October 30, 2011


Autumn's in full swing, and that means long sleeves & woolly coats are in high demand at Vintage Vixen! One of the most charming things in vintage-inspired fall fashions are the folkloric ideas and artisan styles made so popular by indie designers, especially on Etsy's global marketplace.

In our little corner of the world, I particularly love the woodsy autumnal feel of Alpine designs we find for our vintage clothing inventory. Here's a sampling:

This last one's a gorgeous Norwegian ski sweater, authentic vintage from the 1950s and perfect as we head toward the holidays. Here's to a winter of fabulous fashion!

October 28, 2011

We Like Ladylike

Vintage gloves are one of the simplest ways to add vintage femininity to your modern wardrobe! They're pretty, functional and effortlessly ladylike. Here's a few of the most recent ones we've posted on our vintage clothing website:

...There's many more to browse in our Gloves department. Whether you're an Audrey Hepburn type, a Marilyn Monroe fan or a Mad Men addict, there's something for every vixen!

October 27, 2011

Ready For Halloween In Vintage Style

Halloween is drawing near, and our last shipments of Halloween costumes have just left Vintage Vixen. Using vintage clothing for a Halloween outfit is a fun and creative endeavor, and this year we've helped more folks than ever find their retro-minded style for October 31!

We just wanted to say Thanks for choosing us to help make your costume ideas a reality. Happy Haunting, Vixens!

References: vintageholidaycrafts.com

October 18, 2011

Difference Between Fibers, Weaves & Fabric

"So this dress is really pretty, probably silk, or satin maybe". I hear it for the millionth time and I wonder - Why is fabric so confusing to people? It was confusing to me too, at first, but perhaps due to my home-ec teacher grandma, I learned at an early age that:

Fiber + Weave = Fabric

We talk to lots of vintage collectors online, and even seasoned vintage folks can be confused by this, or simply unaware of it. I understand, and I want to help if you're among the mystified.

Here's how it works. Fibers are like ingredients. Weaving them is like cooking. Fabrics are like the recipes, because they're both the instructions to weave them, and the end result.

Just as tomatoes can become marinara sauce or ketchup or many other things, silk (the ingredient) can make satin (the recipe), or taffeta, or a wispy pongee. It just depends on what it's whipped up into.

A silk fabric will behave and wear very differently than a polyester fabric, regardless of what fabric it is. It's important for us vintage hounds to know, not only for investing in quality but also in terms of caring for these beautiful old clothes.

Until next time, happy hunting! And write if my analogy doesn't work for you; I'll try to cook up another... ;)

October 16, 2011

The Vintage Leather Coat Conundrum

“Long hair minimizes the need for barbers; socks can be done without;

one leather jacket solves the coat problem for many years; suspenders are superfluous.”

-Albert EinsteinSolve your coat problem and other chilly dilemmas
with our recent update of vintage coats & sweaters!

October 08, 2011

How To Block A Sweater, Vintage Style

It's sweater weather and our cozy woolies are coming out of the closet! That means soon enough we'll be hand-washing and blocking sweaters once they've had a wearing or two.

What does it mean to block a sweater? Blocking means laying it out while wet, after washing, and shaping it and/or stretching it into the silhouette you want, with (hopefully) the measurements you want. To describe how to do this, I'm taking the liberty of quoting at length a favorite clothing care guide by Mablen Jones. In her words (with my notes in *asterisks*):

Blocking, the process of setting of altering the shape of a knit, is usually done after cleaning or laundering while the garment is still damp. It may be done at home by hand or by steaming with a steam gun at the dry cleaner's. Blocking can change the shape of a garment but not restore the number of shrunk inches. *Unfortunately once a knit is shrunk, it's shrunk.* If you or the cleaner makes a sweater wider in blocking you lose some of its length at the same time.

If your label says "tumble-dry", do not block the knit if you have tumbled it. Many synthetics not only do not need blocking, they also require the tumbling of machine drying to allow the fibers to return to their original heat-set shape. *If your knit is a loosely-woven one, however, put it in a mesh bag before drying. The tumbling action of a dryer is a likely place for snags to happen*.

  1. For all sweaters that need to be blocked after washing, make a heavy paper pattern from shelf paper of a brown paper bag before you wash the sweater for the first time. Lay the sweater down on top of the paper on a firm, flat surface and draw an outline around the shape.
    *We have almost always skipped this, though if you love the fit of a sweater, this is the way to preserve the exact silhouette.*

  2. After you have washed and thoroughly rinsed your sweater, pick it up out of the wash basin with both hands so that you evenly distribute its weight and don't stretch any one side or part. If you have machine washed it, remove it soaking wet before the spin-dry part of the cycle.
    *Here in Florida we sometimes spin-dry thick sweaters before removal, otherwise in our high-humidity climate the sweater will seemingly never dry. Better a spun sweater than a mildewed one.*

  3. Lay it flat on an absorbent towel and blot or roll it. You might use several thicknesses for heavy knits and also change the towels several times to remove more water and to speed drying. Although variety and department stores sell mesh sweater dryers for this purpose, I generally put my towels down on a plastic-webbed lawn chair that has spaces in the webbing.
    *Clever idea re the lawn chair! Those mesh sweater dryers are vintage items of their own at this point, since Ms. Jones was writing decades ago. Might want to check Etsy for one. They are convenient.*

  4. When the sweater is no longer dripping and partially dry, place the paper outline pattern on a table covered with toweling or on a padded ironing board. Lay the sweater on top of it and shape it gently with your hands. Draw together the waist and wrist ribbing, button cardigans closed, roll collars into position, and straighten out and extend the sleeves. Ease in edges or stretch them out to fit the paper pattern.

  5. Insert rust-proof straight pins (into warp knits only) upright (at right angles to the sweater surface) every 3 or 4 inches. If the knit pulls or buckles between pins, you may have to put pins closer together to avoid getting a wavy line along the edges.
    *This is done along the edges of the sweater. Basically you're making the "cookie" (the sweater) fit the "cookie cutter" (the pattern you made). When we block without a pattern, we just shape it smoothly without any pins. Pulling & buckling only happens if you are trying to reset it to a pre-defined shape, or set it to certain measurements. On that note, if you want to change its shape, be mindful if it's lined, that you are working within the lining's (non-stretchable) limits.*

  6. Leave the sweater pinned until it is dry. If you have blocked a pure-wool hand knit in this manner at the very first washing, you don't have to repeat the whole pinning procedure. When you wash it again, just dry it flat on a towel unless you have stretched it during rough handling.

Watch our site for an update of sweaters & outerwear posting in the next few days. Until then, enjoy those snuggly long sleeves!


Jones, Mablen. Taking Care of Clothes: an Owner's Manual for Care, Repair, and Spot Removal. New York: St. Martin's, 1982. Print.

Images from a wonderful World War II scrapbook. These were magazine prints, clipped and saved by a sailor as his version of 1940s cheesecake. So quaint!