August 23, 2014

Back to school edition of 25 vintage deals under $100

Though I went to school in an era of Trapper Keepers, Lisa Frank stickers, Mr. Sketchy Markers (I still madly love the smell of those!), and Lunchables, when I think back on my school days, I can't help but almost view them through vintage tinted glasses and picture and era of pleated plaid skirts, books lashed with one of pop's old brown leather belts, a shiny apple on teacher's desk, and elegant, stately red brick buildings.

{Image via Corbis}

Though I was fortunate to attend a high school that fit the description of the former, by and large, those other elements existed, by the time of my youth, only in TV shoes, movies, and story books. It's a picturesque version of school life, but certainly one that many in earlier generations knew intimately and it's the way that the return of a new school year will always look in my mind's eye.

Thus, as countless families the world over gear up once more for homework, brown bag lunches, and a year chalked full of learning, I thought it would be especially fun to put back to school related/themed items at the heart of this month's 25 vintage deals under $100 post.

It's been a good long time now since I last saddled up to a desk, fresh box of #2 pencils and a stack of crisp notebooks in hand, but as August dwindles down, I still love stocking up on school supplies and items that remind me of my days as a student and all 25 of today's entries definitely make the grade (pun intended :)) on that front.

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1. Cute as the day is long and perfect for the class room, home school room, nursery, or play room, amongst other spots, these fantastic, good sized 1950s Mother Goose school day paper cutouts are too darling for words! $30 for the trio from Kris Vintage Clothing.

2. Schooldays and plaid go hand-in-hand like blackboards and chalk, so why not use this time of the year as the perfect excuse to introduce a gorgeous new vintage plaid frock like this circa 1940s stunner into your wardrobe? Fits up to a 42" bust/32" waist. On sale at the time of writing for $57.80 from Rockabilly Raven Vintage.

3. There is something so timelessly cheerful and back-to-school season perfect about this jaunty, beautiful red and white cotton 1950s hat to me. Currently on sale at the time of writing (along with everything else in their fantastic shop) for $31.50 from Dalena Vintage.

4. Quite possibly the most iconic school supply product ever (rivaled only by the fountain pen and ink well, to my mind), the humble, and simultaneously mighty, pencil is a still a must even in this digital age. Stock up on a dozen lovely circa 1939-1940 Venus brand pencils for just $12.00 per box from Peppermint Pigs.}

5. And to go with them… a terrifically cute vintage metal novelty pencil sharpener in the shape of a hen! This would look right at home in any country chic, farm, vintage or contemporary decor setting alike. $4.99 from Quite Right, Slick.

6. Super perfect for all my vintage loving friends in Portland (or those who, like me, don't live there, but adore the city all the same), this vintage Portland High School charm bracelet is all kinds of mid-century jewelry fun! $20.00 from My Yiayia Had That.

7. Great teachers really are like angels for society and this immensely cute 1950s Napco angel of the month figurine pays homage to that in its own deeply sweet way. $10.00 from Molly Finds.

8. Score of some serious collegiate style creed in this vibrant, comfortable (believe me, it was hard not to keep it for myself!) 1960s Chaus cotton plaid blazer. Fits up to a 35" bust/30" waist. $42.00 from Chronically Vintage on Etsy.

9. And the award for what must be the cutest cardboard vintage pencil case goes to – drum roll, please - this massively sweet pink 1950s School Daze one! $12.00 from I Want Vintage.

10. You'll be scoring straight A's in style when you wear this timelessly fun c. 1950s black and yellow letter sweater boasting the first letter of the alphabet smack, dab in the middle of it. Fits up to a 36 bust/34 waist. $55.00 from Zoom Vintage.

11. Maybe it's the toque wearing canuck in me, but I am madly smitten with this splendidly cute hand crocheted acrylic wool apple hat - and its super reasonable price. Fits an adult sized head. $20.00 from Uniquely Ann Made.

12. How chic and beautiful are these elegant, unused 1930s French notebooks? They're far too pretty (and old/rare) to actually write in, if you ask me, but I think they'd make for sublime office or library decor pieces. $20.00 for all four from A Farm House in France.

13. Gear up for art class or any creative endeavor you fancy with this incredibly darling 1950s dog print artist's smock blouse. One size fits most. $45.00 from Carmen and Ginger.

