July 31, 2013

Vintage Clothing Catalog

We write a lot here at Vintage Vixen.  Not only do we write up descriptions about the vintage clothes we sell, we also write for this blog and other online venues.  So when we ran across this page from a classic 1910s vintage fashion catalog, I thought the verbiage was just as interesting as the graphics.

Catalog writers tend to be pretty observant about other catalog writers' techniques.  Writing style, sentence structure, word choice... everything's noted when you write for a living.  The intriguing aspect of this caption is that it really was meant for the average female shopper.  And the word choice:
Artistic Applications Of Prevailing Lines In Dress
That's a lot different than Sexy Silhouettes For Summer or Hot Looks Now.  Which grabs you?  It's no contest, though of course in 1915 or so (when this fashion plate was printed) "sexy silhouettes" weren't exactly printable text.  Yet the phrase chosen a hundred years ago feels like a textbook descriptor more than a fashion magazine caption.
Notice too that this illustration refers to "the mills".  Even through the 1950s & 60s, fashion magazines regularly incorporated information about the fabric mills that created the raw materials for advertised fashions. 
This is an interesting example of two points - firstly, that most women in this era sewed for their family and thus were familiar with shopping for raw fabric, and secondly, that these ladies expected to hear about their clothing makers' fabric choices to ensure they were buying "choice goods" from a quality mill.

And here's some frocks that are apparently "envoys of a new era in fashion".  As "severity [tempers] the mode" these ladies are enjoying "plainer, saner" styles for summer.  What a way to shop!

July 28, 2013

1970 Not 1870

These grand dames have the look of Godey's ladies from the late Victorian era, though their eccentric colors suggest a more recent vintage.  They're actually a nostalgic fashion print repurposed into a wrapping paper that was mass-produced in the 1970s.

In the 1970s, fashion was more multi-faceted than in prior decades, as fashion-savvy women adopted divergent looks in the pursuit of individualism.  One of those facets was the antique look.  All things nostalgic were again fashionable, a development alongside late 1960s bohemia and in parallel with the birth of the first vintage clothing stores.

Clothes that were once "old-fashioned" were again freshly viewed as new fashion, with references to endearing accents like granny squares and granny boots.  Here's a few items from our current inventory that are 1970s, not 1870s, though the look certainly is antique:

As you can see, 1970s designers took the romance of the Victorian era and styled it with beautiful antique panache.  So if you were born a century too late for the 1870s, or a decade too late for the 1970s, there's still plenty of vintage finds to enjoy!

July 27, 2013

Garden Variety Vintage

This slim knit dress is a pretty (and slightly kitsch) vintage design that's right up my alley.  Its beautiful meandering florals were called the "rambler rose", a popular knitwear motif in the late 60s.

The leggy model was featured in a vintage knitting article that showcased knitwear patterns for the home crafter.  I'd love this knitted up in soft cashmere, or (ooh!) fluffy angora.

Shoes from Pappagallo - Jewelry from Kenneth Jay Lane - Chic from 1967!

Source: McCall's Needlework & Crafts Spring-Summer 1967.

July 25, 2013

Shoes To The Grindstone

Take a look at what our photographer Cassie's been plowing through!  This is just the tip of the footwear iceberg, too... we're processing 835 pairs of unworn vintage shoes, mostly from the 1930s & 40s. 

Some are already on the site, many more are coming.  Keep a close watch as the last collection like this was gone all too quickly.  Tres magnifique, vixens!

July 23, 2013

Vintage Sasson

I'm a child of the 80s, and when I see vintage Sasson clothing I have that knowing nostalgic twinkle in my eye.  So when we posted a bunch of 1980s Sasson windbreakers I thought about snagging one.

We have a quantity of them offered in light gray too, all viewable at the link below.  I can just see a 'Fame' revival dance team in matching Sasson jackets!  That would make my day. 

And we can make yours, because you can view over a dozen of these jackets in both colors (and a variety of other vintage Sasson clothing) on our website.

Other Sasson finds include a very chic duo of vintage suits from Maurice Sasson's Kikit label, mint with tags attached in jade and magenta:

And last but not least, a few pairs of vintage Sasson jeans.  Klassic!

