Book Report: Vintage Fashion Accessories

This is the time of the year that we typically start writing our Halloween posts, but I say, “Not so fast, my friends!” We don’t have a ton of Halloween pics this year, so there will only be one post. Now is the time of the year that thrift stores drag out lots of vintage clothing items to sell as costumes. It’s a great time to go shopping to look for an old hats, handbags, shoes, and dresses! So, what better time to share a great book that shows us how to put the vintage accessories together with current fashions to make a unique look:

Vintage Fashion Accessories by Stacy LoAlbo was written in 2009, so I would take her pricing with a grain of salt, but her combos are pretty awesome. She ran a vintage clothing shop called Incogneeto, in New Jersey, and is known as the Vintage Maven. She has an excellent knowledge of vintage clothing and accessories! The book is 255 pages long including a bibliography and index. There are tons of photos!

She starts out with a basic history of fashion and accessories, which is necessary to date your items. She had a very good idea that to understand fashion, you should watch movies from various decades. Looking at a 1930s film will help you understand how style morphed from the roaring twenties flapper outfits into the more staid garb of the thirties with the Great Depression throwing a wrench into things. She goes through the decades talking about how fashion changed. She has a theory that things come back into fashion in about 20-year cycles. I will have to give that some thought, but it’s an interesting idea.

The author also discuss where to find things depending on whether you have more time than money, how rare of an item you’re looking for, and how much of a hurry you are in. You know us; we are always looking, because you never know when something is going to show up!

Next, LoAlbo starts showing pictures of accessories and pairs them with dresses, pants, etc. The first such chapter is about hats:

You know what is nice about these pictures is that you see real actual people, for the most part, wearing the hats which shows you how they go on your head! You might laugh, but even with a label in the back, it’s hard to know sometimes whether the hat tilts to the side or forward, poofs up, or whatever. You can experiment and get the look that you like, but I enjoyed looking at the hats being worn:

Boy, she has had a lot of hats come through her collection and shop. Don’t laugh, but the pilgrim-looking number in brown and orange on the bottom right is a Schiaparelli, made in Italy in the 1960s. I guess I’m going to have to look at ugly hats a little closer! 😉 I just counted and there were 22 pages of hat pictures with several hats per page.

We both love hats, own hats, and sell hats. I think that we need to wear our hats shopping so they get out into the light of day. The chapter on hats starts with a quote from Coco Chanel: In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different. Wearing a vintage hat would certainly be a step in that direction! Looking at these three samples of hats, I do have to say that they aren’t just for dress up, and the models look great wearing them. So, why wouldn’t we? All that is required is the proper attitude.

The next chapter is purses, something that we collect a lot of—even more than hats. The author seems to have a thing for box purses, and shows many examples at the beginning, along with Lucite and plastic versions. She also shows a fair number of designer bags, various leather bags, and even some very old chain and beaded bags from the early 1920s and ’30s:

I didn’t take as many pictures of the purse section because we have done a lot about purses over the years, but I couldn’t resist one more:

because she sure has some amazing and strange purses! This section is pretty fun and there are 39 pages of purse pictures with no repeats! Scattered in amongst the purses are pictures of other accessories to go along with your ensemble. I would venture to guess that there is an example of most purse styles in these pages.

Just to illustrate what I mean about showing all the accessories together, here’s a sample from page 24, which is before the specialized chapters:

The glasses are probably the hardest thing to find, but there isn’t anything too outlandish here, and it shows you that pieces that you wouldn’t necessarily think of pairing, work just fine together!

The next chapter features our favorite accessory—jewelry, yay! The chapter starts out with a great quote from Paloma Picasso of Tiffany’s: I am a great believer in accessories and costume jewelry is the most versatile one. It is timeless, fun, expressive. And I think accessories make dressing amusing … and we couldn’t agree more. The author concentrates on costume jewelry, and she talks about the various makers starting in the 1920s and Trifari. She also mentions Deco, Arts and Crafts, Victorian, rhinestone, plastic, including Bakelite, and really most modern costume jewelry.

