Lego is coming to Sidney by the Sea. Here is the History of Lego.

History of Lego

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Lego wood models from the 1930s

The History of Lego begins in 1932 at a Danish carpentry workshop and continues in the 21st century as a popular line of construction toys and related products and services, including Lego board games, retail stores, Lego video games, Lego films, Legoland theme parks, and Lego Serious Play consultant services, with a significant impact on various areas of popular culture. Despite its expansion, the company remains privately held.

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Beginnings, 1932-1959[edit]

The Lego Group began in the carpentry workshop of Ole Kirk Christiansen, in Billund, Denmark. In 1916, Christiansen purchased a woodworking shop in Billund which had been in business since 1895.[1]:8 The shop mostly helped construct houses and furniture, and had a small staff of apprentices. The workshop burned down in 1924 when a fire ignited some wood shavings.[2]:37 Ole Kirk constructed a larger workshop, and worked towards expanding his business even further. When the Great Depression hit, Ole Kirk had fewer customers and had to focus on smaller projects. He began producing miniature versions of his products as design aids. It was these miniature models of stepladders and ironing boards that inspired him to begin producing toys.[2]:39

In 1932, Ole Kirk’s shop started making wooden toys such as piggy banks, pull toys, cars and trucks and houses. The business was not profitable because of the Great Depression. Farmers in the area sometimes traded food in exchange for his toys; Ole Kirk continued producing practical furniture in addition to toys to stay in business. In the mid-1930s, the yo-yo toy fad gave him a brief period of increased activity until it suddenly collapsed. To reduce waste, Ole Kirk used the leftover yo-yo parts as wheels for toy trucks.[1]:15 His son Godtfred began working for him, taking an active role in the company.[1]:15

In 1934, Ole Kirk held a contest among his staff to name the company, offering a bottle of homemade wine as a prize.[1]:17 Christiansen was considering two names himself, “Legio” (with the implication of a “Legion of toys”) and “Lego”, a self-made contraction from the Danish phrase leg godt, meaning “play well.” Later the Lego Group discovered that “Lego” can be loosely interpreted as “I put together” or “I assemble” in Latin.[3] Ole Kirk selected his own name, Lego, and the company began using it on their products.

Following World War II, plastics became available in Denmark, and Lego purchased a plastic injection molding machine in 1947.[1]:25 One of the first modular toys to be produced was a truck that could be taken apart and re-assembled. In 1947, Ole Kirk and Godtfred obtained samples of interlocking plastic bricks produced by the company Kiddicraft. These “Kiddicraft Self-Locking Building Bricks”[4] were designed by Hilary Page.[5] In 1939, Page had applied for a patent on hollow plastic cubes with four studs on top (British Patent Nº.529,580) that allowed their positioning atop one another without lateral movement.[6][7] In 1944, Page applied an “Improvement to Toy Building Blocks” as an addition to the previous patent, in which he describes a building system based on rectangular hollow blocks with 2X4 studs on top enabling the construction of walls with staggered rows and window openings. The addition was granted in 1947 as British Patent Nº 587,206. In 1949, the Lego Group began producing similar bricks, calling them “Automatic Binding Bricks.” Lego bricks, then manufactured from cellulose acetate, were developed in the spirit of traditional wooden blocks that could be stacked upon one another but could be “locked” together. They had several round “studs” on top, and a hollow rectangular bottom. They would stick together, but not so tightly that they could not be pulled apart. In 1953, the bricks were given a new name: Lego Mursten, or “Lego Bricks.”

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Plastic products were not well received by customers initially, who preferred wooden or metal toys. Many of Lego’s shipments were returned, following poor sales. In 1954, Godtfred had become the junior managing director of the Lego Group. Godtfred’s conversation with an overseas buyer struck the idea of a toy “system”, with many toys in a line of related products. Godtfred evaluated their available products, and saw the plastic bricks as the best candidate for such a “system”. In 1955, Lego released the “Town Plan” as such a system, using the building bricks.

The building bricks were moderately received, but had some problems from a technical standpoint: their “locking” ability was limited, and they were not versatile. In 1958 the bricks were improved with hollow tubes in the underside of the brick. This added support in the base, enabling much better locking ability and improved versatility. The company patented the new design, as well as several similar designs to avoid competition. Ole Kirk Christiansen died that same year, and Godtfred inherited leadership of the company.

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Change to plastic bricks, 1960-1969[edit]

Another warehouse fire struck the Lego Group in 1960, consuming most of the company’s inventory of wooden toys. Godtfred decided that the plastic line was strong enough to abandon production of wooden toys. As a result, Godtfred’s brothers Gerhardt (then head of wooden toys) and Karl Georg left the Lego company and began a separate company “Bilofix“. By the end of the year, the Lego Group was employing more than 450 people.[citation needed]

In 1961, Lego wished to expand sales to North America, but did not have the logistical capabilities to do so. Lego made an arrangement allowing Samsonite to begin producing and selling Lego products in the United States and Canada.

1961 and 1962 saw the introduction of the first Lego wheels, an addition that expanded the potential for building cars, trucks, buses and other vehicles from Lego bricks. Also during this time, the Lego Group introduced toys specifically targeted towards the pre-school market.

In 1963, cellulose acetate, the material used to create Lego bricks, was replaced by the more stable acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS plastic), which is still used today. ABS is non-toxic, is less prone to discolouration and warping, and is more resistant to heat, acids, salt, and other chemicals. Samsonite manufacturing in North America did not switch at the same time, and still used some degree of cellulose acetate in its Lego products.

1964 was the first year that instruction manuals were included in Lego sets.

One of the LEGO Group’s most successful series,[citation needed] the Lego train system, was released in 1966. The original train sets included a 4.5-volt motor, battery box and rails; two years later, a 12-volt motor was introduced.