July 22, 2013

Cubicle Free

I've been thinking a lot about what work means to the average person, and especially what work looks like in our world at Vintage Vixen.  We had a small feature in the local paper recently, which brought a friendly influx of interested folks from the community inquiring about our business.  Their impression of our workplace is usually one of great interest and generates lots of questions.

Soon after that I was lucky enough to tour a huge mail-order facility that specializes in secondhand goods.  That business is operating on a large scale with a goal of surpassing the $2 million mark in annual gross revenue this year.  My impression of their workplace was keen interest too, as I compared and contrasted our workflow, efficiency and division of labor.

Then I ran across this kitsch vintage photo styled for a Revlon shoot back in the late 1970s.  ... A working woman looks just as glamorous (perhaps more so) in a man's world.  Her work is now elegant, transformed by technology.  Electronics like this are the wave of the future...  And here we are riding the wave.

It's a strange place to be.  On the one hand, I could paint my nails and sit primly at my "word processor" and look terribly glamorous every day.  On the other hand, technology's ridden us so far into the "future" (as seen from the vantage point of 1978) that we're no longer needing a man's world, or any world, in which to work and be seen by the public.  We simply work from our homes, our current place...  Our pockets, essentially.  No need for red fingernails if no one's looking.

Then again, we specialize in glamour here.  And classic beauty, and kitsch, and gamine elegance, and so much more, because we're vintage clothing.  So why not dress the part?  And we do, when we want to.  Years ago we used to have Dress-Up Fridays (as opposed to casual Fridays) at Vintage Vixen, just to enjoy the heck out of our clothes.  Now that I have kids, my dress-up days are sporadic, but they're relished, and I love it when someone comes into work with a fresh look.  There's a spring in their step, and a beautiful style for us all to enjoy.

Other days it's all non-vintage outfits, and sometimes pretty vanilla but comfortable, and there's a different enjoyment in that too.  And occasionally there's a pajama day, at least on my part.  I once told an employee I be okay with her arriving at work in pajamas herself.  She never took me up on that one.

I think it's because we can (and do) push the envelope in our working environment, but in this new style of workplace that couldn't have existed twenty years ago, we aren't sure how far to push it.  Yet we're cherishing the individualism that this kind of cubicle-free workplace provides.  I don't think I'm ever going to conform and do things like paint my nails (or even grow them long enough to click as I type), but I love to dress.  And thankfully we work in a place that allows dressing just how we like it.

Photo Source: Professional Fashion Photography by Robert Farber, 1978.

July 21, 2013

1950s Vintage Paper Doll


So cute!  This 1950s (or early 60s) vintage paper doll set has so many options for this rosy-cheeked darling.  There's tailored coats, full-skirted vintage girl's dresses, school girl frocks and even sun & swimwear.  No matter what she wears, she's always pretty in her bright yellow petticoat underneath.

We just love vintage paper dolls, but I don't know a lot about them.  If you happen to know the name of this little charmer, please let me know!

July 19, 2013

Eye Candy Circa 1965: Too Cute Tunics

Pop colors dance off the page of this 1965 display!  This summery spread from a vintage Woman's Day magazine looks like sun dresses, but it's actually tunic style aprons.

If you look closely, each "dress" has slit sides with string ties at the waist, though vintage aprons like these can easily convert to daytime dresses with simple seams or cute layering.  Add a chemise style dress or a tank & bloomers for a cheeky effect.

Names (from left to right) are Daisy Chain, Scallop Tracery, Water Lilies, Silhouette Sash, Fantasy Flower, Highland Fling, Dots and Daisies, and Stripes Aslant.  Brilliant styles from the bubbly 1960s!

Photo Source: Woman's Day, September 1965.

July 18, 2013

Top 5 Vintage Clothes To Wear Now: July 2013

Maxi Dresses: Summer's in full swing, and autumn's around the corner.  What to wear?  Our vintage maxi dresses range from sleeveless to long-sleeved in floor-skimming styles.  This fresh white cotton frock (pictured at left) is perfect for a bright afternoon party.  It's an early 1970s design from a haute boutique label.  If you go from outdoors in, just add a navy cardigan.

