Flea Market Dos and Don’ts

With the holiday season (which for me includes Halloween) arriving soon, Patrick and I have been hitting up more flea markets in search of fresh vintage Halloween decor to add to our home, and after witnessing and overhearing certain things at the flea market I decided to go ahead with a dos and don’ts for flea markets. The same of course can be said for antique shows!

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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, and not all die-cut Halloween decorations are created equal. Today I just want to highlight the differences between most 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 observations. 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.

Embossing was fairly popular and almost standard on holiday decor until around the 1960s. I have several pieces from 1960s and 70s that are single sided, but not embossed.

So, now that you know those tips, 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 flat, while the older one is single sided, and 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 new or repro Halloween decor, as you can see, I own a few, which was because vintage Halloween decor tends to be very expensive! My collection has been built up over years of thrift store shopping, many visits to antique malls, and frequenting antique shows and flea markets. But if you don’t have the time or money for vintage decor, know the best in the paper Halloween decoration business, Beistle, is still in business and making the classics, which you can buy on their website! 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!

Are You Antique Show Ready?

The Portland Antique and Collectable Expo is about the vintage lover’s equivalent of a marathon. Or remember those Black Friday ads that Target had awhile back of a woman training for it? Yeah, it’s a bit like that.  But instead of once a year, it happens three times a year.  With over 1,000 booths to visit, there’s certainly a lot to see and buy, but, depending upon your interest, very little time.

To make my Expo (or any antique show, for that matter) experience a little bit better, I plan ahead.  And thought I’d share with you some of my tips to make shopping at antique shows easier.

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Pucker Up, Buttercup!

First I want to say thank you for all of the kind words on my last post! I won’t lie, I was a little nervous about putting that out there. So, thank you again for all of the wonderful words of support.

Recently I asked readers via my Facebook page to post what they’d like to see on the blog.  One person suggested vintage make-up tips, especially regarding lipstick and keeping it on.

I don’t consider myself a make-up expert by any means, and often still seek help from friends and the internet.  But lipstick is something I feel I can discuss!  I use CoverGirl Outlast and that’s it (introduced to me by AlexSandra of AlexSandra’s Vintage Emporium).  I’m one of those people that when I find something I like and works, I don’t ever move away from it. And let me put this out there, CoverGirl did not approach me to write a review. I’m writing this of my own accord because I was asked by one of you fine readers about my make-up tips!

Outlast is a two step process that keeps your lips bright and colorful pretty much all day, through getting dressed, trying on clothes while out shopping, most foods, and kissing.

For the most part, I wear Ever Red-dy.  But for some more 60s mod looks, I use various nudes and pinks.  And when I dip into the 20s and earlier, I opt for a more berry color.  You can also mix it up, and layer colors, creating unique shades.

How do you use Outlast?  Apply the color portion to your lips.  The color is very lip gloss like in consistency and in application.  I like this type of applicator since it gives me more control.  I was never that great with the classic lipstick.  Let this portion dry, maybe put on your jewelry that you’re going to be wearing for the day.

Once your color is dry, apply the top coat.  This is a clear layer, akin to chapstick, that adds shine to your lips and can be reapplied as desired throughout the day.

And you’re done!  Feel free to pull on clothing without fear of lipstick stains or make-out to your heart’s content without getting a mark on your partner.  It also won’t smear or bleed.

While I swear by Outlast, it isn’t without its problems.  The biggest problem is eating, or rather the aftermath of eating.  But it also depends upon what you eat.  If you to eat something that is oily (such as a salad with oily dressing or a burger), chances are your lipstick will come off and you will need to reapply.  But if you eat something lacking any oil, then your lipstick will typically come out unscathed.  When reapplying, the new layer often won’t seem as clean as the first, and later in the day, it may feel like your lips are beginning to peel and eventually the lipstick does become rather gummy.  Sometimes it is best to attempt to rub as much of the lipstick off as possible and start again.  Drinking won’t faze it though, and no more lipstick prints on your mug or glass!

Another “downside” is removing the stuff at the end of the day.  Since it is designed to stick on through nearly anything, it’s pretty stubborn.  A washcloth and water won’t do the trick, so I use Neutrogena’s Oil Free Eye Make-Up Remover, which I apply to a cotton ball, and rub over my lips, followed by a warm washcloth.

Outlast and the Neutrogena make-up remover are available at most drug stores such as Rite Aid and big box stores such as Target, with Outlast typically running $8.00 to $10.00 and the make-up remover $6.00 to $7.00.