Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Calling all manatee lovers! I thought we were on track to raise $1250 for Save the Manatee Club by the end of the month but we’ve hit some choppy waters.

So, until the clock strikes midnight on December 31, 2015 (PST), not 25% but ⭐50%⭐ of your purchase price from denisebrain shops will go to the cause! You may also donate directly through my YouCaring page

Please help me reach this goal for these incredible, lovable, intelligent, gentle—and sadly endangered—animals. And find yourself some great new vintage finery at the same time!

The denisebrain vintage fashion shows of 2015

This past year I had the idea of asking others to post some of their favorite vintage items in categories  ranging from glasses to “gets the most looks.” These denisebrain vintage fashion shows took place on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and for the purpose I whipped up the mighty long hashtag #dbvintagefashionshow.

I started these shows because I’m curious about what other people wear, do and think with their vintage fashion. Sometimes the internet seems kind of isolating, even with people all over the world participating. These shows made me feel like I was sitting across the table at a coffee shop with friends. Interesting, unique, stylish, beautiful, colorful and thoughtful friends.

I can’t possibly thank everyone without accidentally leaving a few out, so just a very big thank you to all! See you again in 2016!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Denisebrain best of 2015

It’s time to take a look back at 2015, including favorite vintage items that I sent to new homes.

If I do say so myself: Just. Wow. Ceil Chapman, 1952
Vintage, come rain or come shine
In the navy, c. 1950
Pink lady
Summer and winter 1950s
40s 4-ever
How novel!

Blue notes from the 50s
On a really personal note: I won’t say that this has been an easy year for me. I have lost two people dear to me and had to work around pain from what I now know is psoriatic arthritis. I can’t easily comb my hair, zip my (metal!) zipper or put my shoes on.

If anything though, I love what I do more than ever and cherish my friends and family even more. I am so thankful for all my readers, customers and online colleagues and friends who make what I do such a pleasure every single day. You make it all worthwhile.

Rose up
By any other name
Go elegant or go home (gloves by Roger Faré, Paris)
Totes gorge
Big dipper (the Jantzen “Tahitian Temptation” suit inspired a blog post)
The wild Southwest

In case you missed them, these were my blog posts that seemed to resonate most with people (the first one especially):

Go team vintage!
You glow girl, in luminous 1960s pieces
Hot pinks (the fine print? by Alfred Shaheen)
Last flowers of summer
Fall for vintage

If you haven’t joined my mailing list, consider this your invitation to receive ideas and deals delivered right to your inbox:

Spice girl (nothing quite like vintage cashmere and fiesta wear)
Sophisticated lacy
Silver and gold (make new friends but definitely keep the old)
Red alert
I'm very pleased to say that so far this year, with your help, I have raised funds for breast cancer awareness (Living Beyond Breast Cancer), as well as for endangered manatees in Belize (Sea to Shore Alliance) and Florida (Save the Manatee Club). There are a few days before the current fundraiser For the Manatees ends, and I hope to reach $1250...a new record for a single fundraiser here at denisebrain!
Anything-but-mean reds (the Lilli Ann coat looks so cute on its new owner!)

What’s up for 2016? Besides all the best vintage clothing I can find for you, there will be a new, mobile-friendly! 
2016 ought to be exciting...please join me!

Best wishes for a peaceful, happy, loving and beautiful year ahead! May you receive back all the joy that you give.

(I hope you are surrounded by the sort of people who will zip your zipper if you need a hand too!)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

For the Manatees fundraiser update...even more good news!

And it just keeps getting better! Thanks to generous donors and customers, my For the Manatees fundraiser has a new goal of $1,250!

If you haven’t already, please consider making a donation (any size helps!) over on my YouCaring page or purchase that item from my shops that you’ve been considering. Through the end of the month, 25% of your purchase price goes to a great organization, Save the Manatee Club.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Update on For the Manatees fundraiser (good news!)

I am happy to report that with 10 days left in the month, you have helped me raise $929 for Save the Manatee Club! I have upped the goal from the original $650 all the way up to $1000 and I don’t see why that goal can’t be surpassed!

You really care about manatees, and it shows. 

