Archive | August 2007

Yours Truly Is Featured In She’s A Betty!


Yes, it is true! My lovely black lightweight wool/rayon coat, size XXL (perfect three season weight) is pictured in today’s Vintage Finds! You can see it at:

It is currently residing in my store. However, I am here in my fabulous (featured in Architectural Digest) oceanfront mansion, as I said in my previous entry, overseeing the closing of the house for the winter. More than that need not be said now. Save that Bucky is spending a lot of time hiding in the bedroom. Household chaos is not to his taste.

But thanks so much to She’s A Betty for their excellent taste!

Elisa & Bucky the Wonderdog



I was logging in to this blog-thing (my assistant insisted on going home at 11 PM, lazy bas-vie), and discovered that THIS would be post number 100!

Oh, mon Dieu, if only I had something of SIGNIFICANCE to say! I mean, at 100 one should be able to post the crowning achievement of one’s blog-thing, shouldn’t one?

And all I can think of is that I shall have to go the the Hamptons this weekend to close my gorgeous (featured in Architectural Digest) oceanfront mansion, which always makes me so very sad. Summer is over, the white shoes have to be put away* —

(*Forgive me, but some of us believe in rules!)

The staff will be busily packing away the linens, covering the furniture, throwing out the last houseguest who refuses to leave (and clearing away all of the empty Budweiser cans he hid around the house–ugh, the stench!), and preparing the gardens for winter. Tellement très triste.

Ebay is going to have its Vintage Blow-Out Sale. The damn things seem to be coming around every ten DAYS from where I’m sitting! I doubt I will be putting up too many things, because frankly, in an ideal world, vintage fashion would be worth more than $19.99.

So, in lieu of inspiration, I shall post some pictures of items I am currently selling.

Vintage 1960s Brown Leather Doctor’s Bag with actual Swiss Watch on the front!


Lauren by Ralph Lauren houndstooth shoulder bag:

A tres’ “on-trend” purple tunic, size 26, from Silhouettes:


Also “on-trend,” a black lace-front fitted vest, size 16:


That is all for now, mes amis. Bucky and I are going to our respective beds.

Elisa & Bucky the Wonderdog

Viviene of Born Too Late Vintage on Plus Size Vintage Fashion


You may think it foolish of moi to promote the competition, but Viviene of Born Too Late Vintage is a dear friend, and has so many marvelous things that I felt compelled, yes, compelled to interview her. I have spent time with her, and she is a smart businesswoman and utterly ruthless at estate sales. Until you have seen Viviene body-block a twenty-something in a black H&M Prada knockoff reaching for a vintage silk nightgown, you have not lived. Viviene is much like Bucky, small but surprisingly dangerous. I admire that in a woman.

Here is a bit of her stock. The link to the actual listing is directly below:

Vintage 1940s-1950s Tan Gingham Dress Plus Size 28 1/2 NOS

As it happens, sellers of plus size vintage are few and far between. I recently purchased a beautiful 50s dress from Viviene, and it arrived almost the next day! She sells all sizes and eras on her site, which is not on (ugh) Ebay, but rather on Specialist Auctions, a site based in the United Kingdom. Viviene, however, is based right here in the United States.

Which made it possible for us to sit down over cocktails and canapes, my assistant at the ready with pad and paper in hand, in my sumptuous Central Park West apartment. As the rain pattered against the windows, Bucky repeatedly tried to grab the canapes off of the coffee table, naughty beast. Viviene and I discussed plus size vintage (and also some tres’ salacious sexual gossip, which I have been forbidden to print!). Oh, well, it gave my assistant some titillation, at least.

Q: When did you first become interested in vintage clothing? Do you have any special memories you would like to share with my vast readership?

A: I’ve been interested in vintage since I was in high school. Our high school had “Wally Cleaver Week” and we’d dress up in 1950s clothing which was a lot easier to find back in the mid 1970s (Damn! I just gave away my age!).

