Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sailor Style Evolution Part 1: Nautical Fashion is Born

Cigar label, 1887

Okay, so when I set out to chart the history of nautical fashions it was supposed to be a small project but - as seems to be the way with me - once I started I got really into the research, and wound up amassing a collection of over one hundred images! So what I'd planned to be a single post will actually take up most of the week (we can call it Nautical Week!).

Our story starts somewhere in the mid 19th century, when the four-year-old Prince Albert Edward (the future Edward VII) was dressed in a miniature sailor uniform. Standardised uniforms for the Navy had only been introduced in the early part of that century. After the young Prince's The sailor suit became - and has remained ever since - a perennial favourite for children's wear, though for this history I'll concentrate on the style's evolution in adult fashion. By 1871 the nautical motif had made the transition into ladies' clothing.

1871 fashion plate (source)

Early examples of sailor style are intended to be worn for appropriately nautical pursuits, such as these jaunty "yachting costumes".

Yachting costume, 1895 (source)

Yachting costume, 1898 (source)

Yachting costume, 1898 (source)

Boating Girl, 1906

Bazar of Fashions, McCall's Patterns, June 1906 (source)

When swimming (as opposed to the earlier trend of 'sea-bathing' - literally being dunked in the waves) gained popularity in the late Victorian era, fashion again turned to nautical style for the new wave of bathing costumes.

Swimming costume, 1898, from Ageless Patterns.

Swimming costume, 1898, from Ageless Patterns.

Late Victorian swimwear

Drawing by Charles Gibson, c1906

Ivory Soap advert, 1909

In the later Edwardian period, nautical styles took their first (very) tentative steps away from the sea and into mainstream fashion, as seen in the two illustrations below (although she's clearly at seaside, for the first time she's illustrated not on an actual boat).

1908 (source)

Waists, 1908

Continue reading Part 2: The Rise of the Middy.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Moi Je Joue

My style tends to go through phases. I probably don't do enough outfit posts to track it normally, but you can probably see that I'm going through a bit of an early sixties thing lately!

It's also possible you already have an inkling of how enamoured I am with the beehive hair. It's less formal and easier to wear than Victory rolls, plus it's easy to keep in place (with the help of - count 'em - sixteen kirbigrips / bobby pins). I can see it's a style I'm going to be experimenting with further, especially as it suits my face shape (which is a topic I'm planning to cover next week, by the way).

And what's not to love about cat eye liner? I was tempted to add red lipstick to match the red in the outfit, but since I'd gone heavy with the eyes I decided to stick to basic beauty rules and go with a gentler colour for the lips - which is also more in keeping with the late 50s / early 60s vibe.

Okay it's not exactly the Riviera, but Chichester Canal is the next best thing and only yards from our house! And I can pose, Bardot-like, on the railings.


Skirt, vintage, ebay; Top, charity shop; Crinoline, Petticoat Princess (note: this is a great inexpensive crinoline with super fullness, but if you have over about a 26" waist I'd recommend going for the larger size as the waist elastic is pretty hard); Milk glass necklace, gift from Mummy; Earrings, made by me (polka dot buttons from The Eternal Maker); Shoes, Marks & Spencer; Bakelite & plastic bangles, various.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Vintage/Modern

I really like the print of this dress (hard to see, but it's little cherries and apples and other fruit), but it's so obviously modern that it can be a struggle to style it within my vintage aesthetic. But it's fun for a little vintage/modern challenge every so often.

Isn't it funny how a modern outfit completely changes the look of my forties style peeptoes? When I wear them with a more vintage look they look thoroughly retro, but this ensemble gives them a more kawaii / babydoll air.

Cashmere cardigan, Hobbs; Dress, Topshop circa 1990s, via ebay; Tights, New Look; Early plastic brooch, gift from Mother; Earrings, made by me; Shoes, similar in my shop.

Photo effects by Lo-Fi App.

PS: I've just added another scan - from 1915 - to the Make do and mend for May post.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Winkworth Arboretum

Although you've already seen this outfit as I wore the same thing to the Sew Weekly meet-up the following day, I really wanted to post these pics from our visit to Winkworth Arboretum last week just because the scenery was so pretty.

This is one of my favourite dresses, and it's been featured here once or twice before. The best detail is the red on white polka dot collar and cuffs. Although it has an obvious sailor influence which invites nautical accessories, I usually like to style it with one of my cherry hats (but still within the red, white and blue scheme).

