Livin’ La Vida Vintage Chicago Style

Livin’ La Vita Vintage – Chicago Style

The Weather Channel reported It was 8° in Chicago with record amounts of ice on Lake Michigan.  Of course that meant it was an excellent time to visit.

Livin La Vida VintageIt had been over a year since Madge’s  24-hour Chicago whirlwind for National Hat Day last winter.  Now there was another fun reason to go – the Cat’s Pajamas vintage show in Elgin, via Chi town.  Since this was her first time at the show Madge wisely enlisted a couple of cagey veterans, gal pals Iris and Lorraine, to show her the ropes.

Livin La Vida Vintage Chicago Style
Sweet Lorraine

It was torture waiting the hour before the show opened, but we did ogle what we could see from the line.  Lorraine was a big hit in her fetching ensemble. Finally the gates opened and the stampede began. After living in the south so long, Madge was eager to dump her coat and proceeded to wander off to find the rumored coat check. Rookie mistake. While she wasted a precious 20 minutes, Iris and Lorraine were off and running. They didn’t need to dump no stinking coat. Time to woman up, Madge!

After that false start, Madge hit her stride. Everyone has their own way of working shows.  This gal likes to give it the once over, taking a quick look at the whole place then back tracking to inspect her favorite vendors. This show was the bomb. The quality and variety of vintage was spectacular. Madge isn’t used to seeing this much top notch apparel in one place. Every period was represented, from authentic Victorian to Seventies psychedelic.

Here’s a rundown on some of Madge’s favorites.

Madge was agog at the wonderful display of brooches at Miss Kitty’s Litter box. Love the wicker bag, jean jacket and bust she used to display her cool collection of brooches and buttons. 

livin la vida vintage chicago style

Kitty was also showing a fabulous collection of evening bags from the 20s to the 50s. Catch that fun pink poodle lamp in the corner?

Livin La Vida Vintage Chicago Style







Next up was Musser’s Atomic Antiques with hats and bags galore. Madge has a real weakness for 60s linen bucket handbags and she fell hard for this jeweled, travel motif one. Livin La Vida Vintage Chicago StyleWhat could be better than Paris, London and Rome in rhinestones? Cindy Musser also had some magnificent hats, as you can see. That certain orange-feathered number in the middle, a la Phyllis Diller, now has a new home in Atlanta.Livin La Vida Vintage Chicago Style








NOV had a sweet collection of vintage wedding cake toppers from the 50s and 60s.  Owner Adrienne Baskin also fashions mirrored trays with frames of broken vintage jewelry.  Madge was very envious since she and her glue gun are not on speaking terms.  Anyway, the effect of the toppers placed on the livin la vida vintage chicago styletrays was stunning and would be a great idea for wedding decorations.


In a complete change of pace NOV also displayed dramatic vintage tribal necklaces.

Livin La Vida Vintage Chicago Style






Another of Madge’s weaknesses is vintage silk scarves and Swell Stuff had a fab collection, also artfully displayed on drying racks. 

livin la vida vintage chicago style

livin la vida vintage chicago style
Love this 50s purse


Further down the row, a brilliant collection of 60s & 70s enamel flower brooches stopped Madge dead in her tracks. How much does Madge love enamel flowers? Let her count the ways. These pieces are so of the era, and yet still so fresh. With all the bright colors it is impossible to be in a funk livin la vida vintage chicago stylewearing one of these beauties. Karen Renfrow, of MallGirl1954 had one of the best collections seen to date, and great prices to boot. Madge was so enraptured she almost missed this vintage hard-sided purse from the 50s, in beautiful tones of mottled gray.

Madge also spied an unusual display of old photos at MallGirl in the style of  large campaign buttons, only with couples instead of politicians. Karen explained it was a collection of wedding mementos that were popular in the 20s and 30s. Small hand mirrors with a wedding photo on the reverse.  Another great idea for today’s brides.

livin la vida vintage chicago style


One of the Madge’s favorite clothing vendors was Sarah Emrick of Imaginary Girl vintage. This beautiful orange day dress and jacket was impeccable and in Madge’s favorite color.  Here’s Sarah, the Imaginary Girl,  herself posing in her delightful vintage ensemble.

livin la vida vintage chicago style

livin la vida vintage chicago style








This artful combination of hatboxes at Independence Vintage wins Madge’s Best Display award. Lucite purses and shoes stacked like a wedding cake with the topper:  a black and pink Lucite purse with a keyboard lid, decorated with musical notes on the sides. Complete with glittery candelabra this is a purse Liberace would be proud to carry.

livin la vida vintage chicago style
Love that Chas Stevens Co., Chicago, Hatbox.


