I wear and sell vintage for many reasons. One of them being that each piece has a story to tell. A hidden history, something that lasts. Imagine the life of a dress that's been floating around the world and the wardrobes of fabulous women for decades. Imagine all of the events and the emotion that these garments have seen. It's an extraordinary thing. Being the romantic that I am, it's a kind of sentiment that fills me with wonder, an itching to know what happened to these clothes. And I'm on a mission to continue to give them a life of adventure, style and love. Whether through me, or through my clients, my wardrobe will continue to build a legacy of its own.
Take this dress for example; one I just sold and shipped today to Chicago so she can carry onward in the life of yet another woman. A dress I was gifted when I had first moved to Los Angeles in the winter of 2013, so I could start a new life with a man I was deeply in love with. It's a 1980's Ms. Chaus labeled dress, made in Hong Kong, and in the perfect shade of champagne with the most feminine ruffles around the collar and sleeves, and covered buttons...Oh I just love covered buttons! I received it as a token of love, and now I release it in the same measure. We can't keep anything, afterall. Not forever.
In an effort to help me understand the magic of my new city, being the gentleman that he was, my partner insisted on taking me shopping. I of course chose to scout out a vintage boutique, and the decision was made to go to Shareen's. In an unassuming historic brick warehouse at the edge of Chinatown, hidden from the street, we came upon the door. It was marked with a sign that said 'No boys allowed'. I had never come across such a rule in all of my vintage sleuthing. We were intrigued and a bit flustered...he wanted to take me shopping, but couldn't join in the process?! We had to convince Miss Shareen herself otherwise. So I went in alone and pleaded that she let him join me. You see, her dressing room is in fact a ROOM. THE room. It was open air. I just loved this concept so much. With high wood beam ceilings, plush carpets and stylish velvet furniture and racks upon racks of glimmering vintage, perfectly curated, the entire store was a dressing room. It was perfect. And 'no boys allowed' seemed now to make much more sense. She agreed to let him come in, as we were the only customers present. So one of of my very first vintage shopping trips in the land of incredible historic Hollywood wardrobe, I started sifting. I'd never had a love interest take me shopping before, and it was an intoxicating feeling, I must say. It is quite the feeling to be spoiled by a man. Not that my coy character would ever dream of ASKING for it, but to receive it out of pure adoration, to fulfill the desire of someone that wishes to demonstrate that they are a thoughtful and generous partner, is something I will never turn down.
I was overwhelmed. By excitement, by fresh romance, by strikingly beautiful garments, too many to count. I chose modestly, even knowing budget didn't seem to be much of a concern. I chose the $40 dress you see here. I paired this choosing with a very smart 1950's houndstooth print wiggle dress that I still wear often to this day. Just two dresses. Dresses which were the perfect pieces for me during that moment of my life. The dresses that spoke to me, the dresses that made me feel delightfully and thoroughly feminine in my new life.
However enchanted I was by countless exquisite pieces, I tried on many dresses that day, but so few of them seemed to look just right on me, (and I don't buy any piece unless they bring me great confidence and highlight the best features of my figure). But I giddily stripped off my clothes plein air in the middle of a warehouse filled with LA's best and tried them all on. I've always loved the freedom of being in the flesh....maybe because I've been to one too many foreign nude beaches, or clothing optional hot springs in the Colorado mountains, or perhaps my family spent the years of my youth living the folk/hippie/music festival lifestyle that included an array of nudist colony dwelling family friends. Maybe because when I was a baby, my parents couldn't for the life of them, get me to keep my clothes on. Whatever it is, and despite how deeply I adore clothing, being nude is one of my very favorite states to live in! Naked after all, is the breath your body takes in between deciding on an outfit for the day... The breath it takes in vulnerable movements of display. Naked is natural and it's a beautiful thing, darlings!
I've kept the ruffled dress for a few years now. I hardly ever wore it, actually. Maybe once or twice. The frills spoke to me much more loudly in the joy of the moments inside Shareen's than they did in the realities of my life afterward. It was a dress I identified as being part of a new chapter that was blossoming in fabulous ways. It was a dress I identified as being a symbol of someone that loved me and wanted to show me how different life could be away from home. I identify that dress with my old life now. Things changed. The relationship didn't last, the romance turned into hurt. The shopping trips, the big loft filled with natural light, the cruises through town on our thrift store circuit, the love that I thought would stay just as enchanting, the perfect little dog we shared, are all now a memory for me. But my love and appreciation for my past still resides. The things I learned from the downfall of the relationship carry me forward in healthier and happier relationships now. And the dress is a reminder that life is always changing and that we must adapt and continue to be graceful through all of our losses. The dress has a life of her own, the power to keep the story going. The endless possibilities of moving across the country to experience someone new. Much like I did. She is off to Chicago now, and I have no idea where she came from before getting to LA, and no idea where she'll go after the windy city. I don't know where I'll be or where my old loves will land in the future, but I know we'll all keep evolving into our own stories, touching the world around us along the way.