Preparing for a Fashion Photo Shoot

Photo by Susie Biehler
Photo by Susie Biehler

I was going to write about the photo shoot for my dress but then I started getting into all the details of what happened before the shoot began. So I’ll write about the shoot another day and just focus on my experience preparing for a fashion photo shoot. OK — I admit that sounds rather fancy — it was just me, my dress, and a photographer shooting outside on a sunny day in San Francisco, not an elaborate setup (no stylist, photographer’s assistant, or hair and makeup person!).

The photo shoot was on a Saturday morning and the night before I was still sewing! Yep, I was adding those last nitty gritty dress details — such as the bra strap holders at the shoulders and hand sewing the Bemberg lining at the waist — and I still had to make the crinoline! Yep, I was up until 3 am  — so much for getting my so-called beauty rest beforehand! That was not what I had planned but things just took longer because, 1. A week before the contest deadline I changed my mind on which dress I was going to make and 2. I could only work on it after I got home from work.

I knew I wouldn’t be very alert the next day so I packed up nearly everything I would take with me the night before: Two pairs of black shoes (one low heeled and one high heeled), my new black-and-white umbrella that I bought for the shoot, and a needle and thread and scissors just in case. Then I set aside the veiled black straw vintage hat and hat pin I would wear and I laid out a cardigan sweater, jeans, and nude tights I would wear on the way to San Francisco. (I got that great hat last year at All Things Vintage in Oakland.)

I live in Berkeley and I had at least a 30-minute drive ahead of me so I planned on changing into the dress when I got there. The dress and crinoline were on a hanger and I put a dry cleaning bag around them so they would be protected and ready to go.

photo by Susie Biehler
photo by Susie Biehler

Then the following morning I needed to put on some makeup, do my hair and put on my hat. I don’t usually wear a lot of makeup so earlier that week, I went to Macy’s in Union Square on my lunch break and asked the makeup person at the Bobbi Brown counter to give me a lesson in eye makeup. I already had some Bobbi Brown eye shadow and I needed to get more eye liner. I got some good tips — start by putting the eye shadow near the lashline and work your way up — and felt a little more comfortable about doing my makeup.

I put on some foundation, which I usually don’t wear but I bought some at a drug store a year or so ago when I had my husband take some photos of me wearing some of my hats. I think you’re supposed to throw out makeup that’s more than a year old but hey, I’d hardly used any of it. So I did put on concealer, foundation, bronzer, eye shadow, eye liner, lip liner, and bright red lipstick. I couldn’t quite disguise the dark circles under my eyes but I couldn’t get to sleep any earlier.

For my hair, I made a small ponytail on top that I could stick my hat pin into and I gathered the rest of my hair into a bigger ponytail. I clipped a black fabric rose to the elastic. Then I put my veiled vintage black straw hat on and stuck my hat pin through the back. (Yes, hat pins do have a purpose!)

Then I put my lipstick, concealer, and Q-tips in my purse and I was ready to leave. My next post will be about the actual photo shoot. To see the photos I posted to BurdaStyle, check out my project page.

All Things Vintage in Oakland

This is my favorite place to browse and find vintage hats in person. It’s truly a hat lover’s delight with a wide variety of styles in excellent condition – everything from wool hats trimmed with feathers and sequins to bonnets with velvet ribbons and netting. But hats are just one of many things All Things Vintage in Oakland, Calif. carries. You’ll also find plenty of clothes, shoes, and accessories, including a range of vintage jewelry.

The only catch is that the store is only open two weekends a month, 10 am to 4 pm. The two lovely ladies, Claudia and Lucy, who opened the store in 2009, have full-time jobs so it’s essentially a labor of love. They call it their “hobby.” In fact, Lucy told me in an email, “We both have so much fun meeting our customers and finding our merchandise that the store is not work for us.”

Claudia and Lucy of All Things Vintage

Claudia and Lucy love to go to estate and garage sales, flea markets, auctions, Goodwill, and other places to hunt for their wares. They also bring back finds from their travels. Claudia goes to Germany twice and year and Lucy often visits family on the East Coast. A good portion of their merchandise is consignment. “Often our vintage-loving customers will bring in their items when they are cleaning their closet,” says Lucy. “We also are approached by people who find us in the web or Yelp.”

