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Posts tagged ‘vintage fashion’

The Pros & Cons Of Vintage Fashion Shopping By Location

By , 2 June, 2009, No Comment

I was honored to be a guest blogger at Shop It To Me’s blog back in mid-May, where I discussed not only where you can shop for vintage fashions but the pros & cons of each. The folks at Shop It To Me created a chart version of my small guide — which certainly is a fine cheat-sheet — but I wanted to elaborate on a few things which couldn’t quite fit in the chart (and still be legible). So that you don’t need to flip back & forth, seeing what’s there and what’s here, I’ve including the complete sections on the basic venues for vintage fashion shopping.

Vintage Boutiques

Here you’ll find it all. Everything possible from all decades, including the occasional antique garments & accessories.

Pros:

Staff that knows what vintage is — and isn’t.

Wider selections & careful screening to present all the best items they can because that’s all they do.

Some stores/sellers even make customer lists and will notify you when they get pieces from time periods, styles, designers, etc. that you adore. (Hey, they want your loyalty — and your money!)

Cons:

Because they know how valuable vintage fashions and accessories are, the prices usually are more expensive than the other options.

Smaller shops typically have shorter and more unusual hours — unless you’re shopping online, of course!

Estate Sales, Auctions, etc.

These are feast or famine settings; either they have vintage fashions or they don’t. What’s at these events depends entirely on what the former owner saved.

(I also believe that most who plan such events call in dealers who specialize in vintage clothing prior to the sale. I can’t swear this is true or that it applies to your location; but the slim pickings at most estate sales and antique auctions make me suspect they have a short-list of dealers and/or vintage fashion boutique owners they work with directly prior to the actual event date.)

Pros:

Usually good companies running such events know authentic vintage from “used clothing.”

If you’re lucky enough, especially at auctions and at estate sales with “bidding boxes,” you can get super bargains!

Cons:

No permanent location means continued reading of ads & sale promotions to find vintage apparel & other fashion items listed in the sale.

Usually do not have fitting rooms.

First come-first serve is the rule at estate sales, so you’ll have to be the early bird to catch the worms.

You might have to spend a lot of time at an auction just waiting for the clothing to come up for bidding (use this time to inspect individual garments and boxed lots carefully).

Antique Shops & Antique Malls

As vintage fashions have increased in popularity, so has the appearance of vintage clothing and accessories at antique shops — some antique malls even have “booths” that specialize in vintage fashions, just like a miniature vintage fashion boutique!

Depending upon the location & the seller’s dedication to vintage, the pros and cons vary from those of the vintage fashion boutiques to those of estate sales and auctions.

Thrift Stores

Along with the used household items, used CDs & DVDs etc., there’s a lot of clothing to be had at thrift shops. Depending upon staff and whether or not the shop works with antiques/collectible dealers, the vintage pieces may not even be identified as “vintage” and can be dirt cheap.

Pros:

Not only deals on vintage, but more modern designer pieces and, sometimes, brand new stock dumped by retailers too; plenty of opportunity for a deal of some kind!

Cons:

A smaller amount of authentic vintage pieces.

Vintage & retro fashions are typically mixed in with all the other garments or oddly sorted for a measly “vintage” sales rack. (One of our local thrift shops only puts out true vintage for Halloween!)

Consignment or Resale Stores

These are stores that take in your used clothing, shoes and accessories & sell it for you. If they purchase the items directly from you, the are usually called “resale” shops; if they give you your money when the items sell, it’s “consignment.”

Pros:

The stores that manage to stay alive for years & years are those who have darn-near impeccable standards, so whatever you find will be in great condition.

If you take in your gently used clothing, you’ll get cash &/or credit towards purchases of your own.

Cons:

Vintage isn’t always accepted/sold because some stores have rules about how new garments must be so that they don’t sell anything outdated looking. Call ahead of time to ask what their policies on vintage items are.

Rummage/Yard/Garage Sales

I’ve been oddly lucky at a few of these over the years… Sometimes even at sales where vintage clothing wasn’t mentioned. Like estate sales and auctions, it requires work to read the classified ads to find sales with it listed and be there early.

Jewelry and accessories like scarves are usually dirt cheap though, so it’s worth the effort to get in the habit of cruising yard sales on Saturday mornings.

Pros:

You can (and should!) negotiate for lower prices. (And, usually, the more you buy, the cheaper it gets per piece!)

Cons:

No fitting rooms.

