Saturday, September 28, 2013

An Autumn Circle Skirt

The hem really is straight, I promise, it's just the way I'm standing.
What says autumn? How about a circle skirt? No, well, to quote Mr. Darling, "A man's entitled to his own opinion."

I definitely do think more about separates when the weather starts to cool off, and I want to make a nice wool or corduroy circle skirt this fall. However, they take an unnaturally large amount of fabric! So, before I dig into the stash, or bank account, and use some more expensive material, I decided to test out this pattern on some $1/yard cotton print. Sure it won't be very warm in a couple of months, but the colors made me think more of autumn than summer, and I thought it looked well with this deep purple tee. 
Do you ever wish you could look like a pattern illustration? Maybe it's just me.

I used this vintage McCall's pattern, and would love to try a solid version with trimmings like in the picture some day. It was super easy to sew up, but crazy to hem by hand. The bottom of a circle skirt seems to go on forever, and I had to shorten it about 6-8 inches. Now, I know I'm short, but sheesh, I had no idea how short, and I hemmed it to hit me right below the knee. 

Insane amount of hemming on this, but next time I'll know to make it shorter, and that will help.

Here's a close up of the print. It has green roses (I know, weird, huh?) with brown leaves and little purple  flowers  scattered amongst them. 
There are several things I like about circle skirts. I think they are super flattering on a lot of figures, and they can be dressed up or down, made for summer or winter, use prints or solids, expensive or cheap fabric, and look ultra feminine, but one of the best parts is that they're good for twirling!

Best twirling picture I could get :(
I also wore this with a vintage brooch, brown cloth ballet flats with tiny bows on them, and a carved fake ivory and gold bracelet, but I had already taken off the bracelet and shoes for the pictures. 

Vintage brooch from eBay. Once again it's a cluster of something or another.
I actually have already gotten compliments while wearing my newest skirt, so am planning another cotton one in the print below. I know it's also a thin cotton, but it takes so little time to sew up a circle skirt, and I already have blouses/tops that will easily match it. Besides the weather in Tennessee will not be getting very cold for a while still. Yup, I can always reason my way into it. 

It's actually not so orangey in person, but more of a coral color. 
About three or four years ago our local Walmart announced they would no longer be selling fabric, and would be almost completely eliminating their craft section. Of course this was only after they had come to town a couple years prior and ran the two other fabric and craft stores out of business. *Grrr* However, I had the last laugh as they sold off some of their stock for $1 or less per yard, but you had to buy it in five yard lengths. My mom and I practically bought everything they had. I think we've both went through a surprisingly large amount of it already, but we both still have some. Sure some of it's really cheap stuff, but it works well for a lot of projects and for making muslins (something I'm bad for not doing anyway). 

So, what are you adding to your fall wardrobe?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fall For Cotton Project Finished!

 I finished the blouse I was making for Fall for Cotton! I wish I had time for another project before the end of this sew along, but alas, there won't be enough time for anything else, at least for anything that I can post. I would also like to make the other versions of this blouse, and possibly another of this version, but I will try to steer her towards some more practical solids. 

It really came together pretty easily, even the buttons holes are okay. (I hate making button holes, must use bound buttonholes next time!)

The front.
The back.
I know I could've made something so much more glamorous or fabulous, but my little girl thinks this shirt is all that and more. Plus, I finished my first sew along on time! Yay! Now I'm not afraid to join another sew along. you know of any sew alongs coming up?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Outfit Post: 3 of a Kind

Another Sunday, another part of my meagre vintage collection gets an outing. This time it's a purple vintage dress from the 80s that could kind of pass for late 40s or 50s. 

I was still getting over a cold when these pictures were taken, so they're definitely not perfect, and somehow I forgot to get an actual full body shot. (Who does an outfit post without a full shot of the outfit? Obviously me.) I'm blaming it on the fact that mucous was clogging my brain. 

My 3 little ducks brooch. I have 3 kids, so this kind of stuff really appeals to me right now (I also have a 3 little chicks brooch and a 3 little bluebirds brooch). What would happen if we had a fourth child? I would still wear the brooch, but I guess I'd be on the lookout for things with four. What if we should have even more...? Hmm. Dozen eggs brooch?

