Category — Books

Vintage Style Weddings

On Christmas Eve, my little sister was engaged. Even though we knew it was coming, I still cried. Weddings and marriage are such a beautiful rite of passage. It’s no wonder some brides lose all sense of control when it comes to planning their wedding. Brides who want to get married in retro or vintage style are doubly stressed – every detail not only has to be beautiful, but period correct! Poor grooms.

Style Me Vintage: Weddings by Annabel Beeforth (Chicago Review Press, Distributed by Independent Publishers Group) is a lovely new book for all the blushing brides who want to recreate dreamy weddings from the past. The photography made me swoon. So many images of beautiful brides and tons of vintage and vintage inspired details to make your wedding outfit not only period correct, but glamorous and fun.

The book is FULL of information and suggestions on how to create the wedding look of your dreams. It is broken down by a general information section at the beginning, a comprehensive visual and instructional guide on all the eras from Edwardian to the 1970s (good 70s ladies!). It even includes suggested scents, inspirational photography and film, a label guide and a list of suppliers. Each era also lists typical details of a wedding gown and look of that era. At only 175 pages, this book is chock full of information, resources, and inspiration if you are planning a vintage wedding.

Some vintage fashion books tend to give you just the history of fashion. Style Me Vintage: Weddings does a really good job of telling you exactly how to make vintage styles work for you and your body.


There is something so wonderfully feminine and elegant about 50s wedding dresses that they appeal to many brides today—but be mindful of your body shape. The hourglass silhouette suits many body shapes, particularly those ladies with a fuller figure, but a dress with layer upon layer of tulle might overwhelm a tiny frame. Also, because the emphasis was on the nipped-in look, many original 50s wedding gowns available today will feature a very small waist, so it is critical you attempt to try an original gown on for fit before committing to buy it. A specialty alterations service may be able to modify a bodice to create a more comfortable fit, but this isn’t always possible.

It’s important to mention that those tiny waistlines of the 50s were given a helping hand by good corsetry! To create a similar, authentic silhouette, you may want to invest in a modern-day alternative set of underwear. Speak to a lingerie specialist, or even a dressmaker, who will be able to advise you on where to buy a suitable waist-cincher, if required.

Even though I am not planning a wedding, I was surprised by how much I learned from this book. The “real bride” looks and the modeled looks all offer inspiration beyond just the bid day. I can see some of the accessories, cakes and decor working for any special event. Multiple candy colored petticoats and floral topped cupcakes? Yes please!

Style Me Vintage: Weddings would make a perfect gift for a soon-to-be bride, a wedding or party planner, or anyone who deals with special occasion or vintage events. I’m sure my sister is going to secretly borrow it from my vintage resource library!

1920s wedding dress

credit Joanna Brown Anova Books


credit Anova Books Joanna Brown

credit Anova Books Joanna Brown

50s wedding dress

Anova Books Joanna Brown



May 1, 2013   2 Comments

Thrifted Thursday – Vintage Cookbooks Giveaway

I think I’m nesting. After buying my little vintage house, all I can think of is staying home, cleaning, organizing and cooking! But it’s not just my home that that wants to keep me home. The man in my life is also a “let’s cook and watch a movie” kind of guy. And HE cooks!

I came across a small stack of vintage cookbooks from the 1950s recently. Originally I was just attracted to the covers and art (yes I am THAT girl that buys books for their covers). I had to keep these two – one for the man and one for me. The Betty Crocker cookbook has a dedication written from one woman to another about how much she will love this book since she is so busy these days. Cute!

In celebration of all things domestic, I am giving away eight short format cookbooks. All of them are from 1950. One even has a milk delivery receipt!

Here’s what you have to do…

  • follow Debutante Clothing on Facebook   or
  • follow on Twitter   or
  • retweet, share, or email this to a friend if you are already following

UPDATE: Oh and please leave a comment below letting me know how you spread the love!

Also, if you are a vegetarian, let me know if you want a veggie cookbook in the comments!

I will choose eight winners at random next Wednesday 5/1

Good luck!

April 25, 2013   No Comments

Fashion Books at Joss & Main

In order to work in the vintage fashion industry, you really have to be a information sponge and avid researcher. Tracing history and trends in fashion, analyzing fabrics when no easy fabric tags existed – these day to day sleuthing skills require a deep level and knowledge and a pretty hefty library of fashion books.

Luckily I love researching and collecting fashion books as much as I love collecting vintage dresses! Today, one of my fave online flash sale marketplaces for home products, Joss and Main, has a gorgeous collection of style books for sale. I picked up three – Valentina, Balenciaga – Venet – Givenchy, and a book I have been wanting for a while, Resort Fashion.

Shipping is a bit slow on Joss & Main, but their selection of products are always fantastic.

Not a member? No worries! I’ll invite you.

