Friday, August 29, 2014

Vintage Beauty Pageants, Retro Bathing Suits 20s-50s

Labor day always signals the imminent end of long summer days, beaches and bathing suits, but for one more weekend let's celebrate the season! And nothing typifies the summer like vintage beauty pageants! So I thought it would be fun to celebrate this weekend by putting together a little tribute to the whacky and wonderful history of pageants.


1920s swimsuits
"Beauty show at the Washington Bathing Beach", Washington DC 1922

Be sure to open these panoramas to view the full size image! They're stunning! And prints are available to purchase from this awesome vintage photography site, Shorpy!

1920's beauty pageant
"The Third Annual Pageant of Pulchritude / 9th Annual Bathing Girl Revenue", Galveston, TX, 1928

1920s fashion
"Miss Atlantic City", 1927

20's hair 20s dress
"Miss Bobbed Hair", 1925


1930s Miss America
"Miss America" 1930

1930s beauty

1930s pageant costume
"Miss Radio Queen", 1939


1940s miss america
Miss Philadelphia crowned Miss America, 1940

1940s evening dress
"Miss America", 1943

catalina flying fish bikini
"Miss Toronto", 1946 - Love those early Catalina swimsuits!


By the 50's Catalina began sponsoring its own beauty contests!
1950s Catalina Beauty Pageants

1950s beauty pageant gowns
Behind the scenes - getting ready for the evening gown portion

1954 pageant queen
"National Catfish Queen", 1954

This newsreel highlight of the 1955 Miss California pageant features a quick tour of Santa Cruz, the arrival of the contestants, the pageant's bathing suit portion, an evening gown competition to die for, and a beachfront crowing. The winner was Barbara Harris, age 20. And for those as nosy as I am, you'll be happy to note that the reporter did his job very thoroughly - Miss Harris weighed 120 lbs, was 5'6",  and measured 34.5" - 23.5" - 34.5"!


How could I not include this goodie?!...
1960s mink
"Miss Mink", 1960

Enjoy the holiday! And don't be afraid to show off your best pageant wave this weekend!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Vintage Clothing Mega Sale at C.Madeleine's - New Pieces for the Shop!

A few drool worthy pieces from C. Madeleine's
C.Madeleine's is a vintage institution in Miami and a frequent source of goodies for hollywood stylists.  The store holds 10,000 square feet of garments and accessories spanning 15 decades. The carefully curated selection is pretty pricey and I'm restricted to window shopping, often at home (where it's safe!) on their website. If you'd like to learn more about the store and its fabulous owner, Madeleine Kirsh, check out this great profile piece from the blog Stylelikeu.

Now the really exciting news! This past weekend the store had its annual yard sale! When she begins to overflow with inventory, Madeleine discounts some of her treasures for the rest of us.  After a  two hour car ride and an anticipated scurry to the racks I am so excited with the pieces I snagged for the shop. Thanks C. Madeleine's! I can't wait for next year!

C.Madeline's Miami

See what I snagged for the shop after the jump! 

(Summer dresses, embroidered skirts, beack cover ups, 40s and 50s party dresses, and not to name drop, but... Ceil Chapman, Alfred Shaheen...)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

1930s Old Hollywood Scrapbook

Grandma, a few years later in 1941,
enjoying a beer? with her girlfriends
Over the weekend I began working on a vintage summer / swimwear post for the blog. I wanted to feature a few of the 1940s beach photographs I have of my grandma, so I got out the photo box and stumbled upon a treasure I had completely forgotten I had.  In 1933/34, as a 16 or 17 year old girl my grandma was restricted to bed rest for several months. (Feeling fine but stuck in her room she actually taught herself to write with her non dominant hand!) During this time she also created a celebrity scrapbook I feel so grateful to still have.

Many of the photographs are from a 1930 / 31 issue of the "New Movie Magazine's Gallery of the Stars" which wasn't very far removed from today's tabloids. It was fun to see that relationships, weight, style,  and snarky quotes filled the pages then too, albeit with a lot more glamour and grace.

1930s old hollywood movie stars

See a many more of my favorite pages after the jump! ...including a very young Cary Grant, some juicy gossip on Mae West,  stinging criticism for Marlene Dietrich, the most beautiful pictures of Bette Davis and Mae Clark, and a page of the actresses' weight and measurements!

Saturday, May 31, 2014


Promocode: SUNFUN

Fixed price items already marked down!

Hurry, sale ends June 6th!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Easy DIY Vintage Upcycle Tutorial - Repurposed 1950s Cheer Jacket into Backpack

 If a garment with a fabulous print or to-die-for detail has too many flaws for normal wear up-cycle the piece into something new. In this case, I found a really fun 1950s satin cheerleading jacket. The color and appliqués were fantastic but the satin and elastic were in really rough shape. Too worn for wear, but appropriate for  a well worn backpack!