My 3 little babes necklace. I really wasn't in the mood for lots of accessorizing, but I did wear one of my favorite necklaces. My husband got me this after the birth of our daughter (with only the little girl pendant then), and has added to it after each son. I really enjoy wearing it, but it doesn't get worn often because little hands tend to pull a bit too hard for the gold chain. However, this dress hides it a little more, so actually no hands saw it enough to be tempted to pull on it!

The 3 features that made me want to bid for this dress on eBay in the first place.

I see a lot of dresses on eBay that I like and that would fit me, but for budget reasons and practicality, I have to be selective. (I'd go crazy on there though if I had the money!) So, something has to really strike my fancy, fill a wardrobe void, and be so affordable (*ahem* cheap) that I cannot pass it up. How could anyone not be in need of more shirtdresses? And because this is an 80s version, it was very cheap (I don't remember the exact amount, but under $10). When I saw the cute collar, tucks, and cuffed sleeves on this dress, I couldn't say no. Should you ever say no to cuffed sleeves or tucks or smart collars? Those three things, and I was sold, even though it was in a color I don't usually prefer.

I have a search for 1950s dresses saved to my eBay account, which means they will send me periodic emails showing me new results that match my saved searches. If you didn't know this was a feature and you're looking for anything specific, especially on a regular basis, you really should use this. It just saves so much time. It's under the advanced search tab button thingy (how'd ya like that for technical terminology?). I don't know if there's a limit to how many searches you can have at one time. I currently only have two saved.

The 3 bonuses to love with this dress. 

Shiny, skinny, patent fake leather belt in white? Yes please. I seriously don't have enough belts, and this will go with so many other things. I realize it's not very autumnish, but it's still warm here, and it went so perfectly with this dress that I couldn't refuse it. Why is it a bonus? Because I got this with another eBay purchase as a bonus. I had ordered two vintage sundresses (They were under $10 each, too, hee, hee.) from this one seller, and they threw in the belt for free! Yay!

Button bonus round for $500, Alex. Even with zoom on the pictures of this dress on eBay, I couldn't see the detail of the buttons. I knew they were white with silver around them, but I actually thought the silvery or grey in the middle was thread. It's not, and I wish I had gotten a better close up for you here. It's actually a 3D little silver bow on each. How cute is that?

The third bonus? Pockets!!!! I could kick myself every time I've sewn a dress or skirt and not added pockets, and seriously no one should make skirts or dresses without them, in my opinion. (I should've used them on my wedding dress, too.) Pockets. Pockets. Pockets. Has there been a greater invention in clothing outside of buttons or zippers?

As you may have noticed these were all headless pictures in this post, but that was due to my cold. However, I will consent to one very small shot of my face in black and white (so as not to gross y'all out or anything). Baggy eyes, red eyes, red nose, red upper lip, and obligatory mouth breathing. Thank God this cold is leaving! (I say this as my husband now coughs in bed. Poor, poor, thing!)

Hope you're in better health, and may all your skirts or dresses have pockets!

What do you look for when purchasing clothes on eBay?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Outfit Post: Birthday Party at a Park

Once again, I have fuzzy pictures that I took myself in my kitchen after everyone else went to bed. So sorry about that, but that's seriously the only time I can do it (husband's working a lot of overtime and odd shifts).
Tired, but trying to smile. Behind me are the curtains I made for the French doors in our kitchen,
and the make shift paper towel holder, otherwise known as a chair, ha, ha.
This week has been interesting to say the least. The baby's had a stomach virus, I've got a cold, and the 5 and 2 year olds now have the sniffles and had a sleepover with Mamaw and Papaw. So, with all this going on, we also had been invited to a birthday party of one of Shelby's friends and our neighbors. (It's actually kind of neat how my neighbor and I have been pregnant together each time delivering within a month or less of each other, even before we knew one another! She tells me to let her know right away if I get pregnant, lol.)

