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A Modern Day Ironrite to Keep Your Vintage Christmas Aprons Crisp and Pretty

Guess what I found??? A modern day Ironrite! Remember my post with the instructional video showing how to use it? Well, now you can use all that knowledge after Santa brings you your very own Miele Rotary Iron. Santa will only have to shell out around 2,000 bucks but you’re worth it! AND he’ll get his boxers nice and crisply ironed along with all your table linens. You KNOW Martha Stewart’s housekeeper has one of these things.

One of my favorite things to do during the Christmas season is to visit the Williams-Sonoma store and drool over all the wonderful kitchen and household goodies. Yes, it’s a bit embarrassing to be followed around with a mop because I want it ALL, but I don’t care! This year, I’m not sure I’m going to get to actually visit the store due to having dual knee surgery so I perused the online catalog with a sponge at my chin. Not quite the same, but … I digress.

Vintage is all the rage – I always wanted to say “all the rage” – and you can see newly made (quite often in China) “vintage” aprons in malls and mega-stores like the ones at W-S.  While I obviously love W-S, I want to take a moment to remind you to shop for true, REAL vintage!  Many times, you’ll find the real deal is less expensive, even with shipping, more well-made, and real vintage is almost one-of-a-kind!

Wouldn’t you rather give (or receive!) one of these darling, real, TRUE vintage Christmas themed aprons?

Vintage Christmas Apron Novelty Gift, Holly, Berries, & Rick Rack Trim L0148

Vintage Christmas Apron Novelty Gift, Holly, Berries, & Rick Rack Trim L0148

Christmas Snowman Handkerchief Pockets L0147

Christmas Snowman Handkerchief Pockets L0147

Vintage Apron 50s Christmas Nylon Net Ribbon Trim Rick Rack Hostess Cocktail RAB

Vintage Apron 50s Christmas Nylon Net Ribbon Trim Rick Rack Hostess Cocktail RAB

Vintage 1950s Sheer Christmas Apron Flocked Christmas Wreath Candle Design EC

Vintage 1950s Sheer Christmas Apron Flocked Christmas Wreath Candle Design EC

Vintage Apron Vest Set Christmas His and Hers Red Corduroy Vest for Him Apron for Her

Vintage Apron Vest Set Christmas His and Hers Red Corduroy Vest for Him Apron for Her



Vintage Full Apron Christmas Clear Vinyl new with tag Raindeer Bells Wreath Jingle Bells

Vintage Full Apron Christmas Clear Vinyl new with tag Raindeer Bells Wreath Jingle Bells

Ironing a Housecoat the 1940s Way

(3/1/2016 — the original video that was in this post has disappeared. This is very similar)

Wow! Talk about a new invention that didn’t make it. Ironrite? Actually, it apparently did.

It definitely looks less tiring, just sitting there and feeding fabric into the machine. What strikes me is that we never see her ironing the ruffles. I like my ruffles crisp and fluffy, not smashed flat as it appears this machine would make them. I could be, and most likely AM wrong about that, because there are collectors today that do know how to use the machine and say it makes wonderful pant creases and such. Homemakers in the ‘40s often used large linen tablecloths that are a bear to iron, as well as bed sheets – no permanent press! It must have been a godsend!

Back in the day, (don’t you love that expression – so vague…) doing the laundry was a whole lot more than throwing some clothing into the washing machine with a little soap and softener, then coming back about a half hour later and moving everything to a dryer, followed by hanging up or folding to be put away. I’ll bet that at least a third of all households today don’t even have an iron or ironing board. Yet we still hate doing laundry. The next time you get your grump on when it’s laundry day, just be thankful no one has handed you a rock and sent you down to the river. (I can’t fathom how that would get your clothing clean – what if the river is muddy, dry, full of fish … ??)

One last thing I love in this video – the house dress aka The Housecoat! The similarities are striking, but this one doesn’t have ruffles to iron!

1930s/ 1940s Hostess Dress

1930s/ 1940s Hostess Dress

Researching Vintage Fashion Leads To ….

