Catie and I have known each other for a few years, and some of you will remember her from Camp Mighty. She runs Dronning Vintage, and is so tall and striking that I always notice her around town.
Mai shot these a while ago, and now Catie’s style incorporates a lot of modern pieces as well, but here’s what she has to say about her affection for vintage clothes:
Being an online vintage shop owner means I am utterly surrounded by my work at all times. I operate the business out of my home, and it’s not unusual to see hand-washed dresses hanging from the shower curtain rod to drip dry, or receipts and checklists stacked on a tower of hat boxes.
The apartment building I live in was built in 1923, and I love that so many of the original details, like glass doorknobs, the enamel bathtub, and the picture frame moulding that wraps around every wall, are still intact. I don’t wear vintage every day – it’s too delicate for what my real life entails – but when I do, I feel that much happier in my home. Sometimes I go all out and do my hair and makeup in a vintage style, too. Soft waves or victory rolls are my favorite.
This simple late 1950s/early 1960s cotton day dress is super comfortable.
I especially love when mid-century dresses have a belt because I like accentuating my waist.
This late-1940s rayon blouse has palm trees and surfers on it. The blouse is a little on the short side so I always wear it with higher-waisted trousers. Although these pants have a ’40s-style influence to them, they are in fact from the 1980s.
The platform sandals are also 1940s though.
I got the fresh gardenia from a flower stand in downtown San Francisco, you can find them at most stalls in the city.
This red 1950s Suzy Perette dress is a great example of how Christian Dior’s New Look influence trickled down into mid-price American design houses, with its huge skirt and smaller waist.
Bag is from Tory Burch.
These black and cream heels are from Miu Miu. It’s very rare that I have vintage shoes that are big enough to fit my feet, and Miu Miu usually has strong vintage styling in their designs. If you don’t want to shell out for a brand new pair, you can get some very gently worn ones on eBay quite often so watch for deals.
Celluloid was a popular and affordable material used for making jewelry in the 1930s and 1940s and these days the pieces are quite collectable. I have a nice collection of animal novelty pins and brooches and this celluloid parrot is a great one.
These butter-yellow 1950s shorts are made of soft, very fine-wale corduroy.
The blouse is Miu Miu, as are the loafers.
I’ve had them resoled several times because I wear them so often. Cobblers are more and more rare these days so if you find a good one, give them your business!
The story behind this suit is amazing. Someone took a 1940s wool suit and expertly dismantled it, eventually flipping it upside-down, making the jacket into a skirt and the skirt into the jacket.
I call it the Surrealism Suit.
I wore it with a 1940s hat and simple, classic Christian Louboutin heels.
Like a lady. Catie, thanks so much for showing us your amazing closet. If you’re a vintage devotee, have a look at Catie’s shop, Dronning Vintage.
Photos by Mai Le of Fashioni.st.
I can’t think of Molly Ditmore without picturing her name as an exclamation. MOLLY!
The girl is intrepid.
This photo was taken at Burning Man — which I’ve never attended due to dust, and inhibition.
Molly is less inhibited than me, by a profound margin. But just as fond of costumes. And gin.
We schemed this Mighty Closet for a while because Molly wanted to be back in her favorite clothes after the birth Mabel, whose cheeks cannot be underestimated. I’m teaching her how to say “MOLLY!”
Gaaah! My eyes water with the restraint it takes not to bite her. Hold still you hubbity bundle of perfection! I want to kiss your squealy head!
Now where were we? Before becoming a full-time mama Molly was a couture pattern-maker and seamstress, and before that a writer, editor and PR hustler in Bay Area tech.
Tell us what you’re wearing, sis.
Hi, I’m Molly. (ed: MOLLY!) This jumpsuit is one of my favorite things. It’s on the wavelength of a vintage picnic dress but more modern and urban. I packed it on a trip to New York and had visions of myself walking up Fifth Avenue.
But I couldn’t wear it because no one was home to tie me in.
It’s très chic for sitting in Dolores Park with a large hat or swanning around a pool party in Sonoma. San Francisco summer arrives in late September, so I’m putting this in heavy rotation. Kate Spade sunnies.
I am a fan of bright shoes — bold colors look best against my pale legs. These blue suede sandals from J. Crew have a comfortably low heel.