 So, to take a trip to Walmart (Ugh!) and to go to a birthday party at the park while I'm still getting over a cold, you would think I would be in sweats or something. But I've found that if I put on something a little nicer looking, but just as comfortable, I feel a whole lot better without much effort. I didn't look as great as I could have, but didn't look like I'd been fighting the tissues and couch for the last few days.
The best picture I could get of my brooch. Can you tell me if it's a strawberry or grapes?
The only vintage item I'm wearing is the brooch. Which is either a strawberry or grapes with fake pearls. I purchased it at a local antique mall years ago, and it's one of my favorites. The only other jewelry I'm wearing is my wedding rings (which aren't in the picture below; kneading bread dough is best done sans rings), but that was for practicality, because the park we were going to is very woodsy, and I didn't want to lose anything. Plus, it was all I could do to pull myself this together while sick.
I absolutely love the little elephants! Now I need an elephant brooch to go with them.....hmm. 
The skirt is a circle skirt I bought at a Charlotte Russe about ten years ago, and I've always loved it. It's white and has little black dot flowers printed on it with a border of, I assume Indian men, and elephants. It's actually easy to match it with solid color tops.

The shirt is a deep purple Old Navy t-shirt I bought at least five years ago. It's actually held up pretty well. I have the same shirt in coral, turquoise, and grey as well. The only thing I don't like about these t-shirts is how much they stretch out (as you can kind of see from the pictures). They end up looking a little sloppy after only a few hours of wearing them.

Another tired looking shot, but you can also see some of our homeschooling stuff and artwork on the wall, lol. 
I only wore a little tinted moisturizer with lip balm and my hair was three days out from a pin curl set, which after playing at the park a couple of hours looked kind of blah. But, I think it was fine for where I was going and for chasing a 2 year old away from the giant river on one side of the playground, the woods on another, and the creek you had to cross to get to the playground. Seriously, who thought putting a playground without a fence there was a good idea?

Sorry I didn't get a shot of my shoes, but they are some of my favorites, so I'll try to get them another time. They are a kind of Mary Jane style ballet flat in black with a frog embroidered on one foot and a gold crown on the other foot. I call them my Frog Prince shoes. They are super comfy, I can run in them for short distances chasing people, and they look a little nicer than tennis shoes in my opinion. They were made by Camper, and I've had them for about 13 years. Yup, I hold onto shoes I like until they literally fall apart. When they finally give out, I don't know what I'll do, but I may have to have a service for them.

I only regret one thing, not wearing a sweater or jacket! I didn't even bring any for the kids and the party was at five o'clock in the afternoon. Usually this time of year it's still pretty warm, but fall decided to show up a little this afternoon, and we froze. I know, I know, temperatures in the low 70s are warm for a lot of places, but here in the shade the low 70s felt like the low 50s. But I'm glad, because I LOVE  fall!

What are your tips for looking put together when you're a hurry or don't feel well?

American Duchess Shoe Giveaway!!!!

Free shoes? Okay, who doesn't love the sound of that? Add to it free American Duchess shoes, and it's almost too good to be true! American Duchess is hosting a giveaway in honor of the new release of their 1930s style "Claremont" shoes!
I so want these shoes!!!

When I was in college I worked at a high end shoe store. Think no shoes for under $100, unless on clearance, and even then they were pricey. It was a good job for a couple of reasons. First, I earned a commission, so higher priced shoes were great. The other good point was that as an employee, I received a good discount, and the owner of said shop also let us buy shoes against our paychecks and hold back really good ones for ourselves. Obviously, that is if you knew how many shoes I own, this job couldn't last forever, because I ended up spending my paychecks all the time.

However, I got some really great shoes at the time. Most of which I not only still own, but many are still my favorites. I found out that buying high quality shoes is ALWAYS better. I know, I know, I'm cheap to a fault, but I did learn that I would rather save up for good shoes than own 100 pairs of mediocre cheap shoes. That said, I have bought cheap shoes since, out of neccessity usually, but am disappointed by them each time. American Duchess shoes are a bit expensive, but I challenge you to look at their website and how they are made to see why they are worth it. Besides, where else can you get historically accurate shoes to live out your fantasy of being Elizabeth Bennett?

