Category Archives: Mama Style

Vintage Master Class With Prof. Brigitte // 50s 60s Hair!

Greetings from sunny Hawaii!!! Oh we are having such a fantastic time friends. I can’t wait to share some photos with you when I get back. Until then I have lined up some really terrific Guest Posters to round out the week. Today I have a really special treat for you all. Our Guest Poster is none other than my own personal style icon…my mom, Brigitte!


Yep it’s me and my mama.

My mother has always been very stylish and taught me everything I know. Back in the 70s when most of the moms around my elementary school wore double knit, polyester stretch pants, I was extremely proud to have a “pretty mom”.  Even though we weren’t particularly wealthy, my mother always looked like a million bucks. In addition to a fabulous wardrobe, she always had fabulous hair. This post started as a great email exchange and I asked her if she would mind if I shared it with you. I know you all love vintage as much as I do, so I thought who better to tell us about it than someone who actually lived it! Presenting the Vintage Master Class with Professor Brigitte!


MEMOIRS OF A HAIR FANATIC

Yes, its true! My generation shared an obsession with our hair. When I think of all the styles we had it makes me smile—we went from one extreme to the other! We were raised by the 1950s, apron-wearing, ‘pincurl’ ladies.  Charming to you guys, but keep in mind this was a style we never embraced, and in fact rebelled against!


Image: hollywoodplace

Instructions for pin curls was rather simple. Take a strand of hair, wind it around your forefinger, then press down onto your head and fasten with two bobbypins criss-crossed. Repeat all over your head!


image: nava atlas

Removing the pin curls you brushed your hair flat against your head, with just  a little halo of curl around the bottom—and soft waves on the side. By the time we reached Middle School, we had found our niche. Our hair was as flat as our skirts were wide! To achieve this full-skirt look, we wore a scratchy, netting-like petticoat. I always felt mine were never quite as full as they should be, until one day I discovered that you needed to wear TWO petticoats for the proper look. Only then would you have the tiny waist and wide, full skirt! It looked terrific but was a bit hindering if you wanted to walk faster than a Geisha. Still we loved it. To complete the look you wore flat ballerina slippers and our personal joy—the plexiglass purse. These were see-through, hard plastic handbags which exposed all your contents. To remedy this, you had your little neck scarf which could serve two functions: wear around your neck  OR line your purse. Even better? Match the color with your sweater or dress!

image: matangishopetsy

By high school days, a new dramatic change was upon us! Hair was not  flat anymore. Oh no, hair was getting taller! How to achieve the glorious mountain of hair built high upon your head? It was quite a process. First you started using rollers/curlers. This was a task because in those days there were no soft spongy ones (or hot rollers!).

image: incurlers and incurlers

Our rollers were like a mini hair brush, complete with bristles, to hold  them firmly on your head. An extra hairnet was also a useful tool to keep the curlers in place. You’d press them down good and hard into your scalp right before bedtime. Yes, girlies, you heard right. We slept with bristly hair rollers on our head! It was torturous, but slowly our scalps got used to it, and we were saved by the youthful ability to fall into a deep sleep.

You really wanted to get your hair as big as possible and sometimes rollers just weren’t enough. To meet this new demand we were informed about the latest hair rage:  “teasing” (or back combing). Teasing became the secret foundation to all our extravagant styles! We learned and observed from our hairdresser, who opened up this whole new world to us. Instructions on how to tease hair (tease was a strange description of this painful activity!) were as follows: take a strand of hair, pull it taught and with your comb, push down backwards to the root! Do it slowly and carefully, to achieve a good matted result. The longer your hair, the longer this took. Painful? A bit! But remember our scalps had been toughened by the bristle rollers!

image: Sydney Michelle

Once the whole head was matted up and you looked a bit like Medusa, you sprayed your hair heavily, embracing it in a cloud of sticky air. You would let it set for a while, to stiffen up, and then came the big job. With the long stem of your comb you started smoothing the outer layer of hair over the backcombed locks. From there, the options were endless:

If your hair was long, you could pin it down and leave only a long low pony tail or pigtails. Your hairdressers could give you the French Twist, the Gibson Girl or the Onion! At first, only your hairdresser could do this. You went every 10 days or so to have your hair done. During the rest of the time, you did NOT really touch your hair. You slept with toilet paper wrapped around your head (yes, it’s true) and every morning your would lift your hair back up with your comb, before spraying it down AGAIN—good and heavy!  All guys knew the days where a fella could play with the locks of your girlfriends hair were long gone. Hair was more forbidden to touch than other parts of your body!!!! Of course, it led to numerous jokes from the guys: “Have you heard the one about the girl who went to the hairdresser? She hadn’t washed her hair for 2 weeks and they found a bird in there!!!”

