A Vintage Fashion Lover’s Field Trip

The last two times I visited Lowell, Massachusetts, I met other Move On members to lobby Marty Meehan, my congressional rep, not to authorize the President to go to war in Iraq (he didn’t listen), and the time before that I was chaperoning a classful of fidgety fourth-graders (my son included) to the Lowell National Historical Park, a sprawling, dull brick-red network of 19th century textile mills, where I learned all about “Mill Girls and Immigrants” in the industry’s checkered past and the kids zoned out, happy to be out of school but hopelessly bored.This time, the destination was Lowell’s American Textile History Museum, and, more specifically, its “Finishing Touches” exhibit on accessories both historical and contemporary. Organized by Jody, the wonderful New Member Coordinator of the equally wonderful Vintage Fashion Guild, the expedition was a chance for New England-based VFG members to meet “offline” and also indulge their passion for learning about (and feasting their eyes on) museum quality vintage goodies.

Things started out with a free-form tour of the exhibit, a palimpsest of everything from white leather Victorian button-up boots, 30s velvet opera cloaks and capes, and beaded miser purses to sweater clips, a Mr John bucket hat, and men’s palm-leaf- and bowling-pin-painted swing ties. Sadly, photography was prohibited plus I arrived late (last minute sick kid emergency) and had to rush through, so my memory, never what one would call eidetic, is particularly spotty today and has transformed what should have been an indelible mental record into a pleasantly colorful blur.
still life
The museum’s website promo on their exhibit will have to serve as a substitute, along with the “still life” above of our favorite vintage accessories, which we brought along for a show-and-tell session over lunch (my camera doesn’t do Dianna’s amazing confetti lucite purse justice, and I wish Chris’ flapper era flattening bra, Jody’s iridescent midnight/plum beaded box purse, and Charity’s Pauline Trigere black silk dress, found thrifting near the museum, were part of the composition as well).

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