Making a Statement with BSK | June 23rd, 2016


Have you ever thought about what your accessories communicate about you? We all make some kind of a statement when we dress, creating an image we believe about ourselves which also affects the way others view us. Accessorizing is a personal statement of style and in my opinion, there is no right or wrong way to do it (unless you are headed to a professional job interview, of course). Accessories can be serious or fun and they allow women to define themselves in their own individual, unique way.

Culture, values, and beliefs are communicated as well with accessories made from the materials of a person’s country of origin or those portraying symbols like the pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness. Religious beliefs can be conveyed by wearing a symbol such as a cross or a saint medal.

When accessories pertain to jewelry, there are some women who prefer to keep their “statement” just above a whisper, adorning themselves with minimal, delicate pieces which is more of what I would call an “understatement.”

There are others whose statement is more audible and they enjoy wearing pieces that are a bit larger and more colorful. These women are not afraid to branch out into the world of costume jewelry for their accessories. Self-confidence also comes through when a combination of bright and bold are worn together.

And then there are women, like me, whose statement is definitely on the louder side. I tend to like a bold, yet balanced look with one significant statement piece along with a few smaller accent pieces. Whenever I dress for anything other than a workout, I always make sure I complete my look with a bit of glitz or glamour dangling from my ears, hanging from my neck, and stacked generously on my wrist.

There are also women who like to have every piece of jewelry they are wearing to make a showy, fearless, and bold statement – so loud, you may actually need earplugs! This can sometimes end up looking like an “overstatement.”

Ginger Rogers boldly accessorizes with lots of sparkle in this photo from the 1940s:

Although you may read otherwise in fashion magazines, I want to emphasize once again that I truly do not believe there is any right or wrong way to accessorize as it is a PERSONAL statement of who you are, how you want to communicate to those around you, and what you are most comfortable wearing. You are free to make your own rules.

One of the most important criteria for the way I personally accessorize is to wear at least one piece of jewelry that is one-of-a-kind. I am quite drawn to vintage pieces with a history that date back several decades and have never seen anyone wearing the same vintage piece I have on – especially in the same unique way I have repurposed it!

I recently found this beautiful pearl and gold brooch from the 1950s. It was the perfect statement piece for me. Because I love repurposing vintage jewelry, I envisioned it as a necklace the moment I saw it. What a statement it would make with a fabulous gold chain attached!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I immediately got to work and took the chain off of a small evening bag I was no longer going to use. It was just long enough to repurpose into a necklace using the brooch as the pendant. I added a lobster clasp and voilà! My statement necklace was finished and ready to be worn!

When I had flipped over the brooch, I noticed an interesting mark that had the letters, “BSK.” After spending quite a bit of time researching the mark, I was disappointed to find there is such little information about it. But what I did discover is that the company was founded in New York in 1948 and was in business until the mid-1980s. The letters, BSK, represent the B. Steinberg-Kaslo Company which was a partnership composed of Julius Steinberg, Morris Kimmelman, Hyman Slovitt, Abraham J. Slovitt, and Samuel Friedman.

Their jewelry was considered good quality, moderately priced, and could be purchased in department stores such as Woolworth’s. It sold exceptionally well during the 1950s when the demand for affordable jewelry accelerated after the war.

The next time you get dressed to head out the door, think about the kind of statement you like to make to express your unique self. As a girl who just wants to have fun (and be a little loud), I am looking forward to making a big, bold statement with this one-of-a-kind beauty by BSK.

Repurposed vintage costume jewelry can be found at www.kimberlymoorerings.com. For my latest finds, follow me on Instagram and Pinterest!

Kimberly Moore is a vintage costume jewelry expert, blogger, speaker, and author of Beauty in a Life Repurposed.

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A Passion for Polka Dots | June 6th, 2016

If I could give a one-word definition for “polka dots” it would be the word fun. I have owned a good number of polka dot fashions over the years including a 1950s-style dress, a sheer sleeveless top, several pairs of casual shorts, and swimsuits in a variety of colors. Even my Pomeranian, Emma, loves to make a statement in polka dots!

I am also a sucker for accessories of all kinds covered in these fun little dots. The last time my incredibly stylish mother-in-law came for a visit, she sported the most playful polka dot sunglasses I have ever seen. They were definitely FUN and something to add to my list of must-haves!

As popular as polka dots have been over the years, there was a time when this pattern of perfectly spaced circular spots was actually considered taboo. It was during the medieval times in Europe when it was impossible to space dots evenly as clothing was made without machines. Unevenly spaced dots brought to mind diseases such as small pox, leprosy, boils, and the bubonic plague, so dotted patterns were never worn at that time.

