How to Tell Vintage from Repro Halloween Decorations

Recently Patrick and I were at one of the antique malls in town and I saw a cute Halloween die-cut of a cat sitting in a moon, excited, I looked closer only to realize it was new. After vocalizing that it was new to Patrick, a woman came up to me and said “Excuse me, but how did you know that was new?” After explaining this, Patrick said it would be a good idea to do a blog post on this! So, here we are. First off, I should mention I am by no means a vintage Halloween decor expert. Today I just want to highlight the differences between new and old flat die cut pieces. I chose two pieces for which I have both old and new versions of, and showcase the differences between them, so you can tell the difference next time you’re out.

First let’s look at this rather dapper black cat. Can you tell which one is new?

If you guessed the one on the right, you’re good! So, how do you tell? Flip over any die cut, and you’ll automatically find out.

You’ll notice the one on the right is double sided, while the one on the left is not. You’ll also spy a price sticker on the back of the vintage one, and it reads 8 cents. Pretty sure you can’t buy anything new for 8 cents anymore. Double sided printing for paper/card stock decorations really didn’t start happening until the 80s or so (I say this based on personal experience. All paper decor that was purchased prior to my birth, including into the 70s when my brother and sister were young, was single sided, and everything purchased after my birth, in 1988, was double sided). Additionally, you can see that the one on the left is embossed, while the new one is not. Take a look at an angle for a better look at the embossing.

Let’s take a look at another pair, shall we? Which one is new?

If you guessed right again, you’re correct!

Once again, you’ll notice the new one is doubled sided, and the older one is embossed.

I hope this was helpful, so the next time you’re out at an antique mall and spy a vintage looking piece of Halloween decor, you can tell if it is old or not. Of course there is nothing wrong with repro Halloween decor, as you can see, I own a few, which was because vintage Halloween decor tends to be very expensive! Most of the pieces I’ve found I actually picked up at thrift stores, and only a handful I scored at antique malls. I’ve been lucky, getting pieces for sometimes as little as 25 cents, and then around $8 or so, at antique malls. Lately I have seen these smaller pieces typically run around $12 each, while I’ve seen larger pieces for around $30. Happy hunting and happy haunting this October!

Organize It with Stocking Boxes

Recently Julie of V is for Victory Rolls was lamenting on Instagram about the difficulty of organizing many of her vintage accessories, and asked fellow vintage loving Instagram’ers to share their organizational tips. What is funny is that I had been thinking of doing a blog post on this very subject actually! I organize using a lot of different things, but today I’m going to highlight one of my favorite, and most used, things that I use to organize with: stocking boxes!

Stocking boxes are divided rectangular, often quilted, boxes.  They were originally intended for women to store in their dressers with their stockings rolled up in them to keep the stockings from getting snagged. But they can be used for so much more!

One place you can find stocking boxes in our home is in our bathroom.

I use these for my hair scarves and other hair accessories.  My scarves roll up nicely and tuck into the divided sections, and most of my hair flowers fit in just fine too.  I like having all of my hair goodies in one place, so these are stored in the same cupboard as my hairspray, hair dryer, combs, etc.

Another way I use stocking boxes is to help organize my some of my jewelry.

These stocking boxes fit perfectly inside my vanity drawers.  I have deep vanity drawers, so I stack the boxes two deep.  I won’t lie, I have a lot of jewelry. And this isn’t how all of it is stored.  I also store jewelry in a large, vintage, velvet lined jewelry box, bracelets hang on three T-stands, those spiral earrings racks, and I also utilize a vintage train case.

And then of course you’ll also find stocking boxes being used for what they were intended for…stockings!

I’ve snagged most of my stocking boxes at antique malls here and there, and they typically run $5-$12 each. But you can also find them on Ebay and Etsy.

Do you use stocking boxes? If so, what for? Is there anything you have a hard time organizing?

Selling Your Vintage

Spring is right around the corner and with that comes spring cleaning, and maybe that means you will be going through your wardrobe and deciding to part with a few things.  And there are many venues to take your now unwanted vintage garments.

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Beginners Guide to Vintage Shopping

In my numerous vintage shopping excursions I have observed many people coming into shops who are not familiar with vintage, and may be just starting out.  Some get overwhelmed, others confused, so I thought I’d offer up some of my personal tips that I know make for a better shopping experience.

