Alameda is a quick 10 minute drive from my house, and for how close it is I don’t go there often enough. But I recently spent a couple days out there, and really wanted to share what a fun weekend trip it could be for someone who lives out of town. And for vintage lovers, it’s an absolute paradise of art deco flower shops, and beautiful victorian houses, and home to the largest antique fair in Northern CA. Step one, plan it out so that you visit the first weekend of the month so you can attend the Alameda Antique Fair, which is always the first Sunday of every month, but more on that later.
FRIDAY NIGHT: Pack your vintage dirndl and trek over to the German Restaurant & Bar Speisekammer for a delicious Hefeweizen and listen to some sweet tuneage. Every Fri night they have live music with no cover, and with vintage-friendly bands who play western-swing, ragtime, blues, or jazz. The last time I went was on Valentine’s Day and saw fellow East Bay vintage ladies Tina and Elisa.
SATURDAY: Grab a classic diner breakfast at Ole’s Waffle Shop “Since 1927″
source - Disclaimer: I have never eaten here, so I can’t vouch for the food, but I can vouch for its CUTENESS QUOTIENT!
Take a stroll on Park St which houses several packed to the rafters, completely crowded and dusty, multiple level antique stores. Which, come on, are always the best to roam and sift through. But there are some cute boutiques on the street, too, including the extremely fun Rocket Reuse which houses everything I love in life: books, music and vintage! Be sure to try something on in the dressing room that opens with an old phone-booth door.
Get a break from shopping and head over to the Pacific Pinball Museum. The $15 admission gets you all the pinball you can play ’til midnight. They have games from the 30s and up, multiple rooms, and they’re always rotating the 90 machines they have there with the 400 they house in storage. My top picks are Fireball for its spinning plate in the middle of the board, Oribtor 1 for its craziness (the ball moves erratically and it isn’t from magnets!), Black Rose for its added video game element, and Black Knight for its double deck/multiple flipper action. Get your hand stamped because you’ll need a break in between so much fun pinball playing, and oohing and aahing over all that awesome pinball art.
All that standing up playing pinball has got your legs aching for a break. Why not take in a flick at the beautiful art deco Alameda Theatre?
This theater was designed by the same architect who designed the gorgeous Paramount Theater, and was renovated in 2008. Even if your choice movie isn’t in the main (original) theater, spend some extra time feeling glamorous in the lobby.
Is it dinner-time? I suggest local SF chain Burma Superstar, right around the corner from the Theater on Park St. The pumpkin curry I recently had there melted in my mouth! Now go back and play pinball for dessert!
SUNDAY: Wake up bright and early and head over to the Alameda Antique Fair.
Bring cash, comfortable walking shoes, a wide-brimmed hat and lather up in sunscreen even if it looks cloudy. Sadly every time I’ve gone to the fair I’ve managed to get a weird looking sunburn. Small price to pay for amazing vintage! Like this recent haul:
My other strategy is to put figurative blinders on as soon as I walk through the gates, and walk all the way to the back of the fair, to the last row of vendors. It’s hard to not stop, but trust me, just walk all the way to the back. I’ve found that some of the better vendors with good deals are in the back (maybe it’s cheaper booths?). And also this way you can make sure you see everything at the fair. They have a wide selection of food trucks available, and a shuttle bus.
You’re probably wiped out by all the vintage visual stimulation so relax with a cocktail at Forbidden Island tiki lounge.
And there you have it! A really fun vintage-y weekend in a really cute town. I’m looking forward to exploring the area more and more with lots of pinball in the mix! Let me know if you have any more Alameda destination suggestions.
I finally had a weekend at home this past weekend and had one of those Sundays where I was in my pajamas until the afternoon, lazing about reading a graphic novel (Bone, and totally enjoying it by the way). Then I tackled some DIY projects I’ve been meaning to do for some time now. Like hemming a pair of rayon shorts from the 90s that have a very fun 40s-ish cowboy novelty print:
And making a necklace from vintage brooches and buttons! Meet the Three Amigas:
The story with this is that I found one of the brooches at an antique store back in March 2013:
And once upon a time I was trolling ebay for wooden brooches (the way other people play candy crush, that’s me on ebay) when lo and behold I saw a listing for two identical sombrero ladies to the one sombrero lady I already had. The idea for a necklace was born!
