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Desert Island Vintage with Guest Liza Maltin Dolensky


Hello, and welcome to a new year of Desert Island Vintage, a blog series in which I ask vintage mavens the straightforward, yet ridiculously difficult question:


You can probably sense why committing to a mere eight items is a challenge. Not one of the vintage sellers, wearers, and bloggers I've interviewed has mentioned more than a couple of the famous vintage pieces in the world. Their answers, really more personal, have included much-worn items in their own closets, impossibly rare and obscure pieces, and fantasy items. Some have thought of how they would like to be wardrobed for an actual desert island. The variety has been incredible, but not surprising—it's one of the great things about vintage, just how many different directions you can go. 

The latest vintage aficionado to accept the Desert Island Vintage challenge is Liza Maltin Dolensky, the woman behind Better Dresses Vintage. The name of the website evokes the days of fine department stores and their best quality dresses shop— a glimpse into heaven, as Liza writes on her about page.

1920s black silk dress from denisebrain (Yay! I love seeing this again!) 1920s pink bead sautoir from Noble Vintage Clothier Late 1970s Capezio character shoes, from Liza's closet 1920s bag from eBay

1920s black silk dress from denisebrain (Yay! I love seeing this again!)
1920s pink bead sautoir from Noble Vintage Clothier
Late 1970s Capezio character shoes, from Liza's closet
1920s bag from eBay

With that 1950s better dresses department in mind, I thought her desert island picks would include mainly frothy 1950s numbers, but Liza is an eclectic soul. You are as likely to see her posting a photo of herself in 1920s (and earlier) garb as more recent vintage. She definitely accepts the challenge of dressing fully for period events, with gusto! Here she is on a tour of Swan House with her Atlanta Time Travelers: Vintage and Historic Clothing Enthusiasts Facebook group.


Liza's desert island choices might be summarized as eclectic, nostalgic—and longing. Get ready for mid-Victorian to disco, with stops all along the way!


Liza writes:

"In order from least to most coveted, are the eight items I'd need to take with me. True, it's closer to a wish list than a packing list, as the only things I'd really need on a desert island are my 30s beach pajamas and a mosquito net! Nonetheless...

8. "My own, beloved, Lee jean jacket. Cropped, form-fitting, well worn, and highly customized by me. And no, it's not the 'thick air' at Madison Square Garden that has me looking dazed. I had mono! The doctor said 'no way,' but I already had my Queen concert tickets and my parents relented. I was so exhausted, I sat through the entire show. But I got to see Freddie Mercury.


7. "An original 'over petticoat' for my mid-Victorian ensembles. I only have a chintzy modern reproduction. Intact originals tend to be very expensive. 


6. "A 1970s Whiting & Davis metal mesh halter top. Gold or silver, I'll gladly take either one! Both will coordinate perfectly with my black spandex pants—the ones I wore to see Van Halen (original lineup). They still fit. They're spandex, after all—very forgiving. In case there's a disco on the island.


5. "I suppose I'll need a fan to keep cool. Preferably one like this. I'd add a silk ribbon so it can dangle from my wrist. I do that with all my fans. No, really. I actually do. 

photo: Met Museum, late 1800s

photo: Met Museum, late 1800s


4. "I guess I'd need a swimsuit. I'm not feeling very fit these days and don't want to show more skin than my Gramma Bessie did at Coney Island in the early 1910s. In fact, were any of these ensembles made with long sleeves? 




3. "An original natural-form era (late 1870s-early 1880s) bustle dress. Incredibly flattering to the figure, lovely, and feminine, without any bizarre extremes. Here are some examples. Can't go wrong with stripes. Perhaps a pastel shade, though, for seaside wear. Have corset, will travel. 



2. "This antique chatelaine. It's 'the one that got away.' I lost the auction by about $2. So sad. It's not especially fine or fancy, but it's so sweet. Look at the little love birds and hearts! I'd load it up with sewing tools, so I can make repairs to my eclectic island wardrobe.


photo © Jumblelaya Vintage

photo © Jumblelaya Vintage

Then there's this dress, at the top of Liza's list:

1. "When I stumbled across the listing, it was already on layaway. Sob! I even contacted the buyer with an unsuccessful 'money is no object' attempt to pry it from her closet. This is my 'vintage holy grail.' Surely it can't have been the only one made? But I've never seen another quite like it. The label is Lauhala, 100% silk. The fabric! The color! The hip swag! Those sexy bodice seams! Swoon. And, being Made in Hawaii, entirely appropriate for a castaway. No? 


