30th Birthday Party

On Saturday, my husband Travis threw a wonderful party for me for my 30th birthday. We rented the Heaven Suite at the Blackstone Hotel, and holy cow is that place amazing!

Before the party got started, my friend Justin Edmonds shot a few portraits of me. Documentation of what 30 looks like.

I wore a Lela Rose dress rented from Rent the Runway, and added a sparkly belt from Anthropologie that I bought last fall.

Friends arrived, and we had dinner at the tapas restaurant downstairs, Mercat a la Planxa. Delicious! Then we moved to the suite for cake and drinks, and a few more joined us. My friend Cindy baked a pistachio cake frosted with chocolate ganache, and my husband bought a chocolate cake with raspberry filling from Sugar Fixe. You can never have too much tasty cake. I didn’t take many photos of the actual party. I was having too much fun and forgot my phone in my purse. That’s the sign of a good party, right? It really was a blast.

But I have to show you guys this suite. I took some photos after guests left and the next morning.

First, look at that view! We overlooked Lake Michigan and the Museum Campus. The flowers were a present to myself from Pistil and Vine, my new favorite florist. I gave Meg, the owner, a few inspiration photos and a picture of the suite, and let her loose. Isn’t the bouquet she crafted stunning?

There were skylights in the main living space and in the bedroom. The dining space was furnished with a red lacquer table and red silk-screened chairs.

The sitting area by the TV featured a red fabric wall, and there was plenty of space for lounging on a purple plush couch on the opposite side of the room.

The bed was giant and incredibly comfortable. And the powder room was like none other. That wallpaper!

It was an incredible birthday party, and I didn’t want to leave the Heaven Suite. (I’ll have to save up for another staycation at the Blackstone.) And thank you to all who came and made it a night I won’t forget!

Birthday Goals


Evening dress, by Madame Grès, 1984, from Metropolitan Museum of Art

Today is my birthday. I’m 30. I feel like I’ve been looking forward to this birthday for a long time. Some people might dread 30 or feel like they have to accomplish a whole list of things before the year rolls around. But I’ve always viewed 30 differently.

My 20s were focused on education and getting stable jobs in my field. Now I have my masters and a great job at Columbia College Chicago running the Fashion Study Collection. I’m proud of the last 10 years. Of course they haven’t been perfect. I’ve taken some detours and made a handful of mistakes, but I’ve ended up in a really good place.

So looking to my 30s, I see the next decade as a period to challenge and push myself. No complacency here, I need to keep growing, learning, and putting experimentation first. It’s time to pursue new research paths and then get published. I want to do more curatorial work in my collection and, perhaps, independently propose exhibitions at other institutions. After my experience co-organizing the Midwest Costume Society of America symposium this past fall, I’d like to start a symposium series. None of those goals will be easy, but I’m ready to take them on. Time to get to work.

Friday File

My parents are coming into town this weekend, and I’m looking forward to their visit. I’m taking them to Publican, a meat-centric restaurant with communal tables. All week I’ve been excited to get oysters!

I’m trying to fend off getting sick too. This has been a bad winter for my health. Stay warm, healthy, and have a great weekend!

And now here are this week’s links:


Solon and Emma Borglum in the Artist's Paris Studio, c. 1899, from Metropolitan Museum of Art, courtesy of Peter H. Hassrick

I had no idea cowboy artists in Paris were a thing during the late Victorian era.

Great blog post by the Ryerson Fashion Research Collection on the shirt-waist, a blouse women wore at the turn of the century.

I think libraries are awesome, and so is this piece proclaiming their hipness.

My colleague and former boss, Karen Herbaugh of the American Textile History Museum, was interviewed about wearing pajamas in public alongside Clinton Kelly. Karen shared her historical point of view, while Clinton brought his What Not To Wear-trademark assessment.

I was fascinated by this piece in The Atlantic called “The Death of the Cool Feminist Smoker.”

I’m not sure I understand normcore. Do you get it?

I’m trying to figure out how I can see the traveling exhibition of Dr. Seuss’ hats.

