Winters Past

20th Century Fashion from Deco to Disco

October 17, 2018
by Winters Past
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Vintage Disco Shirts: A Trip to Funkytown

As a scrawny and not particularly coordinated kid, gym class was my least favorite part of school, an experience I can sum it up in two terrifying words: dodge ball.

Except for this: there was that brief shining moment in hight school when our gym teachers decided to be hip and relevant by allowing us to choose from a range of PE options. This is how I ended up taking  disco dancing twice a week for an entire semester. Talk about useful life skills!

At the time, I favored a type of silky button down shirts with bright, Art Deco inspired prints.  So when I recently came across a polyester Huk-A-Poo disco shirt, it was just like Proust taking a bite of that Madeleine cookie. I was suddenly transported to a gymnasium in Pittsburgh in 1976 and Do The Hustle was on the turntable.

vintage 1970s Huk-a-Poo shirt

There was no difference, really, between men’s and women’s disco shirts. Same eye-popping prints, same oversized lapels, same silky (but definitely not silk) fabric.

The era when men’s shirts could be printed with just about anything

There is a special vortex in the universe where Philadelphia soul music, Greg Brady and the Sears catalogue intersect. The disco shirt occurred during a fashion blip in which the lines that separate  gender, race and social class were blurred, albeit temporarily. 

These shirts are amazing if you didn’t live through that era and  and embarrassing if you did. They are mini masterpieces with pop art patterns and eccentric color schemes, all cut with proportions that favor the fit. 

And here’s the Quiana quartet that I came across last week:

1970s mens disco shirts

October 10, 2018
by Winters Past
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Add Sparkle to Your Day With Vintage Crystal Ear Rings

I have a new grand baby, y’all, and needless to say he’s sweet as can be. So far, his favorite hobbies include getting a bath, listening to his music box and looking at pretty, sparkly things.

In honor of that little guy, let’s all take a moment to enjoy some sparkle, too. Feel free to kick your feet, wave your arms around and coo when you see something you like!

Speaking of sparkle, right now I’m taking a fresh look vintage crystal chandelier ear rings. In a modern context, they’re glamorously decadent with a punky edge.

Adding a pair of these statement earrings takes any outfit up a few notches.

Here are some vintage crystal ear rings in a dressy way. These ladies have toned down the glam by pairing chandelier ear rings with solid black or grey. They’ve tucked their hair back, toned their makeup down and left off any other accessories to keep it simple and pretty.

wear vintage crystal ear rings

Wear vintage crystal ear rings for evening

Take two! Here we have vintage sparkly ear rings paired with just about anything: denim, a leather jacket, a tee or tank. You get the idea.

wear vintage crystal ear rings

Vintage crystal ear rings with, basically, anything

And…some vintage pretties I have in the shop

vintage crystal ear rings

vintage crystal ear rings

September 30, 2018
by Winters Past
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More Reasons to Love Vintage Costume Jewelry

In today’s massive understatement, its a bit of an intense time we are living in, no? Let’s be sure we make time to enjoy the small pleasures.

Not surprisingly, today I’m focusing on the tiny treasures that are vintage costume jewelry. I’m looking at pieces from the golden age of American costume jewelry, the 1940’s and 1950’s.

Here are some reasons why:

  • The Sparkle

Vintage rhinestones are high quality faceted Czech glass crystals set on a foil backing. The colors are deep and rich and the shine is dazzling. 

  • The Designs

When high fashion designers from Chanel in the 1920’s to Dior in the 50’s created costume jewelry, it gained legitimacy as an art form.

vintage costume jewelry at winters past

  • The Quality

The craftsmanship of vintage costume jewelry is incredible. The stones are cut and prong set exactly like fine jewelry and the finishes are triple plated so they wear really well over time.

  • The Style 

Each piece is a mini work of art.

vintage costume jewelry at winters past

  • The Fun

There is playfulness, wit and joy in vintage costume jewelry.

  • The Uniqueness

Wear one of these beauties and  bring a one of a kind element to whatever else  you wear

vintage costume jewelry at winters past

September 20, 2018
by Winters Past
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Victorian Finery

Last week was a  stellar one for vintage hunting. Among other things, I was lucky to find a dozen Victorian undergarments, all in the softest cotton and all white.

antique Victorian chemises

antique Victorian treasures

The Victorians, bless their repressed hearts, actually knew a thing or two about seduction.  Like slowly unwrapping a glorious gift, getting undressed was such a slow, laborious process that one would think it heightened their anticipation.

These garments were worn in strict order underneath one’s actual clothing. The first layer next to the skin was a pair of bloomers or pantaloons. Then came a chemise, which was either a loose cotton top or gown. Next was the corset, then one or two petticoat skirts or a crinoline over a hoop skirt. Then, at long last, the dress. Can you, in your yoga pants and flip flops, imagine wearing all that?

