Monday, May 22, 2017

What? Is a Magic Mirror

What is a magic mirror? A lot of us instantly think of something similar to the image above, most everyone knows the story of Snow White. The magic mirror is something that is now referenced in the world of fashion quite often. It varies immensely but the main idea behind all of them remains the same, to enhance the shopper's experience. They have been making appearances for at least 10 years now at different levels of technology but they still haven't really hit mainstream as first predicted when introduced.

I have been coming across them quite regularly in my research on garment sizing. Nothing that is available thus far deals with sizing issues well and they are mostly used in stores as a novelty due to their cost. Normally they are seen in the main retail store area as a giant touchscreen where a customer can scan through available stock. 
Some take a picture of you and then you can tweak images of garments and fit them on your image. You get a rough idea of whether the garment is some thing you may like without actually having to try it on, and you get to play with technology. They don't give you an accurate idea of how the garment will fit.
Others remind me of dressing a paperdoll, the cool thing is that the paperdoll is you. The person is you on the screen and you scroll through different outfits playing dressup. I have seen this method used at fashion related exhibits at museums as a way to make the exhibit more interactive and a chance to see yourself on the red carpet. Both often give you the option of sharing the image through social media or via email.

Another magic mirror type includes RFID(Radio Frequency Identification) technology. The RFID's are being embedded in the mirrors and when you enter the changing room with garments the tags are automatically scanned. The mirror can then suggest other possible garments and accessories to complete the outfit. Some may even suggest options that suit your silhouette better or makeup options. Ones that have a tablet in the change room can allow you to request other sizes or colours from a sales clerk or even the option of purchasing garments without even leaving the change room. 

The question is Do Magic Mirrors enhance the shopping experience? Is technology simplifying or confusing matters more?


Friday, May 19, 2017

Where? Kinokuniya Bookstore


My daughter has discovered Anime in the last while so I decided we would take a visit to Kinokuniya Bookstore here in the International District, Seattle. Of course they have a membership card like most bookstores of today, and surprise I got one. Anyone who knows me at all knows I am a sucker for bookstores and getting a membership card like this to help support my habit, how could I resist.


Until now I hadn't made it to Kinokuniya, though it had been on my radar for a while. Since my daughter has been watching back to back episodes of Black Butler and I finally got her to watch Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle I decided it was time to check it out. I think she has fallen in love ;) I envision more Anime movies in the near future.


Here she is checking out the Funko POP selection (she is now the proud owner of Sebastion from Black Butler). She's wearing her newly altered suit jacket and pants as I picked her up right from school and it had been recital day. Of course she is also wearing her Sans hat as it seldomly leaves her head.


I was impressed with the wall of ENFU Stickers and bought myself a new one to put on my laptop. I have boughten a few of these stickers since moving to Seattle. Both of us found many things we wanted and I didn't even check out the stationary area. I was kinda of afraid to as I knew I would find an assortment of writing implements that I need. Another bookstore has been officially added to my list of places to frequent.

A little WEAR? blurb


My daughter wearing her new Sans hat as her old one is looking a little worse for wear. The old one is made of fleece and more of a dingy grey then white. I made her new one out of a nice cotton knit which will be much more comfortable this time of year.




Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Who? Mary Phelps Jacob or Caresse Crosby


Mary Phelps Jacob aka Polly to her friends was a woman who believed in living her life to the fullest. She had a very eventful and exciting life which also included not the best taste in men. Her first husband after returning from WWI, an alcoholic and was obsessed with watching buildings burn. She had two children with him, a son and daughter. While still married to Richard R. Peabody she began a relationship and scandelous affair with Harry Crosby many years her junior. After this went on for two years Richard granted her a divorce and Mary married Harry and moved to Paris to begin a new life. In Paris Harry Crosby and Mary joined The Lost Generation of American expatriates. They immersed themselves in the bohemian decadent lifestyle which also involved frequent drug use and numerous wild trips abroad. They had an open marriage as Harry had many affairs and after a while so did Mary. 

Caresse and Clytoris

In 1924 Mary took the name of Caresse after deciding against Clytoris, though they did decide to name their second whippet Clytoris. Harry thrived on trying to shock society and became more and more obsessed with death over the years. In 1925 they started publishing their poetry as Edition Narcisse and by 1928 they had renamed their press company Black Sun Press. They were patrons of the arts, had befriended Dali, Max Ernst and published early works of Ernest Hemingway, Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Bukowski and more. The couple continued their decadent lifestyle until Harry's death in 1929, in New York. Harry was found dead in the intimate embrace of his current lover, they were both dead from gunshot wounds to the head. This created another scandal as it was unsure if it was a murder suicide or the results of a suicide pact. After Harry's death Caresse added Mary back to her name.

