Monday, June 18, 2012

Under The Boardwalk, Gown By The Sea

Photo courtesy of

If you're fortunate enough, you know the experience of taking a dip in the ocean on a warm summer day. In most places, though quite fun, it isn't exactly as serene as one may think. Turbulent waters sloshing all around your body, pushing you to and fro. Waves crashing onto your head, taking accidental gulps of salty water, often through your nose. You've gotta be somewhat strong and nimble to take on the mighty ocean. 

Now imagine taking on this sea-bullying in a multi-layer WOOL dress, billowing knee length pantaloons, and stockings, all of which are trimmed in ribbons and lace. Oh, and let's not forget the weights sewn into the hems as to avoid the lifting of the skirt as one entered the water. Sexy. This was the reality of the Victorian lady swimmer. How in the world did the poor dears not sink?

Photo courtesy of 

The rigid Victorian fashion guidelines for women are over a hundred years behind us. The swimwear donned by the woman of today leaves less to the imagination than even the skimpiest victorian undergarments! Still, I can't help but feel such a need to own one of these whimsical, archaic swimming ensembles. Only instead of taking it out to sea, (did I mention they were made of wool?) I would love to wear this nautical number out and about. Perhaps on a brisk autumn day, a cool evening stroll on the Santa Monica Pier, or maybe out in the front yard to build a snowman in a blizzard. (again, wool.)

Photo courtesy of

While I could never imagine swimming in one of these babies, if you're fortunate enough to find one in good condition, why not bring it back to life as a super cute day time fall ensemble? 

Photo courtesy of

Or not. Either way, wouldn't you just love to own one?
As for these gents...

Photo courtesy of
Let's talk about that another day.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Well HELLO, Stranger!

My, my, my....

The CRAZY level has spiked for this lady! The last few weeks have been filled with chaos, and stress, and nervousness. But fortunately, GOOD things account for at least half of it. 

I'm in a play, I'm trying to make a good impression on a new writing gig, (awesome) on the hunt for a new horse drawn chariot to replace my worn out one, work, life. Madness, I tell you. 

I will soon continue my musings. Just sit tight, and enjoy Ms. Marianne. Cheers!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Egyptian Influence In The West

GORGEOUS Egyptian inspired headpiece

Americans were walking like Egyptians long before The Bangles told us too. Well, maybe not walking, but Egyptian architecture, interior design, and fashion has sparked our inspiration for over 100 years.

1920's Egyptian Revival Broach (

 Americans became enchanted and inspired by the mysterious east around the late 1800's. Already obsessed with opulence, victorians at The 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair got their first look at belly dancing in the form of "Little Egypt" and her dancers. How exotic! How sensual and powerful! A little risque for it's time, no doubt. Those sheer flowing fabrics, those dark eyes, that sparkling jewelry! Who could resist? Between that, and the recent Orientalist movement in fashion and art, a trend was born.
1920's dress made from assuit, an Egyptian fabric composed of a thin mesh and tiny pieces of metal "pinched" into the fabric forming elaborate designs. (

Vintage "winged pharaoh" celluloid purse frame (

Theda Bara portrays Cleopatra in 1917 (

In 1922, King Tut's tomb was discovered, the worlds attention turned to Egypt, and the country quickly came down with a serious case of Egyptian fever! One cannot deny the heavy Egyptian influence on the look of the flapper with her elaborately beaded dresses, decorated headpieces, Cleopatra style bob haircut and dark makeup. Even magazine product ads used illustrated images of exotic eastern beauties to sell everything from cigarettes to beauty soap.




Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Modern Gent's Guide to Basic Hat Etiquette, Bro.

A Modern Gent's Guide to Basic Hat Etiquette, Bro.

From the dawn of civilization to around the 1960's, people wore hats, ALWAYS. Men wore 'em, women wore 'em. Everyday. It was only polite, after all. Proper. I have read many speculations on why this tradition fell out of favor. Anything from JFK's hatless head at his inauguration (this is a myth. It was a top hat, though he didn't wear it the whole time), elaborate hairstyles such as Elvis's pompadour coming into vogue, or the shrinking of car interiors. We may never know for sure. 