(This gives me a chance to remind you, and I'm sure Liza would agree: If you love something vintage, grab it while you can, because it may haunt you forever! Vintage has a way of doing that.)

"So, there you have it, Maggie. Perhaps a bit of an odd wardrobe for a desert island. But at least I'll be well dressed as I await rescue."

I forgot to mention, but I guess it's pretty obvious by now: Liza has a well-honed sense of humor! 

Check out the Better Dresses Vintage website and Liza's always interesting and beautifully-written From My Closet - The Better Dresses Vintage BlogBetter Dresses Vintage on Facebook, and @betterdressesvintage on Instagram.

BeFunky Collage2.jpg


I'm tempted to say, so I guess I will: From Freddie Mercury to Swan've come a long way, baby! 

Many thanks to Liza for her fascinating assortment of favorite vintage! 


Are you up for the Desert Island Vintage challenge? What would you want if you could have just eight vintage fashion pieces? If you'd like to be featured here, let me know!

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Desert Island Vintage with guest Hollis Jenkins-Evans



Today I'm thrilled to welcome Hollis Jenkins-Evans of Past Perfect Vintage to Desert Island Vintage.

Hollis in a 1940s suit jacket

Hollis in a 1940s suit jacket

In my early days of searching for vintage fashion online, a few sellers stood out. They knew how to sell to me—a Virgo through and through—with good photos and information about the garment, its construction, fabric, and the label. My favorites also consistently had vintage that made me swoon, at prices that didn't make me pass out. 

Not too many of my favorites from nearly 20 years ago are still around, but fortunately, Hollis and her Past Perfect Vintage are going strong. I have gotten to know Hollis through the Vintage Fashion Guild, where I have found her one of the most knowledgeable and helpful people in an elite membership. The lady knows clothes. She has been a seamstress and draper/pattern maker for decades. She is one of my long-time favorite people in the realm of vintage fashion, so I was excited to see how she'd answer the Desert Island question.

Like the other castaways on Desert Island Vintage, Hollis had a big challenge in winnowing down her list to a mere eight.

("This is overwhelming. Only 8 garments? Really? How can I possibly focus? I have trouble picking my 8 favorite 1880s bustle dresses, or my 8 favorite 1920s beaded party dresses, or my 8 favorite 1940s felt hats.")

Like some others, she imagined herself on an actual desert island, musing on what she would need to live there. Unlike anyone else though, Hollis' desert island doesn't come with sand and palm trees. Read on:

"Here it is. My list of 8 favorite vintage garments to take on my Desert Island. That's Mount Desert Island, Maine, where I hope to live soon. Once there I will need:

1. "Sweaters. This Pringle cardigan is a glorious color, and since I can't wear wool, the cashmere will work and it would be so warm and soft. Up there, cashmere is three-season wear.


2. "This Helen Bond Carruthers cardigan will be warm and perfect for both casual and dressy times. It's pretty casual on my island.


3. "49er Jackets. You can't have too many wool 49er jackets. This is a favorite one—for a while I had two identical of this jacket. I have five more 49ers in my closet, but this is the one that's going!


4. "A Wool Jacket. This Louella Ballerino appliqué jacket would just make me happy to look at as well as wear.


5. "A Long Coat. I love the color of this plaid coat—I'd feel so crisp and stylish in the snow.


6. "A Skirt. Not much call for a skirt on a wooded Maine island, but I'd have to take this skirt with appliquéd skiers on it.


7. "I love sporty knits, so this 1920s set in my favorite purple looks good, right? It's practical, right? I'll wear the cardigan as a separate, I promise.


8. "And because I must have one thing to remind me of how beautiful clothing can be and how it approaches art: This early 1920s silk velvet dress with the most glorious beaded tassel. I'd just hang it on the wall, or store it in an acid-free box and take it out and look at it occasionally. But I would know it was there.

All photos courtesy of Hollis Jenkins-Evans

All photos courtesy of Hollis Jenkins-Evans

" thing to remind me of how beautiful clothing can be and how it approaches art"

I love that thought, and that dress! I love the skiers skirt, the Helen Bond Carruthers cardigan, the 1920s knit set, and, and, and. I love all of Hollis' picks, and can envision her out hiking on Mount Desert Island in her pink plaid 49er jacket. 

