Summer is in full swing around here....apologies for the lack of posts but it's been a nonstop whirlwind of go, go, go with no signs of the pace slowing down. A visit to my sister's for a family reunion sent me home with this lovely vintage Schiaparelli straw hat with black patent leather trim that once belonged to my grandmother, as well as three hat boxes chock full of more treasures from her closet. (How she managed to hide them from me for the past 10 years is beyond me...) I remember my grandmother wearing it to horse shows and other outdoor events that required fashionable shelter from the sun. At the time, I had no idea it was a Schiaparelli providing such glamorous shade!
From another side of my (rather complicated) family I was overjoyed to receive this lovely Shirl Miller vintage clutch in embossed leather.
And of my own treasure hunting accord I came into possession of this rather fabulous vintage bar pump-decanter set that I am quite certain I will never be able to part with.
Hoping to be back soon...wishing you many lovely summer days and nights until then.
"Since its opening on the Place Vendôme in Paris in 1906, Van Cleef & Arpels has played a leading role in style and design innovation. Its timeless pieces have been worn by style icons including the Duchess of Windsor, Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor. This exhibition will explore the historical significance of the firm's contributions to jewelry design in the 20th century, including the establishment of Van Cleef & Arpels in New York with the advent of World War II. On view will be more than 350 works including jewels, timepieces, fashion accessories and objets d'art by Van Cleef & Arpels, many of which were created exclusively for the American market. The exhibition will examine the work through the lenses of innovation, transformation, nature as inspiration, exoticism, fashion and personalities, and will include design drawings from the Van Cleef & Arpels archives." (Smithsonian)
This post has been swimming around in my mind for a few weeks now, as it has taken me that amount of time to absorb the wonderful events that transpired one glorious, sunny afternoon...
My sister invited my mother and I to come to Connecticut to spend the day and "do lunch"~~she had somewhere special to take us. Knowing my sister and her refined culinary taste, I knew we would not be disappointed. Little did I know there was far more than lunch awaiting us...
Tucked away in Northeastern Connecticut, in the sleepy little town of Brooklyn, is a wonderful place called The Golden Lamb Buttery, opened in 1963 by Proprietors Robert & Virginia Booth.
"Virginia Wagoner Booth, known as Jimmie Booth, studied printing and engineering at Syracuse University. An engineer with Pratt & Whitney during World War II, she entered the fashion world as a bridal consultant at G. Fox in Hartford in 1945.
In 1952 Dorothy Shaver, of Lord & Taylor, hired Booth for the Hartford store and asked her to develop and manage The Country Clothes Shop in the 5thAvenue store in New York. There, Booth collaborated with and promoted such American designers as Clare Potter, Bonnie Cashin, and Claire McCardell. Booth also worked extensively with European designers.
Married to Bob Booth of Hillandale Weavers, Jimmie promoted the use of both American and European hand-loomed fabrics by her designers. She frequently modeled the fashions herself. Her casual, yet elegant, style is the epitome of "the American Look" still popular today.
In 1998, Jimmie Booth, Dorothy Shaver, and other creators of The American Look were saluted in the exhibition, "Designing Women: American Style 1940-1960"at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford.
In addition to her design work, Booth was a violinist with the Hartford Symphony in the 1940s, and later became the chef at the Brooklyn, Connecticut, Golden Lamb Buttery, which she and her husband, Bob, own and operate."
(Courtesy of Archives Center, Smithsonian,National Museum of American History)
Robert Booth was the great grandson of William Booth, founder of The Salvation Army. His father was textile mogul Henry Booth (1895~1969).
"In the early 1940s, (Henry) Booth came up with the idea for the PhotoMetriC camera system to be used in the custom tailoring industry. The system consisted of a specially-designed arrangement of nine mirrors. Eight mirrors reflected separate views of the customer and one mirror reflected the customer’s name and other information. These angled mirrors allowed a photograph to be taken which showed the customer from the front, back, side, and top. A slide of this photographic measurement would be sent, along with the customer’s garment order, to the manufacturer. When the order arrived, the tailor would project the customer’s image on a special screen which facilitated the taking of certain physical measurements. With the aid of the PhotoMetriC calculator, the tailor translated the measurements into specifications for a customer-specific garment. When finished, the garment would be mailed directly to the customer’s home. According to testimonials in the collection, the garments fit perfectly the first time, every time. The PhotoMetriC system both saved the tailor money and relieved the customer of the inconvenience of having to return to the tailor again and again for time-consuming fittings, alterations, and adjustments.
