Vintage Fashions Never Go Out of Style – and neither does fashion itself

Welcome to my vintage closet! Actually, it’s a storage room in the building where I work. I ran out of closet space at my house long ago.

Dreaming of a closet like Nan Kempner had.

If a woman (client, business associate, salesperson, homeless gal) walks in our office—I ask her if she likes vintage clothes. I start gushing about my collection of dresses, coats, hats, purses, costume jewelry, shoe clips, gloves, and hankies. “Wanna see it? Wanna see it? Huh, huh, huh?

I usually get a sheepish reply like,OK, I’ll look at your vintage closet.” And then I get an unenthused response like, Gee, that’s a lot of stuff.”

Are you kidding me? These coats are spectacular! These dresses are to die for! These  hats are works of art! Why does nobody get that?

I also don’t get why some women have no interest in fashion. What you wear says who you are. How many days in a row can you wear gray before your mood turns the same color? What’s up with the orthopedic-style shoes? And if you MUST wear those clunky things, can you at least polish them?

I guess some women’s lack of interest in clothes is similar to my lack of interest in cooking. I don’t care what I put on the plate. First of all, nobody sees it. Secondly, we all know where and how a spectacular meal ends up. It’s so fleeting.

Clothes are forever! You can put them on and look great. Try that with a chicken pot pie. (Lady Gaga not included.) Clothes are a statement. They are an outer expression of the inner you. Can you say that about a really great sandwich?

Are you familiar with the Tom Tierney books? He draws paper dolls from all eras of history—American Colonial, Victorian, Medieval, etc. He also does fashion books of the great haute couture designers—Chanel, Dior, Schiaparelli—as well as syle icons, like Jackie O, Grace Kelly, and Audrey Hepburn. Here’s one of my favorites.

The fabulous 1950s fashions captured in paper dolls by Tom Tierney.

I love the styles from the 1950s best—elegant, flattering, and feminine—especially wiggle dresses—sheer sartorial splendor! One day I hope to photograph all my 50s dresses and share them. (Where is Annie Liebowitz when you need her?)

My favorites are the watercolor prints. Here are some of them smashed on a rack.

Blue and purple vintage dresses.

Green vintage dresses.

Red vintage dresses.

Vintage swing style coats with mink collars.

Anyone want to play dress up?


  • OMG GIRL!!!! I just love your closet!!!! Can we play dress up? Um, well, I probably wouldn’t fit in most of those . I have some clothes from the 1800s and early 1900s. When we get together (I just know we will) I’ll show ’em to ya. My favorite period is Victorian/Edwardian but for real life I like the 1930s. I love the bias cut gowns. The elegance. I love watching old Thin Man movies and looking at Myrna Loy’s clothes.

    Friday, March 18, 2011
  • diane heine stipp said:

    We need to get Nate Berkus to build you a Fabulous closet….like the one that he built for OPRAH…sensational. It is like a store…with display hooks and everything. There is even an island with all sorts of drawers. I hope that you do get to wear some of your collection. I have my mother’s beaver/mink coat…that’s as vintage as I get in clothes….vintage furniture is my thing !!!!!

    Monday, March 21, 2011