January 13, 2012   2 Comments

Vintage Books | Want To Learn About Vintage? Read These Books!


Forbes online (who knew they had a style section?) recently interviewed two of the biggest names in vintage fashion – Kerry Taylor of Kerry Taylor Auctions and Doris Raymond of The Way We Wore. The vintage mavens give us an insider’s view on the best books to read if you want to learn about wearing, selling, or collecting vintage fashion.

I don’t want to copy and paste, so I’ll just give you links and list the ones I own and agree with, as well as give you my personal favorite books that are in my resource library right now!

Happy reading!

Kerry Taylor’s vintage books picks

Doris Raymond’s vintage books picks

My picks:
I agree with Kerry Taylor on The Couture Accessory, by Caroline Rennolds Milbank. It’s a beautifully photographed book all about the little accouterments that make us look at a runway show beyond the garments.

Doris Raymond and I have similar taste in vintage fashion books. I agree with Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century Kyoto Costume Institute. I was lucky enough to find it on sale at Barnes and Noble. But do yourself a favor – invest in this two book set. it gives a breadth of information on important looks in the last three centuries.

New York Fashion: The Evolution of American Style by Caroline Rennolds Milbank – this book does an excellent job of covering some of the most important American designers. You can find it used at a great price.

And here are some more to consider:

Costume Jewelry for Haute Couture by Florence Müller – a stunning collection of haute couture jewelry with a brief history on the makers of the exquisite pieces for Chanel, YSL and Pierre Cardin.

The Seductive Shoe and Forties Fashion: From Siren Suits To The New Look by Jonathan Walford – Jonathan knows his stuff. Jonathan, a fashion historian, curator, and private collector, was the founding curator of the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. Both these books go beyond pretty pictures and really give you a historian’s perspective on these impressive collections.

20th Century Fashion: The Complete Sourcebook and The Complete Fashion Sourcebook 1920s-1980s by John Peacock – while most fashion history books have gorgeous color or black and white photography, Peacock’s books are all illustrated with typical garments of the decade, broken down by purpose of wear (day, evening, bridal, underwear, accessories, etc.) and further categorized in 2-3 year spans. If you ever wanted to know if a dress was from 1940 versus 1943, these books would help you determine that! I really love that these books also feature menswear and clothing that normal people wore during the period. Not everyone wore haute couture and the chances of you stumbling across such a rare piece are slim, unless of course you are Kerry or Doris.

photo: The Princess Blog via

October 28, 2010   2 Comments

Book Review: Closet Confidential (Style Secrets Learned the Hard Way)


This book review has been a long time coming. Please excuse the tardiness.

I’ve always mixed vintage with modern clothing. I love shopping for modern staples that I can mix with my vintage finds. But sometimes I find shopping for essentials like jeans daunting and psychologically scaring. So when I was given the opportunity to review the deliciously sharp-witted Winona Dimeo-Ediger’s book, Close Confidential – Style Secrets Learned the Hard Way, I knew I was in for a very real fashion treat. You may Winona as the blogger extrordinaire of Daddy Likey. If you aren’t familiar with her blog, go check it out now! I only promote smart girls. She’s one of them.

What impressed me the most about this book was the tone. Seriously. I know writers talk about voice and tone a lot. But Winona’s voice really does come through here. She is so direct and familiar with her spot on advice that it’s like talking to a girlfriend.

I have several style books – Nina Garcia, Simon Doonan, Edith Head, even the gals from Cheap Date. But Closet Confidential is the real girl’s guide written by a real girl.

Some of my favorite portions:

The Denim Guide – I literally just bought my first pair of Paige jeans and I wouldn’t have taken the psychological or monetary plunge if it weren’t for Winona’s guide. I was a Levi’s kind of girl, but I really wanted a pair of skinny, premium jeans. Her guide is indispensable.

Stylish Delicious Combos – when you work with fashion, sometimes you just don’t want to think about what you are wearing. Winona spells out nine easy to achieve looks and the pieces needed to get them. My fave? Cozy Parisian

Her Passionate Essay about Flats – seriously. It’s passionate. And so funny. Style guides are not supposed to make us laugh out loud on flights!

The Bags We Carried – I think Winona is lying about how much she loves flats. I think handbags and purses are really her vice. Especially after reading her hysterical account of why she needs an old lip balm with sand in it and a miniature pencil she found in her bag. Again – style is serious. Stop it Winona!

Six Types of Jewelry You Should Never Get Rid Of - I’m a jewelry fiend so I really appreciated this section. Her recommendations were spot on. Especially her choices for jewelry it’s ok to toss – toe rings, earrings shaped like miniature souvenirs, and bolo ties.

