Thursday, October 27, 2016

Does vintage clothing make you feel like you’re wearing a costume?

We’re coming up on Halloween, a time when many vintage clothing shops see an uptick in sales for looks that spell flapper, mod, Downton Abbey, Titanic, hippie, pin-up girl and Mad Men.

If you want to go with a full-blown vintage look walking down the street during the rest of the year, I salute you! Many, though, fear the looks and questions at our workplaces, schools, and even home. But there are ways to make vintage look right at home on any day of the week.

Vintage clothing does not
need to look like a costume—
unless you want it to

The easiest way is to not try to overly coordinate a complete vintage ensemble, at least for starters. Show your love of the 1920s vibe with a gorgeous piece of jewelry or flapper handbag. Believe me, you will get the compliment: That vintage [fill in the blank] is so great!

Wear a beautiful 1950s coat to work. Carry a vintage handbag with your modern dress. Maybe on some occasion, you’ll feel like putting them together. But for now, give one or another a try.

And speaking of Halloween—


Find this pumpkin image in one of my Etsy shop’s item photos, send me a message (just a simple “found it!” is fine) from the listing page, and I will send you a $10 coupon code to use as a discount on a purchase of $11 or more. The code will be good through the end of November, 2016. [Hint: The pumpkin isn't in the first photo of the item.]

By the way, what will you wear for a Halloween costume? Who knows, I may even be concocting some vintage spells as a mad scientist (bwa-ha-ha!)

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.