Those Victorians did not stint on embellishing the layers that went under their clothing. There are pin tucks, pleats and all manner of hand made lace.

antique Victorian chemises

These pieces are far to pretty to hide under other clothes! While some are more obviously night gowns, others are great as dresses.

antique Victorian chemises

September 11, 2018
by Winters Past
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Reimagining the Eighties: Subversive Prairie Style

I learn a lot about clothes and style from watching how my customers wear vintage. Recently I’ve noticed an interesting thing: some very stylish, fashion-forward ladies have a fresh, modern take on those iconic  70’s-80’s Victorian peasant frocks. You know these dresses. They have high necks, puffy shoulders and leg-‘o-mutton sleeves and they evoke a Hasidic/Amish homesteader in a Laura Ashley fever dream.

I began to notice this micro trend popping up in social media land. The “Mary Shelly on the Prairie” aesthetic is a self-aware play on femininity, especially when paired with chunky bold shoes and natural hair. They look fresh in a good-weird way and they’re surprisingly sexy, like this:

Modern prairie style vintage dressing

Modern prairie style vintage dressing

Subversive Sister-wife Style

My inner feminist nerd is intrigued. These dresses are the opposite of short, tight and low cut styles designed for an unevolved man’s idea of sexiness. Perhaps a woman who owns her own body might choose not to display it for the male gaze but rather chooses to dress for her own enjoyment. Self-possession carries it’s own sexiness.

Maybe the true insurgents are the ones wearing ruffles.

1980s Laura Ashley style

Christina Ricci as Wednesday Adams, Chloe Sevigney as a sister wife, Sissy Spacek in Badlands, Elaine on Seinfeld, Princess Diana and Courtney Love all play with subversive ideas of  femininity

But I digress. Back to vintage clothes. To paraphrase Freud, sometimes a dress is just a dress and these dresses are off-kilter, playful and funky.

So, if you’re feeling like the love child of  Jane Eyre and Laura Ingalls Wilder, I’ve got your frock.

Updated take on prairie modern

Updated take on prairie modern

September 5, 2018
by Winters Past
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Art Deco Exotic: Egyptian Woven Metal Shawl

Last week I was able to acquire some really wonderful 1920’s beaded dresses. So exciting! More on that later.

Lets talk about another amazing piece I was able to get with the flapper dresses, a woven metal shawl in geometric patterns. It’s flexible, sinuously draping over the body in a sexy and exotic way. So what is it?

1920s Egyptian Shawl

Fine metal shawl from the 1920s 

It’s a mesh fabric that’s been hand embroidered with  thin strips of metal threaded into a pattern.

Called “tulle bi telli” which means net with metal in Arabic, it’s also known as “Assuit”, after the town in Egypt where it was made.

After King Tut’s tomb was opened in 1922, there was a craze for all things Egyptian. The geometric designs echoed an Art Deco aesthetic while evoking a mythological otherness. Westerners loved their fantasy of an exotic Middle East filled with harems, hashish and sheiks. This was a common theme in silent movies.

Tulle bi telli shawl

Tulle bi telli goes to the movies

In film, Assiut cloth represented luxury and symbolized a bohemian lifestyle.  The cloth is not ancient;  it dates back to the British Occupation of Egypt in the 1880’s.  It reached a peak in the 1920’s, when starlets evoked unbridled, foreign sensuality in Assiut get ups.

Once again evoking exoticism, tulle bi telli was worn by performers in the late 20th century:

Tulle bi telli shawl

Lauren Hutton, La Streisand, Bianca, Lenny Kravitz, Souxie  but no Banshees, and that guy from Queen who is not Freddy Mercury

Modern designers periodically rediscover the sexy drape of assuit fabric like these runway lovelies:

assiut in modern fashion

Drapey metal Assiut fabric in modern fashion

August 26, 2018
by Winters Past
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Exploring Early 60s Style

I recently had a photo shoot with Micanopy portrait photographer Aimee Van Gelder. I dressed in vintage outfits from three eras including the early 1960s, while Aimee did her thing with lights, backdrops and poses.

For my early 60’s look, I chose a vintage sleeveless dress with a jewel neck. It had a full pleated skirt. My hat was a straw boater & I donned some ladylike short white gloves.

early 1960s style

Early 1960s style

In this hat I felt a little bit like Marlo Thomas in That Girl. It was a fun, easy to wear look that-sans gloves-I’d  wear right now. Of course, exploring this style made me go down the rabbit hole of fashion research

From start to finish, the 1960s was a decade of dramatic change. As with all eras, the tenor of the times is reflected in the clothes.

Social change was happening very fast in the 60’s. It was really like three mini decades compressed into a 10 year span.

So lets look at the early 60’s, which was really just a rather conservative extension of the 50’s. The styles were ladylike and proper. Mini skirts hadn’t happened yet. Ladies were still wearing hats and gloves.

early 1960s style

If June Cleaver was your role model, you were in luck

The waistline was at the waist. Dresses were either full and swingy or a slim pencil/sheath cut. Prints and colors were more muted and classic than the 1950s. The early 60s were the calm before the storm!

