When Queen Victoria went into self-imposed seclusion after the death of Prince Albert, the country went into mourning as well. Black outfits became the name of the game, with designers striving to find creative ways to produce black jewelry out of materials that were not expensive.
This is just one of the many facts that you’ll learn when you step into Elinor Coleman’s Vintage Mirage vintage clothing store on North Lee Street. Coleman will show examples of Victorian jewelry made with vulcanized rubber, gun metal and faux pearls.
“They tried a lot of materials. When Queen Victoria declared a state of mourning, everybody wore black,” said Coleman, who’s knowledgeable not just about that period, but the 1920’s, 30’s, and 1940’s as well.
After 20 years of designing costumes for her dance performances, Coleman decided to share her special finds and open this store. It is just four months old, but customers are already finding their way into Coleman’s place. The store is filled with vintage dresses, purses, scarves, belts, pins and more. Coleman has a major collection of watch faubs and an even more extensive assortment of vintage buttons. A member of the National Button Club, she has been collecting these buttons for years. It used to be that buttons were much more than functional: They were also quite decorative and something to be treasured.
“Back then, you wore a dress until it fell apart. Then you took off the buttons, lace and feathers to use for something else,” Coleman said.