Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Meet The Model

Name: Erica aus Amerika (Erica from America)

Height: A whopping 6 foot 2 (I think...)

Astrological Sign: Leo, baby! ;)

Originally from: The Detroit Metro Area, Michigan

Has lived in Berlin for: almost ten years (I beat her by one year. Originally I planned to stay for a couple of years and she for a couple of semesters. Berlin just does that to you.)

Favorite neighborhood in Berlin: Kreuzberg, baby (well, duh!)

Claims to Fame: Besides being a sweet and generous person, Erica can also sing one mean version of the song "I Am From Michigan", complete with hand gestures (and anyone who knows Michigan knows they are proud to be shaped like a hand.) She also knows her tenses and has a hankering for literature and linguistics. Oh yeah, and she loves to get out on that dance floor and dance, dance, dance.

Erica, thanks so much for being my model! And yes folks, she did get some free, bad ass dresses in the process. They looked so great on her, how could I say no? :)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Photographs Schmotographs...

Sales have continued to be pretty much non-existent at my shop this week. Although I'm pretty relaxed about it and have come to terms with the fact that it is (hopefully...) just a stroke of bad luck, I've also decided to try out some new things. I recently asked people on the forums if they prefer a dress form/mannequin or a live model for clothes and people overwhelmingly said live model (something I found kind of surprising since I definitely prefer a dress form.) A chic friend of mine has volunteered to model the size mediums next week, but I thought I'd also give it a go with the larger sizes.

Although this vintage navy blue pleated skirt with white art deco style z's is actually too small for me (as is all the clothes I model) I pull it off for the picture I think. But I guess that's the question I have: Do I just pull off the modeling or does it actually make the clothing more interesting?

Do you prefer something like this?.....

To something like this?.....

Non sequiter I know, but isn't this vintage 1960s dirndl adorable?

Anyway, in the end I'll probably just end up mixing the different type of photographs together, including those on the Berlin walls, but any critiques, personal preferences or insights would be most appreciated. :)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Why Not Just Use Berlin?

So I'm seriously in need of a new mannequin for my shop. My old one is beginning to get a little bit funky in the back and it is too big for anything smaller than a size 8 (and somehow also doesn't work for some larger clothes like the last photograph of the 1950s shirtwaist dress, which is a size 10, and the first photograph of the late 1950s striped dress and matching jacket, which is a size 12.) I'm not sure yet what I'm going to do. I'd rather use the one I have until I simply can't and I don't really want to buy a second smaller one because it would be just floating around the apartment and our place isn't really that big. In the meantime, I've decided to simply use Berlin as a backdrop. The dark gray is the front of an apartment building on Müllenhofstrasse in Kreuzberg's Graefekiez and the white is in the fabulous Riehmers Hofgarten where I would love to have an apartment but where it's pretty much impossible to get one....

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What I Kept

Having two babies pretty much in a row in my mid-thirties definitely has not been easy on my figure. I went from being between a size 10 and a size 12 to being between a size 14 and a size 16. Some women loose a lot of weight by breastfeeding but, sadly, I am not one of them. Although I have come to terms with my current size, it is sometimes a bit of a shock when I see my reflection in a shop window or mirror when I am not expecting it. In my mind, I think I still envision myself about 40 to 50 pounds lighter.

Still, I would like to loose some weight this summer. So far my plan is to limit ice cream to two times a week, do yoga regularly and ride my bike all over town which I finally got fixed. We'll see how it goes. In the meantime, the best I can do is try and find flattering ways to cover it up. I think I found one with this vintage 1970s dark navy polka dot skirt.

The skirt sat in my shop all of one day until I tried it on today and realized how much I like it. You can see the ties dragging a bit in the photographs, but that's just because I didn't tie it quite high enough. The skirt is also completely adjustable, so you can really vary the look. The last thing I need right now is more clothes (just got rid of four big bags full and my closet is still brimming...) but what the hay? Happy un-birthday to me.

* Skirt, vintage 1970s, nicked from Curious Knopf; Shirt, Vero Moda; Watch, vintage 1970s Seiko that once belonged to my aunt; Bakelite ring, from Petit Oiseau; Earrings, burgundy Bakelite and vintage buttons, something I made and also decided to keep; Necklace, Art Deco Dreams Necklace, made by me and still for sale at Curious Knopf (better hurry because I just may also decide to keep it for myself! ;) ); Shoes, thrifted at the Fillmore Goodwill across from the Japantown Mall in San Francisco.