See how it was done after the jump!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Pin Up Photoshop Tutorial - Vintage Pin Up Photo Shoot

To celebrate the launch of my new Pin Up collection I did my own Pin Up photo shoot and would like to share some easy photoshop finishing tips.

I collect aprons and my favorite red bib apron is reminiscent of this one shown in a classic Elvgren painting:

Elvgren Pin Up Photo Shoot How To

Pin Up Photo Shoot Tutorial

Pin Up Photo Shoot Photoshop

Vintage Pin Up Tutorial Photoshop Finishing

Before we begin to feel bad about all the air brushing and shrinking, and erasing to follow - take a look at the original reference photographs for these Elvgren's paintings! These models were stunning, but that didn't prevent the artistic license to slim and enhance! 

Elvgren Pin Up Photo

Elvgren Pin Up Photo

Elvgren Pin Up Photo

I hope the following tips leave you confident enough to attempt your own photo shoot! From dressing up to hair and make-up the entire process is a ball. My only tip for shooting is to work in even light, preferably daylight, and don't be ashamed to take countless pictures. If you have a camera with a self timer - use it to quickly try different poses and expressions. You can tack up a sheet or pose in front of an empty wall. Or take the opportunity to set design with your favorite vintage decor.

Pin Up photoshop tutorial after the jump!

True Vintage Pin Up Costume Sale!

New Pin Up Collection, Now Available at the Shop!

The VINTAGELOVE by Gigi etsy shop is now featuring a new Pin Up collection of true vintage pieces with pin up style for swim, play, and lingerie and everything else from bombshell to rockabilly fashions. In case you are wondering, all content on my blog, Facebook and shop is PG.

Unlike mass produced pin up brands that recreate iconic looks, I am featuring vintage pieces from the 40s - 60s that exude the pin up style seen across posters, advertising and print materials of the era. While some modern reproductions are fabulous and certainly have their place, many use cheap materials or have compromised on details that give away the true age of the garment. I am excited to offer a collection that will provide that intangible, special something only true vintage garments can add - to your daily wardrobe or pin up / boudoir / burlesque photo shoots and events.

These are a just few of the pieces from the collection. It will be a permeant feature of the shop and the selection will continue to expand. 

vintage pin up circus costume

vintage pin up yellow polka dot bikini

vintage pin up burlesque costume

Blog exclusive coupon code after the jump!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

April Showers and May Flowers

Do you follow me on Instagram? If not, you don't know what you're missing!

Follow VintageLovebyGigi on Instagram for Vintage Clothing Eye Candy

Ok, well now I guess you do know. And I'm sure you don't want to miss out anymore.

April showers bring May flowers, right?

Well, I ended this month with quite a rain cloud over my head. Long story short, no more trips to the tailors! (And more DIY sewing tutorials for you!) But I can see the beautiful flowers ahead...

...Coming up this May:

  • I have just finished the original 'party dress project pieces' (say that 3 times fast) and will reveal the last dresses momentarily
  • Two new sections of the VintageLove shop to announce - Wedding and Pin-up! I am proud that both will be true vintage, not retro recreations. 
  • However, if you like sewing reproductions I have a truckload of original 40s and 50s sewing patterns soon to be available!
  • I have a 1940s couture evening gown to restore - and fins somewhere to wear - and maybe sell, maybe
  • A 1960s wedding dress to repair - airy bohemian feel with raised embroidery on sheer chiffon
  • I am now obsessed with western wear and will have a guide to identify true 40s and 50s pieces
  • Vintage. Circus. Costumes.
  • Detailed decade style guide
  • Deco dresses! - lots of new pieces on the way. CAPES!
  • Learn a few tips and tricks to repair vintage zippers
Thanks for stopping by and I hope you return to enjoy the flowers with me! :)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Party Dress Project: Vintage Dress Repair and Easter Greetings!

Dress #1 of my "Party Dress Project", in which I repair or alter a collection of dresses in need of some TLC, is finally finished! How fitting that on Easter day, this revived dress is revealed.

Have a happy Easter and see how the dress was brought back to life after the jump!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Art of Vintage Prints

This week the shop has some great new items, and by chance, three of them have prints inspired by fine artists!

Vintage Clothing Prints

Vintage Clothing Prints

Get all of the details and lots more pictures after the jump!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Party Dress Project: Update on 1960's Cupcake Dress

(Did you know that you can Follow my blog with Bloglovin!)

vintage party dress repair

As part of my TLC Party Dress Project, the transformation has started on this 1960s purple floral Nadine dress. The bottom of the floor length ruffle skirt was too faded to save - and a cupcake skirt is better in my book anyways. The puffy ruched sleeves will go too and then this charming spring dress will be ready. Visit often and like my facebook page to be the first to hear when its done and snag this beauty for an Easter brunch or garden party.

