Portland Favorites – Living Threads Vintage

Living T

Living Threads Vintage is one of my favorite stores in Portland. The adorable, friendly couple who own it, Christine and Travis, sell vintage men and women’s clothing both in the store and in their Etsy shop. Their wares include pretty dresses from a wide range of eras, a wonderful collection of hats, Pendleton woolens for men, a nicely edited collection of jewelry, vintage shoes, ties, and the odd antique treasure you didn’t know you needed. (A lipstick case from the 1920s? So pretty!)

Walking into the cute little shop is always a treat because Christine or Travis greet you warmly and you can tell they care about their customers. They love talking about vintage clothing but let you shop quietly if that’s what you prefer. The store is very clean; no musty mothball, smoke, or other off-putting scents. They put a lot of thought into curating a collection of interesting clothes and other objects. The clothing is in excellent condition and has been cleaned or steamed.

The merchandise available varies widely depending on what they’ve sourced – you might find a flapper dress in beautiful condition, a dapper gentlemen’s silk scarf, a polyester Nik-Nik shirt from the 70s, or a chartreuse dirndl skirt. It’s a wonderful place for a treasure hunt, and the service is warm and friendly. If you like vintage clothing, do stop by – they’re downtown right across from the Central Library.


Display case full of goodies.

Living Threads interior

Pretty objects artfully displayed

alligator shoes

1940s Alligator Pumps

Photo by Living Threads Vintage

Early 1920s dress with velvet applique. Photo by Living Threads Vintage

Victorian bag

Victorian pocketbook

Art deco sterling silver necklace with glass stones

Art deco sterling silver necklace with glass stones

Living Threads Vintage
1008 SW Taylor Portland, OR 97205


Head over Heels

Museum of Modern Art Tokyo

Image courtesy Museum of Modern Art Tokyo.

My interest in shoes and in Art Deco fashion led my wandering researcher’s brain to search for Art Deco shoes, and look what I found! Beautifully crafted wooden heels decorated with rhinestones, beads, and colored celluloid  – I’m head over heels in “love” with these! [NB: My English teachers would not approve “loving” inanimate objects- apologies to Mrs. Cantrell.] As I searched for more information on decorative heels, I stumbled across the wonderful website Shoe Icons that describes itself as the “First Russian Virtual Shoe Museum.” The website has nicely organized collections of shoes, printed material, and shoe accessories you can browse or search for, and it’s been meticulously documented. The Museum also publishes books, including one called Red Shoe which I’d love to see. I couldn’t find it in WorldCat, alas.


The other website I found useful in this research was the Kyoto Costume Institute’s Digital Archives. Its focus is Western clothing and includes a timeline you can click on to see fashions from a particular era. Their archive is sponsored by Wacoal.

Shoe-Icons.com. Wooden heels covered with pearlized celluloid, decorated with flowers, painted in bronze, green and violet.

Wooden heels covered with pearlized celluloid, decorated with flowers, painted in bronze, green and violet. Image courtesy Shoe Icons.

Silly fashion rules – no alligators in the evening?

Alligator shoes - texture

It’s fun to look at old books about fashion and etiquette. One rule that’s always puzzled me is why alligator and other exotic skins are only supposed to be worn during the day, not after dark. Genevieve Antoine Dariaux, French author of the book Elegance (1964) wrote that “Alligator is strictly for sports or travel, shoes as well as bags, and this respected reptile should be permitted to retire every evening at 5 PM.”

Alligator shoes -shape and color

With all due respect to Madame Dariaux, I disagree – my alligator pumps are pretty and elegant, and wouldn’t be much fun to play badminton in. I’d certainly wear them to work during the day, but I’d be just as likely to wear them to an event in the evening if they matched what I was wearing. Not a formal event, but if I were going to a board meeting or out to  a nice dinner, why not?

I found these amazing shoes at Living Threads Vintage, a small little vintage store across the street from the Multnomah County Central Library. Older shoes often come in narrow sizes, which have become much harder to find in physical stores. The skins are in great shape and the shoes fit really well. They are likely from the 40s, looking at the toe box and heel. I think they’ll go very well with one of my tweed skirts! Oh, can one wear tweed in April?!

More Art Deco Lines

This pretty ring looks like silver with a spinel but it’s actually some kind of pot metal with a glass stone. It has no markings on the inside, and has that rough pot metal look. I really like the strong lines of the ring, and the long, rectangular stone. My guess is it’s from the 1920’s or early 1930s. The sides of the ring remind me of the Chrysler building in New York City.

Musée international de la Chaussure (Europeana)

I was looking for interesting public domain photographs and came across Europeana, a wonderful website with “paintings, music, films and books from Europe’s galleries, libraries, archives and museums.” Their website says that about 1500 European institutions have contributed to the site. My search for shoes in the 1920s led to this amazing pair of pumps made by Hellstern and Sons, a Parisian company founded in 1925. They are white kid leather embellished with black. I can’t quite figure out the translation – it could little black seed pearls or steel beads. BabelFish was no help.

This photo shows is a section of a woolen afghan knitted by my mother’s great aunt in the twenties. The yarns are red, black, and a really interesting beige and cream mixed yarn. I really like the color combination and the geometric shapes.