But we were clever and soon we learned to do our hair ourselves. This meant you needed three key things in your purse at all times:

1. A compact mirror

2. A longstemmed comb

3. A can of pocket-size hairspray

This style was vulnerable when it came to the weather. Rain, snow or fog were lethal to your mounted up hair. And there was nothing worse than a drooping hair do. Flat?? Horror!! Downright ugly. We got up early to achieve this look and we were devastated when bad weather threatened to droop our ‘do. Before school we crowded into the girl’s bathroom, equipped with our trust trio—comb, spray and mirror—to pull our sunken locks back up to their towering glory. Our bathrooms were not clouded up by cigarette smoke, but by a barrage of hairspray use!

Of course, at this time the unthinkable began to happen. As our hair got higher the lengths of our skirts got shorter! The short hemlines remained but as quickly as the ‘backcombing’ turned up, it quickly disappeared. Can you blame us? It simply was too much work.

Soon a new phenomena developed!  Up til now the only way to change your hair color was by going to your hairdresser. This all changed, when they  “do-it-yourselfers” hit the market. My girlfriend Charleen became an expert on coloring her own hair. An achievement that we all admired. We were just getting used to the idea that you could dye your hair yourself when a new trend arrived on the scene. We began to notice that some celebrities kept their natural hair color, but had streaks of blonde throughout. How did they do this?? We were highly intriged. We checked with our hairdressers, who told us that the secret was something called frosting.

Now I must brag! i was of the first in my crowd, who made her appointment for a ‘frosting’ job. Encouraged by my girlfriends, I was brave enough to venture into the unknown. When my hairdresser showed me the Frosting Cap, I still had no idea what i was in for!

Instructions: first take a tight fitting rubber cap, similar to a 50’s bathing cap, which had loads of little holes in it. Put cap on, tucking in all hair carefully. Then with a little metal crocheting needle  pull pieces of hair through the opening holes, one at a time. Pulling your hair through those little holes easily took 2 hours, depending on the lenghth of your hair. Once this was completely, you out hair dye all over the pulled bits and sat under the dryer. My hair was shoulder length and it was one of the most painful procedures I had ever done on my head!!  And here I thought my bristley curlers had toughened up my scalp!  Equally painful was the removal, which took just as long as the first act. Your hair strands were carefully pushed back in through the holes onto your  scalp. Another 2 hours! When I finally walked out, my scalp was raw. I barely glanced in the mirros— I had no interest in how I looked. I rushed home to put my sore head on my pillow and CRIED!

The next day I felt better and for the first time I actually showed interest in the outcome of my torturous afternoon. Wow, it really was nice! I was ready to make my triumphant entrance to the school cafeteria at my Junior College. My girlfriends rushed towards me, circling me and oohing and ahhing about how wonderful my hair looked. My spirit lifted a bit after that. My friends were full of questions, as to how it went, how long it took—and all were eager to go and have it done!

Now I must confess, with an sneaky smile I told them: “Oh it wasn’t too bad! Besides you all have short hair, it will be much faster and easier for you!”

One by one we all had frosted hair, and no one admitted to the pain we endured!

One day Charleen questioned me, asking why I had not gone back to have my frosting re-done. “Too expensive!” I lied. That’s just what Charleen wanted to hear! “My goodness!” she cried, “I can do it for you myself. They have kits out now and I have been dying to try it!”

I admit I was a bit wary, but I started thinking that at least with Charleen I could always put a stop to the whole thing if I had enough of the torture.

