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?
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 he right look.
Compared to that, drawing out the Cowichan deign 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.
The original – Marilyn Monroe’s Mexican cardigan
My Marilyn chunky knit cardigan
I used a similar cardigan pattern from the Seventies, although I think I ended up altering most of it to get the right look.
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.
Thirties style dress and hat
Cream hat with feather
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.
Black and cream hat with feather worn Thirties style – back
Black and cream hat with feather worn Thirties style
Black and cream hat worn Thirties style – side
Thirties style summer skirt and frill sleeve blouse worn with black and cream hat
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!
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.
Brown Forties hat – back
Brown Forties hat with asymetric hairstyle – side
Brown Forties hat with vintage thistle hatpin
Brown Forties hat with front curls
Forties style utility dress – by Jasmine Guinness
Forties style dress platform shoes and brown hat – side
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.
Forties style summer outfit platform shoes and hat
Forties style hat, earrings and flower corsage
Black and cream hat with feather – side
Black and cream hat with feather – front
Black and cream hat with feather – Forties half up hairstyle- side 2
Black and cream hat with feather – back
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.
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.
Niagara dress side
Niagara dress front
Niagara dress back
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.
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 Didin black or white.
Marilyn style sandals
Niagara tie front dress
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 times, 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.
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.
Miss Winter – tilt/ perch hat
Straw boater/ perch hat
Straw Edwardian style hat
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!
Miss Fisher – Cream and black cloche
Miss Fisher – red cloche
Miss Fisher – beret
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.
Twenties cloche – front
Twenties cloche – detail and hatpin
Twenties cloche – side
Twenties cloche – hairstyle
Side wave and long earrings
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.
Felt cloche with folded brim at back
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.
Wraparound cloche hat
In Part 2, I’ll show you my Thirties and Forties style hats.
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.
Miss Fisher’s pyjamas
Chinese embroidered dressing gown
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.
Vintage style loungewear
Twenties style loungewear
Twenties style pyjamas
Dress and trousers from H&M, styled as vintage pyjamas
Fringed devore kimono
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 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.
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.
Marilyn wearing cat eye sunglasses
Marilyn in Ray-Ban wayferers
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.
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!
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.
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.
I love the fit of vintage clothes, that high street brands rarely match. Trousers that fit snug on the waist but actually fit over my hips are difficult to find.
Grace Kelly in patterned pedal pushers
Grace Kelly in jeans
Audrey Hepburn in striped cropped trousers
Audrey Hepburn in black cropped trousers
See how nicely Fifties trousers fit, and you’ll be glad to know there are replica vintage brands that fill the need. For example, Collectif, Bernie Dexter, Pinup Girl Clothing, Heyday and Vivien of Holloway.
Marilyn in checked trousers
Marilyn in cigarette pants
Marilyn in striped pedal pushers
However, the price tag isn’t always level with the high street because of the work that goes into shaping. Still, they may not match the difference between your waist and hips as they have to size ready-to-wear with an ‘average’ difference. Vintage clothing generally gives a 10″ difference between hips and waist for an hourglass figure, or 12″ appears on my vintage patterns. Let me know if you’re lucky enough to find high waisted trousers with this difference in a high street brand!
Vivien of Holloway jeans
Channelling Mrs Peel
I love my replica vintage ladies jeans from Vivien of Holloway. The fit is perfect at the waist and over my hips. This makes them so comfortable, as they just stay put, and don’t require me pulling them up as they stretch. The leg is pretty much a classic straight cut and and the seams don’t twist. The belt loops are fairly big, over an inch, so a belt can be worn. They were sold as rolled up jeans, but i do unroll mine and they come to my ankles. I’m 5’2″, so no supermodel. I guess if you have long legs, they’d be 7/8th length? Still perfect pin up jeans, good with flats or heels, a really flattering fit with a slight stretch to the fabric.
The other trousers I love wearing because they fit well, are a pair I made from a vintage replica sewing pattern. I bought some black and white gingham for making Miss Winter’s skirt The Assassination Bureau, and had plenty left over for making a pair of cropped trousers inspired by Marilyn Monroe.
My gingham check trousers
Marilyn Monroe wearing her checked trousers
From Marilyn Monroe’s estate
My gingham cropped trousers
A friend asked me to make her a pair, and here she is channelling Audrey Hepburn, modelling them.
