(Photos by JEG)

There is a willow grows aslant a brook,

That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream;

There with fantastic garlands did she come

Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples

That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,

But our cold maids do dead men’s fingers call them:

There, on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds

Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke;

When down her weedy trophies and herself

Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide;

And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up:

Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes;

As one incapable of her own distress,

Or like a creature native and indued

Unto that element: but long it could not be

Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,

Pull’d the poor wretch from her melodious lay

To muddy death.

(Hamlet Act 5, Scene7)

I had bought my first copy of Hamlet when I was fourteen while on a trip. It was also likely the first Shakespeare play that I had read from beginning to end in the original. I wonder how at the bookshop I had chosen it over the other plays, but I could have known something of Laurence Olivier’s old film production – in fact I must have read about the film somewhere and the Prince of Denmark must have been on my mind from that source and other far, far earlier ones.

I remember that it was a lovely cover from Bantam Classics, with a painting of Hamlet and Ophelia, which I did find and still do find a little curious, since Hamlet is Hamlet and not Romeo and Juliet. But I guess I liked seeing both of the young people there instead the Prince of Denmark only. And maybe because of the book cover, I’ve always thought of Hamlet as he himself plus Ophelia.

The death scene of Ophelia gives a strong image, which to me always appears in a pale palette, with striking whites and greens. which was the main idea of Victorian theatre designs for the play, too. I think her death, because it is vague and perplexing, and because the curious report of it; is of a most haunting kind. She eluded the audience both when she is sane and “insane”, and her death is even more elusive. If it was suicide, then it calls to mind Edith Wharton’s Miss Lily Bart in The House of Mirth, in that “is this suicide”? or “an accident”? – it must be both, as the character herself cannot decide and the writer is unwilling to tell, except the opposite of truth.

That is if Ophelia’s death is completely self-induced. But here opinions must arise again, when one remembers the sinister court that she is surrounded by. Yesterday I came across a blog post that suggests Hamlet’s mother, the Queen Gertrude, to be the murderer of the fair maiden; the only question of the theory being, what could have been the motive? to which I cannot form my own answers definitely except through impressions, and one of my deepest impressions of the play, when I first read it, is this:


    Lady, shall I lie in your lap?

    (Lying down at OPHELIA’s feet)


    No, my lord.


    I mean, my head upon your lap?


    Ay, my lord.


    Do you think I meant country matters?


    I think nothing, my lord.


    That’s a fair thought to lie between maids’ legs.

So yes, I would agree that the truth is not plain.

Then two years ago I became an admirer of Elizabeth Siddal, who was one of the first and most famous of the Pre-Raphaelite models and later the wife of Dante Rossetti as well as a poet and artist herself. But she is often most known for being portrayed as Ophelia in Millais’s painting, which is now in the British Tate Museum and possibly the most famous painting of Ophelia’s death.

Other classical paintings of Ophelia can be seen here in this Wikipedia article.

(Ophelia, John Everett Millais 1852)

Recently I re-developed an interest in Ophelia when I was putting up last week’s new listing at the shop. It was a close-fitting long pink gown with bishop sleeves and front buttons from the 1960s but very much in the 1940s style,  and it reminded me of some of the stage costumes that Vivien Leigh wore, especially her Ophelia in the 1937 Hamlet. I wouldn’t say that the dress was in any way resembling Vivien’s costume bit for bit – I think it was the spirit and style conveyed by the close-fitting bodice, long sleeves, and sweeping skirt…and of course dusty rose would always be a natural choice for Ophelia. You can still see the listing here with the original photos at the shop.

(Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh in Hamlet stage production, 1937)

Because the gown at the shop was such as a lovely one, I thought that it really deserved a better photoshoot; but then it sold on Saturday (of which I can hardly complain!), so there was no need to take more photos. However, it got me thinking about Ophelia and Ophelia dresses, and I realised how one of the recent outfits that I had blogged, the “Birds of Lake” white gown, could as well be Ophelia-themed, especially considering that the photos was taken near water, and it just struck me how long Ophelia had been out of my mind, that I did not associate the scene with her at all. But once she was back on my mind, I started developing a slight obsession and thought her river/brook scene would be such a great theme for a photoshoot. So on Sunday when I was heading out for the shop photoshoot and putting on this green floral dress of mine, I suddenly realised that this very dress would make a perfect Ophelia-impression outfit, with the printed little blossoms  resembling Ophelia’s flowers, such as depicted by Millais in his painting with Miss Elizabeth Siddal.

And with the addition of a vintage flower wreath, the image was quite complete.

