Hollywood Costume Warehouses: A Vintage Girl’s Playground!

Yesterday I visited a couple costume warehouses to get wardrobe for my show Today Is History – our pilot is shooting in a couple weeks and we needed to get lots of 1880’s clothes and some Ancient Egyptian costumes. Costume warehouses are where a lot of movies and TV shows get their wardrobe that isn’t custom-made – they have everything, and it’s all categorized down to the decade. 1880s, 1890s, 1900s – and so on. It’s super cool. Nothing is exactly cheap to rent – $50 for a dress, $100-150 for an 1800s suit – but a lot of it is authentic and the staff there have an encyclopedic knowledge of their giant inventory. I won’t mention which ones specifically we went to because I’m not sure that I was supposed to be taking pictures, but I did. But I will say that one of the warehouses has a reserved parking spot out front for Janie Bryant, the costume designer for Mad Men. 😀

I wore my gray suit:

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Isn’t it gorgeous? You’ve seen the skirt before but not the whole thing together. I know it’s fifties but I don’t know more than that – the tag says W.J. Richards & Son, Braintree, Essex – unfortunately, it’s not on the Vintage Fashion Guild label guide.

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I did have people ask me why I was so dressed up. I kind of did my hair, too, but you can’t see it.

50s Suit – Etsy

70s Shirt – Jet Rag

Tights – Target (I wouldn’t buy these Merona brand ribbed tights again – I’ve only worn them a few times and they have multiple runs already)

Shoes – Naturalizer

The shoes were a hand-me-down, but I don’t really like them. Here’s why:

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I can’t get on board with that type of sole. It’s on a lot of modern shoes and I hate the way it looks. Why would you want to ruin a pretty shoe with an ugly sole that looks like it’s made out of tires? But I don’t have a lot of shoes right now so I guess I have to wear shoes I don’t like until I find ones I do.

But anyhow, let’s get back to the WAREHOUSES FULL OF VINTAGE CLOTHES!

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Tons of shoes!

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30’s shoes.

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I tried on a bunch of shoes. It’s funny that the farther back you go, the larger of a size you need. I’m a size 8 in modern shoes, an 8 1/2 in 50’s-60’s shoes, and a 9 in anything earlier. But try finding a size 9 in 1930’s shoes – good luck. It’s amazing to me how much larger people have gotten in under a century. We’re taller, our feet are bigger – can we chalk it all up to better medical care? Freakish GMOs? I don’t know.

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These shoes are super cool.

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Lovely Spectators…

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In pretty rough shape.

There were also tubs and tubs of hats. 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, divided by color, mourning hats with veils, bonnets. I tried on several from the “pink 50’s hats” tub.

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Love this one. It’s actually very wearable, don’t you think?

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I had to hold this one on my head in lieu of hat pins. Pretty fucking cool, though.

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You can’t quite see how long the feather was on this, but it was super long.

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In case you can’t tell, I’m in mourning in this picture. I wonder if anyone actually wore this hat while mourning? 😦

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I thought this huge aisle of Native American costumes was amazing. We have to do a Native American themed episode so we can rent some of these! I want to wear one!

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There’s my director after squeezing around this ladder – the huge ladders take up the whole aisle and you just have to squeeze around them.

 

And one last picture:

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That’s a weird candid photo of me at my friend’s birthday last night – I was doing an improv show afterwards so I changed to pants and added the hat and scarf. Pretty overdressed for the world I live in but that’s okay with me.

You’re So Vintage and You Don’t Even Know It, Baby

I think was vintage before I knew I was vintage. I’ve only started really trying to dress in vintage clothes daily in the last couple months, but it was interesting to look back at some of my old pictures and realize that I’ve always had this love of vintage clothes and style even if I didn’t quite realize it.

I mean check out that hat. Seriously.

That’s my high school boyfriend with a newsie who looks suspiciously like me.

There we are again – I dressed up as Ava Gardner for Halloween my senior year of high school.

I wanted to channel Old Hollywood glamor for my senior prom – this was the first time I wore red lipstick! Unfortunately it didn’t start a personal trend, as I was mostly a chapstick girl until a couple months ago.

