Winters Past

20th Century Fashion from Deco to Disco

November 26, 2018
by Winters Past

One Jacket to Rule Them All

Well, it seems that planet earth has managed to make it’s way around the sun once more because here we are, back at The Holiday Season again.

No matter your approach to the holidays, there’s always more going on in our lives about now. We are busier and the events call for getting a bit more gussied up than our usual everyday selves.

Looking for an easy way to add some style to your holiday outfits?

Enter the vintage jacket. It’s really easy to make everyday clothing feel special when you toss one on.

1980s jackets definitely  have that something extra– exaggerated proportions, embellishment, color or pattern– that makes them great accent pieces for special events.

Let’s look at how some modern ladies do it:

1980s statement jackets worn with everyday basics

What we’re seeing here is everyday modern basics: jeans, wide legged cropped pants, solid white or black tops, paired with fun jackets. Couldn’t be easier, right?

Here are just a few of the 1980s jackets I have in the shop right now:

vintage 1980s jackets at winters past

Details set these vintage 1980s jackets apart

Now lets take this idea a step further (or should I say a step backwards) by trying the same concept with older jackets, such as those from 1940s.

I’ve mentioned before (and I’m sure I’ll mention again!) that the 80s in some ways reprises the 40s. When you look at jackets from both eras, you see applied embellishments, playful proportions and, yes, shoulder pads in both 40s and 80s pieces.

These 40s jackets are well made garments that are exquisitely tailored and tend to emphasize the waist in a very flattering way. Picture one of these beauties as your holiday go-to piece:

1940s jackets

1940s jackets

Of course, you can do the same thing with them as you can with the 80s jackets-pair them with jeans or cropped pants and a simple top. Or try one of these lovely toppers with a pair of slouchy pleated trousers and an oxford shoe for more of a 40s vibe.

Here’s a gorgeous group of 1940s jackets I recently acquired for the shop:

vintage 1940s jackets

vintage 1940s jackets

Vintage 1940s jackets

Add a special vintage jacket for easy holiday styling in a snap. One less thing to take care of during this busy season!

November 12, 2018
by Winters Past

Tilt Your Turban to the Back

I’ve been writing the occasional series of blog posts showing how to  wear different styles of vintage hats, like these:

 the beret,

the pillbox, 

the cloche

and the fedora.

No matter the style, when a modern lady tries on just about any type of vintage hat, she tends to center it right on top of her head and pull it straight down. Usually this is not the optimal approach. If you experiment a bit, you’ll find the best way to wear each hat, and it probably won’t be right in the middle of your head.

Keeping this in mind, let’s try a hat style that’s rather more daring this time: the draped cloth turban hat.  Here I’m referring to a formed hat made of gathered fabric rather than a scarf wrapped over the head.

Every decade from the 1920s through the end of the 20th century have some version of a turban style hat for one main reason: although it feels exotic, it’s a fabulously fun and sophisticated style that’s surprisingly easy to wear.

I had a revelation about them while watching Mad Men last night.

Look, if you will, at how Megan’s mother, the very stylish Marie Calvet, wears this one:

how to wear a vintage turban

Learn from the pros: tilt your turban back

She places it on the back of her head! Who knew?

It turns out the draped turban hat works best when some hair in the front shows. If you pull one of these  straight down over your forehead, the vibe is more of a gypsy fortune teller, which is fine if that’s what you’re going for, but we are looking at a more chic feel here.

In the 20’s, turbans had that “eastern” exoticism feel and they were, in fact, worn down low on the forehead.

But by the 40’s, Hollywood style setters like Hedy Lamar, Lana Turner and Lena Horne wore turban hats in popular films and always placed them further back on the head. It evoked a sophisticated, fashionable woman, not a tarot reader.

Here are some silver screen stars from the 1940s and 50s wearing turban hats and looking lovely.

vintage turban hats

In the late 50s and into the 60s, turban hats got bigger and bolder, like these:

how to wear a vintage turban

Hairstyles like the bouffant came into fashion, and turban hats echoed their size and shape, in some cases subbing for the elaborate ‘dos.

Because these hats are made of draped and ruched fabric (sometimes over a stiff base), it was possible for the home sewer to make them to match their outfit, as these patterns show.

how to wear a vintage turban

While it’s definitely a bold look, the soft, unstructured nature of turban hats make them comfortable and as easy as a ponytail. Let’s see how some modern ladies wear them:

how to wear a vintage turban

Here are some draped turban hats I have in the shop right now:

how to wear a vintage turban

November 5, 2018
by Winters Past

Vintage Haul

I was very busy last week and I have lots of new-to-me vintage finds to share with y’all!

First I thought I’d show a photo of what the back of my car looked like before I unloaded everything :

Vintage Haul

This is your car on vintage

Yeesh, a little bit daunting, right?

So how does this jumble become shop-worthy, wearable vintage lovelies?