Are these the perfect shoes for fall and winter or what? And they come in black or brown.
I first heard about American Duchess shoes through the historical costuming blog community. Although I have never been blessed to buy a pair, I've longed and hoped for the time that money wouldn't be so tight at our house and I could start saving for a pair. And I've read numerous reviews of them about their superiority and historical accuracy. I realize I probably won't win, but somebody will, and that prospect is exciting to me!

The giveaway is for either a free pair of their new Claremont shoes or for a $135 gift card to spend as you please. Check out American Duchess's entire selection here. The giveaway ends Monday, September 16, 2013, and I am entering for the chance to win the shoes of my dreams (seriously, I'd take any or all of them)! Won't you enter, too?

So, go! Go, here and enter for your chance to win some amazing shoes! 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Taking the Plunge...

Well, I'm going to do it. I'm going to join in on the Fall For Cotton Sewalong, hosted by Lucky Lucille and By Gum, By Golly.

SFVlogo250I've sewn for years and I've sewn with deadlines many times, but never joined an online sewalong, until now. I sew with vintage patterns most of the time. And did I mention I love sewing with cotton? I like nothing better than to sew up something using a quilting cotton in a cute print. So, if I'm ever going to join a sewalong, now might be the best time for me

I've got a couple patterns I want to make before September ends. The one I'm tackling first was a request by my little girl. I have a seriously hard time saying no to sewing her anything, let alone when she picks an amazing cotton print and a vintage pattern to boot. (That's my girl!)So, I figured why not jump right in? I'll be sewing it anyway, and I've been seeing lots of others in the blogosphere joining in on the fun. I'd like to see what all the hoopla of a sewalong is about.

My pattern is McCall's 4281, and she wants the 3/4 sleeve version (plaid in the picture) out of this bright green cotton print. (Having kids to sew for means you can sometimes use the most vibrant and wild prints and it's okay.)

Now, let's just hope no major catastrophes occur in our house until I get the blouse finished. And maybe, Lord willing, I'll be able to squeeze out more than one before the end. We'll see.

So, what are you waiting for? Jump in the waters fine.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Youtube Freebies: Kiss And Tell (1945)

This is another series I'm going to try to keep going where I will give you a brief review of some free classic movies I've watched on youtube. The criteria will be that they must be from the 1960s or older and the full movie must be available on youtube for free. (Although I cannot promise that it will still be available forever on youtube, you know how that is.) Seriously, youtube, who doesn't like free movies?

"Kiss And Tell" is a 1945 movie starring Shirley Temple, Jerome Courtland, Walter Abel, and Katherine Alexander. It was directed by Richard Wallace and produced by Sol C. Siegel for Columbia Pictures. It was based on the Broadway play by the same name, which was based on the Corliss Archer short stories. All of which was written by F. Hugh Herbert. (Source Wikipedia)

I used to watch Shirley Temple movies with my mom as a kid, so I've been a fan of hers for a while. I especially can admire her talent and how many movies she made now that I'm an adult. I can't imagine how hard she must have worked and what long hours would have been involved. And even though I had seen pretty much everything she was in until Kathleen, I had never really been able to find or see any of the movies she made as an older teenager or an adult.

Corliss(Shirley) selling kisses.
Without giving much away, I'll tell you a little bit about the movie. It starts with Corliss(Shirley) and her slightly older friend Mildred trying to sell guest towels to raise money for the war effort(WWII), and when Corliss calls her boyfriend Dexter over to sweet talk him into buying some from her, she rewards him with a kiss. This is seen by some soldiers passing by who assume it is a kissing booth, and so the girls start selling kisses and have the boys lined up for yards. That is, until their mothers both get in line to congratulate them for selling so many guest towels.

Promotional still of Mr. Archer, Corliss's
father and Corliss(Shirley).
The parents are upset with the girls, but become even more upset with eachother, as each tries to blame the other's daughter for being a bad influence over their little girl. Hilarity ensues and oddly so do scandalous accusations, and the kids have a big secret to hide which eventually brings the two families back together for good.

