Thursday, June 30, 2011

Comic Book Superhero Shoes

I've got a few new shoe designs in stock from my last buying trip. I absolutely love these Marvel comic book superhero shoes and they've proved wildly popular so far. I've also been working on a new embellished design with a nautical flavour, which I'll feature next week.

I'm selling these for £50. Available in sizes 37 (UK 4 / US 6.5), 38 (UK 5 / US 7.5), 39 (UK 6 / US 8.5) and 40 (UK 7 / US 9.5) - email me for more information or to purchase.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ways to Wear... A Peasant Blouse

I feel that any vintage summer wardrobe ought not lack a peasant / gypsy blouse. I love them, and I now have four or five, both vintage and modern. They're easy to wear, flattering on all figure types, and perfect for creating a variety of vintage looks - don't think of them as restricted to 70s boho. If you can't find one vintage it's a great time to buy one new - thanks to this season's 70s trend they're widely available on the high street (last summer I really wanted one but couldn't find any!). They're also available in different fabrics and styles from Hungarian multicolour embroidered cotton to sophisticated satin to floral voile to dotted swiss.

Wear it... Vamp

Marilyn Monroe paired a yellow with black lace overlay peasant blouse with a sleek black skirt and fishnets in Bus Stop for a show-stopping sex kitten look. This is a look that works fabulously for evening or cocktail wear.

Wear it... Fresh Faced 40s

Match a peasant blouse with a carefree simple gathered skirt for a great everyday look that's both classically vintage and eminently wearable, perfect for summer.

Wear it... Pin-up

Channel the Elvgren pin-up with a peasant blouse worn to slip casually off one or both shoulders. Team with a full circle skirt and add stockings and peeptoe shoes for full-on pin-up style.

Wear it... 1930s Chic

McCall 87 ~ 1930s peasant blouse

Worn 1930s style with a slim skirt, a peasant blouse with embroidery and smocking makes excellent day wear for any season.

Wear it... Bohemian

And of course you can always take it 1970s boho - belted with a midi or maxi length skirt, or as a smock blouse over jeans (or flares, if you really want to work the 70s).

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Blitz Diary

Some of you may remember the wartime diaries I came across in mother's attic back in 2009. I started posting the entries last year, but I let it fall by the wayside. Well I've now resurrected Blitz Diary, with each of Eileen Kelly's original diary entries being posted exactly 70 years to the day after she wrote them.

What I love most about the diary entries is how very normal life is, despite being set in central London at the height of the Blitz! Eileen's life is ordinary bordering on boring, with regular visits to the cinema and occasional dances - the sustained bombing barely merits a mention - but that's just part of the charm of the diary.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Abreast of Developments: The changing shape of decolletage in fashion

There have been many fashion histories about the trends in attractive body shape. This one examines on the changing shape of a lady's frontage in the changing fashion silhouette - a subject close to my heart (as it were!). It's been a long time coming (I'm trying to work through my "to blog" list), but as with any article summarising a century of fashion, the research has been a bit of a labour of love. I've tried to keep it short and sweet and focus purely on shape (the evolution of bra technology is a fascinating subject for another time) to avoid going off on yet another multi-part exhaustive history! It's still pretty image-heavy, but I hope you enjoy it.

Victorian Corsets Thrust the Bust High

During the Victorian era the focus was on the waist. A tiny waist was preferred, so corsets were worn and bust and hips emphasised with bustles and blousy designs to exaggerate the hourglass effect. Corsets pushed the breasts up and out, but their shape was really incidental to the overall silhouette.

Corset advert, 1882 (source)

The Pigeon-Breast

The Edwardian period brought the S-shape silhouette. The flat-fronted corsets which thrust the hips backwards also lowered the bustline, neatly demonstrated in this illustration from Ladies Home Journal, 1900, comparing the Victorian silhouette with the new shape:

As the era wore on, the low, pigeon chest became more pronounced, with the bust spilling over low-fronted corsets or shaped and padded in "figure builder" brassieres.

Blouses in Home Notes magazine, 1915

Lingerie in the Sears catalogue, 1915

Camisole illustration showing the low pigeon chest, 1917

Flappers and Flat-O-Form

You can see in the late 1910s that the chest is getting flatter, with the blousing moving lower to just above the waistline. In the early 1920s the blousiness started to disappear from bodices entirely, and by the mid 20s the fashionable figure was completely flat-chested.

