Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It's getting oh so close to the Day. This vintage mistress is feeling it.... an even balance between holiday spirit, longing to be with the family and oh yes the stress. But a little perspective will qualm the uneasy feelings. :)

Crystal is driving back to Ohio as I type to spend a few days with her brother, AMAZING homemade almond crescent cookies in tow! I'm still in the city, engulfed by a floor covered in shopping bags turned wrapping paper, receipts, a half packed bag for my travels half watching It's A Wonderful Life in the background.

Life usually runs faster than a mile a minute around here, and this time of year [crunch time] even faster. I think it's really important to remember why we over-extend ourselves. For me, it's the precious moments I'll share with my brother, sister-in-law and six month old nephew who flew in from Alaska this afternoon, the warmness of my grandparents house full with 25 relatives on Christmas Eve, and the solitude and serenity waiting for me at the cottage in Wisconsin on Christmas Day.

My family is an incredible inspiration for everything I do in my life, and the strong connection to the past that I feel through them is why I do what I do with vintage for Merryweather. I'm not sure why, but this fact has become so much more evident to me the past few weeks.

I hope you all can share in the sense that no matter how big or small your family is, or whom you consider your family, know that the memories you create are relevant beyond just recalling them in your minds eye.

Having said that, here are some photos of my inspiration

Grandma Pat circa 1957

The parental unit - May 13th 1979

Paternal Grandparents (aka Nanny & Poppy)

And some creative gift wrapping..... using inside-out shopping bags!

Hope you all have a very warm holiday!!


Friday, December 17, 2010

From the Inside.

As I sit here in my apartment, I'm reminded of how little I'm actually here. I know I continually go on and on about how much time I don't have to relax or to really focus on the things I'm passionate about (mainly vintage and my writing) but I realized tonight how much I sometimes miss having time by myself, here in my tiny apartment.

I really hate New Years and I especially hate new years resolutions but I think one of two that I've been mulling over in my head recently is to spend more quality time alone here. I can't remember the last day I had to sit around, drink coffee, watch bad movies, read short stories and eat homemade food, all while in my pajamas of course. This sounds so wonderful to me right now especially since the arrival of winter. Gross. My second goal of the year is to find more time to shop for Merryweather. I would love one day a week where I can go out, shop, blog and update our site. I am determined to make this happen in the New Year. I envision a new year full of vintage, sleep, fun, pajamas, writing, friends, and candy of course.

Images from the inside....

More to come. One week until Christmas! (I think I'm in denial)

xxx, Crystal

Monday, December 6, 2010


With the holidays coming up, I feel like we've been so busy! I know I say that every time I post but its true. Today I found myself making mental lists at work of what I need to do and buy before I go home for Christmas (to Ohio). At one point I could feel myself becoming overwhelmed. I think it was somewhere between deciding when to get a hair cut and how much margarine I needed to buy at Jewel for all the Christmas cookies I'm planning to make next week. That was my brother's one request upon my coming home. All he wants for Christmas are my grandmas homemade Italian cookies. I'm sure they are going to taste totally different but I'm determined to give it my best shot.

Amongst all the holiday hustle and bustle, Kelly and I took some time last week to photo some of our new items. We are truly dedicated to Merry weather but our schedules have been really conflicting lately so that doesn't leave us much time to work on things. We are trying to make Merryweather more of our everyday lives but I think at the end of the day, its a work in progress. With each day, we are learning something new to guide us in the future. I wish I had all the time in the world to shop, photo, and sit here at my computer, but sadly, with work, I don't have as much time as I would like. Some day it will be different! I know it!

Anyway....Kelly wasn't feeling well last week (she had that cold that everyone around me seems to be getting). Gladly, knock on wood I haven't been really sick yet so fingers crossed! Even though she didn't feel her best she pressed on and we spent Tuesday night sipping herbal tea, playing dress up and having fun taking some great pictures of our new finds. Like always, it was a good time. Normally our vintage work nights turn into, "lets drink a bottle of wine, watch High Fidelity and eat candy) but since Kelly wasn't feeling well on this particular evening, we were all business for a change so we were able to accomplish a lot. Kelly actually modeled a lot of the new stuff and I cannot lie. I found it hilarious. Kelly modeling wasn't necessarily funny but the fact that everything she wore for the shots are all items I myself would own and she would never own made the whole situation quite comical. Now all we need to do is dress me up in floral scarves, gray skirts and brown boots so I can turn into Kelly for a day. I'm not going to hold my breath for that though. I'm quite happy with my gold belts and polyester dresses. Here are some pictures of our night. More to come!

