Sunday, July 20, 2014

American Beauty: our summer look book at Portland Rose Garden

 I'd been holding onto a few fabulous vintage rose print dresses for a while waiting for the perfect opportunity to show them off. Then it dawned on me- I live in the city of roses! Portland is home to the  world renowned international test garden for roses for goodness sake! Why not feature these vintage rose print dresses in their natural habitat? So I called my favorite Xtabay model Jade and the rest is history.

Thanks to Cory Burnsed and Jade Sheldon-Burnsed of the blog Endlessly Enraptured for modeling, photographing and styling the shoot. Shot on location at the Washington Park International Test Garden in Portland, OR. You two are brilliant and create beautiful art everywhere you go!

All clothing, shoes and accessories were provided by Xtabay. Thanks for looking.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Xtabay Stars in a Murder Mystery

The Xtabay Stars in a Murder Mystery

Really? The Xtabay as a setting for a murder mystery??

That’s right. The Lanvin Murders, named by Amazon as a “Top 10 Hot New Release,” is set in a fictional vintage clothing store, Tallulah’s Closet. The savvy reader will note right away that it’s a thinly veiled Xtabay. I know, because I wrote the novel.

Here’s the premise:

There’s no dressing up murder.
All Portland, Oregon, vintage clothing store owner Joanna Hayworth wants to do is turn her back on the modern world and retreat into a carefully curated life of satin cocktail gowns, icy martinis, and old movies. 
But when Joanna finds a key in a 1930s Lanvin coat cast off by an ex-showgirl, everything changes. The elderly woman turns up dead, and Joanna is pulled into a long-ago drama of backroom deals, blackmail, and lost love. She must find a very real—and present day—killer before she becomes his next victim.

The Lanvin Murders is a mash-up of Portlandia and Agatha Christie, with Auntie Mame’s wardrobe tossed in. The novel has all the best parts of the Xtabay, including gorgeous dresses, stylish customers, and a firm love of retro glamour. Then it adds a dead stripper, drag queen, Native American land grab, and police detective with a predilection for cowboy boots. The novel leads the reader through Portland landmarks—some of which have now closed—including the Velveteria, Poor Richard’s Almanack Room, the Reel M’Inn, Dot’s CafĂ©, and Mary’s Club.

As a freelance writer, I’ve worked a patchwork of jobs, including a very enjoyable stint at the Xtabay (I can still put together an outfit that will make you look like you stepped from the screen of a George Cukor film). Add in my ten years as a congressional investigator, and writing murder mysteries was a natural.

The Lanvin Murders is the first in a series of Vintage Clothing Mysteries, all including a helping of my beloved Xtabay. Next up is Dior or Die, to be released this fall. I hope you’ll pick up a copy to take on vacation or enjoy in the bathtub.

The Lanvin Murders by Angela M. Sanders (Widow’s Kiss Books) is $12.95 for a trade paperback and is for sale at the Xtabay, soon at Powell’s, or for order at any bookstore. An e-book is $3.99 on Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble.

Also, don’t miss my monthly newsletter filled with the sorts of things the novel's heroine likes. Past newsletters have included old cocktail recipes, dating advice from Zsa Zsa Gabor, profiles of women pulp detective novelists, a drag queen’s makeup tips, and more. You can sign up for it here.

Thank you, and let me know what you think! You can reach me at

Sunday, July 6, 2014

What to wear...

I think this little ensemble would be perfect for an afternoon wedding ceremony or a Sunday brunch: 1950's two-piece polished cotton skirt and top set with 1940s yellow pumps and 1930's straw hat. Set is available in our Etsy shop. 

Lovely turquoise blue chiffon dress by Aignon would make a darling bridesmaid dress or wedding guest dress. I love it paired with bright orange satin pumps!

It doesn't get much classier than this. I think Jackie Kennedy would approve of this chocolate brown and pale aqua silk dress and matching jacket. Our 1960's peu de soie pumps from Saks 5th Ave. and an amazing aqua mesh clutch by Whiting and Davis are the perfect accessories. Dress available in our Etsy shop too. I personally think this would make the perfect Mother of the Bride ensemble. 

This elegant 1960's silk LBD with matching top could have walked straight out of Audrey Hepburns' closet. The hat with white rose lends a little drama- I'm thinking Chanel cosmetic counter interview (minus the hat) or Mafia funeral (with the hat)….
This little 1950's western Patio dress with silver ric-rac would be perfect for a hoe-down or a summer barbecue. Do people go to hoe-downs anymore? What exactly is one? Anyway, this dress is cute for just about anything. I like it with our 1950's Henry Waters Springolaters. Dress available in Etsy shop.

This spectacular 1950's dress would be perfect for a formal wedding or an auction or benefit….Anywhere you need to be the best dressed woman in the room. Wear the entire outfit and I'm willing to place money on it. Dress available in our Etsy shop.

So this little outfit is so cute that the dress has already sold. All that remains is the most charming 50's mohair cardigan I have ever seen, the most perfect yellow 40's shoes of all time and this darling little floral print bag. 

Now this little ensemble is for turning up the heat. Whether it be an occasion that involves an unrequited love or a situation that calls for revenge this little electric red 60's Sydney North dress paired with our favorite new Butter color Ladybird is sure to do the job. The dress is available in our Etsy shop and should come with a warning: Hearts will be broken. 

Wear this to the ballet or opera- I would say symphony but the last few times I went to the Oregon Symphony everyone was wearing shorts and fleece vests. What happened? People thankfully do still dress up for the opera and the ballet I think…. This early 1960's dress by Jeanette Alexander would be perfect- the black pillbox hat with the dotted veil is extra fun but may have to be removed once you're in the auditorium. The Springolater's can slip off while you watch the show because while they may look fabulous I can't guarantee they're as comfortable as your Birkenstocks.

I hope these little ensembles provide some fashion inspiration. We have so many beautiful dresses and accessories in stock right now. We would love to help you put something together whatever the occasion may be!