Many thanks to Hollis Jenkins-Evans! Be sure to check out her website for vintage that belongs on anyone's short list. You'll also see her offerings on Etsy and Instagram.


What would you want if you could have just eight vintage fashion pieces? If you'd like to be featured here, let me know!


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Desert Island Vintage with guest Theresa Campbell McKee



Today's castaway on Desert Island Vintage, Theresa Campbell McKee, is the brains (and the beauty!) behind Blue Velvet Vintage. Anybody who knows the Blue Velvet Vintage look (and you really should know the BVV look) realizes it is all about classic glamour. As Theresa writes on the Blue Velvet website:

Like Coco, we believe "A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous."  We dream in black and white love stories, swoon for hourglass silhouettes and never leave the house without our signature red lipstick.

I anticipated Theresa's Desert Island choices would be glam, but I was delightfully surprised by how she has made these fabulous bombshell items seem all quite practical and appropriate for being stuck on a deserted beach. I'm almost convinced that one would need a sequined evening gown..." just for some variety." 


"When Maggie approached me about an article naming my eight favorite vintage pieces I’d want to have with me if stranded on a desert island, I must admit my mind initially went into some serious overdrive. There are just way too many eras of gorgeous vintage fashion to choose from—How would I ever be able to decide on just eight pieces? Being as I am really bad at picking a limited amount of favorites of anything I truly have a passion for, I knew this would be a challenge for me. It’s like asking me to pick my eight favorite things to eat! [Food is another passion—Theresa is a former personal chef and caterer.]

"That was until I decided that the best way for me to narrow it down would be to focus on the location for which I was choosing—a tropical desert island—and then have some fun with it.

"So by combining my love of both vintage tropical fashion and the glamorous outfits worn by actresses of classic film and TV, I was able to come up with my select Desert Island wardrobe, which includes my 'I can only dream' pieces. 

"The first two items are in my own wardrobe, and being as I live in Florida most of the year, I get a lot of wear out of them. They’re both by famous Hawaiian screen printer Alfred Shaheen. These two would have to be with me on any desert island. The original owner of the dress actually wore it for her wedding in Hawaii in the 50s.


1. and 2. "1950s Alfred Shaheen dress, and skirt

Then Theresa turns to her fantasy picks—

3. "I’d take this Edith Head sarong dress, worn by Dorothy Lamour in The Jungle Princess, because it would go perfectly with the orchids and hibiscus flowers I'd be wearing in my hair.

4. "For as long as I’ve been collecting vintage I’ve wanted an original 1930s beach pajama jumpsuit, so something in a bold floral print like these worn by the young Ginger Rogers would have to come with me for sure. They’d be so comfortable, I could even sleep in them.

5. "And of course, one can’t be stranded on a desert island without some swimwear, so I’d take this outrageous beaded gold bathing suit worn by Esther Williams. Its shimmer is sure to alert any passing ships.


6. "You never know when you may have a need for a chic evening dress as a castaway. It’s always best to be prepared should a stray cruise ship pull up and invite you to dinner at the captain's table. So I’d take a cue from Tina Louise, queen of the stylishly stranded, and bring this leopard print one-shoulder Nolan Miller number. Animal prints are a timeless look and especially appropriate for a desert island!

7. "And just for some variety, I’d also take this glam bombshell gown by William Travilla that Jane Russell wore in the film The Revolt of Mamie Stover which was set in Hawaii. I’d probably reserve this for the most special of occasions, like the day I was rescued!

8. "And last but not least, I'd take these Salvatore Ferragamo bejeweled red, gold and silver wedge sandals from 1938 because you can’t run around barefoot in the sand all would be murder on your pedicure!


Well now, if you had Theresa's picks to wear, being stranded wouldn't be too bad after all! A wardrobe that's appropriate for a captain's table dinner? shimmering to alert passing ships? and for the day one is rescued? —I like the way you dream Theresa. And until you find your fantasy pieces, you will be a splendid beach comber in your Shaheens!

Many thanks to Theresa Campbell McKee for sharing her Desert Island Vintage wardrobe with us. Make sure to have a look at all the classic glamour at the Blue Velvet Vintage website, and Theresa's blog, Vintage Style Files.

What would you want if you could have just eight vintage fashion pieces? If you'd like to be featured here, let me know!


