Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Allan Gardens Outlaws

Francine and I had quite the experience while trying to accomplish this photo shoot. Although it has been an absolutely lovely weekend, the few hours that we planned on taking these photos it became cloudy, meaning that I had to change both my outfit and location for it. Because of the weather we decided to head down to Allan Gardens, a green house where it is always sunny and warm. But on the way it started raining so I picked up an umbrella in China Town and impulsively bought this blue polka dotted thing that I probably won't use again until I have a child! But it matched my outfit, so I bought it anyway (in my defense Francine bought a red one that also matched her outfit). Anyway, with our umbrella's we continued onto Allan Gardens and because I had an umbrella we couldn't help but do another twirling gif. I know I know, I need to think of a new move, but this one is in the rain, so it's totally different, right? It was pretty funny watching Francine balance her camera on a railing while holding an umbrella over it, and two purses (mine and hers) and a dog named Lilly that she was babysitting. But didn't she do a good job!
 Speaking of dogs, before entering Allan Gardens we realized that there are no dogs allowed inside, but since we had walked all the way down there (it takes about 45 minutes) and since Lily is a shit-poo, and not really a dog at all, we decided to take our chances. So we bravely (or cockily) walked into the conservatory to begin taking pictures. It was packed inside, maybe because it's a long weekend, so Francine had difficulty taking pictures without snapping all the tourists. I had to be extra confident and even had to joke with a few of them about sabotaging my glamour shots. Once we finished taking pictures in the main room I asked Francine if she wanted to leave, but we decided that we should check out some of the smaller rooms. However, just as we were getting very comfortable with our little dog a security guard came into our view. Francine quickly bent down, scooped Lilly up in her jacket and pretended to search for something in her bag while I hovered over her. The security guard then proceeded to walk by us and stand at the door (about 4 to 5 meters away from us). We actually had to turn our position as he walked by. Luckily there are two doors opposite to each other so we just left out the other door. But the whole thing was pretty exciting. I know that the only thing the security guard could have done was asked us to leave, but I already feel a bit self-important taking pictures in public places, so getting yelled at for having a dog would have been just too embarrassing.
 I'm wearing an old Urban Outfitters top that I cropped myself, Fletcher by Lyell shoes, a barrette from Anthropologie and a skirt made by me. I picked this colour out when spring was just arriving in Toronto and I was mad for bright colours. Usually I only wear neautrals, reds and blues, but every spring I splurge on colour. I think I've hit a colour climax though, and you won't see it much around here anymore. The problem with colour for me is that I may love it for awhile, but I get tired of looking at it. Even by the end of this day I was tired of all the bright greens. I've worn nothing but grey since.
 Anyway, my favourite part about this skirt is definitely the slit pockets, it's what makes them so comfortable to wear. I just can't stand not having pockets in skirts! This week I'm going to post a tutorial on how to insert them into almost any skirt pattern.
After our quick escape Francine and headed down to a new lovely boutique in Toronto called Bicyclette. They had some very pretty little thing, and some amazing nail polish. Francine bought this amazing top that has rope at the top of it, that I might have to share on here! Anyway, have a lovely week and hopefully I'll have that tutorial for you soon. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Franklin Fountain

Well, I had an absolutely wonderful holiday in Philadelphia and now I feel so refreshed and excited about the summer. There are so many interesting and wonderful things in Philadelphia, but my absolute favourite thing in that old American city is the The Franklin Fountain.
The Franklin Fountain is a new ice cream shop that is modeled after a turn of the century soda shop. Now, we all know that I love old timey things, and I even enjoy tacky old timey things, but Franklin Fountain brought old timey to an entirely new and beautiful level. Every last detail of the shop was thought about, right down to the steel icecream buckets. I was staying in the area so I took advantage and came here for ice cream or a soda every single day of my holiday. The owner is also re-opening one of the oldest candy stores in America, so I think I'll have to plan my next trip down there for its opening day. I know I keep going on about this, but I was just really impressed with the Berley families' (the owners) dedication to creating an entire world, it's something that few business people are willing to do. Providing that type of atmosphere feels like a gift from the owner to each individual costumer. If you are ever near Philadelphia I highly recommend that you try it.
Now I have to apologize for the graininess of the photographs, Jon took them on his ipod since I don't have a real camera. I spent all of my money on shoes so it looks like it's going to be grainy pictures for the next little while. Speaking of spending too much money on shoes, here I'm wearing my new MADRAS for a.p.c. red suede sandals! My pants, and jacket are both hand-me-downs, my purse is thrifted and my shirt is just from aa. I think I'll save the other places I went to and the other things I purchased for another post (thinking of it all at once is almost overwhelming).