Kelly wearing these amazingly large 80s earrings I found at a flea market. Shes clearly uncomfortable wearing this outfit. I won't lie. I couldn't stop laughing at first. I felt like I was looking in the mirror but not.

Some of my favorite items I can't wait to put on Etsy.

Kel photoing this rad Sequaw Valley Original from the 60s.

We love each other.

xxx, Crystal

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Art of Being a Girl Scout

While out venturing last week, I found myself face to face with quite a few vintage uniform pieces.

Browsing through swaths of dresses, as always the color green jumped out at me. The color green, with a collar, long sleeves and button front? I was intrigued. The instant I liberated this garment from the rack and drew my attention to the tag I developed a sudden urge to eat an entire box of Samoa cookies. Oh yes, it was a vintage Girl Scout uniform dress!

This dress was the standard issue in the 1950s. I was surprised that this particular piece was lacking any patches, but maybe it belonged to a Girl Scout underachiever (kind of like me, really only in it for the cookies!). Here’s an image of how the dress would look complete with patches and neck scarf:

For your sake, I've restrained myself from embarking on a lengthy diatribe about the politics of the Girls Scouts and the imagery as a signifier for the enhancement of separate spheres of masculinity and femininity in the 1950s. [You’re welcome!]

Girl Scouts have been on my mind as a result of this find, and after a little digging I found a treasure trove of pertinent historic images and artifacts, thanks to the Vintage Girl Scout Museum website.

After perusing the “Girl Scout Beauty Kit” section, I wonder what the girls were scouting back in those days.

Anyway, digressing from my cynicism, the images and visual components of this stuff is getting me a riled up! Check out the section The Art of Being a Girl Scout! The set of six Christmas cards featuring silhouetted Girl Scouts participating in the joys of the season…. from 1932! The simplicity of the black white and red color scheme is striking! Right up the Merryweather alley!

It's almost enough to make me want to buy some candy canes.... before Thanksgiving! [That's a lofty statement for this camper!]

Happy Thanksgiving friends! Enjoy the time with your family and friends!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"Freedam" Never Looked So Good

Last Friday at BAV (Belmont Army Vintage) I spent the day with Shin. He recently moved here from Japan with his wife.... He sells wholesale and has a warehouse full of rare mens items. He's hoping to one day have his own store in Chicago (like me and Kel!) so we have a lot in common and spend way too much time talking about 60s furniture and estate sales when we're together. I'm trying to help him with his english (particularly understanding the various levels of sarcasm that Americans tend to have myself included and he is in exchange helping me with my Japanese which I will admit needs a lot of work. Hopefully with time, I'll improve. Fingers crossed! I want to be able to at least not feel completely lost when I venture to Japan in a few years.

Anyway, on this particular Friday we spent a big chunk of time looking through Rin Tanaka's vintage collection books titled " My Freedam." He has nine volumes, with more to come including one based solely on t-shirts, hippies, and 60s pop fashion. Steve has every book and Tinaka signs every one he sends! I was in awe while looking at his latest book (volume 9) titled "My Freedam 'Freakout' Fashions from Hippies to Punks" which just arrived in the mail last week. There were so many items in this book that I long to hold, touch, try on etc etc. Every time I turned a page, I would yell, "Shut up!" I think Shin was slightly confused considering he doesn't understand my sarcasm as of yet (not many people do) therefore I spent roughly 10 minutes explaining the brilliance of Fleetwood Mac (give or take my playing 8 or so of their songs.) I vaguely remember playing Neil Young for Shin as well but I don't think that had anything to do with the t-shirts I spent the afternoon drooling over. I think I just couldn't get over the fact that Shin had no idea who Neil Young is. Sacrilege. Sidenote: if you have never seen his tribute concert to George Harrison, you need to see it, and you need to see it now. Its honestly amazing.