I then discovered wooden sombrero shaped buttons, and found a listing of those on ebay that happened to come with a few painted Mexican-themed buttons. Now, in addition to finding all the decorative pieces, I had to think about the type of chain. I bought 3 versions of black plastic and metal chains, hoping to find one that mimicked the bakelite and celluloid necklaces we all love from the 40s. But I wasn’t satisfied, and couldn’t find the right chain! Fast forward to Sunday when I had my sewing/craft chest open while I was hemming the shorts, I saw all the parts to this un-made necklace and thought, heck. Let’s just try this with what I got. And actually, it worked out better than I imagined!
While researching how I could do this, I found these brooch converters. They’re pretty ingenious, though kind of expensive. I didn’t end up ordering them, but it’s neat to know they exist.
I ended up using a 7mm chain I got from Delish Beads on Etsy. And although the chain wasn’t as chunky as a 40s celluloid version, the size actually worked in my favor because the links are small enough to hold a brooch pin in place. I simply pinned the brooches onto the chain! It works really well and it’s easy to take off if I ever just want to wear one of the brooches as a brooch. The sombrero buttons got jump ring’d onto the chain, and the smaller buttons I actually sewed onto the chain, which I might change eventually by gluing a loop onto the backs.
Voila! That’s how my Three Amigas necklace was born. I might try setting up a plain chain necklace for sporting other brooches as pendants whenever I feel like it!
As soon as I heard that the Walt Disney Museum had a Mary Blair exhibit, I knew I had to make a return visit. And as luck would have it, I was invited to attend the Tiki-themed Animate Your Night event co-presented by Tiki Oasis. I went to last year‘s event and it was a blast, so I knew I was in for a good night.
40s playsuit, mother of pearl bangle: ebay
40s straw tilt: from Thunderhorse Vintage in Sacramento (RIP)
50s confetti shell clamper bracelet: Sacramento Antique Fair
60s raffia purse: Midway Antique Mall in Sacramento
crazy raffia wedges: Poetic License
This time I decided to wear my 1940s 2 piece playsuit from ebay. This is one of those scores where I didn’t even realize how lucky I was to nab it at the time. It’s becoming so freaking rare to find matching pieces like this. And for the steal I got it for? Out of the question these days!
After snapping these outfit shots, my friend and I swiftly made our way to the Mary Blair exhibit. It was organized in chronological order, in a colorful fashion. Again, I was delighted by the exhibit design, especially the Mary Blair window display section.
And did you know that Mary Blair scarves from the 1950s exist? Of course now I need one in my life.
Of course a lot of her concept art for Disney movies was presented like the one above for Peter Pan, as well as Cinderella, and Alice in Wonderland.
And her precious illustrations from children’s books.
If you can’t make it to the museum, I highly recommend grabbing a copy of this beautiful book that contains all the art that was displayed and, like the exhibit, does a great job showing the arc of Blair’s career.
The location of the museum is a gem. In the Presidio, with a great view of the Golden Gate, and these night time events always include a spectacular sunset.
In addition to the Mary Blair, they have yet another fantastic temporary exhibit currently displayed on Marc Davis.
So definitely between this exhibit and the Mary Blair, this is the best time to go to the Walt Disney Family Museum. The Mary Blair exhibit runs until September 7, 2014, and the Marc Davis lasts a bit longer with an end date of November 3, 2014.
Last year at the Tiki night I was too shy to ask to take photos of some of the attendees who were sporting awesome vintage, and this year I wasn’t going to let that happen again.
Occupation: Owner of Skirt Chaser Vintage (and always my favorite vendor at the SF Vintage Expo and Alameda Fashion Fair!)
Favorite Disney movie: Dumbo
Favorite Disney ride: Pirates of the Caribbean
Outfit: All vintage: Hawaiian dress of unknown origin, 50s raffia sandals, bamboo tiki bracelet, shell embellished purse, and shell earrings filled with little shells!
