Archive for December, 2022

Victorian glass brooch.

Today’s brooch feels festive and I often wear it for a New Year’s Eve party or some other special celebration. My mother gave it to me and I think it’s Victorian, perhaps crystal or glass. It reminds me of a icicles or a waterfall and since it’s quite large and slightly heavy, I pin it to a coat. An even better place to wear it is on a handbag.

This Corde handbag (circa 1930s), embellished with a Victorian brooch, is just the thing for a New Year’s Eve celebration.

Start the new year off tomorrow with Day Eight of The Twelve Days of Brooches.

Wishing all ODFL readers a happy and safe New Year’s Eve.

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Watch face brooch.

It’s Day Six and we’re looking at a watch face brooch that I made.

When I was in college I had a small business making and selling jewelry (I called it Personal Fixtures). I worked with found objects, mostly vintage buttons and as we see here, watch faces. The watch faces came to me from a friend who collected all kinds of strange odds and ends. He gave me boxes of faces and parts and I made brooches out of them. They were popular with customers, but I had a big problem – adhesive. I just couldn’t find anything that would bind the smooth enamel surfaces or even the metal parts. I had the same issue with buttons. So eventually I gave up my jewelry making business, but I hung on to whatever I had left in stock.

I still love this business card.

I learned a lot running my own little business including the fact that wearing what you make is the best advertisement. I wore these brooches mostly on sweaters and coats. I remember sporting one to a job interview just after I graduated from college. It was a position at a university and the nice woman in HR went crazy for my brooch and ordered one for herself and one for her daughter. Plus, I got the job!

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That’s my Bakelite picture hat (upper left) on top of a page of picture hats in The Bakelite Jewelry Book, by Corinne Davidov (Schiffer Books).

For Day Five of the Twelve Days of Brooches we have a red Bakelite picture hat. Part of my Bakelite collection, this hat was an incredible find.

Bakelite is a type of plastic popular in the 1930s and early 1940s for making jewelry. By the end of WWII other materials replaced Bakelite and it fell out of use. In the 1980s there was a craze for collecting Bakelite and the prices soared into the thousands of dollars for some of the more unique pieces.

I have been collecting Bakelite ever since I first learned about it as a teenager. I found this hat at an antique store in Norman, OK for a mere $15. The hat brooches are very collectable and still hold their value even though in general prices had gone way down.

This piece is large and I wear it alone on the shoulder of a dress or a coat. It packs a punch and gets attention.

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Tweeting vintage bird brooch signed Boucher.

Welcome to Day Four of The Twelve Days of Brooches. Today we have a special vintage piece signed Boucher. As in – French born Marcel Boucher, jewelry designer for Cartier.

Mr. Boucher was moved from Paris to the US by Cartier in the 1930s. He later took a job with another jewelry company and then in 1937 he founded his own company. He created bold pieces of jewelry often of animals and birds. His “fantasy birds” of the 1940s are particularly sought after. Achieving much success, he continued designing and manufacturing until his death in 1965. After that his wife took over the business until she sold the company in 1972.

My charming bird dates sometime after 1955 and I’m not sure where I got him, but a good guess would be that he was a Christmas stocking stuffer from my mother. She continued to give me a Christmas stocking long into my adulthood and often tucked in one or two pieces of vintage jewelry.

Boucher Bird is just the guy to add a little whimsy to a summer tote bag.

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It’s Day Three and today would have been my mother’s birthday. So, it seems fitting to feature a carved jet brooch. (I recently wrote a post about jet and its importance in Victorian England for mourning.)

This brooch is Victorian and is set in gold. I bought it from a fellow jet collector. She is also the accomplished seamstress and she made my 1831 ball gown back when I was attending formal Victorian balls. It was one of those moments where I saw it and had to have it. No hesitation because I hadn’t seen many carved jet pieces – still don’t. It’s not polished and therefore has a matte finish and since it’s small I liked to wear this with other jet brooches on the lapel of a jacket.

Happy Birthday, Mom. We are thinking of you.

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Happy Kwanzaa

Photo by Askar Abayev on Pexels.com

Kwanzaa begins today.

Enjoy the festivities!

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Day Two of The Twelve Days of Brooches is a vintage 1950s rhinestone flower and it has an interesting story.

This brooch ended up with me by mistake.

