The Fitting Room Chronicles: Channeling Louise Brooks

When many think of flappers from the “Roaring ’20s,” images like these come to mind:

Joan Crawford
Joan Crawford
Colleen Moore
Colleen Moore
Clara Bow
Clara Bow
Barbara Stanwyck
Barbara Stanwyck

And of course, there are 1920 fashion guides, like this one, to help:

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But one overlooked garment from the famous era is the kimono. And really, what’s not to love about this comfortable, silky loungewear that instantly adds glamour to your home? The kimono was also big during this era as it was looser, easy to wear, and functional. The 1996 book, “The Kimono Inspiration: Art and Art-To-Wear in America” gives a lot of wonderful insight about the traditional Japanese piece and its impact in the United States over the years.

One silent screen star who made the kimono one of her signature looks was Louise Brooks. Apparently, it was her thing, along with a carefully cut bob.

Kimono-101

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During one of my thrifting adventures, I found this bold red kimono. While it’s more on the wiggle side, eliminating that loose comfort one would expect from a more traditional kimono, I felt ready for my close-up.

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Loungewear? Pul-eeze. This baby was meant to be worn out. I will need to work on my tip-toe walking, as modern steps won’t do in this gown, but that’s just another workout that comes with fashion.

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It sure beats those usual flapper getups that every Gatsby-obsessed dame goes head over heels for. And don’t get me wrong, I adore those waist-drop dresses too, but sometimes you just have to stand out. And who wouldn’t want to learn a thing or two from the “Kansas Cleopatra?”

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I can’t wait to rock this dress for a special occasion. Hopefully all those gin cocktails from past dinners and soirees haven’t caught up to me yet. How tragic would it be if my big ol’ butt couldn’t squeeze into this again?!

The Fitting Room Chronicles: Take it Off

Have you ever found a perfect vintage piece while thrifting, but you weren’t in love with the sleeves? Perhaps they were too tight, too puffy, or just so not right?

Here’s an idea: take it off.

You read that right, sweet cheeks!
You read that right, sweet cheeks!

Look, I get the fact that not too many people are super confident about their arms (I know I’m not). We all can’t be First Lady Michelle Obama.

Really, Michelle?
Really, Michelle?

But seriously, who cares? Your so-called flaws deserve to shine and the right outfit can make you both look and feel like a star. For some of my dresses, I have the sleeves remove to give the piece a completely different look, all while being able to still wear it with ease. And for those sudden chilly days or nights, I simply pair it with a cardigan or shawl.

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I recently found this bright purple kimono dress from the 1970s-80s featuring a fan print. While the dress itself was a comfortable fit, the sleeves were attacking my bulging biceps. What to do? I took the dress anyway and I had my tailor removed the sleeves. The result? You’ll have to wait and find out!

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Don’t be afraid to give a vintage piece some new life. Whether it’s removing sleeves, trimming it in half, or doing something completely different to enhance your personal style, I say do it. It’s a great way to have a custom-made piece that’s meant for you and you alone. Not only will you give your thrifted piece a new chance to be shown, but it will present a new angle that’s never been seen before – until you decided to make it happen.

So, have you ever altered your vintage piece to make it your very own? I want to hear all about it.

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And for some ideas, read up on how I took a Hawaiian dress and made it look super brand new by taking off the sleeves.

But wait! Here’s a sneak preview:

Photo by Alexcia Foster
Photo by Alexcia Foster

The Fitting Room Chronicles

What is this?

Just Me. In a fitting room.
Just Me. In a fitting room.
Before I had a blog, or even Instagram for that matter, I used to photograph myself in fitting rooms.

Just Me. In a fitting room.
Just Me. In a fitting room.

I tend to shop alone, not because I don’t adore the company of friends, but when it comes to thrifting, I like to leisurely hunt and even arrive early to stores so I can get first dibs on fresh batches.

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And with no one around to tell me whether I look good in something or not, I would photograph myself so I can get a better view of what an outfit really looks like on me. Sometimes I would eventually send it to friends for a second or third opinion.

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Once I joined Instagram, I began showcasing these images to share my ]experiences on thrifting, informing people how I know what really works for me, as well as any tidbits on buying vintage. I received such wonderful feedback from people that it ultimately inspired me to launch La Vintage Vida.

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Now I’m going to you show on this platform those recent discoveries. Sometimes it will be comical when a zipper gets stuck or even tragic when a beautiful gown is just five sizes too small (ugh), but most of the time, these stories all end on a happy note.

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Look out for more adventures soon!