Name: Rich and Humu-Humu
Occupation: Programmer and stay at home mom
Favorite Disney movie: Make Mine Music and 3 Caballeros
Favorite Disney ride: Pirates of the Caribbean and Splash Mountain
Outfit: Vintage 60s matching Hawaiian set from ebay
Occupation: Outdoor Educator
Favorite Disney movie: Beauty & the Beast
Favorite Disney ride: Indiana Jones
Outfit: Vintage 60s dress via Etsy
Occupation: IT Professional
Favorite Disney movie: Jungle Book
Favorite Disney ride: Pirates of the Caribbean (pre-Johnny Depp)
Outfit: Beta Brand jacket (which reminded me of Will Smith in Fresh Prince of Bel Air!) and Hawaiian shirt from Target
Name: Dixie Delish
Favorite Disney movie: Sleeping Beauty
Favorite Disney ride: Indiana Jones
Outfit: Vintage 60s dress thrifted from Goodwill
My visit to the museum definitely got me wanting to go to Disneyland! What’s your favorite ride at the park? What’s your favorite Disney movie?
I have fond memories of visiting the Cliff House as a kid, when the penny arcade was still there. That’s where I first saw Laffing Sal, and witnessed the way she made my grandmother laugh uncontrollably. It’s one of my favorite memories of her. So it was a complete delight to make a visit back decades later for a friend’s wedding. It’s a San Francisco landmark with a rich history, with its many iterations and renovations from its start in 1858.
And here it is today:
The cute couple:
What I wore:
1930s gown: ebay
art deco brooch: vintage store in Portland
purse: borrowed from my Etsy stock
Giant Dwarf astral crown
vintage fur capelet: antique fair
Victorian lapis ring: gift from my boyfriend, from the Midway Antique Mall
A lesbian wedding wouldn’t be complete without a cat cupcake topper:
The view from the reception hall – where playland at the beach used to be:
And where the camera obscura first was (built in 1948) before it moved to the Cliff House:
And I have to take some stylist credit, as the beautiful bride Jennifer (funny lady @JennDron on Twitter) wore my grandmother’s fur stole and a sweater guard of mine. And the ruffled white umbrella of mine seen in their photos was something I knew would come in handy on their rainy special day.
(last 2 photos by wedding photographer Raynie Vratari)
Another year, another list. This year comedy became my day job, not in the way I dreamed, but it became a day job nonetheless — as assistant to the booker of 3 comedy clubs in Northern California. So yes, between performing on shows myself on nights off or catching some of the visiting headliners, plus watching clips and promoting comics during the day, I indeed saw a lot of comedy. Here are some of my favorites of the year:
One of my favorite comics to visit the Punch Line this year was Dana Gould. He’s a veteran comic and wrote for The Simpson’s, he’s well-respected in the comedy community and loved by comedy nerds, but he still isn’t a household name and that’s why he’s on this list. Sadly Dana and his wife divorced this year, and when I saw him perform it cemented a theory of mine that comics get funnier after they get divorced. Ughh, I feel really bad saying it, but I think it’s true! There’s a kind of a “f*%k it I can say what I want” kind of attitude that comes out, a kind of fearlessness and true vulnerability that I’ve noticed with comics who get divorced (like with Louis CK after his divorce). Watching Dana was a comedy highlight of the year for me, and I spent many an hour listening to his podcast The Dana Gould Hour.
Just read his breakdown of 2013 to get the idea of how hard this guy works, and how much this guy loves stand-up comedy. Before his Conan set I saw Sammy Obeid slay a San Francisco Cafe Royale audience. Having not seen him a long time, I was wholly impressed by how good he had gotten. I guess that’s what happens when you commit yourself fully to a craft. Sammy performed stand-up comedy consecutively for 1,001 nights and it shows. His late night TV debut on Conan was stellar:
Phil Hanley wins the award for making my day job the easiest ever. His one-liner jokes were perfect for promotional tweets and memes on Facebook:
I believe the current trend in comedy to tell stories and be conversational has left me really aching for good old-fashioned JOKES. Phil Hanley has good ones in spades and serves them up tough like a cold hard sensei.
