Friday, August 27, 2010

The Vintage Closet

One of the many reasons that I sew my own clothes is that I'm not fond of seeing people walk around in something I have in my closet at home, or something I happen to be wearing, or worse, having them look better in it!
That's why every chance I get, and the obnoxious mini accountant on my shoulder doesn't throw a hissy fit, I buy vintage.

Here in Norway, it's a bit harder to look like an original on a military wife's budget. Very few things are really in my price range unless obscenely marked down (but then never in my size, blast!). So my options are limited, and often fall on H&M. We have 3 or 4 of them in a 15 mile radius so needless to say, it's hard to not look like every other girl on a budget here. Thrift shops can be quite a depressing hassle, as the operators view every vintage piece as the holy grail and price it accordingly. I recently saw a 50's evening gown hanging completely in tatters and beyond mending at my local thrift shop for the equivalent of $100.
Which is why I'm so proud of this little gem I snagged. It too was quite beaten up, but still quite worth it to the daughter of a rather talented antique garment restorer. (Yes, my mom is awesome, I'll tell anyone who asks.)

There were a few minor stains, both underarm seams were completely open, the zipper was hanging on by a bare thread, and the hem had some scary unexplainable crookedness issues. In very broken Norwenglish  (this is my lovely language learner's amalgamation of the tongue I know woven into a lovely tapestry with the one I don't) I managed to convey all of this to the girl at the counter. Instead of getting it for $50, I got it for about $15. In the states I would have paid $2.50. That might give you a small idea of what things cost here on average.

So, long story short, I washed it well, soaked scary black dirt out of it for a few days (had it been washed since WWII broke out? I wasn't sure) and carefully hand stitched all of the seams closed and zipper back in. (A simple wash and iron put the hem back to rights somehow on it's own.)

My very favorite thing about this dress is speculating about it's origin. I can't find a record of the maker (Juro Jr.) anywhere. I'm thinking maybe the war put them out of business and maybe this dress found it's way to Norway before or during the war and just stayed here in some lady's closet. It's fun to wonder, and it's fun to wear, but it's freaking fabulous to be the only girl wearing one.


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