Friday File

Happy Friday! My apologies for writing here less often lately. My evenings have become a bit busier. Also, I’m rededicating myself to exercising regularly — I signed up for Zumba and am getting back into strength training. This means I have less time to write after work, or I collapse in exhaustion when I get home.

On Monday I attended a documentary screening that I co-organized. If you have the opportunity to see “Men of the Cloth,” don’t miss it. It’s a captivating look at the lives of master tailors and their dedication to the craft.

Also, last night I got a haircut with a new stylist, Dae. He didn’t do anything dramatic to my hair, but I really liked what he had to say about developing a relationship with his clients. I felt like he really listened to me and that my hair was in good hands.

And now for some great links:

gowns by Charles James at the Met’s exhibition preview, photo by Hannah Thomson, from

Are you ready for Monday’s Met Gala 2014, which celebrates the opening of “Charles James: Beyond Fashion?” I’ll be watching online.

Fashion designer Patrick Kelly is the subject of a retrospective exhibition opening at the Philadelphia Museum of Art this Sunday.

Great news!

I don’t follow celebrity relationships, but I greatly enjoyed this open letter to George Clooney’s fiancée. She is one accomplished woman.

Do you read The Gentlewoman? I’ve been meaning to subscribe since it launched in 2010.

Just discovered The Courtauld Institute of Art’s new fashion history blog.

Feedback Request

I’ve been plugging away at this blog for more than a year now. Mostly I write about what interests me, but sometimes I wonder what you’d like to read more of and what are your favorite topics.

Most of the feedback I get is in the comments, and posts with more comments stand out of course. Certain types of posts receive few to no comments though, so does that mean you, my readers, don’t care about those ones? My guess is that lack of comments doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of interest — just that you don’t have anything to add or maybe aren’t comfortable sharing your thoughts.

So I’d really like to hear from you. I’ve created a short survey so that I can find out just what interests you most about my blog, how I can increase conversation, and learn a little more about who you are.

You can take the survey RIGHT HERE!

You’ll be doing a big favor for me, but, if that isn’t enough, one person will win a copy of Fashion Scandinavia: Contemporary Cool by Dorothea Gundtoft!

It’s full of fascinating photos and interviews with established and up-and-coming designers from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland that are part of a new fashion movement. These designers are focused on simplicity, attention to detail and quality, sustainability, and ethical practices. You’ll be inspired reading this book and, I’m sure, find some new designers to watch.


To enter to win Fashion Scandinavia, simply:
• Take The Hourglass Files survey by Sunday, August 4, at midnight CST.
• Leave your name and email address at the end of the survey.
• Sorry, this giveaway is for U.S. residents only (shipping/delivery time is 2-3 weeks).
• I’ll announce the random winner Wednesday, August 7, here on the blog.

photos by Travis Haughton

The Blog’s First Birthday

The Hourglass Files is one year old today. It’s been a trip blogging here, and I feel privileged to have great readers. Your comments and emails brighten my day. I appreciate the discussion that stretches my mind, and I hope I can continue to inspire, stimulate, and educate with this space. So thank you to you all!

And now, let’s all pretend we are dressed in our mid-teens finest at a fancy soiree. Happy birthday dear blog!

Friday File – Still Winter

It’s officially that part of winter when I am getting desperate for a little sun and warmth. And this morning I woke up to snow. I’m going to need to stock up on more tea. Hope you guys are staying warm.

Here are the interesting links I found this week:

Have you ever heard of the Men’s Dress Reform Party? I hadn’t. I’m quite familiar with reform movements that focused on women’s clothing and reducing restrictiveness and improving health, but this one focused on men’s dress and was tied to the eugenics movement. Pretty strange if you ask me.

The blog Business of Fashion relaunched its website this week. It has some new financial backers and a new London office. BoF already contained excellent content with critical analysis of the fashion industry, and I’m looking forward to see where the new site and funding takes them.

3D printers are a hot topic, but this is the first example that I’m excited about — a designer is investigating how 3D printing can be used to replicate museum artifacts. Museums that find ways for visitors to interact in with the artifacts beyond just looking and reading a label are very successful at engaging their audiences. I’ve seen museums include swatches of fabric so visitors can touch what the fabric of a particular dress feels like. But imagine being able to touch a sculpture and feel the marks the artist made as she or he carved it or picking up the personal effects of a historical figure! I could see this being really valuable for blind museum visitors.

Have a great weekend, and stay warm!

Style File – My Alt Wardrobe

You guys asked, so today I’m going to show you what I wore to Alt. I did not ask people to take pictures of my outfits during the conference, so I had to recreate these at home during the weekend.