Fortunately, today, more and more dudes are going dapper, reclaiming this gentlemanly custom. We are seeing all of the standard styles of yesteryear: fedoras, porkpies, derbies, homburgs, berets and flat caps. All relevant to the wardrobe of todays stylish gent. I, for one, couldn't be more delighted over this phenomenon! 

But with great hat comes great responsibility. It would behoove you menfolk to learn to do it proper. If you want to don the hat of a classic gentleman, you must adopt some of the hat wearing etiquette of a classic gentleman. Now don't get me wrong, I realize we live in the modern era. I'm not suggesting that you remove your brimmed companion each time an American flag crosses your path, or that you de-hat whenever in the presence of a lady. While both instances are appropriate times to remove your signature accessory, doing so won't damage your reputation as a polite gent as it might have in the past.

There are oodles of sites out there that educate men on proper hat etiquette. One of my favorites is "Evil Swede's Guide To Proper Hat Etiquette". This site has ALL the do's and don'ts of the hat ritual. I have taken it upon myself to condense what I've learned from this, and other sources, into a basic "how to" for the modern hat wearing male. There are many hardcore rules that seem not only hard to remember, but  also pretty irrelevant in the 21st century. Die-hards may refer to the mentioned site for further instruction. In my opinion, as a modern-fused-with-classic type gal, here's all you need to know.

Tip that hat!
Done by barely lifting your hat off of your head with your dominant hand, by the crown of a soft hat, or the brim of a stiff one. And for hell's sake, take that cigarette out of your mouth first!

-Tip that hat to a lady whom you're just meeting, or who thanks you after your assistance. She's instantly charmed. Good first impression, check.

-Begging pardon to a woman stranger? Perhaps you've just bumped into her forcing her to spill her drink. You've just become the scum of the earth. Tip that hat as you pardon your blunder, you'll get a smile in return. 

-If another guy shows courtesy to your lady companion, tip that hat to him! You'll be winning admiration from both of them with your old-timey class. Chicks dig old-timey class.

-A tug or pinch of the brim is a general polite gesture to ladies passing by as you make eye contact. Just watch out for paranoid male escorts. They may mistake this for a flirt. Just use common sense. 

Ditch that hat!
The classic rule is that you always ditch the hat when you step indoors. For the modern guy, I don't believe this is always necessary, but if you want to be staunch about it, own it! There are some situations, however, where you must do it, lest you be scorned.

-Sitting down for a meal? The damn thing is going to get in your way anyway, so do the polite thing, ditch the hat.

-Meeting the parents of a friend or girlfriend? Earn major points by ditching the hat as you enter their home. In an outdoor setting, ditch the hat for the actual introduction, then go ahead and re-hat after the formalities are over. 

-I shouldn't have to tell you to ditch the hat in a place of worship. Even if you're not a member of that religion, it's only respectful. People dig respectfulness. 

-Funeral, ditch the hat, period. Wedding, obviously you're de-hatting if it takes place indoors. Outdoor wedding, ditch it during the procession at least, if not the whole ceremony. 

Now that you've mastered that, you may be asking what to do with it after you take it off? There doesn't seem to be any specific rule on this. It is advisable, if your holding it, to keep it in your non-dominant hand to allow your dominant one the freedom to shake hands, open doors for ladies (duh), or inflict a playful, non lethal strike upon a familiar fellow as you greet him. (A strange guy ritual I don't understand, but respect) 

As I said, there are a wealth of resources online that guys can consult on properly wielding a hat. But for those who just need to know the basics, this is a good start. I don't contradict or discount any of the standard practices, but I don't think you should have to subscribe to them ALL. If you choose to, more power to you. Being a gentleman is always fashionable. Happy hatting! 

