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Lady Violette

The Romantic Lifestyle

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Wearing Vintage Furs and the Controversies Surrounding Them: Is Fur Making a Comeback?

Friday, May 17th, 2024

Today I came across this wonderful article discussing the wearing of Vintage Fur : I recommend reading it as it clears up a lot of issues surrounding real fur, recycled vintage furs, fake fur, newly produced furs and the fur industry in general. 

You will find it quite informative. The title: Is Fur Making a Comeback?

I also recommend digging further into the many surrounding issues discussed and reading the other links in the article. 

Everyone will come to their own conclusions! I, for one, will continue to wear and promote the wearing and enjoyment of vintage furs! 

Many thanks to Barbara Koich “The FUR Lady” for sending me this article!

Barb also carries vintage and recycled furs in her Etsy shop.

Rare and beautiful historic clothing and accessories including furs and fur trimmed items, are for sale in my online shops. If you see something on this blog that you are interested in buying, but do not find it for sale in my shops message me on Etsy or Ebay and I will get back to you about availability. I check messages daily and can always prepare a special listing for you if you do not find it already listed in the shops.

Ebay: ladyviolettedecourcy

Etsy: LadyVioletteBoutique

Poshmark: cocoviolette

FashionConservatory: Lady Violette Boutique


Buying & Renovating Vintage Coats, Vintage Fur Coats and Wool Coats with Fur Trim

Friday, May 17th, 2024

Today I was working on restoring this beautiful 1940s era coat trimmed in real vintage fur. Of course I wanted to preserve it. It is truly a thing of beauty! It needed a lot of work as the thread holding it together was deteriorating. I had to remove the fur pieces so I could have the cloth portion dry cleaned, then hand sew all the seams and reinforce the hand sewn bound buttonholes. In the process I discovered many wonderful details involved in its construction. There was much to appreciate!

The mauve boucle wool coat is originally from the 1940s and features a removable Kolinsky fur scarf collar and wide cuffs that were dyed to look like mink. This coat was made in England. They used to use Kolinsky instead of mink because it was less expensive. It the pelts were not the desired color or perfectly matched they would bleach and dye them to be the desired base color of dark brown or caramel then paint a darker stripe down the center to emulate mink. FYI Kolinsky are a type of weasel and they are not endangered. More about Kolinsky fur at the end of this post.

This fur was professionally identified as Kolinsky by Rene Vogel who is a professional Swiss Furrier who formerly ran the fur salons of Nordstrom flagship store and I. Magnin and Co. in Seattle, WA.

I especially love the crossover fur scarf at the neck and the wool loop with two rhinestone set fittings holding it in place. It is a beautiful and unusual design detail – as are the large still plush and shiny wide and luxurious fur cuffs! When you insert your arms into the sleeves you find a real treat in the form of the surprise details hidden underneath inside the sleeves.

When you turn back the fur cuff you find an inner wrist cuff that buttons snugly around the wrist to keep out the cold air! How thoughtful!

The fabric is a mauve colored wool boucle with a loopy highly textured surface, underneath is is layer of wool interfacing to provide an extra layer of warmth between the main fabric and the lining which is a taffeta-like slippery fabric chosen to slide over the clothes you wear under your coat.

The lining is a pretty sort of lavender grey color printed with spools of thread and sewing needles – charming harbingers of the tailors art – when you look underneath you see all the fine sewing techniques. Look at the elegant stitching. Every seam is finished with care. There are no raw edges of fabric, no strangling untied off or un-trimmed threads, no irregular seams.

When this coat was made and sold in the 1940s women went shopping and inspected the seams and linings and insides of clothes before finally buying them to be sure they were well constructed and beautifully made. They were going to be sure that a garment not only looked fashionable and attractive, but would also hold up over time. They looked for high quality fabrics and furs, excellent tailoring technique, and perfect stitching. Mothers would explain all these characteristics to their daughters to teach them to shop carefully. In the next photo you can see the hand sewn bound buttonholes and custom made self-fabric covered buttons.

