Friday, December 30, 2011

Thursday, December 29, 2011


1950s Petticoats

As we all know, petticoats were a big thing in the 1950s.  Large, puffy skirts had to be supported by various methods of pooferry, pufftasmicness, and even occasional hoop-lah.

Here are some various kinds of 50s petticoats, from Vixen Vintage:

Vixen Vintage (click image to go forth)
Vixen Vintage did a whole post on the appropriate use of various kinds of petticoats.  Very informative - you can read it here.

Petticoats came in all different colors and fullnesses.  You could make your own if you didn't mind hundreds of yards of tulle and net, just follow this handy vintage TV Guide article:
Shapes varied from being narrow and snug at the waist, to the more bell-shape petticoats.  Gay ballooning bouffants, anyone?:

Here's an image showing several structures.  Quite interesting!  One looks more like an 18th c. pannier, and I believe those are hip pads in the back ....

Here's another fun example of a hoop structure.  I want one of these!:

Via Vixen Vintage
Big floofers are available today for varying price points.  You can get a basic, workable petticoat from your average Halloween shop ($20), and often eBay will provide a good selection ($30-$40).  There are vintage petticoats to be found on Etsy ($30-$60), or you can have higher-end petticoats made by a shop like Doris Petticoats, UK ($100).

Vintage petticoat via RecollectionClothing on Etsy

Read More

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


A First Look at "Astoria" Edwardian Shoe Prototype

I interrupt "50s week" to bring you this very important post.  I just received the first photos of Astoria, the Edwardian shoe that has been in development.

Here is your chance to be a footwear designer, and get an inside look at how things are done.  Please understand that these photos are from the manufacturer and are of the prototype only.  The leather, color, and buttons are placeholders, and as you see, there is no sole on the shoe yet.

Try to look past the funky photo quality and the rough look of the shoe, and image how the final will appear, in creamy leather, with pearl buttons.

What do you like?  What would you change?  Please feel free to comment, and hold nothing back!  Your comments are what helps me produce the perfect shoe.

Brass buttons are placeholders only!

You can see in this photo the taper of the toe and the narrower lasts
"buckle" means button in this instance.
Notes about Astoria -
  • Astoria is built on dance shoe lasts, which are far narrower than the Devonshire lasts.  These are intended to fit the foot snugly, like any dress shoe
  • The toe is tapered but not intended to be pointed
  • Upper (the outside of the shoe) materials is cream colored leather
  • Sole material is 100% smooth leather
  • Lining material (insole) is man-made.
Here is the original design, and the original shoe "Astoria" is based on:

The original shoe from "Shoe Icons" museum
Read More

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

, , ,

Book Review: "Vintage Hairstyling" by Lauren Rennells

Vintage Hairstyling: Retro Styles with Step-by-Step Techniques
Lauren Rennells
2nd ed.
(c) 2009 Lauren Rennells
ISBN 978-0-9816639-1-3

If you are like me, you have pretty much no knowledge of how to create vintage hairstyles .... and also no hair.

I bought "Vintage Hairstyling" hoping it would teach me some basic techniques for how to create hairstyles from the 1920s through the 60s, and that it did.

The Pros:
The entire book is in full, brilliant color, with professional photographs showing each hairstyle clearly and from different angles, and step-by-step instructions for how to create the coifs.  A full list of tools, products, images of these things, and suggestions on where to purchase them is included, along with page after page of rather technical, but easy to follow pin curling, finger waving, and roller technique.

"Vintage Hairstyling" moves through various styles ranging from the 1920s to the 1960s, with emphasis on the 1940s, specifically pompadours.  Most styles use rollers or the curling iron, and many include instructions for how to add rats, hair extensions, barrettes, scarves, and other decorations.

Via Bobby Pin Blog, the author's blog
The guide for finger waving was particularly useful, and shows how to wave in wet hair as well as hair that has been previously curled.  This book single-handedly taught me how to finger wave!

The Cons:
Being a girl of short locks, I was a little disappointed that nearly all of the styles in this book are for long hair, really long hair.  Several styles show how to create a mock bob, but only a few show how to coif already short hair.
Via Bobby Pin Blog, the author's blog
The emphasis is on 1940s styles, with the use of victory rolls, pompadour structures, snoods, and other accessories.  I suppose it makes sense for the popularity of WWII re-enactors and Rockabilly girls, but I would have liked a little more support for the 1930s and 1950s.

The Verdict:
"Vintage Hairstyling" is a great book, and the perfect one to get you started on the mysterious hair constructs of the past.  It is incredibly enlightening and easy to use, and even contains a bit on period makeup and finger nail finishes.  I highly recommend "Vintage Hairstyling", so go and buy it and find the answers to those hairstyling questions that have been keeping you awake at night.  :-)

Read More

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Vintage365: New Years Resolution

My New Years Resolution this coming 2012 is to "do" something vintage every day of the year.

