Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Red, White and Blue - Perfect for the 4th of July

Independence Day, commonly known as July 4th or the Fourth of July, commemorates the Continental Congress’ adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The document, primarily written by Thomas Jefferson, served as a formal announcement that the 13 American colonies were no longer part of the British Empire and would henceforth be free and independent states. Regarded as the birthday of the United States of America, the day is typically celebrated with parades, fireworks, ceremonies, barbecues and family gatherings.

A Modern Holiday

With the rise of leisure, the Fourth also emerged as a major midsummer holiday. The prevalence of heavy drinking and the many injuries caused by setting off fireworks prompted reformers of the late 19th and the early 20th century to mount a Safe and Sane Fourth of July movement. During the later 20th century, although it remained a national holiday marked by parades, concerts of patriotic music and fireworks displays, Independence Day declined in importance as a venue for politics. It remains a potent symbol of national power and of specifically American qualities—even the freedom to stay at home and barbecue.

Red, White and Blue, either together or separately is wonderful to wear for the July 4th holiday and all Summer long, including these fabulous accessories and fashions from the ladies of Reflections of Vintage:

Vintage White Full Skirted Sun Dress with Convertible Straps -- Size XL - XXL - XXXL from CATSEYE VINTAGE


Vintage 1960s Mr John Jr Red White and Blue Checkered Bubble Hat from ALLEY CATS VINTAGE


Vintage 70s Flare Skirt Polka Dot Dress, Med from VINTAGE BAUBLES TOO


Vintage 60s 70s White Cotton Gauze Dress -- with Crocheted Lace Yoke -- Size S - M from CATSEYE VINTAGE


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Information Regarding the History of July 4th courtesy of History.Com

Monday, June 28, 2010

Vintage Thermoset Lucite Jewelry

In the late 50s and early to mid-60s, many jewelry companies designed and manufactured various pieces of jewelry, including necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and brooches out of thermoset lucite in a rainbow of colors. The most prolific manufacturers were Coro and Lisner, however there are also many unsigned pieces.

Many of these pieces are highly collectible today, particularly signed pieces, those in unusual colors, and parure sets which include matching necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and brooches.

Thermoset is a form of lucite which has been molded into interesting flat bottomed cabochon shapes such as leaves, squares, circles and ovals. The cabochons were then placed in metal settings, most often open backed with curved shapes creating lovely jewelry.

Thermoset lucite jewelry is wonderful for any time of the year but their light weight and bright or pastel colors make them perfect for wear with Summer time fashions, including these available from Catseye Vintage and Vintage Baubles.

Vintage 50s 60s Lavender Thermoset Lucite Leaf Statement Choker Necklace and Bracelet and Earrings Parure Set from CATSEYE VINTAGE


Vintage Coro Pegasus Pink Moonray Thermoset Bracelet from VINTAGE BAUBLES.COM


Vintage 50s 60s Designer CORO Jade Green Thermoset Lucite Statement Choker Necklace and Earrings Demi Parure Set from CATSEYE VINTAGE


Vintage 50s 60s Blue and Aqua Thermoset Lucite Statement Choker Necklace and Earrings Demi Parure Set - Mint on Original Card from CATSEYE VINTAGE


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ceil Chapman - One of the Great Designers

Ceil Chapman began her career in New York, her first company was ‘Her Ladyship Gowns’ started in 1940 with partner Gloria Vanderbilt. The she went on to another company labeled 'A Chapman Original' which later became simply ‘Ceil Chapman’. She was a popular, talented designer through the early 1960's. Known for her exquisite draping that enhanced the female form, she became a favorite among many stars of the era, such as Deborah Kerr and Elizabeth Taylor. Rumor has it she was the favorite designer of Marilyn Monroe. This Ceil Chapman gown was worn by Monroe and sold in 1999 by Christie’s. Ending price is said to have been $100,000.

Her specialty was evening, formal wear, done in silks, taffeta, chiffon and organdy, embellished with beading and lace. She designed a great deal for movies and television.

You can find her designs featured in most of the fashion magazines through the 1950's, along side greats such as Dior and Chanel.

The 50s and early 60s were Ceil’s heyday with her partnership with her husband ending in the mid 60s. Sadly she died in the late 1970s.

Today her timeless designs are highly sought after and can be found in various sites on the internet. They still command a high price but totally worth it if you can find that perfect gown.

Below is two of her designs featured in the December 1950 issue of Ladies Home Journal. The rose tulle strapless was a design that remained a leading style through the 1950's. The gold taffeta evening coat was constructed mid length to wear over the ever popular cocktail dress.

