A blog about vintage fashion, vintage jewels and art.....

Sunday, November 29, 2009

How to buy from Ebay

- Part 1

As an experienced thrifter, I was somewhat surprised to hear somebody recently commenting that she did not have a clue as to how ebay worked. What!! So, to set the record straight I decided to write this mini tutorial to help the uninitiated understand better what ebay is all about. Here is part one of the series....

If I had to name a business concept that ever revolutionized the way people buy and sell, transact, wheel and deal just about anything– it would be eBay. eBay can be a mysterious place for the un-initiated but this online auction website is truly exceptional on its organizational front and its diversity, literally providing you with a minute-by-minute rendezvous of your sought-after items any time of day or night. http://www.ebay.com/ will get you into the home base which is American, but it is accessed by thousands of people the world over, many of whom deal from their own territorial base which may be the UK, Italy, France, Germany, Australia, China, Korea, Mexico and a host of others – what changes is simply the email address. So for instance www.ebay.it would be the Italian site, in Italian. www.ebay.cn will get you to the Chinese site – very obviously in Chinese. Most people just stick to the .com site which rallies most of the English-speaking sellers in too.

It can sound like a complex, complicated way of shopping, and this is understandable – something I can fully comprehend, because I was just as wary of the whole concept before I tried it out for myself. My fascination with this online auction intrigue started as most things do – I heard about it from enthusiastic buyers, read about it fleetingly and then was enticed to enter the e-bay site out of curiosity and a penchant for unusual vintage jewellery.

Be prepared – it can look like a maze until you get the hang of it. But just start by accessing the site’s homepage, clicking on the BUY tab and typing in anything you can dream of - tablecloth, print cartridge, cocker spaniel, jaguar, rivet, bed. And yes, something will come up in each instance – lists after copious lists of anything and everything including any one of these words in its title. It is up to you to learn how to sift through, choose, reject, watch, compare prices or buy.

....... next time.... Part 2: Who are the sellers, how to start buying.......

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Laurel's Christmas Trees

Lovely Laurel from Eclectica or http://www.eclecticala.com/, a favourite vintage jewellery site of mine which I have been visiting regularly for the past years, agreed to answer some questions and share some of her experience with jewellery.

In the run-up to Christmas she has also honed in on Christmas Holiday jewellery, especially on Christmas trees. Her site has been on the web since 1998 but she has been in business selling vintage jewelry on the web two years prior to the current site. She is located in Florida, USA.

FF - How did you start in the business of selling vintage jewellery and do you also have a shop or is it just online business?

Laurel - Like many, I started as a collector and decided to sell some items when my collection required too much space and I wanted to collect other categories of jewelry. I used to have a physical shop location but decided to sell strictly online in 2001.

FF - How many items do you reckon you have in stock at any given time?

Laurel - Oh, dear! Stock comes and goes but I don't count what is stashed away - maybe 8,000 pieces that are within reach and much more is put away!

FF - Where do you get most of your jewellery - does it involve a lot of work to scout around and select items?

Laurel - I never stop shopping! I never take a trip when I do not search for vintage jewelry. Most of my stock comes from estate sales and estate auctions. People also bring me jewelry they want to sell and I buy items from other antiques dealers and shops, too. And, yes, it is time-consuming but I love the thrill of the hunt. I also have pickers who know what I want to buy and they scour other parts of the state and certain areas of the country for me and send me shipments.

FF - Tell me something about Christmas trees - do you remember the first Christmas tree pin you ever had?

Laurel - No, but the first one I truly treasured was given to me 22 years ago by my mother-in-law. She wore it every year for 35 years and I have kept her tradition.

FF - Why do American ladies have such a fascination with them?

Laurel - I think perhaps, because they are so colorful and sparkling and we Americans love glitter and color during the holiday season. Anything goes during the holidays - nothing is too gaudy or festive. Christmas trees are FUN whether they are 10 feet tall or 2 inches tall.

FF - Were there any specific designers who enjoyed making Christmas tree pins as a traditional thing every year?

Laurel - Weiss and Eisenberg Ice come quickly to mind. Other companies put out holiday pins every year as well but I think Weiss and Eisenberg did it the longest. Eisenberg Ice is still making them.

FF - Which was the most precious vintage Christmas pin you ever handled or had?

