Life as the textile expert at a regional history museum

Monday, August 31, 2015

Crying at Work

A couple weeks ago, the New York Times published a searing article about the work culture at One of the quotes that stood out was this:

“Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.”

Wow. Rough.

I was talking to Olivia about the article though, and she seemed less affected by the statement. She said: "Yeah, but haven't most people cried at work at least once?"

Now, maybe there are those among you who are like, "No way! I've never lost it at work. Your job must be terrible." You also might be someone who doesn't cry much in general, so the idea of getting leaky tear ducts at work sounds sort of foreign.

But even a job you love can be difficult and stressful, and some of us cry more easily than others. The emotions may not even be work-related, but sometimes it comes out during working hours.

Routine work crying can be a sign that your job or some other part of your life is making you emotionally unhealthy, but an occasional good cry can be a therapeutic release that helps maintain emotional health.

As Tina Fey wrote in Bossypants: “Some people say, “Never let them see you cry.” I say, if you’re so mad you could just cry, then cry. It terrifies everyone.”

So where am I going with all of this?

Well, last week I cried at work and it was great. The sob-worthy topic? My beloved choir is ending. I realize how dramatic this sounds, but I'm basically going through the stages of grief. Not in any sort of order, but cycling through a mixed bag of denial, bargaining, acceptance, depression, and anger. On Tuesday, at work, I decided I needed to have a good cry about it. Fortunately for me, I have more appealing options than a discreet meltdown at my desk or a bathroom stall.

For this occasion, I took a page from one of the greatest Project Runway moments ever.

In Season 2, Kara and Zulema realized late in the process that the dress they were making for a team challenge was a mess and they needed to start over.  Kara was exhausted and started to lose it and Zulema parked her in front of the fabric and uttered these iconic words:

"I don't care if you cry and cut, but you're going to cry and cut. You're going to cut at that rate. Do whatever you need to do. You need to work. Don't stop and cry."

(Zulema might do well at Amazon)

In other words, I decided to be productive while crying. I still had two jacket mounts for the Hip-Hop exhibit that needed padding, so I sat down in the conservation lab with my needle and thread, called up my favorite choir tunes on my iPod, and stitched that padding down while shedding some hefty, salty tears. It was totally therapeutic to let it out while doing repetitive, meditative work.

And just when I was in my zone, I looked down and was like...does that spool say West Germany?


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Horrors In The Hat Collection

Ok, just a regular day doing inventory on the hat collection. Just pick up the next one in the box...

Ok, looks like we've got a child's faux fur cap with some brown decorations.


What the?


WHY?? Why would you put this on a hat?? Why is it upside down? Why is the rest faux fur and this little bit real?? Why is it furry if it is supposed to be a bird?!?!


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Costume Meltdown

Olivia and I spend a lot of time watching movies and TV together, and sometimes we get sucked in to some pretty ridiculous, trashy, stupid stuff. I'd say I'm embarrassed about it, but I'm not really. I mean, this summer I've basically told everyone who would listen that Magic Mike XXL is amazing and they should run out to the theater to see it right now.

Seriously you guys, it is so good

On the other end of the spectrum is the Hallmark channel show When Calls the Heart which we discovered on Netflix. It is cheesy, chaste, "heartwarming" television at its shlocky best. It takes place in 1910s Canada, and follows a rich young woman who comes to a small mining town to be a teacher. We decided to give it a try because the promo picture prominently featured this:

Hot Mountie? Sure. 

Once we finished Season 1 on Netflix, we discovered that Season 2 had just aired and it was super easy to hunt down on YouTube. Now the costumes in Season 1 had been questionable at times, but about what you would expect from a television cheesefest with a limited budget.

Sort of like a movie musical version of the 1910s

I'm not the kind of fashion historian who can't bear to watch inaccurate costumes. I reserve the right to make fun of them, but can also make allowances for limited funds and artistic interpretation. No costuming is ever going to be 100% accurate and I am capable of chilling out about it.

So believe me when I say that the costumes for this show have a full on historical accuracy meltdown in Season 2. Bizarrely, it appears to coincide with an increase in the show's budget. It is like half the accuracy for twice the money and a huge dose of WHO EVEN KNOWS.

First off, they just decide that all women wear their hair down all the time:

Sometimes with messy side ponytails:

A whole bunch of inexplicable coats show up:

Really? Blue fleece?!?

Then men all start dressing like they are models for L.L. Bean:

I mean, it's a good look, and technically jeans, henleys, and wool plaid shirts all existed in this time period. BUT NOT STYLED LIKE THIS AND WORN AROUND TOWN JUST HANGING OUT.

Most hilariously, Jack the mountie (why are hot historical cops always named Jack?) has this hipster shoulder bag and they DON'T EVEN BOTHER TO CUT OFF THE STRAP PADDING THINGY. 

If I just showed you this picture out of context, would you know this show is set 100 years ago?

But perhaps most ridiculous are all the "fancy" clothes we get when Elizabeth goes home to visit her family. Sometimes costumers do this thing where they fudge a little (or a lot) and try to pick psedo-period styles that align with contemporary aesthetics to appeal to the modern viewer. That's definitely what they were going for with the hair and the menswear, but the "rich lady" clothes look recent but outdated-- like mall prom dresses from 2000 with extra crap glued on. 

The 1910s were all about silver belts and plastic beaded trim, apparently.

Sort of hard to tell here, but this skirt has a high slit and a sheer black overlay. Why???

And SHRUGS! So many shrugs. 


The most horrendous looks appear when everyone is dressed up for the evening: 

They bought these dresses off the rack, right?
Maybe the brown one from the JC Penny Mother of the Bride Collection?
And the blue one from...some 1999?

And then I have literally no idea what is happening here:

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Summer Updates

It is back to being mind-meltingly hot in Seattle (88 degrees) so I'll keep this one quick. Here are some updates from some recent posts:

Inventory Quagmire

Remember the endless box of little white caps? And I estimated that there were at least sixty in the box? Well, after more than a month of chipping away at it, we finally finished the box.

Wanna guess what the final count was?




But in better update from last week...

The 70s Are Coming