Thursday, September 30, 2010

In Praise of Wool

Wool is such a great fabric - nothing gives warmth like it - why don't clothing manufacturers ever seem to use it any more? I'm in love with wool for autumn and winter wear, since I hate bulky layers which make me look like a heffalump, and with wool you can get away with quite lightweight fabrics and still be warm. I have three gorgeous wool dresses in my wardrobe, in burgundy, Persian blue and forest green. To add to these I'm planning to sew a red wool jumper dress, and if that goes well probably a plaid jumper dress from the same pattern. And so many more - I'd love to make up a true forties dress in wool like one of the ones below (the angora styles from 1940 look especially cosy).

December 1940

September 1943

September 1945

September 1947 & February 1948

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Your Hat and Your Hair (1947)

Wind-swept hair gives one a lovely back-to-nature feeling during the summer months, but there always comes the moment when a hat must be worn, for a visit to town, a garden party or a wedding.

It won't do your hair or your morale any good to try last-minute hairdos for these occasions because no matter how successful they may be, at first glance, your hat says "No" as soon as it tries to fit into the picture.

If, like the girl above (Janet Blair of Columbia Pictures), your hat is the provocative, tipped-over-one-eye type -- curled brim, masses of flowers and just the thing for a special party -- then your hair must contrast by being sleek and shining, swept up and utterly sophisticated.

This means getting rid of your wind-blown locks the night before the occasion when you must wear the hat. Brush up and up, and pin dampened ends into curls at the side where they'll be revealed by the hat. Next day, a little brilliantine on your hairbrush will take care of rebellious ends, curls can be softly rolled and pinned into place, and your hat will go just where you want it.

For less formal occasions there's a charming hair style to go with the ever-popular beret, and in the two photos alongside you can see what a perfect match they are.

Without a hat, longish hair can be sleeked down to the nape of the neck and then brushed out into soft fullness at the back, with a large wave at one side, brought well forward to flatter the profile.

The second picture shows how well the beret "sits" on the fringe, upswept line at one side contrasting perfectly with downswept hair.

If, on the other hand, your hat is a plain halo, or unadorned back-of-the-head sailor, you can keep the back hair smooth and be as fussy as you like with forehead and side curls. These form a charming frame for the face, but only if your hat is simple and pinned well back.

A snugly-fitting cap goes best with short hair curled at front, sides and back, making a natural "hair-brim." The crown, of course, must be kept smooth so that the cap fits it like a glove and needs no pinning.

For the opposite type of hat -- the sailor which sits straight forward or the large curved brim which shades your eyes -- you can choose either of these hair styles: Have the top smooth and the back as curly as you wish; or the top again smooth, and the back (if your hair is long) arranged in a neat chignon or a knot.

Hair styles depend on your individual type and taste, but with each hat you must consider it as part of your hairdo. They belong together.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I decoupaged my mannequin head

I'm actually not totally convinced it improves it - what do you think?

Incidentally these are some of the record hats that I'll be listing in my etsy store.

1920s Shoes, Hats & Accessories

With my curves I can't really 'do' twenties style (not that it makes 20s fashion any less fascinating to me), but I can sure as heck lust after the amazing shoes and accessories of the era.





1920s shoe styles in particular look surprisingly modern and chic - you wouldn't even particularly think "retro" to see any of these styles in a shop today. Indeed, the period seems to be providing inspiration to shoe designers quite a lot at the moment. My new Mary Janes (courtesy of Mr. Matin) are the "Charleston" by Hotter (below centre), which clearly show 20s influences.

L-R: Clarks Originals; Hotter; Office

Sunday, September 26, 2010

West Dean Gardens

We were planning to go to Brighton yesterday, but Joanna and I went to the car boot sale at Ford in the morning and got stuck in traffic for nearly three hours coming back (it's normally a 15-minute drive) - nightmare! (on the plus side I got a couple of nice bits and pieces at the car boot). Anyway, since we'd lost the morning we decided to go for an afternoon stroll at West Dean Gardens instead.

The main horticultural attractions are the walled kitchen gardens and Victorian glasshouses containing plant collections including many different species of tomato and chilli, which are both celebrated in garden events over the year. The collection of apple trees has its own event next week, which we're planning to attend (will I finally manage to complete the Apple Dress in time?! It's still only waiting for its side zip and hem).

There's also a magnificent 100-metre Edwardian pergola, covered in all kinds of climbing plants. It's like something out of The Secret Garden!

Novelty print blouse (modern, but very 40s/50s, don't you think?), handbag and wool beret, charity shop; Belt, ebay; Favourite skirt, Marks & Spencer.

1920s Candids

I picked up this little album of family photos from the 1920s at a car boot sale ages ago, and finally got round to scanning a selection. Most are wedding pictures, but there is a selection of the cutest candids (my favourite at the top). I love the oh-so modern miss working the tomboy chic a la Marlene Dietrich - and check out the flapper bangle worn above the elbow by the lass on the right in the last two pics.

Friday, September 24, 2010

New Forest - Monday

Just a little catch-up from our long-weekend camping trip. On Monday we went to Lyndhurst, known as the "Capital of the New Forest", and a very pretty town. There are a couple of antique shops and charity shops, but I didn't find anything there. In fact my best finds were from Pinapple Retro, right near our campsite in Brockenhurst, where I bought a 1940s/50s felt wide-brimmed hat and a whole bunch of vintage millinery flowers and feathers. The millinery was all very crushed, but after a bit of steaming and restoration work they'll go onto record hats for my etsy shop.

