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A New Year and New Ideas

Happy New Year, friends!! I hope your holiday season was full of love, fun, and family! Mine was and I am so very grateful.

Now it’s time to begin the process of refusing to do New Year’s resolutions. Nope. No resolutions for me. GOALS. This year, it’s goals for me.

2013 was a struggle for me both physically and here at the shop. I was in the body shop off and on all year with carpal tunnel surgery on both hands in April followed by minor knee surgery on both knees in October and … yes, DECEMBER. Less than 2 weeks before Christmas. Eek!

We began to rebuild the website in early 2012, which turned out to be a near disaster by last Christmas and by January 2013, I had a new web developer who had to try to follow the tracks of the last one – a difficult job, to say the least. But by April we were in pretty good shape again. Then in the late summer/early fall, all sorts of other changes involving searches hit the fan both on my website and in my Etsy shop that left us scrambling once again to get things working properly. Since this involved my web guy, I had him add the ability to accept credit cards without having to use Paypal only to find that he forgot to take it out of test mode – which accounted for the complete silence on my website until about a month had passed and a nice customer notified me of the problem. After waging war with the set up for credit cards, I finally gave up and turned it off, so for the time being we are back to using Paypal as a means to accept credit cards.

My nerves of steel are now just steel wool.

I confess …. I took the last couple of weeks off. Brain cells needed time to regenerate. And my knee needed time to heal. The knee is much better now.

So, without further ado, here are some things I hope to accomplish this year:

• Now that the website is running smoothly, expect to see LOTS more clothing, jewelry, and accessories added. Our inventory is overflowing and I’m really excited to have more ability to offer it much more quickly.
• With all the changes, I intend to add more to my blog on a much more consistent basis. My goal is to post at least once a month.
• This year, I’m planning on having “secret sales”. Keep an eye out for special coupon codes here and on our Facebook page.
• There is a “Gallery” section on the website for everyone to enjoy the “best of the best” antique and vintage clothing that has sold. It’s a little clunky and I have a few ideas on changing the format to better showcase and separate the clothing from the jewelry.
• Lose 20 lbs. It wouldn’t be a new year if someone around here wasn’t starting a diet! I want to be able to wear my vintage dresses without having to use a power winch to squash me into a steel corset so something will fit. Ouch. Failing that, I commit to finally buying or making a new corset that actually fits. I’ve been pig headed, refusing to admit I wasn’t losing weight and therefore I haven’t been wearing a properly fit corset. Shame. On. Me.

Now then … This is going to be a GREAT year! Cuz I said so. So STAY TUNED!!

News from Belle à Coeur Treasure Trove Vintage

Ta Da! I’m baaack! After a year-long hiatus … an agonizing year of having my website updated that turned into me going to school and learning HTML! (Turns out, it’s kind of fun … well, so far. LOL) I hope you’ll take a few minutes to check out the shop’s new look and let me know how you like it. It still has come bugs, but … these, too, shall pass.

Wedding Cupcakes

Wedding Cupcakes

So what’s happened over the past year? Not a whole lot. I kept holding off listing things, thinking the website would be ready. You know how it goes. Last year was a good year to step back a little, though, because both of my children got married! What a year! My youngest asked me to make their wedding cake to save money. This turned into wedding cupcakes. Months of testing recipes and decorations that fattened up the entire county! My oldest used a reception hall that didn’t allow outside bakery products, so I did their rehearsal dinner cupcakes. If you want to take a peek at them, I started a blog “Victim of Cupcakes” to keep track of what I was doing – and THAT turned out to be really fun, too! I’m a little behind on THAT one, too!

What does this have to do with vintage? Welllllll …… my personal vintage stash no longer fits!

Seriously, I HAVE to stay off Pinterest. I discovered Pinterest while researching cake recipes and decorations and it’s turned into yet another fun diversion. I’ve been pinning wonderful things from my shop, wonderful things from my vintie friends’ shops, recipes, jewelry, hints, recipes, shoes, recipes … See where this is going? My personal stash of vintage clothing no longer fits! Follow me on Pinterest so we can share all the wonderful vintage and recipes (I’m never going to fit into my clothing, am I?)

