Returning soon with September Issue

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Due to a whole bunch of life things, I needed to take an extended hiatus.  For awhile I thought about simply no longer writing about fashion since I”m now writing for MidCentury/Modern and The Broad Side. There are, though, still a lot of issues in fashion, and my own take on fashion and style, that I want to share with y’all.

So, in the spirit of fashion mags all over, I will resume publishing on September 1, 2015.

Thanks all!

Purchasing Vintage, Antique, and Second-Hand Clothing: Every Label Tells a Story

Part Two of a Three Part Series

There are a few better things to tell the story of a piece of vintage or retro clothing than the labels inside the clothing.  Labels can tell you the manufacturer, the designer, or the store where a garment originated.  They can also give you a nice bit of history

Keep in mind, though, that some clothes might not have any labels.  Custom clothing, altered clothing, antiques and some retro clothing that is re-sold may not have a label.  Designer clothing almost always has the label, as the label is part of the garment’s designer cachet.

the red, white, and blue ILGWU label--later 20th Century

the red, white, and blue ILGWU label–later 20th Century

The first label you might want to look for is an ILGWU label. “ILGWU” stands for the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union, and almost all American made clothing, hats, and accessories from the 20th century contained these labels.  The Union was

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Tuesday Menswear Moment: What Do Johnny Depp and Jared Leto have in common?? Vintage!

Lots of celebrities get to wear retro and reproduction clothing when they work on period-based projects.  John Hamm always looks fabulous in those early and mod-era 60’s suits for Mad Men, and we all remember how stunning Ryan Gosling was in 40’s fedoras and double-breasted suits in Gangster Squad.  In most cases, these are specially created garments that follow the cuts and styles of the era with minor tweaks in color to correspond to a time period but are really meant to add to the overall visual styling of a show.  However, there are some celebs who collect vintage clothing and

Obviously, this dove gray fedora is one of Johnny's favorites...

Obviously, this dove gray fedora is one of Johnny’s vintage  favorites…

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Purchasing Vintage, Antique and Second-Hand Clothing: Understanding the Terms

First in a Three-Part Series

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to talk with a really great young saleswoman at the new F & F store in the Holyoke Mall about all things fashion!  It was such a great conversation!  During the conversation, we discussed vintage clothing, and the differences in vintage sizing, modern American sizing, and European sizing.  I realized that over the years, from collecting vintage clothing myself to all the stuff my Mom taught me in the 60’s and 70’s, that there’s quite a bit of knowledge needed to make good vintage clothing purchases.

We’re not talking just a perfectly distressed pair of Levi’s from the Salvation Army.  I’m talking suits, evening dresses, designer duds, and other items that take a discerning eye to evaluate.  First, let’s talk terms…..

Antique.    According to RubyLane.com (a great site if you are looking for beautiful antiques/vintage,) an antique item is something over 100 years old.  Right now, you might be able to find gorgeous antique jewelry, but antique clothing is definitely difficult.  Most items of this age will be extremely delicate and perhaps not wearable, except maybe on special occasions.  In a few years, all that beautiful ‘flapper’ clothing of the 1920’s will be considered officially antique.  If you love that style, you might want to purchase now, and hold on to it.  Make sure to preserve it though.

Vintage '60's gold and pink evening coat.  Most Etsy sellers will tell you if there is any damage to a vintage item.  See this page  for a closer look

Vintage ’60’s gold and pink evening coat on Etsy.  See this page for a closer look

Vintage.   Vintage items are ones that are less than 100 years old.  Something from the 1980s can be considered vintage, as will be something from the 70’s, 60’s and earlier.  Great vintage clothing can be purchased in stores, on Etsy or even eBay.

Retro.  This term can be applied to items less than 20 years old, perhaps what we call “out of style” or “dated.”  Items from the 1990s are “retro.”  Retro can also be applied to clothing that resembles items from other decades, like the 50’s and 40’s, but are not from that decade.  There’s a lot of “retro” out there, and sometimes this is better than buying vintage.

one of the many great Simplicity patterns for making your own "vintage" clothing. Click for more info

one of the many great Simplicity patterns for making your own “vintage” clothing. Click the photo  for more info

Reproduction.  Yes, that means it comes from an original.  One can find reproduction sewing patters for dresses and suits from various decades.  Companies like Simplicty have reproduced them from the original, and may have made slight modifications for current sewing standards.  Materials have changed, so a type of material called for in a pattern may no longer be available.

“Gently Used” or “Second Hand.”  These terms are often used in conjunction with clothing a few years old, but not necessarily from a past season (that’s simply “Last Season.”)  These items might have high end designer labels or might be good quality department store clothes that have no damage and may or may not have been worn.   Depending on the shop, one might be able to find items with the original sales tags! (sometimes people purchase items but don’t wear them, for whatever reason.)  These items can be super fantastic finds, depending on how old they are or if the purchaser  doesn’t particularly care whether the item is “in” or “out”  A ten year old Chanel piece is neither retro nor vintage nor antique, but it still might be something you want to add to your wardrobe.  That is, if it’s in good shape.  A Chanel piece might be something you wear and wear for many years, so if it’s in bad shape, it’s probably not a good buy.

One more thing:  retro items can turn up just about anywhere.  For the past 20 years or so, retro has been “in” and many styles offered by “hip” retailers like Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie are retro.  Sometimes, “vintage” retailers may want to pass off a retro piece as original.  Look for labels.  If the label is missing, ask about the item.  The seller may be able to tell you where she got the item, and if it is vintage or retro reproduction.

More on labels in my next post…..