I was fortunate enough to open for Jasper a couple weekends ago in Sonoma. When I was watching him I found myself getting angry at show business. I found myself thinking, “Why the hell is this guy not famous?” He’s so funny, such a great writer and performer with smart jokes and unique delivery. Well, take notice Hollywood, you’ve got true talent in your foothills:
It’s hard to not think of her as the comedian Lady Liberty of San Francisco, glowing, radiant, kindly showing Bay Area comics where you are able to go with discipline and passion for the art. I’ve seen her grow into a comedy beast, and I love every minute of watching her perform. I get the sense that she’s seconds away from blowing up, reaching success and a move to LA will become inevitable. See her as much as you can, San Francisco, she’s a comedy treasure!
Another comedy highlight of 2013 was watching the development of Nick Stargu and Drennon Davis’ musical comedy group Imaginary Radio. They’re just flat out fun, entertaining and FUNNY. Their incredible talent and unique act will take them far, I’m sure.
I remember the first time I listened to You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes I was annoyed by this guy who talked too much. I couldn’t stand it! But guess what? When I first heard Weezer, Radiohead, Joanna Newsom, they all sounded odd to my ears. At first I hated them, but somehow they grew on me to the point where I loved them so much and couldn’t stop listening. Such is the case with Pete Holmes. This year I delved into his podcast, and completely fell in love with Pete Holmes. He’s so incredibly like-able, and listening to his podcast is dangerous, verging on psychopathic because you develop a connection with a stranger, a friendship the other party has no idea of. Join the cult of Pete so I don’t feel like such a nut!
Speaking of podcasts, I thought I should also mention a couple other ones I really started listening to this year. Because I enjoyed his You Made It Weird episode with Pete so much, I sought out Duncan Trussell’s own podcast The Duncan Trussell Family Hour.
Duncan is a straight-up guru. I hate the word spiritual because of all the “spiritual” people I have met through life who are also assholes. And because of that history I’ve been really closed to anything “spiritual” in my adult life. It’s rare to have a podcast truly change you or open your eyes, but Duncan’s did. I credit him and his podcast for helping me be more loving and open to new ideas. Plus, listening to him really makes me want to experience doing mushrooms on the beach. ; )
I became a dork about The Dork Forest this year. Jackie Kashian interviews people about the one or many things they are head-over-heels dorky about. What’s not to love about people dishing passionately on what they’re totally passionate about?!? Some of my favorite episodes include: Felicia Michaels talking about her lunch box obsession, and Janeane Garofalo specifying which beads she really goes crazy for. Every time I listened to the podcast I thought about how my boyfriend (who is nerdy about zoos, reptiles and skateboarding) would be perfect on the show. And sure enough I got him on it: EP 208 with Ben Aller.
I finally got my first ’49er Pendleton jacket. I’ve been keeping my eye out for awhile for one with colors that grabbed me. I saw this one on ebay and I knew it was THE ONE. I was drawn to the warm colors; mustard, red and navy blue. I’ve definitely been in a comfort/casual phase as I’ve been actively trying to get more vintage casual pieces. I want cottons, cozy knits, wool jackets…. I already purchased a second Pendleton jacket (one with knit sleeves!) and I’m looking into making my first Freddies of Pinewood jeans purchase (I hope they’ll be as good as I hear!). I hope you all in the US have a fun and cozy Thanksgiving!
Vintage Pendleton jacket, 1960s jeans: Ebay
Minnetonka’s: Bill’s Footwear on Telegraph
bakelite ring, sweater: Thrifted
Haven’t done an outfit post in a while, be it time constraints, or just plain ol’ lack of sartorial inspiration, but I finally had the urge to do one because I wanted to capture this outfit fully because it became such a surprise love affair. You know what I mean? You kind of just throw something together, put it on, and then realize you love absolutely everything about it? This was that.
