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Monday 12 November 2012

Vintage wool dress for mystery

Today I wore one of my favourite odd dresses, a heavy wool garment with little gold studlettes, graduated in size, on the sleeves and front pocket, and a flared skirt. The dress was three or four sizes too big when I thrifted it, so in standard slacker fashion I simply sewed up the side seams to fit and lowered the shoulder seams at the top. Although this is a frequent go-to item for evening music recitals, I also enjoy it for daytime wear as well. There is a mysterious air about this garment which brings to mind the classic holiday-season movie Bell, Book and Candle in which Kim Novak, a witch, falls for a mortal, James Stewart.

Walking down the sidewalk I felt so deliciously witchy in the rain shadows that I was sure that if I turned around quickly, boo!, I would catch a dozen black cats (named Pyewacket) frozen in stride, amber eyes blazing. I always liked Kim Novak far better as a witch than as a mortal. I wonder if the street lights flared and burned out in a trail behind me.

Details of this ensemble:
  • vintage dress, thrifted
  • black tights, retail
  • medium-heeled shoes (aka frump shoes), retail
  • magic loupe, O made it for me
  • magic pendant, O made it for me
  • fingerless gloves, upcycled from Canadian Tire automotive store
  • beret, thrifted
  • seafoam cotton skirt underneath as a petticoat, thrifted
Below is a closeup of the dress fabric with the studs, and this is the tool-box bag I carried today, which came with a tool O ordered. Isn't it divine? I shall customize it at some point but I was content with the plain exterior today.

Happy Visible Monday! This week I'm able to make it over to Patti's place at Not Dead Yet Style. I missed you all last week... Time to catch up. Do your clothes put you in a mood or does your mood put you in your clothes?

Also, regarding my last post for Vogoff magazine, I greatly dislike ageism, and yet I defined this faux magazine's audience as women +40. Big mistake! I know so many wonderful bloggers who are under 40 and the world would not be complete without you. So if any of you want to contribute to Vogoff, I heartily welcome your suggestions.

AND - I am very excited and flattered to be featured in an interview (here) posted by 
Sylvia on her amazing blog, 40+ Style (TM). 
The piece is called: 
"How to be more creative with your outfits: Style lessons from Melanie." 
Thank you! 
Sylvia is the kind of woman who could put on a scratchy potato sack and make it look cool and breezy in Singapore heat. If you haven't see Sylvia's style yet, do go have a look!


  1. Hi Melanie!
    Just discovered your blog thru Sylvia (40+style). I love the way you look at fashion. Great philosophy! If you allow me, I'll make mine your fun quote "I’m a sickening optimist, except when I’m not". You are fun! Happy to have discovered your blog :-)
    Anne (Playing with Scarves)

    1. Thanks for visiting, Anne. You are deadly keen with scarves! Just saw your blog.

  2. Kim Novak in Vertigo is my fave. She's so awesome in it. What? You're not supposed to just sew up the side seams? Gee, I'll have to re-do those alterations I did at work today, hmmmm, naw.

    1. Yes, but I didn't do all that shoulder fixing stuff that you know how to do but I just mess up...

  3. You look quite the seductress/spy in that outfit, off to save the world -- or destroy it? Who knows what's in that tool box bag? A King's ransom or a camera to catch high ranking officials trysting with mistresses?

  4. Very mysterious look, dear Melanie. What *is* in that toolbox? (cookies, I hope). You look fabulous in black vintage! Thanks for sharing with Visible Monday, we heart you.

  5. Lovley! Really cool dress!
    I like those shoes too.

  6. That dress is a studded marvel, and even though you say you're no seamstress, it certainly doesn't look like you just "sewed up the side seams". I agree that Kim Novak makes a better witch than a mortal. She always looks like she's off in another realm in her movies.

    I'd say that in most cases, my mood puts me in the clothes, but I do have a couple of dresses that when I put them on, they definitely cheer me up!

  7. Those are not frump shoes! They are French Spy Grrl shoes, Melanie. Especially being equipped with your magic box & jewelry, the contents of your studly pocket - not to mention whatever is hidden up your sleeves - you are definitely suspicious and most likely guilty as sin. Shudder and shriek, you look way cooler than Ms. Novak ever did!

  8. Such a wonderful vintage dress! It's completely amazing and you wear it so well!!

  9. Hahaha, that's exactly the way I adjust too big frocks!
    I am the Queen of Lazy Sewing! I try to be good...but I am far too impatient.
    This is a splendid frock, all warm and witchy indeed!The studded buts are fab.I expect there was a trail of black pookies left in your wake, the kind that POOF into the air when you look too close!

  10. Jaysus, studded BITS! But should you stud your butt, I'm sure you'll do it impeccably!X

  11. That's a wonderful dress! And I love the way you've styled it and captured the look in black and white. Haven't seen that movie, but I'll have to watch for it over the holidays.

  12. This is your Rich Vintage Traveler look again and I love it on you. The fabric and style is so rich and classic. Looks like it was a very expensive dress at one time. It sounds like you've connected to the spirit that still lives within the cloth. I've owned a few "haunted" pieces myself. But of course I mean that in a good way. I love clothes that have a feeling to them.

  13. Lovely dress, I'm loving the way the skirt flares, it's beautiful!

    Yes! I'd love to contribute!