You would look for pockets, then put your hand inside to check how deep it was, and whether is was lined. Was the lining, hopefully, soft, warm flannel ( it would hold up better than a satin lined pocket as well as be warmer should you need to put your hands into your pockets on a cold evening walk to keep them warm. ) You also needed to determine whether the pockets were deep enough to hold a pair of gloves. It was important because you would not want to lose an expensive pair of gloves should they fall out of a pocket that was not large enough to hold them deep inside.

This one would do on both accounts! A testament to the fact is that I actually found a pair of brown kidskin gloves still deep inside the pockets of the coat when I acquired it! What an unexpected thrill!

It was important to look carefully at the coat from all angles to be sure it hung correctly on your body, fit well across the shoulders and allowed you to move feely when wearing it. Of course is should look elegant and fit well too! In the olden days they had three-way full length mirrors situated at regular intervals throughout stores. Why? So customers could see how the clothes looked on them. And because it was a great selling tool. If you could easily determine that a garment fit you and looked good you were far more likely to decide to buy it and to make that decision quickly. In the dressing rooms there were even better mirrors and they often had shoes you could try on with clothes to achieve the proper effect – again, an effort on the part of the store to provide the shopper with the necessary tools with which to make a decision to purchase the garment. Stores also had alterations people and tailors on hand to guarantee a proper fit. Consulting with a professional tailor on staff was a free service provided by most stores. Trousers would be hemmed at the proper length, sleeve length adjusted to the best length for the customer, etc. This was most often a service included in the purchase of the garment. Only really extensive alterations were charged extra. Did this work as a sales technique? Yes! people came back to the same store and the same sales person over and over again. I am always annoyed in contemporary stores by the lack of mirrors on the sales floors.

Upon inspection of the shaping this coat has beautiful shaping through the shoulders. Note the sloped seaming and the way the raglan sleeves are constructed. The fur scarf can be removed so this can be fully seen. And, the scarf can be worn by itself on other garments! A silk scarf can be used at the neckline on the coat also to change the look and presentation of the coat! You can wrap the scarf in a similar manner as the fur crossing one side over the other and slipping one end under the fabric loop to hold it in place! I do not have a silk scarf on hand at this moment to demonstrate this but will come back and do so again later. You can visualize how it will look by substituting a silk scarf for the fur scarf.

This coat is beautiful and well made and I am quite proud of myself for restoring it and bringing it back into circulation as a useful, wearable and admirable piece of vintage clothing. It is a prime example of why we should save vintage clothing from the junk heap, rescue it from those who want to throw it out and reuse and re-appreciate it. In my personal opinion the design of this coat is exceptionally nice!

Just as I was finishing writing this post I received a link to an article in an email from a friend who also loves vintage furs. The link was to an article she found about vintage furs coming back into style and issues surrounding the controversy of the subject. Please read it. It will be my next post!

Wearing Vintage Furs and the Controversies Surrounding Them.

Rare and beautiful historic clothing and accessories, including coats and furs, are for sale in my online shops. If you see something on this blog that you are interested in buying, but do not find it for sale in my shops message me on Etsy or Ebay and I will get back to you about availability. I check messages daily and can always prepare a special listing for you if you do not find it already listed in the shops.

Ebay: ladyviolettedecourcy

Etsy: LadyVioletteBoutique

Poshmark: cocoviolette

FashionConservatory: Lady Violette Boutique

You can reach professional Swiss furrier Rene Vogel via email  Rene’ Vogel <> or by phone at (425)322-9638 to schedule appointments for all your fur related needs. 

I want to make it clear to my readers that I chose to write about Rene Vogel to share information I have learned from him about furs and to provide them access to him as a reliable professional furrier should they wish to find one. Rene is not paying me to write about him 


Shopping For Vintage Shoes – Then and Now

Wednesday, May 15th, 2024

Women love beautiful shoes and shoe shopping used to be a lot different than it is now! Back in the day a lady would visit a specialty shoe shop, be shown the latest styles by a professional fitter, and leave with a pair of two of handmade shoes that were actually works of art. This elegant lady was seeking a pair of black pumps. Let’s look at some of the beautiful examples this quirky salesman might have offered her!

