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Denisebrain best of 2017

It's time again for my annual round up of vintage that sold in the year just ending. I've been doing this year-end feature since I was selling on eBay and blogging on MySpace—Yes, that long!! 

Looking at these, I realize some I've chosen because the new owner was so pleased. I love a happy story, and I've heard quite a few good ones this year. What else made me choose these items as favorites? I see peplums, sweetheart necklines, hand embroidery, lace, luminous fabrics, soft knits, beautiful colors, unique prints, and wonderful style. In other words, I see why I love vintage, and why I get up every day wanting to do what I do. 

My year, personally, has had its ups and downs. I am still working on my health, including having a new right hip and psoriatic arthritis, which causes fatigue and pain. At the same time, I have been so fortunate to have great help. Honestly, why didn't I look for this help sooner? Read about all I have to be thankful for in this post. 

See all those silly grins on my face in these photos? They're real. I love what I do, and am lifted up every day by great colleagues and friends in the vintage world. I've been shown such amazing kindness this year. 

I hope you have found as many reasons to smile this year, and that 2018 brings you joy—and, of course, vintage! 

Here's to a New Year of love, health, happiness, and hope for us all! 


My very best to you, Maggie of denisebrain



My 2016, part II

As promised in my last post, this is the better news side of 2016 here at denisebrain.

First, I have never had so many great vintage items to offer. My storage units runneth over! And I have a new friend with a passion for vintage who has helped me with the hanging and organization. (Thank you, Fay!—If you are in Spokane, you should go visit her space at Chosen Vintage.)

Then there is the book, which I had planned to publish in November. You know when you really want to do something and for some reason you aren’t getting it done? Something was up with me, and I figured out what it was: The book is missing a couple of sections to make it a complete beginners' guide to vintage from my perspective. I am now progressing without that weird feeling of being held back. It’s back to being an exciting prospect.

Then there is the new website, which is  thiscloseto being ready. [edit 2/1/17: You're looking at it now!] I know Google has it right about people using mobile devices to search, and I know my old website is not terribly mobile-friendly. This old Neanderthal is finally about to stand up straight! Expect lots of pink (duh!).

Next comes the annual end-of-the-year roundup of favorite items sold. Perhaps you will see something that now hangs in your closet—If so, I hope it’s making you happy!

I love, I mean LOVE seeing customers in their purchases! In fact, I’m devoting a section of the new website to customer images. (If you’ve been holding out on me, now’s the time to make right!)

This 1970s Gunne Sax dress went to a great connoisseur of GS dresses, Rie (thewelldressedethicist on IG) 

Kymi  (kymijojo on IG) staged a prom birthday party, and wore this princess-y 1950s gown like a true princess

For her birthday, the colorful Sophia (sophiamzell on IG) wore this 1960s party dress

This 1940s New York Creations hat went straight to the head of the elegant Eliza (vintagerosegirl on IG):

(As you can probably tell, I’m doing more over on Instagram this year. If you’re there, stop by and say hi to me @denisebrain_vintage)

Some favorites that found new homes this year:

Starting on September 7, 2016, I began setting aside

10% of sales for saving endangered manatees.

 I’ve been called the Manatee Lady, and I thought I might as well prove it with every sale.

Then, on November 10, I opened a shop-within-a-shop in my Etsy store.

The Pink Heart Shop

has vintage fashion with

100% of sales going to Dress for Success Worldwide.

The contributions I have been able to make to these causes so far make what I do even more worthwhile to me, and the support customers have expressed literally keeps me going some days.

If you read my previous post, you know it hasn’t been the easiest year for me, but I am fortunate in so many ways. For someone with health issues, having a good team is something to cherish. I have a wonderful, supportive partner in my husband John. I have good doctors. I have caring friends and family. That would be plenty, but I also have the distant but real friendship and kindness of customers and colleagues in the vintage world. You all lift me up.

So goodbye to 2016...

...and hello to a new year of hope, health, joy, and love for us all! 

My best to you, Maggie of denisebrain



The blog posts I'm most glad I wrote

...I’m not speaking of the most read, or the most commented on. These are the blogs that mean a lot to me personally.

Friends in the 80s

I wrote a series of posts on 1980s fashion and its influences on modern fashion. Just as I was wrapping that up, a dear friend and fellow vintage seller passed away. I gathered images from friends and colleagues, including many at the Vintage Fashion Guild, to create this small tribute. (This is in Flash, which doesn’t run for everyone/everywhere—I hope it does for you.)

How vintage clothing is priced

In the past year or two, I have been posting day-to-day things in places like Facebook and Instagram, rather than my blog, while digging deeper into subjects here on the blog. The result has been fewer blogs, but possibly more useful or meaningful writing. I made a list of really hard-to-tackle subjects that I might be able to address, and this one seemed to hit home.