The PhotoMetriC system made its debut in two Richard Bennett stores in New York City on May 17, 1948. It was subsequently licensed to other select retailers such as: The Custom Gentleman (Englewood, NJ); Nathan’s (Richmond, VA); The Golden Fleece (Point Pleasant Borough, NJ); and Joseph’s (Terre Haute, IN).
Hillandale, a Brooklyn, CT farm which Booth purchased about 1940, was later used to produce hand woven wool fabrics. These fabrics were used extensively by various PhotoMetriC retail outlets. Henry Booth’s son, Robert (b. 1924), took over farm operations circa 1960 and opened a retail outlet on the premises which featured a PhotoMetriC fitting room which provided custom tailoring until the mid-1970s. "
(courtesy of The Lemelson Center, Smithsonian,National Museum of American History)
As we walked into the stable, which is the restaurant, my eye was drawn to this:
Please bear in mind I did not have the advantage of the family history I have provided for you, dear reader. As we stroll the length of the stable, the walls are covered with such a variety of art, artifacts, sketches, photographs, and paintings that my Art Gallery OCD begins lurking it's ugly head, I am overwhelmed. I cannot seem to correlate the wonderful smell of horse & hay, the un~even barn board floor, the smell of fresh herbs & simmering pots of deliciousness wafting through a secret doorway, and this constant thread of couture fashion that seems to run through the vast estate.
Suddenly Katie, granddaughter of Mr. & Mrs. Booth, arrives. She escorts us to the veranda for cocktails...a delightful idea.
The view from the veranda.
The aromas coming from the kitchen entice us to our table...the menu is simple but wonderful. Zucchini Bisque and Duck Salad for me, my Mom and sister try the chilled fresh berry soup (which looks like a delicious dessert!), the Shrimp Salad & Crepe Du Jour...divine.
Long, leisurely lunching is encouraged, if not required. A wonderful change from the harried restaurant experience that has so sadly become accepted today. So linger we did. Just as we finished our lunch, the delightful sous~chef Betty arrived at our table, and the story telling began...
It was from her we learned all about Mr. & Mrs. Booth and their fascinating love story. Mr. Booth's father (of Hillandale Handweavers) made frequent trips to NYC for business and it was there his path crossed with Ms. Virginia Wagoner. He returned from NY and told his son "There is someone I want you to meet." The rest is history. Ms. Wagoner became Mrs. Robert Booth, left the big city and moved out into the beautiful, but very quiet town of Brooklyn. She went straight to work in the haberdashery with her new husband and father~in~law; her experience in the fashion/clothing industry proved extremely valuable to the family business. Bespoke suits were the order of the day~~clients arrived from all over . . . and would return multiple times a year, either for fittings or for something new.
As time passed, Mrs. Booth, being of an engineering mind, realized that if their clients were willing to travel from all over to this quiet country town, they would need a place to dine. Alas, there was no such place for miles and miles in any given direction. In 1963 The Golden Lamb Buttery was born. She renovated part of the barn across the street into a quaint restaurant, where weary travelers could find refreshment. The menu was simple but with fresh ingredients from the farm & prepared by Mrs. Booth's loving hands~delicious! Visitors were encouraged to linger and relax, to enjoy the beautiful view and the peaceful serenity of the farm which stood in stark contrast to the cities from which most had come.
This wonderful marriage of bespoke tailoring and gourmet food continued into the 1970s. In 1971, The Golden Lamb Buttery began offering dinner... just as the custom tailoring part of the business was slipping away. Ready~made clothing & synthetic fabrics had become the more fashionable choice for the masses and this wonderful old~world haberdashery eventually closed it's doors for good.
