United States of Vintage aims to connect its followers to bloggers (domestic and abroad) who bring vintage flair to their personal style. There are a lot of ways to wear vintage head-to-toe, a clash of decades, designer pieces paired with thrift store accessories (or vice versa), a statement piece mixed with current trends, etc.
I inherited my record player at the beginning of high school. Amassing my vinyl collection has become a treasured hobby; just like my continual quest for vintage clothes, I relish in the hunt for cheap deals. (Aside from the records family members passed down, my best bargain to date was $2 for an album of Elton John's greatest hits.) My collection feels very personal to me, because each album has at least one song I could never live without. Some of those first vinyls remain my all-time favorite albums. Listening to them feels restorative. I like being able to unplug from all the external commotion, enjoy the music, and force the gears of my brain to turn in a different direction.
These days I mostly listen to my records when I'm writing. I've gotten into this habit where if I'm suffering a bout of writer's block, I get entranced by the album art and start matching my jewelry to it. As far as exercises in expanding my sartorial limits, it's pretty effective. When I'm getting dressed I often base an outfit around a particular piece of clothing or jewelry; this method challenges me to think in terms of a combination of color, mood, and theme.
The 'Vintage+Vinyl' challenge will be to combine my older records with new pieces of clothing, and new records with vintage clothing or jewelry.
In high school, purchasing a Postal Service album on vinyl was the height of luxury. Being employed full-time has allowed me to fill out my record collection with newer artists (although I guess 1990s and newer isn't that 'new' anymore!) that I wouldn't necessarily find rummaging at Goodwill. I've been a casual fan of Portugal. The Man since the release of American Ghetto, but it wasn't until I saw them perform this past summer at Red Rocks that I really appreciated the harmony in their instrumentals. I also enjoy them because a lot of their lyrics deal with growing up and coming to terms with ugly things in the world while trying to stay true to your own ideals (aka, the average millenial's quarter-life crisis). In the Mountain... is trippy but fierce. Itincludes the kind of tracks that you shout along to in your car pumping your fist because you live on your own weird terms and you're awesome!, emphasis on that exclamation point. I find myself gravitating toward this album when I need a shot of courage.
A fan of pink and purple, I think the album art makes the accent colors on this vintage dress from Avalon Exchange pop. I wanted the jewelry to feel bright and eclectic, with a slight bohemian vibe.
'Vintage+Vinyl' meshes my vinyl collection and personal style.
The rooms and grounds of California’s Madonna Inn make frequent appearances on fashion bloggers’ Instagram feeds, and for good reason—packed with glitter, floral patterns, rock walls and stained glass straight out of Beauty and the Beast, each of the hotel’s 110 rooms exude their own style. Life of a Doll's Krystal Alexis, who says Madonna Inn has overthrown Disneyland as her happiest place on earth, puts it best when she describes it as “simply the most spectacular, beautifully breathtaking, extremely detailed, adorably quirky, perfectly kitschy, nostalgic, retro paradise!"
"There's just something about seeing a peek of the Inn from the 101 freeway that makes me feel all tingly and giddy with excitement!” she said.
Krystal actually has a bucket list of 43 rooms she wants to stay in, which she calls the "Madonna Must List." Krystal recently whittled through two rooms on her list—Just Heaven and Sugar & Spice—during her 30th birthday celebration.
Madonna Inn presents a unique opportunity in that planning your vacation wardrobe can be just as much of an activity as the stay itself--especially if you're taking photos! Krystal prepared seven outfits for the three-day, two-night trip, with specific ensembles for poolside, bike riding and horseback riding activities, as well as the two room themes. The result: a plethora of dreamy, straight-out-of-the-60s pastel looks accented with even more feminine details, including dainty cherub earrings, berets and a floral crown. Neutral-colored shoes kept the focus on her frocks, with the exception of one exceptional pair of Madonna Inn brand heels.
View the full looks below, and be sure to visit our vintage shopping map for shopping recommendations by Krystal and other bloggers featured on USofVintage!
Krystal's look that coordinated with the Just Heaven room included a baby blue angel sleeve dress from True Heart Vintage purchased on the Whurl app, nude platform heels and angelic white and gold cherub earrings.
"My favorite look has to be the all pink outfit [which coordinated with the Sugar & Spice room]," Krystal said. "It has such an iconic Madonna Inn vibe to it that fit in so well with all of the perfectly pink surroundings."
Pictured above, Krystal wore a vintage pink crochet mock turtleneck dress with matching rhinestone belt from the Rose Bowl Flea Market with pink sheer socks, pink patent pumps and pastel floral headpiece.
