Let’s Play Dress Up!


This is my happy face.

Let’s talk about personal style.  I mainly wear vintage dresses and accessories, but I tend to incorporate multiple eras into my look.  I have no problem wearing 2014 hair with a 1960s dress and my everyday 1950s eyeglasses.  My style is much more about color and pattern matching, and I tend to wear what makes me feel good as opposed to being into the period authenticity of the look.  I admire and respect people who put the time and energy into perfecting that VLV pin-up perfect vintage style.  Learning how to style the hair and makeup is not easy – when ladies would say they couldn’t go out because they had to wash their hair, they meant it.  Washing and setting a classic 1940s or 1950s hairstyle is something that can take quite a bit of time and attention, even if you’re in the habit of doing it.  The next time you look at an old yearbook, think about all the hours those young ladies spent setting their hair!  So in my day to day life, I am much more casual.  I don’t usually wear makeup, and you’ll always find me in flats.

Yesterday, I tried to clean out my closet.  I’m still working on it.  Do you know those faux nut containers that are full of spring snakes?  I dislodged a wide brim hat and the whole top shelf jumped out at me.  There are so many goodies in the world, but never enough space!  Many of the items I own I really do tend to view as collectables, and I don’t usually wear them.  But standing there looking at all the hats, shoes, scarves, stockings, and petticoats that had fallen down around me I decided that instead of putting them away, I should just put them on.


Let’s play dress up!

So following a quick wash and set and some hasty makeup,  here’s my best vintage look made up of favorites from my collection.  The green velvet hat with feathers I got from my friend Becky – it was her mother-in-law’s.  Perfect.  The glasses are my regular pair – aluminum Art Craft frames.  The dress is a handmade cotton with a great novelty pattern featuring Buddhas.  I love wild patterns and extravagant necklines – this one has a big sassy bow.  I have another dress in a different cut made of the same fabric in a different shade, also handmade, though by someone else.  Amazing.  The shoes are a pair of 1940s Arthur Murray dancing shoes – size 10!  I bought these from a woman who had lost her mother, the original owner of the shoes.  She sent me a handwritten letter telling me of the fun her mother had wearing them dancing, and asking me to take care of them.  They’re very special to me, I love hearing about people’s personal connections to particular items.  They’re beautiful shoes!

I rarely dress up, but when I do it is always a pleasure to take off the heels, wash off the makeup, and become myself again.  I’m much more comfortable.  But it was an important reminder to appreciate the things we do have in our collections – I really have to wear more of these hats!  I’m going to go finish cleaning my closet, and rotate my wardrobe while I’m at it.  Here’s to enjoying what we have, wearing what we love, and occasionally taking the time to set our hair.

Abandoned Albums: Lucky Teter and His Hell Drivers

Thelma Evey, front and center, with a bevy of beauties behind her.

Thelma Evey, front and center, with a bevy of beauties behind her.

At my day job, I am a librarian and archivist who is lucky enough to handle my library’s photo collection.  It has been a great experience for me, and I’ve learned so much about photographs over the years.  I’ve always loved photos, and have picked up quite a personal collection.  Once you start collecting photos, though, you have to quickly narrow your focus, since there are so many abandoned images of other people’s lives floating around out there.  I have two main types of photos that I collect – pretty ladies, and people having fun.  Obviously, then, my favorite types of photos are pretty ladies having fun!  You can imagine my pleasure when I was at a sale the other weekend and found an entire album containing roughly 100 photos from the 1930s and 40s – many of them of young, pretty ladies having fun!  I love their hair, my goodness.  And it makes sense this group of girls has excellent hair because they’re posed outside of a beauty school – they are all students, including the woman in the front center of this photo.  Her name was Thelma Evey, and I brought all of her photos home.

lucky teter002

A later photograph of Thelma Evey. What a looker!

