Monday, October 17, 2016

The contents of a vintage pocket and the dating of vintage

I have a box of interesting items found in vintage pockets and purses. I’ve never found the elusive hundred dollar bill or diamond ring, but there have been lots of tickets, invitations, candies, notes and handkerchiefs...even a citation for prostitution! 

Last week, I found these in the pocket of a beautiful 1970s Pendleton coat—

The date on that lower right coupon? 1979. (Just for fun, I tried to use the coupon at my local Fred Meyer yesterday, and raised a minor ruckus!)


Just a few weeks before I came upon this groovy bag—

If you look very carefully, you can see dated signatures on it. I’m picturing the end of a high school year and friends signing each other’s yearbooks—only in this case, it was her bag.

This dress (in my Etsy shop), came with a note attached—

As did this hat—

This linen clutch bag is a veritable time capsule, with its contents dating from 1940 and 41. 

I wish all vintage pieces had a date somewhere on or with them!

Two vintage labels I have found to have dates at least during some years of their history are B.H. Wragge—


and Marimekko— 

Union labels help with dating. Check out the Vintage Fashion Guild’s ILGWU page for photos of the labels used and their dates. I recently ran across the Cornell University ILR School webpage with even more detail on union labels and dating.

Maybe we should all attach a dated note to our favorite clothing—that, or leave a grocery store coupon in a pocket!  

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The blog posts I'm most glad I wrote

...I’m not speaking of the most read, or the most commented on. These are the blogs that mean a lot to me personally.

Friends in the 80s

I wrote a series of posts on 1980s fashion and its influences on modern fashion. Just as I was wrapping that up, a dear friend and fellow vintage seller passed away. I gathered images from friends and colleagues, including many at the Vintage Fashion Guild, to create this small tribute. (This is in Flash, which doesn’t run for everyone/everywhere—I hope it does for you.)

How vintage clothing is priced

In the past year or two, I have been posting day-to-day things in places like Facebook and Instagram, rather than my blog, while digging deeper into subjects here on the blog. The result has been fewer blogs, but possibly more useful or meaningful writing. I made a list of really hard-to-tackle subjects that I might be able to address, and this one seemed to hit home.

I love to rave about my two favorite designers, Claire McCardell and Bonnie Cashin.

Claire McCardell, still fresh at 111
Happy Birthday Bonnie Cashin!

My vintage sources

I have always enjoyed knowing the history of the vintage clothing I find, and sometimes I have the privilege of getting to know quite a bit about the original owner.

Granny Takes a Trip coat

I don’t often highlight one single item I have for sale, but there have been a few. This coat definitely was worth it.

About my favorite vintage dress. Yes, it’s pink. Who’d have guessed?

Favorite vintage: Makes me happy just to think about

Haunted dress story

Then there are the items that are just plain...unusual. This dress didn’t want to leave my home.

For the past 9 years, I have done a yearly round up of all the favorite vintage sold. Maybe you’ll recognize something that you bought!

Denisebrain best of 2015
Denisebrain best of 2014
Favorite vintage of 2013
The denisebrain Best of 2012
My best vintage 2011
My best vintage 2010
My best vintage 2009

Always most dear to me is any time I get to talk about my mother.

A big thank you for reading...your comments mean the world to me! In fact, the next post will highlight some of the most interesting, thoughtful, and just plain lovely comments I have received on my blog over these 10 years.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Some favorite denisebrain blog series

This is my 10th year blogging, and here is a look back at some of the most popular series I’ve written:

Get the Look 

Billie Holiday—the gardenias were an essential part of her 40s style

These are posts about vintage fashion icons and what you can do to emulate their style.

Audrey Hepburn (at 49,068, my most viewed post)
Emma Peel (fictional characters count!)
and yes, even My Mother

Fabric of the Week

Egyptian assuit, netting embroidered with metal. Photo by Hoyt Carter for denisebrain
 ...the most viewed of which are
Basic weaves (no comments but many thousands of views)

80s Fashion Redux

Donna Karan fashion from the late 1980s, my scan from Elle, so great in the 80s
Interesting, right? I don’t sell all that much fashion from the 1980s, but I had to do something with all those magazine clippings from my youth! 2009 was a year in which modern runway fashions were really going 80s crazy. These posts continue to get many looks.

Polka dots hit the spot (believe it or not, this is the 2nd most viewed of all my blog posts)

Théâtre de la Mode 

Taking a closer look at an ivory silk damask evening dress by Worth in a set designed by Jean Cocteau (photo, denisebrain)

“Created in Paris starting in 1944, the Théâtre de la Mode is a work of haute couture, theater, and art, with stage sets and dolls designed and created by artists, and fashions by over 55 design houses. They came together for the survival of haute couture...”  And I live only 248 miles away from the Maryhill Museum where this exhibits lives.

There are my posts about Future vintage, in which I highlight some of the new fashion makers that I’ve found that create ethical and beautiful wearables.

How to wear vintage for the 40+-year-old

Suzanne Carillo from her blog; Carola Boxer Vecchio via Advanced Style; The Style Crone via Advanced Style

Recently I gathered ideas from others and roped my own thoughts about wearing vintage for the woman over 40.

Next time, the blogs I’m most glad I wrote.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

I need a title for my vintage guidebook

I am working on a little book about vintage clothing. [Brief pause while I hyperventilate—Don’t mind me!]

To be specific, I’m writing a short guide to choosing and wearing women’s vintage fashion for the newcomer.

My hope is to ease the intimidation some women feel about buying and wearing vintage fashion through simple steps, concrete examples, and encouraging ideas. Purchasing vintage online is the focus. I’m writing about some of the things I am asked the most about, including fit, quality/value, and how and what to wear.

I believe that the ideal reader is a woman new (or newish) to wearing vintage or one who has felt left out by the tribal or hipster wings of the vintage-wearing scene. It’s kind of Vintage for Newbies—and Don’t Worry You Do Not Have to Look Like Anyone Else ...but that is a little long!

I truly could use your help with a title for this book! My original idea and the working title is: Getting Started with Vintage. This is too vague because some people could take that to mean getting started selling, among other possible misinterpretations.

I am contemplating a couple of really thoughtful suggestions from friends, but would love to hear your thoughts. It could be something short and sweet with a more explanatory subtitle.

Please let me know what you think!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Announcing 10% of sales to save endangered manatees

Some of you know I often raise money for causes, including the protection of endangered species. In fact, I do enough fundraising for the manatee that some people think of me as “The Manatee Lady”...which is OK by me!

(Check out Manatees are in Fashion a feature in the Save the Manatee Club newsletter)

Today, on International Manatee Day, I am announcing that from now on 10% of denisebrain sales (not profits, but sales) will go to Save the Manatee Club for the important work they do.