Friday File

Happy Friday! What are you doing this weekend? I’m excited to stay home and watch the Olympics! The Opening Ceremony is tonight, which I always look forward to. And I really enjoy figure skating, which is on both Saturday and Sunday. I loved the Canadian pairs’ performance yesterday.

Do you have a favorite winter Olympic sport?

Since the 2014 winter Olympics are here, Unmaking Things has a wonderful history of skiing apparel.

I’m getting even more excited about the Charles James show this summer at the Met after reading Christina Binkley’s recent piece in the Wall Street Journal. I really hope the exhibition talks about some of the innovations and understructures he’s so famed for, instead of just being about pretty gowns.

One of the top fashion critics, Cathy Horyn of the New York Times, resigned last Friday. Many are disappointed and worried about the future of fashion criticism, and rightly so.

This story about a realistic statue of an undressed sleepwalking man on Wellesley College’s campus is one of the funniest things I’ve read all week. No matter if you think of the statue, the students’ reactions are priceless.

Friday File

This was a busy week because the students are back on campus. Spring semester started, and despite the cold, we plunged right ahead with regularly scheduled classes aside from Monday night. I’m excited to get back into the groove of class visits to the fashion collection and storage upgrade projects. But I will miss the quiet days of spending time by myself in the collection.

In a couple weeks, I’m hosting an event featuring lingerie from the collection, and I’m having a good time discovering some very beautiful and feminine pieces in it. You can see a lovely detail of a nightgown from the 1920s I’m planning to include below.

Here are this week’s links:

This great post on Unmaking Things shows us how one could take a new perspective on museum artifacts that are never on display.

There’s a Marie Antoinette Diet? Is it crazy to want to try it?

I love this essay from a Washington Post journalist on his love of figure skating despite being an untraditional fan.

Did you know that designers leave show notes on the audience’s seats during a fashion show? I have never seen any in person, but Erin Hazelton transcribed Maison Martin Margiela’s most recent couture show notes. When I read that the first two looks contained scraps of Mariano Fortuny fabric, I got really excited.

Friday File

Oh heavens guys. It’s cold here in the Windy City. People ask me almost daily if this was what Fargo was like. I tell them, sort of, but Fargo is based on car culture. Few people take the bus, and there certainly isn’t a subway or elevated train. And there is ample parking. So I was rarely outside for very long when I commuted to or from work during the winter. In Chicago I take the L daily and sometimes the bus. I have a lot longer of walks too. So sure, this feels similar in temperature (to be fair, Fargo is always colder), but I’m out in it a lot more in Chicago than I was in Fargo.

So if you are reading this from a chilly region, stay warm!

Here are the week’s links:

Since the Italian government is strapped for cash, they are holding votes via Facebook on which pieces of artwork to conserve. Is this brilliance or idiocy? Some are saying Italy is in the process of committing “cultural suicide.”

Excuse me while I book my trip to Orlando for this summer. Universal Orlando just announced an expansion to their Harry Potter-themed park.

Did you hear that Chanel’s spring 2014 haute couture show featured sneakers that took at least 30 hours to make? Every look featured a coordinating pair, even the bridal look! That’s quite the statement on the modern women, Mr. Lagerfeld.

The Tate Britain is running a GIF call for submissions. The museum is encouraging fans to create GIFs out of artwork and submit them. Such a cool interactive project, and I can’t wait to see the results.

The history of American men’s facial hair is rife with racial issues.

Dear airlines, please get on this!

Friday File

I can’t believe we’re already more than halfway through January. This month is rushing past. If you follow my Instagram account, you saw that I was in Southern California for the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day, and then promptly came down with influenza when I got home. It was a bad flu, the kind with a fever and hallucinating dreams, and I was housebound throughout the so-called polar vortex. I missed a few days of work, so this was my first full week back to work.

Here are the links for the past couple weeks:


I love stories about apartments or offices that have remained untouched for decades. AnOther Magazine recently ran a post on Madame de Florian’s Paris apartment that wasn’t disturbed for 68 years and held secrets about the painter Giovanni Boldini’s lover, Marthe de Florian.