This is a great day-into-night look. I recently wore this to the playground and then to a Friday Nights at the DeYoung Museum event. For daytime, this is my standard uniform: a short black jacket with the T-shirt plus boots or Keds.
I like a little detailing in my basics. This black Funky Monkey T-shirt with the cut-out shoulders is a nice surprise under a cardigan or jacket. I bought it at the dearly departed Shotwell boutique in downtown San Francisco.
The Hermés scarf was a birthday gift from my husband. The motif at the center is a man and woman wrapped in an embrace.
These scarves are huge and can be tricky to tie (unless you are French and it’s in your DNA). Tying it without looking in a mirror seems to work best for me. The silver cuff bracelet is a souvenir from Cambodia.
The lipstick is Kate Moss for Rimmel London No. 12. I never look at drugstore makeup but there was pretty Kate, luring me in.
This is Moxie, the family dog, blocking your view of my perfect-length J Brand jeans. Fine, Moxie, have at it:
This trompe l’oiel sweater reminds me of the famous Schiaparelli bowknot sweater. Short-sleeve sweaters are great in San Francisco’s nine-months-of-autumn climate. This one came from the cashmere department at Bloomingdale’s, probably the best place to buy an investment-type sweater. Fabric quality seems better than the stuff from lower-end shops (which is likely cat hair judging by the way my eyes react).
I’ve owned this fit ‘n’ flare skirt for at least six years. Floating Shift typewriter key bracelet was purchased at Urban Air Market in Hayes Valley.
The Frye T-strap shoes are also oldies-but-goodies. They are brown suede with a metallic silver coating and they match everything in my closet. I can bike in them, walk in them and dance in them, so they’re as comfortable as 3-inch heels get.
Moxie! Move it.
I made this dress as part of my final line at Apparel Arts’ pattern-making and fashion design program. It’s made from tropical wool which is a dream to sew. French cuffs on the short sleeves are a nod to my favorite womens’ uniforms: 1960s flight attendants and diner waitresses. It gets a lot of play on the ladies-who-lunch circuit.
This dress is obviously retro-inspired so to keep it modern I wear trendy accessories. The gold-tone House of Harlowe 5 Station Necklace from Bell Jar on Valencia Street was such a score. I thought the grey bits were enamel until I wore it and realized it’s inlaid leather.
When I walked out in this Kate Spade dress Maggie said “You must have worn that a hundred times.” No, actually, it’s pretty new. “Well it was worth whatever you paid for it.” Total reinforcement! The moment I tried it on I knew it was a magic dress. Holidays, dinners, weddings… I plan on driving this sucker into the ground. It’s made from a heavy jersey knit fabric and the neckline is crochet.
My grandmother’s pearls are special-occasion jewelry; this dress works equally well with something chunky and modern.
My mother carried this green patent-leather purse as part of her going-away suit from her wedding in 1967. The construction is sturdier than you see on handbags today.
I bought these pumps in Paris after crushing on them through a store window every day for two weeks. They are timeless and a bit weird. The brass hardware brings a tough element that balances out the girlie ensemble.
In other news, Mabel will not stop feeding the dog from her snack cup. It drives me nuts.
But you try getting mad when she looks at you like this.
Come on kid, you’re killing me here.
Happiest shoot on record. In the future, I shall require that all Mighty Closet subjects rent redheaded babies and puppies before I come over. Big thanks to Molly (MOLLY!), and Mabel, and Moxie for making my afternoon.
Did you like that? Check out more from the Mighty Closet.
Whoa! We’re at 80 entries right now in the Tide VIVID White + Bright Rule Breakers of the Week Contest. Just 20 more we can give Charity Water $500 from the Mighty Coffers. Bwahahaha.
And look! Miss Anna Beth Chao is also on board with the plan to subvert Grandma Law and wear white after Labor Day — particularly whilst cycling through the countryside.
If you have a photo of yourself wearing white, please upload it to the Tide contest page on Facebook. Entering gives you a shot at winning a $3,000 shopping spree. (A ludicrously good shot, actually.)
Clean clothes for you, clean water for kids!
Anna Beth is so excited. Me too, Chao.
