CANVAS SHOE ART
White sneakers are considered an essential part of what fashion experts call a “capsule wardrobe”. A capsule wardrobe freezes your closet in time and if you were to walk into it 5, 10 or even 20 years from now you should still be able to confidently wear what's in it. Which brings me to The Converse athlete shoe. It has been around for over 100 years and hasn't changed much in it's design. A white Converse sneaker pairs well with almost anything; jeans, shorts, dresses, skirts and even a suit. But what happens when after much use the shoe is far from white? Bring out the paint and let your kids create wearable art and a shoe that shows off your playful side! The kids will be super proud to see you wear their creations!
Tools & Materials:
acrylic Paint - primary colors + white
a pair of canvass shoes
Step 1: Use painters tape to isolate the canvas part of the shoe from the rubber sole
Step 2: Decide what color you want your shoes to be; in the warm orange/red tones or in the cool bluish/green tones or purple/blue tones. A nice combo of colors to set out in order to avoid getting an ugly brown are: red + blue + white, blue + yellow + white or yellow + red + white. Pour the acrylic paint into a tray, set out the paintbrushes and cover all working surfaces.
Step 3: Bleach the shoe laces in a jar of bleach for a few hours to get them bright white again or purchase a new pair. Wearing gloves rinse out the bleach out of the shoelaces. Allows the shoelaces and painted shoes to dry. Remove the tape, lace up the laces and wear proudly!
When I was a kid my parents would drag me to thrift shops to buy clothing to wear to school. We had recently emigrated from Russia and were penniless. Both my parents were working two jobs so my brother and I barely saw them.
I was mortified to be at the thrift shop, choosing to sulk in the corner instead of looking for things I might actually like to wear. In the end my mom would choose clothing for me, but since our sense of style differed to the extreme, I was forced to give vintage shopping for myself a try. Rather quickly I got really good at it, finding truly unique and flattering pieces of clothing and accessories that would get me lots of compliments. Eventually vintage shopping grew to be a passion of mine and now I love to venture out for a fun afternoon of “treasure hunting”. It’s truly thrilling to me to find a one-of-a-kind piece for a bargain to add to my thrifty vintage collection.
Here are my “Top 6 Vintage Treasure Hunting Secrets”:
I love vintage jeans because they are durable, easy to wash in hot water and have that pre-loved look to them. Shopping vintage jeans allows you to inexpensively discover how various jean features look on your body. After I gave birth to my first child I gained a lot of weight and none of my jeans fit me. I was craving comfy jeans. Many times I’d gone jean shopping and a pair of jeans I tried on for a minute in the poorly lit dressing room looked and felt right, but weeks later I’d come to the conclusion that these jeans were unsuitable for my lifestyle as a mom and unflattering for my body type. Having learnt my lesson, I didn’t want to pay a fortune for brand new jeans, then lose the extra weight and not be able to wear the jeans anymore. Through vintage shopping I discovered my love for boyfriend jeans.
My Vintage Denim Tips:
Take note of the jeans you love and why, and then eventually, when you know exactly what you like, what flatters you, and what you know you will wear for sure, see about investing in a nice new pair made sustainably.
Consider the following elements when shopping for jeans: straight leg, boot cut, slight flare, pencil, slim fit, high waist, low waist, light denim, dark denim, black, white, also consider your body shape. What features do you want to highlight? What features do you want to minimize? A good friend of mine recently pointed out to me she has short legs and wide knees. So, she discovered she looks good in and likes to wear short skirts with a bit of a flare to them to draw attention away from her knees and give her legs added length. This design knowledge usually comes with experimenting and vintage shopping is the most economical way to get this experience. You buy, you try them out (you need time to fall in love with a garment), if you like it, you keep it. If you don’t like it you can ask yourself “Why?” and donate the clothes back to the thrift store.
While on your denim search keep an eye out for overalls, jean jackets and jean dresses. As long as they are made from 100% cotton and have that authentic thick quality jean fabric, you are good to go. Vintage Levi’s, 7 For All Mankind, Citizens of Humanity, and True Religion are a sure bet. Stay away from really worn, stretchy, saggy jeans with funky buckles and stitching. Some authentic patchwork and embroidered jeans from the 1970’s are a goldmine if you find them, but replicas can look cheap. The more you shop vintage, the more you’ll start to recognize the difference.