Beret, Accessorize; 1940s suit jacket, Ebay; Skirt, made to measure in Thailand; Vintage gloves, can't remember.

Make Do and Mend for September

Make do and mend features from the September 1942, 1943 and 1945 issues of Everywoman magazine, including some thrifty ideas for the home - I love the idea of using wallpaper on shelves and the outside of a cupboard, and the decoupaged screen.

Press Cuttings

This blog was featured in the esteemed newspaper the Chichester News for the second time today, alongside photos from last weekend's Goodwood Revival Festival.

So if you have come here today on account of this feature do let me know - and please make yourself at home.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

1940s shoulder detailing

As if my to-sew list isn't long enough, I'm suddenly caught up in a love affair with late 30s - early 40s day/afternoon dresses featuring shoulder detailing. The dress I wore to Vintage at Goodwood had smocking and little bows at the shoulders, and I think it's a really flattering look. I don't know how hard it is though. Perhaps I ought to concentrate on the million or so projects I already have in the pipeline before adding more to the queue...

In other news, today I hit 200 followers - yay!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Goodwood Revival Day 2

For day 2 at Goodwood Revival I wore my favourite bluebird dress, with a 1940s suit jacket I got on ebay (I wish I could wear the whole suit but the skirt doesn't fit, as is usually the way with vintage suits and me. It was obviously originally made for a small lady, as the sleeves are very short on me), and accessorised in red and pink.

Goodwood Revival is a really great event. Being held at the same place and so close to Vintage at Goodwood, I can't help but make comparisons. It has all the fashion and style - in fact in many ways more, since a greater proportion of attendees make the effort to dress vintage (and being a slightly older and wealthier clientele the vintage dress on display is often breathtaking). It also seems in many ways a more 'polished' event - again this is perhaps to do with the clientele and their expectations - but everything about the presentation is just spot on, from the cash machines in traditional phone boxes to displays of garage paraphernalia and automobilia that lined the walls of the GRRC marquee (which I got into as Daddy's guest). But I couldn't really pick one event over the other - it just depends whether you're after cars or music!

Anyway, on with the fashion!

There were some seriously amazing hats out and about!

Love the lime green, black and white 60s colour scheme.

I also ran into Fleur de Guerre at the Heyday Clothing stall, where I tried on a pair of their fabulous swing trousers which I really really want - but could I really wear trousers? I haven't worn trousers in years. Anyway that's a topic for another day - I just wanted to give a little shoutout to Shona, who was very helpful and said she's read the blog :)

Goodwood Revival Day 1

The Goodwood Revival Festival saw the official debut of my completed record hat. I exchanged the original (temporary) ribbon flower with a vintage millinery rose, added a vintage ostrich feather, and trimmed the veiling slightly so it comes above my eyes.

My wardrobe is showing a distinct lack of red and black (must remedy that!), so I ended up wearing exactly the same as I wore the other day on the hat's first outing. But enough about me - what was everyone else wearing?

There were sooo many gorgeous outfits! Most people make the effort to dress up, and there was everything from fab millitary uniforms to gorgeous fifties sun dresses and 60s mod minis.

But of course, it's all about the forties for me!

New Forest Camping - Sunday

Apologies for the lack of artistic presentation today - I've got so many posts to catch up on I haven't enough time to create fancy collages for all of them.

New Forest ponies and miniature Shetland ponies roam freely around the whole of the national park, including our campsite. Matin got the fright of his life when he was woken in the morning by a loud hurrumph right next to our heads! (the last campsite we stayed on didn't have ponies).

Proper fairy toadstool! I was so excited - I've never seen one in real life before! When I spotted it took it as a sign that we'd chosen the right place to pitch camp.

We mostly lazed about on Sunday morning. We had planned to visit the car boot sale near the campsite we stayed at last time, but it only runs during the summer months so it wasn't on :( So we spent the rest of the afternoon just trundling around the New Forest, admirning the scenery and picturesque villages.

We wished we were staying in this glamorous Airstream, but we were comfortable enough in a family-size tent borrowed from Joanna.

Lady in Red

We went camping in the New Forest again for a long weekend. Lots of photos to come, but an outfit post to start. Isn't this wagon the cutest thing ever? We were just driving around the New Forest, keeping a lookout for good photo locations, when we spotted it outside a pub. I did climb inside - it was so tiny! I felt like a giant person

This is the 1940s red wool dress I bought from Tasty Vintage at Vintage at Goodwood. I love the scalloped edging on the front (you can't really see it very well in the pics), but I think I'm going to have to do something about the waistline. On account of my extra 'frontage', the waist hits way too high in the front, and these release-dart-pleat things aren't the most flattering. I'm thinking to unpick the whole waistline and re-sew it, possibly adding darts in the skirt. I'll either sew the pleaty-things up into proper darts or unpick them to the waist, to avoid that rumple I'm getting.

Hat, Pineapple Retro; Dress, Tasty Vintage; Handbag, borrowed from my sister; Belt, Sainsbury's supermarket (!); Socks & Shoes, Marks & Spencer.


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