I met Janna through my long-time friend Mai Le of Fashioni.st. She has that kind of thinky style that makes me want to take notes on her outfits. I’ve always wanted to do a maternity Mighty Closet, and when I found out Janna was pregnant with twins, I was thrilled for her, of course, but also pretty thrilled for us. Janna recently moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles, so Mai did a quick photo shoot while she was in town visiting.
Take it away, Janna:
Let me just start by saying that being seven months pregnant with twins is exhausting! But, of course thrilling at the same time. Mix in selling a house and relocating to a new city, and well, you have yourself one tired pregnant mamma to be!
I work in the fashion industry as a trend consultant, sometimes trend forecaster and, my favorite title is “futurist.” Who doesn’t want to be a futurist! Lucky for me I work for a company in Paris, called Promostyl, which means that I get to work from home and email in French a lot. I love what I do, and wouldn’t trade it for the world. I get to work with design teams from a bunch of industries including fashion, tech, and industrial design, and get to conversate and debate the future of design with some intelligent and enlightened folks. As an indulgence, I sometimes teach at a few colleges and am constantly inspired by students and their creative ideas.
This is a little more of a San Francisco outfit. Something I would wear to do a trend presentation or seminar, or meet up for dinner with folks to discuss the future of ladies neck ties, or the influence of the corset in modern day. If I weren’t pregnant, I’d wear this with a tight denim vest.
I come from the land of high-waisted jeans and jumpsuits, and of course heels, so this transition has been interesting! But I have some good finds and have managed to keep rockin’ the heels in the wedge/platform style that seems to be working out just fine.
Dress: Was my mothers, but is from I-Magnin
Shoes: Chloe (5″ heel)
I am so thrilled at the prospect of becoming a mother, and can’t wait to meet these little ones. Pregnancy has been an interesting ride for sure. No one told me about the morning sickness, and apparently I am the only one of my friends to ever have this, because none of my friends that are already moms could relate. But I love the “bump,” or maybe we should call it the “small mountain” at this point, and figuring out what to wear has been interesting, and fun. This dress has been a dream while I’m pregnant. I found it at a vintage store in Oakland (Mercy Vintage), but coincidentally it is also from I-Magnin.
My husband and I were living in San Francisco (one of my favorite places), but in the last few months we relocated to LA, where I have a bigger client base, and also where there is a little more sunshine (no offense SF, I still love you) and some space for these kiddos in my belly to play around in the grass and run through the sprinklers. I’m already sourcing and making cute little swimwear outfits for the two of them — a boy and a girl! I wear this to go to art openings and to meet up with people for coffee in my new neighborhood, Silverlake.
The necklace is one of my new favorites, and reminds me of something my mom would have made in her pottery days, but it’s from a great boutique in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley, called Reliquary and is designed by a woman in Philly. I’m inspired to make some clay beads!
Shoes are my go-to clogs by Swedish Hasbeens.
This is an all-time favorite: Maxi dress by Isabel Marant. This was one of my first pregnancy purchases before the bump started showing, and it has served me well. Comfort and style! This dress is pure class. Great for waltzing into the Chateau Marmont for a cocktail.
Necklace is vintage.
Shoes are by Belle by Siegerson Morrison.
This outfit is a bit of an amalgam. Mostly vintage. The dress is one of those moo-moo maxi hippie dresses that can be quite terrible if worn the wrong way, but I have been able to rock it for a while now. Hhere I am still trying to rock the leather vest, but this may not work for too much longer!
This is kind of a farmers market outfit, followed by a long brunch on a hot sunny Sunday.
The necklace is a gold collar with a leopard on it and is one of my favorite jewelry pieces of all time. It’s from Bird in Brooklyn.
This dress must be worn with heels, these are some of my favorite vintage 1970s clogs.
Ah, next to the Isabel Marant dress, this was a fantastic pregnancy purchase. It is by the brand Hatch, and has fulfilled my pregnant lady jumpsuit dreams! It is so comfortable and versatile and also comes in a cool cotton version. I love this. Cute for after pregnancy also with a belt.
I think this outfit is something I would wear when I want to make a good first impression. When I want to leave a room and have people say, “Who’s the cool pregnant lady?”
The shoes are by Fiel, and I call these my pregnancy platforms. I love the mesh that is airy and cute but also great if my little feet are a swollen.
