vintage

Wear Vintage Now | Book Review

Wear Vintage Now book by Margaret Wilds with jewelry, shoes a hat and a purse around it

I met Margaret Wilds of the shop DeniseBrain Vintage on Instagram a few years ago. I believe it was through the #myvintagecover challenge that Tanith Rowan and I hosted in 2017 and 2018, and I have been following her blog ever since. (I have linked to her posts in the past here and here) In 2019 Margaret asked me whether she could use one of my photos in a book she was writing. I was, of course, honoured and said yes! I finally was able to buy her book, Wear Vintage Now: Choose It, Care For It, Style It Your Way, just over a month ago, so I thought I’d share a review of it here.

Note: I purchased this book myself, and was not asked to give a review or receive compensation- I just wanted to share it with you all. 

wear vintage now book wrapped in pink tissue paper

Firstly, in terms of the book itself, it came beautifully wrapped in bright pink tissue paper… and I was so excited that I ripped it off before I took a picture- oops! But at least I was able to get a picture of the sticker afterwards. Also, Margaret signed the book for me, which was such a nice touch; I love buying things from small businesses, since it feels like you’re opening a gift.

It is a softcover book, 150 pages, and she did such a sweet cover design (the cover is laminated with a soft touch, velvet finish too). The only critique I have of the book is that I wish the pictures were larger! But I know that would have changed the price of printing…and so I completely understand why they were on the smaller side. I just wish I could have seen even more details!

As for the content, I really liked her premise for the book, “Who can wear vintage? I can’t think of one single person who can’t!” She focuses on several topics: how to find your vintage “look” or “style”, how to shop for vintage online and how to care for your vintage pieces.

In the first section, she shares tips for styling vintage, whether you want to be what she calls a “time traveler” or a “modern/vintage mixer” (which is the category my picture is in!) She then moves on to talking about which pieces to select if you’re new to wearing vintage, and easy pieces to add to your wardrobe first if you’re not quite ready to dive in headfirst. This section is definitely aimed at those who are new to wearing vintage, and I wish I’d had this book 10 years ago when I first got interested in wearing vintage clothing.

wear vintage now book open to the page my picture is on

In the next section she shares tips on how to measure, figure out what will suit you and make wise purchases avoiding pieces that are going to be more of a headache than a joy. With over 20 years of experience in collecting, repairing and selling vintage clothing, she has a wealth of knowledge about buying vintage online. I don’t buy very much clothing online, but armed with her tips, I actually might start doing so.

Since I’ve been following vintage blogs for years, I honestly wasn’t sure whether there would be much “new” information in this book for me, but I really liked her final chapters on “Taking Care of Your Vintage Finery”. She shares a lot of information on fibre content, laundering and stain removal, damage prevention and storage. I learned more than a few new cleaning tricks that I will definitely be using in the future.

And then in the final section she gives some information about vintage reproduction and alternatives to authentic vintage, in case you’re interested in a vintage look, but true vintage is not an option.

Margaret’s love and passion for vintage clothing shines through her entire book, but especially in her last part titled “Wear Vintage and Make the World Brighter” where she says “Vintage fashion is the creative, high quality, thoughtful and beautiful answer to fast fashion. Go forth and wear it well!”

I honestly couldn’t have said it better myself; those are my exact feelings about vintage clothing as well.

If you have any interest in wearing vintage clothing, then this is the book for you. I’m glad that I finally bought Wear Vintage Now because it will be a great reference to have on my bookshelf.

The book is available either through her Etsy shop, or via her website. (I purchased through her website, since the shipping on Etsy was cost prohibitive to Canada).

