Saturday, May 31, 2014

Clearing rack space sale

You know when you have too much of a good thing? I am extremely low on vintage clothing rack space in my storage and home. Would you help me make a little room? 

Now through Friday, June 6 all my items over $20 are 20% off. 

If you purchase from my Etsy shop, use the coupon code MAKESPACE for the discount. If you purchase from my web store, I will refund 20% of the item price just as soon as I can. 

Do yourself and me a favor—*wink*

Friday, May 30, 2014

Vintage semi-convergences with Bonnie Cashin and Princess Leia

This is the all-star version of vintage convergences, although both are mere semi-convergences. First, the great designer Bonnie Cashin shown in her studio in 1964, wearing her own cashmere separates produced by Ballantyne of Peebles. The similar outfit from my online store is by Bonnie Cashin as well, probably from the same year:  

Image of Bonnie Cashin courtesy Estate of Bonnie Cashin, from Victoria, 4/01 

Sorry, but I can’t look at this 1940s hat by New York Creations (recently sold) and not see Princess Leia’s iconic hairstyle.

I told you these were semi-convergences! 

Many more vintage convergences here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Skirt from the 50s

No, not that 50s.

This skirt, made of iridescent blue-grey silk taffeta with magenta silk velvet ribbon, dates from the late 1850s.

I consider this a rare find indeed and I just had to show it off, beautiful and whole as it is.

If you’d like to pay the skirt homage, please visit my eBay listing:

Friday, May 23, 2014

What do I really mean by basic wardrobe?

Considering that I don’t wear some of the things most modern women would consider basic, I feel the need to define what a basic wardrobe means to me. Finally this morning I came to my own definition.

My most basic clothing is: Something I feel comfortable in; suitable to wear for my daytime work and events; not at all difficult to coordinate; cleanable and durable; possible for me to at least walk briskly in if, say, late for a bus; and something I have worn for many years and/or can imagine wearing for many more.

The black clothing I have often fits at least some of these categories.

Here is a fine washable knit 1950s black sports top and a 1980s knee-length taffeta skirt with an elastic band at its waist. Those are probably 1970s-era U.S.-made dance shoes. Everything here fits my definition of basic. Once a friend asked if she could buy this black top from me when I was through with it—It has been 12 years and I’m afraid I lost touch with that friend but still have the top!

I have found it hard to find interesting basic vintage items looking around online. It helps to have a handful of keywords, and you might find those as you go along. Some more tips?

  • Don’t be afraid to try searching menswear for certain basics, like a fine cotton button-down shirt.
  • Consider decades you don’t regularly consider. A classic can look timeless from any era and can be of very good quality. Searching 1990s clothing suited my penchant for longer fitted black blazers.
  • Basic and classic doesn’t have to mean boring. Look for stylish and interesting elements as well as good quality.
  • Consider outfits that you can wear as separates, like a jacket and skirt suit with great cuts for going solo. 
  • Try lightening photos of black items if you can’t see the details.
  • You might have some luck looking at thrift and second-hand shops because so often these items are overlooked as being too ordinary.

I’ve learned something about myself while thinking about vintage wardrobe basics this month: I fall down every rabbit hole looking for basic items I know I need. If there is one flower or one color or one row of beading I get distracted and want to search for the more glamorous or ornamented. I end up finding everything I don’t need and few things I do need.

I did manage to find quite a few eventually. Here are some vintage basic items I am considering. These and more are on my Pinterest board, Vintage basics.

Got any good tips of your own for finding vintage basics?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Could my basic wardrobe be more vintage?

A couple of posts ago I made a list of items I really want my closet to have. If you have followed some of my blog posts you know I don’t have much room in my closet, but I have enough room for the right things.

I’ve come to the conclusion that my wardrobe is more icing than cake.

Some of my wardrobe basics list I have in spades. I find, love and often keep vintage handbags. 

Ditto printed full skirts.

Here are three of something like six vintage white blouses, now back in service since I managed to get stains out of them.

Coats are a happy way to get through winter in a northern town like mine. Here’s a warm one and a dressy one...I ♡ my vintage coats!

Vintage day dresses and occasion-y dresses? I couldn’t live without them. 

You can see I like details, prints and color. I really kind of hate to look for, but know I need the grey knit shirt, the comfortable black pumps that aren’t boring, the black flaring skirt, the black blazer...  Can I find these more basic basics in vintage?

I imagine that basics might have been worn to the worn-out stage in the past, making a great basic a little harder to find. Perhaps vintage shops don’t consider them exciting enough to offer. Have you ever seen a rack in a vintage shop that was labeled wardrobe basics? Me neither.

Do you find vintage equivalents for your most basic clothing?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Flowers for my mother

This is a repost from a few years ago. My mother means still more to me today.