The year was 1993 and I was working as an extra on the film Golden Gate starring Matt Dillon and Joan Chen. It’s the story of an FBI agent (Dillon) in 1950s San Francisco and a young Chinese woman (Chen). The filming took place in SF and around the Bay Area. I was called in to work as an extra for a nightclub scene in downtown Oakland. What a blast that night was!

We were told to bring our own clothing – anything dressy that would work for the 1950s. Given my vintage collection that was easy for me. I brought a simple column knit dress in black (my mother’s) and a black faux fur coat (luckily, as we worked outside until the wee hours of the morning and it was cold). They gave me shoes, did my makeup and hair, plopped a hat on my head and added this rhinestone brooch to my coat. There were probably thirty or so other extras, mostly men who were cast as FBI agents. The funny part about that was that all the guys had long hair and one by one they got their hair chopped off because whoever heard of an FBI agent with long hippie hair? (Apparently some of the guys, who didn’t have long hair, were found by the film’s producers hanging out at a Frank Sinatra club in the Haight in SF.) It was a lighthearted gathering of extras and we had fun together.

Here are some of us hanging out together waiting for our scene. I am the third from the left wearing my mother’s 1950s knit dress.

My “part” was a woman hanging off the arm of a well-dressed gentleman. We were in a crowd of people finding our way down a dark alley with FBI agents hiding behind every nook and cranny. I decided to play it drunk and that allowed me to make a lot of noise and stumble around a bit. I’m pretty sure you can hear my laugh echoing into the night at the very end of the scene as we went down a few steps and into the nightclub.

There were maybe a half a dozen takes and when we were released at around 3am all of us were eager to go home. No one remembered the brooch on my coat. I discovered it a few days later and even though it’s not something I’d choose to wear, I keep it for the memories of that unique evening.

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Merry Christmas!

Welcome to The Twelve Days of Christmas, 2022. What is the theme this year?


Brooches are among my favorite pieces of jewelry and I have quite a few. Versatile, they can add interest on the shoulder of a sweater, or brighten up the lapel if a winter coat. They offer a bit of whimsy on a hat and they spruce up a handbag.

Now through January 5, 2023 I will share some of my collection with ODFL readers. Up first is an antique garnet brooch.

My mother and I found this Victorian garnet brooch in an antique store in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We were there one summer on vacation and were surprised by this shop tucked away among the markets and galleries selling Native American pieces of art and jewelry. As I recall the owner of the shop was drawn to Santa Fe, as many people are, and relocated from some other state.

My mother was an antique jewelry dealer and I used to help her at the antique shows she did around the Bay Area. I learned a lot form her and at the time I was slowly building up my collection of antique jewelry. This brooch had to be mine. Garnets attract me for their deep burgundy color and I like to wear them this time of year. They are the birthstone for January and symbolize love and friendship. The stones in this brooch are faceted and sparkle in the right light – perfect for holiday parties and dinners.

I love this brooch as much for the memory of finding it with my mother on that hot summer day in Santa Fe as for the beauty of the piece itself.

Come back tomorrow for Day Two of the Twelve Days of Brooches.

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Photo by Jessica Lewis Creative on Pexels.com

The Twelve Days of Christmas has become a holiday tradition here at OverDressedforLife. Starting on Christmas Day and every day through January 5, ODFL features something that fits a particular theme. The first year in 2018 it was holiday greeting cards and in 2020 it was vintage handbags. Last year it was tree ornaments. What will it be this year?

Come visit on Christmas Day to find out the holiday surprise – from ODFL to you!

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Welcome winter!

I wave a sad goodbye to autumn. Recently I was thinking that it feels like we rush through my favorite season. Once Halloween has come and gone we are in a hurry to move on to the winter holidays. Away go autumnal colors of oranges and browns and out come the holiday decorations before we even celebrate Thanksgiving.

Winter is my second favorite season and now I’m ready for warm layering. It’s cold in my neck of the woods so I’m reacquainting myself with my knit hats, gloves, and scarves. It’s time for festive reds and greens, shades of dark blue, silver, and gold. Some people like pastels this time of year, such as pink and gray. I like a touch of cream and foggy gray with a little sparkle for the New Year celebrations.

Whatever color you’re drawn to these days, keep it stylish and warm this winter.

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