Information on hat etiquette courtesy of Evil Swede's Guide To Proper Hat Etiquette 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Let's Get Physical: The Infamous Vibrating Belt Machine

We've all seen the image of a young, smiling vintage beauty being shaken into oblivion by this ancient gadget. Maybe your mom had one, maybe your grandmother had one, or perhaps like most of us, you once saw someone using one on television and simply wondered, in a state of hysterical laughter, what the heck it had to do with fitness. My friends, I invite you to revisit the vibrating belt machine! 

So what does the damn thing DO? Wrap those wide, menacing belts around your target area, switch it on and PARTY TIME! The straps violently shimmy you from side to side into a state of vibrating bliss. This bizarre, and dangerous looking contraption promised to tone muscles, improve blood circulation, and target areas of excess fat using the power of vibration. I found pictures of people using these things dating back to the Victorian era all the way up to the late 60's.  

Internet searches on the fluttering apparatus and how it works were almost fruitless. Most of what I found were either videos of people fooling around on the dusty relic they discovered in their attic, or simply trying to sell them as novelties. One article I did find was by Ellington Darden, Ph.D who received one as a gift, and claimed that it does have fitness value when used complimentary to other physical activity. He quotes a Mr. Dresden Park, masseuse. "Out of curiosity, I started using them on the legs of my sprinters. Maurice (client/sprinter) was one of the first. Others followed his lead. The results were almost immediate. Their bodies became more streamlined. It wasn’t long before they were running faster. Then I tried the vibrating belts on the men’s midsections — and the women’s hips and upper thighs. I couldn’t believe it. The deep-seated fat started melting away." 

Before you run out and buy one based on this information, (and believe me, there are plenty of folks out there trying to get rid of them) he does mention that the vibrating belt routine would not be as effective without additional activity. The catch. 

So what became of the jiggling wonder? Apparently, in the 60's, they were outlawed in gyms in the US due to cheap home versions of the machine causing damage to body parts and organs. Such claims surely shooed them out of the home, and into the realm of camp and comedy. 

Rich in entertainment value, yet fraught with peril for your insides, this retro exercise washout is good for nothing more than collecting dust and entertaining your friends. Stick to your treadmill, ladies and gents, and leave the vibrating-belt business to belly dancers.

Research courtesy of Dr. Darden's High Intensity Training,

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fancy Pantsy-Hose

Fancy Pantsy-Hose

Though this photo is about the shoes, (let us not forget to show our reverence to the pretty vintage shoes here) I really want to talk about what’s adorning these legs. Flashy hosiery is timeless. Any of these could be worn today and spectators would believe that they’re brand new, though they are all probably being held up by garters, and the fabric lacked as much stretch as todays tights. It wasn’t until the 40’s/50’s that women in dance and theater began sewing their stockings to their briefs that the idea for pantyhose was born, and it took till the 60’s for them to become near as easy to wear as they are today. Despite all the heavy machinery necessary to hold these babies up, I would proudly sport any of them! Oh how I love leg adornment!

Born In The Wrong Era

                                                      Born In The Wrong Era
      How often have we said to ourselves "I was born in the wrong decade"? Well if you're me, it's really often. In this fast paced world of technology, media invading our lives like never before, generic bands flying off the conveyer belt like the chocolate scene in I Love Lucy and regurgitated modern fashion lacking much innovation, it's hard for me to gain focus on what these modern times are all about besides money, fame, power and STUFF. How is a simple girl like me supposed to get my bearings in a world obsessed with never touching the ground? 

     Usually when I hear someone declare that they should have been born in a different decade, it's when I'm zipping a woman into a dress at the vintage clothing boutique where I work. She sees the dress come to life on her body and, for a few moments, she exists in the 1940's. It's all about the clothes. For me, it's about craving the atmosphere of a simpler time (okay, and the clothes).

     Long before we had all the information in the world at our nimble fingertips, anything from how to fix a bicycle, to what Angelina Jolie likes on her toast, we had to venture out into the world and learn things for real. If we wanted to fix our bicycle, we had to go find and interact with someone who knew how. And as far as Angelina's toast goes, well, we just didn't fucking care. The media wasn't making us believe that it's important (it's not, by the way). How refreshing is that? 