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Desert Island Vintage with guest Carol Baker



For the latest installment in my series Desert Island Vintage, we check in with Carol Baker of Dandelion Vintage. I've known of Carol and Dandelion for as long as I've been paying attention to vintage fashion online; her first vintage website was in 1997. She is known not only for having lots of great vintage available at the fairest price around, but for her lovable sidekicks, two English bulldogs by the name of Gus and Betty Boop.

Carol's eight vintage picks make a fine, wearable collection from the 1930s through 1950s, and her choices are all quite feasible—all that is except number eight. But a girl's gotta dream, right? Carol loves to beachcomb along the New Jersey shore, and her desert island wardrobe reflects her love of the beach. Come to think of it, Carol would be exceptionally well-equipped for a trip to a desert long as her pups could come along too!


Here are Carol's choices:

1. "Fabric purses with wooden handles. They’re not really very good to carry to be honest. You can’t get them on your wrist, and your stuff just jumbles all around inside. But they look so good! These are two of my own.

2. "A tailored 1930s/40s jacket or suit with fancy little details. This is a very favorite of mine. I love the plaid, love the silver buttons. I bought it in a stock purchase many years ago. I no longer wear it because it’s fraying on the ends of the sleeves and has some holes in it, but it hangs on my bedroom door. It’s super special to me because I wore it when we went to get our pup Boris [a previous much-loved bulldog family member] in 2001. I remember him sitting on my lap and biting the buttons.

3. "These are a dream item because I’ve never found a wide legged pair of pants that fit me. I don’t like anything high on my stomach, and of course these are cut wide. ‘Desert Cloth Sunback Overall’—that just sounds fantastic. I also like things with little nautical touches, like the pocket on the far left pair.

4. "Playsuit with matching skirt. I don’t know why I haven’t found a set like this that I like yet. They’re out there—again the fit is an issue for me because I have a long torso.

5. "Curvy oxfords. These are 2 pairs from my own closet. I love a nice, solid heel, not too high. Cute & sensible.

6. "To me, the perfect Summer dress is a Swirl. Everyone loves Swirls! This is one from my closet. They are just so comfortable, adjustable, cute.

7. "And for the cold weather—a sweater dress or sweater and skirt set. This was a purge from my closet that I sold on Etsy. Why did I sell that?? I think that it was a little too snug under the arms.

8. "The totally unattainable, extravagant, splurge-y dream item would be something worn by Myrna Loy. I just love her. Everything that she wore was fantastic. Suit, casual wear, evening gown, lingerie—I’d take anything! Goddess.


You can find Dandelion Vintage's Etsy shop here, and website here. You can follow Dandelion Vintage on Facebook and Instagram, where Betty and Gus make cameo appearances.

...And if Carol ever does manage to find something worn by Myrna Loy, you'll have a front row seat!


Many thanks to Carol Baker for sharing her wonderful Desert Island Vintage picks!


What would you want if you could have just eight vintage fashion pieces? If you'd like to be featured here, let me know!

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Desert Island Vintage with guest Helen Mae Green



My third guest on Desert Island Vintage is Helen Mae Green, who has been writing the personal style blog Lovebirds Vintage since 2012. She has mused about her vintage style being inspired not so much by stars as by everyday people. Even though I'd argue to the contrary, Helen claims she isn't glamorous. Certainly her style seems classic, timeless—and real. I can see her stepping out of one of the vintage photos she cites as inspiration. 

Helen in a favorite 1950s dress

Helen in a favorite 1950s dress

Although in the thick of studies, she graciously took the time to answer the Desert Island Question: 


What does this studious English rose fancy? Read on:


"I decided to start off with those items of vintage I currently own that I couldn’t do without, either because they’re very hardworking items in my wardrobe or because they’re just too pretty.  As I’m limited to 8 items in total, I narrowed my selection down to three absolute favourites and two items where I own the modern repro version but would really love to have the real thing. The remaining items are all fantasy items because a girl’s got to dream! They’re all items on my ongoing “to buy” list, so hopefully they’ll eventually make their way into my wardrobe.



1.     "1940s blue floral dress

The first item I’ve chosen is this gorgeous original 1940s dress in a blue floral rayon. This dress is what my 1940s dreams are made of, and I really wish I had the money and the lifestyle to add more genuine 1940s pieces to my wardrobe. As it is, I don’t often get the opportunity to wear my most precious vintage pieces at the moment, but as long as this dress is in my wardrobe I can’t feel too bad. The fit is perfect on me, and I love the way the dress hangs and moves. The ruffles on the front add an extra special touch, and there’s even a pretty belt that fastens at the back. I really feel like a princess every time I wear this.