We have the advantage of decades of shoes to choose from!

This is a pair of black suede handmade pumps trimmed with a tasteful crescent of tiny rhinestones from Arthur Schulein, featuring a round toe and a very stable 4″ heels in size 8 and a half AAA. Leather lined with leather soles of course. Beautifully shaped, beautifully detailed and incredibly comfortable. c1940.

This pair of shoes was purchased by someone in the 40s and she wore them quite a bit. I acquired them about 10 years ago and I, too have worn them quite a bit. They have held up really well from 1944 – 2024 and are still going strong after 80 years of use! This illustrates the fact that It pays to buy well made shoes and take good care of them! Quality footwear holds up well.

These ladies are shopping for rubber galoshes that fit over shoes such as the pumps shown above and were worn over your nice leather shoes when you went outside in inclement weather in order to protect your expensive footwear from mud and rain. Note the heal to accommodate high heeled shoes. The actual definition of the word galoshes is a type of rubber boot worn over shoes. These were such a great idea – I wonder why they stopped making them? They used to be made in a huge selection of colors and styles. They used real fur on the ones that have fur trim as well. And they were lined in wool. They really kept your feet warm and dry and protected your fine leather shoes.

I’ve never owned a pair of these old style galoshes but they are on my wish list. I’ve only ever seen them available in very small sizes. Size like 3.5, 4, 5, 5.5 and 6! If you ever see them in your size grab them! I think they may have stopped making them because rubber was needed during WWII and allocated for the war effort. Many products became unavailable when the materials needed to produce them were limited due to their use in the war effort. Rubber was definitely one of these.

This is how high heeled shoes were stored in the back room of a c1930s shoe store in New York City! It looks like a great way to store many shoes so they can also be seen. I could use this type of shoe storage in my home! I don’t have this many but I would love to have my shoes accessible and neatly displayed! The same concept was employed in the display wall of shoes in this store in the 1960s.

Note how well dressed everyone is: the customers are all done up to go shoe shopping and the shoe sales men are wearing suits and ties in all these photos. You did not got out in those days unless you were properly put together! The ladies in the Naturalizer ad above were shopping in the late 1950s.

This glamorous woman was shopping in the early 1960s. She might have come home with something like this beautiful handmade black suede pump by D’Antonio. The suede is so dense and soft that if feels like velvet! The vamp is decorated with a stylized modern swath of double satin ribbon. The look is long and thin and marketed as sophisticated and European. It is elegant, therefore, highly desirable.

By now the sculpted heels and rounded toes of the 1940s and early 50s had given way to the extreme lines of the skinny elongated super pointed toes and stiletto heels of the 60s. The well made shoes of the past two decades did not wear out, but fashion dictated a change in shoe shapes so the designers and manufacturers could sell new styles.

This new look was extreme adding up to 2″ in length to the extremely pointed toes of a shoe while compressing the toes to fit into the new ultra-narrow style The woman’s weight was shifted further forward onto the balls of her feet while her toes were squeezed together to force them into this newly fashionable shoe shape that teetered on a tiny heel so thin and precarious it could easily get stuck between two tiles on a floor or a crack in a sidewalk. This truly was a version of foot binding. If you wore the shoes for too long a period your feet would ache and your bunion joints would hurt even after taking the shoes off. It was not healthy. But, it was fashionable. So the shoes sold and women forced themselves to wear them, because, after all, it was the latest fashion.

Talented Italian shoemakers like D’Antonio did their best to make these styles comfortable, creating innovations like the patent pending Caressa padded insoles and building thin tight snugly fitted heels so the shoes would stay on and hopefully prevent women from tuning their ankles, falling and incurring serious injuries. Making these super skinny shoes longer increased what I call the inner shoe real estate ( space inside the shoe) thus allowing the reshaped foot to shift into the available space. Since women insisted on wearing the latest fashion their feet accommodated to the new demands and reshaped themselves accordingly. Thus many women who lived and worked in these shoes developed painful bunions later in life. I witnessed this in my mother and my aunts. It is best practice to only wear these shoes for brief periods – like an evening out – not day in and day out.

