Archive | January 2016

Stockings: The Daintiest of the Dainties Part Two

Hello Darlings!

As promised, I bring to you the second installment of my stockings series. Part three will be a fun little make do and mend project, so be sure to subscribe to my diary so you don’t miss a thing! We’ve already discussed the who’-its and what’s-its of stockings, now it’s time to discuss wear and care. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of the questions an feedback I’ve gotten here and on social media. If you have a question or a topic you’d like to see me cover, drop me a line!

Wear

Now, I’m not one for hard-line fashion rules such as “no white after Labor Day, shoes and purse must match” and all that, but I will agree that most “rules” do have a purpose. While taking fashion risks can be fun and exciting, one must always beware of how small detail can affect the overall look of an outfit. So, here are my “Top Five Rules”, if you will, in regard to the wearing of stockings:

Rule #1: When wearing seamed stockings, your skirt’s hemline should fall below the knee (mid-calf is best). A seam traveling up the back of your stems draws the eye in the same direction. There is enough suggestion and sex appeal in that alone to set the world on fire! Adding a miniskirt to the equation cheapens the look. *The exception is in the case of a flirty costume… think French Maid or Cigarette Girl.

Showing just enough leg & seam without showing one’s girlie bits!

Rule #2: Opaque toes are appropriate for closed toe shoes, sheer toes for open style shoes. Opaque, as in can’t see your toes and the color of your polish through the material. Stockings with a reinforced toe sheer enough to see the toes through the material are perfectly appropriate for open toe shoes or even strappy sandal types. Some exceptions can be brightly colored opaque tights with contrasting open toe shoes. Use your best judgment and pay attention to the overall look.

Rule #3: Don’t wear flats with your seamed stockings. Rarely have I ever seen flats and seams worn together well. Remember, the idea of a seam is to draw the eye up, elongating the leg. Flats do the opposite of this. It doesn’t take much of a heel to give your seams the boost they need. A one inch kitten heel can be just enough to do the job.

Rule #4: Be era appropriate. Now, I’m not suggesting you must be historically accurate. It’s just that some of the best pieces in your wardrobe won’t always work together. If you are wearing a 60s inspired scooter dress, then choose stockings without a seam or  better yet, coordinating tights. 

Rule #5: When wearing fully fashioned stockings, pay attention to fit. Stockings too large will sag, and too small with be uncomfortable and run easily. It is also worth noting that even the best fitting full fashioned stockings will being to sag at some point. Because they are sans elastic, wear will stretch them out. If you’re going to wear stockings all day, either opt for reproduction stockings with a mock seam (and lots of stretch) or bring a fresh pair to change into when your first pair loses their shape.

Getting Them On

Because FF stockings have virtually NO stretch, putting them on requires a bit of extra care. To accomplish this, without tearing them to shreds, roll the stocking down evenly from welt to toe and then unroll them over your (slightly bent) getaway sticks. Be sure to check that the seams are straight. If they are not, roll the stocking down and start anew. Do not, for heaven’s sake, try to pull them straight while wearing them! You’ll put your thumb right through, especially with vintage stockings! Attach your garters (or suspenders, depending on what side of the pond you reside) not more than halfway down the welt. Fasten the garters where they fall naturally when not holding your stockings. If they are clasped too far forward or back they will twist the stockings (making for a crooked seam) or ruin them all together. We’ll talk more about garter/suspender belts in an upcoming post.

 

Care

Now that you know how to wear your stockings, let’s chat about how to care for them. No matter how advanced your washing machine is, your stockings will NEVER survive the ravages of said machine… not even in a lingerie bag. You must ALWAYS wash your dainties in a delicate lingerie bath.

To prepare a lingerie bath, fill your sink with hot water and a gentile lingerie detergent. Dip your stockings repeatedly until the water cools. Bear in mind that most vintage stockings will bleed dye for the first couple of washes, so be careful to only wash like colors together. Once the water cools, drain the old water and refill the sink with fresh hot water. Gently rub the stockings on the foot area only, frequently dunking them in the fresh water. Then, rinse them under cool water.

*Important Note: Before washing your stockings, remove any jewelry and be sure your nails are filed and your polish is free of chips. Nothing is worse than shelling out mucho dinero for stockings only to have them ruined by a hangnail!