The book is riddled with funny and oh so true pointers. This is probably the only book I read cover to cover. If you are stuck for ideas on what to give your friend that is smart, funny but not really into style and fashion, give her this book! She’ll love it.

available at

December 21, 2009   3 Comments

Book Review: The Little Guide to Vintage Shopping

the little guide to vintage shopping book

It always baffles me when I browse through‘s vintage section or troll for vintage steals. More often than not, I see 1980s garments being sold as 20s flapper dresses, or worse, fringed polyester flapper costumes from Halloween super stores being listed as RARE! flapper dress. I want to take my already loved copy of The Little Guide to Vintage Shopping and scream, Here! Read this!.

If you are new to vintage, or thinking of starting, this is a MUST read book. Written by a well respected member of the Vintage Fashion Guild, Melody Fortier has been in the vintage fashion business for almost 2 decades. And she has proven her know how in this business in her wonderfully insightful book.

There are several books on collecting vintage clothing and accessories that merely give you bios on famous designers and tons of beautiful pictures. That’s great for a coffee table or reference book. But The Little Guide to Vintage Shopping is truly a guide, and instructional manual on how to shop for quality vintage, and loaded with tons of insider tips.

The book is adorable. It has the illusion of being an old, embroidered cloth covered book. it’s small and compact enough to fit in your bag – perfect for shopping. But let’s talk about why this book is so invaluable.

Chapter 1 Vintage Defined gives you an overview of vintage is, and what it is not (ahem, 1990s) and a wonderful little glossary of some terminology you should know as a buyer. Not all designer is couture but that word is thrown around and awful lot, with a price tag to match.

Chapter 2 On the Market talks about options for places to buy and important considerations when shopping for quality.

Chapter 3 Styles of the Times gives an overview of typical styles for each decade with a great visual time line of silhouettes

Chapter 4 Dating Dilemmas (my favorite chapter) discusses how experts determine dates of garments: silhouettes, tags, labels, buttons, zippers, seams, and fabrics

Chapter 5 Sizing It Up gives you tips on how to measure and which measurements to pay attention to to ensure a good fit as well as typical silhouette features for each decade that could determine if the style is right for your body (I’m very 40s and 50s shaped)

Chapter 6 Labels and Pricing gives a good guideline for determining how much something is worth based on the designer and/or label. This is extremely helpful for today’s market, but keep in mind that prices are set by the market at any given time.

Chapter 7 Condition and Care (another favorite chapter) gives tips on what to avoid when shopping, how to care for your vintage, how to determine what fabric the garment is made of (pre-1970s garments do not have care tags). These are tips that only experts know. I was impressed

Chapter 8 Finishing Touches discusses accessories and shoes, and equally important segment in the vintage marketplace

Chapter 9 Altered States (a surprising chapter) is all about how to alter vintage for the modern wardrobe, and what you should not alter – couture for one.

Throughout the book, you’ll see colorful images of vintage pieces – some to illustrate the chapter, some are just eye candy. This is not a coffee table book, or a collector’s book so you won’t find the one page images of vintage. There are also expert tips from vintage sellers and authors sprinkled throughout the book.

There is a very brief section on great places to shop for vintage. A whole book can be, and has been, published on this topic alone so I didn’t mind that it was brief.

All in all, I have to say I was very impressed with the breadth of knowledge that was published in this book. For such a little guide, you gets volumes of expert knowledge that the average vintage shopper might not know.

If you love wearing and shopping for vintage, or if you are a new vintage seller, I highly recommend The Little Guide to Vintage Shopping.

November 9, 2009   11 Comments

Lessons from Edith Head – How to Dress to Get A Man & Keep Him


Last week I shared a summary of the delightful yet ironically relevant How to Dress For Success book by the insanely talented costume designer, the late Edith Head.

This week, Ms. Head gives us a sure fire game plan on how to nab a guy, and even harder, how to keep him. In 1967, you couldn’t stop for a Botox quickie at lunch time. You had to rely on Lycra and good styling tips to show off your god given assets in the best light possible.

But Edith doesn’t want you to just run off and get married to the first bozo that comes your way. Rather, she treats the ritual of finding a guy like a hunt…

“If you don’t know the man, or haven’t met him, do what a hunter does. Go where the game is!”

And were is the game? Airports, train stations, hotel lobbies, anywhere you enjoy a hobby.

She also addresses the wallflower in us all – the girl that doesn’t think she is attractive enough to find a suitor. Her secret? Be interesting. Be interesting to look at.

“Frequently at parties and premieres attended by Hollywood stars, visitors are shocked when they see the wives of our handsomest film stars.  These men who work constantly with women who are the epitome of glamor, very often marry women who are quite ordinary to look at.  The unknowing are inclined to ask “How on earth did she ever get him?”  I can tell you because I know. She interested him more than any other woman.”

She talks about several types of men, and how to dress for them. The Sportsman, the Man About Town, the Intellectual, and the Successful Executive (Don Draper) all have an ideal perfect woman. Edith gives you accessorizing tips for last minute dates with these fascinating me.

