This month's vintage lover is Lizzie, vintage clothing historian/expert extraordinaire, owner of the vintage website Fuzzylizzie. Lizzie has recently closed down the vintage clothing store part of her website Fuzzylizzie- but, she is continuing to sell vintage sewing patterns and is still featuring vintage articles and photo essays that she has composed on her site. She also has a fun blog called The Vintage Traveler. Lizzie has a Fuzzylizzie Etsy shop where all the proceeds from sales go to benefit her local animal rescue organization.
-How long have you been collecting vintage clothing for?
I bought my first vintage piece in 1970. I was 15 years old and went with a friend and her mother to an estate sale. In a bedroom of this modest farmhouse, we found several boxes containing the most wonderful 1920s handbags. I bought one for the grand total of 25 cents! Please do not ask me how many times I've kicked myself over the others. I still have that bag, by the way. I've been buying vintage clothing and accessories starting in 1976, though I didn't start seriously collecting until about 10 years ago. I had always bought just to wear (or to sell), but kept finding so many wonderful things that didn't fit me that I couldn't bring myself to sell. So a collection was begun. Since that time, I've refined what I collect. I look for sportswear and for clothes a woman would wear on vacation, 1918-1978. I try to assemble complete ensembles - what a 1923 woman would wear on a hike, what a 1952 woman would wear sightseeing in Rome, what a 1966 woman would take on (and buy during) a trip to London.
-What got you into vintage clothing?
Sometime in the mid 1970s I discovered a great book - Cheap Chic by Caterine Milinaire and Carol Troy. In it they talked a lot about thrift store shopping and they profiled people who were actually wearing antiques clothes. I was intrigued, but at that time there was only one dusty old Salvation Army store in my area. Then, in 1976, my beloved Hadley cashmere factory closed down, taking its wonderful outlet store and $10 sweaters with it. Where was I going to get my cheap cashmere fix? The answer was thirft stores, and the dusty old SA became a regular haunt. Within a few years vintage stores started opening, and I was a regular customer.
-What are your favorite eras of clothing?
I love the 1920s. It's my favorite era to collect. For wearing, I stick with the early to mid 60s.
-What do you like about clothing from these eras?
I think I really started loving the 20s when I was in college and read all of F. Scott Fitzgerald. I wanted to live in the 20s and be Jordan Baker and do nothing but play golf and go to parties. After I discovered vintage clothing and started looking at the clothing of the 20s, I was hooked! The clothing of the 20s says so much about the social changes that were taking place. As for the early 60s, I love these clothes because for the most part, they are simple and easy to wear. I'm really more likely to wear clothing that I've made using a vintage pattern and vintage fabric, and I almost always choose a pattern from 1959-1964. Maybe it was because I was born in 1955 and I can remember the women in my life wearing these fantastic, sophisticated clothes, but by the time I started wearing "grown-up" clothes, Mod was in full swing and the hippie look was breathing down its neck. So now is my chance to be the adult, I suppose!
-Who are some of your favorite vintage designers?
Since I'm so into sportswear, I tend to favor the sportswear designers. Claire McCardell has to top this list, and with good reason. She really was so innovative, and at the same time, practical and wearable. I've had women who wore McCardell "back in the day" tell me they would have paid any amount of money for McCardell's clothes, that they made them feel special somehow. I also love Tina Leser, Carolyn Schnurer, Tom Brigance, Bonnie Cashin, and that sort. But I'm just as happy to find a wonderful older piece of White Stag, Jantzen or Abercrombie & Fitch. And I love the clothes from the early 70s that I, as a teen and college student, could not afford - Betsey Johnson, Jane Tise, and even Geoffrey Beene. Thank goodness for sewing patterns! I wore out my favorite Tise blouse pattern. And today, almost 40 years later, their vintage designs still look great to me.
-Who are some of your favorite modern designers?
There aren't many, I'm afraid, but I'm really in love with Ralph Rucci. You have to see his work in person to really see how great he is. And there are times when I adore what Lagerfeld does at Chanel, but right now isn't one of those times. And for the most part, I love what Ghesquiere does at Balenciaga. And good old Oscar de la Renta always does pretty clothes.
-What would be your ultimate vintage find?
That's really hard to say. There's no one piece that I sit around and think that my life would be complete if only I had... But I can think of lots of pieces that would make me very,very happy: a simple 1920s Chanel frock, a not-so-simple 1930s Vionnet or Schiaparelli, a 1920s beaded Worth dress, anything 1920-30 from Hermes Sport, the perfect Courreges 1960s dress, a Lanvin robe de style, a pair of 1920s embroidered shoes from a French maker, a few 1950s Pucci sports pieces.
-Where do you do the majority of your vintage shopping- garage, estate and rummage sales, thrift stores, vintage stores, online vintage stores or eBay?
I'll shop anywhere I know there might be vintage. I don't really care for garage sales, but rummage sales are great for vintage. I love vintage clothing stores, but I rarely find anything to buy in them. I do buy online, but not as much as I used to. I spend way too much time on the computer and shopping is far down the list of things I have to get accomplished. But my favorite places are the Goodwill Clearance center, flea markets, and antique malls. You just never know what kind of treasure lurks in these places! It's the thrill of the hunt, I suppose.
-Is vintage clothing popular in the city that you live in?
I live in a very small town. Even my best friends don't "get" my love of vintage clothing. But in nearby Asheville, there are lots of vintage wearers. It's an anything goes type of town.
-Who are some of your favorite style icons?
Well, the obvious, I suppose. Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy. But then there was also the odd-ball woman who lived in my small town in the early 60s who wore cat-eye glasses, stretch pants and leopard print, and drove a Metropolitian mini convertible. She was looked on as being a bit of a tramp, but I adored her look and vowed to be just like her when I grew up. Of course I'm not, but just the thought of her and her trashy greatness makes me smile and keeps my own look from veering toward the precious.
-What are your favorite vintage movies, music and television programs?
I love the movies Audrey Hepburn made in the 60s - How to Steal a Million, Charade, Two for the Road, Breakast at Tiffany's. That's how I'd love to look! And to me, Roman Holiday is the ultimate fashion film, with Princess Ann's look evolving in every scene. I also love the movies Bogart and Bacall were in together: Key Largo, The Big Sleep and Dark Passage. Growing up in the South, I was raised on Johnny Cash and Skeeter Davis, came of age with the Beatles and the Stones, and only now fully appreciate the music of my parents. I'm completely in love with Sinatra - especially what he was doing in the early 50s. Vintage TV (or modern TV for that matter) doesn't do a lot for me. I'll watch it, but can't say I have a favorite. You see, I saw all those shows years ago!
-Do you collect any other types of collectibles or antiques?
I'm afraid so!
Vintage photographs of people in sports ensembles.
Vintage tin lithographed globes and other objects with maps.
Vintage travel ephemera from Western North Carolina and the Blue Ridge Mountains
Vintage fashion magazines
Vintage advertising and such that is fashion oriented.The quirkier the better!
Vintage Scotty doggie things, preferably handmade.
Vintage fabrics and sewing patterns
Orphaned vintage clothing hangtags and labels.
*Thanks to Lizzie for answering our Style Council questions!
You too could be featured on Lulu's Vintage Style Council!
Just email me- lulusvintage (at) yahoo.com a photo of yourself wearing vintage (it can be a modern outfit accented with vintage accessories or a complete vintage ensemble) and answer my interview questions
This post was originally published on July 5, 2009.