2. NATURAL FABRICS
Fabrics sourced from nature such as bamboo, wool, silk, cotton and linen, feel great on the skin and are easy to wash, which you’ll want to do when working with vintage clothing. Natural fibers break down easier and faster (which is great for the environment), but when vintage shopping you want to look for only gently used clothing made of plant fiber material. This may take some extra treasure hunting effort, but it can be done. People donate or resell clothing for various reasons and some clothing might even still have tags attached. People who donate their clothing might not like the way the style, cut or color of the piece looked on them, while you give it a chance and it looks and feels spectacular.
3. ANIMAL PRINT
I don’t think animal print will ever go out of style. There is something timeless about it. Wearing animal print goes all the way back to when we lived in caves and wore animal hyde to keep warm. I imagine a battle with a wildcat back then, where the human survived, was a powerful reminder of the life and death cycle that rules the world. Any human who lived to tell the tale of fighting a wild cat went on to wear the animal skin with pride and gratefulness of being alive. We don’t need to fight wild cats these days, so a simple animal print or accessory will suffice. If you are getting ready to battle it out in the world of finance, business, or even surviving a trip to the park with your little ones, add a small element of animal print to help you tap into the primal animal powers. If you happen to find a vintage animal print made of natural fibers (replicated prints, not actual animal skins) kudos to you! If not, and you see one made with a mix of synthetic and natural fibers, for comfort reasons, make sure there is a higher percentage of natural fibers than synthetic one.
4. VINTAGE BAGS
I asked my friend Candice, who is an award-winning film director and wardrobe stylist on some of the most popular television shows out there, what her style secrets and tips are and she said she buys really simple clothing in dark colors and invests in unique, quality accessories. Accessories pull the entire look together and a luxurious, well made, vintage bag is one way to do just that. We have a lot of stuff to carry with us: snacks, tissues, wallet, keys, makeup, wallet, etc. We carry so much stuff that countless stand up comedians have used our bags to build entire stand up routines upon. Let’s own it. We need a good, useful bag that makes us look stylish, and the best, most frugal, most environmentally friendly way to buy it is vintage.
*Check out “What Goes Around, Comes Around” and "The Reel Reel" for fine luxury vintage - including jewelry, scarves, belts (look for animal print!) and much more.
5. USE A LUXURY PIECE AS INSPIRATION
Take your favorite piece of luxury clothing or accessory that you own and use that as a jumping off point for your vintage shopping adventure. While browsing look for retro pieces with stories from another place and time to pair them with your favorite luxury item that will create the perfect “High/Low Contrast” look. To create these contrasts simply observe what elements your favorite piece encompasses; for example, is it soft, light, bright, romantic, textured, tough, dangerous, playful, or simple, muted and dark? Whatever it is, choose contrasting design elements when looking for vintage pieces to complement it.
Pair luxurious silk harem pants with a tight simple graphic t-shirt or try rockstar tight black leather pants with a soft white cotton t-shirt with a cute and cuddly image of a puppy. How is that for contrast!
“The High/Low Contrast” form of styling became popularized when Anna Wintour became Editor in Chief of American Vogue in 1988, and for her first cover with the magazine she decided to dress model Micaela Bercu in a very expensive bedazzled sweater and then contrast it with a simple jean. The look was so unexpected and revolutionary the printers had to double check with Ms. Wintour that they were printing the right image. Ever since then, the most stylish people in the world have relied on the “High/Low Contrast” when getting dressed.
What is a classic? Nina Garcia’s fabulous book “The 100: A Guide to the Pieces Every Stylish Woman Must Own” presents an in depth list of of timeless pieces of clothing and accessories. Simple to read and full of witty, fun fashion stories and gorgeous fashion illustrations, this little book is a classic every woman should own. The clothing and accessories Nina features in her book have been around forever, translating through every fashion season, and have set the standards for true classics. Give the book a read and then head out to “treasure hunt” for some of the time tested pieces Nina features.
I hope you find my “Top 6 Vintage Treasuring Hunting Secrets” helpful and inspiring.
SOME OF MY FAVORITE FASHION DOCUMENTARIES:
I have been watching some amazing fashion documentaries lately (see list at the end of this article) and they made me realize that vintage shopping is not only fun, but is actually extremely good for our planet. Here are some of the astonishing points I discovered about the fashion industry after watching all these documentaries and why vintage shopping is more important now than ever:
On a more empowering and positive note: if our high demand for low priced, disposable clothing is contributing to this crazy vortex of waste and environmental degradation, then when we buy clothing made sustainably, with love and care, and shop vintage we can start to make a difference with our simple flexing of purchasing power.
