Silver Screen to Mainstream: The Original Influencers

This post is in partnership with the Chicago History Museum.

Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have joined me last Friday as my mom, daughter, and I visited the most incredible exhibition at the Chicago History Museum entitled Silver Screen to Mainstream. When I first heard about it, I was intrigued by its tagline – “the original influencers” – and when I saw it in person and learned more about the history of the clothing on display, the tagline really made sense. Today I thought I’d share with you some pieces of the wonderful afternoon we spent at the exhibition. And I hope those of you in the Chicago area (and beyond!) will take the time to go check it out. It’s captivating.

Jessica Roussin, Digital Marketing Coordinator for Chicago History Museum (that’s her above!), gave us a little tour when we first arrived, and explained more behind the pieces in the exhibit. Over thirty garments from the 1930′s and 40′s are on display, by designers such as Chanel, Vionnet, Valentina, Paul du Pont, Howard Greer, and Adrian, and you guys, they are stunning. She also explained more about the history behind it, which was just fascinating to me.

If you’ve been reading here for a while, you likely know that I have a background in fashion (I majored in theatre in college and spent much of my senior year studying costume design, and later ran an eco-friendly womenswear label for close to 15 years), and the history of fashion in America during the 20th century has always had a place in my heart. I didn’t know a great deal about this particular era though, and walking through the exhibit was such a rich lesson in how, as America headed out of the Great Depression, celebrity culture emerged and began to affect mainstream style. Long before blogs and social media existed, Hollywood movie stars were true influencers, and for the first time in history, designers began creating garments for the everyday woman based on what these stars wore in their films and beyond.

While Silver Screen to Mainstream showcases fashions from Paris, New York, Chicago, and Hollywood, it was (understandably) the section featuring dresses that were all worn by Chicago women that most resonated with me. An evening dress made of silk and ostrich feathers, which was a copy of a design made by Jenkins Gowns for a performance by opera singer Helen Jepson, was custom made for the woman who ultimately donated it to the museum (Mrs. Otto Madlener) by Stanley Korshak Chicago, a high end women’s apparel store here in Chicago. The dress is absolutely jaw dropping in person. My daughter couldn’t take her eyes off it. It was so cool to be able to explain to her how old it was (she’s 5, so anything more than 10 years old is ancient in her eyes), the story behind it, and how it was created during a time when our country was truly reinventing itself after a decade of difficult times. (The exhibit also had a “cinema” that explained more about fashion of this era; my daughter watched the video five times.)

In addition to the plethora of glamorous dresses on display, the exhibition also has a section of casual dresses handmade by women who weren’t designers or famous on any level from patterns ordered from catalogs. One of the dresses is even on display inside out, to showcase the detail that was put into sewing it. Even these house dresses are simply gorgeous, and it was so cool to learn more about the time when sewing patterns first became commonplace.

It was also a treat to get to see the shoes, evening bags, and jewelry worn at the time, and the ways in which Hollywood had influence over accessories as well as clothing. I was specifically drawn to the dress clips on display, which were very on trend at the time. They were convertible, and could be worn on necklines, on shoes, or as brooches. My daughter was intrigued by the pocketbooks, which were quite fancy, and made from materials like suede, metal, and even plastic.

I took so much from this exhibition (as did my mom and daughter!), but I was especially intrigued by how, despite serious hardships and adversity as a result of the Great Depression, people in the 1930′s and 40′s used fashion to retain a sense of normalcy – or to at least appear to be together, even if the rest of their lives were not. Going to the movies was an escape from reality that provided a sense of optimism, and women were inspired by the fashion of the stars, so they took a little of the movies with them and made that fashion their own. Some were able to purchase designer replicas of what the actresses wore, and others (most, I’m guessing) purchased inexpensive patterns and created Hollywood inspired garments from them. Whatever the means, in a time of uncertainty, the fashion of the cinema was moving far beyond the silver screen and providing the mainstream with an exciting, new American style.

If you live in the Chicago area, or are planning a trip to Chicago, I highly recommend stopping by the Chicago History Museum and checking out Silver Screen to Mainstream (which runs through January 21, 2020) in person. It tells a fascinating story, and the hard work by Collection Manager Jessica Pushor and Guest Curator Virginia Heaven is evident. Then stay and explore the rest of the museum, which is full of fun for the entire family. Essley was obsessed with the lifestyle Chicago style hotdog. I was obsessed with the gorgeous event room (seen directly above).

For more information on Silver Screen to Mainstream, visit Chicago History Museum’s website.

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Only for tonight…yeah, right

Looks familiar, right? Until next time, Good day, and good dog!


