Friday, December 16, 2011

The clothes! Or, dark alley adventures.

I'm sure I mentioned that what let loose the floodgates of my thrift-obsession was my intention to open a vintage clothing Etsy store, and yet, I realized, I have yet to post anything at all about the clothes!  So here are a couple of shots of some of my vintage finds:

Lovely peachy late-70s/early 80s gown.  
Not just for old teen horror movies!
Fabulous 60s! Long grey wool dress, matching 
belt with rhinestone buckle and white poly tie, 
and a red wool hat fit for a 60s Bond girl.

I fully admit that part of the reason that I haven't shown a lot of the clothes is also a large part of why the shop has yet to materialize (or... digitize, since it's clearly not a physical shop!).  I haven't shot most of it.  I don't really have a willing and available model most of the time, and I have a mannequin, of sorts, but...
Wait - have I told you about my mannequin?  I don't believe I have!

Make yourself comfy, I have a story to tell!

Once upon a time, I came to the realization that a mannequin would be a really helpful thing to have to photograph these clothes in order to sell them online.  So, where's a thrifty girl like me to turn but Craigslist, in hopes of finding a new plastic friend looking for a home?  And that's exactly what I did.  One night, I came home after a longer-than-usual day at work (I usually finish at 9:00 PM).  I got into my PJs and settled in with my laptop and checked, just on the off-chance.  And what to my wondering eyes should appear but a Curb Alert for various items including a Free Mannequin!  And it had only been posted 20 minutes before.  And it was only maybe 10 minutes from my house!  In an alley in Dogtown, at going-on-midnight!  So of course, I hopped up, threw a hoodie on over my PJs and grabbed my keys.  The ad had said it was in the alley behind the Hi-Pointe theater, so I headed that way, looking directly behind the building and saw... nothing.  Undaunted, I widened my search.  I went up a block or two and came down the alley behind the then still-closed Cheshire Inn, and I found the place!  All the items listed were still there, except... the mannequin.  So sad!  But I wasn't about to come away empty-handed.  There was a box of hangers there, which is a totally useful thing, so I hopped out of the car and started loading the over-sized box into my trunk, in the dark alley, when I hear a voice, going "Hey!  Hey kid!".

Now, if you know me, and even if you don't, you may have guessed by now that I'm not exactly a kid (except on the inside).  And while I am adventurous enough to wander alleys at night looking for free mannequins, I'd like to think I'm smart enough not to talk to strangers while doing it.  Unfortunately....

You see, the flap on the box was stuck and I couldn't get my trunk closed, and I dropped my keys, and I was, I admit, a little bit flustered.  And the voice said, "Kid, do you want to see something cool?".  At which point I thought three things:
A.  No, I really, really don't!
2. Well, yes, kinda.  What if there really is something cool?
C. Oh great.  So this is how it happens.  

So I gathered up my keys and finally got the trunk closed as he walked up, and I started inching around toward my car door.  And he said: "I'm not, like, a rapist or nothin'".  Which, as it turns out, isn't quite as reassuring as you might think.  But now that he's closer (and not approaching me from behind in the dark) I can see him, and while I'm still quietly freaking out, I'm a little bit less scared.  He appears to be, essentially, a drunken frat boy.  Now, I'm not saying that's such a relief because drunken frat boys are known for being such good citizens.  It's just... I thought there was an outside chance I could take him, if it came down to it.  Or at least confuse him until he got tired and needed to sit down.  And at about this point, he's close enough to see the look of alarm on my face, so he holds up his hands like it's a stick-up, and says: "No, seriously, it's so cool!  You gotta see it!  I hid it over there..." and he points to a strip of complete darkness in the relative darkness, in a narrow area between a shipping container and the back of the building.  He does that chin-nod that guys do and takes a step as if I'm supposed to follow him.  At which point I voiced a mild concern at his plan and mentioned how I really needed to get home.  But he barely noticed.  He was on a roll by then, rambling about how he was going to take it home himself and scare the crap out of his roomates, but he couldn't figure out how to carry it all by himself, and since I have a car maybe I should take it.  And it sinks in to me that yes, it really is something cool.  This guy knows where the mannequin is!

I should mention now that a good friend admonished me to never tell this story in its entirety again once I told it to him.  Apparently it induced some stress.  So let me stop right here and state that I was not abducted, robbed or otherwise harmed.  I must confess that the first glimpse of her headless/armless plastic corpse lying naked in the dark behind the shipping container was somewhat freaky,  but I did, in the end, procure the elusive mannequin, with the help of the drunken frat boy.  I even thanked him and shook his proffered hand.  But I washed mine as soon as I got home.

So here she is, and I'll call her Allie, in honor of her humble origins:

Allie the mannequin, in an Easter-
egg pastel 70s knit sundress.

Unfortunately, after all we went through to find each other, Allie here is not your ideal vintage-clothing-displaying mannequin.  For one thing, she has no arms.  You'd be surprised how difficult it is to accurately display clothing on a mannequin with no arms, and an insufficient amount of shoulder (which is why she's wearing a sleeveless dress above).  Also, if she had a head she would be easily 6'3" tall.  Even without a head, she's a good bit taller than me (the drunken frat boy really did come in handy getting her in my car).  And she's no Twiggy, either.  A lot of my lovely vintage clothing is entirely too small for her.  And finally, her posture is not ideal.  I'm not sure what, exactly, she was intended for, but it doesn't appear to be for the optimal display of clothing.  She's standing slightly twisted at the waist, which tends to cause bunching.

Still, she's pretty cool, and works for larger, or stretchy, sleeveless items, and lets face it - she's worth it for the adventure alone.  And what's more, at the bottom of the box of hangers, I found an old coin purse that was empty except for a surprise of 8.65 euros - mostly Spanish euros.  So I made an actual profit off of my adventure, although it has since depreciated considerably.

So good night all - I hope all your dark-alley adventures end as benignly as mine!

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