Winters Past

20th Century Fashion from Deco to Disco

July 22, 2018
by Winters Past

The Secret Life of Clothes: Hippie Shirts

Most of the time when I buy things for the shop, even men’s things, I buy them from women. I rarely get the garments’ backstory from a man’s viewpoint. However, this week, I got a dozen pieces from a man who really wanted to tell me all about his shirts. So here we have the next installment in occasional series I call The Secret Life of Clothes, and this time its about a guy who had sentimental attachments to his old hippie shirts.

This 72 year old man saved his shirts from the 1970s in the back of his closet for 40 years because they helped him remember a specific period of his life.  In the 1970’s he had been married to the love of his life, a creative and volatile woman named Zoma. She sewed well-crafted snap front cowboy shirts and “ethnic” pullover jackets for him, then she broke his heart.

vintage 1970s mens shirts

Upper left: “I wore this one to a bar with my big white cowboy hat. A big biker dude grabbed me and took my hat. It took my wife and I both to fight him off, but we got the hat back. She was a tough one-she didn’t shy away from a fight.”

Upper right: “I got this shirt when I was in Guatemala. As soon as we got there, a civil war broke out. We had to hide in the hills for weeks”

Lower left: “We were in Mexico on the motorcycle . I got this leather vest with snakeskin trim. She got a matching halter top.”

vintage 1970s mens shirts

Upper Left: “We were going to a concert. My wife grabbed the bedspread right off the bed, made me a shirt and a skirt for herself and we matched.”

Upper right: “I called this one my special shirt. I only wore it when I was taking LSD”

Lower left: “After my wife left, I moped around the house for awhile  and then I started to go out again, I wore this shirt because the ladies seemed to like it”

Lower right: “I had this shirt made for me in Hong Kong”

Me: “What were you doing in Hong Kong?”

Him: “I have no idea”

vintage 1970s mens shirts

Upper left: “She tapered this one so it really fit me. It was my favorite shirt. It’s nice to have clothes made just for you.”

Upper right: “I called this one my ‘power shirt’. I wore it when I needed a little extra, you know, power”

Lower left: “I got this one when we backpacked across Indonesia”

Lower right: “This was the last shirt she made for me.”

July 11, 2018
by Winters Past

Vintage Sleuth: How to Figure Out How Old It Is

Did you read Nancy Drew books when you were kid? Just like the intrepid girl detective, I enjoy a good mystery and a little sleuth work now and then.

Since I want to know the age and background of every piece in the shop, a little detective work is in order. I thought you might want to hop into my metaphorical convertible roadster and go along for the ride.

Let’s solve the mystery this dress I recently acquired. So pretty, right?

It’s a shirtwaist style lace day dress with impeccable detail.  What fancy mechanical buttons!

vintage 1930's lace dress

How old is this vintage lace dress?

Let’s look at the overall style and cut. It has a waistline at the waist, a metal side zipper, a gently flaring hem and a light shoulder pad.

These features lead me to think it’s from the late 30’s to early 40’s. Why?

Well, I know that zippers started to be used in clothing in 1935, so it was made after that. Zippers moved to the back in the late 50s and were made of nylon after 1965, placing our garment well before that.

If  it were a WW2 era dress, roughly 1942-1947,  the shoulder pads would be broader and bolder, so it’s probably not from those years.

A late 40’s or 1950’s dress would have an exaggerated fit-and-flare silhouette with a dramatically wide hem, placing it earlier than that.

Now lets search Google for a “1930’s 1940s lace day dress”.  Here are a few, all listed as being 1930s:

vintage 1930's lace dress

Pretty similar to our dress

Now let’s look up the label, which reads Frillon Lace.

Woo Hoo! Jackpot! It’s the same dress in a different colorway.

But wait! Is that an advertisement for our dress from 1938?

vintage 1930's lace dress

The photos shoe someone online posting a similar dress with an ad for it from 1938

Mystery solved, case closed. Let’s have some Tollhouse cookies straight from the oven with a glass of cold milk to celebrate.

July 4, 2018
by Winters Past

Vintage Turquoise and Silver Jewelry

This photo of Princess Grace from the 70’s is just about perfect. The hair, the caftan, the pose, yes!

Now focus on just her squash blossom necklace. It’s bold, obviously, but she wears it so well.

vintage squash blossom

Grace Kelly mixes cultures with ease

Now feast your eyes on actress Vanessa Hudgens in a simple white outfit and a huge fabulous squash blossom. Yowza mama!

vintage squash blossom

Actress Vanessa Hudgens

Native American jewelry is gorgeous and popular but not so easy for me to find. However, I do have an occasional visitor to the shop, a Navajo man from New Mexico, who sells older pieces for his extended family. I buy from him whenever he’s in Florida.