Her poolside look included a 60s one-piece swimsuit from Memos Vintage paired with a sheer pink pearl covered over-shirt. Krystal said the Madonna Inn brand heels--purchased on Whurl--are her prized possession!
For her road trip to Madonna Inn (which included an antiquing pit stop) featured a mint swiss-dot dress from Whurl and vintage plastic floral earrings from the Vintage Flea Market of Old Town Tustin, a mint fuzzy beret and tan flats.
For horseback riding, Krystal sported a high-waisted jeans, dusty lavender sweater, vintage 60s brocade coat dress from Corner Store, vintage western belt, vintage western hat from the Alameda Point Flea Market, and western suede boots.
Krystal's bike riding ensemble included a vintage blouse and wrangler skirt from Super Thrift, baby blue coat, vintage knit beret from the Long Beach Flea Market and white bobby socks with tan flats.
For the drive home, she wore a 60s floral dress with long exaggerated velvet bow from SmokeShowSuperNova, pink sunnies, pink fuzzy beret and nude platform heels.
Follow Krystal on Instagram--you can also use her hashtags #krystalalexis and #lifeofadoll!
"The skirt goes great with a simple tee or sweater, although I admit that a maxi-wrap-skirt is not the easiest to sit in. I love it because it's so one-of-a-kind and not something I think everyone would want to wear," Carmen said.
Eliza Schneider-Green of VintageRoseGirl discusses the "One Hundred Hats Project," an ode to her ever-growing vintage hat collection. Each entry includes information on the hat style, label, age, where it was purchased and how it fits into Eliza's own personal history! You can find her on Instagram at @vintagerosegirl, or #onehundredhats.
"I have always loved hats, possibly a result of having grown up watching movies from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, but I remember buying my first hat when I was ten and feeling an instant connection. That connection really hasn’t left me since then, so I suppose that’s when I became so incredibly passionate about hats."
Eliza said she is drawn to hats because of "the statement that they make."
"They can change the whole dynamic of an outfit and the entire attitude of the person wearing them. Hats are natural conversation-starters.... When I’m in thrift stores or antique shops, or even perusing Etsy, I’m always looking for hats that tell a story [moved from other spot in interview]."
Eliza speaks to United States of Vintage about some of her favorite hats, how her knowledge of historical costumes benefits her while vintage shopping, and advice on how to keep your own vintage collection from stretching into obsession.
Oh, this is difficult! I have so many hats that are incredibly bold, so I definitely have a favorite from that category – a gorgeous 1940s tilt hat made out of a stiff brown felt and vibrant green pipe cleaners (Hat No. 4 of the One Hundred Hats Project, pictured above).
My favorite hat, judging solely on sentimentality, is the one that my grandfather was rarely seen without. It’s a simple stiff white cotton sport hat with a very small brim, and I’m reminded of him every time I see it.
What do you look for when shopping for a vintage hat? The best part of shopping for hats is the feeling when one just fits you perfectly I like to try them on before I buy them and some hats just absolutely feel right. Are there any particular styles on your 'bucket list'?
I have been on the hunt for an 1890s equestrian hat for years.
I remember seeing a beautiful black silk hat with a dramatic sweeping veil in an antique store when I was about 12, but when I went back for it the next day, someone had snatched it up. Naturally I’ve been bitter ever since!
You are interested in historical costumes. How does that knowledge influence your shopping?
I think the biggest way that my knowledge in historical costuming influences me is my ability to date the clothing and hats that I find online or in thrift stores. Knowing everything from different fabrics and hemming techniques to the different fonts used on labels helps identify when that particular item is from. This takes lots of practice, and sometimes you have to trust your instincts and use your own knowledge instead of relying solely on the date that the seller provides. It’s a fine art! I find myself constantly feeling the fabric, checking for hidden labels that might provide information, and Googling the brand name to see when that particular brand name was first and when it was last used.
Of course, in the end, it’s about buying what I love, but having this knowledge allows me to dig a little bit deeper into every piece I find – which, for a research junkie like myself, is heavenly.
In your blog post introducing the project, you briefly address the concept of a collection versus hoarding. What advice do you offer to someone who's afraid that starting their own vintage collection will automatically brand them as a hoarder?
I’ve actually thought about this topic a lot lately. I believe that collections have a very clear purpose - you have specific things which you allow into your collection and when shopping, you shop for those specific things - whereas hoarding is a compulsive disorder.
When I first started my hat collection, I would buy nearly every hat that I found, because I thought that I would NEVER find anything better. But nowadays, I only buy the show-stoppers – the hats that I can’t get out of my mind, or the ones that just feel right.
