London trip – Winter 2017

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Theatre and Fashioning a Reign exhibition plans

This January, I went to London to see the exhibition of some of the Queen’s dresses – Fashioning a Reign, at Windsor Castle. For a night out we went to see the comedy The Play That Goes Wrong. I love packing for a weekend away, and the British weather certainly adds to the challenge!

We travelled up on the train to Waterloo Station on the Friday, in the afternoon. I wanted to wear something comfortable, but nice enough to wear out to dinner, as there might not be time to change.

I wore my taupe or mushroom coloured fit and flare dress by Peter May. I bought this on a previous trip to London, along Portobello Road. I saw it in the window, and thought it looked like a dress that could have easily been worn in a Hitchcock film, like Marnie. This is a perfect winter dress as it is fairly thick Jersey, and the skirt is lined with a soft Jersey. My brother calls this my Jedi dress because of the colour and the wrap effect. The sash is really long and you can wrap it for different looks. I can pull it really tight as it has some stretch.

I accessorized with classic pearl jewellery – the earrings were modern, the three strand necklace and brooch are both vintage. I wore my brooch on the belt, under the gathers of the knot. I always loved how Jane Russell uses the brooch from the hip of her showgirl dress, on the pocket of her jacket in Gentleman Prefer Blondes. This was a popular outfit refresher in the Fifties.

The vintage feathered hat and vintage hatpin stayed put really well, and apart from worrying about the feathers in the wind to start with, I got used to wearing it, and stopped thinking about it. This is the best way to wear hats, so I’m definitely going to try out some more. I love the Fifties fitted style hats, so I’ll be looking to increase my collection.

With the face framing feathers, I wore this hat with my hair twisted up at the back. This is the hair I stuck my hatpin through to secure the hat.

On Saturday, we took the train to Windsor Castle to see the exhibition Fashioning a Reign. My photographer, my friend Gina Walbridge took some photos of me in the grounds. Unfortunately, no photography was permitted in the castle or of the dresses we saw. My favourite outfits were the few from the Fifties, including a beautiful full length full skirted dark teal velvet skirt with a fitted ivory silk bodice. The other dresses by Norman Hartnell and Hardy Armies were beautiful in their craftsmanship, structure and detail.

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The coat, vintage bag and sensible heels were pretty much my uniform while we were out and about.

When we stopped for afternoon tea in Windsor (which had to be seen to be believed, it was so massive!) I was able to show off my vintage teal velvet pleated dress. This is a Seventies vintage dress, but the style and fit work well with Forties and Fifties styling. I wore it with a butterfly brooch and huge turquoise vintage clip-on earrings.

On Saturday night, we went to see The Play That Goes Wrong, just before it went on tour. I would highly recommend going to see it. We laughed so much, I could hardly breathe!

I went for a Twenties look, in a Nineties velvet devore bias slip dress.

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Diamanté wing hair combs

On Sunday morning we travelled home. This was my standby outfit for day or night, so it was slightly wasted on the train, but I like to dress up, like I’ve walked off a Fifites film set!

Four outfits for one weekend in one small suitcase was pretty good packing, and I only took two pairs of shoes. To save space, I didn’t pack rollers, but pincurled my hair each night which worked pretty well, having washed and set it before I went away.

My next trip away will be in late Spring, to Portugal, so I’ll hopefully be able to pack some lighter clothes! In the meantime, I’m still enjoying the tartan, velvet, knits and thick weave fabrics of winter.

The Avengers – Tara King’s thigh high boots

 

While Diana Rigg as Mrs Peel is my favourite (and her clothes), a few things from Tara King’s wardrobe have been on my wish list. The late Sixties fashion Tara wears generally have a Seventies feel, with garish colour combinations, brown, mini skirts and wide collars, which I don’t wear. I like the purple Palazzo pants and the mustard pair Tara wears with a purple wrapover top.

The evening dresses are pretty, and also the Edwardian outfits in the episode Pandora. For similar inspiration see my post on The Assassination Bureau.

Before the Sixties were over, however, there was one brief moment where thigh high boots were set to replace the need for stockings and tights. Tights reigned supreme though, easy to change, cheap to buy multiple colours and patterns, with the added bonus of modesty with ever decreasing hemlines.

Now some features of this era are back on the high street, like playsuits and over-the-knee boots, I redoubled my efforts to find thigh high boots. Only, I had specifications. They must fit well like Tara’s.

  • Snug on the ankle
  • Stretch pull-on
  • Thigh high
  • Preferably leather shoe uppers (for longer lasting wear)
  • Mid block heel
  • Round to square toes

So many of the boots on offer are suede or suede effect, which living in a rainy country, reduces wearability drastically. I don’t want to wear boots in the Summer, but in the Winter! Also, because they are high street, the average fit is larger of ankle and narrower above the knee, which is no good for a shapely pair of pins.

