Winters Past Vintage in Micanopy, Florida

Featuring the Best of 20th Century Fashion

January 7, 2017
by Winters Past

The Golden Age of Nightgowns: Vintage Peignors

Today,  let’s talk about those frivolous, silky, see-through vintage gown and robe sets that makes women feel like a silver screen queens. Specifically, lets look at some peignoir sets.

When the stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age “slipped into something more comfortable” they actually put on something more spectacular. In the privacy of the screen boudoir, they wore fabulous lingerie, exotic pajamas, slinky nightgowns, silken negligees or, best of all, a peignoir.

The word peignoir, like boudoir or caviar, has that  sensual and opulent quality. These gossamer fantasy garments look as glamorous and frivolous as they sound. They gave everyday women a chance to emulate their movie idols and play out a bit of the Hollywood fantasy at a modest price.

Peignoir comes from the French word for comb. In an era of very specialized garments, it was a jacket to wear while doing your hair. It evolved into a sheer robe worn over nightwear  in the bedroom. It’s usually got a tie so you could be unwrapped like a present. Not surprisingly, it’s meant for intimate settings and has erotic overtones, thanks in part to the slinky fabrics, often cut on the bias for extra drape and cling.

There are some truly notable peignoir decades. The thirties gave us silk gowns adorned with feathers and fur with  matching capes or  bed jackets made for the bedroom

Postwar, and into the fifties, they’re full-on nylon, fuller, more opulent, and, just like fifties fashion in general, exaggeratedly feminine with maximum froth and frills.

The sixties brought wilder, brighter colors and, for better or worse, the “babydoll” style.

In each fashion decade, the peignoir’s trick is in  emphasizing precisely what it does not show.

Here is a sample from the golden age of the peignoir:

Vintage peignoir nightgown and robe

Jean Harlow, Rita Hayworth, Joan Crawford, Betty Grable, Kim Novak, Sophia Loren, Ann Sheridan & Sandea Dee all don fabulous nightwear

vintage hollywood nightgown glamor Vintage peignoir nightgown and robe

Screen sirens Hedy Lamar, Natalie Wood, Liz Taylor, Joan Crawford, Judy Garland, Veronica Lake & Lana Turner in silky, lacy boudoir finery

I’ve devoted a whole photo collage to Samantha Stevens, the main character from the 60’s TV show Bewitched, who wore an amazing nighttime get-up in every episode. If you could conjure up one of these with a twitch of your nose, wouldn’t you?

Samantha Stevens nightgowns

Elizabeth Montgomery bewitches her hapless hubby with an arsenal of peignoirs. As if she needed to.

December 17, 2016
by Winters Past

Cloche Hats

This is the third installment in a series of posts designed to take you by the hand and gently lead you down the path of hat wearing in gradual, easy steps.  I’ve encouraged berets and pillboxes in previous posts. Now, an ode to the cloche.

What’s a cloche hat? As the Supreme Court once said about pornography, it’s hard to describe but you know it when you see it.

Call up an image from the 1920’s and early ’30’s. Picture the hats they are wearing, the ones pulled right down to the eyebrows. Those are cloche hats.

I recently purchased the wonderful wardrobe of an elderly lady’s mother. Among the treasures was a purple felt cloche hat. This hat came home with me and, after wearing it for a week I’ve learned two things: one, purple is a neutral and two, the cloche makes the grade as one of the most wearable and flattering of all hats.

A cloche has a  close fitting deep crown and conforms to the head nicely, which means it stays put. Cloches have  a small brim or no brim at all, so wearing one isn’t distracting- you forget it’s there.

Now for the flattering part. There is something great about the way it’s worn low on the forehead that is both sweet and alluring. In the 20’s, they didn’t wear blush; their makeup focused on eyes and lips, which makes perfect sense, since the cloche highlights those features nicely. I wore lipstick with my cloche and I felt just like a modern Zelda Fitzgerald, (early Zelda, from the playful and fun-loving years).