2.     "c. 1970s wool skirt

This skirt is the ultimate “workhorse” item in my wardrobe. It’s vintage from the 1970s or 80s but I often wear it in a 1950s inspired style. I live in England so it gets pretty cold over the autumn and winter, so the medium-weight wool helps to keep me nice and warm, especially when layered over an underskirt and some knitted tights. It’s a great neutral colour so it’s very versatile, and it even has pockets. Winner!

3.     "1980s boots

What can I say about these boots? They’re a bit steampunk, a bit cowboy, and a lot fabulous. I love the Victorian-inspired shape of them, and although the pattern looks a bit crazy, they still seem to go with a lot of different outfits. I bought them when I was on a quest to find boots without a zip up the inside as they tend to cause me to trip over my own feet, but I also prefer lace-up boots for aesthetic reasons. I get no end of compliments when I wear these and they’re so unique and great fun to wear.

4.     "Original 1940s or 50s jeans

For this next item we’re getting slightly more into the fantasy realm. I have several pairs of reproduction vintage jeans that I wear regularly, like those shown in the picture, but I’d really like to own some original ones. I went through a phase of not wearing jeans because I thought they could be a bit scruffy or unflattering, but vintage ones are a completely different beast. They’re still a casual item but aren’t completely unstructured, and the high waist divides the body across its narrowest point rather than its widest point like modern low-rise jeans. I find this much more flattering as it doesn’t create a muffin top where there otherwise wouldn’t be one, and is much better at hiding problem areas if you do have them. Overall, jeans are now an integral part of my wardrobe, and I’ll definitely be looking out for an original pair to add to my collection.

5.     "White 1940s blouse

This is another item where I have owned various reproduction versions, but would really like to own an original one. I’m of the belief that every girl needs a nice structured white blouse, and mine always get lots of use. I like the shoulder pads and wonderful sharp collars.

6.     "Quilted circle skirt

I’ve been looking out for a quilted circle skirt in my size and price range for a long time. I think they’re very stylish but also they appeal to me as being something a little warmer for the winter, as it’s always my winter wardrobe that seems to be lacking.

1950s novelty print quilted cotton circle skirt owned and worn by Janey Ellis of the  Atomic Redhead  blog

1950s novelty print quilted cotton circle skirt owned and worn by Janey Ellis of the Atomic Redhead blog

7.     "1940s suit

Ah, suits. So stylish, so versatile. I have a great 1950s suit which gets a lot of wear, both as a whole suit and with the skirt and jacket worn separately, but I’d really love a beautifully fitted 1940s suit to wear as well. Something about the fit and style of 1940s clothing despite the rationing really shines through in suits for me.

War-era woman wearing a suit (Flickr Commons)

War-era woman wearing a suit (Flickr Commons)

8.     "1950s New Look coat

Another thing I’ve had on my to-buy list for a long time, and my last Desert Island item, is a wide-skirted 1950s coat in a New Look style. I wear a lot of full skirts (or full-skirted dresses) and am forever frustrated by how coats in the wrong shape squash the skirts, and how modern ones are almost certainly too short to cover the skirt which can look odd. If I had a coat like this, I’d wear it a lot and probably have a lot of fun swishing about. A must-have for sure.

J. Paul & Sons Mannequin Parade, 1949 (Flickr Commons)

J. Paul & Sons Mannequin Parade, 1949 (Flickr Commons)

Perhaps she will wear such a coat on a case once she gets her degree. Oh didn't I mention? Helen is currently working on her PhD in forensic entomology. I like to imagine her future employment could rather handily place her in a 1940s film noir—and she would probably enjoy wearing the clothing! 

Many thanks to Helen Mae Green for sharing her Desert Island capsule wardrobe with us all!

Besides her Lovebirds Vintage blog, be sure to look for Helen on Facebook and Instagram (including some of her glorious recent modeling photos!).


What would you want if you could have just eight vintage fashion pieces? If you'd like to be featured here, let me know!



Desert Island Vintage with guest Carla Rey



For my second guest on Desert Island Vintage I invited Carla Rey, proprietress of Carla & Carla, one of the most consistently cool vintage fashion shops online. Carla's sensibilities were honed growing up in New York City in the 1980s. She credits her mother's Brooklyn theater company for kindling her love of Victorian mourning jackets, flapper dresses, "beaded anything" and glorious feathered hats. 