I know a lot of people say this, but sorry, I really am the one who had the best mother least that’s how it seems to me. She was different from me in many ways, and in so many ways I learned and got to be a better person because of her. Not a single day goes by that I don’t think of her. I strive to do things as she would do them. Most every day I miss her and wish I had new times with her.

Marian Enid L. was born September 28, 1920 in the small town of Grimes, Iowa. Her father was a banker during The Depression, and it had to have had quite an impact on Mama that her father worked to keep farmers in business, and keep their farms operating. Eventually he was let go for not foreclosing as expected by his overseers.

Mama at age six
My mother always looked out for the less fortunate. She was the most open- and fair-minded person I have known personally. She did not apparently see race, class or gender as anything other than man-made obstacle or advantage, although she always looked after the underdog. Many mothers are naturally nurturing to their own children, but my mother had nurturing feelings—and took action on those feelings—for the entire world.

At Mama’s memorial service in 1988, there were many young people of all races and walks of life who considered my mother their honorary mother. She counseled, she listened, she advised, she taught, she made people feel welcome and special. She found people who needed her, and they found her.

Mama baked bread. She baked literally dozens of loaves per week and gave away much of it to neighbors, friends, and fellow office workers. The entire neighborhood smelled like a bakery on Saturdays. When she went to work on Mondays, she carried two big shopping bags full of bread on the bus. (My mother didn’t drive and was an intrepid mass transit user in Seattle where I grew up.)

Mama devised a recipe for bread that would offer as much protein as an egg in just one slice. She wanted to see this recipe be used to help feed people in need, as she figured it was about 7 cents per loaf to make. Her bread, and all her cooking, was unbelievably delicious.

Serving dinner to my father and his mother
My mother was adventuresome in her cooking, trying all kinds of new, good things. She remembered vividly the evening in the 1940s when she first ate garlic, and she was the first person to try many things at home. She read, watched and experimented with what Julia Child recommended. She was friends with the fish monger. She made a huge assortment of Christmas cookies each year, and made the most spectacular dinners any person could be privileged to eat. I created a cookbook of her recipes when she died, as I knew this aspect of my mother’s life was most tangible and cherished, and would be greatly missed.

Serving food at a friend's wedding in about 1981
I learned to do so many practical things because my mother took the time to teach me to do them: I learned to cook of course, and to sew, and to garden. With her college degree in romance languages she helped me learn French, and as a top math and science student...well I needed all the help I could get! My mother was extremely smart.

Knitting... (ca. 1950)
...and gardening (1961)

She didn’t have fancy taste in many things, but she had refined taste in music and literature. She played cello through college. She was a devoted reader and history was her favorite subject. Lincoln and Jefferson were her favorite historical figures, and she read and re-read Churchill’s writings. My mother avidly recycled, but before she let a single newspaper go she made sure she had read every word of it. She was unafraid to be political, and caucused for her candidates, went door-to-door for causes and talked to friends, as well as those in disagreement with her. She insisted I take issues to heart, to others and to the street. She was brave and strong in her convictions.

My mother didn’t swat bees, but carried them out of the house by their wings. She once went a few days with a broken arm without going to a doctor, because “it just didn’t hurt that much.”

My mother loved to have fun too. She loved movies, games, laughing. Her laughter took over her entire body, with tears streaming down her reddening face. Even though she was older (40 when I was born) she was a lot of fun for me and my brother, always taking us to parades, the zoo, the park, movies—she put up with seven showings of Mary Poppins for me. She always bought us balloons and cotton candy.

After my father died in 1974, my mother had to go back to work, and reentering the work force at the age of 54 could not have been easy. She not only found work at a law office, but became invaluable, a paralegal in all but title and salary. During the last year of her life, when she could no longer make it to work, office staff came to her home to get help managing the business. She didn’t make a lot of money, but when I was choosing a college she said to go where I most wanted to go, and we would make it work. My mother said “money isn’t the only currency.”

On the last Mother’s Day Mama was alive, we went to a garden center where I bought the annuals she picked out, later to put them in the dirt around her duplex. If it weren’t for the shopping cart, she couldn’t have walked, as she had some serious health issues. Still, as usual, she didn’t complain at all, and spent the time telling strangers what great children she had. She said what she always said, “Mother’s Day is the day that I am most thankful for having such wonderful children.”

The feeling is mutual Mama! I love you so much.