Here are some great archival photos of 20’s ladies in cloches:

vintage cloche hats

These dresses just wouldn’t be the same without the hats

Here are a few costumes that reference the 20’s in inspiring ways:

how to wear a vintage cloche hat

Angelina Jolie, Twiggy, Mary from Downton Abby and Miss Fisher

Now, some modern ladies sporting cloches. While twenties hair was short, you can see the cloche looks great with long hair, too. The gal who wears glasses (like me) did the lipstick thing, too.

modern ladies wearing vintage cloche hats

Modern ladies wearing vintage cloche hats

These are some cloches I have in the shop, except the purple one, which I’m wearing right now.

vintage cloche hats

Just a few of the vintage cloche hats at Winters Past

December 9, 2016
by Winters Past

Vintage Pearls, Modern Style

Do you remember when Sharon Stone wore a white men’s button down Gap  shirt with a long evening skirt to the Oscars? If this doesn’t ring a bell, go ahead and Google it.

OK, didn’t that look fresh and new? The key to Stone’s look was the unexpected juxtaposition. Pairing a classic- in this case, a dress shirt-with a luxe purple satin skirt startled the eye just a bit and looked innovative and stylish.

Now, pearls. They can have a bit of a Mamie Eisenhower feel to them, which is a way of saying old school and not particularly stylish. But right now, pearls are looking fresh and cool, like Sharon Stone’s white shirt.

These are frankly fake costume jewelry pearl necklaces worn in a  modern way.

Here is my list showing how to wear pearls in a way that is current and not mumsy. I’ve written it in a retro fifties fashion magazine do-and-don’t style:

  • Don’t go all matchy matchy. Pairing your necklace with more pearls (like with pearl ear rings or a bracelet) is like kryptonite to the updated look we’re going for here.
  • Do wear it like you mean it. So, we’re not looking at a dainty single strand. Choose a bold, standout piece; maybe one that is oversized or super long.
  • Do choose interesting pearls. Are they multi strands, mixed with other beads or have some cool hardware mixed in? Good!
  • Do keep everything else modern-your hair (unfussy), your outfit (modern), and your makeup (minimal). Note the tee, sweat shirt, denim, cardigan and trench coat below. Bold pearls would also go really well with a black leather jacket.
  • Don’t be afraid to mix pearls with metal. Bold gold or silver chains go nicely with pearls.
  • Don’t pair them with standard office suits. Go for the unexpected combination-either very casual or very dressy but not in the middle.

Here is some visual inspiration:

a modern way to wear vintage pearls

a modern way to wear vintage pearls

a modern way to wear vintage pearls

And did I mention that the subtle glow of pearls is very flattering to wear?

Here are a few vintage pearl necklaces I have in the shop right now that fit the bill nicely:

vintage pearl necklaces at Winters Past

vintage pearl necklaces at Winters Past

December 1, 2016
by Winters Past

In Style for a Century: The Little Black Dress

Nearly 100 years ago, Coco Chanel created an idea that became  emblematic of Gallic chic: the Little Black Dress, or LBD. It was inspired by widows’ mourning dresses, worn by Edith Piaf as she sang about love and loss and remains a symbol of stylish sophistication.

In the 30’s and 40’s, Hollywood gave us Film Noir, in which a  femme fatal clad in a simple black sheath meant danger and mystery, adding to the LBD’s mythology. In the 50’s, a black cocktail dress provided an elegant contrast to the more girly, kittenish fashions of the day. Each era has reinterpreted it; hemlines, necklines and embellishments change but the allure of the LBD remains.

Here is a little tour of LBDs through the 20th century:

little black dresses, a fashion history

20’s:Chanel, 30’s: Josephine Baker, 40’s: Bacall and 50’s:Monroe

little black dresses, a fashion history

1960’s & ’70’s: Audrey Hepburn’s iconic Givenchy dress, Catherine Deneuve, the Supremes and Jackie O

little black dresses, a fashion history

1980’s and ’90’s: Lady Di, Madonna, SJP and Carolyn Bessete Kennedy make the clavicle an erogenous zone

In the modern fashion era, there is very little distinction between age groups when it comes to fashion; toddlers and their grandmothers can wear the same outfit. However, the LBD is one of the few garments created specifically for a grown woman. Black dresses express a mature sensuality, which is part of their allure.

Miuccia Prada says,   “To me, designing a little black dress is trying to express in a simple, banal object, a great complexity about women, aesthetics, and current times.”