I think that one’s thought process is the main difference between collecting and hoarding. A collector sets specific goals and has specific guidelines about the things they will or will not add to their collection, whereas a hoarder buys without this thought process. For those of you who are still on the fence about whether or not you are ready to become a collector, I highly suggest the “Catch and Release System” – buy what you absolutely love, and when the honeymoon phase is over (due to a change in style or a completely full closet) sell that particular item to make room for the next show-stopper that comes along. This allows you to dip your toes into the collecting world without truly committing!
But the most important part, whether you’re a serious collector or not, is to buy what you buy because you love it!
This week, Jennifer Baquing of She Loves Dresses introduced her vintage-inspired Moving Castle dress collection. Handmade in Berkeley, California, this collection is designed, patterned, and sewn entirely by women. The Moving Castle collection is created especially for young vintage lovers who are vastly underrepresented in the fashion industry.
Ethical production is vitally important to Baquing. As such, every stitch in the Moving Castle collection was ethically sourced and manufactured. Baquing’s passions for ethical fashion, quality dresses, and empowering young women make her collection totally unique in practice and purpose. Featuring vintage-inspired patterns in dreamy pastel shades, this collection is perfect for a day in the park or a night in the city. Baquing’s experiences as a photographer and blogger have made her savvy and sensitive to the needs of the young women she seeks to elevate. As a result, the Moving Castle collection is more than a line of dresses; it’s a love letter to young women who deserve visibility in the world of vintage fashion.
“The Moving Castle Collection is about equality,” said Baquing. “In 2015, 50.2 percent of children born in the United States were non-white. I want to create an authentic reflection of today’s young women. By using models that don’t belong to an agency and offering dresses in sizes 2-24, I aim to abolish oppressive industry norms like excessive thinness and “ideal” body types or sizes. My goal is to leave no woman out.”
The piece is part of the BLACKSHEEP collection at May's Place (3249 Ivanhoe Ave., St. Louis, Mo.). The store--the labor of Andy May and Katie Conran--is one of the city's newest secondhand vendors.
"... And then my gaze landed on one protruding sleeve from the rack. The supple, shining leather with split zippered cuffs and dangling fringe caught my eye immediately. I approached the rack hesitantly, telling my heart rate not to quicken as I pulled her down. We disappeared into the fitting room together, totally crashing in on my friend Courtney's try-on session. In went one arm, and then the next. Thrift gods and goddesses clapped and vintage angels sang. With her matching, accompanying belt and proper price, she was mine, all mine!" Read more atStilettos on Sunday Morning.
Jill--who believes a black leather (or vegan) jacket should be a staple in every closet--said she has always been intrigued with leather jackets that include exciting elements like fringe and fasteners.
"They call up images of the Wild West, badass biker babes, and the over-the-top 1980s. They're incredible statement pieces, and they shout, 'I am confident!' when you wear them," she said.
Since its purchase, Jill says she wears it every opportunity she gets.
"It just jazzes up any outfit. Because it is a true, thick leather, it is also incredibly warm. This makes it easy to pair with many outfits because I don't have to worry about being chilly. I wore it out late one night with a high-waisted, skintight gray skirt, black tights, a crop top, black leather booties, and a wide-brimmed hat, and I felt like a rock star."
"Sometimes I want to feel intimidating, and this jacket goes a long way in that department. It is quite heavy, so it gives you a whole new type of attitude while wearing it."
Vintage-focused shoppers can browse clothing, jewelry, home decor and artwork at May's Place--even a selection of vinyl! Inspired by the general store format, it also offers its own line of candles, and promotes "necessities" from other local makers, including Lonesome Traveler's pet collar bow ties, Hanley Fold Farm soaps, and a selection of teas and coffee from ReTrailer Tea Company and Stringbean Coffee.
BLACKSHEEP's mission is rooted in sustainability, promoting the knowledge that an action as small as purchasing secondhand clothing can help reduce landfill waste and the demand for cheap labor. (And you thought it was just because the vintage gods wanted you to have a rockin' addition to your closet.)
"When you break down the results of that one small act, you can't help but feel proud, excited, and empowered to commit more small acts that ripple out into the universe like shockwaves of change. It is my mission to empower you, to realize your ability to create change, and to find the joy that comes from knowing that your small acts are making a big difference," according to the brand's website.
Me in high school rocking the statement accessories
Inspired by: Elton John, Greatest Hits (1974)
"Crocodile Rock," "Bennie and the Jets"
This entry of 'Vintage+Vinyl' deals with secret identities--and how a revelation about accessories brought on by Elton John convinced me I would never need to lead a double life.
