Archive of ‘Personal Style’ category

Caro Nan Basket Purses: Mid-Century Treasures

Caro Nan basket pursesUpdated January 2017  I found out about Caro Nan basket purses while I was having lunch at my favorite little co-op last week, lamenting my lack of inspiration for blog posts. As I ate my free range, organic soup, a woman sat at the table next to mine and took out a little picnic basket. As she ate her free range, organic soup, I eyed up the little basket. I’d never seen anything like it. It was very obviously vintage and had clearly seen better days, since its little painted houses were chipped and the wooden lid worn. I summoned up the courage to approach her and interrupt her lunch (which is pretty uncharacteristic of me, but anything for the sake of blogging).

The woman told me that it was a Caro Nan basket and she’d bought it at a local vintage store. She showed me a penny with the year of its manufacture glued to the top. I let her return to her lunch and ran home to research this adorable new discovery.

History of Caro Nan Basket Purses

Very little information exists on Caro-Nan baskets, and the information I did find was anecdotally sourced from people who remember buying the baskets, or whose mothers had one, or were friends with the basket makers themselves. Piecing together this information, it appears that they were created in the 1960s and ‘70s by Carolyn McDaniel and Nancy Steele out of Jacksonville, Mississippi. The two friends started making purses as a hobby which then grew into a business that employed local housewives. Nancy’s daughter had the job of gluing  the pennies to the top of the baskets. The baskets enjoyed wide popularity in the South and soon were sold throughout the U.S.

One distinguishing feature of Caro-Nans is the village painted on the sides. Many of the baskets were customized for the places they were sold, and the paintings depicted actual shops and buildings in the town. Other designs were custom painted for the owners and include motifs of animals, mushrooms, insects, fruit or flowers. Decoupage elements were sometimes added to the lid or rim of the baskets, and a floral lining covers the inside.

Caro Nan basket purses with pennyHere’s the top of a 1968 Caro Nan basket purse and the close of up the penny. Find similar styles for sale on Etsy.

One distinct characteristic of Caro Nan is images of streets and buildings, but they can have other designs as well, such as this one of flowers.  As long as the signature is there, it’s a real Caro Nan.

Buying Caro Nan Basket Purses

Caro Nan basket purses sell for $10-40, depending on the condition. I’ve seen them even higher, in the $100+ region. This whale Caro Nan is an example. If you want a pristine basket you might have to look harder since these were created to be used as purses and naturally sustained wear and tear. If you’re just looking for a unique lunch box to have passerby admire at the co-op, you’re in luck as they are relatively easy to find online and at vintage shops at a reasonable price point. I know I’m definitely going to be keeping my eye out for one so I can eat my lunch in vintage style. If you see any for sale, let me know.

If you have a story about Caro Nan basket purses or have more information about the history of the baskets, I would love to hear from you!

Updated 3/2016: A reader kindly informed me of an article in her local newspaper about the founders of Caro Nan and an upcoming show at the ESSE Purse Museum in Little Rock, Arkansas. Thank you so much for keeping up informed on information on this subject!

If you’re interested in Caro Nan and other vintage finds and vintage-inspired style, follow along on Facebook!

Love basket purses? It looks like some designers are bringing out updated basket purse designs for spring.

Photography/Vintage Moving Sale in Northeast Minneapolis

vintage dressesOn my walk to the coffee shop today, I stumbled across some signage with the magical word “sale.” Being up for an adventure, I followed the signs into one of the buildings in the old Grain Belt Brewery complex. Upstairs, a beautiful artist’s loft with exposed brick and high windows was filled with props, photography supplies and vintage items as photographer Christopher Grey is downsizing his photo studio and putting his stuff up for sale. If you’re a Minneapolis vintage collector, photographer or just an urban adventurer up for a little eclectic shopping, hit up this sale right away as he’ll be gone in a week.

Vintage saleThe sale continues through this weekend. Find it at 77 13th Ave. NE Suite 202, Minneapolis, MN 55413. Contact Chris to check on the status of the sale before you go.

DragonGame of thrones fan? Chris is selling a $400 dragon.

star wars cupsAnd, on the more affordable side, Star Wars cups for only $5.

I love bringing news of vintage sales, pop-up shops and local store and shopping events to Minneapolis fashion shoppers. Know of a current or upcoming sale or event? Let me know!

St. Patrick’s Day Style

St Patrick's Day Style Guide

Last spring was all about mint. This year’s limelight is on mint’s yellower cousin, a limeade hue that lends itself perfectly to the green holiday itself, St. Patrick’s Day. Hopefully you won’t run into any pinchers on March 17th, but why not add a little spring green to your day anyway? In lieu of garish head to toe green, here are some cute and subtle ways to accessorize your way into St. Patrick’s Day in style.

Yellow Owl shamrock necklace; Green nail color; Restricted heels ; St. Patty’s Day scarf, handmade item from Etsy.

4 Ways to Get Ready for Spring NOW

Periwinkle ScarfSorry to be blunt, but March is here and spring is not. But I’m pretty sure that it’s coming…eventually. Here are some things I’ve found to help put spring in your mood, if not the weather forecast.

1. If you can’t bring yourself to stock up on short sleeve blouses yet (just looking at the thin fabrics on the shelf makes me shiver), pick up an affordable new accessory in the coming season’s hot colors such as orchid and peach. Target’s selection of fun spring accessories yielded the scarf in the photo.

2. Do some spring cleaning to make room for new things in life. Getting organized and clearing clutter is refreshing in more ways than one. It signals that you’re embracing changes to come, whether that’s a new season or a new chapter in your life. To make room for the new, host a stuff swap or donate to a worthy charity.

3. Bring a little spring inside with a new plant. I especially like succulents because they’re self-sufficient and look cheery in the bright sun. Or try terrariums, which have enough whimsy for all seasons.

4. Make a tropical dish, like my Pineapple Pecan Dip, that’s sure to make you and your friends believe that warm temps are right around the corner.

Pretty & Professional

Hopkins Center for the Arts I was on my high school’s mock trial team (as if being in art school wasn’t nerdy enough), and I wasn’t very good at it. In fact, the only positive thing to come out of that extracurricular was the realization that nothing can elicit the feeling of power and professionalism like a polished outfit finished off with a blazer. But sadly, I’m not a fan of wearing suits. They’re not very comfortable and they’re pretty boring! So I’ve developed techniques to put together outfits that are professional yet still have both personality and comfort. If you work in a creative industry or an office with a business casual dress code, it’s absolutely okay to play with the balance of personal and professional style. My favorite techniques for putting together a comfortable, pretty and office-approved outfit are pictured here: low-heeled boots, a skirt with fun flair, a blazer in a stretch fabric, and eye-catching jewelry.

Hopkins Center for Arts Feminine details like gold jewelry and a layered lace pencil skirt balance out the semi-tailored jacket. This is my current favorite marriage of office-appropriate tailoring and artsy, feminine touches. You can forget the matchy-matchy suit sets as long as common colors and harmonious patterns/textures bind the pieces of your outfit together.

Necklace: Modcloth; Blazer: Carlson (bought at Nordstrom Rack); Skirt: Modcloth; Boots: Franco Sarto

Location: Hopkins Center for the Arts

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