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

little black dresses at Winters Past

November 19, 2016
by Winters Past

Eighties Cocktail Dresses, A Study in Wonderful Excess

Ahh, eighties evening wear. It’s all about overconsumption and extravagance. It’s got maximal glamor, over the top details, oversized shoulder pads and extreme bedazzling. There are studs, sequins, beads and flowers. And ruching! Pleats! Rhinestones! Bows! Dropped waists! Asymetrical hemlines! Ruffles! Pepums! I’m getting giddy just thinking about it.

These pieces are so full of optimism and fun and they cry out for a dance party. There is a real Latin dance influence here, referencing salsa, flamenco, rhumba and tango.

Now here is my question: where the heck were people going in these dresses? Were there just nonstop cocktail parties for an entire decade?

Here is a gallery of just a few examples of the wonder that is eighties evening wear that I have in the shop right now. Time to plan a spectacular New Years Eve dance party!

eighties cocktail dresses

So many design elements in one garment!

eighties cocktail dresses

Sequined chevrons!

eighties cocktail dresses

One sided waist detail!

eighties cocktail dresses

Pouffy sleeves, bows, sparkly things!

eighties evening wear

Rows and rows of chiffon, a bow, rhinestones and…a sweater top!

eighties evening wear

Big! Fuchsia! Bow!

eighties evening wear

Big sparkly fishtail pave sequins!

November 2, 2016
by Winters Past

Vintage Fashion’s Rock and Roll Roots

Here is a question for you: when did people start to wear vintage clothes as a fashion choice?

As far as I can tell, it was in London in 1965. when musicians started shopping the Portobello Rd flea market for exotic, romantic older clothing. In contrast to the mod fashions of the day, they were seeking  a bohemian aura of faded grandeur.

This photo of  Jimi Hendrix wearing an antique military jacket is one of the earliest images I have seen of a musician wearing vintage:

Jimi Hendrix wearing antique military jacket

Jimi in that iconic antique military jacket and other vintage finery

By the Summer of Love in the Haight Ashbury section of San Fransisco, musicians  sought out  Victorian lace and velvet to wear along with their jeans, fringed vests and tie dye. Think Grace Slick and Janis Joplin here. This evolved into the granny dress, a late sixties-early seventies classic.

romantic Victorian dress

romantic Victorian dress

In some ways, the seventies were a forties throwback. The early Pointer Sisters (who sang lots of swing-era songs and were awesome) dressed in forties clothes head to toe, as did both a young Bette Midler and Stevie Nicks.

the Pointer Sisters in forties finery

the Pointer Sisters in forties finery

The late 70’s early 80’s also gave us punk, ska and New Wave. Vintage clothes were a big part of that style.

In women’s clothes, there was a 1950’s feel with crinolines, bustiers, and bubble skirts, mixed with a tumble of jewelry, gloves and lace, much like Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan. At the same time, groups like the B52’s more directly borrowed vintage looks.

B52s vintage style

B52s vintage style

For men of this era, skinny ties and porkpie hats gave a throwback feel to their style.

ska fashion

Ska fashion

Singers continue to use vintage clothes to echo what they are doing musically. The branch of music that evolved into alt country and rockabilly borrowed both a musical and sartorial sensibility from the past..

kd lang in vintage cowgirl get up

kd lang in vintage westernwear

For men in music, wearing vintage pieces has become part of a persona having to do with authenticity. Here are two very different musical styles, both using  older clothing to express the relationship between their music and a previous era.

Tom Waits

Tom Waits in a vintage fedora and coat

Vintage clothing worn by modern women performers can be a way of exploring ideas of femininity and womanliness. Or it can just be fun and  look great. Thanks for that, Jimi!

October 21, 2016
by Winters Past

Rhoda Morgenstern is my Spirit Animal

How many TV sitcom “best friend” characters can you name? Now, how many of them are as memorable, stylish and interesting as the big name? Here’s my pick: Rhoda Morgenstern, Mary Tyler Moore’s cool, funky upstairs neighbor. Mary and Rhoda epitomized two sides of seventies fashion. Midwestern Mary rocked her ladylike career separates while New Yorker Rhoda wore a bold and fun neo hippie mix.

What are the hallmarks of  Rhoda’s artistic 70’s style? First and most memorable are scarves in wonderful patterns tied low on the forehead, turban style. She wore lots of color (especially red), patterns, draped fabrics, tunics, layers, ethnic influences, bohemian overtones, and lots and lots of jewelry.

