Saturday, December 5, 2009

Vintage "Vegan" Dress

I am departing from food for a hot minute today to talk about my morning find--a vintage dress to wear this holiday season! I, along with about 200 women, braved the cold this morning for what many call the largest vintage dress find in St. Louis history. I have a secret passion for "perfect" vintage dresses. I designed many of the dresses I wore to my high school dances. From early on, it was inevitable I'd work in retail someday. No doubt my passion has been ignited by the show, Mad Men--which I love, but refuse to watch with commercials--somehow the excitement of its story line is a bit lost with breaks for toothpaste and fast food--so I await this season's release on DVD.

As a kid, I used to sneak into my grandmother's attic and try on all of her stored dresses and jewelry--every little girl's fantasy I am sure. When a story appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this week: For Sale: 1,300 Vintage Dresses--I was already making plans to attend. In fact, if truth be told, the day before I found myself searching sites for best "vintage wear" shops in St. Louis. You could not have written a better story with more intrigue than the one about the finding of these dresses. Apparently a contractor working to renovate an old downtown office building came upon these boxes and boxes of dresses. Thank god he did the right thing and made a few calls and found a home for them. The question remains as to who might have originally owned these dresses--a vintage store owner who had a bit of a "hoarding" problem, or an eccentric gentleman collector of dresses. It makes for wonderful speculation and fodder for a good  book someday!

I refuse to go the mall and refuse to find myself in a dress someone else is wearing--and that philosophy dates back to high school. We did not have a lot of money then. We could never afford a dress for a homecoming or prom. We didn't even have enough money for me to get my high school senior year yearbook. My mother said if I wanted it, I'd have to pay for it--so I did. For my dresses, I found the best seamstress in town. I'd take her my sketches for a dress design and pick out my fabric, go in for fittings and then, there I'd be--in a one-of-a-kind dress! Needless to say, as I have aged, I have found more and more ways to find fashion that suits my taste discovering I am less and less a fan of the mall or department stores. But I do love vintage. Now, I am not someone who you would see on the street and make that call on right away--most of clothes I wear day-to-day come from sale racks at Target--a girl cannot just go shopping for soy milk in a tulle lined v-neck, fitted dress, now can she? Interspersed with that are my hand knit sweaters. To top it off, collectively, I now own more black running pants than dress pants (has nothing to do with vintage, but certainly is a must for keeping my health in check, something more people should try). Leaping from the corporate band wagon changes your closet--I never imagined I'd see mine convert to "casual" from "business"--but it has.


So, the vintage holiday dress has arrived and I am so excited! During my morning mania shopping blitz, shoulder-to-shoulder (200 of us waiting in line), crammed in with these dresses in this small re-sale store, I looked around me and thought (well, first I thought, fire hazard), but that every single one of these women must have had a grandmother with an attic full of clothes! We all looked like school girls stepping into and out of the dresses we most wanted to have. (And literally, most of us were trying them on in line over our clothes!). Lucky for me, out of the eight I grabbed, this one I found (and I was okay with finding just one)--I was happy as a clam. When I came home I just beamed telling my husband of the crazy and passionate morning I had with the dresses. He said he had not seen me so happy over something like this in a long time, then I ran into the bedroom to try on my new dress.

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