  14. Studded butts! Helga just made me laugh, which at 6.50 in the morning is hard to do.
    Back to you, dear Mel! You look amazing in your altered dress, I can see why it is a favourite. You did a good job taking it in - I just sew up the side seams too, and if it looks a bugger under the arms... Well, who's looking there?
    I am seeing film noir dame myself. Kiss Me Deadly, with deadly nuclear material in the tool case.
    I enjoyed your interview. You're famous! xxxx

  15. What a wonderful frock!!! I love it's beautiful simplicity & the studded detail. You look divine! Xx

  16. The little details, and the witchy effect, ahhhhhhhhhhhh.
    Melanie, you are so unique and inspiring.

  17. That dress is exquisite and good to hear of another slovenly seamstress, some of my alteration work is shocking but if I keep my arms down and walk quickly no-one notices.
    That tool box screams deadly assassin to me and nothing you wear could ever be frumpy. x

  18. Love the dress. Such a great silhouette and the studs are a great detail. Fabulous!

  19. Wow, what a gorgeous dress. I find I tend to put clothes on according to my mood rather than the other way around. I guess it's a kind of expression of what I'm feeling. x

  20. I'm with Helga - there's your next style challenge - STUD YOU BUTT AND YOUR STUD'S BUTT TOO!

    You are divine in this splendid frock - I love the studs, I love the shape, I love the intrigue and the fog that follows you through the street. You are poetry in stop-motion in the first pic.

    Sarah xxx

    PS I am only really interested in 42.765 year old bloggers, but I make an exception in your case.

  21. ERMAGERD the dress is fabulous! Bell, Book and Candle is a delightfully awful movie. I watch it every time it's on TV.

  22. This dress is beautiful, I love the witchery mistery around it and the little details of the pendant and the hat, make it even more intriguing..Kim Novak is a great icon and even if I watched Bell, Book and Candle too many years ago to remember it well, one of my favourite movie ever is Vertigo, her character was amazing and equally mysterious.
    The interview was amazing and I visited your website too, I'm totally in love with your art!

  23. Gorgeous dress with studs. I would love to see you on your morning walks in all of your splendor, and catch the reactions as you float by in your ever changing and glorious ensemble of the day. How fortunate for them to be alive at that moment!

    As for my mood and outfits, it can go both ways. A question that I will ponder over the next few days.

  24. I adore this dress with its sassy single pocket and graduated studliness! Its shape is outrageously fine, you've helped it fit you beautifully. Kim Novak witch with the trail of darkness-cats is right! Those shoes have too many corners to be frumpy, and your bag has a wonderfully ominous utilitarianism.

    Congrats on the interview with Sylvia, it is fantastic! I love that it features so many of my favourite pictures from your blog - but then they are all pretty much my favourites, lol.

  25. Absolutely perfect

  26. I'm seeing an international woman of mystery on her way to meet James Bond!!
    You look amazing!

  27. fabulous dress and love that gold studs and pockets, such pretty details!
    And love that Kim Novak inspiration, 'Bell, book and candle' is one of my favorite films, so glamorous Kim, love her costumes in red and black and a bit of leopard!
    besos & congrats

  28. I agree with everyone this is one fabulous dress Mélanie- and i salute your talent of seamstress! i do not dare to do any alterations on my clothes - i send them to my magician of a seamstress!
    About Kim Novak - i just love her but i agree she is better as a witch and i love the movie Bell, book and candle
    All you needed i guess was a black cat in the pic!

    Ariane xxxx

  29. Absolutely gorgeous! I am trying to (slowly) add more wool dresses to my wardrobe as well, they are just so versatile :)

  30. The first picture are my favorited, looks such a vintage in all sense... and the dress, speechless...

  31. A wool dress sounds so warm and cozy and this one with it's gold studs has a bit of edge I like in a black dress. I'm with Edie I loved Kim in Vertigo!

  32. I love that somebody else admits to that 'cheat' on sewing. I've done it on a few pieces, but I figure no one else is looking inside my dresses. I love the shape of your dress and the rivet detailing.

    I'm happy to read any blogger of any age's blog!

  33. Darling, I have visions of you striding down the street with street lights fizzing in your wake. I really want to see that film now. Have you read the poem Queen Nefertini stalks through the town? Go find it!!
    The dress is amazing, it looks gorgeous on you. More witchy photos please! You're such an inspiration

  34. You've certainly done an amazing job, altering this dress to fit perfectly. The silhouette is beautiful! I'm looking forward to see the tool box after you've customized it. Knowing your talent it's worth waiting for!

  35. You make a deliciously spooky witch. I hope there are lizards' tongues and dead frogs in the spell, I mean, tool kit. No, wait, I don't because I love all the critters. Maybe something less formerly living. Like oregano.

  36. Ha-ha, your posts are finally showing up for me, now I have no excuse for failing to be here, so don't let me slcak off, 'kay?!
    quelle artiste you are my lovely, I don't think anyone but you could pull off this look, or these shoes, and get away with it so perfectly.xx.

  37. Love dem grommets, or whatever it is they are. You're looking chic and sweet again. Sorry if that wasn't your intention! I'm sure there's a black cat following you in the far distance, so your street cred is safe.

    Much love from England,
    Rosemary from

  38. Would rock that dress in a heart beat, love it! Really like how you styled it with the finger-less gloves, you look so chic.

    Take care,

  39. Melanie. I loved your interview. I honestly see you being invited to fashion week. You BELONG there. You could show them a thing or two. It's interesting to see your style evolve. And I am so happy to hear that I am not the only one who is constantly hacking up her clothes. Hardly anything looks the same when I get it home. I'm like a mad scientist. Bwaa ha ha.

  40. Melanie you are absolutely stunning in this dress. You take vintage and make it modern and fiercely cool.
    Pyewacket.. what an oddly funny name.


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