She starts with bracelets and cuffs which occupies 11 glorious pages of which I did not take one picture. LoAlbo then moves onto brooches and pins and again, she has some amazing pieces, and I did take a couple of pictures:

I have a thing for bar pins (right page) for some reason, and this page caught my eye. She does have some older pins from the late Victorian era, and I saw a small enameled pin that she called a lingerie pin that “prevents slippage” from the 1890s. I didn’t know that they used pins for modesty, but it makes sense. She had quite a butterfly and animal brooch collection included in the 16 pages of brooches and pins.

After that, we went to earrings, just one page, and then necklaces:

She has a lot of everything necklace related. There are 26 pages of photos and she has a lot of everything from the 1920’s style up to the 1960’s plastic and other innovative designs. These old necklaces may be the most versatile when looking to add a vintage touch to your outfit. They almost all still work with today’s aesthetic and all you need is some confidence to carry them off!

After necklaces there are two pages devoted to rings, and five pages to jewelry sets which includes necklace and matching earrings which are occasionally accompanied by bracelets and brooches or rings. Some pretty cool stuff!

The next chapter is vintage shoes, something of which we don’t talk about a lot. I have nurse’s feet and they absolutely go on strike at the sight of a pointy toe or high heel. Kathy has worn vintage shoes, but really isn’t super fond of walking on three inch heels or having her toes compressed into a three inch space. I did take a picture, and have to say that wearing vintage shoes does spiff up your outfit:

These are some more modest examples that most of us could push a foot into in a pinch. There are 17 pages of shoes, and included are a couple of the most outrageous platform shoes that I have ever seen. Good on her to include those ankle breakers. She also has a page or two about vintage stockings which if old enough, would require a garter belt. I just don’t have it in me to wear those again!

Gosh, this is getting really long, but there’s only a couple more pictures to go. The next chapter is about compacts and carryalls, and there are nine pages of pictures. There are some beautiful examples, but again, for the sake of brevity, I didn’t take a picture of them.

Next chapter is belts, handkerchiefs, collars, scarves, glasses, gloves, and miscellaneous including parasols! I do have a belt picture, but the author has fabulous examples of all of these accessories, of course, so you will need to check them out:

I don’t have the waist for a belt, but I think that a lot of these dresses look great with these belts. This chapter has 20 pages of pictures, so still rich with examples.

Finally, whew!, there is a chapter for the guys with accessories including ties, tie pins, cuff links, scarves, a few hats, and socks. I took two pictures of the ties:

The man in my life would rather be dead than have to wear a tie everyday, but I can appreciate a lovely tie when I see one, even bow ties:

You can see some of the outrageous tie pins and cuff links she has. There aren’t too many men out there who wear shirts that require cuff links. We see cuff links quite often at sales, and some of them are really nice, but we don’t buy them often because we don’t wear those kinds of shirts, or ties either! There are 12 pages of pictures in this chapter, pretty paltry when you consider the chapters on jewelry or purses!

Well, that was quite the book report, but this is a pretty awesome guide with lots of good information, ideas, and pictures! I’m going to order a couple of copies, one for me, and one to give away in a drawing. Stay tuned for info on how to sign up for the giveaway.

I hope that some of you are inspired to break out a couple of vintage accessories to liven up your outfit. Let us know how it goes! If you are looking for vintage accessories, Kathy and I always have such things in our stores.

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4 Responses to Book Report: Vintage Fashion Accessories

  1. OSS says:

    I love that there is a book for this!! Clever!

  2. Sandra Magle says:

    Morning ladies. This is a post after my own heart—-honestly I’ve worn vintage all the way back to my jr. high days 1960’s. I snagged all my mom’s 1940’s skirts (A-line, pleats, and some of her button up blouses. My favorite was a sweater with pearls sewn on. I still use Gramma’s Jewelry pretty regularly as I wear clips and not pierced earrings…Fun Post!

    • kathy & deb says:

      Kathy wore her mom’s old high heels quite a bit in high school. My mom was so much shorter than I was we couldn’t share clothes 😦 but I did buy old things at garage sales and thrift stores to wear to high school, which was pretty different back then. I loved the quality and still do! So glad you enjoyed the post.

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