This dress, which has been in my possession for some one or two years, happens to be one of my favourite. It is vintage 1960s with a back metal zipper (why don’t we use such nice metal zippers anymore?), and I had always thought it quite Edwardian, too.

I had come across quite a number of contemporary Ophelia-themed photography and art projects while re-researching the Hamlet/Ophelia related artworks last week, so I guess the interest in the elusive maiden is a shared one. I’ve created a picture board dedicated to such artworks and projects here on my Pinterest – and I’ll keep adding to it! Speaking of which – this is the first time that I’m actually appreciating Pinterest’s and finding it really, really useful for keeping these pictures in one place while retaining links to their original sources. I find the re-enactment of Ophelia in bathtubs in some of the art projects particularly inspiring – after all, the bathtub is a convenient choice with an unmissable contemporary spin and we all know that Millais did have to put Elizabeth Siddal (fully dressed of course) in a bathtub to model for his Ophelia painting; but my bathtub is really just a bathtub and nowhere artistic, so we went to the canal instead for these photos.

(There are a few more photos from the shoot that I think I’ll put in another post.)


    You must sing a-down a-down,
    An you call him a-down-a.
    O, how the wheel becomes it! It is the false
    steward, that stole his master’s daughter.


    This nothing’s more than matter.


    There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray,
    love, remember: and there is pansies. that’s for thoughts.


    A document in madness, thoughts and remembrance fitted.


    There’s fennel for you, and columbines: there’s rue
    for you; and here’s some for me: we may call it
    herb-grace o’ Sundays: O you must wear your rue with
    a difference. There’s a daisy: I would give you
    some violets, but they withered all when my father
    died: they say he made a good end,–

    For bonny sweet Robin is all my joy.

(Hamlet Act 4, Scene 5)


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A 1940s holiday and a thought on Rita Hayworth

One afternoon in May we did a photoshoot for this vintage 1970s pleated navy skirt in 1940s style. The planning had begun a while before. I had paired it with the white shirt because it seemed the most obvious choice (also worn here with the polka dot skirt); then came the white hat which was a new acquisition from a charity shop; and I added the floral belt, which I had already owned for a long time, to the skirt. The belt has a tan faux leather edge and a fabric overlay with rose prints and the words “Lavil’s Collection”, and is really quite lovely; but I needed to punch an extra hole in it to bring it in, which I had kept putting off doing.

Hat:  vintage 80s, make unknown

Shirt: Betu

Belt: vintage 80s, Lavil’s Collection

Skirt: vintage 70s, Endora, available at 24 USD here at Pretty Bones Jefferson Boutique

Shoes: Aldo

The location was in Dublin city centre Temple Bar’s Anglesea Street; in front of the Irish Stock Exchange, the Trinity College Children’s Research Centre, and another office building, the name of which is unknown to me. As I had the outfit on my mind, one day when I passed by, I noticed the beautiful blue and white façades (19th century, I think?); and we decided to give it a try for the shoot.

Anglesea Street is usually surprisingly quiet for a place amongst the hustle and bustle of the main street Dame Street (where I and thousands others daily get off the bus when coming into town) and the busy tourist spot Temple Bar; the old taller buildings seem to always cast a silencing shade over the pavement. It is a very short street, however, and one often finds oneself at the other side before having had the time to consider its tranquillity.

I love the 1940s fashion (really more than the 1950s), and this skirt felt just right for a balance between seriousness and lightness, and warmth and breeziness. It’s in impeccable wide pleats that are fitted in the upper part, and the material is a cotton and viscose blend that feels slightly like light wool but more breathable. There is something very sweet about the colour which even the photos can’t perfectly convey and do justice to, a subtly dark and rich quality that brings out the freshness of the wearer’s face.

The skirt was featured in an Etsy treasury list “Memorial Day Blue and Red” (my blog post here) earlier; and so I was wondering, while planning for posting the photos, whether I should write about some political happenings that this outfit’s style and colour seem to relate to. There have been the American Memorial Day, the voting for the Austerity Act in Ireland on the 31st of May, and the British celebration for Jubilee over this weekend. But in the end I’ve decided not to, mainly because I don’t really have anything intelligent to say about politics at the moment; also, despite its potentially formal look, the skirt and the outfit remind me of more of a brief, slightly clouded but still bright holiday in the 1940s when all worries were set aside for just a while, and I would rather dwell on that dreamy thought.