Museum quality was the emphasis at Somewhere in Time from LaGrange Park, Illinois, Jo Addie’s display of vintage gowns and dresses took Madge’s breath away. Take a look at this line up. The rust velvet dress in the middle is a gorgeous authentic 20s flapper gown with flawless details.

livin la vida vintage chicago style


 Two contemporary faves were this knit St. John dress from the 70s, and a Mary McFadden from the 80s, reveling in her trademark Fortuny-style pleating.

livin la vida vintage chicago style

Madge fell hard for this jewelry travel case, which at first glance is just a pretty wooden box, but on opening an elaborate fitted case, lined with deep emerald velvet and silk. Madge thought for sure some fancy Park Avenue dame must have owned it, but Jo revealed that it had come from a small town in Tennessee. Boy if that box could talk.

livin la vida vintage chicago style
If Madge only had the jewels, sigh.









Jo saved the best for last. A huge collection of Art Nouveau Czech glass jewelry from the 1920s, never worn. Discovered in a locked warehouse, Czech glass is highly collectible, and some of the colors in her display, especially the blues and greens, were ones Madge had never seen before. Imagine finding a cache of “brand new” jewelry from the 1920s.


Czech glass






Here’s Jo posing with just a small part of her dazzling collection.  

Livin La vida vintage chicago style










After that extravaganza, Linsday from Frocks &  Frills let Madge sit down to decompress with another hat fix. Ah, just what the doctor ordered.

Livin la vida vintage chicago style







The best vendors at any show are the ones eager to chat with you about their collections. In addition to everyone mentioned, who carefully explained their selections, another great vintage seller was Suzanne Snow of Susie’s.  Madge bought several pieces of jewelry from her and was in awe of some very impressive fashion prints.  Susie explained that they were porchoir art prints. These illustrations, from French fashion magazines of the 20s and 30s , were made with layers of stenciled color, a meticulous process resulting in a type of print that is like no other. Suzanne finds these in France and then showcases them in vintage frames. Delightful!

Livin La Vida Vintage Chicago Style
Pochoir Prints


Livin La Vida Vintage Chicago Style
Here’s Suzanne and husband with some of their prized prints.









Madge finally pooped out about three hours later and reconnoitered with Lorraine and Iris at the snack bar to check out each other’s loot. Iris, as usual, found some wonderful hats.  Livin La Vida VintageLorraine found yet another coat.  


And Madge? Well in addition to buying some great hats for the shop and a little jewelry for herself, she scored this marvelous 1960s full-length ivory mohair coat by Lucie Ann of Beverly Hills, a designer of lingerie and lounge wear in the 50s-70s.  Now she just needs to get Mr. Madge to take her out on the town!


Livin La Vida Vintage Chicago style
Lucie Ann designed all of Eva Gabor’s negligee for “Green Acres”

Check out the information on the Cat’s Pajamas vintage shows in Elgin.   Will I see you at the next one in September?somewhere 03

Love and Hats

Next up: more vintage Chicago with a little Pisa, Italy thrown in.



Information on the highlighted vintage dealers:
Frocks & Frills, 230 S. Hale St., Wheaton IL  60187, 630 221-9400
Imaginary Girl, on Etsy at &
Independence Vintage, on Etsy at
MallGirl1954, by Appointment at 1741 W. Gregory St. Chicago, IL,  on eBay at: mallgirl1954
Miss Kitty’s Litter Box,,
Musser’s Atomic Antiques, Winnebago, IL,
Somewhere in Time www.somewhereintime/tv/jewelry.html
Susie’s,, 847-7157 on eBay at:  Susiesnow
Swell Stuff,

Comment Below


  1. I agree that Independence Vintage has the best display (as well as stock and prices)!!!! I seek them out at their many venues like Randolph Street and other neighborhood fairs!

  2. What a great write-up of a fabulous event! Now I know all the things that I missed while making a beeline for the hats.

  3. Madge, what a great Chicago report. The vintage stuff made my mouth water and if you can find a white coat like that for me, grab it!! (Well it beats the men with them, doesn’t it?).

  4. So glad you got to go to this tremendous vintage event. Next time I hope I can go with you. Now what hat should I wear?

Send a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.