Monday, June 21, 2010

My Vintage Life!

Although I now sell mostly vintage clothing and accessories, my first venture into online selling was in vintage home d├ęcor items, porcelain, depression glass, kitchenware, etc. Much of that was from my own collection, accumulated over decades. I still sell them on my sites, as I think that people who truly love vintage clothing and wear it regularly probably use or display such items in their homes. I remember a customer who purchased a dress along with a Fire King casserole, and recently, one who purchased a dress, a handbag, and a mid-century lamp. There have been other such purchases over the years; they make me smile, and think, "There’s another ‘one’ like me!"

So, how did I get to be me? If we are products of our environments, then I am quintessential proof! I’ve always known that my love of antique and vintage items began with my mom, who furnished our home with antique and reproduction pieces, and things like early glassware; Japanese, Bavarian and Prussian porcelain; etc. But, last week as I was hunting for a picture of my dad for our Father’s Day blog, I ran across some photos of homes I have lived in and owned over my lifetime. And I realized that the houses themselves have had a very great deal to do with my vintage passion. If you see my homes, you understand how I came to do what I do. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Having sold real estate for some 25 years (now retired to focus on my vintage business), I can say that people generally end up in the houses that are meant to be theirs, and that reflect who they are.

Here, then, are the homes that have both influenced and reflected my tastes over my lifetime, and in some cases, are inextricably linked with who I am.

In the early 60s, my parents purchased this turn-of-the-century Queen Anne Victorian--but not as our residence. It was at the time a small nursing home. This was our family business for the next 20 years. My sister and I spent hours there, playing in the third-floor "tower room" and visiting with the elderly ladies who would tell us stories of their pasts. When I was older, I worked there summers and after school. And to this day, I still have some antiques that were in the home’s old carriage house when we bought it.


In 1963, my parents bought this circa 1936 Cape Cod in order to be closer to the business. Coming from a 1954 ranch-style home, this was quite a change! But we all loved this home, with its charming archways, natural woodwork and hardwood floors, stone fireplace, etc. I grew up there, and it was hard for me when my folks sold both business and home to retire to Florida.


And this, my favorite home of all, special for so many reasons. It was the second home for my then-husband and I. We’d looked at so many houses; nothing was quite right. But this 1926 home was destined to be ours. While driving around on a Sunday checking out open houses, we saw an "Open" sign in a neighborhood we liked. We walked up the steps, through the vestibule, and into the center hall. I looked to my left at the living room, then to the right at the dining room. Then said to my ex, "I want this house." When we found that it was, surprisingly, right in our price range, I didn’t need to see any more. But of course, we did, and by the time we finished going through it, we were looking for a phone so we could call our Realtor (this was before I had my license). The natural gumwood trim, leaded-glass windows and French doors, frosted-glass-front kitchen cabinets.... all were too good to be true. It was in nearly untouched original condition, but well kept. What was amazing was that the house had literally just been listed and the open house hadn’t been scheduled. The seller’s Realtor decided on a whim to hold it open. Our timing was perfect!

That home was my oasis of peace as I went through a traumatic divorce, change in jobs, financial difficulties, etc. It also held much joy as I discovered the satisfaction of being a competent single woman on my own; learned what a good, healthy relationship was; and met my current husband. We eventually moved on, but have never had another home like it.


Here is where we were married. A Georgian-style inn built in the early 1800s, it’s listed on the national and state registers of historic places, and hosted, among other notables, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Katherine Hepburn. There could not have been a more perfect place for us to marry. Our wedding was in January, and the inn was still decorated for Christmas. Red bows, wreaths, white lights, and garlands of greens set just the right mood. One of my friends who came to our wedding said to me, "This place is you." My husband and I, to this day, think we had the best wedding we have ever been to. And many of our friends say the same!


I believe that houses have "auras," and these are the homes whose good auras have stayed with me. There have been other homes over the years, including other "vintage" homes. But these have had significant roles in my life, and have, I'm sure, deepened my love of and appreciation for pieces from the past. We now live in a vintage 1971 traditional two-story, and love it--our favorite next to the "gumwood house." We’re now happily changing our furnishing style from antiques and 1930s/40s pieces to mid-century modern and decorating with retro pieces. What fun!

Monday, June 7, 2010

When Elvis Came To Town

Basically the only thing this blog has to do with antiques is Elvis Presley and the Norfolk and Western Railroad, both of which are no longer with us.

I was raised in a small Southern town by two wonderful and kind parents, Bob and Josie. They were quiet, conservative people whose idea of fun was sitting in the dark listening to the radio. Sometimes they would even hum and sing quietly with the old tunes. Now on Saturday nights things were different, Lawrence Welk came on TV. Lots of toe tapping good times there.