14. Bring the classroom into the dining room or kitchen with this lovely pair of vintage school supplies salt and pepper shakers featuring a pencil and a fountain pen. $8.00 from Vintage Bakelite 4 U.

15. Instead of tucking a pencil behind your ear, slide this seriously charming vintage "School Days" barrette into your hair before heading off to class or anywhere you fancy. $10.00 from Rosebud Cottage.

16. Perfect for any room in the house, and of course a classroom, too, this lovely, classic vintage map print pencil pen and pencil cup (which could probably hold skinny handled makeup brushes as well, I'd imagine) combines mid-century function and style together splendidly. $12.00 from Hendricks and Daughter.

17. Keep those art class basics, the primary colours, close to your heart - and your head - with this fabulously fun red, blue and yellow polka dot fabric hair flower corsage pin that would look as great on a five year as a ninety-five year old! $7.99 from Blue Velvet Vintage.

18. Ensure you pass your Spanish exam with flying colours care of this lovely trio of 1930s language books. $8.57 for all three from Winter Moon Vintage.

19. Still one of my favourite types of art supplies - not to mention scents - few things compare to the fun and possibilities housed inside of a box of wax crayons like this delightful box of eight different coloured c. 1940s Bri-Ton ones. $12.00 from Red Dress Hanger.

20. Without a doubt one of the most iconic types of shoes worn by students in the mid-twentieth century (along with saddle shoes and white bucks), the elegant and practical penny loafer will always prove to be a great choice for campus, no matter the decade. Red-brown leather ladies size 9.5-10 vintage penny loafers, $24.99 from Manor Born.

21. If cardigans are more your style when it comes to vintage letter sweaters, than this terrific red and white example with a patch indicating the original owner was a member of their school's concert band, is highly likely to tickle your fancy. Fits up to a 38" bust/36" waist. $40.00 from Cricket Capers.

22. Perfect for teaching kids, home decor or craft projects, these classic 1950s multiplication flashcards are sure to bring a wave of nostalgia to grownups everywhere. $12.00 from Boutique.

23. Look back with fondness to schooldays past care of this beautiful 1930s class autograph book which includes writing in the original owner's hand and 18 photos of her friends. $19.00 from Appropriately Frayed.

24. Tote your recess snack and lunch in this endearingly charming 1950s metal kid's lunchbox or use it as a purse, small book bag, decor piece, whatever your heart desires! $30.00 from Retro Rick's.

25. Store everything from paperclips to your favourite autumn candies in this pair of timelessly pretty vintage glass apple containers, or alternatively, give them as a thoughtful present to your favourite teacher. $16.00 for the pair from Little Red Chair Shop.

{Please click on a specific item, or the link in the description below it, to be taken to its respective listing.}

♥ ♥ ♥

One certainly doesn't have to be a student, teacher, or parent to enjoy and/or load up on back to school related goodies like these lovely vintage and handmade bargains! In fact, now is often the best time of the year to find great deals all kinds of stationary and office supplies, as well as fall/winter fashions.

When I was growing up, by and large, we usually only got multiple items of new clothing once a year and that was right before school started, so the end of August/start of September will forever be tied to refreshing my wardrobe and my desk drawers alike. Do you find that you're drawn to a lovely spot of shopping yourself as the seasons begin to swap over, the nights grow chillier, and school buses become a frequent sight again on the roads each morning and afternoon?

What sorts of things - school supplies/fashion related or otherwise are you looking forward to kicking off September with this year? I'm going to load up on markers, notebooks, perhaps a new sweater or two (I need medium and heavy weight ones something fierce), and - if I can find a good deal - maybe even a new plaid skirt to go with my saddle shoes for that perfect mid-century school girl/collegiate look! :)


  1. New (or at least new to me!) cardigans are most definitely on my fall shopping list as well. Sadly they just do not last forever, and my old ones are looking a bit too shabby to wear for much more than housework. Since I NEED a cardigan though, I'm of course stuck staring at the lovely red and white hat.... Isn't that the way of things, eh? :D My parents were of the opinion that back to school shopping was merely a gimmick, so I got new crayons or coloured pencils (and yes, clothing and shoes too) when my old ones were worn out or depleted, not when the calendar hit August. I still love the smell of a new box of pencils, probably because they were such a novelty to me then.
    Our stately brick elementary school was built somewhere in the teens of the last century. I don't remember exactly, but the date is proudly displayed in the masonry over the door should I choose to drive over and refresh my memory. It's no longer used as a school (and is in private hands) but is easily viewed from the road. I'm glad it was saved and not demolished. I wish other school districts and communities would do the same. I've seen some lovely renovations of school buildings into apartments or studio spaces.

