Hello and happy November 1st, vintage lovers!
I was stoked for this first new day of a new month, and even MORE stoked when I realized that today’s date is quite significant numerically speaking: 11/1/11!
So it’s only fitting that as we look to our bright futures during the month of November and beyond, that I share a bit of reflection from my vintage fashion past.
I was inspired to gather photos of “vintage I regret giving up” after telling a story to my roommate’s friend about the bright green “Kermit the Frog” jacket seen in the collage above. My Dad and Stepmom gave me that jacket Christmas ’06. I wore it proudly for years and finally let it go around this time last year.
I was also inspired to blog about these “vintage pieces of my past” because I hear from vintage lovers time and time again that they “wish they still had [insert piece here]” or that they had kept their mom/grandmother’s/great aunt’s [insert piece here].
There are always more regrets with hindsight: We don’t take the time to think of the “future” potential of a piece from the past. So many of us live in the moment because of time constraints and sometimes make rash decisions based on facts and needs that may not apply to us in the future.
I know I’ve let go of many vintage pieces simply because of space. But if I had maintained “hindsight” that I would want them in the future, I could have rented a storage locker in NYC or better yet, just kept them in my childhood closet at home with my mom! [shakes head!]
So back to the green jacket: Why would I ever give up such a one-of-a-kind piece? Am I crazy?! Ha, perhaps!
You’ll have to keep reading after the jump to find out why, along with 9 other fabulous pieces of vintage I no longer own and wish I still did!
I love today’s post because it not only shows off a few of my all-time favorite pieces of vintage that lay the grounding for my desires to spread vintage fashion love to all of you, but it also shows how I’ve personally transformed my style aesthetic both in physical style and apparel style, too.
I believe that we should follow our inspiration ALWAYS. Whether it’s inspiration of the extreme that leads you to quit your corporate job and climb Machu Picchu; or whether it’s inspiration that leads to the chair of your hairstylist for a brand new ‘do and a brand new you … I encourage it ALL because I truly believe that the best life for all of us is one led without FEAR.
Have no fear with your fashion choices, vintage lovers! I know from personal experience that the pursuit of what we like and that which makes us feel good is far more fulfilling than any hot new trend can ever offer.
I’d love to hear your comments on which piece I gave up is your favorite — please let me know in the comments, or by letting me know on Facebook, Twitter or emailing me [email protected]!
Happy brand new MONTH of unlimited inspiring possibility!
1.) THE ’80s YELLOW SUIT
THE PIECE: A matching neon yellow jacket and shift dress made from a rayon blend material. the dress had buttons up the right side to form a faux slit
WHERE I BOUGHT IT: My all-time favorite thrift store “Bargain Thrift” in Philadelphia, PA.
HOW I WORE IT: This was my favorite professional apparel piece that was appropriate in style but loud & fabulous in color, which always worked to my benefit because people remembered me.
Here I am senior year of college at Temple University, posing with a group of girls from the communications school at Temple. We were about to hop on a Greyhound Bus to NYC to attend a communications career conference. I wore this suit because I knew that I’d stand out and make a lasting impression.
WHY/HOW I GAVE IT UP: In all honesty: I was sick of it, and some wear and tear over time had led to sun damage and damage on the inside lining of the jacket. I believe I donated the entire outfit to a Goodwill!
Looking back on it I wish I’d kept the jacket because the lining could have been replaced and it was a great jacket to wear with a white top and jeans for an easy-but-bold look.
2.) THE ’60s LEOPARD NECK SHRUG
THE PIECE: A leopard print fur “shrug” that can be left open or looped together to form a cross-cross neck scarf. This piece dates from the ’60s and was made from the softest of furs, although I can’t remember whether it was rabbit or something more exotic, like chinchilla.
WHERE I BOUGHT IT: This was purchased at my favorite vintage boutique in my Dad’s town of West Chester, PA. The store is Malena’s, and if you are ever in the Chester County area of Pennsylvania I encourage you to visit!
HOW I WORE IT: Above you see me wearing this fabulous fur shrug at my 21st birthday party. How young I look — and rocking an assymetrical haircut, to boot!
I wore it with a white romper with red stitching. I love pairing leopard with red, I just feel that they belong in the same color family even though leopard is clearly a print.
I’ve also worn it with high-waisted black skirts and black shell tops for a pop of print, and as a scarf with coats for a funky outdoor weather look.
WHY/HOW I GAVE IT UP: When I first started Sammy Davis Vintage as a retail business, I wanted great photography taken in a professional setting to promote my brand. My friend Pamela, the founder of Market Publique, let me use her studio space for free. In thanks for her generosity, I gifted her the leopard shrug because she had been admiring it during the entire shoot.