The term polka dot originated from the enthusiasm for polka music and with it, the polka dance that swept through Europe between the 1840s and 1860s. This lively dance that started in Bohemia is performed by couples with three steps and a hop. The dance became so popular that Europe gave the craze its own word: polkamania.

In 1830, Louis Antoine Godey of Philadelphia, published Godey’s Lady Book. It was the most widely circulated magazine during the time before the Civil War and was designed to entertain, inform, and educate American women. The magazine was the first to print the term “polka dot” in an 1857 description of a “scarf of muslin, for light summer wear, surrounded by a scalloped edge, embroidered in rows of round polka dots.”

America became enamored with the polka dot pattern during the 1920s. Miss America in 1926 (Norma Smallwood) was photographed wearing a polka dot swimsuit. Two years later, Disney introduced its character, Minnie Mouse, wearing a red polka dot dress and matching bow. Polka dot dresses then began appearing in stores, accentuated with ribbons and bows throughout the 1930s.

In 1940, Frank Sinatra’s first hit recorded with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra was titled, “Polka Dots and Moonbeams,” capturing America’s polka dot excitement of the time. That same year, a fashion designer even designed a “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” fabric print in a series of prints inspired by favorite hits.

The enthusiasm for polka dots continued and became even more popular in the 1950s. Movie stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, and Jane Russell made it fashionable for women to wear polka dots which are often associated today with this innocent, carefree, and prosperous decade.

Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell signing their names in wet concrete at Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, 1953

While I was antiquing in Arkansas, I found a couple of very fun polka dot vintage clip earrings from the 1950s that I repurposed into adjustable rings. The red one was stamped Weiss, a jewelry designer from New York whose standard of craftsmanship was exceptionally high.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1960, American pop recording artist, Brian Hyland, scored his first and biggest hit single at the young age of 16. The name of his single was “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.” It reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and sold nearly a million copies in the first two months of its release!

Appropriate beachwear for women at that time was a modest, one-piece swimsuit. Bikinis were still considered too risqué to be mainstream. But the new hit song prompted a sudden rise in bikini sales – most likely, those with a polka dot pattern!

Here is a black enamel pin from that era with a white polka dot center:

Polka dots continued to be used in the fashion industry throughout each decade thereafter. During the 1970s, designers took ideas from previous decades, such as the polka dot pattern, and combined them in new ways. The ’80s was an optimistic decade that incorporated the happy polka dot pattern into countless styles of clothing and accessories. The pattern has never gone out of style and can still easily be found today. In fact, just last week I went to pick up my “gift with purchase” from a cosmetic counter and received a very nice hot pink tote lined with – you guessed it – polka dots!

The next time you feel the need to dress in something fun, just find something to wear covered with polka dots. I know exactly who to ask to find the perfect pair of fun sunglasses.

Repurposed vintage costume jewelry can be found at www.kimberlymoorerings.com. For my latest finds, follow me on Instagram and Pinterest!

Kimberly Moore is a vintage costume jewelry expert, blogger, speaker, and author of Beauty in a Life Repurposed.

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Starburst Style of the Atomic Age  | May 23rd, 2016

A few weeks ago, I was shopping at my favorite “super store,” the kind that has everything from endless aisles of groceries to smaller departments with miscellaneous items such as clothing, patio furniture, and anything you would ever need for a new baby. And then there is another department that is simply magnetizing for me. It’s the one with all sorts of great accessories – scarves, handbags, watches, sunglasses, and my personal favorite…jewelry. The best part about it all is the nice low price tag on most everything they sell.

After I finished finding all of the food items on my list, I went to see what new jewelry had come in that week. I immediately spotted a necklace that had the look of something vintage. It reminded me of a few of my old pieces from the 1950s and ’60s that I had repurposed into sparkly rings and cuffs. The name for this look is the “starburst.” I love this design and was curious how it came to be so popular years ago. Here is what I discovered after a bit of research…

The Atomic Age

Between the 1940s and ’60s, there were major concerns about nuclear war due to political and military tension after World War II between the Western Bloc (United States and its NATO allies) and the Eastern Bloc (Soviet Union and its allies). It is also known as the Cold War. It is termed “cold” because there were no major battles between the two sides.

This period is also known as the Atomic Age which influenced architectural and interior design as well as fine arts. It brought both anxiety and optimism to American society. While the power of atomic energy was very destructive, it held energy that was thought to be the basis of a new kind of modern civilization if properly harnessed.