  2. Every year, I'd get the same pair of back-to-school shoes from Mr. DeWitt's shoe store downtown. They were blue saddle-type shoes with red on one side, and yellow on the other. My mother's logic was that they went with everything. They did but...

    That smock is beautiful, and in such nice condition. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't hesitate to wear it as a jacket. I don't think I could bear to mix paint in it. What sort of plaid are you looking for? I seem to be a kilt-magnet of late, and there's only so many I can wear.

  3. The cardigan is wonderful! I would rock it with a pair of Jeans and some polka dot heels!

  4. I just love anything that has to do with school minus hw hahaha This post reminds of those school prep days and those butterflies in the tummy the days before school started. Well I guess I can live it vicariously through my children now-the good and the annoying parts hehehe Super fun post! xox

  5. Some great school classics! Luckily we are still working our way through the school year here and have the end of year holidays (and some warmer weather!) to look forward to. I have to say though, that if I thought he would use it, that lunch box would be my sons in heart beat! XXX

  6. So many cute things! Especially the porcelein angel. I think the biggest thing I notice (or rather have to make sure I notice) is kids walking home from school. Some of them don't look out for cars or stand too close too the edge of the road which is a worry. I keep forgetting that school hollidays are different over here. We have our biggest school break over december in Australia.

  7. I love this series! I always wind up bookmarking at least a couple of your finds. And I have a weakness for writing/school supplies, so this one was great. I always loved back to school shopping. Not as much for the clothes (though I like them, too) but for the school supplies! I LOVED tucking new supplies into all the little pockets of my bookbag. At back to school time, I'd pour over the ads and coupons in the Sunday paper, to figure out what I wanted, and then delight in getting a stack of fresh new papery goodies. These days, I buy stationery year round, and work supplies all the other little things I need in the office.

  8. That pencil case! Also I love the world pencil holder and the re-imagined use as a makeup brush holder which I do dearly need. I love love love back to school lists, especially ones like this versus the ones that were part of our youth, mostly binders, notebooks and pencils. I can get behind some vintage dresses, pencil cases and trinkets.

  9. You are actually making me miss teaching for a moment! Stop that! :)

    I do find myself as attached to sweet quirky stationery as I was when I was young. Cute pencils, sharpeners and erasers and pretty notebooks get me every time! It feels like their fresh newness will inspire creativity, diligence, and organisational skills. That sense of renewal in a new school year or a new job is a very powerful thing.

    I guess I'll just have to pack some cute supplies as I go off to do some tutoring this afternoon. Coincidentally, I also got my dad's old swimming club cardigan out of storage a few days ago, and it can lend some college style to my outfits too!

  10. I love these picks, all of the back to school stuff is so fun. Those letter sweaters are really cute, and I will almost certainly be getting some kind of penny loafer to replace all of the flat shoes that I've worn out in the past year or two. That vintage lunchbox is also great - I bring my lunch to work on a daily basis, and I think it would be fun to have a vintage lunch pail to carry it in.
    I've had my eye on a three-piece plaid suit that I saw on Etsy, so I'll definitely be maxed out on the plaid this year. I also want to get more pieces in nubby wool or tweed; just the idea seems so cozy.