Manatee Annie and her calf photo by Cora Berchem, Save the Manatee Club
The rest of December will be busy and I hope you have every reason to be away from your computers and phones and with those you love. So while still ‘plugged in’ how about taking a moment to donate a little to a great cause through a purchase of vintage fashions from my online stores (where 25% of your purchase price goes to the manatees) or making a direct donation on my YouCaring page set up for this purpose. If you don’t have the money but want to help, please just share this fundraiser.

And thank you!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Update on For the Manatees fundraiser

December is for the Manatees here at denisebrain, with 25% of sales going to Save the Manatee Club.

Manatee photo ©Cora Berchem via Save the Manatee Club

Right now we are at $350, with a goal of $650 by the end of the month. It is a perfect time to help out the lovable, gentle, intelligent (and sadly endangered) manatee. If you’d like to donate directly, check out my YouCaring page. There, 100% of your donation will go to the cause.

Please help me make a big splash for these gentle giants!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Vintage glove etiquette

Love the look, but afraid you’ll get vintage glove wearing wrong?

Gloves to match a hat by Lilly Daché, 1954 (image found on The Vintage Hat Shop blog)

I recently went to an event introducing a vintage fashion collection here in Spokane. A number of people attending were attired to give vintage style a nod, but one woman stood out for her complete, excellently-fitted and beautiful ensemble of 1950s dress suit, hat, shoes, bag, make up and hair. Everything seemed in place for a period-perfect ensemble and she was wearing the clothing with panache, but when gloves came up she said “I never know how to wear gloves...the etiquette, you know?”

Etiquette books with sections covering glove wear wound down by the 1970s. Not that all glove use disappeared then but with the casualness of the times gloves just didn’t play the part they once had. You can still find advice on glove etiquette for brides—and the basics haven’t changed substantially since the time when gloves were de rigueur—but now the woman wearing decorative gloves is almost always doing so by choice.

Essentially the glove-wearing rules from their heyday years of the 20th century are common sense. See if you can predict which of these are Dos and which are Don’ts according to Edith Heal’s booklet for the Hansen Glove Corporation Gloves: Fashion and Etiquette, 1961.

Do you or Don’t you?
  1. Eat with gloves on
  2. Keep gloves on in a receiving line
  3. Wear gloves in a place of worship
  4. Play cards with gloves on
  5. Apply makeup with gloves on
  6. Remove gloves at the dining table
  7. Drink with gloves on
  8. Wear short gloves to a white tie affair
  9. Wear a ring on the outside of your glove
(Answers: 1. Don’t, 2. Do, 3. Do, 4. Don’t, 5. Don’t, 6. Do, 7. Don’t, 8. Don’t, 9. Don’t)

Even though you probably got these right or see the reason for the correct answer, there are the small details which, when you are not privy to glove-wearing rules on a regular basis, could seem foreign.

But first let’s be honest: Not too many people care anymore if you are wearing gloves correctly. The use of gloves is mainly practical now, and the decorative glove is almost completely optional.

I for one wear vintage gloves mixed into my wardrobe of mainly vintage clothing. The eras are mixed, and I haven’t given much thought to the properness of my glove choices. I had to go looking for vintage glove etiquette advice after I heard that well-dressed woman say she didn’t feel confident in wearing them. Obviously not everyone is as improper as I am! If you wish to employ vintage-style glove etiquette I can suggest looking to guidelines from your era of choice.

Which is what I did when looking into my favorite fashion era of 1940-45. According to Clothing and Fashion: American Fashion from Head to Toe (José Blanco F., Patricia Kay Hunt-Hurst, Heather Vaughan Lee, Mary Doering, 2015) during the first half of the 1940s gloves were considered important for women at all events outside the home, and even sometimes in the home (for receiving guests for instance). Though not quite as strictly essential as in previous decades, gloves were still a symbol of refinement, good manners and fashionability.

Daytime gloves were short and fitted, wrist length or up to the mid forearm. Gauntlet gloves had a vogue in the 1930s and 40s, and their flaring cuffs could be worn over the sleeves of a suit jacket.

You could make your own hat and gauntlet gloves using this 1940s Hollywood pattern (found on So Vintage Patterns).

Sometimes gloves were made to coordinate precisely with an outfit:

Rose Barrack design, 1945

Even with rationing during WWII, gloves remained an important part of a woman’s attire, although for practical reasons they often were made in the more basic colors, to be worn with a variety of outfits.

