Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Story of my Fur Coat

It was as if it was waiting for me.

I'd walked into one of the antique stores in my hometown, just hoping to find a vintage hat, a set of cameo jewelry, or a nice pair of clip-on earrings. I never expected to find a mink coat, golden brown and hung with little care on the end of an old bookshelf.

I also never expected that such a find would fit.

It's a capelike number, cozy and soft and warm and well-cared for. Even the lining, a rich golden brown that suited the fur beautifully, was unblemished. And it fit. Even so, I tried to talk myself out of it. I wandered the store for a good long while before I finally walked back. It was out of my price range, but I talked to the store owner who talked to the seller who agreed to give me a discount on the coat (it had been a warm winter, and furs don't sell like they used to). I walked home with it gingerly tucked in a paper bag, keeping it close to my chest.

I hadn't bothered to look at the tag until it was hanging from my bedroom door and I was imagining the outfits it would look best with.

The tag struck me, then: Hope Furs. St. Paul.

I was curious. It's the historian in me. Is the place still open? When was it opened? If it's closed, when? Could looking up the shop tell me how old the fur was? Could it tell me the why and when of this pretty thing I had just bought?

I looked it up and, after some searching, I found much more than a when; I found a who.

Eva Hope Miller. The name probably won't ring any bells. She died in 1994, when I was just five. But what a woman!

A woman who described herself as "a little go-go-go," according to her obituary, she'd developed an interest in furs when she was in her teens. She graduated from business school and began working as a bookkeeper at a furrier who she thought hired her to get rid of her. Then, in 1920s, she and her sister opened a fur shop.  Two women opened a fur shop. In the midst of the Great Depression. And it was a success. The shop was open until she clearanced the stock in 1952, after eighteen years of business, when her husband was diagnosed with cancer.

More than just a furrier, she was an incredible woman. She dated her husband for 23 years before marrying him because she was "too busy working to get married." She organized the first Christmas tree lighting in St. Paul. She helped create the first credit Blue Book. The governor proclaimed a day for her after she died.

She was a woman I wish I had known, and it was her shop that sold the fur coat that now waits in my closet for the next special occasion.

I like to think that my fur was part of the clearance stock. The story I tell myself is that it belonged to a woman who had yearned for a fur coat for years and had never been able to afford it until Hope Furs clearanced its stock, who cared for it for years until she passed it on to someone else, whereupon it changed hands several times before finding its way to a small town antique store and a young woman who cares for it very much.

I like to think that whoever bought this, like me, was unlikely to buy another fur anytime soon. I like to think that she cared for it, as nice as the coat is, for many years. I like to think that its over sixty year journey from a shop in St. Paul to my closet was filled with ups and downs, stories I will never know but may imagine.

But most of all, I like to think of the woman I stumbled upon when buying this fur, an incredible businesswoman and human being whose name rests on the tag of my fur coat.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Beyond the Pageboy: Retro Hairstyles For Short(ish) Haired Girls

About two weeks ago, the lovely lady who runs Les Fleurs Noires wrote a post about short hair and Lolita. She focused largely on accessorizing with short hair and styles to pair it with. And, in the spirit of sharing short hair style tips for the frilly among us, I thought I’d chip in with some of my favorite hairdo tutorials.

These focus on hair that is between chin length and shoulder length (sorry, pixie cut ladies, but I don't have personal experience with cuts that short and styling them!). It's also going to focus on retro hairstyles because, to be frank, I think retro hairstyles look adorable with Lolita and other frilly fashions.

Ribbon Braid Updo

Confession time: I pretty much lived in this hairstyle about a year ago. My hair had just about hit my shoulders and I knew not what to do with it. I also didn't have time (or money) to go out and get my hair chopped just because it was a little longer than I usually like it. Since then, I've decided that this is going to be my go-to for days when my hair is a touch too long and I just want it out of the way.

Then, I found this tutorial by way of Va Voom Vintage and absolutely loved it.

This hairstyle works well with a ribbon, a scarf, or even a random scrap of lace. One fun variation that looks great with natural kei or dolly kei inspired looks is this one from Megan Maude. With a thinner strip of lace and some smaller flowers, it looks quite nice with Lolita as well.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Tales of Christmas: Lolita Outfits Inspired by Classic Holiday Stories


I love Christmas. I love giving gifts and spending time with family. I love that it is a great excuse for making foodstuffs for friends and family, whether they celebrate the holiday or not. And, in many cases, I love the stories that go along with it.

So I decided to do a few outfits based on my favorite Christmas stories.

Toy Soldier

This outfit takes inspiration from two of the many things I have loved in my life: nutcrackers and marching band. The shako (the bucket-shaped hat often seen in a marching band setting) is a strange choice with lolita, but it works with the military styling of the outfit as a whole. I chose a shako with a gold eagle both because it reflects the tone of the gold buttons on the vest and because I like a good black and gold shako.

Any plaid skirt would work for this outfit, but I chose to use this Bodyline JSK both because of its inexpensive nature and because of the layering in the skirt. The three tiers break up the line of the skirt and mimic the peplum of the coat often seen on traditional nutcrackers.

I would also say curled hair (or a curly wig if that's your thing) are a must with this outfit to offset the vertical nature of the shako. Give it a bit of volume to balance out the skirt.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Inspiring Series: Shoujo Kakumei Utena (Revolutionary Girl Utena)

Shoujo Kakumei Utena (Revolutionary Girl Utena) is my favorite anime, bar none.

If you haven't seen it, you're totally missing out, and I could talk about the series for hours, but this blog is about fashion and not about fangirling. Most of the time. Sometimes they coincide. Right now is one of those cases, so I hope you will forgive me my fangirling moment.