Sweet on Slips

I really don't know why slips ever went out of style. Both my grandmother and aunt were pretty old school and they still wore them with most of their dresses when I was a child. I remember trying them on and how smooth they felt against the skin. So many beautiful vintage dresses are sheer and you need a slip to go under them. And it's such a great feeling (not to mention sexy), so much more elegant than some little old tank top. Check out this fantastic video of a 1940s boudoir fashion show:

Amazing! Speaking of slips, this vintage 1950s Gilead nightgown isn't exactly a slip, but it sure is pretty. Just look at that delicate lace and those embroidered flowers.

The nightgown is not my size and also not really my style, but I still think it's absolutely gorgeous, not to mention in mint condition. I do hope it finds a loving home soon where it will be appreciated. :) For a closer look, click here.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Who the heck are you?

So I've been writing this blog for a few months now but I just realized anyone who reads it probably doesn't have much of a sense for who I am. To be honest, I never intended this blog to even become personal. I already write a more personal blog so I thought this one could be used more for shop updates or vintage living in Berlin tips, that sort of thing. But I can't help it; I always get personal. The personal is just what most interests me....To anyone else out there who also likes to know what goes on behind the curtain, I give you this little post with these six little questions. Here goes:

Who are you, anyway?
Geez. Start with the general, philosphical question why don't you? Hmm...Who am I? I am the second daughter of four children (one older sister, two younger brothers.) I am an American who has lived in Berlin for over ten years and plans to stay. I am a person who believes in change and that everything always stays in motion und das ist gut so. I am an Aquarius with Capricorn moon and Virgo rising (oh, give me a break...I'm from California. ;), I am the mother of two young red-headed daughters though no one knows where the red hair came from.

Where are you from?
Like I said, I grew up mainly in California, in the San Francisco Bay Area (East Bay hardcore!) I was born in Sacramento where I lived in an urban Jesus freak hippie commune until I was 2 (go 1970s!!) when we moved to Tucson, Arizona. I lived in Tucson until I was ten and will always have a soft spot in my heart for the Sonoran desert. I lived in the Bay Area for fifteen years, where I also studied music at Mills College. When I was 25 I left for Berlin, supposedly supposedly for only one year. I lived all over the neighborhood of Neukölln, an area that has a pretty bad reputation because it's pretty gritty (though nothing compared to American standards) but I always liked it because it is diverse and has great, cheap apartments and is very close to cooler neighborhoods. Once I had kids I moved to Kreuzberg 61, a neighborhood that is similar to Noe Valley in San Francisco and Park Slope in Brooklyn in that it is still urban but also child friendly and slightly more affluent (though Kreuzberg 61 is no where near as expensive as those neighborhoods because Berlin is still an incredibly affordable city.) My husband and I plan to stay here because we are city people and, slowly, so are our kids. And yes, in case you're wondering, he is German.

How long have you worn vintage?
Since high school, though then I wouldn't have called it "vintage" I would have just said I liked shopping at thrift stores. Still, two of my favorite dresses were what I now know to be a light blue vintage 1950s shirtwaist dress and an amazing vintage 1940s black velvet dress with a white collar and cuffs. I wish I still had both of them but then again I was a size 8 in high school and now; well, let's just say I am no longer a size 8....Although I will occasionally buy a skirt or blouse at H&M, for the most part all of what I have worn for the past ten years has come from a flea market or thrift stores. When I go back "home" to California, one of the first things I always do is go on a shopping spree at the flagship Goodwill store of Mission and South Van Ness in San Francisco, no doubt one of the best thrift stores in the world. I also go to several others around the City (as people in the Bay Area call San Francisco) until my two suitcases are monster full. As my sister says, "People come from all over the world to see the gorgeous sites of San Francisco and when you are here all you want to do is go to scummy, scummy thrift stores."

Why have you decided to sell vintage?
I've always loved (and been good at) finding things. When I was a child, it was arrow heads and pottery shards in the desert and now it's vintage clothing. I've found several amazing locations here in Berlin for vintage but, like any flea market or thrift store, you have to wade through the piles until you find that golden needle in the hay stack. But this is exactly what I find so wonderful about it. Going on the hunt....And when I do make that amazing find I get so excited. The good news is, now that I have a vintage clothing shop, it doesn't matter whether or not it is my size or style. If it isn't I've just made an amazing find for someone else and both of us go away happy.