My first pair I bought are over-the-knee brown suede look boots. I was so pleased to find an affordable pair I actually liked, even though they were suede. You can see them on How to Wear (Faux) Fur.

However, I am now ecstatic at finding a leather pair of thigh high boots that meet the other specs too. Now I’ll have to make the playsuit.

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Bowler hat and thigh high boots Tara King style

So, A-line cut shorts are the flattering and modest way to go with this look. I’ve tried leggings under a tunic/ mini dress, but the leg slips slowly down. Jeans have little more friction. Bare legs are no good for keeping these boots up, either. There must be a trick to it. Hairspray à la Miss Congeniality?

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A few of my favourite outfits. Find a definitive breakdown of all The Avengers clothes at dissolute.au.

London Trip 2016

So, this is a post from the beginning of last year, that I didn’t post because of the lack of photos. Now I’m packing for another weekend in London, this is a good reminder for me to start this year’s blogging and Instagram posts how intend to carry on – better quality photos and keep it regular.

In aid of that, I have enlisted the help of a few friends, one being a budding photographer, so I hope to do her justice this year. She is coming to London, so I’ll have my own personal photographer out in the field!

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Vogue to read on the train. Underground ticket to get around London. Crime exhibition at the Museum of London on Friday, theatre on Saturday night and Vogue 100 at the National Portrait Gallery on Sunday morning.

Basically I had such a good time, there aren’t many pictures! Here are a few.

Advertising for Charlie & the Chocolate Factory in the West End.

Friday night dinner out. The mandatory telephone box photo.

Sunday light lunch in Soho, at Foxcroft & Ginger. Mum wearing a vintage look blouse with high-waisted wide leg trousers.

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Goodies from the exhibitions

The books are always the best souvenirs, as the exhibits can be pored over at leisure and in greater detail. This is especially true as most exhibitions have a ‘no photos’ rule.

I hope I can share some of the looks from Vogue100 over the coming year. Mugshots may not be so glamorous, but it’s interesting to see how certain trends were emulated on the street. A case in point is Ruth Ellis. A glamorous, wronged woman, with a tragic story. How much did her image play in the Presses coverage of her story, and the publics reaction, I wonder?

Back to blogging and London trips, hang in there, and I will post my 2017 trip with more and better photos!

Vintage wedding dresses

In England, Queen Victoria wore the first white wedding dress, and due to her celebrity status, they became popular. Before that, brides would wear their Sunday best. White has remained popular ever since.

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Queen Victoria’s wedding dress

Here are two true vintage wedding dresses I have on loan from a friend. They are roughly from the Thirties. The What Katie Did CC09 bra is perfect for creating the right shape for the cut of the dresses. Both dresses look home-made from the finishing on the inside.

The lace dress has a square, slightly sweetheart neckline and fits close to the body, with a sweeping train. There is piping on the bodice to add shape. The mutton sleeves have ruching and piping with stuffed shoulder pads stitched into the shoulder seams to hold the lace up and out. The lower part of the sleeves have a row of buttons and a point over the back of the hand. The fastening is under the arm, so the waist is fitted. There is a row of metal poppers (snap fastening) and a hook and eye under the sash.

There is no lining, so I assume, like many dresses of the era, it was made to wear over a slip already owned by the wearer. I am wearing a vintage, probably Fifties midi- length slip. The lace bodice and wide pleated border of lace blend well with the lace of the dress.

The back has a row of decorative covered buttons down the spine, to where the satin sash ties. The lace has only a few holes that need mending, mostly on the fitted part of the sleeves. The hem has suffered some wear and tear and the buttons have discoloured in places. I think this adds to the charm of finding vintage clothes that others have loved and treasured.

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The satin wedding dress has the same fluid shaped skirt and mutton sleeves with pointed cuffs. The V-neck and gathers from the shoulders to under the bust. The seamstress has inserted a modesty panel in the deep V. This dress has no fastening on the body except the sash and poppers in the front panel. The cuffs also have a popper each, with slight wear around one of them.

The front seam was unpicked when I was given this dress. It was only tacked and looked like there were some threads through the front. This makes me think there were buttons that were used again on another dress. I used some satin covered buttons to finish the dress.

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Wallis Simpson sports the high neck, buttons and gathers, with the body skimming skirt. The neckline, shoulders and gathers on the dress worn by Ginger Rogers are heading into the Forties, but are echoed in the vintage dresses I have shared with you.

For Fifties and Sixties inspiration, search Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor. White wasn’t always the choice, and the styles vary dramatically. Some have stood the test of time, while others are of their time.