My favorite memory is one I’ve shared on my blog, website and store at Specialist Auctions. My mom made a dress for the Butterfield Hospital Ball out of a fabric called American Beauty Rose fuchsia jacquard back in the mid 1960s. I’ve been searching for that fabric for around 8 years now and finally found it so my dress for my husband’s Christmas party will be custom made from a vintage pattern by Juanita of Reproduction Dress (

Q: Ahem. Thank you for sharing a well-used memory. It’s lovely all the same. Ah. Well. How long have you been a vintage clothing seller?

A: I’ve been selling vintage clothing now for almost 4 years. I sell vintage clothing because I enjoy the styles of yesteryear and really appreciate the fact that the items are made with a quality and construction sadly lacking in today’s clothing.

Q: Too true! What is the biggest problem (pardon the pun) facing the plus-size woman when seeking a vintage wardrobe?

A: The biggest problem that plus size women face in buying vintage clothing, in my opinion, is that there are not many vintage sellers that sell plus size vintage. You’ll remember, Fashionista, when we went to the Manhattan Vintage Show in April of this year that more than 50% of the vintage sellers there were plus size women, however, not one of them had any plus size vintage. We both asked them why they don’t carry it and they said it just doesn’t sell.

I have to admit that I have plus size vintage in my store and it’s not flying out of there. Still, being plus size myself I will stubbornly hang in there and continue to offer it. It may just be that not enough plus size women know where to find me or for that matter your own store (editorial aside: gasp!) that caters to plus sizes. Plus size women shouldn’t be stuck buying just vintage accessories. However, that said, they can always consider reproduction dresses made with vintage fabric and vintage patterns and then add vintage accessories to complete the look.

Many times plus size vintage dresses were worn until they were unwearable simply because people didn’t have a closet full of disposable clothing in those days. Some dresses were cut down for other family members as well. So it’s a real treat when you find a plus size item.

Q: What styles do you think are the most flattering for which figure types?

A: It’s really hard to say exactly what dress is going to look good on any particular body type. You also have to factor in the color or pattern of a dress, skirt or blouse. Comparing an item that you have that you love and that fits well can be a big help in choosing another item. You also need to factor in each person’s individual skin tone and likes or dislikes.

I think the two most important things that a plus size woman needs to do is be honest about her measurements and when taking those measurements to wear the kind of undergarments she intends to wear underneath her vintage wardrobe. Just doing that alone will help you make sure you are getting an item that is going to fit you right. You may not like what that tape measure says but better to be accurate than to have a closet full of things that don’t fit.

Q: Again, too true! My guide to buying plus size vintage makes exactly that point, but you cannot emphasize it enough. It’s the same as wearing brassieres that do not fit properly. The merchandise (be it you or the dress) is not properly showcased!

Viviene, are there any styles that you think plus-size women should avoid?

A: That’s again going to depend on the individual. How tight or loose you like to wear your clothing, what colors you like and just your own very personal preferences are what will guide any person whether plus size or not.

Q: Well, then, what is your own favorite era?

A: My favorite era is the 1960s because the fashions span the modest to the most wild things I’ve ever seen. There’s something for everyone in that era and fashion made huge leaps forward in that time span. For instance, a major leap forward is the leap from modest one piece swimwear with a modesty panel across the lower torso area in the early 1960s to the monokini designed in 1964 by designer Rudi Gernreich.

The other major leap I remember is the jump stockings held up with garter belts to pantyhose. That helped usher in hemlines going from below the knee to 6 to 7 inches above the knee!

Q: How is selling on Specialist Auctions different than selling on (ugh) Ebay?

A: Things have changed at Ebay over time and unfortunately those things are out of the control of the sellers at large. I grew tired of having my vintage clothing competing with reproductions that were listed in the vintage categories when there is a reproduction category provided.

I’m not against reproductions, but rather want them to be presented as such in their appropriate category. So I decided to give another venue a try. I did that for six months but wanted to take my business in a different direction than that venue offered. So when a friend, Margaret Bolger, who owns Artizania Vintage, asked me to come over to the Specialist Auctions as the co-moderator of the vintage and antique section and I accepted.

Selling at Specialist Auctions is different than Ebay in that we have moderators and co-moderators for our different sections. One of the responsibilities of the moderator is to police their section to make sure that what is offered is authentic.