It was actually a slightly turbulent day when we shot the photos, it was damp weather and I was busking earlier in the afternoon, feeling somewhat nervous and clumsy doing too many things on one day. But looking at the photos, it looks like nothing but a beautiful holiday, with excursions through the town’s streets, ship harbours and boat journeys, ice cream and visits to curiosity shops.

I think it is a amazing how a seemingly simple outfit can transport you to a completely different time and state of mind. This one has definitely done it for me.

And in closing, I must call in a post-shoot inspiration of the look, which is Rita Hayworth in her blue casual style wedding dress at her wedding to Prince Aly Khan on May 27, 1949.

The ensemble featured a dress with belted shirt-top and razor-pleat skirt, and a light wide-brim sun hat. The dress was designed by Jacques Fath and a story on the dress can be read here at On This Day in Fashion. I always thought Rita looked absolutely a dream in it and very much herself.

And here, last of all, is the photographer’s own favourite shot and edit.

(Photos by JEG)

*If you’d like to find out about the measurements of the skirt to buy, it’s listed in the Pretty Bones Jefferson shop here at 24 USD.

A similar style hat to the one in the outfit is in the Pretty Bones Jefferson shop here also at 24 USD.


*Please subscribe to this blog, check out my Pretty Bones Jefferson Boutique on Etsy, and follow on Facebook and Twitter for more vintage and original fashion!


Etsy Treasury List: Memorial Day Blue and Red

I was featured in this list of red, white, and blue Memorial Day gifts by Michelle Hawkins from wirequeen on Etsy!…Or to be more exact, it’s my shop’s vintage 70s navy blue pleated skirt

‘Hurrah For the Red White and Blue’ by wirequeen

Gifts to celebrate Memorial Day.

Wirewrapped Earrings Red Que…


Spa Bath Soak – Lilac And La…


Pearls Of Wisdom


4th of July Star Glycerin So…


70s – 40s style navy blue pl…


FREE SHIPPING red shawl,wome…


Maraschino Red Lampwork Spac…


Patriotic Red White and Blue…


Red crochet purse with owl l…


His and Her Mr and Mrs. key …


Sheer Wedding Handkerchief H…


Get Well Gift Aromatherapy H…


stained glass heart, suncatc…


Patriotic Inspiration Red Wh…


Reversible Baby Bib – Red, W…


The Best Is Yet To Come, Fra…


Treasury tool supported by the dog house

Aren’t these such refreshing, summery colours? It’s also reminding me of Independence Day and Old Home Week in Edith Wharton’s novel Summer; of hot, sunny summer days, with parlours of cooling drinks, a little dusty.

One afternoon toward the end of August a group of girls sat in a room at Miss Hatchard’s in a gay confusion of flags, turkey-red, blue and white paper muslin, harvest sheaves and illuminated scrolls.

Memorial Day 2012 was 28th of May, but I’m pretty sure that this list will be useful again in the US for Independence Day in July, and if any town is having an Old Home Week? Or just any day – we love red, white, and blue.

Here in Ireland there is usually potentially the Remembrance Day, with red poppies; but it’s in November.


*Please subscribe to this blog, check out my http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HowthPretty Bones Jefferson Boutique on Etsy, and follow on Facebook and Twitter for more vintage and original fashion!


Etsy Treasury List: Marshmallow Home

I was going to write a note about a sweet Etsy treasury list that Anne-Marie O’Rourke, from the Etsy Ireland team, has made which features one of the vintage dresses from my boutique; and I had meant to do it right after I had seen the list, because it happens with Etsy treasury lists that sometimes when an item listing is changed or de-activated, it disappears from the list, leaving the carefully curated list visually incomplete. But alas! I got busy and worried about the gig that I was playing on the 29th of April, and I let it slip through, so that today when I went back to check on the treasury, it was missing one item already.

However, better late than never. So here it is. It was a rainy week in Dublin when Anne-Marie posted the treasury list, and I thought it was just such a comfort to see these soft pink and light pastel colours. And it was an honour to be the only dress in the diverse list!

‘Marshmallow home’ by byAMOR

Crafty Ireland Team rocks!

Arklow Pottery soup tureen i…


Small Midcentury Lamp. Adjus…


Vintage Wooden Box. Hand Pai…


Vintage French Style Cream C…


80s – Spanish Clouds – 60s s…


Vintage Wooden Rule. School …


German solifleur vase in sha…


Lavender Bags, 2 Dried Laven…


Ivory Wedding Favor Handbag …


Vintage kimono silk fabric i…


White stud earrings – Vintag…


Bead Woven Peach Amber Quart…


Eco friendly hanging mosaic,…


Cream & Beige Fleck Aran Men…


Dusky Pink Single Rosebud Fa…


Treasury tool by Red Row Studio

Here’s my shop’s vintage tan dress, 80s made in Spain.


