Fall in love with old-fashioned finery.
Sometimes a gal’s got to spread her wings, so we decided to take a road trip to America’s most famous swap meet, The Rose Bowl Flea Market. It’s amazingly huge, but thankfully it is divided into sections and we headed straight for the antiques and collectibles, skipping the new goods altogether. No matter what the flea market, we always play a game called “the theme of the day.” It’s something we see repeatedly, maybe owls one day or martini shakers the next. Well, we barely got started at the Rose Bowl and we saw a theme emerging.
First Jennifer spotted an ornate brush and mirror set on an antique vanity table. Then Kitty pointed out a collection of cut glass atomizers on a mirrored tray. Jennifer said, “I guess the theme of the day is boudoir beauties!”
The “theme of the day” got us thinking how nice it would be to decorate your dressing area like ladies used to, with filigree lipstick holders, carved cameos, and tortoise shell hair combs. Jennifer wanted a gold and glass jewelry box with a red velvet cushion inside. We’ve seen nineteenth century French ones for hundreds, but she found the 1950s version for only $25.
Next we found vintage hats on old-fashioned hat stands. We really liked the wooden spool-shaped stands from the 1920s that ran $25-$40. With just a few of those you could add a great display to your bedroom and show off your hats at the same time!
Then we stumbled on a whole box full of miniature perfume bottles! We dove right in and picked out three each, getting a deal of just $18 for all six. We just wish we had rinsed them off before we got in the car—that long drive home smelled like Woolworth’s make-up counter!
Aah, the allure of lady head vases––these painted porcelain pieces seem to beckon us from every aisle! Sophisticated lady head vases were mass-produced to be used in floral arrangements and were most popular in the 40s and 50s. Because they were so inexpensive back in the day, many head vases were cast aside as soon as their flowers wilted, making it a challenge to find a mint one today without paying a small fortune. At the flea market, expect to pay $35 for one with chips or cracks and up to $100 for one in better condition. Some have a backstamp or sticker noting their manufacturer and year, but you can usually guess the date by the hairdo. Bouffant? 1950s! Beehive? 1960s!
Pretty Little Things
The vanity is a natural for showcasing pretty little things. From heirloom brooches to beaded purses, boudoir collections should be left out to be enjoyed every day. And these splendid keepsakes practically display themselves! Rhinestone hatpins become a kooky bouquet arranged in a tiny bud vase. Clamshell compacts and goldtone powder boxes are delightful lined up atop a pink Pucci scarf, and a 3-tiered glove stand is a must for your kid-leather gloves or lace-trimmed hankies. To really make your dressing area spectacular, place mother-of-pearl, cloisonné, and engraved silver pillboxes on a gilded vanity mirror. The reflection will make your collection look twice as big!
The Rose Bowl Flea Market is held on the second Sunday every month in Pasadena, California and draws over 2000 vendors and 20,000 visitors. Don’t miss it!