Monday, November 24, 2014

Dreaming of some red for Christmas?


Some of the cheerful vintage reds in my shops:


1. Red dotted swiss dress with dramatic ruffle 2. Red cashmere turtleneck by Dalton sorry, just sold 3. Red taffeta party dress with a slip meant to show 4. Red checked cotton tweed swing coat 5. Red taffeta and tulle formal 6. Red and white striped gown by Emma Domb 7. Emma Domb red, gold and gown 8. Candy apple red patent stilettos 9. Red cashmere clutch coat

Need a different size? a different price? a different item? I have picked out a bevy of vintage holiday reds (coats, shoes, hats, jewelry, dresses, skirts...) from other sellers on Etsy in a collection called holiday reds. Let me know if you have a specific vintage wish that you can’t find and I’ll help you find it from me or some other seller. (Sound like Macy’s sending people to Gimbel’s a la Miracle on 34th Street? All in the holiday spirit!)


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Mama’s ring


I’ve mentioned my mother’s blue glass ring before, but it is probably my very favorite and most meaningful vintage item, so out it comes again today.

My mother, as I’ve mentioned before in my blog, grew up in Iowa during The Great Depression. Her father was a banker who worked with farmers to keep their farms from being foreclosed upon. My grandfather also worked with prisoners at a local penitentiary to find skills for them to take back into the real world. He worked with an expert forger to create the Sheaffer Signature Pen.

One man learned to craft jewelry. As a thank you to my grandfather, this man made a ring “to match his daughter’s eyes.” It is sapphire blue glass in a gold setting, very simple and elegant. Mama’s eyes were exactly this color. My eyes are green, but I still love wearing this beautiful ring.




Mama showing off her new ring and me—70 years later—striking a similar pose with the ring

Friday, November 14, 2014

My Harold Balazs bracelet



I’m wearing something meaningful to me each day this month, and today I come to a bracelet I bought at an estate sale about a dozen years ago. I was just starting out with my vintage business and watching every cent coming in and out of the coffers. This bracelet absolutely caught my eye, and I purchased it to sell.

Really enamored with the bracelet, I then saw the signature on the back and could not consider selling it. Harold Balazs is an artist whose work has constantly inspired and uplifted me. His work is all over Washington State, and Spokane especially. At that time I hadn’t realized he made jewelry. My bracelet probably dates from the early 1960s.


Here I am in 1985, across the Spokane River from the Spokane Opera House (now called the INB Performing Arts Center). I had just won the position of Principal Horn in the Spokane Symphony and I felt like I owned the place! The grandly-scaled lantern behind me is by Harold Balazs, and several other sculptures by him are in close proximity.


I consider the abstract totemic images on the bracelet to be my good luck symbols!


Harold Balazs is still creating (see Washington State Magazine’s recent article Finding the artist: An absurd and incredible journey.) He seems unstoppable, or at least I hope he is.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Papa’s tie


The meaningful item I pulled out to wear today is a tie I gave to my father when I was little. My father wore a suit and tie every day and was always sartorially splendid. His suits were custom made by a Savile Row tailor, his shirts were made of Sea Island cotton. His ties were by Dior, Cardin—wonderfully stylish and high quality. So when I gave my father a tie which I had chosen and he loved it and wore it often, that made me so happy! The tie is pink and green, my favorite colors, not my father’s, but he said they reminded him of me.



My father died in 1974, not so long after I gave him this present. I still have the tie and it is really dear to me, like the memory of my father.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Some thoughts on Advanced Style, the movie


Advanced Style, the blog, has been on the radar for some time now, and it grew wings and became a book and now a documentary film. The creator, Ari Seth Cohen, is a young man who was influenced by his grandmother to respect and appreciate stylish and creative older people. He lives and photographs his subjects in New York City, which is of course the ongoing fashion runway of the United States.


The women whom we get to know in the movie are refreshingly different. I feared that there would be just too much in common—perhaps eccentricity?—but I found myself intrigued in different ways with each of these women. I felt more connection with some than others. I felt respect for all of them. 

Yes, these women are all over sixty, but one is just 62 and rides her bike everywhere, another is 94 and states that she can promise she can be there for a television filming from the waist up, but from the waist down, “don’t ask, don’t tell.” One is legally blind (and still applies eyeliner deftly!). I thought that I might see nothing but leopard prints and huge bracelets, but there was everything from handmade and very avant-garde style to simple elegance.

To me—almost old enough to be photographed by Ari Cohen—age is both very unimportant and very important. On the one hand, I look at these women as confident and interesting people, and they clearly would be at any age. Their style + age doesn’t equal better than just their style to me. On the other hand, look what these women bring to their understanding of life, creativity and the world by the sheer amount of time they have observed and evolved, each in her own way.

Age is also very important to me as I try to find a way to make a transition from what most of the world considers beautiful, to what the caring and thoughtful know to be beautiful. I collect images and words on the subject and felt a great boost in my own confidence and sense of self after seeing this movie. I felt encouraged.

My two favorite moments? When a woman from Alaska visits the vintage clothing shop of one of the women and she tells the 80-year old shopkeeper that she felt that Ari’s blog and portrayal of these stylish older people had given her permission to be creative herself. Anyone who needs a little push to begin to express herself at any age should see this movie because it may start her on a path that makes her happy.

I did notice the vulnerable moment when one of the women, in her late 60s, and with a young looking 74-year old boyfriend are talking and he says that when they first went out together he thought she looked like a clown. She walks away and explains to us that she thought for several days what a man might think of her costuming. But it only took a few days to just be herself again, and they have been together since.

I asked a couple of men who attended the movie what they thought of the women. One “was there for the popcorn, but enjoyed the ladies.” The other was delighted, knowing and respecting older women in his own family. He could relate very comfortably to Ari Cohen, who seems to truly love his subjects.

It’s amazing how provocative age can be. We want it (a happy, healthy older age) but we are ambivalent about how the world sees us. These women all seem to be seeking, and finding, their styles with joy; and if not as vigorous as they once were, they at least have tremendous fullness in their lives. Bravi to all these remarkable 60+ year olds, and bravo to Ari for bringing them to us.