Friday, January 31, 2014

The color of MY year

I appreciate the Pantone color of the year, radiant orchid. It’s beautiful. The only problem is, I have been wearing this color more or less regularly for several years. I love wearing it, but it doesn’t seem particularly fresh to me.

My color of the year—so named because every time I look at it I feel excited, and generally I just have a great new attraction to it—is something like Royal Blue. Palatinate blue seems even more accurate to me, but have you heard of palatinate blue? I hadn’t.

I sold a 1940s suit a month ago that made my eyes widen. What a color! I have a royal crush on it!

See these vintage Etsy finds and more here

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Vote for your favorite vintage clothing website!

Once again it’s time for Lulu’s Vintage People’s Choice Award

Click on the image to go to Lulu’s blog, where you will find a great list of vintage clothing sites to browse. I always learn things and get inspired by looking at each of these websites, thinking of both the inventory and the way it is presented.

You may vote for up to 10 sites. Vote for the shops that float your vintage boat, including your own...

(...and of course I’d be honored and so happy if you’d consider voting for me, denisebrain!)

Please and thank you!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Closet adventures, part II

I am in the middle of working on my clothes closet right now, my January Vintage Resolution.

Even in a heap on my bed, I love my vintage clothes. I didn’t remove anything from my closet’s contents unless it was something that I would look at and think why do I still have this? I didn’t get rid of more than a few vintage items, and they are ones that I wishfully thought I’d one day be the right proportions for. I look forward to passing them along to their next owner.

My closet contents in mid-sort:

I found out that I have lots of long black skirts.

 Yes, long black skirts. I am a professional musician and play in a symphony orchestra, where the concert wear is all-black and long. I probably have six long black skirts. I guess you’d call them an occupational hazard.

My favorite discoveries were seeing things together on my bed that I never saw together before. Like an iridescent blue taffeta skirt from the 1980s (short and with a black crinoline) and a 1950s iridescent blue taffeta jacquard jacket. Anyone want to invite me to a party? : )
My closet has always had long things hanging on one side and everything else on the other side. I completely forgot that on the side with the long things there is actually a lower rail. I moved my short items to the side with two racks, my long items to the other side, and my really long things to the back of my closet door. What an easy way to add closet space!
I am making use of a handy shelf for vintage bags that I use often

Finally, here is my cleaned up and more inviting little closet:

Now I just want to up the fun of going in. One of my favorite pairs of shoes over the door is a start!

Friday, January 10, 2014

My closet, a work in progress

I have resolved to work on my tiny, dark and dismal closet this month and I am very glad I have. There are stunning items in clutter and disarray, right beside some things that I will never use or care about. You can be very sharp and not be able to perceive what’s in this closet!

My closet door has space to hang things, and yesterday it went from a wreck of vintage slips, camisoles, dickies and the like, to an orderly arrangement of the items of that sort that matter to me. I also put an over-the-door rack on the back side of the door, for out-of-season favorites. My crazy-bright 1960s vintage half slips now are somewhat on display, which makes me happy, but I hope to extend their rack to display even more. I don’t think that a closet is just for order, it’s also for joy.


Last night, after starting my work on the closet, I had a dream that a child ran up to me and yelled “Look, it’s Barbara Billingsley!”

...she of Leave it to Beaver fame. In my dream I could not think who Barbara Billingsley was, but consciously I see the connection: The perfect 1950s housewife (Barbara Billingsley played Beaver Cleaver’s mother) subconsciously joined me in my dreams. You might say I am a closet feminist, because my closet project made my subconcious question my own motives. The fact is: I love clothing, and to have my closet show that is a reflection of my happiness and reality, not an example of submission to rules or expectations. Au revoir dear Mrs. Cleaver.

I can’t wait to continue on with my closet. In looking at hundreds of pins, websites and blog pointers, the most obviously helpful piece of advice has been “Look Up.” Usually there is something to be gained vertically. Also, look up in terms of your own style—there is always room to grow in quality, not quantity...handy for a tiny closet owner!

In the meantime, I’m pinning ideas on Pinterest. I’ll let you know what happens next.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Vintage resolutions

I happened to run across someone’s New Year’s Resolutions on Pinterest recently, laid out with one per month, twelve resolutions in all.

This sounds really doable to me, having a single goal per month—and I’m all about finding a way to accomplish resolutions! Maybe by the end of the year the best will have stuck.

I hereby announce my 12 Vintage Resolutions for 2014, and believe me, these actually all do have to do with vintage clothing and accessories.

Image via Photobucket
January: Edit out and recycle everything that is not being worn in my closet. My closet is smaller than this one, and certainly not as neat. I would like to make it as happy, bright, inviting and wearable as I possibly can.

How does this have to do with vintage? I will be making room for the great vintage items that I don’t feel I can squeeze in right now!

A 1940s satin dressing gown that I sold a few years back
February: Dress like a star at home. No, I don’t mean to start sitting around sipping champagne, dripping in diamonds! I mean always treating myself well, even at unseen moments, by dressing in something that makes me feel happy. As a vintage clothing dealer I have sold many an item that would certainly qualify, and these items tend to tug at me...I feel slightly jealous of the people who purchase them. I actually feel spiritually unhappy when I dress down, so why not carry this into every moment of my life?