The colors are so perfect for Fall, with the kind of patinaed hues you’d see in a display of vintage bakelite bangles– rust, dark green, goldenrod, but what I love about this outfit is the combination of an awesome print mix–brigitte bardot babe print and butterflies– with the depth of textures–thick leather, crisp cotton, soft chenille.
Novelty print 60s shirt: Thunderhorse Vintage, Sacramento
60s moss green leather jumper: Moon Zoom Vintage, San Jose
vintage butterfly carpet coat: ebay
90s boots: etsy
belt from an old F21 dress
baklite ring: thrifted for $.25
Thank you all for the comments on my last post! I love knowing it resonated with so many of you and I especially loved hearing your own vintage horror stories as well. So glad I’m not alone in suffering from coveting/hoarding/spending too much and all other vintage-related ailments!
So guess what? Collecting and wearing vintage isn’t all celluloid unicorns and bakelite rainbows. It can also be nasty, dirty, and a real pain in the ass. But I’ll never stop loving vintage, even despite these 12 Ugly Sides of it:
You will break one of the Ten Commandments. You may not kill, but you will most likely worship some false idols. Who hasn’t bowed in front of a rack of glorious bakelite (and maybe taken the lord’s name in vain)?
Some folks instagram photos of arms decked with carved and polished bangles, you tell me #thedailybake isn’t our version of the stations of the cross? And covet thy neighbor? HELLO! How could you not want a 40s Mexican jacket because of Atomic Redhead?
Or pretty much anything that Nicole of Fashion Forestry posts…
You probably never thought in your wildest dreams that you would need a vintage birds in flight sweater in your life, but now it haunts you.
I’m not trying to downplay true addiction. I know jonesing for a vintage score isn’t the same as shooting heroin. But when you find yourself antsy because haven’t been surrounded by antiques in a while, haven’t pawed through racks of old clothes in 5 days.. it kind of feels like you might have a problem. A fun one!
3. PACKED CLOSETS
Oh no! First world problem. But hey, it is kind of a problem when you can’t find that 1940s knit skirt that you NEED to go with your new 40s novelty print blouse. Where the hell is that skirt?!?! And you can include clutter and dust mites in this category, oh, and an irrational fear of moths.
4. THE NEVER-ENDING MENDING PILE
Get used to the sound of precious fabric tearing! There’s pretty much no way around it.
I’m afraid to say that there are dresses that have been sitting in that pile for close to 2 years now.
5. EPIC WASHING FAILS
Oh yes, it will happen to you, just wait. Twice now I’ve sadly shrunk gorgeous 1940s dresses that used to fit me like a glove. You’ll learn to not wash as much as you can and use those sexy underarm guards!
6. EBAY BATTLES
Every once and awhile you will pay way more than what you really wanted to spend for that Edwardian blouse, perfect 1940s top hat tilt, or Hawaiian Shaheen because ebay auctions SUCK YOU IN!
7. “UPCYCLED” FACEPALMS
Occasionally you will see people misuse or mistreat vintage. This will make you physically ill.
8. EMPTY WALLETS
Say goodbye to your hard-earned cash. Yes you can do vintage on a budget, but when you catch that vintage bug and find yourself absolutely needing a genuine 1950s matching playsuit in your life, be prepared to fork over some serious bread. And be careful – once you make your first steep vintage purchase it’s a true slippery slope.
I find myself sometimes rationalizing a large purchase, “I can buy this 1940s hat for $100 because I found one the other day at a thrift store for $4 so it kind of evens out!” Sometimes I think of what I could be spending my money on if I weren’t collecting vintage: Travel, retirement, going out with friends, good food. (Note to self: transfer some money into my IRA!) And yes, sometimes prices are SO obnoxious. $150 for a cotton 50s dress? A house dress some lady made with scraps… who today I bet would be like, “WHAAAAA…? You want to spend a $150 on that piece of garbage?”
(for sale here)
9. FIT OR FAT
One thing you’ll notice about pre-1960s vintage is that there is no spandex in it! In modern clothes you can gain weight, and keep gaining weight, and you’ll be none the wiser. With vintage you’ll know immediately when that 50s shirtwaist dress isn’t fitting around your waist. And there might be nothing sadder than not being able to fit in your most favorite dress of all time. Upside to this downside: you’ll realize you’re getting fat and hopefully take some life-changing measures. Me? Work in progress. Probably why I’ve been more interested in collecting hats and jewelry, they will always fit!