Anyway, check out these t-shirts! Also, if you happened to be in BAV while I was looking at these t-shirts I sincerely apologize. I don't normally touch books like that. I simply couldn't get over that Rin Tinaka has all of these t-shirts. I have never truly been able to understand the concept of collecting over selling but now I see. If I had these t-shirts, I wouldn't be selling them either. I would hide them under my a safe....with 12 locks and a watch dog.

Led Zeppelin Wembley Empire Pool 1971

T.Rex. Holstar Brand

Fleetwood Mac late 70s

ZZ Top Worldwide Texas Tour 1976

David Bowie Tour 4 1974

Paul McCartney Wings Tour 1976

The Who (Peter Townsend) Star Rights Co. 1979

Blue Oyster Cult 1978

Alice Cooper Russel Brand mid 70s.

After reading and looking through all of the "My Freedam" volumes, I have come to the conclusion that Rin Tinaka is a new idol of mine. I cannot believe the amazing stuff he has collected over the years. Its out of control!

Oh a final note, check out this interview Tinaka did in Los Angeles on how he got into vintage in addition to where he finds his inspiration. It all started with a pair of Levis 501s. Brilliant. Its really good.

Until next time...

xxx, Crystal

Monday, November 8, 2010

"The Reigning Queen of Rock & Roll"

There are many things that go hand in hand in this life. For example, ice cream and summer, cookies and milk, eggs and bacon, turkey and Thanksgiving, sandcastles and the beach etc. Just like these, there are certain people and images that for me, go hand in hand with vintage. Maybe these people or things don't objectively fit under the vintage label, but they represent a part of the bigger picture (at least in my minds bigger picture). Ladies and gentlemen I give you my most loved, most adored, most treasured icon:


Now I do realize that this is more of a post dealing with my moderate obsession rather than her relationship or direct correlation to vintage (even though she does wear long head scarves) but it still counts considering she inspires me and makes me happy. I cannot tell you how many days and nights I have sorted and cleaned items, searched for rare things like a nerd on the internet for hours, ALL while listening to album after album of Fleetwood Mac or Stevie herself. Its almost on a comparable level of my eating fast food while thrift shopping. They just go together! I can't have it any other way. Finding a cute 60s shift dress= big mac. Posting a new bag online= Tell Me Lies.

A short bio? Why yes of course!

Stephanie Lynn Nicks was born on May 26, 1948 in Phoenix Arizona. Her father Jess Nicks was a struggling country singer who had Nicks performing duets with him by the time she was four years old. She received a Goya guitar for her sixteenth birthday and wrote her first song titled, "I've Loved and I've Lost, I'm Sad But Not Blue." Sheer Genius already at the tender age of sixteen. She went to college for awhile (majoring in Speech Communication, like me!) and dated her Mac partner, Lindsey Buckingham. No doubt their relationship produced some amazing songs via Fleetwood Mac. Umm, Rumors anyone? She actually met Buckingham when she was a Senior in high school. She watched him play a version of "California Dreamin" at a Christian social event and from then on was by his side. True love.

Career-wise, Nicks has outdone herself. 1977s Rumors produced four U.S. top 10 singles including "Dreams" (their only U.S. number one hit) which stayed in the number one spot for 31 weeks! She has produced seven solo albums (yes seven, including the amazing Bella Donna) and has plans to release her eighth (first one 10 years!) on March 1, 2011. I cannot wait for this.

Plain and simple, Stevie Nicks is amazing. She is dreamy. She is beauiful. She is vibrant. She is strong. She is a genuine artist to the core. She is my inspiration and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Taken by, taken by the sky...

All I ever wanted was to know that you were dreaming...

To a room with some lace and paper flowers...

I search only for something I cannot see...

I climbed a mountain and I turned around...

xxx, Crystal

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Going Americana on You

Oh what a week it's been!