Emma Stone in a red that might work for me too
March: Wear a color I don’t usually wear. Yes, I am fairly aware of the colors that work well on me and make good use of those as often as I can. I do think, though, that I could see what happens with some colors that I am not so used to wearing. Perhaps I can find a red that looks best on me, and a white that doesn’t make me feel too stark. I plan to experiment, both with colors and combinations of colors, from various eras.
Threads magazine tutorial
April: Mend and clean clothing and improve skills. This is a first-class no brainer! My pile of mending and washing is ready to go, and almost everything in it is a vintage item I love. I keep up on the mending and cleaning for my business much better than I keep up with my own. I think it’s time to catch up, including figuring out how to take care of some things that I find tricky.

Yes, a black jacket is absolutely basic to me
May: Supplant my search for basic clothing with vintage basics. I don’t buy much new clothing, but find it occasionally imperative to go with new to keep myself in shoes and socks, for instance. I will spend May making a list of the basics I tend to need every year or so and then look for their equivalents in the world of vintage. I also will decide for myself what is a basic...we probably all have a different set of ideas.

June: Wear scarves. Oh fun! I have scarves galore, almost all vintage from my own past and family members’ pasts. There is positively no excuse for how little I make use of these. I hope to learn new ways with scarves of all shapes and sizes.

From the RLPhotography blog
July: Look for style inspiration. I always am looking for style inspiration, but this July I will put extra focus on vintage style inspirations, whether from the past or being worn well by modern women. Expect to see too much of me on Pinterest!

Could this be it? From VintageFrocksOfFancy on Etsy
August: Find or decide upon the perfect go-to black dress. If ever there was a usable item, the perfect black dress might be it. I will look at this from various angles, including what I’d wear the dress for and what suits me best. You can be sure it will be vintage.

Vogue - July 1939  by AndrĂ© Durst
September: Wear hats. I have some beautiful vintage hats and I tend to wear them for special occasions if at all. Everyone tells me they love hats, but just can’t bring themselves to wear them. Maybe they need someone to lead the parade?

1930s dress resolution may involve sewing
October: Wear an era that I don’t usually wear. I am big on 1940s and 50s and some 1960s and 70s styles. I really like the look of a sweet 1930s print, and the longer lengths of the time, but I’ve never worn 1930s clothing myself. 

Or maybe I will find something to knock me out from the 1980s...or explore Victorian...

I know I will wear my mother’s beautiful blue glass ring from the 1940s
November: Wear something meaningful to me every day. I have plenty of interesting family items, souvenirs from long-ago vacations, gifts from my favorite people and other items with great karma. I resolve to wear at least one of these each day in November. 

Vogue, December 1, 1935
December: Find at least one vintage item to give for Christmas. I don’t take this lightly because I know that I can impose my taste on someone else if I don’t watch out. But deep down I know there is something vintage that would please and suit every man, woman and child. I just have to figure out what that is!

Anyone care to play along? I’d love to know what your vintage resolutions are, and I‘d also love to have you join me with my resolutions during any of these months. I promise to share my results, if you promise to share yours!

Friday, January 3, 2014

The bear went OVER the mountain

Cell phone photo of a grizzly bear in the North Cascades by hiker Joe Sebille

Although in my world finances are unpredictable, December is usually predictably not such a great month for my business. I believe that vintage clothing is something most people buy for themselves and not others, and so people turned toward gift giving turn away from vintage somewhat.

Sometimes I think it’s quixotic of me to try to raise $500 as 25% of my earnings for December.

However, I promised to try to raise $500 for Conservation Northwest, as I had squeaked out that much to donate in previous Decembers, and I like a good challenge.

To my delight and astonishment, we sailed past my goal and on up to nearly $600. I owe much to the interest and enthusiasm of my customers, and for the lovely donation of a stash of jewelry to be sold with all profit going to Conservation NW. Denise, who donated the jewelry and works as a wildlife rehabber, told me I gave her too much credit in my previous blog about her generosity. Her jewelry raised one-sixth of the total donation, so I don’t think I exaggerated, do you?

I also want to publicly thank the indispensable Barbara Christensen of Conservation Northwest, who makes sure that my fundraising is her business to share around, and supports my work for all environmental causes.

I will be sending a check for $587 to Conservation Northwest this morning, and I know it will go to excellent use—for the grizzly bear, and for the Northwest wilderness.

Bear hugs all around!

Bear hug by zukzuk on Etsy

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Favorite vintage of 2013

Every new year I round up some favorite sold items. This is a bit like a mother trying to name her favorite child because I tend to like or even love the vintage items I find. My best attempt to narrow down 2013:

White out
Mixed greens
Black and white world
Aqua libra
1920s frocks
Breezy pinks
Bee-utiful 40s
Blues and greens 
Blue flower power
Brown out
White night
Shades of grey
Viva el mexicano
Fun with red

Oh how novel
Oh how novel, skirt edition
Tickled pink hats
Pretty pastels
Strong blues
Berry nice
Two moods of navy blue
Purple reigns
Burnt orange
My Spanish heart
Wherever you go, whatever you do, I hope you find peace, happiness, good health, time for yourself, time for your friends, love, kindness, contentment and joy in 2014!  

♡, denisebrain