Appearing in “The Next Black” documentary, Rick Ridgeway, environmentalist, mountaineer and Vice President of Environmental Initiative at “Patagonia” clothing company, reminds us how damaging ‘fast fashion’ is to the environment and why we should consider only buying clothing we actually need, fix it when it tears, and vintage shop. With vintage shopping, he goes on to say, no raw materials are taken from our precious earth to make a new garment of clothing. If we buy vintage until we can save up and purchase a few well made, ethically manufactured clothing items, with this one little purchasing choice we will force the garment industry to rethink the way it does business. This basic, yet important need of dressing ourselves won’t continue to damage the environment at the staggering rate it is now.
Creative and passionate people are working hard right now on revolutionizing the way clothing is made. Textile designer Suzanne Lee has been working with scientists to develop biodegradable textiles that are grown in vats of liquid, similar to brewing beer, or making kombucha, while Dutch fashion designer, Iris Van Herpen, is creating exquisite couture gowns using 3D printers (check out her “Aeriform Runway Show” on youtube and be blown away) . If we can scale and support these efforts we can have an end product that is usable, beautiful and in the end biodegradable, which is exactly what we and our planet need.
In the meantime, let’s make vintage shopping cool and sexy and “treasure hunt” our own way to a fabulous closet!
Look out for ‘The Art of Vintage Shopping: Part 2’ , where I share with you some clever vintage shopping hacks so you can build a fashionably sustainable closet. In the meantime check out these fantastic fashion documentaries:
EARRING DESIGN CHALLENGE
In preschool one of the main things a child learns is their basic shapes. When it comes to learning how to draw a budding young artist is first guided to break down the object in front of them into basic shapes that all combine to create the overall shape of the entire object. For instance if you are drawing a picture of a camel you will notice the torso of the camel is one large oval.
Taking this idea of geometric shapes and mixing in an earring design challenge is a fun way to teach kids the idea of playing with shapes to create a beautiful portrait.
In this design challenge we simplify the face shape and it’s features into basic flat shapes and then play around with creating a composition of round shapes to balance out and complement the face.
In a way we are playing with cubism here, just like Pablo Picasso! Cubism is a form of art that was created by Picasso that had a real object ‘flattend’ onto a page so the object can be seen from various angles all at once. The art looks abstract, but uses geometric shapes to depict real people and objects.
Before you embark on this fashion art project you can take a stroll with your child through the Room 14 of Picasso Museum in Barcelona, from the comfort of your own home, to see a number of the paintings he created in the Cubism style.
In this challenge the child will be tossing cubes, which will land on prompts to get them going. But of course if you put the art materials out and the child wants to do their own thing that will also be fun and educational. If you have the time you can sit next to them and do the challenge as well. Their curriousity will get the better of them and they will be asking you questions, which will give you the opportunity to tell them what you are creating and why.
The end result of this art project has your child producing a beautiful set of custom designed pompom earrings and a portrait, which both make for a thoughtful gift. But the most exciting by product of this fashion related art project is it opens the child’s world up to various possibilities of design, experimentation, self reflection (what do they like the look off and what don’t they like the look off). After completing this project a child can then confidently name various styles of earrings; stud, dangly, hoop and so on.
Oh and one more thing! This activity is also great for developing patience and fine motor skills as those little crimp beads are really tiny and working with them takes practice and a steady hand.
So let’s get started!
Materials & Supplies:
-Art supplies: wool pompoms in a variety of different sizes and colors
-geometric face shape print-outs preferably on thick watercolor paper
-markers, pastels, chalk
-Earring Detail cubes – face shape, nose shape, earring shape
-needle, thread, flat nose pliers, earring hooks, crimp beads
-photo of a loved one you are designing for
CLICK here to download all the printable materials
Step 1: Lay out the assembled cubes, face shape print outs and the art supplies nicely on the table.
Step 2: Allow the child to come to the project and express themselves freely without any limitations. The cubes are there to help spark their imagination if they don’t know where to start and what to draw. The child rolls them like dice and then they draw whatever pops for them. The cubes will tell them which face shape to use and what nose to draw and earring style to design.
Step 3: At this point the child has played around creating a variety of different earring designs and portraits. Now for kids about 6 years of age and older you can pose the question: “What if we were to custom design pompom earrings for grandma/your friend/aunt?” “What kind of earrings do you think they would like to wear?” Have the child look at the photo of the person and reflect on their face shape, their hair color and eye color.
Select a print out of the geometric face shape that is closest to the one the person you are designing for has. When it comes to drawing skin tone chalk is great for layering and blending.
