Thursday, January 26, 2017


No, it’s not the Grateful Dead in concert, the depths of a bear market, or a no-longer-with-us cow—at least not in this context.

If you shop for vintage fashion online, you will have run across the word deadstock, and maybe wondered at its meaning.

According to Collins English Dictionary, deadstock is “the merchandise or commodities of a shop, etc, that is unsold and generating no income.” Some dictionaries separate the word (dead stock), others do not include the term at all. It is, apparently, a business term that has crept into the general lexicon.

If it sounds pejorative, it’s because that’s its history: Items that couldn’t be or weren’t sold were “dead” to the seller, needing to be stored and of relatively little value. These items would sell for a song if at all.

Filene’s Basement, source: toughnickel

Then came eBay and lots of people started looking for the words to describe a vintage (or at least not new) item that was apparently unused. Other terms that surface often:

  • New Old Stock (usually abbreviated NOS)
  • With Tags
  • Unused
  • Virgin

Now you know where this is headed: Deadstock is nothing like a pejorative when associated with vintage fashion! Who wouldn’t want to be the first wearer of some vintage finery? It is the livest of the live!

Notice that I haven’t mentioned the term mint condition? To be mint, an item has to be in a state as if it had just come off the assembly line—like new. So many items that still have tags were not stored well or in some way show signs of their age. I’ve noted rust stains from hangers, sun fading, musty odors, dusty hemlines...even coffee splatters and insect holes. Vintage in mint condition is a bit rare.

I am fortunate to come across unused vintage fashion pieces now and then. So often they come to me in groups because one woman will have collected a number of items that she didn’t wear. She might have bought several of a single great piece because she loved it, then didn’t get around to wearing the alternates. Maybe she went to a sale and purchased more than she needed. Maybe she bought the size she hoped she’d achieve. For whatever reason, some people seem to have collected items that they did not use.

One of the greatest joys of finding deadstock vintage is seeing the hangtags and labels. These can give original store names, prices, sizes, fabrics and fabric care...not to mention the artwork!

 I often write in my Etsy listing for a deadstock item, “This item has gone unused, through no fault of its own,” because so often the piece is really fantastic.

This 1950s Hawaiian sundress is one of the deadstock (and in this case mint condition) items in my shop right now. I honestly can’t believe it hasn’t been used!

Some of the other deadstock items ready to come alive (click to see shop listing):


I have recently added a deadstock 1960s vintage shirt to my own closet. Its price tag, from one of my city’s late-great department stores, shows a price of $1.00. I am saving that little tag and hope to make a necklace from it, to wear with the shirt. You see the only problem I have with deadstock is that I don’t ever want to lose those interesting tags!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Update on PINK HEART shop sales

On Friday I made a second donation to Dress for Success Worldwide. It felt really good.

On November 10, 2016, I opened a shop-within-a-shop in my Etsy store, the Pink Heart Shop. 100% of the proceeds from this shop go to Dress for Success. So far, all thanks to my wonderful customers, I have been able to donate $297. I have had a lot of really positive responses.

A few of the diverse vintage items in my Pink Heart Shop right now

Many I know have been inspired to live their convictions in the wake of the November elections, and I’d like to highlight one person in particular. She is a friend—a vintage connoisseur with a penchant for 1950s styles—who has consigned many beautiful vintage fashion items with me. We made an agreement about her percentage of each sale. This partnership has been going on for years.

When she heard about my Pink Heart Shop sales, my friend asked if I would add some of her items to the Shop, which I did. Later she came back with this:
I’m wondering if you would consider taking the rest of the items I sent and just donating my portion of the sales to Dress for Success? 
What do you mean? There are many, many items... 
I mean that the items are yours and 100% of what you receive that would have come to me can go to Dress 4 Success. 
 It is a good, even great, cause. I believe in helping other women grow & grow & grow. 

And that’s the point of the cause. According to their About Us page, “Dress for Success is an international not-for-profit organization that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.

Since starting operations in 1997, Dress for Success has expanded to almost 145 cities in 21 countries and has helped more than 925,000 women work towards self-sufficiency.”

Dress for Success photo

(My friend Tweets and Pins as Spiritual Feminist—you should check her out.)

Friday I made a donation, yesterday I took part in the Women’s March on Spokane.

I have also just donated 10% of proceeds on all non-Pink Heart Shop items to Save the Manatee Club, to help protect this beloved endangered species. This too is ongoing for me.

Human rights, the environment, public health, education... There is a lot at stake right now. In fact, one of my favorite signs from the march yesterday read TOO MANY ISSUES TO FIT ON A SIGN.

But many people (like my generous friend) give me hope.

Photo by me (Margaret Wilds)

Monday, January 9, 2017

Debbie Reynolds, actress, costume archivist...and horn player

Debbie Reynolds, legendary actress, died on December 28 at the age of 84 following a stroke and the death of her daughter Carrie Fisher. There has been so much coverage of her death the day after Carrie’s death that if you didn’t know about it, you have probably been on a desert island.

You probably can also picture Ms. Reynold’s in some of her most famous roles: The Unsinkable Molly BrownTammy and the Bachelor, Divorce American Style, and especially Singin’ in the Rain.

She was the ultimate girl next door—

Singer, dancer, actress—

Famous mother—

You may even know that she was a Hollywood costume archivist

But did you know that Debbie Reynolds also played the French horn?

You can even catch her playing the horn at about a minute in on this movie cut: 

And, besides a vintage raincoat or two, I have the horn in common with Debbie. 😊