I'm calling this "Vintage365," after the "365" self-portrait photo project many have done.  I tried my own 365 portrait project last year but didn't succeed, didn't make it the whole three hundred and sixty-five days, so this year I am determined to complete one year's worth of dedication to my theme, Vintage.

So every day I will post about something Vintage: clothing, magazine ads, hats, websites, events, cars, anything at all.

The technical definition of "Vintage," according to museologists, is anything 15 to 90 years old.  "Antique" is older than 90 years, but for the purpose of this project, anything at all from the past will count, so that means historical costumes in the works, tidbits of Elizabethan, Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian history, you name it.

This week I've declared "50s Week" as a primer for the posts to come starting January 1st, 2012.

Stay tuned!
Read More

Friday, December 23, 2011

, ,

Dress-Up Christmas Party at Liz & Warren's

A couple nights ago, we went to Liz and Warren's Christmas party.  All costumes were welcome, so there was an array of periods, from Regency to Civil War to Steampunk.  There was also an array of delicious foods, and plenty of Liz and Warren's amazing artifacts, garments, furniture, sculptures, paintings, weird bone purses, 600 pound clay soldiers, from their world travels, to look at, study, and hear stories about.

Here are some photos:

Read More

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Leather Ponies

I was never a fan of Kitty on X-Factor UK, but there was one performance that rocked my world - her rendition of Queen's song "Don't Stop Me Now," in which she was surrounded by dancers dressed as punk-rock-Roman Leather Ponies.

Yes, Leather Ponies.

How cool was that! Lol, I laugh every time I watch it.

Then I remember this famous image:

Some day .... some Halloween .... some October Gaskells...WATCH OUT.

Victorian pony is coming...
Read More

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Regency Open Robe Refitting

I like fixing things, although you'd think I'd just do them right the first time, lol.

Last year I made an emerald green open robe, from the infamous Janet Arnold pattern.  It was a mess - the back was too wide, the bodice straps too high, the shoulders pulled, the sleeves were too tight and the sleeve heads too shallow.  UGH.  I also thought I'd be Christmassy and face the thing in red bias tape, BLAH!

Read More

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

On the Fourth Day of Christmas...It Was Jane Austen's Birthday...and Free Shipping Day!

On this day in 1775, Jane Austen was born.

Why So Serious?
To celebrate, everything in the American Duchess store ships free.


In-stock items like 18th century Georgiana and Devonshire shoes, and glittery bling, will arrive by Christmas Eve*.  You even get free shipping on in-production items like Pemberley Regency shoes and the 18th century shoe buckles.*

Jane Austen's Free Shipping Birthday is for today, December 16th, only, so take advantage of it!*
*US Orders Only

Oh, and also ... on the Fourth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me......

Only 9 days until Christmas!

Read More

Thursday, December 15, 2011

On the Third Day of Christmas...

My True Love Gave to Me....

I hope you like these little doodles I've been doing.  I've been enjoying painting them, although I'm getting a little worried for the 8 maids and 10 lords and 12 drummers, eek!

So now there are only 10 days until Christmas!  There is still time to order Devonshires, and Georgianas (10% off) and have them arrive by December 25th.

You can also still order Pemberlies and the 18th century shoe buckles, for arrival in January - belated Christmas gifts, but better late than never :-)

A pair of red Pemberley Regency shoes with black rosette and tassel shoe clips - easy to make yourself, and adds a whole new look to a pair of versatile Pembs.
And, of course, Gift Certificates are available - instant delivery, for any amount, and can be used forever on anything. :-)
Read More

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011


It's "Boardwalk" Sunday!

A photo of the original Boardwalk - older then the 1920s, but you get the idea
I love Sunday.  Sunday is the day of period dramas ... Pan Am, Downton Abbey, and Boardwalk Empire.

Despite last week's episode of "Boardwalk" being completely disturbing, I'm willing to forgive HBO for its freaky-deaky-ness.  Just no more please.

Since it's only 4 pm here, and Boardwalk doesn't come on for me until later, I'll get all excited by posting some of my favorite 1920s flapper gowns, to follow up my post about dancing the Charleston yesterday.


Read More

Saturday, December 10, 2011


The Charleston. I Must Dance The Charleston

Who here is obsessed with the 1920s?

/raises hand

I don't even know why, but over the years I've become more and more enchanted with the Jazz Age.  My initial reaction to it was "blagh!" when perusing the 1920-29 Sears Catalog compilations...GAH, what horrible clothes!

Yet over time my perception of the 20s has changed, thanks in no small part to Callot Soeurs and Jeanne Lanvin, documentaries like "Prohibition," shows like "Boardwalk Empire," and, of course, the music.

The music...and the dancing.  They make it look so easy, those knee-twisting, Charleston-dancing girls, and the more fringe on their skirts the better.  I want to dance like that.

Read More

Friday, December 9, 2011

Ready For the Holidays?