Now ask “What shape is missing in the overall picture? We have a circle, we have a square …. maybe a triangular or a long strand earring might work?” When it comes to color, ask them, “What is grandma’s favorite color?” let’s see if the pompoms in that color would look great with her skin tone.
Let the answers to these questions guide them in their earring design.
Step 4: Now it’s time to assemble the pompom earrings! This is so much fun. Arrange the pompoms and all the accessories that go with them on the table. Tie a knot at the end of the thread, insert the needle and thread through all the pompoms. Thread the crimp bead on next followed by the hook. Circle the thread around and back through the crimp bead. Use the flat nose pliers to pinch the crimp bead and lock your entire creation in place.
Step 6: Gift your beautifully framed portrait along with custom designed earrings!
Don’t be surprised if your child suddenly decides to rearrange the pompoms at the last minute or switch out the colors. They might be inspired to improvise and make a lot of different variations and then ask you to model for them! The wool pompoms are ideal as they are biodegradable and better for the environment than ones made of synthetic fibers. You can re-used and reassembled the pompoms to make new interesting combination of earrings.
Souren Ohanian (pronounce like to “soar” over a mountain), owner of Chance Vintage on Ventura Blvd in Studio City, California, studied vintage shopping in Japan. Yes you can study the “art of vintage”. And Souren sat down with me one afternoon to reveal some secrets and tips he aquired during his time in Japan. You see it turns out people in Japan love American Vintage clothing so much that it has become a multi billion dollar industry that brings in more money in sales than new clothing.
Vintage fashion is super popular now and #secondhandseptember is well on it's way, which makes it a great time to know about all things vintage.
Vintage shop in Japan.
FLASHANISTA: WHAT DID YOU LEARN WHILE INTERNING AT ONE OF JAPAN’S LEADING VINTAGE CLOTHING STORES?
CV: I interned at their sorting facility in Sakai, Osaka, for a month and learned about the flow of their domestic used clothing. At the sorting facility I was exposed to their grading and sorting system where they decide which clothes make it to their stores and which factors affect their decision making process.
FLASHANISTA: HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHAT YOU WILL CARRY IN YOUR STORE?
CV: My internship in Japan taught me the proper mixture of different types of clothing that an intriguing and tasteful vintage clothing store is suppose to have, along with the specific price margins the store should be at. How I decide what to put I in my store is simply based off of what my own ideology of current trends is, and the type of clothes people are looking to find at the time. I keep my eyes and ears always open to stay way ahead of the trend.
FLASHANISTA: WHERE DO YOU GET THE CLOTHING YOU SELL AT CHANCE VINTAGE FROM?
CV: I source my clothing from secondhand clothing wholesalers who are supplied by the post-sale merchandise from Goodwill, Salvation Army, and other thrift stores.
FLASHANISTA: I’M SO IMPRESSED BY THE VARIETY AND QUALITY OF THE VINTAGE CLOTHING YOU CARRY, AND CAN’T BELIEVE THAT IT WASN’T SNATCHED UP BY SOMEONE WHEN IT WAS AT GOODWILL OR SALVATION ARMY.
CV: Thank you. I know, it’s really thrilling to find these pieces of clothing and give them another chance to be seen by the world.
FLASHANISTA: WHY DID YOU NAME YOUR POP-UP VINTAGE STORE CHANCE VINTAGE?
CV: Simply: because I strongly believe in chances. Whether it is the first, second, or third one, chances just play a big role in my life as far as personal appeal goes. But the reason why I named my company “chance” is because I want to make people conscious of the word and it's meaning, and aware of its relation to the used clothing industry, because billions of pounds of clothes end up in landfills and pollute the earth while my store offers the clothes, which did not end up in landfills a CHANCE to be worn again, to be a part of the entire cycle again it was once part of, but also to give the desired customer a CHANCE to be eco-friendly, make the world a better place by purchasing secondhand clothing. The word "chance" to me has a lot of versatility as far as perspective and scenario goes. My emblem is a pair of dice that show "7" (which is a winning pair) because every time you roll them you get a different outcome, but if you don't take your chances you will never get any.
We are so lucky to have true American Vintage clothing right in our own “backyard”. Go find some! If you have the space maybe you can even start a vintage collection that will only grow in value over the years, just like fine art or wine.
Change Vintage, originally a pop up store when I interviewed Souren two years ago, continues to thrive even during the pandemic, with a loyal following on Instagram and around the world now. Find Souren @chancevintage and at www.chancevintage.us
A dress from the 1990's.
50 year old Levi denim jeans
The Flashanista shows busy families how they can creatively approach the subject of style and fashion with their kids.