I had a “healthy living” blog when I first moved out to LA and I would post outfit photos on Fridays. I realized recently that my favorites were always vintage-inspired:

Big vintage brooch, lipstick, high-waisted skirt! This was at the Edison downtown – this was a couple years ago but if I remember correctly it’s 1920’s themed.

And I took myself to a day at LACMA – vintage necklace, high-waisted skirt again – I remember feeling like I had really, really dressed up. I was wearing two-inch heels for Christ’s sake!

So I guess it’s not a surprise that I “realized” I love vintage clothes. I’ve always been really into history – my bookshelves are full of books about World War II, the Cold War, Vietnam (my dad was in the military so that’s probably why I have a fascination with military history). And as a kid I was always dressing up – I couldn’t find a picture, but I dressed up as Jackie O for a class presentation in 5th grade (we did not have to dress up. That was my idea) and I LOVED it – gloves, white pillbox hat, blue dress. Titanic is my favorite movie, for which I have been teased on many an occasion but I STAND FIRM. I’ve seen every Marilyn Monroe movie – I had a stepmom from ages 9-16 who was very into Marilyn and we watched them all together. I liked Bus Stop the best because I thought she was so funny and cute in it. I’ll watch any period movie though, and it’s a reason I became an actor. It’s too frustrating for me that we only get to be one person and live in one time. I want more.

It’s funny that it never really occurred to me that you could just wear vintage clothes every day if you want until I stumbled across it a couple months ago. I was seriously shocked to find out that there are tons of vintage people out there, and a lot of them have blogs. It’s been such a fun discovery for me that there are other people who love vintage style and they wear it and decorate their homes in it and attend vintage events – now I just want to meet them in real life!

Outfit Post: I Bought Pants!

The miraculous has happened. That’s right, I bought a pair of pants.

 

They have flowers on the butt. OH yeah.

 

I bought them off Etsy – the measurements said they would fit me and I can’t believe they actually do. And they only cost about $30. Amazing. Pants shopping is such a nightmare for me – I bet you can see why just by looking at these pictures. It’s the disease well-known as J. Lo Butt but unlike her, I don’t have millions of dollars to spend on custom-made jeans.

It sounds strange but I feel like these jeans make no apologies. They don’t cover your curves or change your shape. This is just what I look like. A pear shape if there ever was one.

 

When it got chillier I wore my new orange sweater that you’ve seen before!

 

It goes pretty perfectly with the flowers.

I also did a lot of work yesterday:

 

The sexiest accessory of all, headphones. I transcribe reality television and believe me it’s a real ROLLERCOASTER OF FUN. And fulfillment. So fun and fulfilling.

So anyhow, I hope you’re proud of me for buying pants. I need more pairs but this is a start!

Vintage 70’s jeans: Etsy $30

Vintage 70s’ button-down: Jet Rag (LA vintage store) $12

Vintage 60’s sweater: Jet Rag $18

Bracelet: Gift from my mom! I think from Kohl’s.

Shoes: Converse

P.S. I got the money for these jeans by selling these ones on Ebay for $33:

 

Size 27 True Religion jeans. Way too small for me now. It’s hard to accept that my body has changed and my style is changing. It’s not easy to let go of. But at least I like my new jeans?

My Clothes May Be Casual, But My Style Is Outrageous

Sometimes I can’t dress up completely for whatever reason and I’ve found it interesting how the smallest attention to detail will really class up your outfit and garner a lot of attention. I think the main lesson to be learned is that people generally don’t wear hats so if you wear one, their minds will explode.

 

This picture, taken in my natural habitat, is an epitome of my sooper c00l casual style. Thanksgiving morning I went to watch some friends play football in the park at 10 AM. I am not a morning person so I had no desire to get ready that early in the morning and it’s a bit weird to really get dressed up to go to the park, so I wore my jeans, one of my 70s button-downs, a red scarf tied around my neck, and my hat. It’s so interesting how those little details take a casual outfit and make it more fun. I felt better and prettier than if I’d worn a hoodie and a baseball cap. SUCK IT, HOODIES AND BASEBALL CAPS. I THROW DOWN.

