Let’s Have a Break

Life’s been busy and I need some some fun,

Some feel-good music to whistle along.

Dave Brubeck, get your quartet, this is your cue:

Floyd Cramer, you’re up next to boost my mood.

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A Cat’s Meow

In college, I wasn’t particularly fond of linguistics. Although I gladly admit, sociolinguistics was an exception. I really loved comparing cultural influences on language and vice versa. Politeness was my favorite topic and it still amazes me how perceptions differ even in the same language area. My second favorite topic has always been American slang. Today, I’m not particularly up-to-date and an excessive usage of words such as epic and awesome tickles my risble muscles. Like as a filler word on the other hand drives me up the walls. What I prefer is slang from bygone eras, from the 1930s through 50s to be exact. Words, abbreviations, euphemisms – they are my secret vice. Here’s a list of my favorite expressions and their meaning. You may be surprised how many words date back to the era of Jazz, screwball and noir.

1930s

  • Blow your wig – become very excited
  • Blinkers, peepers – eyes
  • smooth, sweet, swell – very good
  • Cats or alligators – fans of swing music
  • Curve – disappointment
  • Cute as a bug’s ear – very cute
  • Dead hoofer or cement mixer – bad dancer
  • Dick, shamus, gumshoe, flatfoot – detective
  • Dig – think hard or understand
  • Dollface – name for a woman when a man is pleading his case or apologizing
  • Hard boiled – tough
  • Honey cooler – a kiss
  • Hop, rag, jolly up, romp, wingding – dance or party
  • Pill – disagreeable person
  • Scrub – poor student
  • Shake a leg – hurry up
  • Whacky – crazy
  • What’s your story, morning glory? – What do you mean by that?
  • You and me both – I agree

Do you want to learn more about slang from the 1930s? Check these two websites here and here.

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Happy Feet

I don’t know about you, but there are a couple of things that make me deliriously happy. Dancing is one of them. Ballet did when I was little. Today, I prefer Solo Charleston and Authentic Jazz. Swing in general owns my heart, in all shapes and styles. I love the music, the moves and steps. The 1930s and 40s, what a lovely era (at least for movies, fashion and Jazz).

For all you non-hoofers, this is Balboa, for example.

It’s more elegant than Lindy Hop and a lot less “acrobatic”.

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More Dressing in Style

A while ago, I shared my love for vintage fashion on this blog – my favorite designs coming from the 1940s and 50s, with rare exceptions from the 30s, 60s and then the 80s. And since I love to pay tribute to our fashionable (grand)mothers by copying their style, it is time to share my latest findings because no matter how stuffed my closet already is, I still love to shop. Be it circle skirts from the 50s with a matching blouse or sweater and a scarf, collar dresses, cardigans, two-inch heels or fancy flats, pencil skirts, shirt dresses from the 40s or the combination of an over-knee skirt with boots and a turtleneck from the 80s – I’m crazy about them all. And the stores below more than help me fill my hangers and eat away my dough, moolah and smackers.

Etsy is one of those beautiful examples – a portal filled with original pretties from different sellers, including clothing, jewelry and other “usefuls” like aprons, toys or candles. Other stores are PinUp Girl Clothing, Tara Starlet, Queen of Holloway and Lady K Loves. They offer new vintage chic for modern pin-up dames, housewives and working girls. Their designs are mostly inspired by the 1930s through 60s and the patterns and fabrics vary from each shop and collection but always include classics such as polka dots or gingham.

So whatever works for you – if you’re into Rockabilly or just love to look like your favorite golden Hollywood character or star, these stores are a great addition to your shopping list. They offer fashion that goes beyond the renewed Mad Men mania and their hyped 60s nostalgia. They bring the fun back into dressing up, depending on your preference, making you feel classy, feminine or perky. Most stores also offer stockings, intimates, coats and shoes to complete the feeling of traveling back in time a little. With the right purse and luggage, who knows, you may even wish to never return to our day and age again.

Dressing in Style

All right, ladies (and interested gents), let’s talk beauty today. The kind that was fashionable some sixty years ago. Robes and girdles, wraps and circular skirts, petticoats, bullet bras, seamed stockings, stoles and shirt dresses…designed to make girls look glamorous, all-woman and elegant.

Are you like me? Do you miss the classiness of those bygone days? Hats, cardigans, playsuits and colorful scarfs embellishing female necks or taming perfectly trimmed curls…

Personally, I miss the 1940s the most, and then the 50s – those are my favorites: hairstyles, make-up, attire. The early 60s were swell, too, more so the 30s. But for me, those decades got nothing on those twenty years in-between with all the grace and stylishness celebrated then.

I love the colors, the patterns, the way a dress complimented a woman’s body, how it hugged female curves before it was in vogue to be all bones and boyishly slim. I love the exuberance of silk, lace and quillings as much as the rather plain, simple and almost linear suits. I like how stiletto heels perfect the femininity of a skirt,  a composition of an entire outfit with blouse, belt and lusciously cropped curls. I adore the room a 50s cocktail dress provides for my female belly, no matter how sporty and toned – I like to eat at a party, and sit for that matter, without that perpetual fear of blowing my favorite garment.

It’s  the great variety of styles from Katherine Hepburn’s sophisticated style to the all-American sweater, scarf, skirt and flats. Dolling up or roughing it, from those two decades I even love the pants.

If you want to learn more about vintage beauty, check out this blog called Glamour Daze.

You can also find new vintage clothes available in the US and in most of Europe at stores like Collectif, WhatKatieDid, Miss Mole or Joanna’s Wardrobe. There are a number of other stores out there, offering both original vintage clothing and new vintage style, including petticoats, hosiery and accessories.

For everybody who is as interested in vintage fashion design as I am and desires to create her own 40s/50s dream, check out the many blogs and websites for instructions and sewing patterns, e.g. WikiHow (here for hairdo’s).

You’ll see there’s a lot of information available for those of us who cannot ask our beloved grandmas about their precious secrets anymore.