Friday, November 27, 2009

Old Bag, New Tricks!

Here's another oldie from the past, but with gift-giving time coming up, I thought this might give you some ideas.

As you may know, I make Hooch Bags that make a perfect little something for that saucy, someone special in your life. Basically, they're vintage bags filled with funny money, a nip of booze, a vintage surprise and candy cigarettes making for a naughty-but-nice gift. It's like a party in a handbag -- all concealed in pretty wrappings

This is one of the first bags I made last year out of a 1960s satin, beaded clutch in perfect condition that I ran across at a Housing Works thrift shop. And since my best gal pal Bevy Smith's birthday was coming up, it seemed predestined for her.

About the same time as finding the bag, I was dumfounded to discover a heap of vintage shopping bags in the recycling pile. I gasped when I spied among them a Bonwit Teller bag from the famous department store that closed its doors in 1990. Now this bag held special significance for me, since it reminded me of the stories Bevy shared with me about her parents purchasing school clothes for her and her siblings at Bonwit Teller and the warm memories she holds for a department store that only lives in memory.

From there, everything started to fall magically into place. I took the beaded bag and filled it with miniature bottles of rum and vodka and nestled them among bills of faux dough. Bevy's own Hooch Bag had finally started to materialize! Enough money in the world couldn’t buy Bevy the jewels she deserves, so I settled instead on the gloriously photographed book, Alchemy: A Passion for Jewels by Temple St. Clair, the inimitable jewelry designer, and wrapped it up in lavender tissue. The crowning moment came when I propped a vintage fan from the 1960s honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. and Bobby Kennedy inside a bed of silk violets that I bought in Manhattan’s floral district, all peering out of the top of the shopping bag.

If you'd like me to make a Hooch Bag for a special occasion or even a holiday gift, email me at and I'll give you all the details.

And remember, on Monday, November 30th, my first ever mystery giveaway begins at The Elegant Thrifter. I'll be giving clues all week long, reveal the prize on Friday, December 4, and finally announce the winner on December 7. I hope your Thanksgiving was a wonderful moment shared with family and friends!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!

The Elegant Thrifter

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hellooo Valerie!

Oh my! Valerie is off the chain!

When I went about creating a hostess gift for Cheryl Maedor of Gardenhouse who hosted a fab event in West Palm Beach last week for The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating With Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details, all I had to do was open my wardrobe trunk full of
vintage handbags for another Hooch Bag creation!

She looks all innocent and proper from the exterior -- her chic Parisian frame crafted especially for Saks Fifth Avenue back in the day. And why, she is even sporting a vintage Pierre Cardin scarf. But release her dainty clasp -- and woaaaah -- you discover she's a party gal packed with on-the-go margaritas, maraschino cherries, a TGI Fridays cocktail shaker, packs of candy cigarettes and a cordial glass to boot.

When it gets messy, she has a rain bonnet from Simmons Funeral Home in Kansas City, Kansas; if it's too hot, she's got a fan; and if she's looking for a travel destination, there's a 1940s brochure about Ponte Verdra on the Florida Coast.

Let's just say this daring lady is ready for anything!

If you'd like a Hooch Bag for a gift or special occasion, send me an email at

The holidays are on their way!

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Revolutionary New Bag

When putting together one of my Hooch Bags, I sort of let the thrift gods lead the way. This bag is a very special one, made for LeAnn Stephenson, The Vintage Laundress, as a hostess gift for putting together a tremendous Bastille Day party at Uptown Modern in Austin, Texas....and for being such a wonderful, new friend.

I didn't have my normal cache of funny money, candy cigarettes or discrete nips, but I didn't let that stop me as I perused the Allemany Flea market in Los Angeles. First, the blue suede bag appeared, then the fan fron Air France, and he vintage Parisian postcards and finally the French books. The hilarious vintage nylons showed up in a Goodwill in Austin, and my friend Deb Kelt donated the French dictionary and the red and blue ribbon.

Et VoilĂ ! A bag fit to cause a revolution!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Friday, May 8, 2009

Oh Judy!

It's a Hooch Bag by the Elegant Thrifter kind of moment, especially when Mother's Day is peeking around the corner. Now this lovely Judy is smokin' today, made for a special order that's going to be overnighted to a mom who apparently shares my gal's passion for funny money and a discrete nip.

Now you don't have to be as naughty as Judy to please your dear, sweet mother. You can fill a vintage handbag full of candy, brownies, a gift certificate or even a shimmery piece of jewelry....sure to make your mama proud. 

For more thrifty ideas, buy  The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating With Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details  at BordersBarnes & Noble,Amazon and Powell's.

Puffing on a candy cigarette -- The Elegant Thrifter -- Always frugal, always fabulous!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Ferocious Fifi!

So you already met the sassy Sabrina at The Elegant Thrifter, but get to know her sassy gal pal Fifi. Oh she's a fine specimen of a Hooch Bag, filled with a ton of cash, a gallery map of Paris and a nice-old nip of Absinthe. They say too much of the sauce will make your crazy, but Fifi, like her pal Sabrina, are good time gals ready for a night on the town. Oh they're pretty gals, but look inside their stash and you might just flip your wig!

