Rome and Tuscany

I am busy planning for a summer holiday to Rome and Tuscany. While I lately go more towards the Fifties, I felt like going for a Thirties theme for my sightseeing and going out clothes. While most of it is from memory from hours of ‘research’ throughout my life (I think I should probably have a degree by now in my specialised field), I refreshed my memory on a few of the summer holiday episodes of Poirot.

Here are a few of the best.

While I still haven’t made any beach pyjamas, I do have some wide leg Palazzo pants. I can wear a number of different blouses, including a wrap blouse from an original Thirties pattern I have.

A couple of exceptions are a Roman Holiday ensemble and my Marilyn inspired Niagara dress, in case we go out in the evening.

Marilyn Monroe Niagara dress
Marilyn Monroe Niagara dress

I’ll post my holiday outfits and see how well they worked in practice.

Miss Phryne Fisher pyjamas

There are so many outfits that the honourable Miss Fisher wears in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries that I love, I want her whole wardrobe! I wish people dressed that elegantly nowadays. Even at home.

If you read about my love of lounge wear , you’ll know I liked a certain set of Phryne’s pyjamas. I have now made them!

I’m really pleased with the scalloped collar at the back and, although the tassle is heavier, I found pyjama tassles online for the back detail. The lace is appliquéd on by hand which took a long time, but I had fun looking for ready-made lace inserts, which meant the most intricate work was done for me. What can I appliqué next?!

These pyjamas are really comfy and look so glamourous I may only use them as lounge wear. The cord is soft and doesn’t seem to be uncomfortable to lean on. However, it is detachable.

I think I could change the collar to more of a V-neck, and embellish the front of the collar. Also, if I found some appliqué the right size, the hems of the trousers could be decorated too.

Are these pyjamas you would wear? Would you like to see them in my Etsy shop?

What other outfits would you like to see recreated?

How to wear vintage hats – Part 3

Sorry for the delay in posting, I’ve been busy sewing! Let’s look at some hat styles from the Fifties and Sixties.

In the Fifties, smaller more subtle hats that fitted close to the head were available, but you could still find fun and fancy hats too. The beret is a perennial favourite for most decades.

The hat above is one of my purchases from the 2017 Goodwood Revival. It needed a bit of cleaning, using baby wipes,  but it came out well.

Lilac jumper and embroidered skirt by Butterfly Child Art

Strawberry dress from original Fifties pattern by The Girl Loves Vintage

If you get a chance to see Grace Kelly’s hat collection, you may be surprised at some of them as they go into the Sixties. Audrey Hepburn and Doris Day also sported some amazing hats. You just have to be daring enough to wear them.

The hats in the Sixties are best worn high or far back to create that beehive look.

If you’ve got longer hair, this works well with Sixties styles, as you can style it straight, with flicks or create volume and pin it into a bob, Doris Day style.

My brother calls this the brain hat because of the shape, and I have to admit it does remind me of Mars Attacks! So don’t mess with me when I wear it!

This bucket hat is a modern buy, but reminded me of Doris Day! I sometimes style it for the Twenties too.

Furry Dr Zhivago hats are popular again at the moment, but they were fashionable through many decades. Marilyn Monroe wore one in the early Sixties.

What other styles would you like to see? Or what styles do you find difficult to style?

Mending a feather hat

Vintage dressing often includes hats, and there are lots of examples in old films. Before I post Part 3 of How to Wear Vintage Hats, I thought I would share how I mended one of them. Often bargains are damaged, so learning how to mend vintage is a valuable skill.

This lovely Biba hat was missing a few feathers when I was entrusted with it. I managed to find a multi-pack of natural coloured feathers in a craft shop. Finding the right notions to fix things is the most difficult part!

After picking out the best colour and size, I trimmed the fluffy bits off the feathers.

I experimented with a black Sharpie pen to draw on spots to match the original. I glued the ends to slide under the feathers already fixed onto the hat.

I think I managed pretty well matching the feathers. Can you spot the replacement feathers?

Marilyn’s chunky knit cardigan

Marilyn Monroe cardigan
Photo by George Barris

In 1962, George Barris took a series of photos of Marilyn Monroe on Santa Monica beach. So, technically, this isn’t from the silver screen. This shoot takes chunky cardigans into a wardrobe staple, if not a pin up status. This is very similar to the one in Starsky & Hutch too.

If you love barbeques on the beach, even in the summer you need something warm to wrap up in as the sun sets.

I’ve wanted to have one of these for a while, but nobody seems to knit it to look like the photo. The stitches seem more textured than plain knit, perhaps because it’s chunky. I couldn’t get the right look, so I experimented with some different stitches to find the right look.