 

A few days ago I went to see a show at 11 but I wanted to go to the gym first and go swimming. I didn’t want to really get ready all over again for the show, so I wore this old blue and white striped sweatshirt and black SWEATPANTS, but because I added a green scarf and my blue beret people kept acting like I was dressed up. In SWEATPANTS. Red lipstick also helps.

 

I tried the trick again when I was just at home working alone. Put on a beret = feel cooler.

 

Sometimes lipstick and a hairstyle is enough to make you feel gorgeous.

 

I always wear this robe at home (my mom bought it for me at Epcot Center!) after I get out of the shower, over my clothes because I’m cold, whatever. And if a friend comes over while I have this robe on, they always say how pretty it is because it is SO pretty!

 

So there you go. We can be cazh (that’s the abbreviation of casual, you guys) and SUPER at the SAME TIME!

Outfit Post: My Thanksgiving Ensemble

For our Thanksgiving dinner I wore my new pink 1970s Leslie Fay pink dress and jacket (I wore an apron while I was cooking and serving food).

 

I love this outfit! I felt so pretty all day long and got a lot of really nice compliments.

 

I wore my Beyond Skin shoes that I’ve owned for several years – they’re a great vegan shoe brand and these shoes have a definite retro look.

 

Here’s the dress without the jacket. Isn’t the matching belt so cute?

 

We also had a nice Thanksgiving dinner – I made Tofurkey sausages in buns, cornbread, cranberry sauce, brussels sprouts and spinach in a vegan butter sauce, and chocolate chip cake. And there were no complaints from our meat-eating guests about the vegan meal. I wouldn’t have put up with any, but luckily no-one tried. I did warn everyone that I would forcibly eject them from my home if they complained, but as I said, nobody complained.

I reached a point after dinner where I felt quite done with talking to people (I’m like that – I can only socialize for so long before I need some alone time) and I snuck off to my room and took these pictures while my roommate and all our guests chatted in the living room. What a weirdo.

Outfit Post: A Riveting New Sheath Dress

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I got a new dress off of Etsy – it’s a black 1950s sheath dress with red flecks in the fabric. It’s supposed to be a wiggle dress, but it’s not quite that tight on me so it’s more of just a comfortable dress. I like it because I think it’s nice enough to dress up, but not so nice that I can’t just wear it around to do errands.

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The color looks gray here, but you can see the fabric and the cute collar.

And it has pockets!

And dramatic makeup to match. God I love me a cat eye. Ever since I learned to do it a month ago I can’t stop.

And when it got chillier, I paired it with my new sixties jacket. I know I’m making a weird face in that picture but it’s the only picture I could get to come out that wasn’t way too dark or way overexposed.

You can finally see my shoes! I bought these Mason shoes off Etsy and I have no idea when they’re from because Mason made shoes for a long time and I can’t find any info on how to date them. But they’re in good condition which makes me guess 80s.

And if you’re curious to see the dress (or me) in action, I wore it last night to do standup!

I Need More Clothes

You guys jealous of my closet?

Okay, it’s a little sparse. I counted my clothes today:

Sweaters/cardigans/thin sweater-like things (I have several of these, apparently)/anything you can wear as a jacket that’s not a coat : 13

Pants: 3 (good job, Erika!) (this includes a pair of jeggings. Gross)

Short-sleeve shirts: 16

Long-sleeve shirts/button-downs: 17

Dresses: 7 (4 vintage, 3 non)

Skirts: 1

Suits: 1

Try not to seethe with jealousy! Especially when I tell you that I’ve owned a lot of those shirts since high school, and many of them are Star Wars or Transformers themed! And with two exceptions all my long-sleeve shirts are Merona (Target brand) undershirts. Not that I want to shit on Star Wars, Transformers, or Target. They’ve all steered me well. But I hate all my pants. Fuck my pants.