So one Saturday morning, I went over to Charleen’s house. She had set up her own room like a mini salon. It looked great and I was beginning to get into the spirit. This might be fun after all! Charleen opened up the box of frosting dye, and to our surprise, the instructions said: must provide your own frosting cap! Hmm.

After a bit of thought, Charleen declared any plastic bag would do! Delighted not to have to wear a skin tight cap, I readily agreed. It was beginning to sound like it wouldn’t be that painful at all!

Charleen tied the plastic bag around my head holding it down with clips, and then cut slits into the plastic all over. I have to say it looked very professional. Soon the job was done, took only 40 minutes, because the hair came out so easily and wasn’t painful at all. She brought out her timer, and we sat , gossiped, had some chips and waited in anticipation. How fun!

When Charleen was done washing it all out in her bathroom sink, she had a funny look on her face. What? What is it? I asked nervously. I knew that sheepish look! She held up a mirror, and I screamed. I was completely bleached blonde.

Charleene’s mother came rushing in, and had a combined look of shock and amusement. “Our own Marilyn Monroe!” I wasn’t amused. So what had happened? The hair coloring was too heavy for the plastic bag, and had widened the slits completely so that the dye seeped all over and every hair on my head was bleached.

Despite the calamity, Charleene now was in her element.  She drove to the drugstore (I wouldn’t leave the house!) and bought a darker dye that was more of a medium blonde  She expertly applied it to my hair, and I had to admit, that it looked pretty darn good. Ironically, I’ve remained a blonde ever since. To everyone’s relief, Charleen decided against becoming a professional hairdresser and become a dentist just like her father.

So that’s the end of this edition of your Vintage Master Class….but our story doesn’t end here, we still have the rest of the 60s and 70s to cover! Thank you for having me over here as a guest on Modern Kiddo!

Um, how awesome was that? What do you say, shall we make the Vintage Master Class a regular feature?? Part 2 on Hair Dos is already in the the works! Thank you mama for guesting while I’m on vacation!

Girlie Style :: Wearing Vintage Pins.

Last week I was thrilled to be a part of In Bloom, a fun week of cool style post organized by the very sassy  My Girl Thursday and Little Tree Vintage! I had such a blast….I wanted to share my Guest Post with you here as well. My topic? Styling vintage pins!


As you all know, I have a major vintage obsession. I especially love the colors and shapes, soooo I thought it would be fun to take a look at one of my favorite colorful accessories: the vintage pin. Small but mighty, vintage pins can really pack a punch and show off your personality beautifully!


Look how pretty these pins are! I love sparkly rhinestone ones—especially those in whimsical shapes like starbursts and butterflies.


I have to say my heart belongs to those quirky enamel flower pins from the 60s. They’re so playful and fun.


The classic way to wear a pin or brooch is on a cardigan. I love them this way! I’m a maximalist—so one is never enough. Don’t be afraid to pile them on.

While you can definitely wear pins on cardigans and dresses, I wanted to show you some other ways to rock the vintage pin. It’s the perfect way to add a little punch to any outfit. First up—cuff ‘em!

This is a sweet and unexpected way to add a little personality to yer jeans. I had never seen this before and was just inspired one day to add a little something fun to my outfit. I love how it looks!

You’ve tackled your cuff, why not add a fun pin to your hatband for head-to-toe cuteness? It works on any kind of hat (a floppy sunhat! a cozy ski cap!) but I love the incongruous look of a masculine fedora with a sweet flower.

Did you know that these flower pins were often giveaways? Its’ true! My awesome friend Karen (of 97 Things to do Before I turn 97) gave me a lovely daisy pin still in the package—it’s so cool. According to the label it was hanging around a bottle of Rose’s  Hand Lotion. So cool! Alas, I forgot to snap a photo. I’ll do it soon, I promise!

Scarves can be a little slippery. A sweet pin guarantees your scarf stays in place. It’s also a fun alternative to a necklace. I’m using flower pins in this story, but a rhinestone pin would be just as cute.

I bought this simple cloth tote at Old Navy. It was cute but it looked a little plain, soooooo I added some a handful of my favorite pins!