As to shop news, we just came back from the Chicagoland Vintage Clothing, Jewelry and Textile Show & Sale in Elgin, Illinois. Had a great time, visited with friends, made new friends, and sold a lot of goodies! It’s always interesting to see what’s “hot” from one show to the next. I sold a BUNCH of skirts and I don’t think I’ve ever sold a skirt at Elgin!

For the past several years, I have been asked to give a short demonstration/presentation on different vintage subjects. (Yep, that’s me in the video from last February with the Victorian corset, hoops, and underpinnings!) This time, my presentation was “How to Buy Vintage Clothing that Fits”. As promised, I will be breaking it down into a couple of blog posts so that those who attended can refer to it AND so can my readers! I’ll get started on that next week because this one is quickly getting away from me!

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.

A Case of Mistaken Identity

Didja ever wonder how I ended up with such a … lousy … shop name?  (I do.)  No fair.  I *know* how I ended up with this name and now, I’m going to tell you!  Let’s go in the Way Back machine ………

Many moons ago (many!) back when my husband I had just started dating, we had a standing joke that we were having too much fun together and, therefore, we were doing something BAD.    (As you might have guessed, our ex-spouses had managed to make anything FUN out to be BAD.)  One thing led to another and to make this long story short, we ended up calling ourselves Bonnie & Clyde.  NO, it is NOT our real names!

Many more moons passed and we decided to follow a dream and open an antique store.  I chose the antiques because a location smack in the middle of north central Indiana is NOT really conducive to becoming vintage fashion central.  But I could still have an area for vintage clothing and jewelry in the shop.  We combed the area for antique and vintage items for the shop and were soon calling them “treasures”.  (See where this is going?)

When it came to putting a name on the sign in front of the shop, I was just at a loss.  Some people have a talent for coming up with cute and creative names.  I don’t.  (Obviously!)  We were coming down to the wire and needed a name for our sign painter and “Bonnie & Clyde’s Treasure Trove” came out as the best of all the terrible ideas we were having at the time.  Exhaustion will do that.

Since that time, I’ve been called “Bonnie” or asked if our names really are Bonnie and Clyde.  (NO, they’re NOT!).  Repeatedly.  I have had people ask me if I want to buy the shoes the real Bonnie was wearing when she was killed.  (SERIOUSLY??? NOOOO!)  Some have asked if they can buy Bonnie’s clothes.  (Um, no .. at least not here.)  People have asked if we are related to Bonnie & Clyde.  (No!)  It really didn’t take long to see that we’d picked a terrible name for the shop, but it was too late and we learned to live with it.

Then came the internet.  I did a little bit on ebay, but honestly, never really got on well with it. Back then, it was a struggle to just get a website up and running but we got a little website going.   After a few years, the website actually became a viable stand alone shop and my vintage clothing and jewelry were overwhelming people looking at antiques, so we broke the antiques off to another website (craigantiques.com) and left the clothing and jewelry on the original website because we discovered our page rank was doing well and we had repeat internet customers.  Now we were REALLY stuck with the name!

I still try to think of a better name for my vintage clothing and jewelry shop … when (if) I think of something … YOU will be the first to know!

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!

The Vintage Message Center

Do you sometimes leave notes for family members that never get seen?

A couple summers ago when my youngest son was home from college,  occasionally I needed to leave him a note.  But how to make certain he would see it?  Figuring that one of the first places a sleepy teenager would visit upon awakening in the early afternoon hours, I decided to try the bathroom counter.  When that didn’t quite work, I turned to the toilet – lid closed, of course.  Somehow, even that didn’t always work.

A face only a mother could love

A face only a mother could love

Then one day while sorting through a vintage haul, two beady little eyes peered up at me.

Fearlessly (ok, I knew it was in there – but it sounds good) I pulled the little guy out and noted how unusual he is.  You know those old mink collar/stoles where several pelts are sewn together and a head clips onto a tail?  Usually, there are multiple heads, feet, and tails.  This one has just one head and one tail.