Be Respectful

When you are at a vintage shop, most of the time, you are looking at items that have been hand selected by the person standing behind the counter.  Keep in mind that time and lots of consideration went into buying the pieces that fill these shops. So try to keep negative comments out of the conversation.  If you just popped into Starbucks before sweeping into the shop, and there is no clear “No Food or Drink” sign, be sure to ask if it’s okay to have your drink. Same goes for pets. Handling the garments with care (more on how to do that in a bit) also shows a sign of respect – you are respecting the garment and the shop owner’s hard work.

Know your measurements!

A lot of higher end vintage shops will have the measurements of their garments on the tags, and coming in knowing your measurements is going to make things a lot easier for you and for the shop owner.  While some shops may have a small/medium/large system, that sizing is relative and subject to the person tagging the garment.  What is small to one person may be a medium to another.  Bring a tape measure with you, so when you visit the shops that do not have the measurements noted you can measure the garment yourself to know if it is going to work out or not. This saves time, and avoids any likelihood of having an embarrassing moment of being stuck in a garment.  Also note that if you see a size 16 label inside of a vintage dress, don’t think it isn’t going to be your size. This is another reason why measurements are important.  Vanity sizing has skewed sizing over the years.  What was a size 12 in the 50s, is around a size 6 or so today.

Stick to your measurements!

While your bust and your waist may be a little squishy, it’s important to stay within one inch of your measurements.  If you’re a 28 inch waist, don’t try on a 24 inch waist dress! You may do harm to the dress, and that may annoy the shop owner.

If you get stuck ask for help

Even if a garment reads as if it will fit, you still might get stuck! I got stuck in a pair of pants once and could not, for the life of me, get them off! They were a pair of riding pants that were very tight in the calves. Thank goodness it happened at a friend’s shop, so her coming in wasn’t too terrible.  But a lot of shop owners are not phased all that much by seeing some skin. Asking for help means you are less likely to damage a garment too.

Handle with Care

Be careful when sifting through racks and when trying things on, as the items you are handling are 30+ years old, and some are going to be on the more delicate side. It’s best to move garments by the hanger, not by the garment itself. Tugging on the garment can cause seams to split or fabric to tear.  When you move by the hanger, you do not put any strain on the garment.  Be careful when stepping into skirts or dresses, as not to step into the hem, and be careful when pulling a garment off over your head, don’t yank.

If you damage a garment, let the shop owner know

There is nothing more annoying than a shop owner inspecting a garment after it has been tried on to see a busted zipper or ripped out hem.  But if you do damage something, let the shop owner know.  Many won’t have any repercussions, but it’s better to be honest, especially if you are planning on returning to that shop in the future.

Know your budget/It’s not okay to play dress up

If you’re wanting a dress for a special occasion, know your budget and stick to it. It’s not a good idea at any time to try on something you can’t afford.  You can hurt your own feelings that way, and you run the risk of annoying a shop owner by trying on something you cannot afford to buy.  Due to the age of some items, they may only have a few wearings left in them, and trying on with no intention of buying is an unnecessary risk, so try not to try things on “just for fun”. It’s also important to keep in mind that some of these shop owners are going to become pals of yours.  I am friends with numerous shop owners in Portland, and this friendship I have developed over being courteous has resulted in getting spectacular pieces and at great prices.

Buy what you like

Don’t let current trends affect how you buy vintage if you are going to turn yourself into a 24/7 vintage wearer.  Buy what you like. Buy what you feel good in.  Also, it’s okay to mix-and-match eras.  But you can also be a period perfectionist too. Once again, it comes down to what you want to do with your wardrobe.

When it doesn’t fit

One of the pluses to vintage shopping is also one of the biggest downsides: one-of-a-kind.  Yes, it’s wonderful to have something unique, but you are also going to come across items that are not going to fit.  You need to weigh your options when you find something like this.  Most often, the best option is to let the item go.  It’s important to check the seams of an item you think fits.  While it may appear that it fits perfectly, there is a chance that you are stressing the seams of a garment, and over time the seams will simply rip out, and the garment will then have to be made smaller to repair the seams.  If the item is too big or too small, alteration is an option, but can be costly if you don’t know how to do it yourself.  If the item just barely fits, don’t skip meals or diet just to get into one dress, that’s just silly.