Last week I was lucky enough to have a visit from him and was able to acquire this beauty:

wearing vintage native american jewelry

Antique Navajo squash blossom necklace                                                                                   

There is a lot to learn about this jewelry and I pick up bits and pieces from him. One interesting thing I have come to understandand is that most US turquoise mines are tapped out, so the only way to see the full range of American turquoise is in vintage jewelry.

My seller knows which mine each piece of turquoise comes from based to the color and the “matrix”,  which is the pattern caused by copper in the stones. These Navajo rings that I bought last week show some of the varieties turquoise comes in.

vintage silver rings

Antique Native American rings, including white turquoise, top left, and one with a badger claw, top right

Here’s a superb necklace now in the shop featuring turquoise from the Royston mine in Nevada. It was made by the tribe known as Santo Domingo (but who prefer to be called Kewa).

vintage turquoise

Handmade Turquoise Disc (Heishi) necklace

Now let’s look at some modern ladies wearing vintage Native American jewelry with relaxed ease. Like Princess Grace and Vanessa Hudgens, they keep the rest of the outfit simple and neutral, letting their jewelry take center stage.

wear vintage turquoise and silver

wearing vintage native american jewelry

June 21, 2018
by Winters Past

Easy Summer Style: Tie a Vintage Silk Scarf in your Hair

Hot. Humid. Summer. Florida. Also, mosquitos.

Happy solstice, y’all!

Clearly its far too muggy for complete sentences. We wouldn’t want to overly exert ourselves right now, would we?

Here’s a very easy style idea that takes mere seconds, will elevate your look and will actually make you feel cooler. 

There are but 3 easy steps. 1.Pick up some vintage silk scarves. 2.Gather your hair into some semblance of a bun. 3.Tie the scarf around the bun. There you have it!

Ladies with cropped hair can do the scarf thing, too, minus the bun.

Now get yourself a cold beverage, one thats not too sweet. Right now I’m enjoying  Passion Fruit tea from Tazo, iced. It’s like an updated version of the classic hippie Zinger teas but less pucker inducing. A chilled La Croix is alway nice, too. I like the Pamplemouse, which is apparently French for grapefruit, and not only for the name.

Add a paper fan from the Asian market and you’re good to go.

Here’s that scarf-plus-bun combo in action:

Tie a vintage scarf in your hair

A messy bun looks fresh when wrapped in a vintage silk scarf

vintage scarf and a messy bun

Tuck the scarf ends in or let them trail.

vintage scarf and a messy bun

You can wrap the scarf around the bun or around your head to hold back the strays.

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy.

Stay vintage. Stay cool.

vintage loungewear at Winters Past in Micanopy

May 31, 2018
by Winters Past

Vintage Hostess Wear

Recently I came across this gorgeous garment. It’s a floor length,  in a crisp taffeta fabric, with dramatic collar and cuff detail. It’s got a wonderful late 1940s feel and a bold paid print:

vintage loungewear at Winters Past in Micanopy

vintage loungewear at Winters Past in Micanopy

It’s kind of a gown, yet kind of a robe. After a deep dive into the turbulent waters of Lake Google, I solved this sartorial mystery. It’s a hostess outfit, a special category that existed from the 1920s into the 1970s. These pieces are not sleepwear or streetwear; they are lounge attire, worn by the lady of the house for entertaining. It’s a category of clothing called “at home clothes” that has since gone extinct.

In the 20’s and ’30s, “at home” clothes were very elegant. Hostess garments were either silk lounging pants, beach pajamas or fancy wraps. In the 1940s, hostesses often wore a long belted robe like my plaid one. In the 1950s,”cigarette” pants with an open skirt or overdress were considered a very chic outfit when having guests. Lucille Ball wore one of these in an I Love Lucy episode and looked very stylish.

By the mid 1960’s, the Maxi Dress era was upon us and hostesses wore lots of polyester in bright prints or black.

The 1970s were, of course, the Caftan Decade. From Marrakesh to Miami, ladies and a few brave men lounged in these exotic garments.

vintage loungewear at Winters Past in Micanopy

vintage loungewear at Winters Past in Micanopy

After the 1970’s, hostess wear disappeared and long with it, a certain elegance.

The idea of pairing comfort and a bit of elegance is an appealing one, along with a life in which we take the time to turn drinks or dinner with friends into an event.

Although I tend toward nostalgia as a default response, I do know the “athleisure” trend does not actually signal the end of civilization as we know it.

It is possible to live fully in the modern world while still holding a space in our lives for a more gracious social experience, one encapsulated by the idea of “at home” clothes. I like the idea of clothing that isn’t what we exercise or sleep in to wear when we are in our homes.

