Circa 1940s wide brimmed black hat with netting: etsy seller Vintage Toledo
Silver tone metal and glass stone drop earrings: Claire's
Circa 1950s/60s black Persian lamb's wool style coat: Yard sale find (blogged about here)
1930s/early 40s pink crepe dress with rhinestone detailing: Amazing gift from my cousin Sylvia
Circa 1940s brown gloves: Jardin Antiques in Okanagan Falls
1950s/60s black handbag with floral needlework: etsy seller St. Augustine Vintage
Black seamed stockings: eBay
T-strap suede peep-toe heels: Nine West
Lip colour: MAC Diva
Photography by Antonio Cangiano
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This is a post with a past, or more precisely which came to be because of lives lived long before I came into existence. As vintage fashion lovers we wear the world's yesterdays, and for many of us, most, if not all of our vintage garments and accessories landed in our wardrobe by way of strangers - sellers and original clothing owners alike. Once in a while however, if we are exceedingly lucky, we may be blessed to receive the gift of a vintage item that one belonged to someone in our very own family.
While neither of my grandmas held onto their clothes from the mid-twentieth century, far away in a corner of the country I long desperately to visit myself (as I touched on recently here), tucked away lovingly, and completely unbeknownst to me until very recently, in an attic belonging to one of my first cousins once removed, Sylvia Burkhard, lay an assortment of vintage garments that had been in our family for decades.
Though I've never had the pleasure of meeting Sylvia in person, I know her and some of her siblings through my genealogy research and via Facebook, and when she found out that I lived for the past, she gathered up some of those pieces of vintage clothing, most of which I'd venture to guess hadn't been worn in many a year, and so incredibly sweetly sent them my way this year.
She let me know that it was okay to pass along those things which weren't to my taste or didn't fit, and that I did as gifts, to some of my very dearest fellow vintage adoring fans the world over. When the items that weren't my size or style had found new homes, I was left with a selection of several of the most wonderfully lovely late 1930s to early 1960s garments one could ever dream of receiving out of the blue from a relative.
Most of the items are dresses, of which the beautiful coral meets carnation pink late 1930s/early 40s frock pictured today is one of my very favourites. This dress is unlike any other presently in my closet, in terms of style, and I love it all the more because of that. I don't know which of my family members would have owned and sported it back in the day, but whomever she was, she had excellent taste.
Sylvia's parcel is the first and only time to date that I've ever received vintage clothing that belonged to a family member of mine (my maternal grandma once presented me a lovely little c. 1950s/60s opal pendant necklace of hers that I treasure to no end, but that was the only other vintage piece belonging to a relative that I'd been given). Even now, a few months after that package arrived (and brought me to tears of joy and gratitude as I opened it), I'm still in a bit of shock to be have been given the honour of preserving, and wearing, these wonderful yesteryear garments that once shared some of those aforementioned yesterdays with my very own relatives.
A dress like this is something of the star of the show unto itself, but that doesn't mean it need go accessory, or coat, less in the least. Instead of much in the way of jewelry, I partnered this elegant frock with an equally lovely 1950s/60s floral needlework handbag, which I was very kindly sent from awesome etsy seller Kara Pound's shop, St. Augustine Vintage.
I am smitten with this bag. It's larger than many vintage handbags, sturdily crafted, captivatingly pretty, and more than roomy enough to hold all of the modern day accoutrements most of us are keen to tote around with us when we're out and about. I really appreciate that Kara bestowed this gorgeous handbag on me, and am delighted to let you know that we'll soon be holding a giveaway for her etsy shop, so that can have the chance to add a treasure from St. Augustine Vintage to your old school wardrobe.
Did you know, that while I've worn suit jackets and blazers here over the years, this is the very first time I've sported a coat, let alone a winter weight one, here on the blog? It's true, and I rather love that for the premier of such an event, I sported none other than the awesome Persian lamb's wool-esque, fur trimmed coat that I purchased for a killer price from a local second hand clothing dealer last summer (which I chatted about in this post). Realistically, I think that this coat is from the early 60s, though there are elements to it that feel older, and when you view it from a bit of distance, I'd even go so far as to say it has a certain charming Edwardian vibe, though of course, I know it's no where near that aged.
It's warm, cozy, stylish, and fits me terrifically, and as such has quickly become my most frequently reached for coat this year, now that the temps are dipping below freezing again and heavy duty outerwear is a must again most days.
So where does one take a fabulous 70+ year old dress, a beautiful mid-century handbag, and a snazzy vintage winter coat? That's a darn good question, and one that Tony and I pondered for a while before settling on a location, which we both felt should have a lot of history to it.
Unfortunately, a massive number of historical/vintage related sites or buildings around our corner of the Okanagan, let alone ones we haven't shoot at before, so scouting a suitable location became quite the interesting hunt that particular afternoon.
After much deliberation, we decided it was high time we paid a visit to one of the oldest spots in all of the Okanagan: the Father Pandosy Mission in the nearby city of Kelowna. Named after the first missionary to set establish a community in the area, Father Charles John Felix Adolph Pandosy, the Mission traces its roots all the way back to 1859.
Today the Mission, which is jointly administered by the Okanagan Historical Society and the Catholic Church, is comprised of historical buildings from around the Okanagan, including some that were part of the Father's original Mission, which, since the 1960s onward, have been lovingly and expertly preserved and transformed into a small self-guided historical park. In 1983, the Mission was designated as a British Columbia Heritage Site, and can be visited year round, for a small fee ($2.00 per person; with higher fees if you wish to use the site for an event or professional photo shoot - hobbyists and those taking snaps for their own enjoyment, need only pay two dollars).
Almost unbelievably, given my unending zeal for the past, I'd never visited the Pandosy Mission before, though I certainly knew of its existence. On the day we were there, we had the entire place to ourselves, save for an adorable flock of quail who were zipping around in group formation as we took photos. We shot in two spots in particular (a historical home called the Christien House and the small two story chapel), but enjoyed taking a look around each of the handful of different buildings (including a blacksmith's shop and root house) that make up this fascinating location.
There was a quiet, peaceful solemnness to the location, and I greatly enjoyed getting a chance to visit it at long last. It seemed incredibly fitting to partner an outfit so rich in history, made up of pieces from my own family members, acquaintances, and strangers alike, with the precise corner of the Okanagan Valley that would go on to spur early European settlers to establish communities here more than 150 years ago.
This historical site, much like vintage fashion itself, just goes to prove that there is always the possibility of discovering, or being given, a new piece of the past to explore or call your own waiting for you right around the next corner.