Shop wearing proper undergarments

When I say “proper” I mean shop with your average undergarments.  I don’t know about you, but I have a few garments that require a “special” bra – meaning on that makes my boobs a little smaller, some of you may have one that makes your boobs a little bigger. It’s not a good idea to shop with these “special” bras on, as they will give you a false impression. Also in my Vintage Must Have series, I noted how the bullet bra revolutionized how I wore vintage.  For years I had fought with bust darts not being in the right place, but all that changed when I began wearing a bullet bra.  Keep this in mind when shopping for vintage.  Vintage garments were cut with the undergarment trends of the time, so 50s and 60s garments are going to feature higher bust darts.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

If you’re unsure about how to care for a specific garment, ask! Often shop owners are experts at cleaning items, and are going to know who to recommend in terms of dry-cleaning.  Many shop owners enjoy sharing their knowledge, and helping those who want to get more involved with vintage.  They are going to be able to offer all sorts of tips, from what jewelry may go with something, to what resources you have available with regards to vintage hair-dos!  They are also going to know of more vintage shops for you to check out!

Maintaining Your Vintage Wardrobe

Vintage is many things. On one side we love vintage because it’s unique, more flattering and of better quality than the majority of contemporary clothing on the store racks today.  However, vintage isn’t without its problems.  How many of us have suffered a stain or tear or lost a tap? Part of wearing vintage is maintaining your clothing to continue their longevity. So here are a few tips to help you keep that fantastic closet of yours looking good for years to come.

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Traveling Vintage

When vintage is all you own, traveling can be a bit of a burden in a way. Between getting folds in garments, worrying about damage on the road, not to mention all of the other travel anxieties, it can get a little hectic.

Your Suitcase

I travel using vintage luggage.  This is for a handful of reasons.  First they look awesome.  Secondly, if you are flying and you check your luggage, your suitcase will be much easier to spot when it comes out onto the carousel.  Additionally, hard suitcases prevent any extra pressure put on your clothes (causing more wrinkling) by other people’s bags being placed on top of your suitcases in travel.  And if you’re fearful of bed bugs, you really may want to travel with a vintage suitcase.  Bed bugs may find a new home for themselves (and thus possibly follow you home) in the crevasses of an upholstered suitcase, where as they will not with a hard suitcase.  I currently own a medium sized suitcase (which fits the carry-on size restrictions), a small day suitcase, a round hatbox and a train case.  However, for most trips I only take the medium sized suitcase and the train case.

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How To: Remove Sticky Residue

Lately it seems the price tag stickers from thrift stores have become, well, more sticky, leaving behind annoying sticky goo after removing the price tag. So, I’m here to tell you how to quickly remove such annoying goo with one of my favorite products: WD-40.

I learned about WD-40 from my dad, who, like many gearheads, used it on old cars.  It acts as a lubricant and loosens up nearly anything that has rust on it, but it can also be used to remove annoy adhesive residue left behind from stickers.  WD-40 can be found in the automotive aisle at stores.  I have used WD-40 on paper items, such as record sleeves and comic books, however it has left behind faint oil like stains on occasion.  I have not used it on clothing (that is to say dresses, skirts, etc. but it works wonders on shoes, purses, and other accessories).

You Will Need

-An item with a sticker on it
-A can of WD-40
-A rag

Step 1:

Peel off the sticker.  If the sticker is super stubborn, you can spray WD-40 directly on the sticker and it will slowly eat away at the adhesive, then lift it up.

Step 2:

Spray WD-40 onto a rag.  You can spray directly on the spot where the sticker was, however that can result in getting WD-40 all over your item.  Spraying on a rag creates more control.

Step 3:

Rub the sticky spot with the area of the rag that you sprayed with WD-40.  This lifts up and removes the sticky residue.

Step 4

Wipe down the area with a clean part of your rag, then rub your fingers over the area to make sure you removed all the stickiness.  WD-40 feels oily (it contains petroleum distillates) so it is very important to really wipe it away after you have cleaned the area for a satisfying feel.  If you haven’t removed all the stickiness, repeat steps two and three.

And there you have it! A clean, non-sticky surface!