It’s a good thing I love research!  Not a day goes by that I don’t need to do some research – style, date, labels, materials – the basics.

The best part is when I run across something that fascinates me – usually having little or nothing to do with the original subject, like this video that is a remix of several decades of Chanel fashion.  It’s kind of an odd video, a bit grainy and with a lot of strange background noises, complete with breaking glass (!) but the fashions are wonderful!  Toward the end are some close ups of gorgeous costume jewelry. You’ll see a dress where the fabric design has large leaves – oh, how I wish the film was in color! Then there are several Chanel suits, again – how I wish I could see the colors!


Looking at these suits brought to mind the wonderful pink and green linen and wool suit dress in my shop.  I have several wonderful pieces from the estate of a woman whose husband owned a local department store that closed in 1961.  Other that a couple of dresses, including the Mingolini – Guggenheim dress, it looks like she had most of her clothing made for her.  The pink and green dress has a lot of the same lines as the Chanel suits, specifically the slightly lower than natural waistline and boxy jacket.  I always felt this lady must have been quite tall because the skirts of her dresses are fairly long but, as you can see in the video, the style is a bit longer.  (I’m short, so one of the first things I notice about any garment is how much I’m going to have to shorten a skirt to wear it!)

Dare to Compare Hair

That’s it.  I hate T.C.  Not only is she tall, slim, and shapely but now she has MY hair!

I was playing around with this really nice 1940s astrakhan bolero jacket – getting ready to list it – when I thought it would be fun to make up an all mix and match vintage outfit.   I picked out an 80s suede skirt, a 50s nylon blouse, the bolero, and a gold tone multi chain vintage necklace.  That’s when it happened.  She wasn’t really rockin the outfit with that hair.

Vintage 40s Astrakhan Bolero, 50s Nylon Blouse, 80s Suede Skirt

Vintage 40s Astrakhan Bolero, 50s Nylon Blouse, 80s Suede Skirt

This is T.C.'s usual 'do

This is T.C.’s usual ‘do

T.C.'s Borrowed 'Do

T.C.’s Borrowed ‘Do

So I grabbed Lana’s hair. (She didn’t say anything, but I know she was UNHAPPY.  After all, she’s the one with the GOOD hair and her attitude shows she knows it!)  Then I put it on T.C. and the brat looks pretty good!  (Shhhh … better than Lana.  She has a buffalo head.)



No female is ever happy with her hair.  If it’s straight, we want curls, if it’s curly we want waves.  If it’s brown we want blonde.  At some point in the last 10 years my own hair has become schizophrenic.  For most of my life it has been straight as a stick.  Of course, the 1980s brought us Big Hair.  I came by mine by getting perms every 6 months or so.

But I digress.  The point is  —  now that I see Lana’s hair on T.C. – I want my hair to do that!  I’m the same calico color but … Of course, I also want my body to do that tall, slim, and shapely thing, too!  Oh well, joke’s on her — I have both my thumbs!

Lana and Heady in their "everyday" 'dos

Lana and Heady in their “everyday” ‘dos


It’s All Barbie’s Fault -Really!

I was thinking about my best friend coming to visit soon and looking forward, not only to just catching up and enjoying her company, but to having her help me get some newly arrived vintage clothing inventory photographed for the website.

Midge, Barbie, & Allen - the original fashion dolls

Midge, Barbie, & Allen – the original fashion dolls

It was then that I realized … I’m still playing with Barbies!  Except this “Barbie” is 6 ft. tall (taller than either of us) and weighs enough to, well, she’s no lightweight – she’s a vintage mannequin – you’ve probably seen her in some of my listings.  Her name is T.C. (a story for another time).

I just love dressing T.C. in fabulous vintage fashions.  It’s even more fun when I’m able to accessorize with hats and purses. Just like back in the old days … with Barbie.