In 2008, Mr. & Mrs. Booth's granddaughter, Katie Bogert, accepted her role in the family legacy and began as hostess & proprietor of The Golden Lamb Buttery. A large order, but one I greatly admire & respect. To have such a young lady (perhaps in her late 20s, of course I couldn't ask!) realize the wonderful heritage she has been granted and to do her part to keep it alive is practically unheard of today.
Well advanced in years, Mr. & Mrs. Booth have since retired, but their presence is strongly felt everywhere, from Mrs. Booth's beautiful sketches to her hand~written recipes still used in the kitchen. Some of the very first patrons are still coming to "The Lamb" some 40 years later to enjoy the experience. Paul Newman, Glenn Close, Carol King & Alec Baldwin are just a few of the celebrities who made the journey to this quiet little corner of New England.
That day will be a day I will always treasure...being just 15 miles or so from my grandparents dairy farm tugged at my heartstrings...how very much Mrs. Booth reminded me of my grandmother in so many ways. The only thing which could have made this day any more perfect would have been the privilege of meeting this fascinating couple, Mr. & Mrs. Robert & Virginia Booth.
At The Golden Lamb Buttery, you don't have to decide between a table or "Booth"~~you can enjoy both at your leisure...just be prepared to linger.
Post Update/20 July 2011:
The Golden Lamb has also added a new country gift shop called "The Primitive Creek". Staying within the country decor, the gift shop carries local artisans with items such as hand knitted scarves, knitted and felted wool purses, pottery, jewelry and Gourmet Chocolate Truffles just to mention a few. For the folks with a taste of more modern flare they also carry Murano, Italy Glass, vintage/antique window glass in every color of the rainbow and much, much more. Tami Hamel, a Folk Artist of acrylic painting, is the owner/operator of this wonderful gift shop added to the already enchanting establishment. (See comment thread for more information provided by Ms. Hamel.)
"Be it a jewel or toy, not the prize gives the joy, but the striving to win the prize."
~ Owen Meredith (Edward Robert Bulwer-Lytton)
While true in many instances of life, this may be one exception to Sir Bulwer-Lytton's poetic quote. A few weeks ago I learned of a Give~Away via Lily Lemontree. The host was Sarah of My Little Boudoir, and she was generous enough to host a give~away to win a signed copy of this fabulous book:
Summer at Tiffany
by Marjorie Hart.
Having a rare spare minute or two, I entered the give~away and spent a few hours day dreaming (while ironing, that is) about how great it would be if I actually won...just the cover photograph had sent me reeling into old~world New York...
Half awake, waiting for the coffee to finish perking just after 6:00 o'clock this morning, I opened my "mail" and found this:
Good evening. I wanted to let you know that you were selected (using
random.org) as the winner of the signed copy of "Summer at Tiffany" on
If you'd like to send me your mailing address, I will get it sent off to you
Here is the link for the post as a reminder:
Congratulations and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Thanks for your
Oh joy of joys!! The prize giveth the joy!
Thank you, My Little Boudoir, you made my day!
I've always had a fascination with vintage vanities~~ever since my grandmother auctioned away some amazing Art Deco mahogany furniture at her country farm estate auction, I have carried within the belated realization that every child should/must be taught about antiques and heritage, about the importance of family heirlooms and preserving history, about how to determine whether this should be chosen over that, to learn which things one must never, ever part with, simply about how to know what one should inherently know~~from those who have come and gone before. . .
I have,since, taken this task very seriously with my daughter. We make a weekly ritual out of visiting various antique stores, museums, estates, yard sales, thrift stores & consignment shops for the sheer motive of educating her in what is truly
with the high hopes that my little princess, born into a very modern world, will find some way to show/express appreciation for what has come and gone before her. . .Now she will say "Mom, why would anyone ever want to get rid of that? It was probably their great, great, great, great grandmothers and here it is at Goodwill~~What's wrong with people????"
I couldn't be more proud than at that very moment.
She gets it.
And so, one day, she will get this:
as part of her inheritance. . .
A lovely gift from my adored grandmother when I was just a young teen, this antique desk which, over time, has become my vanity. ..
ever come . . .
