Get Ready for PIE

Thanksgiving is coming. This means that it’s time for pie. I personally think it’s always pie time, but Thanksgiving is certainly a pie-featuring holiday. Here on Retrofitting Vintage, we’re getting ready for a whole week’s worth of vintage pies. Baking-enthusiast A and I will be making seven (!!) vintage pie recipes, giving you many pie options. All recipes are from the 1965 Farm Journal’s Complete Pie Cookbook, which belongs to A.

Thanksgiving is an excellent opportunity to talk about taking good and leaving garbage from the past. Expect a post on this soon.

700 Best Dessert and Main-Dish pies in the Country, y'all.
700 Best Dessert and Main-Dish pies in the Country, y’all.

Meanwhile, check out these vintage pie ads!

Shopping Local is an Old-Fashioned Activity

There’s something terribly romantic about little mom-and-pop shops.

Don’t get me wrong: online shopping is great. It gives us access to all kinds of products, and is very convenient, but every once in awhile, I like to actually leave the house.

I wouldn’t knock the convenience of one-stop shopping, either. When you need to buy paper towel, toothpaste, a drill, a can of paint and a pair of socks, a department or big box store can really come to the rescue. Still there’s something appealing about going to the specialists, and I try to when I can.

Chain stores are not that new an addition to American life.  We’ve had department stores since the 19th century, supermarkets developed in the early 20th. Still, there was a greater division of expertise and the chains were not the omnipresent giants they are now. One of the things I love about living in Chicago is the number of small family-owned specialty businesses. There are still green grocers, and bakeries, and tiny garages.  So I try to patronize them when I can.

Last week, I had some romantic after-work shopping, on Grand Avenue in West Town. It started with wanting flowers to combat the drear of November and the terrible, terrible affliction that is Daylight Savings Time. Using my ultra retro Internet, I learned about Steve’s Flower Market. Their website claimed they were a “European style” flower market, and offered “wholesale prices.” I was skeptical. Flower markets in Europe are something else.

I was not disappointed. The little shop is charming, friendly, and full of glorious flowers for sale by the stem. Everyone working there was knowledgeable and helpful, and I picked up some greenery and a few blooms to brighten things up. They’ve held up remarkably.

I followed my trip to Steve’s with a stop at Bari Deli, an Italian deli that also has grocery items. I bought some olive oil, basil, fennel, and gnocchi.  They had a lot of olive oil to choose from, and their small selection of produce looked fresh and lovely. Then I went next door to D’Amato’s Bakery, which is a true trip back in time, complete with wooden and glass cases filled with Italian cookies and loaves of bread. I picked up a focaccia, and headed home.

Absolutely, I could have obtained all of these items faster at Trader Joe’s. But I want these little places to stay around, so I’ll take 40 minutes instead of 15 to shop at a couple of places. I want to keep having the option.

Enjoy pretty flowers, against romantic alley back drop.
Enjoy pretty flowers, against romantic alley back drop.

Five Things Not to Do in Vintage Underwear

No pictures today, because I’ve been forgetting to have my official photographer take my picture when I get home. Also, it’s dark when I get home, which makes for lousy pictures. Living on the eastern edge of the central time zone means that Daylight Savings knocks us flat in November. “Whhhhhhhhy is it sooooooo dark?” we, the people of Chicago, collectively wail.

Anyhow, I’ve been active and wearing my underpinnings since last we updated, and I have compiled the following list of ten things not to do in vintage underwear.

1. Don’t attend a football game in a girdle.  I wore my light, hardly at all compressing one, and a long line bra, and it was okay. At first, I was going to wear much tighter foundations, and then I thought about sitting in bleachers and came to my senses. On the plus side, I was probably much warmer than people who didn’t cover their cores so effectively.

2. Don’t wear stocking with garters to an audition when you’re doing a monologue you usually perform while sitting slouchily. (On the other hand, perhaps I increased my air of mystery with my garter flashing.)

3. Don’t make out with someone while wearing a girdle. It’s mean to try to make another person take it off.  Take it off yourself. Also, you might make a slight popping noise when it’s removed, much like a Pillsbury canned biscuit, which could kill the mood.

4. Running is just out. Don’t even.

5. I haven’t tried it, but I imagine cartwheels wouldn’t go well.

Vintage Underwear Challenge Days 3-5

Just a little check in.

