Vintage Clothing Labels: Half the Fun!

As I research vintage clothing, and as I fall more in love with the process of preserving pieces and passing them on to new owners, one thing in particular stands out for me: the labels.

The graphic design is amazing, the names are hilarious, and the dating effect perfects the garment. Two of my favorites are “Sir for Her” and “Lady Manhattan,” which I’ve found on frilly, bow-neck blouses designed for serious working women. We’ve come a long way, baby.

Some others that mean business:

Some that are here for fun:

And others I just plain like:

And then there are occasional labels that would never fly today. This Levi’s one inspired this post. I know it means you could bend over in these comfy pants, but it reads like an imperative:


And this one

Made me say

Will I continue to search out amazing vintage labels? IMG_3320[1]

Check out Vintage Fashion Guild‘s website for a comprehensive resource and countless label galleries!



Homemade Halloween

We are in the throes of costume preparation at Frugal. Spooky Victorian? Check. Day of the Dead? Check. Big ’80s? Check. ’70s prom? Checkity check. In fact, the Courier Post just ran an article about DIY costumes featuring yours truly 🙂

Here is my list of the easiest costumes to thrift and create at home:
1. Jedi. Layers of earth tone shirts and light pants with a belt or two. Crisscross some laces or twine up the lower legs. Done. Light saber optional.
2. Frida Kahlo. Brightly flowered dress, flowers at the crown of your head, eyeliner pencil uni-brow. Done.
3. Zombie. Any theme, any period. Rip the clothes, green-tint the skin, dark-circle the eyes. Done.
4. Sleepy kid. Pajamas, robe, teddy bear. Done.
5. Secret Service. Suit, tie, glasses, ear wire. Done. Lose the ear wire, instant Blues Brothers.
6. Mummy. Wear white, partially wrap strips of white sheet around your limbs and torso, white face makeup, dark eyes. Done.
7. Seasonal Fairy. Frilly layers, crown of leaves, flowers, or snowflakes; glue a bit of crown material to the end of a stick for a wand; bend wire hangers into wing shape and pull hosiery legs over the frames. Done.
8. Elderly Man/Woman. Button shirt and cardigan or house dress, sensible shoes, powdered hair, eyeliner wrinkle lines, glasses. Done.
9. MineCraft. Painted cardboard box head, t-shirt, jeans. Done.
10. Scarecrow: Jeans, plaid shirt, straw hat, straw, eyeliner stitched face. Done.

It’s a great journey to leaf (or scroll) through photos of Halloweens past. Making costumes created memories of collaborating, as well as memories of the day itself. It fosters family time and creative thinking. I have purchased a couple of costumes when my boys really preferred the store ones, but overall, it’s been one unique look after another. So much fun.

Willy Wonka. All thrifted in the women’s department. A world of pure imagination…

You Shall Not Pass! Gandalf the Grey. Leggings, wig tied under his chin, spray painted witch hat, drapey women’s tops, staff. Done.

Duck Face concept costume. Ski mask, rubber ducks. Done.

Baby Jaguar and Diego. Go! Diego, Go!

Baby Jaguar and Diego.
Go! Diego, Go!

David Byrne of the Talking Heads. Super-sized suit and a curtain rod. Done.

David Byrne of the Talking Heads. Super-sized suit and a curtain rod. Done.

King of the Road. A sharpie, a cone, eyeliner treads, and his toys. Done.

King of the Road. A sharpie, a cone, eyeliner treads, and his toys. Done.

Be kind to yourself

Women of the world, let us please start a kindness revolution. Kindness and mercy toward ourselves. Let us give our bodies a break. Thank our bodies for what they can do, or have done. Even if that list is relatively short.

I spend a lot of time at Frugal defending women’s bodies to them. We are so quick to list our perceived faults and trouble areas:

“I have linebacker shoulders.”
“I can’t wear that color.”
“Maybe if I lost 50 pounds.”
“I have no shoulders/butt/boobs.”
“I’m too short.”
“I don’t show my arms.”

These little nasty phrases break my heart. They are harmful and hurtful. I guarantee we are all harder on ourselves and our appearance than anyone else would ever think to be. Too many women dread the fitting room or assume nothing will fit them. Seriously, the number of women who have said, “Nothing fits me.” Nothing? You’re not naked now, right? Something fits you. There are endless ways to have a body. So many shapes. But there are woefully limited ways to mass produce clothing.

