1920s Style for 2018

In the midst of summer, I always start daydreaming about my fall wardrobe. I feel more comfortable in layers. 1920s style is creeping into my brain. Not the Halloween Gatsby version, but a more authentic version. I’ve read a little about why women’s fashions changed so drastically.

According to Gale Virtual Reference Library:
The changes in women’s clothes came from new attitudes about life and work. During this decade women won the right to vote and many earned their own money. Women needed stylish clothes that they could wear to work or out during the day. For everyday wear women wore a tailored suit. For more festive occasions women wore clothes that were more comfortable and luxurious than before the war. The tight corsets that squeezed women into unnatural shapes were replaced with loose-fitting outfits and, eventually, by figure-skimming gowns with revealing necklines and open backs.

Below is some of the inspiration I pinned to my 20s Pinterest board. Follow the link to my board for more inspiration and links to sources.

Maybe it’s a reaction to the modest dressing movement but I appreciate how the curves of the body are not accentuated.

What follows is how I want the 1920s style to influence my fall/winter wardrobe. Let’s start at the top.

I just recently got bangs. It was my way of dipping my toe in the water on my way to getting a Louise Brooks haircut.

The Louise Brooks pageboy haircut can easily translate into a simple modern look.

Next up — the cloche. I like the idea of a cloche hat but in reality, everything feels too costumey. I do love the vintage French straw cloche hats below. I like how they would keep the sun out of your eyes and also allow you some privacy. If you find a modern MINIMAL winter cloche hat, please let me know.

In terms of tops, I’ll search for hip length sweaters and boyfriend cardigans over plain white shirts buttoned all the way up. Can you see it? Can you see the minimalist modern version in your mind?

I have one pleated skirt that I got at the swap years ago. I love it but it is summer weight. You can literally see through it. I’d love to find some comfortable knit pleated skirts. Not surprisingly, I’ve posted about sweater skirts in the past. Click here to see the full post.

When thrifting online or in person I’ll keep my eyes out for knee length or tea length pleated knit skirts like this one in the Bemydear boutique on Etsy.


I’ll continue to wear ribbed tights and brogues. I like the look of these cotton Falke tights. I’d also love to invest in a pair of brogues with a little heel like these ones on the Colenimo Instagram feed.

Colenimo is a small British boutique brand that I stumbled upon while researching. I love their modern take on vintage style.

Lastly, the cocoon coat. The cocoon coat is like the cloche. It can get costumey real fast. What I want is just that feeling of being enveloped in comfort and warmth with big lapels that I can pop up as a nod to 1920s.

All of the coats below are waaay out of my price range but they each have elements that I will be looking for — oversized, nipped in at the knee, and big lapels that I could pop up for style and warmth.

I already own a JCrew collarless cocoon coat that I bought secondhand. I’m thinking maybe I can add a vintage sheepskin collar to it. Is that too weird?

What do you think? Am I going too far? What are you looking forward to wearing for fall/winter? Let me know in the comments. xo jam

I’ve just realized that New Year’s Eve for 2020 is around the corner and everyone is going to have a 1920s theme. 🙂

Project Upcycle 2018 Recap


Project Upcycle exceeded all my expectations. It was hands down the most challenging and rewarding experience of my professional life. What follows is a recap – also known as the longest blog post I have ever written.

Before I start, I need to express my gratitude for the partnership that made this event possible. As it turns out, Goodwill of Northern New England, 3S Artspace, and Recovergirl are a dream team. Our skills and resources complimented each other perfectly and helped us to turn this unique event into a huge success.

After months of meetings, spreadsheets, emails and phone calls, we were finally ready to welcome the cast of characters that made up Project Upcycle 2018.

Photo by Dan Freund

The long weekend began with the designers and models arriving on Thursday evening. The designers set up their workstations and were immediately introduced to their models.

Project Upcycle (1)
Project Upcycle 2018 Designers (left to right) Jackiellen Bonney, Chloe Larochelle, Tamsin Whitehead, Jared DeSimio, Adara Bankhead, Maya Critchfield, Justin Desper and Kirsten Elfe. Photo by Dan Freund

The community role models were selected and coordinated by Beth Falconer, Executive Director of 3S Artspace. The models included:

Nancy Pearson – Portsmouth City Councilor / Art-Speak
Steven Achilles – Fire Chief of Portsmouth Fire Department
Penny Brewster – Benevolent Dictator of CERES Bakery
Tabitha McElroy – Fund-Friend-Fan-raiser for Human Rights Organizations
Julia McCarthy – Portsmouth High School Student
Shema Rubdi – Box Office Attendant at 3S Artspace / Filmmaker
Elias Matso – Traip Academy Student
Olivia Pelehach – UNH Student

It was heartwarming to see people from different parts of our community come together for this event.