I personally take my stockings into the bath with me. A bubble bath makes a lovely lingerie wash, and stockings in the tub is oh so girlie! After your stockings are rinsed, gently manipulate them back into their original shape (this keeps them wrinkle-free) and wrap them in a towel to dry.

Now, this final step is completely optional, if not a little OCD, but I so love the look of stockings fresh from their vintage packaging that I re-board them after washing. To re board your stockings, you’ll need a steam iron with a silk setting, a towel, and a hard surface to work on.

 Lay out your slightly damp stocking on a towel and carefully smooth out any wrinkles.
Be sure the seam runs up the back without any overlap which would result in unsightly creases.
Fold the towel over the stocking.
DO NOT place the iron directly on the stocking unless you want melted stockings!
Iron the stocking through the towel (on the silk setting).
I know, I’m wearing a bracelet. I should follow my own advice!
Once your stockings are pressed (one at a time), fold them in thirds around their cardboard form  and wrap them in tissue paper or slip them into a satin lingerie pouch.
I always keep the original packaging from my stockings.
Not only are they fabulous storage, but I love the vintage artwork!

And there you have it. Our next and final installment of my stockings series will feature a bit of DIY fun. Now I leave you with a few more places to shop for stockings and other lovely foundation pieces.

Calendar Art by Alberto Vargas
Moi, preparing for an evening with my Mr.

Shopping!

Just Figures (formally Girdle Bound) has a great selection of new fully fashioned stockings and shape-wear!

 

Secrets in Lace is one of my all time favorite place to find vintage repro lingerie and stockings!

 

Ho-hose is my new favorite place for vintage FF stockings! Be sure to read the Pretty Polly articles on fully fashioned stockings… really fabulous information like don’t smoke while putting on your stockings!

 

What Katie Did  Stockings, corsets, and all things soft and sexy! I LOVE this shop. If you’re ever in Hollywood, put WKD on your list of places to shop.

 

Etsy and eBay are a great place to find vintage stockings for less funds than a traditional vintage shop, but buyer beware! Not every seller knows their product and you may end up with less than you paid for.

xoxo

Dolly Marlowe

Homestyle Lemonade How I Beat the Winter Doldrums

Hello Darlings!

DollyMarloweLemonadeI don’t do well in winter. Its not that I dislike the cold weather, I just like it to keep to a very tight schedule. In my mind (or fantasy world if you’d prefer) winter begins promptly the day after Thanksgiving and continues with fluffy snow and dazzling Ice until mid January, then starts the thaw. If winter decides against keeping to this schedule, which is always the case, I start to get the seasonal pouts where I attempt to will on the warmer weather.

I’ve been known to go so far as turning up the thermostat, mixing a tropical what-have-you, and watching movies like South Pacific or, better still, keeping the boob-tube perpetually tuned to Beach Week on the Travel Channel. That, my friends, is exactly what I did yesterday. Tired of the cold, wind, and gloom, I decided to do something about it! Not being a greedy gal, I’d like to share a little sunshine with you. I present to you my recipe for homestyle lemonade.  So, turn up the heat to 80*, slip into your most playful play-suit, and get squeezing!

DollyMarloweLemonade1

Dolly Marlowe’s Homestyle Lemonade

Servings 

20-ish 4oz servings

Ingredients 

1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice (approx. 5 large lemons)

1 3/4 cups sugar

8 cups water

Directions

1. In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup water and 1 3/4 cups sugar to a boil. Keep stirring, being careful not to scorch the syrup!

2. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

3. Slice and squeeze your lemons!

4. Add the freshly squeezed lemon juice (sans the seeds), the sugar syrup, and 7 cups of cold water to a pitcher.

5. Pour over ice, add a lemon wedge garnish, and convince your Mr. to hang a hammock in your living room or parlor. Enjoy!

Helpful hints

*To prep your lemons for squeezing, firmly roll them between your hand an countertop or cutting board.

*If you haven’t a juicer, hand or electric, after you’ve squeezed the life out of your lemons, run the back of a metal spoon clockwise against the flesh of the fruit to extract every last drop of juice!

*Get fancy! Add a sprig of fresh mint or chopped up peaches or strawberries to your glass for a little something extra… vodka works, too!