Necklace is from a friend’s shop in Highland Park (LA), called Platform. It’s a fantastic store with just exquisite style and home finds from all over the globe, as well some great local LA designers. I love turquoise, so this piece caught my eye right away.
All my outfits are things that I want to be able to still wear when the bump is gone and the babies are in my arms, and when I have a waist and can walk more than a block in my heels. I think all of these fit that bill just fine!
BAM! Janna, you are going above and beyond, my friend. Wearing heels while pregnant should be an Olympic sport. Which is why I’ve sent you a medal, please look for it in the mail.
Huge thanks to Mai (@mai) for the photos, and to Janna for letting us into her closet when obviously could have used the time to nap. Hooray, ladies!
Susan Wagner of The Working Closet always looks like she just showered. It took me years to figure her out, because her exterior is so calm, but her brain is like a hamster on a wheel.
I’ll see her at a conference in some sensible American sport ensemble with a glass of wine resting in her hand. She waves me over, “I haven’t talked to you forever!” And I come-to three hours later with a notebook full of Beautiful Mind scribbles and six new business plans.
Susan likes to get stuff done, son. I’ve never known her to have fewer than four jobs, and I’m pretty sure she’s optimized that way. She is busy, but she is tidy.
Remember last week when Natalie said she always wished she could be a person with a minimalist uniform? Susan is that woman. She’ll come to your house, throw out everything in your closet, and somehow make you feel like you have more to wear afterward:
I’m a style blogger, not a fashion blogger — my preoccupation isn’t with what’s on the runway but what’s in your closet. Or, in this case, in my closet. And honestly, there are fewer things in my closet than you might expect.
Although there are a lot of striped tees.
This is a little ridiculous. (And there are actually more — a couple were in the laundry. I need an intervention.)
Despite my ridiculous collection of striped shirts, I spend a lot of time preaching the gospel of the Carefully Edited Wardrobe, which goes like this:
Less is more, and having fewer things creates more options.
Every successful style makeover starts with a closet clean-out and ends with a small collection of perfect pieces. Repetition is the key to personal style, and accessories are an easy way to upgrade even the most basic outfit.
Tee on me: StyleMint
Tees from left: J. Crew, Lands’ End, Forever21, Lands’ End, GAP, Forever21
Shorts: Old Navy
Necklace: J. Crew
This is my uniform.
I work at home, so my everyday look is pretty casual. Among other things, I’m an editor for a pet website, which is hilarious because the only pet my family owns is a Betta Fish, and it’s kind of a miracle that we haven’t killed him. Yet.
Because I work from home, I spend a lot of my day staring at a screen, but I’m also a full-time mom, and a partner in a boutique social media consulting firm (Engage OKC). That means a normal work day can include editing copy, meeting with clients, and hauling kids to karate and baseball. My go-to look is a T-shirt — usually striped, of course — and a skirt, which is appropriate for everything from lunch out to an hour of kickboxing.
Watching kickboxing, of course. No one kickboxes in a skirt. At least not around here.
I wear a lot of belts; I truly believe that a belt can change your life. Or at least your look. A belt creates a waist and gives your shape some definition; it’s also an easy way to change up a look. I wear a belt with just about everything, including cocktail dresses. I buy them a little long so I can wear them either at my waist or around my hips, depending on my outfit and my mood. I just loop the extra length through the belt and voila!
Tee: J. Crew
Bracelets: Stella & Dot
Sandals: Jack Rogers
I live in Oklahoma, where the average summer temperature is something akin to the surface of the sun. That means that my main style goal from March to October is not to be hot. If you want the truth about my summer wardrobe, it consists largely of running clothes and swimwear, neither of which will be making an appearance here. You’re welcome.
I spent years not wearing shorts because … well, just because. I had a bit of a mid-life crisis a couple of years ago, where I pined for all the things I would never get to do (like live in Paris or work for Vogue). But that got boring, so I decided to do something constructive instead. I started running (Couch to 5K FTW!) and in the last year I’ve run four half marathons.
I also started thinking about how silly it was to waste time being sweaty and uncomfortable solely because my legs didn’t look like Heidi Klum’s. This summer I’m obsessed with shorts, although fortunately for my wallet the ones I’m really in love with all come from Old Navy and cost less than $25. Score!