For more information on The Hooch Bag by The Elegant Thrifter email

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Old Bags, New Tricks!

My girls were on parade last week at the Miraval Living Retail Therapy show coordinated by Grace Group and my gre at pal Nancy Berger. They wriggled, they jiggled, and they giggled for four days until many of them go picked up and toted away.

So Long Sonya! Later Lola! Ta Ta Petula! and Goodbye Dolly! Oh, it's sad to see my gals go, but they'll be back soon enough -- after a little nip and tuck to keep them looking good.

I've got a whole new hard-working crew ready to take the stage, but until then, feast your eyes upon last week's extravaganza, and the gorgeous stage effects and sexy hangtags that my set producer Eagle Eye Elliott created.

For more information on The Hooch Bag by The Elegant Thrifter, email

Monday, March 30, 2009

Good Golly, Molly

I picked up Molly because she was a gorgeous and naturally green little bag made by Isaac Mizrahi for Target. 

Not my typical vintage bag, but I loved her just the same. She appeared to be a literary type, seeming keeping her thoughts in a notebook as she wandered the woods and other dark places, until I noticed she was heading off with a nip of tequila in her folds. And then I read her observations one day -- woah does she have some tales to tell.

Read the story Nancy Berger told about Hooch Bags by The Elegant Thrifter in her blog, The Gift of Style. And come see me at Retail Therapy April 3, from 3 pm to 7 pm; and  April 4 and 5, from Noon to 5 at 515 E. 72nd Street. I hear its going to be a shopping extravaganza...and a lot of fun. My girls will be high-kicking like crazy. 

Just take a gander  the spectacle they created at last week's Brooklyn Flea Pop-Up Market in Dumbo!

For more info on my lovelies, email:

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Back to the Flea!!

The Elegant Thrifter will be back at the Brookln Flea Pop-Up Market this coming Sunday. Come by and say Howdy, and take a peek at his new book: The Find, The Housing Works Book of Decorating With Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details. It's his only copy, but you can order one for yourselves at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Borders, and it'll be shipped to you in May.

In the meantime, take a good look at Nanette, a lovely department-store purse from the 1960s before she got all hooched up for a night on the town. She used to be all, "No! No!" But these days, she a "Yes!" gal. Oh, you'll see the difference in her when you come out to see her in her Sunday best. And we're not talking about her singin' in the choir!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Get Your Hustle On!

Oh my girls are out of their minds today since they discovered that my pal Ali who runs 21st-Century Hustle posted this great article about Hooch Bags by The Elegant Thrifter. They took the weekend off from shimmying and shaking at The Brooklyn Flea-Pop Up Market to re-group and get re-styled for their next outing.

Now the lovely pink Dolly clutch has been showing cleavage for a few weeks, all trussed up in a pretty silk scarf, carrying a trio of hard candy sticks and a nip of tequila but has been belly-aching about not getting enough attention. Here she is in all her satiny glory. Take a long gander at this lovely, and while you're at it, savour the new Dolly Parton Backwoods Barbie video.

Now that's a show worth repeating!

In May, Clarkson Potter will publish my book, The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details. Pre-order now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Borders.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Gorgeous and Gone!

My gals worked overtime yesterday at the Brooklyn Flea Pop-Up Market, and I put Coco right on the front line, and guess what, she ran off with the first offer. I guess it was the discrete nip that made her loose and the spotted retro scarf that made her utterly and dreamily irresistible.
It was also the first outing for my book, The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating With Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage details (Clarkson Potter), which   comes out in May.  It's perched proudly at the left of the table. Pre-order now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Borders

Friday, March 6, 2009

Hooching Again!

I'm toting my gals out to the Brooklyn Flea Popup Market in 
Dumbo this Saturday. It's been a couple of weeks since they've hit the stage, and they're primed to strut there stuff and collect a little dough.

Here's the lovely Jacqueline, a demure Ronny Kobo clutch in a springy pink tweed, and topped off with a vintage style brooch. But once she ties on a retro scarf, packs up a ton of funny money and takes a nip of gin, why, it's showtime!

For more information, contact

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Have Liquor, Will Travel

Here's a before and after that's a kick in the pants.

Lovely Natasha was once a time-honored 1940s Deco Whiting and Davis steel and mesh bag. She's certainly seen her share of good times, and how could she not with all that sparkle and shimmer sure to catch a fella's fancy. 

But get a little liquor in her and she's strutting her stuff, all the way out to the Brooklyn Flea Pop-Up Market again, this Saturday, February 21. 

For information, contact

Monday, February 16, 2009

A transformation....

So Liza was a pretty flashy gal, even before she got all hooched up with a bottle of Happy Helpers, a ton of funny money and a nip of gin. She shimmied and high kicked all day long at the Brooklyn Flea last Saturday, and finally attracted some attention -- so much so that someone took her home.