On 7 June 1968, the first Legoland Park was opened in Billund. This theme park featured elaborate models of miniature towns built entirely from Lego bricks. The three acre (12,000 m²) park attracted 625,000 visitors in its first year alone. During the next 20 years, the park grew to more than eight times its original size, and eventually averaged close to a million paying visitors per year. More than eighteen million Lego sets were sold in 1968.

In 1969, the Duplo system went on sale. Duplo bricks are much larger than Lego bricks, making them safer for young children, but the two systems are compatible: Lego bricks can be fitted neatly onto Duplo bricks, making the transition to the Lego system easily made as children outgrow their Duplo bricks. The name Duplo comes from the Latin word duplus, which translates literally as double, meaning that a Duplo brick is exactly twice the dimension of a Lego building brick (2× height by 2× width by 2× depth = 8× the volume of a brick).

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Expansion, 1970-1991[edit]

1978 US patent on the minifigure

During the last three decades of the 20th century Lego expanded into new areas of toy making and marketing. In 1971, Lego began to target girls by introducing furniture pieces and dollhouses. In 1972, Lego added boat and ship sets, with floating hull pieces.

During this same period, Godtfred Kirk Christiansen’s son, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, joined the managerial staff, after earning business degrees in Switzerland and Denmark. One of Kjeld’s first achievements with the company was the foundation of manufacturing facilities, as well as a research and development department that would be responsible for keeping the company’s manufacturing methods up to date. Human figures with posable arms made an appearance in 1974 in “Lego family” sets, which went on to become the biggest sellers at the time; in the same year, an early version of the “minifigure” miniature Lego person was introduced, but it was not posable and had no face printed on its head. A Lego production plant was opened in Enfield, Connecticut in the United States.

In 1975 “Expert Series” sets were introduced, geared towards older, more experienced Lego builders followed by the “Expert Builder” sets in 1977. The technical sets featured moving parts such as gears, differentials, cogs, levers, axles and universal joints, and permitted the construction of realistic models such as automobiles, with functional rack and pinion steering and lifelike engine movements. In 1978 the Lego “minifigure” was added. These small Lego people have posable arms and legs, and a smile. The figure was used in many varieties of Lego sets, allowing construction of towns populated with the smiling minifigure Lego citizens.

In 1979 Lego expanded into space with the creation of Lego Space sets with astronaut minifigures, rockets, lunar rovers and spaceships and the Scala series, featuring jewelry elements marketed towards young girls. Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen became the president of Lego in this year.

Since the 1960s,educators saw Lego bricks’ constructive potential as being an invaluable asset in helping children to develop creativity and problem-solving abilities. Teachers had been using Lego bricks in the classroom for a variety of reasons. In 1980, the Lego Group established the Educational Products Department (eventually renamed Lego Dacta, in 1989), to expand the educational possibilities of their toys. A packing and assembly factory opened in Switzerland, followed by another in Jutland, Denmark that manufactured Lego tires.

Between the 1960s and 90s Lego worked with Royal Dutch Shell in allowing Shell branding on certain items.[8]

In 1981, the second generation of Lego trains appeared. As before, these were available in either 4.5 V (battery powered) or 12 V (mains powered), but with a much wider variety of accessories, including working lights, remote-controlled points and signals, and decouplers.

The “Expert Builder” series matured in 1982, becoming the “Technic” series. August 13 of that year marked the Lego Group’s 50th anniversary; the book 50 Years of Play was published to commemorate the occasion. In the following year, the Duplo system was expanded to include sets for even younger audiences, particularly infants; new sets included baby rattles and figures with adjustable limbs. The year after, Lego minifigure citizens gained a realm of knights and horses, with the introduction of the first Castle sets. Light & Sound sets made their appearance in 1985; these sets included a battery pack with electrical lights, buzzers, and other accessories to add another dimension of realism to Lego creations. Also that year, the Lego Group’s educational division produced the Technic Computer Control, which was an educational system whereby Technic robots, trucks, and other motorized models could be controlled with a computer. Manaus, Brazil gained a Lego factory in this year, as well.

In 1984, the Technic line was expanded with the addition of pneumatic components.

This Lego model of a composite of London, including a motorized model of a London Underground train controlled by computers, can be seen in Legoland Windsor.

In August 1988, 38 children from 17 different countries took part in the first Lego World Cup building contest, held in Billund. That same year, Lego Canada was established. The Lego line grew again in 1989 with the release of the Lego Pirates series, which featured a variety of pirate ships, desert islands and treasure; the series was also the first to depart from the standard minifigure smiling face to create an array of piratical characters. The Lego Group’s Educational Products Department was renamed Lego Dakta in this year; the name is derived from the Greek word “didactic”, which roughly means “the study of the learning process.” MIT’s Dr. Seymour Papert, from the Laboratory of Computer Learning, was named “Lego Professor of Learning Research,” after his ongoing work in linking the Logo programming language with Lego products.

Until 1989 Lego minifigures only came in a yellow skin color with standard smiling face, though early prototypes had a variety of skin colors and facial expressions. Lego Pirates in 1989 expanded the array of facial expressions with beards and eye patches, followed by sun glasses, lipstick, eyelashes, and so on. However, many older collectors resented the new look, saying they looked too “cartoon-ish” or “kiddy”, and preferred the simplistic nature of the two eyes and smile.

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In 1990 a new series designed for advanced builders was released. Three Model Team sets, including a race car and an off-road vehicle, featured a level of detail and realism not previously seen in any Lego series. Where Technic was mechanically accurate, Model Team was visually and stylistically accurate. The Lego Group became one of the top 10 toy companies in this year; it was the only toy company in Europe to be among the top 10. Legoland Billund had more than one million visitors in this year, for the first time in its history. The first-ever “Lego Professor of Business Dynamics,” Xavier Gilbert, was appointed to an endowed chair at the International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland. Lego Malaysia was also established in 1990. In 1991, the Lego Group standardized its electrical components and systems; the Trains and Technic motors were made 9V to bring the systems into line with the rest of the Lego range.