Rhoda Mrgenstern style maven

Rhoda Morgenstern, style maven, shows us how to wrap and tie a scarf

Rhoda Morgenstern in her signature scarves

She mixed patterns fearlessly

style tips from Rhoda Mrgenstern

Two very stylish ladies, two great dresses, two aspects of 70’s fashion

Rhoda Morgenstern in a Mexican dress

Rhoda does ethnic, this time in a Mexican dress

Here is an elegant evening look. In keeping with her overall style, it features draped fabrics and great jewelry, including carved bakelite bangles.

Rhoda Morgenstern

October 16, 2016
by Winters Past

How to Wear a Vintage Pillbox Hat

Now that you’ve mastered the beret, it’s time to move on to the second most wearable hat on the planet: the pillbox.  A nice pillbox is really no scarier than a  beret.  It’s very classic in a true-to-vintage way,  but it’s also got clean modern lines and not too many extraneous details.

Here is the first iconic sixties pillbox hat photo:

Jackie in a pillbox hat

Jackie in a pillbox hat, looking chic as always

And this is the second:

audrey helburn in a pillbox

Audrey Hepburn in an amazing leopard skin chapeau

The pillbox obviously goes well with a ladylike skirt suit, but it also plays well with a harder edged look, like a jean jacket with a leather pencil skirt. Wear it back on the head like Jackie and Audrey did  or give it a nice side tilt. Keep your hair simple, and bobby pin the hat to your hair.

Now play the Bob Dylan tune in your head as you walk down the street.

“I see you got your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat

Well, you must tell me, baby

How your head feels under somethin’ like that?”

I’d say it feels sexy and nicely retro.

how to wear a pillbox hat

A black  pillbox hat with a little black dress

how to wear a vintage pillbox hat

Vintage head to toe, topped with a pillbox

how to wear a vintage pillbox hat

Very modern outfit with (you guessed it) a  vintage pillbox hat

October 5, 2016
by Winters Past

Why a Beret is the Perfect Starter Hat

You know the concept of a starter house? Like, a first time home buyer looks for a simple way to ease into home ownership. They’re looking for something manageable- a cottage or a townhouse or a bungalow.

I have a friend who tells recently single ladies that they need to have a starter man. Same idea in human form: a perfectly nice guy who may not be the one you live out your sunset years with but he’s great fun and not too big of a commitment.

Let’s expand on this notion. Let’s say you would like to evolve into a hat wearer some day but you kind of want to ease into it. You’re not ready for a feather or a veil or a even a brim. So choose the perfect starter hat: a beret.

They’re so easy to wear. You can just pop one on and not have the nagging thought, Do I look like a dork in this hat?

Here’s the beauty of a beret: there are about 8 zillion ways to wear one. You can wear it slightly back on your head, or tilted to one side. You can tuck your hair underneath, or not. If you have bangs, you can set a beret behind them. They work great with a braid or two. You can pouf them out or flatten them. So easy even a hat newbie can do it.

For inspiration, let’s look at some classic berets worn by famous ladies.

How to wear a beret

Bardot, Bonnie, Bacall, Bianca and the ever wholesome Mary

Now let’s have a look at some modern beret wearersHow to wear a beret

See? The beret is such a chameleon! It’s not just for artists anymore.

September 27, 2016
by Winters Past

How to Style a Victorian Blouse (and keep it modern)

I’m noticing a new take on a look that has cycled around in various forms for years. I’m talking about white Victorian style blouses, the ones with high necks, ruffles and lace. I have quite a few of them in the shop, mostly from the late seventies and early eighties.

You’ve seen these before. In the past, they’ve been worn in one of two ways.

One option was to give them  a gothic-decadent feel paired with velvet, boots, long nails, bold rings and a deep lip color. Picture a fashion forward vampire or Prince in Purple Rain.

On the flip side, this style of blouse has also played it dainty, sweet and feminine. Think pearls, ballet flats, flowery skirts. I’m definitely not feeling this route currently.

What I’m seeing now is a nice modern take on the Victorian inspired top. When these blouses are juxtaposed with current staples like jeans or trousers and maybe a bomber jacket, they look completely fresh and new. Have a look:

How to style a vintage Victorian blouse