Corliss and Dexter, the boy next door.
At first glance this movie just looks like a cute little comedy, but if you watch it you're in for a treat. I think Shirley does a wonderful job in the character she plays and the other actors are spot on as well. It's a good clean comedy, and I really like that about it.

Corliss trying on a suspender skirt her
mother is sewing. 
And did I mention that it's chocked full of adorable 1940s hair and fashion inspiration? Shirley has one of the most fabulous wardrobes in this movie. I only wish I could have every one of her outfits in this. *Sigh* Guess it's back to the old sewing machine...

So, if you'd like to watch "Kiss and Tell" click here to check it out on youtube. It's the full movie and it's free!

And let me know what you think of a seventeen year old Shirley Temple playing comedy, won't you?

And I hope to list more movie reviews of free youtube classics soon. I'll be seeing you!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

My "Falling In Love With Roses" Dress

Closer view of the rose print and belt. 
 I sewed this dress up last month, because I was so excited for fall that I wanted to have a dress that incorporated the autumnal color palette, but would not be too warm to wear in case of a mild weather fall. (In east Tennessee it's not unusual to have highs in the seventies into October.)

I love everything about fall, the cool crisp air, blue skies, jackets and sweaters, and the amazing colors of the trees. We live in a valley surrounded by the Blueridge Mountains and part of the Appalachain Mountains. In the fall the colors in our rural community literally explode. We actually don't get a lot of people coming here to look at the trees, because we live about an hour and a half from the Great Smoky Mountains, and it's a huge tourist attraction. The Great Smoky Mountain National Park, last time we were there, boasts of being the most visited national park in the United States. If you are planning a visit to see the foliage though, I would suggest not just spending your time at the Smokies (it's a tourist trap), but also visiting the nearby Blueridge Mountains. They are just as beautiful, have less traffic, and you can see what the actual local people and culture is like. The Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg areas in the Smokies make a lot of money by promoting a crazy exaggerated hillbilly image, and mostly coming from people who aren't even from here.

I don't just appreciate fall for the colors though, a lot of important events in my life have occurred in the fall. It is a time full of memories for me. My birthday is in the fall as is my daughter's, even in the same month. I met my husband in October of 1998, we were teenagers in love and enjoyed the natural beauty of that fall together with fishing and hiking and picnics. My beloved grandpa, who was a WWII veteran and lived on the same street as we do, passed away in September of 2009 from end stage Alzheimer's. We lost our second child, a baby boy, in November of 2010. He never got to see the beauty of the fall colors, but I know I will see him again one day in more splendor than is imaginable here, and he is with my grandpa, who is probably laughing and playing with him.

Autumn is a bittersweet reminder that beauty fades with time as the leaves wither and fall from the trees, and that the seeming death of winter is coming. And yet we know the new life of spring will start it all over again. It's like the trees last hurrah before they submit to the inevitable fate of naked and scraggly branches standing stark and cold in snow and ice. It also reminds us that our own lives are changing. That we are all growing older and that death is coming, but is not the end. That we should celebrate  and give thanks for the life we have right now.
The background is my maternal grandparents old kitchen table. 
I used Simplicity 4426, a vintage sewing pattern I've had in my collection for some time. I do want to make another version with the full skirt, but am also hoping to make a version with the fitted skirt sometime. I would change the darts on the top next time. I made this while weaning my son off breastfeeding and can already tell this version could use some adjusting. 

I chose to make the top a solid thick cotton in a buttery yellow color with matching buttons, and the bottom out of a quilting cotton print. I had both fabrics in my stash, and had thought I would use the roses to make a more fitted, sleeveless dress. However I wanted to make this pattern and didn't have enough of the roses, so found a solid soft yellow, and I think the pairing works rather nicely. I like that it has a look of separates, but with the ease of wearing a dress. I may even try this again as I like wearing dresses as opposed to separates, because you always have a clean top to match the bottom.