I totally believe in dressing shorts up, although I do not believe in “dressy shorts.” I wear my shorts with pretty tops and blingy necklaces and even a blazer. I do not, however, wear shorts with heels. I have my limits, y’all. And you should, too.
Tee: J. Crew
Shorts: Old Navy
Necklace, bracelet: J. Crew
Sandals: Jack Rogers
I’m a big believer in mixing high- and low-end pieces. I do most of my shopping at J. Crew, Old Navy and the GAP, with an occasional stop at Forever21 for cheap t-shirts. The J. Crew catalog — which they’ve just rebranded as their “style guide” — is my bible; I tear out photos and recreate those looks with pieces from other places. If I could, I would shop exclusively at J. Crew, but I have two kids who need things like food and clothes and running water, so that’s not really an option.
My shopping strategy is to choose specific investment pieces — ideally, things I can wear over and over and over — and then pair them with less pricey pieces. This spring, my investment was a denim shirt which I wear aaaaaallll the time, no joke. Totally worth the $98 I paid for it. (Also totally worth the investment, two blazers: one in wool flannel, one in chambray. They go with everything and dress up any outfit.)
Shirt: J. Crew
Dress: Old Navy
Earrings: Stella & Dot
Sandals: Jack Rogers
Did you think I was kidding about wearing things over and over? Hey look, it’s that same chambray shirt! Back again! I also own this skirt in four different colors — navy, pink, and khaki linen/cotton for summer, and purple wool for winter — and I wear it almost constantly, in one iteration or another. (Ed note: If you recognize the skirt, you might have seen Susan recommend it in Wardrobe Basics for Real Women a while back.) And hey, it’s that same belt from before! And the same shoes. Go figure.
(I have ugly feet, largely from the running, so no closeups of my sandals. Again, you’re welcome.)
I get dressed every single day, and I don’t mean that I change out of the yoga pants I slept in and into a different pair of yoga pants; I mean real clothes — a dress or a skirt and tee or some other not-my-pajamas kind of outfit. I wouldn’t say that I get dressed up, although I hear that from people quite a lot (as in, “Why are you so dressed up???”) but I do wear clothes that are not designed for exercise or sleeping for the parts of my day when I am not exercising or sleeping. It’s a simple thing, and it makes a big difference, both in the way I look and the way I feel.
Try it — #getdressed. It’s easier than you think.
Here I am, pretending that I’m in a J. Crew catalog. And by that I mean leaning over awkwardly, for absolutely no reason:
My biggest closet secret is that I hand-wash and line dry almost everything I own.
Jeans go in the washing machine, inside out, in cold water, but other than that, everything I wear gets a bath in the sink with some extra delicate detergent (or baby shampoo). I don’t really like to shop so I work extra hard to make the things I love last.
Shirt: J. Crew
Skirt: J. Crew
Shoes: Jack Rogers
Necklace: Stella & Dot
Clutch: Ellington Handbags
Speaking of things I love, is my go-to look for summer cocktails. The dress is cotton, which is nice when it’s 1,000 degrees outside, and it has pockets, so I can skip taking a bag (leaving both hands free for drinks and food and hugging). I wore this same outfit a few years back to interview Tim Gunn and he admired my shoes. Life = complete.
Please note my sash. One of my super powers is the ability to tie the perfect bow. Unfortunately, this means that if I run into you at a party and your sash isn’t tied right, I will be compelled to untie it and start over. Of course it also means that if I live next door to you and you’re trying to wrangle your toddler into her birthday dress and cannot get the bow right, I will come to your rescue.
Dress: J. Crew
Necklace: White House | Black Market
In general, I would describe my look as fairly classic and conservative. But every once in a while, I like to mix it up a little. And by “mix it up” I mean pile on multiple huge necklaces, shimmy into some skinny jeans, and add a pair of reallyreallytall platform sandals.
It’s good to keep people guessing.
I love this outfit because it’s basically just jeans and a tee, all fancied up. The blouse is silk but it’s washable silk, which is pretty much a gift from God. I wore a version of this outfit to the Versace party at Mom 2.0, but with red shorts instead of the jeans. Love.