I know it seems like a huge gift to give, but I have this belief that when I give away vintage to someone else, that it comes right back to me. It may not be immediate; but eventually that karma is returned and all for the better.
Case in point: When selling at a pop up vintage show the next summer, Pamela purchased a gorgeous dress from me that cost $100+. Definitely payback returned!
3.) THE ’90s RUSSIAN FUR HAT
THE PIECE: A bonafide Russian fur hat — drop down ears and all! — straight from Yugoslavia circa 1991
WHERE I BOUGHT IT: It was Christmas 2007, and I was celebrating the holiday at my step grandmother’s house. My step family has ancestry in Russia, and the last time they visited family there was in 1991 when the country Yugoslavia was still in technical existence.
My step grandmother purchased this oh-so-warm for cold weather fur hat in Yugoslavia during her last visit. It was a colder than normal Christmas eve and my step grandmother mentioned this hat. Of course, my eyes lit up.
“Do you still have it?’ I asked her. “Yes … it’s buried somewhere in a trunk!” she replied.
And vintage lovers, that is how I got my bonafide Russian hat!
HOW I WORE IT: I wore it however the heck I wanted! It was such a statement piece that I found practical use from it beyond just blustery wintery days. I wore it during photoshoots, to bars and clubs and of course for a unique “cherry on top” piece to cold weather winter gear.
WHY/HOW I GAVE IT UP: Vintage lovers, this story saddens me to this day! In 2009 coming home to NYC via train from a holiday visit to Pennsylvania, I let my Russian hat hang out below the seat next to me.
When the train pulled up to Penn Station I exited WITHOUT PICKING UP MY HAT!
I didn’t realize I was hatless until I was halfway home on the subway! I called Amtrak’s lost and found with no success. Someone else definitely nabbed that hat.
The good thing? It’s such a unique piece, that whomever has it now must be oh-so-in-love. And who knows? Maybe they passed it on to another vintage lover. I like to think of this hat with a bright future of “blessing” the heads of many men & women around the country!
4.) THE ’80s B/W SUEDE CROPPED JACKET
THE PIECE: What I like to call my “Michael Jackson” jacket because of the black & white color combo along with a rockin’ cropped cut and crystals accenting this totally ’80s jagged design.
WHERE I BOUGHT IT: I thrifted this at a Salvation Army in Queens, NYC. It was SUCH a find, because if I remember correctly that Salvation Army shopping spree would have been a bust if it hadn’t been for this approximately $7.99 purchase
HOW I WORE IT: The jacket was cropped tight on my larger frame, so I kept the rest of my look tight tight tight! No surprise though, considering that’s my typical style.
I like to draw attention to showstopping pieces, so by pairing it with an all black look of black leggings and a black top, everyone can “ooh” and “aah” directly at what I ultimately want to draw the most attention.
WHY/HOW I GAVE IT UP: After wearing it a few times, I sold this lovely MJ-inspired piece on Market Publique! The lucky bidder better be giving her love and attention — because it’s certainly “attention” that she seeks!
5.) THE ’90s FLORAL GRUNGE DRESS
THE PIECE: Most honestly the coolest, chicest “grunge” dress I’ve ever owned! Complete with an extra-wide Peter Pan style collar AND some tulle crinoline beneath the skirt, this was the perfect piece to wear on a date or even strolling through a farmer’s market on a Sunday morning, while still being oh-so-’90s and Courtney Love approved!
WHERE I BOUGHT IT: I’m searching my memory now and I can’t pinpoint whether this was a Lancaster, PA thrift find or something I picked up during one of my traveling thrift trips.
I’m sure so many of you agree with me on this one – as chronic vintage hunters, we lose memory of just “how” and “where” and “when” things were acquired!
HOW I WORE IT: I’m rockin’ some girlie grunge above at my 24th birthday celebration. I went bowling at Brooklyn Bowl in Brooklyn!
Paired with red tights and my Emma Watson cut, I love how seamlessly sexy this look was at the time. My birthday is March 16, so it was a great dress to wear for some spring floral without looking like a summer bed of roses.
WHY/HOW I GAVE IT UP: Like so many pieces of the Sammy Davis Vintage collection when I was a full time seller, I wore this once and then passed it on through sales to another vintage lover.
I completely forget who gave this a happy home, though! If you were the one and you’re reading this now, please let me know in the comments!
6.) THE ’50s FUR SHRUG
THE PIECE: This fur [which friend and vintage seller Wild Honey Pie Vintage let me know is actually mink!] shrug came from my Grandmother on my mother’s side.
She passed away when I was 14 years old, and my mom kept this shrug from her collection. I wish I’d known then that I loved vintage, or I would have kept more pieces from her personal wardrobe.
