Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco

Updated Vintage Cotton Jamaica Dress

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cotton Jamaica Dress

MobShop is working exclusively in vintage this season to find and update great vintage pieces… Check out some of the styles we worked on!

This cotton tube dress was an odd length when we found it, so we hemmed it to a more modern length and it was totally transformed. Sometimes something so simple can totally change the impact of a piece!


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October 28, 2010 at 7:12 pm

Updated Vintage Polyester Blush Dress

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Polyester Blush Dress

Such a pretty dress! We wanted to maintain the feminine integrity of this design when we updated it; hemming from mid-calf to above the knee.

Written by mobshopblog

October 28, 2010 at 7:07 pm

Updated Vintage 1960’s Print Dress

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1960's Print Dress

This Dress had long, nerdy sleeves and fell to just above the ankles originally. But the fabric is so amazing and soft, and the print is classic 1960’s. We tailored the dress to have little cap sleeves and shortened it to a more modern length.

Written by mobshopblog

October 28, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Updated Vintage Power Dress

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Power Dress

Originally this dress was a dress-suit from the 80’s. First we thought we had to get rid of the shoulder pads, then decided to wait and see what it would look like after we shortened the length and cropped the sleeves (which were long and tapered). In the end the shoulder pads look great with the dress!

Written by mobshopblog

October 28, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Al’s Attire

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I’ll never forget the first time I walked into Al’s Attire.  A relatively new resident of San Francisco, I was still in the process of uncovering many of the city’s hidden gems, and  Al’s is definitely one of these gems.  Tucked away on Grant St. near Cafe Trieste and Vesuvio, the shop hums with the unique energy one expects to find in North Beach.

A long time collector of vintage clothes, I was first wowed by the shop’s appearance.  The window display and scattered dress forms featured unique custom-tailored pieces, many recalling updated and re-designed versions of classic wardrobe pieces spanning the late 1800s to present. English hacking coats, pencil skirts, cashmere berets, ’50s style sun dresses, and wingtip boots are but a few of the treasures I came across as I worked my way through the racks.  Looking up, the rafters of the store were packed with stacks of vintage hat boxes and mounds of gorgeous fabric bolts.  Under my feet, the well worn planks of the hardwood floor suggested that Al’s was more of an institution than a shop in North Beach.

And then there is the constant parade of customers: local beat cops needing their work caps stretched, neighbors wanting a piece of clothing altered or shoes re-soled, tourists taking pictures and asking questions, excited brides designing their wedding gowns.  I took it all in and knew I had stumbled upon something special.

Then, there’s Al.  Sincere and personable, this eccentric designer and his loyal staff provide the final dramatic flurry to the vibe of this shop.  Al, a native San Franciscan, opened his first shop in the ’80s.  The Taming of the Shoe, located in SF’s mission district, allowed him to refine his shoe-making skills.  He also at one time owned numerous vintage stores around town and did wardrobing (primarily costumes and shoes) for San Francisco’s theater companies.

Contrary to my assumption that Al’s Attire has been around forever, the North Beach shop has only been open about ten years.  In the beginning it was a more sparsely filled space, housing only a few sewing machines, local sewers, bolts of fabric, and clothing racks.

Al’s concept: Locally-made, beautifully-constructed, hand-tailored clothing.  Al doesn’t really enjoy the term vintage associated with his designs.  And the closer I looked, the better I understood why.  It’s the construction, not the era, that defines his collections.

Personalized hand-stitched labels, hidden stitching details on the underside of each coat collar, custom tailoring of each garment sold; these are unique elements you just don’t see anymore in ready-to-wear, factory produced clothing.  They are also the anal-retentive signatures of a designer obsessed with minute details like the angle and color of a single button hole.  Perhaps that’s why his designs seem vintage-inspired; local in-house design and production is a nearly extinct craft borrowing on the long forgotten practices of cobblers and tailors from a bygone era.

urban birding

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By Lauren Bingham

[from left to right: navy hoodie, bird paintings, bag, black sweater, bird graffiti, wooden birds, wellingtons]

It is always entertaining explaining the concept of ‘birdwatching’ or ‘birding’ to a non-birder.  People unfamiliar with the practice often have one of three responses: utter confusion, delight in the novelty, or suppression of laughter.

Bird watching is a hobby/sport/obsession practiced the world over.  Patrons of the hobby vary in level of dedication, ranging from casual enthusiasts to hardcore extremists.  Hardcore birders are referred to as ‘twitchers’ (particularly in the UK); I like to think of twichers as ‘extreme birders.’  Twitchers keep extensive lists of birds observed over time, and will travel great distances to see a rare bird.  Twitchers can be highly secretive about rare bird sightings, but once the location is leaked to the twitching community a mad rush will often result.  For instance, a group of twitchers 5,000 strong once flocked to Kent, England to see a rare golden-winged warbler; if you don’t believe me, check out this article from Daily Mail.

During early birding expeditions with my ornithologist (= bird professional) friend, I was surprised to learn that expert birders often get all hot and bothered by little brown jobs (LBJ’s).  While I was excitedly spotting big badass hawks and owls, my friend would shout things like, ‘look in the thicket, it’s a golden-crowned kinglet!’  FYI: golden-crowned kinglets are small and mostly brown.  My friend explained that little birds are harder to identify and differentiate (i.e., they all look the same); this means that for true bird enthusiasts, the best stuff comes in little, nondescript, brownish packages.

As California’s statewide migratory waterfowl (a.k.a. DUCK) hunting season opened in October, I realized it was necessary to dust off the old binacs, grab my field guide, and find the nearest marsh or wetland.  My reward: an opportunity to observe the plethora of winter migratory birds cruzing through San Francisco right now.  Though odd bedfellows, birders and hunters both hit the marshes armed with guns and binoculars to celebrate the annual arrival of ducks and geese from northern latitudes.

When I moved to San Francisco two years ago I worried that my birding days were over.  I figured the term urban birdwatching was an oxymoron.  Fortunately, I was wrong.  Many species of birds (even those you would least expect) actually seem to thrive in urban environments. Golden Gate Park is full of nesting red-tailed hawks and red-shouldered hawks, Cooper’s hawks hunt amongst apartment buildings, and ocean/marsh areas ringing the city are a constant source of shorebirds and waterfowl.  Like Manhattan’s Pale Male red-tailed hawk saga, San Francisco has had Peregrine Falcons nesting in the Bay Bridge and other buildings in the city for years.  The PG&E building in downtown SF is the location of a Peregrine nesting box used annually.

Urban birdwatcher that I am, I have a favorite spot in the city to practice my craft.  With views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and Marin, the Crissy Field salt marsh is the Cadillac of urban birdwatching locations.  Armed with my binoculars and field guide on foggy winter mornings, I’ve seen countless migrating waterfowl and native birds in this urban bird sanctuary.  Exciting finds like hooded mergansers, goldeneyes, scaups, great blue herons, long-billed curlews… my list could go on forever.

1) Make the birds come to you by putting feeders in your yard or window!  Check out the bungee bird feeder or the modern Perch feeder, Disc feeder21L bird shelter.  Also, Martha Stewart has several fun DIY birdfeeder projects.

2) Beautiful and accurate bird calls.

3) Zeiss Victory FL binoculars; these are the binoculars of my dreams

4) Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America (a must have for any urban bird watcher)!  How else will you know what in the hell you are looking at?

5) Amazing hand care cream from the Portland General Store, wood scented!

6) For indoor inspiration Chris Elsasser’s lightbox

7) And this pin: From the Urban Bird Watcher’s Society!