I heard about All Things Vintage  last year from the wife of a colleague at work who knew that I wear hats a lot. She had been to the store in the spring and noticed that it had many hats on display. So she gave him a printout of an upcoming sales notice to give to me. And I’m so glad she did – except that each time I go, I can’t resist buying another hat. I was there two weeks ago for a great sale and got two vintage hats at 50 percent off, including tax (a whopping 8.75 % in Oakland), for less than $30. I took these photos during that visit.

The store is having another sale this weekend – so if you’re in the Bay Area, be sure to pay them a visit at 3506 Woodruff Ave. Here’s a list of the weekends they’re open: All Things Vintage Calendar. And bring your checkbook or plenty of cash because they don’t take credit cards.

One of many eye-catching displays
The vintage hats I bought

Vintage jewelry galore!
Hats, clothes and purses on display



Shopping for Hats

Vintage white straw and black velvet pillbox hatI’ve often asked where I get my hats. Well, some of my hats I’ve had for more than 15 (or even more than 20!) years. But I do buy several new hats every year. So here’s a list of some places where I’ve gone shopping for some of my more recent hats, vintage and contemporary – along with photos of what I bought there.

I got this mannequin head (I call her Natasha) so I could take pictures of my hats – I didn’t want to be the model for every hat. Frankly, I don’t have much patience to pose in front of the camera for more than 10 minutes (kudos to those who can!).

All Things Vintage – This little shop in Oakland, California (3506 Woodruff St.) sells clothes, accessories, and an amazing array of vintage hats in mint condition. On my first visit there this summer, I tried on numerous hats before I finally narrowed down my selection to a black straw hat with a veil (the one I’m wearing on my About page) and a small velvet hat with a gold pin. Both of the hats were in perfect condition and each one was less than $30 – an excellent price for a vintage hat. On my second visit a couple of months later I couldn’t resist getting this white straw hat with a black velvet accent (above right). I’ve worn both of them a couple of times. I’ll be going back to check out their wool hats soon.

Molded woven hat with brown ribbon
Hats of the Fillmore

Hats of the Fillmore – This San Francisco shop (1539 Fillmore St.) sells a range of reasonably priced contemporary hats for men and women. When I popped into this store last year, I couldn’t resist getting this cute straw hat with grosgrain ribbon (left).

Vintage wool beret from the Vintage Hat Shop
The Vintage Hat Shop

The Vintage Hat Shop – I discovered this Etsy store when I started following it on Twitter (@yesterdayshat) and saw the owner Cindy’s tweets describing the vintage hats she had for sale. I had never purchased a hat online before but I decided to take a chance and get this grey felt beret with a big button on it (see photo below). It was only $18 and I didn’t have to wait very long for it to arrive – just a couple of days.  The hat was carefully wrapped in tissue paper tied with a bow and came with a nice handwritten note. The beret was in excellent condition (yay!). I’m sure it’ll be hard to resist buying more hats from this place.

Urban Outfiters – Yep, this national chain often carries some hip hats – though some of them can be rather cheaply constructed. So you may have to sift through a bunch to find the best one. I’ve had good luck with the wool felt hats though. My most recent purchase was this so-called “5-way” (or was it 6-way?) black wool hat – you can flip the brim all the way up or down or just turn up one side – just the front or the back. I bought a few different ribbons from Britex Fabrics to wear with this chapeau.

Vintage wool shaped hat - reminds me of a Shar-pei dog.

Goodwill in San Francisco– Earlier this year when I was in the Haight, killing some time by window shopping before Amy Chua‘s reading at Booksmith and I spotted this unusual wool hat in the window. It reminded me of a Shar-pei – you know, the dog with all the wrinkles? I haven’t worn it yet but I think it’ll look pretty snazzy with a black jacket and some pants that match the hat’s taupe color.

Shopping for hats in the San Francisco Bay Area -