The person handling the sale may know next to nothing (or, worse yet, has inaccurate information) about the items. …Then again, at some sales this is an asset for negotiating a fabulous deal. *wink*

The Cycling & Recycling Of 60’s & 80’s Fashions

By , 1 June, 2009, 1 Comment

Speaking of Let’s Make Love & stuffed sausages

As I mentioned, the film straddles two looks; struggling between remnants of New Look fashions and early 60’s looks. Certainly not yet “mod”… But then again, it rather fails to really capture much of any real style. However, the theatrical “sex pot meets Beatnik” style Monroe wore (the sweater over the black catsuit), does warrant some discussion.

Marilyn Monroe In Let's Make Love

Marilyn Monroe In Let's Make Love

I’m not sure how prevalent such a look really was (outside of performance garb, anyway), but those of us who lived — and dressed — through the 80’s can’t help but see shaker sweaters and stirrup pants when they see Marilyn’s costume for the big My Heart Belongs To Daddy number.

Thankfully, whatever the 80’s stole from the 60’s, they “over-sized” it & managed the proportions better.

1982 Diane Von Furstenberg Ad

1982 Diane Von Furstenberg Ad

The sweaters & tops not only were longer (fully covering the behind, no matter how round or large) but V-necks and bolo necklaces etc. helped lengthen the lines too. Long sweaters and knit tunics were also worn over short skirts to help give the appearance of length over nylons & leggings. Also, over-sized sweaters were typically worn belted (with chain belts, hung low; wide leather belts; scarves twisted into belts; and even the sleeves from other tops tied about the waist made a belt), so as to help define the bust from hips, ending the “apple” look. (While I was younger & thinner then, I was still aware that a size 8 or 10 was miles away from the fashion ideal; I still had moments where I felt more like a “lumpy Marilyn apple” than a supermodel.)

1980s Over-Sized Sweaters & Stirrup Pants

1980s Over-Sized Sweaters & Stirrup Pants

Leggings were worn, but stirrup pants also offered the opportunity, (especially with jackets, shaker sweaters & tops which stopped at mid-hip) to start wide and then narrow down to a tapered ankle — appearing as a geometric style rather than having legs suddenly appear like weak stems. Legwarmers also offered the opportunity to balance out top-heavy silhouettes.

Catsuits were also popular in the 80’s — but unlike the see-thru black nylon Marilyn wore, these were opaque Lycra or Spandex knit blends. Black was still a basic; like a blackboard for the crazy colored drawings or layering of sweaters, belts, big earrings and booties.

Laura Branigan In Black Catsuit For Zodiac Boots

Laura Branigan In Black Catsuit For Zodiac Boots

In fact, layering itself was huge in the 1980’s. And that’s before we even get to the eclectic layering of lingerie ala Madonna.

For Fall 09 RTW, Gucci’s Frida Giannini has an 80’s inspired line, said to be inspired by 80’s fashion icon and model Tina Chow — which is to say, it’s a minimalist 80’s look (as I type that, I’m aware of the oxymoron). Slimmer shoulder pads, more subtle asymmetrical looks, bold stripes — but carried more softly than the big loud stick of decades ago… A general softening of the retro look. (Or, more casual Dynasty meets classic Chanel than the rock or punk 80’s I wore.)

Guccie Returns To The 80's For Fall 09

Guccie Returns To The 80's For Fall 09

Which reminds me quite a bit of what we saw in the transition from the 80s to the 90’s; far more body conscious & monochromatic than powerful geometrics & contrasting colors. Perhaps this is how we too will swing back into the 80’s?

Frida Gianni For Gucci, Fall 09 RTW

Frida Gianni For Gucci, Fall 09 RTW

War & Makeup, 1941

By , 18 May, 2009, No Comment

In Volume 10, Number 5, 1941 issue of Modern Woman Magazine, Max Factor discusses the shortage of makeup, cosmetics and beauty products due to the war:

War & Makeup, 1941

War & Makeup, 1941

For more vintage news, check out the Vintage Roadshow participants!

Things Your Grandmother Knew has FREE vintage slipper & scuff crochet patterns.

Kitsch-Slapped reviews Cinderella Nurse, a novel from the 1960s.

Glamoursplash takes note of Claire’s McCardellisms.

Couture Allure looks at vintage swimsuits from Tina Leser, Givenchy, and Polly Hornburg.

A Slip Of A Girl with vintage tips for laundering vintage girdles.

(Full) Skirting The Issue

By , 15 May, 2009, No Comment

I don’t think there’s a fashionista alive who hasn’t dreamed of a pretty full-skirted 1950’s New Look party dress or ball gown. But even when her pocketbook is willing, she has to pause and think to herself, “But where on earth will I ever wear it…?”

