Category: Vintage Style

A Vintage (inspired) Wardrobe: made by me mostly

Ever look in your wardrobe and drawers and just sigh because, being brutally honest, there’s nothing there that you wear and feel good in? Nothing that sets your heart beating a little faster or makes you feel a million dollars? Or, more mundanely, little that fits, doesn’t have holes in it or is less than five years old?

*raises hand to all of the above*

I decided, quite insanely, that I want to completely revamp my wardrobe. There are a few pieces I’ll be keeping but here’s the thing: NOT MUCH. So why and where did I start?

WHY start over?

I’ve got to a point in my life where I’m at peace with who I am. I’m never going to have the shape that society idolizes. I’m unlikely to develop buns of steel or thighs of iron that never touch at this point. And you know what? That’s FINE BY ME. I’m 41 and that is so so different from 39 or even 40 I can’t explain it. I’m here, right now. I’m mostly healthy and my life is so fantastic on a global comparison type scale that frankly it’s not worth mentioning the tiny things that bug me… no, really.

You may recall my vintage hair-do a few months back. I loved it. My husband tolerated it. My friends loved it. Best of all? I felt groomed. That is such a rare thing for me but it made me feel more together somehow.

Ava-Gardner dressing table vintage lady

What am I going to wear today? Something SASSY I think.

I came across other women who felt the same and who had not only blogged about it but generously shared WHY they had done it: for example, the Glamorous Housewife or Tuppence Ha’Penny.

My main motivations are:

  • to streamline my morning decisions (even if we go ahead and homeschool, who wants to make every morning a big production?)
  • to feel like I care about myself and how I look, even if that seems a bit trivial sometimes
  • to show my daughter we can look after ourselves and still be fun, intelligent, modest and loving women
  • to make my husband glad he comes home every night
  • to simplify. So much of life feels like there’s just TOO MUCH of everything – today’s example, buying black eyeliner. Why do we need a zillion types of eyeliner? Gah.
  • to motivate myself to maintain my health, fitness and alignment. It’s easy, oh so easy, to slob about in my worn and threadbare Flax pinafores which allow my weight to fluctuate by anything up to thirty pounds (SERIOUSLY). But I’m 41 and there will come a point soon where losing those pounds gets harder and harder and has more of an impact on my overall health. With my darling mama facing double knee replacements aged (much younger than she has any right to be), that lazy laissez-faire attitude to health is not a great thing.
What type of FABULOUS do you want today?

What type of FABULOUS do you want today?

Where to Start

I began with the awesomeness that is the Tuppence Ha’Penny 1949 wardrobe blog. Please take the time to read it – what I loved was the practicality and simplicity of the items and the reasoning behind them – it really will take you anywhere.

The list includes: two suits, light grey, black. six dresses (print dinner dress, heavy crepe dress, four cotton); Petticoats, cami knickers, pants in tricot; 2 bras, girdles, six nylons(!); four pairs of shoes (tan walking, bronze ankle strap, black suede ankle strap, double strap); 2 pringle twin sets, one black evening sweater; four hats; accessories (4 gloves, long woolen stole, 3 cotton headscarves, gold necklace/belt).

So I sat down, wrote a list of what I did on a daily basis: I go to Church and occasionally coffee (although my hyperosmia imposes stupid limits on my socialising these days); I stay at home and paint, sew and clean (when I’m not blogging or browsing for patterns); I garden and look after chickens (currently four adorable bantams) and finally I suppose it makes sense to include clothes that would work for things like yoga or my wonderful MuTu. From that list, it’s really easy to see what kind of clothes I need.

I broke that down into:

  • Working at home: day dresses (cotton, jersey). Cardigans. Skirt & Blouse. Aprons. Tunic & long bloomers (for feeling funky or bloated).
  • Gardening Dungarees (from kwik sew pattern), skirts (yes, I garden in skirts), 2-3 jersey tops.
  • Church/Shops: day dresses (cotton, jersey). Skirt & Blouse. Cardigan (although it gets stinking hot in our wee church each week).
  • Walking/Working Out: tracksuit bottoms (2-3), jersey tops, one t-shirt (I don’t do upper arms).

That’s not bad, is it?

From my current wardrobe, I will be keeping:

  •  Unmentionables
  • Black velvet long hooded coat; tailored velvet jacket (although it’s not that great, it could work)
  • Green wool jacket (handmade, with a convertible collar and sort of 1915 styling)
  • Brown velvet cape (mainly for stroking)
  • Purple anorak (because I live in Scotland and the rain is horizontal).
  • White linen blouse (hip length, elbow length sleeves, self tie belt & pintuck front)
  • Grey linen waterfall front jacket and matching wide leg trousers (that don’t quite fit at the moment)
  • Black linen dress (to hide in: peter pan collar, long sleeves, waist ties and floor length skirt)
  • Tracksuit bottoms and v-neck jersey tops that don’t have paint on them. Yet.

This means my “To be made” list includes:

  • Grey wool fitted coat (5 metres of grey coating, 100% wool has been in my wardrobe for, oh, 7 years?)
  • Grey skirt, Black skirt
  • Dungarees (pattern and fabric – floral denim and burgundy corduroy – already in cupboard).
  • Tunic and Bloomers (for when I’m feeling funky or fat)
  • Cotton Dresses: The Colette Hawthorn, McCalls Shirtdress and possibly Miz Mozelle too.
  • Jersey Dresses: Black, Grey, Red or Purple, using various patterns; Tiramisu by Cake which has a long sleeve hack, Vogue 1027 like Kate and maybe New Look 6823 which reminds me of Gertie’s “Background Dress” – I like the Vogue one here too but a zip? in a jersey dress?
  • Blouses: print voile, grey print cotton lawn, 2 or 3 solid colours. I’m a bit stuck on the patterns for these but the Colette Hawthorn also makes a peplum blouse, Sewaholic “Alma” is adaptable but I’m open to suggestions!
  • Aprons: 1 full length (I have the Sensibility Edwardian pattern for me and Wee Bear) and 2 or 3 bib front ones for wearing while cooking.