The designers were allowed a half hour to meet with their models, take measurements, and discuss fit and style.

Designer Model Consultation – Jared Desimio and Penelope Brewster. Photo by Sara O’Reilly.

After the designer/model consultation was over, we said goodnight to the models and let the designers get their first look at the material they would be working with over the coming days.

Goodwill Pick – Chloe Larochelle, Justin Desper, Maya Critchfield, Jackiellen Bonney

We asked the designers to dump the bags full of Goodwill clothing onto a large table. Each designer was then allowed 30 seconds to pull three items from the large pile.

We wanted the designers to have something tangible that would help them get a jump start on the design process even if it was only in their head.

The designers were given unfettered access to rest of the pile of clothes on Friday and Saturday.

As if the challenge of upcycling secondhand clothing into a gala-worthy outfit wasn’t hard enough — we added an additional curveball. Each designer needed to incorporate used sail parts into their design. The sail parts (provided by Hoist Away Bags) included colorful fabric strips, white rope of different weights, and hard plastic strips (not shown).

Used Sail parts provided by Hoist Away Bags

We included these elements to reflect our Seacoast community but also to provide the judges with an element that they could more easily compare across all the designs.

Thursday night ended ahead of schedule. The designers were allowed to go home and get a good night’s sleep.

FRIDAY, MARCH 23, 2018
On Friday morning I picked up the designers at The Lilac House (lodging provided by Working Stiff Properties! 🙂 and drove them to 3S Artspace. The designers were allowed 12 hours (from 9am-9pm) to work on their designs.

Project Upcycle Designers at The Lilac House

Now seems like a good time to introduce My Friend Dan. Dan Freund created an INCREDIBLE video that previewed at the beginning of the live event on Saturday night. The video provides an awesome recap of what happened from Thursday to Saturday. Click on the image below to be taken to the video.

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From my perspective, Friday was relatively quiet. The pressure was on the designers. We wanted them to have long stretches of uninterrupted time to work on their designs. They had midday fittings with their models, they were interviewed by a crew from NH Chronicle (more on that later) and got a quick visit from Bunny Wonderland, the emcee for the live event.

Justin Desper working on his first design.

I am jumping ahead here but I need to say for the record that I will never be able to thank Bunny enough for what she brought to Project Upcycle. The tone she set during the event was more than I could ever have hoped for. The designers faced an enormous challenge. With style and wit, Bunny created an atmosphere of love and support. It was an honor to witness her talent and leadership.

Bunny Wonderland

I purposely avoided looking at the designer’s creations on Friday. I didn’t want to stress them out. For that reason, I don’t have any close-up photos of their design process. Below are photos that Maya Critchfield posted on her Instagram account.

Details of Maya Critchfield Design

After a 12+ hour day of work, the designers called it a night.


Saturday felt like a whirl. One minute it was 10am. Next, it was 1pm.  At 1pm the models arrived for their final fitting before being sent to get their hair done at Jessica Todd. Salon. The makeup artistry was provided by Empire Beauty School. The designers used that time to make last-minute adjustments.

Once the models returned and the judges arrived we were all walked through a stage rehearsal by the incomparable Rebecca Henning Taylor. The 3S Artspace staff did all the heavy lifting on this event. It would not have been the success that it was without all their hard work.

The evening started at 6:00 pm with a cocktail hour and heavy hors d’oeuvres provided by Tuscan Kitchen.

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Models remained backstage but designers were able to connect with their family and friends in the audience before the runway show started.

Project Upcycle Models – Julia McCarthy (in Kirsten Elfe Design) + Elias Matso

The runway show started at 7pm. It’s impossible to capture the feeling in that room. It was a love fest. It started with the screening of the Dan Freund video and then Bunny took the helm. Each pairing of designer/model was invited up one at a time, in alphabetical order to showcase the designs.