My mom used to own a photography studio, and I acted as her assistant at weddings some weekends. Carting the camera equipment was thankless and boring, but I always enjoyed the free cake and the reception music. I had a little downtime during every reception when my mom was snapping candids of the dancing and the crowd, and never wasted an opportunity to explore unfamiliar parks and downtowns.
One of these Saturdays I felt the need to disguise my wedding event employee garb. I resorted to items found in my mom's trunk: a deep indigo denim jacket and and black-and-white checkerboard winter scarf it was 30 degrees too warm to wear. Still--I felt sufficiently incognito, and went on about my wandering.
Most of the immediate businesses were closed, save an antique store on the main drag. Early century tchatchkes piled tightly in every stall. I don't remember how I spotted the vinyl copy of Elton John's Greatest Hits. I do remember why I decided to make it mine: "Crocodile Rock" was featured on the High Fidelity soundtrack, which I loved at the time, and the record was oh-so-reasonably priced at $2. But what sent me over the top was this feeling that the cover art was screaming at me. I was struck by the bigness of Elton's sunglasses and how they commanded his face. Never before would I have thought to pair them with the quirky brooch, which claimed focus against the white suit. Their pairing, which should have been gaudy, emanated an easy glamour, individualized even more with a well-coordinated bow tie. I wanted to adopt this look. Immediately. Among the piles I located a short-brimmed straw hat with black trim and a pair of over-sized wayfarer sunglasses--white, the same color as Elton's. I approached the men behind the counter still high on my newest style muse, and something a little crazy happened: I sprouted a new identity.
Maybe the 'disguise' I'd adopted over my work clothes had begun to seep into my brain, or maybe I was just really, really bored, but instead of answering their usual cashier-customer banter as the awkward high school freshman I was, I weaved a tale of a hip college student trying to find some excitement while attending a family wedding for the weekend. I gave myself a name, a major, an apartment in Chicago. Looking back, I'm not sure anyone believed the fib. They did, however, humor me long enough to finish the conversation without laughing, and told me I looked great as I immediately piled my new purchases onto my head. I strutted into the empty streets with confidence.
I do believe there was something special about that first purchase. The flutter of possibility in my torso was more than a case of shopping euphoria. It was a hopeful but nervous burning, like I was about to alter my destiny... it's a feeling I still get when I buy a new record or hear a new earworm. It triggered a piece of me I'd yet to tap into--a daydreaming, casual audiophile who wanted to see possibility in every new song and new experience. I would find a way to use my music collection to learn more about my feelings, to better connect to my perspective on the world through lyrics and harmonicas and pianos and wailing guitars, and to use songs to lift my mood on dark days. (Not coincidentally, Elton John and Greatest Hits played a part on some of those days.) And--most of the time, at least--I was able to translate that hopefulness to the everyday--to getting through the school day with minimal boredom, to occupying myself during downtime at track meets, especially to thrifting!!
It took me a while to realize that some of my power that day also came from a realization Elton John gave me about personal style. It turns out it was very simple: own yours. One of the reasons I was so drawn to that particular record were Elton's accessories--the giant glasses obscuring his face, the brooch. I had found a style comrade, and that album cover encouraged me to always follow my style whims, even when I knew they were weird. Because of that album, I'm more me. I do not shy away from accessories big, loud, colorful and quirky--especially sunglasses. I don't find it unseemly to pile on more than one statement accessory at a time, if I'm feeling so inclined, and I've never felt compelled to create an alter ego since.
"From a decade of fashion merchandising, I find the way we present ourselves to society is shaped partly by our interaction and sense of style. Merging a generation gap provides the modern day woman with a subtle touch of vintage flair," she told United States of Vintage.
Vintage shopping in California's Bay Area? Doris recommends these shops:
While she's on the lookout most often for furs ($10 to $20 for stoles and $50 to $80 for wraps), clutches ($10 to $45) and costume jewelry, she said these stores are also great options for vintage gloves ($7 to $12) and dresses ($80 to $150).
"The treasures that rest within these boutiques, I adore the stories that are shared with me from the women that once owned these accessories or garments. It gives depth to what I am presenting, which in return provides such enrichment," Doris said.
See more of Doris' classic style at Rich In Love Fashion, or follow her on Instagram at @richinlovefashion.
Karlie Baker of Bringing Up Bust Formshares her favorite purchase from Strange Cargo (3448 N. Clark St., Chicago, Ill.). [Note: This store doesn't typically offer resale items; this was a pure case of kismet.]