Monday, May 9, 2011

Women and Their Bicycles

With all this nice weather that Toronto has been having I have finally been able to take my bicycle out. The first outfit that I wore on my bike was a pair of incredibly wide leg sailor trousers, so I had to tie up my right pant leg with red ribbon (so much better than rope) to prevent my pants getting caught in the chain. I don't think I'll wear those trousers on my bike often, and afterwards I decided to make a few more pairs of shorts for the summer- one of which is a beautiful bright pink that I can't wait to show you. Anyway, this whole debacle brought to mind a magazine article from the late nineteenth century that I had read last year when I was researching for my final project in my fashion history course and since it's such a wonderful article I thought I would share it with you.
It's an article called "Bicycling for Women" from the April 1894 issue of the Ladies' Standard Magazine and the entire seven page article is dedicated to what women should wear when they are bicycling. If I found a pair of wide leg trousers difficult to cycle in, please, let us just imagine cycling in those huge skirts that women wore at the end of the nineteenth century! They were heavy twilled wool, and had cotton petticoats underneath. For a women's magazine from this period I actually found this article to be pretty heavily weighted towards the pro bloomer side of the debate: "fashion's decree has always required woman to clothe herself in draggling skirts whether on foot or horseback. Earnest en deavor has been, and efforts still continue to be made to secure emancipation from them, by the advocates of dress reform." But the article is mostly interviews of women cyclists, so the magazine never really has to take full responsibility for the arguments they are making for women to wear trousers when cycling. I know it sounds silly discussing the controversy of wearing pants as a woman, but even with magazine articles such as this one many, if not most women from this period still wore skirts when cycling. Along with bloomers, "Turkish" trousers (harem pants are everywhere these days) are also encouraged in this article for they "are very pretty and show how easily a woman may dress becomingly for cycling, and at the same time be free from the trammels of skirts with their disadvantages." It's obvious that women at the time were struggling with what to wear to be safe when cycling, while still appearing to be a woman.
 Everything about bicycling and women was controversial when the bike first became popular. This Punch cartoon from the September 19th issue from 1999 shows that women who bicycled were accused of stepping outside of their gender rolls. The image of a manly women cycling beside a feminine looking man were very popular at this time. It just shows how a little thing like a bicycle could totally uproot the incredibly strict gender rolls of the nineteenth century. But as we all know, both bicycling and trousers never left us once we tried them, because what's better than riding a bicycle in the spring!
And for all of you Torontonians, here's a lovely picture that I found in the Toronto Public Reference Library of St. Annette Methodist Church men's and women's cycling club from 1890.
Works Cited
Marks, Patricia. Bicycles, bangs, and bloomers: the new woman in the popular press. Kentucky: The University of Kentucky   Press, 1990.  Heilmann, Ann. “Contesting/Consuming Femininities.” In New Woman Fiction: Women Writing First-Wave Feminism, 15-42. London: MacMillan Press Ltd., 2000.  
McCrone, Kathleen E. “Women’s Sport and Dress Reform.” In Sport and the Physical Emancipation of English Women, 1870-1914, 216-246. London: Routledge, 1988. 
Next week I'll be in Philidelphia but when I get back I hope to share with you some of the summer clothes I have been making, oh and I bought the most amazing 1920s dress pattern, so maybe I can share that as well. Have a lovely week! 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

I Capture the Castle

 I Capture the Castle is a wonderful film adaptation of a novel by Dodie Smith (that I have not read, but I intend to listen to the audio book on my road trip to Philadelphia next). Amazingly enough, Dodie Smith is also the writer of 101 Dalmations! It takes place in 1930s England and is told from the perspective of a teenage girl named Cassadra (played by Romola Garai). Now Miss Romola really gets all the best roles in all of my favourite period pieces, except for Kiera Knightley (whose acting I dislike and whose clothes I love).
 Anyway, in I Capture the Castle Cassadra and her family live in a run down Castle and rely on the support of their father, who is an author that hasn't been published in twelve years. They are utterly dirt poor, but everything around them is just beautiful. The Castle is so magical, it reminds me of when I was a girl and my mother took me to all of her friends houses who were starving artists. In particular, my mothers friend Jennifer had this apartment that felt unlike anything I've seen since, with white walls, white table clothes, white blankets, and brightly coloured painted canvases everywhere. In my own house my mother was always able to make things beautiful, even though we were living modestly. The idea of being able to make something drab into art is a very nice one isn't it. I forget sometimes that pretty things don't always have to be expensive (although sometimes they just do!).
I loved this movie not only because it was stunning and I would wear every one of Cassandra's outfits (I actually bought a vintage pattern in hopes of making myself one),  but also because I found it a very funny. Cassandra is so confused about her own feelings towards boys and she does things that she doesn't understand, and she makes mistakes, and hurts peoples feelings, and it's just like how I felt when I was a teenager. It's such a funny and confusing time in everyone's life, and Cassandra encapsulates that confused, hormonal wreck of a teenager perfectly. She is also just a very witty and candid narrator, you will fall in love with her.
 This movie just seems to have captured what my own imagined life is, right down to the beautiful blue bells that are scattered all around Toronto at the moment.