And can I just say that I really love this kind of sleeve? I own and have made other dresses or blouses with similar sleeve styles and lengths, and I just think it's so flattering. It also allows the garment to be worn throughout all seasons.
Please excuse the wrinkling. 
 I paired the dress with this gold-tone rose brooch with fake pearl in the center. I like using brooches as accessories more now as a mom than ever before, because they are pinned to you and can't be ripped off or broken as easily. (Check out Jessica, from Chronically Vintage's post on how to better secure your vintage brooches here. It really works well.) I have lost necklaces to little hands pulling too hard. I do sometimes wear bangle bracelets, but on Thursdays I teach private music lessons at my brother's music store, so I don't like to wear anything that could put a ding in any instruments.

I purchased the brooch at an antique store in a nearby town. I really need and want to go back there so badly, as there was a man there who had a booth entirely filled with vintage jewelry, mostly earrings and brooches. I think this may have cost around three dollars. I hope he is still there!
Better view of the peter pan collar.
 I thrifted the belt at a local charity thrift store for fifty cents not long ago. It's too big for me, but I added another notch and tucked in the end, and am satisfied with it. I guess I could go out and buy a new belt that fits better, but it just seems like a waste of money when I got this one so cheap. Plus, I don't have a lot of belts right now, so it's getting worn whether it fits or not.

I took these photos in my living room, because my home has the colors of autumn in the decorating throughout. I don't know if you can tell, but I made the curtains out of a decorator fabric with brown, leafless, trees with yellow, orange, and red birds nesting in them.

 I told you I love fall!

Do you ever plan a theme for your sewing or outfits?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Brooch Madness: Fall Edition

It's no secret that my favorite vintage accessory is and has been for a while vintage brooches. Long before I even knew there was such a thing as dressing vintage, I was buying any sparkly thing I could pin on that caught my eye at local antique malls. I have previously posted a little about my loving a good, kitschy, vintage brooch, and today I'd like to list some dream-come-true brooches I would buy if I could. I'm really cheap, and we have a tight budget right now, so it has to be a great deal or something I can't possibly live without in order for me to buy it otherwise. But that doesn't mean I can't dream, or that you can't live the dream.

What says fall more than this 1930s brooch? Two cutely ugly owls on a tree branch. I only wish I could justify spending that much on a brooch. You can find this adorable owl brooch here on Etsy.

Here's another,  and nothing says fall more than this acorn brooch, complete with fall hued leaves. Available from this Etsy seller.

And now a 40s brooch to combine the two, and this one is a little cheaper. Check this one out here.

I love that this next one from the 1940s incorporates blue and pink into fall leaves. Get it here.

And what says vintage like
cherries! This gorgeous pin (picture below) from the 1950s has cherries and leaves in fall hues. Oh, be still my heart! Make it yours, here, and I'll live vicariously through you. 

Another 40s/50s brooch with dangling leaf and vivid fall colors could take your neutral outfit and make it scream fall. You'll find it here on Etsy.

So, this fall why not add a little color and seasonal flare to your vintage outfit, just like the glam ladies of the past used to do by adding a cute and kitschy brooch. They look great on sweaters, cardigans, button-up blouses, and dresses.

Hey, and let me know if you get any of these. I would love to see how you style them.

What's your favorite vintage accessory?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Style Inspiration: Thelma Lou

This will hopefully be another series, and this one will be focusing on some past and present style influences for myself. I hope you enjoy them and will leave inspired a little, maybe in a new direction even.
This dress Thelma Lou wears is a very cute wiggle style, but I couldn't find a better shot of it.

It's no secret to anyone who knows me very well that I am a huge fan of The Andy Griffith Show. My brothers and I can quote from almost every episode and we will even have conversations discussing little nuances of the show and look for the actors other works. I realize it may be because I live in a small, rural, town in the southern United States, so perhaps the show resonates with me more, but I still think it's the best t.v. show ever made. I've even visited Mount Airy, North Carolina, the place where Andy Griffith is from and the town the show is based on.

So, today I will be combining a love for The Andy Griffith Show with my love for vintage clothing.
Helen Crump and Thelma Lou on the right.

I've always admired the clothing of the ladies on the show, but I have a few favorite characters, as far as wardrobe goes. The first is Barney's girl, Thelma Lou (played by Betty Lynn).

