My New Vintage Look

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Information about My New Vintage Look

Published on February 20, 2009

Author: dburstyn



My evolution in vintage clothes is the topic In this personal essay I wrote for Walnut Creek Magazine.

What I Know My New Vintage Look By Deborah Burstyn H ere’s all that Jackie O and I used to have in common: always conveyed a feminine fifties vibe. we both breathed the air on the same planet for a Only tonight the feminine fifties vibe brief overlap in time – some of it even on the Atlantic was that of Mamie Eisenhower. seaboard. Here’s what we have in common now: a proclivity for I didn’t look pretty in any of my 1960s little tailored dresses and big black sunglasses. favorite vintage dresses. I just looked This is how it happened. Dial back a few years to one fateful kind of…old, like the dresses. Just then, night. Pre-party panic swooped over me like the first dip in a through the foggy ruins of time, a New roller coaster. Here it was nearly “go time” and I had confronted Yorker cartoon drifted to mind. Two old ladies disaster in the mirror. I had nothing to wear! How did this hap- stand in front of a vintage clothing shop. One pen? I had drifted along on a cloud of ignorant bliss, presuming is turned toward the other who gazes into the that one of the usual “standbys” would do quite nicely. By this I shop window. The caption says, “My dear, we meant my cherished collection of spiffy vintage party dresses. I can’t wear vintage. We are vintage.” had anticipated trying them on and deciding which one would “So it’s come to that, eh?” I quickly yanked feel right this night. Short answer: none! a decidedly non-vintage Anne Taylor dress from First out was the long black crepe dress with exquisite beading the closet. It was a summer dress but at least it on icy champagne pink netting all across the bodice and shoul- was black. So what the heck happened back there? ders. It looked like something out of the 1930s and I usually felt Was this the end? Good-bye yellow brick road and very slinky in it. But what was this? Suddenly I looked like that vintage clothes? I’d been collecting bits of it since frumpy lady who’s always the brunt of Groucho’s jokes in Marx college. Not that I wore a lot anymore. They just Brothers movies. Next up: a tea length silver dress flocked with didn’t seem right for Safeway or soccer practice. black velvet. Its short sleeves, jewel neck and cinched-in waist But I love vintage clothes. There’s the quality of the fabrics and workmanship, the quaintness of style and the uniqueness of the Elevate pieces plus the thrill of the find. Fast forward a few months. I was in San Francisco at a vintage book fair. I started flipping through a collection of paparazzi Ron Galella’s photos of Jackie O. One shot mesmerized me. She is strolling alone through New York City. She is no longer young. She is not dressed up – no tiara and evening gown or sleek designer suit. Yet she looks fabulous. Why? How? She was slender, she had thick hair and she wore simple classic clothes. In the photo she wears a knit pullover your sweater with three-quarter length sleeves and light slacks. Her relaxation windblown hair streaks across her face. In one hand she holds a pair of oversize sunglasses. By golly that was it! Time to swap out Katharine Hepburn for Audrey Hepburn. Time to shift from funky bohemian vintage to classy tailored vintage. Sixties styles, I realized, were a little kinder to women of a certain age. So that was it. I parted with a bunch of my old vintage classics and started building a new collection of what I call “astronauts’ wives dresses.” Like in “Apollo 13.” But Houston, we do not have a problem. I love them! And they love me back! Some are old and some are new. Massage • Body Polish • Facials • Waxing I even found a new “retro” Marimekko skirt at Anthropologie Nail Treatments • Spa Packages • Gift Cards and little seersucker fitted summer dresses by Rampage. R Spa: (925) 942-6379 This summer, sixties summer dresses were everywhere. Many of them were more psychedelic teeny bopper than classic icon. 2805 Jones Road There is a difference. How can you tell? Take a long hard look Walnut Creek, CA 94597 in the dressing room mirror. Should you buy it? Just repeat after me: “What would Jackie do?” (925) 938-8700 20 Walnut Creek Magazine

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