So I really need to freshen up my wardrobe since my recent realization that I’m not in high school anymore and I don’t have to dress like a boy. It’s okay if I stand out or look like I am trying to look nice. It’s okay to want to look nice. I also have to accept the body I have. A big reason I have so few clothes that fit me is for years and years I have only bought clothes when I was skinny, then felt horribly guilty when I gained weight not only about gaining weight, but also about wasting money on buying clothes I couldn’t fit into anymore. So I’d wait it out and try and lose weight. And sometimes it worked, but never for long. But all that said, I’m going to get this body back, right?

Ehh… I still have some clothes from when I was that size that I can’t bear to get rid of. But that’s not me right now.

That’s me!

That’s me.

That’s me.

Instead of feeling like my body is not my body, I need to accept that it’s always my body. Skinny me was me, and this is me now. And me now needs clothes. And if my weight changes later, I will sell these clothes and buy new ones, because clothes are supposed to fit your body and not the other way around. And I’ve learned that I love vintage clothes, they make me feel good, so I want to wear vintage as much as I can.

Right now I’m in dire need of:

  • Pants. Yeah, the goddamn pants thing.
  • Shoes. I only own heels and tennis shoes but I walk a lot and since I’ve started dressing nicer I need a nice-looking shoe that I can walk long distances in. I’d love a flat, cute Mary Jane or T-strap but I cannot for the life of me find one.
  • Underwear. I hate all my underwear because they’re all low-rise bullshit that look terrible with a higher waistline on your clothes. And thongs? In this decade? No, thank you.

And then things I’d like to have but are not an emergency:

  • A 40s dress. I love the 40s but 50s and 60s clothes are much easier to find and cheaper, so I don’t own anything 40s. Two of my dresses are 50s, one is 60s, and one is 70s. I mean if we’re getting wishlisty, more than one forties dress? A thirties dress? Reach for the stars, right?
  • Gloves. Elbow-length gloves. Orange or yellow elbow-length gloves.
  • More shoes? I probably need black and brown. Maybe navy.
  • I love the turtleneck/maxi skirt look of the 70s. So I want those.
  • A circle skirt would be nice. More skirts in general, really.
  • Some nice blouses.
  • Clothes good for cold weather – I can be a real pansy in the cold.

Eventually I’d like to be able to phase out the clothes I own that I don’t like so well and really have a wardrobe of vintage clothes I love that I can wear every day and feel pretty and confident every day. I mean we’re shooting for the moon, right?

Outfit Post: I Could Like Totally Have an Office Job

I have some very exciting developments. One, I figured out if I take my pictures before the sun goes down, my pictures look better. How incredible. Also this way you get to see all my books! It’s a respectable collection. And two, I looked very nice today.

1970s Button-down – Jet Rag

Skirt – part of a 1950s suit I bought on Etsy (CranCove, more specifically)

Sweater tights – Target

Shoes (unpictured) are red moccasins I’ve had since 10th grade.

When it got a bit chillier at night I wore the suit jacket, as well. I’ve worn the suit before but I didn’t take pictures, so I’ll have to wear it again and stun you all!

I guess I can say that purse is vintage 90s now – it was my mom’s until she realized she hates purses.

Pretty sure that hair flower was part of a gift wrapping or something. Not intended to be worn. And the clip-on earrings were my grandmother’s. They also happen to be my most painful clip-ons but they’re so pretty!

Before I started wearing red lipstick regularly a couple months ago, I’d only ever worn it to prom. But now it feels so me and I really prefer red to any other color.

My roommate and I went shopping – I was looking for pants (total fail) and shoes I can walk in (also huge fail – it turns out LA vintage/thrift stores only carry six-foot-tall Lady Gaga heels). But I did buy this beret for $8 at Jet Rag – I had been wanting more hats so I now own three hats that are completely unrelated to sun protection (as opposed to all hats I owned previously, most of the “baseball” variety).

I took that picture while waiting for someone at a gas station. I was meeting her there because I needed to buy something from her (for work) and meeting someone at a darkened gas station to exchange money for goods is always a good, professional idea in Los Angeles. Anyhow, cool fucking beret, huh?