This is always a good idea for all vintage lovers, even if it may sound a bit spooky at first: When relatives pass away, request to look through their closets and accessories collections to grab a few things in physical and stylish memory of them. Then, when someone complements their piece when you’re wearing it, you can bring them to live again by telling the story of how it came into your possession.
HOW I WORE IT: This picture is from a photoshoot in college with an online web series I worked with. I love how well the brown fur complements as a classic accessory to the bright pop of pink and teal together.
This teal dress was an ’80s Tahari piece from my mom and as you’ll learn later in this post, the belt one of my favorite Beacon’s Closet finds of ALL TIME.
WHY/HOW I GAVE IT UP: [shakes head in frustration!] Another amazing, truly one-of-a-kind piece that was passed on to another vintage lover through Sammy Davis Vintage sales.
I sold this shrug at the Brooklyn Flea, where I laid the roots for Sammy Davis Vintage every weekend selling to stylish NYers looking for a deal on vintage. I probably sold this to the tune of $50 to $75 — a CRIME when you recognize just how great of condition this piece was in and also, the family ties I had with it.
You are probably shaking your heads too now, vintage lovers! You live and you learn … and you don’t sell family vintage heirlooms!
7.) THE VINTAGE BRITISH DRESS
THE PIECE: A vintage dress from London, UK.
It was a great “throw-on” piece that I can’t tell whether is from the ’70s or ’80s by the looks of these pictures. It’s definitely a British piece of vintage, and something I regret giving up simply because it came from over seas!
WHERE I BOUGHT IT: This darling was bought in one of the “stalls” of the Camden Market in London when I was studying abroad my junior year of college in 2006.
If you ever visit L-town you MUST visit the markets of Camden and also Portobello Road for your vintage fashion fix. The shops of Brick Lane are also drool-worthy, and London in general is known to host “vintage shows” of buy-by-the-pound deals, like Judy’s Vintage Fair.
HOW I WORE IT: I’m laughing as I type these words! This was clearly my “going out dress” of 2007, the year after I had returned from studying in London.
WHY/HOW I GAVE IT UP: I can’t even remember where or how this disappeared from my closet. Did I sell it? Did I donate it? Did it fall apart in the washer? It remains a mystery!
The only fact I know: I NO LONGER OWN IT!
8.) THE ’60s KERMIT THE FROG GREEN COAT
THE PIECE: A ’60s mod swing coat that is a delightfully fancy Kermit the Frog green. I used to call it my “Kermit” coat!
WHERE I BOUGHT IT: Another vintage show stopping piece gifted to me by my Dad and stepmom from Malena’s Vintage Boutique in West Chester, PA.
HOW I WORE IT: I probably could have worn this jacket alone and as is, it was just so cool! I remember I wore it once ice skating in Philadelphia, and a photographer approached me for candid shots skating on the rink wearing it to use on the rink’s promotional web materials.
It was definitely an attractive piece that would grab just about anybody’s attention — so when wearing, I had to mentally prepare myself for “Where did you get that?!” questions! I love replying, “Oh … it’s vintage!” [underlying meaning: You can’t buy it in stores!]
WHY/HOW I GAVE IT UP: In this moment of reflection, I’m almost embarrassed to admit what I did with this coat, vintage lovers … I DONATED IT TO GOODWILL. [pulls hair out!]
Ah! I know! So here’s the thing: The lining was destroyed on the inside. Everything was exposed and just plain messy.
But me? I was just plain LAZY. I could have easily kept this to be relined. But, because I move so quickly in my thoughts and actions sometimes, I just didn’t give that idea enough pondering.
I’m pretty sure that a future post will be one where I share how to fix vintage that may seem unfix-able. I clearly need this post in my life!
9.) MY GREAT GRANDFATHER’S ’30s BOATER HAT
THE PIECE: My great-grandfather’s bonafide boater’s hat — made from straw and a nifty dappy sash — from the ’30s. His name was written on the inside with pencil: GW Davis, Jr.
HOW I WORE IT: Here I’m wearing it as an ironic twist to a vintage-meets-urban look. I’m actually wearing an all-jean jumpsuit here with heart doorknocker earrings.
My vintage silk scarf is a Diane Von Furstenberg tied into a masculine ascot, and the hat is to give this body-con suit another androgynous edge.
WHY/HOW I GAVE IT UP: As if I weren’t already mad at myself for selling my Grandmother’s shrug, here I go SELLING my great grandfather’s boaters hat from the ’30s!
So here’s the deal, vintage lovers: When you’re hustling to sell, you want to have the “best” pieces out to present your wares. They are almost like the teasers to draw people into your store, booth or online shop.