Blouse: J. Crew
Jeans: Old Navy
Necklaces: (from top) White House | Black Market, Stella & Dot, Madewell
Bracelet: J. Crew
Sandals: Dr. Scholl’s Shoes
Lips: Butter London Lippy in Snog
So what’s the take-away here? Shop smart, don’t be afraid to repeat outfits, and when in doubt, pile on the necklaces. It’s that easy. I promise.
Thanks so much Susan, for the photos and the wisdom. I miss you and your little pink shoes, my dear. I pinch your ruddy cheeks.
This is my extraordinarily efficient friend Liz Stanley of Say Yes to Hoboken. In addition to being a total party animal, Liz is one of those people who can complete a cross stitch sampler, repaint the living room, and start a successful small business before she meets you for brunch.
She also has my favorite smile ever.
Liz and I share a penchant for cruise director chic. Her khakis are American Eagle, and the gold striped tank is J.Crew from eBay. As you can see here, her house is just as well curated as her closet.
Liz’s pink ribbon necklace is also J.Crew and her blue blazer is from a thrift store. She says, “Shrunken blazers look hot with almost any outfit, but check the little boys section of your local thrift store for a cheap/vintage alternative to that $150 one you’ve been eying from J.Crew. I always find some great ones to add to my closet there.”
Her pink/gold heels were consignment, and they’re such a flattering neutral. The shine gives them a little more depth than a straightforward nude, and the pink is warmer too. Plus I love how a T-strap shoe always reduces blisters. I wonder if these were originally tango shoes.
Liz has baby-fine hair, so messy updos are a quick option for her. Everyday Princess Leia.
I told Liz I would crop the firewood out of the shot, but then the photo looked less awesome without it. Sorry, Liz. Now everyone will know you use your fireplace. Probably for something illicit.
Liz says, “Once you slip into a pair of high-waisted stretchy jeans like these, you’ll curse whoever came up with the idea of a low rise. There’s a reason our moms wore them in the ’70s, they’re incredibly comfortable. Plus, thanks to J. Lo’s butt, we can all embrace the full size of our behinds in high-waisted jeans.”
The scarf is from Target. If you always wonder how people make cool headbands from scarves, Liz recently posted a tutorial on her favorite turban ties. Go read it.
Her long-chain necklace is the Color Study Locket by Verabel on Etsy.
Bag by Fabric and Handle, excellent for toting your macrame project. Her sandals are Bernardo.
Here’s Liz with a pillow she probably whipped up in the ten minutes before she had a dozen guests over for dinner. Liz, I will pay you to be my wife. Tights by American Apparel, brown boots are Diesel from a consignment store, and the gray dress is H&M.
Liz and I were talking about what makes someone’s style stand out, and her theory is layering. She says, “With a kind of boring dress like this gray one I like to add unexpected pieces like an oxford shirt underneath and bright tights. I’m a big fan of oxfords as an under layer. Just be sure to roll up the sleeves and unbutton the top to prevent looking too stiff and formal.” Shirt is H&M, belt is from a thrift store
This sweet J Crew headband would get lost in my hair, but I love it paired with a chignon or a casual ponytail. Well played, Stanley.
Liz got this ombre silk skirt from a consignment store. She says, ““Elastic waist skirts aren’t always the most flattering on their own. Add a belt to cinch your waist and hide the extra bulk around the hip they’re giving you with a shrunken blazer.”
I’ve noticed over the years that a lot of Liz’s neutral-colored layering pieces feature an understated print like this tiny polka dot blouse from Urban Outfitters. It adds interest, but the overall effect is still classic. The blazer and brown belt are thrifted.
These boots are made for typin’ (by Zara).
Gah! I so covet this dress. She found it at a thrift store in Utah, and orignially it was sleeveless, backless, and nearly floor length, “I’m not a great sewer but I worked my fingers to the bone to refashion this outdated dress into something more my style.” You can see the whole process right here.
Here she’s styled the dress for day and evening.
Liz throws on a cardigan from Express, a the thin belt is H&M for a creative business look.
Also, there’s a removable back panel so Liz can still wear the dress to church.
For evening, she dresses up her shoes. Liz made these sequin shoe clips herself, but you can buy them readymade from Ban.do.
Here’s what the heels look like naked. (My Google search traffic on this post just skyrocketed.)
Add a vintage clutch, and you’re all set for some serious partying. That donkey tail isn’t gonna pin itself.