Who has influenced your style?
Definitely my grandmother (father's mother.) She was quite the fashionista, with a Jackie Kennedy-esque style. I still have several of her beautiful ballgowns from the 40s, though she was under five feet and a size 4, so they come no where near to fitting me. But she definitely gave me a feel for style and the cut and quality of cloth, something I always have in mind when I go on the hunt. My sister is also an inspiration. Her style is more classic and designer minded than mine (I like it playful and colorful with a touch of sexy for the most part), but good clothes and good vintage is something we both care about. As far as "vintage" ladies whose style I admire, I guess the top of the list would be Kim Novak, Sophia Loren and Julie London.

Anything else?
I am a trained classical singer, but these days I'm more into singing jazz and Brazilian songs. I also write, mainly short stories though I do have some ideas for a novel I would like to start on now that my youngest daughter has started pre-school. I love animals and couldn't imagine not having any pets. I had practically every pet imaginable when I was growing up (let's just say I never had a tarantula, though I did want one...), but now my California family is pretty much just big into dogs. I like both dogs and cats (though which I like better tends to change by my mood) but I hate litter boxes and wouldn't want to have to take a dog for walk six times a day (at least) like you have to do in a city. Since I've been in Berlin I've had 5 rats (yes, rats. They make great pets), 3 parakeets and two Senegal parrots. Right now I only have the two parakeets, which require only a little more care than a goldfish. Unfortunately, my husband is not really an animal person, but I'm trying to talk my brother-in-law into getting a dog. ;)

Ok, that's it. What are your answers to the questions? I would love to hear them. :)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Everybody Loves Me But Nobody Wants Me

I don't know how it is with other sellers on etsy, but in my experience, sales can sometimes be pretty darn illogical. There are some things that continually sell pretty well, but others that barely get any attention even though you thought they would. Some items are ignored forever and then suddenly snatched up out of the blue. And then there are still others that everyone loves; those that have lots of hearts and that you get asked about over and over, yet no one ever buys them. This vintage 1960s bubblegum pink dress is one of them.

I've only been running Curious Knopf for a little over two months and this dress has gotten a lot of attention and 24 hearts. And yet it still has no home. Still, the even more extreme example is this skirt.

Everyone loves this skirt and what's there not to love? It has a sweet alpine style and the most adorable pewter Dachshunds on the belt. It was even in the gift guides for a while (back when there were gift guides...) and has over 3000 views and 54 hearts. I've also been asked about it at least a dozen times. I still have it in my first shop Schaufenster. Who knows? Maybe the key is to just move it over to Curious Knopf?

Neither item is very expensive (but also not priced so low people might wonder what is wrong with them). Everybody loves them and yet nobody seems to want them. Won't you give a poor dress and skirt a good home? ;)

For a closer look at the dress click here
For the sweet little skirt click here.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Monday Melodies: Paris Combo!

I suppose there might be someone out there who wouldn't like the fun, lounge-y vibe of Paris Combo. Someone who is crazy that is. ;)

Here are a few of my favorite songs of theirs to enjoy on this slightly stormy Monday afternoon (in Berlin that is.....who knows? Maybe also in Paris!)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Black and White With a Little Dusty Rose

It's been a pretty black and white week at Curious Knopf, though the weather in Berlin has improved dramatically. Here's a little fashion show of what I've been up to lately. Besides spending a lot of time out in the much missed sun, that is. :)

Black and white Snow White dress with lace detailing on the sleeves and skirt.

Blouse with crocheted sleeves and lace detailing. Gotta love that lace! ;)

Faux wrap dusty rose dress. This dress is so beautiful and feels so good against the skin. It's elegant with nice details and a wonderfully vibrant color. I'm truly in love with it, but it's just too small for me. Sniff.

And, last but not least, this 1950s day dress with a retro rick rack collar. Oh yeah!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Take Me To The Grand Canyon

Every once in a while you see something that is so badass you just have to buy it no matter what the state of your bank account (within reason, of course. The habit of living off credit is fortunately not very well spread in Germany...It's actually pretty hard to get a credit card here, especially one that doesn't come directly off of your bank account every month. A better way to live really than the standard plastic mania of the U.S....) This Grand Canyon Vintage 1950s circle skirt, for sale at Dear Golden Vintage, is just one of those items. Not only is it cool and funky and 50s, it also reminds me of my childhood. The Grand Canyon was only a 45 minute drive from my grandparent's cabin in Flagstaff and we went there every summer, year after year. But I never got tired of it. Petrified wood, Grand Canyon shot glasses, road runner knick knacks, cactus candy, bring it all on!

I do actually have money to burn on my paypal account right now, but unfortunately this skirt just isn't my size. Sniff. But if you are a lucky size small/medium this skirt can be yours with one lucky click of a button here.