I tried to bring basics and footwear that would work in multiple outfits in order to save space. Nonetheless, my suitcase was maxed out.

On Wednesday, I wore the above outfit while traveling and to the Friday night dinner. The black Atwell top has sheer, chiffon sleeves, which I find rather clever. I also wore a pair of Citizens of Humanity almost black Arley jeans. While traveling, I wore rainboots, but for dinner I changed into black Nine West pumps. My gold scale necklace by Laura Lombardi finished it off.

For the sessions on Thursday morning and afternoon, I layered a black tank top from Target under a navy silk blouse from Banana Republic. On the bottom I wore an Elmidae patterned, origami-like skirt, Calvin Klein black nylons, and the black Nine West pumps.

The Clue-theme party was Thursday night, and everyone was supposed to choose a color — white, mustard, scarlet, plum, green, or peacock. Originally I aimed for peacock. But when I got dressed at Alt, everyone told me I was wearing green, not “peacock”/teal. I’m still confused because this outfit reads teal to me, but my husband also thinks it’s green. Oh well.

The ruffle bottom dress in “viper snake” is by Aqua. I kept on my black Calvin Klein nylons and changed into Asos high heels. I accessorized with a spike and beaded bracelet by Spike of Creativity and a Cole Haan wristlet.

Friday, I wore a look you may have seen me in on the blog before — my deconstructed Abigail Glaum-Lathbury jacket over the black tank top from Target. On bottom I wore a rose-colored skirt I thrifted. I finished the outfit off with my new Pour la Victore Adeanna black flats and a clean pair of Calvin Klein black nylons.

The mini parties on Friday called for something festive, so I decided to wear the fascinator I wore to high tea during my bachelorette party. The red silk tee is from Club Monaco and the vintage 1940s skirt came from one of my favorite Etsy sellers. I also wore the black Nine West pumps. For accessories, I found a 1940s matching set — star necklace and star clip-on earrings.

I went for something more comfortable for Saturday’s workshops. I wore my abstract cloud-print blouse from Calvin Klein over the black tank top from Target. I rewore the Citizens of Humanity Arley jeans and Loeffler Randall mini lynx rain boots.

Also, I wanted to show you guys my business cards. If you haven’t heard, business cards are a big deal at Alt. Some people really pull out all the stops. My husband Travis and I designed the cards, and I had them printed by Moo on their luxe card stock. I really love how thick they are, and I’m smitten with the design. I have to give Travis credit for the back of the card — the reverse color and blown-up corset was all his idea.

My Alt Summit Recap

sitting in the front room, photo by Brooke Dennis

Alt Summit was a roller coaster — physically, emotionally, mentally. I’ve already told you about the physical lows. Now let me tell you about everything else.

Altitude Design Summit, as it is officially known, is a conference for design bloggers primarily. There are subsets of bloggers who write about food, fashion, DIY activities, event planning, and parenting. Other interested people join in, such as graphic designers, photographers, and companies large and small hoping to get in touch with all these bloggers.

The conference began Wednesday evening. A number of companies sponsored dinners at restaurants scattered across Salt Lake City. I went to Settebello, a fancy pizza joint, and was hosted by a lovely group of ladies from the denim company Citizens of Humanity.

My roommates were Joy Uyeno of Frock Files and Mina Brinkley of Bohemian Vintage. I couldn’t have asked for a better pair of girls to bunk with at the Grand America Hotel.

Thursday started with panels. During Getting Past Zero, Mariah Danielsen of Oh, What Love suggested interviewing people that you want to collaborate with on your blog, and my roommate Mina talked about a blog’s curb appeal to retain readers. I heard some really good advice about building e-courses (something I’m considering) from Mariah Bruehl of Playful Learning during Four Ways to Earn Revenue From Your Blog.

We had a keynote lunch from Chris Anderson of 3D Robotics and then more afternoon panels. Jasmine Star spoke about the power of showcasing your personality on your blog and monetizing side projects instead of monetizing your blog in her talk on branding.

Alt Summit Clue party, photo by Justin Hackworth

The day ended with a Clue-themed party where everyone had to dress in mustard, plum, white, peacock, scarlet, or green. I went with green — a green reptilian print dress with ruffled skirt, sky-high green pumps, and a spiked bracelet with green beads.

Friday began with roundtable discussions and panels. Erin Loechner gave some brilliant advice on Getting Your Online Life Organized. She suggested the app Gee Tasks for migrating Gmail to do lists onto your cell phone, for bulk junk email unsubscribing, Feedly as a pretty RSS feed, and the app Pocket for saving articles to read later.