Some intense personal happenings on my end last weekend (not Halloween related) has actually allowed me to welcome a painfully gorgeous Stetson Twenty-Five Open Road hat to the Merryweather closet. With the original box, of course. (Thanks, Poppy!)

And the nerd that I am, the initial research began as soon as I got it home. Starting with a visit to the Stetson website where I watched this video detailing the manufacturing process.

Some admittedly superficial internet searches led me to this blog entry written by a small family farmer in North Dakota, sharing a bit of their family history with Stetson hats.


Surprisingly, the author (Jane) talks about her Uncle Dan wearing his Stetson with a dark wool suit on the Michigan Avenue here in Chicago! Illustrating the timeless dignity equated with an urban man wearing a Stetson. I wish I saw more of that in this city. Maybe I just haven't been looking.

Chicago pedestrians beware: if I see you wearing a Stetson smartly, I will be approaching to ask to take a photo and learn about your history with this sartorial icon of Americana!

More in-depth research on the agenda this week, including some family history of my own.

Besides this great addition to the Merryweather closet, this week Crystal and I have been planning the upcoming sale, and will be burning the evening oil tomorrow to markdown a lot of our items on the Etsy site. It's been a long time since we've hit the estate sales, and we're itching - so we're making room for all of our hopeful winter finds. We get to go shopping for the closet and YOU get amazing deals on fantastic items: everybody wins!

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

California dreamin'

So as fall takes its full swing into our lives, I'm feeling eager to get going on the half-off sale at Merryweather Vintage! I'm sure you're all wondering, well get going! Whats the hold up?! Well, all of the clothes and accessories we've collected over the months are all at Nathaniel's (my former partners) apartment, which is on the far north side of Chicago. I've had friends in town back to back the last few weeks so I've barely had any time to myself, let alone time to drive over to get the loads and loads of goodies! Before Kelly and I truly revamp Merryweather on Etsy, I want to physically have the items in our possession so when we sell something (or many things tee hee) we can actually ship them out. That would be a good thing! I also cannot wait to start shopping and hunting for rare finds again. Its been awhile. There's really nothing like taking a day to the burbs to thrift, New Order playin' as you drive, and eatin a big mac in between. I won't lie. Fast food is a must. But only when thrift shopping. Its kind of a habit I developed over the summer. I'd find a rare 40's dress and need a frosty. Levis from the 70s? Chalupa from the bell? Yes, how thoughtful of you! I'm hoping to get Kelly on this habit as well. When I mentioned it to her, her response was, "well, I'll sit with you and watch you eat that stuff." I give you yet another example of how Kelly and I are total opposites. She actually eats 3 meals a day, runs 4 miles a day and keeps vegetables in her refrigerator. I, on the other hand, don't eat until 6pm most days, and when I do my meal usually involves some kind of candy or condiment that can last forever even when left out of the fridge (like mayonaise). Oh and exercise? Whats that? I hate to admit that some of my lifestyle choices resemble those of a 12 year old boy. Kel will come around though. Watch and wait.

Phew. Anyway, I've had a lot going on in terms of transitions in my life over the past month. I can finally take a deep breath and really get to work! After Halloween (I think I'm going to be a zombie btw....I was going to be a clown but its too predictable. If you knew me, you would agree) Kelly and I will officially have all of our stuff in our possession, and more new new new stuff! Its going to be great being able to make Merryweather a part of our everyday lives. I know its going to be a lot of work, but Kelly has already taken the initiative with so many important aspects (facebook!! etc.) I am feeling very positive and hopeful that it will come together and be real. Real is the key word for me. Real and of course, fun.... and of course, meaningful.

While we wait on getting our stuff.....heres some pics of fall so far :)

Nothing says fall like banana yellow heels from the 80s!

Soon to be on Etsy! :)

"All the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey."

Stay tuned.

xx, Crystal

Friday, October 22, 2010

Opposites Attract

To begin, I want to thank Crystal for the warm introduction! I am so happy to officially be a part of this. Crystal and I are extremely elated to be embarking on this adventure together, and we’re confident that while we may not see eye-to-eye on some things (shoulder pads, is there such a thing as too many polka-dots, the arguably drab nature of the color brown), we are in perfect harmony when is comes down to core values—and business strategy. And to be perfectly honest, I’d have it no other way. Our diverse tastes, I think, will broaden the appeal of the new Merryweather Vintage. We are not vintage snobs, we are enthusiasts first and foremost. Our love for the styles and design elements of the past runs deep!

