Winters Past

20th Century Fashion from Deco to Disco

December 15, 2017
by Winters Past

How to Wear Vintage Dress Clips

Have you ever come across a vintage piece of jewelry with a clip like this and wondered what it was?

vintage dress clips

“What the what is this?”

Wonder no more! These are dress clips, a type of brooch that doesn’t have a pin back.  These are very cool pieces of jewelry with no modern equivalent.

You can put them on basically anything. They latch onto a lapel of a shirt or jacket, or onto a fur, shoe, glove, ribbon, hat, handbag strap or lock of hair. Heck, you might could even put one on your pit bull’s collar.

Here’s how the swell ladies wore them back in the 1930’s and 1940’s:

wearing vintage dress clips

Ava Gardner, Carole Lombard, Wallis Simpson, Coco Chanel, Agnes Moorehead, Bette Davis

Dress clips allows you to  sparkle in an unexpected manner; they let you adorn yourself in an out-of-the-ordinary way

Here’s how some modern ladies (including the broochtastic SJP) wear them:

wearing vintage dress clips

Some thought about how to wear these versatile pretties:

  • Use dress clips to accentuate your collar points
  • Put them on on sweetheart or square necklines
  • Wear them with a scarf, shawl or a wrap
  • Clip one onto a belt or waistline
  • Pair one with a chain or ribbon to create a choker / necklace
  • Clip one or two onto a headband to make a gorgeous head piece
  • Adorn a low cut dress back with one or two

And here are a few I have in the shop right now:

wearing vintage dress clips


December 7, 2017
by Winters Past

Two Sides of 80’s Fashion From Stranger Things

It’s not often that I’m in sync with the cultural icons of the moment. But when it comes to the Netflix series Stranger Things, hey, count me in!

This show has no shortage of strong, powerful girls, which is part of it’s charm for me. And Wynona Ryder as the single mom who won’t give up on her son? I can’t look away.

Now let’s look at the inspiring 80’s fashion two of these girls wear. I want all of their clothes along with their fearlessness.

First, it’s brainy, brave Nancy, queen of the pullover sweater. She personifies a very 80’s take on the classics.

Nancy Wheeler Does the 80's

Let’s see, we’ve got dainty jewelry, crew necks, bows, rounded collars and a spectacular use of the scrunchie.

While Nancy has a very girlie look, skater girl Maxine, AKA Mad Max, brings another view of 80’s style.  She’s got that cool California tomboy vibe:  slightly baggy light wash jeans, colorful Vans sneakers, and sporty zip-up jackets. Oh, and stripes — lots of stripes.

Mad Max's 80's style

Max pairs her denim with color, especially primary-hued jackets and bright striped shirts and sneakers. Perfect attire for fighting monsters, bad men and evil government liars.

November 27, 2017
by Winters Past

Wearing Vintage Sequined Jackets with Jeans

A quick game of word association: what’s the first thing you think of when I say “sequins”?   Texas beauty queen? Tammy Faye Bakker? Corporate wife circa 1984?

Now let’s reframe the idea of glitter-y clothing.  Sequins will give you a very easy look to carry you through a whole season of events without breaking a sweat. A vintage sequined piece makes  a really great (and easy) of-the-moment  holiday look.  Pair that sequined jacket with something really casual, like distressed jeans. It’s a totally modern way to do sparkle.

It goes like this: wear some jeans (or other casual pants or even denim shorts). Put on a soft cotton tee shirt. Add a great vintage sequined jacket. Leave off most of your jewelry.

We can do this!

Take a look at these ladies:

wear vintage sequins with jeans

wear vintage sequins with jeans

wear vintage sequins with jeans

wear vintage sequins with jeans

Wearing vintage sequins with jeans for a great modern holiday look

And, as you may have guessed, I’ve got some good vintage sequins toppers in the shop.

vintage sequin tops at Winters Past



November 19, 2017
by Winters Past

The Secret Life of Clothes, Part 3

I spend my days looking at the possessions people saved from their past. I wonder: will future generations see our Target tee shirts and H&M hoodies as the charming artifacts of a bygone era? Will we even consider our possessions worthy of being saved?