After beauty school Thelma seems to have had a close relationship with the same group of ladies that appear several times throughout the album.  They may be sisters, or just BFFs – but they had a great time together.  There’s photos of them sunbathing, having porch parties, and standing in the California sun, 1945, with some handsome sailor boys.  Eventually you see Thelma appearing with, we’ll assume, her husband and children.  There are a few photos from the 1950s in the album, and then it’s over and we’re left to wonder what may have happened since then.  However, we know she was pretty, and she sure appears to have had fun!

Thelma and friends at the Lucky Teter show, 1938

Thelma and friends at the Lucky Teter show, 1938

There was one photo in particular that caught my attention when I was going through the album.  It’s a photo of Thelma and her friends standing in front of a car with the words “Lucky Teter World’s Champion and his Hell Drivers”.  Woah.  Hell Drivers?  Now that sounds pretty cool.

So I dug into solving the mystery of who Lucky Teter might have been, and what the heck is a Hell Driver, exactly?  In this day and age I was able to give it a Google – and I quickly lost a lot of time reading about a fellow who seems to have been a pretty big influence in American car culture – and doesn’t even have his own Wikipedia page!  Here, briefly, is the story of Lucky Teter.  Born Earl Teter in Indiana, he began doing automobile stunts at county fairs in the early 1930s, traveling throughout the United States and even to Cuba with his group of stunt drivers.  Lucky drove both cars and motorcycles, and shocked audiences with his stunts that included intentional crashes, jumps using ramps, jumps over buses, and jumps through fire.  Lucky was very successful and earned quite a bit of money as a touring daredevil.

Mrs. Teter listens in as Lucky performs at an event in Georgia, 1938.  I'd make that face too!  Image courtesy of Georgia State University Library.

Mrs. Teter listens in as Lucky performs at an event in Georgia, 1938. I’d make that face too! Image courtesy of Georgia State University Library.

He married in 1934, to a woman described by a Wilmington, Delaware newspaper in 1940 as a ‘charming Southern beauty’.  The writeup in the Wilmington paper mentions that “Mrs. Teter won’t see the stunts.  She’s never yet seen the show, for she turns her head before Lucky goes into the dangerous leaps and spins.  She frankly admits she doesn’t want the horror of the memory of the day when Teter’s luck might not hold out.”

Sadly, two years after this was written, Teter’s luck did run out and he lost his life on July 4, 1942 while attempting a world record jump of 150 feet.  He was 41 years old.  Ruth Teter passed away in 1981. (*A commenter let us know that Ruth was his sister, and his wife Edna is still living!)

It was a pleasure to learn about Lucky.  He seems like a very American sort of fellow – he did what he wanted, lived how he pleased, and had a smile on his face while he did it.  I bet Thelma Evey and her buddies really enjoyed the show.

Article reporting Lucky Teter's death, St. Petersburg Times, July 7 1942

Article reporting Lucky Teter’s death, St. Petersburg Times, July 7 1942

Quick Sources:

Along for the Ride – A great blog entry about Lucky by John Straub

 Trial By Torture – Watch Lucky do stunts in a Chrysler promotional video!

Hell Drivers on Wikipedia

Lucky and Ruth Teter on Find A Grave







Shop Spotlight: Newly Listed

Pitcher by Rorstrand, Sweden - Picknick 1954

Pitcher by Rorstrand, Sweden – Picknick 1954

I’ve been adding some great items to the shop this week, including this  pitcher by Rorstrand, Sweden.  This was designed by Marianne Westman in 1954.  The pattern, called Picknick, has been reproduced on everything from fabric to framed prints.   We know someone is going to love this classic example of midcentury design.

What beautiful eyes you have!

What beautiful eyes you have!

I also added a painting to the shop, which is a first for us.  We love mass produced items, sure, but who can resist a one of a kind art piece?  We bought this from the estate of the anonymous artist.  There were lots of portraits available, but we selected this one because we just loved this young lady’s retro charm.  The background is a wonderful rusty orange color.  You can find more photos of this original painting in our shop here.

We will be adding quite a few great items to our shop in the coming weeks, including some fab fabric, more home decor, some bright spring dresses, and 1960s ladies accessories.  Follow us on social media to see our finds first!