In 1992 two Guinness records were set using Lego products: A castle made from 400,000 Lego bricks, and measuring 4.45 meters by 5.22 meters, was built on Swedish television, and a 545 meters long Lego railway line with three locomotives was constructed. Duplo was augmented with the addition of the Toolo line featuring a screwdriver, wrench, nuts and bolts; the Paradisa line, targeted towards girls, brought a variety of new pastel colors into the Lego system and focused around horses and a beach theme. In 1993 a Duplo train and a parrot-shaped “brickvac” that could scoop Lego pieces up off the floor were released.

A model of St Paul’s Cathedral in London can be seen in Legoland Windsor. It is made of thousands of Lego bricks. The rotating model of the London Eye in the background is also made of Lego bricks.

In the late 1990s, the Lego Group brought out a series of new and specialized ranges aimed at particular demographics. The Slizers/Throwbots line preceded the Bionicle range, and uses Technic pieces and specialist moldings to create a set of action figures for boys, while Belville is a more conventional line aimed at girls and featuring large posable figures like those in the Technic range. A “Lego 4 Juniors” group features 2-inch (51 mm) tall medium-sized figures (“medi-figure”) without jointed arms, and longer legs than the classic Lego minifigure. In 2003, the Lego Group introduced a completely new system, Clikits, aimed at girls and consisting of customizable plastic jewelry and accessories. In 2004, Lego added the QUATRO brick, for ages 1–3. Much like Duplo, a Quatro brick is four times the dimension of a regular Lego brick, and is compatible with the Duplo brick. Also that year, they created the second line of Knights Kingdom themed product.

Decline, 1992-2004[edit]

Lego’s profits had declined since 1992, and in 1998 it posted its first ever loss, at £23 million.[9] In the same year the company laid off 1000 employees.[10]

In 1999 the first Lego products featuring licensed characters, i.e. not designed in-house, were Lego Star Wars and Winnie the Pooh Duplo, followed in 2000 by Lego Harry Potter characters to figures from other Steven Spielberg movies.[11] Soren Holm, the head of Lego Concept Lab said toy weapons had always been heavily debated, but that since the Lego Star Wars release Lego has grown “more comfortable with conflict”.[11] Mr Laursen, executive North American operations suggested to make “violence not explicit, but humoristic.”[11] After 1999 a number of in-house characters were strongly characterised with media utilisation and non-Lego System merchandising, most notably Bionicle from 2001-2010.

In 2004 Lego posted a loss of £174 million, with executive vice-president of marketing Mads Nipper later describing the company as having been “almost bankrupt” at this point.[9] He analysed in retrospect that “we continued to invest as if the company were growing strongly. We failed to realise that we were on a slippery path…. Children were getting less and less time to play. Some of the western markets had fewer and fewer children. So play trends changed, and we failed to change. We were not making toys that were sufficiently interesting to children. We failed to innovate enough. And we had nowhere cut deep enough to right-size the company”.[9]

In 2004 Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen resigned as CEO and appointed Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, the first non-family CEO. The four Legoland parks were sold to theme-park operators, and manufacturing that had been outsourced to 80% was returned to Lego’s control.[9]

Recovery, 2005-present[edit]

The company focused on its core products and reintroduced Duplo. Since 2004 manufacturing moved to Mexico and distribution from Billund to Central Europe.[11] By 2007 a global workforce of 9,100 in 1998 was reduced to 4,200 due to outsourcing.[9] In the US alone Lego sales increased 32 percent, because of “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” themed games, while globally 2008 sales increased 18.7 percent.[11] Mr Laursen, Lego executive of North American operations said in 2009 that licenses played a bigger role in the American market than overseas. About 60 percent of Lego’s American sales were estimated to be linked to licenses, twice that of 2004.[11] Laursen stated in 2009 that Lego was “definitely more commercially oriented”.[11] In 2009, both Lego Games (board games) and Lego Power Miners were introduced; despite the Great Recession profits for 2009 were £99.5 million, with Mads Nipper, Lego executive vice-president of marketing stating to be “delivering twice the return on sales of any competitor”.[9]

In 2011 Lego resumed a long-term contract with Royal Dutch Shell, after using its logo on products from the 1960s through to the 1990s. This co-branding was criticised by Greenpeace in 2014.[8]

In 2012 an animated short film titled The LEGO Story made by Danish studio Lani Pixels for the 80th anniversary of Lego, depicted the struggles of Ole Kirk Christiansen and his son Godtfred Kirk Christiansen from 1932-1968, as they worked to make the company successful.[citation needed]

In 2014, Warner Bros and The Lego Group released The Lego Movie, a computer-animated adventure comedy film telling the story of an ordinary Lego minifigure prophesied to save the world. It received one of the highest recorded openings for an original animated movie,[12] and the Los Angeles Times noted “nearly unanimous positive reviews” for the film.[13

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Wearing History Blog…If you like Vintage check out this blog

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Dressing Vintage: 10 Simple Tips to Avoid Looking Costumey

Hi there!

I’m very thankful for your comments on my outfit posts.  I was pondering last night, in retrospect of some sweet comments, what sort of things I do in order to avoid looking too costumey when wearing vintage or vintage inspired clothing.

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Casey of Casey Maura

There’s a lot of misconception out there on vintage or retro style. Many people think they can’t pull it off.  Others are afraid they’ll look out of place, or draw too much attention to themselves.  And still others are unhappy with their total look because they feel too much like they’re in fancy dress or costume.

