Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Answers to your questions

What got you into dressing vintage? How did you develop your vintage style?
from Annika, Casey, Miss Virginia

Wow, well I've been kind of a history nut my whole life, having grown up with an antique dealer as a mother. We once had a "Victorian day" at school when I was maybe 6 years old and I was so fascinated that I regularly used to dress up as a Victorian. When I was 11 I'd do my homework at my mother's bureau in a crochet-trimmed pinafore over my blouse and skirt with pyjama bottoms as bloomers. I even styled my room as I pictured a Victorian girl's bedroom. Last year we found some old home video footage of me aged 12 dressed Edwardian in Mother's Ossie Clark suit (the skirt was lost in the interim - I think it had a 24" waist. The jacket probably only survived because I continued to wear it).

Although I got over the Victorian thing (probably for the best!), my wardrobe has always had an element of vintage influence - even though I didn't really realise it at the time. I've just always been drawn to classic styles. I've dressed almost exclusively in skirts (with the odd pair of jeans) since my mid teens, having realised that trousers do nothing for my figure (even though I was more slender then, I always had the big hips and thighs).

But it was only when I moved back to England in 2009 after two years living in Thailand that I really started dressing vintage "full time". I'd already been selling vintage and repro clothing and accessories on ebay for a few years, but although I'd always felt an affinity for vintage styles - and known my figure was made for them - it was only then that it dawned on me that rather than wishing I could wear these things, really I could just go ahead and wear them! And the rest, as they say, is history.

As to how I developed my own vintage style, I can't really say! Perhaps my background interests in art & design helped? I took Art at school, and studied design principles as part of a Desktop Publishing module for my degree. As a scrapbooker I also studied colour theory. I think a general awareness of design theory helps put together a balanced outfit - although I do try to go "off piste" sometimes to try not to look too contrived or matchy-matchy.

I'd just like to know what specific vintage styles you love the most and why? I'm a typical 40s work wear girl for instance.
from Miss Margarita

That's tough, because I love so many styles. I suppose my absolute favourites are the late 30s / early 40s swing dresses with their little puff sleeves, gathered details (I'm a sucker for gathered and ruched detailing!) and swingy skirts. But on the other hand I couldn't bear to exclude 50s full-skirted day dresses from my wardrobe - flouncing about in tiered petticoats is some of the most fun there is.

When are you going to get a haircut?
from my sister, Jo

As you know, I finally got a haircut last week, after over a year since my last visit to the hairdresser! I can thoroughly recommend Nina's Hair Parlour in London - they're all absolute sweethearts, and it's great not having to explain why you want a really old-fashioned cut. Plus it's very affordable.

How do people know how to price their vintage when they sell it? Id love to know that so I can sell some items.
From Nelly

I often sell items on bidding on ebay, so they find their own level, but in the case of fixed-price listings it's important to do the research. Look at completed listings of similar items on ebay to see their sale price (only sold items - unsold doesn't tell you anything!), then pitch your price accordingly - obviously the higher you pitch, the longer you can expect to wait for the sale. My other selling tip is to make sure you have great photos - most clothes look best on a person or mannequin (I use a cheapo plastic half-mannequin), on a plain background, and zoomed in to crop out the rest of the room.

I'm 50 years old, short and leaning to the very plump side. What should I wear?
From Loretta

Tailoring is always the most flattering option for any size. The classic shirtwaist dress is also reliable - choose one with a V-neck revers collar rather than button-up-to-the-neck Peter Pan collar or jewel neckline (we'll leave those for ladies with daintier figures). Panelled construction like princess seams (especially if the centre panels are in a contrasting colour) is also slimming. I actually have a Leach-Way pattern magazine of outsize summer fashions - I could post a few scans if there's any interest?

What's your family like?
From Victoria / Justice Pirate

What a sweet question! My parents split up when I was young (about five or six, I think) - yes, I'm from a broken home! I never felt badly affected by it though, as they still get on well. My father is a motoring journalist and author. I get my love of research from him, and my interest in World War II developed at least in part through watching Discovery channel documentaries with him. He lives in Lincolnshire with my stepmother, who's a nurse. My mother, as previously mentioned, was an antique dealer until she closed her shop to be a full-time carer for my grandmother until she (my grandmother) passed away. She sells on ebay to clear the excess stock she was left with. Of course, I get my love of vintage from her, and when she approves of what I'm wearing she'd say my sense of style, also. She lives in South Wales with my stepfather Roger, now-retired Keeper of Art at Newport Museum, and classic motorcycle enthusiast (more on that in an upcoming post). My sister Jo lives across town from me with her fiance and my two nephews, Teddy (2 1/2) and teeny tiny baby Jasper, to whom I am very much doting auntie. I live in a shared house with my Persian (sounds so much more appealing than "Iranian") boyfriend Matin, and housemates Alec and Ian.

This was fun! Kerrin, don't think I've forgotten your question - it ended up being quite long so I'll address it in a separate post. And if anyone has any further questions, please post them in the comments and I'll answer them in a future post.

Outfit details: Novelty print blouse, charity shop; Bakelite bangles, all from ebay; Plastic bangle (the white one), purchased in Thailand; Rhinestone clip-on earrings, car boot sale (?); Pencil skirt, Marks & Spencer in about 2005; 40s style sandals, similar in my shop; Wicker purse and Dirndl belt, purchased in Thailand.

Photo effects by Lo-Fi App.


  1. I ADORE this post! And you outfit :)

  2. Such a lovely post! I love learning about your family and how you started loving vintage!

  3. Thanks for answering my question, Charlotte! I'd love to see the scans of the pattern you mention, when you have time. I loved this post.

  4. yey! I am so glad you answered the question because I love learning about people and their families. Aw. broken home. :( I'm glad that they get along at least. Sounds like a very interesting and sweet family. From the looks of it on her blog, your sister is creative like you too!!!! how cool!

  5. Haha, I was really just kidding about being from a "broken home" - we're all fine about it! :)

    xx Charlotte

  6. This is such a beautiful post! I really got an insight into the person that you are, and you are LOVELY :) Thanks for being so honest and open about your life and passions. Its so inspiring.
    And I love your outfit! You''re so sassy! :D

  7. So, dressing in 19th century clothes is not really all that vintage for you, then. ;o)

    Thanks for this post! Very interesting to read!

  8. 20th! I mean 20th century clothes! I hate it when I fluff my own jokes.

  9. I love your posts!!! Can't wait to read more! Forgive a random commenter- I came over via Penny Dreadful, another blog I've just discovered!


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