Today’s Treasures: Beehive Lamps and Photographs

So much goodness, it barely fits in the picture.

So much goodness, it barely fits in the picture.

We had another great weekend out and about looking for vintage treasure!  The weather was lovely, the people were friendly, and we found some great pieces.  We have a midcentury home, so we’re always pleased when we can find anything that will fit our design scheme – and yesterday we found two exceptional beehive / bubble / tripod lamps – they are really too cool!  We also picked up a fantastic photo album, some Lawnware, McCoy and Royal Haeger, Kensingtonware, and assorted other goodies. We got a lot of great items for the shop – we just know you’ll love them.  We’ll get them posted as soon as we can!

Shop Spotlight: Aloha Shirts

Hukilau Fashion Shirt

Hukilau Fashion Shirt

A lot of the time in vintage fashion, men’s clothes are overlooked. As a longtime wearer of everything vintage, from Van Heusen dress shirts to hippie tunics, I’m pleased to have a chance to change that. I’m Arlo, one half of the Polyverse team, and I’d like to focus on some of the men’s clothing we have in our shop. In the spirit of finally getting some warmer weather around here, let’s take a moment to talk about the Aloha shirt, better known as the Hawaiian shirt.

Hawaiian shirts have gotten a reputation as the classic party apparel, and why not. They’re bright, comfortable, and you’re never going to see one tucked in. There’s a little more to their story, though.

Hukilau Fashion Label

Hukilau Fashion Label

Aloha shirts as we know them started to be produced around the 1930s, and were based on traditional patterns and fabrics that had been popular in the islands for hundreds of years.  Modern designers began incorporating these patterns, fusing traditional style and Western sensibilities.  Air travel made the islands more accessible, and by the time Hawaii became a state in 1959, Aloha shirts were reaching the height of their popularity. Throw Elvis into the mix, who popularized the islands in films like 1961’s Blue Hawaii, and you’ve got the coolest shirt around! Aloha shirts remained popular throughout the rest of the 20th century, so you’ll see examples from the 1930s to the present.  A glance at shirt labels will help you to know when you’ve found a vintage Aloha.  I love vintage labels.  They’re always the first thing to look at when you’re shopping.  So unique, and like the shirts, so colorful.

Waltah Clarke's Hawaiian Shops Label

Waltah Clarke’s Hawaiian Shops Label

We’ve got three vintage Hawaiian shirts for sale in our shop right now, and they’re all great. A red shirt by Hukilau is a great example of an Aloha shirt from the 1960s, made for tourists visiting Honolulu.  It has the classic look, and a wonderful bright red color that will certainly make you the life of the party. This shirt is 100% cotton –  shirts from the 1940s and 1950s tended to be made of early synthetics like Rayon, which helps to tip us off that this one is a slightly later model.

Waltah Clarke Shirt

Waltah Clarke Shirt

The second Aloha shirt I’d like to feature is slightly more subdued.  This one also isn’t a classic Western-style button down shirt – it’s a polo shirt in brown with a light floral print and a chest pocket.  This was made by Waltah Clarke, who sold shirts in Hawaii but also exported shirts to the mainland.  The style had become so popular that people wanted the spirit of the islands without having to make the trip.

Sears Hawaiian Fashion Label

Sears Hawaiian Fashion Label

The final shirt I’m going to look at is another 100% cotton Aloha shirt – but this one is by Sears Fashions.  You might not associate a traditional American company like Sears with the Aloha print, but the fact that these shirts were produced and reproduced in such large numbers really shows how infatuated the American public was with the Aloha shirt.

Sears Hawaiian Fashion Shirt

Sears Hawaiian Fashion Shirt

In the beginning of this post, I talked about how men’s clothing is sometimes overlooked in vintage fashion.  But the Aloha shirt is a men’s vintage style that certainly can’t be ignored.  If you like the looks of any of these shirts, stop by our store and pick one up.  We’ll add more as we get them, so keep checking back! If you’d like to learn more about Aloha shirts, check out The Aloha Shirt: Spirit of the Islands by Dale Hope. Since I’m also a librarian, I feel it’s my duty to remind you to look for it at your local library!

