A life-long Second Hand Rose!

I’ve been thinking about how much I love vintage clothing, and where this love affair started!

I grew up in a family of six kids.  Money was tight, but I always had cute, stylish clothes to wear.  My parents both grew up on Midwest farms during the Depression so they knew the value of a dollar, frugality and hard work.  These lessons were passed on to me, not so much by lecturing but by example.

My mom talks about how a cousin of hers who worked as a nanny for a wealthy family in New York, would send her their stylish castoffs.  I smile when I think of my mom, who has always been stylish, wearing ’30s designer chic clothes to school after milking all the cows in the morning!  We are talking TINY town on the North Dakota prairie.  Those clothes were much appreciated, as there was very little money to be had for clothes during the Depression drought.

My parents got married in 1945 after World War II.  They have no pictures of their wedding, but an engagement picture shows both my mom and dad in fabulous 40s suits.  My dad was an Army G.I. and my mom had been a teacher in one-room school house and a Defense Plant worker in Detroit.  They quickly settled down and started raising a family…four boys, two girls.

My mom was an excellent seamstress and sewed for herself, my sister and I.  It is entirely possible to be incredibly chic on very little money.  I look at all the old family photos and we all look so great and put together…always in dresses!  I remember that every Easter my mom would sew my sister and I matching dresses.  Usually in frilly Dotted Swiss fabric with matching hats and gloves!

Being the younger daughter, I often wore my sister’s hand-me-downs.  There is 6 years between us though…and quite often, 6 years in fashion time is a little too dated to be current and a little too short to be vintage!  I remember getting clothes from various friends, neighbors and relatives.  Some great, some not-so-great, such as the brown oxfords that I absolutely refused to wear…I remember throwing a fit and sobbing hysterically when my parents tried to persuade me to wear them (I said they were “boy” shoes!)  I can’t remember wearing them so the histrionics must have worked.  😉

I remember searching thrift stores for finds in the ’70s.  Of course, back then, pretty recent vintage was ’40s and ’50s!   Lots of pinup sweaters, furs and platform shoes were to be had.  If only I knew then what I know now…that that stuff would be a goldmine in the 2000’s!

My love and appreciation of vintage has not waned.  If anything, it has gotten much stronger over the years as the amount of true vintage clothing is slowly disappearing.  It warms my heart to see that more and more people have true appreciation for these lovely works of art.

All the best,

4 Responses to “A life-long Second Hand Rose!”

  1. Diane Laag

    Dear Marilyn,
    I can so relate to this article except for the hand me downs. My mom also was a great seamstress. Could sew anything. Once in the year Bonny and Clyde came out she made me a suit like Bonnie’s.it was grey…. No one in my 8th grade class had one.
    Then came the thrift shop’s with the vintage finds from the 40’s and 50’s. Yes these clothes and shoes were so plentiful if you chose to wear these styles.
    Beautiful suit jackets with shoulder pads all tapered in at the waist for a dime or a quarter. They looked nice with our hip higher jeans and platform shoes.
    Fur jackets galore! Real fur! You could buy a really nice raccoon jacket for $5.00. I wore that jacket till it fell apart.
    There was this great outdoor flea market always open on the weekends. They had bins of clothing. You could just dig and dig in those bins all day and you just never knew what you were going to find.
    Once at this flea market, I found a man selling the most beautiful buttons. There were hundreds of them.
    It would take hours to go through them all. Another man had a huge lot of vintage charms from I am guessing the 30’s. I still have a bracelet I made from those special charms.
    It’s sad that these days are over but then again, would we wear this clothing today? What would we do with it if we did find it?
    I still have a special box with vintage goodies….the clothes don’t fit. Not only that, they are just too delicate to wear. But to think of ever getting rid of them? Not a chance!
    Marilyn, I truly love all the fun topics you write about.
    So glad I found you.

  2. finnfemme

    Hi Diane,
    It’s always great to hear your stories, they are so similar to mine. The decade of the 70s was so fabulous in many ways – there were not only great current styles, but it was also the first decade to reach back to the past to include vintage styles.

    Of course there is a lot of appreciation for vintage these days, but in the 70s it just seemed so much more funky and fun!

  3. Mjohns

    So glad I found your blog! I grew up north of Green Bay, WI, about the same time yo describe here. I’m going to read every post this winter!

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