POSH Sale Clearance Extravaganza! l 50% off plus free item with $200 purchase…

A fabulous $48,000 was raised last weekend at The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art’s POSH Sale Poshfundraiser for the Costume & Textile Society.  So many donations were received for this year’s POSH that the C&TS will run a Sale Extravaganza this SATURDAY ONLY, from 10a.m. at 4p.m. at the Design Center,  1429 Park St., Hartford, CT.

This is a CASH ONLY sale, with all items 50% off.  If you spend $200 or more, you will get one free item of equal or lesser value.  There are still a lot of great women’s, men’s and children’s gently used, vintage, and antique items, including hats, shoes, costume jewelry and other accessories.

For more info go to thewadsworth.org/posh 

See you there!

STARTS TODAY: POSH Sale at the Design Center, Hartford CT through Nov 9

Organizing the offerings for the POSH Sale at the Design Center

Organizing the offerings for the POSH Sale at the Design Center

In my last post I mentioned the POSH Sale, a fundraiser for the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, as a great place to find some gently used designer/vintage/antique clothing.  Well, tonight, November 7, from 6-9 p.m. in the POSH Showroom at the Design Center (149 Park St.) in Hartford, you can attend the POSH Premiere Night and get advance access to all the goodies.  Tickets are available to attend this event, $25 in advance and $30 at the door (check or cash only.)  There’s a cash bar, as well as some noshes and nibbles from the NoRA Cupcake Company.  If you’re feeling particularly charming, take a selfie in the fashion photobooth, courtesy of Yelp!

If you’re not inclined to attend the Friday Preview, you have Saturday and Sunday, November 8 and 9 to peruse the Posh Showroom.  Saturday Nov. 8 hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.   Sunday Nov 9 hours are Noon to 4 p.m.  This is a Free event (no tickets required.)

A select group of us bloggers and journalists got to preview the event, which was by no means completely assembled at the time, and there was still a lovely selection of really interesting pieces of high quality and designer quality goods for women, men and children.  One of my favorite pieces is this gorgeous gold brocade, red velvet lined opera coat,

one of the fabulous vintage pieces at the POSH Sale

one of the fabulous vintage pieces at the POSH Sale

I absolutely fell in love with this piece, which may date as far back as the 1940’s, given the quality of the materials. It would certainly be a great special occasion piece!

If you’re a bit of a label collector, you can find some popular designer labels, as well as labels from upscale department stores and boutiques. Back in the Day, when many people made their everyday clothes at home, labels from particular stores, even local stores, carried quite a bit of cache.  If you could afford a piece from one of these stores, it meant that you may have bought it as it was modeled for you, then had it expertly tailored to your measurements. (Nowadays, it can be difficult to find someone to do just simple alterations.)  So, never shy away from a store label if you’re going for antique and vintage pieces!

Now, there are a bunch of great people who organize and work the POSH sale (this is the 8th sale since the first in ’94) and that would be the volunteers who make up the Wadsworth’s Costume & Textile Society.  Since the museum doesn’t have a dedicated curator and restoration department for the Costume and Textile Department, managing, caring for and creating the displays for the museum is up to this group of dedicated folks.  Now in its 30th year, the Costume & Textile Society is welcoming new members with a discounted membership rate.  If you find yourself falling in love with vintage fashion and textiles, consider becoming part of this fabulous group.

If, however, you’re interested in just adding a few fun vintage pieces–clothing, hats, jewelry,shoes etc.– to your wardrobe, come and check out the POSH Sale.  All proceeds from the sale will go to benefit  the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art and the Costume and Textile Department.

 

Tuesday Menswear Moment: Spice up your wardrobe with vintage cufflinks and French cuff shirts

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This week is all about incorporating vintage and antique clothing into one’s wardrobe–and what better way to start than to write about how the guys can do it!  Aside from ties, which can be really ugly (if you consider the 70’s and the 90’s) French Cuff shirts can be the easiest item to add to your wardrobe….

Since men’s shirts are sold by the collar size and the arm length, little has changed in the sizing.  Yes, there’s slim cut or tapered, but for the most part, if you are buying vintage, you can look at the tag in the collar for the collar and sleeve length and have yourself a pretty good fitting shirt.

Once you choose a shirt, you’ll need some cufflinks.  Cufflinks were a staple of men’s wardrobes, but I’d bet a lot of y’all don’t own a pair or two!  That’s remedied pretty quickly at any vintage, used clothing or “Goodwill”-type of store.  Most will always have cufflinks and the price will often be pretty reasonable.  Look for some with monograms or semi-precious gemstones for an extra touch.

And if you didn’t know, collecting cufflinks is a “thing”.  Some are quite valuable as well as stylish, and

Celtic revival cufflinks circa 1900

Celtic revival cufflinks circa 1900

styles change from the 19th and across the decades of the 20th century.  So, not only are they practical for use with French cuff shirts but searching out the various decades of cufflinks can be fun, too.  Cufflinks say a lot about a man, so imagine what a cool pair of vintage cufflinks might say about you and your sense of style.

So, if you’re looking to bring vintage into your wardrobe, start with the classy French cuff shirt and some cufflinks.  From there, you can easily co-ordinate your tie and sport jacket (other items that are  also easy to purchase vintage and designer.)  Or, spice up a date night outfit with a vintage shirt and an old tux or formal wear jacket.  You too can be like Bond….James Bond!

**This weekend, if you live in the vicinity of Hartford, you may want to check out the POSH Sale fundraiser for the Wadsworth Athenaeum Costume and Textile Society.  I was privileged to a preview last Saturday, and they have a whole lot of great vintage and designer men’s items, including cufflinks!  You can pick up a great pair of vintage cufflinks and even a vintage men’s fedora and support a great cause too.  The other great thing about vintage: it will not bust your wallet and you will get some great quality, American-made clothing.