On November 3, I wore:

  • A brand new long line black bullet bra.
  • The same vintage stretch girdle as day 2.
  • Long johns turned into knickers.
  • Stockings clipped to garters.
My bra is repro, my table and chairs are not.
My bra is repro, my table and chairs are not.

In This Getup I:

  • Went to my job.
  • Sat at a desk most of the day.



  • Perfectly comfortable.
  • Had one moment when I thought my garter had come undone. False alarm!


Day 4

On November 4th I wore:

  • Same repro bra.
  • The heavy duty girdle from the first day.
  • Leggings.

    This is an entirely appropriate situation for dancing with toddlers.
    This is an entirely appropriate situation for dancing with toddlers.

In This Getup I:

  • Drove a car
  • Voted!
  • Taught a toddler music class.
  • Went to my office job.



  • Teaching class was surprisingly possible.
  • My bra did eventually get uncomfortable, but only after I’d been wearing it eight hours.
  • I did not wear these things during my dance rehearsal that night, because that just seemed silly.
  • But I did put them back on after.


Day 5

Today I wore:

  • A Rago girdle that is probably a little older, but I’m not sure it qualifies as vintage. Rago is a vintage brand–they’ve been manufacturing shapewear forever, in pretty much the same styles. This is the most constricting of my garments–it does not mess around.
  • My nice soft pretty long line bra.
The slip is a lie. I was wearing pants today, and didn't want to try to get a pair of leggings under the girdle, or show my underpants to the Internet.
The slip is a lie. I was wearing pants today, and didn’t want to try to get a pair of leggings under the girdle, or show my underpants to the Internet.

In This Getup I:

  • Went to work.
  • Went shopping (more on that later).
  • Went home.



  • Again, I was squished, but it really didn’t bother me most of the day.
  • This was constricting enough that I didn’t keep it on once I got home.
  • The girdle may even be slightly too small, it’s hard to tell. There’s some tug on the hooks, but man, does it work.
  • I had to change pants this morning, because the ones I put on were too big over the girdle. This is a piece of machinery.

What is the most constricting garment you own? How often do you wear it?

Vintage Underwear Day 1 & 2: It Begins

November 1,  2014. The Dawn of the Girdle.

Okay, so it isn’t that dramatic. Yesterday was the first day of the Vintage Underwear Challenge. It went pretty well.

I wore:

  • A pretty serious girdle, of unknown date, of possibly French or Canadian manufacture. I got it at a clothing swap a year or so ago. It has a u-shaped piece of boning on the tummy panel, and fastens at the side.
  • A long line bra of a sort of bullety variety, that I had altered. From eBay. Probably from the 50’s. Heavy elastic waist band.

I wore leggings over my girdle, because it was cold. I have decided that is legit. I wore it underneath for photos, because the world (or at least my mother) does not need to look at pictures of my bits.

I am making a ridiculous face, so as not to appear sexy.
I am making a ridiculous face, so as not to appear sexy.


Activities Completed in This Get Up:

  • Rode in a car.
  • Saw a play.
  • Walked a bunch.
  • Ate a lot of nachos.
  • Wore it for a good 10ish hours.


  • It really wasn’t uncomfortable. It felt like a gentle hug around my middle, without being terribly obtrusive.
  • Running to cross the street requires adjustment. I had to bring my legs straight up and down like a show pony, rather than extend my legs in front of me. I am sure this looked super dignified.
  • This ensemble definitely created more of a waist than I actually have, a teensy bit lower than my actual waist. I am unsure of what I think of this.


November 2, Return of the Girdle

Today, I wore:

  • A much lighter “roll on” style girdle, with heavy-duty stocking clips. Obtained from eBay.
  • Long-line bra, from a clothing swap.
  • Vassarette stockings (from eBay, in original packaging).

Activities Completed in This Get Up:

  • Walked short distances.
  • Went to a party.
  • Wore about 8 hours.


  • It was warmer today, but not warm enough to just wear stockings. I think I’ll eventually make a pair of bloomers, but for now, I chopped off the legs of an old pair of long johns. They came down to my stocking tops, and kept me quite comfy.
  • Real stockings are way, way sturdier than the kind sold for costumes.
  • Again, nothing felt too confining or uncomfortable.
Long john solution!
Long john solution!

So far, so good. Of course, it’s only been two days!