 

 

Compared to that, drawing out the Cowichan design was easy! Figuring out the colours we fun too. It was my brother who pointed out that there is a fourth colour. Look carefully at the diamonds in some of the photos, and you can pick out a dark grey.

 

 

I used a similar cardigan pattern from the Seventies, although I think I ended up altering most of it to get the right look.

Contact me if you’re interested in commissioning one!

 

How to Wear Vintage Hats – Part 2

 

In Part 2 I’ll show some of my inspiration for styling Thirties and Forties hats.

ITV’s Poirot is a delight to watch, not just for the story, but the attention to detail for the era. It’s difficult to find photos of the characters that only show up in one episode, which means you have to watch it to see their headgear! Miss Lemon is a resident character at Poirot’s flat, working as his secretary, so I found photos of her hats! I think she is a good example of a well-dressed lady, without being from the upperclasses, so a good role model everyday or office wear dressing in the Thirties.

One way to wear a hat for a Thirties style outfit is to wear the hat on top of your head, which sounds silly, because isn’t that where it’s meant to be anyway! Look at the photos to see what I mean. Hair is shorter or done up close to the head.

I don’t often wear hats with my Forties outfits as I tend to go for high updo’s, then it’s a shame to cover it up. Look at Death by Deco for a masterclass in hat wearing, especially the Forties styles – and brilliant turban tying lessons!

Forties hats

The series Agent Carter is one of my favourite Forties set TV shows. The red hat! Interestingly, the more masculine, power dressing style and tailoring for the Forties was partly born from wartime ‘make do and mend’ ingenuity. The women at home were encouraged to keep up appearances for the troops morale, and that meant one was allowed to raid the husband’s wardrobe for altering to womenswear! This was not just jackets, but hats too. That’s why some of the hats have a trilby look.

I’ve styled the same hat from the Thirties look for the Forties, by wearing at the back of my head, so the brim frames my hairstyle and face like a halo. If you don’t have a high updo at the front, you can wear perch (or tilt) hats like in the original photos above.

For historical accuracy, Forties films, (I like film noir), will give you some amazing creations to look out for. This turban/ knitted headband from Hitchcock’s Suspicion, worn by Joan Fontaine had me rewinding the final scene. I think this is going on my wish list of knits.

Joan Fontaine in Suspicion - knitted turban hat headband

In Part 3 we’ll look at the Fifties and Sixties.

Marilyn’s Niagara dress

 

This is an amazing summer dress from the film Niagara, that Marilyn’s character Rose wears on a supposedly romantic holiday with her husband. The story is great too, with a definite Hitchcockian feel to it. Marilyn gets to play a darker role and pulls it off with flying colours.

I needed help to draw up the pattern for this, and my Mum did an amazing job. I’m a hard taskmaster for accuracy! I’m not too keen on wearing hot pink, although the colour looks good on Marilyn with her bottle blonde hair. I chose a teal cotton, which I think looks better with dark hair and pale skin.

 

Unlike similar reproductions you Ind online I kept the skirt looser from the hips down by cutting it straight, and also putting the split at the back. As there are no pintucks at the front, the curve of the waist to hip was sewn in the side seam. The fastening is a front zip, with the gathers stitched in place.

Niagara Jpeg
Detail on Niagara dress

For a smooth look, I sew bullet bra pads into the top. Marilyn didn’t need to do this, but I think it gives a better shape and makes me feel like I am wearing something underneath! This is a good trick for tops or dresses with cutouts in awkward places. Multilayer bras aren’t always hidden, and stick ons don’t give an authentic vintage silouette. You can buy these from What Katie Did in black or white.

 

The sandals have been the closest similar to the original photos as I have found so far. See more about these sandals here. I have accessorised with gold hoops and heart charm bangles. I think Marilyn’s bracelet is a chain with a single charm.

In the film, she accessorises with a pale, possibly white, floaty scarf and a white clutch.

I’ve worn this dress to, among other things, a summer wedding abroad and a surfer/ Hawaiian themed party. Red or hot pink go well with teal.

I hope to recreate some of her other outfits from this film in the future. The wool jackets are beautiful.

Here is a true colour commission of this dress worn by model @xxruffdyamondxx

Fifties pinup old Hollywood glamour vintage reproduction dress

 

How to Wear Vintage Hats – Part 1

I love hats, but often feel overdressed or a spectacle in public because so few people wear hats now. It’s a shame not to wear them when they’re so pretty, or sometimes just fun.

Here, I’ll feature some of my hats styled through the decades. In Part 1 we can look at my inspiration and take on Edwardian to Twenties hats.