I love to rave about my two favorite designers, Claire McCardell and Bonnie Cashin.

Claire McCardell, still fresh at 111
Happy Birthday Bonnie Cashin!

My vintage sources

I have always enjoyed knowing the history of the vintage clothing I find, and sometimes I have the privilege of getting to know quite a bit about the original owner.

Granny Takes a Trip coat

I don’t often highlight one single item I have for sale, but there have been a few. This coat definitely was worth it.

About my favorite vintage dress. Yes, it’s pink. Who’d have guessed?

Favorite vintage: Makes me happy just to think about

Haunted dress story

Then there are the items that are just plain...unusual. This dress didn’t want to leave my home.

For the past 9 years, I have done a yearly round up of all the favorite vintage sold. Maybe you’ll recognize something that you bought!

Denisebrain best of 2015
Denisebrain best of 2014
Favorite vintage of 2013
The denisebrain Best of 2012
My best vintage 2011
My best vintage 2010
My best vintage 2009

Always most dear to me is any time I get to talk about my mother.

A big thank you for reading...your comments mean the world to me! In fact, the next post will highlight some of the most interesting, thoughtful, and just plain lovely comments I have received on my blog over these 10 years.



Some favorite denisebrain blog series

This is my 10th year blogging, and here is a look back at some of the most popular series I’ve written:

Get the Look 

Billie Holiday—the gardenias were an essential part of her 40s style

These are posts about vintage fashion icons and what you can do to emulate their style.

Audrey Hepburn (at 49,068, my most viewed post)
Emma Peel (fictional characters count!)
and yes, even My Mother

Fabric of the Week

Egyptian assuit, netting embroidered with metal. Photo by Hoyt Carter for denisebrain
 ...the most viewed of which are
Basic weaves (no comments but many thousands of views)

80s Fashion Redux

Donna Karan fashion from the late 1980s, my scan from Elle, so great in the 80s
Interesting, right? I don’t sell all that much fashion from the 1980s, but I had to do something with all those magazine clippings from my youth! 2009 was a year in which modern runway fashions were really going 80s crazy. These posts continue to get many looks.

Polka dots hit the spot (believe it or not, this is the 2nd most viewed of all my blog posts)

Théâtre de la Mode 

Taking a closer look at an ivory silk damask evening dress by Worth in a set designed by Jean Cocteau (photo, denisebrain)

“Created in Paris starting in 1944, the Théâtre de la Mode is a work of haute couture, theater, and art, with stage sets and dolls designed and created by artists, and fashions by over 55 design houses. They came together for the survival of haute couture...”  And I live only 248 miles away from the Maryhill Museum where this exhibits lives.

There are my posts about Future vintage, in which I highlight some of the new fashion makers that I’ve found that create ethical and beautiful wearables.

How to wear vintage for the 40+-year-old

Suzanne Carillo from her blog; Carola Boxer Vecchio via Advanced Style; The Style Crone via Advanced Style

Recently I gathered ideas from others and roped my own thoughts about wearing vintage for the woman over 40.

Next time, the blogs I’m most glad I wrote.



What's your best denisebrain find?

On April 22 my business turns 17 years old.

Since 1999, I have sent many thousands of vintage items to new owners and I’ve heard about (and in some cases seen photos of) many people enjoying their new finds. Are you one them?

I ask because the Denisebrain Vintage Fashion Show this week is all about my customers showing off their favorite purchases from my shops. It would make me so happy if you would participate! 

If you haven’t seen one, the #dbvintagefashionshow is a chance to trot out your photo of a favorite vintage fashion item of a particular theme—one week the theme might be shoes, the next week the color green. You show your photos on Instagram, Twitter (both of these tagged #dbvintagefashionshow) or Facebook (as a comment on my page). Then I get to show you off! 

If you don’t delve into social media, I would welcome you to email me a photo to include; the address is

Please help me celebrate my business’s birthday with your unique and fabulous flair for vintage! 



Denisebrain best of 2015

It’s time to take a look back at 2015, including favorite vintage items that I sent to new homes.

If I do say so myself: Just. Wow. Ceil Chapman, 1952
Vintage, come rain or come shine
In the navy, c. 1950
Pink lady
Summer and winter 1950s
40s 4-ever
How novel!

Blue notes from the 50s
On a really personal note: I won’t say that this has been an easy year for me. I have lost two people dear to me and had to work around pain from what I now know is psoriatic arthritis. I can’t easily comb my hair, zip my (metal!) zipper or put my shoes on.

If anything though, I love what I do more than ever and cherish my friends and family even more. I am so thankful for all my readers, customers and online colleagues and friends who make what I do such a pleasure every single day. You make it all worthwhile.

