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Posts Tagged ‘vintage style’

Barbara Jefford as Lady Lydia Eliott. Note Lydia’s collar, reminiscent of the 17th century Ruff.

She spends all that money on clothes and she still manages to look cheap. No doubt her latest young man tells her bad taste is all the rage.

Lady Lydia Eliott, fictional character played by Barbara Jefford in the British television series The House of Eliott.

A little “mean girl” humor.

The House of Eliott is one of my all time favorite British series. Created by Eileen Atkins and Jean Marsh (Upstairs Downstairs), it features two sisters who face hardships as independent women fashion designers in 1920s London. I own the entire series on DVD and I watch it when I’m feeling low or just need an escape. Of course I pulled it out in Pandemic Year 2020 and that’s when I happened to catch this funny line.

I’m quite fond of Lady Lydia. She’s so biting, she’s hilarious, and Ms. Jefford is wonderful at balancing the cattiness of Lydia with her vulnerability. I think a good snooty character is great fun.

Click here for another post I wrote on The House of Eliott.

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Recently I was going through papers looking for something that I didn’t find but I did unearth something else – a letter from me to my mother when I was in college.

Mom has kept pretty much every letter, card, and postcard I ever sent to her from college (I was in another state) and traveling. I wrote to her a lot and she to me. It was something we just did, regularly. We spoke on the phone as well but that was expensive so we kept calls to once a week or so.

Since my mother moved, all of this correspondence is now with me. Luckily, I am old enough to appreciate their value as a window through which to view the many stages of my own life. A few years earlier, into the recycle bin they would have gone.

This letter was written right before Thanksgiving back when a stamp cost 22 cents. In it I thanked her for a card she sent to me and ten dollars (it seemed I was always cash poor when I was in college, even though I had a part-time job). I told her about a paper I was working on for my British history class and the following:

I put together the most fabulous outfit. I wore the gold and black circle skirt I made (you remember) with the 40s satin jacket you gave me and sheer light green stockings and my brown 40s shoes I bought with you. My jewelry was perfect, a copper leaf pattern necklace that lays flat on my collar bone and these funky 40s (or 50s) drop earrings that are oranges. The whole outfit was just great. I got a lot of attention. You wouldn’t believe how perfectly that jacket goes with the skirt.

I mentioned that I put together this outfit for a reception at a furniture store that I attended with my then boyfriend. I don’t recall that night or the outfit and I don’t have a photo, but I do remember each element of the outfit.

I still have the satin jacket, which has a Don Loper label. I Love Lucy fans might recognize that name; Mr. Loper (1906-1972) was the Hollywood fashion and costume designer who played himself in a 1955 episode of Lucy titled The Fashion Show. I suspect my jacket originally had a matching skirt. (Wouldn’t that have been quite jazzy!)

The skirt I paired with the jacket was a cotton circle skirt that I made. It had a large abstract black stick figure pattern and patch pockets. It was somewhat ethnic looking and an odd match with the dressy jacket but that’s what made the outfit so interesting. I also still have the shoes – brown suede with a slight platform and a three inch heel. I often wear these shoes to period costume events.

The copper necklace (purchased at Emporium, the only vintage store in my college town) I have since passed along as well as the earrings, which were little oranges made of plastic. I like how I played with color and wasn’t afraid to do a mix up. I wish I had mentioned what handbag I chose.

Even though I don’t have a photo, I can still picture that outfit as if I had worn it yesterday and I’m so pleased to have stumbled upon the forgotten evening thanks to a simple letter to my mom.

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Watching on television the Biden/Harris Inauguration, I enjoyed the style parade: shades of blue and purple, long coats, dress suits, and pantsuits. There were gloves on everyone, usually color coordinated or black. No hats on this cold winter day, but long windswept hair instead.

Ella Emhoff’s handbag looks vintage to me.

It was all very nice and very expected. Then, something unexpected – my eyes widened when the camera followed a tall woman descending the inside stairs. “Who is that?” I actually said out loud, admiring her unique inauguration choice of a brown and tan tweed coat with sparkly amber colored stones sprinkled around the shoulders and a pointed white collar. I also liked her practical yet chic headband.

It turns out the young lady is Ella Emhoff, Harris’ stepdaughter and the coat is a Miu Miu design. Now she’s all over the fashion press, #NewStyleIcon.

But there’s something I noticed that others have not and that would be her handbag, which looks to be VINTAGE. Overtaken by the coat, no one is talking about the handbag. Is it vintage? I can’t say for sure, however, the short handle, the shape of the bag, the frame and clasp plus it looks to be made of fabric, tells me it’s vintage (could be 30s-50s) or at least it’s vintage inspired. Either way, what a charming touch!

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I was inspired by stylist Bella McFadden to sift through my closet and do some of my own 90s styling. Using a skirt of that era, I put together an outfit that I actually remember wearing to a family dinner, circa 1997. Then I thought about how someone like Ms. McFadden might take the same skirt and create an outfit for today adding other 90s pieces but creating a completely different look.

My original outfit includes a silk blouse by Kiss of the Wolf and a velvet quilted jacket with a mandarin collar. By then I was already in the habit of including vintage touches (1930s-60s), which I believe make any outfit much more interesting – in this case the 1940s shoes and handbag with a Lucite handle. I wore two strands of pearls, one in cream and one in grey, which matches the grey buttons on the blouse. The large Victorian jet ring is a favorite of mine that I wear more now than I did then. The bracelet is a 1930s faux pearl cuff. Adding the vintage pieces and wearing a simple jacket makes this outfit almost timeless. Almost. The skirt gives it away.