We all have those random days when things don’t come together quite as well as we had hoped, but here’s some simple tips from me on how to not look costumey when wearing vintage or vintage inspired clothing.

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Me wearing a vintage 1940’s suit

1) Decide if you want to do authentic vintage fashion (a head to toe period look) or vintage inspired fashion (adapting or mixing vintage with everyday clothing).  

For me, those are the top two ways I see vintage fashion worn.  There’s no right or wrong answer here- it’s all up to you and what you want to do with your look.  If you’re going for head to toe period- it’s time to dig into those original period sources.  If you’re going for a vintage inspired look, let overall aesthetic be your guide.

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Katherine of The Fashionable Past, Ginger of Scene in the Past, and I at Costume College a few years ago. 

2)  Dress for Your Personality, Not Because You Think It’s “Right”

In the way you’ve dressed previously, what have been your favorite looks?  Chances are, if your past style sense had a general “feel” to it, you can find an equivalent in vintage fashion.  Are you a tomboy?  A girly girl?  Avante Garde artist?  Sensible and practical?  A career woman?  Well, regardless of what your lifestyle is, chances are there’s a vintage equivalent to you.  1920’s girls didn’t all wear fringe, 1930s girls didn’t all wear bias cut gowns, and 1950’s girls didn’t all wear poodle skirts.  So go poke around online (I suggest pinterest), and if one look grabs you instantly as something you would wear in real life, add it to your pin board.  There’s no real “right” or “wrong” way to dress in an era, because there were so many different styles in every single decade.  In fact, old magazines suggested you dress by “type”, just like fashion magazines of today.

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Me wearing 1930’s style last summer.

3)  Avoid nude stockings with black seams.

There’s a reason you find these at somewhat racy lingerie stores.  Yes, they did very occasionally wear them, but, if you must wear stockings, search out nude ones with nude seams.  You don’t need to scream to the world “Look!  I’m wearing seamed stockings!” because they’re so contrasted in tone.  There should be a sort of overall aesthetic to your look, and perhaps people won’t even realize you’re wearing seamed stockings if they’re nude on nude, but it will just look *right*.  After all, you want to evoke a look in entirety, not break up the eye to a bunch of randomly “correct” details.  Harmony, simplicity, and natural looks.  Which brings me to…

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Casey of Casey Maura– a woman of exceptional style.

4)  Select a statement piece

What’s going to speak the most out of the outfit you’re wearing?  Is it your dress print?  Your crazy novelty pin?  Your bakelite bangles? Your crazy hat?  I’m ALL for crazy, loud, and novelty print.  But the thing that keeps you from looking costumey is picking ONE statement thing.  Maybe two.  But certainly not more than three.  For example- crazy hat, crazy brooch, solid dress- works.  Crazy hat, crazy print dress, crazy brooch- doesn’t work in general (sure, there are the rare exemptions).  If in doubt, keep it simple.  Sometimes red lipstick is enough of a statement in itself.

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Me at a living history event in San Diego.  I’m wearing trousers, a comfy blouse, flat shoes, and sunglasses, because I knew I was going to be active that day.

5)  Make it Livable

How do you feel when you’re wearing your outfit?  Do you feel like yourself, or do you feel like you’re charading as someone else?  Are you self conscious, or are you confident?  Our clothes can do amazing things for us.  But they can also make us feel out of sorts.  I think a lot of this comes down to practicality.  For example- I can’t clomp around in 3″ heels.  Ok, so I can for a VERY short time.  But i’m a klutz, and chances are I’ll trip over myself.  I would have to consciously watch my step and make sure I’m not going to trip/fall/make a general spectacle of myself.  If you’re thinking about a single article of your clothing more than you are what you’re doing or enjoying the company you’re with, it’s time to re-think that choice.  Sometimes it’s as simple as adding insoles or heel grips to a shoe, or holding a hat in place with a hat pin, or finding a lipstick that doesn’t go all over the place when you eat (and how do we always get it either on our chin or on our teeth?  Ok, maybe it’s just me).  But your style should appear conscious but effortless, and part of that is finding pieces that fit in with you and your lifestyle.

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My friend, Katherine Brookes, always has impeccable vintage style.

6)  Find Flattering Hairstyle

It should be simple in essence, but sometimes it’s not.  One you’ve got one you’ve found that works for you and your face shape, you’re good to go.  It’s ok to do it over and over, or variations on that hairstyle, if it works.  Like clothing, there’s no “right way” to do hair for any given time period.  Check out photos of real people if you’re intimidated by the super polished looks you see other bloggers, or movie stars, wear.  Not everyone needs to have perfectly polished victory rolls to have vintage style.  And if you’ve got a flat spot, just add a hair flower or hair ornament, or hat.  People will think it’s intentional.  Really.  Just keep in mind pointer #3 when you look at the overall look.

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My friend, Simone (of The Wardrobe Mistress on Etsy).  Photo by Gordon Ayres

7)  With Makeup- Easy Does It

Some people can pull off the super dramatic makeup or pin-up style. I can’t.  If you also can’t, I’m here to tell you there’s hope for us.  Go by the old standby- pick what’s the focus- lips or eyes.  Red lips, simple eyes.  Bold eyes, simple lips.  You don’t need concealer + foundation + powder, unless that’s what you normally do.  My old standby for makeup is red lips, nude eyes with medium brown crease, and maybe eyeliner if I’m feeling adventurous.  And if you aren’t comfortable with red lips, that’s totally ok!  There were a variety or red, pink, and corals that were worn through many different vintage decade.  I often wear a lip stain instead of a lipstick, even when doing daily vintage inspired looks, and you know what?  It totally works.

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Beth of V is for Vintage.  Always expertly fitted, always tasteful in accessories.