Oh, if only we dressed more. *sigh*

However, there are times when a girl just has to ignore the obvious and dream that dream — that’s called skirting the issue. And when you do the modern equivalent of window shopping by trolling eBay for 1950’s dresses, dreaming those little romantic fashion dreams, you’re “full skirting the issue!” *wink*

This 1950s full-skirted chiffon illusion party dress features flocking and — brace yourself — glitter! Has glitter ever been so glam?!

Vintage Illusion Chiffon Cocktail Dress

Vintage Illusion Chiffon Cocktail Dress

Think you have better chances to dress to the nines for a wedding or a garden party than a cocktail party? How about this stunning dress?

Vintage Garden Party Dress

Vintage Garden Party Dress

Then again, if you’re going to go for the dream why not go full-skirted, full-throttle diva? And I’m not saying this gorgeous hand-painted ball gown with a corset back is worthy of a diva — it actually belonged to Licia Albanese, the American opera singer who made her début in Milan in 1934 in Puccini’s Madame Butterfly.

Vintage Diva Ball Gown

Vintage Diva Ball Gown

Anna May Wong & I Helping You Be Fab-U-Lush

By , 11 May, 2009, No Comment
Anna Mayb Wong, 1939

Anna May Wong, 1939

Anna May Wong is here to help me announce the winners of my Get Fab-U-Lush Eyelashes Contest — and what a load of fab-u-lush lashes she had!

Without further ado, the winners are…

Mrs. Mommy
Chrysa
Betty-Amm
Jackie Lauren
Rachel Robertson

Congrats to you all — and many thanks to all of you who entered!

While I have your attention… Let’s take a look at this week’s Vintage Roadshow — there are many new members this week!

Debutante Clothing shares interiors based on Cecil Beaton’s 1950s fashion sketches.

Glamoursplash provides a roundup of vintage swimwear resources.

Holly Gab brings an aura of intrigue and mystery to this vintage ’70s country club dress.

Kitsch-Slapped defends internet sellers and historians from an attack in Antique Week.

The Bobbypin Blog tells us how makeup effected minorities in early cinema.

The Vintage Traveler introduces her article on vintage golf clothing.

Things Your Grandmother Knew shares vintage tips on how to care for your books.

If You Ever Wondered About The Names oF Vintage Lingerie Pieces…

By , 8 May, 2009, 38 Comments

I think we all know & recognize bras, panties, girdles, nightgowns, robes and slips, but some of the older pieces, which even our mothers likely didn’t have in her drawers or closet are very unfamiliar. So I’ve decided to scan these pages from a vintage lingerie catalog to help us identify other styles.

Before we get to the scans, I’d like to discuss what I know about the booklet.

The catalog is from the Dutchmaid Garment Company of Ephrata, PA, and though it has few pages, it has many lingerie styles shown with photos.
The catalog is not dated; I believe from the hairstyles, printing and the style of the pieces themselves, it dates to the 1930s. However, as use of the “PA” to designate Pennsylvania typically dates a piece to the 60’s, it is very possible that Dutchmaid, being a smaller company with a small line of lingerie and hosiery, simply made small changes to it’s promotional pieces, using them over several decades.

The catalog is small, just 16 pages, including covers, and measures 8 1/2 inches X just over 5 inches. It has a simple glue binding and, as you can see by the uneven “swoop” at the top, rather crudely cut. (I have cropped the scans to an even rectangle in all but the cover image, just for my own personal neatness — but the uneven cut exists on all pages.)

Vintage Dutchmaid Garment Company Catalog

Vintage Dutchmaid Garment Company Catalog

Vintage Dutchmaid Stockings

Vintage Dutchmaid Stockings

Vintage Dutchmaid Lingerie Vests & Tight-Knee Pantie (Pettipant)

Vintage Dutchmaid Lingerie Vests & Tight-Knee Pantie (Pettipant)

Vintage Dutchmaid Vests & Tigh-Knee Pantie

Vintage Dutchmaid Chemise (We'd Likely Call It A "Teddie") & Pantie

Vintage Dutchmaid Panties

Vintage Dutchmaid Panties

Vintage Dutchmaid Slips

Vintage Dutchmaid Slips

Vintage Dutchmaid Nightgowns

Vintage Dutchmaid Nightgowns

Vintage Dutchmaid Pajamas & Robe

Vintage Dutchmaid Pajamas & Robe

Vintage Dutchmaid Lingerie (Slip and Nightgown)

Vintage Dutchmaid Lingerie (Slip and Nightgown)

Vintage Dutchmaid Lingerie

Vintage Dutchmaid Lingerie

Mack Sennett Bathing Beauties

By , 7 May, 2009, No Comment

Inside the pages of A Pictorial History of the Silent Screen, by Daniel Blum (mine is the 1972 printing), pretty photos of a young Gloria Swanson & Phyllis Haver as pin-up bathing beauties — wouldn’t these outfits make great summer outfits?!