The lunchtime keynote speech from designer Stefan Sagmeister was incredibly inspiring. His idea of spacing out sabbaticals throughout a person’s working life in order to keep the passion for your calling — instead of falling victim to a career (for advancement and promotion) or a job (done for money 9-5) — rang true to me. I want to see The Happy Film, his documentary on the search for happiness, and The Happy Show, a supplemental exhibition that might travel to Chicago at some point.

One more panel and then a keynote talk from the street artist/photographer/blogger Katie Sokoler closed out the business part of the day. At the end of Katie’s talk, we all blew up balloons and tossed them in the air. At first I was a little annoyed, but as the balloon toss kept going and going, the joy in the room became infectious. For what seemed like ages, we kept tossing and hitting multicolored balloons back into the air. Somehow I ended up sitting in the epicenter and, by the end, was laughing my head off.

iPhone photo of Erin Loechner and me

And then we party jumped from suite to suite during the mini parties, each with a different theme. I loved the Great Gatsby-themed party Erin threw and the mod party thrown by The Girls with Glasses. I rocked the dance floor as I’m known to do.

Salt Lake LDS Temple from my photo walking tour

Saturday morning was when I woke up sick. I dragged myself to part of the Photo Styling workshop and then the Walking Photography Tour around Salt Lake City. I was excited to see the Mormon Temple. But I spent the rest of the day in my room with tissues, either napping or mainlining mint tea.

Alt was exhausting, which is probably why I got sick. For a first time attendee, introducing myself over and over again was tough. I’m a social person, but there were more then 600 people there. Of course I didn’t even meet half, but jumping from session to session, conversation to conversation takes a lot out of a person. The brief moments of exchange made me wish the pace was a little slower and that I could get to know people better on an individual level in order to facilitate better connections and a deeper exchange of information. But look at all the beautiful business cards I collected during my time there!

business cards I collected

The sessions varied between inspirational and practical knowledge. Oprah-like inspiration isn’t exactly my thing, so I most appreciated those filled with really concrete examples and information.

One of the most honest pieces of advice came from Helen Jane of Federated Media during the Advanced Blogging Skills panel. Someone asked if it was worth writing for a bigger blog for free. Helen hemmed for a minute saying it was complicated, but then admitted it wasn’t. She said if you are writing for a big, monetized blog, obviously your content is already of a good enough value and you don’t need to write for free just to learn/practice. She said to focus on your own work and/or work that pays. And that was exactly the kind of candor I was looking for when I signed up to go to Alt.

Back from SLC

Yesterday I finally arrived home from Salt Lake City after attending Alt Summit. Physically, I’ve seen better days. On Friday morning I gave myself a slight concussion and a nasty bruise by opening the shower door and hitting my head hard. I am not a morning person folks. Then I came down with a bad head cold Saturday morning that kept me room bound Saturday afternoon, evening, and all morning Sunday.

And then there was my travel home. A blizzard blew into the Salt Lake City valley on Sunday afternoon, delaying my flight five and a half hours. Not a pleasant experience when suffering from a sore throat, sniffles, and body aches. I missed my connecting flight in Denver, so I spent the night at a friend’s place (thanks Justin!). At least I can say I’ve been to Denver now. Yesterday morning I finally boarded a flight back to Chicago, and then spent the rest of the day napping.

So those were some lows from the trip. Of course it wasn’t all that bad. I had some fun! But right now I need to get back to resting and getting healthy and sorting through the experience in my head. I’ll share the highs on Friday. Hopefully I’ll kick this bug by then.

Alt Summit 2013

photo by Justin Hackworth, 2012, from Alt Design Summit Flickr photostream

Today I’m off on a bit of an adventure. Earlier this month I mentioned that I have a number of goals for this blog in 2013. To help me, I am going to Altitude Design Summit, also called Alt Summit.

Alt is a blogging conference held every year in Salt Lake City. Some big-time bloggers will be speaking, sharing how they do what they do. There will be a lot of talk of collaborations, inspiration, and bringing projects to fruition. There will be classes and workshops to learn new skills. And there are also some really fun parties in the evenings that I’m looking forward to.

I am sure the next few days are going to be a wild ride. A number of my friends have gone in past years, and I’ve heard that it can be a little overwhelming at times. I’ve been to my fair share of conferences and symposiums, so I’m hoping that prepping which sessions I’d like to attend and reaching out to people I’d like to meet will help.

If you’ll be at Alt, please let me know and don’t hesitate to introduce yourself! I’m excited and open for whatever this conference holds.

Plans in Motion

Happy New Year!

Today is my first day back at work after taking a nice, long, relaxing holiday. It feels a little weird to get back to the grind, but I need some motivation to be productive again. Near the end of my vacation I didn’t end up accomplishing much. In fact, yesterday was spent on the couch because I overdid it in the gym and injured my legs.