Laurel - Hard to answer! It doesn't need to be expensive to me to be precious so the first pins from the early 60's which the women in my family owned, are what I love the most. Most are not signed tree pins. You know how one always seems to declare that this year's decorated Christmas tree is the prettiest ever? Well, for me, the prettiest Christmas pin is the one I have on at the time. But, the rare glass Eisenberg pin from the early 70's is the one I wish I had not sold.

FF - Do you collect them yourself and if so, how many do you have?

Laurel - I own trays and trays of them! When I get tired of a style or color, I add it to the site, plus I can wear anything that I want that is from the site. I have a seemingly endless supply! Sometimes, I pin lots of trees and Santa pins to a seasonal pillow so I can view many at once. You really can't see a pin well when you’re wearing it, plus the pillow idea makes selecting one to wear very fast and easy.

FF - Do items in your online shop start as part of your personal collection?

Laurel - Yes, all the theme pages originated from my collections like sea theme jewelry, butterflies, charm bracelets, lockets and many more. I have 25 - 20 theme sites online at any time. I have a lot of large collections like exotic old bird pins and vegetable pins and Victorian jewelry that I am not yet ready to give up, at least not this year.

FF - What other kinds of Christmas jewellery are currently most popular?

Laurel - Pins shaped like ornaments are always in demand, as are Christmas animals and old Santas. Can't keep them all in stock though. Also, rare Christmas jewelry like rings and trees and other holiday pins that blink or light up are eagerly sought. We have lots of holiday jewelry collectors and many collect from our stock before it goes to the web.

FF - What is your favourite kind of jewellery and is there a specific designer you particularly like?

Laurel - How could I choose? I love jewelry that is old and well made, cleverly designed and interesting. Victorian, Art Deco and the grand old pins from the late 1930's to WW2 have always been personal favorites. Thankfully, I can have lots of favorites and it is fun to collect even more as my taste changes and moves in another direction every few years.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Paris Mon Amour

This time of year has reminded me of one of my loveliest times in


. I decided to share some colours of Paris as it prepared for Christmas some years back. The weather was far from gorgeous but Paris is never ever dull....

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Denis's Trees & My New Scarf

I picked up this fantastic scarf

from a charity sale last week. When I saw it I realised it reminded me of something I had already seen...

And then I remembered this......

For some strange reason, I couldn't shake off the memory of the paintings by the French Symbolist artist Maurice Denis (1870-1943).

And of course it all comes together with the fantastic pins of the 1960s and 1970s..... what about this fantastic flower power pin?

Makes you wonder... what comes first... is it colour, is it shape, is it art, is it nature, is it fashion? My hunch is that it's all a dynamic mix that comes together to minds who are creative enough to grasp innovation when they see it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Top 10 Tips for Buying Vintage

Buying from thrift stores,

charity shops, jumble sales and car boot sales is always so much fun especially as you never really know what you're going to find. It's not like going shopping with the intention of buying yourself a black skirt and just scouting around a shop floor looking for it. You'll probably find a black skirt when you go vintage fashion hunting, but you're likely to find much more besides.

Thinking of the way my vintage fashion buying has refined over the years, I decided to get some invaluable personal 'expert' tips together for FairyFiligree readers. There is a lot to learn and at each vintage sale you learn something more. Here are some straightforward guidelines on what to look out for.

1. If it's very dirty, I discard. I would only consider if (a) it's branded; (b) it's made of a fine and rare material; (c) it's got parts of it that could be retrieved and re-used. So if it's a vintage Chanel that only needs dry cleaning but is otherwise intact and unsoiled, I would buy. If it's soiled but has an intact piece of antique lace attached to it, or a set of very old buttons, then I will buy for the sake of the lace or the buttons. As regards soiled items - one of my favourite silk scarves is stained and the stains won't go away. I found it at a jumble sale and upon touching it I could tell it was something special. Imagine my dismay when I realised it had a couple of nasty stains which admittedly were initially confused with its own pattern! I bought it anyhow, handwashed it the best I could and aired it to dry in the sun. Some of the stains went away, others remained, but being a scarf, once wound round my neck, the stains cannot be seen and it never fails to make an impact.

2. Look at the labels not just to check the brand but also to gauge whether the item is used or not. Labels attached to clothes, especially the ones sewn into the side hems that carry garment care instructions, can immediately indicate whether the item has been washed, meaning used. A brand new garment will have labels as crisp and sharp as a newly printed banknote. One which has been washed will have a crispy label and that's an immediate tell-off. So even if the garment looks newly ironed and laundered, the state of that label will generally indicate whether it was gently used or extensively used. Another tell-tale sign of much use is the wording on the label which tends to fade away with every wash.