 

Bladerunner

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Inspired by Rachael in Blade runner – Forties hairstyle

The stylist and costume department must have had a great time dressing the female characters in Bladerunner. I think I could live in this collective wardrobe, but would perhaps cause undue comment grocery shopping in a few of them. Iridescent scales for one.

The mix of 80’s futuristic sci-fi and Forties film noir is spot on and works so well. Forties and Eighties cross over a lot. Think big hairdos, shoulder pads, empowering tailoring for women and even the transparent coat!

Following are my favourite looks from the film, and what I have used from my wardrobe to emulate the most wearable and stylish outfits – those worn by replicant Rachael.

Rachael

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Rachael Blade runner

Rachael has a classic femme fatale Forties hairstyle and make-up, which echo the film noir style of filming this futuristic sci-fi story. Her make-up seems to change slightly through the film, but the basic features remain – strong eyebrows and cheekbones, smoky eyes, red lips, with red nails.

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Blade runner Rachael – hair and make-up
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Eye make-up detail

I found good tutorials for Forties hairstyles like Rachael’s in Vintage Hairstyles.

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The colour palette for Rachael’s wardrobe are muted shades of grey and blues and greens (just about visible on her blouse), that work well with the film noir lighting and photography.

The grey suit with horizontal stripes of tonal fabric is straight out of the Forties, even Marilyn Monroe owned one similar to this, before she was famous. The crossover detail on the neck is also a detail used on clothes in the Forties, as is the matching thin belt. The straight cut and just below the knee length skirts are Forties too.

Under this suit, Rachael has a long sleeved V-neck blouse with pintucks of various colours. This is seen when in Dekkard’s flat, sitting at the piano.

The black suit, in futuristic fabric with a sheen, has a high neck again. The collar looks like a shirt collar, with a diamond shape Art Deco style brooch centrally placed, instead of a bow or tie. At one point she has a clutch with an Art Deco pattern too.

And every femme fatale needs a fur coat.

Notice the heeled court shoes too, if you can. The pair with the grey suit have an interesting two-tone design.

On Pinterest I’ve saved more photo’s of Rachael’s outfits.

The grey suit above is from Vintage Guru. It is an Eighties does Forties skirt suit, with a high waisted pencil skirt and a collarless box jacket. The buttons at the back are a lovely detail and are actually used as the fastening. The buttons around the waist and hips needed moving slightly to give me room to move, and the skirt was shortened from ankle grazing up to below the knee.

These navy separates go well as a suit, with the skirt I made and the vintage heels echo the Art Deco detailing featured in Rachael’s outfits.

Here are some other outfits from my wardrobe, inspired by Rachael.

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Pris

The spray paint futuristic make-up is one I want to use for a party. Chokers are back in vogue,and something I wear anyway, but my stocking’s stay under my clothes. It looks like Pris is wearing a playsuit.

Zhora

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Zhora’s clear raincoat

This clear PVC swing coat is something I’m still looking for. I was surprised when researching this to find that clear plastic raincoats were fashionable as early as the Forties. The swing shape makes this unusual, as most available now are trench coats or hooded poncho’s.

I love the stand up mandarin style collar and the large oval top stitched pockets. The piping around the yoke and the small pockets on the chest are fairly traditional, but I like that the edges of the sleeves and hem are not outlined, but you can only see them when the light catches them.

Anyone out there able to make this? Get in touch, please!

Over-the-knee boots are finally back in fashion. Not that if they weren’t it would stop me wearing them, but to be fashionable means one is able to buy a pair easily. The spikes are less practical, and I like the thigh cuff, which reminds me of Princess Leah’s slave outfit, with the intricate metalwork.

See my posts about The Avengers and Mrs Peel for more on over-the-knee and thigh high boots.

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Zhora’s showgirl outfit

The show ‘outfit’  (I use the term very loosely) of iridescent scales or body gems looks amazing, and could be nodded to with a sequined flesh tone top or body, worn with more conventional skinnies or would even look good with a fluid silk skirt.

The gems would be great party make-up.

 

Nordic Noir

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Sarah Lund jumper

For the dark winter months. Not vintage, I know, but I’ve included some vintage styling of the jumpers.

I couldn’t justify buying an authentic (by Gudrun & Gudrun) Sara Lund jumper (or three), so I had a Plan B. None of the imitations on offer looked like the original, but more ‘inspired by’, so they couldn’t be accused of plagiarising, which is fair enough.  If you want a job done properly…

I started with various photos and screen shots from Forbrydelsen (original Danish The Killing) and the official website selling the jumpers. Based in the Faroe islands, and knitted with natural, untreated wool from local sheep, led me to look for a similar wool that would knit up to the correct tension. My search led me to a Faroese site selling their local wool, probably from the same sheep! Others had come before me, in search of the same thing. A very useful post said the yarn weight and needle size that produced good results similar to the original. This saved lots of time knitting tension squares!