8)  Select Clothing That Fits Well

This is probably not something that comes up too often on style tips, but one of the big things that makes something look more costumey than like clothing is the fit.  If you see sets of wrinkles going across any part of your body, it’s probably too tight.  If it doesn’t hug your curves or if it droops, it’s probably too loose.  Find something in the middle and the fit is just right.  There’s not much we can do about too tight, so if you’re faced with the choice ALWAYS get the one that’s a little too big.  You can either take it in yourself, or go to a tailor and get it altered to fit you perfectly.  It is an extra step and sometimes an extra expense, but it’s SO worth it to have clothing that fits you just right.  If you’re not sure where to find a place that does alterations, ask a local dry cleaner or do a search for alterations in your area.  And if it’s vintage, make sure you tell them to not cut out the extra fabric that’s there after the seams or hems are taken in- there may be a time you want to let it out later!

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Me, pretending to be fancy.

9)  Embrace Your Good Points

We all have things we don’t like about our appearance or body type, but instead of festering about that, why not turn that around to something positive?  What’s something you LOVE about the way you look?  Do you have a tiny waist?  Emphasize it!  Great décolleté?  Wear more boat necks.  Long legs?  You can look tall and elegant in trousers and knee length skirts.  Pretty hair?  Add ornaments some pretty comb or flowers to your hear, or wear hats that really make everyone look at your hair.  Love the color of your eyes?  Wear colors close to your face that bring out that color.  Underplay the points you don’t like, emphasize the ones you do like.  And if someone pays you a compliment, don’t tell them what you don’t like about yourself or your look- just kindly say “thank you!” and give them a big smile 🙂

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Me at the Huntington Gardens

10)  Be Confident

Once you’ve selected your look for the day, embrace it.  Don’t fuss in every mirror.  Don’t wonder if people are looking at you.  If people compliment you, give them big smile, look them in the eye, and thank them.  If they ask you funny questions “Are you in a play?”,  or ask a question or make a comment on your style, just be kind back and tell them you just like to wear vintage styles.  Most people are just curious, and some may even want to take up the look themselves!  Don’t take every notice as something negative.  Feel good about your choice, and just keep on enjoying your life.  Confidence and happiness are contagious 🙂

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Beth and Chris Grover, modeling for my Kickstarter that’s up right now for my first clothing collection.  Check it out!

Do you have any vintage style tips?  Let me know in the comments!

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The 5 Reasons you should accepporize

The Top Five Reasons Why You Should Accessorize

Fashion Accessorizing Tips Did you know that 25% of your wardrobe budget should go towards your accessories?  You didn’t?  Well now you do.  I’m still trying to figure out why women loathe accessorizing so much, but I am hoping that my five reasons to accessorize will change your mind.   Accessorizing should be seen like the spice of an outfit.  This is why I call unaccessorized outfits Chicken Outfits.  In order for chicken to be tasty it needs flavor.  The flavors come from the spices that are added to the chicken.  Chicken on its own is rather flavorless.

The Five Reasons You Should Accessorize

Reason #1 You’ll Save Money

You may be wondering why adding more to your shopping list will save you money.  Here’s the reason: The more accessories you own, the less clothing you will have to buy, it’s that simple.  Why?  Well, for the most part, a woman’s wardrobe is basics driven; it’s the accessorizing that changes up the looks.  The more accessories you have (which are often cheaper in price than clothing and can be worn multiple times per week) are what change up your look.  So, imagine having one dress that you can accessorize four different ways simply with a shoe change or different jewelry.  This will cost you a lot less than having multiple stand alone outfits that can’t be changed up through your accessories.

Reason #2 You’ll Save Time

If accessorizing is an additional step, how exactly will it save time, you’re wondering?  Most of my clients are busy women.  When they first start working with me, they groan at the idea of accessorizing, thinking they have enough to do in the morning.  The string of pearls that they wear day in and day out may be boring them to tears but at least they don’t have to think about it.

Time is saved via accessorizing because you can go for trusted and basic outfits that you know work and use the accessories to change up the looks and make them more interesting.  Accessories can give one piece in your wardrobe multiple looks.   This takes a lot less time than the time you spend staring at your closet trying to figure how to put whole new outfit together.   Seriously, how long does it take to put a necklace over your head, like .3 seconds?  I am sure you can spare that much time.  Have some easy, yet interesting accessories on hand that are fail-safes and will always work.  My suggestions are accessories in green or yellow (both green and yellow work with any color you’re wearing) and gold and silver in interesting shapes.  If you can have at least these in your arsenal of accessories, you’ll always have accessories on hand that work and make an outfit.  Time is saved and you look good.  You can check out a video on how I put several looks together using one staple dress I own.  It’s a bit long and it will take longer to watch than it will for you to accessorize.

Reason #3 You’ll Stand Out

Okay, so you’re sick of being just an another acceptably dressed nobody, you feel blah and just another face in the crowd.  Well, hello, McFly, why do you think that is?  It’s your lack of accessorizing that is making it happen.  Imagine you and another woman were standing side-by-side, both wearing a pair of tailored pants and a button down shirt.  The one who is going to stand out is going to be the person who chooses an interesting pair of shoes and finishes her look with a great necklace, some colorful jewelry or a handbag that isn’t dull.  If you want to stand out, accessorize.  When you accessorize, you can wear your versatile basics without being boring.

Fashion Accessorizing Tips

Reason #4- You’ll Save Angst

Frustrated with nothing to wear?  When you start purchasing accessories a whole new world of possibilities will open up with the wardrobe you already own.  When you’re frustrated with your wardrobe, don’t go and buy more clothes, buy accessories.