DollyMarloweLemonade2

Enjoy!

XOXO

Dolly Marlowe

Stockings: The Daintiest of the Dainties (part 1)

Hello Darlings!

Nothing compares to the feeling of fully fashioned stockings stretched over freshly shaved gams. If you’ve not had the pleasure, please read on!

Somehow efficiency beat out romance in the hosiery department. Lovely, sheer, soft seamed stockings fell out of production to make room for crumpled pantyhose mashed inside plastic eggs (or more recently, inside cardboard boxes akin to the mini milk cartons we were served in kindergarten). Because of this, there are entire generations of women who don’t know how to wear stockings!

L'eggs

Seriously, who was the marketing genius behind this?! 

These next few posts will be devoted entirely to ladies hosiery (more specifically, fully fashioned stockings)…

The image of delightfully seamed stockings peeking from beneath a full skirt and frothing petty-coat conjures up ideas of the femme fatal masquerading as the girl next door… irresistible, no? It is sexy and mysterious without being vulgar.

Stockings ad

But before we get into the do’s & don’ts of stockings, let us first learn what’s what. I’ve whipped up a little glossary of terms just for you.

*This glossary is by no means exhaustive. The world of ladies hosiery is a complicated one, indeed! This is just enough to get you started.

Let the education begin!

Dolly Marlowe’s Stocking Glossary, por vous!

Hosiery: A term referring to anything that is meant to cover the leg ie: stockings, pantyhose, tights, socks, and the like.

Pantyhose aka All the way ups: A one piece hosiery contraption that involves 2 sheer stockings attached to a panty and waistband. These should only be worn out of costume necessity and NOT as everyday wear!

Tights: Essentially the same construction as pantyhose with the major difference being  a heavier denier and gauge, opaque, and available in a large variety of colors and patterns. These are acceptable for daily wear, usually in colder weather.

Stockings: Sheer hosiery meant to be worn individually and secured with garters. These little treats come in a bevy of styles and are a staple in my everyday wardrobe.

Holdups: Stockings that function without the use of garters (not much fun in that!). They hold-up on their-own by little silicone strips under the (usually lace) welt.

Fully Fashioned Stockings aka Flat Knit Stockings: My absolute, can not live without, if I were stranded on a deserted island what would I bring, favorite wardrobe item! Fully fashioned stockings (vintage or vintage reproduction) are produced on the original flat knit machines. The stockings were knitted flat, cut to size, and stitched up the back (yes, that seam does have a function). True FF stockings have a welt of doubled over fabric and a finishing or key hole. FF stockings have very limited stretch, so pay special attention to sizing.

 

Reading100-g11

Berkshire Knitting Mills, once the largest  factory producing full-fashioned stockings in the world.

Mock seams: These stockings are the modern version of the FF stocking. They are produced on circular machines and then given a decorative seam. While they have all the benefits of technology: sheerness, durability, stretch to fit sizes, and more economical prices, they are not nearly as fun as their vintage counterparts! These work well for costuming and as a reliable back-up stocking. Most major lingerie dealers cary mock seamed stockings.

Welt: The top portion of the stocking made up of a heavier fiber where the garters are to be attached. In FF stockings, the fabric of the welt is doubled over and stitched with a finishing hole.

Under Welt or Shadow Welt: The area just below the welt made up of decorative stitching, logo, or design unique to the manufacturer or stocking style.

Finishing Hole or Key Hole: In FF stockings, this small opening is where the welt was folded over and secured. The finishing hole also gives the welt a little extra stretch for ease of movement and comfort. The finishing hole is the hallmark of the fully fashioned stocking.

diagram

Lace Top: Stockings with a lace top rather than a traditional welt. These are commonly offered in the hold-up style.

Denier: The unit of measure relating to the weight of the yarn. Now, depending on the type of fibers used (nylon, silk, lycra…), the denier tells you how sheer your stockings will be. Without getting too technical, lets just say the lower the number, the sheerer the stocking. A 15 denier is quite sheer & pretty much the standard. There is a formula of weight per unit length, but that information is hardly necessary for shopping!

Gauge: Another unit of measure given to us by our British friends. It relates to the fineness and amount of needles used in the knitting process. All you really need to know is that 51g & 60g are the most common gauges used. The 60g stockings are more refined, while the 51g were still quite smooth, but more moderately priced.