3. Check tell-tale signs of wear by noting the state of underarm patches on tops and dresses; elbow and wrist areas on tops and dresses; knee and lower hemlines on pants. Stained underarm marks indicate abuse of the garment; tiny balls of fluff stuck to the elbow area of a vest indicate it has been used; stretched out knee patches indicate the pants have been used too. Worn-out hems on pants may mean you really can't fix them unless you cut them apart. Check the crotch on pants for signs of stains or tears. If the garment is lined make sure the lining is intact too.

4. Zippers must be functional and intact - check them out by opening and closing several times. Check if the zipper holds closed. Also if the garment has several buttons, make sure they are all where they should be and that they are all the same. If it's a special item it may be impossible to find the right vintage buttons to match. Check they are not broken, scratched or damaged in any way.

5. When buying lace, silks, satins and the like, check they are not torn by examining them minutely in good light as slight tears may get overlooked if you're not attentive enough.

6. When buying jewellery, you need to have some experience in selecting the good pieces from the miserably cheap stuff. Observing metals in jewellery you have at home will help you compare notes and identify what real silver and real gold look like as opposed to other metals which may easily scratch or tarnish. However, generally speaking, if a piece of costume jewellery looks exciting enough, then it's probably worth picking up anyway.

7. To end off, I would like to indicate materials which are especially special to me as a vintage fashion collector - lace, silk, satin, leather, embroidery, crotchet, enamel, chiffon, felt and patchwork. What are yours?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Flower Power

I adore flowers so imagine my excitement at the camera recently when I covered an interview with the owner of a nursery. Here are some pictures I took.

Three beautiful colours to lift your spirts this autumn Sunday.

Friday, November 13, 2009


I was reading The Guardian Weekly and came across this article about
Mimi Weddell.
Actually it was an obituary of a unique lady who passed away on September 24 aged 94. As I scanned the article, I noticed she was born February 15, 1915 - which made her just 1 day and 50 years older than Moi & also an Aquarian which might explain the eccentricities. I just had to read it through and this lady's life was soooo interesting and vibrant especially in her later years that I had to search some more. Here is a picture of Mimi

and this is where I found it.....http://www.hatsoffthemovie.com/

Visit the site to find out about this lady, hear her soft spoken voice, see her pictures and learn about the way she turned her life round at age.... 65!!!!
And it's all about her being an actress, a style icon, a lover of hats. She used to say..."HATS GIVE YOU A FRAME."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ivory Coast & Pearly Sensations.....

Thrift finds are always such a surprising experience. It's the thrill of not knowing what you'll find that makes it all such a juicy experience. Yesterday I found myself a staggering pair of brand new (practically) ivory coloured leather pumps.....

I reckon it must have been a bride's shoes because its heels are spanking new and no wear to them at all. Perfect fit too!
I could embellish them with a shoe clip - anybody have any suggestions where to find one to match?
It made me remember two things - first my other special thrift find - a string of pearls, so long that it reaches down to my hips....

& just see how perfectly they match...

Which made me remember another thrift find made some years back... what I like to call my Crytal Palace shoes by Giuliano Venanzi....

It may not be the right season to wear these here, but they sure promise to add sparkle to my outfits.....

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Santa's Letters

Received this media release which I thought you'd like to know about.

You can order a letter from Santa Claus for your children by placing an online order using Finland Post's website


Santa's letter comes with illustrations by the artist Nina Rintala and can also include a fold-up wall calendar for 2010 also illustrated by Rintala. The letter is made complete by genuine Finnish Christmas stamps affixed to the envelopes that get the Arctic Circle postmark added too.

Santa's Main Post Office on the Arctic Circle in Finland received more than 700,000 letters from children around the world. They reached Santa at his Main Post Office north of Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland.

Note the closing dates - Orders for Europe must be placed no later the DEcember 13.

Other countries' deadline is November 29.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Madame Mon Amour

Madame Moitessier was probably Ingres' most favourite sitter and surely she's mine too. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1789-1867) was one of the Neo-Classical painters of France. he painted Madame Moitessier several times. This painting was made in 1851 and is an oil on canvas found at the National Gallery of Art, Washington.
Take a look at the other paintings of this lady by Ingres....

Marie-Clotilde-Inès de Foucauld was born in 1821 and married to  a wealthy banker, in 1842.

