Every summer, I make the trip back to Michigan to visit my family and head up to our cabin in the northern Michigan woods. It’s always the week of the Fourth of July, and it’s my only week off, the entire year. While I’m there, we beach, we trek to the beautiful area lighthouses, we eat obscene amounts of pizza and dubiously-authentic Mexican food, and we visit a handful of staple antique shops. Every year. I’m a creature of habit, you see.
This year, on the last day of our trip, we were racing an oncoming thunderstorm, taking shelter in said favorite antique shops. I was rummaging deep into the haphazard piles. My interest in vintage and antique items manifests in several areas; cameras, clothing, hats, sewing patterns and ephemera, fashion magazines, costume jewelry, cookbooks. I was nearing the last consignment stall when I found it. The tag said two things: 1920’s, and $40. If you’re someone who habitually purchases vintage clothing, you know that these numbers do not add up correctly, so I was suspicious. 1960’s dupes of 1920’s styles are not entirely uncommon, but the garment had some not-insignificant repair needs, and the shop was about to close, so she came home with me.
I’m not entirely certain I’ll ever be able to 100% verify that she’s authentically 20’s, but I’m mostly sure. The biggest giveaway is the snap placket in the side seam. Zippers weren’t introduced into women’s clothing until the late 30’s, and weren’t common in women’s garments at all until the 40’s. The snap placket could be an extreme dedication to period authenticity, but I doubt it.
She’s a drop-waist, chocolate brown silk velvet dress with lace of a completely indeterminate color in the yoke. Her skirt has scalloped detailing at the hipline. She has an accompanying unlined jacket with little bell-cuffs and bows. Her lace is stained and unraveling in places, there is some underarm wear, the scalloped seams are falling apart, the snaps are falling out of the placket, her belt buckle has been replaced, and there is a hole in the sleeve of the jacket. All of which contribute to her wildly affordable price. All of which (even, I think, the hole) are things I can fix. She also fits me like a glove and is extremely comfortable.
These photos are from an impulse field-trip late in the summer. By “field trip”, I mean, I took her to the coffee shop to show her off, let her get some long-awaited sun, and ran around the alley behind my apartment building and the yard of the church across the street taking selfies. My iPhone and its timer were the photographers today.