Dress: eBay, pumps: Aldo, satchel: The Cambridge Satchel Company, my beloved woodgrain pattern headband: Accessorize
A few months ago, I wrote a post about the trend for grey clothing and how it coincided with my own emerging interest in this particular (non) color. Bill Cunningham hypothesized that all the grey love might be a reflection of the almost universal doldrums over the economic downturn; I wrote that I had latched on to it after discovering that black clothing makes me look like a giant blob with no discernible body shape from certain angles. (I know that in the previous post I spelled it "gray"... I'm trying to conform to the AP stylebook now!).
I bought this grey dress off of eBay just before I left for Taiwan two years ago. At the time, I assumed (correctly) that it would be difficult to buy 1940s to 1960s era vintage clothing in Taipei. I've heard and read that Taiwanese people are less fond of secondhand goods than Americans partly because Taiwan is still in some ways an emerging economy, and used things continue to carry the stigma of poverty (not to mention there are simply less old things floating around, because Taiwan wasn't a consumerist culture, like the US became by the 1950s).
I've also been told that Taiwanese people don't like wearing secondhand clothing because they are superstitious, but I think the real reason is less exciting and much more pragmatic than that -- it's hella hot here! The humidity wrecks vintage cotton, not to mention the constant washing needed to keep clothing clean in this climate. There are a few vintage clothing stores in Taipei (download my article about one store here), but I've noticed that most of them sell sturdier things, like polyester dresses from the 1970s, or newer vintage items, including jeans, leather goods and t-shirts from the 1980s and on. My own collection of vintage dresses, including this one, which I bought with so much enthusiasm (and so little budgeting caution) before I left for Taipei, spend most of their time safely stowed away in the closet.
In the photo above, I accessorized the dress with my double t-strap black Aldo shoes and a sturdy and cheerful red bag from the Cambridge Satchel Company (I also have a brown satchel from the same company). You probably noticed that the detail shots above are different in tone from the outfit picture. That's because they were taken on a separate day and I don't know Photoshop well enough to match the colors (if anyone can help, please leave a comment!). Last weekend, I wore the same dress with ivory peep-toe pumps (also from Aldo... they had a huge sale a while back) and big hair:
Can you find me? I'm pretty well camouflaged.
I think the shoes make the dress seem a little bit less schoolgirl-ish. I managed to achieve my big hair using a tip I read in Allure magazine -- I washed my hair at night, let it air dry a little bit, and then put some gel in it while it was still damp and wound it into a bun at the nape of my neck, which I let dry overnight. In the morning, I undid the bun, finger brushed the waves and set them in place with hairspray. It actually worked pretty well, considering that the bottom layer of my hair is so damaged it doesn't hold any style well (it's been permed, bleached, dyed purple and then dyed black again).
I think the first look is good for casual days and the second is more appropriate for times when I have to look professional. What do you think?