If you only wore such shoes occasionally you would usually experience pain briefly ( for 2 days or so) afterward. But, if you wore them for prolonged periods like to work in an office, or on a retail job where you had to be on your feet all day you were asking for trouble. Slowly, but surely, your would develop bunions because the shoes shifted too much pressure and weight onto your big toe bunion joints. This was not good! Styles had to change again.

On popular television shows such as Leave it to Beaver, The Donna Reed Show, The Loretta Young Show and I Love Lucy the stars are regularly shown wearing heels like ( and a string of pearls) this while at home keeping house and doing chores like vacuuming and cooking dinner. Can you imagine cleaning house, caring for babies and doing the dishes while wearing shoes like this? I actually remember my mother frying bacon in high heels like this while holding a baby on one arm and wearing a flammable nylon negligee – why? Because my father liked it. I remember him telling her he loved seeing her in those shoes and that negligee while making breakfast. Did he offer to take the baby? No! Most definitely not! But this is a subject for a different post. My mother was must-tasking to the max!

In the late 60s and early 70s styles became much more modified – they evolved into offering more options – such as lower heels, wider heels, open toes, evening sandals, wedged heels, ballet flats, round and square toes, softer fabrics: You could still buy and wear pointed toe shoes for occasional use but you did not have to wear them all the time if you wanted to be dressed in the height of fashion. There were lots of shapes to choose from so you could find something you liked that was more comfortable and a healthier option. It was good for your feet to change shapes of shoes and heel heights. Feet reacted to this as if they were getting to do exercises in lots of different positions rather than being forced into one unnatural shape. They started to get wider because they were not being crushed into submission! Feet were healthier and happier this way. There were still pretty options. And more shoes sold because you could actually have more kinds. So you needed many more pairs. It all worked out.

About this time an Italian company called Garolini came along. They made beautiful shoes like the ones shown on a much more comfortable last that was both elegant and soft. The materials used were softer leathers and fabrics that would easily mold to the natural shape of the human foot. And the shapes of the shoes were also softer, a little rounder, more feminine actually, than the forced ultra narrow stiletto shoes of the 1960s. These shoes were a lot more comfortable to wear. And they were really lovely. They made dressy styles and casual styles, heels and flats, sandals and closed toe pumps.

They had beautiful modern lines and were more comfortable than the shoes of the 60s. Other companies followed their lead – the benefits of Garolini were flexible soles that bent with your feet when you walked, soft fabric or leather uppers that eased into shape around your feet rather than forcing your feet into their shape, wider soles at the balls of the feet – thus, instead of forcing your feet to conform to a too thin shape they allowed it to spread open a little bit as your metatarsal bones actually do when you stand barefoot.

This beautiful pair of size 8 B black silk satin evening pumps from Garolini is trimmed in thin strips of silver leather and sparkling Swarovski rhinestones – they have leather soles and a graceful 3″ heel. They are beautiful and comfortable.

All the shoes I have shown you in this post are in my personal collection. I can wear all of them and do so. I have actually conducted my research in person! I do this with everything I write about.

I love vintage shoes and sometimes modern ones if they are well made. I love beautiful shoes in general!

I actually carry a large variety of them in my vintage clothing shops in a large variety of styles and sizes. Of course the supply is always changing and is unpredictable because I never know what I am going to be able to find. I look for beautifully designed and well made shoes still in good condition. In general vintage shoes are well made and available at better prices than many newly made shoes. When I recently visited Nordstrom flagship store in Seattle, WA, and their Bellevue, WA store I had to look at what was available in the Shoe Salon. Modern shoes of comparable quality to those presented in this post were very expensive. They ran between $1200 and $3,000 per pair. This is not an exaggeration at all. I saw a pair I liked on sale for $1500 at 50% off. I did not buy them! I’m much happier with my vintage pieces which I have acquired at more affordable prices.

