It's Vintage, Dahling - an Interview With Carmen

It's Vintage, Dahling - an Interview With Carmen

We appreciate all of our customers. But some are so special, and so interesting, we can't help wanting to know more about them.

Carmen "Dahling" and husband Chris live in Dallas, Texas. In 2014 they'll celebrate their 29th wedding anniversary as well as the fall marriage of their youngest son. Carmen describes her daughter-in-law-to-be, who chose a "Southern Vintage" wedding theme, as "a girl after my own heart."

We asked Carmen a few questions about her love of vintage. We think you'll find her as charming as we do.

 We know that you love vintage fashion. What's more, you seem to live in a vintage-inspired manner. Has this always been the case? Tell us a little about your background, and what motivates you to live the way you do.
Carmen: I have always loved classic, feminine dresses. My passion for vintage began when I discovered vintage Kelly bags and started collecting them. The compliments were non-stop. Then I started adding hats.

My mother told me that her home-economics teacher in the 50s instructed students that, "Etiquette requires that a lady wearing a hat also must wear or carry gloves." When I added gloves along with my hats the compliments went off the charts of anything I had ever experienced before.

BDV: How far do you take your vintage-inspired lifestyle? Do you wear vintage items daily, or only for special occasions?

Carmen: I wear a dress, or skirt and blouse, with low heel pumps or flats, a hat and gloves every day. My earrings are all vintage clip-ons and I have many beautiful brooches and scarves to complete the look.
BDV: How does your husband react to your sartorial choices? Does Mr. Carmen wear vintage?

Carmen: He loves my style and loves to tease me about it. He especially enjoys my vintage waist aprons that I wear when cooking. So Donna Reed!

Chris does not wear vintage clothes, or fedoras, as much as I would love him to! He wears conservative business suits to the office and sometimes business casual. He is very casual on the weekends except for church or parties.  
BDV: To our delight, you don't shun technology. Would you describe yourself as a thoroughly modern woman, or as someone "born in the wrong era?" 

Carmen: I do shun much of technology such as cell phones, and modern movies and music.  I've wondered before if I weren't born in the wrong era, though the people I love and know in this era are irreplaceable and I wouldn't miss out on my family, friends and loved ones for any other more romanticised, idyllic era.

BDV: Which vintage era do you find most appealing and why? 
Carmen: The gowns worn by Greta Garbo in Camille just take my breath away. The film is set in the early 1800s, I believe. The beauty of the clothes, gorgeous French curls and the fan etiquette is so inspiring to me.
The 1930s had the most stunning evening dresses for those who could afford them during the depression. I have never found a 30s dress or gown in my size that I like. I wear mostly 50s and early 60s vintage and vintage-style dresses. 

Old black-and-white films and great vintage blogs help educate one on the nuances of accessorising and poise that seems to be a lost art for most young ladies.

BDV: What would you like to bring back from the past? What would like to leave there permanently? 
Carmen: I would keep front porches and home cooked meals with the entire family dining together. Leave behind TV and phones. Bring back carrier pigeons and hand-written letters to loved ones.  
BDV: You wear mostly vintage, but sometimes turn to vintage-inspired contemporary designs. Why is that and how do your look-alike pieces compare with the real thing? In your opinion, what are the pluses and minuses of true vintage?

Carmen: I'm 5'9 and love 50s cinched-waist, full-skirt dresses which are challenging to find with a bodice length of 16.5" or longer.  Retro inspired dresses are the next best thing, and can be returned if they don't fit. True vintage has much higher quality fabrics and detailing and was not made in China. 

BDV: So many people tell us that they "love vintage but could never wear it." What would you say to them? 

Carmen: That is exactly what the fashion industry wants them to think. It does take confidence to wear vintage. But if they just go with their heart's desire, instead of what is dictated by the fashion tyrants, their confidence will soar to great new heights. They will get such overwhelming positive responses and compliments galore. It seems to me our world is starved for ladylike, feminine women in lovely clothes.

Wearing vintage has changed my life in ways I never dreamt. Many women don't think they have a choice because so few can sew. They just blindly follow the latest trends, wearing whatever they are told is "in." Vintage offers such a wonderful alternative to sheepishly following the herd.

BDV: Carmen, you're an inspiration not only to vintage-fashion lovers, but also to all of us who appreciate gracious manners and kindness. We appreciate your sharing a bit of yourself with us. Thank you, "dahling."

Carmen: Thank you Liza Dahling for offering such gorgeous vintage clothes and accessories at affordable prices, at Better Dresses Vintage. God Bless you and your readers.


Liza Dolensky

I love this woman! She has great style. I am so inspired!

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