Anyway, in 1958 Elvis Presley was drafted into the army. Rumor had it that as he traveled to Ft Hood for his basic training he would be passing through our town on the train - Norfolk and Western Railway. Somehow my quiet little Mother got word of this and approached me with ‘don’t you want to see Elvis’? Of course I said NO. Who was this Elvis person? Over the next few weeks Mother continued to ask me and every time I said no. Finally she informed my Father that he would be driving her to the train station to see this Elvis. Dad said No he would not be driving her to see Elvis. Big chuckle because we all knew he would indeed drive her wherever she wanted to go.

Well the big day came...Elvis was coming to town. I always wondered where my Mother got her information...maybe it was through word of woman to the other. Maybe it was a woman thing, sniff the air and know Elvis was near. My Father was grumbling as he started the car with Mother in the front all fluffed and puffed wearing her finest. I was forced into the back seat begging to be left at home sensing trouble ahead.

We arrived at the train station leaving our ancient Rambler in the parking lot so we could stand along the tracks. Here comes the speeding train, slowing down and there’s the caboose with this mysterious Elvis person outside on the little porch waving to the crowd. My quiet, demure little Mother changes into a screaming mob woman racing toward the train waving her arms “Hello Elvis Hello Elvis Hello Elvis’ over and over. My Father and I stand quietly along the tracks holding hands watching her run along side of the train screaming like an alien person.

But she returns to us, beaming and out of breath. Silently we drive home both rather afraid of this strange new woman. But she returns to her normal self, preparing our dinner while listening to Elvis sing How Great Thou Art. Dad gathers a bit of nerve and makes an attempt to turn it off but a look from Josie sent him back to his easy chair.This is just one of the many times my parents would embarrass me but if I had to live that day over I would have outrun my Mother.

Beautiful beaded bags!

One of the most successful ways to incorporate vintage into your contemporary wardrobe, and have it all look great together, is by adding some small beaded bags and purses. Popular across all eras, these bags are always in style. For this summer season of weddings, cruises and parties, and for the fall and winter holiday season, you'll find a vintage beaded bag that will go with almost anything!

Brides will appreciate a vintage bag to carry to the reception--as will their guests. The small, but utilitarian, sizing carries your essentials so you don't have to lug a heavy-looking or bulky bag to a dressy occasion. Of course, your "essentials" would be your compact, lipstick, small comb, vanity mirror, driver's license, some cash and a credit card--not your cell phone, iPod, and/or various other devices and work-related items! Although many will indeed fit a cell phone. These bags often include a coin purse that will fit folded cash as well as some change.

The smaller ones travel well, so if you're going out of town for a wedding or other event, they pack easily. I took one with me to Vegas last year for a wedding, and while many of the other guests were toting their big street bags, my little blue-plastic beaded Hong Kong bag (which wasn't overly dressy) looked perfect with my contemporary blue-and-white dress, and garnered lots of compliments!

I find that the hand-beaded bags of the 50s and early 60s go nicely with today's fashions. Upscale boutiques are showing fancy beaded bags in similar styles these days, but, in my opinion, you do not get the same quality--meticulous hand beading, hand-sewn linings, high-quality fabrics, etc. (Unless, of course, you can spend a small fortune! I saw some at a boutique recently from $65 to well more than $100, yet you can get much better value in a vintage one.)

There are many brands that epitomize the vintage beaded bag: Walborg and Magid come to my mind immediately. But others such as Delill and Simon, along with generically labeled bags from Hong Kong, Japan, Italy, Belgium, etc., are just as wonderful. In older bags, Czech glass-beaded ones are very popular collectors' items. Bags can feature creamy pearl or seed-pearl beads, clear or colored glass beads in round or barrel shapes, metallic beads, and small plastic beads. Casual styles can feature wood or large plastic beads, but our selections this week focus on the dressier styles.

Here is a Small Clutch with Hand Strap from the upscale John Wanamaker stores (now, sadly, defunct) for carrying while you dance; a brilliant idea and SO handy, since you needn't leave your bag at the table unattended:


This small Walborg Pouch-Style Bag can be carried via its chain, or the chain tucked in and the bag folded to be carried as a petite foldover clutch:


A Fancy Clutch by Simon features Aurora Borealis sequins along with beads:


This Wee Little Clutch by Debbie has a zippered top and a Deco-looking design:


And while this Adorable Pink Purse by Simon is not as formal as the others, its pink color and small size make it party perfect, and a great bag to carry out to dinner on the patio of your favorite "al-fresco" dining establishment!