4/20/14 UPDATE: The dress is finished - see the final alterations here!

Favorite Dress, Meet My Favorite Shoes: 1950's Full Skirt Prom / Wedding Dress ♥Gold Polka Dots♥

vintage party dress
I am in love! This 50's taffeta full skirt party dress is covered in metallic gold polka dots! You can dance all night long with gorgeous heels or pair this dress with a denim jacket and sneakers to out-Taylor, Taylor Swift!

More photos after the jump!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Dating Vintage Clothing: Union Labels, Metal Zippers, Seam Style and More! FREE PRINTABLE INFOGRAPHIC

vintage clothing infographic printable

Dating vintage clothing can be tricky as styles overlapped and were often revived in later decades. If you are new to collecting vintage clothing, my timeline printable will provide a great base for building your collection. For more experienced buyers I think you'll be thankful as I am to have all these tidbits in one easy reference place.  The pdf downloads below will print 8.5" x 11".

The easiest place to start is to look for a ILGWU union label on the collar or interior side seam. They varied over time and provide a general ball park as to when the garment was sewn. To pinpoint further you can search for the manufacturer with the US copyright and patent office. Preforming a TESS search will let you know when the company or line began and ended. (I will go through the trademark steps in the future in detail)  Other labels, zippers, buttons, seams and fabric can all provide clues to help you date a piece of clothing.  Nothing is set in stone but this will provide a quick reference point. Happy hunting!

There is a full color version with images and a simpler black and white timeline without photographs. You are welcome to share, but please link back to this blog entry. I'd love to hear your comments! Thanks! Gigi

vintage clothing guidehow to date vintage dress

Thank you to the following resources for images and information:,,,, and

Monday, March 31, 2014

Where to Buy Vintage Clothing: An Unexpected Estate Sale in Historic Miami

Whether you are a reseller or casual collector reach out to your local estate sale companies and organizers. I suggest serious resellers formally introduce themselves (more on that later) but if you just love finding vintage treasures let everyone know.

I called an organizer several months ago inquiring about the vintage clothing selection that would be available at a particular sale.  To my surprise she called me this Friday to let me know that she was having her own sale... of her personal vintage collection!

I would read about how other shop owners would score dozens of fabulous finds from the back of forgotten closets and seemingly stumble upon homes over flowing with treasures. How did they get so lucky! While pounding the pavement and scouring ads is necessary, you can increase your chances by simply asking in advance. You never know when you'll be surprised with a great sale!

As an added bonus, the sale was in a beautiful old part of Miami filled with 1920's architecture. Photographs are NOT of the home I visited, just other historic properties in the neighborhood.

Enjoy the rest of the tour and see what beautiful 1930s - 1960s pieces I found after the jump!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

How to Mend a Hole in a Vintage Sweater

I am a preppy at heart and I was ecstatic to happen upon several vintage cheerleading pieces, one of which was a pale yellow sweater with a great graphic letterman's patch. Unfortunately the wool had holes in several places, with an especially large area on the collar where the label was attached.  

This post really serves to bookmark the best instructional guide I found to mend sweater holes. There are quite a few floating around but this one was explained clearly,  the close up shots were great and she used contrasting thread which was very helpful. 

My only add-on advice is to be patient. It's tempting to pull the thread taught on the first pass but it was more effective to continue weaving and slowly bring the sides together. On the largest hole I had to do several extra passes. If the video shows two directions, a horizontal and vertical weave, I had to do two more at alternate 45° angles.

It's not perfect but it went from donate pile to "this sweater makes any day a perfectly reasonable occasion to wear a red satin hair ribbon."

Video and results after the jump!

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Party Dress Project: Vintage Clothing TLC

Pssst. Here's a sneak peak at my tlc dress project inspired by this 60's beauty.  Stains, rips, holes, discoloration, style and fit issues be gone! Stay tuned over the next few weeks to see how I help these vintage party dresses come back to life.

4/20/14 UPDATE: Dress #1 is finished - see it here!

Buying Sight Unseen - Saving Garments when the Stains Won't Budge

If it is on the internet its got to be true, right? Once and awhile I purchase dresses online from individuals or through auction lots. It's a great way to snag beautiful and rare pieces at great prices but there are often surprises. Condition descriptions aren't always what they promise.

I purchased this stunning mandarin style maxi dress in an auction lot. When I received the dress I was disappointed to see that it had a very large stain and several sections of missing beading and lose sequins. I did not want to ruin the beautiful embellishments or dupioni silk with a soak but this dress was too gorgeous to give up on!

If you have a piece with stubborn stains or other damage, what else can you do? Turn it into something new, and maybe even better than the original. See how this piece was transformed after the jump!