If you’re not in the mood to wear a bright accessory on your outfit, think about adding a little touch on the collar of your coat.
TIP: If you have longer hair, avoid putting pointy pins (like the spiky daisy I put on the hat) on your collar or cardigan. Your hair will catch on it like crazy! Trust me…

So there you have it. Cheerful, sweet and super easy peasy to style! What’s not to love? You can easily find them online at Etsy or eBay!

Vintage Monday :: The Dames Hit the Town

Last month I told you about a new, monthly supper club that Dottie and I started with some great gal pals: The Dames. It was the brain child of our friend Doe, who is one of the most creative, organized and talented people I know! We realized that we wanted to see each other more—and we wanted to connect with other cool mamas. The concept? Get 10 or so rad mamas who love dressing up and once a month we hit a retro restaurant and have a fun night out! Last month we went to Joe’s of Westlake, an old school Italian restaurant with fab architecture. This past month The Dames decided to go to the historic John’s Grill—a cool seafood joint made famous as a setting in Dashiell Hammett’s novel The Maltese Falcon.

BUT before we met at the restaurant, our friend Shona suggested we meet at the Union Square Macy’s 6th Floor bathroom. “The Macy’s Bathroom? Whuhhh?” Sounds a tad strange, but hear me out. The Macy’s 6th Floor Bathroom is somewhat historic. Upon entering, you pass through an unremarkable, generic bathroom with the classic row of white sinks. Turn a corner, however, and you are suddenly met with this:

Off the main restroom is a square room made of green and cream marble. There are pedestal wash basins, a lovely crystal chandelier and a gilded ceiling. It’s FABULOUS! The walls are covered with floor-to-ceiling mirrors and it’s not until you push on the mirrors that you realize that all of the stalls are hidden behind them.

One of the snazzy metal and marble wash basins. The faucet got cut off but it was golden…

The bathroom was actually designed as part of the old I. Magnin department store back in 1948. I’m not sure why it was never renovated—but we were sure glad it survived! While we waited for everyone to show, we took pictures. I think everyone who actually had to *use* the restroom thought we were crazy. Festive! But crazy.

Dueling leopard was glamorously hilarious!

I look so serious! haha

Finally we made it to John’s Grill! This time there were 9 of us—and we branched out to include some “non-mama” friends but very groovy girlies. Alas, Dottie couldn’t make it this time but she was very missed! The beauty of The Dames is that it’s low stress—can’t make it one month? No biggie, just show up the next month!


For some reason our table only had half the place settings. I snuck around and grabbed them off the other tables, “I think they had us confused with The Broads…..we’re The DAMES, dammit!”

The elusive Maltese Falcon, used in the movie of the same name. I am not quite sure why there is an Emmy in the case too but any chance to pose next to an award? I’ll take it!

The food was fab and the company even more delicious. I was just so nice to get out and get to know this lovely group of ladies. I highly recommend starting your own little monthly supper club! You don’t have to be vintage obsessed—mix it up! Here’s all you have to do:

1.  Invite a great mix of ladies. You can get together with your besties, but  you don’t have to even know everyone well. Honestly it’s kind of more fun when you don’t. Our group is a mix of a few women who are already good friends and a handful I didn’t really know that well to start—but I’m soooo enjoying getting to know them better! Start with 2-4 people and let each person invite one extra!

2. Pick your “thang”. For us, it’s finding retro, old timey restaurants, but there are so many options. You can pick the newest restaurants in your town (and discover new favorites), you can explore different cultures (thai! sushi! ethopian!), you can pick a favorite food (pasta? pizza, seafood?) and try all the spots in town in a quest for the best….the possibilities are endless.

Getting a little time out on your own is so important for a mama—and even if you don’t have kiddos, quality hang time with your ladies can be so rejuvenating. Once a month isn’t a big commitment either. Give it a whirl! And be sure to let us know if you try it! Do you belong to any other groups? Reading groups? Crafting circles? Or do you just have a standing date with a best girlie? I’d love to hear!

PS  Pssst! Due to a nasty looming cold, I wasn’t able to go to the third installment of The Dames, which was held last week at Spenger’s Fish Grotto. Miss Dottie was there representin’ and I must say it looks like she had things alllll under control. Dottie rules!