Hi All,
I'm writing to you with a couple announcements:

Today is the last day to pre-order Pemberley Regency Shoes, for the special $80 price.  We've sold enough to make the order, so we *will* have Pemberlies coming in January.

After today, the stock becomes limited and the price goes to the regular retail price of $95, so if you want to save your pennies and ensure we have your size in stock for you, order today.

A few reasons why you need the Pemberlies in your life:

  • They are historically accurate.
  • They are really comfortable.
  • You can dance in them - real Italian leather soles
  • You can paint/dye them pretty colors and customize them with shoe clips.
  • They are both an outdoor walking shoe, and an indoor formal shoe
  • They are the most historically accurate 1790s shoe available.

Order Pemberlies Here


Today I am drawing the winner of the 18th century Shoe Buckle Giveaway.  If you haven't entered yet, go HERE.

The two styles of buckle - Dauphine and Fleur - are currently in production and will arrive here in about a week and a half.  You can buy them HERE, on the website.

These are *real* shoe buckles, exactly like those used by ladies in the 18th century.  They have both a tongue and chape, and are silver plated, with glass rhinestones.  No other reproduction 18th century paste buckles like these exist, so if you prefer period paste buckles over cast brass, these are for you.

Order Buckles Here


Last Days to Purchase for Christmas Delivery:

December 9 - Last Day for Australia and New Zealand
December 12 - Last Day for Europe and Canada
December 21 - Last Day for USA

Get your orders in before these dates!

Read More

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Regency Gown Remodel

When I was in Tennessee, Maggie gave me one of her Regency gowns, to wear to tea...and then gave me the gown altogether.  *bliss!*
Maggie and me at Tea.  This is the gown as original, with those beautiful long sleeves that were unfortunately too tight.
I adore this dress, but it needed a little tweak - the sleeves, the bane of every seamstress, were too tight.  It's a super-common problem - tight sleeves, and shallow sleeve heads that pull at the shoulders - but luckily one that is very easy to fix.

I had to sacrifice the bottom half of the sleeves to generate fabric for the alteration, but I was able to open the under-arm seam and add in a couple inches.

Before fitting the sleeve over the shoulder
I set the sleeves the 18th century way, by stitching the underarm, then fitting the sleeve cap up over the shoulder of my dress form, and top stitching into place.  If that sleeve fits Franken-Lily's arms, it will fit mine, and thank goodness for arm-ed dress forms.

Shortened sleeves, quick fix.
I also did a little stabilizing on some of the seams of the bodice that were beginning to pull out - oh the joys of loose-weave fabrics - but that was all that had to be done.

And voila! a couple quick fixes, and a "new" Regency gown. :-)
Read More

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Historical Shoes Holiday Wish Cards

Do you wish for a pair of American Duchess shoes for the holidays?  Print one of these lovely "Holiday Wish" cards to deliver to your holiday honey:
Download the Pemberley Holiday Wish card (right click > save link as)
Download the Georgiana Holiday Wish card (right click > save link as)
Download the Devonshire Holiday Wish card (right click > save link as)
Read More

Monday, December 5, 2011

, ,

Georgian Shoe Buckles - GIVEAWAY!

As you know, we just released two styles of reproduction 18th century shoe buckles in the American Duchess Shop, so that means it's time for a giveaway! again!

Here's the prize:

Closely based on antique 18th century shoe buckles, the "Fleur" silver rhinestone buckles are the perfect accessory to keep the latchets on your 18th century shoes closed. Our "Fleur" buckles are delicate, feminine, and lightweight. Add that extra sparkle to your outfit and keep your shoes fastened in the most historically accurate and beautiful way.  Read more about the Fleur buckles here.

"Fleur" buckles come in pairs, and are available to buy here.

How to Enter the Drawing:

1. Blog about the buckles - go ahead and just copy and paste that paragraph above, and add in the photo, to your own blog.  Leave a link in the comments section of this post.  If you've already blogged about the new Georgian buckles, you can still enter the giveaway, just leave a link in the comments section. (anonymous comments, please leave your name and contact method).  Blogs include Blogger, Tumblr, Wordpress, Livejournal, etc.

2. Tweet about thebuckles - on Twitter, just copy and paste this into your tweetbox:

New "Fleur" 18th century reproduction rhinestone shoe buckles, exclusively designed by American Duchess:

Be sure to leave a link to your tweet in the comments section of this post, so you are entered into the giveaway.

3. Facebook about the buckles - Post this link: on your Facebook page, and leave a comment on this post to enter the drawing. 

4. Share in any other way - share a link to using any other method, such as Digg, StumbleUpon, Google+, etc.  Leave a comment on this post, so you are entered in the drawing.

*If you do all of these things, you will be entered each time, just leave as many comments on this post as places you shared.

The winner will be selected by random number generator on December 9, and will be sent their buckles as soon as they arrive, in a couple weeks.

Thank you, Ladies and Laddies!  I appreciate all your participation and involvement in making this new style happen!

Read More