Gloria Swanson In Swimsuit

Gloria Swanson In Swimsuit

Phyllis Haver In Swimsuit

Phyllis Haver In Swimsuit

Mack Sennet's Bathing Beauties, Swanson & Haver

Mack Sennet's Bathing Beauties, Swanson & Haver

From the book:

1917 Mack Sennett bathing beauties were pin-up girls for the doughboys of the First World War. Gloria Swanson, Marie Prevost, Phyllis Haver and Mary Thurman were Sennett bathing girls at this time. Roscoe Arbuckle, now more familiarly known as “Fatty” Arbuckle, left Sennett to make his own comedies at Paramount. With Arbuckle in this setup were two clever acrobatic comedians, Buster Keaton and Al St. John. Before the year was out, Sennett was making his Keystone comedies for Paramount. Charlie Murray, Ben Turpin, Louise Fazenda, Chester Conklin, and Teddy and Pepper, a dog and cat, were now the cheif Keystone comics.

Mack Sennett-Keystone Comedies Poster

Mack Sennett-Keystone Comedies Poster

Chester Conklin With Mack Sennet Bathing Beauties

Chester Conklin With Mack Sennet Bathing Beauties

Film Stars, 1917

Film Stars, 1917

Marie Prevost In Swimsuit

Marie Prevost In Swimsuit

PS Don’t forget to enter my The Get Fab-U-Lush Eyelashes Contest!

Did Someone Say Vintage Glamour?

By , 1 May, 2009, No Comment

My To Die For Item Of The Week: an orange silk crepe rhinestone belted bias cut gown from the 1930s. If bright orange silk crepe flowing to the floor doesn’t get you, how about the dramatic V neckline flanked by stunning tell-tale-30s folded lapels & the full dolman sleeves which taper to fitted wrists that rest as V’s over your hands… All that heaven, plus a prong set rhinestone belt?! Incredible!

The Incredible Drama Of 1930s Fashion

The Incredible Drama Of 1930s Fashion

Hot On The Vintage Roadshow Trail

By , 30 April, 2009, No Comment

Glamoursplash gives a brief history of 1950’s swim cap glamour.

Debutante Clothing features a review and images of the private curator led tour of the Valentina exhibit in NYC.

Couture Allure looks at shoes from 1949 and readers share where to find modern reproductions.

A Slip of a Girl dishes about Vanity Fair lingerie’s 90th anniversary.

And many thanks to Kitsch-Slapped for including me in the premier edition of the New Vintage Reviews Carnival!

Basics Tips For Shopping For Vintage Fashions

By , 27 April, 2009, No Comment

There’s been a lot of press given to shopping for vintage fashions in this economy. Like Twolia’s Deanna, guest blogging at Shop It To Me, I’m not sure that all that many fashionista’s are jumping onto the vintage bandwagon… And if they are, I’m not sure they’re all finding their bliss — shopping for vintage fashions is a lot different than heading to the mall. If you’ve been thinking of giving vintage fashion shopping a try — or if you have tried, and were stymied — read Deanna’s article for some guidance regarding the realities, and then check out some of these basic tips.

1960s Polka-Dot Dress

1960s Polka-Dot Dress

When it comes to shopping for vintage fashion and accessories, we’re basically talking “used clothing.” (“Vintage” or “retro” sounds much better, doesn’t it? *giggle*) No matter what you call it, here are a few tips to help you when shopping for vintage fashions.

Most of these tips boil down to basic wardrobe building, judging quality pieces worthy of buying, and creativity.

Wardrobe Building With Vintage Fashions & Accessories

Like any clothing shopping, you shouldn’t waste your money on anything you won’t really wear. So no matter how fabulous that New Look ball gown is, if you don’t ever go to a place where you can wear it, don’t get it. Even if it’s a fraction of what a new gown would cost. You don’t need a ball gown, remember? (Of course, if it’s for your “collection,” well then, all these wardrobe rules simply don’t apply!)

