Sunday, June 9, 2013

{Style Inspiration} 1940s Summer Dresses

For this week's Sunday style inspiration I give you a selection of colourful summer dresses from the 1940s. These are all from "Everywoman" magazine.

Interesting use of stripes, from 1942

Loving these sweet styles and adorable prints from 1945

Styles on the cusp of the New Look era, 1947

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Paintbox Colours

This weekend Landgirl Charly organised a little get together to meet up with Tasha of By Gum By Golly at the end of her trip to the UK. We passed a pleasant afternoon in the cosy library of The Victoria in Paddington, where apparently Charles Dickens spent time writing "Our Mutual Friend" - how cool is that? The group photos were on Charly's camera, so check her blog over the next few days.

Meanwhile, shall we take a moment to talk about my dress? Now that I'm working a nine-to-five (and yes, I spend a lot of time humming Dolly Parton to myself) and am required to look vaguely "normal" on a day to day basis, I kind of make the most of the opportunity to have fun with my clothes at the weekends! This is the 50s party dress I wore to my sister's wedding two years ago - the one I bought at a car boot sale for £2, my best ever car boot bargain ever ever. It's super cute, but kind of formal for afternoon wear, so I dressed it down a touch with a casual cardigan, and accessorised in red, coral and orange. This is possibly my favourite colour combination right now.

After I got home we went for a walk in the meadow in the sunset - I don't want to speak too soon but summer might just finally have arrived!

50s taffeta party dress, car boot sale; Earrings, Primark; Plastic bead necklace, car boot sale; Lovebirds necklace, gift from Matin; Cardigan, New Look; Clutch bag, charity shop; Bakelite and plastic bangles, various; Shoes, Office.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

{Style Inspiration} Novelty Buttons

Anyone who sews vintage (and many who don't) will probably admit to a slight (or major) obsession with novelty buttons - also known as figural, goofy or realistic buttons. Schiaparelli in particular helped popularise the idea of buttons as a type of costume jewellery, her wild designs including oversize insects, mermaids, vegetables, carnival horses and pianos - among many, many more.

Evening ensemble by Schiaparelli featuring "Chinaman" buttons, late 30s

Evening jacket by Schiaparelli with vegetable embroidery and mismatched vegetable buttons

The development and rise of plastics in the early 20th century made novelty buttons cheap to manufacture, and they enjoyed a heyday in the 1930s and 40s. All the examples below are from the Sears & Roebuck catalogue archive. This is a rather picture-heavy post, there just were so many adorable examples I couldn't bear not to share them!

It was common for novelty buttons to be produced in co-ordinated rather than matching sets, such as the Roman numeral buttons on this 1936 dress.

1937: Loving the nautical stars. I also like how those cute clothespin buttons are a bit more subtle than some novelty buttons - they'd just look like ordinary toggle-style buttons until you took a closer look.

Beautifully ornate carved Catalin (Bakelite) button and buckle sets from 1937. They're all three lovely, but Bakelite bird buttons and matching buckle? Be still my beating heart!

Novelty zoological buttons (including another Catalin bird design - I have one of these, but I'd so like to have a set and make a sweet shirtwaist), again from 1937

1938 designs included Disney characters (how much would those early Disney collectables be worth now?!), flowerpots and carved fruit shapes, as well as an unusual 'stitchable' design.

Disney's Snow White was released nationally in 1938, becoming the highest grossing sound film at that time and inspiring these Seven Dwarf buttons. The "Swing Band" set also reflects popular culture of the era.

1939 - I have a set of these "Lovebirds" buttons waiting for the perfect project, and I'm constantly on the lookout for a set of the "Ensemble" buttons - they're always way pricey on ebay and etsy.

Check out the novelty plastic cherry shaped hook-and-eye closures (R) - 1939

1939: I've counted five Scottie dog designs so far - testament to the 1930s love for Scotties.

Colourful designs from 1940

Button, buckle and matching thread sets from 1942

Oversize statement buttons for 1945 - as fabric rationing had taken its toll on garment design and manufacture, buttons were one of the few remaining ways to add flare to clothes.


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