Friday, July 29, 2011

{Style Inspiration} Early New Look Fashions

Some fun scans from a pattern magazine, Leach-Way 263. The magazine isn't dated, but from the page titles ("A Simpler New Look"), the hairstyles, and the more mid-40s-looking fashions (some have knee-length skirts), I'd put it right on the cusp of the New Look, so 1947 or 1948. It's a very interesting period in fashion history, with the silhouette changing so suddenly, and it's fascinating to see the influences of both the new and the old 40s styles in these pages.

I love both versions of the frock on the left - with and without peplum. Which is your favourite?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

How to Make a Vinyl Record Purse

So you've got your record hat, what do you need to complete your outfit? A record handbag, of course!

Now, I have been cautioned against encouraging the destruction of perfectly good vintage items, so I feel I ought to add that I don't condone chopping up prized albums. However, this is an excellent way to recycle something which might otherwise be tossed and end up in landfill. I especially recommend using scratched, damaged or otherwise unplayable records. If you're concerned that you might be destroying something rare or collectable, run a quick search completed listings on ebay - if it's good, it will fetch high prices.

You will need:
  • 3 12" vinyl records (or 2 records and some heavyweight card or mountboard)
  • Stanley knife & steel ruler
  • Pair of purse handles (mine are from Overspill on Etsy)
  • Length of ribbon (optional)
  • Fabric (about 1/2 a metre will do it)
  • Cardstock (2-3 sheets of 12x12")
  • Spray adhesive
  • A good, strong craft glue (a glue gun might work, but test it on an offcut first as I don't know whether the hot glue will affect the vinyl)
  • Sewing machine (or needle & thread - there isn't too much sewing involved)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Record Breaker

Just a quickie outfit post to give you a teaser of tomorrow's tutorial: making a super stylish handbag out of recycled records. Sorry about the terrible photography - it's really overcast today. If it clears up later I'll try to update with some better pictures.

Hat, Now, Voyager; Knit blouse, ebay; Skirt, charity shop; Brooches, ebay; Shoes, Marks & Spencer; Record purse, made by me!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I've been working on a project and haven't prepared any interesting posts, so I thought I'd post some silly outtake photos from a few recent outfit photo shoots, just for a bit of fun.

Yes, I know - so glamorous!

I tried a twirl, and ended up in the shrubbery. Also, gosh my hair was long before I got it cut.

I was trying to get up onto the railing. I never did make it.

rearranging petticoats...

Another abortive attempt at twirling. The wind was not my friend that day.

This is what happens when 2-year-old nephew Teddy tries to help my sister take a photo.

The wind was not my friend that day, either.

Teddy wanted to join Auntie Lottie in the photo. I love how he copied my pose!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Wedding Outfit Preview

I was so pleased with my aqua and coral outfit for Joanna's wedding on Saturday that I can't wait for the photographer's pictures to come back (I didn't get anyone to take a photo of me, so I'm just hoping he got a good one!) before I share a few of the details. In fact I liked it so much that I'm rather tempted to wear exactly the same thing all over again for Vintage at Southbank next weekend. Is that bad?

Besides my vintage 50s taffeta party dress (which was the best boot fair bargain ever - more on that in the official outfit post), I was particularly proud of the shoes. A week before the wedding I was going through my shoes trying to find a pair for the day, and I pulled these out of my stock room. They were among the 'blanks' I got from my shoe lady in Thailand. After playing around with various ideas for embellishment, I had the genius idea (at least I thought so) to add a pair of lovebirds brooches from Acorn & Will.

The shoes set the colour scheme for the rest of the outfit (and had the added bonus of co-ordinating nicely with the wedding colours). The coral coloured bangles cam from New Look, and I also wore antique coral earrings lent by mother.

At £26, the little beaded purse was actually the most expensive item (by quite a long way) in my whole ensemble. The one I'd ordered on ebay never arrived, so I had a mad dash around Lewes's antique malls to find a replacement.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ways to Wear... Leopard Print

There's nothing to add a touch of miaou to a look than a dash of leopard print.