A place to be with one's own private self, to prepare to become the public person we all must be at some point every day,
with the comfort of being close to loved one's lost, yet still greatly loved, for the simple reason that this was where she once sat
doing the very same thing. . .
(Vintage House & Garden magazine cover)
Do you have a vanity? A dressing table?
Claudia at The Paris Apartment is collecting photographs of vanities to be used in a wonderful book she is working on and is inviting everyone to submit their photographs for consideration!
What? You don't have a vanity or dressing table?
Well, now you have the perfect excuse to create one for yourself.
After all, every vintage loving gal must have one!
My sister has a few things in her closet that she knows I would just die for. A 1930s satin bias cut nightgown in the prettiest shade of peach is one. I can admit that I truly covet it. I know that is wrong considering how much vintage stuff I already possess but it's so beautiful it gives me goosebumps.
She also has had, for years, a lovely vintage green velvet suit, circa early 1960s. I don't believe it has a label, so it may be "Haute Home~Spun" as many well~dressed ladies back in the day had personal seamstresses who created custom clothing for their wardrobes.
The problem with this vintage suit, as with many vintage items, is that the waist band on the skirt was teeny, tiny (as in girdle worthy). The jacket fits her beautifully, but the skirt was a "never going to happen" deal.
So, being the closet "I~wish~I~were~a~clothing~designer" that I am, I volunteered to fix the waist band for her, to make it a larger size. Read on to learn how!
What? You can't make a small waistband larger, you say?
Well, I once thought the very same thing, until one day I took apart an old vintage skirt at the waistband and came up with this simple way to do just that!
So, being the closet "I~wish~I~were~a~clothing~designer" that I am, I volunteered to fix the waist band for her, to make it a larger size.
Read on to learn how!
(My dream atelier!)
VINTAGE SKIRT WAISTBAND TUTORIAL
by Michelle @ The Red Velvet Shoe
1) First, you need to remove the existing waist band. I use a sharp, small seam ripper. The only issue with this can be that the clothing label is on the waist band. If it is, just carefully remove it and save it to hand sew back on later. Trim any frayed or long threads you find. If there are darts at the waistband, you can determine if you need to let any out by slipping the skirt on to see how it fits. If you still need more room, take out either the two front or two back darts. (Depending on the fabric, removing darts may leave some marks, so think it through before you do!)
2) Take the bias tape and pin it to one end of the waist band with @ 3/4" extra (so you can have something to work with to finish it later. Measure it all the way around to see how much tape you need (don't forget to add the extra at the other end as well).
3) Pin the bias tape to the skirt, starting at one end and working around to the other. The tape just folds over the top of the skirt. As you pin, you may have to stretch the fabric and tape to get a smooth, flat finish.
4) Now you have to do something with the ends of the tape. As you can see in the photo above, I just folded in & pressed the tips of the corners, and then place a small piece of the heat n bond tape on the bias tape, just about a 1/2" from the end, so you can fold it over and iron it down. The goal is to have a nice edge to the tape where the zipper is.
5) As you can see in this photo, the edge has been folded in and "glued" down, then pinned. You'll have to determine where to end the new waistband. I like to just barely cover the top of the zipper, so the two new ends of the waistband touch.
6) Now that your pinned and the ends are "glued" down and pinned, it's time to sew. I usually gage where I want the seam depending on what's inside. Sometimes a skirt will have a very flimsy liner, so I tend to sew pretty close to the bottom of the bias tape to make sure I catch the lining all the way around. I've also done it with a double seam, one along the top and one along the lower part of the bias tape. I don't think it really matters, as long as all four layers are sewn together well.
7) Trim your excess thread and VOILA! Your vintage skirt is ready to wear!! If you removed a label, don't forget to sew it back in!
Now with that said, there are a few concerns about this. Firstly, there is the BIG question of whether vintage clothing should be tampered with. I definitely believe that high end, Haute Couture vintage clothing falls in the category of Fine Art and should never be altered. That, in my opinion, is indisputable. However, when you are fortunate enough to have some of your grandmother's sweet cotton day dresses or pretty suits from the Fifties, and with a slight bit of alteration you could have some fantastic, unique vintage clothing in your wardrobe to actually WEAR, then I say go for it!!