Vintage Fur of Yesteryear

wearing a tan wool jacket and a fox fur stole

There is danger when you scroll through the Poshmark “vintage” tag with the intent to not purchase anything, because you very well might just find something to purchase. And when you’re looking at vintage items (especially when you find one for a good price) you know you might never find anything like it ever again. I’m not usually an impulse buyer, but when I saw this little vintage fur fellow in excellent condition, I decided he had to come and live with me.

wearing a tan wool jacket a fox fur stole a pearl necklace and a cream ring

I know that feelings run high when it comes to fur, and some people might find wearing a fox fur stole macabre, but I quite like this little guy. Fur collars and stoles with the head and tails were very popular through the first half of the 20th century, and in my vintage Sears catalogue books they have quite a few available in the 1920’s and 30’s. In a world of PVC and polyester, where fur, and even leather, has started to become taboo, it is strange to see advertisements for furs that can’t be mistaken as anything but dead animals.

wearing a tan blazer embroidered shell and pearl necklace

I haven’t had an occasion to wear him out, so I had to create my own occasion for his debut. I actually don’t know whether I will ever wear him; I think he would need a very particular occasion, and he is kind of hard to wear because of where the clasp goes. I’m also a little concerned that despite the fact he is in great vintage condition, furs do become fragile with age and I don’t want damage him through pulling and strain.

Anyway, the moral of this story is: don’t browse through vintage clothing unless you are fully prepared to bring some pieces into your collection!

closeup of fox fur stole

Finding and Styling Thrifted Home Decor

thrifted home decor items on a table: a teacup, pitcher, picture frames and vintage books

I was recently inspired by one of my favourite bloggers, Sarah from She Holds Dearly, to do my own version of her series “Styling Thrifted Finds”. Almost all of my decor is thrifted or secondhand, and it would actually be easier to find the pieces that were purchased new so this is just my “recent” thrifted home decor; otherwise I would have to post a picture of my entire bedroom!

I love thrift shopping, and we have an excellent thrift store in town. It’s housed in the ground floor of an old building from 1912, and is a rabbit warren of rooms full of treasures waiting to be unearthed. It always requires a lot of digging past junk to find those treasures, but the prices are so good that it’s worth it. And because it’s a charity shop, I am always more willing to buy than I am at a for-profit shop. (And to donate my old items to as well!)

a gold enameled vintage oval mirror

First up, here are some items that made their way into my recent gallery wall. I found this vintage gold mirror from that thrift store in town. It was originally priced at $25, which I thought was a bit steep for that shop, and when I brought it up to the till, the lady who organizes the shop knocked $5 off (without me saying anything), because she thought it was a bit steep too! It pays to have a good relationship with your local thrift shops.  There is some of the gold enamel worn off on the bottom edge, but it just adds to the patina. The oval shape of the mirror fit perfectly over top of my bookshelf, and it lines up perfectly with my dresser mirror opposite, so I can use it to see how the back of my hair looks.

three vintage frames leaning against the wall

Thrift stores are also excellent places to find picture frames. The wooden frame with the oval opening cost $0.50, and even though it doesn’t have glass, it was still a bargain. If I want glass for it someday, I could always buy another frame for the same price and steal the glass and it would still only cost $1.00. The oval opening in the frame was perfect for this antique styled photo of my friend and I. (Ps. the black frame with the fashion illustration, below, was originally white, but I painted it with black chalk paint and waxed it and it looks so much better. I also painted the mat with acrylic paint. If you find frames that are the perfect size, but not the colour you’re looking for, you can always transform them with a little bit of paint!)

vintage wooden oval frame; styling thrifted home decor in my gallery wall

Both the wooden frame and the large gold one were frames that I saw at two different second hand shops, decided to not buy, and then wished that I had. Amazingly when I returned to the shops weeks later, the frames were still there, so I brought them home, of course.

vintage gold frame with view from the elbe landscape painting

I wasn’t in love with the watercolour that was originally in the large gold frame (for $8.00 by the way), so I removed it and decided to print some new artwork. I found a couple high resolution downloads of vintage artwork online and got them printed as poster prints. Because they are in the public domain, they are free to use and some can actually be downloaded directly from museum collections. I also printed an artwork for this black frame, below, at the same time. The two pieces I chose are this gorgeous black botanical “Still Life with Roses” by Elias van den Broeck”, and for the gold frame, this landscape which is titled “View from the Elbe” by Johan Christian Clausen Dahl. If you are looking for a different landscape, there are some other really lovely ones available here. (I love the one of the cottage with the chickens in front, but it was the wrong aspect ratio for my frame).