Look for vintage pieces which will work with what you have. As a general rule, I find it easier to purchase the basics & classic pieces, such as black pencil skirts and ivory ruffled blouses (oh and the ivory camisoles that you must wear beneath them!), from modern makers at modern stores. This makes it easier to ensure you have the basics — and then you can go crazy with colorful vintage suits, wild mod minis, cute retro dresses etc. to build your own unique wardrobe.

Groovy Hanging Poodles

Groovy Hanging Poodles

If you’re just looking to add some oomph and individuality to your wardrobe, try to confine your vintage shopping to accessories. Vintage jewelry, scarves, handbags, belts, hats, and shoes can take “off the rack” to “out of this world” easily and really inexpensively. Other women may have the same YSL suit as you, but who else will have the outrageous retro poodle pins? Or vintage chocolate brown suede & carmel leather striped shoes? Nobody but you, darling!

Finding Quality Vintage Fashions

When you find stunning pieces it’s tempting to overlook flaws; but poor fit, spots, tears and needed repairs will likely mean the purchase will just take up closet or drawer space.

When you spot an appealing vintage item, inspect it all over. You’re looking for spots & stains, holes & tears, signs of alterations & repairs, and working closures (buttons, snaps, zippers, hook and eyes, etc.). Vintage pieces & classic designer clothing were generally made with much higher quality than most of today’s off the rack pieces and have solid construction, but because they’ve typically been warn you need to look for signs of wear that may make wearing the garment improbable if not impossible. There are some cases of NOS, “New Old Stock,” and NOSWT, “New Old Stock With Tags,” but even then you want to see if the old inventory had snags or spots.

To avoid problems with fit use the fitting room whenever possible. And always know your measurements & compare them to the garment’s measurements.

Problem areas often overlooked in proper fit are across the shoulders and sleeve length. (I can’t tell you the number of times that I, as a vintage buying newbie, was so in love with a dress that I ignored the tight shoulders and short sleeves — it was fine for a fitting room experience, but in real life, the range of daily body motion was impossible &/or threatened to bust the seams.)

Unless you are an excellent seamstress, or know and can afford an experienced seamstress who specializes in vintage fashions, don’t buy pieces which require anything above button replacement, minimal hem or seam fixes, or other easy sewing fix. (And don’t kid yourself, vintage zipper replacement is not an easy fix for most of us.)

1940s Suede Shoes

1940s Suede Shoes

There are tips on the specific issues of repairs and quality issues with vintage jewelry pieces and vintage shoes (also pretty good advice for purses too) to help you with evaluating those purchases.

When in doubt, consult with store staff (online and in physical stores) and if they can’t provide the information you seek, discount the item to have the price reflect the cost of repair, or otherwise provide a satisfactory solution, I suggest that you walk away — or risk buyer’s remorse.

Dealing With Boo-Boo Buys Creatively

OK, so what happens when you come home with that grand vintage fashion and discover that there’s a boo-boo or two that you missed?

Dealing with small spots holes: Some garments can easily be dyed a darker or deeper shade, hiding the spots. If you’ve got just one spot or small tear to deal with, a quick fix is to apply vintage jewelry to hide it. (Vintage jewelry is quite often substantial enough to hide it completely — an authentically.)

If the spot is on a skirt or someplace you wouldn’t put a pin, or you have multiple places to hide, consider cute appliqués and creative patches. (Even if there’s just one spot, multiple appliqués scattered about help disguise the repair!)

If the piece is a great find but is beyond your skills, consider having it repaired by a seamstress experienced in vintage. Many good seamstresses will give you an accurate appraisal of cost which will help you decide if it’s worth the investment.

Upcycled Slip With Appliques

Upcycled Slip With Appliques

Should you discover that the vintage piece is so riddled with problems that repairs will render it more new than old, don’t be blue! Consider having the skirting of the dress salvaged from the stained top of the dress, or vice versa. Maybe having the sleeves shortened to three-quarter length will save the coat — and send you shopping for opera length gloves. *wink* Removing the sleeves entirely may be the creative solution to badly worn or stained armpits & sleeves. Maybe just the fabric can be recycled (sometimes referred to as “upcycled”) into another garment altogether. It may not be cheap to do, and it might even be outside your abilities — but someone out there probably sees value in your vintage item, so don’t throw it out without consulting someone else about salvaging options. (You might just find that you can trade your “useless” vintage dress for a recycled or upcycled vintage piece!)

PS Don’t forget to enter my The Get Fab-U-Lush Eyelashes Contest!