Above all, she pleads us women to be a covered girl, and not a Cover Girl because in this society of “topless bathing suits”, and man invariably marries the less exhibitionist woman. Man is a jealous creature by nature you know?

Success Formula for Getting and Keeping a Husband:

1. Decide want kind of man you want.

2. Find out what kind of girls he likes.

3. Know what kind of fashions pleases him.

4. Don’t masquerade in clothes you hate just to attract a man. Be sure you are really, deep down in side, this kind of girl.  If not, find another man!

5. Learn all you can about him – his hobbies, his interests, his likes, his dislikes.

6. Be interested in his interests.

7. Choose your wardrobe to please him and suit his way of life.

8. After you get him, stay the way you were and don’t relax into a post-marriage slump of careless marriage.

9. Look reasonably enticing in the morning – better at night.

November 25, 2008   4 Comments

Lessons from Edith Head – How to Dress To Get & Keep the Job

I’ve been curling up with a few fashion books lately – D.V. by Diana Vreeland and How to Dress For Success by Hollywood costume designer, Edith Head.

When I won this book on Ebay, I thought it would be a funny read – a social shock at how much we have evolved as women when it comes to expectations of beauty and style. Ha! There are some rules that just never change. And considering Ms. Head is one of the most celebrated costume designers and stylists of our time, she ought to know a thing or two about style.

edith head

For the next 13 weeks, I will be posting the chapter summaries for each chapter of How to Dress for Success.

Tim Gunn, move over. We’re about to take some style lessons from the gal that’s been around the catwalk a few times.

In this chapter, Edith Head discusses how to dress appropriately for the type of job you want, but once you get to that rung in the ladder, buck the trends and be yourself. She gives a wonderful anecdote of dressing Sofia Lauren for her role as a poor housekeeper in the film Houseboat. Head says, “Believe me, this took more doing than making Olive Oyl into a sex symbol. It’s harder to make a sow’s ear out of a silk purse than vice versa.”

Here is her Success Formula for How to Dress:

  1. Decide what kind of job you really want and prepare yourself for it.
  2. Decide if you are qualified for it. If not, look for one you can handle.
  3. Find out the “image” of the job – how women in that field or firm look and dress. Ask someone who works there. If you don’t know anyone, go at noontime or at 5 P.M. and watch the women who work there leaving. Find out the general “look” of the employees.
  4. Dress carefully for your appointment in what you have found is the generally accepted look.
  5. Above all, be well groomed and look like a girl or woman who would be a credit to the firm. Then do a good job!

November 18, 2008   4 Comments

Win the book ” Vintage Shoes ” by Caroline Cox

Shoe lovers – don’t forget to enter to win the beautiful book by vintage fashion expert Caroline Cox Vintage Shoes – Collecting and Wearing 20th Century Designer Shoes.
Here’s what you have to do:
1. sign up for an account at and enter promo code “Debutante” in the form so we know you’re entering the contest
2. if you upload images of your “collection” of shoes, you get an additional entry in the contest. they can be your real shoes or shoes you love
3. 1 picture = 1 additional chance to win, so the more pics you post, the better your chances of winning
4. post a link to your Fantastic Toe page in the comments below
That’s it!
Contest ends 11/14 so hurry!
Good luck!

November 12, 2008   No Comments

Vintage Shoes – the book, the contest

vintageshoes.jpgI’ve got footwear on the brain. Vintage footwear. I recently came across Caroline Cox’s magnificent book Vintage Shoes-Collecting and Wearing 20th Century Designer Footwear.
Booth Moore of the LA Times just did a write up on the book as well. I thumbed through it at Borders and I have to tell you, it is GORGEOUS. The images are a feast for shoe lovers.
I’ve also mentioned a few times that I am blogging over at Fantastic Toe Shoe Community. I have the tough job of finding beautiful vintage and vintage inspired shoes and gushing over them. What a life huh? It’s a really fun site for those of us that love shoes but love our worn in footwear as much as we love fantasizing about Louboutins.
So I am thrilled to announce that Fantastic Toe is hosting a giveaway contest just for Debutante Clothing readers!
You’ll win a brand new copy of Caroline Cox’s book, Vintage Shoes just for showing us your shoes: real life or wishing for.
Here’s what you have to do:
1. sign up for an account at and enter promo code “Debutante” in the form so we know you’re entering the contest
2. if you upload images of your “collection” of shoes, you get an additional entry in the contest. they can be your real shoes or shoes you love
3. 1 picture = 1 additional chance to win, so the more pics you post, the better your chances of winning
4. post a link to your Fantastic Toe page in the comments below
That’s it!
The contest will end on 11/14, so sign up! I can’t wait to see everyone’s footwear. I bet we can write a book of our own.

November 3, 2008   1 Comment

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