Secondly, if you remove a vintage skirt waist band and replace it with quilting bias tape, it is not going to look quite as nice. So think about how you will wear this skirt~~will you want to tuck your blouse or top in? If so, then aesthetically, this could be an issue. A great way to "skirt the issue" is by wearing a wide belt, even if you tuck something in, this will give you a more modern look and is a great way to hide the waistband. Thirdly, I must humbly admit I am by no means even remotely close to being a tailor or seamstress, so you may want to try this out on a skirt you don't really care about (maybe one your daughter has outgrown or even pick one up at the thrift store on dollar day to play around with). This will allow you a chance to try out the idea and maybe even improve on it. By the way, does anyone have a different way of solving this vintage waistband size issue? If so, I'd love to hear from you, so leave a comment! My sister was very happy, the skirt fit her perfectly. Look how she thanked me:
Secondly, if you remove a vintage skirt waist band and replace it with quilting bias tape, it is not going to look quite as nice. So think about how you will wear this skirt~~will you want to tuck your blouse or top in? If so, then aesthetically, this could be an issue. A great way to "skirt the issue" is by wearing a wide belt, even if you tuck something in, this will give you a more modern look and is a great way to hide the waistband.
Thirdly, I must humbly admit I am by no means even remotely close to being a tailor or seamstress, so you may want to try this out on a skirt you don't really care about (maybe one your daughter has outgrown or even pick one up at the thrift store on dollar day to play around with). This will allow you a chance to try out the idea and maybe even improve on it. By the way, does anyone have a different way of solving this vintage waistband size issue? If so, I'd love to hear from you, so leave a comment!
My sister was very happy, the skirt fit her perfectly. Look how she thanked me:
and this arrived in the mail last week:
How great is she?
"SOME DAY YOU WILL BE OLD ENOUGH TO START READING FAIRY TALES AGAIN." C.S. Lewis
Books are, to me, the absolute best gift we can give ourselves and others. I have loved books and reading since I was a little girl, and my adoration for them has only grown through the years. Thankfully, my daughter has that same love. . .I can see it in her eyes when we walk into the library and the sheer joy she feels just being surrounded by them, the smell of them, and the pleasure of lingering in an aisle, running her little finger tips over the bindings in search of the one that is just right. . .I vowed to never say no to a visit to the library or bookstore, and I somehow think she knows that!
Just yesterday my Aunt (who is a Librarian and lifetime student) sent my daughter these two lovely books; from the Wish List to her own little growing library!
She even had them signed by the author, Gail Carson Levine, and the illustrator, David Christiana~~both of whom are amazingly talented. I can't wait to read them, for although my taste in books has matured, I think I am just aboutold enough to start reading fairy tales again. . . Thank you, Auntie Di! xoxoxo
"I WOULD BE MOST CONTENT IF MY CHILDREN GREW UP TO BE THE KIND OF PEOPLE WHO THINK DECORATING CONSISTS MOSTLY OF BUILDING ENOUGH BOOKSHELVES." Anna Quindlen
While my library has a wide assortment of books and literature, there are a few indulgences I have yet to make. Here's a peek at my Wish List:
"TO SIT ALONE IN THE LAMPLIGHT WITH A BOOK SPREAD OUT BEFORE YOU, AND HOLD INTIMATE CONVERSE WITH MEN OF UNSEEN GENERATIONS ~ SUCH IS A PLEASURE BEYOND COMPARE." Kenko Yoshida
"THE LOVE OF LEARNING, THE SEQUESTERED NOOKS, AND ALL THE SWEET SERENITY OF BOOKS." Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
"BOOKS ARE NOT MADE FOR FURNITURE, BUT THERE IS NOTHING ELSE THAT SO BEAUTIFULLY FURNISHES A HOUSE." Henry Ward Beecher
Why not take a walk to your public library today? In this modern, techno~crazed world, it is truly refreshing to sit in the peace and quiet of an old building filled with beautiful books. . .make it part of your world and that of your children's. . .it is a wonderful, lifelong gift you can give them.