Reason #5 You’ll Feel Better About Yourself

Feeling good about yourself comes from within and, as counterintuitive as it sounds, that good feeling often comes when you know you look good, or the outer you is aligned with the inner you.   Want to feel better about yourself?  Start working on your outer appearance and how you present yourself to the world.  When you know, confidently, that who you are on the inside is being expressed, and people are getting who you are just by your presence, you’ll have to overcompensate less and things will flow in your life much more smoothly.  I mean, don’t you have enough challenges in your day, how you look shouldn’t be one of them.  Accessorize, dammit!

If you’re looking for fashion accessorizing tips, just keep read this blog.  Accessorizing is the key to all my fashion advice!

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The art of couture millinery returns

The art of couture millinery returns

The bold and the beautiful have returned.The dazzling creations of milliners Stephen Jones and Philip Treacy have brought couture millinery back into prominence. Runways are popping with magnificently oversized furs, elaborately embroidered cloches, fantastically whimsical cocktail hats and jaw-dropping derby-styled fantasies. This is the art of sculptured head gear–the art of couture millinery.

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When we see the Duchess of Cambridge donning an amazing fascinator hat, we are not surprised; she is, afterall, English royalty. When the wealthy women of Churchill Downs parade around Louisville, KY in the spring, we think, of course–it’s the Kentucky Derby. Au contraire. Couture milliners are steadfastly working to broaden this image, to make it more inclusive. These hats are not just for some women–they are for every woman. Every woman is entitled to the luxury of feeling beautiful. These hats elevate the spirit from the mundane to the superlative. They transform the face, raise self-confidence and dazzle every eye in the room. Just as every woman should own a little black dress, every woman should have at least one bespoke, couture hat.

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The couture milliner hand crafts these gems with enormous care and creativity, crafting a hat that is uniquely suited to the wearer’s dimensions, with the goal of highlighting and accentuating the feminine features. The milliner considers the face type: oval, round, square, oblong or heart-shaped, factors in the head dimensions, respecting the individual facial features, and decides what brim types best frame the face or which styles to avoid to prevent an overpowering look. The milliner conceptualizes every detail — whether an asymmetrical tilt is good or which style best emphasizes the eyes.

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The couture milliner may then create a pattern to produce a new, unusal shape or choose from one of the traditional hat blocks to begin to realize the creation. They will choose materials, trims, embellishments, and embroidery, and sculpt a one-of-a-kind creation.

These creations, while obviously hats, have more specific names. Some of the more popular styles are Fascinators, Cloches, Fedoras, Kentucky Derby Wide-brimmed, or Oversized Furs.

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Fascinators, or cocktail hats, are typically the smallest of the head wear. They are not intended to cover the head as much as to make a statement. Fascinators are commonly made with feathers, flowers, and beads and are fancifully ornate. They can be affixed to the hair with clips, combs, or bands. They were quite popular at last year’s Royal Wedding and tend to make a showing at many horse-racing events. They are terrific for brides who are wearing non-typical gowns and fabulous for accentuating most any formal attire.

The cloche is a close-fitting, bell-shaped women’s hat. It takes its name from the French word for “bell”. The cloche was typically made from felt so that it could easily conform to the shape of the head. It is intended to be worn low on the forehead, just above the wearer’s eyes. Cloche hats are terrific accessories for holiday parties, weddings, cocktail parties as well as at lots of unofficial gatherings.

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Fedoras are probably the most commonly known hat style. They were initially designed for men, but have become unisex and can be worn with just about everything.

Wide-brimmed hats or Kentucky Derby Hats have held a fairly secure place in spring fashion for more than 100 years. Thanks to the annual horse race, the Kentucky Derby, this hat style has never fallen from grace. The wide-brimmed hat is the perfect compliment for formal attire during derby days, or a night on the town or even wonderfully appropriate for lazy days at the beach. These hats provide a unique splash of class and style to any occasion.

Fur hats are amazingly versatile. They are currently a favorite of Marc Jacobs, Alice Temperley and Rachel Zoe. These hats can be worn with jeans, leather, prints, and just about any conceivable clothing style.

Couture millinery has made its way back to the fore, and thankfully, the Chicago woman is never far from a fabulous milliner. The studios of Jenny Pfanenstiel, Michelle Tan, Chapeau – Chicago Millinery and the Millinery Arts Alliance are busy conceptualizing, designing and sculpting. Chicago, your hat awaits

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Ladies’ Hats:The Ulitimate Accessory for Every Occasion

How to to find your perfect hat this seaso

Fancy hat wearing season is upon us so investing in a fabulous piece of headgear is a definite must.
If you’re going all out for Ladies’ Day at Royal Ascot then the matter of dress code needs to be considered carefully. Formal daywear is essential, as is a hat, if you plan to saunter around in style. Ladies’ Hats: the Ultimate Accessory for Every Summer Occasion

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Then there are all those wedding invites and swanky summer parties that require something statement-making to show you know precisely how to do occasion wear.
For those who rarely do hats this can be a pretty daunting shopping experience. So – we’ve got a few buying and styling tips to get you started.

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The Royal Ascot style guide for ladies recommends hats should be worn, especially if you’re lucky enough to have a ticket for the royal enclosure. A headpiece with a base of 4 inches or more in diameter is an acceptable alternative. Fascinators? Don’t bother – they’re banned.
We spoke to Emily Baxendale, the creative director and designer of boutique millinery business Emily – London to get a few more tips.

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Where do we start when it comes to hat buying? Hats are such a personal thing and it can be fun but a little daunting finding the perfect one amidst a sea of different styles.
Online is always a good place to start as you can then gauge a good cross-section of what is out there and what styles you are naturally drawn to. Ultimately, it’s about focusing the selection and trying on the actual hats. This will either be with the independent milliner for more boutique or bespoke pieces, or in-store for more commercial ready-to-wear designs.