Classic shirtwaist
She has two basic styles: 1.) The shirtwaist/full skirt look and 2.)the fitted dress look. I love them both and the little boleros and sweaters she wore with them. I think what I like most is that they are an easy to recreate style.
Same dress as above, different episode, and paired with sweet cardigan.
The character of Thelma Lou was supposed to be a traditional mid-century woman. She had a job, but we never see her working or hear what she does. She's feminine and girly to the extreme. The character is a little one-dimensional, but she's there to play it straight next to Barney Fife (played by Don Knotts), and she does that very well.

Thelma Lou on the left in another shirtwaist.
If you've ever watched the show very closely, you'll also notice that all the characters wear the same clothes over and over. To me this lends to the show's sense of reality, but I think it also reflects how everyday women wore their clothing. Having a few really nice pieces of clothing and some everyday outfits are really all anyone needs. So, how come my closet is so full? 
In what I think was her cutest shirtwaist, because of the ruffle detail down the front,  as seen, though blurry, in the following picture.
One of the reasons I really like Thelma Lou's style as an inspiration for my own clothing choices, is because she was supposed to be an average woman. I assume she dressed like most women in the United States did in the early sixties. The show was never about fashion, and her character in particular would not have been into trying new "exotic" fashions. Conservative and practical, yet pretty, I think describes her style best. I enjoy seeing what normal people were wearing and trying to recreate that. I also find these styles to be more practical for my life and everyday wear.
It's hard to see, but there are ruffles on either side of the button placket.
The time period of the early to mid sixties saw a lot of changes in society and that was reflected in the fashion changes. Thelma Lou's character always dresses like she's stuck in the old, in the traditional ideals of the fifties, and yet the femininity and classic details that are lost in the coming years of mod fashion makes me sad. I think it's silly to assume that feminine clothes equates weakness, but that was the push that was to come in the mid to late sixties, and I don't think we've ever recovered fully from it.

Here she is in a full skirt and what appears to be separates.
I find it interesting that her character is an independent, working girl. A character that a few decades earlier would've been considered radical. Yet, by the early sixties it's meant to be seen as traditional for a young, single, woman. Most would say this is a direct result of women working during WWII, which did make work more normalized for the average woman, but I think you can trace it more directly to the feminist/suffrage movements going back to the latter half of the nineteenth century and the turn of the century. This was then pushed even more by the movie industry. Have you ever noticed how many movies from the 20s and 30s include working girls, living on their own in the city? Even though the premise is often a way for those same girls to get married and/or get wealthy through men, that's still a relatively new thing to the culture. These movies had prepared the women of the generation of WWII to  step into working as a more acceptable way to further the war effort. There weren't as many women working during WWI, because society was ready to accept that yet. But by the early sixties, it's supposed to be acceptable for the average woman. How fast culture changes and how fast our own culture is changing, is best seen in hindsight.
One of her prettier fitted dresses.
Barney Fife (Don Knotts) leaves the show after the fifth season (Don Knotts thought there would only be five seasons, and left to pursue movies), so the character of Thelma Lou leaves, too. However Barney does make occasional return visits as the series continues, and they even bring Thelma Lou back in what has to be one of the saddest and most disliked parts of the series. 

Previously, she had been in love with Barney, and was waiting for him to ask her to marry him. When Barney leaves the show, we never hear any more about them, until an episode with a reunion. The whole episode Barney is beyond anxious and excited at the prospect of seeing her again, and hopes to marry her, only for her to show up with her new husband. You can't help but feel the pain in both characters as they meet.
This is the last time Thelma Lou appears on the show, and the only time we see her in color. I wish I could've found a better picture of what she was wearing. 
They did make a T.V. movie in the 80s called "Return To Mayberry" where they tried to resolve the discontent of fans over the way Barney and Thelma Lou were written apart. Thelma Lou returns as a widow and she and Barney finally marry at the end of the movie with both characters being in their sixties or seventies. It's better than nothing, but still seems horribly unlike the idealistic and seemingly perfect world that was Mayberry. 

Hope you leave wanting to watch some Andy Griffith today, and know that you will get to see a whole lot more pretty clothes in the show, as I had a hard time finding many still shots of Thelma Lou. 

What are some of your favorite T.V. fashions?