 

Real Life :: The Dames Supper Club

There’s nothing more I love than spending time with my family….but let’s be real. Sometimes a girl’s gotta hang with her girls, right? We all have crazy busy schedules, but a little group of us (including myself and Miss Dottie) decided that we could commit to a once-a-month dinner date. I know a handful of people who have little dinner groups where they get together and try out new, hip restaurants—which I have always thought was a really fun idea—so I was all up for it. My friend Doe, however, came up with a really fab spin on this. Her invitation read:

“Hey retro lovin’ mama! Does your child know all the words to The Archies and The Partridge Family? Is their favorite cartoon The Jetsons? Is your child asking YOU how to make a jello-mold? Are you finding it a challenge how to explain to the neighbor kids why all your paintings are paint-by-number?? Well you need to join The Dames de Gâteau!”

The concept? We get all gussied up and meet once a month for dinner and drinks at an old school “retro” restaurant. Of course we always leave room for dessert—hence the name, Dames de Gâteau (Ladies of Cake)! Doe’s sister is part of a similar group in New York (The Dames du Beouf!). I gotta say it was SO MUCH FUN! We chose  Joe’s of Westlake as our first target. Joe’s is an old school Italian restaurant with fabulously retro decor…..

We were pleased to see a whole fleet of seniors strollin’ on in when we got there. The joint was hoppin’!!

Hahaha….OK, I know it totally looks like no one is in the place in that photo, but I swear it was packed….that picture was from the end of the night!

The bar area has this really groovy seating area with a big fireplace.

A little jazzy band was playing, the King Hutch Duo: featuring King Hutch on piano and Eddie on drums! (Between you and me, I think Eddie is getting a bum deal…how come King Hutch gets top billing?? It’s a DUO! We kept cracking up about it. I told Dottie I was going to change the name of Modern Kiddo to “Princess Alix….and Dottie on drums!”

We took our meal in ze Cascade Room.

I tried my very first martini. (I know, right? I realized I have never had one. And here’s why…..it’s completely gross! Sacrilidge I know. But hey, I’m more of a gimlet, lemon drop, cosmo girl….I like a little juice in muh drink. Cosmo’s are one of my favorites but Sex in the City kinda ruined them for “groups of girls going out” and that wasn’t the vibe I was going for. Martini. *shudder* )

The food was hearty and abundant. And very very old school. Deep fried scalllops? Mmmmm. Yes please!  The sides were almost bigger than the main—everyone got homemade raviolis.


The “Child’s Plate” cracked me up….roast beef or pot roast??? haha. Wolfie would be horrified at those options. Yup, this place is legit. Nary a chicken nugget in sight!

Afterwards we went to the bar/lobby area. The decor is crazy. Here’s Doe whispering the secret location of our NEXT get together!

We really had a blast and I think laughed the entire meal. It was such an amazing group of ladies. As fgor the food, well. Kind of hit or miss. My chicken parm was delish….Dotties steakie was just so-so, but we weren’t really doing this for the fine dining. We were doing it for the company. And THAT was first class all the way, baby!

Presenting, the fabulous Dames de Gâteau Supper Club ladies!

I highly recommend a little dress up supper club for you and your pals! Once a month isn’t too much to commit to and it’s soooo fun. We had a great mix of ladies—some of the girls were old friends, some were ladies I didn’t know as well but always wanted to know better. If you and your girls decide to do something similar, please let us know! Better yet, blog about it and link over here! I guarantee you you’ll have a blast…oh, and don’t forget to leave room for dessert….

Vintage Here. Vintage There.

The super adorable Rachel, of Smile and Wave, asked me to be a part of her “Vintage Here. Vintage There” posts. They are a fun collaboration she does with her cute pal Rubyellen, showcasing vintage wearin’ mamas and their kiddos. It was so much fun! With a little bribery, Wolfie agreed to pose for some photos. Please swing by and check it out! There’s a little interview and a bunch of photos. Here’s a sneak peek:

Thank you again Rachel and Ruby! This was so much fun! CLICK HERE to go to SMILE & WAVE.