Geometric atomic patterns began to be produced in home decor, china, wallpaper, curtains, furniture upholstery, and flatware patterns, to name a few. This look became very popular and instantly recognizable with its use of atomic motifs in so many different household items. Here are some of the atom-shaped light fixtures from that time:

You can still find vintage home decor items today with an atomic motif if you look for them. Last week, as I was walking through an antique store, I spotted this vintage starburst clock on the wall – straight out of the Atomic Age as a true Cold War relic!

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Googie Style Architecture

This look began to be used in architectural design as well, also called “Googie,” a form of modern architecture influenced by both the Atomic Age and the Space Age.

Upswept roofs, curvy, geometric shapes, and the use of glass, steel, and neon were all characteristic of Googie. You would also frequently see symbols of motion such as flying saucers, boomerangs, and atoms, representing American society’s fascination with this futuristic style. This theme could often be seen in motels, diners, gas stations, bowling alleys, and coffee shops.

Starbursts were common ornaments with Googie style. One of the most notable is the one that appears on the famous “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign:

 

 

 

 

 

This style of architecture is not as easy to find anymore. As Googie design became less valued over the years, many of the buildings in this style have unfortunately been demolished.

Accessorizing in the Atomic Age

The Atomic Age captured society’s fascination as well as its fears about nuclear power during World War II. The American fashion industry cashed in on this, mass-producing the look for women to accessorize with what was all the rage at that time.

During the war, women had to perform tasks in the workforce that had previously been male-dominated. Once the war was over, roles and fashions were redefined, emphasizing beauty through femininity. The rules of etiquette during the 1950s dictated that a fashionable woman must dress well, completing her look with jewelry to be socially acceptable. Brooches, necklaces, and bracelets became popular accessories and those that represented the Atomic Age were a favorite choice.

Atomic Age jewelry styles included the looks of swirling atoms, electrons, starbursts, and sunbursts. After going through my collection of vintage rings and cuffs I repurposed from clip earrings and brooches from the 1950s and ’60s, I found several of these designs. Here are a few examples:

Although most of the jewelry I am drawn to is vintage, I know I will enjoy wearing my new starburst statement necklace from 2016. I am thankful there is truth in the old saying, “Fashion always repeats itself.” It gives people like me a second chance to wear and enjoy it if you missed it the first time around!


Repurposed vintage costume jewelry can be found at www.kimberlymoorerings.com. For my latest finds, follow me on Instagram and Pinterest!

Kimberly Moore is a vintage costume jewelry expert, blogger, speaker, and author of Beauty in a Life Repurposed.

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Coco Chanel | May 3rd, 2016

She slowly pulled it out of the small, blue velvet bag and placed it carefully into my hands so I could get a closer look. It was striking. A girlfriend of mine returned from Paris, France with a stunning vintage Chanel necklace made of aqua blue glass, freshwater pearls, and antique gold that she found at the Saint-Ouen Flea Market in a northern suburb of Paris. And now I was lucky enough to be holding it, admiring the incredible detail in every inch of this necklace.

“Coco” Chanel

It was August 19, 1883 when Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel was born to an unwed mother in Saumur, France. Her father was a traveling salesman. She was only 12 years old when her mother died, so her father placed her in an orphanage of the Catholic monastery of Aubazine. She was raised by nuns who taught her how to sew which is what led her to her career as a fashion designer years later.

 

Chanel in 1920

When Chanel turned 18, she left the orphanage and took off for the town of Moulins to become a cabaret singer. She performed in clubs where she was nicknamed “Coco” by the soldiers after one of the songs she used to sing. When she was unable to get steady work as a singer, she began designing and selling hats in 1909.

Actress Gabrielle Dorziat wearing a Chanel plumed hat in 1912

Chanel soon opened a couple of couture shops as well as a large dress shop near the Hotel Ritz in Paris and began designing clothing. She always emphasized comfort, even with her flattering trademark suits and little black dresses, helping women leave behind the days of corsets and other confining garments. As Chanel once said, “Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.”

By 1915, the designs and clothing produced by the House of Chanel were known all throughout France. A year later, she had 300 employees working for her at her three locations.

Chanel No. 5

On the fifth day of the fifth month in 1921, Chanel launched her first perfume called Chanel No. 5, compounded by Russian-French chemist and perfumer, Ernest Beaux. He presented her with small glass vials containing sample scents that she had asked him to create, modernized for the liberated spirit of the 1920s. They numbered 1 to 5 and 20 to 24. She chose the fifth vial. Thus, the name Chanel No. 5. 