I’m a sucker for these things – Grandma had one and I think they’re kinda cute.  Please understand that these things come from a time and place when our sensibilities were quite different than today.  Vintage furs come from animals that gave up the ghost long, long ago.  That critter is already dead, and throwing it out now seems somewhat disrespectful and mean, so don’t come after me with hate mail.  I love animals and I wish these things didn’t happen, but they did.  Sad, but what’s done is done.

Imagine walking into a room, half asleep, to find this dear little critter ... just holding a message for you

Imagine walking into a room, half asleep, to find this dear little critter … just holding a message for you

Anyway, here’s this little mink face staring up at me.  Ever notice how squeezing the clip makes the critter “talk”?  Well, we were talking and he gave me the idea to clip one of those bathroom notes in its mouth and leave it on the floor of the bathroom.  I’m betting there’s a pretty good chance this note won’t get missed.  Frankly, I’m really sorry I wasn’t there to see the reaction.  You’d have to know my kid ….

Somehow, this note didn't get missed

Somehow, this note didn’t get missed

 

 

 

So now the Message Mink hangs on a hanger on a hook on the back of the bathroom door.  That’s where he lives now.

Fast forward to last week.  The Message Mink is now hanging in our bedroom.  Noting this, I asked how it got there.  It seems that I hung a bunch of shirts on the hook where the Minky lives.  DH picked up his shirts and took them upstairs and put them in his closet.  A few days later, he reached in to pull out a shirt and out came those beady little eyes.

WHERE am I when all the good stuff happens?

Minky's Hang Out

Minky’s Hang Out

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.

God Save the Queen(‘s Bloomers)!

A friend passed along a link to this exhibit of a recently acquired set of Queen Victoria’s underpinnings and it got me to thinking ….  (look out, she’s gonna rant!  LOL)

http://news.yahoo.com/nphotos/Queen-Victoria-Bloomers-Kensington-Palace-Queen-Victoria/ss/events/lf/090809bloomers/im:/090908/481/d14a0f8b6447496c953c718e28d26464/#photoViewer=/090908/481/c8760e6e946640f4803e9ee56cca5a77

Queen Victoria's Jubilee

Queen Victoria’s Jubilee

Everyone is familiar with photos and portraits of Queen Victoria which are mostly from her more mature years.  She ain’t no skinny mini!  As the article above points out, even beginning with a 20-inch waist in her youth, the birth of 9 kids will take its toll on a body.  I’d venture to guess that a royal lifestyle that includes an abundance of food probably would tend to put a few extra pounds on a girl.  All she’d be required to do is ring a bell and a servant could be sent with any sort of treat a queen could desire!  If I had that luxury, I’m certain I would be MUCH larger than Victoria’s 56-inch waist indicates!

Which brings me to The Rant.

The first 4 years after opening my brick and mortar shop, I delighted in displaying beautiful Victorian gowns on dress forms.  Almost everyone looked at the dresses without making the comment, “Look how tiny the waist is!”  Or my favorite- spoken directly to me, “Have you seen the size of the waist on that dress?”  (Umm… think about that.)

Repeated attempts to discuss the differences of lifestyle, availability, quantity, and diversity of food as well as overall better nutrition, etc., PLUS corseting have repeatedly been met with scorn and disbelief – really!  Eventually, I gave up attempts to be helpful and informative resorted to simply smiling and nodding.  When prodded for a comment, I found it sufficient to say, “They never met a Quarter Pounder with Cheese”.

All the while, these dresses were set up a about 5 ft. from a vintage mannequin displaying a seasonal vintage dress with all the accessories.  This particular mannequin has a 22 ½” waistline and most things fit well or will with minor pinning.  Foolishly pointing out that the mannequin’s dress is smaller than many of my Victorian gowns and that it wasn’t very long ago that women, in general, weren’t all that much larger only 50 years ago … let’s just say the response wasn’t been stellar.  The mannequin now lives to serve as a photo model only.

There’s a lot to be said for portion control.  My own mother, back in the ’60s would eat a single White Castle burger with a small Coke for dinner and be satisfied.  I’d kill to be able to wear her clothes today.

The question is:  am I willing to eat like that?  OBVIOUSLY not.  T.C., my vintage mannequin, HAS made her choice.  She maintains her 22 ½” waist by fastidiously refusing to eat.

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