August 17, 2018
by Winters Past
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A Short Post About Vintage Shorts

The fashion pendulum is forever swinging. One style gets popular and you see it everywhere until a few innovative people start sporting it’s polar opposite. After a while, that once-fresh style gets too popular and the old look cycles back into favor. Statement necklaces give way to dainty necklaces. Baggy jeans give way to skinny jeans and back again.

Right now, the innovative ones have adopted a high waisted look. Right now, my customers want a waistline at or above the natural waist in jeans, shorts and pencil skirts.

Mid century vintage shorts sport a high waist so they definitely fit in with that look. With that in mind, I recently asked my Etsy model Angela La Muse to show us vintage shorts from the 40’s to the early 60’s, the heyday of great high waisted shorts. The Betty Grable bombshell look is her specialty, so she was happy to oblige.

We started with the 1940s because it is really the first decade that women wore shorts. In classic pin-up style, the silhouette is high waisted and rather short. Some have trouser detail like pleats, cuffs and pockets. They close at the side or back.

vintage 1940s shorts

Vintage 1940s shorts

In the 1950’s, leisure culture in America really took hold. Think about the suburban casual lifestyle from the decade that gave us the patio, the lanai, grilling, and pool parties. The Miami/Palm Beach aesthetic was new and fresh. Along with that came shorts of many styles.

In the 1950’s the shortest length was the short short, followed by an above the knee Bermuda, below the knee pedal pushers and the capri which is somewhere between a short and a pant. Other cropped pants or long shorts were known as pedal pushers,  clam diggers, and toreador pants.

vintage 1950s shorts

Vintage 1950s shorts

In the early 1960’s, shorts were still high waisted but came to the knee or below.

vintage 1960s shorts

Vintage 1960s shorts

By the mid to late 60’s, the style pendulum had moved to hip huggers and cut offs, and these high waisted beauties had to wait for the next style cycle to make them fashionable again.

August 10, 2018
by Winters Past
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We Will Never Be Royals (but we can wear hats like them)

Yesterday a friend told me about a lovely tradition she established for herself: she has saved a favorite clothing item from each decade of her life. Brilliant!

I can picture a few of my own stellar wardrobe items I would love to still have, especially some of my clothes from the 80’s. I was a young adult then, with a bit of discretionary income and time, so I was more indulgent with myself.

My mother’s most fashionable era was the 40’s, her own young single adulthood. I love to look at photos of her wearing trim little suits, red lipstick and a great hat, worn at an angle. Perhaps this is why I really love the 1940s tilt hats and, when I find one, I think of my mother.

The 1940’s was a great hat decade. One of the most flattering styles was the tilt hat, which has no brim or a very small one. It’s generally worn a little bit forward and to one side.

To illustrate their allure , here is the patron saint of 40’s tilt hats, Bette Davis:

Bette Davis in 1940s tilt hat

She’s got Bette Davis hats

In the modern world, the heir apparent of the sassy tilt hat is Kate Middleton. Behold her ability to look like she’s having a great time in each of these beauties. She may never be the Queen but in my book she’s the queen of modern headwear:

Kate Middelton vintage hats

Kate Middelton’s hat game is on point

New on the scene is Meghan Markle, who also knows her way around a great tilt hat:

Meghan Markle in hats

Meghan Markle in hats

The royals are wearing new hats in the style of vintage ones. My preference, of course, is for true vintage, like these:

modern women wearing vintage tilt hats

Modern women wearing vintage tilt hats

Like Bette Davis, these modern ladies know that a smaller hat worn at a tilt is a great look.

July 27, 2018
by Winters Past
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Vintage Mexican Fashion, Frida Style

Frida Kahlo. What are you picturing right now? Braided hair, flower crowns, long embroidered dresses and, of course, the unibrow.

Kahlo developed an absolutely unique, artfully created look that erased the line between her art and her personal style.

Here is a pretty cool garment I recently acquired that made me think about the artist’s “traditional” dress and how she made a statement with it.

vintage Mexican dress at Winters Past

Satin and lace dress with floral embroidery

It’s a Tehuana dress and it’s from the town of Oaxaca in southeast Mexico.

Frida Kahlo famously wore this style and painted portraits of herself wearing it.  Here is some of Frida’s wardrobe from an exhibit:

Frida vintage Mexican dress at Winters Past

And a few photos of her wearing this style:

Frida Kahlo in traditional Mexican Tehuana dress

Frida Kahlo in traditional Mexican Tehuana dress

Kahlo was very conscious of image and symbolism as well as aesthetics. She knew she commanded attention with her personal style and she used this to  express her thoughts about Mexican culture to the larger world.

On another level, it was also a feminist statement. Oaxaca has traditionally been a matriarchal society where women ran the marketplace and the economy, so she adopted their clothing style as a symbol of female power.

She also wore long skirts to disguise her physical disabilities, which she revealed in her paintings but not in her public life.

Kahlo’s clothing was a part of her art, and still commands attention 50 years after her passing.