Sunday, June 21, 2015

I'd Wear That

About a month ago I was trying to get dressed for the English Dept. Fashion Show ( oh yeah, I own that one too) and found myself at a loss. How could I, owner of Xtabay-arguably the most fabulous vintage store in Portland, have nothing to wear?!

The racks at Xtabay were chock full of tiny, froufy, 1950's prom and party dresses. Things a 40 year old woman with a 30" waist simply cannot wear without looking like an imposing, giant toddler. 

I cried out emphatically to the Universe, "I wish I had a big, fabulous, mirrored Kaftan to wear!"

Two days later I found two of them. Spiritual wisdom through the ages says ask and you shall receive, and I have come to find this to be true. Try it and let me know what happens:) 

Honestly, over the past couple years I've started to feel a disconnect between me and my store. Xtabay was beautiful, glamorous and successful but was bordering on foreboding and a little intimidating to the average shopper. The common sentiment overheard everyday at the shop was " oh, this place is like a museum!",  "does anyone actually wear this stuff?"and "I LOVE this place but never have an occasion to wear anything in here". Hmmmm….

So it is my intention to bridge the gap between me and my store. To let Xtabay reflect the woman I am today and the styles and things that I love. I am a die-hard lover of fashion, beauty and art. I am a Libra who loves flowers, birds, chandeliers, music and candles and for the first time in a long, long while I feel like sharing and decorating myself.

Can I get a Hallelujah?

 And with that I present the "I'D WEAR THAT" Collection. Using myself (remember, 40 years old and a size 10) as the sole model and curator of the collection. 

I am wild about these little Mexican embroidered dresses. My seamstress modifies them just enough to make them sexier and more flattering than their original adaptation. I have been living in a black and purple one over the past two weeks and the compliments never end! 

I decided to snag this one for myself the minute Erin removed the sleeves. 

Here are the two mirrored Pakistani Kaftans that showed up two days after I called out for them. I had Erin make them short though because honestly in this weather I want to be able to show off my legs. Plus, they just look way cuter. Paired with one of our vintage straw bags you'll be singing Bohemian Rhapsody all over town. 

Speaking of Erin, look what she made out of a few yards of vintage Hawaiian fabric I had. Erin is our incredibly talented seamstress that can fix, transform, alter and restore just about anything she puts her mind to. She has made 100's of brides ecstatically happy. I am totally in love with this strapless, boned, vintage patterned summer party dress she made. It looks chic with gold jewelry and my new Vince Camuto heels. I would totally wear this on a date, to a party, or just our shopping around. 

Erin made this dress too. I had had this 1950's polished cotton for years, and was so excited to see it made into something so beautiful. Of course, a few minutes in our shop window and it sold. It's being worn to a rather fancy wedding in Montana I think? 

This next dress I am really excited about. It is the latest in our Xtabay Exclusives Collection for the Bridal Salon. It's the most gorgeous rose gold embroidered tulle and makes one's skin look absolutely radiant. We stock it in a 28, 30 and 32" waist. I am wearing the 30" and it looks and feels amazing!

I am just now beginning to master the art of the selfie;)

How cute is this little ensemble? This 1970's three piece knit set was made in Italy and was sold at Bloomingdales. It reminds me a little of Jane Birken. The color looks amazing on sun-kissed skin and again I love it with gold accessories. I'd totally wear this. 

More things I'd most definitely wear, most are available to purchase in our  Etsy Shop

1940's NOS rayon pajama set. NOS means new old stock, meaning nobodies creepy body parts have been sleeping in it:) 
1980's Missoni Two Piece Knit sweater and skirt set. Amazing.

Amazing again I know…1980's Missoni Flame Knit magenta magic dress. 

Sexy Grecian gauze dress and adorable 1960s cotton eyelet sun suit. Perfect for a day at the beach.  

Selfie lessons with our newest family member Melissa! Melissa has been a dear friend of mine for many  years and is one of the nicest, funniest people you will ever have to pleasure of getting to know. I am so excited to welcome her to the Xtabay family. 

I hope you will stop in and witness how the shop will evolve over the next few months. Hopefully, we will have something YOU too can wear and enjoy. 


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The 40 year old vintage vixen…

I opened Xtabay in 2001. I was 26 years old and wore tight t- shirts that said things like "I'm A Pepper" and "keep the back door open and the motor running...". First thing you saw when you entered the shop was an impressive collection of velvet nude paintings and a rounder of 70's poly shirts and old Levi's. Man have things changed. 