     My decades of choice? The 1920's and the 1960's both encompassed a certain balance of simplicity and advancement that intrigue me. Both saw dramatic upheaval in social progress. Both saw women cast off their bras, along with all other pesky barriers separating them from the menfolk. Both openly embraced African American culture, music, interracial relationships and took great leaps in the civil rights movement. Of course not everyone during these times accepted this growth, but it gave the rest of us things to work toward and things to take a stand against. Go underdogs!

     Now let's talk about the fashion. Ah, the glorious things we adorned ourselves with in those magical times! The ethereal barely-there frocks, and beaded gowns of the 20's, and the colorful, kaleidoscopic prints splashed upon the silhouettes of the 60's. Both decades invented new ways to wear things, and embraced styles from the mysterious east. They adorned these outlandish ensembles with flowing scarves, piles of jewelry, and punctuated it all with defiantly artistic makeup. The style reflected the attitude of times: rebellious, bohemian splendor. How marvelous!

     We can't travel back in time. Not today anyway. So what can we do, my decade-displaced friends? We can reflect. At least we live in a time where we can access the stories, the images, the music and some of the people who were around in the past we so romanticize. Take it in, learn what you can, and apply it where appropriate. Let it inspire you to make the days you spend in this century memorable, make things happen today. Someday our present will be someone else's desired place in time. These will be the good old days. Let's do what we can to make them count. And wear old clothes while we do it!

Images courtesy of Planet Oddity, "They Thought The Year 2000 Would Look Like This"

Monday, April 16, 2012

In my first blog post, I would like to give you, the readers, a taste of what this silly girl is all about. 
So naturally I will start with archaic vintage undergarments.

     We say to the shapely woman of today with her tiny waist and ample hips/bossom "you have a great body for vintage". This is pure luck. One must take into account the fact that between the dark ages and early 1960's, (with the exception of those pioneers of lady-rebellion from the 1920's) the glamourous corsetry, sexy garter belts, and other whimsical vintage under pinnings we so glorify today actually served a mundane purpose. A woman of these decades did not merely throw a frock on over her bra, panties and slip and step out the door, flaunting her "great vintage figure". She was carefully cinched, hosed, and reshaped within an inch of her life before employing a second party to zip her altered figure into carefully tailored garments. These were the days before lycra, push up bras, and streamlined shapers. The days when a woman had to dismiss comfort in favor of conformity. 
      Observe the mechanical wonder that is a girdle of the mid 20th century. It's heavy, it's cumbersome, it contains heavy duty metal and strong laces. It is no costume. It is an engineering feat. This wasn't something a woman strapped on in the evening just to entertain her husband. This was something she spent her life in. Of course it's sexy. It's sexy today because it's novel, and makes us feel like an illustrated pin up girl. But back then, we were socially conservative. It was sexy because it was scandalous. It remained hidden. To the men, it was alluring because it may as well have been an extension of her naked body. We won't even begin to talk about the archaic underpinnings of the century previous!

     So the next time you're in the vintage store beating yourself up over your "weird" body, and blaming everything from your mother's "no hips" gene to that caramel latte you had at breakfast, remember that the ladies of yesteryear
had every bit of the same issues that you do. Fortunately for us, the shapers of today are far more forgiving. Our foremothers would have killed for a pair of Spanks! Almost NO ONE has a perfect "vintage figure". Don't feel ashamed
that you have to cinch a little to compete with that vintage dress because the woman who owned it 60 years ago did too. You just have the advantage of more agreeable foundation garments. You lucky girl, you!

Welcome to Koraflora!

Well, here she is. What I hope to be a glorious body of work telling tales of fantasy and suspense, teaching you how to do anything in the world, and the solutions to every problem you've ever had. Well, not really. But I do hope to intrigue like minded folks with my anecdotes, stories, pictures, advice and any other general what-have-you's.