If we see an item that is a reproduction for example, we will contact the seller and have them move their item where it belongs. If they don’t comply then we move it to the correct section.

Another thing that the moderators do in the vintage, antique and modern clothing sections do is promote the sellers of those categories by blogs on MySpace, and also on my own blog,

Q: What should the savvy shopper look out for? What are some useful tips for buying vintage online?

A: The savvy shopper should look at a seller’s presentation and feedback. Really look at the descriptions of the items you are interested in. Check the measurements and make sure you leave two inches leeway for comfort of fit. Remember that vintage clothing was worn over foundations that are nothing like what we wear today. Your foundation garment can make the difference between a vintage dress looking wonderful or downright lumpy and unattractive. If you have questions contact the seller. How a seller handles those questions is going to tell you whether you want to be involved in a transaction with that seller.

Q: Now for my Oprah question: who are your role models? As you know, mine is Anna Wintour, who taught me that conquest is all.

A: My role models are my Mom and Dad. The most important thing they taught me is that anything worth doing is worth doing right. That’s my goal every day in all parts of my life.

And Viviene does it absolutely right, at Please do swing by and took a look…there are hundreds of items, something for everyone!


Elisa & Bucky the Wonderdog

Fashion Heaven…in Arizona??


This entry is a bit of a departure for moi. For one thing I am typing it myself. But I have a manicure appointment in an hour, so I am happy to sacrifice my nails in the service of you, mes chers lecteurs.

I was browsing the Web late the other night, Bucky the Wonderdog curled in my lap, Frank Sinatra’s “Only The Lonely” on Itunes. (Really, dahlings, his rendition of “One For My Baby”–guaranteed to smear the mascara of the most hardened fashion maven!)

I came upon a site called Electric Ladyland. My finger was stayed from hitting the back button. Electric Ladyland is apparently a small chain of boutiques, in, of all Godforsaken places, Arizona. (My apologies, but being a New Yorker, anywhere south of New Jersey seems like the backwoods.) The stores are run by Penny Long, a gorgeous femme d’un certain âge, and her equally gorgeous son, Ashley Mutrux.

What first caught my attention was that the store pictured looks oddly like a heightened version of my beautiful Central Park West apartment! Hung with chandeliers, it has that distinctively theatrical, feminine taste for luxury that the true cognoscenti instantly recognize. Leopard print and floral chintz display counters, mannequins wearing large feathered headdresses—absolute heaven in the middle of the desert!

(Photo courtesy Electric Ladyland)

And they sell brands that run plus, such as 7 For All Mankind.

But I was most interested in their jewelry. Having taught (or rather, occasionally showed up for) my “Haute Cou-Poor” class at FIT, “How Much Is Too Much? The Aesthetics of Bling,” wherein the great unwashed were shown the difference between cheap flashiness and expensive flashiness, I wanted to see what people were buying today.

(No comment on what many of mes étudiants were wearing—suffice to say je pense some people wear huge gold necklaces with their names spelled on them because the names are impossible to pronounce and they wish to be helpful.)

As you know, I mostly deal in classic vintage jewelry, myself.

Most of Electric Ladyland’s jewelry would hardly be called classic. There seems to be a plethora of skulls, crowns and peace signs—one assumes those are meant for the younger customer, or the older customer who refuses to believe that we’re not still awash in the Summer of Love.

But there are so many designers, you are sure to find something covetable. As far as classic goes, they carry my dear friend Kenneth Jay Lane, with many beautiful animal patterned bracelets and earrings. (The rhinestone leopard cuff is superb, dahlings!)

Electric Bling—I do not know if the pieces are designed by the owners or not, but some of them are excellent examples of when too much is too much. Take, for example, their “Dior Style” rings, knuckle crushers one very much doubts Dior would have approved of. I do not approve of them being called cocktail rings–they are so large they should be called Pilsner rings!
On the other hand, Electric Bling has lovely crystal necklaces (although the juxtaposition of crystal six-shooters and crystal angel wings takes more irony than yours truly possesses). But I confess, I quite lost my heart to a pair of huge turquoise hoop earrings, and a magnifique pair of earrings in the shape of red enameled electric guitars with white wings on gold hooks! Now I shall have something to wear to the next VH1 Awards!