Mary and Caresse

Mary Caresse returned to Paris and continued to run Black Sun Press until leaving because of unrest due to the upcoming war. Soon after returning to the United States she met and married Selbert Young, an unemployed, alcoholic actor many years younger then herself. Mary Caresse bought a Virginia plantation outside Washington, DC as Selbert had dreams of living on a farm. Mary Caresse finally divorced Selbert after one of his many drinking binges where he would disappear for days, months and even once a year. After the divorce Mary Caresse moved to Washington DC and started a long-term love affair in 1934 with the black actor-boxer Canada Lee. Canada and Mary Caresse had a difficult relationship due to the miscegnation laws of the times and were normally only seen in public together as a couple in Harlem. Their relationship continued into the 40's and during this time she became more and more of an activist. 

Mary Caresse had friendships with many outspoken activists over the years including Ezra Pound and Tiffany Thayer(publisher of Doubt/Fortrean Society Magazine). In 1952 she was arrested by the Greek police as a threat to the economy and politics of the country when trying to visit her house in Delphi, Greece. Mary Caresse was put under house arrest and then expelled from the country. She was a strong supporter of the World Citizen movement and in 1955 at a meeting of the "Commonwealth of World Citizens" she was appointed Counselor to the United States. She then proceeded to open a World Citizens Information Centre in Washington DC the same year. In the summer of 1956 she was elected the 1st President of the Council.

During the 1950's she also rented and later bought Castello di Rocca Sinibalda north of Rome, Italy. She used the castle to support various artists and had many poets seminars over the years. It became an Artists Colony was referred to as "Free World" and many artists visited for a weekend or an entire season.


Caresse's favourite mode of transportation while at castle
Mary Caresse put Rocca Sinibalda up for sale in 1970 shortly before her death in 1970 in Rome of pneumonia related to heart disease. The castle after many years of neglect has been restored and opened to the public in 2014 as a National Monument. They often have exhibits and theatre continuing with Mary Caresse's work and support of the arts.

Anais Nin said Caresse Crosby was "a pollen carrier, who mixed, stirred, brewed, and concocted freindships." Mary Phelps Jacob/Caresse Crosby/Mary Caresse Crosby is an important part of history and is often overlooked except for her claim to fame of "inventing the first bra."





Monday, May 15, 2017

What? Is Vanity Sizing

Vanity sizing is mainly a marketing tool created by retailers when they started making bigger clothes and marking them with smaller sizes. This trend starting occuring as early as the 50's and in todays retail market it is a common occurence. Truthfully this has made sizing labels practically useless. A woman's and yes even a man's sizing can easily vary 2 or 3 sizes brand to brand. It is even possible to take in three pair of pants labeled the exact same size by the same fashion brand and they will each fit completely different. Something that makes it very difficult in the changing room let alone ordering something online. Approximately 40% of online clothing purchases are returned because of sizing issues.


As you can see from the above chart, sizing has greatly changed over the decades. A good example is in the Sears catalog a 32" bust was a Size 14 in 1937, in 1967 it was a size 8 and in 2011 it was a Size 0. Twiggy was considered to be a Size 8 in 1967 now she would be a Size 0 or even 00. Marilyn Monroe was a Size 14 at the height of her fame now she would be a Size 6 or 8. Neither woman is the standard shape of most women of today. 



The reason Vanity Sizing works is because deep down everyone is a little vain. If a customer has taken multiple pairs of pants in a change room to try and they have found two pairs that fit well, one is marked size 10 the other size 8, they will 9 times out of 10 buy the ones marked size 8. They will often even be willing to pay more for the size 8's. The smaller size number on the label makes them feel better about themselves.

In an ideal situation we wouldn't care what size the label said, instead we would only care about the fit and appearance of a garment. Self Esteem should not include a number on a label but sadly it often does, thus Vanity Sizing exists and prospers. Before the Great Depression and WWII Ready-to-wear(RTW) was not readily available so no sizing labels. Instead of RTW if women were wealthy they had their clothing made for them or if they weren't wealthy they made their own garments. This meant clothing was made to their individual measurements and personal preferences. Ideally size labels should not be a concern and Vanity Sizing has only added more confusion in the dressing room but both are here to stay.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Where? Goodwill Capital Hill

My daughter has a ukulele recital for her school coming up and she was told to dress up. She isn't one for dresses or even skirts. So her idea was to get a pair of dress pants and a suit jacket "You know a tux or something". Then she suggested we go thrift shopping :). I think I may be raising her right if her first suggestion was thrift shopping for a "tux or something." So after school yesterday we caught the bus and went to the Capital Hill Goodwill.



Her posing with our oversize bag after our expedition. She found everything she needed for the recital plus I found some things for myself also.

I scored the TV Series "Pushing Daisies" that I have been keeping my eyes open for. The first season was still sealed and the second season was pristine also, so the trip was just worthwhile for that. We also ended up with a suit jacket for her - $24.97, two pairs of black dress pants - $7.99 each, a purple dress shirt - $7.99, and to complete her outfit a pair of Steve Madden blue suede boots - $19.99. I found a pair of black IBEX pants that had never been worn - $12.99, a Calvin Klein black skirt - $12.99, and two black shirts - $4.99 & $7.99. It seems I always find something worth buying at this location and it's clean and the staff is friendly.