Even though my outfit was a tad fancy for Los Angeles, and especially for going shopping and then going and playing with a cat, which were my Sunday activities, I felt really nice in it all day.

Outfit Post: I’m the Proud Owner of a Green Sweater

The new sweater parade continues! It’s a two-part parade! I bought this green 60s sweater (it doesn’t have a tag, but I assume it is 60s based off the style) at Jet Rag for $14 as well as the polka-dot long-sleeve shirt underneath. I LOVE this sweater and the button-down. I love them together. I wore this outfit on Thursday and again on Saturday because I just can’t help myself. The only bad part is that I don’t really have any good pants to wear, so I wore jeggings. Gross.

Check out that cute little polka-dot collar peeking out!

Paired with my cool 60’s clip-on earrings. They’re the best, I can’t even feel them when they’re on.

Drinking looks stupid.

It was raining yesterday and this hat really came in handy – my roommate bought it for me! In her words, she saw it and thought “Only Erika could pull this off” so she got it for me. How sweet. And it’s fun to have someone else describe your style.

Here’s me attempting to give you a more complete look at the outfit (I was wearing Converse, as well) but this photo also works in case you were thinking, “Why is she so anti-jeggings? They seem cool.” See? They are not cool.

This is my “sophisticated” pose.

So there you go.

Sweater – Jet Rag – $14

Button-down – Jet Rag – $12

Fucking jeggings – Target – $10?

Hat – Target – my roommate

Earrings – Etsy – $7

Watch –  Target – $10 (I know it’s not vintagey, but I like this watch. Analog is too hard for my tiny brain to comprehend).

Where Are All the Repro Pants?

I’ve been looking around the vintage reproduction world because I need pants. Which is very, very difficult because I have a 30-inch waist and 44-inch hips. Most pants with a 30-inch waist have 38-40 inch hips. So fuck me,  am I right? Here’s what I find strange about the vintage repro world: lots of dresses. Not a lot of pants. Not a lot of blouses. Not a lot of sweaters. I really can’t imagine buying a reproduction dress, because there are a million vintage dresses I want to buy. I’d resort to repro for blouses, sweaters, and pants because there are not a million out there. See? I’m being logical.

If I didn’t do improv, I probably just wouldn’t bother with pants. But improv requires a certain freedom to crawl around on the floor and spread your legs and other non-ladylike business for which pants are a generally recognized requirement. So here I am, bothering with pants. Right now I own one pair of jeans from Target that I hate, a pair of jeggings, and sweatpants. I have worn a nice shirt and sweatpants and gone to parties so attired. THESE ARE THE LENGTHS TO WHICH I MUST GO, GLOBAL PANTS MANUFACTURERS.

So what’s everyone else doing?

It seems that all vintage-loving ladies have Freddie’s of Pinewood jeans. And I see why, because they are nice and classic.

Lovely, right? However, they’re from Britain, so they cost 30 dollars to ship here. For a poor person like me, that’s prohibitive.

Perhaps you’re thinking I could look into retro-styled modern jeans. But alas, I 1) don’t fit into them, 2) nothing comes up to your natural waistline, and 3) modern jeans get holes in the crotch in six months because they’re made out of denim-colored crepe paper. Which means that yesterday I wore jeggings, which make my butt look like a set of bowling balls combined with a pancake. So this is where we are again? Big booty women have to wear stretch pants? Low-rise jeans do nothing for me, and I have spent my life a prisoner of their whims. Years have gone by pulling up the back of my pants every time I sit down, and if I have to sit cross-legged on the floor, someone will indubitably see my underwear. Which in middle school and high school meant thongs. Gross. I am grossing myself out now.

High-waisted pants are gorgeous. Imagine if I could look like this – from Wearing History‘s 1930’s trouser pattern.

Are you going to tell Farrah Fawcett she’s wearing mom jeans?

What about these cool seventies ladies?

Or the princess of pants Katharine Hepburn?

High-waisted pants make you look leggy rather than torso-y. Low-rise pants bisect your body in a weird place and are the reason your grandma has seen your butt crack. So, pants manufacturers, make me some pants that fit already. Jeez Louise.