Stripes: Stripes aren't new news, but in vintage clothing we like "old" news when it comes to fashion!  And big bold stripes keep showing up on the runway and the street.  Check out our women's striped clothes for a big bold variety!


Vintage Denim: Good old denim is a great stand-by in every vixen's closet!  Our denim clothes for summer include sun dresses, short shorts and vintage capri pants.  Or check out all vintage denim for over 100 items including jeans & jackets for upcoming autumn style.


Sexy Leather: Pick up vintage leather shoes in dark hues now, and you'll wear them into fall with fabulous style.  Leather's a hot look at the moment in garmenture, and while we have beautiful suede jackets and such, they won't get as much use in July as a practical pair of heels.  Also - there's a bunch of new-old stock 1940s shoes at the link above for shoe collectors.

Lucite: Fashion's pretty obsessed lately with 1990s style, which means lucite and lots of cutting-edge ideas.  But lucite's not just a 1990s thing.  It goes back decades and appeared in interesting variety, from completely clear 1970s lucite heels to lucite buttons & 1950s handbags, all viewable in our stash of vintage lucite fashion.

July 16, 2013

1970s Kitchens... and Kitsch-ens

Think of a 1970s kitchen and, to my mind, it's all path-worn linoleum and avocado Formica counters.  Molded plastic magnets and burnt orange Tupperware didn't stand the test of time well (at least not in the decor department... most likely they'll outlive cockroaches), so most of our moms' kitchens weren't exactly showplaces of tasteful decor.

My family tried.  My own childhood kitchen actually had an antique wagon wheel chained to the ceiling, with artfully arranged wooden spoons and primitive cooking utensils hanging just above the adults' heads.  No oversize frying pans or five-quart Dutch ovens up there... probably a wise thing.

But despite the brave attempt at interior decoration, that kitchen just wasn't pretty.  Between the harvest gold refrigerator and the clunky Early American dining set, it was a room that needed a better face.

This glimpse into a 1973 galley style kitchen is full of inspiration, for that vintage kitchen in my memory as well as my own today (maybe yours too).  The Portuguese tile is traditional and classic, set against cabinets in fresh colors and butcher-block style countertops.  Though the live plants were certainly "planted" just for the photo, the effect is beautiful and even sustainable if there's sunlight nearby.

At the back wall, the stained glass panel is described as a false window to hide an "uninteresting view", and to our eyes it's a quite interesting and appealing alternative.  And this kind of improvement was part and parcel of 1970s kitchen culture, not only in the decor but the cuisine. It was a time when French cooking still enjoyed a heyday.  Breakfast could be as rich and rigorous as high-rise pancakes and peaches flambe`.  Julia Child reigned supreme.

At a time like this, even a galley kitchen like the one pictured deserved special treatment... and got it in style. 

Good thing they decided against a wagon wheel.

Photo Source: McCall's Magazine, March 1973.

July 14, 2013

History Repeats Itself: Vintage Balenciaga 1945

You don't have to look outside the fashion world to see where designers get some of their inspirations... you just have to look into the past.
This sketch is not by Claude Montana or Giorgio Sant Angelo.  It's not even 1985.  It's 1945, and the designer is Cristobal Balenciaga.
The exaggerated shoulder with its stitched detail is the only hint of Balenciaga's encompassing cocoons and capes that would arrive in the following decades.  Yet this practical and rather anonymous design of his became a quintessential look of late 80s & early 90s boutique lines. 
Dresses like this were produced by the thousands about forty years after this particular one was sketched.  It's a classic example of history in repetition... something vintage clothing collectors know all about.
Photo Source: Balenciaga Paris edited by Pamela Golbin.

July 04, 2013

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July to all!  We vixens are glad to be home after the long road trip.  What started as a ten-day trip to the Northeast turned into a three-week excursion through Pennsylvania and Connecticut.  Lots of vintage fashion, museum hopping and beautiful purchases made.

We'll be posting the first items from this trip in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned... and stay safe amidst the fireworks!