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We Goofed: Vera & Vera

  • While we've only heard from one reader who spotted our Vera Maxwell mistake in Alligators... we can't believe we made such a dumb mistake and we want to correct it. We confused two designers, both named Vera, and the woman we wanted to identify in our book is Vera Neumann (see page 182 in the hardback edition). Vera Maxwell was also a design legend, with a career spanning fifty years, but it is Neumann whose screen prints appeared on everything from dresses to napkins and tablecloths.

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Christine McBride

Thanks so much for these posts, they're great. I've read Alligators, but it's nice to have certain points emphasised on the blog. A lot of the brands don't translate outside of America, obviously, (I live in NZ) but it's great to have some pointers. (Any chance you could include the odd snapshot of particularly lovely bags that go through the shop?) I travelled to Colorado and LA recently, and had my copy of Alligators in my handbag the whole time to guide me! It made my vintage shopping so much more fun, and I got really excited when I saw a Lilli Ann coat in Colorado. Too expensive for me, but it was cool to be able to recognise a quality brand. I felt like I was in some kind of exclusive club! Christine


I bought a Koret bag this summer. It's in pretty good shape, black leather, with a pretty chain handle. I paid practically nothing for it too! Good to hear it's a well respected brand!

Vanessa Garcia

I appreciate your information about hunting for the best vintage bag. I was aware of all the steps you mentioned because i am a collector of rare vintage and designer bags. I haven't been fortunate enough to collect as long as you have been but it was your book that inspired me to become a serious collector. I loved the book you and your daughter wrote. It is nice to know there are women out there thinking and appreciating the items from the past and giving them a new life in the future.

Tsipi Lavan

I just bought a small woven leather satchel style shoulder bag in burgundy with a small embossed metal label inside that says Meyers, USA. I picked it up at a thrift store. Originally I thought I would discover it was a Fred Meyers private label and just a nice little inexpensive bag. Having had no success in locating any information about Meyers Handbags specifically, though I did find one link which said the company name was actually Meyers Manufacturing Company and that the famous designer Bonnie Cushin worked for them at some point, I wasn't able to find a company history, when it went out of business, or what their brand logo(s) may have looked like. Having stumbled across your site and reading it's a brand you always have your eye out for, now I am very curious to learn more. What can you tell me about the company and their brand logo that might help me determine if this one I bought is one of theirs? Any ideas regarding it's value??? Thank you! Tsipi


I found a Koret purse today at an outlet store and it appears to be in almost mint condition...just a few small wear spots on the corners and straps. How do I find out more information on when this was made and the value today. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!

Betty @ Fashion Handbags

Great tips you gave here. Although I sometimes indulge myself into buying vintages- at these hard times I prefer to just settle for less. I'm keeping your tips in mind just in case I do stumble on one. Thanks!

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All About Hooti Couture...

  • Fall/Winter 2013 Hours: Seven days a week, 11-8

    How the heck do you get to Brooklyn? It's easy. You'll find Hooti at:

    321 Flatbush Avenue (at Seventh Avenue)

    Closest neighborhoods: Park Slope, Prospect Heights

    Best subway lines: B & Q trains (exit at Seventh Avenue and you'll find Hooti across the street)

    Phone: 718-857-1977

Find Your Way to Hooti!

What Is Alligators...?

  • Alligators, Old Mink & New Money, One Woman's Adventures in Vintage Clothing was written by sisters Alison and Melissa Houtte and is available in the U.S. and Canada in both hardback (top; William Morrow/Harper Collins) and paperback (Avon Trade). You can also buy the UK edition (Orion Publishing) in hardback in England, Australia, New Zealand, Scotland and Wales. Orion's paperback edition (below) is also now on sale.


Alligators & the Media

  • Woman's Day, March 2007 issue; Heat magazine, UK Feb. 3-9, 2007, and many reviews and touts from 2005/2006, when our book was first published: People magazine ("charming memoir"); New York Post (3 1/2 star review); Women's Wear Daily; New York Times; OK magazine; TimeOut New York; All Things Considered, NPR (Jan. 15; you can hear it at; Glamour (British edition, "a must for all vintage die-hards"); InStyle, (British edition, "a charming journey"); Madison magazine (Australia); Body & Soul magazine; and Newsday, Associated Press, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Dallas Morning News, Miami New Times, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury, The Scotsman (Glasgow, Scotland), Pacific Sun and Sacramento Bee


Clothes Quotes

  • A batch of vintage classics, with thanks to Hester Hull of Birmingham, Michigan:

    “Nothing is thought rare which is not new, and follow’d; yet we know that what was worn some 20 years ago comes into grace again.”—Francis Beumont

    "The purse is the mirror of the soul.”—Anna Quindlen, 1987

    “When in doubt, wear red.”—Bill Blass, 1982

    “These gems have life in them: their colors speak, say what words fail of.”—George Eliot

    “And she always took the clothes created for her one step further by adding something of her own, some small personal detail which enhanced the whole.”—Givenchy on Audrey Hepburn

    “Large handbags to carry all the family’s ration books were also practical rather than fashionable accessories.”—Carol Harris in Women Under Fire in World War II

    “Skirts couldn’t get any shorter and remain legal.”—Amy Greene, 1970

    If you adore her, you must adorn her. There lies the secret of a happy marriage.”—Anne Fogarty, 1959

    Just make sure no one has exactly the same dress I do. I want all mine to be original and no fat little women hopping around in the same dress.”—Jacqueline Kennedy

    “When a man says he likes a woman in a skirt, I tell him to try one.”—Katharine Hepburn

    "A woman’s dress should be like a barbed wire fence: serving its purpose without obstructing the view.”—Sophia Loren

    “Each day Beryl would appear in the yard, looking as if she had stepped off the pages of Vogue. Silk shirt, perfectly cut jodhpurs, shining leather boots, little kid leather gloves. A broadbrimmed hat and leather whip tucked under her arm completed the ensemble. It was first class all the way with Beryl. That was all she knew. ‘ Tell them to bring the horses around, will you sweetie?’ she would say when she was ready.”—Mary S. Lovell in the biography of Beryl Markham (first woman to fly the Atlantic east to west), Straight on’ Til Morning

    “Just to flirt again---in a skirt again/ There’s no romance when you dance/ Cheek to cheek and pants to pants /Oh for an old fashioned dress!”—Irving Berlin.