crafty with Gail Carriger: Making a Cute Transport Box

Adding the Velcro. Attached the female to the top of one of the flaps and the male to the bottom of an extra flap I made with the clear tape.

Getting Crafty with Gail Carriger: Making a Cute Transport Box

Tape and glue weren't holding strong enough so I stapled the darn Velcro to the tape (in the case of the male) and the box (in the case of the female). It still doesn't hold perfectly, but it's good enough for the few occasions I'll need the box to make an appearance.

Getting Crafty with Gail Carriger: Making a Cute Transport Box

The finished product. Bonus feature? The samples can live in here permanently on a shelf AND because they live wrapped in bubble wrap they can also travel in the suitcase this way.


Of course, I'd prefer an American Touristor or the like but this keeps size and weight down for travel and there is a lot to be said for a shoulder strap when one is on the go. Anyway, I'm pretty happy with the end result.

Getting Crafty with Gail Carriger: Making a Cute Transport Box

Gail Carriger Has Fun with Accessories ~ PursesDIY with Gail Carriger: Repairing Vintage Felt HatsPork Pie Hats Plus a DIY Hat Reconditioning with Gail Carriger All About Oxfords! DIY Bonus ~ Going Spectator Style with Gail Carriger Getting Crafty with Gail Carriger: Making a Cute Transport Box

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