Vintage Fashion Is My Livelihood

Susan’s Story
I have a passion for Vintage Fashion!

Ever since I was a little girl I have loved to play dress up. My mother influenced me with her love of old things. As a result, vintage clothing has developed into much more than a hobby for me. Vintage clothing helps me connect to the women from the past. There is something undeniably special about the care they took in their appearance and the clothing they wore. Almost thirty years ago, I began furnishing my home with vintage belongings. What started out with a pair of high top boots, a white summer dress, and hat has now matured into a collection of more than one thousand pieces, ranging from the 1840s to the 1970s.

In the early 1990s, I was asked to give a presentation with a friend on vintage women’s hats. After our first presentation, I was fascinated by the connection the women in the audience felt to the hats in our collection and the stories attached to the pieces. I truly felt the audience was not merely entertained but had genuinely been transported in time. It was a sincere thrill to share my collection with them and I knew at that moment that my career had taken a new direction.

Over the years, I have continued to collect treasures by scouring antique stores, flea markets, estate sales and auctions. Each piece presented its own unique story that only thorough research could discover. I began to make the connection between fashion trends and historical events, and how each influenced the other. Slowly, bringing all of these various pieces together into one collection allowed me to develop a larger repertoire of varied programs to present and new audiences to reach. Today, I have several programs I present at libraries, churches, museums, and other various organizations, including but not limited to: To Top it Off: The History of Hats, The Victorian Lady, Back to the Beach: The History of Swimwear, An Uplifting Story on the History of the Bra, and A Century of Fashion.

Susan McClain

About SusanSusan McClain
Yesterday’s lady, Susan McLain, lives with her husband on the top two floors of the historic 1887 Schmuck building with her vintage clothing collection and shop on the main level in downtown Beatrice, Nebraska. Sue has been collecting clothing for more than 25 years and has a wide variety of artifacts spanning over a century. As a Humanities Nebraska speaker, she has traveled the state entertaining groups with a wide selection of fashion programs and shows. In 2009, Images of America honored Susan by publishing her commentary on vintage fashion entitled Butler County: The Boston Studio Collection.