I love these paintings because of the rich dresses and accessories Madame is wearing. I just adore 19th Century jewellery, especially the bracelets which the ladies wore in pairs or more on each wrist. I was lucky to have the opportunity to visit the National Gallery and see the second painting up close and the finish to the oil paint is amazing. She could very well walk out of the picture and sigh.

What do you think of this fashion? These glorious clothes & beautiful jewels?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Postcards on Silk

Souvenir Scarf Scarves can be staunch travelling companions - tied around the head for shade, around the neck for warmth, around the waist when your waistband loses its middle button and used to mop foreheads, dry hands…..

Yet, the most effective association between travel and the scarf comes through the souvenir scarf. Scarves are not something everybody wears, whether they make handy gifts or not, but they certainly offer a lightweight ‘souvenir-to-take-back-home’ option worth considering when you’re re-packing your bags for your return journey. But there is more to the souvenir scarf than meets the eye.

Souvenir prices being so exorbitant most times, and baggage limitations being so restricting at all times means most people will try to get cheapest and lightest, not necessarily loveliest. From a fashionista’s point of view, the souvenir scarf can seem like a tacky idea. Granted – some souvenir scarves tend to be loud, garish, vaguely vulgar and the kind of things only crotchety old ladies get given by nieces and nephews who don’t know any better. Remembering how souvenir scarves were always relegated to second-class consideration, if any – never refused, never thrown out, but always and perennially ignored by all the women I know, means these scarves get very easily sidestepped both in souvenir shops and in wardrobes. Even if it is the right colour to match your outfit, you very probably ignore it for the souvenir that it is.

There is another way of looking at souvenir scarves and finding them particularly enticing. Having come upon a couple of such specimens in a boot sale not so long ago, I took a long hard look at the things from a collector’s perspective. Being a collector of so many different things, I honed in on the memory of my postcard collection and realised that souvenir scarves are literally portable, wearable postcards. But is that all?

As collectibles, souvenir scarves become exciting when one starts looking out for the vintage varieties. Remember school atlases get upgraded every other year because geography changes, places get new names, countries gain independence and in the process prime sites get embellished, monuments get torn down. Some territories become no-go zones because of wars and guerrilla terror and the memories of a country’s heyday become things of yesteryear. Thus each vintage souvenir scarf depicts the element which was most considered to be eye-catching at the time of its production. Surely a 1980 London scarf would not have the same sites a 1930 London scarf included, nor those a 2009 London scarf would have woven in.

The more prestigious scarves tend to have hand-rolled and hand-sewn hems. Old silk scarves are very special things and if they include any form of embroidery then they are even more special. The ones which still have their label on can shed light on their year of making, unless this is firmly stamped on their skin for posterity. In that case you have a dated collectable, whose maker can be identified.

Where would you go to find these vintage souvenir scarves? Start by raiding wardrobes. Your mother, grandmother, great aunt, mother-in-law will most definitely have at least one souvenir scarf tucked away somewhere. The next best bet is car boot sales, charity shops, jumble sales, fundraising bazaars. You can opt to buy off ebay or other online auction sites. However the latter option, whilst opening up the possibility of finding choice items from all over the world, does not allow you to touch and handle and inspect your would-be purchase at closer range.

When you choose a scarf for your collection, decide whether you want to go for just any other souvenir scarf which may come in acetate, viscose, polyester or some such modern fangled material, or whether you want to focus on cotton or silk which might equate to quality brands. Whichever option you go for, do remember that vintage scarves are old scarves which may or may not have been gently used, so it is probable that there are minor defects in the form of slight tears, undone hems, pin prick marks and yellowing, that must be accepted as part of the vintage character they posses. Take heart in the fact that you do stand a very high chance of finding pristine quality souvenir scarves because nobody seems to ever wear them and they probably come still wrapped in their original souvenir shop bag.

Remembering that vintage scarves require gentle care will help keep them in optimum shape as your collection grows. If you need to wash them, do this by hand washing in very gentle handwash liquid. Do not use clothes pegs on them as the delicate material may tear. When dry, iron with gentle heat and try to keep folds to a minimum when you put them away. Some collectors advise hanging scarves onto padded clothes hangers to avoid damage especially if they are made of silk, and this avoids creasing which would require repeat ironing.

Certainly, wear them with confidence and use them as the conversation pieces that they are. Souvenir scarves can be curious things to have, to wear and to give away. Look out for quality, tasteful design and fine materials. The rest will take care of itself.