Using the photos, I laboriously counted the stitches and pattern repeats. I drew up the pattern, and bought a set of double ended needles. Although the wool looks thin compared to the chunky needles, it really worked!

I love the wool too, because it should rarely need washing, it keeps me warm like only real wool can and the jumper is like a second skin to peel on and off, so it’s now my size and shape.

It was so successful, I knitted a second one, and I think the blue one may be possible, now the colour is available.

If you’ve seen Sarah Lund’s jumper collection, which are your favourite? There’s the diamond, chevron and red jumpers too!

Here are some vintage styling ideas for lovers of Nordic Noir. And for those no nonsense days, I’ve thrown in Saga’s look from The Bridge.

 

 

Vintage bedroom decor

It’s been a very slow project, but I’m happy with how my bedroom has turned out. (No decorator employed.)

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Vintage dressing table and jewellery box with Art Deco style lamp

The house is Thirties, and when I took the carpet up, I found the inset hearth tiles were still intact. I’d love to have a little fire place, but at the moment I need the floor space for furniture. Having good floorboards, I had them treated and tidied up, and I can get a big rug if I get cold feet!

Luckily, the original doors were left, but the handles were replaced, so I’m still searching for reasonably priced bakelite replicas.

Originally, the room had a picture rail, so I had that put back up by Grant Whyman & Sons Ltd. They are excellent with period house renovations and keeping the houses character. I have got some hooks to hang my picture frames, but not all of them work, as modern frames don’t always have rings/ loops to attach a chain or ribbon.

I need a better way to store or display my hats. I like how Dita von Teese has a hat stand by her dressing table, and hangs lots on the wall around the mirror. At the moment I love my wallpaper too much to drill any holes.

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Dita von Teese hat storage

My pride and joy is my walnut and marble dressing table. The details are Art Nouveau, but the large round mirror low table are typical of Thirties designs. The draw and cupboard wrap round on side of the mirror, providing storage.

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Art Nouveau dressing table

I’ve mixed lots of eras together, but how many people in the Thirties really had all new Art Deco furnishings? Most of us accumulate, recycle and re-use just like the average person from the past.

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Feather wings decoration

Twenties Bloomsbury Cushion

Several years ago, we moved from a Victorian house to a Thirties house. It’s still a work in progress, but the living room is starting to take shape, with some nods to the era.

While Art Deco – think Fred & Ginger film sets – looks striking and modern, it doesn’t feel very homely. At least not when I’m used to Victoriana and Art Nouveau. So, we’ve been researching different looks from the Thirties. The only other two categories I’ve found are ‘Home Front’ going into the Forties, and Bloomsbury  Set arts and crafts, from the Twenties into the Thirties.

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Thirties home interiors (bottom right, Bloomsbury house, Charleston, Suffolk)

I think our living room will be a mixture of these. There are clean lines and Art Deco motifs, alongside colour and pattern. When it all comes together, I’ll post a photo of the room.

I’ve been busy knitting a couple of Bloomsbury style cushion covers, in colours to match the wallpaper. One is now complete, and I’ve nearly finished the second.

Finally finished the light colour way cushion cover, in complementary colours to co-ordinating with the deeper coloured cushion cover. The buttons are a vintage touch.

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Charleston Bloomsbury set cushion cover

Vintage Hairdresser Found!

Living hidden away in Somerset (UK) I love browsing the web to find hairdressers that specialise in vintage haircuts and styling. There are some I’d love to frequent in London, if I lived there. Which I don’t. Hence the struggle to find a suitable hairdresser locally.

Maybe it’s a cheat, but my friend has started in the vintage line hairwise, so after my first cut and style, I’m sure I’ve found My Hairdresser. Even better, Kate Eliza does home visits, so I don’t even have to leave the house!

Below are the two cuts Kate Eliza did at my house, including guest model, my Mum.

The short style is a Fifties Italian cut, which model Dovima and Elizabeth Taylor sported.

My hair is inspired by Rita Hayworth, epitomised in the Forties film noir Gilda.

http://www.kateelizahair.co.uk

Japanese dress

The dress I was given in Japan is made from floral and stripe cotton, with an empire line band and A-line skirt. I love the V-neck front contrasting with the square neckline at the back. I think the shape is flattering and it is really comfortable.

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Cotton dress from Japan

Although this dress isn’t vintage, I think it can be styled as Twenties and Thirties. Inspiration would be films Paper Moon and O Brother, Where Art Thou? There are lots more out there, and some great original photos online. I’ve collected some on Pinterest.