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For the boutique: photos of the Laura Ashley “Blue Velvet Waterhouse” dress

*Now available in the shop!

It’s the full post for the Laura Ashley “Blue Velvet Waterhouse” dress, finally. I’ve got quite a number of photos to add! Well maybe not going to turn out very editorial, but as the dress is a boutique item, I’d risk erring on the side of posting too many photos.

Dress: vintage 80s Laura Ashley, UK made, available at the Pretty Bones Jefferson boutique

Gloves: vintage 50s, from Vintage Ireland‘s vintage fair at the Freemason’s Hall

Shoes: REDZ

But before I do, here’s a famous John William Waterhouse painting that I’d like to share, as an explanation why I’ve been calling this Laura Ashley velvet dress “Blue Velvet Waterhouse”. JEG, my wonderful photographer in this venture, was the one who thought of that the images of the Laura Ashley were quite “Waterhouse” during the photoshoot last week.

Miranda, The Tempest, John William Waterhouse 1916

I thought it a really lucky coincidence that we should happen to discover the “higher aesthetic” of this dress, since I had set out for the photoshoot without any definite concept or plan except to get practical photos of the dress, and possibly because I was focusing on the “Laura Ashley” attribute of the dress so much, it hadn’t crossed my mind that it’s actually just ever so slightly Pre-Raphaelite. But why of course! how could I have forgotten their massive use of velvet in the paintings?

One of the Waterhouse paintings that came to my mind was this one, “The Crystal Ball”, which I had a chance to see in another big town a few years ago when it was on a tour exhibition, before I had had an idea who the Pre-Raphaelites are. Look at the velvet.

(Now I could probably start talking about how George Lucas must have been inspired by this painting too, but then I digress.)

The Crystal Ball, 1902

As usual as for the boutique listings, I’m going to put up some headless photos, just to show the dress. This dress is actually a bit large for me overall, and I imagine it would look even more flattering on someone of the right size.

And some close-ups including ones that I won’t be able to fit onto the Etsy listing. As you may have noticed, the dress has two little flaws – one is that a button being of a slightly lighter colour than the others (apparently the original button was damaged and a lighter blue velvet fabric was used to replace the covering); and the other is that there was a tiny damage/hole on the back of the dress skirt, which has been repaired so that there is not danger of fraying or the damage getting worse. Here next is a close-up trying to show where the damage is. The fortunate thing is that as the velvet is so deep and rich, and the skirt is wide and pleated; the fault is unnoticeable when the dress is worn. If you click on some of the above photos for a larger view, you may be able to see where the damage is, like a little lighter spot beneath the hip in the centre right.

And the buttons:

I personally think that having a slightly lighter button at the bottom lends an subtle interesting element to the dress and draws attention to the waist, though of course it would depend on personal preference.

I’m going to finish writing up the listing description in a minute and then I’ll add the shop link for this dress to the post! So you’ll be able to read more technical details and see if it’s your size. I suppose I’ll just post one more Waterhouse painting before I finish this post; it’s my favourite, Mariana in the South –

Mariana in the South, John William Waterhouse 1897

I think I’d like to thank Waterhouse many, many times for helping me feel better about my hair.

(Photos of me by JEG.)


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Coming up in the boutique: the Laura Ashley blue velvet

vintage 80s Laura Ashley blue velvet dress

I’ve been meaning to post this vintage 80s Laura Ashley blue velvet dress in the boutique shop, and finally had time to do the photoshoot during Easter week. Choosing which photos for the listing is quite difficult, though. But here’s a sneak preview!

I’m playing a bit of guitar for one of JEG’s songs at the EEP (yep, it’s spelt “EEP”) launch of our friend Fin O’Brine this evening, so I’m not sure if I’ll get time to finish writing up the listing. But if not today then definitely tomorrow this dress will go up and join the other lovely Laura Ashley dress in my boutique. There’s also a red taffeta Victorian-inspired (but short!) dress with black velvet bodice that I’d like to introduce together with this blue velvet – I’ll blog + facebook the news once they’re ready in the shop.

(Photos by JEG.)


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Coming up in the boutique: a 1970s lilac Edwardian style dress

*Dress is now listed! 34 USD at my shop http://www.etsy.com/listing/96226662/vintage-1970s-dress-lilac-edwardian.