For more information, email

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Gals on the Town

My gals hit the town yesterday at The Brooklyn Flea's Pop Up Market in Dumbo. 

Here they are all hooched up to the hilt, shimmying for the crowd and getting lots of attention with all their funny money and nips of booze. Some even found new homes, as far as I can tell -- at least for the evening! 

For more information on Hooch Bags by The Elegant Thrifter, email

Friday, February 13, 2009

Shimmy Shimmy!

If you venture out to Dumbo tomorrow to see The Elegant Thrifter at The Brooklyn Flea's Pop-Up Market it's guaranteed that you'll be treated to a trio of shimmering ladies who are in the process of getting the final touches of all their hoochiness for tomorrow's fabulous festivities. 

When you get a bunch of glamor gals in the same room, there's bound to be a bunch of "bitchin' and a pissin' and a  moanin'", as the legendary Dolly Parton puts it, and this one centers around stage names. Two glittery gold clutches want to be Marilyns, and I can see why. But you can't have two legends in one show, so I'll let them scratch it out. 

But Donnatella is spot-on even before she's had a nip of vodka, a ciggie or two and a handful of happy pills.  Oh, It's gonna be a spectacle -- for sure! 

For more information, email

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Pretty in Pink

I know it's a little far out to start thinking about spring, but these three beauties caught my eye today and got me thinking about the warmer weather just around the corner.

Here are three thrift-store lovelies in the innocent state before they get all hooched up to go out on the town.

One of the first bags I found was this perky fabric covered number by designer Ronny Kobo. I'm calling her Coco because she reminds me of a Chanel jacket.

Next Dolly appeared. All turned out in hot pink and accented by appliqued butterflies, this silky country queen is made by a brand called Geg Handmade. 
Then my stargazing turned to the naive Natalie. Purely delightful in pale pink, this 1960s bag is by Paris Style, but made in the good ole US of A!

Come see me this Saturday at the Brooklyn Flea's Pop-up market, 81 Front St. in Dumbo. Visit for more info. Or email The Elegant Thrifter at

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Good Time Gals

These gals are hot to trot, and will be making an appearance at The Brooklyn Flea's Pop Up Market on February 14, Valentine's Day, in Dumbo. 

Carla is a super-fancy mini-backpack. And she's the real thing -- you can tell by her authentic Louis Vuitton logos that cover her body. 

Then there's Brigitte, a vintage, lucite and metal birdcage bag
 that gets a little loopy, especially after a split of Veuve and a candy smoke, or two. She's a saucy girl, especially when she doffs the bikini top to hit the beach in St. Tropez.

Come visit them out in Brooklyn this weekend. They're sure to show you a good time! Or for more information email

Monday, February 9, 2009

Show Girls A-Go-Go!

Lola is a cute little gal that becomes a showstopper when decked out in a fanciful feather and hooched out with a both a nip of gin AND vodka to get her through the evening.

And then there's Liz -- she was already wild as a leopard and gets even racier when she hits the road with a bottle of happy pills all washed down with a shot of the hard stuff. Here's a picture of her before she got all hooched up.

For more information about these naughty-but-nice gals, contact


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Newly Admitted Hoochies!

I have some new gals that will soon be joining the ranks of my naughty-but-nice Hooch Bags. 
Just look at this white stamped leather treasure from the 1960s. She is ready for spring and a nip of gin. 

And then there's this fabulous floral number with raised details. I bet she blossoms with a shot of tequila or two! 

For more information on these gorgeous gals, just send an email to

Monday, February 2, 2009

Bye, Bye Bette!

It's time to say bye-bye to my bad girl Bette. She's been snapped up to fly to Los Angeles to surprise a fabulous fashion stylist. Bette is a bodacious Betsey Johnson vintage bag with a metal bow clasp. She's packed with funny money, sips of vodka and a candy coin or two.

Her makeover was so dramatic that I've included a before picture of Bette, as well. But as you can see, she was a looker before she got all hooched up!

For more information, email

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Grace is going, going, gone!

Grace is on her way to Independence, MO. My sister, Cheryl Bradley, needed a Hooch Bag for a Rotary Club event and sent me an email requesting my glamorous Grace. She's such a classic, with her sophisticated lines and diminutive size, all topped off with a tasteful bow. But look inside her and you'll see two nips of gin, a nip of vodka and a whole lot of funny money!

Contact The Elegant Thrifter:

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Hoochie Coochie

Welcome to Hooch Bags by The Elegant Thrifter. These little naughty-but-nice hooch bags to-go are individually curated by hand with a wink and a nod to speakeasy culture. Each vintage bag has been rescued from obscurity by The Elegant Thrifter is filled with a ton of funny money, a taste of something sweet, a vintage surprise and a little nip of booze.

Cast your eyes upon the haughty little,Lindsay, at left. She sold really quickly. I think it was the Charlotte Ronson lighter and the bright pink bow that made her so alluring. Or maybe it was the miniature monkey wrench that dangles from her handle. 

Visit often to see availablity, or for special orders, email