June 13, 2013

Vintage Clothing Tour Guide: Retrospect in Philadelphia

One of our stopovers in Philadelphia was Retrospect Vintage, a hybrid thrift/vintage clothing shop at 508 South Street in Philadelphia.
Retrospect looks and feels like a vintage clothing shop, but it's powered by Goodwill of Southern New Jersey & Pennsylvania.
 The shop is fairly large with 5000+ items, about one-third of them men's vintage clothes.  The prices are somewhere between secondhand and vintage retail, and the quality of the collection is a mix as well.  There are a few 1960s items mingling throughout, but most of the clothes are 1970s synthetics & later, with lots of 1990s floral-on-black prints.

Average prices are:
  • Dresses $16
  • Skirts, shirts, sweaters $12-14
  • Coats & Jackets $48-78
  • Evening Dresses $16-24
  • Ties $5
They also offer shoes, handbags, scarves, home d├ęcor, records and even 8-tracks.

 This is a fun stop for a beginning vintage clothing collector to dive into Goodwill's specially selected inventory, and an interesting hunt for a seasoned vintage fan to seek out specialty pieces.  On the day of our visit, we ran across a jacket with a genuine leopard print collar for $34, a Lilly Pulitzer dress for $16 and a kitsch 1981 tourist tote for $12 (see below).
If you're in the area, Retrospect Vintage is worth a visit... with any luck you'll find something special!

June 07, 2013

On The Road Again

1964 Vintage Clothing By Jantzen
Load up the convertible!  These 1964 vintage vixens
are on their way.

Working online as a vintage clothing dealer usually means a lot of isolation within our little sphere.  Inside the office it's a beehive of activity (and we enjoy the dickens out of each other)!  But we're cut off from the outside world for the most part, with only the phone and a Wifi connection as the conduit to our customers.

It's a treat to work in this cozy comfort zone most of the time, but once in a while a Vixen needs fresh air.  And - because we're into vintage clothes - we also "need" musty basements.  We recently got a chance for both when the phone rang.


"Yes, do you buy clothing?"

"We do.  What do you have?"

And the conversation begins.  Usually it's a few pieces or a few boxes' worth, and they're shipped here.  For local people we go on appointments.  But then there are the trips.

This weekend begins a fun-filled trip to Philadelphia and points north, where we'll revel in the fashions kept by a family inhabiting the same house for 103 years.

Fun?  You betcha.  Fresh air?  Well, some. 

Bon voyage!

Source: McCall's Magazine, May 1964.

June 05, 2013

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

She's the center of attention, she's got a fantastic figure, and she's incapable of walking out of the room.  What more could a girl ask for?

The bell-shaped skirts of the mid-Victorian era were a novel way for women to contrive an extreme silhouette, the hourglass of all hourglasses, so to speak.  But as many fashions go, this one developed to a dangerous point. 

Stories circulated about women trapped in house fires wearing bell skirts, and the notion of calling on a friend was hampered by the limit of how many skirts could fit in one room.  Then there was the relatively mundane dilemma of how one could sit down.  Practical? No.  But pretty?  Yes, I suppose... in a trapped bird kind of way.

Resource: 1000 Dessous by Gilles Neret

June 04, 2013

Polka Dot Vintage Clothing Makes Me Smile

So when I ran across this spread of giddy 60s fashion models in vintage polka dots, I just had to share.

If you're dotty for dots, check out our varied selection of polka dot vintage clothing... there are dozens of items currently listed, including everything from polka dot petticoats to 1950s design you'd swear came from Lucille Ball's closet.  Here's a few favorites:

Until next time, Vixens, strike a pose in your favorite retro polka dot!
Photo Source: Ladies' Home Journal, May 1964

June 02, 2013

Joyeux Anniversaire, Josephine Baker!

The extraordinary 1920s singer and dancer Josephine Baker was born this day over a century ago.  To celebrate her birthday in vintage style we're recounting a few fashionable anecdotes about this glorious diva.

She was born in poverty in St Louis, Missouri, and despite her alluring talent, American audiences in the Great Gatsby era were not ready for an African American to dominate the stage like she could.  The French, however, loved Josephine's je ne sais quoi and upon her debut in Paris, she was an instant and incredible star.

 By the mid-1920s Josephine and a few other entertainers, like her red-haired friend Bricktop, ruled the Paris stages.  This meant lavish living and exotic luxuries few people could afford.  Bricktop remembers:
"All the great designers - Paul Poiret, Edward Molyneux, Jean Patou - were fighting to dress her.  She had an apartment right around the corner from my nightclub, and one day I went there and the clothes were just piled high on the floor, and I said, 'Josephine, why don't you hang these clothes up?' 'Oh, no, Brickie,' she said, 'they are going to take them away tomorrow and bring another pile.'"


And indeed the couturiers did.  Even the great Paul Poiret, at this point struggling to keep clients, was willing to dress Josephine for free.  Her influence was so great that, according to her friend Caroline Reagan, Josephine panned Poiret's designs during a fashion show, and instead sketched out a pink fringed ombre`design she desired.  Poiret immediately incorporated the 'Josephine Baker dress' into his next collection.


And at an evening dinner, one reporter relayed that Josephine arrived in a "cherry-colored dress, small hat pulled low on her forehead, ermine-trimmed coat.  'Paris is marvelous', she gushes.  'And your dressmakers are divine.'"

Yet in her memoirs, decades after the fame and fashion had faded, Josephine assures us that after all, "love dresses you better than all the dressmakers".  

We agree Josephine, and we love you... Joyeux Anniversaire!