Rose up
By any other name
Go elegant or go home (gloves by Roger Faré, Paris)
Totes gorge
Big dipper (the Jantzen “Tahitian Temptation” suit inspired a blog post)
The wild Southwest

In case you missed them, these were my blog posts that seemed to resonate most with people (the first one especially):

Go team vintage!
You glow girl, in luminous 1960s pieces
Hot pinks (the fine print? by Alfred Shaheen)
Last flowers of summer
Fall for vintage

If you haven’t joined my mailing list, consider this your invitation to receive ideas and deals delivered right to your inbox:

Spice girl (nothing quite like vintage cashmere and fiesta wear)
Sophisticated lacy
Silver and gold (make new friends but definitely keep the old)
Red alert
I'm very pleased to say that so far this year, with your help, I have raised funds for breast cancer awareness (Living Beyond Breast Cancer), as well as for endangered manatees in Belize (Sea to Shore Alliance) and Florida (Save the Manatee Club). There are a few days before the current fundraiser For the Manatees ends, and I hope to reach $1250...a new record for a single fundraiser here at denisebrain!
Anything-but-mean reds (the Lilli Ann coat looks so cute on its new owner!)

What’s up for 2016? Besides all the best vintage clothing I can find for you, there will be a new, mobile-friendly! 
2016 ought to be exciting...please join me!

Best wishes for a peaceful, happy, loving and beautiful year ahead! May you receive back all the joy that you give.

(I hope you are surrounded by the sort of people who will zip your zipper if you need a hand too!)


1 Comment

Denisebrain best of 2014

A few of my favorite sold items from the year gone by. I always find it hard to choose because I actually really love the vintage fashions I offer to you—These are just the ones that stuck hardest in my mind.
Summer to winter, vintage is best
1910s silk satin to 1960s stretch velvet
Polar Vortex collars

True blue

Decked out sweaters

Ready for Valentine’s Day
Sophisticated stripes
Bags with friends
The great white shirt
Spring flirts
Novelty print 40s dresses
Novelty print 50s skirts
Hats with character
Check it out, spring edition
Pretty party
Atomic bombshell prints
Ready for the 4th of July
Check it out, summer edition
Picnic anyone?
Suitable for summer
Summer accessories
Viva La Mexicana skirt
Check it out, late summer edition
Novelty print 50s dresses
Meow mix
Covetable bags
Autumn leaves 
The red coats are coming
These are silver, those are gold
Gold standard in accessories
Aren’t you plaid?
Sweater girl!
Simply red
Swing coats in the red
You helped me raise $518 for Conservation Northwest this year, and an astounding $1020 for Save the Manatee Club. I couldn’t do that on my own!

One of the nicest comments I received this year: ...this picture made me SO SUPER happy! i had to thank you! just struck me as such an "i love myself" "everything is great" "it's going to be an awesome day" moment, that i had to share that with you. That made me feel like I’m doing something right!

One of the things I like the most is seeing my customers wearing their vintage clothing. Some of these have been photographed by professionals, others by creatively-minded people, others by just us average people, but you are all way above average to me. 

May 2015 be a year in which you receive as much joy as you give!

1 Comment


Favorite vintage of 2013

Every new year I round up some favorite sold items. This is a bit like a mother trying to name her favorite child because I tend to like or even love the vintage items I find. My best attempt to narrow down 2013:

White out
Mixed greens
Black and white world
Aqua libra
1920s frocks
Breezy pinks
Bee-utiful 40s
Blues and greens 
Blue flower power
Brown out
White night
Shades of grey
Viva el mexicano
Fun with red

Oh how novel
Oh how novel, skirt edition
Tickled pink hats
Pretty pastels
Strong blues
Berry nice
Two moods of navy blue
Purple reigns
Burnt orange
My Spanish heart
Wherever you go, whatever you do, I hope you find peace, happiness, good health, time for yourself, time for your friends, love, kindness, contentment and joy in 2014!  

♡, denisebrain



The denisebrain Best of 2012

It’s time to take my annual look back at some favorite items sold during the year gone by.