I’ve been spending some time editing the photos of a very special dress. Thought I would list it in my Etsy boutique shop yesterday but the editing took a bit longer. There were so many photos and details to choose from for this dress, and the colour correction was somewhat tricky. The dress is a lovely pure lilac (the waist corsage on the dress is true lilac flower!) with more lavendar in it than blue, but the photos showed too much of a blue tint, which, as I’ve heard fellow Etsians in Ireland exclaim, the strange Irish sunlight is prone to do; now all corrected to actual dress colour.

Where do I start? Well all right a photo. This one is exclusive to the blog (and maybe Facebook).

Vintage 1970s lilac Edwardian dress

And to show the front…

front of dress

This one is perhaps my favourite collage, and you can see the lace as clear as in real life. I’m liking it so much that I’m taking a risk to use it for the front picture on the Etsy listing. It doesn’t show the front of the dress but you do see the bustle trim so nicely. If in a week everybody complains I’ll change it to the above photo or another more conventional collage.

Vintage 1970s lilac Edwardian dress

And some collages to show the various details of the dress – front close-up, back, waist corsage (again, look it’s lilacs!), sleeves (press studs closure), skirt hem.

dress details collage

dress details collage

The flowing skirt.

dress skirt

(I should have done a better ironing job though; I’m always so impatient when it comes to photoshoots).

And finally here are the extra photos that won’t fit onto the Etsy listing.

front of dress


vintage 1970s Edwardian style dress

back of dressfabric

back of dress

back of dress

I’ve been so fascinated by this dress (and would have loved to wear it myself if lilac were my colour; I can’t wear anything purple). This dress was apparently custom-made, and every time I look at it I keep thinking how much work it must have been to put this dress together perfectly. The high neck collar and cuff sleeves alone would have greatly confounded me. There is also much of hand-sewn finishing touches at the hem which must have taken much, much time and care.

In addition to everything else, I especially like the bustle trim at the waist which is so handsomely cut, and the trimming white lace is something to take note of – I mean, there’s discreetly so much of it! The pattern is unusual and so elegantly lovely, with a leaf and flower motif that gives an overall impression of sea waves. I was motivated by it today to read up on types of lace though alas, haven’t been able to identify its origins yet. But I’ll keep reading – here seems to be a good place to start – http://gwydir.demon.co.uk/jo/lace/types.htm (she’s got photos of examples which is really helpful).

The dress looks as if it could have been a theatre costume piece or one commissioned for a special occasion. I think it would be great for an Edwardian re-enactment (though for a very serious re-enactment the back zipper will have to be replaced with hooks and eyes), a day dress for something special like Easter, general good wear with a historical flare (I would wear something like this on any sunny day), or even a wedding dress for a lady who loves lilac.

And a good opportunity to refresh my education on Edwardian fashion (before fashion went adolescently boyish in the 20s with the flapper style), which I’ve always thought somewhat more slimly teenagerish in style compared to the Victorian. I loved this that I read today on tudorlinks.com’s article on Edwardian fashion:

The 1890s merge seamlessly with the early 1900s in an age of extravagance and style, appropriately called la Belle Epoque and lasting from approximately 1890 to 1914. This world began to decline by 1914, but the Great War ended it forever. Until then, throughout the early 1900s, fashion enjoyed its last true age of elegance, in what has been described as one long Edwardian summer.

One long Edwardian summer.

And fashion-era.com, as usual, has an enchanting section on “La Belle Époque Edwardian Fashion History”, with lots of notes and enchanting illustrations. Vintagefashionguild.org’s fashion timeline is also a good place to look at and they have photos. I think I’d like to read up more on Edwardian dresses and maybe either make or modify something relevant, especially the eternal slim long white tea gown that films like Picnic at Hanging Rock has made so famous (I’ve finally finished reading the book, by the way; my post earlier this month about some thoughts and impressions of the book and film is here).

I was happy to find a tiny section with photo on the Edwardian ladies’ high neck collar in the Wikipedia article on collars (Just look for “high neck collar” on the page). Also came across this reproduction product of zigzag wires for Edwardian collars on this website called Farthingales Corset Making Supplies, maybe something to remember for if ever I make or mend a dress with an Edwardian high collar…

I found this out-of-print 8375 Simplicity pattern for Victorian and Edwardian bustle dress online and I thought the outfits in the picutre reminded me somewhat of our lilac dress here.

Simplicity 8375 Victorian Edwardian Bustle Dress pattern

There, that’s good. I’ll go and put up the actual shop listing for the dress shortly today, where you can read the measurements and other construction details (and to buy, if you like!). And I promise that it’ll be a good affordable price like all the other dresses in the boutique.


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