This August we will be celebrating 14 years in business. You know what that really means? It means that while Xtabay got older so did I. Last October I turned 40.  I myself, now qualify as vintage. This brought forth a sort of identity crisis for me. I started questioning everything. I found myself single again after a nine year engagement.  I realized I am probably not going to be having children. Is being a career woman enough?  Do I even care that much about vintage clothing anymore?!  I am not one for car shows, vintage fairs, dressing like I'm from another time, I don't even have any tattoos! According to the Myers Briggs test I am an I N F P -- which basically means I don't fit in anywhere.  So not only am I forty but I am also single, childless and wondering what the hell I am doing with my life. 

So what does a 40 year old single woman faced with an identity crisis do?

She goes shopping. 

In a vain attempt to ease my pain and figure myself out I indulged in some serious retail therapy. I shopped the racks at Xtabay as if I was a new customer. I shopped all over town trying to find myself.  I tried on tons of things and this is what I found:
 I favor wearing black. I always feel stylish (and thinner) when I'm wearing black. I like simple, fitted silhouettes. I almost always accessorize with a vibrant green handbag, a big gold necklace and my never to be taken off silver bangles. I enjoying wearing stacks of bakelite on my wrists and tend to favor the bangles with rhinestones and facets.  I am hopelessly devoted to high heels and depend on them for reasons not 100% healthy. I enjoy wearing a bold, shapeless sweater or  jacket with skinny jeans or leggings. I like appearing as if my body is huge and my legs are tiny? Why, I don't know.
I love a good 40's dress.  This 1940's rayon dress by Dorothy O'Hara is definitely a keeper.  It's figure flattering, has a wicked sexy raven print and is edgy and classy at the same time. A common pitfall to avoid when wearing vintage (at a certain age) is wearing something with too cutesy of a print. When I was twenty I looked downright adorable in a Little Bo Peep novelty print dress but at age forty it starts to look kind of prudish and frumpy on me.

See how happy I look?! I strongly suggest investing in a fabulous 1940's dress. If you can't find a suitable print, just go for a black one. The cut is really what it's all about. 

The illusion lace dress below is one I had designed for our Xtabay label and is something I would undoubtedly wear to a cocktail party or night at the opera. One of the best things about having our own label is we can get these dresses in a variety of sizes! My 40 year old body can't squeeze into all those tiny vintage dresses anymore. In fact, my 26 year old body couldn't fit into a lot of them either:) This knockout dress with some strappy heels and bold clutch and I'd be in good shape. 

Xtabay Illusion Lace Dress available to purchase here in our Etsy shop. 

That's me doing the "…b@*ch please" pose wearing another of our Xtabay originals. This dress features kimono sleeves and pairs great with Sarah Bibb's Obi Belt. The shoes I bought at Imelda's .  The dress is flattering if you tend to gain weight in your midsection as opposed to your ass and hips. I have always struggled with the curse of the muffin top and this style seems to hide it pretty well. Did I mention I love black?
Our Xtabay Kimono dress is available to purchase in our Etsy shop here. 

The little black dress above is another from our Xtabay Original collection. It is pretty close to perfection. It is available to purchase in our Etsy shop here.

I have spent a great deal of money and time the past few weeks at these shops in Portland. Their sales people are all fabulous and have helped me to discover what works well on my 40 year old figure. 

1. Adorn on 34th and SE Division Street in Southeast Portland. Ask for Wendy, she belongs on Advanced Style and is the stylish, loving, Jewish grandmother you always wished you had. When you are done shopping with her at Adorn, drag her with you down to Xtabay- she'll make you look like a million bucks in no time. 

2. Mink Boutique on Hawthorne in Southeast Portland has also changed my life. Carla and Rachel are brilliant at finding you the perfect thing.

3. Communion on Hawthorne who strangely doesn't seem to have a website. Lot's of simple, sexy, modern black clothes. Great pieces for layering and wearing vintage kimonos over. 

I feel like the older a women gets the more accessories she should pile on. Thank God for Ari Seth Cohen and the wonderful women of the endlessly inspiring fashion blog Advanced Style

What I've learned though from exploring new and vintage clothing is that my love of vintage runs deep. 
While showing a customer some of my favorite pieces in the store this morning I felt my chest get full. I felt joy wash over me as we both gushed over the beauty of a perfectly formed hat from the 1930's. I raced about to show her other things, and she exclaimed: "Honey, if you were in New York people would be lining up at your front door! "

I was so happy, and I knew I was in the right place. Still.