Here is the story of a woman’s  life that can be told by the clothing she kept.

Before we go any further, have a look at this:

antique clothing

It’s a velvet bustier type garment, embroidered in gold thread, and was the bodice of a Hungarian court gown. It belonged to a woman named Lya, born in Hungary in 1920. Lya’s life story encapsulates a time and a place in 20th century history and it reads like a wildly romantic if improbable novel.

Here are a few more pieces of traditional Hungarian dress that Lya saved. These are part of a headpiece worn by women after marriage:

antique textiles

And this was an apron style garment worn over the front of a dress:

antique textiles

Lya’s childhood must have been a prosperous one. She studied ballet, as did many European girls of a certain social class. Clearly, there were elegant occasions to dress for;  this is her mother’s suede evening bag, decorated with marcasites:

Edwardian evening bag

Toward the end of the war, when the family  lost their farm and their money, Lya escaped to Scotland. There, she continued to dance and she became a nurse, supporting herself by working in a psychiatric ward. She also took up flying in gliders as a hobby.

Our resourceful heroine then emigrated to the US, heading for New York on the Queen Mary. As in any great novel, she crossed paths with the titans of the day. By some coincidence, Winston Churchill was on the same voyage. She had promised to perform a ballet for him, but a storm on the high seas kept her from dancing. Churchill presented her with roses anyway.

In New York, Lya reinvented herself as a textile designer. She was one of the first members of Mensa, the club for geniuses, where she became friends with the writer Isaac Asimov. She also met her future husband, a Russian emigre who worked with the Manhattan project, the group of scientists who developed the first nuclear weapons.

There were many elegant evenings out, occasions that required full length kidskin gloves, a gold evening bag and some fabulous costume jewelry:

vintage evening accessories

In her later years, Lya and her husband retired to Florida, joining many thousands of other older people, all of whom carry their own novel within.

November 13, 2017
by Winters Past

Wear Three Brooches

Did you ever notice how many song titles feature the number three?

Like these: Gimme Three Steps,Three Cigarettes in an Ashtray and Knock Three Times. I bet you can think of at least three more.

Three of anything has a nice, pleasing asymmetry.

Of course, this brings us to vintage brooches. We’ve discussed how a single brooch looks great on a jean jacket.

You know what looks even better? Three brooches.

Here are a few combos to get you started.

trio of vintage brooches

Choosing different shapes

trio of vintage brooches

and different textures

trio of vintage brooches

combining figural and geometric

trio of vintage brooches

varying styles and sizes

November 6, 2017
by Winters Past

Sleek Seventies Style

The 1970’s are the Sybil of fashion eras. In case you’ve somehow forgotten, Sybil was a compellingly cheesy 1976 made-for-TV movie starring Sally Field as a character with multiple personalities.

Like Sybil, the 70’s had so many faces: it was the decade that veered wildly from hippie to disco to preppie to punk. Forget all of that.

Today we’re looking at the pared down, modernist, elegant aesthetic pioneered designers like Halston.

The 70s was a period that explored what a modern working woman could wear in the world. It might look something like this:

vintage 1970s fashion

This iteration of 70s style is personified by a jersey knit dress that follows the shape of the body but isn’t tight. Picture that dress in a deco-inspired geometric print with saturated colors. See? It’s a relaxed, casually sexy look. The silhouette is long, lean and drape-y. The top might be a halter or the dress might wrap. The pants are high waisted. There might be a scarf, a beret or a turban for fun.