Retro Recipes: Classic White Sauce

Clearly, I have too many cookie jars.

Clearly, I have too many cookie jars.

I love cooking, and I love collecting recipes.  Lots of us have recipe boxes that we’ve inherited – I have my grandmother’s, and my husband’s grandmother’s.  I also have a few of these little recipe boxes that I use for storing things like post cards or note cards.  They’re really sturdy since they’re metal, and they come in all sorts of fun patterns like this green daisy print.

I picked these two boxes up at a home in the Pittsburgh suburbs, and when I looked at them more closely I saw one still had a few recipes inside.  I thought it would be fun to feature some classic recipes on this blog, and this seems like a great place to start.

Green = Good

Green = Good

This box only has a handful of recipes in it – but a few of them have one thing in common: white sauce.  There’s a recipe for eggs and peas on toast – covered in white sauce.  There’s a recipe for ham and cheese – covered with white sauce or cheese sauce.  What’s in the cheese sauce?  White sauce and cheese.  Clearly, this recipe was this homemaker’s staple dish!

Anything involving bow ties is delicious.

Anything involving bow ties is delicious.

I appreciated the final instruction on the card – “Add Whatever”.  My whatever turned out to be asparagus tossed with parsley, Parmesan, garlic, and lemon, served over pasta with lots of pepper.  Asparagus tastes like spring, doesn’t it?

Following the instructions was easy, because yes, this is a basic glossy white sauce!  I made a roux from butter and flour, added milk (I used soy milk) – and yep.  White sauce.  I blanched the asparagus in boiling water for a few minutes, and then tossed it with herbs, cheese, lemon zest and juice. The whole thing turned out pretty good!  Probably better than eggs and peas on toast, at least.

If you’re interested in recreating more of this lady’s inspired cuisine, you can purchase these recipe boxes here in our Etsy shop.

 White Sauce

4 Tbs Marg
2 Cups Milk
4 Tbs Flour
Salt to Taste

Over low heat – melt marg. Slowly add flour – stirring constantly – add milk – increase heat – bring to boil – reduce heat to low – add whatever


Today’s Treasures: Boomerang Tables and More

Some of today's treasures!

Some of today’s treasures!

Saturdays are sale days here in the ‘Burgh, and we love to start Saturdays early with a lot of coffee and a detailed plan.  We spent hours on the road today and met some great folks and heard some great stories!  We picked up some unique items including some fantastic 1960s brutalist candle sconces that came off the living room wall for the first time in nearly 50 years. When handing them to us, the woman remarked, “My mother loved these.”

We also took home a great boomerang pattern Formica table – black and gray with hairpin legs – and another large piece of boomerang counter top in pink and white!  When we picked up the pink piece, the fellow running the sale remarked that his mother had rolled out cookies on it every Christmas until she passed away.  I’m glad to report that the counter will find a home in my kitchen – I hardly ever make cookies, but my husband makes a great pizza dough.  Stories like this are what makes this job extra special.

We also picked up a sign that reads “This Ain’t No Museum – This Junk is For Sale” – that’s a pretty accurate description of the situation!  Keep an eye out for items appearing in our shop.

Shop Spotlight: Spring Dresses

This winter has been long and brutal for lots of folks in the States, including here in Pittsburgh.  It’s finally spring, and I’ve already bought new sandals and started daydreaming about warmer weather!  And what goes with warmer weather?  A chance to wear all those pretty dresses that have been languishing in your closet these long winter months!  I am a public librarian and, to a certain extent, adhere to the cardigan-loving stereotype –  but this is one year that I will be happy to put my sweaters away.

We’ve got lots of lovelies over in our Etsy shop, in case you feel like adding a new dress to your springtime wardrobe!  Here are some of my favorites.  Click on the photos to see the individual listings in our shop.