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Which factors should be considered – head size/shape, skin tone, hairstyle? One of the first questions I always ask my clients is what style of occasion the hat will be for. It is so important that the hat is appropriate for the event.
The next considerations are always face shape, hair colour and how the client would like to style their hair on the day, height (as proportions and balance are very important in the overall look), and skin tone. The next step is to work with the outfit as a whole to create the perfect hat.
What are the latest hat trends? Hats are the ultimate accessory. The most popular colour palette for us this season has been Spring/Summer 2014 pastels infused with bright yellows. We have certainly seen a resurgence in large picture hats with classic brims, but the smaller cocktail hats remain popular every season largely due to the fact that they are so easy to wear.

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Aquamarines and Blood Stones are the stones for March Birthdays

Aquamarines vary in color from deep blue to blue-green of different intensities, caused by traces of iron in the beryl crystal. Naturally occurring deep blue stones are the most prized because they are rare and expensive. However, yellow beryl stones can be heated to change them to blue aquamarines.

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The aquamarine – also called the “poor man’s diamond” – is a form of the mineral beryl that also includes other gemstones such as the emerald, morganite, and heliodor. Beryl consists of four elements: beryllium, aluminum, silicon, and oxygen. Beryl occurs as free six-sided crystals in rock veins unaffected by shock and weathering that otherwise destroy gem deposits. It is a relatively hard gem, ranking after the diamond, sapphire, ruby, alexandrite, and topaz.

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The best commercial source of aquamarines is Brazil. High quality stones are also found in Colombia, the Ural Mountains of Russia, the island of Malagasy, and India. In the United States, Colorado, Maine, and North Carolina are the best sources.

The name aquamarine was derived by the Romans, “aqua,” meaning water, and “mare,” meaning sea, because it looked like sea water. Aquamarines were believed to have originated from the jewel caskets of sirens, washed ashore from the depths of the sea. They were considered sacred to Neptune, Roman god of the sea. This association with the sea made it the sailors’ gem, promising prosperous and safe voyages, as well as protection against perils and monsters of the sea. Its first documented use was by the Greeks between 480-300 BC. They wore aquamarine amulets engraved with Poseidon (the Greek god of the sea) on a chariot.

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Beginning in the Roman period, the aquamarine was believed to possess medicinal and healing powers, curing ailments of the stomach, liver, jaws, and throat. During the Middle Ages, it was believed to be an effective antidote against poison. Aquamarines were thought to be the source of power for soothsayers, who called it the “magic mirror,” and used it for telling fortunes and answering questions about the future. It is said that Emperor Nero used it as an eyeglass 2,000 years ago. Much later, aquamarines were used as glasses in Germany to correct shortsightedness. In fact, the German name for eyeglasses today is “brille,” derived from the mineral beryl.

Bloodstone The second birthstone for March is the bloodstone. Bloodstone – also known as heliotrope – is a form of the abundant mineral quartz. This particular form of quartz, known as cryptocrystalline quartz, exists as a mass of tiny quartz crystals formed together in large lumps that show no external crystal form, yet each of the component crystals that make up the mass is a genuine crystal. This quartz variety is also called chalcedony. Green chalcedony spotted with flecks of red is known as bloodstone. Bloodstone is found embedded in rocks, or as pebbles in riverbeds. The best sources of this stone are India, Brazil, and Australia.

The bloodstone is a favored material for carving religious subjects, particularly the Crucifixion. One particularly famous carving was done by the Italian Matteo del Nassaro around 1525. In “The Descent from the Cross,” the carving was carefully crafted so that spots of red on the bloodstone represented the wounds of Christ and His drops of blood. According to legend, bloodstone was believed to have formed during the crucifixion of Christ. A Roman soldier-guard thrust his spear into Christ’s side and drops of blood fell on some pieces of dark green jasper lying at the foot of the cross, and the bloodstone was created.

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Babylonians used this stone to make seals and amulets, and it was also a favorite with Roman gladiators. In the Middle Ages, bloodstone was believed to hold healing powers, particularly for stopping nosebleeds. Powdered and mixed with honey and white of egg, it was believed to cure tumors and stop all types of hemorrhage. Ancient alchemists used it to treat blood disorders, including blood poisoning and the flow of blood from a wound. Bloodstone was also believed to draw out the venom of snakes.

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did you know that February birthstone, the Amethyst comes in green also

Its colour is as unique as it is seductive, though in fact this gemstone of all gemstones is said to protect its wearer against seduction. The amethyst is extravagance in violet. For many thousands of years, the most striking representative of the quartz family has been a jewel coveted by princes both ecclesiastical and secular. Moses described it as a symbol of the Spirit of God in the official robes of the High Priest of the Jews, and the Russian Empress Catherine the Great sent thousands of miners into the Urals to look for it. In popular belief, the amethyst offers protection against drunkenness – for the Greek words ‘amethystos’ mean ‘not intoxicated’ in translation. A more apt stone for the month of February, particularly if there is to be plenty going on in the way of carnival celebrations, could thus hardly be wished for.

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A large number of further miraculous powers are attributed to the amethyst in all sorts of cultures. It was said to protect crops against tempests and locusts, bring good fortune in war and in the hunt, drive out evil spirits and inspire the intellect. A little study of the works of Pliny will reveal that this gemstone, if worn round the neck on a cord made from dog’s hair, affords protection against snakebite. Later, Hieronymus even reported that eagles placed an amethyst in their nest in order to protect their young from the selfsame danger. Apart from these powers, gemstone therapists say that the amethyst has a sobering and cleansing effect. Amethyst has also been said to quell excessive stomach acid and, according to Hildegard von Bingen, served to combat insect bites and beautify the skin. But the amethyst not only had a firm niche in medicine; it was also esteemed as a stone of friendship. And since it was thought to put the wearer in a chaste frame of mind and symbolise trust and piety, the amethyst came to occupy a very prominent position in the ornaments of the Catholic clergy over the centuries. It was the stone of bishops and cardinals; we find it in prelates’ crosses and in the so-called Papal Ring (Italian, 15th century) in the Jewellery Museum in Pforzheim.

