Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Michele Howard of "Vintage Instyle", vintage purses.

We just got back from traveling in Oregon where we stopped by to visit with Michele Howard of "Vintage Instyle" the vintage and not quite vintage purse site. I have known her for many years. She and her husband used to live near us in California. They have since moved to Oregon about 6 years ago. I had an informal interview with her over cocktails.

How "Vintage InStyle" came about:

Michele said she had been collecting purses and vintage woman's accessories for quite a few years when her collection began outgrowing her places to store them. She then decided that it might be a fun idea to sell some of the purses. She is also a web designer so it was easy for her to design a web site for herself to sell the purses. That is how "Vintage Instyle" began. Through the years Michele has found many sources for collecting her purses, some of them locally where she lives. She hand selects all of her purses for their outstanding quality and condition. As long as I have known Michele, she has always had a flair for acquiring things vintage, mostly I remember her things from the 1950s. Her collections included pieces from the 1930-40s when style of a woman's accessories were unique and something that made the outfit. But she also likes the mod uniqueness of the 70s, 80s and 90s. Whatever year they are from, her purses are fabulous.

Michele likes to find purses that have been as she says "lovingly handled". Sometimes there is a need for a little TLC. After all the purse has been around for maybe as long as 70 years. She has access to a cobbler, a seamstress and others who can do needed repairs. She does a lot of the cleaning and minor repairs herself. As she says on her web site to new people who wish to purchase her bags. "The leather has been treated; fabric, vinyl and interiors have been cleaned. An expert in the field handles any repairs if needed." What she tries to do is everything they need to bring them back to their former beauty. Making them something you would enjoy wearing on your arm and making your friends envious of their beauty. As Michele states "these delightful handbags, totes and clutches are not copies but ORIGINAL DESIGNER** bags".

Sometimes the purse is not yet quite vintage but she has added it because it is unique. Like her "Patricia Smith Moon Bags". They are actually wearable works of art. She has found though, now instead of her purse stash getting smaller, it has grown with lots of unique and gorgeous pieces. Grown, also, she told me are all the wonderful people she has met all over the world who have purchased and appreciate her vintage purses.

As I mentioned earlier, Michele is a web designer and has taken up the task of designing sites for her husband and daughter along with many other customers. You can check out "Flathead City" at and "Howard Motorsports Racing" at designed for her husband's auto restoration web sites. He is a flat head engine builder for vintage cars and custom engine builder for racing cars.
And he also, like Michele, has a love for things vintage. I remember that just before they moved to Oregon he had a vintage Ford T-Bird restored for Michele. A car she had always admired.

Michele has also designed a site for her daughter Nancy Iannois. The web site is "Lia-Michele's Baby Boutique at Nancy hand crochets vintage style baby booties and blankets. Her things are so beautiful and precious. I have never seen such cute designs.


Michele has always been a creative person and it shows in her work as a web designer and purse collector.

We all had a great time remembering old times and old trips together. I must say after having our trip be a literal wash out. (It rained every day we were gone.) Visiting again with Michele and her purses was a lovely highlight to our trip.

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