My friend, Lynne, and I would spend hours … well, actually, days playing with our Barbies together.  We must have literally had hundreds of different outfits between us.  My dad always growled that he felt he should be allowed to claim Barbie as a dependent!  Between us, Lynne and I had a collection of dolls, accessories and of course, clothing from the mid-1960s through the early 1970s that, if they had been real adult clothing would have not only cost a fortune, but would give any vintage lover today heart palpitations!

Sadly, like many girls, we grew older and sold our Barbies and their wardrobes at a <GASP!> garage sale.  I’ve lamented the loss now that I’m older and comfort myself with the thought that when we sold them, they weren’t collectible.

So imagine my surprise when, just the other day my darling husband gave me duplicates of my old blonde bubble hair Barbie and friends.  Talk about fun!  All I’ve been able to think about is trying to find some of the old sets of clothing that I had.  Of course, the outfits I’m most attracted to are the older sets, those of the early and mid 1960s.  I didn’t have many of those but the few I had, I’d love to find again.  (I did find one – one of my favorites!)

And then it hit me … this is just like what I do every day!  I search out great vintage dresses for the shop and I dress T.C. in them.

So, it IS all Barbie’s fault!

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Fishing – Outside the (Jewelry) Box

I confess.  I’m totally weird.

During a recent raid of my mom’s jewelry, I came across a huge black and white zebra fish pin.  I really adore it, but at the time, I couldn’t think of a single thing to wear it with (of course, right now I can think of several things but I’m already dressed and … well, I’m too lazy to change).

Instead, I continued to fish around (haha .. get it – fish around?!) in the jewelry box and came up with all sorts of interesting oceanic items.  By now, I couldn’t decide WHAT to wear and ended up entertaining myself by making a little diorama.

And yes.  I was late getting to the shop.

Fishing in my jewelry box - huge fish brooch, sea shell earrings & sweater clip, starfish earrings, and underwater dangle earrings.

Fishing in my jewelry box – huge fish brooch, sea shell earrings & sweater clip, starfish earrings, and underwater dangle earrings.

Here we have the big 1970s zebra fish pin and two pairs of earrings acting as bubbles.  The yellow, red, and green earrings fill in the “water” with more fish and color.  And, across the bottom are a matched set of 50s earrings and a sweater guard with a pair of 1980s starfish earrings.  And don’t forget the darling little 1950s screwback shell earrings!

It’s a shame to keep all our pretty jewelry stashed away in dark boxes and I’m thinking of making a shadowbox of it.  It might also be fun to find an old glass top coffee table, paint it, and display jewelry under the glass.  My fish would be particularly fun decorating a Florida room or a sunroom.

Why not take a look at your own jewelry box from outside the box and have a little fun enjoying your jewelry in a decorative way!

Mingolini & Gugenheim – Italian Designers

Mingolini Gugenheim Italian Designer Dress Vintage 50s 60s

Mingolini Gugenheim Italian Designer Dress Vintage 50s 60s

From the first moment I laid eyes on it, it was obvious that this dress was special.  The label read “Mingolini Gugenheim Piazza del Spagna, 9-91- Roma”.  Honestly, I had never heard of Mingolini & Gugenheim before I found this dress

What little information I found while researching indicates that Carlo Gugenheim and his partner, Sergio Mingolini were designing clothing at least since the 1930s and into the 1990s.  Micol Fontana mentions a Mingolini Guggenheim jacket from the 30s in her archives that was once owned by Edda Ciano – Mussolini’s daughter – in an interview with Eugenia Paulicelli, the author of “Fashion Under Facism”.  She calls Mingolini Guggenheim “one of the best known fashion houses in Rome”.

In a Reuters article from January of 1960, Italian fashion designers DeLuca and Mingolini-Gugenheim are said to be designing with an eye toward the American market by creating fashions with a “long, slim line for a long, slim woman”.  Smooth fabrics are meant to emphasize “slimness, softness, and smoothness.”

An Associated Press article from January 1962 describes the coming spring fashions from Italian designers Mingolini-Gugenheim as being focused on capes and influenced by the Egyptian look due to the new Elizabeth Taylor movie, “Cleopatra”.   The new designs by Mingolini-Gugenheim were notably the cocoon-like capes, evening gowns with godet skirts, and suits with short or bolero jackets and narrow skirts.  They were described as having “lots of appeal for individual private clients but much too lush to be a pacesetter for mass produced fashions”.