She perceived perfume as “the unseen, unforgettable, ultimate accessory of fashion that heralds your arrival and prolongs your departure.” This floral fragrance was backed by department store owner, Théophile Bader and businessmen, Pierre and Paul Wertheimer. A deal was negotiated giving the Wertheimers 70% of the profits for Chanel No. 5 for producing the perfume at their factories. Bader received 20% and Chanel only received a mere 10%. The perfume became an enormous source of revenue, so Chanel sued repeatedly to have the terms of the deal renegotiated. Finally, in May of 1947, they renegotiated the 1924 contract. Her earnings would now be approximately $25 million a year, making her at the time, one of the richest women in the world.

The Addition of Faux and Fine Jewelry

During the late 1920s, Chanel hired the legendary Duke Fulco di Verdura, an influential Italian jeweler who was introduced to Chanel at a party. He worked for her as her head designer of Chanel jewelry for eight years before opening his own shop in 1939. He is credited with creating the now iconic Maltese cross cuffs, setting a gold cross decorated with bright colored cabochons in white enamel. They have been copied numerous times over the years. He created many pieces that became Chanel’s most desired and recognizable jewelry today.

Duke Fulco di Verdura (1939)

Chanel launched her first fine jewelry collection using diamonds in the 1930s. It was inspired by the night sky with designs in the shapes of stars, constellations, and comets. She also loved layering multiple strands of both faux and real pearls with her clothing and wore them often.

With the international economic depression of the 1930s and ultimately, when World War II broke out in ’39, Chanel moved to the Hotel Ritz in Paris and was forced to close her business, shutting down her shops and leaving only jewelry and perfume for sale.

Chanel Jewelry Marks

In the beginning, Chanel rarely marked her pieces, perhaps because she viewed her jewelry as part of an entire ensemble to go with her clothing. The jewelry produced during this time period that did have the Chanel name stamped on it was actually not even made by Chanel. In 1941, an American costume jewelry company called the Chanel Novelty Company began producing costume jewelry stamping Chanel in script on each piece. Chanel protested the use of her name and sued the company which forced them to change their name and stop using the Chanel stamp. If you happen to own any of these pieces, however, they are still quite valuable as they mark a significant and stormy time in Chanel’s history.

In 1954, Chanel reopened her boutique in Paris. Although she was not very well accepted at first, critics and shoppers were soon won over with her easy-fitting classic designs and she became successful once again.

Chanel suit (1965)

She continued to manufacture costume jewelry such as necklaces, bracelets, brooches, and earrings to accompany her fashions. Much of it still remained unmarked until Robert Goossens, a French jeweler who also liked to mix genuine stones with fakes, helped design many of Chanel’s costume jewelry pieces which then began being stamped with the name CHANEL along with three stars underneath. Goossens created original pieces made of real gold and genuine stones which were copied for fashion shows and presentations, serving as the foundation for Chanel’s costume jewelry designs.

As one who truly enjoys collecting, repurposing, and wearing costume jewelry, I love this quote of hers: “Costume jewelry is not made to give women an aura of wealth, but to make them beautiful.”

Coco Chanel continued designing until her death at age 88 on January 10, 1971 at her apartment in the Hotel Ritz Paris. Goossens continued designing with the House of Chanel.

The markings on Chanel costume jewelry radically changed, now enclosing the name CHANEL in a stamped circle with the copyright and registered trademark stamps in the upper left and upper right corners of the circle, respectively. In the lower half of this circle was stamped, “Made in France.” And for the first time, pieces began to bear the interlocked “CC” logo which was stamped between CHANEL and “Made in France.”

The stamped plate on necklaces changed as well. A small, circular plate with the same stamp was folded in half over a link, barely noticeable unless one were to examine the piece closely. It took me quite awhile to find it on this necklace from the Saint-Ouen Flea Market, but here it is:

In 1980,“Made in France” was removed and replaced by a simple copyright symbol with the date that the piece was produced.

Continuing the Legacy

German fashion designer, Karl Lagerfeld became Chief Designer in 1983 to continue the legacy of Chanel, experimenting with different fabrics and styles. Throughout the ’80s, over 40 Chanel boutiques opened worldwide. Goosens collaborated with Lagerfeld throughout the 1980s and ’90s on costume jewelry designs for Chanel’s ready-to-wear and couture collections.