Worth a look back: 30s peplum jacket; skirt by Martha Sleeper (profiled in my blog, and pinned on Pinterest)
60s suits
50s suit; and a dress which prompted a blog about my stellar seamstress
Deep red bouclé wool knit dress and a sweet 40s house dress
The 50s suit you: Brilliant pink bouclé knit suit and stylish maternity suit
Fun in the sun
Precious metals: Gold satin party dress and assuit nickel silver-embroidered shawl
Magenta satin 30s dance shoes and 40s pink print rayon dress
All bright now: 60s beaded box bag, beatnik print bed jacket and Asian peplum top
Here comes the (vintage) bride
Gorgeous fuchsia pink in a silk print 40s dress and 60s suit
Lavender blues
50s-early 60s high fashion, including Lilli Ann mohair suit
Pretty pale pinks
Groovy! Fringed 70s dress; 60s stretch lamé go-go boots
Egyptian hieroglyphs and feathers—covetable pink and grey prints 
50s black drama
Simply red: 50s velvet swing coat and Young Edwardian dress from the 70s
Blue flowered Dalton cashmere and 40s homefront sweetheart dress
Deep reds in flowered 50s cotton, and wool wrap dress by Anne Fogarty
50s black fit-and-flare
Darlene printed cardigan and nylon plissé dress
40s iridescent feather hat and 40s black rayon dress with blue beaded moons
Red wicker bag; red party dress and a grey Pat Premo dress (the subject one of my vintage convergences)
Can you hear me now? 60s daisy jewelry and 1967 Marimekko dress
30s zip-front flowered rayon; 50s rose pink cotton
50s black glamour
What I call a 60s goddess dress—perma-pleated up and down; lily of the valley-adorned hat
Green velvet leaves hat and a green linen dress with blue details
Navy bouclé knit suit (you and I both love these bouclé knits!) and a white flower hat
The ingenious Hollywood Hed-Topper and another great 50s skirt, with Hopi Kachina dolls
White night: 30s-style 70s feather jacket, and 40s dress with rhinestones by DuBarry 
Mixed greens: Early 40s dress, 1949 wedding suit and 60s green shift
One good turn deserves another: 50s full skirts with great prints
A favorite 40s rayon print: Keys and flowers. Love the peplum too!
Royal blues: Bouclé knit sweater suit; flowery cotton print suit and a needlepoint bag that went to the UK to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee
Two too cute prints: Game pieces and carnival
Black hat and interesting large wicker bag
These blue satin Daniel Green slipper shoes walked out of my shop quickly
And I kissed this hat goodbye equally quickly
Red velvet Suzy Perette and a red telephone cord clutch
Sunny outlook: A 40s blouse and a circle skirt by Raissa Masket
Both now live in Paris...especially appropriate for the Eiffel Tower-print lining of the coat!

I'm so pleased that by the time this year ends, I will have been able to contribute over $700 to two great causes: Conservation Northwest and Save the Manatee Club. Without the enthusiastic support of my wonderful customers, that would not have been possible. Thank you so much!

Wishing you a New Year filled with peace, hope, happiness and love!

P.S. Taking stock of the year gone by, I honestly think some of the best is still hanging on my racks, and to help bring attention to these neglected beauties, I am offering 25% off of any of these through the end of 2012. See my Facebook page for further details.



My best vintage 2011

As always, I am rounding up my favorite vintage listed in the past year, and here they are. A small group of these are still for sale, but even if your favorites are sold, please remember that there is more to a matter of fact I believe the best is yet to come! 

{click on the images for a larger view}

I was very pleased to find Lilli Ann labels in vintage clothing, 40s-60s

I love vintage party dresses in black

...and in color

When Elizabeth Taylor died in March, I focused on clothing to compliment her beautiful violet eyes

In April I had the great pleasure of meeting Alfred Shaheen's daughter, Camille Shaheen-Tunberg and her husband the artist and sculptor Bill Tunberg, the occasion being a Shaheen exhibit at Washington State University

I'm always ecstatic to find a Shaheen (below left), and there is a wonderful world of vintage Hawaiiana beyond

In April the Royal Wedding made me excited about vintage wedding possibilities

I'm always giddy about vintage polka dots from all eras

I'm also crazy about vintage hats with great character

Then there are the bags of character

In June and July I explored late 30s clothing in my blog, and I was fortunate to find a number of 30s items to sell

I am a perpetual fan of great suits, whether with fine labels (Don Loper, Irene, Kimberly)

...or unlabeled but with distinctive style

If you know me, you know that I appreciate a conversation-starting print

I continue to love the photos from my buyers of themselves in their purchases (let me know if you have one, and I will add your photo to my gallery on Facebook!)

I've always got something chic and black for your vintage cocktail hour

And outerwear? I've got you covered!

In March this 40s cherry tree-print dress helped raise money for Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund - a GlobalGiving Project, the Art Deco bracelet for Save the Manatee Club in June

In August, this beaded Don Loper jacket helped raise funds for World Food Program USA for famine relief in the horn of Africa; the hand-embroidered Mexican skirt is part of my effort to help Conservation Northwest this month. 

All in all, I've been able to donate over $1500 this year. Without a doubt, if it weren't for my faithful buyers, I wouldn't be able to do what I do.

Thank you and blessings to you all. I look forward to seeing you in 2012!

P.S. Ten of these items are still for sale...please check my stores at