(Photo courtesy Electric Ladyland)

And then there is SYdney Evan, designed by Rosanne Karmes. Her necklaces are tres’ exquisite, likewise her earrings. Many of them at Electric Ladyland are composed of diamonds set in white or yellow gold. Soon to be part of my collection are a pair of diamond and white gold crown earrings, as well as a blue sapphire “evil eye” necklace. There are quite a few people I intend to point it at! (Not of course, my idol, Anna Wintour!)

(Photo courtesy Electric Ladyland)

(I have not mentioned most bracelets, because I have large wrists, and none of the designers I looked at gave dimensions for them. In fact, if I had one teeny-tiny criticism of the site, it is that there are so few details when you look at a piece. Actually, two teeny-tiny criticisms—on their About Us page, the word knack is spelled “nack.”)

But that’s mere trivia when you are purveying such bravura fashion! I urge you to indulge yourself and visit . It is like a trip to Hollywood without leaving the comfort of your boudoir. Bucky never once had to budge from my lap. So we were both very happy, despite Frank Sinatra.

Elisa and Bucky The Wonderdog

Exquisite Vintage Jewelry, Coming Soon!


Yes, it’s summer, it’s hot out, you don’t even want to THINK about buying clothes. But vintage jewelry is always cool, pardon the pun, and I will be listing a great deal of it over the next week. Here are some treats to come, so please do stop by my (ugh) Ebay store! (Don’t worry, it’s not contagious.)

A set of large vintage amber earrings, with bezel-set rhinestones rimming the center:

A Victorian sterling silver brooch, with a dark red bohemian garnet:

Currently listed–a genuine sterling silver Navaho brooch with a magnificent turquoise center:

Also currently listed–two Monet items, a pair of goldtone chainlink earrings and a lovely ruby red circle brooch:

There will also be a PLETHORA of necklaces, rhinestone earrings, and later in the season, sterling silver pieces by such masters as Ed Levin!

Elisa & Bucky The Wonderdog

Claire McCardell – An Interview With Her Brother!!


No, I am not so fortunate as to have the interview here (damn!). However, my dear friend Viviene, who sells over at Specialist Auctions rather than (ugh) Ebay, has landed a coup! An interview with CLAIRE McCARDELL’s surviving brother, Robert, who is a spry and articulate 94 years old. I urge you to scoot over there RIGHT NOW to read this fascinating document. It shows the private Claire that so few knew about.

For those of you plebians who do not know who Claire McCardell is, a quick lesson: she was a revolutionary fashion designer of the 1940s and 1950s. She pioneered elegant, easy-to-wear clothing for the modern woman. She was also her own best model, as this Vogue photograph from 1945 attests. Her dress is described as “merely two huge triangles that tie at the neck, front and back.”

So follow the link on the right to Viviene’s blog, “Always Playing Dress-Up,” and have a most enjoyable read!

Elisa & Bucky the Wonderdog

Curvy Vintage Swimsuits For REAL Women!


I am sitting here on a balmy summer evening, listening to the ocean crash against the beach at my beautiful (featured in Architectural Digest) oceanfront mansion, a cold glass of gin and tonic in my perfectly manicured hand. My guests have gone back to New York, Los Angeles, Paris…What could be better?

Well, it would be even better if I didn’t have my back to the ocean, dictating this to my idiotic personal assistant–


Oh, mon dieu, the thing has started crying.

(There will be a brief pause, while the maid fetches some tissues.) Here, have a sip of my drink, it will make you feel better. But spellcheck RIGOROUSLY when we are finished.


In any event, this marvelous weather, the sand between my toes, my shapely form displayed to all in a magnificent vintage Rose Marie Reid bathing suit, had me thinking that I should offer you, mes enfants, some suits to summer in (and to take to resorts during the cold weather)! They are all L or XL. After all, why should I be the only one splendid at poolside? Besides, you’ll never be important enough to visit the resorts I spend my time in with the rich and famous.