Cuban Heel: Quite possibly the most popular foot style in seamed stockings, the Cuban Heel is a rectangular reinforced heel.

Havana Heel: Similar to the Cuban Heel, but wider on the heel and more narrow on the foot making it a nice choice for d’Orsay heels.

French or Euro Heel: Less common in vintage stockings than the Cuban heel, the French heel (or Euro Heel) is a pointed reinforced heel.

Manhattan Heel or Deco Heel: A personal favorite of mine, the Manhattan Heel features a nifty little Art Deco detail over the heel.

stocking Heels

Reinforced: Sections of the hosiery that have been strengthened by double knitting resulting in a darker or more opaque area, thus resulting in a design feature. Necessity is truly the mother of invention!

RHT: Reinforced Heel & Toe. This style came to popularity in the 1960s after the advent of circular knit machines… also marking the demise of the fully fashioned stocking. A sad day indeed!

Sandal Foot or Sandal Toe: Also known as a sheer toe. Pretty self explanatory.

Opera Length: A longer length stocking made for the taller gal or one with a heavier leg. These usually require shorter garter straps.

Boarding: When hosiery is still damp from the dying process, it is pulled over a leg-shaped form and pressed. This is what gives FF stockings their delightful presentation. I love the look so much that I board my stockings after washing!

Now that you’ve become acquainted with some terminology, let’s talk fit. There are 3 main kinds of fit out there: American, UK, and another that escapes my memory (for lack of use). For time purposes, I’ll demonstrate American sizing. Fear not my European friends, I’ve not abandoned you! Because stocking sizes are based on shoe sizes, the conversion process is the same as American to UK shoe sizing and vice versa. So, American sizing is as follows:

Shoe Size    Stocking Size

5-6                    8 1/2

6 1/2                 9

7                       9 1/2

7 1/2                10

8                      10 1/2

8 1/2 – 9           11

9 1/2                11 1/2

10 – 10 1/2       12

There is another number one must be aware of when selecting FF stockings: Length. The length is the measurement in inches from the heel to the top of the welt. This is not how long the stocking will be when worn. You will likely loose 2 to 4 inches depending on the fullness of your leg. If you happen to be a shorter gal with curvy stems, I would suggest going up a size or two depending on your leg shape. If you are a leggy creature (lucky you), or if you enjoy a longer fit, then opera length is for you.

Now you’ve enough information to get out there & shop, but before you do, let me share a few of my favorite stores.

Where to Buy:

Secrets in Lace –   This is where you will find Licensed Dita Von Teese & Bettie Paige Stockings.

What Katie Did Modern made FF stockings on vintage machines and mock seam stockings as well.

If you’re into real vintage ebay & etsy are always great resources!

Stay tuned, soon I will delve into how to wear & care for your new stockings. Until then, enjoy!

XOXO

Dolly Marlowe

Happy (belated) New Year!

Hello Darlings!

Happy (belated) New Year! I don’t mind telling you that I am one of those people, the kind gleefully making resolutions and dreaming of the promise of the coming year. I love to plot and plan out the year, the parties I’ll attend, the vacations I’ll take, the projects I’ll finish (or at least start with the best intentions of finishing). There are so many wonderful events cropping up everywhere that I thought it was a good time to resurrect my Social Calendar.

New-Years-Moon-Lady-GraphicsFairy

Once again I’ve scoured the interwebs, vintage clubs, and social pages to find the most interesting events for vintage minded folks. I’ll be adding new events as I find them, so if you know of an event you think warrants inclusion, please drop me a line (be sure to include any relevant links). You can find the criteria for events I like to include here. To view my 2016 Social Calendar, just pop on over to calendar on the side bar and click the “+” button, you’ll have the option to add the events to your personal calendar if you’d like. I’ll be sure to pop up at a few of these events, so if you see me, do say hello. I love meeting new friends!

**You may notice a lack of the group events at Disneyland. Because of a change to Disney’s policy towards fancy dress and cosplay, I’ve decided to only include events that don’t involve such outfitting. If I hear of any changes on that front, I’ll be sure to keep you informed.

XOXO 

Dolly Marlowe