My hair started out in my usual favourite updo, but my hair is so heavy the kirbigrips struggle to keep it in place, and it fell down halfway through the day.

Photos by Matin; Vintage photo effects courtesy of Lo-Fi App.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Make Do and Mend for May

This is the last in the series of Make Do and Mend features - we've come full circle and now have a whole year's worth of great ideas for customising and restyling worn or plain clothes.

I love these "Dress Savers", ideas for renovating worn frocks, from May 1942

I'm totally earmarking the idea from 1945 of making a collar in polka dot ribbon for a sweater, so watch this space!

This feature in Home Notes magazine from 1915 has ideas for using small remnants of fabric and lace to renovate old garments, or combining them to create new ones. For me, the navy blue and white polka dot hat with cherries tucked under the brim is to die for!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ask Me Tell Me

* source *

Although this blog is of course primarily my own creative outlet, it's you the readers that make it so fulfilling, so I'd love to know what you want to see here. I'm really interested to know what you'd like to see more of - outfits, sewing, vintage magazine scans / vintage inspiration, projects & tutorials, ebay-etsy picks, etc. - what do you love seeing the most? Is there a topic you'd like to see me cover in an upcoming theme week?

I'd also love to dedicate a post to answering any questions you may have for me - do comment or send me an email if you'd like to ask something - vintage-related or not (I've always wanted to do one of these posts but been afraid no-one would ask any questions and then I'd look silly, so I'm crossing my fingers that someone will ask something!).

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sweet Sixties

I enjoyed wearing my attempt at a beehive so much yesterday that I thought I'd try another variation. I was also trying to channel Brigitte Bardot with some major cat eye liner, but it sadly doesn't show up at all in the pics.

Since I'm not able to shop as much as I'd like lately I've been thinking a lot about how to restyle my wardrobe. This dress has featured so many times in previous outfit posts I've lost count, so I challenged myself to find a new way of wearing it. I rather like it with the pink (the petticoat's pink too, though you can't see).

1950s vintage dress, some vintage shop in Brighton; Belt, charity shop; Plastic & Bakelite bangles, various; Petticoat, charity shop; Sandals, ebay; Cardigan, Primark.

Photos by Matin; Vintage photo effects courtesy of Lo-Fi App.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hot Dog Sauce

I apologise for my lack of posts lately - I've been a) actually working for a change and b) stuck in a bit of a fashion rut of late. But new clothes always help with such things! I bought this skirt on ebay, with the intention of probably selling it as it's a touch too small, but it's just so adorable I might have to keep it! (with an extra tab in the waistband so I can actually button it). The print is all store cupboard packets - hot dog sauce, Brillo, V8 vegetable juice, Tabasco sauce, taco seasoning... what's not to love?

Because of the skirt's Pop Art vibe I felt a sixties 'do would work. It's loosely inspired by some of Casey's recent styles (although I haven't had a chance to watch her latest hair tutorial, so this was pretty much a "backcomb the heck out of it and see what happens" effort).

Skirt, ebay; Peasant blouse and basket purse, purchased in Thailand; Bakelite, plastic & lucite bangles, various; Sandals, Marks & Spencer; Belt, charity shop; Necklace, ebay.

Photos by Matin. Vintage effects courtesy of Lo-Fi App.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bad Blogger, Happy Sewer

I know, I've been horribly absent of late! But I've been having a lot of fun sewing and fabric shopping. On Saturday I joined the Sew Weekly sewing circle meet-up. I didn't make it to the V&A museum (we stayed at a friend's on Friday night and stayed up late watching movies!), but I joined them for the shopping portion of events, over at Goldhawk road. It was great to meet so many sew weekly-ers, especially those bloggers who I've long been following - Sew Weekly contributor Debi and I greeted each other like long-lost friends, even though we've never actually met in real life! (pic below pinched from her blog - I'd forgotten my camera at our friend's place).

In fact I had so much fun chatting that I didn't even manage to buy anything until I'd said goodbye to them. I didn't want to go too nuts as I do have a bit of a fabric stash already, but I got some black and white mini houndstooth check for a pencil skirt (I need to sew more basic separates), and two dress fabrics:

This one's a silk/cotton blend, very lightweight and drapey like cotton lawn, with a slight sheen from the silk content. I don't know what I'm going to make with it yet, but I thought the print looked very Deco-era, wouldn't you say?