Carla is a retired ballet dancer and a punk rock maven.

Let those two points sink in a moment.


Among the riches of New York City in the early '80s? "A great and cheap abundance of vintage clothing. Every 20 feet there was a vintage store. Racks upon racks of '40s dresses, '50s dresses, and bins of pedal pushers and army/navy jackets.

"Back then, I loved mixing '30s and '40s crepe dresses with fishnets and leather and wearing grandma cardigans backwards with anything Betsey Johnson! Man-tailored tuxedo jackets with pedal pushers and pointy-toe cowboy boots were signature staples in my closet."

Carla in a 1940s blouse

Carla in a 1940s blouse

Need I say that Carla has edgy/cool taste? She has a style I would love to have of course I had to find out how she'd answer the Desert Island Question:


And of course her answers are interesting. Read on. 

"My eight vintage desert island must have pieces—it's a combination of pieces I already own and ones I covet! I'm not a 'fussy' dresser, I live in vintage kimonos, rock band T-shirts and turquoise jewelry. But Ms. Maggie challenged me to really think about the eight pieces I couldn't live without. Here goes, enjoy!!



1. "Norma Kamali sleeping bag coat, from my closet.

For a desert island stay, I figure you would want fashion AND function. This iconic coat keeps you warm and is just like a huge sleeping bag. I bought this from a woman who was moving to Florida. Every person who has tried it on has their eyes roll back in their head—it's heavenly and HUGE, double points for being able to use as a bed!

Norma Kamali in 1982, Dustin Pittman photo

Norma Kamali in 1982, Dustin Pittman photo

2. "My shredded late 1930s 'Pay Day' work wear overalls, again from my closet.

I found these in a local vintage shop among contemporary overalls. I love the double layer on the front of the leg, nifty pockets and the softest cotton. I get so many compliments every time I wear them. Full of little holes and wearing away in spots, patches etc. I will wear them until they fall off my body.


3. "1920s Cubist print robe, closet.

I had a vintage dealer try to buy it off my body for $500, I turned her down I love it that much. It reminds me of abstract Cubist paintings. Light, airy, and goes with everything.

For the rest, Carla's list gets even more eclectic.

"Wish list as follows:

4. "1930s rayon jersey deco lounging pajama.

I had a pair that were way too small for me, I reluctantly sold them to a lovely vintage fashionista who totally rocks them. I love these examples in this ad, and look at the prices!


5. "My 1982 Plasmatics T-shirt, long gone but not forgotten!

My very first boyfriend bought me this shirt in 1982, it disappeared somewhere and I am forever on the hunt for another!

Proto-punk Carla in her early teens

Proto-punk Carla in her early teens

6. "Genius designer Kansai Yamamoto knit onesie and arm/leg warmers for David Bowie. Not a repro. THE ONE. Because Bowie. So versatile for desert island life!

7. "1930s spiderweb gown.

Something formal for evenings dancing around the fire. I'm not picky, I'll take either the Vionnet or the chiffon gown with the web train.

Helen Bennett in Spider Dress, 1939, Horst P. Horst photo; Madeline Vionnet dress, Marilyn Glass photo

Helen Bennett in Spider Dress, 1939, Horst P. Horst photo; Madeline Vionnet dress, Marilyn Glass photo

8. "1980s Stephen Sprouse punk band sticker leggings.

Super talented, Sprouse. Ultra graphic, soooooo NYC. Fabulous use of color. I love everything he's done, one of my top tier designers. Sadly gone too soon. These leggings are perfection.

If anyone feels like making Carla's dream come true, this very pair is available on Etsy  here

If anyone feels like making Carla's dream come true, this very pair is available on Etsy here

Many thanks to Carla Rey for her fascinating list of eight! 

Don't miss Carla & Carla on Instagram, as well as the Carla & Carla Etsy shop.

(Maybe you will even catch a glimpse of her adorable staff member Noggin!)


What would you want if you could have just eight vintage fashion pieces? If you'd like to be featured here, let me know!



Desert Island Vintage with guest Lizzie Bramlett


If you could have just eight vintage fashion items, what would they be?


I decided to start Desert Island Vintage thinking of the BBC’s famous Desert Island Discs, the show that has, since 1942, been asking guests to choose the eight records they would most want to have with them on a desert island. 

