When you need to find vintage style clothing….
When you need to learn fashion history….
When you need costume help…. VintageDancer is the answer!
Hi! I am Debbie Sessions, and I designed VintageDancer.com to help connect you to vintage style clothing online. We search all over the internet for the best new women’s and men’s vintage style dresses, suits, shirts, hats, shoes, jewelry… Everything you could need for a quality costume or personal vintage inspired wardrobe, from Victorian to the 1980s.
We don’t carry clothing in a shop or warehouse — we simply aggregate (or link to) online retailers that do. We research vintage fashions and then hand select every item on our shop pages for their authenticity to the era and appeal to modern tastes.
While we do feature some vintage clothing (more coming in 2021), most of our clothing is brand new vintage reproduction or vintage inspired. This provides shoppers with the greatest selection of colors, sizes (yes plus sizes!), and prices. Plus, you don’t have to wear out your delicate vintage originals.
Fashion History You Can Wear
Shhh, I have a confession. I am a huge history nerd. When I first started dressing in period costumes, I had to do some research to figure out what exactly a “Victorian” dress was or how a “Great Gatsby” men’s suit differed from today’s. I love researching so much that I started to share my findings on the blog. I have a growing collection of fashion history books, original magazines and catalogs, and countless vintage snapshots. These sources help me quickly identify clothing by era and in turn help you put together your own accurate vintage style look.
One thing you will notice with my blog history articles is that they are practical! Fashion history can be a dry subject when all you read is a history of the high-end designers. What I like to learn and share is fashion of the everyday people. Why did they like a certain style over another? What colors paired well together? When were the clothes worn? What else was going in society that influenced fashion trends? How can I recreate the vintage look authentically yet within my budget?
All these questions and more are at the heart of every blog post.
Why did you start VintageDancer.com?
My love of vintage goes back to looking at my mom’s collection of vintage family heirlooms and clothing from the early 1900s to the 1970s. My mom is a pack rat and a walking history book on anything to do with our family. My favorite part of history class was studying people, and my favorite time of year was Halloween where I sewed my own costumes from scratch.
But it wasn’t until after college when a friend invited me to a Victorian ball that I fell in love with historical costuming. Walking into the ball with ladies spinning across the floor in huge Civil War era ball gowns was like dying and going to heaven. I had no idea people dressed up and danced in costume! I was hooked from then on. I studied historical social dance in the San Francisco Bay Area with the man who coined the term “vintage dance,” Richard Powers. I sewed whatever historical costume I could get my hands on. Then I moved to Reno, Nevada where a few years later I met my husband, Oscar.
Oscar was a swing dancer and had a vast collection of 1940s style Zoot Suits that he wore regularly “just because” he liked them. We were a match made in heaven! Since Reno lacked dance events but had plenty of history, we just started attending whatever historical themed event we could crash in costume. Historical home tours, Wild West reenactments, 50s car shows, Great Gatsby festivals, and… well, you get the picture.
For each event, I had to research the era’s clothing and shop for approximate looks at the thrift store (we were poor then and I couldn’t sew fast enough for all the events). I turned online for information and help with buying vintage style clothing and accessories. It was tough! The world wide web was not a great help to me. Clothing was out there, but it took days of searching to find clothing “that could work” for my costume.
Light bulb moment? Could I help other people find vintage style clothing online faster, easier, cheaper? Could I turn this into a business? You bet I could.
In late 2009 I launched VintageDancer.com. Like all good websites it was slow going at first. I worked every extra hour I could building shop pages, writing blog articles, learning to HTML code again. By day I was working as an Event Coordinator that didn’t pay well and consumed my summer months (the best time of year!)
Eventually the site took off and when Oscar and I married and started our family, I made plans to retire from my job and just run VintageDancer.com while raising our kid(s). In 2014 Oscar was able to join me full time on the business. He is responsible for a lot of technology that runs behind the scenes in addition to being my male model 🙂
Our first little vintage dancer was born in April 2012 and our second and third arrived in 2014 and 2016. I love having my own business that I am passionate about and gives me a break from mom life. Some days are tough, and some months have been very tough, but not a day goes by that I am not grateful for starting this website.
I have been featured in a few online business articles. You can read more about my story (2011) on ClickNewz and the Story Exchange (2013). In local newspapers, read articles in the Sparks Tribune, Reno Gazette Journal, and Northern Nevada Business Weekly (partial article). I also gave a business presentation at One Million Cups Reno and podcast interview with Entrepreneurs in Training.
I have helped a few reporters with their stories. The History of Matching Family Pajamas (Grok Nation) and a similar article for the Wall Street Journal (December 2020).
Here are some pics of me and my family in our vintage inspired costumes. See even more of them on this gallery.