During the mid-’80s, Lagerfeld hired the inspiring Parisian jewelry designer, Victoire de Castellane, to be head designer of costume jewelry. A new mark was designed by her with CHANEL now stamped on an oval plate. It still had the copyright and registered trademark signs to the left and right, but underneath in the very center of the plate was the interlocked CC logo. In addition, on either side of the logo were numbers that indicated the season the piece was released. For example, if a piece was from Chanel’s 23rd season, it would have a 2 and 3 on either side of the logo. “Made in France” was brought back to the bottom of the oval plate. This style lasted from Chanel’s 23rd through their 29th season.

The plate was redesigned again in 1993. Most of it remained unchanged, but the numbers indicating the season were replaced by de Castellane with the last two digits of the year the piece was released to the left of the logo. It now also had the letter “A” or “P” which represented Automne/Autumn or Printemps/Spring, indicating the season within that year.

Although Victoire de Castellane left Chanel in 1998, there have been very few changes to the stamp that she introduced. A few of those changes include “Made in Italy” rather than “Made in France,” reflecting where it is produced, and the logo is stamped directly onto the pieces rather than first stamped onto a metal plate.

Chanel in the 21st Century

Today, Chanel is a privately held French company owned by Alain and Gerard Wertheimer, the grandsons of Pierre Wertheimer. The House of Chanel remains one of the premiere haute couture companies in the world, operating 310 boutiques worldwide, located in wealthy communities. The company recently paid the highest amount ever paid for retail space in Los Angeles, California at $152 million, or more than $13,000 per square foot for 11,500 square feet! Its products now include clothing, fragrances, handbags, and watches with its brand revenue totaling $5.4 billion in 2015.

400 North Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills

I must say, it wasn’t easy giving that beautiful necklace back. But if I ever get the chance to go to Paris, I’ll be headed straight for the flea markets to search for an amazing vintage Chanel treasure of my very own!

Repurposed vintage costume jewelry can be found at www.kimberlymoorerings.com. For my latest finds, follow me on Instagram and Pinterest!

Kimberly Moore is a vintage costume jewelry expert, blogger, speaker, and author of Beauty in a Life Repurposed.

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Starstruck by Hollywood Regency | April 4th, 2016

I recently purchased a pair of beautiful, sparkly clip earrings from the 1950s that were described to me by their previous owner as “Hollywood Regency.”

I had never heard that term used before and thought maybe it was the name of a costume jewelry manufacturing company. After a bit of research, however, I discovered it is not a company after all, but rather a style, also known as Regency Moderne. An interior design using bold colors with overtones of glitz and glamour, the look is often contrasted with metallic and glass accents, representing both luxury and comfort. What a fabulous combination!

This style originated during the 1920s with the very first interior design professional, Dorothy Draper.

Dorothy Draper in 1942

She encouraged actors and actresses of southern California’s movie-making industry to add drama and glamour to the decor of their beautiful estates during the “Golden Era” which lasted through the 1950s.

The Hollywood Regency style was also used with opulent Art Deco-inspired film sets created for the movies of the 1930s of which actresses such as Jean Harlow (pictured) and Carole Lombard were a part.

The sets were often brightly colored with upholstered fainting couches in rich velvet or satin and mirrored accent pieces. Audiences loved the look as it gave them an escape from having to face the bleak days ahead during the Great Depression.

Hollywood movies had a tremendous influence on their viewers, impacting many of their decisions about what they drank, drove, smoked, and the way they dressed. Women greatly admired the strong screen roles played by such talented actresses like Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, and Carole Lombard. They wanted to be just like them. They were truly “starstruck!”

During the 1940s and ’50s, the stars accessorized with bold costume jewelry in the movies which made it fashionably acceptable for women to start wearing it themselves as they wanted to feel wealthy and glamorous as well.

At that time, if you admired a necklace worn by Bette Davis in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, you could actually buy a copy at Woolworths, made by Joseff of Hollywood who designed the original! Stars such as Vivien Leigh and Elizabeth Taylor appeared in advertisements for the jewelry.

Elizabeth Taylor in 1953

Having it available at discounted retail stores made it possible for ordinary, working-class women to afford such jewelry that would otherwise be far too expensive. Now they could accessorize just like their favorite movie stars without the high price tag!

Before I bought those glamorous clip earrings described as “Hollywood Regency,” I would have never known about the rather large collection I already had sitting right at home. Now, if only I knew where to find a red velvet fainting couch…

Repurposed vintage costume jewelry can be found at www.kimberlymoorerings.com. For my latest finds, follow me on Instagram and Pinterest!

Kimberly Moore is a vintage costume jewelry expert, blogger, speaker, and author of Beauty in a Life Repurposed.

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