Fashions in Pictorial Review, 1925

Lingerie was designed to help achieve this silhouette. Brassieres with brand names like "Flat-O-Form", "Boyshform" and "Sta-Flat" promised to impart "that boylike, flat appearance, assuring a charm to the figure that is so desirable for the modern frock".

Sears, 1925

In the late 20s the angular boyish silhouette softened slightly into "slim yet rounded lines". By 1929 "uplift model" brassieres were available, though still far outnumbered by minimiser bandeau styles.

Sears, 1929

Lift & Separate

These "rounded lines" filled out further still in the 1930s, so that by 1934 bust-enhancing bra padding was available to endow "the new full busted curves" upon the less voluptuous.

Sears, 1934

Sears, 1935

Maidenform had introduced shaped bra cups in the 1920s, and with the new curvy silhouette they gained popularity. By the late 30s a "high, rounded bustline" was desirable, and "lift and separate" was the key phrase in marketing the new cup-formed brassieres.

Sears, 1938

Sears, 1939

The Bullet Bra

The naturalistic, rounded bust shape of the 30s and early 40s gave way to a more structured, pointed shape by the late 40s. Dior's New Look brought back small waistlines and the hourglass silhouette, so - just as in the Victorian era - bustlines and hips were exaggerated to enhance the effect. "Sweater girls" of the 40s and 50s like Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, Lana Turner et al further popularised the pointy-boobed look. Bust padding was sometimes used to fill out the bullet shape.

"Kestos" bullet bras, 1950

"Permalift" padded bullet bra, 1952

Maidenform launched its phenomenally successful "Chansonette" bra (the model for What Katie Did's bullet bra) in 1949. It went on to be the best-selling bra of the 1950s, with its "I dreamed I..." advertising campaign.

Maidenform Chansonette, 1964

Neat & Petite

The boxier fashions of the late 50s and early 1960s worked best on petite, small-breasted figures. This vogue for slender lines culminated in the Mod styles of the late 60s, with angular shift dresses and flat-chested models like Twiggy at the fashion fore.

1960s sewing patterns

The Natural Look

The late 60s and early 70s feminist movement reacted against 'restrictive' undergarments (though to be honest my bullet bra is the most comfortable I've ever owned, and I don't intend to go back to underwires!) which moulded the body into shapes supposedly designed to please men. This heralded a return to a more naturally rounded shape, and bras were designed with light support and little structure.

Maidenform bra, 1971

Meanwhile, the push-up Wonderbra was gaining popularity, so it's hard to pinpoint a definitive fashion shape for the bust of the 70s. The fashion industry remained geared to the small-breasted, if the pattern illustrations of the era are anything to go by. However the silhouette was less prescriptive, and many 70s styles, with their fit-and-flare shape, work on all bust sizes.

1970s sewing patterns

After the 70s the fashion bosom continued to rise and fall like the tide - the 1980s saw volume added everywhere with shoulder pads and blousy bodices. The 90s brought us heroin chic and flat chests on the catwalk, while Wonderbra and Ultrabra sales soared. As to the future, who knows - according to the way fashion cycles maybe the Edwardian pigeon chest is due for a revival!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Little Pick-Me-Up

It seems like it's been sooo long since I did an outfit post! I have been wearing clothes, honest, but the weather's just been so darn dreary the last couple of weeks - what happened to summer?! Even when we had a spot of sunshine today and I dashed outside to take these pictures, the sun kept ducking in and out behind the clouds so much that most of the photos ended up either under- or overexposed!

This top arrived this morning and its crazy bright print of Parisian street life (there's even a gendarme!) seemed just the thing to brighten the day. I probably won't keep it as it's not really a style that suits me - I only bought it because I had my eye on the print to repro. It's a super top though - it's a mid-length tunic, it'll look fabulous with pink or yellow pedal pushers a la Audrey Hepburn.

I attempted a quickie 60s beehive, but because I didn't really tease the hair enough the 'do wasn't very substantial and it got a little windswept in the blustery weather when I walked into town and back before doing these.

1960s tunic top, ebay; Gingham skirt, charity shop; Shoes, purchased in Thailand; Bakelite, plastic & lucite bangles, various; Belt, hand-me-up from my sister.

Vintage photo effects courtesy of Lo-Fi App.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New and Coming Soon

The items headed for my ebay shop this week are many and varied!