Undeniably, one of the most outstanding tidbits of information I was able to find was in the Caribou Observer of March 10, 1955 (p.14).  Included on the social page was a photo of a drop-dead gorgeous evening gown (would have loved to have seen it in color!) on a .. shall we say “special” mannequin.  The caption calls it “weird” and “surreal” – the body of a woman with the head of an animal.

Mingolini & Gugenheim are now on my personal radar.  As I locate more information about these designers and their fashions, I’ll be posting more here.  And if you have any information to add, let me know!

Migration Patterns of Vintage Costume Jewelry

I noticed an interesting phenomenon a couple mornings ago as I was putting together the jewelry I wanted to wear that day.  It moves.

Some years ago as I was sorting through my mom’s old costume jewelry – and my grandma’s because Mom had it until I inherited it – I kept finding things like earrings in Grandma’s jewelry box and the matching necklace in Mom’s.  At the time, I thought it was interesting to see the types of costume jewelry Mom liked well enough to move it into her own jewelry box.  It was fun to match up the sets again

Vintage 40s 50s Costume Jewelry

Vintage 40s 50s Costume Jewelry

and then I started to wear them.

Over time, I’ve pretty much tried to keep Grandma’s costume jewelry in her jewelry box and M

om’s in hers.  And of course, mine in my jewelry box.  There’s an interesting difference among all three of our jewelry boxes.

Vintage 50s 60s 70s Costume Jewelry

Vintage 50s 60s 70s Costume Jewelry

Grandma wore mostly pastels and she had a lot of bracelets.  Most of her jewelry dates to the 1940s and 1950s.  (Can you believe she gave me that sparkly blue set to PLAY with?)

On the other hand, Mom wore mostly fall colors and pins, and her jewelry mostly dates from the early 1960s through the 1970s. (Lots of Sarah Coventry there, which probably explains part of why I’m so drawn to it.)

They also had two sets and two brooches that were identical except for color (the earrings are a bit different).  I was surprised the blue was in Mom’s jewelry and not in Grandma’s.

Vintage Costume Jewelry 3

Vintage Costume Jewelry 3

I would include a photo of my jewelry, which dates from the 1970s with a big gap to post 2001, but really, until post 2001 when I really became interested in vintage costume jewelry – mine is, let’s face it, boring crap. LOL

And then it hit me.  My jewelry box is beginning to sprout some of their jewelry inside!  Some moved from Grandma’s, then it moved to Mom’s and now it’s in mine.  I’d say that’s absolute proof that vintage jewelry IS truly timeless!  AND migratory.

Now, go raid your mom’s jewelry box!  (with her permission, of course!)

Grandma’s Swirl Dresses

In your mind’s eye, I’ll bet you’re imagining a beautiful Victorian dress or a lacy Edwardian gown.  That would be my great-grandma’s dress and sadly, no one saved any of her old dresses.   Nope.  I’m talking about my grandma’s dresses from the 1950s.

For whatever reason – and honestly, I’m not really sure when I got 3 of them – I have 5 of my grandmother’s dresses.  Two of them are fairly recent vintage – one is a 70s formal dress and the other an 80s “church” dress that I will probably only look at and enjoy my memories.   The other three, I wear.

These three are from the 1950’s and two of them are very similarly styled “Swirl” wrap dresses.  The third is a shirt dress – it’s a bit smaller (ok, the reality is that it is less forgiving of my waist size. Ugh).   I don’t remember Grandma wearing the shirt dress, but I do remember the wrap dresses.

Searching the few old photographs I have of Grandma in the 1950, 1960s, and 1970s (after the 70s, she fell prey to double-knit pantsuits), there are none of her wearing one of these dresses.  But in my mind’s eye, I can see her plain as day.  I practically lived at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, particularly during the summer.  These were Grandma’s “housedresses”.  I suppose that is why, whenever it was that I saw them – probably during the sad days when we cleaned 70 years worth of memories out of the old house – I kept them.

