Archive | February, 2012

The Norfolk Jacket

24 Feb

So a few days ago I had the pleasure of watching the final Season Two episode of Downton Abbey (aka the Christmas episode), which takes place in 1919/1920.  I could completely derail this post and squeal about how much I adore this show, but other people have done enough of that.  Focus, focus.

Near the start of the episode there is a long hunting sequence.  It is absolutely gorgeous, if you ignore the fact that they are killing birds for sport.  Apparently there was a little hoopla in the UK about the characters wearing the wrong boots for the time period, but that’s not what caught my eye.  I noticed Mary’s jacket.

It looks awfully similar to this print I have in my living room.

How cool is that?

The Norfolk jacket has quite the refined history.  It first appeared in the 1860s and is, to put it simply, the best sporting jacket ever.  The thick, neutrally colored wool keeps you warm, while the loose, boxy cut gives lots of room for movement.  Most of the jackets had front pleats and big pockets as well.

The other interesting thing about this jacket is that its use is very specific.  It is for hunting and outdoor adventures only, which makes it impractical for those with a limited budget.  Only the upper class could afford to buy a garment that would only be worn a few times a month or so.  It was also on its way out of popularity in the 1920s, to be replaced with a more fitted jacket.  When Mary wears this kind of jacket, she is telling the world that she comes from old money and is perhaps not so interested in being on the cutting edge of fashion.

For more info on the jacket, check this out.  And if you need a close up on her hat and collar, like I did, enjoy this too.


Sporting Hamills

23 Feb

Recreational sports are so fun!  Or so I’ve been told.  Looks like my relatives enjoyed them quite a bit, enough to bring out the camera to capture a few moments.

Thomas Patrick 1925ish, looking dashing with a hat and tie. I hope they didn't get wet later...

Cliff, my grandfather, in 1948 and looking very tall. (The vehicle behind him is also fantastic.)

And my favorite:

Mary Ann Doyle. Do not get in her way.


8 Feb


After spending almost an entire year searching for an actual boater hat that I could actually afford, I FOUND ONE in San Diego!


(the obsession started here.)

The Gamine Style: A New Cult?

6 Feb

A dear friend of mine sent me this link recently, knowing how much I love fashion and history and Audrey Hepburn. The post is titled How to Dress in a Gamine Style, with this picture of the lovely Hepburn first thing on the screen.  I’d never heard this term before, so I was interested to learn what it was all about.

The intention of the post, I believe, is benign.  I do think they are trying to be educational, helpful, and detailed.  But it’s the details that started to horrify me the further I got into the article.  For those of you who don’t want to read the full post, “gamine style is sweet, childlike, gentle, innocent and adorably charming.”  They reference Hepburn as the first gamine, and offer twelve steps to help you not only dress like a gamine, but act and become one as well.  These steps give you tips on icons, hair, makeup, clothing, accessories, etc.  But there are also steps about the length of your fingernails, maintaining bushy eyebrows, the number of piercings you are allowed to have, and, my favorite, how to live like a gamine:

Live like a gamine. Gamines not only dress the part, but they live it too. Here are some of the key elements:

  • Learn manners and the rules of etiquette. Begin with Emily Post’s book on etiquette (Manners) and find suitable etiquette blogs to keep abreast of the changing manners in society.
  • Always try to be charming and pleasant to be with.
  • If you’re dressing up as a sweet and innocent girl, don’t act like a bombshell. Be as naive as you can be.
  • Gamines always have poise. If you have poor posture, fix it.
  • Gamines are always smiling a genuine smile.
  • Gamines are respectful and never break the rules.
  • Gamines are classy and ladylike, yet they still have a playful and light side.
  • Gamines have a wide vocabulary and they never swear (in public). Improve your vocabulary and use it to say what you really mean.
  • Gamines always think of others first.
  • Gamines always try to be as happy as they can and look at the bright side.
  • Gamines are the happily charming girls all girls secretly want to be like, but not in a way that they are hated––more like admired and loved.

So basically, in case you haven’t done this already, become a decent human being with manners.  Got it!  Now what should I do with my time?

Do gamine activities such as going to the theatre (to watch a play, not a movie, but a chick flick or cartoons are acceptable too), shopping at small grocery stores or street markets with a basket, going to a ballet, etc. Read classic books (especially children’s classics like The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain); many of these classics are available free online, but a gamine always prefers real books (the old fashioned way). Listen to classical music (or at least 50’s and 60’s music like Brigitte Bardot’s Moi Je Joue, a gamine anthem). And read magazines, write letters rather than e-mails, attend dinner parties, throw tea parties (hand deliver all written invitations) and overall, live in an old-fashioned yet whimsical way.

No more emails!  Piece of cake.  Should I exercise?

Stay slim and healthy. Most gamines are slim with a boyish body. That means that they have as little fat as they can, but always in a healthy way. The gamine sport is riding a bicycle around town and walking (or skipping) while walking the dog. Gamines are supposed to adore sweet things. That means candy, chocolate, cookies and more sugary desserts. So the gamine diet is probably to eat all you desire in very small portions and to burn off the calories cycling or walking.

Looks like I should trade in my cat to get a dog.  Could I wear contacts?

If you want, you can get brown contact lenses too.

Oh good, I’ve been meaning to mask my green eyes.  Any final words of advice?

Don’t listen to others that tell you that being sweet, childish and innocent is silly and immature, they’re just jealous that you are being happy while they bore themselves trying to be “mature.”

Well said!  So who else wants to change their entire personality to be like this?

Blonde vs. Brunette

1 Feb

I think I might be having a hair identity crisis.  I’ve been growing it out for over a year now, not really sure what I want it to be but just allowing it to get longer and longer.  Most days I like it.  It’s fun to play with, and looks good majority of the time (side ponytail!).  Of course, there are the moments when it gets caught in a zipper or under my bag on my shoulder.  That’s just confusing – why is my hair so long that it can get caught in things?!  When did this happen?!

I’m training myself to accept that I have hair and to buy accessories for it.   Turns out there are many things to experiment with, who knew?

So no, that’s not my problem.  My bigger problem seems to be that I don’t know my own hair color.  Or perhaps it’s that my understanding of color is completely off from everyone else.  Repeatedly I’ve been referred to as blonde.  “She’s having a blonde moment” or “I told them to look for the blonde in the green shirt.” I AM NOT BLONDE, I AM A BRUNETTE!

Or am I.

No one can argue that I’m straight blonde.  And I’m fully aware that I am a lighter shade of brown than many others, including my own family.  But where is that line between blonde and brunette?  And who gets to determine where you belong?

At the start of fifth grade we were separated by hair color to meet fellow classmates.  Being fifth grade, I already knew everyone as much as I wanted to, except for a new, blonde girl named Melissa.  So I called myself blonde – the first and only time I have done that, I should add – so I could meet the new girl.  I thought for sure my teachers would call me out for being a brunette and cast me away to the other group, but they never did.  Was it because they felt bad for my poor, conflicted fifth grade self?  Or because they thought I was blonde too?

I’m not sure I’ll ever solve this puzzle.  I identify as a brunette, and get almost annoyed when people call me blonde, even as a compliment.  Why am I so against being seen as blonde?  Blondes have more fun, right?  Or am I taking the “stupid blonde” idea too much to heart?

I guess I should be thankful people compliment me on my hair at all, considering I do absolutely nothing with it. [Insert shout out to parents here.]

What do you think?