First, I clean each piece and I repair what needs fixing. Clothes are washed and steamed, hems or buttons are sewn and silver is polished.

Then I do the research, which, to me, is as exciting as the treasure hunt. I enjoy looking up labels and materials and discovering the age  and sometimes the history of each piece.

Here are a few of the pieces, with a little background on each one.

Winters Past vintage shop, Micanopy F

Silk charmless dress, faux flapper dress, leopard power dress


This raspberry silk charmeuse stunner has lace overlay and a bateau neckline. The full skirt, which would have been worn with a crinoline underneath, is a post WW2 design. The other dresses by this maker that I see on-line all date from the late 40s into the 1950s.

I’ve written about “vintage echoes” before, how the styles of one era return in a new iteration decades later. The mid 60’s in some ways reprise the 20s (Twiggy had a bit of a flapper vibe), the  70’s has an echo of the the 30’s  (draped fabrics and body skimming cuts) and the  80’s revisits the 40’s. These next two dresses illustrate this. The gold dress has the straight lines and dropped waist of a 1920s dress but the nylon zipper and man-made fabric tell me its from the 1960s.

This leopard print silk number is an 80s dress that revisits the 1940s. While both 1940s and 1980s had peplum waists and shoulder pads, the 1980s had wildly exaggerated proportions. The 40’s shoulder pads are modest; the 80’s are seriously big.

Winters Past vintage shop, Micanopy Fl

Tropical fantasy dress, lucite grapes, mink trimmed jacket


Another 80s does 40s, this time in a great tropical print. Designs that evoked Miami or Hawaii were popular in both of those decades.

This mismatched brooch set is made of lucite, which was used in the 50s.

The jacket, made of woven ribbon with a fur collar, has the boxy cut and bracelet length (3/4) sleeves popular in the late 50s to early 60s.

Winters Past vintage shop, Micanopy Fl

Lightweight metal jewelry set, structured handbag, fabulous ear rings


This jewelry set is marked West Germany, which tells me it’s from the post WW2 era. It is lightweight Eloxal (electrolytic oxidation of aluminum), a technique that began in the 40s and gained popularity in the 50s.

In the middle is a beautifully made handbag with a jazzy, 1940s swing-era vibe.

These clip ear rings are marked DeMario, a high-end 1950s jewelry designer

Winters Past vintage shop, Micanopy Fl

Antique beaded bag, Navajo ring, alligator shoes


What a lovely early 20th century steel-cut micro beaded bag! The design is so soft and etherial. It’s from the Edwardian age, around 1910, with an art nouveau feel.

This is a nice older native American ring. In Navajo jewelry, the stones tend to be irregularly shaped, and the silver work is made to fit the turquoise rather than cutting the stone to fit the design.

These are 1950s alligator shoes. Shoes from the 40s tend to have a bit of a platform,  a wider heel and sometimes a peep toe, whereas 50s pumps have a narrower heel.

Being a vintage seller has three main stages: the hunt, the repair/research, and finally the sale. Thanks for hanging out with me as I explore the background of these fun finds.

October 22, 2018
by Winters Past

Mini Midi Maxi: They came, they saw, they did not buy

To paraphrase Freud, sometimes a skirt is just a skirt. Other times, a skirt is way more than a simple garment. Take the midi skirt and how it became a turning point in American consumer culture.

First, a little background. There was a time when fashion designers and magazines decreed what was in style and consumers followed their lead. This old order had started to crumble in the mid 1960s but it really fell apart in the early 1970s when designers, the fashion press and store buyers threw their support behind midi length skirts.

1970s Midi skirts

1970s Midi skirts were a huge change from the mini

In 1968, Women’s Wear Daily banned miniskirts from the office, explaining in a memo: “We all know minis are dead.” Bonwit Teller  told its saleswomen to stop wearing minis on the shop floor.

However, women did not like this new silhouette and refused to buy it. Some even protested it:

1970s Midi skirts

Protesting the midi skirt

The fashion industry was oblivious to public opinion and blithely continued to push the midi; by this time, they had too much invested in it. Shoppers looking for short skirts found shop racks stuffed with midis, which they would not purchase, causing stores to suffer huge financial losses. Readership of fashion magazines plummeted. Consumer confidence was replaced by a rebellious cynicism about the fashion industry.

Women’ refusal to go along with fashion dictatorship ultimately did have an impact on that industry.

Here’s the thing, though. Midi skirts are great! Especially if you’re wearing them by choice, not by decree.

Both the 1970s and also the 1990s gave us good midi length skirts. They tend to be a-line and therefore easy to walk in. They go with comfortable footwear like boots, flats, and sandals as well as with heels. Pair one with a simple top and it’s no more complicated to wear than your favorite jeans. Here are a few modern ladies sporting vintage midis and looking wonderful.

1970s Midi skirts

Modern  Midi skirts

October 17, 2018
by Winters Past

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

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

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

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

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

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