The Jazz Emporium

Let's get our Vintage on!


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Guest Post by Jessica James: Let’s Get Knitty!

There’s a whole lot more to knitting than dishcloths. When I was quite young, Mom churned these wee squares out like there was no tomorrow. As a young lady I wished to learn these crafty ways for purposes other than kitchen accessories. Eventually I found out those were the only things Ma felt confidant making. Therefore I sought guidance from higher up in the family tree: Nana. As I’m left-handed, I essentially had to learn to do everything completely backwards. This was a challenge that both clever Betty June (Nana) and I undertook. Success was soon ours.

 Back in the day, I would knit with any old yarn, mostly acrylic. After all, my allowance wasn’t much, and I was too young for a proper job. Since recently coming to work at a wool shop that does not sell yarn made out of plastic, I have become quite the yarn snob. This is positive with regards to the quality of the finished product, but a negative with regards to my bank account. Being a snob is expensive.

 Along with the popularity of vintage clothing, vintage hobbies have come back into the limelight. Vogue puts out knitting magazines every season and Ravely (knitting social networking site) has a couple million members. BUT I would just like to point out that I was on this train long ago! I feel I can now call myself an advance knitter, as I’ve just finished my biggest and most time consuming project ever. I knitted a dress! Pat on the back for me. I’m so proud of my navy blue bundle of joy (although it’s pictured gray below). As you can see, it even has pockets! I was thrilled when my flat mate told me the dress was sooooooooooo Joan (from Mad Men, yay!). Oooo maybe I’ll wear that today.

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Back in the 90’s Julia Roberts was knitting a jumper on the set of her latest film, and she released the pattern to the masses. So of course I thought it was way cool and had to follow suit. Unfortunately my version turned out to be a bit of a mess. I’ll blame it on using acrylic.

Now after many years of practice, I find it hard to put my knitting needles down. Last weekend I was so engrossed in knitting some legwarmers, but I was meant to attend my friend’s birthday party. I was torn. So like any serious knitter, I brought my knitting with me to the party. Luckily I was able to get a few rounds done before the Swedish cider went to my head. Ooft. Warning: drunkenness and knitting don’t mix.

Sometimes knitting when one is supposed to be paying attention can appear rude. But I am able to chat and focus on other things while I’m knitting, it’s called multi-tasking. Actually, I enjoy being productive. I can’t even manage to watch an entire movie without having some knitty business in my hands (a bored/guilty feeling sets in). The one exception that takes away my multi-tasking abilities is a movie with subtitles.

Portable and therapeutic hobbies are important to my livelihood, especially when I expect to spend some time waiting. I used to always bring my knitting with me to auditions. Not only did it keep me occupied and productive, it also settled my pre-performance jitters. Surprisingly, having to get up in front of a panel of casting directors to sing for 30 seconds can be quite nerve rattling.

On of my recent and favorite creations is this red hood. At the time when I was making this fine accessory, Halloween was quickly approaching and I was without a costume concept. All I had to do was look down. BAM! Hello Little Red Riding Hood!

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Guest Blog by Jessica James: Mad Men & Me

I strongly believe in thank you cards, ladies gloves and vacuuming in heels while sipping a tasty mint julep. Was I born into the wrong decade? I was re-watching one of my favorite episodes of Mad Men (Joan sings a French tune with accordion accompaniment), when I thought of how much more I may prefer to live in that swell world. This series is amazing and has an astounding attention to detail. Their costuming department works very hard to remain true to the times. If one has not seen this programme, one should remedy the situation directly!

As I’ve always wanted to be a ginger, Joan, the smart and sassy office manager is of course my favorite character; red hair, curves to the max, and a killer wardrobe. Unfortunately in this world where men rule the roost, Joan finds it incredibly difficult to rise any higher within the company during the first couple of seasons. On a side note, I have recently come to acquire a Joan pen, the ultimate accessory (please see picture below).

On the other end of the spectrum is Peggy. Will someone not give this girl a makeover?! What she lacks in looks and style, she makes up for in determination. Peggy gains a notable promotion that is typically only granted to individuals of the male gender. Even though she still kind of annoys me in a general way…good job Peggy.