Have you read the “Do What You Love” column on Jacobin that’s been circulating social media? It’s an excellent take down of the DWYL myth — how it can be used to exploit workers and the fact that it is a very classist concept. A must read.

The current state of the American textile industry is recorded in photos and an essay, with a personal look at the factories still in production, in this NY Times piece.

Michelle Obama’s 2013 inauguration gown will be on display at the Smithsonian Museum of American History for one year. No word yet if the gown will become part of the museum’s First Ladies collection permanently.

I rarely buy Vogue anymore, but I’m psyched about Lena Dunham’s cover. I might just go out and pick it up for myself.

Friday File

Today is my last day of work of the year! I have two weeks off to spend with family for Christmas and recuperate from a busy semester. I’m also going to take some time off of the blog, but I’ll be back on January 6. I hope you get a little time off yourself, and I’ll meet you back here in the new year!

Here are a few extra links (than normal) from the past week:

photo of art collectors Herb and Dorothy Vogel, from the National Gallery of Art, Gallery Archives

I’m so inspired by this couple and the priceless art collection they amassed.

Meet the newest designer to join the haute-couture ranks in Paris.

Dressing a mannequin in historical clothing is no easy feat. See how the V&A mounted an 18th-century bridal gown. Bet you won’t guess how a pruning hand saw is a necessary tool!

Historians are pumped that the British Library recently put 1,000,000 images into the public domain with a crowd-sourcing invitation to help it learn more about them. In fact, these are the fashion and costume images that have already been tagged by the public.

On Christmas Day, fashion designer J.W. Anderson will offer downloadable patterns of a leather top and balloon skirt from his autumn/winter 2013 collection. I’m thinking about trying my hand at sewing the avant-garde ensemble.

Jayne Shrimpton dates and analyzes a family photo from the 1860s.

Wishing I had found this gift guide for avocado lovers weeks ago so I could add it to my wishlist. Thanks for tweeting about it Emilia!

Happy holidays!

2013 Gift Guide – Museum Membership

It’s getting into gift-making or buying crunch time. If you still have someone on your list that is tricky, chances are that person has just about everything they need and could want. For these folks, I like going the experience-gifting route.

One of my favorite gift ideas is a museum membership! It’s an experience gift that keeps giving for a full year! There are lots of benefits that your giftee will enjoy. Most museums offer free admission for the membership holder, some offer free or reduced admission for a companion, and many offer a museum store or cafe discount. Members are often invited to exclusive tours or events.

As you can see above, I have a membership to the Art Institute of Chicago, but there are all sorts of museums you can choose from — science, natural history, contemporary art, fine art, folk art, fashion, children’s, history, design, photography, anthropology, sports, and profession-specific museums or zoos, planetariums, aquariums, etc. Chances are there’s a museum or similar institution that meets your giftee’s interests.

And don’t just consider the big museums. Small museums are perfect for museum memberships too — since a visit doesn’t require a full day, she/he can pop in every time a new, temporary exhibition opens. And small museum memberships may be a little easier on the wallet if funds are limited.

Once you’ve chosen an institution, you can buy a membership in person if you live locally, but many also sell them online, by phone, or by mail. Track down their website or phone number, and I’m sure someone at the museum would love to help you purchase a membership as a gift.

Hopefully your giftee will develop a meaningful relationship with that museum, learning, growing, and exploring new things all year long. There’s not much better than that!

P.S. More gift ideas on my Pinterest board!

Holly and ivy graphic by MyCuteGraphics.

Eve’s Wireless

This video from the British Pathe archive shows two women using the “first mobile phone” in 1922. This blows my mind!

Many have suggested that this “phone” isn’t the kind of device that so many of us carry today, but rather a portable radio. In the clip, they ground the device to a fire hydrant and the umbrella is wired as an antenna. The “phone” transmits to an HF radio. But still, it’s kind of incredible to see this early mobile technology being tested and used in the 1920s!

And don’t you love their winter attire? Did you notice one of the ladies is carrying a reticule?