First, we have a feminine confection from Gabar New York, courtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue. It has a sarong skirt, and like all of the suits, adjustable back button staps, metal zippers and back elastic inserts. Not to mention a boned bodice and green corded trim. You’ll be quite the siren in this floral lovely!

Forgive the color variations, my assistant took the photos. Next we have a delightful pleated shelf bust skirted suit in nylon taffeta, made in Hawaii for B. Altman & Co.

Oh mon Seigneur doux dans le Ciel! It has already sold with the Buy It Now feature, and was only listed last night! Well, gaze upon it and weep.

Later this week, I will be listing this suit from B. Altman & Company, also XL, in 100% cotton, with a petal shaped skirt and attached panties, in a lovely black floral. The inside actually has a tummy control panel, as well as a back metal zipper.

Finally, this is not, strictly speaking, a swimsuit. It is vintage 60s cotton romper, in sweet pastel stripes, 100% cotton with a full white cotton lining, also XL. It has charming double cord straps, a back metal zipper, and boy legs.

If you want to be cool, comfortable and fashionable this August, these are for vous. Now to return to my deck and if this is not perfectly spelled, there will be hell to pay.

You think she’d be grateful for the free room and board, wouldn’t you? Some people don’t know when they have it bon.

Elisa & Bucky the Wonderdog

When Bad Fashion Happens To Good People


I was leafing through Vogue, the “Age Issue,” as they call it. While I myself have absolutely no idea of my chronological age (through circumstances I have explained in this very blog-thing), it’s an interesting read. Who knew the world’s chicest 52-year-old is a tycoon who makes Chicken Tenders for Burger King and other health-destroying foods? Of course, she herself dines on spinach salad…let the poor folk have the cholestorol.

In any event, I was thinking about age-appropriate wear, whatever that term may mean. When I was last in New York City, I could not but notice how many women are wearing tops that are meant to look too tight, especially in the stomach area. These are worn with low-rise pants or skirts riding the hips. It’s bad enough on young girls, but women over 25…words fail one. Noises, yes, words, no. Bleagh.

No, don’t put that in, you idiot! Nonverbal communication is just that, nonverbal, and has no place in my blog-thing!

I tell you, as soon as I get a computer that can type itself, my personal assistant is gone.

Pardonnez moi. Back on topic. That train of thought led me to a dear friend who, alas, is somewhat taste-challenged when it comes to her wardrobe. Although she is well past forty and quite plump, she enjoys wearing camisoles with contrasting bras and low-rise jeans. More power to her, I think, trying not to look at the lumps of flesh oozing over her waistband–or hipband, more to the point. After all, I am a plus-sized female and therefore should support a woman’s right to ooze.

However, the piece de’ resistance was a golden gown she purchased while traveling, custom-made, mind you. She rhapsodized about it, making certain that I knew exactly the astronomical amount of money it was costing (this is another trait I generously try to overlook). Apparently it was a masterpiece of the dressmaker’s art, in fine Italian satin. I couldn’t wait to see it. What woman doesn’t love gold?

I should have waited.

I went to her country estate, she flung upon the armoire, and there, mes enfants, hung a dress that would not have been out of place on the clearance rack at J.C. Penny’s after prom season. It was gold, sleeveless, with a gaudy, huge rhinestone triangle just under the plunging neckline. With a false smile of admiration, I asked to examine it (what can I say, years as a clothing seller has made me a bit compulsive.) As is my habit, I opened the neckline to look inside at the seams.

As I touched the fabric, a shock went through me.

The fine Italian satin, that had cost thousands of dollars…

was polyester.

I had not the heart to tell my bosom chum. Why burst her bubble, when she was so delighted? Why tell her that the seamstresses knew they had a rich American for the taking?

More to the point, why hadn’t she taken me along? I would have led her down the path of Fashion In The True Sense, where silk is silk and not something made out of plastic.

But one must let people make their own mistakes–

So you can gloat about them later.

Elisa & Bucky the Wonderdog