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#BostonStrong

Happy Boston Marathon Day! Can I just say that I love that this dog is named Spencer, (I’m assuming) after the famous fictional private investigator based in Boston. Remember Spencer for Hire on television? He was from a series of books by Robert B. Parker, which I highly recommend for those of you who like […]


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National Parks On My Mind

When I was in my twenties, much of my summers were spent in a 1978 Southwind RV, traveling the U.S.. (Okay, so a lot of that time was also spent on the side of the road attempting to fix the vehicle, but that was, um, part of the adventure or something.) And while there were lots of random stops to visit friends and various attractions, most of the destinations were music festivals (where I vended the eco-friendly clothing line I owned at the time) or National Parks.

It’s been a few years now since I’ve last officially been in a National Park, but I daydream of them often (especially my favorites: Yellowstone, Yosemite, Rocky Mountain, and Redwood). And I can’t wait to take my kids on a tour of them on our own summer adventure once they’re a little older.

A few days ago, I stumbled upon this new collection of eco-conscious clothing from Free People in partnership with the National Park Foundation, and was instantly smitten. And no, this isn’t sponsored; I just loved them all too much not to share. Whether it’s the nostalgic aspect of seeing them or the fact that I’m drawn to the style (or both), they make me want to put on one of the pieces and hop on the next RV I see headed west. This time I think I’ll opt for a slightly newer model though…

What is your favorite National Park you’ve visited?

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Win a Pair of Crystal Cat Earrings!

Shh…don’t tell Barli and Tiki but we’ve been busy planning our booth at next month’s POP Cats event in Austin. The two-day show, where we were vendors last year, is held at…



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DogTipper

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10 Plants to Remove from Your Dog’s Yard

I have to admit that I love sago palms. I love the look of them and the tropical feel they give a yard. But we don’t have a sago palm — and we’ll never have a sago palm —…



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DogTipper

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Dog Party

I wanna go! Until next time, Good day, and good dog!


Doggies.com Dog Blog

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AKC Names New Breed to the Pack

From today’s Facebook feed, courtesy of #AKCFamilyDog. (Check the date) The American Kennel Club is proud to announce the addition of a new breed to the Terrier Group, effective April 1. The Silver-Coated Pouch Terrier is known for his hardy constitution and characteristically “wobbly” but surprisingly efficient movement, capable of tremendous reach and drive. Like […]


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Of coyotes, wolves, dogs, and men

coyotes

Humans and the various canids belonging to gray wolf species complex possess the most complex relationship of any two beings currently living on this earth.  At one point, they are our cherished companions, often closer to us than we ever could be with other people, and on another point, they are the reviled predators that might take a child in the night.

We have clearly defined relationships with other predators. Leopards and cougars, well, we might hunt them for sport or photograph them in the wild. But we never become closely aligned with them, except for those eccentrics who dare to keep such dangerous predators as pets.

People living in the Eurasian Pleistocene brought some wolves into their societies.  Wolves and humans should have been competitors. We should have had the same relationship with each other as spotted hyenas and lions do in Africa now.  But at some point, humans allowed wolves in.

Raymond Pierotti and Brandy Fogg demonstrate that many humans throughout the world have had some kind of relationship with wolves. In some cases, it is or was a hunting symbiosis. In others, they were totemic animals.

In their work, Pierotti and Fogg contend that the relationship between humans and wolves broke down with the rise of Christianity in the West. I don’t think that’s when it broke down. It started to become complex when humans began to herd sheep and goats.

In Kazakhstan, wolves are hunted and revered at the same time. The Kazakh people herd  livestock, so they must always worry about wolf predation. Stephen Bodio documents this complex understanding of wolves in his The Hounds of Heaven.

“They hunt them, kill them, chase them with hounds and even eagles, take puppies and rear them live, identify with them, make war on them, and claim descent from them,” writes Bodio. This description sort of fits modern humanity’s entire relationship with this gray wolf complex. We pretty much have done and continue do almost all of these things.

Wolves, coyotes, and dingoes have killed people. So have domestic dogs. In the French countryside, wolf hunts were considered a necessity to protect human life, largely because has the longest and best documented history of wolves hunting people. The dispossession of rural peasants and the depletion of game in the forests created conditions where wolves would consider humans easy prey.  Lots of European countries have similar stories. And when Europeans came to North America, they knew about the dangerous nature of wolves, even if they had never even seen one themselves.

Humans have declared war on wolves in Eurasia and in North America. The wolf is extirpated from much of its former range in Europe. They live only over a limited range in the lower 48 of the United States.

Man fought the coyote with the same venom and lead he threw at the wolf. The coyote’s flexible biology and social behavior meant that all that effort would come for naught.  The coyotes got slaughtered, but they rebounded. And then some. And the excess coyote pups found new habitat opened up with big ol’ wolves gone, and they have conquered a continent, while we continue our flinging of lead and setting of traps.