If you need a pair of distinctive shoes to wear with a particular outfit I urge you to look for a lovely and unusual pair of vintage beauties. I will be posting more shoes regularly. I also encourage you to ask me if you do not see what you are looking for posted yet as I have a lot of items in process of being listed. I may have what you need – just may not have it listed yet. I can always look through my stock to see if I can meet your needs. When it comes to shoes Desire and need are often the same thing!

Also – do not be discouraged by sizing: For example – I measure 7.5B. but the 3 pairs of shoes shown in this post actually fit me and are all sized labeled differently: The 1940s Arthur Schulein pair is 8.5AAA, the 1960s D’Antonio pair is 7.5B, and the 1970s Garolini pair is 8M. They all fit quite comfortably. You can usually go up a half or full size higher than your modern shoes in vintage sizes and get an acceptable fit.

If a pair is a tad loose you can often add an insole to acquire a snugger fit. If it is too wide in the heel and heel gripping pad will ofter correct that issue. Such items are usually available at Nordstrom or reputable shoe repair shops. I do not recommend wearing any shoes that are too tight unless it be for a few minutes in a period fashion photograph.

All shoe makers used different lasts and they were often sized a bit differently. This is still true today. Also, it is not true that everyone has much smaller feet in the old days. What is fact is that many of the old shoes that have survived were small sample sizes used for displays and fashion photographs of salesmen samples. They were selling tools. These got tucked away by the shoe stores and held onto or stored in style archives. Most of the shoes in “normal sizes” were sold to customers and worn until they wore out. Or passed down to daughters and granddaughters and eventually worn out. I went “shopping” through my relatives closets and reclaimed many articles of clothing and pretty shoes as a teenager and young adult. It made sense, the clothes were free and fit me as I had inherited the same sizes as my mother and aunts. I am still wearing some of them today. I am sad if they wear out due to being old or used too much. I love the old things and what they have lived through. Just last month I found that an old handbag I really liked had finally dried out too much and was on its last legs. It had died and I was sad! I mourned a bit. It had finally, actually, bitten the dust. If had to be retired. Alas… Stuff does not last forever, so you should get it out and enjoy it while you can! I encourage that!

I will now add a few pictures of shoes from my vintage store to further inspire and tantalize you. I am not posting the sizes available. You will have to visit my shops to see them and find options in your size.

This pair is by Stephane Kelian of Paris currently available. Made in the 90s but inspired by the 1940s.

This pair is from Rebel in the 1980s beautifully emulating the 1940s and is currently available.

This darling pair of Petite Debs from the 1960s is currently available.

This classic pair of red suede pumps is by Charles Jourdan in the 1980s and is available.

This pair of Oomphies sparkly brocade house slippers from the 1960s is currently available.

This gorgeous pair of Xavier Danaud 1970s NOS Spectator Pumps is available.

And finally, I found this old ad, not for shoes – for whiskey! But I thought it was quite appropriate as a finale to a hard day of shoe shopping and shoe selling and waiting on a certain type of demanding customers! Most of the time dealing with customers is pleasant and fun, but sometimes ………..

Many more styles and sizes are available in my stores – please visit my online shops to check out what is currently in stock. You will probably also enjoy reading my historic descriptions on items I am selling.

Rare and beautiful historic clothing, shoes and accessories are for sale in my online shops. If you see something on this blog that you are interested in buying, but do not find it for sale in my shops message me on Etsy or Ebay and I will get back to you about availability. I check messages daily and can always prepare a special listing for you if you do not find it already listed in the shops.

Ebay: ladyviolettedecourcy

Etsy: LadyVioletteBoutique

Poshmark: cocoviolette

FashionConservatory: Lady Violette Boutique


If I were Tyro – What would I Wear?

Sunday, April 21st, 2024

What Would I Wear for a Cool Evening Stroll on a Cliff Along the Aegean Coast ?

A Tyrian Purple Silk Gown and a Vintage Blue Fox Fur Stole to Ward Off the Chill, Of Course…….


The Color Purple

Sunday, April 21st, 2024

Legend has it that Hercule’s dog discovered purple dye when he and his dog were walking on the beach on their way to court a nymph named Tyro.