I had fun putting together a 90s retro outfit using the same skirt and other pieces I have in my wardrobe which date from that era. Back in the day, I would not have worn those shoes nor the fancy fishnets with that skirt but I was thinking Bella McFadden and what she might have done with the same pieces.

I layered the simple t-shirt with a camisole and added a couple of silver chains for a mix and match look. I pulled my hair up for a touch of quirky and those sunglasses are Anne Klein II from Macy’s. I’m not much of a belt person but this woven leather belt adds some needed edge as does the crossbody purse. Of course if I’m going to sport this ensemble today, I need a mask.

So there we have two completely different looks using the same skirt. It’s all down to the styling!

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This lovely Corde’ handbag is one of several that I own. Popular in the 1940s, Corde’ bags were made from rows of gimp (cord used for trim in clothing and furniture) stitched in interesting patterns to fabric backing. The inside label says “A Genuine Corde’ Registered Trademark. Made in England.”

I add a tulle bow for festive holiday outings.

A gift from my mother, I don’t save this handbag for just vintage events; I use it often for special occasions and evenings out. It holds quite a lot and the handle is just long enough to slip over my shoulder, which updates the look.

Tomorrow we come to the final day of The Twelve Days of Vintage Handbags. Don’t miss it!

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For our final vintage handbag of the series I present this lovely gold mesh evening bag by Whiting and Davis.

Most vintage enthusiasts have a Whiting and Davis in their collection and mine came to me from my grandmother. It’s in such excellent condition I can hardly believe it dates from the 1930s.

The Whiting and Davis plant in MA, c.1920.

Whiting and Davis was the leading manufacturer of mesh handbags after the company patented mesh making machines in 1912. Located in Norfolk, MA the main American plant designed and constructed dozens of different patterns from painted mesh to enamel to silver or gold plate.

In 1966 the company sold but it’s still around today, still making mesh bags that sell at high-end stores for upwards of $200.

My gold Whiting and Davis mesh evening bag was the perfect choice for the ADSC 2016 Preservation Ball.

I often sport my vintage W&D at Art Deco evening events such as the ADSC Preservation Ball. I look forward to using it again, hopefully later this year.

And with that, we are at the end of The Twelve Days of Vintage Handbags. I hope readers have enjoyed the holiday series as much as I have. There will be another one next season. Hmm … what will it be? Stay with us this year and find out.

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This one was among my first and best purchases while I was still a college student. At that time there was a vintage shop called Emporium located on Campus Corner near the university. My friend and I would go in regularly and I also tended to stop by on my way home from classes. I was pretty broke in college so I had to be careful but, when I saw this clutch I didn’t hesitate. I don’t even recall how much I paid but I do remember that this shop was very reasonable with their pricing.

The bag is from the 1920s, made of leather with whip stitching on the edges and gold metal inserts. Inside there are several different size pockets, including one just the right size for business cards. (There are still a few of my cards tucked into that pocket as I had a small business making brooches and bolos out of vintage buttons and watch faces.) It expands to hold surprisingly quite a lot and I really like the option of using the strap at the top. It was and still is in excellent condition.

I used it often back then for evenings out to plays (I reviewed plays and movies for the college newspaper) or dinner. It was just the right touch to make an outfit pop.

We are rolling along and tomorrow is day eleven. What will our handbag be? Come back to find out.

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Another fabric handbag, this time a clutch in brown with swipes of black. I spotted this bag at the now defunct Vintage Fashion Expo – a vintage sale held twice a year in San Francisco (oh how I miss the Fashion Expo). I instantly fell in love with the unusual curve at the bottom of this bag, which is just perfect for holding. The shape and fabric remind me of mid-century furniture.

A classic 1950s handbag, I often wear it with a brown full skirt dress that I bought at the same time from the same dealer. This is my go-to autumn party outfit. Parties? Remember those?

Remember to stop back tomorrow for another vintage handbag.

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This beaded beauty was a gift from a friend of mine. It dates from the 1940s and comes with a mirror and a glasses case. I have worn it many times for an evening of dancing or an elegant dinner out. The beads give off just a bit of sparkle in dim light.

There are a few of my handbags that I use as decoration and this is one of them. It’s a piece of sartorial sculpture and way too pretty to keep in a closet.

Tomorrow is another day with another vintage handbag. Come back!

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This fabric handbag hails from the UK. I purchased the satchel at an antique market in London for 20 pounds, which at that time was about $40. It’s another one of my faves for the style and the fact that the emblem on the front looks a bit like the initial M. In excellent condition, it’s all leather inside and has a label that reads: Made in Italy exclusively for D. Henry. I did a little research on D. Henry and unfortunately came up with nothing. I’m not sure of the era but I suspect 1960s going for a retro look. It’s an unusual handbag regardless.

I sport it with some of my vintage outfits but I also wear it with a casual dress or skirt if the colors are compatible. I’m a big fan of mixing vintage with modern.

Here I am sporting this handbag with my mother at at 1920s ADSC event, circa 1996.

Come back tomorrow for a vintage handbag that’s just the thing for New Year’s Eve.

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