Saturday, February 26, 2011

She's a Betty

Betty is 99 years of age. That in itself is cause for respect, but if you had to follow her repeatedly up a flight of stairs in her own home you would find even more reason for respect.

I was fortunate to meet Betty last year as she was preparing to leave her home for a retirement home. I presume she has some health issues that make staying home tricky, but she seemed to be doing pretty well, with the help of her niece.

Betty has clothes that were a conspicuous result of being a manager at one of Spokane's late-great department stores, The Bon Marché, to which she had been lured from The Crescent department store when The Bon, as it was called, was just moving into the area. She told me she "set up The Bon" for its opening in 1946.

On her style, Betty said that she wasn't fond of fussy, frilly things. Her clothes have just so many cute details and extra flourishes, they are of very good quality, with a number of the better American department store labels such as Suzy Perette and Lilli Ann. Materials are mostly wool, cotton and silk.

Cotton piqué dress with Matisse-like print

On how she obtained her clothing, Betty said that her husband and she were from rural Idaho, and grew up poor on small farms. Her husband was an Air Force pilot during WWII, and I had the sense from talking with her that they felt very fortunate to be together, to have survived The War, and to be better off than they'd ever been before. Betty said her husband spoiled her, buying her very nice clothes. Of course, her work image had to be important to Betty.

I have quite a few more to show still, but here is a sampling of Betty's items that I have sold or am selling.

All photos with links in their captions will take you to the item still for sale, the rest have been sold.


60s items, a wool knit set made in Italy for The Bon Marché; silky dress by Ranelle

Late 40s Prestige Junior cotton dress; Alex Colman cotton top and full skirt

Venito di Roma knit suit; Lana of Austria handloomed wool outfit

Billy-Dee black cotton dress; McKettrick sundress and bolero

50s brown rayon dress; brown print R & K Originals dress, also from the 50s

Lilli Ann Knit coat and dress; Leslie Fay circle print wool dress

Kimberly wool & mohair outfit; equally sunny suit by Hanbury Ltd.

40s spoof news-print blouse, about which I blogged (here); 50s red faille coat dress

Yellow print embroidered sheath dress; Jerry Gilden Spectator yellow print sundress

Navy and white knits: Schrader dress with button-on jacket; Lilli Ann dress and coat

A third Lilli Ann dress & coat set from the 60s; cream knit dress by Corona Vienna

Suzy Perette sheath dress


Betty was and is a very petite lady—most of her clothing is size 2 to 4—but her sincere kindness is generous in proportions. She found it hard to give up her clothes, symbols that they are of her good and productive life, her loving marriage and all the respect she has earned. Knowing that others would actually wear and enjoy her clothes today pleases her and really eases her in letting them go.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if a new wearer of Betty's clothing has as long and happy a life as she is having, and passes the clothing on to another generation when she is 99?


The women I meet to purchase their clothing bless me not only with their clothes, but with their stories, photos and memories. I have highlighted others in the past, such as Lovely lady lot, You're a sight to see Mrs. Gordon, I love my vintage clothing sources, A tiny fraction of Mrs. Alexander's clothing, Another favorite source and The suitcase lot.


4 comments:

The Witchery Vintage said...

What a dream come true! It is wondeful to know there are still grand old dames in our midst that loved good clothes and are willing to share them with the world! The collection is beautiful!

Laurie Brown said...

Those clothes are very swoon worthy, and have a great backstory.

I don't suppose there are any photos of Betty wearing some of them that she'd like to see posted?

denisebrain said...

I'm so glad you both enjoyed this!

Laurie, that is a great idea, asking if I can copy photos. Betty asked me to keep in touch, and so I might let her know there is interest. I'm sure that would at least put a smile on her face.

Denise said...

Betty has absolutely great taste in fashion. I too would love to see her in some. I'll bet she accessorized to a "T":)