Monthly Archives: March 2010

What Makes a Collector Happy

Vintage clothing collectors will tell you that sometimes it’s easier to find something that was rare and pricy when it was new, than it is to find something commonplace.  I guess the logical explanation for that is because people tend to take better care of things they pay more for, and they tend to keep them longer.

I’ve been to dozens of estate sales where the only vintage clothing in the house would be the woman’s wedding dress, a fancy gown or two, expensive, unworn lingerie, and a fur.  What’s hard to find are women’s everyday work clothing, very casual play clothing, and everyday pajamas.  These things got lots of wear, and after a long life ended up in the rag bag.

I keep a very long list of things I need to fill in the gaps of my collection. I keep it with me when I hit a flea market or antique store, but I’ve read over it so many times that I know most of the things on it anyway.  So when I spied this pajama set last Saturday, I knew I was going to be able to make the list a little shorter.

These pjs are from the late 1930s.  I’ve been looking for a set of practical sleepwear from this era for a long time.  This was the type of thing a woman would have taken along to wear on the train as she would want something modest and warm.  It would be a lot easier to climb into that upper berth in these than in that rayon gown!

These cotton knit  pajamas are from famed maker, Vanity Fair. Just look at the details.  Can you imagine putting the elastic on the outside of the waist?  And note how the blue front wraps around to the back and the little gathered sleeve that were so popular in the late 30s.  Lots of thought went into this simple pair of pajamas.


Posted by Em:

What an interesting treasure!

Monday, March 8th 2010 @ 5:57 PM

Posted by Anonymous:

What a fantastic set! All the thought and detail that went into clothing from previous eras is what draws me to vintage clothing. It’s just so much more interesting to me than contemporary clothing 😉

Monday, March 8th 2010 @ 6:28 PM

Posted by MissCherryBubbles:

Oops! That was me commenting above – see, I was so excited by the swell pj set – LOL.

Monday, March 8th 2010 @ 6:29 PM

Posted by Lizzie:

I’m glad you both find it as interesting as I did. “Swell” in a grest adjective for this one!

Wednesday, March 10th 2010 @ 7:59 AM

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Filed under Collecting, Shopping, Vintage Clothing

Currently Reading: Vera: The Art and Life of an Icon

I was in Charlotte so I made a side trip to Anthropologie to see the new Vera Neumann book which was written by Susan Seid, the owner of The Vera Company.  I was just going to look at it, as the price is almost double what it will be selling for on Amazon in a few months.  But after just looking at a few pages, I knew I must have it now.

What makes it so great?  Well, I have not had time to even look through the entire book, but one of the things I already love is how Susan Seid shows the original sketches by Vera, and how they look as the final products.  In the case of the birdcages below, we are shown Vera’s original inspiration – a grouping of birdcages as seen while she was traveling, to the sketches she made, to various interpretations of the theme.  As expected, the book is full of color and whimsy.

Anthropologie is one of the companies The Vera Company has paired with to translate Vera’s work into modern products.  Their label is “We (love) Vera” and is similar to the print inside the mug below.  I thought all the We Love Vera items were cute, but I’ll be sticking with my vintage items.  I hate to use the phrase that I’m  “too old” for them, but I don’t see spaghetti straps in my future.  Maybe a skirt…

But there is a line of mugs, and they are one size fits all.  Why did I get just one?


Posted by Beth:

I love Vera! Must get this book.:)

Sunday, March 7th 2010 @ 12:30 PM

Posted by Jen O:

Thanks for the tip on that Vera book–It seems to be a Vera kind of week. Did you know that Macy’s is selling Vera linens? Wooo Hooo, I’m happy!
Got that great piece of news from Bon Bon Atellier blog: (

Tuesday, March 9th 2010 @ 7:58 AM

Posted by Lisa:

Thank you for posting this! I have been reading your blog for months now and just got the courage to make a comment. I learn so much about vintage fashion just by reading this.

Tuesday, March 9th 2010 @ 8:00 AM

Posted by Lizzie:

I’ve read about the Macy’s linens, but have not actually seen them. I’m not even sure if there is a Macy’s near me!

Lisa, Welcome! You don’t need courage to post here. All you need is an opinion!

Wednesday, March 10th 2010 @ 8:01 AM

Posted by Holly:

This is great. I’m excited to check this out. As you know, I’m positively moved by the way you really see her “hand” in the prints. It will be as interesting to see the inspirations for the designs. I love seeing what artists are “seeing” if you know what I mean. Anthropologie would probably send you mugs if you called or maybe they’re on the website.
Off to check out the Macy’s linens!

Wednesday, March 10th 2010 @ 9:46 AM

Posted by Beth:

The downside to Macy’s reproducing Vera designs is that it may make it more difficult to distinguish “real” Vera from new Vera designs. I am still curious to see what Macy’s is offering, however.

Saturday, March 13th 2010 @ 9:05 AM

Posted by Mod Betty /

I just was in a Home Goods store here in Pennsylvania (the expanded version of the Marshalls homegoods ) and noticed some adorable Vera dish towels for $1.99. I’m now wondering why I didn’t buy them! Luckily the store is right up the street, hope there is one near other Vera lovers too!

Tuesday, September 14th 2010 @ 5:37 PM

Posted by Lizzie:

I’ll have to check next time I’m near a Marshall’s. It will be interesting to see how the quality of the vintage vs. the new compares!