Isn't it pretty? It's a Liberty print, and I thought it had a nice vintage vibe. Violet and orange are a little outside my comfort zone, but I think it's going to work. The fabric is a medium weight, soft cotton/wool blend with a lovely drape. I was lamenting that you don't often see natural fibre blends these days, it's usually a natural with a synthetic, but these two natural blends are beautiful.

Anyway, I think I'll make it up in one of these patterns. I'm going to make a muslin in both and then decide.


Lastly, here's what I've also been working on. I've had this pretty powder blue floral fabric (very Cath Kidston, don't you think?) for a year, and I thought it was about time it became a dress - it's too pretty to sit in a drawer. The pattern came in a lot (together with the one above and two or three others) from ebay some months ago.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Lavenham, Suffolk

Some more photos from our camping trip in the Royal wedding week. We took a day trip to Lavenham in Suffolk, which is among the largest, best-preserved medieval villages in the country. In the town's wool-producing heyday there was a building boom, and most of the timber-framed buildings date from this time. A quirk of fate which saw the town's fortunes go from boom to bust over a comparatively short time left the residents unable to afford to continue building, so while tudor cottages elsewhere were being torn down and replaced by Georgian townhouses, Lavenham's streets were stuck in a time warp. Although many of the buildings have fallen victim to disrepair over the centuries (some were pulled down as recently as the 1920s), many beautiful wattle and daub structures survive, making it a lovely place for a wander.




I want this village as the backdrops for all my outfit posts!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

This week's shop highlights

Here are some of the things that I've listed recently - or will soon list - in my ebay shop.

Clockwise from top left: Vintage 1960s wool jersey dress; Vintage 80s silk blouse; Vintage 1960s playsuit; Vintage shirred swimsuit, c1940s; 1940s inspired peplum tea dress; Vintage skirted swimsuit, c1950s.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Make Do and Mend Challenge: The "Blue Moon" Dress


This dress started life as a voluminous 80s dress with huge sleeves and a pleated skirt. I wish I could show you the 'before' picture, but annoyingly I seem to have lost it. I bought it months and months ago - probably over a year now in fact - because the Art Deco colour and print appealed to me and I thought I could Do Something With It. So it's been languishing in my stock room ever since, but this week I decided to set myself a challenge, and make a concerted effort to deal with all the pieces in my ever-growing "make do and mend" pile.

To start with I unpicked the entire thing, and ironed out the pleats in the skirt and the gathers in the bodice. I was left with two rectangles from the skirt, the sleeves, and two bodice pieces about two foot wide (even though it was only designed for a 36" bust - this was a proper "Dynasty" 80s dress).

I used the same pattern as my Spring Blossom dress, arranging the pattern pieces to fit on the available fabric. In the making up, I made a few minor changes to the original pattern: I gathered the sleeves instead of darting them; I just stitched the bodice pieces together normally rather than topstitching as the pattern instructed; I also omitted the sleeve cuffs as I didn't have enough fabric.

As much as I love this dress, it's actually intended for selling. I'm opening it up to blog readers first, before listing on ebay/etsy. The pattern is sized 34-28-36, but there's room for a little extra in the bust because of the tucks and gathers in the bodice. Price £60 or best offer (don't be afraid to put in an offer!), contact me by email or by leaving a comment below.

I'm also extending the Make Do and Mend challenge to the world at large - have you got a mending pile to tackle? Or like me have you more ambitious re-making projects planned? Let's make May "Make Do and Mend" month, and work on them together. Do let me know if you decide to take part!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cambridge: Anglesey Abbey

One of the reasons I didn't get the chance to work on my planned projects for last week's applique theme was that Mr Matin and I were on holiday in Cambridge. We borrowed my parents' VW camper (not a vintage one, sadly!) and stayed for four days. We joined the National Trust while we were there, and cycled out to Anglesey Abbey, about ten miles from the campsite. The countryside around Cambridge has some wonderful scenery. And I'm pleased to report that my (faux) victory rolls held up remarkably well underneath the cycle helmet!

Anglesey Abbey was purchased in the 1930s by the son of an American oil family, and although he furnished it mainly in a grand country house style the bathrooms are rather fabulous examples of Art Deco period design - I particularly coveted the wonderfully Deco dressing table in one.

The gardens were also lovely for a wander. We lunched in the tea room, then had a snooze on the lawn, followed by a round of croquet (of course).



1940s tea dress, Dead Man's Glory (bought at Vintage at Goodwood last year); 1940s style shoes, available in my shop; Bakelite and plastic bangles, various; Handbag, etsy.

Vintage photo effects courtesy of Lo-Fi App.

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