My favourite Edwardian inspiration comes filtered through the Sixties in The Assassination Bureau. Miss Winter, played by Diana Rigg, wears some stylish outfits, topped off with tilt, or perch, hats. Look at my post for more about this hat. This style is best with updo’s, as you’ll need hair to pin the hat to secure it. Think of it like wearing a fascinator and don’t take it off indoors. It won’t be in anyone’s way!

There are lots of modern takes in the Twenties, most recently Phryne Fisher. Wide brimmed to brimless, including the classic beret, all require some hair showing at the front to frame the face more softly. Phryne’s Bob is perfection if you have straight hair like Louise Brooks, the original bob trendsetter. If your hair is long, tie most of it up inside the hat, and style the front. Marcel waves or pin curls will scream Twenties starlet. If you can’t tame your hair, channel It girl Clara Bow and embrace the wild curls. A bit of rouge and dangly earrings look great with a cloche hat. Of course, matching a hat to your outfit or accessories pulls a look together.

The beret will take you through any era, but for the Twenties look pull it down to create a bigger shape, like in the photo of Miss Fisher.

 

Another favourite of mine is Some Like it Hot. Marilyn’s hat in her opening scene as Sugar is beautiful in the style and fit. The feather is perfectly proportioned to the close fit of the cloche hat.

28271-some-like-it-hot-marilyn-monroe-01
Marilyn Monroe as Sugar

In Part 2, I’ll show you my Thirties and Forties style hats.

 

 

Thoroughly Modern Millie Loungewear

The current underwear as outerwear fad has a more wearable sister – Loungewear as daywear. Even if you’re not brave enough to wear silk pyjama’s as an evening suit or a flowing dressing gown as a duster coat, don’t miss out on the better high street collection of feminine daywear to create some pretty vintage style loungewear sets.

Miss Fisher has some good examples of Twenties loungewear and the film Thoroughly Modern Millie has some wonderful pyjamas. I especially like the set Julie Andrews wears while wafting down a grandiose corridor.

Matching tops and bottoms is key for a fluid look. Lace or embroidery are beautiful details to look for. Silk is wonderful, but satin is an easy care option. Look for wide leg, floaty trousers and long blouses or tunics that match the bottoms.

Here is my interpretation, styling a dress and trousers from H&M.

The kimono jacket and satin mules are also from H&M, while the black peep toe slippers are Fifties vintage.

There are lots of pretty mules like vintage slippers at the moment, so now is the time to stock up!

Have you found a good place to buy pretty loungewear? How do you mix and match?

 

Vintage and Retro Sunglasses

Vintage dressing always  looks best finished with accessories. Generally, I plan jewellery with my clothes, but with sunny weather here, sunglasses are picked up as I rush out the door. I try to make it simple by having a few pairs (not too many!) that cover the decades I like.

For the Twenties, Thirties and Forties small round glasses were popular. There are some fun frame designs from the Forties, like petals around the eyes to create flowers! Watch Agatha Christie’s Evil Under the Sun (film or ITV) for some great Thirties summer outfits and sunglasses. I love the colourised photo of a young blonde Bette Davis with an icecream.

Bette Davis sunglasses
Round Thirties sunglasses

Cat eye glasses epitomised the Fifties, from bookish to pin-up. Marilyn Monroe wore a thinner black design that won’t flatter everyone, but I like the wider frames that go to the edge of the face, and up to the eyebrow. Classic black or tortoiseshell goes with everything, but there is plenty of scope for fun. Coloured frames to match lipstick, dresses or accessories were popular, as were diamante details and shapes on the upper edge. Ray-Ban wayferers were worn by Marilyn too, and these are a classic style that’s still popular.

Going into the Sixties, sunglasses got bigger and any shape and design imaginable show up. Generally, bug-eye and soft edged square shapes were popular. Grace Kelly had a huge selection of sunglasses, and that might be a good place to start if you want to have a reference to shapes and styles before you shop round.

Grace-kelly-Sunglasses-To-catch-a-thief

My dream pair of sunglasses are the pair Audrey Hepburn wears as Holly Golighty in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. They have a tortoiseshell framework greenish lenses. These were designed by Oliver Goldsmith. It’s worth checking out some of his other designs too. There are lots of similar designs out there, but if you want the real thing, Oliver Goldsmith reissued a line!

Breakfast at Tiffany's - Oliver Goldsmith sunglasses

This style covers the Seventies owl eyes and modern styles currently popular.

They are well worth it, they met all my expectations. Now I’m scared of scratching them, so I am learning to be glasses conscious, not wearing them on top of my head and always putting them in a hard case when I’m not wearing them.

Here’s my line-up of necessary styles to have a pair for any outfit from the Twenties to the Sixties.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

All these eras are covered by modern styles available to buy on the high street. Now you know what to look for, I hope you find a style you like.