These gloves in my Etsy shop appear to date from the 1940s, when the patriotic combination of red, white and blue, and the symbolism of the V for Victory were incorporated into all sorts of fashionable items:

Mousquetaires are formal, long gloves with buttoned openings at the inside wrists. These allowed the wearer to pull her hand completely out of the gloves through the openings while leaving the sleeve on, rolling the fingers of the glove into a neat cuff. This meant you could get a pass on removing your gloves in certain social situations where their removal was expected.

A pair of vintage mousquetaires recently purchased from my Etsy shop:

Opera-length gloves went above the elbow, and were used for formal occasions.

A stunning gown by Adrian is coordinated with opera-length gloves in this advertisement from 1944:

For all things mid-century etiquette, try Vogue’s Book of Etiquette, 1948, by Millicent Fenwick. There are also a number of glove etiquette pamphlets that were given out by the glove manufacturers. This 1950s brochure was printed by Paris Gloves:

When a Lady Wears Gloves
   Gloves should be worn on the streets of cities and large towns, when going to church, to a luncheon, dinner or reception; a dance, a wedding or an official function. They are also worn to a restaurant and in the theater.
   Smart women usually wear gloves while traveling on a train or plane...or in any public conveyance.
   On formal occasions, gloves are worn by the guests and by the hostess, while she is receiving.

When a Lady Removes Her Gloves
   Gloves must always be removed before eating, drinking, smoking, playing cards or putting on makeup.
   When lunching in a restaurant, a lady removes her coat but keeps on her hat and gloves, removing her gloves when seated at the table.
   At dances, long gloves would be part of a lady’s ensemble and as such, kept on. The glove fingers should be tucked into the opening at the wrist while smoking or drinking, and the gloves removed entirely immediately upon sitting at the table.
   When gloves are worn merely as a covering for the hands (such as heavy winter gloves), they should be removed with the coat.

What to do When Shaking Hands
   A lady never takes off her gloves to shake hands…and never asks that her glove be excused. (Of course, this is excepted if she is wearing soiled gardening gloves, or the like…in which case she says she is sorry she can’t shake hands.)

Color, Style and Length
   The most important point in choosing gloves is to make sure they fit and are comfortable. Gloves that are too tight tend to make hands look like sausages.
   White or beige gloves are equally appropriate for any costume with which colors will harmonize. Black gloves are always smart. Formal occasions do not demand, but somehow suggest, white gloves. Colored gloves are becoming increasingly popular and are now worn, quite correctly, to weddings. It is considered very smart to wear matching gloves and millinery.
   A glove of the same color as the sleeve of your garment makes the arm look longer. A contrasting glove seems to shorten it.
   The length of the glove is decided by current fashion and the length of the sleeve. Shortie gloves to 8-button length are normally worn on the street, in the daytime and for informal evenings. Long gloves are usually reserved for more formal occasions.
   The style of glove is dictated by fashion and the style of the lady’s outfit. Simple styles usually accessorize tailored ensembles, while dressy, decorated gloves accompany more formal clothes.
   Bracelets may be worn over long gloves, but never rings.

Convinced to give vintage gloves a try? How about a little visual persuasion:

There are more vintage gloves to love on my Pinterest board G'love

Do you wear vintage gloves? And do you follow glove etiquette? 

📧 Keep track of my vintage fashion ideas and deals by subscribing to the denisebrain newsletter!

Monday, November 30, 2015

For the Manatees, my 2015 Holiday fundraiser

Painting by Anna Davies/Anna Davies Art

I love manatees.

The West Indian (Florida) Manatee was once plentiful around the coast of Florida, but now its survival as a species is in jeopardy. Humans are the gentle herbivores’ only enemy, with our fishing lines ensnaring them, our pollution poisoning them, our boats striking them and our living space encroaching upon theirs. Heather Sellick of the US Scuba Center wrote “the manatee is one of the most magnificent marine is also the one that tugs at our heart strings and reminds us of the great damage humans have inflicted on the creatures with whom we share this planet.”

Manatees are awesomely large, perfectly gentle creatures. How could anything so wonderful be at risk of extinction?