dutch floral still life with roses

I found the vintage brass frame with the convex glass on Poshmark (that’s a dangerous place to browse) and I have put a Victorian calendar page in it for now, but if I ever find a Victorian portrait, I will replace it.

tiny hanging picture frames

I also picked up these little brass frames to add to my gallery wall. I put pictures of my mom and both grandmas in them, and they fit in perfectly.

stack of vintage books

Moving on to finds of a different sort, vintage books are always a great thing to look for. The bottom one, Mary Queen of Scots, was from a thrift shop for $1.00 and the top three were from a library sale; all three for just $1.50.  The library books had dust jackets- always make sure to look behind the dust jackets of vintage books to see if they are clothbound. The top one, unfortunately, had glue residue from the ancient library tape which had ruined the colour and finish of the spine, so I painted it over with gold paint. It originally had gold lettering, similar to the bottom book, so it was too bad that the spine wasn’t in good condition, but for $0.50, I don’t mind. I have gathered all of my vintage books onto the bookshelf in my bedroom, for now.

styling vintage books on a bookshelf

Vintage books also make a nice backdrop for other decor. In the past I have used my vintage books to create vignettes on my IKEA bookshelf. They can also be used as risers to give height to seasonal decor, and large ones can be used as a sort of tray to ground other items when placed on a table. And, of course, you can read them too!

silver spoons before and after polishing

Another thing to keep you eye out for at the thrift stores is silverware. It is getting harder to find, but I do still come across it sometimes. These pieces looked so terrible and tarnished they were mixed into the bin of loose stainless steel cutlery, and were only $0.25 each. After a polishing, they are ready to add to my mismatched silverware set! To polish silverware easily (I wouldn’t use this for anything too precious, since I’ve heard it can blur delicate detail work) this is the method I use.

Line a heat proof container, or your sink, with tin foil. Place silver on top of the foil, leaving space between the pieces. Sprinkle 2 tbsp. of salt and 2 tbsp. of baking soda over top. Boil a kettle full of water (mine is 1.7 L). Pour the boiling water over top of the silver until they are submerged and watch the tarnish magically disappear! Let soak for up to 2 minutes, remove and rinse the pieces and then buff dry with a soft cloth to remove any remaining colour. It works amazingly well!

brass pillar stand

Another find was this brass stand. It is approximately 6″ across and 3″ tall. I think it may have originally been for a pillar candle? Or perhaps it originally had a glass cloche?

plant on top of the brass stand

The top was very scratched, but it makes a perfect plant stand. It gives the purple shamrock at the back of the buffet just enough height from the plants in the front.

vintage transferware pieces

And the last thrifted finds for today are these two transferware pieces- one featuring a scene of an English estate and the other of an 18th century man riding a horse. The teacup didn’t have a saucer, but that was fine because I had another plan for it. Likewise, I didn’t know what I was going to use the little cream pitcher for, but I quickly had an idea. I think the teacup was $4 and the pitcher was $2, from two different shops.

transferware pieces in a drawer and on top of the dresser

I store all of my makeup and toiletry supplies in baskets and castoff teacups. They work perfectly to hold my brushes and lipsticks and makeup wipes, and look so much prettier than usual organizing bins. I added this teacup in with a few others I have in my makeup drawer.

And for the pitcher, I put a bit of stuffing and a piece of black felt inside to create a cushion to hold my hat pins. I wear these pins on my berets, and it’s nice having them easy to access on my dresser as I get ready.  

That’s how I have styled my recent thrifted home decor. I’m always on the lookout for unique home decor pieces, though I leave more pieces behind than I buy these days. I’m trying to be more of a minimalist…but that doesn’t always work out.

What sorts of things do you keep your eye out for at the thrift shops? What is your best thrifted find ever? Do you have any good charity shops where you live?

Straw Hats and Sunny Days

We’ve had our fair share of sun and heat this summer, which is too bad for me, since I’m not a fan of hot days! However, I’ve actually been spending a decent amount of time outside this summer despite the drought…which is kind of strange since I usually spend my summers indoors hiding from the sun.