Lately, even if my evening involves the couch  and the second season of Mad Men,  I’m trying to wear something other than last year’s yoga pants. I found a great mod caftan with a seventies socialite vibe that I’m wearing as an “at home” outfit and I’m on the lookout for more.

May 24, 2018
by Winters Past

Vintage Weekends, UK Style

As the owner of a vintage shop in a small rural Florida town, I have had a surprising number of British customers come through. There are even a few UK based vintage sellers who buy from me.

They tell me that “Vintage Weekends” are a huge big deal among a subgroup of English people, and it looks like so much fun.

Here are a few posters for British retro festivals I’ve seen on-line:

British vintage weekends

British vintage weekends

These weekend festivals have a big emphasis on retro music with roots in the US. They celebrate swing,  R & B, boogie-woogie,  rockabilly, jazz,  blues, doo-wop and bluegrass. In fact, it looks like the Brits may have a deeper appreciation for classic American music than we have.

Music is only part of the story. There is a real mid century American carnival feel to these vintage events. They’ve got hot-rod racing, roller-skating, drive-in movies, classic car shows, and retro burlesque.

For me, of course, it’s all about the vintage clothes, hair and make-up, which are stellar. I see a mix of true vintage and reproduction garments, mixed with style and flair.

UK vintage weekends

UK vintage weekends

So, why are vintage weekends such a big thing in England?

I have a few thoughts that I’d like to explore further but for now, I’m enjoying keeping tabs on these vintage extravaganzas and their marvelous melange of styles.

May 13, 2018
by Winters Past

Wearing Vintage Statement Earrings in a Modern Way

This is Jenny Walton.

She’s an illustrator, a fashion stylist and she’s a vintage earring savant. Behold:

Wearing vintage statement earrings

Wearing mostly vintage pieces, including statement earrings

In fact, her take on vintage is absolutely on-point. She offers a fresh new way of combining eras, deftly pairing vintage with modern.  She accessorizes with a few signature pieces including a swoon-worthy collection of vintage earrings.

vintage statement earrings

That touch of bling makes the whole outfit sing

vintage statement earrings

Wearing vintage statement earrings in a very modern way

Here’s what Jenny has to say about her style:

“You shouldn’t be afraid to wear crystals during the day—they’re good for taking something casual to a much more special place.” 

“The bigger the earring, the better! Longer styles draw attention to that space between your jawline and your shoulders (which is quite flattering).” 

“It’s OK to be obvious and pair sparkle with a little more sparkle.” 

“These big round baubles are even more fun when you pair them with other exaggerated shapes” 

Jenny tends to pull her hair into a simple bun to better focus on her lovely lobes.

If you’re ready to try some bold vintage earring, here are just a few lovelies I have in the shop right now:

vintage statement earrings

vintage statement earrings

vintage statement earrings

May 7, 2018
by Winters Past

Dressing Vintage for Dapper Days

The modern era is a casual time. CEOs of major corporations wear jeans and hoodies to work. The lines between athletic attire, sleepwear and everyday clothing have blurred.

And yet, people still crave a reason to get dressed up.

I have quite a few customers who dress head to toe  in fancy vintage clothes and go to Disney parks for a big festival two times a year.

The gathering is called Dapper Days and it looks something like this:

 Dapper Days

Wearing their vintage finest to Dapper Days

When Disney Land opened in 1955, people wore their best outfits to go there. Now people wear tee shirts, flip flops and baggy cargo shorts. Where has the sense of pageantry gone?

People who ask themselves that question have developed loosely organized club. They come up with a modern riff on the party clothes of previous decades. Often their outfits allude to the fifties, when the theme parks were new. They meet up with other like minded folks and, from what I hear, they have a blast.

It’s a very creative project for them and they have so much fun with it every step of the way.

It’s also a bonding thing between friends, couples, and families. 

Here are a few of my customers in their Dapper Day best:

Dapper Days

A mom & her daughters

Dapper Days


Ray and Joanie are a couple who fully embrace creative self expression in their clothing. I’ve written about them beforeThis is what they have to say about Dapper Days:

“Dapper Day was originally founded at Disneyland in California as a day where people would dress up like Mr. and Mrs. Disney would have dressed in the 1950s. It has evolved into a weekend where people put on their best vintage attire and enjoy looking stylish.

We do our best to dress in accurate vintage attire, using as many original pieces as possible to complete our outfits. Joanie sews most of her clothes, sometimes using vintage patterns, but all of her accessories are vintage and picked to enhance the period authenticity of her outfits. Ray prides himself in finding vintage suits and hats and adds vintage accessories if possible to complete his outfits.

We use old movies from the 1930’s, ’40s and ’50s as reference for our clothing.”