I’m looking forward to 2013. I have a long list of goals to accomplish and plans to carry out in the new year.

One of which is to read more books. I’m going to dive further into the Hemingways’ lives. I’ve made a list of books that include a biography on Ernest’s second wife Pauline, his official biography, a fictionalized account of his relationship with his first wife Hadley, and a book about all of his wives. Also on it are a number of Hemingway’s novels (I just finished The Sun Also Rises over break) and his memoir. After Hemingway, I’m thinking about tackling the Fitzgeralds. Zelda seems incredibly interesting, and many suspect that F. Scott plagiarized his work from his wife’s writings. I want to try to read a number of F. Scott’s novels as well because I haven’t read anything other than The Great Gatsby in high school. It looks like I’m infatuated with the Lost Generation. I plan to punctuate the novels and historical books with things on fashion theory and history.

Some of my plans involve this blog. I’ve actually created a more detailed and longer-term calendar about what I’m going to write about. I have left room to react to current events or new things I find though. I will be making some tweaks to the design as well — or at least Liz and Josh from Pink Slip Industries are!

I have some travel plans in sight for 2013. Near the end of January I will be going to Alt Summit, a blogging conference, in Salt Lake City. I’m really hoping to see the punk exhibition at the Met in New York, and I’ll be accompanying my husband to Mexico to shoot a wedding. I’ve never been to Mexico so I’m very excited, especially about the ruins.

So here’s to a fruitful 2013!

Bike Week – Historic Bicycle Fashion

Women on bicycles, 1898 from Victoria and Albert Museum

Today, Bike Week continues with a look at historic bicycle fashion. But first, I want to welcome any new readers who have come over from The Vintage Traveler. Hello!

I met Lizzie, who blogs at The Vintage Traveler, in Atlanta at the Costume Society of America symposium. I’m guest blogging on her site today, and Lizzie will be appearing here next Monday. I’m sharing what it’s like to be a historic costume collection manager on The Vintage Traveler. Please check it out.

And now, back to Bike Week!

Bicycling was a growing trend in the 1890s. According to the Survey of Historic Costume, by 1896, 10 million Americans were cycling.

The craze for bicycles was part of an upswing in women’s activity in sports, along with tennis, golf, crew, baseball, and basketball. But for the most part, women’s sports made due with few alterations to women’s clothing.

Bicycles presented more challenges to Victorian women’s wardrobes. At this time a woman wore many layers — a pair of drawers, a chemise or combination directly next to the body, then a corset, a camisole on top, and one or two petticoats. That was just the undergarments!

Then there was a dress or bodice/shirtwaist and skirt. The silhouette of women’s clothing in the 1890s was hourglass shaped.

With long, bell-shaped skirts, riding a bike was not the easiest feat. To accommodate straddling a bike, some changes needed to be made. And so the bicycle suit was born.

According to Cynthia Cooper in The Fashion Reader, the avant-garde bicycle suit was “based on the tailor-made suit, these cycling outfits had fitted jackets and the first accepted form of trousers for women, which covered the knee. A skirt may nonetheless have hidden these trousers.”

Jacket and Bloomers, c. 1895 from Kyoto Costume Institute, photo by Takashi Hatakeyama

Many women’s bloomers were so full that they passed as skirts when a lady wasn’t riding. In the example above from the Kyoto Costume Institute, the bloomers have so much volume that a passerby might not notice at a glance that they are actually not a skirt.

Not all women wore bicycle trousers. Most women made do with jackets or shirtwaists, a type of fitted blouse with varying degree of lace and ruffles, and simple skirts. Some skirts were a bit shorter than a typical daytime skirt to accommodate swinging the leg over the bike’s frame. Others were bifurcated in the rear as to allow more range of motion and prevent the skirt from getting caught in the chain or spokes of the rear tire.

Below is an example of a bifurcated skirt from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Note that from the front it looks like a regular skirt, but from behind the division into separate pant legs is evident.

Suit, Cycling, 1896 from Metropolitan Museum of Art

In both the images above, women pose for photographers in studio settings. These photographs allow us to note the detail of the rear wheel. You can see that these women have not chosen to modify their dress. Instead they have wheel cages to prevent their skirts from getting caught in the spokes.

Biking continued to gain popularity, giving women more freedom to travel short distances without the accompaniment of a man and normalizing less restrictive dress practices. About 30 years separate the image above with the image below, but the fashions have changed considerably. It may not seem radical to us now, but in a short period of time, the bicycle helped usher pants into the modern woman’s wardrobe.