Betty Draper starts off the series conveying the image of the perfect little housewife (this goes through some changes). She is a stay at home mom with fabulous full-skirted dresses, doing all housework in heels. Honestly, she’s more than a bit of a lush and married to the delicious Don Draper. Oh, delectable Don Draper: the hair, the suits, the voice. That is all I have to say about that.

So obsessed (maybe ‘obsessed’ is a tad strong, let’s go with ‘intrigued’) with the 1950’s am I, that while living in NYC, I would have “1950’s Housewife Day” with a friend of mine. Yes, there is someone out there just as kooky as moi. In this, we usually donned dresses (don’t forget the cute little apron), heels, and baked cupcakes.

Example of my dedication and love of the 1950’s:
I don’t know if anyone has experienced a New York summer, but it can be BRUTAL. It was the height of summer, a gazillion degrees with 100% humidity. My flat did not have air-conditioning, but we 1950’s housewife wannabes persevered. With the cupcakes in the oven, I put on another layer of deodorant; it’s not ladylike to stink. Makeup was melting off my face while frosting those cuppycakes. Being a 1950’s housewife is definitely easier in milder weather.

 

Yes, at times I think I’m living in the wrong time period. The styles of dresses from the 50’s are flattering on gals with curves (example: Joan). I love the clothing and accessories for both men and women. Naturally, this leads me to the conclusion that I want to live back then. But looking closer at women’s daily lives and roles from that time, it’s maybe not as attractive as I originally thought. Taking Mad Men as an example, the women look fabulous, but they have it a bit rough with regards to respect in the workplace and general freedom. I suppose I am best left in present day. Le Sigh.

I still enjoy a cocktail at 3 in the afternoon, while doing laundry of course.


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Sassy Bearcat of the Week: Joan Holloway

Madmen’s loved and most influential stylistically character, Joan Holloway, has stolen the style icon crown this week. Heralded for her curvy physique (referred to commonly and patronizingly as plus-size), Joan injects a feline allure into the prim time period of the series, and leads us all to the shocking conclusion that, yes, our grandparents probably DID like sex.

Well, actually, from all my grandpa’s comments throughout the ages about ‘dishy dames’, I feel I was maybe a little too aware of that fact of historical human nature already…

As is evident to any who carry eyes within their head (or fingers on their hands for those lucky enough to get to grips with the character herself) Joan is no skinny minnie. She ain’t no Agnes Dean or Daisy Lowe, whose cupcake chests and snooker cue arms luckily provide just enough substance to hang delectable clothes from. No, in the wardrobe of life, those much revered ladies are the coat hangers on the rack which we flick through absent mindedly, coveting a piece here and there, situated at random around the shopping floor; much of a muchness and a little bland.Joan, however, is the mannequin presiding on the podium,  surveying all the racks around her. Filling the clothes and bringing them to life, clad in perfectly pinned to fit outfits that are both striking and human at once. And boy, do we want to emulate that!

It’s the perfectly nipped in dresses, the expertly coiffed hair & the pencil skirts that just ooze sex, despite the low hemline and high neck lines; it’s a lesson to every platform sheathed, hot panted bimbo that naively grinds all night in Bamboo; if you want to be sexy, less flesh is more. Sure, the eager lads might not pant down your neck when you hit the dance floor in a round neck, fitted pencil dress and demure heels, but in order to tap into your real sexual confidence, you need to dress how you want, not as you want to be perceived.

Of course, Joan Holloway is really just a character played by Christina Hendricks, and has talented costume designer Katherine Jane Bryant to adjust her outfits to fit perfectly, but if we suspend this reality for a moment and just take time to evaluate Joan’s style as Bryant has read it to be, we can see that it all leads to one overwhelming message; being yourself and comfortable in who you are and how you dress is sexy.

And so is this.

No-one minds when Joan buts in.

For more inspiration from her see below – and check out the amazing paper dolls! We’re off to print our own set out now.

We want one!!