Of course all of her stuff needs alterations of some sort, that is except her boots. The men's suit jacket needs the shoulders narrowed and maybe the sleeves need to be shortened, though I suspect the sleeves may be fine after the shoulder alteration. The dress shirt was a mans also so I am shortening the length of it and taking the sleeves back the cuff length. Both pairs of pants need to be shortened also but I am ecstatic that she decided on two pairs, maybe this means she will wear something beyond her standard leisure wear occasionally. She also found a vintage bow tie amongst my stash which needs some TLC to complete her outfit.

Thrift shopping is always an adventure and sometimes it can be challenging when looking for something specific. This outing was fruitful and my daughter actually enjoyed the experience, something which doesn't happen often when it come to shopping for clothes. I have found she is always more cooperative at a thrift shop then she is at a normal clothing retail store though.

Well back to the sewing machine for me :)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Who? Mary Phelps Jacob Part 1

Mary Phelps Jacob born April 20, 1891 died January 24, 1970

Mary Phelps Jacob was a young New York socialite who at the age of 19 designed what she later called the "Backless Brassiere". The story is that in 1910 she had purchased a sheer evening gown for an debuntante's ball. Mary was dissatisfied with the way her corset looked under the dress, the whalebone was noticable due to the sheerness of the fabric and the plunging neckline. She asked her maid to fetch two silk handkerchiefs, some ribbon and cording, they stitched these together and the "Backless Brassiere" was created. At the ball she had many compliments for her creation and even requests for it. It was a light, soft and comfortable alternative to the corset and after receiving a request for one from a complete stranger Mary realized this could be a viable business venture.



On November 3,1914 Mary was issued the first patent for a bra in the United States. From there she started the Fashion Form Brassiere Company in Boston and employed women to manufacture her wireless bra the "Caresse Crosby". Her brassiere suited the new fashions at the time which was entering the era of the Flapper. It did not provide much support and actually flattened the breasts but it was lightweight, soft and seperated the breasts naturally. Soon afterwards she sold the patent to the Warner Brothers Corset Company for $1,500 who proceeded to use it to make millions over the next 30 years. It was a crucial alternative to the corset during WWI as it did not need ribbing and thus no metal. Warner manufactured the Crosby bra for awhile but it did not sell particularily well and eventually they discontinued it. They did however manage to build a huge business based on the ownership of the bra patent.
Mary said her brassiere was "well adapted to women of different sizes" and "so efficient that it may be worn by persons engaged in violent exercise like tennis."

Mary Phelps Jacob was an American patron of the arts, publisher and peace activist along with being an inventor which I will discuss in Part 2.


Monday, May 8, 2017

What? To Look for when Thrift Shopping


Thrift shopping can be daunting the first few times a person does it for a lot of reasons. I always do a quick assessment of the establishment as soon as I walk in the door. A shop that is clean and tidy and well organized is always a better experience. This normally means that the clothing has been checked better before it hits the floor. 


Basic rules to follow when Thrift Shopping:
- look for flaws - stains in underarms, collars and inseams - always check for any signs of discolouration 
                          - holes - Hold the item up to the light if possible this should make any small holes more noticable. This may sometimes be a problem as many shops do not have much natural light. But do your best.
                          - check all seams to see if they are intact
                          - make sure zippers and snaps still function
                          - see if garment is missing any buttons
- read the labels - fabric content
                          - washing instructions
Other things to check for - Touch and even caress the fabric to judge feel of the garment. Ask yourself is it something you personally like the feel of. Do a scrunch taste to check the wrinkle factor.                          
                                         - Pilling of fabric - Closely examine any area where friction occurs. Think about the human body and what areas have a tendency to rub against each other. This is important to remember with activewear. Some cheaper knits also pill easily.
                                         - In activewear it is also important to check the underarms and crotch area for sweat damage. If fabric is relaxed but looks wavy anywhere there has been damage to the integrity of the fabric, so you should pass on the garment.

If you have basic handstitching skills many simple fixes can be accomplished. Knowing how to sew a blind hem can be quite beneficial. Often someone has gotten rid of a skirt, dress or pair of pants just because they don't want to deal with the loose hem.


Other simple fixes are if there is wear on the hem of a pair of pants, maybe they could just be shortened into capris or perhaps you have shorter legs then the previous owner. If there is a stain or wear on the cuff of a top, you could add some trim to hide the fact or shorten the sleeves. Loose or lost buttons can often be reattached or replaced. 
Zippers and snaps are not always a simple fix. Unless you have experience replacing a zipper maybe pass on the garment. As for snaps check what type of snap needs replacing as they vary greatly.