Wear it... in matching accessories

Leopard enjoyed a long run of popularity from the 20s through to the 60s primarily as an accent, often as a collar revers with matching pillbox hat and muff or purse. As worn by (L-R) Marilyn as Lorelei in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, an advert, Dita von Teese, Carole Lombard in Twentieth Century.

Wear it... with unexpected colours

Leopard with black and red is a rockabilly classic, but don't be limited. Try pairing leopard print with Dita's forest green, Casey's pastel pink, turquoise, navy blue, teal, and create an entirely different look each time.

Wear it... for the Beach

Elizabeth Taylor, Elaine Stewart and many others rocked the leopard print swimwear. For Luna does fabulous vintage style swimsuits - one-piece and bikini - in leopard print.

Wear it... Top to toe

Not for the faint hearted, the total immersion look is a bold one. Accessorise minimally and let the print do all the talking. Photo from LIFE magazine, 1953.

Wear it... Demure

Demure leopard print may seem like an oxymoron, but with care, leopard can fit right into a ladylike look. Right: A dash of leopard print gives a bit of miaou to a demure ensemble (see also Casey's pairing of pastel pink eyelet with leopard print, above). Left: Even full-on leopard can be taken out of the vamp zone by toning down the look with an early 60s silhouette and a softer, lower-contrast print.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Vintage at Southbank Centre

You may recall the Vintage at Goodwood event last year. You may also know that this year the festival is moving (somewhat to my chagrin, as I live in Chichester and Goodwood is literally ten minutes down the road from me), and will be Vintage at the Southbank Centre. It's the 60th anniversary this year of the Festival of Britain, held at the Southbank Centre in 1951, and as a celebration of "five decades of British cool", the Vintage weekend forms part of the Southbank Centre's Festival of Britain celebrations (sponsored by Mastercard) and promises to be even better than last year.

Generally everyone had a marvellous time at Vintage at Goodwood, but as it was a new festival there were inevitably teething problems, so I'm looking forward to seeing what the organisers learned from last year.

From what I read on the website so far, it promises to be a super event. Plus, entry to all the outside spaces is free, so even if the price of a daily pass is beyond your budget, you can still stop by the vintage marketplace to soak up the atmosphere. Have I persuaded you yet?

There are lots of things I missed out on last year which I'm really looking forward to, like the workshops. I wonder if they'll have the "Wall of Death" again - I heard good things about it last year but I didn't make it inside to see. The Chap Olympiad will be back (look out for Fleur). I'm also looking forward to getting back into the Torch Club 1940s nightclub, the Let It Rock 50s arena, and - exciting - a 1920s Prohibition dining room (I hope they serve bootleg booze from teapots!). I'm super excited!

Meanwhile, I've got to start thinking about my outfit! Since I wear vintage every day, my entire wardrobe is full of lovely every day clothes, but these events call for something spectacular. I'm off to ponder the question (maybe I'll make something new?)

Just one week to go... See you there!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bon Voyage

Boden do a lot of great vintage-y novelty prints, some of which may even be repros of original vintage prints. This one certainly looks like it. It features various modes of transport with people waving "bon voyage" flags - super cute! I've had loads of these skirts on my watch list, and they regularly go on ebay for upwards of £30 (which, though still a bargain compared to the price new, is more than I'd want to spend on a modern skirt), but I managed to snag one for about £17 - and in roughly my size, too. That is, it's big on the waist, but any smaller size would be too small on the hips. Any tips for taking in the waist on a skirt with a side zip? I'm thinking of maybe adding darts in the front, but I probably won't take the waistband off as I think it'll be a major fiddle to reattach it.

How do you plan your outfits? I usually start with one piece and let the rest of the outfit grow around it. I actually can't remember if this morning I started with the skirt or with the gloves. I know I wanted to wear gloves because I'd planned to wear gloves for my sister's wedding on Saturday, then completely forgot to put them on, so I wanted to make up for that in today's outfit. So I think I went into the wardrobe to find something I could wear with gloves, pulled out the skirt, and then went back to my glove case to choose a pair (I went with these to pick up the colour in the print). Next, I think, came the pink accessories, again to reference the colour in the print. Kitsch car earrings picked up the transport theme, and a faux pearl bracelet completed the look. I feel like I'm rambling a bit, but I'm including it just because the notion of how an outfit comes together really interests me - I'm intrigued to think how some of my favourite style bloggers assemble their looks so I thought you might like an insight into my train of thought (but do let me know if it's totally boring!).