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Bunny Wonderland, Adara Bankhead, and Shema Rubdi

The designers did an amazing job explaining their design process. The models did an excellent job presenting the outfits. The judges asked great questions, and Bunny helped the whole process run smoothly. It was such a great live show and so fun to watch.

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Elias Matso on Runway
Elias Matso modeling Jackiellen Bonney’s design.

After all the designers and models presented their designs Bunny announced there would be a 15-minute intermission for the judges to deliberate and the audience to cast their votes. The audience vote was equal to one judge vote.

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Photo by Dan Freund

The judges were directed to take three elements into consideration during their deliberation; (1) Creative Reuse of Material, (2) Execution, and (3) Styling. They were also told to take into consideration how the sail parts were incorporated into the final design.

Project Upcycle 2018 Judges – Pete Lankford, Ben Chmura, Jenn Varekamp, and Molly Shaheen.

One of my favorite parts of this whole event was something we didn’t even plan in advance. The judges felt that all the designers deserved final feedback on their designs. When the deliberation was over and the judges were seated back on stage Ben Chmura, former Project Runway contestant, took it upon himself to deliver critiques to each designer in front of the live audience. He delivered the critiques with so much respect and grace. I am so grateful to him for stepping up in that way.

Finally, the time came to announce the winners of Project Upcycle 2018.

CONGRATULATIONS TAMSIN WHITEHEAD FOR WINNING THIRD PRIZE! Your gender-bending ensemble looked regal on our Portsmouth Fire Chief. Well done!

Steve Achilles modeling Tamsin Whitehead’s Project Upcycle Design. Photo by Sara O’Reilly

CONGRATULATIONS CHLOE LAROCHELLE FOR WINNING SECOND PRIZE! Your instincts told you to scrap your first design and start over. This ethereal design is the result of your hard work and determination. Bravo!

Nancy Pearson modeling Chloe Larochelle’s Project Upcycle Design. Photo by Sara O’Reilly

You chose the most difficult sail part to work with (hard plastic) and used it to create a unique architectural showstopper of a dress. Congrats to you!!!

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Tabitha McElroy + Project Upcycle Winner Justin Desper. Photo by Sara O’Reilly

Congratulations and THANK YOU to all the designers for their courage, strength, and talent. You really set the bar high for future competitions! xo jam

Beth Falconer and the 3S Artspace staff (Martin Holbrook, Nick Rocci, + Sara O’Reilly).
Kimberly Curry and Goodwill Industries of Northern New England.

Saltwater Creative • Hoist Away Bags • Malloy Events  • Tuscan Kitchen  • Working Stiff Properties • Humble Bee Flowers • Jessica Todd Salon • Empire Beauty School • Michael Winters Photography • Rebecca Taylor Henning • My Friend Dan
Beach Pea Baking CompanyFlatbread Pizza • Dental Lace • Backyard Garlic Flowfold • Gutsey Bars • Gus and Ruby Letterpress • PortsmouthNH.com

I saved my most grateful thanks for last. Thank you to my lovely, hardworking, and crazy generous best friend/big sister Diane Coon. She has encouraged and supported me from the very beginning and became the first sponsor to support the event. heart

Sofa Dining

I’m daydreaming about redecorating my dining room. It is so much less expensive than actually decorating.

I’ve long been a fan of built-in banquettes. They look inviting and allow for an extra guest to squeeze in.

Apartment Therapy
Apartment Therapy


built in dining bench
Petra Gustafsson

This one below is probably my favorite of the bunch. Perfection.

S & Company

The problem is tho that banquettes are such a commitment. You can’t just move the furniture around if you change your mind. That and the cost of hiring a builder have always kept me from actually ever implementing this decorating concept in my own living space.

Which is why I’m delighted to stumble upon the trend called sofa dining. Why have I only just heard of this? This one below is nice. Maybe just a little too austere.

sofa dining len alberti

This one looks comfier. Maybe a little too “country” looking for me.

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My Notting Hill

If you Google “sofa dining” or search on Pinterest you’ll see examples like the ones above. Much of what I found was too fancy and overstuffed for me. Perhaps the solution is a DIY dining sofa. This Maple Sofa by Farrah Sit & Rebecca Atwood is great inspiration. You’d just need to raise the seat to be table height.

diy dining table couch

But now I need to hire a builder again. 🙂