So with that said, you can understand why I’d want to have this hat on display: It’s a WOW piece! But what do you do when someone wants to buy it, AND for top dollar? Do you say no? Do you say “not for sale” when they offer you $50 and you’ve hardly made any money that day to pay for your booth space?
That’s exactly what happened to me at the Brooklyn Flea. I was caught on a rainy day with low traffic and even lower sales. When a customer was interested in plopping down serious cash for my great grandfather’s hat … the money eyes popped and they were left a happy, vintage-full customer.
Do I regret it? Do I want to kick myself in the butt right now? Does my great grandfather ALSO want to kick me in the butt right now? Yes. All of the above. I hang my head in shame!
10.) THE ’80s BRIGHT PINK OVERSIZE WAIST BELT
THE PIECE: An oversize, extra wide bright pink ’80s belt that went with just about anything and always rocked as “the central” point to any look!
WHERE I BOUGHT IT: During my first summer living and working in NYC, I ventured into the hipster-dom that is Williamsburg, Brooklyn to find a buy-sell store called Beacon’s Closet.
It was at this store that I found this gem on a MANNEQUIN. I immediately removed without even asking a sales associate for help, and purchased it for a low $15.
HOW I WORE IT: It cost me $15 for this belt and the return of investment was high, vintage lovers! The three pics above are a few examples of DOZENS that I could show you where this belt became the “connecting” piece to my outfit du jour.
My friend Tammy once said to me that this belt needs to remain in my possession always, because it could be part of an exhibit in a museum someday when I “become famous!”
WHY/HOW I GAVE IT UP: Because I wore this belt to its literal death, I had to toss it because the frayed edges, chipped pink chips and permanently bent edges just weren’t aesthetically pleasing no matter how I wore it.
My regrets remain, though, because like Tammy said: This piece represented such an epic period of fashion exploration for me during my college years. Purchased in 2006, I wore it until about the end of 2009 when I threw it in the trash. I wish I’d kept it in a shoebox under my bed to at least pull out for memory-sake.
Thankfully, no matter what I’ve lost, sold or donated from my vintage collection over the years … a picture is always worth a memory + 1,000 words+ in today’s blog post!
You have had your hands on some amazing items Sammy! Of course there have been items I have felt the same regret over.One being an Italian made Tortoise shell box purse with an all tortoise shell chain. It was so amazing I hung it on the wall in my store inventory just to shine her glory! Well surprisingly she sold to ITALY..and off she went. She was worth alot more than I let her go for but I find peace with knowing someone really wanted her, and was blessed by a bargin price. You know..I may never find that exact item again but I am more drawn to tortoise shell items since. That little box made her impression on me that will be lifelong ;-) ahh…the beautiful things we touch!
Jesse North says
I really hate you for selling/gifting these things. Believe it or not, I remember every one of these items fondly. The green jacket? The dress I took you bowling in? The silly Russian hat? Even the leopard neck shrug that you were SO excited to receive? #JessehaslivedwithSammytoolong
But I suppose what’s important is that you enjoyed them while you have them, remember them fondly, and have passed them on to people that will make their own nice memories with them.
Irina G says
As your roommate’s friend, I have to say that my all-time favorite piece from this list is the bright yellow dress. Maybe it’s because I saw you wear it a few times, but it just always knocked my socks off. It really WAS a very striking piece and I always thought you were one of the few people that could TRULY pull it off.
That being said, I also love your grandfather’s hat and the green coat. It’s hard to give things up and then regret it, but you have to be comforted with the fact that you did what felt right in the moment. Selling some prized pieces helped to pay for other new pieces that I’m sure you love. Plus, now you can look back and, if anything, you learned that some pieces are too precious to give up. That may not help with these 10 pieces, but it’ll be a good thing to remember for the next 10 pieces.
Nicole Longstreath says
Wow! These are some great items – and great photos, too! At least you have photos for posterity, y’know?
I think in the spirit of “living with less,” it’s okay to let go of some things. It’s inevitable that you’re going to miss something you let go of, but that just inspires you to hunt for greater things, right?
I say: out with the old, in with the new(er)!
Stacey Kay says
At least you still have pictures of all these great items! You enjoyed them for the time, and then you let them go, definitely not a crime! If they are being loved by someone else, then that’s all that matters!
i just found your blog after reading a 2010 interview on webutantes (yeah i don’t even know how i got there…). I really love your posts! I have an etsy store that I am having trouble stocking because I’m so afraid of selling something and regretting it later- I attach so much sentimental value to my clothes lol. especially the heirlooms, they are just priceless to me!
following your blog now :) keep up the great articles!
Alice I am delayed in replying, thank you so much for the discovery and for saying hello! Are you following the page on Facebook too? What is your Etsy shop URL? XO
Musical Lynn says
I love your fashion style!!! :D
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