This passion is what we want to bring to all of you. I think I can speak for both of us here when I say the feeling of connecting someone with that one perfect vintage item is indescribable. I have been that person (the seeker) too many times to count, and the odds, generally don’t run in your favor. With Merryweather, Crystal and I want to turn those odds around for all you seekers, affordably, of course! You'll also be noticing more information about the items we are selling, as I (ever the research junkie) will be burrowing into the depths of fashion history, emerging with the facts about most of the legit vintage labels we have in stock.

So, who is this new partner? You're probably wondering.... well I think Crystal accurately pinned down the nature of our relationship in her last post. Let me, briefly share a little bit about myself. I am a native Chicagoan who escaped a few years ago to live abroad for one year in London, then moved to New York City before returning to Chicago last spring. Returning to this city was probably one of the best decisions I've made in the last decade.

I have a deep connection to my relatively large extended family on both sides. This, I am positive is where both my love for history and object-related stories, and desire to always be pushing forward and progressing comes from.

My paternal grandmother probably holds the world record for most obscure things packed away for over 50 years! It's quite endearing -- just don't bring it up to my aunt who has been charged with the task of helping her clean out closets in preparation for a move next year. This closet cleaning and the items my grandmother has unburied recently reaffirmed my passion for vintage. Among the old Stinson's Laundry shirtboards and emory boards (self-promotion at it's finest people!!) Nanny withdrew from her treasure-chest a few clothing items that had me in a tizzy when I saw them. Among them: classic rhinestone broaches, necklaces & earrings accompanied by several newspaper articles from the mid-80s declaring a "Rhinestone Renaissance". Nanny is very thorough. Probably my favorite item, though, is a teal wool sweater that fits like a glove. In her high school years, Nanny had two winter wool sweaters, and this was one of them... a garment over 60 years old. I'm determined to make it last, though it's been difficult not to wear it once a week. And last but definitely not least, the A.S. Webster beaver fur cropped coat. Oh, how amazing is that?

My maternal grandmother, always thinking forward and refreshing, does not possess the urge to let objects linger. Oh sure, there are incredible old photos, letters and memorabilia, but Grandma Pat never held on to a dress for more than a couple seasons. I believe it's helped her maintain an amazingly lively attitude and lifestyle.

Combine these two matriarchs, and that's where you'll start to understand where I'm coming from: seeking vintage for the fashion and respecting the connection to a past, but taking care to combine those pieces with the contemporary to create something wholly unique and now... or if I'm lucky, creating something a little ahead of now.

Enough about me, let's get this show on the road! Stay tuned, friends!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Opening the doors.

There are so many big changes coming to Merryweather Vintage! Now I know all of you (all 3 of you to be exact) are brimming with excitement about these changes. Well, me too! Duh.

I am taking a moment to talk about the biggest change of all. My long time partner in crime on the vintage road, Nathanial, has come to the realization that he has way to much on his personal plate to truly devote his time, money and attention to this venture. Yes its sad. I will miss him. I was upset about it for a long time to be honest (hence why the website on Etsy hasn't been touched in over a month.) Nate literally was driving himself crazy with work, school, and some personal stuff that whenever we saw each other we were talking work...and thats no fun when you're friends first and foremost and hardly have time for one another already. Things have worked out for the best, and I truly mean that! We are still close buds and now we can just be close buds and not talk about biz when we see one other! In terms of Merryweather, I am so happy now because things can move forward with more speed and attention! And this brings me to my most important announcement.......

Welcome my new partner, KELLY STINSON!!!!!