In Victorian times, Western man elevated the domestic dog to levels not seen for a domestic animals. They became sentient servants, beloved friends, animals that deserve humanity’s best treatment.

And in the modern era, where fewer and fewer Westerners are having children, the dog has come to replace the child in the household. Billions of dollars are spent on dog accessories and food in the West.  Large sectors of our agriculture are ultimately being used to feed our sacred creatures.

A vast cultural divide has come to the fore as humans realize that wolves and coyotes are the dog’s wild kin. Wolves have become avatars for wilderness and conservation, and coyotes have become the wolves you might see out your front window.

Millions of Americans want to see the wolf and the coyote protected in some way. Dogs of nature, that’s the way they see them.

The rancher and the big game hunter see both as robbers taking away a bit of their livelihood. Humans are lions. The canids are the spotted hyenas. And their only natural state is at enmity.

Mankind’s relationship to these beings is so strangely complex. It greatly mirrors our relationship towards each other. We can be loving and generous with members of our own species. We can also be racist and bigoted and hateful. We can make death camps as easily as we can make functioning welfare states.

And these animals relationships with each other are just as complex. Wolves usually kill dogs and coyotes they find roaming their territories. But sometimes, they don’t. Sometimes, they become friends, even mates.  Hounds can be trained to run down a coyote, but sometimes, the coyote and the dog become lovers in the forest.

Social, opportunistic predators that exist at this level of success are going to be a series of contradictions. Dogs, wolves, and coyotes certainly are. And so are we.

It is what we both do. And always will.

Natural History

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Black Bean and Salsa Verde Quesadilla Wraps

Salsa Verde and Black Bean Quesadilla Wraps

This post is in partnership with CHI-CHI’s®. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible.

When it comes to food, if there is anything I’ve learned in my home, it’s that I cannot go wrong with making quesadillas. I mean tortillas and melty cheese are pretty much the perfect combination and most people I’ve met, regardless of age or culinary preferences, love a good quesadilla.

I have experimented with making all sorts of different quesadillas over the years, from simple cheese varieties to heartier, more unique creations. And today, I want to share with you my current favorite, which is deliciously filled with black beans, cheddar cheese, and flavorful salsa verde, all wrapped into the tastiest and most convenient tortilla wraps: CHI-CHI’S FOLDABLES® Tortillas. My kids absolutely adore the fun shape of the wraps; I love how they keep all of the ingredients inside instead of spilling out all over their clothes and my floor. But it’s the fresh, tangy flavor of the CHI-CHI’S Fiesta Style Chile Tomatillo Verde Salsa that makes these so delightful. These super satisfying quesadillas are perfect for meals or filling snacks. I think you’ll love them as much as we do!

Serves 4

Ingredients
4 CHI-CHI’S FOLDABLES® Tortillas
1/2 tablespoon coconut oil (can also use butter)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed
1/2 cup guacamole or mashed avocado
1/2 cup CHI-CHI’S Fiesta Style Chile Tomatillo Verde Salsa 
salt, chili powder, and garlic powder to taste

In a large skillet or griddle, melt the coconut oil over medium heat. Place CHI-CHI’S FOLDABLES® Tortillas on a flat surface and top each one with equal amounts of cheddar cheese, black beans, CHI-CHI’s Fiesta Style Tomatillo Verde Salsa, and guacamole. Sprinkle on spices, then fold tortilla sides in and tuck closed (so handy!). Cook each quesadilla over low to medium heat and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, turning every minute, until each side is golden. Remove quesadillas from pan and top with CHI-CHI’s Fiesta Style Chile Tomatillo Verde Salsa. Eat!

I have been a fan of the CHI-CHI’s® Brand line of yummy, festive, fun Mexican food favorites (like delicious salsas, tortillas, and chips) for years now, but their CHI-CHI’s® Fiesta Style Salsas have taken my adoration to the next level. They’re available in Smoky Chipotle, Roasted Tomato, and my fave, Chile Tomatillo Verde Salsa (which has become an everyday staple for me), and they make pretty much every dish better thanks to quality ingredients and flavorful seasonings. Try them on eggs, or on veggie burgers, or mixed into soups. Endless possibilities my friends! And their newest innovation, the CHI-CHI’S FOLDABLES® Tortillas are a game changer. Truly. They take ordinary quesadillas up to wrap status, and make the entire process more fun (Bonus points for the fact that they make my children’s eating experiences infinitely less messy). CHI-CHI’s is my go-to for gatherings and celebrations too. If you haven’t tried CHI-CHI’s head directly to your closest mass-market grocers, including Albertson’s, Walmart, SUPERVALU and Price Chopper, to pick some up. You can thank me later!

If you have a favorite quesadilla, I’d love to hear about it. And if you make this recipe, let me know what you think!

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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