Skirt, Boden via ebay; Knit blouse, ebay; Shoes, purchased in Thailand; Belt, charity shop; Vintage gloves, can't remember; Bracelet, Primark; Earrings, purchased in Thailand; 1950s feather hat, charity shop; Handbag, on permanent loan from my sister (who also took the pics).

Monday, July 18, 2011

Wedding Mayhem

As I mentioned last week, my lovely sister Joanna got married on Saturday, hence the lack of a proper blogging schedule the last couple of weeks. We worked like trojans in the days leading up to the wedding, which was held in the garden of our cousin's sussex home. Expect many photos to come, but while we wait for the photographer's pictures to come back, here's a shot of mother, bride and me from the home made "photo booth" wall.

Although it's nice to be able to relax finally, I kind of miss not having a wedding to plan and prepare for... Time to drop some hints, perhaps?

Friday, July 15, 2011

{Wedding Week} Shoes for the Rock & Roll Bride

Even if you're going traditional with the dress, there's a good opportunity for going a bit wild with the shoes. I've picked out some of my favourite "walk on the wild side" options for alternative or rockabilly wedding shoes, including two of my own designs (hey, it's my blog and I'll self promote if I want to - and besides, I think they're awesome).

Top L-R: Cherry Ruby Slippers (also available in ivory satin) £50, by me (these graced the feet of at least two fabulous brides last year!); Hand-painted guns and roses tattoo shoes $80, Yellow Brick Road Shoes (check out the store, they have loads more cool tattoo shoes - want!); Ginger leather and lace shoe $198, Remix.

Centre L-R: Rock and Roll Bride by Shoe Missy, £60, as photographed by Marianne Taylor Photography (LOVE the idea to hand write the words directly on the shoes); Lucite Lovely £64.99, Irregular Choice; Hello Sailor nautical shoes £50, by me.

Bottom L-R: Courtesan Floral Bar £78, Irregular Choice; Heart Peeptoes, Vivienne Westwood for Melissa (quite the trendy wedding shoe of late, judging by the various wedding blogs & magazines that my sister's been looking at); Camille bouquet shoe clips $40.95, Chloe & Maddie.

The shoes I'll be wearing on Saturday would also be delightful as wedding shoes, but you'll have to wait a day or two to see them.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

{Wedding Week} Late 40s Bridal Fashions

I've got two sets of late 1940s Bridal fashion inspiration for you today. The first is from Everywoman magazine, June 1947.

Three very different wedding dresses are exhibited. For a church wedding there's a princess gown in pure white satin, and a mid-Victorian influenced confection in lemon-coloured net trimmed with baby blue lace. There's also a simple pencil skirt dress with detachable peplum for a registry office wedding. But what I like is the ideas for accessorising the wedding ensemble (the ideas can also be adapted to suit an outfit for any summer event).

The head-dress with its one-sided effect, shown here, is something new. A spray of real or artificial flowers frames one side of the face, whilst the other is draped with the veil whcih cascades over the shoulder and down the back.

A spray of roses, of course, makes an appropriate June bouquet. But why not have something more original? Very easily made is the one in the picture. At regular intervals along the spray, the wired stems of the flowers are caught with net bows.

Glvoes can be the one touch of originality which makes an ensemble. If you're wearing a short frock, you may decide against carrying a bouquet and you may prefer not to wear flowers on your dress. But you must have some floral trimming in a bridal outfit. So why not introduce it on your gloves? A pair of fine mesh ones, with long gauntlets, worn with bracelets of flowers, will be attractive.

The second scan is from a Leach-Way pattern magazine which is undated, but from the content it's from either 1947 or 1948, at the very cusp of the New Look - I'll be posting some more fashions from the magazine next week.

The gathered bustle above is all about the fairytale romance.