Manatees are intelligent (“capable of understanding discrimination tasks, and show signs of complex associated learning and advanced long term memory.” [Gerstein, E. R. (1994). The manatee mind: Discrimination training for sensory perception testing of West Indian manatees (Trichechus manatus). Marine Mammals 1: 10–21.] They demonstrate complex discrimination and task-learning similar to dolphins and pinnipeds in acoustic and visual studies. [Marine Mammal Medicine, 2001, Leslie Dierauf & Frances Gulland, CRC Press]. The manatee’s closest land relation is the elephant, not the cow, despite their being called sea cows in many parts of the world. They are thought to have evolved from four-legged land animals some 60 million years ago.

Think about it: Manatees have made it 60 million years on the Earth and now their survival is threatened.

I know that many of you share my concern and love for the manatee. That’s why, starting today and going to the end of the year, 25% of your purchase price on any items you select from my Etsy shop or my web store will go to the Save the Manatee Club. If you don’t see any vintage finery to suit you during these weeks, I encourage you to donate on my YouCaring page, where every cent you give will be channeled to SMC. My goal is to raise $650 [edit, now $1250!], and with your help I know this is possible.

For the Manatees,

Photo ©Cora Berchem via Save the Manatee Club

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; 
indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. —Margaret Mead

Thursday, November 26, 2015


I am so very thankful for all my wonderful followers, customers, readers, colleagues and friends in the world of vintage. On this Thanksgiving Day, my humblest gratitude to each and every one of you.

This has not been an easy month for me, with two deaths in the family, my own health issues and 5 days without power and heat after a massive windstorm. The world hasn’t gotten off easy either. If anything though, I feel more thankful for all that is right and beautiful in the world.

As a small token of my appreciation I will include a unique, beautiful vintage scarf from my stash with your purchase through Monday.

Affection and thanks, Maggie of denisebrain

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Back to back black

My November theme is up, and...
{click to view the theme, sound up!}

I believe I have more black vintage clothing and accessories in stock than any other color—all eras, all prices, all styles. No doubt it has always been a good time to go back to black. 

30s vintage Fashion Originators Bullocks Wilshire gown & jacket in my web store

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Vintage convergence time again

I love when I stumble across a vintage photo, sewing pattern or artwork showing an item of clothing I have found...I call these vintage convergences. Here are two recent VCs:

1950s Koret jousting knight print separates. I have had the skirt and the blouse at different times.

Hand knit Mary Maxim totem pole sweater in my Etsy shop, and one similar, worn by Bob Hope in 1953.
Like these? There are lots more on the Pinterest board I share with a group of other Vintage Convergence aficionados—have a look!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Get the Look: Jean Seberg

Jean Seberg (1938-1979) was the most stylish French woman to have ever come out of Marshalltown, Iowa. In fact, she seemed to have been born in the wrong place, embodying as she did effortless Parisian chic.  She developed her iconic look in sync with her career.

Although Seberg’s first film, Saint Joan, was panned by critics, she gained the attention and affection of the French public for her portrayal of Joan of Arc, and soon she became the darling of French New Wave films, particularly for her role in Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless (À bout de souffle). If no one saw or heard anything else of Jean Seberg’s work, they would still have a strong sense of her style from that movie.

Seberg’s life turned tragic after being blacklisted by the FBI for her support of the Black Panther Party (among other organizations devoted to civil rights, the others not controversial). She was insidiously “neutralized” (the FBI’s term) and it is assumed her death of a barbiturate overdose was suicide. She was then 40.

Perhaps the tragedy of her death makes Jean Seberg’s life, work and iconic style even more dear.

Jean Seberg, c.1958-60: Above all was the perfect pixie cut on the perfect girl for a pixie cut.

There was the fresh look of pared down makeup, light on the lipstick and without the usual heavy-lidded eyes of the time.

In button down shirts, straight pants and oversized sweaters, Seberg looked the perfect gamine.

With Jean-Paul Belmondo in Breathless

Her sporting, boyish, youthful looks presaged the Mod aesthetic of the mid 1960s.

Accessories were mainly kept to rounded cat eye frames, simple scarves and here and there a hat.

Unmistakable were the Breton stripes...

...and the simple, clean, modern aesthetic.

Jean Seberg didn’t always wear her hair in a pixie cut, she didn’t always wear stripes, her roles were not all youthful—but this is her time, place and style that seem to reach right out of photos, fresh as new. This is the eternal Jean Seberg.

Dress by Givenchy for Seberg’s role as Cecile in Bonjour Tristesse, 1958

Inspired by Jean Seberg, a collection of vintage items on Etsy:
Click to view these and more on Etsy

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