Photo credit: Gina Walbridge
Here’s what to wear with vintage style trousers;
A lightweight knit with heels like Marilyn
Boat neck top and ballet flats like Audrey
Shirt and loafers like Grace
Notice the details too;
The decorated flats Audrey wears or the laces on Grace’s flats
a scarf as a belt
The variety of patterns used for the trousers, while keeping the top plain.
Drop earrings are seen in old photos, and you can still find them. I like wearing this style with Victorian and Edwardian styles. The Sherlock Holmes series and other period dramas are a good reference.
Irene Adler in Sherlock Holmes (1880’s)
Ginger Rogers (1930-40’s)
Marilyn Monroe (1950’s)
The Forties, Fifties and Sixties saw the rise and continued popularity of large earrings. This was revisited in the Eighties, which are seeing a revival for SS17.
Heavy earrings with hooks can leave unsightly stretched earlobes visible. By modifying earrings to hide hooks, to look like clip-ons, will give a modern pair a vintage look.
You will need:
Small/ fine ended pliers
Needle and matching thread or superglue & felt
1) If you cannot twist the hook around to sit it behind the earring design, follow this step. Alternatively, skip to step 5.
Remove the hook and link. These didn’t have links, so I just had to pry open the fastened end of the hook. You can use old tweezers, small pliers or if it’s soft metal, even your nails (beware chipping nail varnish!)
Loosen the spiral of wire, to push it up the hook, as if you’re going to slide it off. This reveals the fastened end.
2) Stick your nail in the gap where the wire is pressed together. The gap you create should be big enough to slide the hook off the earring. (I also removed the tassle in the same way.)
3) If the earring has something on the back you can loop the hook around, be sure you can lay the hook against the back ready to afix.
4) Close the loop end with the pliers. Push the spiral back over the join.
5) Check the hook won’t show from the front. Using a needle and thread, sew the hook from top to bottom, to hold it in place.
If there is nothing to stitch through, but you have a solid surface on the back, flatten the lower part of the hook against the back and glue.
Cut a small square or circle of felt to glue over the glued part of the hook. You may need to use something to hold the hook up while the glue dries, like blue tack.
Is this useful? Are there other types of earrings you want to modify?
Here, I’ll show you how to change a pair of pierced earrings into clip-ons. You might want to do this because you don’t have pierced ears, or, in this case, the earrings are too heavy to sit nicely with posts.
I couldn’t find the clip-on fixings in my local haberdashery or craft stores, so went online. I spent along time searching various craft sites, but for value and ease I bought a multi-pack from eBay. It has various sellers, so you can choose the colour and shape you like.
Most vintage earrings you will find are clip-ons, and sit covering the earlobe. At the moment, Art Deco designs and big Eighties earrings are on the high street. Some of these will have a design that covers the earlobe, but are for pierced ears. I find the weight stretches my ear and ruins the look. In this case, one of the posts broke from the weight! Clip-ons spread the weight, and keep the earring higher on the ear, giving a vintage look.
Audrey Hepburn in hoops
Audrey Hepburn in clip-on earrings
To change post earrings to clip-ons, you will need;
Earrings with a base of 1cm or more
Clip-on fixings/ notions
A fine edged sharp tool (use common sense and use responsibly)
Fine sandpaper or small sanding tool
Remove ear posts
Sand down back smooth
1. Firstly, if the earrings have posts, they can usually be twisted or bent off, but the base fixing will need to be pried off using something sharp and thin enough to work between the metal and the earring base.
(This should only be done by a responsible adult with common sense – work the blade away from you and watch your fingers!)
I didn’t have any special tool, I improvised by looking in the kitchen drawer. I used a fish knife. This is slow and delicate work as you want to avoid scratching the earring.
If they have a hook fixing, a small pair of pliers will loosen the join and you can remove them from the loop. I’ll show how to do this in another post.
2. Once you have prized off the post base, use the soft sandpaper to smooth the earring base ready to fix the clip-on onto the earring. Use a fine/ soft sandpaper to avoid damaging the earring. Wipe the earring base clean and lay back facing up on a sheet of paper.
Glue the clip base
Place and press on earring base
Comfort pads for clip-ons
3. Open the clip-on and put a small blob of glue on the back of the clip base. Place centrally on the earring base and once in the right place, pressing firmly.
4. Use the cotton bud to wipe away any overspill of glue. Leave for 24 hours, or as instructed on the glue packaging.
If you find wearing clip-ons all day makes your ears hurt, buy some rubber pads which can be pushed through the hole on the back of the clip.