I love the understated, refined glamour of the design below, with its sweetheart neckline and gently ruched bodice. And that fan-like headdress is just lovely.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

{Wedding Week} Bridal Beauty 1915

Some invaluable advice from Woman's Life magazine, May 1915. I've taken some excerpts from the full article, which you can click below to enlarge and read. I also really love the beautiful Art Nouveau illustration, which my collection of Edwardian / 1910s magazines are full of.

Pure white is very trying to many compexions in the daytime. None but those with a very good complexion or very fair skin can carry off successfully that very dead-white with a tint of blue in it.

But most brides select dead-white, whether it becomes them or not.

For the girl with a creamy or sallow skin dead-white is more than trying. It seems to take every vestige of colour from her face. Girls with this type of complexion should choose cream, or at least ivory-white, for their wedding-dress, softened by plenty of pretty lace. They should choose satin, too, instead of dull silks. The red-haird girl, on the other hand, should keep to dull, pure white materials, such as white crepe de Chine, ninon, or silk.

The Complexion

For quite a week before the wedding the bride-to-be should pay special attention to her complexion. Three days beforehand it is well worth her while to pay a visit to a beauty specialist and undergo a face and neck massage treatment. It is not an extravagance, believe me, and a fee of 7x. 6d. is well worth spending in view of the splendid results achieved.

Keep your skin fresh and clear by early rising, regular hours, plenty of exercise, and strict attention to diet. And don't worry, as so many girls are inclined to do. There is nothing so harmful to the looks as worrying over trifles. Try and cultivate a calm, serene state of mind.

Three days before the wedding try washing your face every night in milk. You will find it makes your skin beautifully clear and soft.

The Hair

Four days before the wedding have a shampoo, for you will want your hair to look nice. Don't have it shampooed, though, the day before the wedding, as so many brides do, or you will find it difficult to dress. Then I think almost every girl has a kind of tired look on your face, which would certainly not be becoming to a bride.

Monday, July 11, 2011

{Wedding Week} Iconic Wedding Dresses

My sister Joanna is getting married next weekend, so in celebration I've got a week of vintage wedding posts planned, starting with a collection of some of history's most iconic wedding dresses.

Queen Victoria, 1840

No run-down of historical wedding dresses can be complete without a mention of Queen Victoria's 1840 bridal gown, surely among the most influential of all time. Her choice of snowy white silk satin started the tradition for white wedding dresses. She was also the first royal bride to have bridesmaids carry her train. With her crown of orange blossoms she can also probably be credited with popularising floral headdresses.

Wallis Simpson, 1937

Whatever you may think of her, Wallis Simpson was a major style icon (though perhaps more in America than England). She married Edward in 1937 wearing powder blue silk crepe, with matching gloves and hat (the tradition of white was not adhered to so rigidly at the time, and besides, white would have been inappropriate for a divorcee). The dress with fitted, shaped waistband and gathered bust epitomised the graceful 1930s silhouette, and inspired many a subsequent creation.

Grace Kelly, 1956

The elegant gown Grace Kelly wore for her 1956 marriage to Prince Rainier of Monaco is an all-time classic. The design, created by MGM wardrobe designer Helen Rose, was widely copied at the time, and thanks to its timelessness has continued to be popular - even more so since its reivention as the dress worn by Kate Middleton for her marriage to Prince William earlier this year.

Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face, 1957

The Givenchy confection worn by Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face reflected (and no doubt contributed to) the continuing popularity of tea length wedding dresses in the 1950s. The dress featured a wide bateau neckline, drop waist (often seen in late 50s wedding dress patterns) and ballerina skirt in dreamy layers of white tulle.

Brigitte Bardot, 1959

Brigitte Bardot wore a fun pink gingham day dress designed by Jacques Esterel for her wedding to Jacques Charrier in 1959. The dress was widely copied, and helped bring gingham back to the fashion fore in the early 60s.

Raquel Welch, 1967

In the swinging sixties, the ultra hip opted for bridal mini dresses. Raquel Welch donned a white crochet minidress for her 1967 Paris wedding to Hollywood producer Patrick Curtis. She teamed her dress with a three-quarter length white fur coat.

[Note: You may have spotted one notable omission from this collection: I have not included Princess Diana's meringue because it offends me so much I didn't want it on my blog.]


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