Here are a few icons of the kind of 70’s style I’m taking about:

vintage 1970s fashion

L to R:Charlotte Rampling, Denise Nichols & Stephanie Power, Lee Radziwell,  Mary Tyler Moore, Diane Keaton, Faye Dunnaway, Pam Greir, Jacqueline Bisset, Ali McGraw

And here are three 70s dresses I have in the in the shop right now, all with a pared down, streamlined shape and a dynamic print:

vintage 1970s fashion at winters past

A wrap dress, a clutch purse, high waisted pants and geometric jewelry are pieces from Winters Past that fit this sensual modernist 70s personality:

vintage 1970s fashion at winters past

October 31, 2017
by Winters Past

The Secret Life of Clothes, Part 2

Here is the next installment of  a little series I’m writing about the backstory of  vintage pieces in my shop.

The phone call that started me on this treasure hunt came from a young couple who had purchased a ramshackle farmhouse, an old wood-frame Florida cracker house had been the home of one couple for over 60 years.

The new owners walked into an absolute time capsule; the entire contents of the house stood virtually unchanged, just as it had been in the mid 1940’s. From the pretzel shaped rattan love seat to the Asian inspired lamps, this house sat frozen as if under a spell.

Most amazing to me were the clothes. The lady of the house, whose name was Willamae, had saved what appears to be all the pieces in her wardrobe for decades. Fashions changed and she kept up with the times but she never got rid of her old clothes!

I hyperventilated just a little when I saw them.

And this is how I ended up sorting through piles (piles!) of dresses dating back to the late 1930’s just before a massive hurricane headed our way. As the storm was  touching down into Florida, I was setting up plastic bins on my deck to soak the clothes. As the storm raged, Willamae’s dresses soaked. When the sun came out, her treasures went up on the line to dry in the sunshine. cleaning and prepping vintage clothes

I’m still working through the wonders of Willamae’s wardrobe piece by piece, zipper by button.

She was a woman of style in each decade. In the montage below, starting at the upper right, the black dress with the checked panel dates from the 30’s. Below that, two tailored 40’s suits. Bottom left is a playful 1950’s jumpsuit. Upper left, a 1960’s western shirt in a mod paisley print.

how to sell vintage clothing

Here are four wonderful mid century day dresses from the 30’s through the 50’s. The lilac print, bottom right, still has it’s crinoline attached. The cotton print, bottom left, is handmade from flour sacks. Flour was packaged in nicely designed fabric that resourceful women saved and  sewed with during the depression. This one has some nice wide rick rack trim.

how to sell vintage clothing

All of the pieces in Willamae’s wardrobe are of a generous proportion, about a modern size 14.

how to sell vintage clothing

This glimpse into more than 35 years of one woman’s closet is a rare find that will take months to fully explore. Thanks for following along!

October 19, 2017
by Winters Past

Vintage Mexican Silver

Are you familiar with the vintage Mexican silver jewelry from the town of Taxco?  It’s got a great  Deco-meets-Aztec style done with gorgeous craftsmanship.  Sometimes you see it with geometric designs but more often it’s got mythological animals, astrological symbols, flowers and Jazz Age motifs. Amazing, right?

vintage mexican silver jewelry

A little history: the people native to that region worked with silver long before Europeans came, but there was a resurgence of interest in the early 20th century.  In the 1920s an American architect named William Spratling moved to Mexico after befriending and working with Diego Rivera and began to work in silver.

Spratling loved  pre-Columbian art and incorporated it’s themes into his work. His interest was spurred on by the discovery in 1932 of  Mixtec and Zapotec treasures, an archeological find that was as dramatic an influence in Mexico as the opening of King Tut’s tomb in 1925 was on Art Deco design in Europe and the United States.

The pre-Hispanic motifs were mixed with modern Cubist and contemporary folk elements in highly sophisticated jewelry combining silver with obsidian, mother of pearl, amethyst, onyx, turquoise and jet. This lead to the high point of  Mexican silver jewelry, which was the 1930’s-1950’s.

As Spratling and his jewelry became more successful, he created an apprenticeship program for local  jewelry makers. This allowed an entire group of artisans to flourish and to take the designs in completely new directions.