1970s Strawberry Dress

1970s Strawberry Dress

This dress is simply adorable. This is a pale mint green polyester maxi dress with a collar featuring lace and embroidered strawberries!  I have a soft spot for novelty patterns, and anything made for adults that is slightly childlike – or at least has the sort of whimsical touches that are usually associated with items made for children.  This is a perfect example.  This dress is really too cute – a lighthearted fresh fashion statement from the 1970s.  I can’t wait for strawberry season!

pink dress

1970s Pink Floral Dress

Here’s another dress from the 1970s.  This is a darling maxi dress – very feminine, with a sheer pink floral overlay.  I love these flowing graceful layers!  The under layer on this dress is very crisp, and the whole thing is in wonderful condition.  This dress would be right at home at a garden party, a wedding, or a formal dance.

1970s Cream Formal Dress

1970s Cream Formal Dress

This one is another example of a formal dress from the 70s with a sheer overlay.  Exquisite!  This dress is NOS (New Old Stock) with the tags still on, and is just waiting to become a part of someone’s special day.  I can see this dress being worn in a field of flowers by a hippie bride, can’t you?  I’m not a very femme girl, but this dress makes me wish I had long hair, parted in the middle, and was standing in a field holding a bouquet of daisies.  So romantic!

1960s Dress by Anjac

1960s Dress by Anjac

I picked one more dress to showcase – let’s come back to reality with this one, shall we?  This pretty 1960s shirtwaist dress doesn’t need a special occasion to shine.  You could wear this dress to work or play, any day of the week.  The soft cotton poly blend is really perfect for this season.  This dress is by Anjac, a company founded in the 1940s by Jack Needleman in Los Angeles.  Anjac is a combination of his and his wife Annette’s first names.  Marc Needleman, the designer of this particular dress, was one of their three sons.  The Needlemans became one of the most successful families in the L.A garment district, and moved from clothes on to real estate – Anjac Fashion Buildings still exists as a real estate company.  When Jack passed away in 1999, he was a major philanthropist who had donated millions of dollars to charities and to organizations like the Los Angeles Conservancy.  Isn’t that a fantastic history for such an unassuming garment?

Now that I’ve spent some time talking about these lovely dresses, I’m even more ready for sunshine and warmer weather.  I hope all of you are enjoying your spring season!

Why Vintage?

A selection of our recent finds.

A selection of our recent finds.

We often get asked what we like so much about vintage living.  There are several answers to this question, but I am going to start with one of the most important.

Vintage living is all about sustainability!  Buying, using, and reselling vintage items is giving pieces  another chance that may otherwise end up in the trash.  It is reusing what are often quality items and materials instead of purchasing new, often disposable and poorly made, furniture and home decor.  So we think it is important to do our part to create a sustainable lifestyle that revolves around the repair, reuse, and restoration of previously used items.

Why else do we love vintage living?  We love the community!  We love the people we have met during our years of  collecting vintage and antiques.  We love hearing the stories that accompany certain pieces, and we love being invited into people’s homes to hear their family stories and share their memories of earlier times.  We may be dealing in “stuff”, but what matters to us are the human connections we make in the process.

Of course, we also have to state the obvious – vintage living is FUN!  We enjoy the thrill of the hunt, and the exhilarating rush that comes when we find a really good piece.  We love seeing styles we’ve never seen before, or strange items we can’t identify.

We’re not into vintage living to glamorize the past, because we’ll be the first to tell you that living in 2014 certainly has its advantages.  If it weren’t for modernity, I couldn’t share these thoughts with you! But we love dealing with pieces from all eras, and we’re glad to play a small part in preserving and sharing our American material culture.

Welcome to the Polyverse.

Hello friends!  We’re very excited to have this space set up as a place to share our love of vintage with you.  We are Ten and Arlo from Pittsburgh PA.  We’re lovers of the past, of material history, of quality antiques and inexpensive plastics.  When we’re not doing vintage, we’re librarians with a host of other web projects.  We hope you’ll follow us!