  • I'm having a pattern clearout! You may recognise Vogue 9162 as one of the patterns from my boot fair haul the other day; I've also listed a whole bunch of 1940s children's patterns - all unused and factory folded - and a couple of rare ones, these 1930s bloomers and an unused early 20s pattern.
  • Clothing listed this week includes several size L and XL items, like this adorable pink handknit tank top, and mid-60s gingham sundress.
  • Lots of rockabilly and kitsch jewellery - when I'm in Thailand I always stock up on novelty earrings, and I usually buy duplicates to sell, so there's a whole lot going into the shop - all free postage with any other item. I'm also listing some nice vintage pieces.
  • I'm also having a button clearout - I've had to face up to the fact that I will just never use all the buttons I've been stashing! Lots of sets and collections of vintage buttons - and again free postage with any other item. There are also a couple of lots of vintage zips.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

1935 Style Notes

I love this page from the front of the Sears catalogue for Spring/Summer 1935, summarising the season's key trends.

  • billowy cottons for evening
  • tunics go to great or short lengths
  • cords and lacings "tie up" new fashions

  • Hats are wide... Necklines high and frilly.
  • initials are everywhere

  • White accessories for accent

  • the Grecian Princess influence
  • Capes are definitely in

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Boot Fair Booty

I haven't been to a car boot sale in weeks, so I made an extra effort to get us out of bed for a trip to the Ford car boot. I'm glad I did - it was totally worth it.

Best find was a whole lot of vintage sewing patterns, mostly late 50s - early 60s (they weren't super-amazing cheap, but still a good price considering what they are). I'm most excited about the Vogue Special Design ones, especially S-4831 (in the middle) as I've been looking for a pattern with just that sort of drapery. It's quite small for me though, so it's going to be a challenge to grade it up.

Best bargain of the day was this fabulous 1960s beach towel, which was about £2 (I got it in a bundle with some clothes for the shop). It's got several illustrations, but my favourite is this fish - classic midcentury.

Most useful find of the day was a set of attachments for the Singer 201K, including some bits which were missing from mine, so yay!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ballroom Belles 1940s Repro Fabric

I've had my initial version of this fabric repro up on my Spoonflower for a little while now. It was one of my early fabric repros, and really needed a bit of tweaking with some of the knowledge I gained through doing more designs, as well as recolouring. I'm now happy to unveil version 2, which I think I'll make available in the light turquoise of the original it's based on, and maybe a baby or peachy pink (I need to consult the Sears colour charts of the early 40s to see which shades of pink were popular).

In related news, I'm venturing into actually designing some fabrics myself, rather than just reproducing vintage designs, and right now I'm working on expanding this particular print into a co-ordinated range. And with a bit of luck it'll be coming soon to a fabric store near you!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Every Day

My outfit posts never document the jewellery I wear every day (or almost every day) so I thought I'd dedicate a post to them. As it happens it's mostly gifts from my mother.

My most special piece of jewellery is the gold torque bangle. This was my mother's 18th birthday present to me. It was once a gold watch, which was given to her for her 21st birthday, and she had it melted down and made into this bangle for my 18th.

The silver Lovebirds necklace was Matin's gift to me on our first Valentine's Day together - I'd instructed him to find me some lovebirds jewellery, and he got this along with a couple of brooches. He did well - I wear this most days.

My rings, from left to right, are:

St. Malo silver ring. Mummy bought this for me on a family holiday to St. Malo in France when I was about 15. The Triskell is a celtic symbol and a popular emblem of Brittany, which is one of the six celtic nations. I've always been interested in Celtic art - my father is Scottish.

18 carat child's ring. So tiny it'll only fit on my little finger (it just about fits Teddy's fingers). Mummy gave me this before I went travelling to India, saying I could always sell it in an emergency!

Victorian belt buckle ring. Another one from Mummy - there's no special story behind this one, but it's pretty cool.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What to Wear to Fancy Dress Balls, 1896

I've just passed a happy hour or two browsing the fantastically inventive fancy dress costume ideas in this 1896 book, Fancy Dress Described. There are literally hundreds of ideas, ranging from historical and regional costumes, to fictional personalities (Shakespearean and Gilbert & Sullivan characters are popular) and abstract concepts like the seasons, right through to perfectly genius ideas like a painter's palette, or photography, or electricity, or roulette. Imagine going to a ball dressed as The Planets, or Five o'clock tea! Each costume is described in detail from head to toe. If you are ever stuck for an idea for fancy dress, this is where to go.


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