I bought this giant straw hat back in May, though, and it is perfect for hot summer days. Since it has such a wide brim and a tall crown, it creates a nice bit of shade from the sun. If there isn’t any shade, bring your own! There is also a hat band inside, and I added a tie for slightly breezy days. There’s nothing worse than wearing a large brimmed hat and having it fly off your head with a gust of wind…not that that has ever happened before. Originally the hat also had a cream grosgrain ribbon hatband, but not a very nice one, so I replaced it with a silk scarf which is much prettier in my opinion.

woman wearing a straw hat with a scarf bow

I originally planned to get photos of this hat and outfit back in June, but then we had a huge heat wave…then smoke from the wildfires in BC…then more heat again…and here we are now already in August. (With another heat wave, but just tiny one this time…maybe a heat splash).

woman wearing a cream tshirt, polka dot skirt and straw hat

I’ve been wearing an iteration of this outfit, switching out with different tops or accessories quite a lot this summer too. It’s a very easy formula: wrap skirt + t-shirt + accessories. When you’ve got a variety of tops and skirts (or pants) in coordinating colours that can be mixed and matched, then it makes choosing what to wear very easy.

woman wearing a polka dot skirt, cream shirt, straw hat and mother of pearl necklace

woman wearing a straw hat with a silk bow on it

I’ve also realized over the past couple of years that I really like wearing t-shirts for everyday wear. They might not be as fancy and “vintage” but I find them to be the most comfortable for working etc. on an everyday basis. I do still like to wear dresses and blouses, but I now tend to save them for occasions.

tshirt cuff with lace detail

And it’s not as though t-shirts need to be sporty- this one with lace cuffs is a nice example of a dressier version and I also recently got a navy blue one with a v-neck. The neckline can make a huge difference in how a top looks, and how dressy it is, don’t you think?

woman wearing a large straw hat

Well, there is my summer “uniform” in a nutshell. I used to hate the idea of a capsule wardrobe, but I’ve kind of accidentally fallen into creating one for myself. And strangely enough, rather than feeling limited, I actually feel like I have more variety in what I wear through the different combinations.

Do you find yourself gravitating towards a certain “uniform”, whether with colours or styles, or do you have a seasonal capsule wardrobe? What have you been enjoying wearing this summer?

Oufit details: 

Hat from Love and Lore Indigo

Necklace pendant from Grandmother’s Buttons

T-shirt and sandals, secondhand

Skirt, homesewn

woman wearing a wrap skirt large straw hat

A Fashion Moment With McCall’s Treasury Of Needlecraft: Accessories

vintage lady wearing a homemade hostess apron

Today is the last post in this McCall’s Treasury of Needlecraft series, because we’ve, sadly, reached the end of the book. For this post, I’ve got some lovely vintage 1950’s accessories to share with you.

Above, is a smocked hostess apron. I love wearing aprons while cooking, because if I don’t, I will inevitably splash all over my clothes. I don’t have any hostess aprons, but I think they are so of-the-era, don’t you think? Do you wear an apron while working?

vintage knitted scarf

This is a really cute scarf. I think it would keep you warm, without being too bulky, and I love that it provides the perfect spot to show off a vintage brooch.

gloves patterns

Ahh some lovely hand made gloves. I like the look of the lacy ones on the right. (Though why do pictures of gloves always look like a murderer preparing for their evil deed?)

vintage belt

trim details illustrations

These home made trims would add such a nice detail.

dress accessories illustrations

And finally, I love these beautiful vintage illustrations, as well as the ideas on how to use sequins for effect. Those stars scattered across a plain dress would be so pretty! The best part about home made clothing, really is the endless options for customization, isn’t it?

That’s all the photos for today; a bit of a shorter post. While I don’t have any more 1950’s images to share from this book, I do have other vintage catalogues and books, so I will still keep sharing from those in the future to keep this series going. And, as always, if you are interested in making any of these vintage crochet/ knitted accessories, feel free to contact me, as I am glad to share the patterns!