Here are just a few of the vintage Mexican silver pieces I have in the shop right now:

vintage mexican silver jewelry at Winters Past

vintage mexican silver jewelry at Winters Past

vintage mexican silver jewelry at Winters Past

October 6, 2017
by Winters Past

Alexa Chung Wears Vintage

You know the phrase It Girl?  Our friends over at Wikipedia say  it’s slang for a singularly stylish young woman who is sexy without flaunting her sexuality.

British TV host Alexa Chung has got “it”. She has a wonderfully self-defined, personal, individual style that transcends trends.

And, more to the point, Alexa Chung loves vintage and she wears it well.

Basically, whatever Chung wears, we want. She’s got that “chic without trying too hard” thing that’s actually really well thought out but looks effortless. She’s feminine but not fussy and she never looks overdone.

Here are some photos of her in vintage:

Alexa chung wears vintage

Alexa chung wears vintage

Here’s what I’ve learned from exploring her down to earth vintage style:

  • Wear vintage clothing with modern shoes. Alexa goes for black ankle boots or Converse to toughen up a look
  • Mix and match. This is key! Alexa wears a single standout piece of vintage with modern pieces from chain stores (or with designer threads)
  • Wear vintage coats or jackets with a modern clothing OR wear a modern denim or leather jacket with vintage
  • Pair a modern handbag with a vintage outfit
  • Keep hair and makeup simple and modern, but don’t skip the lipstick
  • Choose a single piece of jewelry.
  • Don’t show too much skin. Being confident and self possessed is sexy in itself.

September 27, 2017
by Winters Past

Jumpsuits and Rompers and Beach Pajamas, Oh My!

Jumpsuits. They hold the promise of great practicality: you just throw one on and go! No mixing or matching! Now, there may be a bit of struggle when you’re headed to the loo, but let’s gloss over that and just revel in the cuteness of it all.

First up, we have these fabulous beach pajamas that were introduced by Coco Chanel (of course) in 1922.  They were one piece outfits for rich ladies to wear while yachting or strolling the Riviera beaches because apparently these activities require a special clothes.

The pants had wide legs and the attached  tops were halters or had cool crisscrossed straps, sometimes with a matching bolero or jacket.

By the 1930s the trend moved from Paris to Palm Springs to Peoria as Americans began seeing them in films. And why not? They were gorgeous and fun, and those art deco prints-swoon!

1920's and 30's beach pajamas

1920’s and 30’s beach pajamas

The forties gave us two versions of the one piece outfits-one that was practical, the other more playful.

That classic Rosie The Riveter  jumpsuit looked like what pilots and sky divers in the military wore. Women put them on to work in factories, accessorized with that iconic bandana and wedge heeled shoes.

On the other side of the onesie coin are rompers, or top and blousy short combos, which were around in children’s clothing since the early 20th century. These got reinterpreted as a fun outfit for women in the 1940’s, sometimes with an overskirt.

So Rosie, what are you planning to wear when the factory whistle blows and you’re headed to Cony Island with the other girls? How about a garment adapted from baby clothes?

1940's jumpsuits and rompers

1940’s jumpsuits and rompers

After World War II, leisure clothes really hit their stride. For you, Mrs. Cleaver, we have these playsuits and rompers in cheerful cotton prints to wear while sipping Mai Tais on the lanai. If you’re lucky,  the mister will fire up the grill while he’s wearing loafers and shorts.

1950s playsuits

1950s playsuits

1950s playsuits

These mod sixties once piece outfits register a 6.0 on the youth quake meter, plus we have a brand new invention, the culotte.

1960s jumpsuits

1960s jumpsuits

Jumpsuits were pretty great in the 1970’s. These all-in-one connected body suits had a hip younger second wife vibe (sorry Mrs. Cleaver), like something a Long Island hostess wore while serving Tequila Sunrises and Lipton onion dip.

1970s jumpsuits

1970s jumpsuits

Ground control to Major Tom: I see the future and it involves these modernistic, wide shouldered, cinched waisted jumpsuits and some crazy wild hair. Leopard print or metallic fabric is a definite plus. With all that intergalactic travel, who’s got time to put on actual pants and a top?

1980s jumpsuits

1980s jumpsuits