10. THAT THRIFT STORE SMELL… AND HEALTH RISKS?
Ahhh, that good ol’ thrift store stench. You know what it is? Mold. So says, The Doctors! And there’s been many a time where some vintage I ordered online comes shipped to my house with cigarette smoke attached, free of charge! And there are times where garments, no matter how often I try to wash them, have a built-in olfactory archive of all the armpits that have ever been near that fabric.
Yeah, I love me some bakelite, but that’s formaldehyde smell and that’s rubbing on your skin, hence seeping into your bloodstream…. they stopped making it for a reason! Do I still want it? Hell yeah!
11. BED BUGS
Yikes! This is a for real concern for anyone who buys second-hand clothing or furniture. Inspect furniture, and clean thoroughly. As soon as you come home with any vintage clothing from thrift stores, or even vintage online sellers, wash if you can in hot water and dry with high heat. If that’s not possible, get out your iron and steam those garments. Bed bugs will die from high heat, and steamers are what professionals use to get rid of them.
12. STRANGERS COMMENTING ON YOUR APPEARANCE ALL THE TIME
See this post.
What am I missing? What downside of vintage irks you the most?
The current mainstream trend of 1990s fashion/pop culture/nostalgia has brought with it….. curls. Glorious natural CURLS! Is it possible that Andie Macdowell and Minnie Driver curls are as popular as babydoll dresses, combat boots, crop tops, plaid and high waisted denim are right now?
A billboard I pass by on my way to work each day is of this saucy curly-haired lass:
And a newcomer to the pop scene with billboard charting hits (not since 90s Alanis has an “alternative” female artist hit the charts) sports her hair wild and curly:
Another current pop singer Regina Spektor also rocks the curls:
I’m STOKED (with the full 90s sense of the word) that curls are being seen, being popularized by these ads/stars/streetstyle blogs. And I think subconsciously it may have influenced me to just wear my hair naturally curly lately, well that and not having the desire to put the time and effort into trying to do Dita Von Teese 40s waves and victory rolls. Although in my vintage hair research I did find one example of a 40s actress who worked with natural curls, Ann Miller:
Now to figure out how to do the above with my hair. I have a salon visit tomorrow, my first in over a year. Here’s to hoping that my new stylist can offer me some tips.
I’ve been trolling pinterest for hair cut ideas. If you want to follow along. Do you have any suggestions of vintage or current curly hair icons?
Earlier this year I watched Ken Burns’ documentary Prohibition and was inspired to be a suffragist for Halloween. I had no idea that the prohibition helped fuel the women’s suffrage movement in the US. Thanks to some Downton Abbey obsessing I independently had bought an Edwardian blouse on Ebay so I already had part of the costume down. Took a look in my hat and purse collection, modified my Past Queen sash, stopped by a trusty vintage shop for a black velvet skirt, and voila — Suffragist costume accomplished.
I could’ve exerted even more effort and made a sign or pennant, but I did download a couple authentic women’s suffrage leaflets and printed out a few to hand out to people.
Now, just adding zombie to a costume is pretty hacky, and I’m aware of that, but I can’t help wanting to be a bit spooky for Halloween. And in a way I like that this costume is a direct result of some of the entertainment I’ve loved and consumed over this year; my love for Lady Sybil Crawley on Downton Abbey, finally being afraid of zombies because of The Walking Dead series, and learning history through Ken Burns’ documentaries.
Have to thank Google Images for inspiration photos, and authentic leaflets. And makeup courtesy of Katie’s Makeup.
Because of the placement of the holiday this year, I managed to dress up a few times and get some mileage out of the same costume. I wore it to the Alameda Vintage Fashion Fair and won 2nd place in their costume contest!
I plan on trick-or-treating with my niece and nephew tonight in the same costume, minus the makeup. Just a suffragist for All Hollow’s Eve! What are you dressing up as and what are you doing?