If you are shopping with me, I am going to steer you toward things like:

“I have strong shoulders.”
“I wear that color as an accent or accessory because I love it.
“That dress fits you so well.”
“This cut highlights your [insert asset here].”

So many ways to have a body, so few ways to mass-produce clothes.

So many ways to have a body, so few ways to mass-produce clothes.

One way you can carve out a little kindness toward your body is to know what fits and stick with it. This is especially true with vintage clothing. Curvy? Choose mid-century pin-up looks. Long and straight? Look to the 1970s. Also, find a tailor. Buy great clothes second-hand and have them altered to fit you. Don’t alter your self-image to suit throw-away fashion from the mall.

To quote the great Otis Redding, Try a little tenderness. Honor your body with great clothes. Choose the parts of your self that you love and accent them like crazy.

Dressing the Window

At Frugal, we create amazing window displays (if I do say so myself). Some are solo inspiration and execution, others are team effort. Our latest one is the latter. And I LOVE it!

Frugal mannequins set blazers to stun

Frugal mannequins set blazers to stun

window thrift vintage display star trek

Felicia is badass!

blazers window display star trek

Set Blazers to Stun!

display mannequin window thrift vintage

Penny is so badass!

I had decided to feature blazers in the window. We have a great stock of them and they’re perfect and chic for fall. So I tossed around some puns: Trail Blazers, Just Blazer, Blazers of Glory… Then I asked my 16-year-old son to throw out a couple, because he is a wordplay master. Right off the cuff, he says, “Set Blazers to Stun.”

“Thank you,” I said, “we’re done here.” Cue mid-century dime novel space theme. I lined the whole window in foil, dressed Penny and Felicia (yes, our mannequins have names) in sequins and sparkles, and added sensible blazers all around. So quirky, so solid. Add my eight-year-old’s spray-painted super soaker water gun, and we are all stunned.

Party Dressing: Touchable Textures

‘Tis the season for parties! When you’re planning what to wear, think about this: Texture.

You’re all crowded in the kitchen, someone touches your shoulder as they skootch through to the bar set-up. They say, “Oooohhhh, is that velvet?”

I can’t get enough of velvet right now. The way it catches the light, the soft-stiff play of the fibers when you rub it. The colors are richer, more complicated. And it’s warm, which is critical for east coast winters. I also love to wear it to parties. Festive and touchable.

Layering texture for holiday and party outfits

Layering texture for holiday and party outfits

Suede works, too. As does mohair, silk, leather. Better yet, combine two or more major textures for tactile and visual appeal. Go with a monochromatic approach to texture layering for a more refined look, or splash colors together for high drama.

Rich texture in the same palette gives a luxe look

Rich texture in the same palette gives a luxe look

Enjoy the winter holiday season and be prepared to be popular at the parties!

The Ugly Christmas Sweater: Real Talk

The Ugly Christmas Sweater parties have reached every corner of everywhere. The sweaters are available at every corner of retail. It’s mainstream, sure, but theme parties are fun, and I have this to say: Go all in.

You can get a moderately Christmas-y, pretty unattractive sweater. You can. You can show up at the party and barely qualify to be there. But you can also go out in the thrift world (specifically, Frugal) and score the big winner. Throw some extra ornaments and battery lights on that sucker and be the damn party.

In-house Frugal creations and their all-in owners

In-house Frugal creations and their all-in owners

At Frugal, we learned a couple of years ago that we couldn’t meet the ugly sweater demand through donations alone, so we started our workshop. We gather Christmas baubles and bits throughout the year and sew and hot glue them all over some of our plain sweaters. They are hilarious and hideous, and they fly out the door.

The Contest Winner. The back lights up.

The Contest Winner. The back lights up.

This party philosophy carries through to any theme party or holiday. You will always have more fun if you go over the top. If you have to dress for any theme or time period, you have to go a couple of steps beyond the authentic dress of the time to qualify as constume-y. Push it. It’s more fun.

Starting our Fifth Year

Welcome to the Frugal Vintage blog. I’m Morgan. I own Frugal Thrift & Vintage in Collingswood, NJ. Four years ago, I quit my career as a production editor and took a leap. This week, we celebrate the fourth anniversary of that decision and work on growing and going forward.

This career change taught me a lot about clothes and people, and people in clothes. Our customers are generous with their knowledge and experiences and I’d like to pass some of all of this on. And if we’re lucky, it might sometimes be hilarious.