And so that means that my list of What To Buy is admirable short:

  • new knickers. I have TONS of cute lingerie fabric but I’m not spending precious sewing time cutting and sewing up plain underwear, which is a different animal altogether.
  • Twin sets: Black, green, red. Maybe two black sets.
  • Hats: black, green, red or purple. Maybe both. My friend Joyce Paton is an extraordinary dressmaker and milliner who I’m hoping will either do a guest post on millinery or erm, let me try some hats on!
  • Shoes: walking shoes in black and neutral. This is tricky because I can’t do heels. I have plantar fasciitis that has caused huge issues over the last year and is only slightly resolving now, thanks to Katy Bowman and her stretches. So. Flat black walking shoes, either tan or grey walking shoes, and something like a slip on mary jane – but all FLAT and all breathable. I have to confess I spend nearly 9 months of the year in sandals because I hate having hot feet.
  • Handbags, scarves and gloves. I want natty cotton gloves in black, grey and possibly red. Why not? Women look amazing when their accessories bring neutral colours to life.

 

I don't have enough hats.

I don’t have enough hats.

Wish me luck! I will be throwing things out or selling them before I fill up my wardrobe again so I’d better get sewing fast.

All photographs are from the site of Penny Dreadful Vintage: they sell all manner of glorious vintage clothing (a few things I remember first time around…) and ship globally.

Retro Shoes: American Duchess giveaway!

There are several super-cool posts just awaiting the removal of my current lurgy & pre-autumnal apathy (anyone else get that end-of-summer-dip? just me?) but in the short term, here’s a super, super cute giveaway.

American Duchess, purveyors of fine historical footwear, have produced a pair of adorable 1930s inspired shoes. Not only of their usual high quality and style but one pair is being given away free. Free. Nada, gratis, not a penny required. Why wouldn’t anyone sign up for that? I dunno.

clare-comp-1 claremont-1930s-suede-oxford-brown-2 Claremont-pre-order-banner-1

Tere you are: a linkety link and a few beyootiful pics to whet your vintage appetites. Now, I must fly – coffee, a warm scarf around my poorly neck and plotting my next few posts await. Seriously.

 

Forties films: a whole new reason to watch

I was watching TV while I tidied up, an early Hitchcock film was on and I noticed something: the clothes.

20130725-114645.jpg
This one on the younger daughter caught my eye because its similar to something I’m making for Wee Bear just now!

20130725-114738.jpg
Even the ‘dowdy’ older mother is smartly dressed: she always wears an apron when cooking or cleaning. I couldn’t get photographs of them (yes, I’m such a technopeasant I just took photos of the screen) but they were proper full aprons.

20130725-114940.jpg
The main character Charlie had by far the prettiest clothes of course: I like the fluttery chiffon sleeves on this blouse, even though I need a bit more kettle bell work before I’m happy with my arms being seen in public.

20130725-115104.jpg
Although it’s a bit smart for me, I can see this blouse & skirt working really well for a vintage look in the office! What do you think?

Vintage pattern sites: blurry eyes

A really, really super brief post: I’ve been looking high and low for what I think of as a ‘bog standard’ day dress pattern. I’m suspecting that something later 40s or 50s would work for me, as I like longer and fuller skirts. Let’s say “alice, rabbit hole, down” and leave it at that? Anyway, a morning when I should have been working has left me with a big old pile of links that I want to share and at a future point add into a very helpful ‘widget box’ for vintage pattern sources. In the meantime, for your enjoyment and perusal.

And now I have to run and paint, quickly. Another house bound afternoon with grumpy five year old darling beckons.

Vintage Land: where people wear hats & tip them appropriately

I’m going to be up front: my personal style has been missing in action for many years. As a teenage Goth, I thought nothing of staying up all night to get my hair upright & black as jet, or spending an hour on make up.

Marriage, my conversion to Orthodox Christianity (with a good dose of modesty) and gaining weight – and being a busy mother – did nothing to encourage a return to looking nice.

20130707-135512.jpg
Cardigans, jeans (at home only), full length linen smocks & pinafores… Not exactly setting the world on fire. Or inspiring my daughter to think its possible to take care of our appearance, have a sense of modesty & still be Christian. It’s a tricky one for me: but enough is enough.

I had a good look around the ‘fashion’ magazines and was completely uninspired. The style just isn’t flattering for a middle-sized pear shape mum: I can’t wear heels, I don’t show my legs or arms (mainly because I’m self conscious) and I like to keep my cleavage to myself.

20130707-140348.jpg
All very nice but not at all ‘me’.

The images I found myself pinning and being drawn to were all ‘vintage’: maybe not the smartest ones of the 50s but even so, they were so much more feminine, flattering to my shape and… charming, I suppose.

20130707-140926.jpg
I began to do a little digging around and found the adorable Land Girl blog and was inspired to call Edinburgh’s very own Miss Dixiebelle to arrange a hair makeover. Everyone knows if your hair isn’t right, nothing is right, right? And my hair was, to be honest, very very dull.

20130707-141501.jpg
Of course, now I look at it & wish I was a hippy again… It will grow.

Now onwards to vintage land, where chaps tip their hats & ladies can wear gloves even in summer.