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Vintage Closet Contest

The Vintage Closet Contest is now closed and the votes have been tallied. We have a winner!

Though it was a tight race for a while between Nicole and Phoebe, Nicole’s entry “Miss Eleanor’s Dress” ultimately prevailed with 540 votes to Phoebe’s 438. Below, you’ll find the compelling story behind the winning entry in its entirety.

Congrats to Nicole and thanks to everyone who entered, showing that thrift and generosity go hand in hand! You can view all of the wonderful entries we received HERE.

Miss Eleanor’s Dress Nicole Vintage Closet Contest

Miss Eleanor’s Dress / Nicole

This story is long, but news of this contest compelled me to tell it. I shall try to sum it up succinctly and gracefully. My name is Nicole, and just over 6 years ago my mother, sister and I began a new life. After being on the run for one short week, sleeping in hotels and on the couches of supportive friends and family members, we met Sister Rosemary McSorely. Sister Rosemary was at that time a 75 year old Catholic nun whom until her recent retirement, headed Cornelian Community Counselors, a not for profit law firm serving working people who earned too little to afford a private attorney and too much to qualify for legal aid programs. We lived with her and worked with her for over a year while we were stuck in the middle of a confusing yet liberating ordeal. She took us into her home without hesitation and helped us fight a system that has been known to force women like us into destitution. If it were not for her, I cannot imagine what we would be facing today. Because of women like Sr. Rosemary, I have a roof over my head, meals on my plate each night, and clothes on my back.

As my mother, sister and I adapted to our newfound freedom- working, growing, learning and changing- we became very good at earning and saving our money. Though even 6 years later it is not always easy to make ends meet, we are proud of what we do and still find ways to give back whenever feasible. Sr. Rosemary encouraged us and showed us how important it is to give back to our community.

Women like Sr. Rosemary, keep good company. One of Rosemary’s brilliant friends was the late Eleanor Weisbrod. She and Sr. Rosemary had been friends for over 30 years before either of them graced our lives. Ms. Weisbrod, in her long career worked as a teacher, a chemist, and a marketing manager for American Home Products, which would later become Wyeth. Having been a devout Catholic, she volunteered at her local hospital and library for many years. Eleanor established a number of scholarships for college students, and historically, she was the first woman to receive an MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Before her passing in 2008, Eleanor and my mother became good friends through Sr. Rosemary. My mother gave back to the incredibly generous Eleanor in any way she could whether it was bringing her some groceries, cooking her a meal (she was fondest of tilapia), or just spending some quality time. Though Eleanor did not have any living family members, she still had a lot of love and a kind munificent spirit that is not often matched. My mother visited Eleanor frequently until her passing in November of 2008.

In December of 2008, Sister Rosemary invited my mother to visit Eleanor’s home to collect some of her belongings. Eleanor had countless gorgeous furniture pieces, books, trinkets, and of course, clothing. She was a woman of class and that is reflected in the possessions she left behind. When my mother’s eyes met this smart and classic ice skating dress from the days of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, she said she instantly thought of me. Sister Rosemary said, “take it, please, Eleanor would want you to have it”. I must say that Eleanor and I have a lot in common when it comes to our taste in clothing. This dress and matching reversible coat is perfectly made. Not only is it a garment of beauty, it’s also practical and very warm. I have worn it to many Christmas occasions.

My mother left Eleanor’s home that day for the last time with a cookbook from the 1930′s, this incredible dress, and a golden bag which we later found contained one of Ms. Eleanor Weisbrod’s business cards, a comb, and a very weathered pair of rosary beads.

– I simply could not choose just one photo to highlight the magic of this ensemble, so I made a collage of my favorite shots.

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