Wednesday, September 15th 2010 @ 5:56 PM



Filed under Currently Reading, Designers

The Classics – The Breton Sailor’s Shirt

This shirt was seen everywhere last summer and fall.  Harper’s Bazaar did a page on the nautical stripe, and WWD had a slide show on their site.  There were celebrity sightings galore and Balmain sent a version down the runway.

But after the hype and the moment in the fashion sun are over, this shirt will still find its way into the closets of people who love it for what it is – a fresh looking, easy to wear, comfortable garment.  Can’t ask much more of a shirt than that, now can we?

The Breton dates back to the middle of the 19th century when it became part of the French navy uniform.  Seems as if a man overboard was easier to spot if he were wearing stripes!  It gained popularity with other workers who spent time on the sea, and became associated with the fishermen of Breton.  In the 1920s and 30s it was discovered by the arty French crowd – think Chanel and Picasso – and it’s been a seaside favorite ever since.

I’ve got several faux-bretons in my closet.  One dates back to the 1990s.  I know because I’ve got photos of myself wearing it taken in 1999.  It came from The Express and honestly, looks like new.  I also have one I got at Target several years ago, part of the Isaac Mizrahi line.  It hasn’t held up as well.  And the most recent one is from Liz Claiborne.  I’m afraid it was a mistake.

American copies are fairly easy to find.  Companies like Lands End and LL Bean are good places to look.  And a year or two ago Polo did one.  But I recently decided it was time for the real deal.  Since a trip to the coast of France did not appear to be in my immediate future, I ordered the shirt above from a French company.

I’m really happy with it, but it took a trip through the washer and dryer in order for it to make me happy.  Right out of the package it was too big, and baggy, and I wasn’t very happy.  But it is 100% cotton, and it did shrink, and now it is the exact size I ordered.  One other observation:  the blue is not really navy, but I like that medium blue better anyway.

Okay, summer shopping’s all done.  Now to find my blue espadrilles!


Posted by Inky:

i have been looking for one for summer – what company did you purchase from?

Sunday, March 7th 2010 @ 7:50 AM

Posted by Lizzie:

Inky, I got it from Brittany Boutique. It was pricy – a real splurge for me. The shirt itself was reasonable; it was the credit card fees and the shipping that upped the price. Still, I know I’ll be wearing this for a very long time.

Sunday, March 7th 2010 @ 9:19 AM

Posted by Holly:

I think I posted a comment a long time ago on this that didn’t show up.

As you know, this is my own seaside favorite shirt, too. Thanks for the quick recap on the shirt.

I am glad to know this was worth the splurge. Let us know when you find your perfect espadrilles!

Sunday, March 14th 2010 @ 10:10 AM


Filed under Shopping

Bradley Knit Wear Style Book, 1921 – 1922

More from the Bradley Knit Wear Company – a sweater catalog from 1921.

“Navajos are the original and exclusive Bradley contribution to knit coat wearers.  The knitting of authentic Indian designs through the body and sleeves of the garment individualizes Bradley Navajos among knitted coats.”

What an interesting use of American Indian images and designs.  Of course, the Indian portrayed is not Navajo, and I doubt that the designs were either.  In the 1930s the Navajos took Beacon Blankets to court to stop their usage of the tribe’s name.  I wonder if they took the same step with Bradley?

Bathing suits were such a large part of Bradley’s business that even the winter catalog had an illustration to remind the shopper to buy a Bradley suit!

Posted by KeLLy Ann:

I want one of everything! 

Wednesday, March 3rd 2010 @ 4:20 PM

Posted by Sarah:

Its funny how blithely these early 20th century manufacturers appropriated native American culture, with little regard to accuracy or cultural sensitivity! I’d like to hope that wouldn’t happen these days, but I’m not so sure (I’ve been reading a few blog posts recently about fashion’s plundering of ethnic and regional dress so I’m particularly aware of the issue right now!) 

That said, what a marvellous catalogue – I love the long line cardigans and those cosy-looking big knit hats!

Thursday, March 4th 2010 @ 10:04 AM

Posted by Lizzie:

This longish type sweater was very popular when I was in college – mid 1970s .  I loved them – cozy and easy to wear. 

A lot of companies built their business on copying Indian designs – Beacon and Pendleton years ago, Ralph Lauren more recently. Give me an authentic vintage Chimayo jacket anyday!

Friday, March 5th 2010 @ 9:18 AM

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Filed under Advertisements, Proper Clothing, Sportswear, Vintage Clothing

Bradley’s How to Swim Booklet

There are so many defunct clothing companies that people have all but forgotten about.  One of my favorites is Bradley.  Who could resist a clothing company with the slogan, “Slip into a Bradley and Out-of-Doors!”

The company was located in Delavan, Wisconsin, and was established in 1904.  They made all kinds of knit goods, including swimming suits, sweaters and other sports apparel.  This company was very important to the small town of Delavan; it was their chief employer, with 1200 persons working there when the company was at its peak.

I’m not sure when the company closed, but the last label we have on the VFG Label Resource is from the 1960s.

I love finding Bradley advertising items.  They always have great graphics of people out and about.  This little How to Swim booklet was right down my collecting alley!

Note the Coney Island type painted background.

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Filed under Advertisements, Sportswear, Summer Sports