Kelly has been my friend for roughly 6 years now. She was my first real friend when I moved to Chicago after college back in 2006! Wow I feel old sometimes. We both worked at the same Starbucks and to be honest, she was not too fond of me at first impression. I remember she was on vacation from the store my first week. She called one day while I was working to get her schedule and I answered. I remember being so happy to be talking to her since she was the only person I hadn't met yet. I just remember her telling my other co-workers what a nightmare I sounded like. In her words, I was "way too happy." Its funny if you know me and Kelly but we do not mesh objectively. I am bubbly, outgoing, cynical, hyper-sensitive, eccentric and well, really weird. Kelly, on the other hand has an extreme sense of calm about her. She is very mellow, very productive, really smart, and always looking up. We balance each other out in the best of ways.

Personal stories asides, I was so happy to hear her express interest in going 50/50 with me on my Merryweather venture! She has always been a help from the start (modeling clothes, helping with photos etc) but now she can really put her own personal spin on things. Its always great to have two distinct minds on one great project! And while I have always been one to take on way too much at once and handle it fine, I am prone to anxiety attacks SO it is nice to have someone by my side to help me along the whole crazy online business track (which will hopefully be a real live store one day eeeeee). Its also a comfort having someone by my side who also gets stupid excited about vintage clothes and furniture. It makes me feel like less of a nerd. Who else can really want to sit down and research the age of a Foxy tag? Well besides me? Kelly does! Thats hard to come by, believe meeee.

I am also happy to have her along because her sense of style is a lot different compared to mine which should be great in terms of versatility in the items we sell. She has a very earthy, Anthropologie, bird painting, Doris Day kinda thing going for her. Don't get me wrong. I love and respect it but I definitely admire it from afar. As we all know, I love my eighties power suits. I love polka dots. And I LOVE things that from a first glance are labeled "creepy." These items usually involve images of animals , fringe, and sequins.

Now that Kelly is here and on board we are going to be changing Merryweather like crazy and incorporating it into our everyday lives so it actually turns into something worthwhile! Its one thing to collect vintage as a hobby, but I just realized in looking at my collection that I have SO MUCH STUFF I haven't even photographed yet. Literally, some of the stuff Nate and I have collected is amazing. And its just sitting there! I am ready. Kelly is ready. We are going to give Merryweather our best effort and really have fun with it! This is what I want to do with my life so I feel very lucky right now. Even if it doesn't become some huge business, at least we're doing what we love! Its vintage people! Its crazy. Its colorful. I am so excited! Random but it reminds me of something my boss at BAV said today. He said he really felt like sipping champagne on a faux fur rug in front of a fire listening to Patsy Cline. SHIT that sounds so good right now, and the fact that I have a new awesome vintage partner in crime makes me want to do it EVEN MORE. :)

Kelly, welcome to the world of Vintage wonderful. I am so happy you're here.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I went to an Antique Mall up North last week. Granted I got there right when they opened (around 10am) but the place was completely deserted. It was interesting how everything was set up. I'm not quite sure how it works but the place seemed like one big consignment shop with many individual sellers. The owners weren't very friendly and they honestly acted as though the stuff they had was so rare, hence the ridiculous prices! I found an old leather clutch purse that I own selling for 250 dollars! I got mine for 2 dollars at a garage sale. It made me wonder.

Speaking of high prices when it comes to vintage, the whole concept of over-charging has definitely been on my mind lately. It makes me sad to think that because Vintage clothing has made somewhat of a comeback over the recent years that sellers can take advantage of the naive buyer. You know when you meet a good seller because they do their research to ensure they are you giving you the most accurate price for an item. They can explain why something is 100 dollars versus 10 dollars because they've done the work to price accordingly. It takes time and dedication. And to some people, well, a lot of people its really all about the money. Its sad. Thankfully, the people I work closely with in the vintage world are nothing like that, which I am most grateful for. They actually care and are dorky about old stuff, like me! :)

Apart from that sidenote and my disappointment with the attitude of the owner, this Antique Mall did have some cool heirlooms. I captured my favorites.

I really want this dish.


my favorite.


All in all I would say it was worth the trip over there. They had some rare items, especially in terms of old furniture but overall most of what they carried clothes-wise I have seen before. Also, too pricey and not the friendliest. They need cheering up in the form of sunshine, lollipops, and Nancy Sinatra. That would make them happier I think!

xxx, Crystal