Does one take vintage to a desert island? I can certainly imagine feeling the sand between my toes in 1940s beach sandals—but that isn't the point. The point is to winnow down a love of vintage fashion to just eight pieces. Whether the guest would put her choices in a museum, give them away, sell them, or wear them—that's her choice. I am interested in the what and why of my guest's choices, but I don’t care if they're practical or fanciful, something she owns already, or something she could never imagine getting her hands on. 


My very first castaway—as Desert Island Discs likes to call its guests—is Lizzie Bramlett. Lizzie is the fresh, history-loving writer of The Vintage Traveler blog. Her viewpoint has been honed from collecting, wearing, and selling vintage clothing since the 1970s, and from a 28-year career of teaching history to pre-teens. Lizzie has unique perspectives and interests in the world of vintage fashion. I wouldn’t expect her to choose a Dior or a Chanel among her eight…that  just doesn't seem like her.

In her blog, Lizzie fascinates us with vintage sporting wear, vintage novelty prints, obscure fashion history, reviews of fashion films and books, and many other interesting, often overlooked subjects.  She writes an excellent bi-weekly roundup of fashion history news from around the web. There is always a vicarious thrill in peeking over Lizzie’s shoulder on her shopping expeditions, museum visits, and travels, all of which she describes and photographs with discernment, erudition, and wit. 

Betsey Johnson got to meet Lizzie! 

Betsey Johnson got to meet Lizzie! 

Here is Lizzie's Desert Island Vintage collection, and why each piece is part of it. 


"How does one choose eight must-have items for her vintage collection?  In my case, I started with the long list I already have of vintage items I need for my sportswear collection.  After much agonizing I was able to come up with the eight vintage items I most covet.

1.  "1890s sports sweater.  Victorian sweaters for women are the rarest of the rare in the sportswear category, so of course I want one.

Photo by Lizzie Bramlett taken at the DAR Museum in Washington. The sweater belongs to the collection of Shippensburg University

Photo by Lizzie Bramlett taken at the DAR Museum in Washington. The sweater belongs to the collection of Shippensburg University

2.  "1910 Outdoors suit from Abercrombie and Fitch, made from striped wool blanketing. A & F was THE place for sportspeople, and I need this so much. 

From 1910 A & F catalog

From 1910 A & F catalog

3.  "1920s Sonia Delaunay Bathing ensemble. I hope it isn't cheating to want the entire ensemble: bathing suit, robe, tote, parasol. For a very short time artist Sonia Delaunay had a shop in Paris that sold mainly sportswear and accessories made from fabrics she designed. 

As shown in  Color Moves: Art and Fashion  by Sonia Delaunay, Cooper-Hewitt

As shown in Color Moves: Art and Fashion by Sonia Delaunay, Cooper-Hewitt

4.   "1934 Jean Patou skating suit. Actually, I'm not picky. I'll take any Jean Patou sports attire. 

As shown in  Jean Patou: A Fashionable Life , Emmanuelle Polle. The drawing is in the Patou archive.

As shown in Jean Patou: A Fashionable Life, Emmanuelle Polle. The drawing is in the Patou archive.

5.  "1940s Claire McCardell Pop-Over dress. For a dress that was mass-produced, examples are surprisingly scarce.  

Ad, 1943

Ad, 1943

6.  "1960s Ski ensemble from Hermes. This particular set was in the wardrobe of Ann Bonfoey Taylor, a sportswoman after my own heart.  

As shown in  Fashion Independent: The Original Style of Ann Bonfoey Taylor , Phoenix Art Museum

As shown in Fashion Independent: The Original Style of Ann Bonfoey Taylor, Phoenix Art Museum

7.  "1965 Yves Saint Laurent Mondrian-inspired dress. Because it's not always about sportswear with me, and the intersection of art and fashion is completely fascinating.  

As seen in  Haute Couture , Metropolitan Museum of Art

As seen in Haute Couture, Metropolitan Museum of Art

8.  "And to put it all in, a custom-made Louis Vuitton trunk with shelves and cocktail bar."  

As seen in  100 Legendary Trunks , Louis Vuitton

As seen in 100 Legendary Trunks, Louis Vuitton

Of course The Vintage Traveler would need this trunk...I hope someday she has one for her stylish travels!


Many thanks to Lizzie Bramlett for her fascinating list of eight! 


What would you want if you could have just eight vintage fashion pieces? If you'd like to be featured here, let me know!