Hercules’ Dog Discovers Purple Dye

The dog bit into a sea snail and the snail’s blood dyed the dog’s mouth Tyrian purple. Seeing this, the nymph demanded a gown of the same color, and the result was the origin of purple dye.

Rubens’s painting of this story depicts Hercules and the dog on the beach, with the dog’s mouth stained purple. Although the snail in the story should be a spiny murex, the kind of snail from which Tyrian purple was made, Rubens instead depicts a large smooth shell that resembles a nautilus.

The  clever nymph Tyro would not capitulate until Hercules presented her with a glorious long gown of brilliant purple silk produced by expert ancient dyers extracting the juices of 250,000 murex sea snails through a long and laborious secret process. The resulting garment was so rare and lovely in color that it created an insatiable desire for robes in that hue which became known as Tyrian purple in the hearts of all who saw it. 

The nymph Tyro not only desired beauty, she also craved celebrity. And, knowing that other nymphs and human women would envy her gown and men and gods would admire and desire her when wearing it she demanded Hercules name the color after her. Thus the color was known as Tyrian purple and the Phoenician city in which it was made became known and is still known today as Tyre, now in modern day Lebanon. 

The creation of the color required so many snails and so much time, labor, and expertise that is was very expensive to produce. But, no matter, emperors and their wives had to have it at any cost. Not only was it beautiful, but the fact that is was so costly set those who wore it on a pedestal above their peers thus creating even more desire for garments of the color. Much like a celebrity wearing an expensive and recognizable desirable designer Chanel or Hermes bag does today.

As the pigment was so costly and time-consuming to produce, items created with it became associated with power and wealth. The details of its production were kept secret by its manufacturers. 

The dye was greatly prized in antiquity because the color did not easily fade, instead it became richer and more vivid with time and exposure to sunlight! 

Because it was extremely tedious to make. Tyrian purple was very expensive and purple textiles became status symbols. The production secrets of the color Tyrian Purple were tightly controlled in the Byzantine Empire and subsidized by the imperial courts. 

Tyro was delighted with all this notoriety and excitement as it made her a noted celebrity and guaranteed she would become famous and remembered for centuries to come – after all she had stories and colors and cities named after her. 

Tyrian Dye was manufactured from mucus secreted by the spiny dye-murex snail. The dye was made in the Phoenician trading city of Tyre, above the beach where Hercule’s dog had discovered the snail. 

An incredible amount of mucus was needed to yield a tiny amount of dye and sate the cravings of emperors and kings. This rare hue has been one of the most coveted and expensive colors throughout history – a consistent indication of wealth and power. 

In the Byzantine Empire, empresses gave birth in the purple chamber and honorable emperors were born to the purple as a way to separate them from those who won or seized their title. 

Laws were passed to protect the use of the color. Kings and emperors allowed senators to wear togas with a stripe of purple. But that was it. They could wear no further purple beyond that. 

In 1547, when Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey, was tried for high treason against Henry VIII, the evidence against him included that he had been seen wearing purple, which only the king was allowed to wear. 

This exclusivity extended into the Elizabethan era, during which people in England were to abide by Queen Elizabeth’s sumptuary laws that strictly regulated what colors, fabrics and clothes were allowed to be worn by people within different classes of society. These laws forbade anyone but close relatives of the royal family to wear purple. 

Over time, the color became less costly and complex to produce, and consequently more accessible to lower classes of society. 

In 1856 an 18 year old English chemist William Henry Perkin accidentally created a synthetic purple compound while attempting to synthesize quinine, an anti-malaria drug. He recognized that the compound could be used to dye fabrics and patented the dye and manufactured it under the names aniline purple and Tyrian purple. The color’s name was later changed to mauve based on the French name for the purple mallow flower.                  

Tyro, of course, prefers that we continue to refer to it as Tyrian Purple in her memory! Tyro was quite the woman – She was intelligent, clever, charming and beautiful and sought out by many Gods – many Gods! She was a Thessalian princess who became the mother and grandmother to many Ancient Greek Heroes as a result. Her story and her legacy is far more interesting and complex than todays influencers. She was famous in her day and has remained so into the present times.