Thursday, May 8, 2014

My basic wardrobe

There are many guides to basic wardrobes, even basic vintage wardrobes. If you’d like to take a look, maybe one of these will give you ideas:

10 Staples for Every Woman’s Wardrobe from Real Simple
Back to Basics: The 14 Timeless Pieces You Shouldn’t Live Without from Who What Wear
Building a Wardrobe on a Budget: Fashion Essentials Every Frugal Girl Must Have from Frugal Beautiful
The Fashionable Mum’s Guide to Your Perfect Wardrobe from The Fashionable Mum
Back to Basics Vintage Wardrobe 101 from The Glamorous Housewife

For me the words must, should and perfect rarely go with anything I’m capable of doing! Here’s my own list of wardrobe items I feel I would not like to be without.

longish blazer jacket in black with a great cut
bright raincoat
dressy coat
winter coat

 music performance wear (black)
house wrap dress
day dresses
occasion-y dress

great flats
black 2"-heel pumps that are comfortable and not too plain

black pants that fit great
black knit straight skirt
black knit flaring skirt
printed full skirts
Marianne paper doll, 1943, from Miss Missy Paper Dolls blog...I LOVE her wardrobe!
roomy fun bag
interesting medium-sized bag
 dressy clutch
black tights
patterned tights
warm mittens
all-weather gloves

grey knit shirt
black tank
white tank
white cotton button-down shirt
pretty white blouse
cashmere sweater
flattering chunky knit sweater

bathing suit
warm robe
cotton robe
silky lounge robe

The point of making a list like this is so I can replace the most necessary items in my wardrobe with vintage and 2nd-hand items when possible and when needed. That said, if on a desert island for years, what one thing would I choose?

A printed cotton day dress...vintage of course!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Vintage resolution of the month

At the start of the year I resolved to tackle one vintage fashion challenge each month. Now we come to May:
Supplant my search for basic clothing with vintage basics. 
Vintage American Tourister bag found on Etsy
I actually don’t consider myself much of a basics person. I have quite a few vintage printed dresses, skirts and blouses, bright colors and other one-of-a-kinds. The sort of things that don’t make a tidy little suitcase full for one’s Paris trip.

Not that I’m going to Paris, but I do like to imagine that suitcase and what would be in it.

I asked my Facebook circle what three items they considered most basic in their wardrobes. About 1/3 included jeans, 1/4 t-shirts. White shirts or blouses, black pants, cardigans, and black skirts were well represented.

1968 image, uncredited
I was fascinated by some the specifics of the basics named:
“cute little brown Hush Puppy flats”
“black shrug sweaters” 
“vintage shrunken Levis for girls jean jacket” 
“red tights” 
You can almost picture the signature looks of these people!
Molla Mills...I wonder if red tights are basic for her

I looked online for wardrobe basics, various lists compiled to be the most important items for a woman to have in her closet. I see a lot of things I don’t have and I don’t care if I have. The lists online only slightly intersect my own. I don’t wear jeans even though I have nothing against them. I really don’t wear pants very often, and when I do I feel like I’m wearing a costume!

My three basics? I probably would have to pick a black blazer jacket, clogs and a bright raincoat.

What are your three most basic wardrobe items? Are they vintage, or could they be vintage?

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Your mother should know

This month’s theme is a tribute to Mother’s Day.

If you’ve read my blog for awhile, or seen my posts on Facebook, you probably know my mother at least a little. She is my all-time greatest heroine.

Here’s to all the heroines out there!

{click link to view, sound up}

Your vintage fix-it tips

I asked my blog readers and Facebook circle if they had any favorite vintage stain removal or mending tips and got some great responses, all which I will be trying:

1. Ann said: Don’t say dag nab it, snag nab it!! I love this freakin thing!!! A bargain at twice the price!!

2. Lisa: I’m sure you’re already aware, but OxiClean is the best cleaning product out there. Everyone’s laundry room should stock it - whether you collect vintage or not.  [After trying nasty, toxic things, I found OxiClean could get many jobs done I am aware now Lisa. I haven’t always been!]

3. Past Pieces Vintage suggests: You know that “smell” that vintage fabric can have...stinky, musty, old? ...When soaking and/or washing these things, add baking soda (Arm and Hammer or generic brands) to your water. This helps dissipate that odor. If the soda bath doesn’t do the trick, add vinegar to the water. Vinegar is also great to add to a rinse; it cuts any soap residue and leaves the fabric naturally soft.

I love a natural fix!

4. Tia suggested: For oil stains, coat the stained area with corn starch (rub it in well) and let it set a couple of days before washing. Depending on the intensity of the stain, the corn starch may have to be re-applied.

And probably the most convenient natural solution I’ve heard came from Chadáe:

5. Kinda gross but if you get your own blood on a garment use your own spit to get it out. The enzymes in your saliva break down the blood molecules! Hydrogen Peroxide also works for blood in general.
1930s laundry day image by By H. Armstrong Roberts, from