Swirl Pastel Floral Sun Dress

Swirl Pastel Floral Sun Dress

Fast forward to about 3 years ago.  There is a tiny little closet in one room of our house and I keep my personal vintage clothing there.  Grandma’s dresses were also in there but I had never tried to wear them.  Frankly, I just figured … well you know what happens when food becomes a hobby … yeah … well, I just figured I couldn’t get my big toe in them.  But looking at them, I realized they were wrap dresses and maybe … just maaaybe … and they DID fit!  Well close enough, anyway.  LOL

So, I’ve worn them quite often since and always receive compliments, despite the fact that pink and pastels are NOT my color.

A common feature of 1950s Swirl dresses is the large patch pockets.  Grandma’s pocket would ALWAYS have a hankie or two tucked into one of those pockets.  Today, I find these pockets are superb for my glasses and cell phone.

This summer, when I put on the floral one, I noticed a big gap in the back.  The dresses fasten only at the back of the neck with a button and then wrap and tie in the front.  I’d never had the gap before!  OH NO.  Too much food.  Curses!

But wait.  Some hand-stitching had come loose where she had taken a tuck in on each side at the waistband in the back.  So Grandma had the same problem!  Somehow, that tuck – that I realized was on both dresses – made me feel so close to her.  Here I am, about the same age as she was when I remember her wearing them and we must be just about the same size and build.

Pink Swirl Sundress

Pink Swirl Sundress

When I first started wearing the dresses, I thought I “should” let the hem back down.   Grandma had shortened them and I remember being taller than her but then, we all shrink with age.  So, before the next time I wear these sweet memories I’ll return the hemline to where Grandma thought it should be … correct for US.   And as I sit here now, re-stitching those tucks into place and following Grandma’s stitches that guide me the way they used to and remembering how she taught me to take tiny stitches that wouldn’t show on the front of the fabric it’s almost like being in a time machine.

May you all find the entrance to your own time machine.   It is precious.

Fascinated by a Nelly Don dress

Welcome to my blog!  (How’s that for cliché?)  Like beginning a presentation, I always have trouble with the opening.  I’m fine once I get going.  In fact, just TRY to shut me up!  LOL

1950s Blue Floal Nelly Don Dress

1950s Blue Floal Nelly Don Dress

A dress inspired me this morning.  Isn’t that fabulous?  I always like to do a little extra research for my descriptions when I add anything to the websites, especially when there is a label or an interesting feature or history.  I’ve had other Nelly Don dresses, but this one just has that Pitty-Pat Factor.  I love it.  I would wear it in a second, but it will take longer than a second to return to my pre-marital, pre-motherhood weight and shape.  Liposuction, here I come!

The style is just adorable with the wide waist, cap sleeves, and pleated skirt.  One of my favorites.  But it’s the F A B R I C that really caught my attention:  a dark, royal blue with black sort of amoebas and bright pink, green, white, and gray spring flowers scattered throughout.  They stand out so –  almost starkly.  It’s very striking and THEN it fastens at the center front with small rhinestone buttons.

So I did a little research about Nelly Don dresses.  In an archive of Time Magazine, there is an article entitled, “Nellie’s Big Night” dated Monday, October 18, 1948 that gives a brief overview of her success story. (An interesting side note – did the original article misspell “Nellie” throughout the article, or is it a transcription error?)  A documentary book and film “A Stitch in Time” that was made, I believe, by a nephew reveals that, besides having started the “largest dress manufacturing company in the world” she was actually kidnapped and refused to pay the ransom!    It has been stated that her company made 75 million dresses between 1916 and 1978.  Check out the Nelly Don website!

It fascinates me to learn about the lives of women like Coco Chanel and Nelly Donnelly who were successful business women with multi-million dollar businesses at time when most women were happy housewives (or not so happy).  Yep, we’ve come a long way!

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