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However, the most beautiful of all crystal quartzes also posed one or two riddles for the scientists, and indeed they still haven’t been completely solved to this day. The amethyst has its hardness (7), its moderate refraction and its weight in common with the other quartzes, but the crystal structure is different, and it is most unconventional. The construction is stratified, as a result of which areas and lamellae of varying colour intensity often come about. This explains why there are relatively few large cut amethysts of an evenly distributed dark colour, in spite of its having been found so abundantly in all parts of the world. It is only in the last few years that scientists have been fairly certain of having found the real cause of the colour. It is now attributed to certain iron constituents in connection with natural radioactive radiation.

One thing that has been known for a long time, on the other hand, is the fact that the amethyst changes its colour on being heated. Smoky stones are transformed at temperatures of as little as 250 degrees to a shining yellow to brownish-red, whilst clear ones, i.e. those with a high degree of transparency, become yellow or colourless at 400 degrees. Now and then Nature gives us a surprise by having created bicoloured stones, like the ones recently found in Bolivia in the form of causticised crystal nuggets. This variety is known as ametrine, for in its formation certain energy states of iron introduce violet areas to the yellow citrine. At best, flat jewellery with a three-spoked star can be cut from it. However, the highlight for esoterics is that the energy fields can in fact be made visible in polarised light. The Henn Brothers of Idar-Oberstein even supply the photos to go with it.

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Some amethysts pale almost to colourlessness in daylight. The reason for this has not yet been discovered, but it is possible to re-colour them by means of radium radiation. The fact that these stones can lose their colour makes it obvious that amethyst jewellery should not be worn while sunbathing, in a solarium or in a discotheque with black light. Sudden changes of temperature can also be harmful to the stone.

The deposits with the greatest economic significance are in various states in southern Brazil and in neighbouring Uruguay. The third major export country is Madagascar. However, this gemstone is spread all over the world. Good specimens were found in Aztec graves, though the deposits from which they were extracted are no longer known today. On the Canadian side of Lake Superior in North America, there is a place named Amethyst Harbor. The violet quartz is found there in ample quantities, though rarely in gemstone quality. The fame of Idar-Oberstein, the German gemstone centre, is based on domestic amethyst finds. In earlier times, raw material was delivered there from the Zillertal Alps. When these nearby deposits ceased to yield, the old cutters’ tradition was able to be preserved thanks to supplies organised by German emigrés in South America. Russian amethysts, which were mainly mined in winter in the Urals, were once famous for their particularly beautiful colour, which shone magnificently even in artificial light. In Tibet there were amethyst rosaries, for there the gemstone was dedicated to Buddha and was said to promote clarity of mind. In Sri Lanka, stones which have rolled down on their own are found in debris.

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However, the amethyst is more likely to turn up in spaces lining agate almonds and druses in igneous rocks. What was presumed to be the largest-ever cavity was discovered in 1900 in Rio Grande do Sul. The almond measured ten by five by three metres (33 by 16 by 10 ft.) and weighed an estimated eight tonnes. The dark violet amethysts, some as large as a man’s fist, may have weighed some 700 cwt. altogether. There is a piece weighing 200 kilogrammes, taken from this Brazilian treasure, in the Washington Museum. In recent times, a find in the USA has been making headlines. In July 1993, a three-metre druse was found in Maine, which contained well over 1000 kilogrammes of cuttable amethyst, some of it in crystals 19 cm in length.

The South American deposits in particular, which were not discovered until the nineteenth century, brought down the price of the violet gemstone. The amethyst bracelet of Queen Charlotte of England, which was so famous at the beginning of the 18th century, its value being estimated at 2000 pounds sterling at that time, was apparently worth only 100 pounds 200 years later. However, the price has a close relationship with the quality, and the quality varies immensely. Most of the material from Brazil is light-coloured, a tender purple. In Madagascar, it is generally red or violet hues which are found. Uruguay supplies the most beautiful and the deepest colour, but it is mostly blemished. Thus immaculate stones of the finest violet still fetch carat prices of well over a hundred euros. Mounted with diamond braid trimming, as has been the custom for some 100 years, enchanting pieces of jewellery are thus created. No wonder that people find it worth going to the trouble of producing imitations and synthetics.

In ancient times, amethyst was already being engraved and cut into sculptured forms, witness the bust of Trajan which Napoleon captured in Berlin. Amethyst quartz, banded with whitish layers, is particularly good to work with, though it is only ever either translucent or opaque or somewhere in between. In earlier times, people liked to drink wine from amethyst cups, which brings us back to the stone’s protective function against alcoholism. According to the ancient Greek saga, Diana turned a nymph whom Bacchus loved into an amethyst; hence the term Bacchus stone. Anyone wishing to protect a drunkard from delirium mixed some pulverised amethyst into the person’s drink.

Using Green Amethyst Crystals

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green amethyst pendantAs green amethyst is part of the quartz crystal family, it is able to magnify energy. It is especially good for using in meditation along side other crystals. Wearing green amethyst pendants is possibly the most powerful option as it means the crystal is kept very close to the heart. Green amethysts stimulate psychic growth within the wearer and allows connection with those on another plane of existence. For extra clairvoyant abilities, try combining your green amethyst with a turquoise stone.

Using green amethyst can bring prosperity to your life. They are known as the stones of good fortune and luck. This attribute probably stems down from these stones having an effect on the owner and their intuition.

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Green amethysts not only help with balancing chakras but also with balancing emotions. These stones help you strengthen your emotions, your willpower and can also help overcome physical pain throughout your body.

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