Joanie has a nice collection of vintage hats, purses, gloves, jewelry , some of which she inherited from her mother and grandmother. She and Ray noticed that some other Dapper Day participants also wear inherited pieces, bringing a very sweet dimension of family history to their  event.

 Dapper Days

Ray and Joanie at Dapper Days

Like Ray and Joanie, many Dapper Days participants strive to remain authentic to their chosen era. Others add elements of fantasy or costume to a vintage silhouette.

There are, of course, layers of nuance that come into play when one strives for authenticity.

When Mr. Disney created mini world with pretend castles and a faux main street 45 years ago, did he imagine that it would become a very real part of people’s lives?

Like the Velveteen Rabbit, does a created environment become real when filled with the genuine love of actual people over time?

April 29, 2018
by Winters Past

The Golden Age of Vintage Costume Jewelry

Did you ever think about the art forms that are uniquely American, like jazz music, baseball, tap dancing and comics? From where I sit, the costume jewelry made in the US from the 1930s to the early 1960s falls into that same category.

Is it too much for me to view vintage clip ear rings, brooches and other sparkly things as part of our American cultural patrimony? Well, probably; just bear with me here.

But first: a very exciting thing happened  last week.  I bought this vintage suitcase and it’s absolutely FULL of 20th century American costume jewelry. Yowza, mama!

There are probably 150 tiny wearable works of art in this treasure chest. It’s going to take me a while to work my way through all of it, but I though I’d share a little of the excitement.

Here we go:

vintage costume jewelry

Just a suitcase full of love

I’ve written about the wonders of vintage costume jewelry before. You can scroll ahead in this post to see the pretty shiny things if you’re so inclined or you can geek out with me for just a moment

The golden age of costume jewelry parallels the classic American film years when Hollywood became a major influence on style here and abroad. It began in the 1930s, which was a period when the US began to celebrate it’s own unique style in fashion and in other art forms.

At the same time, immigrants arrived  who had specialized skills in casting metal and cutting and setting stones. Influenced by fine arts, by Hollywood glamour, and by changing ideas of style, an art form developed which emphasized  design and craftsmanship more than the intrinsic value of gemstones and gold.

American costume jewelry designers used high quality materials including Italian and Czech glass, known for it’s purity of color and crisp facets. The glass was set with prongs just like fine stones.

Along with the craftsmanship, the absolute best part of vintage costume jewelry is their wildly creative designs.

These jewelers with old world skills were able to be more artistically experimental with costume jewelry than they could  with precious gems and metals.

What they created was delightful then and now.

I’ve just focused on the brooches this time…some of the necklaces will be posted here very soon.

vintage costume jewelry

vintage costume jewelry

vintage costume jewelry

vintage costume jewelry

April 25, 2018
by Winters Past

Vintage Cocktail Hats

Here is our next installment of the series in which in which I gently leading you toward your hat-wearing best self.

Here’s the deal: you don’t have to be a royal or a racehorse owner to feel great in vintage headwear. If you’re willing to be a just little bit bold, you, too, can become a confident hat wearer.

In previous posts, I’ve championed the beret, the pillbox, the cloche and the structured straw hat.

Today, lets talk about those small works of millinery magic I’m calling the Cocktail Hat. These petite 1950s chapeaux are sweet, sexy and-I promise- easy to wear.

First, check out these modern ladies sporting vintage dainty mid-century hats:

modern ladies wearing 1950s vintage hats

The common thread here is their diminutive size and lack of brim. In these examples, the women are keeping their hair, makeup and overall look modern.

You can see for yourself  how alluring these small, embellished wonders are are:

modern ladies wearing 1950s vintage hats

To put these hats in the context of their era, think about the drama of 1950s fashion. All the proportions were exaggerated; the skirts were wide, the shoes pointy, the bust line emphasized. The lips were red, the jewelry was bold and copious. They wore gloves. Everything matched.

As a counterpoint to all that, hats weren’t the stars of the show, they were a complement. While there were no lack of embellishments, the shapes were modest and close to the head.

You’ll find crescents and shell shapes that hug the head, sweet Juliette caps that sit toward the back, and “beau coifs” or whimsies that are a kind of glorified headband. There are flat round tambourine shapes and lots of flirty, eye-emphasizing veils.

In the modern world, their proportions are perfectly suited for dressy occasions. Play around with the placement until it feels comfortable. I’ve seen some customers place them more toward the forehead while others wear them toward the back of the head, keeping in mind how they plan to do their hair.

If you haven’t got a fancy event on the horizon, perhaps you’ll want to host one just so you can wear a vintage cocktail hat.

Here are just a few I have in the shop right now:

1950s vintage hats

1950s vintage hats

1950s vintage hats