My Version of Vintage Dressing: Part 1 – The lesson of my Hollywood Remembrance Outfit

The most common version of vintage dressing, I think, is to go to a thrift store and buy an item of clothing dating back to last season or to years gone by and to add it to your wardrobe. Even though that item may be 50 years old that you just bought at the Salvation Army Store, it is ‘new’ to you, so this version is what I call ‘New Vintage’ Dressing and I do a lot of this, especially with overalls. But there is another type of vintage dressing for those of us who still have clothes, accessories and footwear in our closets from 30 or 40 years ago and that is ‘Personal Vintage’ Dressing, where you put together an outfit from your own closet that spans your own apparel history.

Recently I was asked to participate in a photo shoot in Hollywood, CA with other blogging and social media influencers, what an honor! I was asked to bring several outfits to wear for the shoot. I thought I was going to have to decline the invite because I did not have a wardrobe appropriate, or so I thought, for such a thing. Before declining I asked if vintage clothing would be acceptable, thinking the answer would be “no”. To my surprise the answer was a resounding “Yes!” So I wore some of my personal vintage clothes, accessories and shoes. Each item reminded me of someone special and I used that outfit to give me the courage to do something as scary as a Hollywood photo shoot!

~ My hat was knit by my mentor, now deceased, from wool she spun from sheep she raised in the early 2000’s. A treasured memento from a woman whose inspiration and encouragement to me I dearly miss.


My friend Ellen raised the sheep, spun the wool, dyed the wool and knit me this cap. I wear it and hear her telling me that, “I can do anything” and when she says it, even from heaven – I believe her. She is greatly missed.

~ My dress was made by my darling mother while I was in my first year of college. It does still fit!


My mom made me the dress in college in the early 1980’s. The dress originally had a lined, with the reverse calico print, tan corduroy vest but I no longer have that piece. It’s ok though, because the vest she knit me in 2010, my “Lucky Vest”, looks just as great as the original.

~ My mother also knit me the vest (some 40 years after she made the dress) when, in 2010, my father lay gravely ill in intensive care for weeks in the hospital and she needed to knit to save her emotional life during the waiting. She gave me the vest as he was being released from the hospital to go home and we both felt this was a good omen. It has been my lucky vest ever since! Of course I would choose to wear this vest to anything hard and terrifying like photo shoots – It’s my lucky vest!

~ The boots were a gift from my late husband. As beautiful as these boots are, it was the boots’ beautiful lining that made me squeal out loud with delight when I saw the boots on the shelf at Boot Barn one day years ago when we were there to pick up my husband’s work boots that had been repaired. They are some of my most prized possessions. I love that they go so well with my Lucky Vest.

When I saw this beautiful boot lining inside the prettiest boots I’d ever seen, I squealed out loud in the store with delight. My husband immediately bought the boots for me even though I didn’t need them and they are among my most treasured possessions.

~ The earrings and necklace were a gift from a dear friend who, like my husband and mentor, died way too young and I felt her loving enthusiasm for my outfit and for the amazing opportunity to wear it in this way.

Before she passed away, one of my dearest friends, D.L., made jewelry and sold it at craft fairs around the country for her living. I wore three pieces of her lovely work to Hollywood and she would have been so pleased by this! She always to told me I’d be in a magazine someday and I never believed her, but now? I think she knew something . . . and I should have listened.

This whole experience has taught me that, even though I’ve been through hard times and had many struggles, I can take those experiences and wrap them up in my old clothes, put them on and walk into a new life proudly. Proud of where I’ve come from and where I am headed. Grateful for all that I’ve been given. I can start over as a widow at 58 years of age without forgetting the person that I was or the people who helped me get to where I am. It’s not all or nothing. I know I don’t need the physical items; dress, vest, hat, boots, and jewelry to do this. I have memories and that means I can do this, gather courage from my loved ones, dressed in new pants and a top from Target. That’s the lesson of my Remembrance Outfit that I wore to Hollywood . . .

. . . Part 2, of My Version of Vintage Dressing: the Hollywood photos from that shoot, tomorrow . . .

Karen England, Blogger ~
Tomorrow – Part 2 – some of my Hollywood Shoot Photos. Why am I smiling? Well, it is 85 degrees F. outside in February in Hollywood, CA and I’m wearing wool. I am happy we moved the shoot inside . . .

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