I found this shirt while back-to-school shopping a few weeks before I started my senior year of high school. The whole situation felt serendipitous. I was checking out at Strange Cargo when this tiny blonde swooped through the door in a pile of fury and dumped out a brown grocery bag full of shirts onto the counter top. I tried not to stare. I tried to focus on the small talk the cashier was making with me, but you couldn't help but overhearing every few words. "parking lot handie... four other girls... vacation in Jamaica..."
At that point, I was straight-up staring at the girl and the pile of shirts. They were some pretty choice concert shirts--a few from AC/DC, Journey, Bon Jovi. Some, I'm sure, my mom owned in high school. I remember at the time I'd been dying to find old concert tees, obsessed with re-creating some look I'd torn out of an old Teen Vogue, and had come up short at my usual haunts.
"I'm getting rid of him, but first, I'm getting rid of his musty dumb t-shirts," she said.
The cashier explained they weren't a resale shop.
"You don't want 'em? That's fine," the girl said. "I'll give them to homeless people! Yeah! That'll really fuck with his head, seeing his favorite shirts on homeless people!"
My cashier was holding out my change, but I didn't notice. I was already shouting, "I'd actually like to buy one of those!"
Seven seconds later, I had plucked this AC/DC baseball T from the mass, and handed her $30. She definitely looked like she could use some wine.
Whoever you are, cheating guy whose shirts got sold off, thank you. At least one of them is being put to great use almost 10 years later!
Do any of you have vintage items that have endured years or decades with you? Such is the case with this t-shirt. We are both babies of the 80s.
In high school, I had two regular thrift stops: the Salvation Army a few blocks' from my mom's workplace (may it forever R.I.P.) and The Closet (2026 Main St., Princeton, Ill). The Closet offers the most magnificent deal: basket days each Friday and Saturday where you can fill a hand-held grocery shopping basket with any clothing, accessories and shoes that fit for just $5. (If your basket overfloweth, the penalty is only $1 extra.)
Imagine how very stoked I was about this deal as a freshman with no income save allowance from house chores. My first few visits there, I found some real gems: cowboy boots, an Adidas running suit, a red sweatshirt with Hawaii's shoreline emblazoned across the chest. But no Closet shopping trip made such an impression as the one where I found my Washington, D.C. t-shirt.
I remember the day so well--not because I found a purple-sleeved baseball tee with one of the coolest, loopy little fonts I'd ever seen, which is pretty much like finding a very specific piece of hay in a haystack--but because I briefly fell in love with Vintage Vans Boy.
I was already feeling high from my shopping finds. My grandma was handing me our bags when he walked in. He had dark, curly hair, a soft-looking t-shirt with a funny graphic I no longer remember, and a worn pair of American flag Vans on his feet. This is no exaggeration--I fell in love for that moment. High school version Karlie dreamed of a boy who would help her finger through vinyl at the thrift store, take her to the drive-in theater, wear a fun graphic print shirt underneath his prom tux, and maybe play an instrument in a local band. I was never oblivious to how tall an order that was, so to see a boy who perhaps embodied some of those qualities, and never having been in actual love, I declared myself in love. I smiled at him. He smiled at me. He and his mother continued to walk toward the men's section at the back of the store, and that was it.
This sounds like the teenager version of a Craigslist missed connection, right? It totally was. I'd love to say not talking to this dreamy guy was an isolated experience, but it wasn't. I was very bad at "getting guys" in school, even when I discounted my ridiculous boyfriend wish list. I was not forward. I did not compete with other girls. I was a wuss.
That final thought was not lost on me on our walk out to the van, and feeling like a spineless slug nearly deflated all the glory from my thrift scores. So I decided to think of it a different way. Maybe I did strike out on an opportunity to meet a cool dude, but the sighting gave me a hope that the kind of guys I wanted really existed out there. And despite the love life loss, the day was a shopping win. I knew I would keep the Washington, D.C. for many years to come.
I also realized I was lucky in that find--I almost didn't walk out with the shirt. It didn't catch my eye until after my sweep of the store, when the ladies at the counter had already rung up our purchases and were bagging them. I'd easily wrangled up $6 worth of items, but I saw those pale purple sleeves and that cool cursive and it had to be mine. I went and grabbed it from the rack and pleaded with the ladies, offering to pay for it as a separate item. The ladies allowed me to add it to my original purchase at no charge, and a true connection was made that day. I may have been spineless around boys, but at least I knew my inner warrior would never fail to fight for beautiful vintage.