  11. I too wanted to go to high school in the 1940's or 50's. Where I grew up the "Old High School" had been converted in to a "Jr High" and the "New High School" had been built in 1969. (It was a poor example of the times, sprawling-one story, looked like a prison with no windows. And even though our school colors are Green and White, the 700 seat auditorium had tangerine orange seats with green stained paneling and palladium lighting. In my mind though, I went to High School in the early 1960's (My friends and I kept a composition note book of funny things we said. We called it the "Quotebook" and We had one for each year since Jr High through senior year of high school, starting in 1963 ending in 1968! I always wanted to go to school in one of those stately brick buildings with Latin over the front door... And at our Friday night dances, should they play something old like "Twist and Shout" I would dash up to the front and pretend like I was on American Bandstand! Haha people thought I was weird, and I was but it made High School tolerable. I wore Saddle shoes to my senior Graduation, and was the only one to request a "Letter Sweater" vs a Letter Jacket, sadly they only make jackets.
    Lots of wonderful "back to school" finds you've compiled here! Can't wait to start the new semester! ;) haha

  12. i wish my long gone schooldays were that glamorous! great picks! <3

  13. Replies
    1. Thank you very much, Sandy. I appreciate your kind words immensely and am delighted that you found your way to my blog. Based on your shop's name and what you sell, it sounds like you and I have much in common.

      Big hugs from Canada,
      ♥ Jessica

  14. My goodness, Lisa Frank and Lunchables, boy does that bring back good memories. I still do love Lisa Frank items, even in my mid-twenties. I think this might be my favorite thus far. I love all the writer inspired items you hand picked. The bakelite pen and pencil items are absolutely perfect!!!

  15. The concert band cardi.. I think its an outstanding piece !
    Since I am currently in school, I am not particularly happy about picking up school supplies ;)

  16. I was looking at a great book the other day about college style and am now wanting plaid skirts and cozy cardigans. I think that might be the look I go for this autumn. I love that concert band cardigan, how nice that people got a badge for that, I tend to think of them just being for sportspeople. I really want the lunchbox and the crayons too. I still have a love of stationery which I think must have come from buying back to school supplies.

    1. I really adore that as well! I'm sure some Canadian schools still gave out such letters for sports and band alike, but I don't remember mine doing it in the late 90s/early 2000s. Like so many classic school related scenes and going ons, such letters had gone the way of the dinosaur.

      I'd be plenty happy sporting those same garments all fall, too. I wish I had more plaid skirts. A lot of them aren't flattering on my figure (it they're pleated), but if I can find them with pleats that start lower down the hips, not from the waist, I have a better fighting chance.

      Same here!!! Stationery is a perpetual favourite of mine as well (and ultimately ties into my love of paper crafting, too).

      Big hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

  17. I have alwys adored school and desk supplies, even though I am an adult now (ahem), I still cannot resist notebooks, especially the hand made ones on Etsy, and crayons. My heart is forever lost to colours. And I am also on the look out for a plaid skirt, but I always think the length is wrong, mostly too short and sometimes too long. But it is good to have something to hunt for. Thank for a lovely and entertaining list. :)

    1. Time and time again we are too peas in a pod, dear Sanne, and our shared passion for school supplies and stationery is no exception. Three huge cheers for colours!!!

      Big hugs & happy "back to school" supplies shopping,
      ♥ Jessica

  18. Oh, Jessica, I too am loving that cardigan and those penny loafers. What a great outfit with a cute pair of rolled up jeans = Love!!!!! BTW, just watched your video - How to style an early 1940's daywear look, and it was great. I did not quite catch the name of the company where you purchased the dress, but it was quite smart looking but also comfortable as well. I know you are running ragged between blogs, Etsy and Youtube, so take care of yourself. You are fabulous, and we want you around for a long time :)

    1. That's very, very sweet and caring of you to say, dear Cathy. Thank you deeply. You have my sworn word that from early fall onward, I will trying to pace myself more and taking more days off (on purpose - not just because my health ends up dictating I do so). I want to keep all of these fabulous activities and passions up, and in any kind of long term capacity, that is going to be the only way I can.

      Why, thank you, too! That fabulous 1940s style denim dress is from stellar UK vintage reproduction company Vivien of Holloway. Here's the link to their site

      Big hugs & the very happiest of September wishes,
      ♥ Jessica

  19. I DO NOT miss school. Really. At all.

    But I do love that 50's 'A' sweater. I'd wear that any day of the week.


    1. I get that for sure, dear gal. There are elements of school that I miss, but many others that I don't think you could honestly pay me to relive, like being seriously bullied through most of my school life, especially prior to high school. As with so many things we experience, there were good and bad sides to those days and now I tend to just wax nostalgically about the positive ones. :)

      ♥ Jessica